(Photo from NHL.com)
Well it did not take long for new Devils General Manager Ray Shero to make his first move. Like I said in my last blog I hoped it would have been a big splash this is more like a rain drop hitting the Pacific Ocean.
Friday night forward Jordin Tootoo was resigned by the team to a one year, one way $825,000 contract. While I liked the energy and bite that Tootoo brought to the team last year, I felt Steve Bernier did a better job and contributed more. Tootoo played on a line with Travis Zajac and Mike Cammalleri for most of the season and did not produce as nearly as much as he should have. He finished the season with only 10 goals and 5 assists in 68 games played while Bernier had 16 goals and 16 assists in 67 games. We only need one of these types of players on this team and I hope that it stays that way.
Back to Shero, I’m sure Lou and him had had talks about this signing before he was introduced as the new GM. So technically this is still a Lou move but Shero is one who officially gave him the contract. Im still waiting on the first real Shero move and that will hopefully be a lot bigger than the signing of a fourth line player.
(Picture from NHL.com)
The Jack Adams Award goes to the best coach in the NHL and just a few days ago the three finalists were announced. They are Alain Vigneault from the New York Rangers, Peter Laviolette from the Nashville Predators and finally Bob Hartley from the Calgary Flames. All three of these coaches had fantastic years with their teams and are all well deserving of the award.
Vigneault led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals last year only to lose in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. He followed that performance up with a President’s Trophy this year for the best team in the regular season. He had a great season, actually his team had the best season in the entire league but I do not think that he will be the winner this year.
So it comes down to Laviolette and Hartley, both coaches whose teams missed the playoffs last year. So when I think of the Jack Adams award I think of the coach that was able to get the biggest improvement out of his team from the prior team. That coach is without a doubt Bob Hartley. He faced so much adversity this year with his number one defenseman in Mark Giordano going down to a torn bicep muscle and management trading away one of their top six forwards in Curtis Glencross at the trade deadline in the midst of a playoff run. But even with the setbacks, he was able to motivate his team to give all they had night in and night out and were able to make the playoffs.
Laviolette did a great job this year and I can see him winning this award but my gut is telling me Hartley and I have to go with it. The Predators will be a great team for the next few years, lets hope that Laviolette and guide them to the promised land because Nashville is a great hockey town.
(Photo from Senators.NHL.com)
The search for the Devils next head coach is underway and there are many names being tossed around already. The issue with the Devils is that their head coaching vacancy is not that “sexy” compared to the other teams such as Toronto, San Jose, Philadelphia, or Detroit. Ray Shero will have to do a good job not only in his interviews but to also market the team as a supreme destination for the potential coaches.
Here are my top five potential coaches for the Devils in no particular order.
1. Scott Stevens: Stevens was one ring in the three ring circus that was the Devils coaching staff at the end of the season. He was however the only coach who had a huge impact on the players, especially Adam Larsson. He helped Larsson take that next step in his game and helped the entire defensive corps become better players. Although he is a defensive coach he knows how to motivate players with his fiery personality.
2. Paul MacLean: He was fired by the Senators early last season and the Devild reportedly had interest in him when they made their coaching change but Ottawa wanted compensation and they were unwilling to give them what they wanted. MacLean is a former Jack Adams recipient and I believe that he would be a great fit for the Devils.
3. Mike Babcock: I would probably bet my entire life savings that he is not coming here because he wants to pave the way for coaches to be paid better and I can see a team with unlimited funds such as Toronto or Philadelphia giving him a blank check and keys to the franchise. But hey I can dream right?
4. Dan Bylsma: It is no secret that Shero and Bylsma were great friends when they worked together in Pittsburgh and Shero has already said that Bylsma would get consideration for the job but he would have to interview just like everyone else. Bylsma worries me because he had the best player in the world with Sidney Crosby and a top ten player in Evgeni Malkin and could only win one cup. However that was mostly Marc-Andre Fleury’s fault for crumbling in the playoffs. He would definitely bring an offensive game to the Devils, which is something that we are desperately needing.
5. Jon Hynes: This is my wildcard coach. He has no NHL experience but he has led the Pittsburgh Penguins farm team for the past five years and has made them the ultra competitive even when most of the players are called up to the big club because of all the injuries the Penguins have. He has a great defensive system and Shero is VERY high on him. The issue with Hynes are that this would be his first NHL team and one that is rebuilding could spell trouble and the other issue is that Pittsburgh would probably want some form of draft pick compensation. The Devils need to restock their cupboards with prospects and trading them away for an unproven coach is probably not the best thing to do.
(Picture from Penguins.nhl.com)
Lou Lamoriello shocked the hockey world the other day as he stepped down as general manager of the New Jersey Devils and appointed former Pittsburgh Penguin general manager Ray Shero. Lamoriello will stay on as President of the team but this will be the first time in 27 years that he is not the general manager of the team.
This is such a shock to me as I am a fan of Lou because of all the success that the franchise has had over the years but it was time for him to go. I can not remember who tweeted this saying when they found out Lou was stepping down but it described the moment perfectly for all Devils fans, “This is like when Mom and Dad tell you that Grandpa has to go live in the nursing home.”
The past few seasons for the Devils have been rough with missing the playoffs for the 3rd straight year, not to mention the questionable free agent signings (i.e. Ryane Clowe).
But now Ray Shero is at the helm and I can not wait to see what he is going to do. He has a boatload of cap space, a head coach vacancy that has to be filled, an aging forward corp that desperately needs a makeover, and the 6th overall pick in this years NHL entry draft. Talk about a bunch of tools at your disposal to really put your stamp on this team only a year into the job.
The hire is exciting and while it is only May and the playoffs are in full force, I can’t help but wonder what this new GM’s first move is going to be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it is a big splash!