The good and bad in the Isles coach hires

New NHL vs old NHL is very clear on the Isles handing the yoke to Doug Weight and the subsequent assistant coaching hires of Luke Richardson and Scott Gomez.

Richardson has upside.

Richardson is someone with a long relationship with Doug Weight as a player and has been in the next to the NHL coaching mix for the last two years. When he played in the NHL, he was an aggressive, stay-at-home defenseman. He was Ottawa AHL affiliate head coach for several years. When Ottawa fired Dave Cameron, Richardson was passed over by the GM for consideration as a coach, leading to him leaving Ottawa.

Scott Gomez is interesting due to lack of coaching experience (always a concern in my book), but anyone besides perhaps Sparky would be a boon to the pathetic Power Play. Now how do they address the Penalty Kill, which statistically is FAR more important than the Power Play. Perhaps this is why we are still waiting on….

We await the official announcement on Kelly Buchberger. Buchberger and Doug Weight go waaaaay back to the very first day Weight was in Edmonton via the NYR trade. Weight stayed with him.

Buchburger was Manager of Player Personnel with the Oilers. Before that, 6 yrs as an assistant coach. 1 year as AHL coach. 18yr career as a player.



The illusion of being at the cap ceiling

Yes, this team is at cap this year. This is why they are keen on making trades.

However… after next year (when JT’s future contract goes in effect)? $37 million under the cap with contracts coming off the books. Likely $27 or so, depending on JT’s pending deal.



The Grabo Effect

Mikhail Grabovski remains an LTIR possibility, though if he feels like he can play and Isles docs continue to not allow him to play (very likely) any LTIR use could become an NHLPA issue. You cannot place a player who thinks he can play on LTIR:

LTIR – as defined in Article 50.10(d) of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement cites that a player can be eligible to be placed on the LTIR if the player has been determined to be unfit to play by the team’s physician for a minimum of 24 days AND 10 regular season games. NHL and the NHLPA can select a neutral physician IF this is protested,  basically. So, it would depend on that neutral physician to evaluate and the ruling would pivot on this basically.

So LTIR not a quick easy answer necessarily. 




So at cap ceiling, they are faced with moving salary and clearing a logjam of players, especially on D.

Solutions are pending RFA’s who are up for next contract this year or, preferably, next season when lots of $$$ comes off the books.


Potential candidates?

Matt Duchene? Elite center but comes at high trade cost. Avs refused Barzal, Pulock, plus 1st last season. They seem convinced they can get what they want from another team, leaving the Isles sloppy seconds.


Alternatives? Nothing THAT surefire elite, but here are a list of those who could fit the bill or be a diamond in the rough….

Mikael Granlund, C, from win-now Minny. Granland is a pending RFA coming off $3,200,000 last season. He had 69 points, with 26 goals Cost? Won’t come cheap, but Minny does need some low-cost solutions. Barzal, plus D, plus picks?

Ryan Johansen, C, is a pending RFA. If Nashville is serious about chasing Duchene – thus willing to offer one of their young D studs for him… Johansen could be moved to Avs OR traded elsewhere to make room. Question is are the Avs willing to take an older dman at 26-27 than their 25 or under stipulation to the Isles last trade deadline?

Tyler Johnson, C, in Tampa. Tampa always tries to hold on to their key young players and are they really likely to trade to another Eastern team?

Sam Bennett, C from Calgary. Pending RFA.

Bo Horvat, C, Canucks. Can’t see the Cnuckleheads game to move one of their few bright spots. But if they do….

Tomas Tatar, Winger from Detroit who is an RFA. They could certainly use D. Isles have a D in the highly underrated Calvin de Haan who is a pending RFA. Seems a good match to me. If you have been following me on twitter I have been mentioning this for a while. I’m not the only one either. Elloite Friedman also posted the same idea in essence. LINK HERE!

Radek Faksa, C, Dallas. Pending RFA with cap issues on the team. Dallas seems more likely to move Cody Eakin, C, than Faksa, but you never know.

Cody Eakin, C who at 26 years old seems far more attainable. But comes with question marks. 

Oilers need to lock up players, like Leon Draisaitl, and would love to move one or both: Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Eberle at RW only addresses scoring need. RNH could address 2nd line center need…. But is overpaid. EDM seems to be reticent to take a loss thus far, but McDavid needs a new deal (goes in effect next summer) to go with Drainsaitl with more coming. Decision-time is nigh.


Those who are slated for RFA status AFTER this coming season is an interesting list.

BUT Garth Snow has to get a team who undervalues their player and willing to make a move now instead of next season. Not all GMs will feel that pressure or desire if any… UNLESS already ina severe cap crunch.

Would Minny give up Jason Zucker who just had a boffo year? Not likely. Their chance to get him was last summer at the first RFA decision time. With his production this year, that ship has sailed when RFA status comes up next summer.

How about Ottawa with Mark Stone? Hmmm. Not sure they will want to move an
RW with 24 goals who is RFA next summer. But feasible. Ottawa is sailing toward cap issues and decisions.

San Jose Sharks with  Tomas Hertl as RFA next summer intrigues under the radar, but they just removed some big $$$ from the books.



The biggest question mark is what can the Isles do to protect their young players from Snow’s close friend, and once again, competitor… George McPhee. Hamonic, de Haan and Pulock are the key players on D who the Isles need to make decisions on if they go in a 7F-3D-1G configuration. If they go in the 8ForD-1G configuration they leave forwards open plus key D. The 7-3-1 seems better to me, but requires they Isles to make a move fast before lists as solidified. The problem is that most major moves are likely to be AFTER the expansion draft.

The Isles are in a big bind and it will cost them dearly. The sacrifice could be via trading a prospect and their 1st round pick in some sort of swap to keep their players.




About B.D. Gallof


  1. If COL turned down Barzal, Pulock and a first rounder from the Isles for Duchene, then Sakic did the Isles a favor. No way Duchene is worth that kind of a haul. If that’s the price for Duchene, then let him get traded to another team.

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