Posts Tagged ‘2019 NHL Season’

With things recently taking a turn for the better in Edmonton, Oilers CEO and vice-chair Bob Nicholson gave general manager Peter Chiarelli a somewhat conditional vote of confidence.

The Oilers have gone 8-2-2 since Ken Hitchcock replaced Todd McLellan as head coach, vaulting the club into the top wildcard spot in the Western Conference entering Friday’s games. That run has allowed cooler heads to prevail in northern Alberta after a troubling start to the season, with Nicholson saying his general manager’s job is safe if the team makes the playoffs.

“Yeah. There’s no question.” Nicholson told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic. “I think there’s a lot of things that Peter hasn’t gotten credit for. He’s really started to build. You’re starting to see some of them come up now with the (Caleb) Joneses and the (Evan) Bouchards. We have a lot of assets, which this organization hadn’t had for a while. Peter deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Edmonton had lost six of seven contests when McLellan was let go Nov. 20 and many wondered about Chiarelli’s job security going forward in what seemed to be another lost season.

Chiarelli joined the Oilers in 2015 and has faced plenty of scrutiny for some of his personnel decisions since taking over. Edmonton has made the playoffs once during his tenure, advancing to Game 7 of the second round in 2016-17.

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NHL sources tell FOX 26 Sports that Houston Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta has met with National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and had preliminary talks about buying and relocating the Arizona Coyotes to Houston.

Sources indicate nothing is happening regarding those conversations at this point and no decisions are close.

Fertitta and Rockets chief executive officer Tad Brown declined comment when contacted by FOX 26.

With the William Nylander saga wrapped up, one of the next major tasks facing Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could be fending off potential suitors for Auston Matthews, who’ll be a restricted free agent following this season.

“There is widespread feeling within the industry that Auston Matthews would be the rare player who would be targeted by an offer sheet,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said during Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” segment.

Offer sheets in today’s NHL are a rare occurrence. The last player to sign one was Ryan O’Reilly with the Calgary Flames in 2013, but the Colorado Avalanchequickly matched it and retained his services.

Matthews would have to be willing to sign a potential offer sheet, and he and the Maple Leafs have until July 1 before another team could attempt to poach the 21-year-old superstar. Mitch Marner is scheduled to join Matthews in restricted free agency next summer.

Phil Kessel‘s name made headlines this week because the Pittsburgh Penguinsreportedly tested the trade market for the winger, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Wednesday.

Captain Sidney Crosby addressed those rumors following the Penguins’ 6-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

“There’s always going to be talk,” Crosby told The Athletic’s Josh Yohe. “And there’s always going to be some things said outside of this room, the kind of stuff that we don’t really have any control over. All I know is, we appreciate all the things he brings to this team.”

Kessel’s name has surfaced in trade talks before. Last offseason, he was reportedly open to playing for the Arizona Coyotes, a team that former Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet leads behind the bench. There was also a reported rift this summer between Kessel and Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.

Last month, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford spoke candidly about possibly shaking up the roster if the team didn’t improve. He made a couple deals, shipping out Carl Hagelin and Daniel Sprong in exchange for Tanner Pearson and Marcus Pettersson in two separate trades. Pittsburgh is now third in the Metro Division.

Kessel is on pace for a career-high 100 points after recording a personal-best 92 last season. His value to the Penguins is clear, and especially to Crosby, who skated on a line with Kessel during the club’s win on Thursday. The two have rarely played together at 5-on-5, but they combined for seven points against the Isles.

“We definitely appreciate all the things he can do for us,” Crosby said. “Look at what he does, look at how much he produces, how dangerous he can be every night.”

Phil Kessel can’t seem to escape the rumor mill.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Pittsburgh Penguins “tested the market” on a possible trade involving the high-scoring winger.

While a deal never came to fruition, the Penguins have been active in the trade market in recent weeks, parting with Carl Hagelin and Daniel Sprong while bringing in Tanner Pearson and Marcus Pettersson.

Prior to the deals, general manager Jim Rutherford floated the possibility of a roster shakeup if there wasn’t improvement on the ice. The Penguins currently sit two points back of a playoff position in the Metropolitan Division.

As for Kessel, it’s not the first time his name has surfaced in trade talks. Last offseason, a report indicated that the 31-year-old was open to a move to the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona, of course, is coached by Rick Tocchet, who was an assistant in Pittsburgh during the team’s Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017.

Kessel is owed $8 million for three more seasons, but $1.2 million of his salary is retained by the Toronto Maple Leafs. His contract also allows him to grant a trade to just eight teams of his choosing.

Across part of four seasons with the Penguins, Kessel has picked up 93 goals and 157 assists in 272 games.

The Anaheim Ducks signed general manager Bob Murray to a two-year extension, the team announced Saturday, putting him under contract through the 2021-22 season.

“Bob has created a winning organization with his commitment and expertise,” said Ducks Chief Executive Officer Michael Schulman. “We are very pleased to be in a position where expectations are high virtually every season, thanks in large part to Bob and his staff. We passionately share a common goal – bringing another Stanley Cup to Orange County.”

Murray has worked in the Ducks’ front office since 2005, serving as the general manger since 2008. He’s been a finalist for GM of the Year three times, winning in 2013-14.

Make it 32.

The NHL will officially expand to 32 teams after granting a franchise to Seattle at the Board of Governors meetings on Tuesday. Needing 24 of 31 existing teams to vote “yes” to approve their expansion application, the Seattle ownership group received unanimous 31-0 support from the power brokers gathered at the swanky Cloister resort in coastal Georgia.

The unnamed club is slated to begin play in fall 2021. Seattle will join the Pacific Division and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, ensuring both conferences have 16 teams and every division contains eight teams. Realignment will stop there, and it will not come into effect until the 2021-22 season.

Seattle’s ownership group – known officially as the Seattle Hockey Partners – is led by private equity CEO David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. They are required to pay the league an expansion fee of $650 million, or $150 million more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ fee back in 2016.

The group hoped to enter the league in the fall of 2020, but the NHL’s concerns about the timeline for extensive arena renovations kicked the club’s debut a year down the road. Work being done on KeyArena, the former home of the NBA’s SuperSonics, will cost north of $700 million. Another $70 million has been earmarked for a practice facility, with both venues scheduled to open around October 2020.

While the NHL has never stationed a franchise in Seattle, the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association won the 1917 Stanley Cup. Multiple groups have tried to bring a team to the Pacific Northwest hub over the past few decades. This attempt succeeded in large part because it had private financing, an arena plan, and close to 35,000 season ticket deposits.

The NHL is now the second North American pro sports league with 32 teams, joining the NFL. It beat the NBA – widely considered this generation’s “it” league – to Las Vegas and will be the lone winter sports league with a presence in Seattle.

The 15th-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 3.867 million, Seattle is home to the NFL’s Seahawks and MLB’s Mariners. The SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.