Saturday, April 19, 2014

Links from around the rink: April 18

For the embattled coaches of the NHL, there was no real "Black Monday" mass firing, as many expected. Despite horribly disappointing seasons for a number of teams -- including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders -- only Barry Trotz, the long-tenured coach of the Nashville Predators was shown the door. While the axe still could fall on Randy Carlyle (Maple Leafs), John Tortorella (Canucks) and Adam Oates (Capitals), Jack Capuano can rest easy on the Isle.
ESPN's Katie Strang reported Monday that Islanders GM Garth Snow has "no intentions" of making a coaching change before the start of the 2014-15 season despite finishing with a record of 34-37-11. That mark will leave the Islanders with the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft, and leaves Snow with a tough decision: whether to send the No. 5 pick to Buffalo to complete the disastrous Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson trade or defer a year and pass along the Isles' 2015 first-rounder. It's probably safe to say that if the Islanders' 2015 pick ends up in the top 5 as well, neither Capuano nor Snow will be resting easy after the season's final Sunday.
• The first domino has yet to fall in what will certainly be a summer of change for the Capitals. As of Friday morning, both Oates and GM George McPhee, who is in the final year of his contract, remain on the job, with decisions looming -- which should be made within the next week or two -- from team president Dick Patrick and owner Ted Leonsis. The summer speculation trickles down throughout a roster that many believe will be significantly altered.
[+] EnlargeMikhail Grabovski
G Fiume/Getty ImagesThe Washington Capitals have a decision to make on center Mikhail Grabovski ... and vice versa.
One important decision to make: What to do with their second-line center. Mikhail Grabovski served as a steal on a one-year, $3 million contract this season. He notched 35 points in 58 games despite missing significant time due to a late-season ankle injury. As he enters free agency, Grabovski says he would be happy to stay in Washington, reports the Washington Post's Katie Carrera, but he wants the team to settle its coaching and GM decisions first. In an offseason that lacks a strong crop of free-agent centers, retaining Grabovski likely will be a high priority. Should the Caps fail to do so, Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche is the most palatable option on the free-agent market -- and likely will command inflated offers as a result -- while one internal option would be to move heralded prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov from the wing to the pivot.
Meanwhile, regarding a few teams still skating this spring:
• For those holding their breath in hopes of seeing Ben Bishop return to the crease for Game 2 of the Lightning's playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, you'd best resume breathing normally. Bolts bench boss Jon Cooper said Thursday that he doesn't expect to see Bishop return "anytime soon." Cooper went on to add that the series would have to go long for there to be any chance for Tampa's regular season starter to suit up in Round 1. Additionally, Tampa rookie forward Ondrej Palat will be a game-time decision for the Bolts after leaving Game 1 in the third period with an upper-body injury. Palat posted 23 goals and 59 points in his first full season with the Lightning.
• In Anaheim, the crease situation seems to be settled, at least for now. We think. Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday there was a "good chance" Frederik Andersen would get the nod for Game 2 after helping Anaheim to a 4-3 win in Game 1 of their series against the Dallas Stars. Both Jonas Hiller -- the starter for most of the regular season who struggled down the stretch -- and rookie John Gibson could be options if Andersen slips up in the days ahead.

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