Morning Skate: Golden Knights coach Gallant the favorite for Jack Adams award


Morning Skate: Golden Knights coach Gallant the favorite for Jack Adams award

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while ready for some playoff football this week. 


*Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is the favorite for the Jack Adams Award, and rightfully so given the success for an expansion team. But don’t sleep on the candidacy for Bruce Cassidy, who guided the Bruins through two months of brutal injuries and made some big decisions along the way to get Boston into a prime playoff position in the New Year. Cassidy certainly deserves more votes than he’s getting on the Awards tracker right now. 


*Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is a firm believer that the Montreal Canadiens can turn their season around, and they’ll get that chance if they can dominate with three games against the Bruins this month. 


*Another huge success for the Hershey Bears Star Wars night as their Hoth-inspired jerseys raised almost $50,000. 


*Down Goes Brown brings their grab bag out for trolling goalies, All-Star voting and circus pants for the Great One. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Edmonton Oilers missing the playoffs would be a spectacular failure, and it’s tough to argue that point. 


*Speaking of the Oilers, Peter Chiarelli tells FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector that he has no intentions of firing head coach Todd McLellan


*For something completely different: There continues to be rumblings that Ewan McGregor may be back for an Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone Star Wars movie. That would be awesome. 

Bruins beginning to make alternate plans amid slow free-agent talks

Bruins beginning to make alternate plans amid slow free-agent talks

DALLAS – It looks as if the Bruins are starting to resign themselves to letting their remaining free agents head to the market on July 1. Don Sweeney said at NHL draft weekend in Dallas that the Bruins haven’t really made any progress signing pending UFAs Anton Khudobin, Riley Nash and Rick Nash, and they may have to begin formulating other plans in case agreements doesn’t come to fruition.

“I’ve talked to all of them, and it seems to be inching rather than moving in the direction I’d like it to,” said Sweeney of his looming free agents. “Just because we’ve gotten closer to the deadline doesn’t mean we’ve closed the door on any of them, but [July 1] does get closer. As much as they might think it does [get closer], we also have to begin to think and prepare otherwise.”

Clearly, the fate of 33-year-old Rick Nash was tied up in the Bruins' pursuit of Russian free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed with the LA Kings on Saturday. It may be that Nash is ready to dip into free agency with the Bruins clearly viewing him as a secondary option for a second-line winger. Riley Nash and Khudobin were both players that the Bruins had interest in retaining after banner years, but free agency also comes at a time for them where they may be able to maximize their value on the open market.

With the third-line center position, the Bruins actually have some pretty good youthful options - former draft picks Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson are getting really close to NHL readiness. Things may be a little more treacherous at goaltender as there is a real question as to whether B’s prospect Zane McIntyre is ready to be an NHL backup behind Tuukka Rask. Instead, the Bruins may need to dip into the free-agent pool to bring in a veteran backup capable of playing the 20-25 games that Rask needs out of his understudy.

The good news for the Bruins is that goaltender Chad Johnson, with past Bruins experience, and others like him are expected to hit the free-agent market, where they could be a good fit.

It’s doubtful trade-deadline acquisitions Tommy Wingels and Nick Holden are going to end up back in the fold with Boston, but the door won’t officially be closed until the market opens July 1. With $12 million in cap space, the Bruins clearly will have some money to spend on needs at third-line center, second-line wing or backup goaltender.    


Kovalchuk goes to Kings with 3-year deal

Kovalchuk goes to Kings with 3-year deal

DALLAS – The Bruins missed out in their hunt for big-ticket, free-agent winger Ilya Kovalchuk after he’s signed a three-year, $18-plus million deal with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings appeared to be the front-runner for the 35-year-old Russian sniper’s services as talks escalated with LA, Boston, Vegas and San Jose the past few weeks, and, in the end, they were the team willing to meet the Russian’s asking price.

Kovalchuk’s agent, JP Barry, had zeroed in on Patrick Marleau as a comparable asking price after he signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Maple Leafs prior to this season. That’s exactly what Kovalchuk got from the Kings. It's a contract rich term and dollars for an admittedly talented player, who hasn’t laced up the skates in the NHL the past five years.

So, it’s understandable that the Bruins opted not to overextend for a gifted, aging player who enters the NHL with a lot of question marks to be answered. There are a lot of factors that make Kovalchuk less than comparable to Marleau. It’s been five seasons since Kovalchuk played in the NHL and the Russian winger bolted out on his last contract with the New Jersey Devils prior to jumping to the KHL. 

The more comparable low-end-of-the-range player to Kovalchuk in terms of circumstance is Alexander Radulov, who signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens after returning from Russia following his time with the Nashville Predators. He signed his big deal with the Dallas Stars after posting 18 goals and 54 points with the Habs in the 2016-17 season.

Clearly, Kovalchuk deserves a little more than Radulov based on his past accomplishments in the NHL, so splitting the high/low difference would have left an offer in the two-year, $13-14 million range that would have been fair to both sides. Instead, the Kings gave Kovalchuk exactly what they wanted and it’s up to the Bruins to start over, whether that means stepping up talks with Rick Nash, making a pitch for a UFA forward James van Riemsdyk or getting involved with discussions when/if Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm or Wayne Simmonds become available in trade talks.

Either way, it’s the Bruins going to different options than what they were hoping for as they clearly thought the game-breaking Kovalchuk could be a very good fit heading into next season.