Nichols Notes

Nichols’ Notes: ‘Rink rat’ Kucherov’s work paying off

(Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

Nikita Kucherov has been a money player for the Tampa Bay Lightning in these playoffs, and the restricted free agent will soon certainly be paid accordingly.

His explosive offensive skills belie an improving all-around game though, which began with his transition to North America.

Solid article here examining that angle, which includes insight from his head coach.

“He’s a rink rat, he’s always just trying to find a way to get better,” Jon Cooper said. “With Kuch, they realize when they come into the league how hard it is. And the moment you stop respecting the league and respecting the people that are in the league and walking through the door thinking they’ve made it and they are entitled to stay, that’s when you are going to be in trouble.

“He’s never thought that way. He just keeps working, and it keeps paying dividends.”

Source: Erik Erlendsson/ Tampa Tribune

Lightning’s Kucherov takes game to another level in playoff lights’ glare


Claude Julien didn’t guide his Boston Bruins to the playoffs, but his recently-fired assistant coach feels Julien did an outstanding job with what he had.

“I thought this year was one of his best years coaching,” Doug Houda said. “He had to make a lot of adjustments. I know we didn’t make the playoffs, and there’s no excuse, but I believe he had to coach a lot this year just because there were certain guys, well, at times we weren’t strong in certain areas. He had to switch and flip-flop the lines a lot.”

Really interesting read on the Bruins’ defense, from Houda’s perspective. Check it out.

Source: Stephen Harris/ Boston Herald

Ousted Doug Houda: ‘I don’t feel like a scapegoat’ for Bruins


Kyle Palmieri will be a restricted free agent next month, and New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero addressed the situation recently.

“One way or another, he’s going to be signed. He’s Group 2,” Shero said. “That was one of the reasons for trading for Kyle, that he’s not only a good young player but one we can hold for a couple of years.

“I look forward to signing him to a longer term contract, if that’s possible, and if that’s not possible he has arbitration rights. We’re going to get a contract one way or another.”

Source: Steve Politi/ NJ Advanced Media

When will the Devils re-sign Kyle Palmieri? GM Ray Shero says …


Interesting draft history tidbit…

Excerpt via Newsday:

Garth Snow knew he was taking Tavares for a long while in the days and weeks before that night on the draft floor in the Bell Centre in 2009. Out of courtesy, he listened to offers from other general managers for the No. 1 pick, including one from the team picking right behind him.

“One scenario would have seen us potentially move other players and take John to pair with Stamkos, the other was not move any key players and take Victor,” former Lightning GM Brian Lawton said. “It’s very, very difficult to find quality defensemen.”

Source: Arthur Staple/ Newsday

Isles’ John Tavares, Lightning’s Victor Hedman linked by draft and now playoffs


Today’s dose of age reality was catching the headline for this story: ‘Bryan Trottier is your daddy’s Jonathan Toews.’

I guess that would make me daddy in this scenario.

Trottier was the man for the New York Islanders back in the day.

“Jonathan Toews reminds me a lot of Bryan Trottier,” Mike Liut says. “The guy who can’t lose. The guy who finishes in a quiet way. Not loud. Not dirty. Relentless. Skilled. Smart.

“He wasn’t the fastest skater. But like Toews, he was solid on his skates and strong on his stick. You didn’t knock him over. He led by example. Led by tenacity. He was honest. He was humble. Those are great hockey players. There’s no drama in their game. They just played, every day. It is a steely determination. A great man.”

Source: Luke Fox/ Sportsnet

Bryan Trottier is your daddy’s Jonathan Toews


There was a colossal weight lifted off the back of the St. Louis Blues when they outlasted the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, which also extends past the players and management to ownership.

“It was very emotional,” Tom Stillman admitted. “We very much wanted to break through, and we felt like that was just an important thing for our franchise to accomplish. So it was a release of tension and anxiety and a relief. And then just happiness.”

Source: Jose de Jesus Ortiz/ St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Stillman has invested heart and soul in Blues


Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning on Markus Grandlund, who was signed to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday.

“He’s a player who has an undervalued skill set which is going to come out in the next year,” Benning said.

“Off the ice, in the weight room, he’s a really strong kid. The thing we’re going to work on with him this summer is his first-step quickness, getting him the power to get up to speed as fast as he can.”

Source: Jason Botchford/ Vancouver Province

Canucks hoping for Baertschi-like improvement from Granlund


Alain Vigneault on Keith Yandle, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer:

“I understand what he can bring. He’s a highly skilled player that takes risks sometimes,” Vigneault said. “You got to live with the risk. Defensively, I thought he was good. He was better than what he played, I thought, in the past in Phoenix. Really respected by his teammates, and real good guy to have in the room.”

Source: Zach Braziller/ New York Post

Keith Yandle’s future is the toughest Rangers call


Nichols’ Notes runs weekdays, linking you to stories of interest from around the NHL.

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