Nichols’ Notes

Nichols’ Notes: Coyotes Seeking Youth, Larsson on the Verge for Devils

Nichols’ Notes: Coyotes Seeking Youth, Larsson on the Verge for Devils
Chris Nichols

If there is one team you could name as central to NHL trade talk in the past few months, it’d likely be the Arizona Coyotes. Use whichever term you’d like in the ‘rebuilding’ vernacular, but this franchise is looking to shave off some age from its existing roster.

“Our agenda right now is to acquire young assets,” Maloney said. “The offseason is a whole different animal. We’ll have slots to fill and financial flexibility to fill them, but right now, we need the assets.”

Impending UFAs aside, what about Keith Yandle – who still has another year of term left – specifically?

“He’s always a name that comes up,” Maloney said. “Keith Yandle is a very important part on our team, and he’s a good player. He’s been a top offensive defenseman for the last five years in the league. I’m not actually out there shopping his name around at all, but people have talked to me about it. I’d like to build that base, not subtract from it. We don’t have enough Keith Yandles. That’s not to say if a deal comes along in the next week or the next month or at the draft … but he’s still a relatively young player that does something better than most players in the league.”

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It may be that next year’s World Cup of Hockey will be the first venue for the NHL to test out ads on jerseys. The potential revenue streams could be lucrative.

NHL COO John Collins: “Our agreement with the IIHF/national federations provides us with all commercial rights to the (World Cup) including jerseys so we have the ability to potentially include a sponsor but have yet to decide whether we will.”

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon: “All revenue options will be considered but no decision (on jersey ads) has been reached yet.”

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When it comes to Buffalo Sabres other GMs may most covet, Tyler Myers has generally topped the list. Do all of the trade rumors bother the player himself?

“No, I don’t think that stuff upsets me at all,” Myers said on Thursday. “It’s always good to hear when Tim says he’s not shopping me. I’m fully committed to being a Buffalo Sabre right now and I’m going to do the best I can to help our team out as much as possible. But we all understand it’s a business and that there might be times where there will be different situations where other teams are coming after you and it’s the GM’s job to listen to those teams.

The maturation process has helped.

“Three years ago I probably wouldn’t be handling this talk as well as I am this year. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, especially over the last two years of just focusing on the things I can control.”

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Tim Murray was on the radio for the second straight day on Thursday, which is a rarity for him. He shared his latest thoughts on the approaching NHL trade deadline.

“I think teams are really shopping around,” said Murray. “I think that they’re really doing their homework. They see that there are some sellers. Maybe more sellers. I know that doesn’t make sense, because you have teams that are five points out of a playoff spot – or let’s say seven points. But you guys know the numbers. I don’t have to tell you. Making up seven points between now and the end of the year is… every single thing would have to go right. And we know that. It doesn’t sound like much when you talk about it, but then when you dig deep and look at it, it’s tough.

“So I think there are teams out there that actually have put feelers out there about being sellers; maybe more so in quantity than other years.

“So I think you have a discerning buyer out there that is really doing his homework and not jumping at the first good power forward that gets tossed their way. They’re going to go through this, take it down to the wire, and I still think you’ll have a fair amount of trades at the wire.”

Murray also reiterated what he said the other day, in that he’s completely open to trading one or both of his later first round 2005 draft picks.

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On Thursday, Sabres president Ted Black addressed the notion that his franchise is tanking this season, which included both a look at other teams’ rebuilds and the position in which the Sabres find themselves with their stockpile of draft picks.

“Teams rebuild,” Black began. “That’s what we’re doing. Tanking has sort of been a shorthand way of saying you’re rebuilding.

“If you go back, L.A. Kings had three straight years picking in the top 5, from 2007-2009. Chicago had four straight years they picked in the top 7, 2004-2007. Everyone knows about the Penguins. Five straight years in the top 5. Boston had three of five years picking 8 or higher, 2006-2010. Anaheim picked 9 or higher four out of five drafts, 2001-2005. Carolina picked three straight years in the top 4 the year before they won the Cup. Teams rebuild. And if you do it patiently, and you do it through the draft, you’re going to benefit.

“What we’re doing that I think is different from what other teams have done – and everyone focuses on where we are in the standings, and that’s the consequence of going through a rebuild. When you trade out players for picks, you’re going to diminish position by position.

“When you replace Jason Pominville with picks and futures, you’ve weakened that position. You do it throughout the team, it becomes weaker. And what you can’t have is a player walk out the door and not get anything in return. I think Tim alluded to that yesterday on Hockey Hotline. We’ve seen the devastating effects of that from this franchise 10 years ago.

“What we’re going is a little bit different that hopefully will expedite the process, is we’re getting a historic number of first and second round picks. These other teams that I mentioned, they weren’t picking two and three times in the first round, two and three times in the second round.

“So we’re hopeful that the quantity with the quality – and as Tim said, we’ll probably be picking high this year – but we also have those other two picks in the first round. And that’s going to give him a lot of flexibility to either use the picks, move up, trade it around.

“At the draft table, the GMs that have all these picks really control the draft.”

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Speaking of tanking allegations, Ben Scrivens isn’t having any of it concerning his Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s mind-blowing that people even think that, that we’re not trying to win,” said Scrivens. “It’s people who never played competitively, it’s people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. People who have never played a competitive game in their life and they’re trying to say we should tank a game? It’s head shaking.

“And the fact that we have to answer questions about it … not that they’re stupid questions, but they’re questions about a stupid topic because people keep bringing it up who have no idea what they’re talking about.”

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Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman doesn’t seem set to become a major player at the trade deadline.

“We’re not looking at the trade deadline as a time we’re going to change our team and trade a significant player away,” Bowman said. “In order to make a deal, it’s going to be money for money. So to bring in a player, you’d have to give up somebody who’s a regular in your lineup. … If we get back to completely healthy, then there might be a smaller move. But I’m not looking at the trade deadline as a big moment.”

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The Anaheim Ducks have improved as a team in the area of faceoff wins this year, thanks largely to the additions of Ryan Kesler (56.4 percent success) and Nate Thompson (54 percent).

Kesler knows as well as anyone that centers alone are not the reason a faceoff gets won.

“I think a lot has to do with the wingers,” Kesler said. “And not just the wingers, the (defensemen) too. There’s a lot of 50-50 pucks that are tied draws. Whether the wingers win them or not, that’s the difference between 50 and 60 percent.

“Other than that, you try to time it right, try to bear down and kind of outsmart the guy. Try to get in his head early. If you’re going against the same guy, switch it up a bit to keep him guessing.”

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Cory Schneider was asked if this recent stretch of great play from Adam Larsson since the New Jersey Devils’ coaching change is a taste of what’s to come from the defenseman.

“I think so. You have to remember he’s a 22-year-old kid. He’s still a kid,” Schneider stressed. “It’s the exception, not the rule, for guys who can come in as a teenager or a young 20-something and dominate the league. You look at some of the guys around the league — Victor Hedman comes to mind and a few other guys — who’ve taken a little while to develop.”

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So when a player is traded, how does his new coach weave him into the lineup?

“I think you’ve got to decide how much information he already has from the system the other team played,” Hitchcock said, asked about Marcel Goc. “We’re lucky because Pittsburgh uses the same terminology, the same system of plays. So there’s not going to be a big adjustment. And then it’s just getting used to his linemates.

We’re not going to over-play Marcel. We’re going to just weed him in. The biggest change is when we get into penalty killing and see how he does it because that’s probably the biggest difference. Pittsburgh kills a little bit different than we do. … He’ll be a good add for our group.”

Nichols’ Notes
Chris Nichols

Chris has written about both hockey and fantasy hockey for a number of media outlets over the last 14 years, including a combined decade with Sportsnet.ca and ESPN.com. He launched NicholsOnHockey.com in February of 2014. An aversion to wearing socks sparked a move from his hometown of Edmonton to San Diego, California in the mid-’90s, and the Oilers have not won a Cup in his absence.

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