The search for a GM continues
The Toronto Maple Leafs are not in an immediate need to appoint a general manager for their team. Interviewed yesterday at the Night For Change social event in Toronto, President of Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan stated he wasn’t fixed on when a general manager for the Leafs and there were no specific timeline. Shanahan who has hired interim GM Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas from the OHL is satisfied going into the draft on the 26 and 27 June 15 with his two men he hired recently. Dubas and Hunter are known to be two of the best in scouting and evaluation of junior and university players. Shanahan went as far as saying the general manager probably won’t be in place until the start of the next season in September.
When asked, Shanahan replied: “It’s possible! Right now, we’re focusing on getting ready for the draft. It’s a possibility but I’m comfortable with the group right now and also how they’ve been working together. I’ve actually been very pleased with how the group has been working together and the relationships that are being established with some other teams throughout the league. It would be my preference to have a full-time GM in place but if we have to go in a different direction we will.”
Comfortable with Mark Hunter
On draft day in Sunrise, Florida, it will director of player personnel and interim general manager Mark Hunter who will be making the decision along with Shanahan and his staff. He will be assisted with co-interim general manager Kyle Dubas.
Shanahan added Hunter is the one who has the most experience in the selection of players for the draft based on his evaluation and analysis. He has these guys throughout the last season and will be well positioned to make the final selection at the NHL Entry Draft. Toronto will be picking in the no.4 spot, right behind Arizona. Hunter is seen as a team player who doesn’t hesitate to ask questions, and communicate his thoughts. He has the trust of Shanahan which means a general manager is not an urgency.
3rd Round Pick
Shanahan admitted that trade talks rumors have heated up leading to the NHL Draft on the 26th. He also admitted that teams have inquired for Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel but also other players on his team. Rumors for Kessel and Phaneuf started with the Toronto descent in the standing last January.
Finally Shanahan confirmed that he would retain the third round pick to be awarded to the Detroit Red Wings at the upcoming NHL Draft. The pick was awarded in compensation of the signing of head coach Mike Babcock, who left the Red Wings and joined the Toronto Maple Leafs on 20 May. The Leafs have an option to give Detroit the third round pick in 2016 or 2017.
Dallas goaltender’s UFA options
The Dallas Stars is not a team, you will see spending carelessly on the free agent market. They did in the past but times have changed for Dallas and with Jim Nill now running the show the Stars are more looking at young talents and developping them in their system. Despite this ideology, Nill is intent on improving his team at all cost if it can bring them into the playoffs next season. One pressing need for Dallas is in goal. They have the offence with Spezza, Benn and Seguin but their goaltending needs more depth. Nill is not into giving prospects in order to acquire a Cam Talbot for example. So what are his options on the unrestricted free agency market
The free agent market for solid goaltender is limited. We have assembled 5 goalies that could make a difference and not cost a young talent in return. They are Annti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks, Karri Ramo from the Calgary Flames, Ray Emery from the Philadelphia Flyers, Jhonas Enroth from the Stars and Devan Dubnyk who had a sensational second half of the season last year leading the Wild into the playoffs.
Niemi and Dubnyk – the best UFA options
Of that group, Niemi and Dubnyk represent possibly the best two options out of the group. Niemi, 31, has been a no.1 goalie with the Sharks and has won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. His career numbers are solid with a 190-100-40, a 2.39 goal against average (GAA) and a .916 save percentage. His playoff record is also respectable with a 35-26 record in the playoff with a 2.74 goal against average (GAA) and a save percentage of .907. After leaving Chicago, Niemi signed as a free agent with the Sharks and played the last five seasons.
As for Dubnyk, it is considered a longshot. Dubnyk who is still negotiating with the Wild may resign a lucrative deal with the Wild by July 1st. In the case of Dena Dubnyk, he has had a crazy two years starting in Edmonton with the Oilers behind one of the worst defensive corps in the NHL. Often left to himself, Dubnyk lost his confidence and was traded to the Nashville Predators. Not able to break out of the slump he plunged in while in Edmonton, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline. In the off-season Montreal decided to let him go and was picked up by the Arizona Coyotes in a $800,000 one way deal.
In Arizona, Dubnyk came back and posted a 9-5-2 record with the Coyotes. The Coyotes, then traded Dubnyk to Minnesota who were short on goalies due to injuries. With Minnesota, Dubnyk posted a stellar 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goal against average (GAA) and .936 save percentage. He is now a finalist for the Vezina trophy. Shouldn’t he resign with the Wild, Dubnyk could become a very sought after goalie in the off season. Forget a return to Edmonton for Dubnyk too. The Oilers are one of the teams looking to upgrade their goaltending needs.
As for Karri Ramo, Ray Emery and Jhonas Enroth, there are too many uncertainties. None of them are proven no.1 goalies. Ramo did well for the Flames in the playoffs but showed signs of letting the easy goal at times against the Anaheim Ducks. Ramo made 2.9M last season in Calgary. As for Emery, he could be a solution to Kari Lehtonen, if they keep the Finnish goaltender.
Ray Emery’s record this season was 10-11-7 with a save percentage of .894 and a goal against average of 3.06. What is remarkable for Emery is the record he posted when backing up the Blackhawks three years ago with a record of 17-1-3 and a goal against average of 1.94 and a save percentage of .922, backing up no.1 Corey Crawford.
Finally Enroth may be a last option choice for the Stars. Comfortable playing for Lindy Ruff in Buffalo, Enroth posted a record of 18-26-2, a 3.07 goal against average (GAA) with a save percentage of .904. Good numbers but is that enough to take the Stars to the next step. In addition, Enroth has only played in one playoff game.
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