NHL News – 24 May 14

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Courtesy Jonathan Hayward - Canadian Press

Jim Benning the new boss in Vancouver

–  Yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks and president of Hockey Operations, Trevor Linden introduced to the media their new general manager Jim Benning. Jim Benning was hired earlier this week as the replacement to fired Mike Gillis. Linden officially introduced Benning as the team’s 11th general manager on Friday with the belief of not rebuilding the Canucks in its entirety but a re-toll that will see the Canucks obtain more success in the very competitive Western Conference.

Jim Benning at the press conference Friday 23 May 14. Courtesy Jonathan Hayward - Canadian Press
Courtesy Jonathan Hayward – Canadian Press

“I wanted a builder with similar views that could help us set up the Vancouver Canucks for the next decade and beyond,” Linden said at a press conference at Rogers Arena. “What really became apparent during our interviews is how much we connected on our vision and our values and how we see winning organizations in the National Hockey League.”

Linden and Benning played together more than 25 years ago when Linden was a young rookie and Benning was on his last days in the NHL. “Trevor was a teammate 25 years ago, but when I interviewed with Trevor, I thought we shared the same values and principles,” said Benning, who has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant GM with the Boston Bruins. “He’s cut from the same cloth I am. He’s going to work hard, he’s going to do verything that he can do to make the organization successful, so I wanted to tie myself to somebody that had the same thoughts and beliefs that I did.”

“This organization needs to play an up-tempo, fast-skating, skilled game,” said the 51-year-old Edmonton native. “Before last season, this team had almost a relentless attitude about them that they were going to skate and to wear teams down and to score, and for whatever reason that didn’t happen last year”, Benning said at his press conference.

Next on the agenda for Benning is the hiring of a coach who will share the vision of Linden and Benning and the upcoming NHL entry draft at the end of June followed closely with the free agency shopping spree. Benning declared that he had no problems talking to the players on the roster to lift their no-trade clause in order to trade them for a better product. In mind, Benning was talking about Ryan Kesler who has submitted a list of six teams he would accept to be traded to. “If we feel that we need to approach a player about asking him to waive his no-trade clause, we’re willing to do that.”

Jaroslav Halak stays in New York with the Islanders

The New York Islanders signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a four years and $18-million deal on Thursday. The intent of signing Halak means the Islanders who will move eventually to a new facility in Brooklyn after the 2014-2015 season from the old Nassau Coliseum on Long Island are sending the message they want to be better starting next season. Halak who is 29 years-old was going to be the best free agent goalie on the market along with Ryan Miller not retained by the Blues.

Courtesy - CBS Sports
Courtesy – CBS Sports

Halak wasn’t going to stay in Washington

We will remember the Islanders made a pitch by trading a fourth round draft pick for the negotiating rights of Jaroslav Halak earlier this Spring. Halak who played well for the Washington Capitals, after coming over in trade from St. Louis, posted a .930 save percentage in a dozen games with the Caps. Although the move to New York may have been a surprise to may fans and followers, the move was also seen as a salary dump since Halak was expected to negotiate in the 5 to 6 million dollar range. Furthermore the Capitals had Braden Holtby, who posted a .919 save percentage in 105 career games and the up and coming prospect Philip Grubauer who also displayed a .924 SV% in 19 GP with Capitals

The return of a fourth round in exchange to Halak may prove to be less than expected. Halak who had great numbers despite some ups and downs held the third-best save percentage among goaltenders with at least 200 games played. The decision of unloading can rest on the fact too that the Washington capitals didn’t have a general manager after firing Georges McPhee earlier this Spring. Brian MacLellan, the interim manager until a new GM is found made out alright in this deal considering they were not intending to keep Halak.  made out quite well in the interim, however, securing a fourth-round pick in exchange for negotiating rights to an asset that the Capitals apparently didn’t intend to keep.

Halak’s cap hit of $4.5-million ranks 15th among goaltenders already signed for next season. Halak came to Washington from the Buffalo Sabres after not playing a single game with the Sabres who acquired him from the St-Louis Blues in the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott trade. With St-Louis Halak posted a 24-9 record with goal against average of 2.23 and a save percentage of .917. Overall Halak compiled a record of 29-13 with a 2.25 goal against average and a save percentage at .921 and a total of 5 shutouts.

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