We got some pretty significant news yesterday as the Montreal Canadiens fired Head Coach Claude Julien and Assistant Kirk Muller. It’s the first coaching change of the year, which is a little surprising considering we’re over a third of the way through the regular season. Is this the first of many firings that we could see over the next month or so? I don’t think so.
The Julien firing specifically was stunning to read. Yes, the Habs are on a bit of a slide but they’re still 9-5-4 on the year and fourth in the North Division based on points percentage. I didn’t think they would be the first team in the division to make a coaching change.
In fact, if you would have talked to me yesterday, I would have said that a coaching change would happen in Vancouver or Calgary before Montreal. The Flames and Canucks have struggled recently and neither had as strong of a start as Montreal.
In past years, one firing would sometimes lead to a bit of a domino effect but I’m not sure if that will be the case here. Owners are probably not going to want to be paying a Head Coach that they just fired and a replacement. Money is just too tight around the league.
On top of that, unless you’re in a situation like Montreal where there is a qualified internal replacement, a new coach would have to go through a quarantine process.
Despite all of that, the Habs still made a change and that really shows how high expectations are and what a crucial year this is for the organization. If things don’t turn around soon, I wonder if we’ll see GM Marc Bergevin make any other big changes.
WHO’S SAFE IN NASHVILLE?
On Saturday night, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said that only Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Pekka Rinne are off-limits in trade talks for the Nashville Predators as they look to change things up.
That means players like Filip Forsberg, Matthias Ekholm, Dante Fabro, and Victor Arvidsson could all be acquired. There are also pending UFA’s Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula who are on the block.
I don’t think the Oilers will be looking to acquire a defenseman, but I think they should be very interested in Arvidsson. He’s only 27-years-old, is under contract for four more years with a cap hit of $4.25 million, and has scored at a 30 goal pace in three of the last four seasons. If the Oilers wanted to add another skilled piece to their forward group, Arvidsson would be a near-perfect fit in my opinion. I can’t imagine that they trade Jusse Saros but if they do, I bet the Oilers would be interested in him as well.
If the Oilers were interested in one of the pending UFA’s, then I could see Ken Holland being interested in Erik Haula as well.
There was talk that the Leafs were interested in Forsberg, but I just can’t see how they’d be able to afford his $6 million cap hit. It has been noted in the past that they have their eyes on Granlund and that sounds more realistic.
I haven’t seen this anywhere, but I could see the Flames being interested in Forsberg. It would just make sense.
FRIEDMAN ON NUGENT-HOPKINS
Elliotte Friedman chimed in on the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins contract situation in this week’s ‘31 Thoughts’ blog saying, “I believe this about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: He wants to be an Oiler. Edmonton wants to keep him. When you have that foundation, you’re in a good place. The biggest challenge: The economic landscape is recovering slower than everyone hoped.”
The fact that we’re hearing so much about how each side wants a get a deal done is a positive sign. Friedman mentioned the economic landscape and while I agree that could be a factor for the Oilers, it will also be a factor for every other team around the league.
The Oilers have close to $25 million in cap space and could have even more if they buyout James Neal this offseason. They have the space to do what it takes to get Nugent-Hopkins signed and considering the mutual interest we keep hearing about, I still think a deal will get done.
- Jean-Charles Lavoie of TVA Sports wondered if the Habs would be interested in Eric Staal if the Sabres decided to sell.
- Friedman said on the FAN 590 in Calgary that Flames GM Brad Trelieving is making phone calls and is in on almost every possible deal that pops up but nothing is imminent. The Flames GM is clearly trying to make a move though.
- Bruce Boudreau has made it clear that he would like to coach for the Seattle Kraken. We’ll see if that goes anywhere.
- Frank Seravalli said that the Red Wings veterans move Marc Staal, Bobby Ryan, and Luke Glendenning could draw interest as the trade deadline moves closer.
- Luke Fox of Sportsnet named Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, and Brandon Montour as names that the Sabres could move if they sell at the deadline. He also mentioned that the Ottawa Senators could move Derek Stepan and Ryan Dzingel.
- Pierre LeBrun says that there has been some back and forth between the Hurricanes and Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour on a potential extension. LeBrun added that if he were a free agent, there would be no shortage of suitors, including the Seattle Kraken.
- LeBrun also added that the NHL is close to a decision on the 2021 NHL Draft and how the league will handle it.