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NHL Notebook: Which team will steal the spotlight this offseason?

Carolina Hurricanes warmup
Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
17 days ago
What started as 16 teams battling for their chance to become the 2024 Stanley Cup champions has made its way down to four, meaning the NHL is beginning to shift closer to the offseason, the trade market, and free agency. 
Both East Coast (Florida Panthers vs. New York Rangers) and West Coast (Edmonton Oilers vs. Dallas Stars) matchups have one team leading the series three games to two and are that much closer to hoisting Lord Stanley. However, the nearing offseason brings forth many opportunities for every team to make hard decisions for the future of their franchises.
In Daily Faceoff’s latest roundtable, contributor’s discussed who might be the most intriguing team to watch as the upcoming offseason creeps in. 
The Carolina Hurricanes
Over the past six years, the Carolina Hurricanes have become quite the storm as one of the most consistently competitive groups. 
However, Frank Seravalli believes this may be the summer of change for the Hurricanes, with a new general manager and half their defensive core entering the summer as unrestricted free agents. 
“They’ve got important pieces at the forward group up for contracts – and a huge call on the way in the future of Martin Necas,” Seravalli said. “There is no shortage of franchise-altering decisions on the way in Carolina.”
The New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are another team at the top of people’s minds. Their roster boasts a plethora of veterans and intriguing young talent waiting for their moment to shine. Not to mention, Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson, and Alexander Romanov are entering the final years of their contracts. 
The big question for Mike Gould is what general manager Lou Lamoriello could be cooking up this offseason for the Islanders.
“Lou has never shied away from going after big names, and something tells me he might try to take a swing at landing Marner this offseason if he becomes available,” said Gould. 
“He knows the player well; he just acquired an extra second-round pick, and the Islanders have a glaring need for a playmaker to drive another line in support of Mat Barzal.
The Chicago Blackhawks
With a whopping $33 million in cap space, it’s time the Chicago Blackhawks used it. Earlier this season, the Blackhawks traded with the Islanders to get some early draft picks, not to mention the opportunity to build a team around Connor Bedard. 
“Who’s the goalie of the future?” said Steven Ellis. “They’ll get another good top pick this year, but then they have to start pushing forward to make the most of the Bedard era.”
The Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators general manager Barry Trotz was not shy about making aggressive moves in his first year with the organization. He dropped Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene and signed Ryan O’Reilly, Luke Schenn, and Gustav Nyquist. Who’s to say this offseason won’t be just as interesting?
“Will Trotz throttle up even more? The Preds have more than $26 million in projected cap space,” said Matt Larkin. “They also can entice UFAs with no state income tax, being in Tennessee. Whether they trade No. 1 goalie Juuse Saros or not, this team is positioned to make some big moves.”
Utah
The newest NHL city may be the team to watch this offseason — at least, Scott Maxwell thinks so. 
Utah already boasts a pool of young talent who have established themselves at the NHL level. Still, the helpful addition is new owner Ryan Smith, who is willing to spend some money to get his team competitive right away. 
“With more than $40 million in salary cap space and 17 draft picks in the second and third round over the next three years in terms of assets, they have the tools to make that happen,” said Maxwell. 

Former Canucks assistant coach Mike Yeo a candidate for Senators coaching staff

After parting ways with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, assistant coach Mike Yeo has reportedly interviewed to be a part of the Ottawa Senators coaching staff.
Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch broke the news on Friday, reporting that sources revealed late Wednesday that Senators head coach Travis Green and general manager Steve Staios met with Yeo.
Yeo was brought into the Canucks organization partway through last season, but after being offered a one-year contract extension, he opted to leave the organization for “an opportunity closer to home.”
Yeo has been a part of the NHL for quite some time, starting with an assistant coaching position with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005. In 2011, he landed his first head coaching position with the Minnesota Wild. After five seasons, Yeo was released by the club and later named assistant coach of the St. Louis Blues, which ultimately found him replacing Ken Hitchcock as bench boss. Yeo was let go in 2018 by the Blues and joined the Philadelphia Flyers in 2019 as an associate coach.
In 2021, in light of an eight-game losing streak, Alain Vigneault was relieved of his duties, and Yeo was named interim head coach, which later led to his position with the Canucks in 2022-23. 
Although Ottawa may be the first team Yeo has talked to, there is speculation about him and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Craig Berube due to Yeo being a Toronto native and the two’s previous history. 

Rangers Blake Wheeler misses morning skate ahead of Game 6

New York Rangers forward Blake Wheeler was not present on the ice Saturday morning ahead of the Rangers must-win Game 6 against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final.
Multiple reports indicated that the 37-year-old was sore following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, which ultimately sidelined him for the Rangers 3-2 loss against the Panthers in Game 5 on Thursday.
Wheeler had nine goals and 21 points throughout the Rangers’ first 54 games of the year before missing the remainder of the season with a lower-body injury on February 15th. After a lengthy recovery, he returned for Game 4 of the Conference Final, playing on the fourth line alongside Barclay Goodrow and Matt Rempe with 9:18 of ice time.
Anton Blidh stepped in as the extra skater in place of Wheeler on Saturday morning. The 28-year-old Swede previously appeared in one game for the Rangers during the regular season but spent the remainder of the year with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, scoring seven goals and 17 points.
The Panthers currently lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for Saturday night at American Airlines Center. If necessary, Game 7 will be held at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The winner will face either the Dallas Stars or Edmonton Oilers in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final.

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