Puck Daddy Countdown: Lamoriello, Game 7 and Rangers find a coach

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin haven’t had much luck in Game 7s over their careers. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
8. This story

If you read only one story today about a college hockey player having his season ruined by a 25-inch intestinal parasite, make it this deeply unpleasant one.

7. Losing Mark Hunter

This was the kind of change that you knew was going to happen, right?

You have to say, well the Leafs gave the right guy the GM job, so there was no way Hunter was going to stick around and let Dubas be his boss, especially not when he has other options available perhaps including for other teams’ GM jobs if, say, things open up.

Interesting, though, that he can’t take a new job elsewhere until July. Wonder what that means for what the Leafs are planning at the draft, in free agency, etc., and how Hunter could potentially throw a wrench in that. Obviously you don’t want a guy who just sat in on months’ worth of meetings talking to a new team about everything you want to do, but Lou Lamoriello was under no such restrictions, so y’know.

Speaking of which…

6. Lou on the Island

“Full authority.” This should be a worrisome phrase for Islanders fans. There is certainly the plausible deniability among the analytics crowd that comes with being able to say “Every bad move the Leafs made was Lou’s fault, and every good one was Dubas’s idea” but the most likely scenario is that a bunch of guys sat around in a meeting and talked out trades and signings until a consensus could be formed.

This is, from what I understand, how lots of organizations work and that’s good. You want groups of smart people making decisions instead of things being done unilaterally by one guy.

And maybe that’s what will happen in Brooklyn too, right? But full authority for Lou Lamoriello might mean a lot more of “signing guys like Matt Martin” than “signing guys like John Tavares.” Which, I guess that’s not entirely fair because the Tavares thing has nothing to do with Lamoriello being there or not being there, but you see the point.

The kind of hockey Lamoriello seems to think works in 2018 is more Casey Cizikas than Mat Barzal.

5. David Quinn

Really interesting “pending” hire by the Rangers.

On the one hand I never thought Quinn would leave Boston University, his alma mater where he earned a very good salary and was widely hailed as one of the best coaches in college hockey. Sure, you want to test yourself professionally, but you probably need one hell of an offer to leave a cushy gig like that.

The Rangers gave it to him. He will make in five years something akin to what he would have earned in 10 to 20 years at BU (depending upon whose reports you believe about his BU salary). That’s a life-changing offer, and not least because even guys who flame out hard as NHL head coaches will always be able to get a job in pro hockey, somewhere.

The question, I guess, is what the Rangers expect from Quinn. Anyone who’s around college hockey a decent amount knows Quinn is regarded as a great communicator and motivator, especially for younger high-end guys. That’s something the Rangers definitely need as they start their rebuild in earnest. His teams also play a modern, up-tempo brand of hockey. However, it’s also fair to say that Quinn’s results, routinely with one of the two or three most-talented teams in the NCAA, have been a little lacking. One Beanpot, two regular-season league titles, two postseason titles, one NCAA final appearance (with the worst third-period meltdown in recent memory). A lot of that came because Jack Eichel came to campus, which was of course Quinn’s doing.

So if you’re concerned about the Rangers underperforming with Quinn, well the good news is they’re rebuilding and as long as young players get better, he’s doing his job. Wins and losses shouldn’t really enter into the discussion too much if other indicators are there.

But at the same time, well, this is a lot of money for a totally unproven coach who, by the way, was seemingly their second choice. Jim Montgomery, now the coach of the Dallas Stars and ex of Denver University, reportedly turned the Rangers down first. Interesting times.

4. Managing the Jets’ cap

Everyone seems to think the Jets will be very good for a very long time but I went to their CapFriendly page after they lost the conference final and jeeeeez.

They have to re-sign nine restricted free agents this summer, including useful players like Brandon Tanev and Joel Armia (who won’t be that expensive), Josh Morrissey (maybe a little expensive?), and both Jacob Trouba and Connor Hellebuyck (very expensive).

Wonder where that leaves them, right? Because it would be nice to bring back Toby Enstrom and Paul Stastny, but how much cap space will be available for them, especially since they will also have to re-sign Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine in summer 2019 as well. Yeah the cap is going to go up for next season, so Winnipeg probably has like $25 million to spend on all the guys they need to re-sign, but you gotta keep some of that powder dry because Laine and Connor are going to cost a fortune.

It’s nice to have all these players and be able to meaningfully compete for the next few years, but I can’t envy Kevin Cheveldayoff putting together a five-year plan for this stuff.

That being said, it’s a nice problem to have.

3. Paul Fenton

A less-nice problem to have: Being the guy whose job is now to wring more out of this Wild group.

Paul Fenton has the ignominious task of improving this group that’s already largely locked in for another year or two and doesn’t really have a lot high-end talent coming any time soon. They have about $12-13 million to spend this summer, with only four non-star RFAs to re-sign (Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba certainly top-line the group).

Most of the roles are spoken for. There’s not much in the way of roster space for a, say, second-line scoring winger available. So I guess Fenton’s job is to improve the prospect pool or something, right? He should do well with that. That’s his whole thing.

But as with Quinn, you wonder what the expectations are from his bosses. Should this team be able to meaningfully compete with Winnipeg and Nashville, the two best teams in the league that also happen to be in their division, under the current playoff format? I don’t think that’s reasonable to put on anyone.

2. Not Alex Ovechkin

That’s a big Game 6, baby.

Ovechkin didn’t score or even have an assist — Devante Smith-Pelly did, though, baby!!!! — but he was active. Seven shot attempts, four on net, in less than 17 minutes (what the hell?).

Instead, it was Nicky Backstrom who brought the serious heat: the Caps out-attempted Tampa 23-8 with him on the ice and he had two assists, including an absolutely clinical one to T.J. Oshie to open the scoring.

Ovechkin, on the other hand, was content to just try to murder people and unload it on the power play. Which I guess is his whole thing.

1. Game 7

We haven’t had enough of these and frankly it’s good that at least there is some drama for either the Bolts or a conference final on the whole. Let’s goooooo!

(Not ranked this week: “Don’t call them a Cinderella team.”

Dawg if you don’t think an expansion team making it to the Cup Final in Year 1 is some serious fairy tale material, might I remind you that they have a guy in a suit of armor come out and fight mythical beasts and stuff before every game.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)