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Dreger's Mailbag: Latest on Dudley-Habs, Flyers, Predators

Darren Dreger
5/11/2012 11:35:38 AM
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Got a question on the latest news and rumours? E-mail Hockey Insider Darren Dreger and he'll answer your emails at dregereport@tsn.ca!

Hi Darren,

Great work on the Dudley news.

I've heard many say that Marc Bergevin should wait until after the draft or until July 1 in order to acquire the services of Rick Dudley. It's been said there's a mutual understanding between managerial-types and that it's perfectly reasonable for Bergevin to respect Toronto's draft process. However, do you think there's a good case for the Habs to press an earlier transfer of Dudley's services? Does Burke really have any say over this process or is all the power in Dudley's hands as a result of his contract details?

I understand Burke wouldn't like to lose Dudley's services at a crucial time, but the Habs are without an assistant general manager and have a new general manager just learning his team. Bergevin himself pointed out the Habs are understaffed and that he is learning the ropes. He has a lot of work to do before July 1 (RFAs, UFA's, draft, hiring coaches, evaluating and hiring staff and scouts) and it seems Dudley would be very helpful at this crucial time. Bergevin needs help soon, not in two months! Any further updates?

Best,
Chris Dragos in Toronto

A:   Chris, Rick Dudley will join the Montreal Canadiens, but the decision to let him go isn't a top priority for Brian Burke. Yes, Bergevin wants him as soon as possible and has called Burke several times to encourage Toronto to allow Dudley to jump prior to the Draft.  Dudley does have an out in his contract, but until that window opens the Maple Leafs control the process and the access the Habs have to Dudley to negotiate terms of his employment in Montreal.

The mechanics of this issue will be addressed in the future, perhaps, as early as the next NHL GM meeting during the Stanley Cup final. Expect Burke and other general managers to support the return of compensation for such cases. The concept of a pre-determined draft pick value will be discussed for head coaching candidates, GMs and assistant GMs who are hired from one team to another. It's unlikely that the league supports going back to this, but a number of big clubs seem to get hit often (Chicago, Detroit, Toronto), so the commissioner will soon hear a strong voice in favor of its return.

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Hi Darren, you mentioned at the start of the season that Kurt Kleinendorst and Mike Haviland were up and comers in the NHL coaching watch. Now that they're no longer with the Baby Sens and Blackhawks respectively, are they now at the top of anyone's possible want list?

Paul,
Kitchener, Ontario
 
A:  Paul, I would say the availability of both coaches is somewhat surprising.  It's not unusual for NHL benches to shuffle or change assistants, but the dismissal of Mike Haviland caught most by surprise. He has been a contender for NHL head coaching jobs and will be again, but Chicago obviously wants to freshen things up. A year ago, Mike Babcock did something similar in Detroit by parting ways with veteran assistant Brad McCrimmon before Paul MacLean was hired in Ottawa. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville knows his team needs to be better next season. He's vowed to be better and will challenge his new bench staff to help push the team forward. Letting Haviland go was a very tough decision because optically, it looks like Haviland is the only one being held accountible for a disappointing season. Haviland will find another bench - if not as a head coach, then he will have options as an assistant. He's a highly regarded coach.
 
As for Kurt Kleinendorst, his departure from the Senators is perplexing. He's an excellent coach who consistently promoted NHL-ready players to Ottawa. Something stinks with this one, especially when you acknowledge his interest in continuing to coach elsewhere as Kleinendorst clearly stated when he met with media earlier this week.
 
"There are some good roles out there that I could see myself fitting into, but, some assistant positions are really kind of glorified puck pushers. I have no desire to be a glorified puck pusher. My first choice would be to be a head coach somewhere, and I would consider an assistant position, but only under the right circumstances," Kleinendorst said.
 
So it's a big loss for the Ottawa Senators who seem to have a tough time holding on to AHL head coaches, hmmmm?

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Hey Dregs, love the mailbag!

With the Predators out, do you think there's any chance that they will keep both Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and how will they address the offence if these two are signed? Would they be able to keep soon-to-be free agents like Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn or make a play for someone else on July 1?
 
Dennis Sharman

A:   Dennis, many questions surround the Nashville Predators and a handful of players - most notably, Ryan Suter.  I maintain that Suter, like most pending unrestricted free agents, has earned the right to explore the market on July 1.  He can expect legitimate and significant interest from most, if not all NHL teams and will then have to weigh the options presented by contending teams against the harsh emotional reality of leaving Nashville. This won't be an easy decision as Suter intends on playing the remainder of his career with the team he signs with in July.  Shea Weber's future in Nashville is obviously connected to Suter in many ways.  It's possible to keep both star defencemen, but the financial strain in doing so, depending on the restrictions outlined in a new CBA could make it challenging to make upgrades up front. If Suter leaves, this frees up money/cap space, but from a competitive standpoint it weakens the Preds which will also impact Weber's thinking. As for Radulov, Kostitsyn and the corps of forwards, each will be reviewed and David Poile, Paul Fenton and Nashville's management will methodically map out a plan.  Poile does nothing without ample consideration. He's far too savvy and experienced to make rushed decisions on trades or signings or the re-signing of underachieving players.  That said, if there are trades or free agents Poile believes will add fire power or depth to his lineup, he will act as we've seen him do a number of times over the years.

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Darren,

Do you think the Flyers are still loving that nine-year contract they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to last year? And do you think Jaromir Jagr will re-sign in Philly, sign with another NHL team or ride into the sunset?

Luke Edwards

A:   Luke, there is no way to love a nine-year contract with a cap hit of just under $5.7 million per for a goaltender who failed to meet expectations in the first year of the deal. That said, Philadelphia had to address their annual goalie shuffle and Bryzgalov was the best available. Down the stretch, he regained his form before stumbling his way through round one against Pittsburgh, marginally outplaying Fleury who had a disastrous postseason. He was better in Round 2 and wasn't the reason the Flyers lost to the Devils. Philly couldn't find the intensity that fueled them past the Pens and couldn't handle the forecheck or board battles New Jersey owned throughout the series. With a year in Philadelphia under his belt, Bryzgalov will be better next season and will be better prepared to manage the distractions that go along with playing in a city with so many demands.  As for Jagr, he turned down a contract offer during the season which may not have been so wise given his power out in the playoffs (one assist in Round 2).  The Flyers' younger players will need more ice-time, so Paul Holmgren is going to have to determine how much he wants to spend on a 40-year-old forward who will likely play a more limited role. Jagr also has to decide whether or not he has enough left physically and emotionally to endure the grind of another full season.

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Hi Darren,

The L.A. Kings have shown and proven that they are a worthy in being in the conference finals and are no fluke. What is your take on the Kings and do you think they are the favorites to win the Cup now?

William Agnew
 
A:  William.  Well, there's not much to not like about the Kings.  Jonathan Quick has been spectacular.  Defensively, L.A. is better than Phoenix and may have the best D corps of the teams remaining and their depth and star power up front is daunting as well.  If the Kings can maintain their play, they're the top contender for the Cup for me.

Got a question on the latest news and rumours? E-mail Hockey Insider Darren Dreger and he'll answer your emails at dregereport@tsn.ca!

Darren Dreger

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