Over the past few weeks, Pittsburgh Hockey Now and the National Hockey Now family have been speaking to agents, NHL team executives, NHL scouts and others we will term as hockey professionals. The NHL season still has a nebulous future, the NHL trade market is clogged and several free agents are waiting for new contracts.
Few have been willing to go on the record to discuss the situation. Most conversations have begun with, “Off the record…”
There is plenty of scuttle around the Penguins hockey opsPenguins hockey ops situation, and what will unclog the NHL trade market.
This first Off the Record column will be free for all. Subsequent columns will be PHN+.
The OTR comments are not “news” as much as they are context. They’re chatter or gossip.
Off the record…
*The name Dale Tallon was immediately mentioned as a potential AGM or hockey operations advisor for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Outside the organization, there was real speculation. Tallon and Rutherford are thought to be close, but there is a problem.
Tallon was fired as the Florida Panthers GM after the NHL postseason following another disappointing Florida exit and an accusation that Tallon used a racial slur inside the NHL bubble in Toronto. The allegation was the first against Tallon and the following NHL investigation findings were not made public.
Off the record comment from a hockey professional familiar with the Penguins organization: “I don’t know what’s going on (with the changes) — I think (Rutherford) will hire Tallon.”
*Why haven’t there been more trades and why did free agent signings stop?
Off the record from an agent: “I think some owners need fans in the stands. When the revenue starts to flow, I think more owners will spend money.”
Second OTR comment from an agent: “There’s money. How many businesses were bailed out by employees? Some of these owners are billionaires. There’s money.”
Not even professionals agree on the situation.
*The Boston Bruins-Zdeno Chara situation could go sideways very quickly.
Off the record: The chatter is building. The next week could yield big news ranging from retirement or the big guy in a different sweater.
Joe Thornton left San Jose, so anything is possible. Boston Hockey Now is all over the story which may soon come to a head.
Chara would be a spare defenseman in Boston. Is that good enough? Players are always the last to know.
*Speaking of our boys at Boston Hockey Now, they conducted a lengthy ON the record interview with LA Kings director of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti.
Yannetti laid out why draft picks are so vital to NHL teams, or at least should be.
“Homegrown talent will allow you the flexibility that other teams don’t have. It’s simple if you draft a seventh round player and put him on your fourth line, make him F-10 or F-12, whatever, where he’s a full-time NHL player.
Over the course of a 10-year career, he might save you $15 million.”
*Erik Haula and Mike Hoffman remain the biggest free agent forwards without a contract.
The reasons for the lack of “preview” window this season was either at the request of the players, or because the NHL wanted a frenzy on Oct. 1. Both stories are out there.
One casualty of the preview window was lack of defined market. The flat salary cap also wreaked havoc. Players and their agents had to stick to their valuations.
Off the record: “There were definitely three to four teams in panic mode (who offered below market deals to players).”
Even off the record, we couldn’t find out who those panicked teams were.
*Off the record: Pittsburgh Hockey Now and National Hockey Now are set to expand again (and maybe again and again). Our business model is attracting a lot of attention and your patronage has upped our traffic to over 1 million hits this month, and it keeps climbing.
We’re excited to launch another heavyweight beat writer who specializes in honest, Gritty coverage.