NHL NEWS ROUNDUP: Nieuwendyk out, Nill in; Hecht retires; Caps re-sign Neuvirth.
DALLAS STARS CHANGE GENERAL MANAGERS
After 4 years of no playoffs and star players leaving the team, the Dallas Stars have opted to let former fan favourite Joe Nieuwendyk go as GM of the franchise. In charge since 2009, the Stars did nearly make the postseason in 2011, but “nearly” is not “did”; 4 years of little-to-no progress is bad news for a manager, so this news isn’t really all that surprising. Under his guidance, the Stars did bring in some nice pieces, such as Kari Lehtonen, Michael Ryder, d-man Alex Goligoski, Derek Roy, Erik Cole, Joe Morrow, Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Connauton, Ray Whitney, and Sheldon Souray. They also drafted promising players like Jack Campbell, Jamie Oleksiak, Brett Ritchie, and Radek Faksa.
Unfortunately, the team also lost several significant players: Brendan Morrow, Michael Ryder, James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Sheldon Souray, Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr and Brad Richards. That’s a lot of good players gone, and the Richards loss was particularly galling given they didn’t receive anything in return.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the team is replacing Nieuwendyk with Jim Nill, formerly of the Detroit Red Wings. He has worked for the Wings for nearly 20 years in various roles. Primarily he was the Assistant General Manager, and responsible for Detroit’s lauded drafting-and-developing system. He has won 4 Stanley Cups with the team in this role, and there is almost no better place to learn how best to run a hockey team than Detroit. It will be interesting to see what he does with this team; it’s not a mess, but there a fair few holes that could be plugged.
JOCHEN HECHT RETIRES
Quality two-way forward Jochen Hecht has announced his retirement from the NHL after 14 seasons, spent with the Edmonton Oilers, the St Louis Blues, and primarily with the Buffalo Sabres. One of the most notable German players to make the NHL, Hecht was an effective playmaker and defensive forward, tallying 463 points in 833 games. He also had 32 points in 59 playoff games. He reportedly plans to finish out his professional career with his hometown team in Mannheim, Germany.
Well done to Hecht on a fantastic career, he will be truly missed.
CAPITALS RE-SIGN GOALIE MICHAL NEUVIRTH
Interesting news out of Washington as the Capitals have apparently re-signed goalie Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth looked to be the goalie of the future at one point, after battling it out with Semyon Varlamov (now of Colorado), but the 25 year old appears to have lost out to 23 year old Braden Holtby. The deal is for 2 years at $2.5m per year, which is actually a bigger contract than the one Holtby signed back in February (2 years, $3.7m total). Perhaps the Capitals aren’t quite so convinced that Holtby is the sure-fire starter. We’ll see how this plays out.
TOP 10 SCORERS
The season is nearly over, and here are the Top 10 in scoring for the year:
Well despite yet another disappointing season, the Oilers do have a few things to shout about. Taylor Hall becomes the first player to score over a point per game for the Oilers since Doug Weight did it back in 2001; he also has the second least amount of games played of anyone in the Top 10 in scoring, and is behind only Patrick Kane in Western Conference scoring. That is a brilliant season, especially when you consider he is also the youngest player on this list by two years at just 21. Tyler who? (I kid, as you all know I believe Seguin is also a brilliant talent!).
Other highlights for the Oilers include rookies Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov. Yakupov finished the season tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie scoring lead with 31 points, and led all rookies in goals with 17. Schultz meanwhile posted 26 points to lead all rookie defencemen, proving the hype was at least partly justified. He remains a work in progress defensively, but that is not unusual for young defencemen, particularly those coming from the short college schedule.