Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bouwmeester Signs with the Flames

Tonight, Jay Bouwmeester made the trading of a third round pick worth Calgary's while by signing a five year contract worth $6.6M against the cap per season for the Flames.

Meanwhile, the Cats are still trying to turn Jordan Leopold's rights in to a contract signing of their own, and have yet to extend David Booth's contract.

In other words, Booth can receive offer sheets in a little over twelve hours.

Draft, Trades and Buyouts - Hooray?

I was in Tampa for a few days, so I missed most of the draft and everything else that Sexton has been doing recently, but while you likely already know, to recap:

Florida traded Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary for Jordan Leopold and a third

Leopold is, like Bouwmeester, a UFA. His agent, however, says that they are open to signing here and the Panthers are no doubt working on this.


Round 1 (14th overall): Dmitry Kulikov (Drummondville, QMJHL)
6'1", 195

The shortest way to describe Kulikov is that he is simply a complete defenseman. Be it puck movement, skating ability or just defensive awareness, Kulikov has all of these things and he executes well. He had 62 points in 57 games with Drummondville of the QMJHL and in the process was named the QMJHL's Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Best Professional Prospect and Defenseman of the Year. His contract status and the ever-lingering uncertainty of Russian players had a hand in his falling to the Panthers, and even if you were hoping for a different player, Kulikov was almost certainly the best player available - and he has an outside shot at cracking the Panthers roster as early as this coming season.

Round 2 (44th overall): Drew Shore (USNDP)
6'3", 190

Over the past decade, the United States' National Development Program has produced quite a few NHLers and more recently, some of the best American prospects in the league. Shore was a borderline first round pick in some mock drafts and his size and skill should have the Panthers excited about his development. On the ice, Shore says he models his game after Joe Thornton. Both are big centermen and both are playmakers above all else. In Drew Shore, the Panthers have an American center with top six upside that plays offense first. Fortunately, he won't avoid going back to help out if he needs to. Shore, a native of Colorado, is headed to Denver in the fall and will be playing with two other Panthers prospects in Marc Cheverie and John Lee.

Round 3 (67th overall): Josh Birkholz (Fargo Force, USHL)
6'1", 182
Right Wing

The Panthers picked from the United States Hockey League with their third selection and this time chose a right wing from Minnesota. Like Shore, Birkholz is committed to his home college and will be moving to the University of Minnesota in the coming months. At present, Birkholz's skating is his strongest element while consistency is his weak point. He has been spending his mornings working out with former Gopher Keith Ballard, and hopes to move through the ranks quickly to get to the NHL (but really, who doesn't?).

Round 4 (107th overall): Garret Wilson (Owen Sound Attack, OHL)
6'2", 199
Left Wing

Wilson has good size for a left wing and that's a welcome attribute for a player that his coach in Owen Sound says has a good nose for the net. But despite his size, strength appears to be one of his weak points, although that is nothing that can't be improved. Similarly, his skating stride is not without its flaws, but like strength, this is something on which Wilson can work. It seems, though, that Florida is getting a defensively responsible center that at worst can be a sound penalty killer, and that's not too shabby. Wilson was suspended for 15 games after a slew foot penalty which resulted in Kitchener Rangers forward Dan Kelly suffering a broken ankle. In watching a replay (don't worry, you can't really see anything break.. and more importantly, if you watch, don't close it after the first replay because it looks like very malicious, however, the second angle clearly shows that there was no penalty), there was no slew foot and Kellywas run in to cleanly, losing his footing from a clean hit. By the time Wilson's skate was underneath, the Ranger was already crashing in to the boards. But, the point remains the same. Florida's got another solid prospect here that could someday be a valuable role player on the Panthers.

Round 5 (135th overall): Corban Knight (Okotoks, AJHL)
6'1", 180

Corban Knight played this season as a rookie in the Alberta Junior league and finished in the top ten for overall league scoring while leading all rookies with 72 points in 61 games. He elevated his game in the playoffs and despite being eliminated in the second round, Knight was still third in playoff goals (10) when all was said and done. Another college bound player, Knight will be attending the University of North Dakota - but not this fall, rather the fall of 2010. That means there's another year in Alberta to be had. But to a fan, what made Corban Knight stand out in spite of the limited scouting detail and video has to be his performance at the NHL's draft combine. Knight showed impressive overall athletic ability, ranking third in VO2 max testing, second in pushups and fourth in upper body power with a 4kg ball.

Round 5 (138th overall): Wade Megan
6'1", 185

A low ranked American high-schooler, the Panthers took Megan after interviewing him earlier in the morning. Megan's goals and assists both improved, and in fewer games, this season. Add to that Megan is committed to reigning NCAA champion Boston University for this coming fall and it's a nice late round pick to take.

Round 6 (165th overall): Scott Timmins
6'0", 193

Last, but not least, the Panthers took former Kitchener Ranger Scott Timmins. Timmins turns 20 in September and will be eligible for the AHL this season. And he knows how to win. Timmins was on the Kitchener Rangers when they won the Memorial Cup two years ago (under Peter DeBoer, no less) and this season, played for the Cup winning Windsor Spitfires after being traded mid-season.

What else?

The Panthers tendered qualifying offers to only two of their restricted free agents: David Booth and David Brine. That means Steve Eminger, Anthony Stewart, Tanner Glass, Drew Larman, David Shantz and Franklin MacDonald will become unrestricted free agents.

The case for Eminger was most definitely money. When he got to Tampa, he became a fixture on their defense and logged high minutes and played in all situations. He was supposedly seeking a nearly $3M deal so the Lightning bit the bullet and made a trade, because they knew he would likely be able to get something similar through arbitration. And that's where the Panthers now find themselves. Eminger, if qualified, could take the Cats to arbitration, but by not qualifying him, Florida has taken away that element of the negotiations. If the price comes down, Florida would be silly to not want to bring the defenseman back. But if he holds out for more money, Florida will have no choice but to pass.

With all of these players, returning is not out of the question, though for some, it seems unlikely they would be brought back. A few, however, could still be brought back depending on the market.

Which leaves us with the most recent move (and one that was foreshadowed by the acquisition of Steve Reinprecht): Brett McLean being placed on unconditional waivers.

This is the typical start to a contract buyout, so it looks like McLean's time with the Panthers is done.

Friday, June 26, 2009

George Richards: Maybe No Bouwmeester Trade

From On Frozen Pond:
MONTREAL -- The newest rumor I am hearing is that Jay Bouwmeester has become all but untradeable, his agent again telling prospective employers that Jay will not sign with anyone until he hits the open market on July 1.

If this is true, this is a major buzzkill for Panthers fans today. Wasn't expecting much, but I can't say I was expecting nothing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bouwmeester Talk in Philadelphia

Well, perhaps this is not ideal for the Panthers.

According to Philly.com (article link is in the title), the UFA-to-be defenseman is unwilling to talk contract with any club before free agency hits:
The Flyers seem to have run into a roadblock with Bouwmeester, who appears content to wait until the free-agent period starts Wednesday before he talks to teams.

Before the start of the free-agent period, a player can tell his team - in Bouwmeester's case, Florida - he is willing to talk with a team that is interested in acquiring his rights.

Bouwmeester has not given the Flyers permission to talk with him and see if he would sign for X amount of dollars before they made a deal for him.

He apparently hasn't given any team permission, an NHL source said.

"My gut sense is that they can't get him to agree to talk to anybody now," said a Flyers official who asked to remain anonymous. "That's the wrinkle."

The draft begins tomorrow night. Right now, a Bouwmeester trade return is anybody's guess.

Former Panthers Coaching in Calgary

If you've been a Panthers fan since the beginning, you know Dave Lowry and you may know that he coached in the WHL last season leading the Calgary Hitmen to a 59-9-3-1 record and an appearance in the WHL championship.

Now, he's moved back to the Flames, the team on which he finished his career, as an assistant coach. And if you remember Jamie McLennan, he's done the same. McLennan, who built up quite a reputation for being a great player in the room and a good relationship with his starters, is the new goaltending coach for the Flames after serving as a scout for the club last season.

That's all for now. Just thought that was pretty cool.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reinprecht and Bouwmeester

Well, by now you probably know that the Panthers traded Stefan Meyer to Phoenix for Steven Reinprecht, and subsequently signed Reinprecht (or Reino [Reino]; whichever you prefer) to a three year contract with $2.05M per season.

Meyer was a restricted free agent, but it seems as though the Panthers weren't going to tender a qualifying offer to the 23 year old, so he was sent packing. Reinprecht was to become an unrestricted free agent, so Florida got the beat early and picked up a player that they had apparently been targeting and that was hyped up a good deal by former teammate Keith Ballard.

Also of note, no mention of Nick Boynton talking about Reinprecht. At least not when I first read about it. So if you were looking for even more reason to suspect that Boynton will not return next season, there you go.

That's a pretty lame assessment, you say? Yeah. It is.

The acquisition of Reinprecht gives the Panthers the ability to move Horton back to wing regardless of any other moves that they may or may not make, while bumping Stephen Weiss to the top line permanently and then allowing Greg Campbell, Kamil Kreps and Brett McLean to slot in somewhere as needed. Or, more likely, to be traded. At least one of them, anyway. Unfortunate, but likely a necessary move (especially if McLean can fetch a draft pick, as his struggles this past season, coupled with a $1.7M cap hit should make him the most available of the bunch).


Speaking of availability, there's always (non) news about Jay Bouwmeester.

Kevin Allen of USA Today says, "To talk to Bouwmeester before July 1, Florida Panthers want a draft pick, which would become a 1st rounder if he signs."

I guess that's not all that surprising. But there it is anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

NHL Awards 2009: No Masterton for Zednik

The NHL Awards show was last night and the player Panthers fans were hoping to see win an award wound up disappointed as the Masterton was awarded to Steve Sullivan.

But, Sullivan most definitely earned the award. And, not to belittle what Richard Zednik did, Sullivan missed a full season and spent months rehabbing to come back from multiple back surgeries and an injury that impacted his daily life for some time. Either player could have made a case for the award (and so too could Chelios, but not so much as Sullivan or Zednik) and I'm not let down in the least. If what Sullivan went through to get back to the NHL isn't perserverance and dedication to the game of hockey, I'm not sure what is.

If you run through the winners, only a few seem to be surprising (like Mike Richards losing out to Pavel Datsyuk for the Selke, despite receiving more first place votes).

Hart: Alexander Ovechkin
Norris: Zdeno Chara
Vezina: Tim Thomas
Jack Adams: Claude Julien
Calder: Steve Mason
Lady Byng: Pavel Datsyuk
Selke: Pavel Datsyuk
Lester B. Pearson: Alexander Ovechkin
Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin
Maurice "Rocket" Richard: Alexander Ovechkin
William Jennings: Tim Thomas/Manny Fernandez

For the awards determined by votes, no Panther had any impressive showing in the final numbers, but a couple did still receive a handful of votes in a few categories:

In the parentheses that follow the points awarded through voting, you'll see the number of first place through fifth place votes received for each Panthers player.

Norris: Jay Bouwmeester - 9 (0-0-1-0-4)
Vezina: Tomas Vokoun - 1 (0-0-1)
Jack Adams: Peter DeBoer - 3 (0-1-0)
Calder: Michael Frolik - 12 (0-1-1-0-0)
Lady Byng: Stephen Weiss - 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
Lady Byng: Richard Zednik - 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Lady Byng: Cory Stillman - 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Selke: Stephen Weiss - 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

For the 2008-2009 NHL All-Star Team voting, Jay Bouwmeester came in fifteenth for defensemen with seven points, all third place votes. Tomas Vokoun was tenth for goaltenders, picking up six points with a pair of second place votes.

That's it for now, though. I have to go to work.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Comrie, Jenks Invited to the U.S. National Junior Camp

Panthers' prospects Adam Comrie and A.J. Jenks are among the 43 players invited to the United States World Junior camp.

Comrie had nine goals and thirty points in 50 games with the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) this past season and was a third round choice of the Panthers last summer. He also managed a pair of assists in eight playoff games this season.

Jenks was taken in the fourth round by the Panthers last summer and in 61 games with the Plymouth Whalers (OHL), he scored 21 goals and amassed a total of 52 points. The Whalers made the playoffs as well, and Jenks had three points in eleven games.

As an aside, there's a local kid on the list. In looking at his numbers, they were very modest until he was traded this season from the Windsor Spitfires to the Erie Otters. With Erie, his production exploded and he scored 17 goals and 17 assists in 35 games. His name is Andrew Yogan and he's from Boca Raton. He isn't draft eligible this season, but the Panthers have their eye on him, and they may not be the only ones.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Whoops! Roenick Makes a Boo-Boo

San Jose Sharks' center Jeremy Roenick made an appearance on ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas recently and when steroids in baseball came up, Roenick was of course asked to comment on its prevalence in hockey.

As you've noticed, I pretty much never write about something that doesn't in some way, shape or form involve the Panthers.

And that will continue.

I'm copying the quote directly from Puck Daddy at Yahoo Sports, so here's what Jeremy had to say:
"[Hockey has] never had a problem. Our League is squeaky clean. We had one guy that tested positive that was Bryan McCabe, but he was taking a steroid because he was blind in one eye, and the doctors were giving him some kind of aid to help him see a little bit out of his eye. And the other guy was the goaltender who put Propecia in his hair ... so he'd look better for the ladies."

Bryan McCabe? D'oh! Bryan Berard is the player that Roenick meant, not Panthers' defenseman Bryan McCabe - and Berard was banned for two years by the IIHF for his failed test.

Incidentally, Roenick forgot about former Panthers' defenseman Sean Hill. Hill, of course, was the first NHLer to be suspended under a then-new-league testing program back in 2007. At the time, Hill was playing for the New York Islanders and at the time, the Islanders were mere hours from an elimination game. They went on to lose the game and their season ended.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pierre Groulx Let Go by Team

The Panthers chose not to renew their contract with goalie coach Pierre Groulx today, apparently opting to set their sights on a part-time coach.

Coach Pete DeBoer claims this was his decision, as the Red Wings only have a part-time guy and they can't find a way to justify having Groulx work full time. So, is money a motivation? Probably doesn't help.

Could add some fuel to the fire that Al Strachan claims will see the proposed SPAC sale fall through, though. If Cohen has to keep the team, he might only want a "part-time guy" so that he doesn't have to pay as much.

But, what seems more realistic is that DeBoer simply made this decision since he didn't have enough work to justify keeping Groulx on board full time. He said that he had never worked with a full-time goalie coach. Groulx had a contract when DeBoer climbed aboard and only Charron was let go. Groulx coached out his contract and it appears that's all this will be. No harm, no foul. Now, DeBoer can find a good "consultant" that he's interested in, so this move could be good for the team down the road.

And hey, Montreal's looking for a goalie coach. Maybe Groulx will team up with Martin again.

Andy O'Brien, the strength and conditioning coach has left the team as well. Apparently leaving on his own to accept a position outside the NHL.

Overdue Update: Brodeur, SPAC and More

Work has me burned out when I get home lately, but I'm trying to get back in to this because I enjoy it.

So there's a lot that has happened - ownership rumors, GM speculation and some personnel news (albeit minor).

First up is a rumor from Al Strachan that the potential sale of the Panthers to Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. has fallen, or is about to fall through. No one else has reported anything similar, and Strachan's reliability is somewhere around that of paying my cat (she's not the smartest of cats, mind you) to file your tax return online.

All indications thus far would be that this sale is still being pursued, so until we hear otherwise, I'm going to hold on to hope that it happens - and that it turns out to be a good thing. But really, aren't we all hoping for that?


Mike Brodeur, who basically singlehandedly turned Rochester around from being the undisputed worst team in the league to being "one of the worst", has rejected a Panthers offer. Brodeur won't be back, but don't worry about the Cats lowballing Brodeur. The Democrat and Chroncile reports that it was simply an offer Brodeur rejected because he believes he has better opportunity to play in the NHL with the Senators. And he may be right; the Sens have Alex Auld, Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire in goal.

Marc Cheverie and Brian Foster are presumably returning to college and Jacob Markström is still under contract in Sweden, so I would imagine that makes Alexander Salak the Amerks' goaltender for the time being, along with Tyler Plante and then maybe Shantz or Beckford-Tseu rounding things out.

These are all good things: Shantz and Plante have had their struggles at the pro level thus far, but the Panthers still have a good deal of confidence in Tyler Plante's future. The expecations for Shantz likely aren't as high. But Cheverie and Foster have been very good in college, and as posted at LetsGoAmerks.com, both looked good at the development camp - and then Salak and Markström get thrown in and the Panthers have some real opportunity to develop some true goaltending talent as opposed to acquiring it via trade. The future between the pipes should be exciting to watch it unfold.


That leaves the GM search. News making the rounds is that former Panthers GM Rick Dudley (2002-2004; fired) had boarded a plane in Buffalo en route to South Florida the other day, but the interviewing process has already begun and, according to team president Michael Yormark, Bill Torrey has received nearly 100 inquiries for the position. So Dudley, having previous experience with the team may simply have been flown in for an interview given his knowledge of the roster. Or maybe he was just on vacation.

And then there's Jacques Lemaire. If you remember the rumor a few weeks back that Lemaire was seeking a consultant's position with the Panthers or Lightning (he lives on the west coast of Florida), this news could be interesting to you.

According to the St. Pete Times, Lemaire has rejected the Lightning's offer to become a senior consultant - on good terms. Reportedly, Lemaire "has another offer that has gained his interest and which he is pursuing."

When Jacques Martin was hired to coach the Canadiens, however, speculation swirled that Lemaire would join his former team soon after. That very well may be the case as Lemaire played with Montreal , winning the Stanley Cup EIGHT times. But, for the sake of pure speculation, Jacques Martin was still with the Panthers when the report came out some weeks ago of Lemaire's interest. Now, Florida needs a general manager. Now, Lemaire may be much more interested in a job close to home.

7:13 Edit: RDS (English translation) is now reporting that Lemaire is indeed talking with the Panthers about the GM position.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Repik Drafted (What?)

The KHL held its inaugural draft today, and Florida Panthers' prospect Michal Repik was selected in the second round, twenty-seventh overall by Sibir.

That shouldn't be any cause for alarm, however, as Repik has expressed an abundance of interest and desire to play in the NHL. He's almost there now, and the penalties for contract jumpers are going to be much harsher now that the IIHF has written new rules to prevent future Radulov situations.

Really, the KHL's draft is one that the Russians hope can keep their talented young players home. While the NHL drafts 18 year olds, the KHL has a minimum age of 17 - which means Taylor Hall, the prospect many think can go first overall in 2010 in the NHL, was eligible. And of course, he was drafted by a KHL club.

So too was Victor Hedman.

There will always be players that can be wooed by money, or want to pass on junior hockey or the AHL or college - and there are players that will always want to play closer to home - so the draft might cost the NHL some players, but that it keeps many away, or keeps the next Ovechkin or Malkin out of the NHL is quite a longshot. At least in the immediate future.

But as far as the selection of Repik goes, I don't imagine there's anything to worry about. His draft rights will remain with Sibir until he is 28 years old, or his rights are traded or released. For the time being, however, Repik looks to be a leading candidate to be promoted from the AHL to the NHL this coming season.

Bad Timing: Jacques Martin Out

So, I'm a few hours late. I had to work today, but I saw this rumor early this morning and heard that it was true a couple hours later.

With Martin out, assistant GM Randy Sexton will take over in the interim and move the team forward as the draft and free agency approaches.

In the meantime, Bill Torrey will be searching for the Florida Panthers next general manager.

According to Michael Yormark, the Panthers were contacted a little over a week ago and team owner Alan Cohen then spoke to Martin about the Canadiens' interest. He gave the Habs permission to speak with Martin - JM loves coaching, and it's clear that his heart is still behind the bench - and last night, Jacques accepted the Canadiens' offer and was released by the Panthers to become the next head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

What's surprising is that quotes surfaced soon after from the agents of both David Booth and Jay Bouwmeester, stating that the two had not yet had any contact with Martin. With the latter, that's no shocker. His agent, Byron Baltimore, said, "Probably not," when asked whether Bouwmeester would reach an agreement in Florida before walking away. Booth, on the other hand, says he loves it here and that he wants to stay here. Since then, it's come out that Randy Sexton has contacted his pending free agents, saying there's a plan in place and that it will be followed as best they can.

The options that exist for the new GM are many, but just how likely some are remains to be seen.

Jack Birch: Birch is currently the director of player personnel with the Panthers, having been with the team for five years. This past season was his first with the new title, however, having worked as a pro scout and director of hockey operations in previous seasons. He's been responsible for overseeing the team in Rochester this past season.

Rick Dudley: Apparently, Dudley wants to finish what he started here in Florida. He was the Panthers' general manager from 2002 to 2004, eventually handling the coaching duties as well, and is currently an assistant general manager with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jay Feaster: Feaster helped the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004, but whether the connection is irrelevant or not, some of Feaster's time with the Lightning coincided with current Panthers' president Michael Yormark's tenure as Tampa's Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer.

John Ferguson, Jr.: Toronto's former general manager is currently working with the San Jose Sharks as a scout.

Les Jackson: Along with Brett Hull, Jackson is now a former co-general manager of the Dallas Stars (as of today).

Mike Keenan: If at first, you don't succeed - or the second time - why not hire him a third time and try again? But really, Keenan was recently relieved of his duties in Calgary after being reunited with Olli Jokinen and is once again out of work. Yet the same logic that tells you, "It didn't work out the first two times, so we won't go with Keenan," could also imply: "Cohen must like the guy to have given him another shot after he was fired the first time around. Maybe he'll do it again now that he's available. Again."

Jacques Lemaire: Lemaire was rumored to have an interest in working with an east coast team, and more specific to the rumors, either the Lightning or the Panthers. At the time, Martin was still in the front office and the position rumored was as a consultant. Lemaire lives on the west coast of Florida, so if there was truth to the rumor before, Lemaire may be more inclined to fancy a particular Eastern team now that one needs a new GM.

Doug MacLean: You remember MacLean, most likely. He's been with the Panthers before, coaching them to the Stanley Cup final during the 1995-96 season. But Bill Torrey fired MacLean two years later, and since then, MacLean saw a stint as GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets (their first in team history) end with another firing. The Jackets never posted a winning record with any of MacLean's teams, having finally made the playoffs for the first time ever two years after his departure.

Pierre McGuire: McGuire's name surfaced during the Minnesota Wild's hunt for a new general manager this summer. He's never served in a GM capacity and has only coached briefly in the league (head coach of the Whalers and assistant coach of the Penguins). But McGuire's been one of Florida's biggest cheerleaders this season, praising them and their new direction quite often whenever the opportunity arose. Much like hiring DeBoer to be the coach, McGuire would be an out-of-the-box move, but he's got exceptional hockey knowledge and an infectious (if not at times annoying in its presentation) enthusiasm for the game of hockey. Putting the two together would be a dramatic culture shock to the Panthers we've known for so long.

Mike Milbury: Milbury was the general manager of the New York Islanders for a spell, trading Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Panthers for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. He passed on Dany Heatley to select Rick DiPietro, and he traded Zdeno Chara, the second overall in 2001 (Jason Spezza) and Bill Muckalt to the Senators for Alexei Yashin. Not one of his better days. Nor was trading Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi and a third for Trevor Linden - in the mid-90s, when both McCabe and Bertuzzi were still under 22 years old.

Denis Potvin: Potvin was just released from his position as a TV analyst for the Panthers - a position that he held from the very beginning. But Bill Torrey is heading this search, and if he feels Potvin could be the right man for the job, one has to think he'd approach him. After all, they have a bit of a history together: Torrey drafted Potvin in 1973, then turned down a major trade offer from Montreal in order to keep Potvin as an anchor for his franchise long-term. Along with Potvin, Torrey had been with the Panthers from the very beginning.

Randy Sexton: Sexton's currently the assistant GM of the Panthers and he's been here since the beginning of the 2007 calendar year. Prior to joining the Panthers, Sexton helped mold the Ottawa Senators over eight years and was responsible for drafting Daniel Alfredsson and Pavol Demitra, to name a few.

Neil Smith: Smith took over a talented Rangers team and made them even better, drafting guys like Kovalev and Weight in to the league and added Adam Graves, Jeff Beukeboom and Esa Tikkanen to the team - and most notably - traded for Mark Messier. Messier would go on to lead the Rangers to the Cup with his famous promise. Smith signed Wayne Gretzky near the end of his career, and then left the Rangers soon after. He was more recently GM of the Islanders, briefly, and said at the time, "Knowing that I'll be working in the same office where one of my mentors, Bill Torrey, created a dynasty is an unbelievable feeling." Torrey, of course, will be doing the interviews - so Smith might be interested.

The list could go on, with names like Scott Mellanby (now a scout), Doug Risebrough, Dave Nonis and maybe even Scott Luce, but the short answer is that there are many possibilities out there.

The timing, however, couldn't be worse.