As we jump into the beginning of June, the Stanley Cup Final begins soon and the Carolina Hurricanes still don't have a head coach. Of course there is no rush, the candidates high on Ron Francis' list probably are not as high on the lists of Florida or Vancouver, the two other teams still looking for coaches, so the Carolina GM can take his time.
If you put any stock in rumors, Ulf Samuelsson is the leading candidate for the job. As current assistant coach for the New York Rangers, he cannot speak to Francis about the position until after his season is over, so the wait will continue. It would also seem logical that Kevin Dineen is still a strong possibility as well.
Vancouver appears to be going through the same process since Los Angeles Kings assistant, John Stevens, has been rumored to be among their top choices.
Who is Florida waiting for? Your guess is as good as mine, but assuredly they will not bring back Dineen, whom they previously just fired earlier this season.
Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette both seem like good choices for the Capitals and Predators.
And then of course there is the Dan Bylsma conundrum, which cannot be resolved until the Penguins hire a new general manager. There are interesting times ahead for sure as these questions eventually get answered.
Even though they lost last night, the Chicago Blackhawks have certainly been a tremendous team the past few years. Let's give credit where credit is due, they have made some savvy trades, signed a couple of free agents who have fit right in, and also drafted very well at times.
You could say that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were obvious picks when they were selected, but Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, and most recently, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw were not.
I still remember the 2011 draft very well. Saad was projected by many to be drafted late in the first round but he was still available when it was the Hurricanes turn to choose in the second. I was thinking to myself, as were others, that the Canes might pick the highly rated winger with this pick, but they went with Victor Rask instead.
Rask was also rated higher than this by many, but his stock was falling. At one point he had been rated in the top 10.
After Carolina made their selection, Chicago was making a deal to trade up and I had a feeling who they were going to get. Yes, they knew exactly what they were doing and who they wanted, and they completed the trade up to get him.
The move has obviously paid off. (They also selected Andrew Shaw later in the same draft.)
Rask may still pan out to be a fine NHL player, but Saad is there right now.
That is one of the reasons Chicago is where they are. They have certainly drafted some busts, but they have chosen some winners as well and picking winners in the later rounds is what helps to separate good teams from the bad.
Speaking of the draft, the Hurricanes are in the position to obtain another really good player at the end of the month.
The top five rated in this draft are exceptionally strong players. Aaron Ekblad, the top defenseman could go number one, or like Seth Jones last year, he could drop a couple of spots, but he will definitely go in the top five.
Sam Reinhart, (105 points), Leon Draisaitl, (105), Sam Bennett, (91), Nickolaj Ehlers, (104), and Michael Dal Colle, (95), were all big time scorers in junior.
There are a couple of Euros who could go high, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, both sons of former NHL standouts. (Yes, Sami Kapanen's son, not that it should matter.)
Then there is another grouping of bigger guys, who did not score quite as much, but in some cases brought more physicality with their games. Nick Ritchie, (74 points), Brendan Perlini, (71), and Jake Virtanen, (71) are all possibilities for Carolina.
We will soon have much more about each of the top-rated players as well as a few mock drafts, just as we have done in the past.