BOSTON -- Mandatory use of visors for players entering the NHL next season, plus the testing of a form of hybrid icing in the preseason were among the items endorsed by the league's general managers on Wednesday.
NHLPA Special Assistant Mathieu Schneider said that the GMs were committed to changing the way icings are called, and if all parties are pleased with it, the rule would officially be implemented beginning with the 2013-14 regular season.
Along with hybrid icing and mandatory visors, video review of four-minute high sticking penalties, shallower nets (from 44 to 40 inches), and the need for the puck to make contact with a stick on a pass in order to wave off an icing will now go to the Board of Governors on June 27 for approval.
More discussion needed on diving
The issue of diving was also brought up Wednesday, but according to Schneider, there needs to be more discussion in order for there to be a recommendation to the BoG for some form of punishment.
"There's so many that are gray, even though there's the calls that everybody and their mother knows that it's a dive, there are a lot of them that are gray," said Schneider. "What happens if you discipline one player and another player says, 'I did the same thing'? It's very difficult. There's nothing that's black and white. It's not like a high stick."
Among the ideas discussed were better education of players and a list inside team dressing rooms.
"It's something that we want to address, but we're not sure how to do it right now," Schneider said.
Are the Avs serious or bluffing about passing on Seth Jones?
Joe Sakic told Adrian Dater of the Denver Post that Colorado Avalanche were thinking about passing on defenseman Seth Jones and using the No. 1 overall pick on one of the top available forwards like Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin. That news could certainly trigger movement when the NHL Draft arrives in 11 days, but there's some hesitance to believe that's exactly what the Avs plan to do.
"One of the things it causes you do to is say is that for real or is that smoke screen?," said Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster, who reportedly offered all three of his first round picks to Colorado for the first pick only to be declined.
"I supposed you have to take it at face value and believe that it's true. But that's another part of what happens right now is that there's certainly a lot of sleight of hand that goes on. I don't know that you want to necessarily tell people what you're thinking."
Lightning willing to stay pat at No. 3
If the first two picks go as many expect, the Tampa Bay Lightning will likely choose between Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov at No. 3. Despite all of the rumored movement that might happen in Newark and the news surrounding the Avalanche and the top pick, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman isn't expecting to move out of his spot.
"I'm quite comfortable with the third pick and remaining there, but we're open to any scenario we think makes us a better organization," said Yzerman.
When it comes time to make a decision for their pick, Yzerman says the Lightning will not make their selection based organizational need.
"We believe in taking the best player available," he said. "That's been our philosophy and needs change from year to year. When these kids are actually ready to play, your needs can be entirely different for various reasons. That's just a simple rule of thumb that we have."
Future of Coyotes affecting Mike Smith, Dave Tippett
It sure sounds like what will happen to the Phoenix Coyotes will reach a resolution pretty soon. The Glendale City Council meeting later this month will set the wheels in motion one way or another for the team to either stay or relocate. With that uncertainly, Coyotes GM Don Maloney faces a tough situation trying to lock up both his head coach and No. 1 goaltender.
"I'm hopeful that we can get something done with [Dave Tippett] sooner rather than later," he said. "How soon that is, it's hopefully before July 1. That's my hope, but no guarantees."
Goaltending coach Sean Burke and assistant coach Jim Playfair are returning, with Tippett being the final piece.
Maloney said he's focusing on getting his coaching staff in place for next season, then hammering out a deal with goaltender Mike Smith. Of course, the goaltender will be coveted on the free agent market and would want some guarantee about the Coyotes' future before committing himself. The ownership stuff is out of Maloney's hands, so all he can do is focus on the hockey side of things.
Ray Shero, Kris Letang's agent exchange preliminary contract talks
Last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins wrapped up a contract extension for Evgeni Malkin. Next on GM Ray Shero's plate is the future of Kris Letang, who has one year left on his current contract. Having scored 130 points in his last 168 games, plus being named a Norris Trophy finalist for the 2013 season has increased Letang's price. But is he willing take a little less than what he'd be offered on the open market like some of his other Penguin teammates? That remains to be seen.
"Having met with Kris last week, I know his feelings about trying to stay in Pittsburgh, but we all know it's a business," said Shero. "Having said that, I just want to try to get a deal that works for us and for him."
Shero said he isn't currently talking to other teams about Letang's availability, but of course, one phone call can change that. With the Draft coming soon, Shero might have the busiest phone thanks to GMs kicking tires on what he might want in return in a trade scenario. A year ago, it was Jordan Staal. Will Kris Letang be Pittsburgh's next big Draft day trade?
"There's a lot of speculation if we can't have a deal next week what might happen, but I can't go that far," he said. "He's under contract for another year. When we get into next week, we'll cross that bridge and see what happens.
"My focus is going to be to try and sign him to a deal that makes sense for Kris and to the Penguins."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
When the Colorado Avalanche won the draft lottery and the right to select defenceman Seth Jones -- the top-ranked prospect, according to central scouting -- most had the immediate sense that this was probably what they would do.
After all, the Avs got six goals from their blueline in 2013, and only one defenceman, Tyson Barrie, scored more than one (he scored two). A franchise defenceman -- say, a Seth Jones type, not unlike, I don't know, Seth Jones -- would do them a lot of good.
But they won't be drafting Seth Jones. According to Executive VP of Hockey Operations (and sort-of GM) Joe Sakic, the Avalanche will likely be drafting one of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, or Alexander Barkov.
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Sakic told the Denver Post, adding, "We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."
Well. I'm having a hard time with this.
Granted, MacKinnon, Drouin and Barkov all appear to have incredible futures in the NHL, but drafting Jones isn't just a matter of drafting for organizational need. Sure, the Avalanche have a glaring, Seth Jones-sized hole in their makeup like when a cartoon character escapes through a wall, but Jones is still the top-ranked guy.
According to most scouts, he's the one that's too good to pass up. In other words, whichever approach you take into the draft, making Jones an Avalanche is the logical course of action. If Sakic's being completely forthcoming here, this is a head-scratcher.
Furthermore, why would Sakic be completely forthcoming here, anyway? Weren't the Avalanche interested in potentially trading down if the price was right? If they had come to a consensus that they weren't going to be drafting Seth Jones, it seems to me that the intelligent course of action would have been to keep mum and see if you could get anything from one of the three teams below you in exchange for the right to draft a guy you weren't going to take anyway.
Or maybe there's some other game Sakic is playing. Perhaps he's attempting to mislead in order to tease a big trade offer from a GM lusting after one of the three forwards?
Adrian Dater doesn't think so. He thinks the Avalanche just really, really like Nathan MacKinnon.
I think, as of now, that MacKinnon is the favorite. But we’ll see what the next nine days bring.
A lot of of you have emailed or tweeted me tonight: maybe the Avs are just posturing? Maybe they’re trying to run some interference, that what they really want to do is take Jones, but want to let everyone think they’ll take a forward instead and therefore draw some bigger offer from another team that, say, really lusts after MacKinnon or one of the other two.
Anything’s possible in this business, but I don’t think so.
We'll have to see how this all shakes out at the draft. But here's one thing we know for sure: the revamped Avalanche front office remains fascinating.
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