Puck Daddy Countdown: The GM carousel spins again

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Paul Fenton has long been seen as a GM-to-be. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Paul Fenton has long been seen as a GM-to-be. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

7. Rick Dudley?

The Thrashers guy? Hey, alright.

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6. Dithering

This is my favorite time of year, when teams act like they don’t know who they’re gonna take first or second overall, and act like, “Hey, y’know what, we might trade the pick! You never know!!!!”

This happens so rarely as to make these kinds of statements eyeroll-inducing. But I gotta say, I can maybe see Ottawa bailing on the No. 4 if it means someone will take Bobby Ryan off their hands and let them trade back into the top 10. They’re just the kind of poorly run organization that would absolutely do that instead of maybe, just maybe, giving Karlsson and Duchene reason to stick around after next season.

But even then, my suspicion is: It won’t happen.

5. Tom Wilson

I feel like I say this somewhat regularly about guys like Tom Wilson but at what point does this guy, who’s a repeat-repeat-repeat-repeat offender just get the book thrown at him because he long ago torched whatever benefit of the doubt he has?

He’s been suspended twice since the start of this past preseason, and otherwise has two fines since March 2015. This is a guy with a blatant disregard for his opponents’ safety and, like Radko Gudas and Brad Marchand, should skate around with a scarlet letter on his jersey. Any borderline hit, any third-guy-into-a-scrum, and everyone should know exactly what to do with this dude.

Either suspend him like he’s Raffi Torres or get him out of the league for good. Especially because there’s a sliding scale of usefulness here; Marchand gets to be Marchand because he’s also one of the three best players at his position in the world. Gudas is a competent defenseman (even if that Pittsburgh series didn’t go his way at all). Wilson is, what, fine but in a role well above his pay grade? That sounds right. He’s not totally without value when he’s actually playing hockey, but when is that, exactly?

Anyone who would defend him at this point — i.e. Caps fans — need to consult a doctor because there’s something seriously wrong with them.

4. Trophies

Now that all the NHL awards nominees have been announced, I’m shocked to say that there weren’t any really “wrong” nominations in the top three for a single award. You can have quibbles here and there (Mikko Koivu, Charlie McAvoy, Connor McDavid) but this is as correct as the options are probably ever gonna be with the PHWA until they do the right thing and give me full power over all awards.

3. Flowering in the desert

Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed just three goals at 5-on-5 in the playoffs so far, on 171 shots. No one else with more than 42 minutes of 5-on-5 time is north of .952.

This is just an incredible run of hockey for the guy, and if it weren’t for Vegas’s 4-on-4 and PK play, this series would probably already be more or less over. I mean, the clock is ticking toward midnight on this because — and this doesn’t feel like a knock on Fleury but I’m sure people will take it that way — saving 49 of every 50 shots he faces has to stop sometime, right?

Has to.

2. Hockey Men

All signs point to Kyle Dubas being the next GM of the Maple Leafs.

So congrats to Dubas for spending a sufficient amount of time down the hall from Lou Lamoriello to have forgotten everything he knew about Numbers and learned everything there is to know about Hockey, the two ideas being mutually exclusive.

The teams Dubas has been in charge of over the past several years — the Soo Greyhounds and Toronto Marlies — have some sort of absurd combined record because of the philosophy Dubas brings to the table and the Leafs’ ability to stock the Marlies with talent because, well, it’s nice to have money.

The hard work of building the Leafs was done fairly well by Lamoriello, but the vestiges of ‘90s Hockey lingering on the roster will have to go sooner than later. That’s Dubas’s job going forward, because there’s not much else for him to do with the big roster. Let van Riemsdyk walk, maybe see what Bozak’s looking for on a short-term deal (if anything, but probably not), see if you can fire Matt Martin into the sun, etc.

A Smart Hockey Man like Dubas knows what he has to do to take this team from good to great, and one imagines he’s gonna do it…… just as soon as they actually give him the job.

1. GM candidates

But even leaving aside the stuff in Toronto, the fact that there are now open positions in both Minnesota and Carolina is, at the very least, interesting.

The same crowd of names — Paul Fenton! Julien BriseBois! — will get to kick the tires on these two jobs, and who knows who actually ends up there. Fenton in Minnesota is the one just about everyone is saying will happen, and why not? He’s been running between first and third on just about every “future GM” list for like five years. Nashville built a great, relatively cheap team with some strong drafting, and that kind of frugality is something Minnesota specifically will need.

Of course, it really remains to be seen what happens with Carolina just because the subprime loan guy seems to have pissed off so many hockey old-schoolers, and also because the rumors are that the salary offerings might be, umm, low. One imagines that unless things change, this search could go on awhile and perhaps not bear the fruit someone might want for this club.

Kind of a bummer, but anyone who takes that job might end up being set up to fail anyway.

(Not ranked this week: Inevitability.

Well, seems to me like for as bad as the first round was in terms of games not being particularly interesting, the second round has really and truly delivered in pretty much every game so far. Just good, competitive hockey (except maybe that first blowout for Vegas) and mostly tight games.

It’s a shame this has to come to an end in a week, because all these series could hold up pretty well as best-of-15 or something. Wouldn’t we all like that so so so much?)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His Twitter is here.

(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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