The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss how Gerard Gallant is expected to be among the candidates to replace Darryl Sutter behind the Flames’ bench, why Calgary is facing an important summer with a number of pending UFAs in 2024, how NHL teams have reached out to Patrick Roy, and much more.
As Craig Conroy officially takes over the reins in Calgary, one of his first orders of business is to find someone to replace Darryl Sutter behind the bench. Where could they be looking, Darren?
Darren Dreger: Well, they’re getting after it. And they’re going to look at experienced coaches, but they’re also going to look at some internal candidates as well. They’re putting a candidates list together as we speak. Now, it should come as zero surprise to anyone out there that Gerard Gallant, who was let go by the New York Rangers, will be considered a prime candidate in Calgary. Of course, he’s got the history with Jonathan Huberdeau – and the Flames very much need Huberdeau to be comfortable and to be productive next season. But it’s not just Gallant, they’ll interview other candidates; they’ll go through an exhaustive process and they’ll also look internally as well. Mitch Love had a successful season as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers so I think he’ll get a good look as well.
Chris Johnston: If we’re identifying maybe a second item on the to-do list, it’s how they handle some looming contractual situations for summer of 2024. And that’s going to start this summer. They have seven players who could play out the remaining year on their deal next season, and none is more important than Elias Lindholm. That’s why Conroy said at his press conference that one of the first calls will be going to Lindholm in this process. Look at the history here, when Lindholm met reporters at the end of the season, I’d say it was lukewarm, perhaps, about his feelings about Calgary. I think that some things have come around. Obviously, there’s been change within the organization, and he’s, obviously, excited to hear what they have to say. Lindholm by the way is due to make a little under $5 million next season. And will be looking for a big raise on that number. We’ll see if Calgary can get it done sooner than later.
Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy in the news. He’s leading the Quebec Remparts into the Memorial Cup and starts this Friday. And his name is being bandied about as a possible candidate for a head coaching job back in the NHL, Pierre?
Pierre LeBrun: Yeah, I think that Patrick Roy does have some interest in potentially returning if the fit is right. My understanding is that a couple of NHL teams have already kind of reached out to see where he was at. And very preliminary, but to see where he was at. And, obviously, he’s busy right now with the Memorial Cup around the corner. Patrick Roy recently changed representation. He’s now with veteran agent Gill Scott, which I think kind of signals as well if he wants to take another swing at this, whether there’s an NHL future for him. There are openings with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in particular, that could be interesting. We’ll see where that goes with Patrick Roy.
How close are the (Blue) Jackets to making a decision about their bench?
P.L.: Yeah Gino, I think the Columbus Blue Jackets would like to make a decision sometime next week. Right now GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s at the World Championship overseas. He has cast a wide net. He has talked to a number of coaching candidates, some of them we’ve reported the likes of Peter Laviolette, Mike Babcock, also Travis Green and, of course, there’s internal candidate Pascal Vincent. But again, that’s just some of the candidates that we know that he’s talked to. But I think Kekalainen finally wants to announce someone next week.
Kyle Dubas has been granted permission to speak to the Penguins about their vacant general manager job and, apparently, Pittsburgh is starting to whittle down that list now, Pierre?
P.L.: It’s been quite a process in Pittsburgh. Who hasn’t been interviewed? But last week, the likes of veteran candidates like Marc Bergevin and Peter Chiarelli were told they were no longer in the running for the Pittsburgh GM. And now over the last couple of days, some of the candidates that made it to the second round of interviews have been told they’re no longer in the running. That includes Eric Tulsky from Carolina [Hurricanes], who’s someone that gets talked about a lot as a rising star in the NHL. He was told he’s no longer in it. As well as Dan MacKinnon, who used to work with Pittsburgh, is now the assistant GM of the New Jersey Devils. He was informed in the last 24 hours that he’s no longer in it. So we’ll see where this goes. Obviously, there’s Kyle Dubas now potentially in the middle of all this. But also you got names like Jason Botterill and Mathieu Darche that have been identified as candidates. So we’ll see where it goes.