NHL Talking Points: Babcock’s meetings, BU’s Quinn, Lamoriello and more

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Head coach Mike Babcock speaks to general manager Lou Lamoriello during the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Head coach Mike Babcock speaks to general manager Lou Lamoriello during the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /

NHL Talking Points is a weekly column where we highlight 10 stories that have been circulating around the league. This week, we take a look at Mike Babcock’s meetings, David Quinn’s future in New York, Lou Lamoriello and more.

The past week has seen expansive narratives occupy the focal point of the hockey world. The Vegas Golden Knights advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, news of administrative promotions was in full swing and trade rumors escalated in varying capacities.

Let’s have a look at 10 stories that have been circulating around the National Hockey League.

1. The Carolina Hurricanes are apparently open for business.

According to TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie, the Hurricanes are open to dealing any of their players — with the exception of star left winger Sebastian Aho. He went on to speculate about the future of Jeff Skinner, who has been a subject of interest across the trade market.

The news will surely have implications for a number of teams — one of which could be the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a conversation with Michael Landsberg, McKenzie gestured to the possibility of the Leafs targeting the 26-year-old defender:

"Justin Faulk is one of a number of Carolina’s defensemen that may be available. The word out of Carolina is that they’re open to doing a lot of things — that doesn’t mean they’re committed to it, but they’re open to listening on basically all of their players outside of Sebastian Aho. And you’ve got a rather unconventional, but somewhat aggressive management group . . . So Faulk is a guy that’s probably available. I don’t know whether Slavin and Pesce are, but there’s a lot of defensemen available in Carolina."

2. The Arizona Coyotes are in the process of discussing an eight-year extension with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Should they succeed in this endeavor, Ekman-Larsson’s contract is rumored to entail an average annual value moderately above $8 million. A deal of this nature could perhaps signal that the all-star defender has been made aware of a path toward a Stanley Cup run in the not-so-distant future. The news promises to be a source of ease for fans of the organization, who witnessed their team finish 29th in the NHL’s 2017-18 season.

3. Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has already met with four of his players.

It’s a story that the hockey world has obsessed over since the Buds’ elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but one that has been framed — perhaps wrongfully — as a locker room rift. Babcock recently visited Auston Matthews in Arizona and Frederik Andersen in Denmark, while also initiating sit-down interactions with Nikita Zaitsev and Kasperi Kapanen during the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Speaking about the ramifications of his meetings, Babcock offered the following: “Way too much has been made out of this, I can tell you right now . . . But right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is, we continue to get better.”

The news will continue to occupy the talk circuit of Toronto media for quite some time. Nevertheless, the fact that the critically acclaimed head coach is in the process of ironing out any overarching issues should serve as a sign of relief for fans of the organization, as the team looks to ensure that the Shanaplan comes into complete fruition.

4. Does the NHL have a potential future in Houston?

The success of the Golden Knights has inevitably prompted hockey fans to speculate on the location of the sport’s next expansion franchise. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs ruminated on this prospect in a recent radio interview, arguing that the NHL is more likely to arrive in Houston as opposed to Quebec City:

As Seattle increasingly occupies league-wide discussion, look for Jacobs’ comments to act as a recurring point of analysis.

5. The NHL has announced its finalists for the General Manager of the Year award.

Described by NHL.com as an “annual award presented to recognize the work of the league’s general managers,” the nominees for the trophy are Kevin Cheveldayoff (WPG), George McPhee (VGK) and Steve Yzerman (TBL). More on the wide-ranging contributions of each respective manager here.

6. Could Chris Pronger and/or Bryan McCabe have a future as the Florida Panthers’ GM?

The possibility of the former players joining the Panthers’ management team has been a looming idea since they accepted positions within the organization. Last Thursday, the discussion was reignited when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek pondered whether assistant general manager Eric Joyce is being groomed to take on the team’s general manager role. Friedman argued that Pronger would probably be considered first, with McCabe garnering evaluation as well.

7. The New York Rangers are on the verge of hiring Boston University’s David Quinn as their new head coach.

The team’s general manager, Jeff Gorton, is expected to oversee the deal upon returning from Worlds.

The Rangers have been without a head coach since Alain Vigneault was fired six weeks ago. That the franchise appears to have gone with administrative talent outside the NHL is a sure sign of a culture shift, in that the organization looks to embrace a multidimensional rebuild. On the topic of Quinn’s résumé, Sportsnet’s Emily Sadler writes:

"Quinn, 51, spent five years behind the bench at BU before making the leap to the big leagues to join a rebuilding team looking to shift its focus to its youth. Before that, he served as head coach of the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters for three seasons."

8. Marian Hossa has admitted that his NHL days are behind him.

The Chicago Blackhawks winger was absent throughout the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign, as he was left to grapple with the fallout of a skin condition that hindered his ability to wear hockey equipment. According to The Chicago Times, the famous forward recently told a Slovakian newspaper that he is set to hang up his skates for good.

Over the course of his 18-year career, Hossa tallied 1,134 points in 1,309 games and was an integral part of Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Look for him to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

9. The Minnesota Wild shall name Paul Fenton as the team’s third GM in club history.

Fenton is set to exit his current position as Assistant GM of the Nashville Predators to join Craig Leipold’s Wild. The news should come as something of a relief to Minnesota’s fans, as the organization has been without a GM since Chuck Fletcher was fired four weeks ago.

10. Lou Lamoriello is set to be hired by the New York Islanders.

According to Arthur Staple of The Athletic, the former general manager of the New Jersey Devils and Maple Leafs will join the Isles’ administration “either as president of hockey operations, GM or both to replace Garth Snow, and now it’s a matter of when and not if.” He went on to add that “Loophole Lou” met with John Tavares just last week.

The news could ultimately have far-reaching ramifications for both the franchise and the club’s captain. Lamoriello’s move has the potential to convince Tavares — soon to become the NHL’s most sought after unrestricted free agent — to remain with the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.

Expect to learn more in the days to come.

NEXT: All 30 NHL Franchises Ranked By All-Time Greatness

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