1. Source: Stanchions on agenda at GMs meetings
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Lots of media attention focused on the NHL GMs' meetings here. And while the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty last week remains a hot topic, especially in Quebec where politicians and business leaders are making hay with the controversial incident, don't expect it to get much of a hearing here at the meetings.
This may come as some surprise, especially to those in Montreal who believe the world blew apart at the seams when the league opted not to suspend the Boston captain, but a source familiar with the GMs' agenda said the only area in which the hit may come up will be in discussing the configuration of arenas, and specifically whether there is a way to make the stanchions, which Pacioretty hit head-first, less dangerous in arenas that have that type of configuration.
2. Crosby illustrates safety issue
Got to hand it to Sidney Crosby for his sense of timing. Just as the GMs were about to tackle the thorny issue of concussions and making the game safer for its players, Crosby skated for the first time since being felled by a concussion in early January. There remains no timetable for Crosby's return to action but the fact he was on the ice at all was obviously a good sign. As for the timing, pretty sure Crosby wouldn't have chosen Monday to make a statement, but his return to the ice helps illustrate the problems of keeping the game's assets safe.
3. Tippett making case for Jack Adams
Watched with interest as the Phoenix Coyotes beat Anaheim 5-2 on Sunday, and with all due respect to the Coyotes' lineup, if they somehow make the playoffs, they shouldn't just give Dave Tippett the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year for the second straight time, but should also consider naming the trophy after him. OK, maybe a slight bit of hyperbole there, but the Coyotes remain the poster boys for the sum being greater than the value of the individual parts.
Only one Coyote ranks in the top 50 in NHL scoring, and that's defenseman Keith Yandle, who is 34th with 56 points. The Coyotes do not boast a 20-goal scorer this season and, because of the uncertainty over ownership, were forced to trade away one of their top offensive producers, Scottie Upshall, at the trade deadline in order to bring in defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who wasn't in the lineup Sunday. Veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski hasn't played in almost a month with an orbital bone injury. Their 17 home wins are the lowest of any team currently in the top eight in the Western Conference. Yet with Sunday's win, the Coyotes woke up Monday with 83 points and tied with Los Angeles for fourth in the West.
A playoff berth is by no means assured, but the fact that the Coyotes could be looking at back-to-back playoff appearances is a credit to Tippett and his staff, even if he doesn't end up having the award named after him.
4. Coyotes' ownership issue continues
Speaking of the Coyotes, the torturous ownership issue continues to drag on with multiple sources telling ESPN.com there was some progress being made in getting the municipal bonds sold, which are crucial to closing the deal with Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer. But one thing remains clear: If the bonds are going to get sold, they will get sold without the Goldwater Institute backing off. Why would they? The public interest group survives on public donations, and their profile has never been bigger than it is now, has having insinuated themselves into the heart of the Coyotes' ownership situation. As long as they continue to be in the news, their moneymaking potential is at its apex, so don't expect them to back off in their opposition to the deal. Now, the $64 question is whether the city can find a way to get the bonds sold in spite of the Goldwater Institute's threats of lawsuits.
5. Tough market for goaltenders
The goaltending market place this summer looks to be pretty barren. The situation remains murky for Ilya Bryzgalov, who would be the top unrestricted free agent and with the uncertainty surrounding the Phoenix situation. Assume that if the team stays in Arizona, new ownership will go all in to keep the netminder. Assume that Ottawa will make a pitch to keep Craig Anderson, who has played well since coming over from Denver. That will leave a small group of experienced netminders looking for work, including Tomas Vokoun, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jose Theodore, Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov, pending how the Islanders choose to deal with the erstwhile former Shark.
But speaking of the Isles, what of Al Montoya? With the options fairly limited you have to wonder if teams will take a run at Montoya, who has been terrific since becoming the Islanders' starter. Montoya is on a two-way contract, the NHL portion of which pays him $750,000. At that salary, a team making an offer sheet would not have to provide the Islanders with any compensation in the form of draft picks if the Isles chose not to match the offer. There are a number of teams that will be looking for starting goaltending next year, including the Colorado Avalanche and the Panthers, if Vokoun flees South Florida. Montoya could be an interesting alternative for those teams given his age -– he's just 26 –- and his current level of play. With the Islanders still locked in with Rick DiPietro until the end of the 2021 season, they might not be eager to match an offer sheet.