With 30 of the 32 NHL teams no longer playing hockey, we are starting to enter the most exciting months of the year in terms of NHL news. Free agent rumors are in full swing, coaches are being hired, and management teams are gearing up for the NHL Draft.
That said, there were only three games played in the Stanley Cup Finals. After a dominating victory in Game 2, the Avalanche looked set to claim their third championship, but the Lightning showed up for the first time in this series in Game 3.
After losing the first two games in Colorado, the Tampa Bay Lightning fought back with a 6-2 win Monday night. Andrei Vasilevskiy led the way in Tampa, stopping 37 of 39 shots he faced to give them their first win of the series.
All was not good for Tampa on Monday. Late in the third period, star forward Nikita Kucherov was caught hard in the boards by a cross check by Devon Toews and was ejected from the game. Despite leaving early, Kucherov joined Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier as the only players to score more than 25 points in three straight playoff series.
Nazem Kadri, out since Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, joined the Avalanche for morning practice today. He’s still seen day to day, but there’s a good chance we’ll see him in Game 4. Kucherov is also likely to play, while Brayden Point is highly doubtful according to Lightning coach Jon Cooper.
As mentioned earlier this week, former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy signed Vegas to a five-year contract. He will be the young franchise’s third coach in just six years.
John Tortorella has officially been hired in Philadelphia. It’s a four-year contract for Torts. Whether his coaching method is still effective in the modern NHL is up for debate, but you couldn’t find a better personality for a city and a coach than these two.
The Dallas Stars and Pete Deboer also signed a four-year contract. Deboer has bounced back in recent years, but he’s always found success early on in all of his saves.
The Edmonton Oilers have extended head coach Jay Woodcroft through 2024-25. The 2021 Calder Cup champion replaced Dave Tippett midway through this season, leading the Oilers to a 26-9-3 record and a birth in the Western Conference Finals.
In AHL news, the Seattle Kraken organization has hired Stanley Cup champion Dan Bylsma as the first coach of its AHL team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Canucks ink Kuzmenko
In a somewhat surprising story, the Vancouver Canucks landed coveted KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko. The signing cannot be formalized until free agency opens on July 13e. This will be an entry-level one-year deal for Kuzmenko at a cap of 950k. It’s a low-risk move for the Canucks that could be huge for their playoff hopes in 2022-23.
The Russian winger was second in KHL scoring last season with 53 points in 45 games. He added 14 points in 16 playoff games. Reportedly, a meeting with head coach Bruce Boudreau prompted Kuzmenko to join the Canucks. He will immediately join a group of highly skilled attacking players in the top six and will have plenty of opportunities to contribute immediately.
Apparently Kuzmenko was deciding between the Canucks, Oilers and two American teams. He would have been a great choice in Toronto as they will likely lose Ilya Mikheyev to free agency.
Hockey Canada Sexual Assault
The investigation into a sexual assault involving a woman and several members of the 2017-2018 Canadian World Juniors team in the summer of 2018 is still not complete. According to Elliotte Friedman on his 32 Thoughts podcast, Hockey Canada did not coerce any players into testifying or cooperating with the investigation.
It’s a terrible look for Hockey Canada as it seems they are more concerned with protecting themselves than finding out the truth. They say they don’t know who was involved in the attack.
However, it’s not over yet as the NHL will likely conduct its own investigation. They said they wanted to interview all the players on the team.