It’s time for another Screen Shots column, in which we examine two or three hockey topics in more succinct manners. Let’s do away with the formalities of the opening paragraph and get right to it:
– Now that the Dallas Stars and head coach Rick Bowness have parted ways, attention has turned to the candidates to replace him. And though there will be no shortage of qualified, capable people applying for the position, Stars GM Jim Nill could do much worse than hire former Winnipeg Jets/Toronto Maple Leafs/Carolina Hurricanes bench boss Paul Maurice.
When he resigned as Jets coach in mid-December, Maurice had led Winnipeg to four consecutive playoff appearances and one trip to the Western Conference Final in 2017-18. He proved he could work well with a veteran lineup, and he’s far more of a player’s coach than the occasionally-abrasive Bowness was with his charges. Maurice isn’t the kind of coach you bring in for a team that’s on a full rebuild. He’s someone you hire to provide structure and expectation for an experienced group looking to take the next step up.
That’s what Maurice would have in the Stars, who have older foundational talents Tyler Seguin, Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn alongside younger stars Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson, and Jake Oettinger. According to CapFriendly.com, Nill has a projected $17.5-million in salary cap space to work with this summer, but both Robertson and Oettinger are restricted free agents who will be given sizeable raises, and the organization has big decisions to make on unrestricted free agents Alex Radulov and John Klingberg.
Regardless of the specifics of player movement, Dallas will be expected by ownership and management to make the playoffs as they did this season, and improve by at least making out of the first round. Maurice can give instill confidence in his players, and he knows how to create an environment that is conducive to winning. He was also sufficiently self-aware so as to know when his influence has waned, which was the case when he chose to leave Winnipeg. Those are the kind of decisions players can look at and respect.
The 55-year-old has been unplugged from the game for a few months now, but don’t kid yourself into thinking Maurice is gone for good. He’s a hockey lifer, and the itch to get back into action will probably strike him soon. Nill should be investigating his interest in the Stars gig right away. He won’t be unemployed for very long.
– How impressive is St. Louis Blues sniper David Perron? The accomplished winger scored two goals, including the game-winner, in the Blues’ 4-1 victory over Colorado in Game Two of their second-round series. That gives him five career playoff game-winners, putting him behind only Blues legends Brett Hull (15), Jaden Schwartz (6), Larry Keenan (6) and Vladimir Tarasenko (6) for the most in franchise history.
Perron is one of the most gracious, humble NHLers you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting, but the 33-year-old has become one of the most clutch, big-game performers of his generation. It’s difficult to understand why he bounced around the league from 2013-16, but this second run with the Blues has been magnificent, including a 27-goal performance this season – his best total in that department since 2013-14.
Perron will be a UFA this summer, and although St. Louis has only $9.7 million in cap space, they need to find a way to retain his services. He earned $4 million this year, and despite his age, he shouldn’t be asked to take a pay cut. He’s carved out a distinct place for himself in Blues history, and he remains integral to their chances at winning another Stanley Cup.