A fine morning to you, Insiders. Let’s get down to brass tacks.
NORRIS FINALISTS. This hasn’t officially been announced – check out tonight’s NBCSN coverage for the actual reveal – but Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy apparently found a page published a touch too early on the Lightning’s site and learned that Brent Burns, Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson are this year’s finalists. (That page has since been taken down.) There are no real surprises here. Throw a dart at any of them; there’s no clear cut, number one favorite among that group.
SUP, FOO? Via Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:
College free agent Spencer Foo has met with 5 teams and could decide future by weekend. Philly, Edmonton, LA among teams interested.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) April 21, 2017
The Kings are still a bit of a dark horse here. I wrote about Foo three weeks ago after learning there was ample interest in his services, and that the Kings, as they do with many free agent prospects they’re recruiting, often try to sell the young player on their developmental model (rather than, say, the ability to play right away). This is an uphill battle – an Edmonton native, Foo grew up an Oilers fan, and as a Union College product, Philadelphia recently signed his teammate Mike Vecchione and boasts Shayne Gostisbehere on its blue line – but while Los Angeles may not be the favorite here, don’t discount the impact of a pair of Hall of Famers in Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake reaching out to free agent recruits. As Elliotte Friedman noted earlier this month, Union goes by a trimester system, and the forward wanted to finish his classes for the year before making his decision. A Hobey Baker finalist, Foo had 26 goals and 62 points in 38 games with the Dutchmen.
BUFFA-LOW DOWN. Reports this morning! First, Mark Spector reported that Dean Lombardi interviewed in Buffalo yesterday for their open general manager position in the wake of Tim Murray’s dismissal. But that was shot down by Sabres owner Terry Pegula in a press conference this morning, and John Shannon reported, after speaking with Luc Robitaille, that Buffalo had not yet asked for permission to speak with Lombardi. (Even when a coach or executive is fired, they are still under contract and paid by their former club, and outside teams must require permission to speak with them. Even after a figure is fired, they still occasionally, but not necessarily frequently, perform some scouting work or other duties for the team. In the 2011-12 season, when I covered the Ducks for FOX, Randy Carlyle was still a familiar figure in the media room at Ducks games.) Perhaps I’m speaking from guts and emotion here, but I think Dean to Buffalo is a good fit personality-wise. If he has interest in that job, here’s to hoping he gets it. Don’t pay much attention to the Mike Futa Buffalo rumblings as they relate to Lombardi; even though there could theoretically be interest on the Sabres end (there was before Murray was hired), Futa was just promoted by Los Angeles, and all indications I have are that there’s excitement and energy at the top of the front office as he works alongside Robitaille and Blake.
SE-DEUTSCH-GUCHI? Happy trails to Devin Setoguchi, who cracked the Kings roster by virtue of a strong performance at training camp and with the need for additional skill on the wings when Marian Gaborik was felled by a broken foot at the World Cup, and has been signed by Adler Mannheim of the DEL. He appeared in his 500th NHL game with Los Angeles this season and through 516 NHL games has 131 goals – 40 of which were scored on the power play – and 261 points. Wednesday was the six-year anniversary of his overtime game-winner at Staples Center as San Jose erased a 4-0 deficit to grab a 2-1 series lead. (And that means today is the six-year anniversary of Game 4, a 6-3 L.A. loss that doesn’t rank among the most compelling playoff games of this past decade.) Setoguchi finished with four goals and 12 points in 45 games with the Kings.