Strictly divisional play due to Covid alterations this season makes it challenging to keep up with league-wide news. It’s as though we are all stuck in our own regional bubbles. For that reason, it felt like the perfect opportunity to launch a national news segment. Each week, we will touch on key happenings across the league, keeping you informed on everything you need to know. This week is highlighted by the Penguins hiring of former Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall. Of course, that’s not all that took place. We had a trade, more drama in a small market, and more assurance of who the worst team truly is.
Ron Hextall a Penguin
After his exit from Philadelphia, everyone knew Ron Hextall would eventually receive another shot as an NHL general manager. Of all the places for him to end up, nobody expected him to one day join the enemy. Well, that is exactly what happened.
Last Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced the hiring of Hextall as the team’s new GM. Additionally, they brought Brian Burke aboard to serve as the president of hockey operations.
At first glance, the Ron Hextall/Brian Burke pairing seems a bit peculiar. On the surface, you could not get two polar opposite personalities. However, digging a little deeper, this may turn out to be a perfect partnership of brilliant hockey minds. Both will force the other a bit out of their comfort zones, pushing them to vary their approaches depending on the circumstance. Unfortunately for Flyers fans, this could turn into quite the powerhouse front office.
Alex Galchenyuk Traded Again
Once a third-overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Alex Galchenyuk is turning into quite the NHL traveler. On Saturday, the Ottawa Senators sent Galchenyuk and Cedric Paquette to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Ryan Dzingel.
Just eight games into his Ottawa tenure, Galchenyuk registered only one goal and was a minus-six. Last season, he split the year with Pittsburgh and the Minnesota Wild. The year before that, he was with Arizona. The once Montreal Canadien cornerstone might not even remain in Carolina. On Sunday, the team placed him on waivers, clearly not phased by whether he actually becomes a Hurricane or not.
In Paquette, Carolina receives a fourth-line player to sure-up the bottom six. Playing most of his career with Tampa Bay, the 27-year-old forward has 86 points in 386 career games.
For Dzingel, he returns to where his NHL career began. The 28-year-old played some of his best hockey while in Ottawa, recording 126 points in 247 games. Unfortunately, he enters an awful situation playing for a team destined for the league’s basement.
Non Stop Columbus Drama
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and drama surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets. Between the Pierre-Luc Dubois saga, the benching of Patrik Laine, and John Tortorella being John Tortorella, there is never a moment where the team isn’t in the news. Oh, and let us not forget the blown call against the Hurricanes two Sundays ago.
Sitting in fourth in the Discover Central, you have to wonder when all of this will catch up with the Blue Jackets. It just seems like this is the year for a full-on implosion. Then again, we’ve seen Tortorella make magic out of all sorts of wild situations. Maybe this year they will go on and win the Stanley Cup.
Hard Times in Ottawa
The Ottawa Senators are not strangers to the bottom of the NHL standings. This season is no exception. At 3-12-1, the Senators are comfortably in last place, with no signs of a turn around. Of course, this is far from a surprise. Ottawa possesses a lot of intriguing young players but they are still a few seasons away from making a true impact. They did bring in some veterans this season that had a lot of people questioning whether the team could start trending upward. For anyone who got caught up in that mindset, they were most certainly wrong.
Goals Coming Easy for Auston Matthews
14 games in the Toronto Maple Leafs season, Auston Matthews is making his case for the best goal-scorer in the NHL. The 23-year-old star center has recorded 11 already, leading the league. Of course, Matthews is no stranger to scoring goals. Since joining the league in 2016, he has not scored less than 34 in a season. Alexander Ovechkin might have something to say about this, but Auston Matthews is quickly becoming the most dangerous player with the puck on his stick. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain such a high level of production.
That’s it for the league-wide news this week. You’ll notice the exclusion of any Covid-related material. That is not done to belittle its importance or pretend it doesn’t exist. Making this a place for strictly hockey news seemed like the right move to make. Every once in a while we deserve a small escape, don’t we?
Bill Streicher/Icon Sportswire