Ask Matty: Riellyís mobility impressive despite his long layoff
Moose Jaw defenceman missed five months with a torn ACL
By Jim Matheson, edmontonjournal.com April 30, 2012
Photograph by: Supplied , edmontonjournal.com
Q: The other day I heard (former NHL general manager) Craig Button say Morgan Rielly reminded him of Scott Niedermayer. If so, shouldnít the Edmonton Oilers be looking at him with the No. 1 pick rather than Nail Yakupov, who, to me, is a faster Patrick Kane?
A: Riellyís straight-ahead speed and lateral movement with the puck on his stick was very impressive in the Moose Jaw Warriors-Edmonton Oil Kingsí series. You find yourself gravitating to the Warriors defenceman, who missed five months recuperating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, when he is on the ice. I donít know about the comparison to Niedermayer, who seems almost effortless with his skating stride to me. Rielly is built like Brian Leetch, transports the puck like him, too. All I know is Rielly is an excellent player. I donít think the Oilers would go wrong taking him as well as Everett Silvertips captain Ryan Murray, who is over in Europe right now playing exhibition games for Team Canada. Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe is watching him. I had one NHL scout tell me last week that Murray flat-out can play in the NHL next season and heís not lasting past the top five picks. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who pick second, really like him. I suspect the New York Islanders have their eye on him, too. Heck, anybody in the top five would love him. As for Yakupov being a faster Patrick Kane, if he is, thatís fine with me. Kane stepped into the NHL at age 18 and was an immediate star with the Chicago Blackhawks. Yakupov seems more of a shooter than Kane, however. The Oilers have not decided which way to go with this whole Yakupov thing. Heís clouded the issue. Until winning the draft lottery, I think they were definitely taking a defenceman at No. 2, and, yes, they like Griffin Reinhart, too.
Q: How was Dale Tallon able to put together a Florida Panthers team almost from scratch that was as competitive as the one I just watched in the New Jersey series. A few of those free agents would look awfully good here?
A: Tallonís rebuilding of the Panthers on the fly came about last summer because they were miles below the salary-cap floor. When nobody else would swallow Brian Campbellís $7.1-million salary, the former Chicago GM jumped in and took the soon to be 33-year-old defenceman, gladly giving up the $3.125-million cap hit of the organizationís failed former No. 1 draft, Rostislav Olesz, who didnít make the Blackhawks. They buried his contract in the minors in Rockford, Ill. Last summer, Tallon signed Sean Bergenheim, who had a big 2011 playoff with the Tampa Bay Lightning, for $11 mllion over four years; Tomas Fleischmann, who was coming off serious problems with blood clots in his leg when he was with the Colorado Avalanche, for four years and $18 million; Tomas Kopecky (four years, $12 million) from the Detroit Red Wings; Scottie Upshall (four years, $14 million) from Columbus; Matt Bradley (two years, $1.9 million) from the Washington Capitals; Marcel Goc (three years, $5.1 million) from the Nashville Predators, goaltender Jose Theodore (two years, $3 million) from the Minnesota Wild and Ed Jovanovski (four years, $16.5 million) from the Phoenix Coyotes. He also traded second- and third-round draft picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Kris Versteeg, who won a Stanley Cup in Chicago with Campbell. They were all big contributors for the Panthers.
Q: Do you think the Oilers should try to swing a deal to get Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk from the Buffalo Sabres?
A: What did you have in mind? Pysyk, the Oil Kings captain, was the Sabresí first-round pick in 2011 and hasnít played a game for them. I doubt theyíre going to trade him until they see whatís heís got. Stafford has long been on the Oilersí radar and he had very average season. He came on in the last month with Tyler Ennis as they made a push to try to get into the playoffs, but again, Iím not sure what the Oilers would give the Sabres. Stafford is one of their biggest forwards and I donít see them moving him. The guy the Oilers like is six-foot-five Jimmy Hayes, who plays for the Blackhawks. He got into two playoff games. They would trade for him.
Q: I see where Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean and John Tortorella were the finalists for the coach of the year? Who do you see winning and what coaches didnít make the final three, but easily could have for the work they did this season.
A: Hitchcock will win his first Jack Adams Trophy for taking the Blues from 6-7 when he replaced Davis Payne in early November to 49-22-11. Hitchcock was runner-up to Ted Nolan in 1997 when Nolan was coaching the Sabres and Hitchcock was with the Dallas Stars. Tortorella, the New York Rangers coach, won the award in 2004 when Tampa won the Stanley Cup. This is MacLeanís first year as a head coach in Ottawa. Kevin Dineen, in his first year as Panthersí coach, would have been a good finallist. He should have been coaching some team long before this, but kept getting overlooked. Peter Laviolette in Philadelphia (103 points) could have made the final three, too. He seamlessly worked in a number of kids like Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn and played without Chris Pronger (concussion) for months.
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