Skinner to take time before deciding on future with Sabres
Jeff Skinner is unsure what his future is with the Buffalo Sabres. The forward can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"I think it deserves some reflection, just like any season, so we'll take the time to do that the right way," Skinner said Monday. "But yeah, I like it here. I love it here. I like the guys, I like the city and I had a great time."
Skinner, who was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Aug. 2 for forward prospect Cliff Pu and three draft picks, scored an NHL career-high 40 goals and had 63 points in 82 games.
The Sabres (33-39-10) finished 22 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and missed the postseason for the eighth straight season. Coach Phil Housley was fired Sunday.
"(When) I came here, obviously, I knew where the organization finished last season (31st in NHL standings in 2017-18)," he said. "I was optimistic and positive about the direction the organization's headed and I don't think that's changed.
"I think there's still growth. I think there's still things that we can build on and improve on as players. But I think the organization is in a pretty good direction."
General manager Jason Botterill is confident the Sabres can sign Skinner.
"One hundred percent," he said. "Both sides have continued to focus on, 'How do we get a deal done?' I can understand where fans are coming from. He's a fun player. He's an entertaining player. You love watching Jeff Skinner out there. I think the relationship for both sides, for the player and for the team, has been a positive one. That's why we're trying to find a resolution."
Heather Engel, NHL.com correspondent
Luongo excited at possibility of playing for Quenneville
Roberto Luongo said the chance to play for new coach Joel Quenneville could be a determining factor in whether he returns to the Florida Panthers next season.
Quenneville was hired Monday, replacing Bob Boughner, who was fired Sunday after two seasons.
"I think it's exciting to have that (coach who) has won some Cups," Luongo said. "It's a good vibe around the locker room and good things ahead for this club.
"He's won multiple Cups with the Blackhawks. That's a huge resume and a big name to have in the locker room, a good presence. Guys will look up to that and respect what he's got to say. The main thing is he's won and he's proven it before. We need a little bit of that in our locker room to realize what it takes to win night in and night out in this League."
Luongo, who turned 40 on April 4, said Friday that he's undecided about playing his 20th NHL season. He was 18-16-5 with a 3.12 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 43 games this season. He is the winningest active goalie in the NHL (489 victories) and has three seasons remaining on a 12-year contract he signed with the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 2, 2009.
"Today we had the exit meeting and with all the news going around, there's a lot of things happening right now," Luongo said. "It's something that we'll circle back on in a couple of weeks and have a sit down with management and discuss the future. This is my home. I love this organization and I love everybody in management and have a lot of respect for everybody. We'll just have a talk and see what's best for me and what's best for the team moving forward."
Alain Poupart, NHL.com correspondent
Flyers will take time hiring next coach
Chuck Fletcher will not rush into finding the next coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.
"At the right time we'll make the right decision," the general manager said Monday.
Fletcher said Scott Gordon, who was hired Dec. 17 after Dave Hakstol was fired, is a candidate. Philadelphia went 25-22-4 under Gordon but ended the season on a five-game losing streak and missed the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.
"We had a pretty good push there for a couple months, and Scott deserves a lot of credit," Fletcher said.
Oilers GM search moving into interview process
Edmonton Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson said the search for a new general manager is underway and will be extensive.
"There are a number of candidates that we are starting to interview now and the process is going to take a little while," Nicholson said Monday. "I will also say we've liked the job Keith (Gretzky, assistant GM) has done in the interim, but it certainly doesn't mean that puts him at the front of the list."
Gretzky took on some of the GM duties after Peter Chiarelli was fired Jan. 22. The Oilers (35-38-9) finished 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. It was the 12th time in 13 seasons the Oilers have missed the playoffs.
Nicholson said the next GM will determine the future of coach Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock was hired Nov. 20 to replace Todd McLellan, and despite a 9-2-2 start, the Oilers went 26-28-8 in 62 games after the coaching change.
"Ken will be with this organization in some fashion," Nicholson said. "Will he be the head coach? That will be determined when we name a general manger."
The Oilers also received results of an MRI on the left knee of captain Connor McDavid, who was injured crashing into the goalpost in a 3-1 win against the Calgary Flames in their final regular-season game Saturday.
"We can't go too far into it, we're still evaluating it, but it's not as serious as we thought," Nicholson said.
McDavid will not play for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, which will be played May 10-26 in Slovakia.
Derek Van Diest, NHL.com correspondent
Kuemper, Raanta to compete for Coyotes goaltending job
Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta will go into training camp competing for the Arizona Coyotes starting goalie job.
"Nobody's been given a job next year," coach Rick Tocchet said Monday. "All you do is give an opportunity. Hopefully you take that opportunity and take it to a new level."
General manager John Chayka compared the Coyotes' situation to the New York Islanders, who split playing time between Robin Lehner (46 games) and Thomas Greiss (43) almost evenly. Lehner and Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed.
Kuemper took over after Raanta sustained a season-ending lower-body injury Nov. 27 and went 27-20-8 with a 2.33 GAA, .925 save percentage and five shutouts in 55 games. He started 22 consecutive games, from Feb. 19 until the Coyotes were eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention April 4 in the second-to-last game of the season.
Last season Raanta overcame multiple injuries early in the season to go 21-17-6 with a 2.24 GAA and .930 save percentage in 47 games.
"I'm a competition guy," Tocchet said. "If you continue to grow and play the way you do, you're going to play. That sorts itself out.
"It's impossible to win in this League without good goaltending, and goaltending depth."
The Coyotes (39-35-8) finished four points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the West.
Chayka also said forward Derek Stepan played the final eight games of the season with a torn MCL in his knee. It's the same injury that kept him out for nearly a month in early March.
Alan Robinson, NHL.com correspondent
Edler contract near top of Canucks to-do list
Signing defenseman Alexander Edler to a new contract is a top offseason priority for Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning.
The defenseman, who turns 33 on April 21, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"We are going to try to get him signed," Benning said Monday. "He's an important guy in our room, one of the guys our young players look up to, and on the ice he had an excellent year for us."
Edler was fourth on the Canucks with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) and averaged 24:34 of ice time in 56 games.
Selected by the Canucks in the third round (No. 91) in the 2004 NHL Draft, he's the leader among Vancouver defensemen in games played (814), goals (94) and points (368).
"I've been here my whole career, and in a perfect world I would like to stay here until I am done with hockey," Edler said.
The Canucks also need to sign forward Brock Boeser, who can become a restricted free agent July 1. The 22-year-old was third on the Canucks with 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games.
Benning also said he'd consider signing goaltender Jacob Markstrom to an extension when he becomes eligible July 1. Markstrom can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season. The 29-year-old had an NHL career-high 60 starts and 28 wins this season.
The Canucks also announced forward Antoine Roussel likely would miss the start of next season after having surgery to repair a torn ACL. Roussel, who had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 65 games, is expected to need 6-9 months to recover.
Kevin Woodley, NHL.com correspondent