1) In May, Carolina Hurricanes VP of Hockey Operations Paul Krepelka joined Craig Custance’s Full 60 podcast. He’s a Princeton University grad! Krepelka used to work as an agent for the Orr Hockey Group, one of the biggest hockey agencies, representing several premier-name NHL players. He represented current Devil Brian Boyle, but perhaps the most notable was Taylor Hall. Krepelka was the one who negotiated Hall’s current deal through the 2019-20 season. Krepelka told the story about why he was “sick of the business” and how he regrets his abruptness in leaving the agency in July of 2015:
(The whole podcast is worth a listen, but the section about him leaving the agency starts around 34:37.)
“I regret how it was handled. It was impulsive. I had some good, low-maintenance kids. Good players. Good families. Some of the kids weren’t surprised I left, but a lot of them felt abandoned by it. When you’re with the kids so long…I’m all they knew. I had some of those guys since they were 15, 16-years-old and now all of the sudden I’m walking away from them. I disrespected them.”
Outside of Trevor Daley, he doesn’t mention players by name that were upset with him (Hall doesn’t follow Krepelka on Twitter by the way), but I’m happy to read in-between the lines for everyone else. Is it fair to say that Krepelka’s departure from the Orr Hockey Group played a minor role in the overarching theme of Taylor Hall’s initial difficulties in transitioning from Edmonton to NJ? Not that I know Hall’s backstory AT ALL, but for a Canadian kid who wants nothing more than to play in the NHL, who are the most important people in your life? Your immediate family, maybe a few close friends. After that? I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that your agent is one of the most important figures when you’re a young adult in pro hockey. Hall probably landed in the group that felt abandoned, if I had to guess. And then 11 months later he gets traded from the only country he’s ever lived in to one of the furthest away places possible and the guy who was with him every step of the way for the first five pro seasons of his life isn’t there to help guide & navigate him through arguably the toughest moment in his career? I’m not saying that’s THE reason Hall struggled with the transition, but I imagine that took some sort of toll on Taylor during the 2016-17 season. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter anymore since Ray Shero is a master of conversation and Hall just had his best season ever.
2) Former Devil Jay Pandolfo was recently considered a finalist for the vacant HC position at Boston University, his alma mater where he won a national championship in 1995. The job ended up going to BU’s associate HC Albie O’Connell…who used to play at BU with Pandolfo and with/for John Hynes. While it’s a great job, I think this will benefit Pandolfo in the long run. If the Bruins put up another season or two like they did this past year, I think he’ll be on “The List” of hot head coaching prospects. Could he maybe go head-to-head behind the bench against one of his old linemates in the near future? Kevin Weekes of the NHL Network recently mentioned former Devil John Madden as a potential candidate to fill the Islanders HC vacancy. I can see it. Madden spent 3 years as an AC with the Panthers and the last 2 as a HC in the AHL with Cleveland. He hasn’t been talked about much, but in my mind, he’s already on “The List”. He clearly fits the inclining trend and mold of the modern day NHL coach…young and hungry with a smart hockey mind and great communication skills. One more thing going back to the Boston University HC job, how about this dandy from Adam Wodon of College Hockey News regarding the hiring process:
Huh. Hynes reached out? I understand it wasn’t that serious, but would Hynes have taken an interview? A second interview if Marochello liked what he heard? Could he have leveraged that into an extension with the Devils? It doesn’t really matter now, but something to know since I don’t think many people caught that blurb.
3) Now that David Quinn has been hired as the HC of the Rangers, I would love to see a fierce rivalry between him and Hynes. Both Rhode Island guys. Both Boston U. alums (Hynes in the 90s, Quinn in the 80s). Quinn was an AC at Northeastern while Hynes played at BU. In the early 2000s, they were both HCs for the USNTDP. They both coached in the AHL at the same time, though never against each other. And as mentioned above, Quinn beat him out for the BU HC job in 2013. I have no idea what their relationship is like, but it would be great to see some intensity between the two. There have been very few times in the last five years where Devils-Rangers games have really meant something. Obviously, the Devils appear to be on the right track and, although it kills me, I think the Rangers are in really good shape after cashing in all of their trade chips a few months ago.
4) One thing the David Quinn hiring could complicate is the Devils (if interested) trying to sign 2017 Dev Camp standout Robert Carpenter when he graduates from Boston University in the Spring of 2019. I have to imagine there would be a level of comfort and trust in re-connecting with your college HC of three years when you move on to the next level. Though Carpenter did appreciate my response to a recent tweet of his, after he posted a picture of playing for BU at Madison Square Garden:
5) Mike Van Ryn was recently named an assistant coach for the St. Louis Blues. Van Ryn was the Devils 1st round pick in 1998 after his freshman year at Michigan. Long story (here) short, he played another year at Michigan then left to join the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. The Devils and Van Ryn went to court over whether NJ was entitled to his draft rights or if Van Ryn could become a UFA. An arbitrator ruled in favor of Van Ryn. The Devils did receive a compensatory 2nd round pick in the 2000 NHL Draft which they used on Alexsander Suglobov, who was eventually swapped for 2006 playoff legend Ken Klee! Side note…the Devils had another pick in that 2nd round and they took a human being named Teemu Laine! Seriously. That’s incredible on so many levels.
Staying on Michigan with a random note…in the history of the Devils franchise, they have never gone more than 8 years at a time without drafting a University of Michigan product.
No, I’m not related to Myles O’Connor but if I was ever asked I’d say he was my 5th cousin or something. The Devils have until the 2019 NHL Draft to hit that “quota” of finding a Michigan Man! Of the college-affiliated players in NHL Central Scouting’s 2018 Final Rankings, there are only three U. of Michigan guys. The Devils would be fortunate to draft either Quinn Hughes or Bode Wilde. Both are expected to be Top-20 picks, and in Hughes’ case…a Top-10. The other is #154 LW Jack Randl, who posted 32 points in 49 games for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. He is ranked #162 on Future Considerations’ 2018 NHL Draft Guide. Their blurb on him:
“A hard-working winger, he can skate strongly up and down the rink with pretty good speed, mainly on a north-south track. His top-end is OK, but nothing impressive. His mobility, however, disappoints. A real lack of agility and acceleration, a real lack of hip quickness. The substandard agility means he can’t make shifty plays at all. He gets time on the power play, but rarely makes the most of it. He can create nothing but straight-ahead sequences. Sometimes, he over-does it, trying to do too much in certain situations. When that happens, he doesn’t put on a very impressive display. As it is, he doesn’t always have the offensive tools to make an impact. His possession can be sporadic. However, he can be counted on to be strong on the puck, often keeping on his feet and keeping possession of the puck, despite physical abuse from the defenders. He does have quick hands and he can create space for himself in the offensive zone with sharp stickhandling. He does have the ability to shoot the puck hard. But his offensive game is somewhat underwhelming. However, his defensive game is sound. Dependable in his own end. He always hurries back. He blocks shots and clogs the passing lanes. He always works hard, but a lack of offensive creativity is what really holds him back.”
Well, maybe not the most glowing profile…but not shocking for someone who seems to be a late 5th round/early 6th round pick. However! His numbers stack up well against his peers. Here’s where Randl ranks in 5-on-5 play among the USHL’s draft-eligible forwards with at least 40 GP:
Pretty good! Maybe someone worth taking a shot on late in the Draft.
6a) Staying on St. Louis and guys on “The List”…congratulations to #DevilsDaily guest Drew Bannister who is moving from the head coaching position for Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL to the same post for AHL San Antonio under the St. Louis Blues umbrella. The Greyhounds had an unbelievable three seasons under his watch and he played a role in the development of current Devils’ prospects Blake Speers and Colton White. The man he originally replaced in the Soo was Shelden Keefe, who also departed for an AHL HC job at the time with the Toronto Marlies (and just won a Calder Cup last night) and is most certainly on “The List”. Best of luck to Drew and I’m sure he’ll be knocking on the door of the NHL for some type of bench job soon enough.
6b) Last weekend, 2003 Stanley Cup Champion Mike Rupp joined Nick Alberga on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio and discussed his excursion in NYC with Lord Stanley. It starts 21 seconds in, as Rupp recalled Colin White lifting the Stanley Cup on the steps of MSG and yelling at Rangers fans. I already loved him (and his gravel-y voice) for helping NJ win two Stanley Cups, but now I love him even more. What a legendary move. Thanks to Mike in Philly for the heads up on that!