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Paul Fenton was hired as general manager of the Minnesota Wild on Monday

Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:22 am

Paul Fenton was hired as general manager of the Minnesota Wild on Monday , after 20 seasons in the front office with the division rival Nashville Predators.The 58-year-old Fenton spent the last 12 seasons as assistant GM for the Predators. He helped David Poile, the winningest general manager in NHL history, shape the roster that reached the Stanley Cup Final last year and won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular-season record for 2017-18. Wild owner Craig Leipold, who once owned the Predators, filled the vacancy created last month when he declined to renew Chuck Fletcher’s contract.”Paul is uniquely suited for this job having played 10 years of professional hockey and holding 25 years of management experience in the NHL,” Leipold said in a statement distributed by the Wild. ”His gift of evaluating talent is obvious in Nashville’s roster and recent success. My relationship with Paul goes back to my early days in Nashville, and I know that Wild hockey fans are going to love Paul’s infectious passion for the game and unsurpassed work ethic. He’s the right person to deliver a Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey.”Fenton, who will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center, becomes only the third general manager in the franchise’s 18-year history with a multiyear contract. Leipold considered Fenton for the position nine years ago before hiring Fletcher.The Predators used 17 players they had drafted to win the Western Conference in 2016-17 for the first time in franchise history. Fenton was director of player personnel for the Predators during the expansion club’s first eight seasons, until a promotion in 2006 to replace Ray Shero as second in command under Poile. Shero, now the general manager of the New Jersey Devils, left to become GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins Nick Jensen Jersey , who won the Stanley Cup in 2009.Fenton is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who played at Boston University and scored 100 goals in 411 career NHL games over eight seasons with seven teams. He scored 32 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in 1989-90 and began working in the league as a scout for the Anaheim Ducks in 1993.Leipold, who has seen just two playoff series wins by the Wild over 10 full seasons under his control, said last month he needed a ”fresh set of eyes” on a roster anchored by center Mikko Koivu, left wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.The Wild have made the playoffs six straight years, matching the Ducks for the longest current streak in the Western Conference, since signing Parise and Suter to identical, franchise-altering 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4, 2012. Their overall postseason record is 15-29, though Thomas Vanek Jersey , with four one-and-done appearances and two trips to the second round. This year, they were pushed aside in five games by the Jets.The organizational assets are far from bare for Fenton, with recent high draft picks Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin and Jordan Greenway carrying the potential to form a franchise-leading young core and top-six forwards Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter still in their prime. The Central Division is stacked, though, so progress won’t come easy, whether immediate or in the future. The Predators and Jets had the top two records in the NHL during the regular season.The biggest challenge Fenton inherits is the salary cap situation, with about 20 percent of the space taken by Parise and Suter, who are both 33, on deals that run six more years. Koivu will begin at age 35 a two-year, $11 million extension he signed before the 2017-18 season.An aggressive approach to trades could be the best avenue for improvement this summer, with right wing Charlie Coyle coming off a regression season. Left wing Jason Zucker and defenseman Matt Dumba will be restricted free agents whose rights could be dealt for greater return. Center Eric Staal Womens Adam Larsson Jersey , the team’s leading scorer with 42 goals, has one year left on a cap-friendly contract and could fetch a significant haul.— TAMPA, Fla. — Quick strikes have been the tone-setter for the Tampa Bay Lightning during a season-long, five-game homestand.The New Jersey Devils want to avoid another slow start when they visit Amalie Arena on Sunday.In the first two games of the homestand, Tampa Bay has scored in the opening minute and rode the momentum to victories against Florida and Chicago. Overall, the Lightning have opened the scoring in four consecutive games after giving up the first goal in nine of the previous 10.Article continues below ...Getting on the board first, especially early in the game, can change the approach to the game.“You’re not chasing the game,” Lightning forward Ryan Callahan said. “Obviously it’s a lot easier to play with the lead in this league. Teams are so talented it’s hard to come back sometimes. You know, to get behind the eight ball kills your momentum at home when you don’t score first, and it takes the crowd out of it pretty early. It’s a lot easier when you score that first goal, and I think even at home it’s more important just to get the crowd into it. It gets everyone going.”Tampa Bay continues to be without defenseman Anton Stralman and forward Ondrej Palat. Stralman has missed seven games with an upper-body injury while Palat has been out since Oct. 26 with a fracture in his left foot. Both players have been skating with the team and are considered day-to-day Cam Talbot Jersey , though coach Jon Cooper said he expects at least one of the two players to return before the end of the homestand Friday.New Jersey, which was eliminated by Tampa Bay in the opening round of the playoffs last season, is looking to climb out of the bottom of the Metro Division standings. Since starting the season with five wins in eight games (5-2-1), the Devils are 4-7-2 in the past 13, a stretch that began with an 8-3 loss to the Lightning on Oct. 30.Keeping the puck out of the net has been the biggest issue for New Jersey, which has allowed three or more goals eight times in those 13 games. The Devils have lost all eight of those games, including an overtime loss Friday to the New York Islanders when New Jersey started on its heels to begin the game and never fully recovered despite a late goal to salvage a point.“It was an unfortunate first period; we have to be way better,” New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene told Goaltender Keith “(Kinkaid) was fantastic and gave us a chance. If he doesn’t do that, the game is over in the first.”New Jersey will be without rookie forward Joey Anderson, who was placed on injured reserve with a lower right leg injury suffered when he went skates first in to the Montreal net on Wednesday. Anderson is expected to miss at least a week,coach John Hynes told reporters before Friday’s game.Brayden Point leads Tampa Bay with 15 goals while Nikita Kucherov paces the club with 30 points and 21 assists after recording three points in each of his last two games.

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