The NHL regular season came to a close on Sunday and it was Black Monday for Barry Trotz, the league’s longest tenured head coach who was told he would not be back for a 16th season with the Nashville Predators.

ESPN Insider’s Craig Custance takes a look at who might be behind the Predators bench in October and starts with Peter Laviolette, who was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers at the outset of this season.

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As the end of the regular season approaches on Sunday night, 16 of 30 teams are preparing for the playoffs while the remaining 14 are trying to figure out where things went wrong. There will be the customary player movement this offseason, but well before any of that, decisions will be made on the job status of GMs and coaches around the league.

As with the end of any season, there have been rumors regarding the firing of particular coaches; this season, that list has included Barry Trotz (Nashville Predators), Randy Carlyle (Toronto Maple Leafs), Pete DeBoer (New Jersey Devils), Kirk Muller (Carolina Hurricanes) and John Tortorella (Vancouver Canucks). Each situation is quite different -- DeBoer responded, "I don't know," when asked about his future, but there's also a report from TSN that he's close to an extension -- so keep your eyes peeled this week, as those decisions are made.

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Links from around the rink: April 11 

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
11:41
AM ET
For six months, the St. Louis Blues cruised through the NHL season, never once losing three consecutive games and surpassing the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central Division standings. Come the trade deadline, the Blues shored up their lone perceived weakness by adding goaltender Ryan Miller. Now on the threshold of a postseason in which St. Louis is expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup, it could all be falling apart at the worst possible time.

Thursday night marked the fourth straight loss -- the Blues' longest losing skid of the season -- this one coming at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, a potential first-round playoff opponent. But that scenario requires St. Louis to secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, which is far from a guarantee at the moment. As of Friday morning, the Blues stand level with the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division with 111 points through 80 games, one point back of the West-leading Anaheim Ducks. And the Avs own the regulation wins tiebreaker over the Blues as well. If the Blues do fall back to the No. 2 spot in the Central, they would face the reigning-champion Blackhawks in Round 1 of the playoffs instead of the Wild.

[+] EnlargeMiller
Mark Buckner/Getty ImagesRyan Miller has slumped of late for the Blues.
The road back to the top of the division won't be an easy one. Not with the current instability in the the St. Louis net (four goals allowed in each of their four recent losses). Miller's play has been particularly questionable of late. He was pulled after allowing four goals on just 13 shots Thursday night, and owns an .813 save percentage over his past three starts. Meanwhile, across the rink in the Wild crease, 30-year-old John Curry stopped 43 shots to earn his third career win.

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Fantasy Grapevine: UFA goalies 

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
4:04
PM ET
Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller USA TODAY SportsJonas Hiller and Ryan Miller may be wearing different jerseys when the 2014-15 season begins.
Win the Stanley Cup, then worry about the future. With the NHL playoffs at the front of everyone's mind, the two most prominent pending unrestricted free-agent goaltenders have bigger fish to fry before chiseling out their next contracts. But Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller are going to have to make some hefty decisions soon enough, and the fantasy ramifications of how it all shapes up will be significant.

The intention on behalf of the St. Louis Blues regarding their shiny, new-to-them goalie is relatively straightforward: The club wants to re-sign Miller before July 1. But even though he’s said to be open to signing a fresh deal in St. Louis, the 33-year-old may have another preferred destination in mind. Miller’s wife, Noureen DeWulf, is a Hollywood actress; a gig with the Anaheim Ducks -- rising Cup contenders along with the Blues -- would be most convenient, from a geographical perspective.

That brings us to the Ducks’ current No. 1 goalie. Fiercely clutched by general manager Bob Murray ahead of the trade deadline, Hiller has been eight shades of awful leading up to the postseason. Instead, the Anaheim club has relied upon Frederik Andersen, who has been good, and fresh-from-the-minors rookie John Gibson, who has been nearly perfect. If this trend endures through the playoffs, the Ducks may opt to gamble with their two youngsters next season. That means a cheaper option might be on the club’s offseason wish list for the short term, and not a player of Hiller or Miller's ilk. After all, many scouts have high expectations for Gibson, and the reins could be passed to him within the next two seasons.

If that’s how the chips fall, Miller is a good bet to re-sign with the Blues, where he would remain a superb -- if not the very best -- fantasy goalie for 2014-15. As for Hiller, it'll depend on where he ends up. While some clubs are looking for reliable, experienced goaltending, like the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames, others would be open to some internal shuffling if it means snagging a proven No. 1 like Hiller. So who knows where he lands? From a fantasy perspective, a gig with the Sabres is not equivalent to a starting job with other superior clubs.

As for Gibson and Andersen -- but especially Gibson -- we suggest you hold them in somewhat high regard ahead of next season, especially those in dynasty leagues. Two NHL games are still only two games. But, as mentioned above, the former Kitchener Ranger is expected to be the genuine article.

Now here’s a look at a few other fantasy-relevant UFA goalies from around the league:

Jaroslav Halak, Washington Capitals

With respect to the latest bout of drama unfolding between Halak and Capitals coach Adam Oates, we suggest the goalie signs elsewhere this summer.

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Fantasy Grapevine: UFA forwards 

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
4:33
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Thomas Vanek and Matt MoulsonGetty ImagesThomas Vanek and Matt Moulson have big decisions to make this summer.
There’s a unique state of limbo reserved only for NHL players in the final year of their current contracts. It’s not uncommon to begin the season with one club, join a second for (fingers crossed) a playoff run, only to sign with a third in the offseason. More rare, but not entirely unheard of, is representing four NHL teams in a calendar year. Just ask two former members of the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres.

It’ll be interesting to see where pending unrestricted free agents Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson end up, as they play out the campaign with the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild, respectively.

Many, if not most, of your favorite NHL pundits favor Vanek to sign with the Wild this summer. Not only did Vanek play college hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but his wife is from the state. From a fantasy perspective -- and that’s what we’re all about here -- there’s undeniable appeal in the thought of the versatile winger skating on a Wild top line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. Or, with Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund. Plus, youngsters Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter are only getting better ... you get the idea. There’s plenty of flexibility in finding the right fit and chemistry for Vanek in Minnesota.

That being said, a long playoff run may go a long way in maybe convincing Vanek to re-sign with the Canadiens. That wouldn’t make for such a bad fantasy future, either. Competing with linemates Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, Vanek has 14 points in 15 games (as of April 9), and that was after a sluggish start with his new club. Whether he sticks in Montreal or signs with the Wild, Vanek faces an exceptionally bright fantasy future next season.

Meanwhile, Moulson’s offseason options appear more varied and less predictable. Beyond helping the Wild challenge in the playoffs, the former Sabre and Islander seems uncommitted to his new squad long term. At last check, he also essentially ruled out a return to Long Island. So while there’s talk the Florida Panthers might pursue the goal scorer, along with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and others, the fact is that Moulson’s future remains up in the air. That’s where we’ll leave it for now, except for pointing out the coincidence that Vanek might end up replacing Moulson on an NHL roster, this time indirectly in Minnesota, for the second time in eight months.

As free-agent forwards with unpredictable playing futures, Vanek and Moulson are hardly alone.

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The Stanley Cup playoffs begin in a little more than a week, which also means that more than a dozen teams will soon be trading in hockey sticks for golf clubs.

We’ll start our links with some speculation regarding teams on course for an early summer vacation.

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It's a battle of attrition for some NHL teams as the playoffs near. We know well how banged up some of the top contenders -- including the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins -- have been as of late, but it's a problem for some of the teams still in the mix for the wild cards.

The Toronto Maple Leafs -- once in firm position as a postseason team -- will be playing without starting netminder Jonathan Bernier from here on out, as he's sustained an MCL strain. Meanwhile, the team that eclipsed them in the standings this weekend -- the New Jersey Devils -- did so without the help of many key players, including Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias, who were dinged up in game action this past week. As of now, Elias, Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Ryane Clowe are considered day to day.

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Fantasy Grapevine: Week 24 

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
3:12
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Ilya BryzgalovDave Reginek/NHLI/Getty ImagesWith health problems elsewhere in Minnesota's goalie stable, it's Ilya Bryzgalov's show.
Just like that, Ilya Bryzgalov is once again worth discussing as a fantasy-relevant goaltender. The latest injury to Darcy Kuemper has prompted the Minnesota Wild to recall minor league journeyman John Curry from the AHL, suggesting Bryzgalov will be the go-to netminder for the next couple of contests, at least. If Kuemper’s upper-body ailment is even slightly serious, the 33-year-old Russian could start each of the team’s final six games.

Owned in only 13 percent of ESPN.com leagues, Bryzgalov hasn’t had the sweetest of campaigns, shuffling from Edmonton to Minnesota at the trading deadline. But he’s been pretty good lately; stopping a combined 41 of 44 shots, the perennially candid veteran has won two straight. Pushing to lock up a playoff spot in the West, the Wild coaching staff is justified in feeling confident in their experienced No. 2 netminder.

Moreover, Bryzgalov has a lot to prove, not only as a potentially viable candidate to play in the postseason, but as a pending unrestricted free agent. The next few weeks -- starting Thursday -- could significantly influence the former Vezina finalist’s next contract, whether he lands another gig in the NHL or elsewhere. We anticipate an inspired performance from the fantasy dark horse to close out 2013-14, if he's given the opportunity.

Then there’s the Harding factor. On the injured shelf since late December with complications related to his multiple sclerosis treatments, Josh Harding has joined the Wild for practice in Chicago. Whether the squad’s top netminder from earlier this campaign makes a meaningful appearance before the playoffs remains to be seen, but you might want to keep him in mind for postseason fantasy competition.

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In case you missed it, Monday’s Insider content featured our Craig Custance taking a look at why the two-horse race between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks is so important out West. The loser projects to get the Los Angeles Kings as a difficult first-round opponent.

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Just two weeks remain in the regular season, and the New Jersey Devils are five points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. So could we be witnessing the final days of Martin Brodeur in an NHL uniform?

The future Hall of Famer doesn’t necessarily think so. Brodeur tells Riche Chere of the Star-Ledger he is “80 percent sure” he’ll play next season and he hasn’t ruled out staying with the Devils.

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The playoff races are in the final stretch, and there were some notable developments thanks to Saturday's outcomes: the Boston Bruins are Atlantic Division champs, thanks to a win over the Washington Capitals; the Colorado Avalanche are headed back to the playoffs in Patrick Roy's first season behind the bench; the New Jersey Devils lost another shootout, and have now only scored one goal in 30 attempts this season. For New Jersey, the missed opportunity against the lowly New York Islanders means that they sit five points behind current wild cards Columbus and Detroit.

The Eastern Conference playoff battle is hottest among teams contending for the wild-card slots, while in the Western Conference, it's more about where the playoff-bound teams will be seeded. That includes the Avs, who are hoping for the best regarding an MRI for Matt Duchene, who suffered a knee injury on Saturday. Each NHL team has between six and nine games remaining, and it may come right down to the final day in some of these races.

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As we prepare for the weekend -- and potentially more signs of spring weather in some areas -- the big story in the hockey world is the report that New York Islanders owner Charles Wang is in talks to sell a majority stake of the team. Given the team's recent struggles, along with Wang's reported unwillingness to spend up to the salary cap, that report is welcomed with a certain amount of optimism by Islanders faithful. Then again, it's unclear what the new owner (or ownership group) would do with the club.

The Isles are set to begin playing at Brooklyn's Barclays Center during the 2015-16 season, though it's unclear whether that will entice potential suitors. Also unclear is the fate of current Isles GM Garth Snow, who has had some major wins, including John Tavares' club-friendly deal, and some major losses (see: the Thomas Vanek trades this season). Just another wrinkle for what promises to be an offseason of intrigue on "The Island."

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Fantasy Grapevine: Week 23 

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
2:44
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Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Malkin & Henrik SedinGetty ImagesFinding replacements for injured superstars is critical both in reality and in fantasy.
As is customary this time of year -- Olympics or no Olympics -- the long regular season is beginning to wear on NHL rosters. With the playoffs just around the corner, most NHLers are, to some degree, bruised, banged-up and/or justifiably bushed. It seems we can’t go more than a few hours without hearing of another significant injury. So while the Washington Capitals await word on the health status of Nicklas Backstrom, two other clubs are already working around losing their own game-changing centermen. All of whom happen to be valued fantasy assets.

Backstrom is considered day-to-day following his premature departure from Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. On the upside, the 26-year-old forward was not subjected to the league’s mandatory concussion testing after enduring the nasty fallout from a Drew Doughty hit. Coach Adam Oates says Backstrom was held out from returning to the game for precautionary reasons. Many suspect he’s nursing a shoulder injury, and since the Capitals don’t play again until Saturday, there’s hardly cause for panic here.

On the other hand, while the Vancouver Canucks insist on declaring Henrik Sedin day-to-day, word has it the club’s captain is more likely to miss a couple of weeks with a suspected left leg/foot problem. That leaves maybe a game or two before the 2013-14 regular campaign wraps up for good. Owners fighting for fantasy supremacy -- especially in redraft leagues -- are advised to cut Henrik immediately. As a substitute, center Shawn Matthias could continue to get time on a line with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Jensen.

Then we have the Pittsburgh Penguins, who seem fairly open about the latest injury to shelve Evgeni Malkin. Coach Dan Bylsma concedes Malkin will miss two to three weeks -- the rest of the regular season -- with a bad right foot. Again, if you want to make a final charge in your non-dynasty league, and there isn’t an IR slot available, drop the Russian center outright. Why not? Owners in deeper leagues may like to know that Brandon Sutter is pegged to replace Malkin on the second line with wingers Jussi Jokinen and James Neal.

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There has been ample speculation that the NHL is more than open to the idea of placing an expansion team in Seattle. Back in September, we at ESPN Insider conducted a mock draft of what a new team in the Pacific Northwest might look like.

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The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have remained at the forefront of NHL thought over the past week, with Patrick Kane's injury followed by the impending debut of Teuvo Teravainen. It was a long road from when the 'Hawks drafted Teravainen to today, as Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com chronicles.

Meanwhile, Insider Craig Custance outlines what we should expect from Teravainen, who may make his debut in Sunday's game against Nashville.

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