Kukla's Korner

Open post: hockey talk in late July

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The "Royal Exalted Grand PooBah" suggested that KK's little daliance with a "Casual Friday" might yield an open post for KK members to discuss hockey talk that might not make the blog at this time of year, and so here is that open post for your enjoyment. Gab away, and I'll start with this:

Wings summer camper Matej Machovsky spoke to the CTK News Agency about his time at the Wings' summer development camp, and Machovsky stated that the Wings offered him an AHL deal, but he turned it down, hoping to earn an NHL contract after this season playing for HC Plsen. The Grand Rapids Griffins then signed Calvin Heeter from Medvescak of the KHL to fill their goaltending pipeline with Jared Coreau, Jake Paterson, Eddie Pasquale and Heeter battling for spots with the Griffins and Toledo Walleye.

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Devils Do Defensive Zone Starts Differently

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

I am always on the lookout for teams that do things differently from all the others in order to better gage the efficiency of that strategy.  Yersterday's post showed one such situation.  I listed the top 20 players in 2015/16 by excess defensive zone starts.  This list included 18 forwards and two defencemen.  Both defencemen are New Jersey Devils in Adam Larsson and Andy Greene who were ranked second and third overall. 

While the other teams in the NHL try to match their defensive forwards and faceoff men with defensive zone starts, New Jersey does something differently.  They have a top defensive line that they attempt to play in as many defensive faceoffs as possible.

New Jersey was not a particularly successful team last year finishing 20th overall and missing the playoffs.  However they were successful in preventing goals having the ninth best goals against in the NHL.  While part of the credit for that is due to Cory Schneider's strong goaltending, it is hard to give Schneider credit for the Devils allowing the eighth fewest shots against.

Continue Reading »

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‘Roughly Translated’: Jiri Fischer discusses Mrazek’s contract

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer discussed Petr Mrazek's contract with iDnes.cz's Michael Beren and Robert Sara, and here's a rough translation thereof:

Continue Reading »

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Discussing expansion draft-eligible players

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky:

George McPhee hasn't been on the job long enough to hire a scouting staff. But the general manager for the NHL's Las Vegas expansion franchise is already formulating his strategy for next year's expansion draft.

"Teams will still do their best to not give us anything," McPhee said. "We'll have a better opportunity to build a foundation than in previous expansion drafts. But we're going to have to work hard to find great players."

McPhee figures he will be lucky if he selects one or two players who stick with the franchise for the long term. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be staying away from players with long-term deals.

"I think we'll have to evaluate every team on a case-by-case basis and see what they have," McPhee said. "I'll take a longer contract if it's a good player."

Before McPhee got the job, the other 30 general managers were already shuffling their rosters so as to have options entering the expansion draft. With teams allowed to protect one goaltender, that's the main reason Frederik Andersen and Brian Elliott were dealt this summer and why the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings are expected to make similar moves with goalies.

Teams will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie in the expansion draft. They must also protect players with no-movement clauses as well as first- or second-year pros.

Continued

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  Tags: george+mcphee, las+vegas

Wings still dancing with the salary cap’s upper limit

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Hockey News's Jared Clinton discusses the Red Wings' cap issues:

Currently at $4.238 million over the cap, placing Franzen and Vitale on the LTIR the day before the season opens would free up $5.07 million in space. That would make the Red Wings compliant by more than $800,000. However, CapFriendly doesn’t take into account the additions of Andreas Athanasiou, who played 37 games last season and all five playoff games, and another defenseman, even from the AHL, who will likely be on the roster before the season begins.

Adding in Athanasiou and, say, Xavier Ouellet would mean adding another $1.34 million to the cap, putting Detroit back over the upper limit by more than $500,000. But there’s another Red Win who could be headed to LTIR: Teemu Pulkkinen.

Pulkkinen underwent off-season shoulder surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. If he and his $812,500 salary are also on LTIR, the Red Wings should be back under the cap. Sure, they’ll have minimal breathing room, but they’ll be cap compliant.

Making the pieces fit this off-season wasn’t going to be easy for Holland and he’s not exactly going to be able to go about managing the Red Wings’ salary cap in a traditional fashion this season. That said, he’s made it work.

The difficulty now will be improving his roster, if need be. Any deal Holland makes will have to either save the Red Wings money against the cap or be almost a perfect match, dollar for dollar. That’s not an easy task in today’s NHL, so Holland is going to need to get creative if he’s still seeking to add another defenseman.

Clinton continues

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No news is no news regarding Monahan, Gaudreau

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland:

But when the news involves the Calgary Flames’ two biggest stars — Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau — and their imminent contract extensions, it’s pretty hard not to wonder …

“No real update there,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving, addressing the subject at a Wednesday news conference to introduce goaltender Brian Elliott to the local media. “We’ll continue to work away at it. We wanted to focus (Wednesday) on Brian and (Elliott’s wife) Amanda and welcome them to Calgary. But we’ll continue to work away at it.”

It’s been Treliving’s answer to everybody’s favourite question since the 2015-16 regular season ended — “What is happening with Monahan and Gaudreau?”

Continued

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  Tags: brad+treliving, calgary+flames, johnny+gaudreau, sean+monahan

Elliott finally gets his chance to establish himself as a #1 goaltender

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From the Canadian Press:

The temperatures outside are scorching, but new Flames goaltender Brian Elliott is eager to get back in the rink. After years of fending off challengers for his job in St. Louis, Elliott has big expectations entering next season as the unquestioned No. 1 in Calgary.

"This is a big one for me so I’m really looking forward to it," Elliott said when introduced to the media on Wednesday. "Sometimes you want that extra bit of summer to relax and enjoy your downtime but now I’ve gotten really excited to get the pads back on and ready to get back at it."

The Flames acquired the 31-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., from St. Louis on the night of the NHL draft for a second-round pick. Elliott and his wife were on vacation in Croatia at the time.

"When I got the news, it was 2 o’clock in the morning and I saw my phone lighting up. I didn’t go back to sleep after that, I was so excited," he said.

Continued

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  Tags: brian+elliott, calgary+flames, st.+louis+blues

Savage profiles Filip Larsson

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Brendan Savage profiles Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson this morning:

Although his numbers weren't great, the Red Wings try to draft a goalie every year and they liked Larson's size – 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.

"I had a tough year," Larsson admitted. "I started as a second goalie in Djurgardens U-20 team. But I got a lot of chances. I think it went well at the end. But it was tough for my team in Djurgardens.

"I'm looking forward to the next year."

Larsson said he doesn't get to watch many NHL games in Sweden given the time difference but he tries to watch all the highlights the following morning.

His favorite player is Henik Lundqvist – "Swede goal with New York Rangers," he said – and he compares his game to that of the Washington Capitals Braden Holtby.

"I think we're kind of similar," he said.

Continued

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Blackhawks leaning on their ‘kids’

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika:

OK, so who's it going to be? Nick Schmaltz? Tyler Motte? Ryan Hartman? Vincent Hinostroza? Tanner Kero?

Who's going to seize the opportunity with the Chicago Blackhawks this season? Who's going to grab the job openings at forward on a team that has won the Stanley Cup three times since 2010? Who's going to play in a lineup that includes Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa?

"The one thing I've told all those players was, 'I'm not sure which of you guys is going to make the team, but we're hoping you make the decision easy for us,'" Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "I think the one thing that's different this year is they don't have a lot of veteran guys ahead of them, so they're essentially fighting amongst themselves. We've got a group of six to eight young players. A number of them are going to make it."

Who makes it could have a huge effect on how far the Blackhawks make it.

Continued

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, stan+bowman

On Wayne Simmonds’ charitable commitment

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From Sportsnet's Donovan Bennett:

Legacy.

It can be something you leave behind or something you benefit from. In Wayne Simmonds’ case, it’s both.

Simmonds is a prime example of a hockey player lifted by his community to heights that allowed him to represent Canada and find success in the NHL. Now, the Philadelphia Flyers forward is calling on his friends and family to help him return the favour through Wayne’s Road Hockey Warriors ball hockey tournament in his hometown of Scarborough, Ont.

The annual event was inspired by a promise he made to his parents that he’d give back to the community if he ever made it big. The idea was originally started with childhood friend Brandon Sinclair who, like Simmonds, also benefited from community initiatives with his adolescent hockey career.

Every summer, 160 kids age eight to 12 get to meet and be coached by NHL players, and even watch them play in a celebrity game.

Continued

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  Tags: philadelphia+flyers, wayne+simmonds

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