Kukla's Korner

The Winnipeg Jets Want To Prove Doubters Wrong

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

Even if the Jets weren’t dealing with the contract standoffs of Laine and Connor, there’s no denying it was a tough summer given the fact three big defenceman — Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot — left the team. Winnipeg, which made the 2018 Western Conference Final before losing in the first round of last year’s playoffs, has also seen rivals like the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars improve themselves, solidifying the Central’s reputation as the NHL’s ‘Division of Death.’ Morrissey believes all that has changed people’s perspective on a club that entered last year as a firm favourite in the West.

“We’re excited to try and prove some people wrong this year and not have as high expectations as we did last year. As much as most guys try to avoid reading the headlines, it’s impossible to avoid completely. As a young team, it’s kind of a good thing because it helps develop a bit of a chip on your shoulder. We are young, we’re getting better, but I think it’s a maturation process [that includes learning to stay even-keeled].

“Obviously it would be easy to look at [last April’s playoff loss to the St. Louis Blues] as a huge disappointment and for us players, it was a disappointment. At the same time, I think we’re really on our journey as a team. We’re a young group. I don’t know the numbers exactly, but I still think, in the playoffs we were one of the youngest teams out there and we’re going to potentially be even younger this year.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Tampa Bay Lightning Still Feel The Pain From Early Exit In The Playoffs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times,

Jeff Vinik started by wishing people a Happy New Year.

To the Lightning owner, the start of the season represents a more relevant passage of time than Jan. 1.

He said the offseason always feels too long and the season opener too far away, so this year isn’t any different. But he cited something Victor Hedman said last season about the 2015 Stanley Cup Final loss to Chicago:

“I don’t think we ever get over it,” he said. “It’s tough, we had a really good team. We had a really good opportunity and for whatever reason things didn’t go our way. We’re disappointed by it. We’ll learn from it and hopefully we can have a better outcome.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Considered Day-To-Day With Undisclosed Injury

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic,

Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Chayka pulled reporters aside on Friday — the club's first organized skating day of training camp — and announced that Ekman-Larsson was day-to-day after undergoing an offseason procedure to repair a previous injury....

n typical NHL fashion, no further details surrounding Ekman-Larsson's injury were disclosed, although he did skate on Friday. We also know Ekman-Larsson played through a knee injury last season, and was attacked by a family dog over the summer....

The strangest part, however, were Chayka's cryptic comments relating to his captain's status. When asked if the injury was directly related to last season's knee ailment, Chayka offered this:

“In some ways, yes; in some ways, no," Chayka said. "It’s just something that’s been nagging him for a number of years now. Just an opportunity for him to clean it up and get ready for the season, so he’s 100 percent healthy and strong, so he’s got no concerns heading into the season.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: oliver+ekman-larsson

Decision Time For The NHLPA

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Eventually The Minnesota Wild Will Need To Rebuild

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

The Minnesota Wild are burdened by their gigantic contracts with defenseman Ryan Suter and winger Zach Parise, who will count a shade more than $7.5 million against the cap each season until 2025.

Previous general manager Paul Fenton gave free agent winger Mats Zuccarello, 32, five years and $30 million this summer before getting the axe. Then new GM Bill Guerin one-upped him by giving defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 29, a seven-year deal for a shade over $53 million.

(That contract reminds us that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo will get paid for real on his next contract. Lesser defensemen are getting crazy money in the league.)

The Wild could surprise this team by making the playoff bracket this season and winning a round or two. But at some point a total rebuild will become inevitable, given the advancing age up and down their roster.

more topics include the RFAs and around the league notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink

James Neal Looking Forward To Edmonton’s Power Play

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,

Being on any power play is fun, but joining one that boasts Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is pretty much any goal scorer’s dream.

“They’re a different level of skill,” said Oilers winger James Neal, who skated on the first unit in practice Sunday. “They have that ability to draw guys in and dish pucks out when you’re all alone.

“You know when you’re on the power play that (the PK) focus is trying to get the puck out of their hands, so there are going to be a lot of opportunities for open ice.

“For me, that’s a great thing. Being able to get open and put the puck in the net is one of my best attributes.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Wings Want Filip Zadina To Go To The Net

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

There was a sequence during Sunday’s Red-White game when Frans Nielsen drove to the net and slipped a pass to Filip Zadina, who tried to stuff the puck around the goal post.

That’s where the Detroit Red Wings want Zadina to be: in a rectangular area around the net, roughly from hashmark to hashmark and hashmark to goal line, where the Wings say an estimated 40% of NHL goals are scored.

It’s the same message the Wings stressed to Anthony Mantha a couple years ago: find ways to be around the net and the goals will start piling up....

“Probably it’s going to be my game — go more to the net and I’ll be more productive,” Zadina said Sunday. “There are some places around the net where you can score more goals than the other, so if I will be there more, I will probably get more goals.”...

“The secret is learning how to earn your own confidence through the work you put in, and being mentally tough enough when your place slips a little bit that you know it’s going to come back,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “But that comes back to putting the work in and having that true self confidence where you know you have the skill set to succeed and you know you’ve put the work in to succeed.”


Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Jeff Blashill After Today’s Scrimmage

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Kaski, the MVP of the Finnish league signed as a free agent, hopes his offensive ability earns him a job on defense. Blashill said the 6-1, 190-pound right-handed shooter will get power play time in the preseason.

“One of the things that can really separate him is his offensive ability,” Blashill said. “He can really pass; he can really shoot. He’s got to learn to move his feet a little more consistently defensively.

“If you one-time pucks, you have a way better chance of scoring than if you stop and shoot it. I’m really intrigued with his skill-set. Now he’s got to show he can defend on a regular basis.”...

Filip Larsson, the organization’s top goaltending prospect, stopped all nine shots he faced in 25 minutes before allowing the shootout goals....

“He’s got to stay healthy. That’s been something he hasn’t done,” Blashill said of Larsson. “Then he’s going to see a high, high level of shooter in the American Hockey League that he’s got to prove that on a consistent basis he can stop in that high 90-92 (miles per hour) range. But he looks like a good goalie so far.”


Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Signing Brock Boeser May Have Become Harder

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,

There are a number of ways to look at the Mitch Marner contract — and various media outlets in Toronto have examined them all — but this is what it looks like from Vancouver.

The Maple Leafs didn’t make the Brock Boeser negotiation any easier on the Canucks....

Marner is coming off a breakthrough 94-point season which placed him 11th among all NHL scorers last season. Boeser had 56 points in 69 games....

Marner has been the more productive player. But, if you believe the Canucks are trying to bring Boeser in at $7 million per, is that difference worth $4 million a year?

Let’s look at it another way. Even if it’s worth $2 million a year, that puts Boeser in the $9-million ballpark and that will impact the negotiations for Elias Pettersson in two years and Bo Horvat two years after that.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brock+boeser

A Motivating Factor For Jonathan Toews

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,

Jonathan Toews set career highs in goals (35), assists (46) and points last season (81).

He also averaged a career-high 21 minutes of ice time, won 56.3% of his faceoffs and centered the Blackhawks' top line each and every night.

Yet, when NHL Network unveiled what it believes to be the league's top 20 centers, Toews failed to make the cut.

Asked if he will use the omission as motivation, the Hawks' captain said: "Honestly, kind of. Yeah. If I saw my name at the top of the list, I wouldn't really key on it too much. But the fact that it's been a few years since our team's had playoff success, you kind of start losing a little bit of focus and attention (nationally).

"There's no doubt in the back of your mind you want to prove yourself as one of the best players in the league and on the team. So when you see that, it definitely sinks in a little bit for sure."


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jonathan+toews

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