Kukla's Korner

Antti Niemi Signing Official

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

SAN JOSE - San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced today that the team has signed Group III un-restricted free agent goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year contract. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Niemi, who turned 27 on Aug. 29, helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup last season, posting a 16-6 mark in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games, a 2.63 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage along with two shutouts.

During the 2009-10 regular season with Chicago, he notched a 26-7-4 mark in 39 games, with a 2.25 goals-against average (4th in the NHL) and a .912 save percentage and seven shutouts (3rd in the NHL).

“Antti’s play last season speaks for itself,” said Wilson.  “Our goal this summer was to create the best goaltending unit we could and we feel we have successfully done that.”

The six-foot-two, 210-pound native of Vantaa, Finland was originally signed by the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent on May 5, 2008.

Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi

Malhotra Brings His Gritty Style To Vancouver

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,

Malhotra unloaded his Swiss Army knife set of skills in the Shark Tank last year. He centred a grind line and played wing on the power play. He dominated defensive faceoffs and showcased a low and hard slapshot. He developed into, quite possibly, the best defensive forward on the Sharks. He finished with a career high 14 goals, had a career best plus-17 rating and established a new reputation. He did it all for $700,000.

How will it translate in Vancouver where he expectations have ballooned with his salary? Too early. It’s September and everyone looks promising. Even Victor Oreskovich has people excited.

Still, it’s possible the best moves the Canucks made this offseason were not the loudest and most expensive additions they made to their defence. Instead, what may prove to be the most noticeable difference is replacing Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier with Raffi Torres and Malhotra. That, should be a significant step up in class.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: manny+malhotra

Players Going Social

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,

Hockey fans will remember this summer for llya Kovalchuk’s endless free-agent odyssey and the NHL’s attempt to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement in midstream, but it will also be remembered as the summer NHL players plunged into using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and stepped into uncharted waters.

Including Kings captain Dustin Brown, who began tweeting in August, and Ducks winger Bobby Ryan, who hit the Twitterverse in July, more than 40 players are Twitter users. That estimate came from Michael DiLorenzo, the NHL’s director of social media marketing and strategy. He added that fewer than 40 players also use Facebook or have fan pages on Facebook.

Most players’ Twitter messages are funny: Ryan gets impatient in California traffic and Brown, watching Saturday morning TV with his kids, wondered what happened to all the good cartoons. Both needle teammates and talk about workouts and dinner plans, not revelations but information that gives them distinct personalities and builds rapport with fans.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Will Anyone Sign Patrick O’Sullivan?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

Free agent Patrick O’Sullivan will still be paid about $450,000 US this season and next, even if he doesn’t play anywhere else in 2010-11 after the Edmonton Oilers bought out his contract earlier this summer.

However, the winger is better off than Ryan Potulny, Mike Comrie, Brendan Morrison, Marek Svatos, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jeff Halpern, Miroslav Satan and older forwards Bill Guerin and Owen Nolan, who are also looking for work these days, but aren’t getting paid while they wait for the phone to ring. Indeed, these are tough times for free agents everywhere.

But has O’Sullivan’s stock dropped so far that there’s not one team that will give him $500,000? He’s only 25. He has 149 points in 280 career NHL games.

Granted, he was dreadful last year with the Oilers, with fewer points (34) than his plus-minus rating of minus-35—worst in the NHL.

continued and more hockey notes too…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: patrick+o'sullivan

Shean Donovan Looking For Work

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

After accepting a deal to play in Finland, Donovan was told the contract has been put on hold.

So the 35-year-old free agent is back to square one, searching for a new home. Except now there’s only two weeks before NHL camps open.

Instead of going for a skate Wednesday at the Bell Sensplex, Donovan went for a bike ride in the Gatineau hills with his lawyer, Larry Kelly.

“I don’t really know what’s going to happen now,” said Donovan. “I thought that I had something in Europe, but it didn’t work out. There was a deal I thought I accepted, but they said I didn’t call back quick enough.

“It’s all right. I guess it just means this is going to take a little longer. I’ll have to find something else. I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take it’ and then they didn’t call me back for a few days.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: shean+donovan

Big Year From Kovalev?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,

We’ve seen what he can still do when he wants. The magic he can still perform with puck and stick. And even though he’s 37 he should still be able to abracadabra his way to an 80-point season. He’s also a big, strong man, and it’s not like he has slowed. At least not when he’s going forward.

Therein lies the irony in the SPB air last season. The boobirds gave it to Jason Spezza, one of the team’s very best players the last five years, for failing with creative attempts. Not for his lack of effort. But did anybody really get on Kovalev for not trying?

Kovalev wasn’t always a dog, just much of the time when he was gliding toward the Senators zone. If he played in Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus or Florida, fans might not have noticed. In Ottawa, they certainly did.

But then, local columnists were guilty of not calling out Kovalev last season, too. This one was probably caught up in the mystique that surrounded the teammate Nick Foligno referred to as “the most interesting man in the world.” Consider this an apology. It won’t happen again.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alexei+kovalev

Peltonen Returns Home

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Risto Pakarinen at IIHF.com,

Hockey is a game where you have to be at the right place at the right time. That is what makes a great goal scorer. And great scorers are always sought after in hockey. But sometimes, as a player happens to be at the right place at the right time in the rink, he’s also very much at the right place at the right time outside it.

That’s what legends are made of.

Ville Peltonen not only happened to score a goal in the 1995 World Championship final against Sweden. He happened to score a hat trick in the 4-1 win that brought Finland its first ever gold.

He was two-and-a-half weeks shy from his 22nd birthday.

Had you yelled “Villeeeee Peeeeeeltonen” in a random Finnish city, at a random time, in 1995, within seconds somebody would have replied, “Ville Peltonen!”

continued

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, European Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ville+peltonen

Attention NHL & NHLPA

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Fans are beginning to get excited about hockey taking center stage in a few weeks.

Think about that and it should be your major concern right about now.

Get the Kovalchuk deal worked out now or move on, at this point in time fans just want closure.

Regarding the other contracts that may be under review, get those out of the way too.  Make a decision and move on.  We don’t need anything like this hanging over our heads.  Fans want to talk about hockey on the ice, not what is going on with all of this contract talk.

added 8:20am, from Damien Cox of The Spin,

Having teams cook up bizarre, front-loaded contracts that whittle down to $50 a season in the 45th year doesn’t help NHL players in general. It may help teams like Chicago win the Stanley Cup, but the vast majority of NHL clubs don’t benefit from these kind of deals that most GMs see as a form of cheating.

Everybody knows how much money is on the table for the players. It’s set out in the collective bargaining agreement. It’s just a question of how its divvied up. The more Ilya Kovalchuk gets, the less somebody else gets, or at least the bigger the escrow cut that comes the way of the average NHL player.

So if the NHL and the NHL Players Association are really using the 48-hour extension in the Kovalchuk decision to hammer out some kind of mid-CBA agreement on how to handle these deals, it’s probably a good thing for everybody. Well, everybody except maybe Kovalchuk. And a few others.

continued

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

Kings Gearing Up For Hockey Fest

Blog: KK Members Blog By Paul From Cali

I’m sure most fans outside of Los Angeles will be surprised to hear that the Kings host an annual event for their fans called Hockey Fest.  It coincides with the opening of rookie camp and all Kings fans can attend for a small fee.  Season ticket holders get a discount.

From Rich Hammond’s LA Kings Insider blog here’s the schedule for this year’s event scheduled for Saturday, September 11th:

For those wondering about what the Kings’ “Hockey Fest” will look like this season, here’s a rundown of exactly how the day is scheduled to go. All events will take place at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. Tickets are available for $20 (or $15 for season-ticket holders).

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

Was This San Jose’s Plan?

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Seeing that the Chicago Blackhawks were pushed very tightly against the salary cap, the San Jose Sharks signed Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four year $14 million offer sheet.  It was clear that if Chicago was to match the offer, some other key player on the 2010 Stanley Cup champions would have to be let go.  The obvious choice was Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi.  Niemi was a restricted free agent who was going to salary arbitration.  It was clear that the Blackhawks would not be able to afford the kind of salary he would receive.  Niemi got a $2.75 million arbitration award, which Chicago walked away from and signed Marty Turco.  San Jose has turned around and signed Antti Niemi to a one year $2 million contract.

San Jose was in a situation where they could use a competent defenceman to replace the retiring Rob Blake and a competent goalie to replace Evgeni Nabokov, who left to the KHL.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

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