by Patrick Hoffman on 07/28/10 at 09:00 AM ET
Scott Wasilewski (Wazz) of The Face-off Hockey Show and The Strangest One of All Hockey Blog was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss some off-season hockey topics here at Kukla’s Korner.
Take it away, Wazz:
PH: Which free agent signings do you like? Why?
SW: The defensive pick-ups in the Atlantic are amazing. The Devils picking up Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder are pretty clutch, as both are stable defensively responsible players and should be able to make up for the losses the Devils had to endure. Which leads me to the pick-ups of Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek by the Penguins, who are younger options to counteract the loss of Sergei Gonchar to Ottawa. Martin and Michalek should compliment and push Kris Letang to be tops on the defensive corps.
PH: Which free agent signings do you dislike? Why?
SW: Definitely giving the guys like Derek Boogaard and Jody Shelley deals over one million dollars, because odds are they won’t be close to earning the money they’re getting paid. Even if they are in the line-up, they won’t be on the ice long enough to recognize. Sure, they’ll bring intimidation to the line-up, but is it worth over a million per?? Doubtful.
PH: Which teams do you think have gotten better during the off-season? Why?
SW: On and off the ice, the Tampa Bay Lightning have definitely gotten better. Not only did they do well picking up Simon Gagne from the Flyers, beefed up the defense with Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark, and added Dan Ellis; but adding Wayne Fleming (assistant coach) and Tod Leiweke (minority owner) to the front office is a great way to make people forget about the circus that was created by Oren Koules and Len Barrie.
PH: Which teams do you think have gone backwards during the off-season? Why?
SW: The trendy answer is the Chicago Blackhawks, but it’s the right answer. Granted, they had to do it because of bad contracts; but losing a lot of key cogs to the Stanley Cup victory and still not knowing what’s going to happen with Antti Niemi; it’s just the sign of the times and why there may not be a dynasty in the near future for any team.
PH: What do you think of this whole Illya Kovalchuk saga?
SW: The Kovalchuk situation is something that will go down as one of the most unique situations out there. I mean, sure—the whole allure of a player like him going into unrestricted free agency is one thing. But the sideshow that came with it—the over two week wait, the eventual signing, then the rejection of the contract and pending arbitration; just fantastic situation—while some of the people may hate it; it’s great drama.
PH: Will Kovalchuk still end up being a New Jersey Devil? Why or why not?
SW: In the end, you can’t count-out Lou Lamoriello and he’ll be able to retain Kovalchuk’s services. It’s all depended on if Kovalchuk is willing to bend a little more on his demands. If 17-years is the benchmark, then he could have to restructure some things, which could be a stumbling block.
PH: Any other words here for Kukla’s Korner readers?
SW: Most fans should enjoy the down time of the summer, because most of them will be begging for summertime if their team starts to slump and are out of the playoffs by February. While many long for the season—off-time isn’t that horrific.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.