Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Here's a look at some players whose careers may be hanging in the balance.
A member of two Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Los Angeles Kings, Stoll saw his production decline from 27 points two seasons ago to just 17 last season, though his points totals are secondary to his strong two-way presence on the ice.
Stoll didn't figure into the Kings' long-range plans as a free agent, though, and now the question is whether Stoll fits into any team's plans after he was discovered with cocaine and other drugs at a Las Vegas resort pool shortly after the regular season ended. Stoll pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to community service, and while there are teams interested in his skills, at this writing he remains without a contract.
Perhaps he will find a new home before the start of training camp or maybe he will have to earn a roster spot via a training camp tryout, but either way this ranks as a make-or-break season for the 33-year-old.
Speaking of the Kings, Richards also won two Cups with Los Angeles but is also a man without a team as July turns to August. Trade talks were ongoing as the draft approached, but the Kings backed away from the deals after Richards was involved in an incident at the Canada/U.S. border.
from Jonathan Quick at The Players' Tribune,
There are certain complexities to the game at the NHL level that can only be explained if you’ve seen them firsthand on the ice. That’s why I wanted to write this piece explaining what makes Elite Snipers so difficult to deal with for goaltenders....
Datsyuk is probably the most deceptive player in the NHL. He’s a magician in the way that he’s able to hide the puck on his stick. Part of that is his hardware. He uses a type of blade that is pretty unusual in the league. It’s a lot thicker from top to bottom, and somehow when you combine this with his quick release and the fact that he’s hardly ever looking at the net when he shoots, it’s extremely difficult to track the puck coming off his blade.
Like I said above, 90 percent of the save happens before the guy releases the puck. Most guys have a little tell. You look at where the puck is in relation to their feet, or the way they’re bending their knees to get ready to shoot, and you just know what’s going to happen before it happens. But the problem with Datsyuk is that he fools you with his intentions. He will be way out on the wall with his hands, feet, and eyes positioned for a cross-ice pass — and it’s the right decision. It’s what 99 percent of players will do in that situation. So you instantly start cheating your eyes over to where he’s going to pass. Next thing you know — what the hell? — the puck is behind you in the net. He shot it. Who shoots from there? Datsyuk shoots from there.
read on for more on Datsyuk and other players...
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
While a seven-team switcheroo is a stretch for 2016, we'll bet about four playoff teams from this past-season don't qualify next spring. Here are the eight 2015 playoff clubs most in danger of losing their status...
The Penguins? Are you crazy, Fox? Pittsburgh now has Phil the Thrill. The Pens are going to score six goals a game and make you look ridiculous. No doubt, GM Jim Rutherford has had himself a nice little summer. Kessel is money from the red line north, and we like the Eric Fehr and Nick Bonino moves, too.
But consider how close Pittsburgh was to missing out entirely last season. Of all the playoff teams, Pittsburgh was tied with a league-low 43 wins, and no Eastern playoff club had a worse goal differential than Pittsburgh's +11. Can Marc-Andre Fleury deliver an NHL-best 10 shutouts again? Well, that'll be extra tough since veterans Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff walked and Simon Despres has been enjoying deeper playoff runs in Anaheim. Kris Letang points out that the move to three-on-three overtime should help a talent-rich club grab a few more points, but they may need each one they get.
The window is now, and second-year coach Mike Johnston must deliver.
continue for seven more teams...
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Without the aid of seeing him until training camp in September, Blues fans must hope that Bouwmeester, 31, who has played 900-plus games in the NHL, is providing an accurate assessment when he says a summer of rest and regrouping will allow him to bounce back in 2015-16.
The soft-spoken defenseman never acknowledged the extent of the groin injury last season. Reached back home in Canada on Tuesday, he tiptoed the line of being truthful and not making excuses for a disappointing season, but he did discuss the difficulty the injury caused.
“The whole year was not what I wanted it to be,” Bouwmeester said. “But at the same time, I can kind of break it down and look at it a little differently. Last year, if I go back and look at it, the start of the year was weird. I was feeling good and playing OK and I think I got one point in the first 20 games — nothing was happening. Then with the injury ...”
On Nov. 22, Bouwmeester left a 3-2 victory over Ottawa late in the game when he felt a pop in his groin.
“Right when it happened, you’re saying, ‘OK, I’ve never felt this before ... it doesn’t feel good,’” Bouwmeester remembered. “It was something that was totally foreign.”
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News answered some questions...
If the Stars get off to that really bad start again this season do you think Ruff gets fired during the season?
Heika: He will be on a very hot seat if they get off to a slow start. That said, Jim Nill is a very patient man....
Do you think GM Nill is in the market for another d-man? Maybe Franson or Ehrhoff? What about a possible trade for Phaneuf? Or do you think he waits and see's what the kids bring to the table?
Heika: They are set for right now, I believe. Plus, their contracts are in a good place, so taking on a big contract with a lot of term could create some real issues down the road when raises need to be given.
more Q & A on the Dallas Stars...
from David Staples of the Edmonton Journal,
It’s now four weeks in to free agency. Franson’s still not signed. How can it be?
Corsi analyst: Franson set to “become one of wealthiest players.”
This will be a bigger mystery if you’re a devout believer in Corsi-based player analysis. Several writers have been saying for some time that Franson scores exceedingly well on Corsi counts.
In December this past season, James Mirtle of Toronto’s Globe & Mail laid out the case: “Franson has also grown into a top pairing role, logging 275 of his 348 even strength minutes (80 per cent) alongside captain Dion Phaneuf so far this year. Despite those minutes and some tough situations, when Franson has been on the ice, the Leafs have been a 50 per cent possession team, nearly 4 per cent better than when he’s on the bench. He drives play, and more than ever, teams are looking for that.”
Then there was analytics writer Steve Burtch, a Leafs fan and perhaps Franson’s biggest on-line booster, writing for Sportsnet: “To put it plainly, Franson produces offensively amongst the elite D-men in the NHL. His possession impacts are amazingly consistent, and have never been negative. He has shown an ability to both reduce shot-attempts against and increase shot-attempts for. And goals-for and against improve significantly when he is on the ice compared to what one would expect based on his usage. … Franson’s on-ice impact and potential UFA status this summer combine to create a very unique combination, and rumours are already spreading that his camp will be seeking a deal worth $5 million-plus annually…. However things play out, Franson is set to become one of the wealthiest players in the NHL a year from now, and for a long time to come. Because despite what the eye test says, he deserves it.”
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly joined Prime Time Sports to talk about potential expansion in the league, and what makes Las Vegas such a unique market.
from the Phiadelphia Flyers,
The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have signed 6-3, 197-lb center Sean Couturier to a multi-year contract extension, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
Couturier, 22 (12/7/1992), recorded a career-high 15 goals and added 22 assists for 37 points in 82 games for the Flyers in 2014-15. Following the season, Couturier helped lead Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championships where he recorded three goals and added four assists for seven points in 10 games.
Couturier appeared in all 82 games for the second consecutive season and has appeared in 287 out of a possible 294 NHL games. He has also appeared in 198 consecutive games, which is the third-most active streak on the Flyers (Jakub Voracek: 226 & Brayden Schenn: 208).
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
For the first time since the Vancouver Canucks originally picked up Adam Clendening, the team finally made a trade where the immediate reaction isn’t to tear out one’s own hair.
Not that this deal is by any means one which will put the Canucks into the playoffs for sure, because at this point that’s looking to be a long shot at best. What it does is get them some insurance at the second-line centre spot in case Bo Horvat can’t seem to make anything happen with his expected promotion — a strong possibility given the wingers he’ll be playing with bear no resemblance to Mike Bossy.
Brandon Sutter gives the Canucks a right-handed centre to take all the key defensive draws on the right side of the ice, which can be handy, and it makes them a little bigger and tougher down the middle, which is certainly an asset in the Western Conference. Canucks general manager Jim Benning considers Sutter a fellow who will be the leader of the young group of players he hopes to assemble here, being slightly more experienced yet still within hailing distance in age of the likes of Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi, Brendan Gaunce, Jared McCann and the rest he hopes will adorn the roster.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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