Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Training camp is so close you can almost feel it, so it is time to shake more of the rust off and do a little rambling.
Pretty darned good summer for Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving, who stole Dougie Hamilton away from the Boston Bruins at the draft and then locked him in long-term while adding useful forward Michael Frolik, a former Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks. Then, earlier this week Treliving took care of priority No. 1: Locking up heart-and-soul captain Mark Giordano to a very salary cap-friendly six-year deal worth an average of $6.75 million per season. It's a deal that gives Treliving lots of cap-room flexibility moving forward, even if there's always a risk in such a long-term deal when Giordano will have just turned 33 when the deal kicks in next October. Many believe the Flames are due a step back this season after a surprising run to the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. But that run was accomplished without Hamilton and Giordano, who was out with a torn biceps tendon. Nothing is guaranteed in the wild Western Conference, but Treliving has his Flames well-positioned to return to the playoffs, not just this season but for the foreseeable future.
One byproduct of the Giordano signing is that the attention on top-end players entering their contract years is amped up. Tops on that list of course is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, followed closely by Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. The slower-than-expected rise in the salary cap coupled with benchmark contracts like those extended to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane by the Blackhawks last summer that kick in this season has made life more difficult for all GMs, but specifically for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman and Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Locking up Stamkos and Kopitar are obvious priorities for the Bolts and the Kings respectively and we assume the deals will get done, but the longer it takes, the more speculation will percolate that things are amiss.
continued with more topics...
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
Goaltender Cam Ward was the first off the ice Thursday at Raleigh Center Ice, soon to be followed by Eric Staal.
Ward and Staal have been two constants for the Carolina Hurricanes for more than a decade. They’re the two remaining members of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup champions, a reminder of better times.
Each will be entering the final year of long-term contracts this season. Both have said they want to remain a part of the organization, indicating the desire to sign contract extensions.
“Right now, I’m just going about my business and making sure I’m ready to go,” Ward said after an informal skate. “Obviously, it’s no secret I love being here and there’s nowhere else I want to be.”...
“In a perfect world I’d like to have something done, but there’s no pressure,” Ward said. “I’ve just got to prepare myself for a great year, not just for myself but for the team. It’s team first. We want to be ready.”
Since the Cup run in 2006, when Ward was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP, the Hurricanes have reached postseason just once, in 2009. The past six seasons have ended with Hurricanes players and coaches facing longer summers than they wanted, with their fans disappointed.
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
A buff 36-year-old in a T-shirt and shorts stands at the front. A hockey star in a hockey town, defenceman Andrew Ference has been the captain of the Edmonton Oilers since joining them as a free agent in 2013. Unusual for a professional athlete, he works to bring attention to the matters he is passionate about: the environment, human rights and physical fitness.
Upon arriving in Edmonton, he began staging free workout sessions and invited everyone to come. They happen three mornings a week, with Wednesday reserved for running stairs at the home stadium of the Canadian Football League’s Eskimos.
This week, Mr. Ference begins by instructing everyone to find someone they don’t know and give them a hug. Someone’s sweet-tempered pit bull runs among them, wagging and barking in a studded collar and an Oilers kerchief.
A few minutes later, as the sky brightens, the group files into the empty stadium and bounds up the stairs.
Those waiting at the back of the line exercise their legs by bouncing up and down.
“It’s a great morning,” says Mr. Ference’s sister Jen, who helps organize the free gatherings with her hockey-playing younger brother. It is not quite 6 a.m. and she is cheerful.
“There is great energy here,” she says. “So many people want to get up early.”
from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun,
Heading into the season, there is excitement in Buffalo due to the manner their roster was turned over.
“I think it’s like Edmonton right now, there is a lot of turnover and changes in coaches and we have some high-end prospects coming in and there is a lot of optimism,” Ennis said following a session at Perry Pearn’s 3-on-3 camp Thursday. “It’s really exciting, we made some really good moves, I think. I feel like the rebuild is finally coming to fruition. It’s been a tough couple of years but it’s going to be worth it, because we have a lot of great players and a lot of guys to be excited about, coming in.”
Shrewd trades and quality draft picks have, seemingly, expedited the rebuild process in Buffalo. As one of the club’s veterans, Ennis is looking forward to playing on a more competitive team this year.
“Time flies by. That’s why the last two years were such a tough two years,” Ennis said. “Your career goes by quickly. It seems just like yesterday that I got drafted and now I’m going into my seventh year of pro. You want to be in contention every year, because you may only get a couple of chances to win it.”
Heading into the year, Ennis is looking to improve on the 20 goals and 46 points he posted last season. He has a point total in mind, which he is hoping to reach, but would not divulge a number.
by Joe Sudberg,
The New York Rangers were one game away from back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances before being upended by the Tampa Bay Lightning in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, a game that the Rangers had everything going for them prior to the puck dropping.
With the support of the Madison Square Garden fans and Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar Game 7 record, it was almost expected to see the Rangers get another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup. But the night belonged to the Lightning, who moved on to the Stanley Cup Final where they would lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
So the window question, whether it's wide open or closing, is legitimate for the Rangers. How many chances does a team get before the bottom falls out? Does getting close put even more pressure on the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup this season?
Vigneault understands the queries, but he's not concerned with them because he sees the Rangers as a contender regardless of what they have done, or not done.
"We signed most, if not all, of our core guys to pretty good contracts as far as length, so we have to believe that these guys are going to give us good years," Vigneault said. "Are we in our window, and how many years is that window? We're a good team. I'm going to let the experts decide if we're in the window or not."
The Rangers should be in their window for the reasons Vigneault outlined, and many others. They should see themselves as contenders because their core is intact and in its prime.
Henrik Lundqvist will turn 34 this season but should be able to maintain his status as an elite goalie for several more seasons because of the shape he stays in and the way he maintains his body and mind throughout the season. He is entering the second year of a seven-year contract.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh is a 26-year-old captain with four years remaining on his contract. Defenseman Marc Staal is 28 and entering the first year of a six-year contract extension. Defenseman Dan Girardi is 31 and has five years left on his contract.
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Elias Lindholm on a two-year contract extension. The deal will pay Lindholm $2.5 million in 2016-17 and $2.9 million in 2017-18.
“Elias played well last season, nearly doubling his offensive numbers from his rookie year,” said Francis. “We expect he will be a very important part of the Hurricanes as he continues to develop as a professional.”
Lindholm, 20, established career highs in goals (17), assists (22), points (39) and games played (81) in 2014-15, and ranked third on the team in goals and points, and tied for third in assists. The Boden, Sweden, native has now played in 139 NHL regular season games with Carolina, scoring 26 goals and earning 34 assists (60 points). The Hurricanes drafted Lindholm (6’1”, 192 lbs.) in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today released the complete schedule of regular-season games for the 2015-16 season, the league’s 80th year of operation. The season, comprising 1,120 games, begins on Fri., Oct. 9 and concludes on Sun., Apr. 17.
All teams will play 76 games each (38 at home, 38 on the road) with the exception of the clubs which joined the AHL in January as part of the creation of a Pacific Division (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton); those five teams will play 68 games each (34 home, 34 road).
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today that forward Patrik Berglund will undergo surgery on his right shoulder on Friday.
Berglund injured his shoulder training for the upcoming season. He initially dislocated the shoulder during the 2013-14 regular season.
The surgery will be performed by Dr. Rick Wright of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Berglund will be re-evaluated in four months.
Berglund, 27, tallied 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 77 regular season games with the Blues last year. In addition, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound forward contributed four points (two goals, two assists) in six 2015 postseason appearances.
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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