Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
By my count, a little more than half the teams in the league could be contenders for last place overall if everything went wrong. Of course, some of those teams are better positioned than others, so let’s start with the worst of the worst.
This year’s 30th slot sure feels like it’s the Sabres’ to lose. After all, they’re the defending champs in this category, having finished at the bottom of the league last year. It wasn’t even close — the Sabres were 14 points back of the 29th-place Panthers. (And remember, that was with former All-Star Ryan Miller in net for most of the season.)...
The Flames are another team that’s in rebuild mode, although they actually did try to get better this summer, and may have succeeded thanks to the signing of goaltender Jonas Hiller. On the other hand, they lost Mike Cammalleri, and they’re apparently going to insist on stocking their roster with Brian Burke–style tough guys, so any improvement is likely to be minimal.
more on each of the above tems plus 15 other teams in different categories...
TORONTO (Aug. 18, 2014) – The NHL Combine, an annual event featuring the top 120 draft-eligible players from North America and Europe, will be held at First Niagara Center and HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2015 and 2016, the National Hockey League and Buffalo Sabres announced today.
The weeklong NHL Combine, gives all 30 Member Clubs a chance to evaluate hockey’s future stars three weeks before the NHL Draft. Prospects convene for interviews with NHL club management, scouts and athletic training staff as well as undergo medical and fitness examinations as part of a complete mental and physical assessment.
The 2015 NHL Combine is set to feature highly-touted North American prospects Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) and Connor McDavid (Richmond Hill, Ont.) ahead of the 2015 NHL Draft hosted by the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., June 26-27.
Those who worship at the altar of hockey analytics have long insisted that he is one of the most overrated players in the NHL. These type of "findings," however, prove "new stats" have a ways to go before they're bang-on accurate. He does have flaws, yes. His play can lag for long stretches, and he does not always anticipate well when the play has broken down. But to suggest he's in the lower tier at his position in the NHL is absurd....
He plays best when he's angry. He's one of those athletes who needs a snub of an oversight to put fuel in the tank.
Who is he and more on the current NHL player...
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from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
During a summer of relative inactivity, the local populace has become edgy -- a natural emotion when you consider that moves by their rivals in the Central Division appear to strengthen each of the other six teams the Jets are competing with for a playoff spot.
With that in mind, writer Justin Bourne posted a piece over at thescore.com last week suggesting the Jets might actually be tanking the current season for the opportunity to pick first overall in a bid to secure the services of Connor McDavid.
Every team in the NHL would love the opportunity to add a potential franchise player like McDavid or Jack Eichel to their organization, but to suggest that Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is sitting on his hands and is comfortable with watching losses pile up this season for what could be a payoff down the road is simply ridiculous.
First of all, what franchise decides to push the reset button in Year 4 of the unofficial five-year plan?
Where's the fire sale that sees the Jets ship off veterans for draft picks, young players or prospects?
While the Jets appear to be in tough to break the streak of non-playoff seasons that stretches back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers, they're not about to simply roll over and be a doormat.
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with (Jacques) Demers. In the room and on the ice, Markov might be the best choice to replace Brian Gionta as captain. He has the talent, the respect, the calm demeanor, the experience and that mysterious quality of leadership the position demands.
Markov would be (with his buddy, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals) one of only two Russian captains in the NHL. I just think he’s too smart to take the job....
And if the ‘C’ doesn’t go to Markov, where does it go? The Canadiens are fortunate to have several potentially good possibilities, even with Gionta and Josh Gorges in Buffalo.
Assuming that Markov wants no part of the job, the club could do worse than to pin the letter on the broad chest of Brandon Prust, as natural a leader as you can find. If he can stay healthy and contribute as he did during his first campaign with the Canadiens, Prust would make an excellent captain.
Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien also have about 72 million reasons to make P.K. Subban captain – and as many reasons not to make him captain, if you believe that the extra duties constitute an unwelcome distraction.
Today, NHL.com's "30 in 30" series profiles the Toronto Maple Leafs, and NHLcom discusses "advanced stats" angle as it applies to the Leafs' roster (see: Kyle Dubas' hiring as the Leafs' assistant GM), Jake Gardiner's contract extension, the Leafs' top prospects and the team's front office and roster turnover--as well as the goaltending issue--but there are other questions which remain very pertinent that don't involve Babcock-to-TO rumors or jitters about Phil Kessel's lack of social graces, as noted by NHL.com's Sean Farrell in "five questions" form:
3. What role will forward David Clarkson play? -- A rebound or not from a disappointing debut season in Toronto will tell the tale.
With the depth that the Maple Leafs have added up front, it may prove difficult for Clarkson to find playing time in the top six. That said, if Clarkson brings the kind of two-way game he is capable of, he would be a formidable third-line presence.
Clarkson was spotted training with Sid-the-no-longer-Kid, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo under the guidance of Darryl Belfry last week, in the sunny locale of Esthero, FL...
This might not make the blog when Paul's in charge because
he has higher standards, I mean he's not an obsessive-compulsive poster, I mean this might be "summer fluff," but the Typing Monkey is in charge today, so:
The Las Vegas Sun's Ray Brewer, Tovin Lapan and Joe Schoenmann offer a from-Las Vegas perspective as to why Sin City's soon-to-be status as possessing a 20,000-seat, Anschutz Entertainment Group-ran multi-sport facility may not necessarily bring a professional sports team to Las Vegas.
Instead of focusing upon the endless rumors about NBA or NHL teams either relocating to Vegas or sprouting in Nevada as expansion teams, Brewer, Lapan and Schoenmann mostly discuss the pluses and minuses of Major League Soccer expanding to the city, and they offer a succicnt list as to why a city with only 1.9 million metropolitan area residents isn't necessarily a natural fit for a pro sports team:
• Gambling. Professional sports leagues traditionally have shied away from Las Vegas because of our sports books. The NFL has long snubbed its nose at our city for fear of fixed games, athletes gambling and fuzzy betting lines. Even if no actual funny business took place, the policing and PR needed to win over skeptics could get expensive.
• Entertainment. Las Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World. There are dozens of shows, concerts and events to choose from any night of the year. Would people opt out of those in favor of a catching a game?
• Population. We’re a big city, and a growing city, but we still are puny compared with most sports television markets. And TV contracts are what make franchises big money.
• Scheduling. Ours is a 24-hour city with a huge number of hospitality workers, many of whom work nontraditional schedules. Since locals would make up the bulk of a team’s fan base, owners have worried potential fans would be tied up working and unable to attend games.
The gents continue, and their article's a very good read.
On Saturday, the Hockey News's Adam Proteau posted the first installment of a two-part "oral history" of the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup run, and he continues today with more behind-the-scenes tales from the Flames' Cup win in the Montreal Forum and its aftermath:
Delirious with joy, the Flames boarded their plane for the flight back to Calgary. They would all go on to enjoy incredible NHL careers, but for those precious few hours, they celebrated as one extended family.
CLIFF FLETCHER My son and daughter were on the plane with me. We had a special passenger, too: It wasn’t supposed to be allowed, but it just so happened the Stanley Cup was in that cabin with us.
AL MACINNIS We knew that was our one time as a team – from managers, to coaches, to trainers, to players – to really just be together for those few hours and take in the moment. That was a pretty special time, and quite a plane ride.
COLIN PATTERSON One of my favorite pictures from the flight is myself, Joel Otto and Lanny: We were sitting in one row and we’d just got the Cup. We were just so excited to have it.
THEO FLEURY I think I passed out on the plane hugging the Cup.
DOUG GILMOUR The only disappointing part of it was we ran out of beer before we took off. Whatever was available after that point – liquor, wine, whatever – was what we drank. We didn’t really care at that point.
TERRY CRISP We sat with our wives in the front of the plane; the players were in the back with the Cup. It was great because you could just sit and listen to the guys back there. And it really was just the team. Nobody could interfere with you. Until you land, it’s yours. When you’re up in the clouds – as you deserved to be, because you just knocked off one of the best in the business, in the Mecca of hockey – you get to enjoy it.
This past July brought more than a couple of eyebrow-raising free agent signings, but the New Jersey Devils' signing of Mike Cammalleri to a 5-year, $25-million contract was my biggest "WHAT?" moment. Today, the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy explains why the unlikely marriage occurred:
“He played with an edge and had results,” [New Jersey Devils GM Lou] Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”
The money and especially the term were a huge vote of confidence to Cammalleri, who says the courtship lasted longer than the free agent negotiating period. His best years are behind him, but he remains a useful scorer who can play among the top six forwards. The Devils are taking a leap of faith on him, but it works both ways.
“What attracted me to the Devils was the success they’ve had, the template, the way they do things,” Cammalleri said. “I have a belief in how things are done that leads to successes.”
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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