Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Get Used To RFA Offers

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Clarke offered $1.9 million US for one year to 22-year-old Ryan Kesler, a 10-goal scorer last season. Finally, on Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks matched the offer, forced to pay Kesler twice what they originally had offered. "This just isn't done," sniffed some GMs, mightily upset that they may be forced to think once in a while. But this much is certain. By next season, some of these GMs will be doing the same thing. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that this year's free-agent market is all but depleted, a few of them would jump on the bandwagon right now. This wasn't an isolated Clarke brain warp. This was a calculated stratagem that will become a standard part of NHL life.
read on note: at the time of this post, all of the Sun Media websites were having a few issues, so check back if you can't get the link to work.

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Clearing The Crease

via the Toronto Sun,

"There is nothing worse than lightly shoving a guy and he falls down to try to (induce) a penalty," he said. "It's frustrating (because) my job is to clear the front of the net." In order to make that job easier, the NHL has sent the teams a DVD indicating the do's and don'ts of battling in front of the net. It shows Chris Pronger and Brendan Shanahan locking horns just outside the crease . "On Pronger and Shanahan they were telling us not to get the arms extended," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said. "That's where it looks bad. If you get up close to the person and just kind of push, they will allow you some room to clear the area if it's not interference and it's not a cross check."

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West Dominates

from Ths Spin, a blog by Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

While the East is, don't forget, the conference that produced the 2004 and 2006 Stanley Cup champions, it is a conference that goes into the 2006-07 season without any team that looks particularly dominating or threatening. Few believe Carolina can repeat. Tampa's still reconfiguring. Philly get a goalie yet? Buffalo's still fighting the budget crunch. Ottawa is still, well, Ottawa, but now without the towering presence of Zdeno Chara. In fact, you could argue that the top five favourites for the '07 Cup are all from the Western Conference. They would be: 5. Minnesota Wild . . . A team that has finally added payroll and star power.
read on for the rest...

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Comeback Candidate

from the Daily Herald,

Khabibulin might be the key to 2006-07 if he can rebound from a season in which he went 17-26-6 with a .886 save percentage. Khabibulin’s poor start helped put the Hawks into a hole from which they were unable to recover. “I think I put a little bit too much pressure on myself,” Khabibulin said. “I tried to do too much. When I play, I should only try to do my own job, and I tried to cover too many things, and it kind of backfired.” Khabibulin admitted that part of the problem was trying to prove he was worth the four-year, $27 million contract he signed as a free agent — the richest deal in Hawks history. “When you come to a new team and get a big deal, you just want to be the guy,” Khabibulin said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work that way. A goalie has to stop the puck, and I don’t think I did a very good job of that.”

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Great Expectations

from the Pioneer Press,

How they manage higher expectations will be telling. "It's definitely different," said veteran Wes Walz, one of three remaining original Wild players with Gaborik and goalie Manny Fernandez. "We haven't had pressure on us from Day 1," Walz said. "When you come in every year, anything you do good surprises people. Now anything we do good is supposed to happen. It's going to be interesting to see how we deal with it." Fernandez, entering his first season as the undisputed No. 1 goalie, said that despite the additions the Wild must retain their underdog mentality.

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League Getting “Smaller”

from the Journal News,

"It's a game right now where smaller players have a chance to play in this league right now," said Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, who is entering his 16th NHL season. "Before, people were concentrating on size. As long as he was a big boy, they would take them. But now with the new rules and the speed of the game, a smaller player has a better chance to make the league because they're harder to stop." One year after the NHL returned from the year-long lockout with a host of skills-friendly rules changes, the physical makeup of teams might be changing as well. By cracking down on the clutching and grabbing that had slowed the game down to a grind, the league now affords more space to a player who once might have been undersized. By allowing two-line passes, those same players are also allowed to generate more speed up ice.
read on

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Lightning Have Something To Prove

from the Tampa Tribune,

They're off and puking at Lightning training camp. Around and around they skated, experiments in exhaustion for the sinister lab inside their head coach's head, capped by a delightful 3-mile night run. "We started out on Tortorella time," Lightning GM Jay Feaster said of Day 1. "Our 7 a.m. meeting started at 6:53." There is no time to waste, not for familiar faces, not for all the new faces. The faces from that Cup photo grow fewer and fewer. No matter. Time won't wait.

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Mogilny Unable To Play

from the AP via NJ.com,

Julien won't have to worry about a possible distraction from right wing Alexander Mogilny and defenseman Vladimir Malakhov. Mogilny, 37, was invited to camp after finishing last season in the minors, but his twice surgically repaired left hip is bothering him again and he is unable to play.
more on the Deviils...

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No Dancing For Modano

via the Dallas Morning News,

Your girlfriend, Willa Ford, is on this season's edition of Dancing With the Stars. Are you watching? I was out there Tuesday night and watched it in person. It's pretty nerve-racking when it's live TV. It's a one-shot deal, and you have to hit every move. Can she take down Emmitt Smith? I saw him out there, and I think he was wondering what I was doing. He was pretty calm, but I think when he got off the floor, he was glad it was over. Any chance of a future appearance of Mike Modano on Dancing with the Stars? No, definitely not. That's just not going to happen.

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Thornton & Cheechoo Together Again

from the AP via the Mercury News,

Just a few minutes into the San Jose Sharks' first scrimmage of training camp, Joe Thornton already had Jonathan Cheechoo in his sights. The reigning NHL Most Valuable Player's chemistry with the league's top goal-scorer apparently hasn't waned since the Sharks were knocked out of the second round of the playoffs. Playing together on a line with newcomer Mark Bell, Thornton repeatedly found Cheechoo for shot after shot Friday despite their teammates' best defensive efforts. "Cheech was hitting everything but the back of the net," coach Ron Wilson said. "It's important that we create chemistry, and get it early. We've got to get them up to speed, because they've got a new guy."
more...inlcuding possible line combos...

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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