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A Fine Crop

From Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch,

The Hockey News projects that four of the first six picks will be defensemen, which hasn’t happened since the 1982 entry draft.

In fact, no more than three defensemen have been taken among the top 10 picks in the last 10 drafts.

“This is the finest crop in the history of the draft,” said Grant McCagg, who covers the draft year-round for McKeen’s Hockey, an online news service.

“And it comes at the right time for a lot of clubs, too. There is a real shortage in the league right now when it comes to defensemen who can carry the puck. Lots of teams are looking for one or two of those guys. That makes this even more attractive.”

read on…

*Related article previously on KK

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: defensemen, nhl+entry+draft

High Cost of Travel

From Terry Frei at the Denver Post,

It’s impossible to dispute [Gary Bettman’s] “new” point — that with teams chartering and with fuel costs so high, anything that lessens travel makes economic sense. That still comes off like reaching for a rationalization after the fact, rather than considering all the evidence and making a decision.

But if that’s the way it’s going to be, then the NHL should consider altering its playoff system, not just copying the NBA’s 2-3-2 Finals format, but using it in every round.

It was less important this season because of the proximity of Pittsburgh and Detroit, but the 2-2-1-1-1 format in the Finals, and the inability to do much advance planning, has provided excuses for many newspapers to skip sending writers to the league’s championship series.

and more NHL talk

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Youth Movement

From Brian Biggane at the Palm Beach Post,

Chicago Assistant General Manager Rick Dudley, who served as Panthers GM from 2002-04, said the rules changes adopted after the lockout have made it easier for young players to succeed in the NHL.

“They don’t have to learn how to deal with the clutching and grabbing, the things wily older players developed over the course of time,” Dudley said. “Today’s game is more about speed and skill as opposed to that.”

Dudley is familiar with the group of youngsters in the Florida system and feels they might also put up significant numbers if given the chance.

“Would I be surprised if Matthias and Frolik played significant roles this year in Florida?” he asked. “I would not. We almost made the playoffs with an incredibly young group. Look at what Pittsburgh did with young guys like (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin and (Marc-Andre) Fleury. Had Pittsburgh run into a clutch-and-grab team they may have had more problems.”

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Florida Panthers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jacques+martin, rick+dudley

Rangers Off-Season Talk

From Larry Brooks at the NY Post,

So, tell me: How can the New York Rangers spend the $4.5-5M it will surely take to land Pittsburgh’s heavy-hitting impending free agent defenseman Brooks Orpik following his breakout tournament, when it likely will cost around the same $5M per to re-sign Michal Rozsival ?

Yes, Rozsival had a disappointing season. But factor in mitigating circumstances - not excuses - that featured a wonky knee, an insecure response to playing out his contract and collateral concern over partner and friend Marek Malik’s downward spiral out of the lineup. Now weigh those against the upside Rozsival displayed the previous two seasons, and most notably in the 2007 playoffs. Is Glen Sather not wiser to pony up for No. 3 rather than get into a bidding war for Orpik . . . if he even hits the market, that is?

read on

Update 1:13pm ET: Patrick Hoffman at The Hockey News has more on Rangers off-season issues, with a focus on Sean Avery.

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Decisions in Detroit

From George Sipple at the Free Press,

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland will be on the golf links soon, but he has some business to take care of the next few days. Holland hopes to meet with goaltender Dominik Hasek and forward Dallas Drake to gauge their interest in returning next season before he leaves for Thursday’s NHL awards show in Toronto.

Holland also will talk with defenseman Chris Chelios, who needs to have his injured knee scoped in the off-season.

“I have every intention of coming back,” Chelios said. “It’s never been a money issue, so we’ll figure it out and hopefully we’ll be back in this stall again.”

continued…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: chris+chelios, dallas+drake, dominik+hasek, ken+holland

Radivojevic Leaves NHL for Russia

From Kent Youngblood at the Star-Tribune,

Winger Branko Radivojevic, who spent the past two seasons with the Wild, has signed a two-year deal to play with Spartak in the Russian Premiere League.

Radivojevic came to the Wild from Philadelphia as a free agent before the 2006-07 season. In two seasons in Minnesota he totaled 18 goals and 41 points, becoming one of the team’s most reliable checking forwards.

continued…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, Non-NHL Hockey, European Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: branko+radivojevic, russian+premiere+league

Penguin Reflections

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Tribune-Review Penguins beat reporter Rob Rossi offers his Top 10 moments from a memorable 2007-08 Penguins season:

Nov. 22, 2007: Their season possibly on the brink of disarray, the Penguins rallied from 2-0 deficit in Ottawa to defeat the Senators, 6-5, in a shootout. It was a most pleasant Thanksgiving, even though they spent it in Canada, where the holiday is celebrated a month earlier. The Penguins, hyped as Stanley Cup contenders in the preseason, entered this game with an 8-11-2 record. They went 39-16-5 after this win in Ottawa, which players credited as a turning point.

read on for the rest of top-10

And more from Rob Rossi, assessing the impact of this post-season on next year.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Stepping into the Spotlight (Updated)

From Lance Hornby at the Toronto Sun,

Local TV stations have been running clips of Ron Wilson snapping at the media to underline the thorny side of the projected new coach of the Maple Leafs.

Wilson has coached more than 1,000 games, all in what can be termed non-traditional hockey markets: Anaheim, Washington and San Jose. Sensitive to being second-guessed, even for an NHL coach, Wilson never has faced four newspapers and four all-sports electronic outlets on a daily basis—and that would be just daily practices.

But Cliff Fletcher, who hopes to have Wilson under contract by Monday, is confident his man won’t burn in the atmosphere of the alleged centre of the hockey universe.

more odds & ends on the Leafs

Note: Tonight, TSN states that Fletcher and Wilson are set to meet again Sunday to iron out some issues, with the likelihood they’ll announce a 4-year term for Wilson within days.

Update 10:01am ET June 8th: Ron Wilson has reportedly been hired, but with the formal announcement expected on Tuesday.

Update 3:23pm ET June 8th: From the CP via the Globe & Mail,

“We have a verbal agreement but nothing’s on paper yet,” Leafs interim GM Cliff Fetcher told The Canadian Press on Sunday. “It isn’t a contract until it’s signed by the parties. And that won’t happen for a couple of days.”

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cliff+fletcher, media, ron+wilson

Hasek’s Style

From Bill Clement at NBC Sports,

It took a while but Hasek eventually opened the eyes of executives throughout the NHL and made them realize they should judge him on his results not his style of play. Hasek gets no points for style, but he gets plenty of points for results.

He does the most unorthodox things you’ll see from a goalie. These include making saves while lying on his back, while contorting his body and even while having his back to the puck. What’s more is that he’ll stop some shots by dropping his stick and grabbing the puck with the exposed fingers of his hand on his blocker’s side.

To say he is an oddity in how he plays goal is one of the all-time understatements in hockey.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dominik+hasek

SCF All About Mental Toughness

From Dr. Larry Lauer at NHL.com

That is the thing with mental toughness – it is not an all or nothing concept. You don’t always have it and you can sure as heck lose it at times. Think of it as a quality that a hockey player needs to excel, but can be enhanced or reduced by the situation and the moment.

Mental toughness is similar to a physical skill such as shooting, skating or passing. It is easier to be tough or perform a skill in practice or low-pressure situations, but when the pressure is cranked up mental toughness, and physical skills, can be negatively affected.

Mentally tough performers like Lidstrom are not invincible. They have doubts. They feel pressure. They become negative. However, the mentally tough performer bounces back quicker and with more conviction.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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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