Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
Everyone knows Kings Coach Darryl Sutter loves to play youngsters. That is sarcasm — but Sutter might have no choice.
General Manager Dean Lombardi has noted that the Kings don't have a lot of cap space to make a big move, which is why they weren't able to keep "rental defenseman" Andrej Sekera, who went to the Edmonton Oilers for a six-year, $33-million deal, or veteran Justin Williams. The forward went to the Eastern Conference, joining the Washington Capitals for a two-year deal worth $6.5 million.
There are two problematic issues for the Kings, the first concerning center Mike Richards, whose contract has been terminated by the club. But the expectation is that the NHL Players' Assn. will appeal that move. Until the matter is resolved, the Kings won't know their options for sure. If worst came to worst, they could always put him in the minors indefinitely.
Equally problematic is the situation revolving around defenseman Slava Voynov. After pleading no contest to a misdemeanor in the wake of a domestic violence charge, Voynov has been sentenced to 90 days in jail, meaning there is a chance he could still be unavailable as the Kings prepare to start their regular season Oct. 7 against the San Jose Sharks.
Complicating matters, he is still recovering from surgery for a torn Achilles' tendon and the league still needs to conduct its investigation into the domestic violence incident.
So the uncertainty over the futures of Voynov and Richards will keep the Kings in limbo for the foreseeable future.
more on the Kings...
from John Dietz of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
If fans want to place blame anywhere, it should be with Saad, who said he allowed his agent to handle all contract negotiations with the Hawks.
Had he been willing to accept a deal in the $5 million range, he'd probably still be a Blackhawk. He'd hear that earsplitting national anthem 41 times a year, be playing in front of a packed house every night and on a team that figures to compete for the Stanley Cup year after year after year.
Instead, he wanted an extra $1 million a year. And that's his right. So now he's playing in Columbus.
Then there's Andrew Desjardins, who signed a two-year deal with the Hawks on Friday for less than he could have made elsewhere. He stayed for the chance to win and because he loves the city and the players in that locker room.
And he played here for less than four months.
"Obviously the desire for players is to win. That's why they play," Bowman said two days after the Hawks eliminated the Lightning in the NHL Final.
"So there's always that point -- what is enough for them and that's something I can't answer. That's always an individual thing.
"But we know that all of our guys that are here, that have been here for a long time, they all sacrificed. And they all took less money than they could have, because they wanted to be part of something special.
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
That missing element? Hunger. It was gone when the Bruins went up to Montreal for Game 6 in that series and seemed quite content from the outset to forget about the business at hand and aim to win Game 7 at home. We all know how that worked out.
Any sense of urgency was missing at key points of last season’s non-playoff campaign. Emblematic was their second-to-last game of the season at Florida when all they had to do was win a period to stay alive in the playoff race, against a Panthers team that had already been eliminated from playoff contention. And we all know how that went down.
That’s not to say everyone quit. Zdeno Chara played the last week on a broken fibula. Brad Marchand battled to the end. Bergeron remained Bergeron.
But that intangible team quality, that desperate drive that was so evident in their two runs to the finals was not there. Sure, the team battled significant injuries all year. But with a little more will, they could have got themselves into the playoffs in that final week.
Why that grit disappeared is anyone’s guess, but there was a slow elimination of the leadership group ever since they lifted the Cup in 2011.
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Last week, the Blues bid farewell to Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie, who had combined for 19 years and 1,315 games with the organization.
On the same day that Jackman became an unrestricted free agent, he signed a two-year, $4 million contract with Nashville. A day later, Oshie was dealt to Washington for forward Troy Brouwer, goalie prospect Pheonix Copley and a third-round pick in 2016.
Though both moves were anticipated, the departures of Jackman and Oshie represent radical change on a roster that has remained relatively intact over the course of three previous playoff ousters.
The Blues are expected to have Petteri Lindbohm, who will still be considered a rookie, assume Jackman’s role and Brouwer step into Oshie’s spot. In an under-the-radar move, they also signed free-agent center Kyle Brodziak from Minnesota last week to replace Marcel Goc.
Along with Robert Bortuzzo, who will be a regular after arriving late last year from Pittsburgh, the club will have four new starters constituting one-fifth of the starting lineup for opening night of the 2015-16 season.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
By acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Flames now have the deepest blue line in the league. On their depth chart, Hamilton is No. 3 behind Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. Ex-Bruin Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell, and Deryk Engelland round out the six-pack. “In a lot of ways, our blue line carried our team,” Calgary GM Brad Treliving said in a conference call announcing Hamilton’s extension. “Not only just in terms of their play, but a lot of nights, they drove our offense as well. To add a player like Dougie into that mix, you not only look at what he brings, but how it complements the rest of the group. It gives us another tool in the toolbox for the coaching staff to distribute minutes.”
Hamilton is also an internal asset in case negotiations with Giordano go sideways. The No. 1 defenseman will be unrestricted next July 1. He has an average annual value of only $4 million. This will be the 31-year-old Giordano’s final swing at a blockbuster deal. He’ll want big money and term, especially after suffering a season-ending biceps injury in 2014-15. Re-signing Giordano is Calgary’s priority. But talks could always break down. If so, Hamilton is a good Plan B.
many more hockey topics...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Teams that could use Tyler Bozak: Arizona, New Jersey, Minnesota, Detroit and Boston, if it could afford him.
- On the greatest day of his hockey career, Phil Housley shouldn’t be in the same Hall of Fame as Sergei Makarov, let alone the same sentence.
- Talked to my mom and my wife this week: They seem to be in the minority. They don’t think I’m the worst person in the sports world ... Amazing how many fans were offended by my column on the Kessel trade and how many hockey people — coaches, GMs, scouts, media — thought it was dead on.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It was Christmas in July for Derek Stepan but a lump of coal in Jeff Gorton’s stocking, this gift of Buffalo’s seven-year, $52 million ($7.5 million per) extension to Ryan O’Reilly that kicks in next season and will keep on giving headaches to the Rangers and their newly installed general manager.
In a flash, Friday’s agreement between the needy Sabres and the 24-year-old center they obtained from Colorado last weekend blows to smithereens any hope the Blueshirts had of signing the 25-year-old Group II free agent center Stepan to a long-term deal in the range of $6.2 million to $6.5 million per.
It likely means Stepan, whose numbers are superior to O’Reilly’s in every meaningful category other than faceoff efficiency, not only will file for salary arbitration by Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but could be in line for a two-year award taking him to unrestricted free agency worth well over $7 million per.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has re-signed goaltender Devan Dubnyk (pronounced DOOB-nihk) to a six-year contract through the 2020-21 season.
Dubnyk, 29, went 36-14-4 in 58 games during the 2014-15 season and ranked second in the NHL with both a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA) and .929 save percentage (SV%), T-4th with six shutouts and T-6th in wins. He won the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team, and finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting and fourth in the Hart Trophy voting. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound native of Regina, Sask., set single-season career highs in GAA, SV%, games played, consecutive starts (39), wins, shutouts, minutes, assists (2), shots faced (1,625) and saves (1,510).
from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News,
What does clearly set the Rangers back, however, is what happened elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division these past couple weeks, primarily in Washington and Columbus:
As the Rangers failed even to maintain the status quo, many of their closest rivals improved or — at the bare minimum — had the cap space and wherewithal to take their best run at doing so.
There may be significant skepticism about how much the Capitals upgraded by trading right wing Troy Brouwer in Thursday’s deal for St. Louis Blues right wing and USA Olympic shootout phenom T.J. Oshie, 28. Yet there is a question to pose to the doubters: How long can a team continue trotting out the same core of players, year after year, and always come up short before changing something up front?
Washington revamped its blue line last summer with the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Goaltender Braden Holtby had by far his best season as a pro. Alex Ovechkin didn’t win the MVP award, but he played like one. And now GM Brian MacLellan has added the skilled Oshie (115 points the past two seasons) as well as “Mr. Game 7,” former L.A. Kings Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams, 33, on the right side.
You know who needed a player exactly like Williams? The Rangers. Too bad a two-year, $6.5 million deal shoved them out of any consideration, since they’re so tight against the salary cap.
more on the Metropolitan Division plus other hockey topics...
from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,
"We now have the depth that we need," Poile said.
Jackman's veteran presence, which cost $4 million over two years, will balance what many believe is the NHL's strongest defense, led by do-it-all tandem Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Behind them stands Pekka Rinne, who reestablished himself last season as one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.
Nashville's top-six forward group will be anchored by centers Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, "two 35-year-old centers that we've eventually got to replace, whether that's in two years (or) three years," according to Poile.
In the mean time, they should be joined by Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, all of whom scored at least 20 goals last season. The last two remain unsigned as restricted free agents, but the expectation is that both will return on longer-term contracts.
Coincidentally, the Predators offered Hodgson the same one-year, $1.05 million contract that they gave Ribeiro last July after the Coyotes bought out his contract. The hope is that it will have the same effect on Hodgson, a former 20-goal scorer who will likely start as Nashville's third-line center, as it did on Ribeiro.
Rookies Steve Moses, whose 36 goals set a single-season KHL record, and Kevin Fiala are also intriguing options for coach Peter Laviolette to consider.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org