Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star,
Many questions will be answered tonight when the first round of the NHL Entry Draft gets under way. Will Patrick Kane or Kyle Turris go first overall? Will Chicago trade the first pick?
But there are many more intriguing plots for draft watchers to follow. Here’s a sampling:
The Malkin Factor: Russia’s Alexei Cherepanov, on talent alone, deserves to be among the top four picks. But the NHL lacks a transfer agreement with the Russian hockey federation. A team that drafts him risks lengthy legal battles — a la Malkin — to get him in North America. He may drop as a result.
From Adam Proteau of The Hockey News via Toronto Star,
In dealing for Vesa Toskala Friday, Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson admitted that Andrew Raycroft, his draft-day acquisition at the 2006 entry draft, hasn’t panned out as he had hoped. A natural-born pessimist might fault Ferguson for that, while an optimist might at least give him credit for not stubbornly sticking by his alleged No. 1.
But Ferguson’s insistence on signing Toskala to a contract extension makes no sense whatsoever.
From Bob McKenzie at TSN,
Veteran forwards Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi have agreed to terms on one-year contracts with the Pittsburgh Penguins, sources tell TSN.
Both players were scheduled to become free agents on July 1.
Amid reports that both the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs would pursue Roberts heavily, Roberts agreed to a deal worth $2.5 million.
Recchi’s deal is worth $2 million against the salary cap and includes bonus provisions to get to that amount.
From Bob McKenzie at TSN,
Chicago defenceman Adrian Aucoin has agreed to waive his no trade clause to permit a deal to the Calgary Flames along with a seventh-round pick in 2007.
In exchange, the Flames will send defenseman Andrei Zyuzin and prospect Steve Marr to the Blackhawks.
Or, for something to break up all this non-stop Draft talk, how about just a few NHL Bloopers…
From Bruce Garrioch at the Ottawa Sun,
The Oilers and Flyers could be trying to land a big one before tonight’s NHL draft.
League sources say both teams may have made calls to Devils GM Lou Lamoriello about acquiring the negotiating rights to centre Scott Gomez, who will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
It’s believed the Oilers, who have three first-round picks, can offer the most attractive package to the Devils.
From John Shipley at Pioneer Press,
Wild president and general manager Doug Risebrough was holed up in his hotel room with the phone to his ear trying to work out a deal that likely would alter the team’s position in tonight’s first round, set for 6 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.
“Nothing is imminent,” Risebrough said Thursday night. “I’m waiting for calls back. Whether it materializes or not, I don’t know.”
Though Risebrough would not specify the components of the deal, it was easy to speculate the impending end of the Manny Fernandez Era, which bore two postseason berths and a surfeit of turmoil, some real and some imagined.
From the AP via Post-Bulletin,
Heading into today’s first round of the NHL Draft, the Minnesota Wild are still picking gravel out of their teeth after being bulldozed by Anaheim in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With two of the best defensemen in the game and a group of big, skilled forwards that relentlessly stormed the net, the Ducks rolled past Minnesota in five games and only lost four more en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
With that in mind, the Wild will be looking to emulate Anaheim’s blueprint for success. After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2003, the Wild own six picks in this year’s draft, including the 19th selection in the first round.
From Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
Lang is 36, and that’s likely the beginning of the end for him as a top-tier center in the NHL, but he likely can still be an effective power-play performer and second-line set-up man who would qualify for our list of five of the better bargains available in the free-agent pool come July 1.
He has good hands, scores in bunches, plays extremely well with the man advantage and knows how to get open ice for himself or find teammates who have it.
He’s also likely to accept a price cut from his just-completed salary of $3,800,000.
Which makes him a bargain and the center on our Free-Agent Bargain team.
more… (*including Zubrus, O’Donnell and more “specials”)
From Tony Gallagher at The Province,
With the salary cap expected to be just a nudge over $50 million US this season, virtually all the clubs will have more money to spend than many had expected; the league’s efforts to keep the cap around $48 million evidently meeting with ice from the NHLPA in whose best interests it is to have it rise as high as possible. Given the stagnant growth in revenue in the game of late, it’s likely to mean escrow payments in the 7 to 9 per cent range when all is said and done next year, but that is just something the players will have to live with given they themselves handed the league that hammer.
more… (*with a listing of “deals likely to happen”)
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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