Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Terry Frei of The Denver Post,
Last week, word came that the Buffalo Sabres signed former Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly to a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension that kicks in after he make $6.2 million this season and takes him through 2022-23. The deal calls for him to make $11 million in 2016-17 and slide down to $6 million in each of the final four years. The annual cap hit is $7.5 million.
O'Reilly is respected for his work ethic, which stacks up with that of anyone in the NHL. Fans, media and, most important, the Avalanche "got" that his contributions go far beyond the simply quantifiable. (No, I'm not stooping to citing analytics, but offering conclusions reached by actually watching him play.) Yet the virtually universal reaction to his departure has been: Good riddance. I'm not sure I've ever seen a player so respected told so universally to not let the door hit him on the way out....
O'Reilly already had been inordinately rewarded for his contributions. The salary benchmark was raised when the Calgary Flames signed him to an offer sheet — that involved organizational spite as much as coldhearted evaluation — but the Avalanche willingly went along with it by matching and then reaching a two-year, $12 million deal with him last year minutes in advance of an arbitration heading.
The Avalanche finally had enough.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
October marks a fresh start for the Sabres. No team - not the Oilers, Coyotes, Hurricanes or Maple Leafs - lost as many games (120) as Buffalo over the last two seasons. They lost 102 of those games in regulation alone, back-to-back 51-loss campaigns.
With such sweeping moves, are the Sabres now a playoff team?
“You’re never going to get me to say that,” Murray responded. “If we go to the Conference Finals in two years and you ask me (then) if we’re going to make the playoffs the next year, I’m not going to say that.”
The turnaround would be historic - but not necessarily unprecedented.
The last team to go from 30th place to the playoffs the following season was the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers. They, too, lost out on the draft lottery - ending up with James van Riemsdyk instead of Patrick Kane in 2007.
With oodles of cap space, the Flyers brought in Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in free agency. They traded for Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith. Braydon Coburn was added late in the miserable 2006-07 season.
It was funny Murray mentioned the Conference Finals off the cuff, since the Flyers improved from 56 points to 95 the next season, then knocked off the Capitals and Canadiens before falling to the Penguins in the penultimate series.
The 39-point swing is one of the largest year-to-year bumps in NHL history. Amazingly, the Flyers somehow survived a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) in February that year.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (July 3, 2015) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has signed forward Ryan O’Reilly to a seven-year contract extension.
The Sabres acquired O’Reilly (6’0”, 210 lbs., 2/7/1991) from the Colorado Avalanche with Jamie McGinn on June 26 in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Prior to joining the Sabres, O’Reilly played in Colorado for six seasons, recording at least 50 points in each of the last three full NHL seasons. The Clinton, Ontario native tallied 55 points (17+38) in 82 games last season as a member of the Avalanche.
from Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen,
Bryan Murray, the Senators’ general manager, and Tim Murray, his counterpart with the Buffalo Sabres, got a lot of business done in and around the NHL draft, including a fascinating trade between their respective clubs: goaltender Robin Lehner, once considered a future cornerstone of the Senators, moving to Buffalo along with veteran centre David Legwand in exchange for a first-round draft pick. That pick was used to selected highly regarded American centre Colin White, 21st overall.
What a weekend it was for Tim, who cut his teeth working alongside his beloved uncle in Anaheim and Ottawa, and took bold steps in rebuilding the last-place Sabres, a team that now includes Jack Eichel, the second overall selection, centre Ryan O’Reilly, a two-way standout for the Colorado Avalanche, former 67’s forward Jamie McGinn, plus forwards Evander Kane (trade) and Sam Reinhart (2014 draft) from earlier transactions.
What a week it was for Bryan and the Senators, who stole the show at the NHL Awards — three nominations, Erik Karlsson winning his second Norris Trophy, and the entire organization shining brightly in the glow of Jonathan Pitre’s inspiring story, which was first told in the pages of the Citizen.
From the bright lights of Vegas to the beaches of Florida, Murray continued to make sensible moves to fine tune his Ottawa roster, including the trade of Eric Gryba to Edmonton, enabling the organization to pare down to seven defencemen (plus AHL Binghamton star Chris Wideman, who was re-signed to a one year, two-way deal Monday).
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
After improving his forward and goaltending situations, Murray’s next challenge is rounding out Buffalo’s roster with a defenseman.
“I probably need a veteran UFA defenseman or I have to trade for one,” Murray said. “I’ve been talking to teams about a left-shot D.”
The Sabres are scheduled to enter the 2015-16 season with Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen, Mike Weber, Mark Pysyk and Chad Ruhwedel on the blue line, with Jake McCabe looking to graduate from the minors. Pysyk and Ristolainen are 23 and 20, respectively, while Ruhwedel has just 32 games of NHL experience.
Though this summer’s class of unrestricted free agents is underwhelming, a highlight is actually among left-handed defensemen. Here’s a look:
• Johnny Oduya: After winning two Stanley Cups in three years with Chicago, the 33-year-old would bring a championship attitude into the dressing room. He just completed a contract that paid $3.375 million per season.
A reliable defender, Oduya wouldn’t help the Sabres’ offense. He had two goals and 10 points in 76 regular-season games and recorded five assists in 23 playoff appearances. He averaged 20:17 of ice time and blocked 123 shots.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Murray talked with O’Reilly’s agent after the trade.
“I walked over and introduced myself around the fifth pick or sixth pick,” Murray said in BB&T Center. “They got him on the phone and I spoke to him. I told them that I hoped we could start talking contract extension whenever we’re able to, and that’s July 1.”
The Denver Post reported Friday night that O’Reilly asked the Avs for an eight-year, $64 million extension.
“You know going in when you make a trade like this that negotiations are going to be starting a high number,” Murray said. “We’re fully prepared for that.”
The 6-foot, 210-pounder joins a center corps that includes Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart. O’Reilly won 53.4 percent of his faceoffs last season and will give a boost to the Sabres, who finished last in the category at 44.9 percent.
“His hockey sense is off the charts,” Murray said. “I think he makes everybody around him better. I love his work ethic on and off the ice. I love his compete level. There’s nothing I don’t like about him.
from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,
added 7:29pm, Colorado release is below...
The Senators got what they wanted out of the deal - a first-round pick and some financial relief - and that's enough to get the nod over Buffalo. If Lehner turns out to be great, or even good, then the Sabres won't have any regrets, but paying a first-round pick and taking on salary seems like more than it would cost to acquire some of the other goaltenders that are known to be available this summer. Consider this the price of Sabres GM Tim Murray getting his guy.
-Scott Cullen of TSN on today's Buffalo/Ottawa trade. Read more from Cullen on this topic.
added 10:45am, Buffalo release is below...
from Tal Pinchevsky at the Wall Street Journal,
When the NHL’s 30 teams convene for the draft in Sunrise, Fla., on Friday, they’ll begin the two-day process of welcoming 211 new players to their ranks.
But the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is really about two of these players.
For close to a year now, the hockey world has anticipated the draft-day coronations of Connor McDavid of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters and Boston University’s Jack Eichel—the pair of can’t-miss prospects being hailed as the league’s next two superstars.
And for better or for worse, they will be almost certainly heading to two of the NHL’s smallest and most remote outposts: Edmonton and Buffalo. The hockey-mad fans of the Oilers and Sabres are already hailing McDavid and Eichel as their respective saviors.
The Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, the NHL’s longest current postseason drought. Although this will be the fourth time the Oilers have had the No. 1 pick in six years, this one feels different. There is an overwhelming sense in Edmonton that McDavid is destined to resurrect a franchise that won the Stanley Cup five times between 1984 and 1990.
“They’re already setting a spot beside the [Wayne] Gretzky statue, I think,” said Jim Matheson, the Edmonton Journal columnist who has covered the Oilers since they joined the World Hockey Association in 1972.
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