Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
On a team that was goal-starved most of last season, he realizes the need to be a bigger point producer.
“It’s there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of consistency and being willing to create offense by doing it the right way. I think for the most part in previous years I’ve leaned on the defensive part, but I think this year with the players we have, there will be more chance to create offense and be smart about it.”
Staal, 27, said at times he has felt snake-bit in the offensive zone. Good chances turn into near-misses. Pucks bang off the post or cross-bar.
“That’s been going on my whole life,” Staal said, smiling.
“But it is what it is. Hopefully it will change this year.”
No one will base Staal’s value to the team solely on his point production. He’s the Canes’ biggest player at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and its best checking center. He can be used on the power play and penalty kill and is effective at both.
“He’s an important player, regardless, because he’s so big and strong,” Eric Staal said. “He’s really difficult to play against.”
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
Eddie Lack was perfect in his preseason debut, playing two unblemished periods against the Washington Capitals on Monday. Cam Ward gave up six goals in a period and a half in his preseason debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, but it’s unfair to draw any conclusions from either start.
That first preseason appearance is always a freebie for a goalie, often playing behind a patchwork defense of veterans still shaking off the rust and kids who will get no closer to the NHL. You can look good, as Lack did, but you can’t really look bad. Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters certainly wasn’t making any conclusions of significance.
“We’ll leave that until closer to the end,” Peters said. “Too many Grade A chances in both games and a lot of breakdowns we’re not typically going to make. I thought Eddie was good in Washington, very athletic on the penalty kill. Wardo we just left hung out to dry, unfortunately.”...
Both goalies are in the final year of their contracts, and both can become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. That makes this season essentially a referendum on the position among Peters and the front office, although General Manager Ron Francis holds the deciding vote.
The Canes could, conceivably, keep both, especially if they’re in postseason contention, but it seems likely one goalie will claim the position and the other will bring a considerable ransom at the trade deadline from a goalie-deficient contender, presumably in the Western Conference if the Hurricanes are still in the playoff hunt.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
When the Hurricanes make the inevitable decision to move pending UFA Eric Staal, keep an eye on the Predators as a viable partner. Nashville’s current crop of centers—Mike Ribeiro, Mike Fisher, Cody Hodgson and Paul Gaustad—stands out as the weakest of any team with legitimate playoff aspirations. Ribeiro scored a respectable 62 points last season while Fisher chipped in 39 in just 59 games, but both players are now 35 years old, and it’s far more likely that their production will regress than match those levels....
Another team that might be looking to deal, maybe before the end of camp, is the Bruins. The upper-body injury that’s holding veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg out for a few days may turn out to be minor, but it exposes the wafer-thin state of Boston’s blueline. Best-case scenario: the team's top-six stacks up as Zdeno Chara–Zach Trotman, Seidenberg–Kevan Miller and Torey Krug– Adam McQuaid....
more on each of the above topics plus additional hockey talk...
“Alexander Semin was a very top-end player in the league when the game was played at a slower pace. It’s now played at such a high level if you can’t skate it’s hard to compete. Alex lost a step and he tried to play on the outside too much because he didn’t have the speed.
“And then he didn’t buy into the culture that our coach (Bill Peters) was trying to get in the locker room. When you go to practice and you have 22 guys doing things the way the coach wants and one who doesn’t, it usually doesn’t end well. … In simple terms, we paid him $14 million to go away. When we talk about ownership, you don’t do that unless you have a commitment to winning and Pete Karmanos certainly has that.”
-Don Waddell, president of the Carolina Hurricanes on Alexander Semin (now with the Canadiens), who was bought out this summer. Chip Alexander of the News & Observer has more from Waddell on the Hurricanes.
"I personally believe Eric Staal would benefit from a change, I think it would rejuvenate his career. The thing is, he has a great setup there. Obviously he loves Carolina. The organization loves Eric Staal. His family is there, he has a beautiful home there, he is very comfortable.
"I don't think anybody is going to come out and say that, but I have heard they're not really that close in negotiations. He has control. He has a no-move clause, just like Cam Ward does. Carolina can't do anything without his approval."
-Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet on Eric Staal. Scott Lewis of Sportsnet has more.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
It would have been hard, if not impossible, for Jeff Skinner to ignore all the NHL trade speculation percolating this summer.
Every week, it seemed, Skinner’s name was being mentioned and the Carolina Hurricanes forward said to be “available” for a trade.
The Twitterverse was aflame during the NHL Draft in late-June in Florida. For a few days, a deal involving Skinner appeared to be a given.
But it’s September. On Friday, he put in another informal skate with Hurricanes teammates at Raleigh Center Ice, then settled back in the locker room under a stall with a “Skinner” nameplate.
“There’s not much I can do about it,” Skinner said. “You hear all the talk, all the rumors. It’s tough to build expectations because anything can happen. You look at all the deals leading up to the draft and at the draft, and lot of it you didn’t see coming.
“I’m here, I love it here. I think in the summer when you hear all that stuff, that’s all it is – just talk. You can’t really do anything about it. You just focus on getting better.”
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom and a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft in exchange for defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie and a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
“Kris is a skilled forward who has won a pair of Cups with the Blackhawks and can provide veteran leadership in our room,” said Francis. “Joakim is a solid, 200-foot player who can kill penalties. This gives us more options up front for this season, while also now giving us 10 picks in the first three rounds over the next two drafts.”
“I think it’s going to be a lot easier going into year two, just the comfort level they have with me and also myself with them. Now, as a coaching staff, we know what they’re capable of and should be able to put them in positions to succeed. … With the players, I think the comfort level will be higher and that’s the most important thing.”
-Bill Peters, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. More from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
Goaltender Cam Ward was the first off the ice Thursday at Raleigh Center Ice, soon to be followed by Eric Staal.
Ward and Staal have been two constants for the Carolina Hurricanes for more than a decade. They’re the two remaining members of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup champions, a reminder of better times.
Each will be entering the final year of long-term contracts this season. Both have said they want to remain a part of the organization, indicating the desire to sign contract extensions.
“Right now, I’m just going about my business and making sure I’m ready to go,” Ward said after an informal skate. “Obviously, it’s no secret I love being here and there’s nowhere else I want to be.”...
“In a perfect world I’d like to have something done, but there’s no pressure,” Ward said. “I’ve just got to prepare myself for a great year, not just for myself but for the team. It’s team first. We want to be ready.”
Since the Cup run in 2006, when Ward was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP, the Hurricanes have reached postseason just once, in 2009. The past six seasons have ended with Hurricanes players and coaches facing longer summers than they wanted, with their fans disappointed.
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Elias Lindholm on a two-year contract extension. The deal will pay Lindholm $2.5 million in 2016-17 and $2.9 million in 2017-18.
“Elias played well last season, nearly doubling his offensive numbers from his rookie year,” said Francis. “We expect he will be a very important part of the Hurricanes as he continues to develop as a professional.”
Lindholm, 20, established career highs in goals (17), assists (22), points (39) and games played (81) in 2014-15, and ranked third on the team in goals and points, and tied for third in assists. The Boden, Sweden, native has now played in 139 NHL regular season games with Carolina, scoring 26 goals and earning 34 assists (60 points). The Hurricanes drafted Lindholm (6’1”, 192 lbs.) in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
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