Kukla's Korner Hockey
The heated rivalry that developed between the Avalanche and Blues last season, involving coaches Ken Hitchcock and Patrick Roy and leaking out onto the ice, was an element in the St. Louis signing of Stastny. I’m convinced of that. These are Central Division rivals, the Blues blew the division title last season by losing six straight to finish the regular season, and lost to the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wasn’t publicly drawn into the bitterness that developed between the two franchises, but it all adds up to a perfect storm — Stastny’s St. Louis roots; the Blues not only adding Stastny, but taking him away from a division rival; and perhaps a one-finger salute from Hitchcock to Roy in the wake of their bitter and even profane exchanges last season.
-Terry Frei of the Denver Post where you can read more on the Avalanche losing Paul Stastny to the Blues in free agency.
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Trading Stastny at the deadline in a remarkable season would have been ripped as sending the "wrong" message. But I doubt Sakic and Roy will worry about that again.
Colorado is nudging up toward the NHL salary cap, which was inevitable when the extensions kicked in. But with attendance down, this team also has been operating on a "budget" the past few seasons. Ownership has accepted the increasing payroll, especially since the playoff flameout can't obscure the progress in the past year.
So, again, the issue here isn't just money. Sakic and Roy, among the best in the game as players, worked the system themselves. But they believe they are building something, including a culture that involves an acceptance of a generous but "fair" salary hierarchy within the cap system. In that sense, "structure" is synonymous with "culture."
Thanks to the Stastny Lesson, I'm convinced that from now on, it's going to be ...
You'll prove that you're with us.
Or we'll see that you're not.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
He comes to Colorado via Boston, in search of his first Stanley Cup after nearly two decades in the NHL. He is considered one of the game's classiest players, which makes it hard not to root for him as a sentimental favorite. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy will help try to get him that first Cup.
This is the story line for Jarome Iginla, almost identical to the one Ray Bourque had when he came to the Avs in 2000 from the Bruins. A year after his acquisition, Bourque was handed the Cup by Sakic after the final game of his career, the definition of the storybook ending.
If Iginla ever raises a Stanley Cup with the Avs, he probably would receive the handoff from team captain Gabe Landeskog — just as Sakic did for Bourque after Game 7 of the 2001 Finals.
"That's a hope one day," Iginla said after signing a three-year, $16 million contract with the Avs last week.
But is it just a fantasy? Iginla wouldn't have chosen the Avs over several other suitors — including the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Bruins — if he thought it was.
from Tyler Dellow at Sportsnet,
On a great possession team, you can find guys to, in effect, serve as Iginla’s legs. He doesn’t drive possession anymore, but the hands are still there. In the right place—on a great possession team—you can incorporate him and expect to do well with others doing the possession work for him. Your possession numbers won’t be as high as they might be with another player but Iginla’s still a pretty gifted finisher.
All of which makes Colorado a pretty curious landing spot for Iginla. The Avalanche are seen by people who pay attention to the numbers as one of next season’s hot candidates to fall off badly. They finished only five points behind Boston in 2013-14 but, unlike the Bruins, they aren’t a great possession team—they’re a bad one.
The Avs did not have the best time of it as free agency opened July 1, either. They lost Paul Stastny, their only forward to post a Corsi% north of 50 percent last year, and they weren’t able to make any significant upgrades to the defence. Absent some significant internal growth, it’s hard to see them improving in terms of possession.
As announced on TSN by Bob McKenzie.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
Plain and simple, Parenteau wasn’t Roy’s kind of player. I won’t put words in his mouth, but the sense I got was that he just felt Parenteau was a little too one-way of a player, perhaps not intense enough too, and the Avs wanted out from under his contract. But wait, Briere is making the same salary, right? There’s no cap relief, right? Right.
But in order to move P.A., at the end of the day, they had to take back the same kind of salary. Talking to some hockey people, it’s very difficult to make pure salary-dump kinds of trades right now, with the cap set for $69 million this season. Both teams kind of dumped their unwanted guys on each other here. It doesn’t make this a very sexy trade at all, and one that might very easily be second-guessed to the rafters by Avs fans when all is said and done. The early consensus from Avs fans seems to be in disfavor of the deal, but I wouldn’t freak out much.
First off, Briere may be slowing down some, or a lot depending on whom you ask, but the guy is a battler.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
"I think it's obviously an unfortunate piece for both sides. It's not something I wanted to go through, but all in all I'm here at the awards trying to have a good time," O'Reilly said. "I've just got to leave the business for the business (people). It'll be interesting to see what happens. All I can do, myself, is focus on myself and training for next year and let my agent take care of that. When it comes time to make decisions, we'll make them. I'm just trying to stay even keel.
All my trust is in my agent (Pat Morris). He's done amazing things for me and will continue to do that. Obviously, I want to be in Colorado. I love it there. With both those things, something can get worked out."
Roy said he is not too concerned about a potential impasse with O'Reilly.
"I'll tell you why: Joe and I were players, and we also had to be businessmen. At this time of the year, it's no different for other teams. It's an unpleasant time. It's a negotiation, and Ryan has to do what he thinks is the best," Roy said. "Obviously, as a team, you always wish players are buying in to your structure, buying into your plan, and Joe is doing a super job. He's the one dealing with the contracts. From a coaching perspective, I don't see it as a problem."
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
Defense is an area where the Avs might try to do the most shopping. Roy used the newly crowned champion Los Angeles Kings as a template for what he hopes to have for a "top six" on defense. Roy said the Kings had strong top-three defensemen in Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez, with good complementary role players as partners in Jake Muzzin, Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene.
"We're not that far away on defense," Roy said. "You look at (Erik) Johnson, who had a really good year, we have (Tyson) Barrie, who played really well at the end of the season, and we have Nick Holden, who we think is a solid defenseman. Are they where (the Kings are)? The answer is no, but now the (question) is, 'Who are we going to add?' You cannot just add the top players. You have to have a great mix, and you look at some teams as a model, and I think L.A. is a good example. If we could get the good mix — stay-at-home, physical defensemen playing with high-skill defensemen — I think that's the approach that we'd like to have, and I think we're heading in a pretty good direction. I think the future of our franchise on the defensive side of the game is a lot better than people think it is."
The Avs may look to recruit a couple of those Kings defensemen. Mitchell, 37, and Greene, 31, can become unrestricted free agents, and it appears unlikely the Kings will be able to keep both. Other attractive D-men in the league who might be available include Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, and the New York Islanders' Dan Boyle.
more on the Avalanche...
Let Stastny walk as a free agent, then go shopping with the $6.6 million saved by not signing him. See how far that cash, plus the ample room Colorado has under the salary cap, can go in luring a defenseman such as Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen and a wing sniper the ilk of Minnesota's Matt Moulson.
Stastny can find fortune and happiness outside Colorado.
Even without Stastny, life can be good for the Avs.
Let's get on with it.
Goodbye, Paulie. Big-time thanks for the memories. All the best.
-Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post where you can read more on Paul Stastny.
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