Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Edward Fraser of the Hockey News,
As I’ve done with the Pacific, Southeast, Northwest and Northeast over the past four weeks, here are my picks for the top three ’09 UFAs from each team in the Central Division. I’ll finish the tour next Friday with the Atlantic.
DETROIT RED WINGS
Henrik Zetterberg ($2.9 million)
He’ll never get close to UFAdom; you can bet each of GM Ken Holland’s Stanley Cup rings on that.
Marian Hossa ($7.45 million)
Even if the Wings don’t repeat as champs and Hossa doesn’t get the Cup he so desires, don’t expect him to take another one-year deal. How does eight years and $68 million sound?
Johan Franzen ($1.15 million)
A shoo-in for the Conn Smythe if he didn’t go down with an injury in the playoffs, the 28-year-old is the heir apparent to an aging Tomas Holmstrom.
I think it is fine the way it is now, everything is always the goalies’ fault. It makes me laugh. Whenever there’s something wrong in hockey, it’s always the goalies’ fault. Every player thinks our gear is too big.”
-Pascal Leclaire in the Sporting News Today
Heck, I thought everyone blamed Gary Bettman when something went wrong!
from Stan Fischler at the Hockey Journal,
Scott Howson’s Blue Jackets haven’t created any major headlines lately but the ex- Oilers aide may be putting together the NHL’s sleeper team of 2008-09. There may not be an All-Star among the roster additions but there’s plenty of substance. Between R.J. Umberger, Kris Huselius, Raffi Torres, Mike Commodore, Fedor Tyutin and Chris Backman, Columbus has a neat nucleus with which Ken Hitchcock can work. If Pascal Leclaire matures as a No. 1 goalie and Russian whiz Nikita Filatov lives up to his notices, the pieces for a playoff team will be in place.
more hockey bits,,,
Columbus fans submitted question for GM Scott Howson at Puck-rakers,
Q: Are the Jackets done adding NHL-caliber players to the roster for the offseason? The team is still nearly $9 million under the cap and there are teams out there looking to shed payroll. Has your phone been ringing a lot? Are you more likely to save that money in case you need it at the trade deadline?
A: “We are likely done adding NHL caliber roster players until we get through training camp and get a better feel where some of our young players are with respect to being ready to contribute at the NHL level. If possible, I believe that a NHL team should not operate close to the cap. You need flexibility to deal with injuries and opportunities that may arise. It is very quiet right now as it usually is in August but we are ready for any opportunities that may come our way.”
The Blue Jackets have invited defenseman Richard Matvichuk to training camp as a non-roster tryout. The team is still awaiting word on whether the 35-year-old Matvichuk will accept.
He most notably made two Stanley Cup finals appearances with Ken Hitchcock in Dallas in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, but has played in only one NHL regular-season game in the past two years.
Matvichuk missed all but one game of the 2006-07 season recovering from back surgery. Last season, he played 42 games with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate Lowell, contributing a goal and three assists.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
It is great sport to engage in dog-chase-tail arguments over whether Howson extracted good value in every trade or paid too much for this free agent or that one. But to do that would be to miss the big picture, and the big picture is this:
At last season’s prices, about $18 million went out the door, all told. At this season’s prices, about $20 million was imported. Essentially, the money spent on the deals washed out—and the team was upgraded. Which is to say that Howson’s plan was an intelligent one, and well-executed.
There is a greater depth at forward. Nash, a 60-point scorer, now has a 70-point guy in Huselius on the other wing. The second li, ne looks like Fredrik Modin-Derick Brassard-Torres.
Goaltender Pascal Leclaire has signed a three-year contract worth $11.4 million with the Blue Jackets, The Dispatch has learned.
The deal will pay Leclaire $3 million this season, $3.6 million in 2009-10 and $4.8 million in 2010-11.
added 5:22pm, from the Columbus Blue Jackets,
“We’re very happy to have signed Pascal to a new contract that will keep him with the Blue Jackets for the next three seasons,” said Howson. “He is an important part of our team and we think he will continue to improve and play a significant role in helping us reach our goals.”
Aaron Portzline at Puck-rakers writes:
Apparently, Nick Kypreos reported on Sportsnet last night that the Blue Jackets were going to trade defenseman Jan Hejda and a fourth-round pick to the Flyers for winger Mike Knuble.
This is ridiculous. This is crazy. This will not happen. Not a chance.
Well, that seems pretty definitive. Although this doesn’t stop the kids on HF Boards from tackling the rumor from every angle they can think of as well (and Kypreos doesn’t fare too well there either.)
Must be a slow day in rumor land.
from Tom Reed at Puck-rakers,
Hitchcock loves the word “compete.” He peppers interviews with it and uses it much like Nash, in every situation. Adjective, adverb, noun, verb, you name it. It is Hitch’s go-to, four-tool word. Last season, he didn’t believe he had enough competitors to fit his demanding style.
He can’t use that excuse this fall. He’s banking on an increased intensity level to help with the scoring until the home-grown talent such as Jakub Voracek and Derrick Brassard ripens.
The Jackets didn’t have a fourth double-digit goal scorer last season until Dan Fritsche recorded his 10th goal on March 14. That’s astonishing.
from the mailbox of Ray Stein of the Columbus Dispatch,
Mr. Stein: I’ve lived here for 10 years and am still amazed when Buckeyes fans get threatened by the local NHL team. I’ve come up with several theories why:
1. They don’t like to share “their town” with anybody—maybe state government should leave, too; 2. They don’t like it that people in “their town” couldn’t care less about Ohio State and the football team. 3. They have a growing inferiority complex based upon their shortcomings.
Ten bucks (sorry for the pun) says Beyer will be more than willing to share “his town” and jump on the Blue Jackets bandwagon when the “misfits” become winners. Hopefully we won’t choke in the big game….
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