Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the Edmonton Journal,
“I think he can be a star ... you can see the potential he has, the icetime he gets. He never wants to come off, and the way he can skate,” said Oilers assistant coach Charlie Huddy, who looks after the blue-liners. “I think he’s only scratched the surface. His offence will come ... the creativity will come out. You’d like to see him take the puck to the net more, the way he can skate.”
That’s the rub with Pitkanen. He doesn’t get nearly enough points for his ability, although he did have 43 twice in Philadelphia. He had a meagre 26 last season here, albeit in only 63 games because he had a bad knee and sundry other smaller ailments. That put him in a tie for 50th amongst defencemen with David Johnny Oduya in New Jersey and James Wisniewski in Chicago. Hal Gill, who would lose a race with the Zamboni, had 24 points, if you’re counting. Pitkanen should be a 55-60-point defenceman, but he’s not. He might also be a shutdown defenceman because he can close people off with his skating but those sort of guys often have a physical edge to their game. Pitkanen doesn’t.
From Robert Tychkowski at the Edmonton Sun,
Much ado, it turns out, about nothing.
“It’s just so typical of how people jump to conclusions,” Edmonton’s general manager said yesterday in a telephone interview from the World Championships.
Lowe took enormous heat at the time of the deal, and was forced to defend himself during every subsequent attack from Burke.
Now that the draft order is complete (except for 27, 28, 29 and 30, depending on how the final four play out), and the evidence is there in black and white, there has to be a sense of vindication. Unfortunately there’s no undoing the bad blood and the black mark the the feud left on Burke, Lowe and the NHL.
Update 12:18pm ET: More on the adventures of Penner, Lowe, Burke & Co. from David Staples in the Edmonton Journal today.
From Fernando Pisani at The Hockey News:
Hockey players often take their health for granted. That all changed for me in 2005 when I started feeling sick.
I knew something was wrong with me, but I was kind of embarrassed to see somebody about it. As time went on and I began to feel worse, I knew I needed to get well and had to see a doctor. I finally did and that’s when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
I was able to continue playing, but last July all the symptoms started coming back, only worse this time. I was going to the bathroom 20-30 times a day, losing a lot of blood and a lot of weight.
from the Calgary Herald,
Finnish defenceman Joni Pitkanen pulled out of the IIHF world hockey championship with a knee injury, but he wasn’t getting a lot of sympathy from head coach Doug Sheddon.
“I wouldn’t put a gun to anyone’s head to play for their country,” said Sheddon, who is convinced the injury wasn’t all that serious.
“The commitment has to be better and I didn’t see a whole lot of commitment from him,” Sheddon said.
Kevin Lowe has stated he’s not likely to consider doing business in the future with the new Canucks GM, given their previous run-in as agent-vs-GM last summer over Michael Nylander. But not everyone has sympathy for Lowe’s position.
From Jason Botchford at The Province:
“I am horrified that someone’s integrity is called into question for something they didn’t do and by someone who did something much worse than Mike Gillis could ever be accused of,” agent Rich Winter said. “It’s an embarrassment to the game that Kevin Lowe would use the news media to make these accusations given what he’s done.”
In December 2003, Lowe was shopping Mike Comrie, Winter’s client, and found a taker in then-Ducks GM Bryan Murray. The pair agreed to a deal that would send young Anaheim forward, and future Stanley Cup champion, Corey Perry and a first-round pick to Edmonton for Comrie and a second-round pick.
Murray was worried he would lose Comrie to free agency if he made the deal. To appease Murray, Lowe authorized the Ducks’ general manager to begin negotiations with Comrie. Anaheim then signed the forward to an extension and, in its view, the deal was done.
But “not so fast,” says Botchford. The rest of the story…
A veteran just brings experience. He’s never too high or too low. You can’t think you’ve lost the series after one game; you have to be even-keeled and provide stability for the young guys. And that ties into the home-ice advantage. A vet has been there before, so he’s not intimidated to play in places like Montreal, where the crowd is loud.
When you’re in the playoffs, you just have to trust that everyone else on your team is going to step up.
At the bottom of the post, you can find contact info to send your questions to Souray.
from Canwest via the National Post,
Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee says he was caught in the middle when free-agent centre Michael Nylander called him last July to say he wanted to play for his club.
Nylander’s wife had told her husband there was absolutely no way she was going to move to Edmonton so he could play for the Oilers. Having loved her previous time in Washington, she reportedly ordered her husband to get on the blower to the Caps and was standing right beside her man as he called.
From Robin Brownlee at Metro,
Did Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe overpay when he inked Tom Gilbert to a six-year deal worth $24 million US Friday? Probably.
Did Lowe overpay when he signed Sheldon Souray to a five-year contract for $27 million? Definitely — by as much as $1 million a season over any other offer, according to my sources.
On both counts, the luxury of such a debate didn’t exist under the NHL’s old collective bargaining agreement — the Oilers couldn’t bid on free agents and couldn’t afford to keep their own players. Under the new CBA, Lowe hasn’t hesitated to put his money where his mouth is in offering long-term contracts to players he deems cornerstones of the franchise.
From the Edmonton Oilers,
The Edmonton Oilers have signed Tom Gilbert to a six-year contract that will keep the 25-year-old defenceman with the team through the 2013-14 season.
The 6’3”, 210-pound native of Bloomington, Minnesota enjoyed an outstanding rookie season with the Oilers in 2007-08. One of five Oilers to appear in all 82 games, Gilbert finished eighth on the Edmonton scoring list and first among defencemen with 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points.
And from TSN: “It is a 6-year deal at approximately $4-million per season.”
Update 8:10pm ET: And more added by TSN, Robert Nilsson was also signed. Here is the breakdown:
Gilbert’s new pact will pay him $24 million over six years, while Nilsson signed a three-year, $5.5 million contract.
Gilbert will earn $3.5 million next season with a $1.5 million signing bonus, $3.5 million in 2009-2010, $5.5 million with a $1.5 million signing bonus in 2010-2011, $5 million in 2011-2012, $3.5 million in 2012-2013, and $3 million in 2013-2014 for a salary cap average of $4 million a season.
Nilsson will earn $1.5 million next season and $2 million in each remaining season.
*hat-tip to rinkrat for noting the deal in the KK Forum
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
If this year was a sophomore jinx for a guy who’s only played 183 NHL games, he came through it pretty well.
“It took him a while to realize the increased responsibility and the burden of that responsibility on him,” said head coach Craig MacTavish. “He was coming from Anaheim, where if he wasn’t going (well), they sat him on the bench and went with other options. We needed him every night, that was a big burden for him early on in the year.
“To combine that with the expectations that everybody had based on the contract and the dialogue that went along with that was a big burden for him. I thought he handled it very well, I was happy with the way he fit in with the team.”
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.
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