Kukla's Korner Hockey
General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with defenceman Ladislav Smid on a two-year contract, and forwards Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone on one-year, two-way deals.
Smid, 23, established career highs in assists and points with 11 in 2008-09. He also had 57 penalty minutes in 60 games played.
Steve Tambellini commented on today’s signing. “I’m very pleased to have Ladislav signed. He’s a very competitive young defenceman that has the ability to contribute in all situations.”
from Todd Kimberely at NHL.com,
The Heatley affair sullied what otherwise has been a solid offseason for the Oilers, who are trying to find their way back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after three years out.
After parting ways with veteran coach Craig MacTavish after eight seasons, Tambellini delivered a master stroke—drawing on his old Vancouver Canucks connections by bringing on board the tandem of Pat Quinn and Tom Renney as head coach and associate coach, respectively.
Between them, the duo has coached nearly 2,000 NHL games—Quinn in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto; Renney with Vancouver and the New York Rangers—and use a common approach of strategizing, teaching and demanding total commitment.
That’s seen as a perfect fit for a young Oilers group, including Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, Patrick O’Sullivan, Cogliano and Tom Gilbert, which took a collective step backward last season in the face of high expectations.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
If you’re wondering why the Edmonton Oilers haven’t filled an obvious hole and signed free-agent centre Blair Betts, it’s all numbers.
Not Betts’s numbers.
The team’s salary cap numbers….
The Oilers could certainly use Betts, a 29-year-old Edmonton product who was played a huge role on the NHL’s best penalty-killing unit with the New York Rangers last season. He’s also a big, energetic body—six-foot-three, 200 pounds—which is something the Oilers could use.
But the Oilers have 22 players who saw NHL action last season already signed and 14 of those are forwards. They still have to sign centre Gilbert Brule and defenceman Ladislav Smid.
They have a shade more than $55 million US committed this upcoming season. About $2.5 million will likely be going to Smid and Brule when they sign shortly. Brule will be given a shot at the fourth-line centre spot.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
For any fans thinking that Nikolai Zherdev might be a fit with the Edmonton Oilers because the New York Rangers don’t want him, forget it.
He’s a square peg in a round hole.
While Zherdev might be intriguing on the wing because the Oilers have pulled out of the Dany Heatley trade with the Ottawa Senators, sources say Edmonton Oilers associate coach Tom Renney hasn’t enthusiastically gone to bat for the enigmatic Ukrainian-born forward.
Renney is a players’ coach, but his patience was stretched on Zherdev, a 24-year-old former first-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, when Renney was the Rangers head coach.
from Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press,
U.S. cable’s pre-eminent sports network, ESPN, is marking its 30th anniversary later this year with an ambitious and fascinating documentary series, 30 for 30, that will see a very interesting and unusual collection of directors—some Academy-Award winners, some first-time film-makers—contributing docs that explore some of the most important (but, in some cases, unexpected) sports stories of the past three decades….
Football-inclined film-maker Peter Berg (the guy behind both the big-screen and TV-series versions of Friday Night Lights) is making a documentary that’s simply titled #99—despite his gridiron inclinations, it turns out that Berg has always been a big hockey fan, and he has chosen to make a film about the impact of the 1988 trade that made Wayne Gretzky a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Berg was an L.A. resident and a huge Kings fan when the trade happened, and he readily admits that the news of the trade rocked his world in the most dizzyingly positive of ways.
from Chris Johnston of the CP via the Globe and Mail,
The Dany Heatley situation took another strange twist Friday with Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini publicly announcing he’s no longer interested in the disgruntled Ottawa Senators sniper.
This may be a first, a GM gathering the media to say he is NOT interested in a player. Yes, we all know the story, but why bring it back into the limelight? I would have just moved on and let the story die.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Don’t the Oilers get it? Their city is the last place in North America (other than presumably Ottawa and perhaps Atlanta) that Heatley wants to live, and their team is the last one in the NHL (insert a disclaimer or two) for which he wants to play.
Enough already with the bribery and the convincing. The team and the city look more than desperate. They are beginning to appear pathetic with their continued pursuit of the player who for good reason has become hockey’s most disdained individual.
We know. The Oilers have to overpay in order to entice players of Heatley’s on-ice pedigree to come to their city, and that’s the reason why Nik Khabibulin was able to get an over-35 contract worth $15 million over four years on July 1.
Still, after repeated attempts to appeal to Heatley (and his sense of . . . sense of what, exactly, reality?), Kevin Lowe, now the club president, should stop debasing himself; Steve Tambellini, the GM, should count himself better off for the repeated rejections; Pat Quinn and Tom Renney, the coaches, should consider themselves fortunate not to have someone in their locker room who first thing will search for the emergency exit.
more plus additional NHL topics…
from Dave Campbell of 630 CHED,
Speaking exclusively on 630 CHED’s “Inside Sports with Dan Tencer”, NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly broke his silence on the Dany Heatley saga on Wednesday night.
“I think that this been kind of twisted in a negative way, which is unfortunate for Dany. I think he’s just a victim of a bad set of circumstances,” said Kelly about Heatley, who requested a trade earlier in the off-season.
“While it is true that he requested a trade, it was not Dany Heatley or his agent that made that fact public. I think Dany’s been unfairly treated by the media and by the (Senators) organization.”
Update 3:05pm ET: More on Heatley from Chris Yzerman at the CP—
While Cory Clouston introduced the newest member of his staff Thursday, talk turned to what’s becoming an old story for the Ottawa Senators coach: what to do about Dany Heatley.
Clouston, speaking on a conference call after the Senators announced the hiring of former NHLer Brad Lauer as an assistant coach, said he’s yet to speak with his disgruntled star. It’s Heatley’s unhappiness over his diminished role and ice time since Clouston took over as head coach that’s been cited as the reason for the left-winger requesting a trade out of Ottawa this spring.
“I’m more than willing to listen and talk to anybody, but nothing’s changed at all,” said Clouston, who was “surprised” at Heatley’s request.
The Edmonton Oilers have signed restricted free agent defenceman Denis Grebeshkov to a one-year contract worth $3.15 million.
The signing avoids salary arbitration between the Russian defender and the club.
Last season the 25-year-old scored seven goals and 32 assists for 39 points in 72 games.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
There are plenty of rumors swirling around Edmonton’s apparent need for a third line center, most of it focusing on free agents Manny Malhotra and Blair Betts. No doubt the roster would really benefit from the signing of character guy like Malhotra, but his asking price (thought to be three years, $6 million) is too high. The familiarity of coach Tom Renney with Edmonton native Betts makes him a logical fit, too, but the guessing here is that Oilers stick with what they have and hope that an option emerges in camp.
As if the loss of Joe Sakic isn’t enough for the sad-sack Avs to deal with, it looks like the schedulemakers had to get their shots in, too. Colorado, which had a league-low eight back-to-back games in 2008-09, has 16 of them slated for 2009-10. So who catches a break? That would be the Blue Jackets, who led the league with 20 B2Bs last season, but have just 12 on the new sked…
read on for some NHLPA/Olympics talk…
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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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