Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Akim Aliu isn’t the most-gifted prospect available in the NHL entry draft that starts Friday and continues Saturday.
Or the fastest. Or—even though he checks in at a chiseled 6 feet 2, 200 pounds—the largest.
But he likely is the most intriguing.
In large part because Aliu, a center-right winger who plays for Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League, is a native of Nigeria who did not skate until he was about 10 years old and is fluent in English, Russian and Ukranian.
Aren’t many guys in the Class of 2007 who can claim that.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The Rangers’ Plan B in the event of a Nylander defection - a hypothetical the front office never envisioned even as Glen Sather knew he would need No. 92’s agreement on the three-year, $11.25 million deal the GM struck preliminarily with since-fired agent Paul Theofanous - will be to try to convince Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to each accept less than they could get elsewhere to join forces on Broadway.
It won’t be an easy trick to pull, not with ravenous hordes set to pounce on Gomez and Drury both, which is something Sather might want to seriously consider whenever it is he sits across the table from Nylander’s new agent.
much more NHL talk, Larry is all over the hockey map…
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The great panacea that was a more liberalized version of free agency hasn’t worked out that way for most of the National Hockey League’s big spenders.
In fact, a whopping majority of long-term, big money free-agent contracts signed after the NHL lockout have turned out to be gigantic wastes of money.
If teams could do it all over again, would they be throwing large money at Adrian Aucoin, Adam Foote, Mike Rathje or Alexei Zhamnov?...
Mike Keenan may not be perfect, but give him a great forward, a pair of great defencemen and top-flight goalie, as he has in Calgary, and watch him ride the Flames to great success. This is his kind of team.
many more NHL bits…
from Tony Gallagher at the Vancouver Province,
If Chris Drury or Daniel Briere leave Buffalo, they’ll obviously go where a team needs offence. Ditto Scott Gomez, one of the legion of New Jersey Devils who’ve had their fill of life in Lou Lamoriello’s successful Gulag and want to experience a less restrictive lifestyle, to say nothing of perhaps a more open approach to the game.
Of course, the smart guy may take Detroit as his cue. Knowing Bertuzzi would like to go back to the Wings, you would have to think if the Wings pass on making an offer, their medical staff heavily influenced the decision.
This one should be most interesting unless Detroit straight up takes him off the market.
What about Peter Forsberg? Will we get into Roger Clemens territory when it comes to the immortal Foppa?
read on...more UFA talk…
from Theresa Tedesco of the National Post,
According to insiders, Mr. Bettman and William Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told Mr. Balsillie that if he wanted to buy the Predators, he had to make a “good faith” attempt to keep the team in Nashville, and not to sabotage its chances of surviving in that city.
Apparently, Mr. Balsillie was troubled about not having certainty about his ability to move the team, and was clearly uneasy about his previous experience with the league. Before he publicly announced his bid for the Penguins last October, he had a similar conversation about moving Sidney Crosby and the team if the arena funding didn’t materialize. Apparently, Mr. Bettman agreed at the time, saying “I’ll be the first to help you pack your bags.”
more... long but interesting read…
from Al Strachan at Fox Sports,
For a mathematician, 32 is a much more attractive number than 30. It creates a nice balance — 16 teams make the playoffs and 16 don’t.
And the rumors of realignment into four divisions that surfaced last year had a lot of merit. Bettman denied the story but you can take that for what it’s worth.
With the proposed sale price of the Nashville Predators being in the $240 million range, Bettman knows that he can sell expansion franchises for at least $120 million.
If he sells two of them, that’s a tidy $8 million for each existing owner. Too lucrative to pass up.
As for the nets, if you read between the lines of some of the statements being made by hockey executives, you know what’s coming.
The league admits that the game needs more scoring. As Bettman said in his press conference at the All-Star game, “The focus on offense remains the priority.”
Furthermore, it’s no secret that the league has given the matter of larger nets serious consideration.
more on both topics. A side note, the NHL competition committee met today in Toronto, on the agenda was bigger nets, visors and hits to the head…
from Terry Frei at ESPN,
Men old enough to be the Hart Trophy winner’s father and men who played with and against the Calder Trophy runner-up’s father are making decisions about 2007-08.
In the post-lockout NHL, one-year twilight deals make more sense than ever, at least for the teams, and arguably for the players as well, if they’re at all concerned about legacies, reputations, pride and even keeping career-closing options open. By that, I mean such things as a slightly slipping, but still effective, veteran perhaps shooting to finish with a franchise in his hometown or his original team for symmetry sake.
The possibility of including incentives in contracts for the over-35 set also provides a safety net. To a point, it can indicate skepticism, particularly about players coming off injuries or with a tendency to miss significant time, but mostly it’s a win-win proposition for both sides of the table in the cap world.
from the BTM at NBC Sports,
Consider this: the voters had Luongo second in MVP voting behind Crosby, so it would stand to reason that they thought Luongo was the best goaltender, since he finished ahead of Martin Brodeur in the voting for the Hart trophy.
But wait a minute. Brodeur finished ahead of Luongo in the voting for the first all-star team, which means that some of the same voters who put Luongo ahead of Brodeur on their MVP ballots reversed the order when they voted for the first all-star team.
That makes perfect sense—if you’re the kind of person who washes their lunch down with a gallon of Jim Beam.
from Ryan Dixon of the Hockey News,
When asked if the Pearson Award meant more to him because it was voted on by the players as opposed to the Hart - voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association - Crosby, facing a room full of hockey writers, made sure he didn’t slight his audience.
“I’m not going to say the writers’ opinion doesn’t matter,” chuckled Crosby, whose comment elicited laughs around the media room. “I’m in the wrong place for that.
“(The Pearson Award) is recognition from guys you’re playing against every night. Just to be recognized by them is something I can sit back and be proud of.”
more on all the awards…
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
“Sorry, Canada!” Samueli told the assembled throng at Anaheim’s Stanley Cup celebration. “Welcome to the new Hockeytown: Anaheim, California!”
However, in the larger context of what always happens in the NHL playoffs, Samueli’s soft, playful jab represented another instance of the misdirected nationalism that never fails to inject itself into hockey circles.
Frankly, I’m as sick and tired of that kind of nonsense as I am of the ceaseless debate about officiating. I certainly don’t blame Samueli for getting swept up in the emotion of a championship party, but it’s high time hockey people got over their fixation about citizenship and its relation to the game.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org