Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
If there will be endless debate about Chris Osgood’s status as a Hall of Famer, fellow goalie Curtis Joseph likely is on the flip side of the coin. While Joseph is generally accepted to have been a "better" goaltender -- more agile, more athletic, certainly possessing a higher profile -- he did not have the personal or team success of many of his peers, including Osgood, which makes the debate over his case for Hall of Fame worthiness among the more difficult to reconcile.
The Case For
Sure, you can make numbers say pretty much whatever you want, but Joseph's numbers don’t lie regardless of the prism through which they’re viewed. He won 454 games in the NHL, and only the incomparable Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour won more. At No. 4 overall on the all-time wins list, it is almost a given that he should be in the Hall of Fame. The six of the next seven goaltenders in the all-time list who are eligible for the Hall of Fame are in, and Osgood is the other.
from Rich Chere of NJ.com,
The odds may be against veteran winger Ryane Clowe returning to the ice for the Devils this season as he recovers from his latest concussion, but general manager Ray Shero said he won't make the call.
"It won't be my decision. It will be Ryane and the doctors who make that decision," Shero told NJ Advance Media.
It seems very possible, if not likely, that doctors will recommend Clowe not risk having another head injury. He has endured several in recent years and admitted at the conclusion of last season that he has contemplated retirement for the first time.
continued plus and update on the heath of Bryce Salvador...
from Mike Brophy at NHL.com,
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a transition phase, and it is clear there will be no quick fixes after they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. President Brendan Shanahan and new coach Mike Babcock have preached patience as they take their first steps toward trying to construct a winning team.
With sweeping changes this summer, including a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2015-16 Maple Leafs will bear little resemblance to recent editions. Considering they've made the playoffs once since 2004, it's a welcomed fresh start.
Here are four reasons for optimism:
Babcock is behind the bench: Given his success, Babcock could have taken a job with a team that is much closer to being a contender than Toronto. He won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and two Olympic gold medals with Canada (2010, 2014). The Maple Leafs, who haven't won the Cup since 1967, represent one of hockey’s greatest challenges. After signing an eight-year contract, Babcock has the credibility and organizational power to successfully command an intense on- and off-ice commitment from his players. Babcock demands discipline and hard work from his players; those who don't give it will find themselves elsewhere.
Because of their lack of success, coupled with the media scrutiny in Toronto, the Maple Leafs have not been a destination for many high-profile free agents. Babcock said upon his hiring that he wants Toronto to be a "safe" city for his players. That will be accomplished by winning and consistency.
"You see what they're doing obviously on the outside with hiring different people in management and coaches, but the stuff behind the scenes, the things they're doing to track performance and health, is all very encouraging. They're making the commitment and that starts up top with ownership. They're making a commitment to different things to really make sure that there is no excuse if you put the work in."
-James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More from Dan Rosen of NHL.com.
Hoffman was asking for $3.4M while the Senators offered $1.75M.
from David Satriano of NHL.com,
Here are four other reasons for optimism in Arizona:
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: The 25-year old established himself as one of the best defenseman in the NHL in the past two seasons. Ekman-Larsson had a career high 23 goals and 43 points, including 20 power-play points, and led NHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals (10) last season. He also scored in the clutch, with seven game-winning goals, including three in overtime.
"He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow," general manager Don Maloney said. "I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense. But people don't appreciate even his defending ability because he gets matched up against the best players on every team every night, and he is just growing in front of our eyes.
"I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver. It's really his intellect, his puck-moving ability and his skating that stand out. He's a cornerstone on our blue line. We need to get another one or two like him back there and then we will be a team to be reckoned with."
Prospects on the rise: The Coyotes may have been thin up front last season, but they're loaded with young talent ready to make the jump to the NHL. Led by 2013 first-round pick Max Domi and 19-year old Anthony Duclair, Arizona should be faster and more skilled.
"Obviously Max Domi is ahead of the pack in regards to we know he's mature, we know he's got a strong body, he has a skill set that we lack," Maloney said. "Anthony Duclair came [to development camp], this was his first time to the Valley and first time on ice in a Coyotes uniform and he just wowed us with the skill and the speed and the execution just in his puck game. We haven't seen that pure speed and talent."
Maloney said forward Nick Merkley (the 30th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft) was one of the most impressive players at development camp in July, and Christian Dvorak (the 58th pick in 2014) was the most ready to compete for an NHL roster spot among the players who have junior eligibility remaining.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
As Blues chairman Tom Stillman waited for recipients to show up at a food bank in Jennings on July 21, he talked about the state of the Blues. The answers have been edited for clarity. The questions have been edited to make them more concise.
Q: Is it tough when you have to trade someone like T.J. Oshie, who’s been around this franchise so long?
A: Honestly, that and Barret Jackman’s departure are, on a personal level, difficult for me. It is really a hard part of the business. I’m comfortable we’re doing the right thing for the team and all, but those two individuals in particular are really wonderful people. I am sad to see them go. It’s weird to see how the guys can just be uprooted, especially in a trade. Those two guys, they were always immediately willing to do anything to help. Barret Jackman showed up everywhere. He was at the Mathews-Dickey event last year, he would have been here (at the food bank in Jennings). T.J. Oshie, anything you asked him, he’d say, Sure, I’ll do that. He was the guy that was on his knees taking a picture with a kid. I remember at an away game, they had to pull him out of the autograph line. That’s the kind of guy he is. Personally, it’s the tough side of the business.
Obviously, they’ve both been here a long time, and T.J., we saw him grow up here. You become, not close, but friendly with them. I think a lot of fans have sort of a fatherly or motherly view of some of our younger players who have grown up here, so it’s tough to see.
Q: The NHL recently announced that it could expand beyond 30 teams. Would expansion be a good thing for the league?
A: It remains to be seen. The process is open, there’s no commitment that there will be expansion. There’s a long way to go and the league will take a very careful look at it and make sure it’s the right thing on a macro sense for the league and any market candidate will be looked at very carefully. The league is really healthy, it’s hitting on all cylinders. I don’t think it’s ever been stronger, and looking forward to some of the things they have coming down the pike, rather it’s new sponsorship deals, a new level of interest from a number of people, there’s just a lot of things going on.
from Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins' five highest-paid players — Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury — will make $38 million next season. That will fill 53.2 percent of the $71.4 million salary cap.
Add in the other 17 or 18 players on the 23-man roster — even after the Penguins shed third-line center Brandon Sutter and his $3.3 million salary in a trade with Vancouver on Tuesday — and the team is bumping its head on the salary ceiling.
The only teams that will allocate more than half of their cap space to their top five players are the Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, who are fresh off a Stanley Cup with star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews making eight figures.
On the surface, that might sound like the Penguins and Blackhawks are in an untenable position. A closer look tells a different tale.
First, top-heavy salary structures are common in the NHL. Sixteen of the league's 30 teams allocate between 40 and 48 percent of their cap space to five top players.
from Joe Yerdon at NHL.com,
Things are about to change for the better for the Buffalo Sabres.
The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history, so it'd be easy to say things can't get worse, but the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel, has changed the attitude here.
Eichel's arrival, coupled with the eventual debut of forward Evander Kane, who didn't play for the Sabres after he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11 (elbow surgery); center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26; and coach Dan Bylsma, has the Buffalo fan base hopeful the organizational rebuild will bring results on the ice.
The Sabres will have a young and talented group of forwards to try to lift an offense that scored an NHL-low 158 goals last season. The addition of Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly to Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons gives Buffalo a youthful core. If Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, makes the roster, it would make the Sabres that much younger and add another potential scorer.
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.
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