Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford:
The old adage in hockey is that a team never can have enough defensemen. Well, the Blues are proving that wrong, at least when it comes to stockpiling young defenders.
Of the club’s last seven first-round picks, four play on the blue line. With the trade of forward Lars Eller last week, the team’s highest remaining draft pick in each of the past four years is a defenseman: Erik Johnson in 2006, Ian Cole in ‘07, Alex Pietrangelo in ‘08 and David Rundblad and Brett Ponich in ‘09.
With the 14th pick in this week’s NHL draft, which begins with the first round at 6 p.m. (St. Louis time) Friday in Los Angeles, the Blues aren’t expected to be in the running for another defenseman in the first round.
From the St. Pete Times’ Damian Cristodero:
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has sent a message to Vinny Lecavalier.
“We’re going to challenge him to be better,” Yzerman said.
But Yzerman also apparently assured the captain, who is coming off two disappointing seasons, he still is part of the plan.
“I’m not going to go out and start shopping Vinny Lecavalier around,” Yzerman said recently at the St. Pete Times Forum.
From the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa:
Patrick Sharp was born in Winnipeg and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, but he’ll always be an adopted son of Burlington, Vt.
The Blackhawks alternate captain, last seen raising the Stanley Cup and partying during the homecoming parade in Chicago, spent two seasons with the Catamounts prepping his game for the pros. Appropriately, among the well-wishers texting Sharp during the finals was former Vermont assistant Damian DiGiulian, who played a significant role in bringing a Canadian youngster with a junior-style game to Hockey East.
“Very happy for him,’’ said DiGiulian, now coach at Rice Memorial Prep in South Burlington. “Great kid, great family.’’
From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Frank Seravalli:
Hamhuis, 27, will fit firmly between Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle on the Flyers’ defensive depth chart as a smart and patient puck mover who can also play a shutdown role against opponents’ top forwards. Hamhuis and Timonen sometimes skated together in Nashville. Hamhuis will not match Carle’s point totals but is reliable and durable, having missed just seven games over the last four seasons.
That will come at a price. Hamhuis’ deal likely will exceed the 4-year, $14 million that Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang got last summer. Holmgren and Hamhuis’ agent, Wade Arnott , are scheduled to begin negotiating today with the hopes of completing the deal before the NHL draft commences on Friday in Los Angeles.
If that happens, signing Hamhuis could limit how the Flyers round out their defense. The apparent goal was to not only strengthen the unit, which Hamhuis does, but also make it deeper. The salary cap, expected to rise about $2 million to $58.8 million, could limit its depth since restricted free agent Braydon Coburn is due a raise.
From the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika:
Taking the best player available is a pretty good strategy for any draft.
It’s especially important in the NHL, where teams take 18-year-olds and have to guess how they will develop.
So it’s understandable that the Stars have taken only two defensemen in the last 18 picks, including none last season.
There were better players, and Dallas had really gotten into the strategy of going after highly skilled forwards – a strategy that paid off with players like James Neal (33rd overall in 2005), Jamie Benn (129th in 2007), and all five of last year’s talented forwards.
From the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan:
At the grand old age of 26, you hope Jimmy Howard won’t be discriminated against for his age.
Howard is a finalist for the Calder Trophy, symbolizing the NHL’s rookie of the year. He’s up against Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers, 19, and Colorado forward Matt Duchene, 18, two worthy candidates. Both players are younger than Howard and neither played in the minor leagues, as Howard did for four seasons.
Howard is, without a doubt, the elder statesman in this group. The much older brother. Ancient, even.
From the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland plans to gear up talks to re-sign his restricted free agents over the coming week, but already the Wings figure to be a deep and competitive team next season.
That’s because they’re largely going to be the same team that went 16-3-2 in March and April when, for the first time all season, all their principal players were healthy.
“I like our team,” Holland said. “I think we’ve got a good mix. We’ve identified our core, and we’ve got some role players we really like, and we’re going to be deeper with Jiri Hudler coming back.”
From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Dan Carchidi:
During their playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers were reluctant to use their third defensive pairing.
So, in his first move of the off-season, general manager Paul Holmgren made a deal Saturday that significantly upgrades that unit, acquiring defenseman Dan Hamhuis and a conditional draft pick in 2011 from Nashville for Ryan Parent, a little-used and frequently injured defenseman.
Now the Flyers have 11 days to sign the 6-foot-1, 209-pound Hamhuis (pronounced HAM-HOOS), who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
From the New York Post’s Larry Brooks:
The window of opportunity is closing on Glen Sather as the general manager looks for a team to take Donald Brashear and his over-35, $1.4 million albatross of a cap charge off the Rangers’ books.
For if Sather, who told Slap Shots two weeks ago that Brashear never again would play for the Blueshirts following last year’s debacle, is going to be able to move the faded 38-year-old enforcer, his best chance is to do it this week, so the acquiring team has time to buy out Brashear by the June 30 deadline.
Look, the only conceivable way Sather will be able to move Brashear is by taking back a bad contract of greater value from a low-revenue team hovering around the cap floor. The Rangers could then bury that contract in the AHL, if necessary, while gaining $1.4M in critical cap space.
From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Rich Chere:
It was a seemingly unremarkable December morning at the Meadowlands.
The Devils, off to a solid start to the 1997-98 season, had just concluded their morning skate in preparation for that night’s meeting with the St. Louis Blues at Continental Airlines Arena. But John MacLean, the franchise’s all-time scoring and games-played leader on the morning of Dec. 2, 1997, was about to drop a bombshell.
Holding court in front of his locker stall, MacLean revealed that he had asked general manager Lou Lamoriello for a trade and would not consider signing another contract with the Devils when he became an unrestricted free agent after the season.
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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