Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Daily Times,
Considering the Flyers are frequently in the trade discussion mix, whether at the deadline, draft, or free agency, it’s no surprise that they have been linked to several proposed megadeals.
Some suggest they might go after Atlanta superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Others have them in deep talks with Calgary for hard-hitting defenseman Dion Phaneuf. There are still others that suggest they might try and pry Vincent Lecavalier away from the Tampa Bay Lightning while the nostalgic have them bringing back Rod Brind’Amour as another veteran voice to a locker room that can never have too many of those.
It’s fun to play fantasy hockey and figure out how each of these high-priced and big name players can impact the Flyers, but the reality of the situation is none of them will be coming to town unless they are wearing a visiting uniform.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
In other sports with sanctioned fighting, the goal is to win, to have your arm raised in triumph and watch your opponent hang his head in disappointment. Whether one “wins” a fight in the NHL is beside the point.
Sticking up for a teammate after he takes a big hit and showing you won’t be pushed around is often just as important for hockey teams. Not only are the star players “protected,” but an esprit de corps can develop. No matter how one fares in a hockey fight, teammates almost always tap their sticks on the ice as a show of respect.
That said, fighters always are trying to get better at their craft.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Since a salary cap was implemented coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, young players have become more proliferate in the NHL. Entry-level contracts come with their own salary restrictions, giving cap-conscious GMs a ready source of cheap labor. As a result, young players are being pushed to the big stage as soon as possible.
The heat gets turned up when these young players come up on their second contracts. Those who are deemed talented enough are signed long-term—to define a young core, save money, or both. The Pittsburgh Penguins are a classic example of this. They locked up Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal as soon as they could. They provided themselves some cost certainty in defining where the bulk of their money was going to be spent. They structured their roster so as to avert the most expensive forays into future free-agent markets.
If teams are going to pay long money on second contracts, it follows that the players who sign these contracts are expected to fill important roles sooner rather than later. Crosby & Co. are a textbook example of talented young players stepping nicely into such roles. The Penguins fired a tough coach, Michel Therrien, and elevated a softer, younger Dan Bylsma to achieve this result. And they won the Stanley Cup.
This sort of thinking now prevails. If a coach fails to extract the maximum from his young charges, said coach is in trouble.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
For the rest of the season, and especially leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, it will be hard to view Leaf players as anything but commodities.
For a non-playoff team on which futures are on the line, the big game won’t be so much hockey as it will be guessing who stays and who goes.
Against the visiting L.A. Kings on Tuesday, for example, the final score was 5-3 for the impressive young team from California.
But the important result was that a player like Niklas Hagman improved his stock on the trade market while goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, a restricted free agent this summer, only created more questions about where he might fit with the Leafs.
via Darren Dreger of TSN,
Rugged Maple Leafs forward Jamal Mayers believes he has at least a few good years left him in, but doesn’t see Toronto in his future.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke granted Mayers agent, Pat Brisson, permission to speak to teams in an effort to generate trade interest.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
The Islanders defenseman did what hockey defensemen do, throwing his face in front of an Alex Ovechkin slapshot at close range. The results were about what you’d expect; a pool of blood, a lot of quiet fans and scared players, and a trip to the hospital.
“It’s the game of hockey, but you never want to see a player go down like that,” Jason Chimera said, via FanHouse. “He took the full force of the shot. Difficult to watch.”
added 12:06pm, Hillen suffered a broken jaw and out for around 2 months. Video of the play is below…
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Multiple sources have indicated to The Hockey News the Thrashers have had significant trade talks with the Los Angeles Kings concerning moving Kovalchuk there in recent days. They reportedly presented the Kings with a shopping list of what it would take to get Kovalchuk and it’s believed that while the Kings would be very interested in adding a scorer of Kovalchuk’s ability to their group of young stars, the asking price is currently more than GM Dean Lombardi is willing to surrender.
“Our goaltending is not a concern for our group at all. We’re second in the league in goals against (2.23 before Tuesday) so it’s tough to make an argument our goaltenders haven’t played well.’‘
“There’s nothing I can say that will change people’s minds because they’re going to think what they think. But if you look objectively at the way our goaltenders have performed, they’ve been dynamite this year.”
-Chicago GM Stan Bowman. More on the Blackhawks from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
The prospect of the Olympic roster freeze at midnight February 12th is expected to spark a trade or two before then; however multiple NHL sources describe the current state of trade discussions as ‘very quiet.’ That said the potential list of players available is growing on a daily basis. Here are the top 10 players expected to be dealt on, or before the March 3rd NHL trade deadline.
1) Ilya Kovalchuk
There is little to no doubt that due to impending unrestricted free agency that Atlanta’s superstar and premier goal-scorer will be traded. However, Thrashers general manager Don Waddell says it’s too early to officially open the bidding.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN responds to an email from a fan of the Kings who is worried the team will mortgage the future to trade for a player like Kovalchuk….
Some excellent points here, my friend. It’s along the lines of what Dean Lombardi and I were actually discussing Sunday in one of those conversations where the Kings GM talked about the CBA, building a team, when to go for it, etc. He’s a lot of fun to listen to when he gets into the big-picture stuff. He was careful not to get into anything specific regarding Kovalchuk. But reading between the lines, I think what you are saying is exactly what he’s debating internally: are the Kings ready for this kind of impact move, with no guarantee that Kovalchuk will stay past July 1?
When reached him again Monday night, Lombardi said “yes” when I asked him if he had decided his team was ready for a noteworthy addition ahead of March 3. That doesn’t mean it’ll be Kovalchuk, but it means the Kings believe they are ready to add. He has the cap room and a blessing from ownership.
many more questions and answers from Pierre…
As many of you know, I am always thinking hockey.
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