Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The latest scuttlebutt on who's going where and why as another big season of free agency approaches:
It has the potential to be quite the offseason when it comes to high-profile centers changing teams.
We always say top centers don’t grow on trees and are hard to come by, well, there are at least two on the market in Ryan Kesler and Jason Spezza and it remains to be seen how it plays out on the Joe Thornton front.
First, in Vancouver, where the Canucks went fairly down the road in trade talks involving Kesler before the March 5 trade deadline, in particular with the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins, before deciding the offers weren’t good enough and pulling him back.
The question is, what’s the deal with him now given the new management in place in Vancouver?
Sources said new Canucks GM Jim Benning has already taken calls from teams on Kesler, if for no other reason than they’re wondering if he’s still available or not....
Spezza, with a year left on his deal, indicated to Senators management that he would welcome a change if a deal that makes sense comes Ottawa’s way. I suspect talks will heat up on that front closer to the draft later this month.
And, in San Jose, the Sharks have indicated they are entering a rebuilding mode. What does that mean for Joe Thornton, who signed a three-year extension earlier this season? Does he want to be around for a rebuild? Either way, Thornton holds all the cards with a no-movement clause. Same goes for Patrick Marleau, for that matter.
more on Kesler and other topic too...
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Ales Hemsky's stay with the Senators was likely short and not so sweet because he may not be back in an Ottawa uniform next season.
League sources told the Sun Tuesday talks between the Senators and Hemsky's camp have broken off and unless there is a change of heart on his part he's expected to test the UFA market on July 1.
The 30-year-old Senators winger, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers at the deadline in exchange for two draft picks, was believed to be looking for a deal in excess of $5.5 million per-season from the club.
Sources say the Senators were not prepared to make that kind of offer and there was also concerns he's determined to test the market."
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is spearheading an international movement to boycott the products of major sponsors, including Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch InBev, until the 2018 World Cup is moved away from Russia.
Melnyk, always outspoken about Russia’s invasion into Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, is livid at the hypocrisy of FIFA — soccer’s governing body — for allowing the country to stage the tournament while Russian president Vladimir Putin is waging war.
“(Putin) has no right to have that,” Melnyk, chairman of the Advisory Committee for United with Ukraine, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Melnyk suggests Putin is trampling on the tournament ideals of global unity and peace.
“It goes against every possible theme of soccer and the World Cup and what it’s supposed to stand for,” he said....
Melnyk’s parents escaped Ukraine and met in Toronto in the early 1950′s and he grew up hearing countless stories about the Soviet invasion of their homeland. His paternal grandmother was thrown out of her home by Soviet officials. Melnyk has supported a variety of causes and charities in Ukraine. He distrusts Putin and worries about the country’s future.
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
While it makes some sense that the Toronto Maple Leafs might have an interest in bringing Spezza home — the Maple Leafs have never found a true number one centre — there’s little chance Murray would trade him to the Senators’ arch rivals. The Senators GM would also be relunctant to trade within the division, for fear of Spezza coming back to burn the Senators. (For reference purposes, see Ben Bishop and Tampa Bay Lightning)
Keep all that in mind while considering these potential homes for the captain.
St. Louis Blues- Why would this make sense? In their disappointing first round playoff exit, the Blues scored only 2.3 goals per game (14th of 16 teams) and their power play operated at a dreadful 6.9 per cent success rate. Spezza, meanwhile, has scored at a point per game pace throughout his career and is one of the NHL’s best power play players....
Nashville Predators- Why would this make sense? After years and years of plodding, deliberate, defensive-oriented hockey, Nashville finally fired Barry Trotz, who had been the only coach in franchise history. Nashville finished 19th in goals scored last season and they were dead last in 2013 and All-Star defenceman Shea Weber has been the club’s leading scorer for the past two seasons....
Anaheim Ducks- Why would this make sense? The Ducks already have one of the top centres in the NHL — Ryan Getzlaf is a Hart Trophy finalist — and the addition of Spezza would give them a 1-2 punch that could come close to rivalling the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin combination in Pittsburgh....
Florida Panthers- Why would this make sense? There’s no such thing as status quo in Florida and the new ownership will be looking to put a fresh stamp on the franchise. The addition of a veteran centre such as Spezza could take some pressure off Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers, always in a fight for attention in a busy sports market, could make a splash by adding a marquee name....
more on each team...
from James Gordon of Senators Extra,
Suppose I walk into a Honda dealership looking for a new car, and my friend asks me, “Why don’t you drive a Maserati?”
The response would be pretty simple: “I can’t afford it.”
It certainly wouldn’t be, “just because you have money, doesn’t mean you spend it. I mean, look at what this clown is spending on his car!”
Setting aside the fact that would be kind of a cheap shot to level within earshot of the guy putting a racing transmission in his S2000, it doesn’t really answer the question.
Which is sort of the problem with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk’s response every time he’s asked whether or not he’ll sink some of the money the team will draw next year from massive new broadcast rights deals (not to mention a bigger slice of league revenue thanks to the last CBA) into player payroll.
As time passes, more and more fans are coming to realize what the new reality first signalled by the departure of Daniel Alfredsson over money last summer means over the long term: the Ottawa Senators may never be willing, or able, to compete on a level financial playing field with the National Hockey League’s elite teams again.
from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,
In Tuesday’s post-mortem on what went so wrong with his team this season, he was an open book about a club that started slowly and only found a degree of consistency when the season was already lost.
He had some harsh words for the work of coach Paul MacLean, saying his approach to players must change. He said captain Jason Spezza’s future with the team is undecided. He acknowledged the loss of former captain Daniel Alfredsson last summer was pivotal.
He recognized that young defencemen Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch and Eric Gryba didn’t meet expectations, and he was disturbed by the “careless” and “confused” moments inside the Senators’ blueline.
He steadfastly defended some of his own controversial trades. He also said it’s paramount for the organization to find a “harder forward that can play the game hard and stick up for teammates if necessary,” and says there will be other changes.
from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,
“Paul is our coach, he’s going to be our coach going into next year,” said Melnyk, who suggested that there could be other changes within the coaching staff and hockey operations department.
While he cleared up MacLean’s status, the water is still muddy as far as Spezza is concerned.
“Jason understands what his role was and is,” said Melnyk. “He’s a professional and understands that he could be here today and gone tomorrow, or he could stay long term and be with the team for many years. (His future) is dependent on on what other pieces we need to put together.
“He’s one of 20 plus players. You can’t put all on his shoulder.”...
At the same time, however, Melnyk says that doesn’t mean he’s going to spend to the NHL salary cap. He insists the best avenue to success is spending money “behind the scenes”, scouting properly and on developing players from within.
“It’s very, very easy to increase payroll,” he said. “Any idiot can do it. Lots of idiots do.”
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
Playing for pride.
They are the three little words a true hockey fan dreads hearing from players on his or her team. They mean the season is over earlier than it was supposed to be but hey, at least the boys are vowing to go down with a swing in their remaining, meaningless games.
How comforting. You go, boys.
The Senators have been talking openly about playing for pride since the start of the month, when back-to-back home losses to the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens effectively rendered useless all but prayer for a miracle allowing them to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the realists among them had to know that's all they've had left for weeks, maybe even months.
Now, customers of their business get to shell out hard earned bucks for the opportunity to see the Senators play for pride against the New Jersey Devils at Canadian Tire Centre Thursday in what's being billed as Fan Appreciation Night.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
- Derick Brassard, a Gatineau native, picked up by the Rangers last year in a big deal with Columbus suited up for his 400th career game Saturday. Brassard, 26, who spends his off-season in Ottawa, has made his presence felt by the Rangers. Heading into the visit by the Senators, New York had a 23-8-1 record this season when he registers a point. With a cap hit of $3.2 million, Brassard will be an RFA on July 1.
- An interesting negotiation to watch in the off-season will be LW Milan Michalek. He has a cap hit of $6 million and has picked up his scoring pace dramatically down the stretch. The Senators have no issue with the way Michalek works and anybody will tell you he's highly-regarded by his teammates. The club will most certainly try to sign the UFA.
Some talk on P.K. Subban, who played :37 seconds in the 1st period and was -2. For the game, Subban played 13:39 and 3:42 was on the PP. He finished -3.
from Mike Boone of Hockey Inside/Out,
To my rheumy old eyes, P.K. hasn’t been himself since the Olympics. But I can’t see why a slightly sub-par P.K. should have less ToI than Francis Bouillon, Mike Weaver and Tinordi – not to mention the stiffs patrolling that porous Ottawa blueline.
In an interview on RDS, Pierre LeBrun said he’d spoken on Friday to P.K.’s agent. Don Meehan told LeBrun negotiations on a new contract for Subban will not get down to brass tacks until after the Canadiens have played their last game of the season.
Fearless prediction: There’s going to be some tough talk between Meehan and Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin. And if another team comes in with an offer sheet for the restricted free agent, things could get really interesting.
P.K.’s contract is not the only dossier on the GM’s desk, which has more hot potatoes than a poutine stand.
more on the game plus some Vanek talk...
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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