Kukla's Korner Hockey
Mid-afternoon pre-draft round-up: on Kesler Watch, Vanek Watch, Board of Governors stuff and Stastny
Updated 3x at 4:24 PM: Amongst this afternoon's news from the Board of Governors' meetings and the Trade-and-wine-and-dine-a-palooza...
1. It's time for Kesler watch to kick into an even higher gear?
2. Thomas Vanek is in demand:
3. Sportsnet's Mark Spector reminded us that quite a bit of this draft-day-draft-pick-trade talk is...talk...
“I want to play the game. I understand my age, for people, is a big deal, but I stayed healthy all year. I played 39 games. Didn’t miss a practice. Didn’t miss a game. I was pretty happy about that.said.
“My body responded, and my mind is ready to go again. I’m excited about the new challenge that’s going to come in front of me.”
-Martin Brodeur as he prepares for free agency. More on and from Brodeur by Luke Fox of Sportsnet.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
Not exactly thrilled with offers the Canucks have seen so far, general manager Jim Benning sent a rather strong message that his team is willing to wait out the draft, and beyond, before trading Kesler.
In fact, Benning suggested it may be more beneficial to sit on him and hold out until this season’s trade deadline.
“When you’re dealing with a player of his stature, at the trade deadline is when you can really do well because (there are) those teams that feel they’re one player away that makes a difference to win,” Benning said.
“You could possibly get more (then) than you can in the middle of summer when they’re not playing hockey.”
So if Kesler wants out so badly, he may have to expand that precious list of teams to which he’s willing to go. With a no-trade clause in his contract, he has some say.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Don Meehan, the powerful agent who counts Jarome Iginla among his vast clientele, has started setting up meetings with teams other than the Boston Bruins to discuss the veteran winger’s future.
Without getting into specifics, Meehan confirmed to Sportsnet early Thursday that Iginla’s focus is expanding now that the hockey world has gathered in Philadelphia for the entry draft — a turn of events that says more about the current state of the Bruins’ cap situation than the player himself.
This does not appear to be a case where an agent is trying to capitalize on the free agent interview period and create leverage. Meehan is simply protecting his client.
The Philadelphia Flyers are ramping up their efforts to find a suitor for centre Vincent Lecavalier.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Thursday that Lecavalier's agent Kent Hughes has permission to speak to other teams regarding a trade for his client. Dreger adds that making a deal will be tough for the Flyers in the days leading up to July 1, as Lecavalier is owed a $2 million bonus on that date.
Dreger reported earlier this month that Lecavalier was in play in the trade market, though he has a no-move clause in his contract.
The only way I see him moving is if the Flyers pick-up some of his salary...
from Bob Smizik of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Johnston’s greatest challenge will not be installing a system that will best utilize the Penguins’ superior offensive talent. No, what he needs to do is find out what’s wrong with Sidney Crosby and fix it.
Beat reporter Rob Rossi, appearing on “The David Todd Show” on 970 ESPN Wednesday, talked at some length about the absence of joy in Crosby.
Crosby moped through the postseason and produced a horrible performance. He never looked like the Crosby of old. Tuesday night, he received three prestigious awards, including the NHL MVP, and instead of being in a celebratory mood, he looked like, as Rossi put it, ''someone had just punched him in the stomach.’’
It’s possible the Penguins‘ plans to rejuvenate Crosby go beyond Johnston. Rick Tocchet was named an assistant coach to Johnston Wednesday. He was hired by the team, not Johnston. In an article about the hirings, Scott Burnside of ESPN.com wrote, ''If guys don’t want to play hard for Tocchet, they don’t want to play hard.’’
He also pointed out that Tocchet has a close relationship with Mario Lemieux. The two are former teammates. Maybe Lemieux thinks Tocchet can fix what ails Crosby.
Of course, Crosby, a famous self-starter, might rejuvenate himself in the offseason.
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
"We're going to be active in the free-agent market to see if we can improve our forward group," Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said Wednesday
The Blues have been linked to potential trade rumors with Ottawa center Jason Spezza and Vancouver center Ryan Kesler and free-agency rumors with Colorado center Paul Stastny, among others.
"I think this is just the time of year where names are circulated and they're not circulated by the teams, they're circulated by social media," Armstrong said. "I feel bad for the players, quite honestly, at this time of the year. There's very little fire behind a lot of smoke with some of these names that you hear."
That being said, Armstrong has never shied away from bold moves. He has traded some big names during his tenure here, including former first overall pick Erik Johnson.
A year ago he shipped out starting goalie Jaroslav Halak and forward Chris Stewart for veteran goalie Ryan Miller. That one didn't work out and Miller is back on the free-agent market, but Armstrong can't be accused of not trying.
Armstrong has also dealt former first-round picks David Perron, David Rundblad and Lars Eller with the Blues still searching for that elusive Stanley Cup championship.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
- What will happen to Vincent Lecavalier, whom Hextall inherited and who would like out after seeing his role diminished (along with his play) under Craig Berube? Braydon Coburn's name has regularly come up in potential trade talk. Could there possibly be a deal in the works to move up and nab the No. 1 pick and tab Ekblad as the man to finally fill the void left by Chris Pronger's untimely departure due to injury? Stay tuned.
- Speaking of trades, here's a list of players whom we'll be keeping an eye on as potentially headed to new destinations by the end of the draft (and this doesn't include potential unrestricted free agents whose rights could be moved ahead of the July 1 free-agency period): Kesler, Spezza, Joe Thornton, James Neal, Dion Phaneuf, Keith Yandle, Brandon Sutter (if the Penguins go after Kesler), Patrik Berglund and Sam Gagner....
- Remember when new Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish promised he wasn't afraid to make significant changes to get the floundering Oilers over the hump? Come on, think hard. Yes, it does seem like a long time ago and persistent losing does have an impact on memory, but he did say it. At some point you've got to figure it'll happen and maybe it'll start at this draft....
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