Kukla's Korner

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Barry Trotz On The Washington Capitals

from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,

“I think we want some veteran guys back there to stabilize things and allow some of the younger guys to develop so you put them in the right hole,” Trotz said. “I think a right- and left-handed shot, if you know of anybody. There’s a couple D-men that we’re actually targeting that probably so are 20 other teams. Teams are smart. They lock up their core for a long period of time. The windows of those guys have changed.”

One month into the Washington gig, Trotz has finished reviewing film of the roster and seemed bullish on the young Capitals defensemen rising through the organization, such as Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey and Connor Carrick. He also talked about being stronger around the net, leveraging position to “tie up people” when pucks are batted about. But those are matters best handled during the preseason, and Trotz knows the Capitals need to act now.

“The great thing about Washington is they have lots of assets in terms of forwards, some teams might be looking for scoring, we can do something there,” he said. “That’s really up to Mac. I think the first phase of making our team better is, I thought Mac did a good job of getting the staff in place right before the draft here. That free agency period to getting to talk to people and what have you, you’re going to talk to a free agent, he knows what the staff is. I think that’s really important.”

more

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  Tags: barry+trotz

NHL Short Notes

NOTES FROM 2014 NHL DRAFT
A total of 210 players from 12 countries were selected at the 2014 NHL Draft, which concluded on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
 
* Picks by round
 
* Picks by team
 
* Picks by birthplace
 
* Picks by amateur league

Continue Reading »

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Buffalo Sabres Begin Buyout Process On Christian Ehrhoff

vai TSN,

The Sabres appear to be readying Christian Ehrhoff's exit from Buffalo.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said Sunday that the Sabres have initiated compliance buyout procedures on the German defender.

He added that the buyout has not yet become official just yet but that the team has begun the process.

Ehrhoff scored six goals and added 27 assists in 79 games with the Sabres in 2013-14.

The 31-year-old has seven years remaining on a 10-year deal he signed with the Sabres prior to the 2011-12 season worth an average annual value of $4 million.

 

added 11:14am,

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: christian+ehrhoff

Rick Tocchet Is Behind The Penguins’ Bench, Like It Or Not

from John Mehno at the Times Online,

Tocchet's inclusion on the staff was apparently mandated by ownership, part of the organization's stated goal to increase its level of grit after five years of playoff disappointment. Tocchet's hiring appeared to be non-negotiable, and it reportedly became a deal breaker for at least one potential coaching candidate.///

But it's an awkward fit, especially with a rookie head coach who doesn't have the name or NHL history that Tocchet does. Tocchet is close to Mario Lemieux. He watched playoff games from the owner's box this spring. Isn't it disconcerting to know your assistant plays golf with your boss?

What if the players take Tocchet's message more than Johnston's? Pascal Dupuis did an interview on 93.7 The Fan and said his reaction to the hiring was to do a Google search on Johnston. He'd obviously never heard of him. There isn't a player in the locker room who doesn't know who Tocchet is.

What happens if the players look past Johnston to hear what Tocchet has to say? If Tocchet becomes their go-to guy, doesn't Johnston then become an empty suit, a head coach in name only? The situation has the potential to be uncomfortable.

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  Tags: rick+tocchet

Pressure On Jim Rutherford

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

Rutherford oversaw the move of the Hurricanes from Hartford, Conn., where they were the Whalers, to Carolina. He built teams that made the Stanley Cup finals in 2002 and won the cup in 2006. He is generally respected for his trade acumen and people skills.

Yet he has never known media scrutiny like he will encounter in Pittsburgh, a two-newspaper town with hard-core sports-talk radio shows and rabid hockey fans who accept nothing less than titles. Further, he is 65 years old and out of his comfort zone. There are whispers that he has lost his fastball.

Rutherford smiles at that sort of talk. He says he is energized by the challenge ahead of him. He also might — might — be motivated to prove himself outside the umbrella of Carolina owner Pete Karmanos, for whom he worked for 30 years. Rutherford took Karmanos’ kid, Jason, with him to Pittsburgh as the Penguins’ vice president of hockey operations.

There’s another old-boy GM, Glen Sather, running the New York Rangers, who have salary-cap problems of their own and will be dumping contracts in the coming days. By the time the dust settles, the best team in the New York area might be located in Uniondale, where the Islanders reside.

All of this is fascinating viewing in other Metro Division cities, particularly Columbus, which has hot new rivals and designs on greater glory.

more on Rutherford...

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Morning Line

Eight teams have won a conference semifinal series the last three seasons. Sixteen teams have won at least one game in the second round during that span. The Blues are the most glaring absence from both classes. The franchise has endured 12 years since winning a game in the conference semis.

My gut tells me Armstong will make something happen this summer, maybe this week. The need for scoring and a deeper edge are too obvious. If my gut is wrong, a lot of folks will share the reflux.

-Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where you can read more on the Blues.

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2014 NHL Draft Class Recap

The newest crop of NHL talent and stars have found the teams to start future.  Not all will play in the NHL and not all will stay with their drafted team but right now the future is bright for those 210 players that heard their names called over the last two days at the Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia played a wonderful host to the event, even the spirited fans in the arena (especially during the first round). This proud historic American town saw 77 Canadians and 67 Americans get selected representing North American hockey. Sweden (27), Russia (13), Finland (9), Czech Republic (8), Latvia (2), Switzerland (2), United Kingdom (2), Denmark (1), Germany (1) and Slovakia (1) round out the countries represented by the 2014 draft picks.

Continue Reading »

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The Culture Change Begins In Pittsburgh

from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

It's easy to say good riddance to James Neal. He badly underachieved for the Penguins in the postseason. He is a hot head who often took retaliatory penalties that put his teammates in bad spots. He is a dirty player who occasionally tried to hurt people and was suspended three times, including last season for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head and in the 2012 playoffs for charging Philadelphia's Claude Giroux. He wasn't especially popular in the team room because of his arrogance and surly personality....

It's a shame Neal didn't do more here in the postseason. It would have made it a lot easier to overlook his character flaws. But he hardly was alone among the Penguins in wilting under the bright lights. He had two goals in 13 playoff games this spring, one more than Crosby. He didn't get a point in the four-game sweep by Boston in the 2013 Eastern Conference final, same as Crosby. He had 11 goals and 11 assists in 38 postseason games for the Penguins, meager production for a player with his skills. There aren't five players in the NHL with a quicker release or better shot. Neal scored 40 goals in 2011-12, playing with Malkin, and had 27 last season despite missing 23 games because of injury or suspension. He should get 40 goals again -- perhaps a few times -- before his career is done.

By trading Neal, Penguins new general manager Jim Rutherford believes he successfully took the first step toward changing the culture of the team room. He talked repeatedly of the character and grit that Hornqvist and Spaling bring and said they will make the club tougher and better prepared for the playoffs.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: james+neal

Doing Jumping Jacks In Australia

from Brad Walter of the Sydney Morning Herald,

Nathan Walker and his parents Wayne and Ceri were doing ''jumping jacks'' around their Grays Point home at 1.30am on Sunday after the 20-year-old became the first Australian selected in the NHL draft.

Walker and his parents were watching the NHL draft online from Philadelphia when the Washington Capitals chose him at No.89 after trading their two fourth-round choices with the New York Rangers for the  penultimate pick in the third round. After attending development and training camps with the Capitals during the past two northern summers, Walker was well known to Washington officials and they were concerned he had attracted the interest of other franchises while playing last season for Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League.

''I am just speechless,'' Walker said. ''I was watching a feed with my parents and a cousin, and they just announced my name at about 1.30am. It was unbelievable. We were doing jumping jacks around the lounge room. The Capitals called me last night and just said they wanted to congratulate me.''

Once the announcement was made, the phone didn't stop ringing as friends and family called to congratulate Walker on the fulfilment of a dream that began when he watched the film The Mighty Ducks and involved him moving to the Czech Republic at 13 years of age to play ice hockey.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nathan+walker

Power Forwards Like Scott Hartnell Hard To Come By

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

The move will make the Flyers worse in 2014-15. The 32-year-old Hartnell, once the top-line running mate for Claude Giroux, could fill the same role for franchise center Ryan Johansen. If ex-Bruin Nathan Horton gets healthy, the three strongmen could join forces to create a mammoth No. 1 line for the Blue Jackets.

“I think he plays exactly the way we want the Blue Jackets to play,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a news conference following the trade. “He’s hard to play against. When you talk about him as an opponent — you talk to a lot of different sources around the league, people that I know and people he’s been associated with — they all say the same thing: You hate to play against him, but you’d love to have him on your team. That’s the way we feel about him. He was a tough opponent. Somebody you always noticed and somebody you hated from the press box, but you always thought you’d like to have him on your team.”

When power forwards such as Hartnell are in their groove, they are game-changers. They strike fear in defensemen who panic about black eyes and broken noses when they retreat for a puck. Their brawn allows their team to cycle the puck low, tire opponents, and rack up scoring chances. They make their linemates braver.

There is a reason Milan Lucic scored a $6 million annual payday when his previous contract expired. It’s the same reason Horton, Lucic’s former partner in crime, landed a seven-year, $37.1 million blockbuster last summer. And it’s the same reason David Clarkson swiped a seven-year, $36.75 million bonanza from the Maple Leafs.

It’s a case of supply and demand. There are very few players who can skate, score, hit, and fight. There are even fewer who can fulfill those tasks as the odometer reaches higher numbers.

read on plus other hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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