Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Martin Brodeur is stepping away from the crease and joining the St. Louis Blues front office, Sportsnet has learned.
The NHL’s all-time winningest goalie made the decision after taking a break from the NHL team to ponder his future. Two sources confirmed that Brodeur took the Blues up on the offer of an executive role.
added 1:35pm, via Rich Chere tweets,
Lou Lamoriello says Martin Brodeur will be back with Devils but will finish this season in Blues' front office.
Lamoriello: "He could've come here if he wanted."
"...to stay. I certainly understand. Marty and I have been in constant contact."
from Travis Yost of TSN,
If there’s an individual skill that really remains underutilized by analysts and fans right now, it’s the ability of a player to draw penalties for his respective team. While the vast majority of a hockey game is played at even-strength, there is still a swath of goals scored on special teams. Getting your team into that position, of course, has value.
Most importantly, drawing penalties has been identified as something of a repeatable talent, meaning that players who exhibit ability to consistently draw penalties will likely continue to do so. Broad Street Hockey investigated this in great detail in 2013, and concluded that drawing penalties is a “real talent that a player possesses”.
The one caveat to drawing penalties as it pertains to goal differentials (and, ultimately, adding wins to the standings) is that the inverse is also true – players who take a lot of penalties cost their team valuable goals. So, drawing penalties has value, but it’s only valuable to the extent that the player does not give those penalties back in the form of penalties against.
Let’s try and identify some of the league’s best and worst players on this front.
NHL RETURNS FROM ALL-STAR BREAK
The NHL returns from the All-Star Break with an 11-game slate. A look at the League, division and individual races with 56.7% of the regular season in the books (697 / 1,230 GP):
* Twenty-three teams are within 10 points of a playoff berth. In the Western Conference, four teams are separated by four points for the final Wild Card spot (CGY, LAK, COL, DAL).
* Eleven teams are separated by 10 points in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. In 2013-14, the NHL’s top seven finishers entered the playoffs separated by 10 points.
* In the Eastern Conference, the top five teams are separated by four points. In the Western Conference, the top five teams are separated by eight points.
* The Lightning, Red Wings and Canadiens are separated by three points in the race for the Atlantic Division. The Islanders, Penguins, Rangers and Capitals are separated by six points in the battle for Metropolitan Division supremacy.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- Obviously, the biggest absence was Sidney Crosby’s. There’s a legit injury here, and, as any player will tell you, a five-day break is the best time to get a shot for it.
There’s also Evgeni Malkin’s unavailability, making the captain’s health even more important. But a few of the All-Stars admitted it surprised them, since he came when injured before the 2009 event in Montreal and handles meet-and-greets so well. They suspected it may have had to do with his not being selected as one of the draft captains.
Don’t know if Crosby was upset, or it was someone from the Penguins or his entourage, but it caught the NHL and NHLPA by surprise. They had no idea. Think about it: announcement he won’t be there, followed less than 24 hours later by a detailed explanation of his injury? Didn’t add up to the players.
- I have never seen a player as angry about an All-Star Game performance as Marc-Andre Fleury. He was seething after being lit up for seven goals and getting the Bronx cheer from the Columbus crowd.
Fleury asked both Roberto Luongo and Carey Price about leaving before his period ended, and gritted his teeth during a third-period bench interview. He was a good sport about it, and remember, opponents don’t get booed because they are bad.
- If the NHL does not go to South Korea, one of the rumoured replacement possibilities is putting the World Juniors there as a one-time phenomenon.
The United States is the host, with Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Tampa among interested bidders. While addressing the Professional Hockey Writers Association, USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said the idea had been mentioned informally, but did not seem a likely scenario.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
He still has positive possession numbers but, given how well the Kings fare without him on the ice, Richards is practically being dragged to respectable shot differentials. While in previous seasons he at least faced a reasonable level of competition, Richards has continued his descent this year while facing relatively-soft competition.
There may be an argument to make that a motivated Richards could still be a useful contributor, but his contract is going to make it challenging to find a new opportunity.
After this season, Richards still has five years remaining on his deal, at a cap hit of $5.75-million per season, a big ticket for an underperforming player. The easiest way for the Kings to rid themselves of that contract would have been to use a compliance buyout on Richards last summer, but it's hard to ante up $20-million for a player not to play on your team.
Difficult as it may have been, the decision not to buy out Richards then leaves the Kings in a tight spot now. They don't get much cap relief ($925,000) by putting him in the AHL, and while that has value to a team jammed against the salary cap, it doesn't clear the decks in the way that it would have under the previous collective bargaining agreement, when Wade Redden, among others, got buried in the AHL with a big NHL salary.
The hope for the Kings has to be to find a trade for Richards, but that's going to require some creativity. It may require eating up to half of Richards' salary, taking on a bad contract from another team, or both.
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Meet Andy Barroway: the 49-year-old hedge-fund manager and lifelong Philadelphian who is now a member of one of the most elite clubs on the planet.
He is not a hockey purist. He didn't grow up playing the game. He has no connection to Arizona. When he visits the Valley of the Sun, he stays in a hotel, because he has not yet had a chance to scout out a secondary residence....
"What a thrill," Barroway said. "I've wanted this since I was a kid. It's a very weird feeling. It's such a tough process to get in [as an owner]. This is something I wanted very badly. I'm a huge sports fan, I'm a huge hockey fan. I love the game, I love the pace of the game. I'm tremendously excited."
The biggest question for this Cherry Hill East, Rutgers undergrad and Penn Law School grad is: Why the Coyotes? They are buried in the brutal Western Conference. They play in the desert in a beautiful arena situated far from their core fan base in Scottsdale. They were operated and funded by the NHL from 2009-13 after previous owner Jerry Moyes was stripped of his ownership in bankruptcy. They have won two Stanley Cup playoff series since moving to Arizona in 1996.
The short answer for Barroway is that they were the next team on the market.
“They are the only ones in the Eastern Conference not in a playoff spot that have a chance. Toronto is toast, Ottawa isn’t getting back into it. Florida has the best shot, although I don’t think they should be aiming for Boston.
“The Bruins will be top three in the division soon I think. But maybe Detroit or Washington starts to slip. That would help the Panthers.’’
-Pierre LeBrun of ESPN/TSN on the Florida Panthers chances of making the playoffs. More on the Panthers from George Richards of the Miami Herald.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
“We have 37 games to go,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We have to win 25 of them to give ourselves a chance. That puts us in the mid-90s (in points).
“It’s not going to be easy, we know that. But we’ve done it before.”
The Blue Jackets have ended the past two seasons on stunning runs, barely missing the playoffs in 2013 and finishing as the No. 7 seed last season.
They recently tore through December with a 10-1-1 record.
“It’s in us,” right wing Jared Boll said. “We’ve shown we can do it.
“We’re not happy where we’re at. And it doesn’t look good, if you do the math. But we know it’s possible. It’s just important for every guy in this room to do more, to play better. We have to bring it every night.”
There are two huge hurdles in front of the Blue Jackets.
They are a whopping 14 points behind eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference, an almost insurmountable deficit even though they played three fewer games than the Bruins.
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
“This isn’t a one-year investment. It’s long term with (Jonathan),” Cooper said. “It’s a different game than what he came from in junior. But he’s gotten better and better and better. It’s clear when you watch the games now. There’s more command of the puck. He doesn’t rush plays anymore. He knows he has a little more time.”
“The comfort level is way higher,” Drouin said. “Just confidence-wise, system-wise, I think I’m playing a little bit better.”
“It’s definitely not easy,” Stamkos said. “You’re that go-to guy in junior and you come in here and you’re not necessarily given anything right away. It’s tough to put up the same kind of numbers and have the same kind of expectations.”
On to the second half of Drouin’s first NHL season. He has shown star flashes, that stick work, a move or two that faked defenders out of their skates, some pretty assists to set up goals. There are moments with Drouin when we wonder “How’d he do that?” There are more moments when we ask when he’s going to do more.
Did you remember that Jonathan Drouin doesn’t turn 20 until March?
Everyone wants things to happen right away.
Life doesn’t usually work that way. No matter how fast you skate.
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.
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