Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Cristina Ledra of The Sporting News,
Jim Nill and Ken Holland sat at the Detroit Red Wings table at the 2011 NHL Draft in Minneapolis and couldn’t believe what was coming from the nearby Tampa Bay Lightning camp and their protégé Steve Yzerman.
“Kenny and I were kind of sitting back-to-back to him and they were doing their picks and I think that year — and they were the right picks — he picked a bunch of Russians,” Nill said. “We kinda looked at him and said, ‘Stevie’s picking all these Russians.’ And that wasn’t his style all the time and here he was.”
Imagine that: The brain trust that put together something as unique and remarkable as the Russian Five, Yzerman’s former teammates in Detroit, was now nonplussed that the Lightning’s new general manager was gathering his own collection of Russians 20 years later when, similarly, teams just weren’t drafting players from that country.
This wouldn’t be the last time Yzerman borrowed from the Red Wings’ — and Holland’s — model, one that has produced a North American professional sports record 24 consecutive playoff appearances, four Stanley Cup championships and featured scores of Hockey Hall of Fame members.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Cody Franson netted more points (36) last season than Beleskey (32) and he’s a big, in-demand, right-shooting defenceman still looking for a job.
The Maple Leafs landed a first-round pick for Franson from the Predators in a February trade. That his numbers and minutes dropped off in Nashville is less indicative of his play and more about the overall depth of the Predators’ defence corps. He is still in the prime of his career and can instantly be plugged into almost any team’s top two pairings.
Then there’s Johnny Oduya, 33, who steadied the Blackhawks on two Stanley Cup runs in the last three seasons. Christian Ehrhoff, 32, struggled to stay on the ice last season in Pittsburgh but is still a capable of eating 20 minutes per night.
Then there is the third tier of defencemen, where a possible value buy like Jan Hejda is available. Hejda just turned 37, but he has only 627 games of wear on his tires.
Up front, former Hart Trophy winner Marty St. Louis is still waiting for the right fit. That may or may not come - with him hoping to stay close to his family in Connecticut. St. Louis, 40, posted 52 points in 74 games last season.
Chris Stewart, Eric Fehr, Jiri Tlusty and Joel Ward all drew significant interest on Wednesday, but weren’t able to settle on any terms.
from the CP at CTVNews,
Free agency day didn't have the wild money tossed around like usual, and trades overshadowed most of the signings. Yet there are still some clear winners and losers from July 1.
With the weakest free-agent pool in recent history, NHL general managers kept themselves from overpaying. No contract was longer than six years, Andrej Sekera's US$33 million with the Oilers was the most money and Mike Green's $6 million with the Red Wings the highest cap hit.
The Battle of Alberta
Edmonton continued its makeover by improving the blue line with Sekera, so the Calgary Flames brought back goaltender Karri Ramo at a reasonable $3.8 million and signed sought-after "utility tool" forward Michael Frolik. The next few seasons of this rivalry should be fun.
Traded to the Penguins, Kessel doesn't have to be in the spotlight on a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. At a cap hit of $6.8 million, Kessel just has to score 30 -- or more -- goals and go about his business in Pittsburgh.
By Mike Shackil,
Last week, the NHL released their full schedule for the 2015-16 season and tickets were placed on the secondary market almost immediately. With fluctuating ticket inventory at this point, prices are constantly moving, but it is still not too early for hockey fans to think about some of the premier matchups that are teed up.
With secondary market ticketing information provided by TicketNetwork.com, below are some of the highest-priced games of the season in terms of average ticket price and their get-in price. It’s worth noting that the get-in prices in this early stage are more accurate projections of what the final prices will be.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Carolina owner Peter Karmanos offered a blistering critique of the way the Penguins do business during a meeting with Raleigh-area media Wednesday.
He took numerous shots – some subtle, some not – at the franchise, with general manager Jim Rutherford the primary target. Rutherford was the Hurricanes’ GM for two decades until he was replaced by former Penguins center Ron Francis in 2014, shortly before Rutherford was hired here.
Among Karmanos’ observations:
On the large contract Rutherford gave to winger Alex Semin, who was bought out this week – “Ultimately, I take responsibility for everything. I do not have to take responsibility for Pittsburgh signing [Phil] Kessel, however. [The Penguins actually traded for Kessel, who has seven years left on his contract.]”
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
In what continues to be the case locally, Blues’ trade talk is overshadowing the scheduled events on the NHL calendar.
Over the weekend, the chatter garnered more attention than the league draft, and on Wednesday, word of the club perhaps being interested in dealing defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk consumed the opening day of free agency.
The Blues have been the subject of much trade conjecture over the past couple of months, but for the most part, it’s been confined to a handful of players: T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Backes to name a few.
Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
For now, with the dust slowly settling on the first day of the signing season, the market is still flush with unrestricted free agents who could make a difference with a new team.
Here is a list of some of the best still available (by position and in alphabetical order):
Note: All salary cap figures are from war-on-ice.com.
SEAN BERGENHEIM, MINNESOTA WILD
Previous cap charge: $2.75 million
Bergenheim had one goal in 17 games and no points in three Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Wild. However, he had 18 points in 39 games with the Florida Panthers before he was traded to Minnesota in February. Bergenheim has 17 points in 26 career postseason games.
BRAD BOYES, FLORIDA PANTHERS
Previous cap charge: $2.625 million
The Panthers bought out the final year of Boyes' contract, making him a free agent. He had 38 points, including 14 goals, in 78 games last season. That was two more points than Boyes had in 2013-14 in the same number of games, but his goal production dipped by seven.
Also, the full list of available players.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Does the newest Penguin and the centerpiece of the convulsive nine-player trade Wednesday with the Maple Leafs come with the kind of carrier-approved baggage that fits easily in the overhead bin or safely under the seat in front of you, metaphorically speaking, or is it of the oversized, overstuffed variety that has been out of his possession and possibly augmented by materials from persons not known to him?
“I don’t have any concerns,” said Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford in a Fifth Avenue bunker hours after he’d acquired the one goal-scorer in the trade market he coveted above all others. “Everybody gets a fresh start in a new place. You always hear stories about different people in different situations, but I feel very comfortable with getting Phil.
“I’ve done a lot of homework on this and I’ve talked to a lot of people. I do believe that getting a fresh start, getting out of Toronto, where he went under the microscope from day one, he was always the guy, the guy that got blamed when things weren’t going well, and he doesn’t have to be the guy here. We have a bunch of them.”
So that’s the working premise for the trade that likely will define Rutherford’s tenure, that the marvelously talented Kessel, a classical NHL blend of speed and snipery, quickly will observe that there’s no smoking on the Penguins bench, and no yawning either, and perhaps discover that a recommitment to conditioning could make his future so much brighter than his recent past.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks are not helping themselves with their mixed messages. They keep talking about getting younger, but continue to acquire players like Prust who are in their 30s, and chase players like 27-year-old Milan Lucic.
It drives a fan base nuts when you do things like that, even though there’s a chance the opening night lineup could include Frankie Corrado, Adam Clendening, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen.
Rather harshly, TSN’s main Free Agent Frenzy broadcast aired an edited string of calls into TEAM 1040 from inflamed listeners who were going to town on Vancouver’s front office. It means next week’s town hall with season-ticket holders has the potential to be a gong show.
But the truth is, it’s going to take more than one year to really see what Benning’s Canucks are going to look like.
He’s freed up some money for next summer and is hoping now to be a player in the high-end of the free agent market.
If Corrado, Baertschi and Virtanen hit this year, and if Benning can lure a quality free agent or two next offseason, things will change.
But right now? Right now, there isn’t a lot of hope. There is still no succession plan for the Sedin twins and this current collection of Canucks do not look like a playoff team. Like, at all.
Then again, many of us said that same thing last summer.
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
At the top of that fat content is Vinny Lecavalier and a contract that pays $4.5 million for each of the next three seasons. Why Hextall did not try to buy him out before this is at the top of the intrigue. But if those trade-deadline deals and the great Pronger escape didn't buy your GM some "In Hexy We Trust" points - well, then, Sam Hinkie has a whole lot more work to do.
Here are two thoughts: There are a group of teams that might need dead contracts to reach the NHL's salary-cap basement of $52.8 million. That's how Pronger became a Paper Coyote, and maybe one reason Kings GM Dean Lombardi was even in conversations about Mike Richards with the GMs of Edmonton and Calgary before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police got in the way.
If there's any light in the dark tunnel, it's that Vinny will cost a team less to play for them next season, while counting against the cap more. Just as Pronger costs Arizona $575,00 in real money but counts as $4.5 million toward getting to the cap-mandated minimum payroll of $51.7 million, Lecavalier's real cost from here on is $2 million less than his cap hit.
Still, $13.5 million over the next three years for a 35-year-old player coming off two subpar seasons?
If Hextall pulls this one off and I'm the Phillies, I have Andy MacPhail call him immediately.
That Umberger is even here is the best evidence that, despite refining his public rebuilding message to include a win-now clause, Hextall's target date is not the upcoming season, but the ones after it. He traded a better player for a worse one in the Scott Hartnell deal for one season of cap relief. That's not a win-now strategy.
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 email@example.com