Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Just what the Flyers need: another $5 million center whose best years are behind him and who turns 30 in August.
This figures to be a very challenging summer for newly-installed general manager Ron Hextall, who has about $6.5 million in salary cap space and is desperately seeking to fill one, if not two, spots on defense, while having to re-sign a half-dozen or so players, including Emery, the backup to goalie Steve Mason.
The Kesler deal, which was wildly speculated without substantiation during the trade deadline, made no sense in March and makes even less sense right now.
Yeah, Bob Clarke tendered Kesler an offer sheet for $1.9 million back in 2006. Vancouver matched. Been there, done that.
We’ve already seen the mess the Flyers got themselves into last July by diving foolishly into free agency to sign center Vinny Lecavalier when the position they absolutely need to upgrade was wing.
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 Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
If Canucks general manager Jim Benning likes the core of this team as much as he claims to, it would appear there should now be a clear frontrunner for the club’s vacant head coaching job.
That would be Dan Bylsma, the recently deposed coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won a Stanley Cup in 2009 after he took over from Michel Therrien in the middle of the season; a man who is said to be a clone of Alain Vigneault. He’s also a man who was none too thrilled to be kept hanging around as long as he was by the Pens, only to be dumped on Friday, but there was nothing he could do about it.
But we digress. Who better to follow AV here in Vancouver than the same guy who had great success following his body double, Therrien, in Pittsburgh — the one thorny year of John Tortorella perhaps the only thorny issue spoiling what could be the perfect succession plan.
Since that wonderful first year in Pittsburgh, obviously things haven’t gone as well for Bylsma, but there is a pretty good explanation for just about every failing the team had under his watch.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Spring and summer can seem like forever for the players and management of teams that don’t make the playoffs in the NHL, but the clock is ticking on the Vancouver Canucks.
It’s getting down to cases for them, as the next five short weeks will define the team they’ll ice next season.
There are a ton of decisions to be made, and if you really want to be effective, there’s no time to put them off. For instance, if you want to keep Ryan Kesler — as some signals from Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have indicated — then when they meet this week, they must give him some indication of whom the head coach will be.
There’s no way he’s committing to withdrawing the trade request he’s still denying making if he doesn’t know who the coach is going to be after his head-butting with the last two. And if after said meeting you want to trade him, the best time is just before the draft. Any suggestion you’ll make a better deal later in the summer is an exercise in self-delusion. By the time September rolls around, everyone likes the look of their own young players, no matter how lame they may be. It’s a time when optimism reigns, leading every team to overvalue its assets.
If landing a high-profile free agent to play with Kesler is part of the discussion and is to be acted upon, it’s likely to come in the first few days, maybe even the first few hours after July 1. That means preparation.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
... it comes as little surprise that the Canucks new general manager, Jim Benning, is open to making an upgrade between the posts.
“We’re going to look at every avenue we have to make our team competitive. Vancouver is a big-market city, we’ve got a passionate fan base, [and] our owners want to win,” Benning told Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Brady & Walker when asked directly about signing a free-agent goaltender. “I know they have a lot of confidence in Eddie Lack. For a first-year goalie last year, he had a good season, and we hope that he can take it to the next step this year.”...
Should the first-time GM decide to give fans a “We’re going for it!” signal, some compelling proven goalies will be available on the open market come July 1.
Ryan Miller, whom Benning scouted and drafted to the Buffalo Sabres, will not be re-signing with the St. Louis Blues. Jonas Hiller believes he has played his last game in an Anaheim Ducks uniform. And veteran wild cards Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas (imagine!) are out there as well.
Toss in a handful of UFA goaltenders whose best years could still be ahead of them — Alex Stalock, Carter Hutton, Justin Peters, Thomas Greiss — and backups/mentors like Martin Brodeur and Ray Emery, and Benning has some interesting routes he could choose to pursue.
more plus the latest on Ryan Kesler...
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Jim Benning has been part of plenty of these days, when a new general manager gets announced and everyone in the organization immediately gets nervous for their jobs. So he would not promise front-office changes on his first day as general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, because he knows how that would play. He purposely avoided the image of a guy looking to remake an entire organization in his own image.
In fact, Benning promised very little except for this: “We’re going to be about hard work … to get this thing going back in the right direction.”
There was a lot more “us” and “we” on Friday than there was “me” or “I.” The son of a fireman and a nurse, raised in the blue-collar north end of Edmonton, you could likely Google-image “meat-and-potatoes guy” and get a picture of Benning, side part and all.
Two live streams from the Canucks today, first, starting at 2:15pm ET, season ticket holders are doing a Q & A with Trevor Linden and Jim Benning.
Then, the press conference introducing Jim Benning as the new GM of the Vancouver Canucks is scheduled to start at 3:00pm ET.
Watch them below...
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
“I would say he was careful with his words,” Benning’s younger brother, Brian, said Wednesday from home in Edmonton. “I was a little more talkative. But it’s time to step out and lead, right? He’ll have no problems doing that.
“Go back the last three years and he has had numerous interviews (to be a general manager). He was going to wait until the time was right. I played in the U.S. and live in Edmonton now, and I recognize the significance of hockey in Canada. I’m glad he’s going to a great hockey town. I think it’s a great opportunity. The thing we’re most proud of is he has put the time in. He knows the draft, knows the importance of it. He knows everybody.”
Canuck president of hockey operations Trevor Linden said when he started six weeks ago that a paramount trait of his general manager would be a proven ability to evaluate players and identify talent. No wonder Benning’s name was mentioned from the beginning as the top candidate in Vancouver.
He is a scouting rink rat, a guy so addicted to assessing and projecting players that even in management Benning continued to attend many junior and college games.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Here are the Bruin ingredients, with some fun chipped in.
You need a freaky, huge, gifted and intelligent monster of a defenceman like Zdeno Chara, who intimidates most attackers and downright terrifies almost all Euro forwards. Stanley and Livingstone may have to be hired as scouts to find that guy.
Then you need a mobile, surly yet gifted monster like Milan Lucic who will combine with Chara and the likes of Shawn Thornton (who can be found anywhere) to give your team that personality of the bully. It empowers every player on your team to play tougher. Guys like Lucic are extremely difficult to find, but we suppose it’s possible.
Then it would help if you are able to get your owner elected chairman of the Board of Governors and perhaps even get him on the committee which determines the compensation of the commissioner.
Then it might, repeat might, be helpful if you can have a player on your team whose father is way up the ladder in the decision-making process of the league. And then you need to recognize as a team that the officials can only call so many penalties against one team on most nights, and given the way you play you’re going to need outstanding goaltending and an excellent penalty kill.
Then you are going to play tough, take those first two, maybe even three calls, but then once that happens, you’ll be able to walk around punching people in the face or sticking them any time you feel like it and nothing will be called, at least until you get a couple of power-play chances of your own.
That’s how the Bruins are perceived out here, at least. Can you pull that off, Trev?
from Mark Whicker of the OC Register at the Los Angeles Register,
The Ducks need a second-line center who wins faceoffs, kills penalties, makes a difference on the power play, and plays in an anti-social manner.
Ryan Kesler won 52.6 percent of his faceoffs last year, scored nine of his 25 goals on the power play, played 21:48 per game as a center, and continued to win enemies throughout the NHL.
The Ducks have two first-round choices in the upcoming draft, at No. 10 and No. 24, and got 11 playoff goals from rookies or players under 23 years old.
The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and their farm system is ranked 27th in the 30-team NHL by the website Hockey’s Future, for whatever that’s worth.
If there was a HockeyMingle.com website, this would be a 100 percent match.
In fact, the Ducks reportedly offered both first-round picks and two young players to Vancouver for Kesler, at the trade deadline.
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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