Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It was Christmas in July for Derek Stepan but a lump of coal in Jeff Gorton’s stocking, this gift of Buffalo’s seven-year, $52 million ($7.5 million per) extension to Ryan O’Reilly that kicks in next season and will keep on giving headaches to the Rangers and their newly installed general manager.
In a flash, Friday’s agreement between the needy Sabres and the 24-year-old center they obtained from Colorado last weekend blows to smithereens any hope the Blueshirts had of signing the 25-year-old Group II free agent center Stepan to a long-term deal in the range of $6.2 million to $6.5 million per.
It likely means Stepan, whose numbers are superior to O’Reilly’s in every meaningful category other than faceoff efficiency, not only will file for salary arbitration by Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but could be in line for a two-year award taking him to unrestricted free agency worth well over $7 million per.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has re-signed goaltender Devan Dubnyk (pronounced DOOB-nihk) to a six-year contract through the 2020-21 season.
Dubnyk, 29, went 36-14-4 in 58 games during the 2014-15 season and ranked second in the NHL with both a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA) and .929 save percentage (SV%), T-4th with six shutouts and T-6th in wins. He won the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team, and finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting and fourth in the Hart Trophy voting. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound native of Regina, Sask., set single-season career highs in GAA, SV%, games played, consecutive starts (39), wins, shutouts, minutes, assists (2), shots faced (1,625) and saves (1,510).
from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News,
What does clearly set the Rangers back, however, is what happened elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division these past couple weeks, primarily in Washington and Columbus:
As the Rangers failed even to maintain the status quo, many of their closest rivals improved or — at the bare minimum — had the cap space and wherewithal to take their best run at doing so.
There may be significant skepticism about how much the Capitals upgraded by trading right wing Troy Brouwer in Thursday’s deal for St. Louis Blues right wing and USA Olympic shootout phenom T.J. Oshie, 28. Yet there is a question to pose to the doubters: How long can a team continue trotting out the same core of players, year after year, and always come up short before changing something up front?
Washington revamped its blue line last summer with the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Goaltender Braden Holtby had by far his best season as a pro. Alex Ovechkin didn’t win the MVP award, but he played like one. And now GM Brian MacLellan has added the skilled Oshie (115 points the past two seasons) as well as “Mr. Game 7,” former L.A. Kings Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams, 33, on the right side.
You know who needed a player exactly like Williams? The Rangers. Too bad a two-year, $6.5 million deal shoved them out of any consideration, since they’re so tight against the salary cap.
more on the Metropolitan Division plus other hockey topics...
from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,
"We now have the depth that we need," Poile said.
Jackman's veteran presence, which cost $4 million over two years, will balance what many believe is the NHL's strongest defense, led by do-it-all tandem Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Behind them stands Pekka Rinne, who reestablished himself last season as one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.
Nashville's top-six forward group will be anchored by centers Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, "two 35-year-old centers that we've eventually got to replace, whether that's in two years (or) three years," according to Poile.
In the mean time, they should be joined by Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, all of whom scored at least 20 goals last season. The last two remain unsigned as restricted free agents, but the expectation is that both will return on longer-term contracts.
Coincidentally, the Predators offered Hodgson the same one-year, $1.05 million contract that they gave Ribeiro last July after the Coyotes bought out his contract. The hope is that it will have the same effect on Hodgson, a former 20-goal scorer who will likely start as Nashville's third-line center, as it did on Ribeiro.
Rookies Steve Moses, whose 36 goals set a single-season KHL record, and Kevin Fiala are also intriguing options for coach Peter Laviolette to consider.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
October marks a fresh start for the Sabres. No team - not the Oilers, Coyotes, Hurricanes or Maple Leafs - lost as many games (120) as Buffalo over the last two seasons. They lost 102 of those games in regulation alone, back-to-back 51-loss campaigns.
With such sweeping moves, are the Sabres now a playoff team?
“You’re never going to get me to say that,” Murray responded. “If we go to the Conference Finals in two years and you ask me (then) if we’re going to make the playoffs the next year, I’m not going to say that.”
The turnaround would be historic - but not necessarily unprecedented.
The last team to go from 30th place to the playoffs the following season was the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers. They, too, lost out on the draft lottery - ending up with James van Riemsdyk instead of Patrick Kane in 2007.
With oodles of cap space, the Flyers brought in Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in free agency. They traded for Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith. Braydon Coburn was added late in the miserable 2006-07 season.
It was funny Murray mentioned the Conference Finals off the cuff, since the Flyers improved from 56 points to 95 the next season, then knocked off the Capitals and Canadiens before falling to the Penguins in the penultimate series.
The 39-point swing is one of the largest year-to-year bumps in NHL history. Amazingly, the Flyers somehow survived a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) in February that year.
from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
In yet another move that strongly suggests that the Sharks are back in win-now mode, veteran right wing Joel Ward was signed on Friday to a three-year contract with San Jose.
On the day before July 4, Ward is taking off his red, white and blue to put on teal, leaving the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent. It became evident that Ward would be looking for a new home after Washington added T.J. Oshie via trade with St. Louis, and signed Justin Williams away from Los Angeles earlier this week.
Ward sounded excited to be coming to a club that he still believes can compete for a Stanley Cup.
“The names on the roster speak for themselves. It made the decision pretty easy,” Ward said on a conference call Friday. “I want to win, and give [myself] a chance to hoist the Cup. I thought that was a place that with the roster, I could come in here and fit and try to achieve that goal.”
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
I have no problem with the Blues’ decision to trade forward T.J. Oshie to Washington for power forward Troy Brouwer plus a goaltending prospect and a third-round draft pick.
I never really understood Oshie’s elevated status here, and the star treatment that came with it. Not that this was all Oshie’s doing, but he personified the Blues’ celebrity culture, and the attitude of self-entitlement that permeated the locker room at times.
Oshie wasn’t the most disciplined player early in his Blues years. He matured off the ice but never reached his full potential as a player. The overrated Oshie had one 20-goal season here, missed nearly 20 percent of the Blues’ games over his seven seasons, never evolved into a leader, and fell into the shadows with teammates who vanished under extreme postseason pressure.
Though he dismissively plays it off now, Oshie criticized coach Ken Hitchcock late last season. This took some gall; I’ll give Oshie that. No one is saying that it’s easy to play for Hitchcock, but he did coach Dallas to a Stanley Cup and ranks fourth in NHL history for most career victories.
What has Oshie won?
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
... after I read Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom’s piece entitled, “It’s my theory on the Blackhawks trading Brandon Saad, and I’m sticking to it.”
I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman consigned the young, talented, money-hunting winger to one of the NHL’s maximum security prisons.
Rosenbloom’s subject is the blockbuster trade consummated on Tuesday, when the Blackhawks swapped Saad — a 22-year-old burgeoning star — and two prospects to the Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round draft pick.
Again, I could be wrong, but Bowman not only changed on the fly when Saad’s side reportedly demanded $6 million a year, but he also seemed to send a message to other players who want to take a hard stance in negotiations. You can collect your jackpot in hockey’s hinterlands.
Such moves aren’t new in the NHL — all sports, actually. Teams have tried to punish players this way for years.
It’s why Buffalo, Winnipeg and Edmonton have existed in the NHL. It’s why Oakland and Jacksonville exist in the NFL. It’s why Sacramento and Philadelphia exist in the NBA. It’s why Cleveland exists, period....
... I was unaware that Chicagoans could be so arrogant.
Rosenbloom is punching down — which can be done, if one so chooses — from the City of Broad Shoulders. I love Columbus, where I have been content to raise a family. So, punch me. It has nothing to do with anything.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The Maple Leafs insist Leo Komarov has “co-operated” with Finnish authorities regarding criminal charges stemming from a “sensationalized” 2014 traffic accident.
Komarov, who rejoined the Leafs last season on a four-year deal, is facing four total counts brought by the city of Espoo’s District Court. Finnish media outlets say the 28-year-old was accused of causing a “traffic hazard” and of “falsifying information to police” about personal income related to undisclosed fines for the incident.
The Helsinki Times reported the Leafs forward could face up to six months in jail for his alleged part in the accident and an additional three months if he wasn’t truthful to investigators. A trial date has been set for August.
“We are aware of the circumstances surrounding Leo’s traffic violation,” Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said in a statement on Friday. “Reports overseas have been sensationalized due to Leo’s celebrity status, but he has co-operated with the authorities and we are confident this matter will be resolved soon.”
continued plus more Leafs talk...
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
At the same time, on Oilers Now, The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson said he didn’t think Franson would be a good fit for the Oilers as Franson had played poorly for Nashhville after being traded there by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Broadcaster Bob Stauffer of the Oilers said on his Oilers Now show that he doubted that the Oilers would or should go after a top free agent, though he said if the team could shed some salary it might well target Andrej Sekera. Stauffer’s speculation once against turned into the fact of the matter, which makes some sense given that Stauffer is obsessive in tracking down the facts and also works for the Oilers, making him not just a hockey insider, but an NHL employee.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun speculated on Stauffer’s show that Franson would sign with his old team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle tweeted this would not happen, but the rumour resurfaced on free agency day.
On the morning of July 1, ESPN’s highly-connected Pierre LeBrun reported that the Oilers were indeed interested in Franson, along with Mike Green and Sekera.
Since then there’s been pretty much crickets on Franson.
While top UFA d-men like Sekera signed with Edmonton, Paul Martin with San Jose and Mike Green with Detroit, there’s been little smoke on the Franson front, let along any kind of fire. The same goes with free agent d-men Johnny Oduya and Christian Ehrhoff.
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe still sees a market for Franson: “Age 28 (soon), 6-foot-5…I still bet he comes very close to $6.5,” he said Friday on Twitter.
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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