Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Wilbur of Boston.com,
If this group is still to be considered a playoff team, then should Chiarelli have the freedom to add the pieces he deems fit for an improbable Cup run? And if that’s the case, what level of return might we be talking about?
Are the pipe dreams of landing either T.J. Oshie or Taylor Hall (both linked to the Bruins in one way or another in recent months) little more than laughable scenarios? Will the Bruins simply, finally acquire Buffalo’s Chris Stewart so we can just all shut up about the immortal trade rumor of the season? How soon would it take head coach Claude Julien’s head to explode if Chiarelli re-acquired old friend Jaromir Jagr, and he was forced to play him alongside Ryan Spooner?
This is a big week for the Bruins. Despite a dazzling month of January, played in the wake of owner Charlie Jacobs’ veiled threats, the Bruins are just 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, not exactly the results the team’s hierarchy is looking for with a trip to the playoffs - along with Chiarelli’s and Julien’s jobs - in question.
That’s probably a stretch for Julien, what with a new contract extension in tow, but could be a possibility as far as the general manager is concerned, not for the product that he delivered (or, as some might opine, failed to deliver) this season, but for putting the Bruins in a salary cap situation that has them up against the wall at knifepoint.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Asked about the possibility of adding cap information as part of the NHL's future commitment to big data, Commissioner Gary Bettman told the the Boston media on Tuesday night that the league doesn't sense any demand for it.
“We’re not getting a lot of feedback on [a Capgeek-style site],” Bettman said. “It’s not something that seems to be driving fan interest as much as perhaps the interest of the people [in the media] in this room, and your colleagues.”
Which, of course, is a self-serving load of crap. Let's be honest: Was there really a lot of fan feedback demanding that the league provide shot attempt information? Or was the decision to provide “enhanced stats” motivated by a desire to reclaim ownership of its own data?
Demand has nothing to do with the NHL's position on cap data. Because here's the thing: Fans love this data. We obsess over it. We want to know how the latest call-ups, injuries and trades affect our favorite team's cap situation because that directly impacts our team's ability to make itself better. And our teams getting better matters to us a whole lot.
read on plus more topics...
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Flyers GM Ron Hextall would have gladly moved Braydon Coburn and his $4.5 million salary cap hit next year had the Kings' needs remained. Or Luke Schenn’s $3.6 million hit. Or even Nicklas Grossmann’s $3.5 million hit.
The problem is, all three of those defenseman have a year left on their deals.
When it gets to the NHL Trade Deadline -– March 2 –- teams want rental players who are unrestricted free agents this summer, unless it’s a young player they see as part of their future.
The Flyers have moveable assets, but those assets all have years left on their contracts. That makes Hextall’s job very complicated in moving players at the deadline.
Kimmo Timonen is a pending free agent, but still hasn’t played a game this season because of blood clots. Assuming the soon-to-be 40-year-old suits up for the first time on Saturday against the New York Rangers, it remains debatable whether any club is going to take a chance on him based on what they see in one game.
And forget about moving Vinny Lecavalier, who has three years left on his outrageous deal at $4.5 million a pop. The Flyers have been trying to move the veteran center since summer and still no takers.
McDavid had 4 goals and 2 assists last night, his first hat trick in the OHL.
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
An 8-2-4 run in the past month and the Boston Bruins’ struggles combined to put the Flyers within four points of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference going into their game Thursday at the Toronto Maple Leafs. The climb hasn’t been easy, but there’s no shortage of belief in the locker-room.
“It’s obviously our goal to catch the Bruins and the Panthers,” NHL leading scorer Jake Voracek said Wednesday. “I don’t see the reason why we shouldn’t. We’re playing good hockey lately. We’ve got to focus on every game, game-by-game, and hopefully we’re going to sneak in.”
On the morning of Jan. 17, the Flyers woke up in Buffalo 13 points back of the Bruins. Boston has gone 5-7-3 since then, and a knee injury to centre David Krejci stands to make the next four to six weeks even more of a challenge.
Philadelphia needed the Bruins to go on a skid to make the playoffs even a long-shot possibility. But the Flyers have also been much improved to get on track.
“An all-around team game turned our season around,” coach Craig Berube said. “Our team defence first and foremost is what we really turned around. Starting with that, and the penalty killing has gotten better. That’s part of the team defence. All-around, our defensive play is way better.”
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Two years ago, there were 17 trades on the final day. Three years ago 15, and four years ago 16.
This year? Here at Sportsnet, we’re starting to get a little nervous as to exactly what our cast of thousands will be doing on Monday. Thank goodness for the ping pong table in the hall.
Then again, Buffalo still has Chris Stewart to move. Jersey might still be dangling Marek Zidlicky, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr. The Leafs are throwing all available bodies overboard.
Calgary may have to peddle Curtis Glencross and Karri Ramo. We know Jeff Petry is going to be moved out of Edmonton, and ditto for Zbynek Michalek and Arizona. The Coyotes also still could move Antoine Vermette, and seem likely to.
Florida has UFAs to be Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall and Tomas Fleischmann. The Flyers have backliners to move if they so choose. Columbus has both forwards and defenders available.
Then there’s the injuries that have cropped up over the last week. Boston won’t have David Krejci (knee) to help their playoff push for at least a month, and a busted collarbone has put Chicago’s Patrick Kane on the shelf for three months, but also given the cap-constricted Hawks a sudden opportunity to spend.
PENGUINS SOLVE CAPITALS, NARROW GAP IN METROPOLITAN
Chris Kunitz posted 1-1—2, including what proved to be the game-winning goal, to help the Penguins defeat the Capitals for the first time this season (PIT: 1-3-0, WSH: 3-1-0) and extend their winning streak to three contests.
* At 35-17-9 (79 points), the No. 3 Penguins moved three points ahead of the No. 4 Capitals (33-19-10, 76 points) in the Metropolitan Division, where the top four teams are separated by six points:
* Kunitz snapped an 11-game drought with his first goal since Jan. 30 at NJD. It stood as his 39th career game-winning goal and fifth of the season – tied for the team lead with Blake Comeau.
* Evgeni Malkin (0-3—3) notched his 62nd career game with at least three points (fifth this season) and 25th career contest with at least three assists (first since Nov. 30, 2013 at FLA: 1-3—4).
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
So now what? This can't be it for the Penguins before the expiration of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday. Rutherford needs to add more, precious little cap space be cursed.
The Penguins need a second-pairing defenseman to play with Christian Ehrhoff. They also need to be prepared for not having Ehrhoff at all, because players returning from lengthy concussion absences always are risky bets to stay in the lineup.
More than anything, the Penguins must find some help for Evgeni Malkin, because he is their best hope for turning this postseason into something magical. No player, not even Sidney Crosby, is more capable of becoming an irresistible force than Malkin — the closest thing these Penguins have to a Mario Lemieux or Jaromir Jagr, because big, skilled players are built to shape postseason series.
Speaking of Jagr, Rutherford should stay on the watch for New Jersey's saltiest trade bait. Malkin sure sounded like somebody itching for the right winger when I brought up Jagr's name Tuesday.
“Yes,” Malkin said. “Of course. Yes. Jagr is great with (the) puck, still great at passing, still has (the) shot. You watch. He is still great. He would be great for us. Guys (would) see him work. He works hard every day. He makes big plays still. He wins. Yes.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
It sounds like Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi made several interesting comments on Wednesday's conference call following his acquisition of premier defensive trade target Andrej Sekera, but one stood out in particular. According to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, Lombardi indicated that the team's strong play recently prompted the move, saying "what they've accomplished and what they've fought through, it's almost like you owe it to them." I like this. It's Lombardi's way of acknowledging that, however sluggish their start and inconsistent their season has been, the team is all-in now, and he is, too.
Making the trade to upgrade the Kings' defense with Sekera is a strong statement that he believes in this team and what they are capable of, despite what their current record or spot in the standings suggest. Lombardi has won two Stanley Cup Championships since 2012 and he prides himself on an organization that he has tried to make feel like family. This sort of brazen confidence and steadfast faith he has shown in his club has paid off in the past. Can't blame him for going all-in again.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
As I had written hours earlier in Rumblings, Lombardi and his management staff had agonized for weeks about the Slava Voynov situation as it pertains to their salary cap and potential trade deadline plans, but ultimately decided the risk involved in adding a player was smaller than the risk of not helping the team. If Voynov should be acquitted of domestic violence charges in his trial next month and somehow return as an active player, the Kings will just have to deal with a complicated salary cap situation when it arises.
For now, it's full-steam ahead and the Kings just acquired the top rental blue-liner on the trade market. They paid a hefty price -- a first-round pick in a deep draft this year (if Kings make playoffs it's a 2015 pick, if not it's 2016) -- but the Kings' window to win won't be open forever.
Interestingly, I spoke with a Hurricanes source who figured the team hopes the Kings make the playoffs so the pick is theirs this June, not only because it's a deeper draft, but also because the Kings aren't that high in the standings right now and should be better next season, which would drive a potential 2016 pick further down in the first round.
more topics include Patrick Kane/Blackhawks...
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
The word “future” carries more meaning to Nazem Kadri now than the immediate concern of signing a long-term deal with the Leafs.
Kadri and his agents remain in talks with the Leafs regarding a new contract, and if those talks finish with a multi-year extension, they will bear an added responsibility for the 24-year-old centre — leadership.
In fact, leadership has been a mixed bag for the Leafs over the past few seasons, and it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to put Kadri in line for a role as an assistant or even team captain if he signs long term in Toronto.
“It’s something you think about a bit right now,” Kadri said as the Leafs wrapped up a third straight day of practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home game against the Flyers.
“Being a young guy, you want to take steps in the right direction. I’ve had that (leadership) role before in junior, so if it comes, I hope I’m in the right shoes to do it.”
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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