Kukla's Korner

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Not Optimistic Views

from Rory Boylen of Sportsnet,

Time to rain on your parade. Here are reasons to be pessimistic about each of the 30 NHL teams heading into 2016-17....

CHICAGO
Patrick Kane’s ridiculous 106-point MVP season won’t be duplicated (will anyone get to 100 points this tear?). Duncan Keith — now 33 years old — had to pull out of the World Cup because he’s still recovering from a 2015 injury. And last year was the first time since 2007-08 that the Hawks weren’t top-six in corsi for percentage (they finished 15th).

Everyone’s Cup window eventually closes…

COLORADO
Bad-alytics. The Avs had such a poor corsi percentage last year that the difference between their 30th-ranked mark and New Jersey’s 29th was roughly the same as the difference between the Devils’ and 21st-ranked Columbus.

At least they didn’t trade Tyson Barrie, but that defence is pee-yew, and will be crushed by the Central Division.

COLUMBUS
Sergei Bobrovsky’s injury and poor numbers last season were alarming, and backup Joonas Korpisalo won’t keep posting better numbers in the NHL than any other pro league he’s played in. Nick Foligno had an awful first year of a contract paying him $5.5 million against the cap (a.k.a. David Clarkson money).

Scott Hartnell ($4.75 million) waived his no-trade clause, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t find any takers for a player who looks to be in decline. They will continue to struggle with shots against. Seems a lot could go wrong here again.

27 more teams...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Will RFAs Sign Before The World Cup? Does It Matter?

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

The calendar still says it’s August so it’s a little hard to ponder the thought that training camps for the tournament start in one week. On Sept. 5, Jack Eichel will be among those gathering in Montreal for Team North America, joining the likes of Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon and Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray.

Crosby and Team Canada work out in Ottawa. Finland, featuring Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, will open workouts in Helsinki. Russia, whose roster includes new Buffalo defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, will work out in St. Petersburg. South Buffalo’s Patrick Kane will among those working out for Coach John Tortorella at the Team USA camp in Columbus.

Ristolainen is one of a handful of unsigned restricted free agents who are expected to play in the tournament despite their contract status, as the NHL and NHLPA are combining to insure those players. The list also includes Team North America duo Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary) and Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg) and Russia winger Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay).

Teams would certainly prefer their players to be signed before heading to the tournament and it will be interesting to watch if things progress with those four players this week.

more hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Hockey Notes On A Late August Night

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- All David Bolland did in Chicago was his job.

Ask him to check, he checked. Ask him to scrap, he scrapped. Ask him to occasionally score, he would occasionally score.

That included a bang-bang, last-minute, Stanley Cup-winning goal with Chicago, his last game with the Blackhawks.

That was three years ago. Now Bolland, at age 30, has become something of a punchline, not a person or a player of any consequence in hockey, just salary cap space. That’s how he’s looked at by too many in the hockey world. His rather large contract was dealt from Florida to Arizona, not because anybody wanted him, but because the Coyotes would take prospect Lawson Crouse and the price of doing so was to accept Bolland’s contract. The value of salary cap space in today’s NHL....

- Wasn’t sure why Team Sweden left Dallas defenceman John Klingberg off their initial World Cup roster. Now not sure why they haven’t added him as an injury replacement to their very strong defence. Sweden ended up inserting Anaheim’s Hampus Lundholm to take Niklas Kronwall’s spot. On a scale, this is equivalent to Canada leaving P.K. Subban off its roster.

 a bit more on Bolland and a few more nockey notes... 

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Jared Bednar Is The New-Look Coach In Colorado

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

The Avalanche last week broke the syndrome of hiring recycled NHL coaches, opting to fill their late-summer bench vacancy with Jared Bednar. If you’ve been too buried in beach reading to pay attention, the job opened unexpectedly when Patrick Roy abruptly resigned Aug. 11, convinced that his view from the bench was not in focus with the rest of Denver’s front office cognoscenti.

Unlike Roy, the sometimes tempestuous Hall of Fame goalie who backstopped Cups in both Montreal and Denver, the 44-year-old Bednar lacks any “Q factor.” Even in Cleveland, where he led the AHL franchise this spring to the Calder Cup championship, he was a virtual unknown. A defenseman, he was undrafted after three years of junior (Western Hockey League), then kicked around the minors for eight seasons before breaking into coaching as an assistant with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays in 2002-03.

Some 14 seasons later, including three with the Springfield Falcons, voila, Bednar hit the big time Thursday when Joe Sakic and friends picked him to lead them out of their protracted tailspin. The Avs missed the playoffs for a second season in a row in 2015-16 and have DNQ’s five of the last six seasons. Roy’s bench had gone flat, despite some young, high-end talent up front (Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog).

continued plus more hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jared+bednar

Video- The Fighting Debate In “Ice Guardians”

from IceGuardians,

Exploring one of the most controversial and provocative positions in the history of sport, ‘Ice Guardians’ journeys into the lives of those who perform what is undoubtedly the toughest job within the National Hockey League today, the enforcer.  Very few understand this position and even fewer appreciate what is involved in becoming one.  It’s a punishing profession unlike any other, holding little mercy for its candidates on or off the ice.  Born out of self policing a game where 200 pound men fly towards each other on metal blades with sticks, the role now finds itself facing the scrutiny of national newspapers, on-line blogs and TV news casts.  Due to its violent nature, it has drawn opinions from both fans and critics alike.  But what do we really know?  What led to its spectacular rise?  What purpose does it serve in the eyes of its beholders and what drives them forward in the face of adversity?  Ice Guardians steps beyond the hype and heads directly to the source of the debate… the players themselves.  Through their eyes, tough exteriors are shed to reveal the humanity behind a role that struggles to maintain its existence.

much more and it premieres in mid-September...

Watch a trailer below...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Buffalo Sabres Cap Season Ticket Sales

BUFFALO, N.Y. (August 26, 2016) --- The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has capped season ticket sales for the 2016-17 season at more than 16,000 tickets. The cap is designed to ensure the availability of Mini-Packs and individual game tickets for all fans.

The Sabres had 97 percent of season ticket holders renew their tickets for the 2016-17 season, marking the 11th consecutive season featuring a renewal rate higher than 90 percent. More than 2,000 fans remain on the Blue & Gold Club season ticket waiting list.

“A 97 percent season ticket renewal rate is a remarkable achievement for any professional team,” Sabres president Russ Brandon said. “We’re lucky to have a fan base that consistently provides so much support and we look forward to rewarding our fans’ passion by building on last season’s improvement.”

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

A Lot Of ‘Dead’ Money In Arizona

from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,

Just in case you haven’t been paying close attention to the paper trail, the Coyotes’ highest paid forwards are now Bolland and former Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk.

Bolland, who scored one goal in 25 games for Florida last season, has three years and $16.5 million remaining on his contract. Before the swap with Arizona, the Panthers were seemingly stuck with that financial headache, unable to buy him out of that deal because of injury.

Datsyuk, who has left for St. Petersburg in the KHL, has one year and $5.5 million left ($7.5 million salary cap hit) on the contract he signed with Detroit. The Coyotes secured Detroit’s first-round pick at June’s NHL draft as part of the deal for taking on Datsyuk’s salary, using that selection to choose defenceman Jakob Chychrun.

On defence, the Coyotes also boast the salary of the long ago retired Chris Pronger. Pronger, who owns a $4.935 million salary cap hit and $575,000 salary next season, was acquired, along with Nicklas Grossmann, in last summer’s trade for Sam Gagner.

Add it up and the Coyotes will be paying an eyebrow-raising $11.575 million next season for a trio of players who may never play a game for them.

None of the above is meant as a shot at John Chayka, the 27-year-old general manger of the Coyotes. He was hired largely because of his analytical abilities, looking for creative solutions to financial puzzles while aiming to build the most competitive team possible. He is doing that.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Time For Chicago’s Prospects To Produce

from Brian Hedger at NHL.com,

After trading Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad last summer, the Blackhawks have traded Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell this offseason. The lone forward addition was fourth-line right wing Jordin Tootoo, and the most significant acquisitions were free agent defensemen Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, a 25-year-old rookie from the Kontinental Hockey League.

The message is clear: Chicago's system needs to produce some NHL-caliber forwards this season.

"A lot of these guys have been with our system for several years, and in the past, it's been tough [for them]," general manager Stan Bowman said at the Blackhawks' annual fan convention in July. "We've had fewer [NHL] openings. So, I think right now our mindset is to go with the group that we have under contract right now. I think I want to give these guys a chance to show us they belong."

It's a group that includes rookies Vincent Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, Kyle Baun and Mark McNeill, who each made his NHL debut last season. Also included are highly touted rookies Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz, who each excelled in college last season. The most pressing question is whether the Blackhawks have enough talent among that group to replace what they have lost. 

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Resolution Needed Soon

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

With the opening of NHL training camps  only 17 days away, here are five story lines worth following:

Hampus Lindholm negotiations: The Anaheim Ducks still haven’t been able to re-sign the two-way restricted free agent defenseman, and what happens with the situation could affect another team.

While Lindholm is essential to the Ducks, they have eight NHL defensemen on their roster, plus prospects Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour who are close.  When Lindholm is re-signed, the Ducks are expected to trade  a veteran defenseman.

Top-pairing defenseman Cam Fowler’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors all summer. The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, among others, have been looking for defensive help.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Your New Captain Of The St. Louis Blues Is Alex Pietrangelo

from Chris Pinkert of St.LouisBlues.com,

The Blues officially introduced Pietrangelo as the club’s new captain during a press conference Thursday afternoon at Scottrade Center. The 26-year-old native of King City, Ontario will join an exclusive list of former Blues to wear an embroidered ‘C’ on the front of the jersey. That group that includes such legendary names as Al Arbour, Brian Sutter, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Wayne Gretzky, Bernie Federko, Chris Pronger and Barclay Plager.

“When you look at the guys who wore the ‘C,’ those are some big shoes to fill,” Pietrangelo said. “Not just good leaders, but good people that have represented themselves and their teammates in a great way. It’s my job now to carry on that tradition.”

The decision to name a captain came less than two months after the previous captain, David Backes, departed for the Boston Bruins via free agency on July 1. Backes had served as the Blues’ captain for the better part of five seasons from 2011-16.

“Being a top draft pick and watching him grow into an elite player in our game, Alex is the perfect age to take the leadership role for this group,” Armstrong said. “We have turned into a younger nucleus of a team, and he can guide that through the next number of years. We’re excited to have him as a captain.

more

added 3:47pm, St. Louis press release is below...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+pietrangelo

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

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