Kukla's Korner Hockey
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from David Satriano of NHL.com,
Here are four other reasons for optimism in Arizona:
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: The 25-year old established himself as one of the best defenseman in the NHL in the past two seasons. Ekman-Larsson had a career high 23 goals and 43 points, including 20 power-play points, and led NHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals (10) last season. He also scored in the clutch, with seven game-winning goals, including three in overtime.
"He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow," general manager Don Maloney said. "I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense. But people don't appreciate even his defending ability because he gets matched up against the best players on every team every night, and he is just growing in front of our eyes.
"I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver. It's really his intellect, his puck-moving ability and his skating that stand out. He's a cornerstone on our blue line. We need to get another one or two like him back there and then we will be a team to be reckoned with."
Prospects on the rise: The Coyotes may have been thin up front last season, but they're loaded with young talent ready to make the jump to the NHL. Led by 2013 first-round pick Max Domi and 19-year old Anthony Duclair, Arizona should be faster and more skilled.
"Obviously Max Domi is ahead of the pack in regards to we know he's mature, we know he's got a strong body, he has a skill set that we lack," Maloney said. "Anthony Duclair came [to development camp], this was his first time to the Valley and first time on ice in a Coyotes uniform and he just wowed us with the skill and the speed and the execution just in his puck game. We haven't seen that pure speed and talent."
Maloney said forward Nick Merkley (the 30th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft) was one of the most impressive players at development camp in July, and Christian Dvorak (the 58th pick in 2014) was the most ready to compete for an NHL roster spot among the players who have junior eligibility remaining.
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
The National Hockey League has been ordered by a judge to turn over reams of data about player injuries and concussions to lawyers representing former NHL players who are suing the league.
The roughly 80 former players who are suing the NHL, including Bernie Nicholls, Gary Leeman and Butch Goring, allege NHL and team executives knew or ought to have known about the links between head trauma and long-term cognitive problems but failed to do enough to protect players, all the while profiting from the violence of hockey.
The NHL has argued interested players could have read medical research and news reports on their own and put “two and two together” about the dangers of repeated head hits and concussions.
In an order released late Friday, U.S. Federal Court judge Susan Nelson agreed to some but not all of the requests for discovery filed by the former players’ lawyers.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
As Blues chairman Tom Stillman waited for recipients to show up at a food bank in Jennings on July 21, he talked about the state of the Blues. The answers have been edited for clarity. The questions have been edited to make them more concise.
Q: Is it tough when you have to trade someone like T.J. Oshie, who’s been around this franchise so long?
A: Honestly, that and Barret Jackman’s departure are, on a personal level, difficult for me. It is really a hard part of the business. I’m comfortable we’re doing the right thing for the team and all, but those two individuals in particular are really wonderful people. I am sad to see them go. It’s weird to see how the guys can just be uprooted, especially in a trade. Those two guys, they were always immediately willing to do anything to help. Barret Jackman showed up everywhere. He was at the Mathews-Dickey event last year, he would have been here (at the food bank in Jennings). T.J. Oshie, anything you asked him, he’d say, Sure, I’ll do that. He was the guy that was on his knees taking a picture with a kid. I remember at an away game, they had to pull him out of the autograph line. That’s the kind of guy he is. Personally, it’s the tough side of the business.
Obviously, they’ve both been here a long time, and T.J., we saw him grow up here. You become, not close, but friendly with them. I think a lot of fans have sort of a fatherly or motherly view of some of our younger players who have grown up here, so it’s tough to see.
Q: The NHL recently announced that it could expand beyond 30 teams. Would expansion be a good thing for the league?
A: It remains to be seen. The process is open, there’s no commitment that there will be expansion. There’s a long way to go and the league will take a very careful look at it and make sure it’s the right thing on a macro sense for the league and any market candidate will be looked at very carefully. The league is really healthy, it’s hitting on all cylinders. I don’t think it’s ever been stronger, and looking forward to some of the things they have coming down the pike, rather it’s new sponsorship deals, a new level of interest from a number of people, there’s just a lot of things going on.
from Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins' five highest-paid players — Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury — will make $38 million next season. That will fill 53.2 percent of the $71.4 million salary cap.
Add in the other 17 or 18 players on the 23-man roster — even after the Penguins shed third-line center Brandon Sutter and his $3.3 million salary in a trade with Vancouver on Tuesday — and the team is bumping its head on the salary ceiling.
The only teams that will allocate more than half of their cap space to their top five players are the Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, who are fresh off a Stanley Cup with star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews making eight figures.
On the surface, that might sound like the Penguins and Blackhawks are in an untenable position. A closer look tells a different tale.
First, top-heavy salary structures are common in the NHL. Sixteen of the league's 30 teams allocate between 40 and 48 percent of their cap space to five top players.
from Joe Yerdon at NHL.com,
Things are about to change for the better for the Buffalo Sabres.
The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history, so it'd be easy to say things can't get worse, but the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel, has changed the attitude here.
Eichel's arrival, coupled with the eventual debut of forward Evander Kane, who didn't play for the Sabres after he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11 (elbow surgery); center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26; and coach Dan Bylsma, has the Buffalo fan base hopeful the organizational rebuild will bring results on the ice.
The Sabres will have a young and talented group of forwards to try to lift an offense that scored an NHL-low 158 goals last season. The addition of Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly to Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons gives Buffalo a youthful core. If Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, makes the roster, it would make the Sabres that much younger and add another potential scorer.
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- This is the perfect kind of hiring for the Phoenix Coyotes: They have brought in the respected hockey operations consultant, Claude Loiselle — and the best part of it, from the Coyotes end — is they don’t have to pay him. The Leafs are still paying Loiselle for two more seasons after letting him go last July.
- The Leafs must relinquish two third-round picks as compensation for the signings of general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock. For a team trying to rebuild with drafting and developing, that’s a heavy blow. What’s worse — Babcock’s contract was up in Detroit and Lamoriello replaced himself as GM in New Jersey. There was no reason for compensation in either case. The sooner this ridiculous compensation rule goes away in the NHL, the better.
- Barring a trade between now and September, the Leafs will open camp with their top centres as either Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri. New GM. New coach. Same old centres.
- Little more than a year ago, Sergei Berezin, the former Maple Leaf, became certified as an NHL player agent. This week, Berezin had his agent status suspended by the NHL Players’ Association.
The suspension came after Berezin and his wife were arrested in South Florida, for Medicaid fraud. While living in a mansion in Boca Raton, it turns out the Berezins, according to police, were making insurance claims indicating they had no income at all. The claims, over a two-year period, were for more than 50,000 US.
Berezin secured his first NHL client last year when he represented veteran Montreal defenceman Andrei Markov. In fact, Berezin did well getting Markov a three-year extension at just under $6 million a season. It isn’t known if he has added other clients to his business since then.
Undoubtedly, the NHLPA will look further into the Berezin situation while the agent remains under suspension. The PA has strict regulations regarding illegalities. There is no word of when the Berezin matter will go to court or when the PA will further act in this case.
I don’t expect the NHLPA and Kings are negotiating settlement. The NHLPA is unlikely to accept the termination of Richards contract in any form. For the NHLPA, it simply cannot allow this precedent to stand as it could adversely impact its members. By allowing the termination to go unchallenged, the floodgates risk opening with teams terminating problem contracts. ‘He’s fat, cut him. He’s slow, cut him.’ Ultimately, expect the NHLPA to see this case as far too important an event and precedent to go unopposed.
-Eric Macramalla at Forbes on the LA Kings/Mike Ricards situation. Much more at Forbes.
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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