Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks are not helping themselves with their mixed messages. They keep talking about getting younger, but continue to acquire players like Prust who are in their 30s, and chase players like 27-year-old Milan Lucic.
It drives a fan base nuts when you do things like that, even though there’s a chance the opening night lineup could include Frankie Corrado, Adam Clendening, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen.
Rather harshly, TSN’s main Free Agent Frenzy broadcast aired an edited string of calls into TEAM 1040 from inflamed listeners who were going to town on Vancouver’s front office. It means next week’s town hall with season-ticket holders has the potential to be a gong show.
But the truth is, it’s going to take more than one year to really see what Benning’s Canucks are going to look like.
He’s freed up some money for next summer and is hoping now to be a player in the high-end of the free agent market.
If Corrado, Baertschi and Virtanen hit this year, and if Benning can lure a quality free agent or two next offseason, things will change.
But right now? Right now, there isn’t a lot of hope. There is still no succession plan for the Sedin twins and this current collection of Canucks do not look like a playoff team. Like, at all.
Then again, many of us said that same thing last summer.
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
At the top of that fat content is Vinny Lecavalier and a contract that pays $4.5 million for each of the next three seasons. Why Hextall did not try to buy him out before this is at the top of the intrigue. But if those trade-deadline deals and the great Pronger escape didn't buy your GM some "In Hexy We Trust" points - well, then, Sam Hinkie has a whole lot more work to do.
Here are two thoughts: There are a group of teams that might need dead contracts to reach the NHL's salary-cap basement of $52.8 million. That's how Pronger became a Paper Coyote, and maybe one reason Kings GM Dean Lombardi was even in conversations about Mike Richards with the GMs of Edmonton and Calgary before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police got in the way.
If there's any light in the dark tunnel, it's that Vinny will cost a team less to play for them next season, while counting against the cap more. Just as Pronger costs Arizona $575,00 in real money but counts as $4.5 million toward getting to the cap-mandated minimum payroll of $51.7 million, Lecavalier's real cost from here on is $2 million less than his cap hit.
Still, $13.5 million over the next three years for a 35-year-old player coming off two subpar seasons?
If Hextall pulls this one off and I'm the Phillies, I have Andy MacPhail call him immediately.
That Umberger is even here is the best evidence that, despite refining his public rebuilding message to include a win-now clause, Hextall's target date is not the upcoming season, but the ones after it. He traded a better player for a worse one in the Scott Hartnell deal for one season of cap relief. That's not a win-now strategy.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
These words, uttered in the aftermath of the 2001 trade that brought Eric Lindros to New York, were the ones Glen Sather lived by throughout a pro hockey lifetime that began when the NHL was still a mom-and-pop Original Six operation:
“It’s better to be a lion for one day than it is to be a mouse for life,” Sather said then, addressing the high-risk nature of the trade for No. 88, and he might just as well have said the very same thing when he traded for Pavel Bure or Rick Nash or Martin St. Louis or Keith Yandle, or when he signed Bobby Holik, Wade Redden or Brad Richards, or when he hired then fired coach John Tortorella.
You know for whom playing it safe really equated to death? Sather, that’s who. Sather, who went for it when the going was good, as it most certainly has been for the last four seasons over which the Rangers have been the NHL’s third-best team — advancing to the conference finals three times, and the Cup final once while finishing with the East’s best record twice and capturing one Presidents’ Trophy.
It’s been kind of the Silver Age of Rangers’ hockey, only without the precious silver chalice.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer.
Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Phil Kessel would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack.
And now he’s gone. Just like that. The Maple Leafs could no longer stomach having Kessel around, the first player to be both punished and rewarded for the saddest Leafs season in history. The Leafs held their breath, plugged their noses, and ostensibly gave Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins because they couldn’t stand having him around anymore.
Really, this was as much about illness and insomnia as anything else: The Leafs were sick and tired of Kessel.
Sick of his act. Tired of his lack of responsibility. Unwilling to begin any reset or rebuild with their highest-paid, most talented, least-dedicated player. He didn’t eat right, train right, play right. This had to happen for Brendan Shanahan to begin his rebuilding of the Leafs. Separation between the Leafs and Kessel became necessary when it grew more and more apparent with time that everything Shanahan values was upended by Kessel’s singular, laissez-faire, flippant, mostly uncoachable ways.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Insanity was expected. Restraint was delivered.
Beleskey helped define July 1, 2015, as a rare day of reason on the NHL market. Justin Williams capped off the day, with the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner leaving Los Angeles for Washington via a two-year, $6.5 million deal.
Williams was the 57th and final signing of July 1. A total of $193,540,000 was doled out.
In perspective, $528 million was awarded to 89 players one year prior on over 180 year's worth of contracts. There were seven mega-deals of $20 million or more in 2014 compared to just three on Wednesday.
“Free agent is a frenzied time,” Sweeney said. “You can get caught up in the hype of it. I think the visiting and interview period has tempered that to some degree.”
Sweeney joked the free agency period is no longer a “cloak and dagger” exercise like the old days. Thanks to the internet, agents and managers are both “very aware” of each other’s cap situations.
Agents, Sweeney said, do a good job of “teeing it up for every team.”
At the same time, the five-day interview window - which stretched from June 25-30 this year - allows general managers time to field interest and sort out game plans. Prior to 2014, it was more of an impulse buy period.
Teams would talk to a player high atop their list and fall in love at the sound of his agent’s voice. Now, managers are given the opportunity to sleep on their decisions for a few days. In all sports, sometimes the best deal a manager makes is the one he ultimately decides against. There was no period to pause - it was either meet a player’s demands or move on.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Here’s a breakdown of some of the winners and losers following the first day of free agency.
WINNER: Edmonton Oilers
The impact of being able to lure a prime free agent like Andrej Sekera can’t be understated. Call it the McDavid Effect. They attracted Mark Letestu as well.
LOSER: Detroit Red Wings
Mike Green goes from being a No. 5 defenceman with the Washington Capitals to being the highest paid D-man in Motown. Being a top-pair blueliner again will be a major challenge.
WINNER: Winnipeg Jets
The challenge for some markets is to demonstrate they can keep the assets they want to keep. The Jets did that by re-signing Drew Stafford and bringing back Alexander Burmistrov.
LOSER: Ottawa Senators
The end of the season was just a blast for Sens fans, but the off-season so far has been such a letdown. Nothing added to enhance the roster. Budget won’t allow for more.
added 7:35am, from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Well, who saw that coming? The Blackhawks had spent the past few months insisting that Brandon Saad would still be a Chicago player by the time the new season started, but that all stopped when the reigning Stanley Cup champions decided to trade the 22-year-old to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of a seven-player deal. Joining Saad in moving to the Blue Jackets will be forward Alex Broadhurst and defenceman Michael Paliotta, with Columbus sending Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin and Marko Dano to Chicago, as well as a fourth-round selection in the 2016 Draft.
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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