Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: thomas vanek
from Gary Craig and Kevin Oklobzija of the Democrat and Chronicle,
Federal authorities are investigating whether National Hockey League star Thomas Vanek was the target of an extortion attempt by members of an alleged local gambling ring, sources say.
In debt to local bookmakers, Vanek paid $230,000 to partly cover what he owed. That payment, made when Vanek played for the New York Islanders, is central to the allegations of extortion, according to three sources close to the investigation.
If you haven't been following the latest news on Vanek regarding this topic, just click the Thomas Vanek tag below...
added 1:59pm, Russo's Rants has a full story on this now...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
While the National Hockey League said Friday it will continue to keep an eye on a federal illegal gambling and money laundering case in Rochester, N.Y., that Thomas Vanek has testified in as the government’s prime witness, the Wild forward likely won’t face league discipline unless he faces criminal charges or bet on hockey.
Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, told the Star Tribune Friday that “Thomas is not in any way, shape or form involved in any illegal activities or in trouble here.”
Vanek bet on football and was paying off a gambling debt, according to Bartlett.
Vanek’s in the news again because a defense attorney for a man who pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and conspiracy to launder money Thursday alluded to the fact that the check his client helped launder came from Vanek while he played for the New York Islanders.
From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle's Mark Craig, as a follow-up to Craig's Tweets about Thomas Vanek possibly being involved with the gambling ring ran out of a restaurant he was an investor in:
A bookmaker pleaded guilty Thursday to laundering a $230,000 gambling debt — a payment his attorney said was made with a New York Islanders check.
That payment — apparently a salary check that was endorsed and handed over to cover wagers — was made at the same time hockey superstar Thomas Vanek played for the Islanders, said local attorney James Wolford.
Wolford declined to say whether the payment came from Vanek, who has been linked to the alleged Rochester-based gambling ring. Vanek has acknowledged testifying before a grand jury and sources say his name turned up in records seized from the alleged bookmakers.
Still, Wolford said he was surprised that Vanek's agent said in an interview that Vanek was not involved in any wrongdoing.
And it gets worse from there:
Wolford said after the plea that the $230,000 was a small portion of the overall debt owed by the gambler who paid with an Islanders check. The total of the debt was more than $1 million, he said.
via tweets of Gary Craig, a reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle,
Thomas Vanek has been linked to gambling with alleged Rochester ring.
Over next few Tweets I'll detail gambling allegations that could point to hockey superstar Thomas Vanek.
Records seized from alleged bookmakers show payments from Vanek, sources have said. He testified before grand jury in Rochester.
Read more from Craig's recent timeline...
The Wild lost today to the Kings 2-1. The Wild had 41 shots at Jonathan Quick while the Kings had only 16 on Niklas Backstrom.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
In 1982, at the height of communism in Czechoslovakia, Jarmila and Zdenek Vanek wanted a better life for their 4-year-old son, David. They went from border to border to try to immigrate into Austria. Finally, at their seventh or eighth border, the Vaneks were allowed in. They went, with nothing, to Vienna to start a new life. Two years later Thomas was born.
He grew up in Graz, hometown of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Zdenek was a professional hockey player, so from the time Thomas can remember, he was in love with hockey. Because of his father’s Czech background, Thomas had posters of Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek.
“When I was 8 or 9, once a week, we got the show ‘NHL Cool Shots’ on TV,” Thomas said. “For every kid that played hockey back home, that was a must-see show. Once I saw it, that’s when my dream started. I wanted to play in the NHL.”
When Vanek was 12, he made an Austrian select team and traveled to Quebec for a peewee tournament. Teams wanted him to move to Canada.
“I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to move to Alberta,” Vanek said. “I didn’t know much English. Only a few words. But the good thing about my mom and dad, they said, ‘Go and try it. If you don’t like it, just hop back on a plane and come home.’ ”
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
WHEC-TV in Rochester, N.Y. is reporting (and has video) that recently-signed Wild winger and former Buffalo Sabre and Rochester Amerk Thomas Vanek was in federal court today in upstate New York as part of an ongoing gambling investigation.
According to the station, Vanek's appearance stems from the June arrest of three owners/managers of the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte, N.Y. on gambling and money laundering charges. The three men were allegedly conducting an illegal gambling business out of the bar since January 2012 (see above links and this article).
The TV station reports, "Vanek is not charged with any crime and he voluntarily came to the federal court building with his lawyer."
continued including Russo contacting Bill Daly on this subject...
The theory was that very few free agent players were actually going to meet with teams' coaches or general managers during the "wining and dining period"--which ends today--because the draft's location in Philadelphia would yield too much of a hubbub (see: players being chased down by the media as they go from hotel to hotel and meeting room to meeting room)...
But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the seemingly inevitable marriage between Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild will get a meet-and-greet kick in the pants on Monday:
With the free-agent market set to open Tuesday at 11 a.m. [Central Daylight Time], pending free agent Thomas Vanek was scheduled to sit down with Wild coach Mike Yeo late Sunday. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was not expected to be at the meeting.
For more than a year, Vanek has seemed destined to sign with the Wild. The 30-year-old former Gophers star turned down lucrative long-term contracts last season with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders in order to become a free agent.
However, the Wild appears set to offer Vanek only a short-term contract, so he likely will have a tough decision to make Tuesday because it’s expected that he’ll have the chance to sign longer-term deals for more money with other teams.
But wait, there's more, especially in the, "WILD WILL SIGN EVERYBODEYZ" category:
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons can be equally acerbic and surprisingly sincere, so let's cover both areas of his writing in a short survey of his Sunday column.
Regarding the acerbic part, I hate to say it, but I most certainly agree with him here....
Free agents I wouldn’t touch: Vanek, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Brad Richards, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Lee Stempniak, David Booth ... So we’re wondering: Does Tim Thomas get a job this summer?
(Did Tim Thomas hear David Poile explain that Nashville has no state taxes on income? Red State Tour, woo!)
I understand why Jason Spezza turned down a deal to Nashville. Would hate to be a lone wolf in the Western Conference at centre and be overmanned nightly against the Kings, Ducks, Blackhawks, Sharks and Avalanche.
But I will be a little acerbic in suggesting that the damn 2nd-through-7th round NHL Draft on the NHL Network involves far too much talking over everything, and in the talking heads blathering on, they missed what was an absolutely wonderfully touching moment:
You are probably familiar with the dynamics of the Joe Thornton situation (seems like the theory is, "Take the 'C' away, see if he waives the no-trade," as ESPN's Craig Custance reported), you are probably familiar with the dynamics of the Ryan Kesler trade (he says he's going to where deserves to be, and in Vancouver, it's, "Everybody thought he was a dick"), so:
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch pulled double-time in covering the Sens' picks, Jason Spezza's situation (what's so bad about a guy turning down a trade to a team that's on his no-trade list? Emo GM Bryan Murray will tell you) and positing a Sunday rumor column, and he addresses a situation we haven't necessarily talked about as of yet:
There has been a lot of controversy in Chicago over whether the Hawks have been trying to deal forward Patrick Sharp or not. While it was heavily denied by Sharp’s agent Rick Curran that his client was on the move, Sharp’s name has been popping up all over the place in trade talks. Several teams say he’s available, so it will be interesting to see if he’s still there when push comes to shove after this summer. The Hawks are already over the salary cap and will have to cut money somewhere.
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Tags: boston+bruins, chicago+blackhawks, chris+kelly, colorado+avalanche, joe+thornton, matt+niskanen, patrick+sharp, paul+stastny, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+kesler, san+jose+sharks, thomas+vanek, vancouver+canucks
TSN's posting double doses of Insider Trading videos due to the massive amount of pre-draft trade talk, and I should've known better than to simply post the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's update on Jason Spezza's situation without looking for a rumor-related column on other Sun newspaper sites (the Ottawa Sun doesn't always post articles on his columnist page in a timely manner).
The Toronto Sun posted Garrioch's wining-and-dining update, and I need to say this out loud: while this summer's class of unrestricted free agents-to-be is particularly thin, I have the sinking feeling that we're going to see more classes like these--where second-line players and second-pair defensemen are the ones who hit the market and make top-player money, serving as the main source of player-value inflation (as yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika suggested).
The wining-and-dining period is great in terms of allowing teams to explain their expectations for players, and vice versa, but the number of offers these players are receiving over the course of consecutive days are driving up their asking prices considerably (of course, there are no numbers being exchanged ), and I really get the feeling that we're going to see Paul Stastny and Matt Niskanen become $7 million players come July 1st.
Anyway, here are Garrioch's updates regarding Stastny...
When player agent Neil Sheehy's left International Falls, Minnesota prior to the draft, you know the wining and dining period is underway. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the WIld plan on speaking to the agent who once got a free flight back home (after the Wild and Red Wings made their pitches to Ryan Suter) by owner Craig Leipold on Thursday in Philly, and it sounds like the Wild are aiming for the free agent stars:
It’s not believed the Wild had any formal sit-downs yet, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher contacted at least the agents of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell, goal scorer Thomas Vanek and center Paul Stastny, NHL sources confirmed. At a minimum, Fletcher is expected to meet with Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, and Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, while they’re all in Philadelphia this week for the NHL draft.
Vanek, 30, the former Gophers star who lives in Stillwater, might have to consider a one- to three-year deal from the Wild if he wants to play at home in Minnesota.
That’s because it’s clear the Wild has significant interest in Niskanen, who lives in Tower, Minn. The 27-year-old right-shot blue-liner had a career year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 10 goals and finishing 13th among defensemen with 46 points. He led all defensemen with a plus-33 rating.
The question is whether Vanek would forgo potential long-term security elsewhere for the opportunity to stay in Minnesota. After all, he turned down a seven-year, $49 million contract offer from the Islanders last season and an even more lucrative offer from the Sabres.
Continued with talk about Willie Mitchell returning to Minnesota, and again, Russo reported that the players represented by top agents probably won't be in Philadelphia (though it would not surprise me if a little man in a top hat calling himself AnDay OyleBay makes an appearance ), it appears to be time for each and every team interested in a free agent to talk contract...Cheesesteak.
The NHL's free agent "wining and dining" period has begun, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that teams interested in some of the top UFA's-to-be will be sorely disappointed if they were hoping to speak with them in Philadelphia:
Last year, when bought-out Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier was seen in a New York hotel, reporters and TV stations camped out in the lobby. That’s why the agents of Vanek and Niskanen both say neither client will come to Philadelphia.
“The whole [interview period] isn’t working, at least from the player side, the way it was intended,” said agent Steve Bartlett, whose top two free agents this cycle are [Thomas] Vanek and Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan. “It handcuffs everybody when everybody’s sitting in Philly. The way this was envisioned was players could go into cities and see the schools, the neighborhoods, look at the facilities, go out to dinner. When someone has to make what often they feel is a pressure decision on July 1 or 2, they want to have a sense more than just what they might know from playing on a visiting team.”
It's believed that Callahan's close to re-signing with Tampa Bay...[edit: and while I was thinking out loud, I'm sure that the GM's and team officials know that these players won't be in Philly, and as such, they've probably already booked flights to the major agents' offices in Toronto, which are generally located in nondescript buildings near Lester B. Pearson International Airport]
Bartlett won’t bring any of his pending free agents to Philadelphia. Agent Don Meehan, whose agency, Newport Sports, represents pending free agents such as Jarome Iginla, Brad Richards, David Legwand and the Wild’s Matt Moulson, said he won’t either.
However, one agent who asked not to be named because he doesn’t want to create a distraction, said he might bring a “few of my lesser free agents.”
Russo continues, and while he simply says that Matt Niskanen won't be in Philadephia, either, it's intimated as his agent, Neil Sheehy, didn't comment per se [edit: Sheehy is based in the remote location of International Falls, Minnesota, so it's kind of hard to miss a GM taking a connecting flight to the border of Minnesota and Ontario at Minneapolis-St. Paul]; in his blog, Russo states that Bartlett will sell Vanek to clients based upon his body of regular-season work:
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Tags: brad+richards, clayton+stoner, david+legwand, don+meehan, jarome+iginla, minnesota+wild, philadelphia+flyers, ryan+callahan, tampa+bay+lightning, thomas+vanek, vincent+lecavalier, willie+mitchell
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
You will hear this term a lot leading into free agency: There is a “price point” the Wild is willing to reach for certain players. Thomas Vanek is no longer a given. Four or five months ago, I think it was a given. But the bright future that many of the kids provide the Wild coupled with Vanek’s tough postseason with Montreal has changed things.
The Wild has a lot of players 28 and older, a lot of players 24 and younger. You don’t want to get too many players north of 30 on long-term deals, so there’s a specific price point I think the Wild’s willing to reach with Vanek. I don’t get the impression the Wild’s willing to sign him to a long-term deal anymore. Vanek will have good options in free agency, so is he really going to sign in Minnesota for two or three years? Hard to believe, especially after reportedly turning down a seven-year, $49 million deal with the Islanders. While that contract probably won’t be on the table with any team anymore, he certainly should still be able to get decent term of four or five years with some teams.
much more on the Wild...
from Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press,
As much as Vanek disappeared for the Canadiens in the playoffs, Gaborik has grabbed the spotlight. Of course, we always have to clarify that by saying "a healthy" Gaborik has grabbed the spotlight. Still, it's fascinating to watch. And Gaborik, too, is about to be a free agent.
There's no question the Kings will make every effort to re-sign him, but Gaborik still will field offers before making his decision. He is 32 years old. Vanek is 30. For the sake of decision, let's look at some numbers.
Vanek is coming off of a seven-year, $50 million contract originally signed with the Buffalo Sabres. He didn't help himself with his playoff performance, but he is still going to command a long-term deal. Gaborik is coming off of a five-year, $37.5 million contract originally signed with the New York Rangers. With his history of injuries, he won't be able to command a long-term deal.
Let's say they end up with similar money on the open market -- I don't know that they will, but we'll assume that -- but Vanek insists on five or six years while Gaborik will take three years or maybe even two. Does that make it more interesting? After all, the Wild have young players coming up through the pipeline. It might be tough to commit that much money for that long.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks was very busy on Saturday evening, pondering the fates of Brian Boyle and the Rangers' unrestricted and restricted free agents-to-be, as well as positing a thorough set of NHL notes. The main topic of his latter work may be a well-tread-upon (trodden-upon?) subject, but it bears repeating.
On July 1st, we know that Thomas Vanek will earn a boatload of money. What we don't know is how much he's going to earn, nor do we know whether his spectacularly mediocre playoff run with the Montreal Canadiens has changed NHL general managers' minds as to whether Vanek is in fact a game-breaking player, or whether he's the kind of "specialist" player who needs to be placed amidst both a strong supporting cast and a set of doing-the-hard-work-for-him linemates who must pave the way for someone who might not be the natural goal-scoring machine everyone thought he was prior to his trade to the Islanders last December.
Is Vanek worth the investment that somebody is more likely than not to put into someone who either is a game-breaker or is in fact the modern-day Ray Sheppard? Brooks isn't sure:
[There's no] evidence at all the winger is remotely worth the seven-year, $50 million deal he rejected from the Islanders before being sent to Montreal at the deadline. No evidence he is anyone’s missing piece to a playoff puzzle.
And yet, the rule of the NHL market is — or has been: Players don’t pay a price for having underperformed and teams indeed will pay the manufacturer’s sticker price, regardless.
See: Semin, Alex for a prime example. Another: Thornton, Joe.
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Tags: brad+richards, dan+boyle, marian+gaborik, matt+moulson, matt+niskanen, mike+cammaleri, minnesota+wild, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, paul+stastny, ryan+callahan, thomas+vanek
Regarding Vanek's UFA status...
Via Shnarped Hockey, it's quite the compliment for an old, crazy Czech who's been arguing with Jaromir Jagr lately when people call this remarkable Henrik Lundqvist save a "Hasek":
Thomas Vanek can't buy a goal (ha).
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
When times were good in Montreal, there was some talk that the Canadiens might actually consider bidding for Vanek in free agency. Now, it seems highly unlikely, given what a negligible impact he’s had on their run to the semi-finals.
But will Minnesota welcome him now, after making inquiries at the deadline, but ultimately settling for Matt Moulson, because the acquisition cost and the dollars out were more affordable? Moulson wasn’t a great fit in Minnesota and the New York Islanders would do well to try and kiss and make up, after dealing him for Vanek in the first place. Minnesota has the great good fortune of having Dany Heatley’s $7-million cap hit disappear after this season, but committing that money to Vanek, a player of questionable playoff pedigree, seems ill-advised at this stage. The Wild seem to have a good thing going, with the group they’ve assembled now. Sitting out free agency this summer makes the most sense for them.
more hockey topics including the Pittsurgh Penguins and Mike Ricards...
It took a while for Don Cherry to get going on Coach's Corner on Monday night, but around the 2-minute mark, he suggested that Thomas Vanek's, "Mind is in Minnesota" (oh, and he may have sworn in the process). Then he went on to give Corey Crawford praise for "stealing" Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, to suggest that the NHL ought to get rid of the "Marsh Pegs" to restore players' fear of going into the goalposts, of course he decided to spend a chunk of time defending "Milan Loosick," pointing out that Andrei Markov may have incited Lucic's remarks.
Thanks to "Captain Canada," you'll hear Cherry's post-game remarks, too.
So everybody and their brother's uncle's cousin's monkey's hedge-trimmer assumes that the Minnesota Wild are going to sign Thomas Vanek as an unrestricted freeagent, and as we've already gotten several, "Craig Leipold and the Wild Will Not Be Over-spent" spiels regarding Vanek and Suter-and-Parise before them (which are, of course, TOTALLY NOT COLLUSION), here's Eddie Olczyk talking to the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters about Vanek's pluses and minuses:
"I love Thomas Vanek," Ed Olczyk said. "It's hard to find difference makers. He's certainly one of those guys, especially on the power play. There aren't many guys better in the league on the power play than Thomas Vanek."
Olczyk, who played 16 NHL seasons as a center, was an NBCSN-TV analyst for the Wild-Blackhawks playoff series.
"The interesting thing (regarding Vanek) is that the Eastern Conference is a different animal than the West, with the up and down, the skating. The East is a quicker conference, much quicker," Olczyk said. "That would be the only thing (of concern) with me with Vanek. But he's a proven 30-goal scorer. How many 30-goal scorers are there in the NHL? Not a lot. But especially on the power-play -- he's so good in front of the net, has a willingness to go to the front of the net. You need a goal on the power play, the puck finds him."
The Wild have been deficient on the power play.
The Minnesota Wild certainly played well in forcing the Blackhawks to six games and an overtime period, but Patrick Kane scoring in overtime has become something of a team-killing cliche. With Ryan Suter chasing his check behind the net and Jonas Brodin engaging in a "fly-by," Matt Cooke needed to try to neutralize Kane as a weird bounce off the back-boards got Ilya Bryzgalov moving, and Cooke whiffed, while Kane did not:
The result? A 2-1 OT win for Chicago, who will wait for the winner of the Ducks-Kings series in the Western Conference Finals, and all of one playoff-winning round for Craig Leipold and his $196 million investment in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, though it's assumed that it's all but inevitable that Austrian-turned-Minnesotan Thomas Vanek will sign with the Wild this summer (as ESPN's Craig Custance suggests in an Insider-only entry). I wonder what excuse Leipold will use if or when he tries to lock out the players and fans again?
Given that 1. One Craig Leipold's pals in the media penned a set of "feeler" articles stating that he would not be out-bid for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's services, given that 2. Leipold signed the players to lockout-proof contracts and then complained about player costs hampering his business, while he played one of the pivotal owners' roles during the third owners' lockout, and given that 3. the Pioneer Press's Charley Walters posited what is sure to be the first of several, "Leipold won't be out-bid on Vanek, either" not-quite-collusion "feelers"...
I'm not exactly a fan of the warm fuzzies written about a man who spent $196 million on two players and then decided to lament the spending practices of the other guys...
But the "warm fuzzies" continue to flow, and the Star-Tribune's Patrick Reusse spoke with Leipold about the concept that signing Suter and Parise was a community as well as a business decision:
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The reason Vanek is a millionaire many times over is because of an uncanny ability to sense opportunity and strike. He’s not flashy, nor does he have great speed or a big shot; rather, he seems to disappear in plain view before re-emerging at just the right moment, a rare skill. His first three goals with Montreal (a hat trick in front of a home crowd that roared his name in adoration as he was named the game’s first star) were perfectly emblematic of what makes him so dangerous. The first two were quick shots from in front when a defenceman seemed to lose track of him. The third was a tipped point shot—again, with him standing right in front of the goal. He’s not often mentioned among the world’s elite goal scorers, but only Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk have scored more goals than him since the beginning of the 2006–07 season. As one NHL coach puts it: “You don’t spend the whole night worrying about Vanek, but by the time the game is over you might wish you had.”
All 30 NHL teams would happily find room for Vanek’s remarkable consistency in their lineups. He has at least 25 goals in each of his eight non-lockout-shortened seasons and has proven himself durable. Not many players can boast those qualities, and you can bet that fact hasn’t escaped Vanek (or agent Stephen Bartlett). This is a man who understands leverage better than most. He’s had it—and used it—every time he’s needed a new contract. July 1 will be no different.
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada with a look at Thomas Vanek and the adjustments his linemates have made to play with him.
The NHL is apparently seeking officials...
Dreger: They're calling it the NHL Exposure Combine and the belief is that they're hoping to bring in upwards of 60 high-level prospects. They're going to collect these, literally, from around the world, but yes, they will send invites to certain universities and NCAA colleges for those graduating hockey players who perhaps want to pursue a career as an NHL on-ice official.
They'll hold the combine in August in Buffalo. There will be considerable physical testing but it's all part of trying to expand the search and every other year, they'll do an amateur version.
McKenzie: I smell a reality show coming: “So You Wanna Be a Ref?”
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson leads us up to the trade deadline wondering whether the trade deadline will in fact play out as witnessing Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim attempt to strike back at the St. Louis Blues' preemptive roster-strenghtening strike in bringing Ryan Miller and Steve Ott into the fold:
Do the Kings have to get New York Islanders’ unrestricted free agent winger Thomas Vanek now, even if the whole world knows Vanek is going to sign in Minnesota, where he has a summer home? Or should they go for Matt Moulson, who played 29 games with L.A. after general manager Dean Lombardi signed him as a free agent out of Cornell University in 2006?
Do the Ducks, who have two first-round picks and two seconds this June and need a right-handed shooting defenceman, take a big swing at six-foot-eight Tyler Myers in Buffalo, even though his salary-cap hit is $5.5 million? They could offer somebody like forward Kyle Palmeiri, but would probably keep winger Emerson Etem and goalie Viktor Fasth.
Are the Sharks deep enough with the return of third-line winger Raffi Torres following knee surgery, No. 2 centre Logan Couture (hand operation), and rookie sensation winger Tomas Hertl (knee) skating again?
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Tags: anaheim+ducks, andrew+macdonald, buffalo+sabres, chris+phillips, christian+ehrhoff, dean+lombardi, kyle+palmieri, los+angeles+kings, matt+moulson, new+york+islanders, ryan+callahan, san+jose+sharks, thomas+vanek, tomas+hertl, tyler+myers
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch offers a smorgasbord of rumor news in his last pre-trade-deadline Sunday missive, but the best way to summarize his statements involves encapsulating the following and letting you read on from there:
TOP 5 SELLERS
- BUFFALO SABRES - GM Tim Murray made a huge move Friday by dealing goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues. He isn’t finished yet, he still has Matt Moulson and anyone else up for grabs.
- EDMONTON OILERS - Craig MacTavish has been trying to make moves all year and he’s made a couple of deals. He’d like to move forward Ales Hemsky and will retain salary. A lot of teams will try to make a bigger deal for winger Jordan Eberle.
- N.Y. ISLANDERS - Losing captain John Tavares to injury gives GM Garth Snow the green light to move left wing Thomas Vanek and defenceman Andy MacDonald. Vanek might be the most sought-after player and MacDonald won’t be far behind.
- NASHVILLE PREDATORS - This might be a bit of a surprise but they are a longshot to make the playoffs. A lot of teams have called about centre David Legwand. He may not be the only one to go. Wouldn’t be surprised to see many gone.
- CALGARY FLAMES - Interim GM Brian Burke hasn’t made any bold moves since he took over but you can expect him to be busy. The club would like to keep UFA Mike Cammalleri but it’s doubtful he’ll stay. There are options for buyers.
Garrioch goes from there, listing his top 5 buyers, discussing Markov to Edmonton(?), the Stars' situation, news from Long Island, New York City, San Jose, Calgary, etc...
And this is just me, but if Garth Snow wants a top prospect, a 1st rounder and a 2nd rounder for Thomas Vanek, I may have considered that before Vanek confirmed that he wanted to test the maret...But now that he embarrassed himself and the Austrian Olympic team by going out and getting blotto with some teammates prior to battling Slovenia, I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole.
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Tags: ales+hemsky, andrew+macdonald, buffalo+sabres, calgary+flames, craig+mactavish, david+legwand, edmonton+oilers, garth+snow, matt+moulson, mike+cammalleri, nashville+predators, new+york+islanders, thomas+vanek
from Brett Crygolis of the New York Post,
Thomas Vanek certainly enjoyed his time in Sochi, just as he is enjoying his time with the Islanders — and both situations will be short-lived.
It’s inevitable that by the March 5 trade deadline, general manager Garth Snow will trade Vanek, now even more so in the wake of star center John Tavares’ injury, sustained while playing for Team Canada en route to its gold medal. The Islanders are 12 points out of a playoff position with six teams to leapfrog as the final 22-game stretch begins on Thursday with the Maple Leafs at the Coliseum.
The big story now is what can Snow get in return for the 30-year-old sniper. Looking for at least a first-round pick, in addition to a second-rounder or a high-level prospect, the asking price is similar to what Snow sent the Sabres for Vanek on Oct. 28, minus the inclusion of pending free agent, Matt Moulson. Vanek has already turned down a seven-year, $50 million offer Snow put on the table, as he is determined to reach free agency on July 1.
“It’s part of the business,” Vanek said. “I’ve been through it once now, and whatever happens, happens. I’m happy to be back here today to see the guys and practice and get ready for Thursday.”
more including Vanek on the late night incident in Sochi...
I follow some very surprising hockey people on Twitter, and one of them is Gunnar Svensson. Svensson happens to represent Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Magnus Paajarvi, Frans Nielsen and Anton Stralman (among others) as an NHLPA-certified agent, and he Tweets some intriguing stories, including one from Eurohockey.com's Dennis Mende that you'd think would belong in the 90's, not 2014.
According to Mende, the Austrian Olympic hockey team delivered a stinker of a performance in their stunning 4-0 loss to Slovenia for a simple reason: Thomas Vanek, Michel Grabner, Michal Raffl and the rest of a big, tough and heavy Austrian team went out drinking the night before they lost to Slovenia (update: via Aftonbladet, the Austrian reports are worse, suggesting that the players were all but literally punch-drunk):
There were discussions after Austria's weak and often helpless performance against Slovenia in the quarterfinal qualification of the men's ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on Tuesday. The answer might be an easy but shocking one. After a 3-1 win against Norway to end group B on the 3rd spot on Sunday a group of players celebrated way too heavy. Until up to 6 am the players hung out drinking In the Austria House and a local club in Krasnaya Polyana.
"If you have told me before the game we'd score four goals against Finland, I'd think we would have had a chance .But to let in eight? Our goalie needs to be the best player, and we need to help him out better.
"If guys didn't know what to expect out of this tournament, I think they got a good reality check today."
-Thomas Vanek of Team Austria after losing 8-4 to Team Finland. More from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
It appears that Thomas Vanek's stay with the Islanders likely will not last beyond the March 5 trade deadline.
NHL sources told Newsday that Vanek, acquired from the Sabres on Oct. 27, turned down a substantial contract offer from the Isles and that general manager Garth Snow is fielding offers for the 30-year-old wing.
The offer is believed to be in the same range as Vanek's current seven-year, $50 million deal. That contract expires on June 30.
Steve Bartlett, Vanek's agent, told Newsday on Monday morning that he and Snow have not talked in the past several days. Bartlett said Vanek has not closed the door on the Islanders but added that his client "has no real deadline" to let the team know he intends to go to unrestricted free agency on July 1.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
Thomas Vanek is nearing a decision, according to his agent. Which means the Islanders are nearing a decision on whether Vanek, their big early-season acquisition, will be on the move again before the March 5 trade deadline.
"I don't think any final decision has been made yet," Steve Bartlett, Vanek's agent, told Newsday on Wednesday. "We continue to have what I consider very good and constructive conversations with the Islanders. But we're not there yet."
Garth Snow is believed to be gauging the trade market for Vanek, according to a league source, given that there are only eight days until the Olympic roster freeze, which runs from Feb. 7-23, and then only 10 days until the trade deadline.
Over the last 36-or-so hours, hockey pundits have dedicated a significant amount of bandwidth to dissecting the Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson trade, attempting to discern whether either player has a long-term future with their new respective employers, or whether the New York Islanders or Buffalo Sabres "won" the trade.
In an "Ask Matty" column, I believe that the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson offers the most honest--and blunt--assessment of the trade:
Q: What do you think about Buffalo trading Thomas Vanek now and not waiting until the trade deadline? (Jeff Lore)
A: Embattled Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier did nicely to get first- and second-round draft picks and Matt Moulson for essentially a rental player, and he can use Moulson at the trade deadline to maybe get another first-rounder because he, too, is an unrestricted free-agent. Moulson, who had John Tavares passing him the puck on Long Island, will find it a tad more difficult to score goals in Buffalo with nobody nearly as good as Tavares in the Sabres lineup. Vanek is a better sniper, but Moulson is a solid NHL winger who can fill the hole for now. It’s not a deep amateur draft, but if Buffalo can move Moulson, they could still have three first-rounders in June. Question I have: didn’t the Islanders need UFA goalie Ryan Miller from Buffalo more than Vanek? Evgeni Nabokov is a middling tender, at best.
Matheson continues while answering Oilers-related comments, and I just don't know whether Garth Snow can convince Vanek to remain an Islander long-term. As ESPN New York's Katie Strang suggested, Snow made a "gamble" in removing Islanders captian John Tavares' closest on-ice pal from the equation:
added 8:36pm, Sabres press release is below...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Vanek, a rugged 6-foot-2, 207-pounder who is one of Buffalo's cornerstones, could bring the Sabres several prospects (Scott Laughton? Nick Cousins? Oliver Lauridsen?) and/or draft picks.
He would feel right at home with the Flyers because he was winger Michael Raffl's linemate with Austria at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.
"I've never seen anybody play like he does in front of the net," Raffl said after the Flyers practice Wednesday in Voorhees. "He's unbelievable."...
Yes, it would be risky to acquire Vanek - whose $7.1 million cap hit would cause the Flyers to make some auxiliary moves, like including Andrej Meszaros in the deal, to free cap space - because he could sign elsewhere after the season. The Flyers need to take that risk. Roll the dice and make re-signing him a priority. The cap is going up after the season, and the Flyers will have Kimmo Timonen ($6 million) and Meszaros ($4 million) coming off the books.
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
Even though the snow had not yet hit Buffalo, there was plenty of 'digging' going on in front of Montreal goalkeeper Peter Budaj. A plow in the form of Steve Ott cleared Budaj off the frozen puck which allowed Thomas Vanek to push it across the line and force overtime.
Prior to video review concluding that the puck had 'crossed the goal line in legal fashion,' I was in communication with That's Hockey2Nite producer Jason Palter advising him as to why the whistle should have blown to stop play on two counts prior to Vanek pushing the puck across the goal line.
Five minutes after Buffalo defeated the Canadiens in a shootout I was on the air via Skype with super talented host Steve Kouleas providing my take on the goal that never should have been allowed.
As I share my findings with you in this edition of C'Mon Ref, we see yet another example of undetected contact with the goalkeeper which impacted the game.
more and watch the goal below...
Thomas Vanek of the Sabres had 3 goals and 2 helpers tonight, his second five point night of the season. On opening night, he had 2g and 3a.
Here are his goals tonight...
Thomas Vanek picks up the pick and beats Brent Johnson after it takes a strange bounce off the glass.
As a public service to numbers geeks and the attention span impaired, we now bring you a quick analysis of the Buffalo Sabres’ current 10-4-1 streak which has allowed them to close to within five points of a playoff spot:
Buffalo’s stellar record as of late can really be attributed to their power play (13-46, 28.2%) and their ability to win the close ones (5-1-1 in one-goal games). More numbers:
Leading scorers: Thomas Vanek (6-13-19), Jason Pominville (6-9-15), Drew Stafford (7-5-12), Tyler Ennis (3-7-10), Jochen Hecht (5-4-9).
Goaltending: Ryan Miller - started all 15 games, 2.71 GAA, .919 save percentage.
Special teams: Power play - 13-46 (28.2%); Penalty killing - 47-55 (85.5%).
Goal differential: In regulation - 47 goals for, 42 against; 5 on 5 - 36 goals for, 30 against.
Location, location, location: 4-2-0 at home, 6-2-1 away.
Against quality opposition: 6-2-0 vs. teams currently in playoff position.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: buffalo+sabres, drew+stafford, jason+pominville, jochen+hecht, ryan+miller, sabres+stats, sabres+streak, thomas+vanek, tyler+ennis, tyler+myers
The Buffalo Sabres’ lack of sympathy for the misfortunes of the free falling Ottawa Senators should be in full display tonight at Scotiabank Place.
The streaking Sabres need every point they can get, and if that means figuratively kicking their already wounded division rival in the stomach on their way out the door towards the All-Star break, then so be it.
In their last 12 games, the Sabres are 8-3-1 while the Sens are 1-8-3. Ottawa will start Brian Elliott, who is winless in his last 10 starts, in goal tonight.
Still, it’s not like the Sabres don’t have issues of their own. They need to win this one just to get within four points of eighth place. The defense is still shaky. To be honest, not a whole lot of fans and media here are taking the streak too seriously.
Sometimes it’s as simple as your best players being your best players.
The Sabres earned a big 4-2 win in Boston last night, and regardless of what the 3-stars voters had to say, this game was about Ryan Miller (38 saves) and Thomas Vanek (game-winning goal, assist) coming through when it mattered most.
On the subject of Miller, there have been rumblings in the local media that he should get a game off before the All-Star break. The talk after last night’s game was about whether or not Patrick Lalime or Jhonas Enroth should start the following night against the New York Islanders.
This is the same media that reminds us continuously that the Sabres as an organization don’t display enough desperation. Sitting a healthy Miller tonight, when the alternatives are a guy who hasn’t won a single game since Easter and a rookie struggling to be a .500 goalie in the AHL, wouldn’t exactly exemplify a sense of urgency.
With all of the media and fan obsession in this town over where the Buffalo Bills will be slotted in the NFL draft order this spring, Sabres fans might be interested to know that their hockey team is currently in line for a top 5 overall pick in 2011. The last time Buffalo was in such a position, they drafted a guy named Thomas Vanek.
With leading scorer Derek Roy likely done for the season, and with the gap from here to eighth place in the East ever so painfully widening, it might be time to start habitually looking down on the standings page instead of up.
News of the severity of Roy’s injury certainly felt like a skate boot to the stomach. And in timely fashion, disillusioned armchair GM’s are now calling for Darcy Regier to make a trade to bring in a top line center to replace him. You know, something similar to all of the other trades for top line centers that have been made around the league recently.
Vanek with a great move to win it in ooooovertime.
Not the best video, but it just the night is early.
Note 10:14pm, Replaced original video with one of better quality.
Rewind to three weeks ago: The 2010-11 season is about to commence, and your friends over at Psychic Freaks Network get a few premonitions right for a change. The crystal ball shows the Sabres completing their first 10-game segment with a winning road record, Derek Roy on pace for a 90-point season, and Tyler Ennis delivering pretty much as advertised and battling for the lead in rookie points.
If you’re a Sabres fan you’d be guessing first place on Halloween and hearing pundit predictions of a 40th franchise anniversary party with a happy ending, right? After further review, you might want to throw that crystal ball in the trash along with the Brett Hull trading card your prankster friend got you for your birthday.
Given all of the above, plus the fact that Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford are each on pace to exceed their respective goal totals from last season, how does this team find itself wallowing near the bottom of the pack at 3-6-1?
It’s a mystery why the three strongest performances by Buffalo thus far have been their three road contests, where they’ve averaged over 40 shots per game, but at this stage the Sabres will take points anywhere they can get them - even if nobody is there to see it.
It was an impressive 4-1 win last night in Atlanta in front of a few family and friends at a sparsely populated Philips Arena, and the script for getting some key players going couldn’t have been written much better.
Tyler Myers netted his first goal of 2010-11, and despite an ugly first period turnover he looked much better overall. There’s just too much ability there for the turnaround not to continue. Keep in mind that even when Myers was playing at his best last season he was prone to occasionally coughing up the puck. You must have some talent if you can win a Calder Trophy after leading the NHL in giveaways.
With the excitement of the 40th anniversary ceremonies only to be followed by the Sabres losing a 2-1 snooze-fest to the Montreal Canadiens, you can see why many folks in Buffalo took the liberty of comparing last night’s game to the 3-0 loss to the Habs on 10/15/70.
But there’s a much more recent anniversary that you could say is more suitable for comparison.
It was six months ago this weekend that the Sabres were in the midst of a futile week-and-a-half-long attempt to scrape together some offense in a first round playoff series against the Boston Bruins - a team that for various reasons was supposed to have major goal scoring problems of their own.
There are some striking similarities between Buffalo’s poor playoff performance and the events of last night’s game - and for that matter of this young season. It’s a scary reminder that nothing in the past six months with this team seems to have really changed.
Some Sabres musings compiled while looking at 29 different angles of the big hit last night, and wondering what they really put in those shoulder pads…
• With an extended absence from Jason Pominville likely, courtesy of Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, the opportunity is there for Nathan Gerbe to cement his place in the starting lineup. But with the way Portland Pirates (AHL) forward Luke Adam is playing, it might need to happen sooner for Gerbe rather than later. There is already talk of Portland commandeering an AHL Rookie of the Year three-peat. Gerbe and Tyler Ennis have won the award the past two seasons.