Kukla's Korner

The New York Rangers Face Stiff Competition In The Metropolitan Division

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News,

What does clearly set the Rangers back, however, is what happened elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division these past couple weeks, primarily in Washington and Columbus:

As the Rangers failed even to maintain the status quo, many of their closest rivals improved or — at the bare minimum — had the cap space and wherewithal to take their best run at doing so.

There may be significant skepticism about how much the Capitals upgraded by trading right wing Troy Brouwer in Thursday’s deal for St. Louis Blues right wing and USA Olympic shootout phenom T.J. Oshie, 28. Yet there is a question to pose to the doubters: How long can a team continue trotting out the same core of players, year after year, and always come up short before changing something up front?

Washington revamped its blue line last summer with the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Goaltender Braden Holtby had by far his best season as a pro. Alex Ovechkin didn’t win the MVP award, but he played like one. And now GM Brian MacLellan has added the skilled Oshie (115 points the past two seasons) as well as “Mr. Game 7,” former L.A. Kings Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams, 33, on the right side.

You know who needed a player exactly like Williams? The Rangers. Too bad a two-year, $6.5 million deal shoved them out of any consideration, since they’re so tight against the salary cap.

more on the Metropolitan Division plus other hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Impressions from the morning skate at day 2 of the Red Wings’ summer development camp ‘15

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

This morning, the Red Wings' prospects engaged in a set of drills that were designed to get them ready for today's scrimmage (4-5:30 PM), and Team Lindsay and Team Howe practiced simultaneously, so I was able to get in about 20 minutes of viewing of each set of prospects and a good look at some of the goalie drills that goalie coaches Jim Bedard and Jeff Salajko put the goalies through...

But 20 minutes of assessment isn't a particularly fantastic indicator of where a player's going to be, and scrimmages allow some players to shine and others to fade into the woodwork, so I can't promise that there's going to be some sort of massively revelatory observation today, but I'm going to do my best.

I should note from the outset that Andreas Athanasiou is not playing thus far; I've heard that he has a finger injury, but he is present at the camp and taking part in the off-ice activities, and Mitch Callahan continues to skate under the watchful eye of team trainer John Bernal as he recovers from a torn ACL.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Format for today’s summer development camp ‘15 scrimmage

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings' summer development campers are taking part in a scrimmage from 4-5:30 at Centre Ice Arena today, and he's its format:

The game will have a "running time warm-up" at 4 PM;

1. The game starts at 4:05 PM, and there will be 2 30-minute periods (i.e. two "halfs") which break down like this:

  • 10 minutes of running time;
  • 5 minute 5-on-4 PP for Team Lindsay; 5 minute PP for Team Howe;

2. There will be a 15-minute intermission to resurface the ice in between the two periods;

3. There will be a short dry scrape after the "second half," and then there will be a 10-man shootout with a sudden death option if there is a tie.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Audio from the second day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp ‘15

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings' summer development camp continued today with a set of simultaneous and split practices in which Team Lindsay and Team Howe prepared for the 4-5:30 PM scrimmage, and as the players were ready to get in the shower, have lunch and take their pre-game naps, I had to scramble as best I could for interviews, but I hope this is a "quality over quantity" scenario:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

A Deeper Nashville Predators Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,

"We now have the depth that we need," Poile said.

Jackman's veteran presence, which cost $4 million over two years, will balance what many believe is the NHL's strongest defense, led by do-it-all tandem Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Behind them stands Pekka Rinne, who reestablished himself last season as one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.

Nashville's top-six forward group will be anchored by centers Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, "two 35-year-old centers that we've eventually got to replace, whether that's in two years (or) three years," according to Poile.

In the mean time, they should be joined by Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, all of whom scored at least 20 goals last season. The last two remain unsigned as restricted free agents, but the expectation is that both will return on longer-term contracts.

Coincidentally, the Predators offered Hodgson the same one-year, $1.05 million contract that they gave Ribeiro last July after the Coyotes bought out his contract. The hope is that it will have the same effect on Hodgson, a former 20-goal scorer who will likely start as Nashville's third-line center, as it did on Ribeiro.

Rookies Steve Moses, whose 36 goals set a single-season KHL record, and Kevin Fiala are also intriguing options for coach Peter Laviolette to consider.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Will The Bufallo Sabres Make The Playoff?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Frank Seravalli of TSN,

October marks a fresh start for the Sabres. No team - not the Oilers, Coyotes, Hurricanes or Maple Leafs - lost as many games (120) as Buffalo over the last two seasons. They lost 102 of those games in regulation alone, back-to-back 51-loss campaigns.

With such sweeping moves, are the Sabres now a playoff team?

“You’re never going to get me to say that,” Murray responded. “If we go to the Conference Finals in two years and you ask me (then) if we’re going to make the playoffs the next year, I’m not going to say that.”

The turnaround would be historic - but not necessarily unprecedented.

The last team to go from 30th place to the playoffs the following season was the 2007-08 Philadelphia Flyers. They, too, lost out on the draft lottery - ending up with James van Riemsdyk instead of Patrick Kane in 2007.

With oodles of cap space, the Flyers brought in Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere in free agency. They traded for Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith. Braydon Coburn was added late in the miserable 2006-07 season.

It was funny Murray mentioned the Conference Finals off the cuff, since the Flyers improved from 56 points to 95 the next season, then knocked off the Capitals and Canadiens before falling to the Penguins in the penultimate series.

The 39-point swing is one of the largest year-to-year bumps in NHL history. Amazingly, the Flyers somehow survived a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) in February that year.


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

Morning news: Lidstrom discusses ‘the Hall call’ and development camp; Larkin the ‘ace’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Among this morning's Red Wings-related news stories:

1. The Traverse City Record-Eagle's James Cook spoke with Nicklas Lidstrom about Lidstrom's naming to the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2015 induction class and his sons Adam and Kevin taking part in the Wings' development camp...

“It’s turned out to be a great week,” Nicklas said. “We had this trip planned since spring — and I didn’t even know when they were going to announce the Hall of Fame. It just turned out we were in town when it happened, which made it all the sweeter.”

That call came Tuesday when he was driving around Detroit with his son Adam in the car. They were headed to see a display near Comerica Park depicting what the Red Wings’ new stadium will look like.

“He was talking (on the phone) and I didn’t know what it was about at first,” Adam said. “Then he told me that he just got inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I was just speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I just congratulated him. It was an unreal moment.”

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

An Easy Decision For Joel Ward

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,

In yet another move that strongly suggests that the Sharks are back in win-now mode, veteran right wing Joel Ward was signed on Friday to a three-year contract with San Jose.

On the day before July 4, Ward is taking off his red, white and blue to put on teal, leaving the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent. It became evident that Ward would be looking for a new home after Washington added T.J. Oshie via trade with St. Louis, and signed Justin Williams away from Los Angeles earlier this week.

Ward sounded excited to be coming to a club that he still believes can compete for a Stanley Cup.

“The names on the roster speak for themselves. It made the decision pretty easy,” Ward said on a conference call Friday. “I want to win, and give [myself] a chance to hoist the Cup. I thought that was a place that with the roster, I could come in here and fit and try to achieve that goal.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joel+ward

Overrated Oshie?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

I have no problem with the Blues’ decision to trade forward T.J. Oshie to Washington for power forward Troy Brouwer plus a goaltending prospect and a third-round draft pick.

I never really understood Oshie’s elevated status here, and the star treatment that came with it. Not that this was all Oshie’s doing, but he personified the Blues’ celebrity culture, and the attitude of self-entitlement that permeated the locker room at times.

Oshie wasn’t the most disciplined player early in his Blues years. He matured off the ice but never reached his full potential as a player. The overrated Oshie had one 20-goal season here, missed nearly 20 percent of the Blues’ games over his seven seasons, never evolved into a leader, and fell into the shadows with teammates who vanished under extreme postseason pressure.

Though he dismissively plays it off now, Oshie criticized coach Ken Hitchcock late last season. This took some gall; I’ll give Oshie that. No one is saying that it’s easy to play for Hitchcock, but he did coach Dallas to a Stanley Cup and ranks fourth in NHL history for most career victories.

What has Oshie won?


Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: t.j.+oshie

To The Defense Of Columbus

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

... after I read Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom’s piece entitled, “It’s my theory on the Blackhawks trading Brandon Saad, and I’m sticking to it.”

Rosenbloom writes:

I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman consigned the young, talented, money-hunting winger to one of the NHL’s maximum security prisons.

Rosenbloom’s subject is the blockbuster trade consummated on Tuesday, when the Blackhawks swapped Saad — a 22-year-old burgeoning star — and two prospects to the Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth-round draft pick.

Rosenbloom writes: 

Again, I could be wrong, but Bowman not only changed on the fly when Saad’s side reportedly demanded $6 million a year, but he also seemed to send a message to other players who want to take a hard stance in negotiations. You can collect your jackpot in hockey’s hinterlands.

Such moves aren’t new in the NHL — all sports, actually. Teams have tried to punish players this way for years.

It’s why Buffalo, Winnipeg and Edmonton have existed in the NHL. It’s why Oakland and Jacksonville exist in the NFL. It’s why Sacramento and Philadelphia exist in the NBA. It’s why Cleveland exists, period....

... I was unaware that Chicagoans could be so arrogant. 

Rosenbloom is punching down — which can be done, if one so chooses — from the City of Broad Shoulders. I love Columbus, where I have been content to raise a family. So, punch me. It has nothing to do with anything.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brandon+saad

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