Kukla's Korner

Do You See A Bounce Back Year For Petr Mrazek?

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,

Despite the fact he posted the worst SP mark of any netminder to play at least half the campaign and finished with the highest GAA among that same group of netminders, there’s no reason to believe Mrazek can’t recover and produce better numbers, because the past season does seem like more of a blip on the radar than anything. Over the two prior seasons, over which Mrazek suited up in 83 games, he was one of 36 netminders to play 3,000-plus minutes at 5-on-5. Of those goaltenders, only eight, including the likes of Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford and Cory Schneider, posted better SPs than Mrazek’s .931 mark.

Those two campaigns were proof of his ability, proof that he could hold the starting job. That talent didn’t disappear overnight and the hope may be that the past campaign was nothing more than growing pains for a goaltender who is still yet to enter the prime of his career.

So, while there’s really no doubt that Howard is going to get every chance to be the starting netminder when the 2017-18 campaign kicks off, there’s no reason to believe Mrazek can’t creep back into the conversation for the No. 1 job and re-stake his claim as the future of the Red Wings’ crease by season’s end. And maybe, just maybe, if Mrazek does that, Detroit can put an end to their questions in the crease by this time next year.

more on Detroit's goalies....

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Kyle Okposo In His Own Words

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kyle Okposo at the Sabres' website,

It's been an interesting few months for me to say the least.

It all started with a routine hit in practice on a normal play. Just a hard bump. In fact, the play was so common that I sort of just brushed it off without thinking much of it.

But in the ensuing days, my mood began to change. I didn't notice, but the people around me did. By the time we were playing our game against Florida on March 27, I had been having trouble sleeping for a couple of days already. My senses for some reason were worsening with each passing day. I thought I was just overtired.

That game against Florida would end up being my last of the season.

By the time that game was over, I had no appetite. I realized I was beginning to lose weight. Still, I got on the plane to Columbus with the mindset that I would play the following night.

When things only got worse the next day, I spoke with coach and made the decision to sit that one out. I thought some rest and time off would do the trick. But even then, things didn't improve. I went to the hospital hoping that they could find a way for me to get some sleep.

The medications they gave me to sleep caused a negative reaction in my body. I still couldn't sleep, and the weight loss continued at an alarming rate. At one point, I weighed less than 200 pounds. I haven't weighed that little since I was 17. Now, the initial thought was a possible concussion.


Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kyle+okposo

Austin Watson Signs A Three-Year Deal With The Nashville Predators

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Nashville, Tenn. (July 24, 2017) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Monday that the club has signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million in 2017-18, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

Previously, the native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, led Milwaukee and tied for 14th in the American Hockey League in goals (26) in 2014-15, in addition to tying for second among all AHL skaters in game-winning goals (8) while appearing in all 76 regular-season games for the Admirals.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: austin+watson

A Six-Year Contract For Brian Dumoulin And The Pittsburgh Penguins

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Pittsburgh Penguins,

The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with defenseman Brian Dumoulin on a six-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The deal begins with the 2017-18 season and runs through the 2022-23 season, and has an average annual value of $4.1 million.

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin's empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+dumoulin

Ottawa Signs Johnny Oduya To A One-Year Contract

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

OTTAWA - The Ottawa Senators (@Senators) announced today that the club has signed defenceman Johnny Oduya to a one-year, $1 million contract. The contract has games played, time-on-ice and playoff bonuses that could add up to another $1,250,000 to the one million guarantee.

Oduya, 35, started last season with the Dallas Stars, before a February trade that returned him to the Chicago Blackhawks. In 52 regular-season games, he recorded two goals and nine points. He also dressed for all four of Chicago's playoff games.

A Stockholm native, Oduya has scored 37 goals and recorded 145 assists in 798 career games with the New Jersey Devils, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets, Chicago and Dallas. He has played in 106 career Stanley Cup Playoff games and was a member of the Blackhawks' 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup Championship teams.

Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals with their seventh-round selection (221st overall) in the 2001 NHL Draft, Oduya represented his native Sweden in the Winter Olympic Games in both 2010 and 2014.

added 9:31am, via tweets from Sens Communications,

The five $250K bonuses: top 5 in TOI for d-men, top 3 for TOI for d-men, play in 41 games, play in 65 games and qualify for the playoffs.

Additional note: The time-on-ice and playoff bonuses are only eligible if the 41 regular-season game milestone has been met.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: johnny+oduya

Connor Hellebuyck Agrees To A One-Year Deal With The Winnipeg Jets

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Winnipeg, MB - The Winnipeg Jets announced they have agreed to terms with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on a one-year contract with an average annual value of $2,250,000.

Hellebuyck, 24, appeared in a career-high 56 games for the Jets last season, going 26-19-4 with a 2.89 goals-against average, .907 save percentage and four shutouts. Against Central Division opponents, the product of Commerce, Mich. went 12-3-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .937 save percentage. He played the most games of any goaltender age 23 and younger in the NHL last season. In 82 NHL games, Hellebuyck has a 39-30-5 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

Hellebuyck was drafted by the Jets in the fifth round (130th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: connor+hellebuyck

All About Hockey At The Winter Olympics

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Andrew Podnieks of IIHF.com,

Today marks exactly 200 days until the 2018 Olympic Winter Games will open. With the Olympic ice hockey tournaments in PyeongChang not far away, we take this summer day to look forward to what will be the pre-eminent event on the international calendar in 2017/18. 

Where will games be played?

The 2018 Olympics features two venues for hockey, the 10,000-seat Gangneung Hockey Centre and the Kwandong Hockey Centre (capacity 6,000). Both arenas have an international ice surface. All ice sports will be played in the coastal city of Gangneung. The KTX high-speed train is being extended to PyeongChang and Gangneung. Travel time between Seoul and the Incheon airport to Gangneung will thus be reduced to 68 minutes. 

Who is the favourite?

Typically, Canada would have been considered the favourite as it has won the gold in three of the last four Olympics (except 2006), but the Russians must be mentioned as well because several top NHLers have returned to the KHL for the coming season to ensure they can play in Korea. There is most definitely an uncertainty for the other teams, a sense of the unknown, which will make the Olympics exciting in its own right, in a different way from the NHL years. 


Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: 2018+winter+olympics

Krupa: Tatar needs to ‘stick it’ to puck control

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

It would be impolite but accurate to suggest that Tomas Tatar can deke both himself and his opponents out of plays with equal aplomb--and frequency--and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa politely steps on the issue that is Tatar's relative inability to sustain possession of the puck enough to go from sniper to serious difference-maker:

Better puck possession by the 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward would help that cause, as well as his team’s efforts to win more games.

It is not so much that the small forward is muscled off the puck. Maintaining possession simply requires more care.

The periodic unforced error and errant pass seem more a matter of Tatar’s attention to detail than a lack of physicality.

While Corsi might not be an entirely reliable proxy for puck possession, in Tatar’s case the advanced statistic supports what the eyes see.

That Tatar’s Corsi-for percentage dropped from 64.6 to 56.3 in the past three seasons recommends better consideration when possessing the puck.

Another means of improving his game is defense, and if he played it better it would likely help his offense, too. It certainly would help the Wings win more.

Krupa continues, and, as he suggests, better puck control is necessary for Tatar to take the "next step"...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

‘Two Things’: On Libor Sulak and Thomas Vanek

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Red Wings will be able to bring defenseman Libor Sulak over to North America for the Wings' prospect tournament and main training camp despite his having contract with the Finnish Liiga's Lahti Pelicans, whose regular season begins around the same time as the prospect tournament:

“He skates really well, moves well for his size,” director of player development Shawn Horcoff said. “He is strong. I was really impressed. His skating ability was really impressive and he has a good shot. He was physical. He was really good.”

Sulak, 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, had 10 goals and 18 assists in 54 games last season with Orli Znojmo, a Czech-based team in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Austria. Then came an opportunity on a much bigger stage.

“The Czechs invited him to their camp prior to the World Championship and every week he just kept getting better,” Fischer said. “He was not a high-profile player, but by the end of the World Championship, he ended up playing top-four minutes for the Czech Republic. He did that in the quarterfinal against Russia, and Russia had some really good forwards like Nikita Kucherov and Artemi Panarin — guys that are elite in the world, elite in the NHL — and he did a good job.

St. James continues, and as she notes, Sulak will probably play for Lahti this upcoming season, but he's committed to playing in North America next year...

2. And in a subscriber-only article, The Athletic's Jack Han suggests that the Red Wings ought not to sign Thomas Vanek as he needs to be used in the kind of sheltered finisher's role that the Wings played him in last season to have any sort of effectiveness:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Afternoon Line- Ron MacLean On The Chances On Another Cup For The Pittsburgh Penguins

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“I would never bet against Crosby, and I’m really impressed with Matt Murray’s goaltending. With Kris Letang coming back—that’s something they didn’t even have—I think there’s a very, very good chance. That team’s strong enough to do it again.”

-Ron MacLean of Hockey Night in Canada.  Luke Fox of Sportsnet has more comments from MacLean on Calgary, Toronto, Vegas Golden Knights and Connor McDavid.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ron+maclean

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