Kukla's Korner

Off-Season Hockey Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Brophy of The Hockey News,

Some hockey thoughts from a scribe who wonders what the heck happened to the off-season:...

HALL OF VERY GOOD: Still trying to figure out why Rogatien Vachon was chosen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. My recollection of him was he was a very good goalie, but not a great goalie proving once again, it’s not what you do, but who you know. The Hall of Fame is for great players; not very good players.

SHOULD-BE HALL OF FAMERS: Theoren Fleury, Steve Larmer, Rick Martin, Paul Kariya, Alexander Mogilny and (it pains me to say) Tom Barrasso

EVANDER KANE: Not saying he is guilty of anything, but when is Evander Kane going to grow up? This kid has superstar skill, but rank amateur decision making ability. He is only 24 years old so there is plenty of time to grow up, but you have to wonder how long teams will want to bother with him

YOUNG GUNS SCARING VETS: Spoke with a few veterans who will be participating in the World Cup and to a man they said they fear playing Team North America, the team made up of players 24 years old and younger. One player summed it up by saying, “We are in a no-win situation. We are supposed to beat them so if we do, it’s no big deal. If we lose it is an embarrassment.” Frankly, I wouldn’t take it that far, especially now that Matt Murray of the Penguins has served notice that he’s a legitimate NHL goalie.

more notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Changes In St. Louis

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

Doug Armstrong did not consider saying goodbye to David Backes and Troy Brouwer and trading Brian Elliott an enjoyable exercise.

Backes was St. Louis’s captain. Brouwer, acquired the year before from Washington for T.J. Oshie, punched in 18 goals while dressing in 82 regular-season games. Elliott posted a .930 save percentage, the best mark in the league of any goalie appearing in at least half of his team’s games.

Armstrong’s roster, however, had progressed to the threshold where difficult decisions were required. Backes is 32. Brouwer turns 31 on Aug. 17. The 31-year-old Elliott was splitting time with 25-year-old Jake Allen. The Blues have younger players improving and lining up for raises. Calgary, desperate for a starting goalie, was willing to pay the price.

So a team that hit the wall in the Western Conference finals now finds itself in a state of transition that was not only required, but one that might leave it refreshed for another dash through the Central Division minefield.

“The time that I’ve been here with David, we’ve had five really good regular seasons and four really disappointing playoffs,” Armstrong said. “Last year’s playoffs, I certainly wouldn’t call them disappointing. They weren’t the ultimate goal. But it was a move in the right direction. I thought with last year’s team, we extended that window all the way through last year. With that group, I didn’t feel we’d be able to bring everybody back, just because of the age of the players and what we were doing. That was the year, and I thought the guys took great advantage of it.”

continued plus additional hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Frans Nielsen’s Role With The Wings

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

The Wings need a solid, veteran center to fill the void left by Datsyuk. Nielsen is good at both ends of the ice, and comes highly recommended by Wings director of pro scouting, Mark Howe, who chiefly eyeballs NHL games in the New York area. Howe described Nielsen as very consistent, adept in all situations, and willing to do what it takes to achieve success. This would be a nice change for the Wings, whose last two attempts at acquiring second-line centers (Stephen Weiss and Brad Richards) disappointed. If last year’s line of Dylan Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader reforms, Nielsen could form a line with Gustav Nyquist and maybe Darren Helm (for his speed), or maybe Thomas Vanek (consistently scores in 20-goal range, shoots right). Nielsen is also good insurance in case of an injury to Larkin or Zetterberg. Six years is hefty term to give a 32-year-old, but that’s the cost of doing business on the free agent market.

more

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Brent Seabrook Has A Poor Team Adjusted Corsi

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Yesterday I posted the worst 20 players in 2015/16 by team adjusted Corsi.  The biggest name player on the list is Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks.  He finished with the 13th worst ranking at -155.8.  Of the 20 worst players, Seabrook was the highest scoring in 2015/16.  He scored 14 goals and 35 assists  for 49 points.  He did this from defence.  It was the highest scoring season of his NHL career.  Thus Seabrook's offence is not a problem.  Is the problem his defence?  He has a reputation of being a very god defenceman.  He was on the gold medal winning 2010 Canadian Olympic Team. 

In fact Seabrook's puck possession numbers have fallen quickly in the last couple of years.  Seabrook is noticeably slowed down since his best days.  At age 31 he is no longer playing his best hockey.  During this time he has seen his giveaways increase significantly.  More frequently he has played his ice time apart from Duncan Keith who is generally a good puck possession player and has hence helped Seabrook keep his numbers up.

Brent Seabrook has managed to mask his decline with better offensive numbers but it has become a problem.  Chicago may have to find another top defenceman to help Seabrook reduce his playing time.  That will be a tough thing for them to do. 

It appears Brent Seabrook is into his decline.  This does not bode well for his role on the Blackhawks.  His Corsi is clearly showing his decline.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Luke Schenn Signs With The Arizona Coyotes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka announced today that the Coyotes have signed defenseman Luke Schenn to a two-year contract. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

"We are very pleased to sign Luke to a two-year contract," said Chayka. "He's a good, young defenseman and we feel we can optimize his performance here. He will be a solid addition to our blue line."

The 26-year-old Schenn registered 4-12-16 and 82 PIM in 72 games with the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings last season. The Saskatoon, SK native has recorded 28-100-128 with 409 PIM in 566 career games with the Kings, Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 6-foot-2, 229 pound Schenn was drafted in the first round (fifth overall) by the Maple Leafs in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: luke+schenn

Examining the Wings’ OHL-playing prospects

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Via RedWingsFeed, OHL Prospects' Brock Otten examines the Red Wings' Ontario Hockey League assets this morning:

1. Vili Saarijarvi - Flint Firebirds (now with the Mississauga Steelheads): There were some very impressive components to Saarijarvi's game this year, but there were also some very unimpressive ones. Saarijarvi is an absolute offensive wizard. His skating ability gives him fantastic separation ability off the rush and allows him to gain entry into the offensive zone with ease. He also runs the powerplay very well, showcasing a great point shot and vision when moving the puck. Defensively though, he's a major work in progress. Flint struggled as a team defensively, but Saarijarvi was definitely one of the guys at the root of that. He needs to play with more jam in his own end, as he can tend to get pushed around and his defensive awareness (tends to chase the puck) also needs seasoning. Saarijarvi can also take unnecessary liberties with the puck and can be turnover prone. He needs to pick his spots better. But the potential is very, very high. After an offseason trade, Saarijarvi will be playing for Mississauga next year. The Steelheads should have a fantastic team next year and they've got some quality defenders to insulate him. I expect big things. A 60 point season (which would put him near the top of defensive scoring) is possible.

Otten continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Introducing Hockey To The Detroit Youth

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from James Hawkins of the Detroit News,

For Rick Robertson, the timing seems as good as ever.

With construction of $627.5 million Little Caesars Arena in full swing and the Red Wings’ selection of 18-year-old forward Givani Smith in the second round of the NHL Draft, the downtown Detroit resident believes there’s plenty of hockey buzz in the city.

So in an effort to promote hockey among urban youth, Robertson is launching an outreach called the Detroit Amateur Hockey Info Table.

Its purpose is to answer questions about the sport and sign up kids of all ages in Detroit for skating lessons and hockey teams. There also are plans for hockey watch parties and providing complimentary hockey tickets.

“What we are is an introductory platform for hockey,” said Robertson, a community activist and consultant of volunteerism. “The idea is to get out there in places where you don’t find much visibility of a relationship with Detroit players, urban players, black players, players of color here in the city of Detroit.”

continued

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

The Season Outlook For Riley Sheahan

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Looking ahead: Sheahan, 24, can serve as a winger if needed, but he’s a natural at center. With either Henrik Zetterberg or Dylan Larkin expected to be the No. 1 center and newcomer Frans Nielsen slotted in the No. 2 spot, Sheahan could be a big asset as a third-line center. He’s good defensively (he became a key part of the penalty kill under coach Jeff Blashill), and his size makes him an ideal counterpunch, especially when the Wings face big centers. If Sheahan starts next season like he finished last season and sustains that level of play, there’s potential to have a really solid third line with possible wingers including Tomas Tatar, Thomas Vanek, Darren Helm, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen and maybe Anthony Mantha.

more

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Krupa: Richards represented the ‘wrong player at the wrong time’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa feels that the recently-retired Brad Richards represents a trend of the Red Wings signing the wrong types of veteran free agents at a time when the Wings should be giving younger players greater playing opportunities:

Criticizing the decision [to sign Richards] has less to do with whether [his contract] was about $1 million to $1.5 million too rich. It is more about the Red Wings’ continuing string of disappointments in the free-agent market and whether signing and playing Richards delayed the development of young talent.

Those are questions Holland and the Red Wings continue to face, as Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott join the roster this season.

Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar still look for more ice time with top-six forwards. Andreas Athanasiou searches for more ice time anywhere. Mantha and perhaps others (Tyler Bertuzzi? Dylan Sadowy?) try to crack the lineup.

As a free agent, Richards performed better than Steven Weiss. He was healthier than Mike Modano or Erik Cole. But he did not match Daniel Alfredsson, who tied for the Wings lead in scoring with 18 goals and 31 assists in 2013-14, the last season of his outstanding career.

Alfredsson is the only free agent signed by the Red Wings in several seasons whose success approached the hopes of management.

Not a good report card.

Krupa continues, and one could argue that the Red Wings have had the most trouble trying to find a solid 2nd-line center over the past five or six seasons. Hopefully Frans Nielsen finally does the trick...

And we're at the point where any free agent class that's better than Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo and Jordin Tootoo sounds impressive.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

MLive’s Mitsos examines Luke Glendening’s role

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Luke Glendening is a very good fourth-line center and utility forward, but he's tended to be in "over his head" when used as a second or third line match-up man. The eyeball test certainly confirms this, and, according to MLive's Tom Mitsos, advanced stats bear that out as well:

Last week, Michigan native Luke Glendening received a four-year, $7.2 million extension from the Detroit Red Wings.

Glendening, 27, had one year remaining on his three-year extension he signed in 2014. That cap hit was $628,333. The new deal will take him through the 2020-21 season and has a cap hit of $1.8 million that takes effect in 2017-18.

The Red Wings certainly have put a lot of value on his penalty-killing ability, defensive play and grit with the four-year deal. So, how does that compare to other NHL players with a cap hit of around $1.8 million on multiyear deals?

Mitsos continues, comparing Glendening to Eric Fehr, Trevor Lewis and Jay Beagle, and Glendening doesn't fare particularly well.

I certainly hope that Glendening continues to grow and succeed as a player, and I hope that the Red Wings see Glendening as the kind of player to build a strong fourth line around. He's not Kris Draper--and that's okay. He just needs to be utilized as his performance merits.

If he can hack it as a match-up third-line center, all the better for Glendening and the Wings, but it's still up to Glendening to prove himself as efficient in that role. That's the role the Wings appear to want to use him in, and he's got some improving to do there.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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