One success of the current CBA is that it has limited player holdouts. In fact the first one of any significance has come in the seventh season of the CBA. Kyle Turris of the Phoenix Coyotes is holding out this season.
Turris is stuck in a situation where players have limited bargaining power. They are restricted free agents, so they are tied to their current team, but they do not have salary arbitration rights. Thus they are forced to accept whatever terms they can negotiate with their current team and there are no outside influences that can reset things if either side is unrealistic. In principle, another team could sign him to an offer sheet, but as there were none leaguewide this year, that is a faint hope.
Turris is a young potential laden forward who is yet to accomplish much in his career. Last season he scored a career best 25 points, but as the third pick overall in the 2007 draft, much more is expected of him.
Whenever somebody makes meaningful change to anything, there is a backlash against them. This is true in hockey where Brendan Shanahan has become the NHL’s point man in trying to crack down on dangerous hits. Since he is in charge of suspensions in the NHL, he can suspend players who are involved in such hits.
Some people involved in hockey do not like the reduction in hits that this process will lead to. They are interested in derailing the process.
I think that getting rid of these dangerous hits is an important step for the NHL. Superstar players such as Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya had their careers end prematurely due to concussions. Fans lost out in seeing some great hockey from them because of their shortened careers. There is a risk that Sidney Crosby could join them with a concussion-shortened career.
This season the Los Angeles Kings are one of the four teams that started the season in Europe. They are different from the other teams that are starting the season overseas because both of the games they played were counted as Los Angeles Kings home games. That means that while most teams play 41 games in their home stadium in a regular season and historically teams that start the season overseas play 40, the Kings will play 39. This is a bit of a disadvantage for Los Angeles. Big parts of home ice advantage come from familiarity with the surroundings and from a friendly crowd. Neither of these exists in Europe. While Los Angeles had two overseas games counted as home ones (instead of the traditional one home game and one away), both of the New York Rangers overseas games count as away games for the team. This shows us the level of negotiation that is involved in league events - even something as simple as four overseas games.
For the past several years the NHL season has begun with a few teams playing their first couple of games overseas - most commonly in Europe. For the NHL this is an important piece of their marketing. The NHL teams may be based in North America but they have an international following. Fans overseas pay to watch games and buy NHL memorabilia. Giving some of them a chance to see an NHL game firsthand helps the league grow its game.
This year the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are starting their seasons in Europe this year. They play two games in Stockholm, Sweden, one in Berlin, Germany and one in Helsinki, Finland. These are some of the major hockey playing cities in Europe. It is important to the NHL to establish a presence in them because the KHL also wants to move into these cities and establish their presence first. Eventually the NHL will want to expand out of North America and when they do, these are their target cities.
The Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals both enter the 2011/12 season with payrolls that exceed the $64.3 million salary cap. This is because they have players on the injured reserve who are not counting toward their salary cap. It is expected that when these players become healthy enough to play some other player will be injured and they can make it through the season with a payroll above the salary cap. When the playoffs come they will have a payroll above the salary cap with which to try to win the Stanley Cup.
Vancouver has three players - Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Aaron Rome - who are out longterm. This allows Vancouver almost $1.5 million in extra salary space. Washington has Tom Poti out and this allows almost $2.5 million in extra salary space. These players may not be out all season, but when they return somebody else will likely be hurt and no payroll shedding will be necessary.
The Dallas Stars are going through bankruptcy and as a result have limited financial resources. Their finances are being run by the NHL. They planned to run a team with a low payroll that is not very far above the NHL salary floor of $48.3 million but have had a monkey wrench thrown at their efforts. Sean Avery was still in the Dallas Stars salary cap calculation even though he was a member of the New York Rangers because they lost him via re-entry waivers. As punishment for trying to bring a player to the NHL who had been making above a minor league maximum salary and having him claimed by another team, the Dallas Stars had to pay half his salary and have half of his salary cap hit assigned to them. The Rangers got Avery at half price as a result. This happened in 2009. For the remainder of his contract, Dallas would pay half of Sean Avery’s way. The contract ends in 2012. Dallas used the $1.9375 million salary cap hit they got from Avery to stay above the salary floor.
This was fine until the New York Rangers waived Avery at the end of training camp to send him to the AHL. With Avery in the AHL, he has no more salary cap hit for either team.
I am now finishing up my regular season predictions. The West Conference was done here and the divisions of the East Conference were done individually with the Northeast Division here, Atlantic Division here and Southeast Division here.
This will be a listing of the predicted finish of the East Conference team. There is no blurb for each team. Those can be found in the divisional posts.
I continue with my regular season predictions today. The West Conference was done here, the Northeast Division was done here and the Atlantic Division was done here. Today we carry on to the Southeast Division.
1. Washington Capitals - The Capitals won the conference last year with Alexander Ovechkin having a subpar year while playing hurt. Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin all had their offensive totals drop significantly in most cases due to injury. I expect all four of those players to see increases in their output. Tomas Vokoun is in as their goaltender and he is one of the best in the league. These are all reasons to expect that last year’s conference winner will be even better this year. Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble offer some solid depth at forward behind the stars. On defence, John Carlson had a very good rookie year and should get better. Dennis Wideman, Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz offer depth. It is hard for the first place team to improve the next season, but I think Washington has done it.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins - They tied for the point lead in the division last year despite losing their top two scorers to injury for significant periods of time. Evgeni Malkin is back and should be healthy. Sidney Crosby has yet to fully recover from his concussion but should be ready for more than 41 games this year. James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal are some of the top depth forwards. On defence, Kris Letang had a breakout year last season. Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik provide some solid play in their own zone. Marc-Andre Fleury is a good goalie, but he is a tier below the top in the game. If the Penguins stars are healthy they will have little trouble winning the division. The biggest question is Sidney Crosby’s health.
I am carrying on with my regular season predictions today. Here are my West Conference predictions. Today I move onto the Northeast Division
1. Boston Bruins - This team may have won the Stanley Cup last year but they were not the best team in the league. I expect a Stanley Cup hangover from this team, but I still think they will win this division. Tim Thomas had an incredible season last year and though he is 37 years old he should be a top goalie again this season. If he falters, Tuukka Rask is the best backup goalie in the league. They have a strong defence led by Zdeno Chara, who is probably the best defenceman in hockey today. Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk are key depth defencemen. They lack any dominant scorers, but Patrice Bergeron, Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand are very good two way players. David Krejci and Nathan Horton are two solid scorers. Boston is hard to score on and that will make them a top team this year, but their lack of a top offence will keep them back of the top contenders.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
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