Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Fear Of Arbitration

One under-reported theme that existed in several of the trade deadline deals is that teams are afraid of salary arbitration.  In the current climate of a stagnant salary cap, you might not be able to afford a player who goes to salary arbitration and wins big.  Teams may be forced to walk away from some of the salary arbitration offers. 

This partially explains the trading of Denis Grebeshkov, Ian White and Wojtech Wolski.  All are eligible for salary arbitration and all could receive relatively large salaries in the process.

Denis Grebeshkov was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Nashville Predators for a second round draft pick.  He is going to be a restricted free agent this summer and is coming off of a 39 point season on the Oilers defence.  This has him earning $3.15 million this year.  Although his offensive totals have been down this year, there is fear that an arbitration win could increase his salary and that is a significant reason in why Edmonton chose to move him.

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Stamkos`s Star Rising

The NHL season has been rather disjointed since February because of the Olympic break.  Nevertheless there have been a reasonable number of games played since February 1st to look at which players have been hot lately.  Some teams have played as many as twelve games in that period.  The top scorer in that time period is Steve Stamkos.  Stamkos has eleven goals and nine assists for twenty points in ten games played to lead the league.  He is one point up on linemate Martin St Louis and four points up on any other player. 

This Tampa Bay twosome has played very well, with Stamkos being the better of the two.  Unfortunately, their team has not capitalized on their success, as Tampa has been 5-5 in that period.  Tampa has had defensive problems.  They have allowed 34 goals (which is second highest in the league since Feb 1st - behind Edmonton`s 37 goals allowed in 12 games played).

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Rookie Of The Year Race

In early January, I picked Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres as the Calder trophy leader.  He has not kept up that pace.  In fact in his last ten games, Myers has only one point and -6 +/- rating.  Those are not Calder Trophy numbers.  Hence it is time to pick a new leader. 

The leader at this point is Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard.  He is the clear Detroit number one goalie (due in part to Chris Osgood’s failures).  Howard has a .925 saves percentage, which is good enough for fifth in the NHL and a 2.33 goals against average (8th in the league).  Among the NHL’s successful rookie goalies this year (Howard, Tuukka Rask and Antti Niemi) Howard has been the only one who has played the majority of his team’s games.

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NHL Gives Another Reason To Not Own A Team

The optics regarding the NHL’s ownership of the Phoenix Coyotes continue to look poorly.  It looks bad that a team run on league welfare is one of the biggest buyers at trade deadline time.  It looks even worse when the NHL sues the outgoing owner of the team.

Jerry Moyes lost a significant amount of money as Phoenix Coyotes owner.  He was unable or unwilling to finance a money losing team due to financial problems from his trucking business which is the primary source of his wealth.

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Phoenix’s Conflict Of Interest Continues

The Phoenix Coyotes are under NHL control and have been for all of this season.  A potential sale was announced in December to Ice Edge Holdings an underfunded group who wants to play some of the Coyotes home games in Saskatoon.  The fact that there have been no significant further announcements about this sale, while other sales such as Tampa Bay proceeded quickly shows that there are problems with this potential sale and that there may be no end in sight to the NHL’s ownership of the Coyotes.

Meanwhile, Phoenix is in fourth seed in the West Conference with a 38-27 record (with five regulation tie points).  A team in that position might be willing to buy players to make a potential playoff run at trade deadline time.  The problem is that the rest of the NHL is paying the Phoenix Coyotes payroll.  The rest of the NHL is paying for Phoenix to bulk up their team to try to defeat them.

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Quick Trade Deadline Analysis

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone.  The final day was full of trades, but most were teams exchanging spare parts and draft picks.  The biggest deadline deals came before the Olympic break.  Treating the trade deadline as the entire series of season end trades that began when Toronto acquired Jean-Sebastien Giguere in late January, here is a quick analysis of how teams fared in their deadline moves.

Biggest Short Term Improvement - New Jersey Devils  They added Ilya Kovalchuk, who is the best player to change hands in deadline deals.  It cost some depth players and young talent in Johnny Oduya, Niklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier and a first round pick.  Kovalchuk came from Atlanta with Anssi Salmela.  Kovalchuk is highly unlikely to stay in New Jersey beyond this season, but he immediately becomes the top offensive talent in New Jersey history.  Most of his cost is made up of players who will likely improve in the future.  This is a deal intended to help New Jersey contend today.  It does not make the Devils the top team in the NHL, but it does make them a more solid contender.  The Devils also added Martin Skoula cheaply for a fifth round pick.

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I NOW Consider Sidney Crosby A Hall Of Famer

I think the Olympic performance of two players cemented them in as Hall of Famers, regardless of anything that happens in the future of their careers.  Yesterday, I wrote about Jarome Iginla.  In the comments section, I was asked about the other one - Sidney Crosby.  I didn’t address why he was not on my Hall of Fame list yesterday, because in fact he is.  I wanted to have separate posts for Iginla and Crosby - and at this point I feel Iginla has a slightly better Hall of Fame case so I wrote his first.

Sidney Crosby has been in the NHL for four and two thirds seasons approximately.  This is a rather short tenure to have a Hall of Fame career, but he has done it.  In that time, Crosby has a Hart and Art Ross Trophy.  He has a Stanley Cup victory.  He now has an Olympic victory, where he scored the gold medal winning goal.

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I NOW Consider Jarome Iginla A Hall Of Famer

One question I find very interesting is exactly when I think a player is worthy of Hall of Fame induction based on their career to date, with no projection into the future. 

I think Jarome Iginla has recently met that standard.  Iginla has had considerable individual success.  He is a three time First Team All Star on right wing.  He is a two time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as top goal scorer in the league (once he tied for the award).  He is a onetime Art Ross Trophy winner, Pearson Award winner and a very close Hart Trophy runner up.  He was the top goal scorer in the 2004 playoffs and recently the top goal scorer in the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament.  All of that individual success is enough to cement a Hall of Fame induction.

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Men’s Olympic Medal Round

The Olympics completed yesterday.  The final event was the men’s hockey final.  For results of the preliminary round look here, the qualifying round , the quarter-finals here and the semi-finals here.  These are the results of the medal games.

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Sochi In 2014

With the gold medal game in the men’s hockey tournament coming up today, there is an issue that is in the back of the minds of all the hockey fans.  The NHL is threatening to not send professional players to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia and other Winter Olympiads in the future.  This Canada vs. USA gold medal game could be the last one ever.

Gary Bettman argues that it costs the NHL money to shut down the season in the middle of the playoff drive.  It disrupts the season.  He doesn’t like trusting the NHL’s best players to the International Olympic Committee.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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