Kukla's Korner

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.

more

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.”

continued

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?

continued

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.

more

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

Those “Sensationalized” Traffic Violations Regarding Leo Komarov

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

The Maple Leafs insist Leo Komarov has “co-operated” with Finnish authorities regarding criminal charges stemming from a “sensationalized” 2014 traffic accident.

Komarov, who rejoined the Leafs last season on a four-year deal, is facing four total counts brought by the city of Espoo’s District Court. Finnish media outlets say the 28-year-old was accused of causing a “traffic hazard” and of “falsifying information to police” about personal income related to undisclosed fines for the incident.

The Helsinki Times reported the Leafs forward could face up to six months in jail for his alleged part in the accident and an additional three months if he wasn’t truthful to investigators. A trial date has been set for August.

“We are aware of the circumstances surrounding Leo’s traffic violation,” Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said in a statement on Friday. “Reports overseas have been sensationalized due to Leo’s celebrity status, but he has co-operated with the authorities and we are confident this matter will be resolved soon.”

continued plus more Leafs talk...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: leo+komarov

Questions For Ansar Khan

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

It's Q & A time for Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Q: Why would the Wings sign a player (Joakim Andersson) who produces eight points per season with all of the young talent available in their system? Why not move (Brendan) Smith or just not sign him? – Bill

A: You always re-sign your restricted free agents, unless the player is completely incapable of playing in the NHL. It increases your assets and potential trading chips.

They'd like more than eight points from Andersson, but his primary function is to check and kill penalties. He's making $815,000, which is ideal for a fourth-line player and/or 13th/14th forward. If one of those young players from Grand Rapids cracks the lineup (they're not keeping a waiver-exempt player as a spare) and they need a roster spot, they could waive Andersson and his entire salary would be off the cap even if he goes unclaimed and is reassigned.

Smith is better than you're giving him credit for and might improve under new coach Jeff Blashill. Not signing him was not an option. If he regresses or younger players prove to be better, they can always move him.

Q: Where was Kenny when one of the best young defensemen in the league (Dougie Hamilton) is being moved for a first and two seconds? – Justin

A: Let's use some common sense here. There is no way the Boston Bruins are going to trade "one of the best young defensemen in the league" to an Atlantic Division rival. Can you explain why the Bruins would want to give the Red Wings an immediate boost while taking draft picks in return (by the way, Calgary's first-round pick was No. 15, Detroit's was No. 19, and the Red Wings had no second-rounders). The Bruins were facing a cap crunch, so I'm assuming they only wanted futures (picks, prospects) in return.

more questions and answers...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Cody Franson Is Still Available

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,

At the same time, on Oilers NowThe Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson said he didn’t think Franson would be a good fit for the Oilers as Franson had played poorly for Nashhville after being traded there by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Broadcaster Bob Stauffer of the Oilers said on his Oilers Now show that he doubted that the Oilers would or should go after a top free agent, though he said if the team could shed some salary it might well target Andrej Sekera. Stauffer’s speculation once against turned into the fact of the matter, which makes some sense given that Stauffer is obsessive in tracking down the facts and also works for the Oilers, making him not just a hockey insider, but an NHL employee.

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun speculated on Stauffer’s show that Franson would sign with his old team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle tweeted this would not happen, but the rumour resurfaced on free agency day.

On the morning of July 1, ESPN’s highly-connected Pierre LeBrun reported that the Oilers were indeed interested in Franson, along with Mike Green and Sekera.

Since then there’s been pretty much crickets on Franson.

While top UFA d-men like Sekera signed with Edmonton, Paul Martin with San Jose and Mike Green with Detroit, there’s been little smoke on the Franson front, let along any kind of fire. The same goes with free agent d-men Johnny Oduya and Christian Ehrhoff.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe still sees a market for Franson: “Age 28 (soon), 6-foot-5…I still bet he comes very close to $6.5,” he said Friday on Twitter.

more

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cody+franson

Happy 4th Of July

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Enjoy the day and the weekend everyone.

Weather here in southeast Michigan looks great for all kinds of activities.

But do be safe and don't think you are invincible when it comes to fireworks.

As a 14 year-old, had a 40 pack of Black Cats go off in my leg pocket due to high heat, spent the rest of the summer on my couch with 3rd degree burns.

I was lucky I did not lose my leg so again, please be careful.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Evening news: Prospect talk, Lidstrom on the Lidstroms and…power rankings?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated at 9:59 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

Nicklas Lidstrom's sons, Adam and Kevin, are taking part in the Red Wings' summer development camp, but MLive's Brendan Savage duly noted that they're part of the try-out crowd for the present moment...

The two biggest names on hand weren't the Red Wings two previous No. 1 picks – Anthony Mantha (2013) and Dylan Larkin (2014) – but instead it was a pair of camp invites. They were the guys who had "LIDSTROM" on the back of their practice jerseys.

Forward Adam Lidstrom and defenseman Kevin Lidstrom – the sons of former Red Wings great Nicklas Lidstrom – are taking part in the camp for the first time.

"I just saw the one playing forward," [Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd] Nelson said. "For some reason I didn't catch the other one. I'm not playing favorites by any stretch of the imagination. But when you're running a practice, you're trying to get the flow of the practice. I saw a few sequences. (Adam) moves up and down the ice pretty well and makes some pretty smart plays."

Nick Lidstrom, who was elected to the Hall of Fame Monday, is in Traverse City to watch his sons.

And instead, Savage noted that Nelson felt that Evgeny Svechnikov stood out:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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