Kukla's Korner

Matt Cooke Is Waiting For Work

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,

For the past two weeks, almost every single weekday, Matt Cooke has skated hard at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina with several NHLers, including old Wild teammates Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville and guys like Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, Derek Stepan, Dustin Byfuglien, James van Riemsdyk and Ryan McDonagh.

The only difference between him and many others is the veteran winger, who turns 37 on Labor Day, hasn’t latched onto an NHL team since being bought out of the final year of his contract by the Wild in June.

“This is the first time I’ve had to go through it,” Cooke said this week. “I knew it was coming. I just thought it might be after next year as opposed to this year, but it’s the cards that I’ve been dealt.

“I was hurt last year. There was some mismanagement on my [hip] injury, and part of that is my fault. It led to me getting hurt twice in one season. I’m 36 years old, I only played 30 games last year and then me getting bought out, that’s a tough scenario [to find a job].

“Patience is a virtue and right now all I’m doing is making sure I stay ready, that I get ready. We’re still three weeks away [from camp].”

continued plus more Wild topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: matt+cooke

What To Expect From Tomas Jurco This Season?

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2015-16 outlook: A good skater who gained notoriety for his slick stick skills, Jurco showed much promise as a rookie during his half-season in the NH in 2013-14. But he took a step back during his second season and seemed to lose a bit of confidence offensively.

Former coach Mike Babcock wanted him to play a gritty, physical game by utilizing his size to go to the hard areas of the ice, especially the net front. The message was to be more like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm by forechecking hard and wearing on the defense, instead of trying to beat opponents with one-on-one moves. That's the kind of game that's more suited for the third-line role that Jurco is likely to have this season.

Jurco has speed, offensive ability and size but lacks experience. He's the youngest player on the team and his game is still evolving.

Key question: Will Jurco be more of an offensive threat this season?

more

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Questions Facing The Tampa Bay Lightning

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Corey Long at NHL.com,

Will Ben Bishop be the No. 1 goalie by the end of the season? Bishop is the Lightning's top goalie going into the season, but he also is one of their most valuable trade assets.

Bishop is signed through the 2016-17 season at a $5.95 million salary-cap charge, according to war-on-ice.com, and would be highly valued on the trade market after his performance during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs (13-11, 2.18 goals-against average, .921 save percentage). Depending on how negotiations with Stamkos turn out, the Lightning may need to free up money to secure contracts with other players in the future.

Bishop may become expendable if the Lightning see enough early in the season from highly touted prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, 21, who started Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final with Bishop out because of a groin injury.

Will Jonathan Drouin live up to the hype? It would be safe to say Drouin, 20, had a rookie season to forget. He fractured his right thumb during training camp and missed the entire preseason; it didn't get much better from there.

Drouin, the No. 3 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, had four goals and 28 assists in 70 regular-season games but never seemed to find a comfortable spot on the ice. He played in six of 26 Lightning playoff games.

The low point of his season may have come in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Montreal Canadiens. With forward Ryan Callahan unavailable because of an emergency appendectomy, Cooper elected to play Jonathan Marchessault, who had played in two regular-season games, as Callahan's replacement. Cooper later explained his choice of Marchessault rather than Drouin by saying he went with the lineup that gave the Lightning the best chance to win.

Drouin's fresh start begins at training camp. He will be given another chance to become the playmaker that Stamkos could use on the first line, but he'll have to show that he's made improvements on and off the ice.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Evening news: Justin Abdelkader discusses his impending UFA status, and a bunch of promotional stuff

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Among this evening's Red Wings-related stories:

Michigan State University's pro camp wrapped up yesterday...

And Justin Abdelkader spoke with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan about his status as going into a contract year and facing unrestricted free agency (next summer) coming off the best statistical season of his career:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Statement From Gary Bettman On The Passing Of Al Arbour

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

NEW YORK (Aug. 28, 2015) -- National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today released the following statement regarding the passing of Hockey Hall of Famer Al Arbour:

“The National Hockey League deeply mourns the passing of Al Arbour, revered head coach of the dynastic New York Islanders.

"A four-time Stanley Cup champion as a player and a brilliant motivator and tactician as a coach, Al Arbour directed the Islanders' rapid transformation from expansion team to NHL powerhouse -- guiding them to four straight Stanley Cup championships, five consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Final and an astounding 19 consecutive playoff series victories. As it grieves the loss of a profound influence on coaching and on the game itself, the NHL sends its heartfelt condolences to Al's family and friends, to his former teammates and to all the players he mentored."

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: al+arbour

Paul Gaustad Leads In Defensive Zone Starts

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

When I posted the league leaders in 2014/15 by excess defensive zone starts (defensive zone faceoffs - offensive zone faceoffs) when a player is on the ice, Paul Gaustad of the Nashville Predators leads.  Gaustad has 457 excess defensive zone starts.  This makes him the player who had the role most defined by zone starts.  Mike Ribeiro, the offensive zone start leader, has 302 excess offensive zone starts.  Since both the offensive and defensive leaders play on Nashville, it is clear that they were the strongest users of the strategy of getting offensive players into offensive zone starts and defensive players into defensive ones.

Gaustad played a tough role defensively.  This showed up in his puck possession numbers.  His team adjusted Corsi rating is sixth worst in the NHL last year at -248.8.  That doesn't make him one of the weakest players in the NHL.  It means that his Corsi shows the context of a tough defensive role.  If he starts his shifts in the defensive zone, he is more likely to face a shot attempt against.  In order to better use Corsi to single out the best and worst puck possession players, it is necessary to correct for zone starts.  I will do that soon.  In fact despite Gaustad's poor Corsi, I would have given him a fourth place Selke vote as best defensive forward because his role is so tough defensively.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

A Four-Year Extension For Cody Eakin In Dallas

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

FRISCO, Texas - Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed center Cody Eakin to a four-year contract extension. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Eakin, 24, finished tied for fourth on the Stars in 2014-15 with 40 points (19-21=40) in 78 games played. He finished tied for the team lead in game-winning goals (6) and finished with career highs in goals, assists and points. His average of 1:57 of shorthanded time on ice per game was second amongst team forwards and he led the team with 1,292 faceoffs taken, winning 50.8%.

Following the season, he represented Canada at the World Championship, helping the team to a perfect 10-0 record and a gold medal finish. He appeared in nine of those contests, posting six points (4-2=6) and a +7 plus/minus rating.

In four NHL seasons with Washington and Dallas, he has produced 107 points (46-61=107) in 237 games played. He has appeared in six career playoff games, posting five points (2-3=5) and a +2 plus/minus rating.

"Cody is a well-rounded player and has the versatility to play in a number of roles," said Nill. "He has the ability to shutdown opponent's top players, win faceoffs and kill penalties, all while producing offensively. Cody has been an important part of our team and will continue to be a part of our core for the next five seasons."

 

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

If The Wings Decided To Move Jimmy Howard, Would Edmonton Be A Fit?

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

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

If we go by overall save percentage, he does not rank in the Top 20 best NHL starters from 2012-15. He has an overall save percentage of just .915. He’s been average, in other words, but that’s not an average pay cheque he will be pulling down. And Detroit, it’s worth noting, allowed even a lower percentage of high-danger chances last season than New York, just 33.5 per cent of their overall shots total. For what it’s worth, Howard’s numbers are not good on high danger chances.

The final point against a team like Edmonton trading for Howard is that he’s 31 years old. Many goalies in their 30s can play strong hockey, but if you look at that list of top goalies from 2012-15, I’m only see three or  four who were in their 30s. Goalies in their 20s are a better bet if you want a top starter.

Of course, Howard might play like a goalie god this year, which would make him a better bet. And despite his most promising numbers, Talbot may not pan out here. As it stands now, though, even if Talbot were to fall flat, it’s unlikely Howard would be the best answer for the Oilers. He’s an average NHL goalie, likely at or past his best before date, and he’s paid a high amount.

This isn’t to say that Howard is destined to failure. He’s not. He could defy the odds and earn every penny of his contract and then some for the Red Wings. That said, he’s not a good bet to do so.

more

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What To Do With Dustin Byfuglien

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Byfuglien is scheduled to be a UFA on July 1, 2016.

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

... they were swept aside in four first-round games by the Anaheim Ducks last spring, but that’s precisely how things went for the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2014, one year before the team advanced to the Cup final. The circumstances don’t perfectly align, but it’s a comparison worth making given Winnipeg’s trajectory and the increasingly wide-open nature of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With that in mind, the best plan for Winnipeg might be to sit tight and see how the first quarter of the season plays out. If things are coming together, hang on to Byfuglien and see if he can’t help you win a playoff round or two. How nice would that be for a city that hasn’t seen its team on the right side of a handshake line since 1987? Yes, you run the risk he leaves for nothing, but with 21-year-old Trouba, 25-year-old Tyler Myers and prospect Josh Morrissey in the blueline mix, the Jets are positioned to withstand that worst-case scenario.

On the flipside, if watching 20 games reveals goalies Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson aren’t up to the task or sees the return of that nasty injury bug that ripped through the Jets’ defence last year, put Byfuglien on the block and see what you can get. It won’t be as much as you would land right now, but that’s not the end of the world for a team with a sturdy prospect pipeline that’s about to spit out forwards like Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan and the aforementioned Morrissey.

In other words, Winnipeg should do what Byfuglien would: take a little gamble and worry about the next move when you must.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dustin+byfuglien

Ferris State newspaper publishes Q and A with Blashill

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

My apologies for the overabundance of Wings entries...It's just been that kind of day.

Anyway, the Ferris State University Torch's Keith Salowich conducted a Q and A with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, and it mostly focuses on Blashill's ties to Ferris State, but it does include one Wings-related question:

Question: Given the Wings’ playoff streak, are you feeling any additional pressure to make it to the postseason in your first year?

Answer: “First of all we take everything year by year. The significance of the playoffs for me is that in order to compete for the Stanley Cup you have to get to the playoffs. Our focus will be on the day-to-day work that we’ll have to put in to ultimately become a contender for the Stanley Cup.”

Q: Your coaching career has seen a lot of stops around the state and beyond. Do you still find time to keep up with Ferris hockey?

A: “Absolutely. I keep very close tabs on Ferris and Ferris hockey. I’m very good friends with the coaching staff. It’s the longevity of Bob Daniels’ career here and the job that he’s done that’s been a really prideful thing for we alums, so I’m checking in with him all the time.”

Salowich continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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