Kukla's Korner

Open post: hockey talk in late July

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The "Royal Exalted Grand PooBah" suggested that KK's little daliance with a "Casual Friday" might yield an open post for KK members to discuss hockey talk that might not make the blog at this time of year, and so here is that open post for your enjoyment. Gab away, and I'll start with this:

Wings summer camper Matej Machovsky spoke to the CTK News Agency about his time at the Wings' summer development camp, and Machovsky stated that the Wings offered him an AHL deal, but he turned it down, hoping to earn an NHL contract after this season playing for HC Plsen. The Grand Rapids Griffins then signed Calvin Heeter from Medvescak of the KHL to fill their goaltending pipeline with Jared Coreau, Jake Paterson, Eddie Pasquale and Heeter battling for spots with the Griffins and Toledo Walleye.

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Coyotes ink Michael Stone, Connor Murphy to new deals

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From the Phoenix Coyotes, first...

Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka announced today that the Coyotes have signed defenseman Michael Stone to a one-year contract. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

We are very happy to have Michael back," said Chayka. "He had a breakthrough year for us last season and we are confident that he will fully recover from his injury and that he will play an important role for us."

The 26-year-old Stone registered 6-30-36 with 62 PIM in 75 games with the Coyotes last season and has collected 23-64-87 in 279 career NHL games. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native set career-highs in points and assists and led the team with 143 blocked shots last season.

And second:

Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka announced today that the Coyotes have signed defenseman Connor Murphy to a six-year contract. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

"We are extremely pleased to sign Connor to a long-term contract," said Chayka. "At only 23, Connor has established himself as a very good NHL defenseman. He's a great skater, a fierce competitor and he has an excellent work ethic. We look forward to him taking the next step and having him on our blue line for many years to come."

The 23-year-old Murphy registered 6-11-17 with 48 PIM in 78 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16 and has collected 11-21-32 in 181 career NHL games. Last season, the Dublin, Ohio native set career-highs in goals, assists and points and finished second on the team with 175 hits and 139 blocked shots.

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  Tags: phoenix+coyotes

Wild re-sign Dumba

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From TSN:

Matt Dumba has agreed to a two-year, $5.1 million contract to stay with the Minnesota Wild.

The 22-year-old will earn $2.35 million in 2016-17 and $2.75 million in 2017-18.

The Regina, Sask. native finished with 10 goals and 16 assists in 81 games last season with Minnesota, setting career highs in each category.

He also ranked third on the team in power play goals with six.

Dumba has 19 goals and 25 assists in 152 career games in three seasons with the Wild.

The right-handed defenceman was selected seventh overall by Minnesota in the 2012 Draft.

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  Tags: minnesota+wild

Discussing Tomas Tatar’s pluses and minuses

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Helene St. James spotlights Tomas Tatar this evening:

Looking back: After coming within a goal of 30 in 2014-15, Tatar didn't take the step forward last season the team had hoped to see. Tatar had an especially slow second half, scoring just six goals the last 30 games. He struggled to create his own chances. During playoffs, Tatar ended up being demoted to the fourth line while still used heavily on the power play. Disappointing playoffs with no goals, especially considering Tatar scored three goals in the 2015 playoffs.

Looking ahead: The Wings need Tatar, 25, to make more of a push to help take over for the older generation of scorers on the team (with Pavel Datsyuk gone, that's essentially down to Henrik Zetterberg). Tatar can be a hard-nosed player, making up for his lack of size with a willingness to go into corners. Maybe new assistant John Torchetti can prod more from Tatar. Maybe being in a contract year will help (he'll be wanting a raise similar to the $4.75 million annual average value of Gustav Nyquist’s contract). It's also feasible the Wings use Tatar as part of a trade package for an upgrade on defense.

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Mid-afternoon mishmash: on the ‘NJEC,’ Walleye’s A.J. Jenks and fantasy Zetterberg

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Southeastern Michigan and Northwest Ohio hockey-related note this afternoon:

1. USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth is hosting the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp from July 30-August 6, and Vili Saarijarvi will be representing Team Finland at the camp. USA Hockey's website has more details regarding the event:

2. Today the Toledo Walleye announced that they've re-signed leading scorer A.J. Jenks:

Continue Reading »

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Krupa speaks with Petr Mrazek regarding his contract extension

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa spoke with Petr Mrazek regarding his contract extension with the Red Wings in English:

“Yeah, really, really happy that it’s over and that I can be with the Red Wings for two more years,” said the presumed No. 1 goalie heading into next season, after he replaced Jimmy Howard in Game 3 of the five-game, first-round playoff elimination by the Lightning in April. "You know, it’s Hockeytown. The team is great, so I’m more than happy to be back.”

With the team straddling the salary cap, despite the relief provided by players on long-term injured reserve, with three new acquisitions in free agency and while looking at young members of the roster and prospects in Grand Rapids, things have gotten a little tight.

One example was the Wings filing for arbitration, when Mrazek’s salary request reportedly came in toward the top of what starting goalies make in the NHL.

No fun sitting around a room hearing from your nominal bosses that you should not be paid as much as you think – and here is why, specifically.

GM Ken Holland said the Wings were pleased about avoiding any such contretemps, with Mrazek or any other player. Mrazek liked the idea, too.

“It’s a business. I would say it has nothing to do with the personal stuff that you can hear in arbitration,” he said. “I don’t think Ken wanted to go, as well. But we made the deal before the arb started.”

Krupa continues, discussing Mrazek's role on the Czech World Cup team and getting Mrazek's take on his inconsistent 2015-16 campaign...

Update: Here's more from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:

Continue Reading »

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Devils Do Defensive Zone Starts Differently

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

I am always on the lookout for teams that do things differently from all the others in order to better gage the efficiency of that strategy.  Yersterday's post showed one such situation.  I listed the top 20 players in 2015/16 by excess defensive zone starts.  This list included 18 forwards and two defencemen.  Both defencemen are New Jersey Devils in Adam Larsson and Andy Greene who were ranked second and third overall. 

While the other teams in the NHL try to match their defensive forwards and faceoff men with defensive zone starts, New Jersey does something differently.  They have a top defensive line that they attempt to play in as many defensive faceoffs as possible.

New Jersey was not a particularly successful team last year finishing 20th overall and missing the playoffs.  However they were successful in preventing goals having the ninth best goals against in the NHL.  While part of the credit for that is due to Cory Schneider's strong goaltending, it is hard to give Schneider credit for the Devils allowing the eighth fewest shots against.

Continue Reading »

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‘Roughly Translated’: Jiri Fischer discusses Mrazek’s contract

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer discussed Petr Mrazek's contract with iDnes.cz's Michael Beren and Robert Sara, and here's a rough translation thereof:

Continue Reading »

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Discussing expansion draft-eligible players

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky:

George McPhee hasn't been on the job long enough to hire a scouting staff. But the general manager for the NHL's Las Vegas expansion franchise is already formulating his strategy for next year's expansion draft.

"Teams will still do their best to not give us anything," McPhee said. "We'll have a better opportunity to build a foundation than in previous expansion drafts. But we're going to have to work hard to find great players."

McPhee figures he will be lucky if he selects one or two players who stick with the franchise for the long term. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be staying away from players with long-term deals.

"I think we'll have to evaluate every team on a case-by-case basis and see what they have," McPhee said. "I'll take a longer contract if it's a good player."

Before McPhee got the job, the other 30 general managers were already shuffling their rosters so as to have options entering the expansion draft. With teams allowed to protect one goaltender, that's the main reason Frederik Andersen and Brian Elliott were dealt this summer and why the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings are expected to make similar moves with goalies.

Teams will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie in the expansion draft. They must also protect players with no-movement clauses as well as first- or second-year pros.

Continued

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  Tags: george+mcphee, las+vegas

Wings still dancing with the salary cap’s upper limit

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Hockey News's Jared Clinton discusses the Red Wings' cap issues:

Currently at $4.238 million over the cap, placing Franzen and Vitale on the LTIR the day before the season opens would free up $5.07 million in space. That would make the Red Wings compliant by more than $800,000. However, CapFriendly doesn’t take into account the additions of Andreas Athanasiou, who played 37 games last season and all five playoff games, and another defenseman, even from the AHL, who will likely be on the roster before the season begins.

Adding in Athanasiou and, say, Xavier Ouellet would mean adding another $1.34 million to the cap, putting Detroit back over the upper limit by more than $500,000. But there’s another Red Win who could be headed to LTIR: Teemu Pulkkinen.

Pulkkinen underwent off-season shoulder surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. If he and his $812,500 salary are also on LTIR, the Red Wings should be back under the cap. Sure, they’ll have minimal breathing room, but they’ll be cap compliant.

Making the pieces fit this off-season wasn’t going to be easy for Holland and he’s not exactly going to be able to go about managing the Red Wings’ salary cap in a traditional fashion this season. That said, he’s made it work.

The difficulty now will be improving his roster, if need be. Any deal Holland makes will have to either save the Red Wings money against the cap or be almost a perfect match, dollar for dollar. That’s not an easy task in today’s NHL, so Holland is going to need to get creative if he’s still seeking to add another defenseman.

Clinton continues

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