Kukla's Korner

Caught In The Middle

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,

Some of the teams we’ll be covering today are passing through this section on their way to bigger and better things, while others are tracking in the opposite direction. And a few are in what may well be the worst possible situation an NHL team can find itself in: stuck in no-man’s-land, not really good enough to contend but never quite bad enough to land the sort of high draft pick who could turn into a franchise player. Spend more than a season or two in that zone and it can take a franchise years to recover....

Outlook: The Red Wings are really old. Key contributors like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Niklas Kronwall are all well into their thirties, and the team is still mulling the return of 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson.

The Red Wings are also kind of young. Breakout star Gustav Nyquist leads a group of players that are just entering their prime, giving the Red Wings yet another generation of potential stars. That mix of young and old makes it hard to nail this team down — they could go in a few different directions.

Key number: 18.3 — Nyquist’s shooting percentage last year, which is Steven Stamkos territory. Nyquist certainly has the sort of talent that would lead you to expect him to put up a decent number in this category. But he was just a 6.1 percent shooter in 40 career games before last season, so it seems fair to assume we’ll see a drop this year.

Best case: The old guys stay healthy, the young guys take another step, the normally dependable Jimmy Howard rebounds from an off year, and the Wings return to quasi-contender status.

Worst case: Age and injuries wreak havoc once again, Howard struggles, and Babcock’s status becomes a running sideshow as the Wings finally miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.

more on the Wings and other teams in the middle of the pack...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Marty St. Louis May Play Center

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants,

Following this morning’s roster cuts, the Rangers worked on the power play (which they’ll also do on Thursday).

And one thing that jumped out was that Marty St. Louis was in the middle on one of the units, taking draws. St. Louis says, other than faceoffs, playing center on the power play is not really that big of an adjustment.

However, coach Alain Vigneault said today that St. Louis will be tried at center for not just power plays but five-on-five play in at least one of the last two preseason games.

A couple of factors at work here:

1. As Vigneault constantly stressed today, salary cap considerations are going to impact the makeup of the Opening Night roster. It sounds as if there’s a good chance Derek Stepan (out until likely late October with a broken left fibula and still on crutches) will have to be included rather than put on long-term injured reserve. If that’s the case, the Rangers’ roster may be just 22 players (rather than the 23-player maximum) including Stepan, again meaning if the Rangers carry 13 forwards, there will really only be 12 healthy ones.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Boone Jenner Out Five Weeks After Surgery On Broken Hand

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner underwent surgery today on a broken hand and is expected to be sidelined approximately five weeks, Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced.

Jenner suffered the injury when he was struck by a puck in practice on Sunday. The surgery was performed by Dr. Gary Millard at OhioHealth’s Grant Medical Center.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boone+jenner

The Resting Former General Managers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, two of hockey’s most respected hockey minds are on the sidelines as the NHL regular season sits just one week away.

It’s a foreign feeling, to say the least, for George McPhee and Ray Shero -- the two former generals of that Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry.

Now both former general managers are taking a moment to reset and refresh, because you better believe they’ll be back.

"It’s the first time in this business I ever got fired," Shero told ESPN.com Wednesday in his first public comments since the Penguins relieved him of his duties last May. "But you always know in this business it’s going to happen. Not many people as GMs retire and get to stay in the organization like for example Paul Holmgren did in Philadelphia [Holmgren became the Flyers president after Ron Hextall became GM]. That was fantastic for him.

"So, for George and me, I mean if George had won a Cup or I had won another one, I’m sure we’d still be doing what we were doing with our respective teams. But that didn’t happen. We’re both in a good place. We’ve chatted a number of times, which has been good, he’s a real good guy and we’ve always had that mutual respect when we had those great games in that (Washington-Pittsburgh) rivalry." 

continued

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: george+mcphee, ray+shero

Don’t Expect A Babcock Contract Deal Before The Season Starts

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and head coach Mike Babcock met Tuesday regarding an extension for Babcock, but a deal doesn't appear imminent.

In fact, it might not come to be before the Wings open Oct. 9, which is when Babcock has said he no longer wants to talk about his contract situation.

A caveat to that, though: It means that neither side wants to deal with it publicly, in the media.

continued

added 1:54pm, Below, watch/listen to Doug MacLean on Babcock who was on Sportsnet radio this morning before the Holland announcement.

Scroll to the 6:20 mark of the vid unless you want to hear about the Leafs.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Red Wings-Penguins preseason game-day updates: Nyquist vs. Crosby; ‘thoughts’ and…things

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

One note right at the bloody top because it's important: I have no idea whether the Red Wings are going to make cuts after tonight's game.

You would think that as the Griffins play exhibition games (against the Lake Erie Monsters) in Windsor on Friday and Indianapolis on Saturday, the Wings would make cuts; you would also think that the Wings' final two exhibition games in Toronto on Friday and Boston on Saturday will serve as "dress rehearsals," but Babcock been insistent about sticking with two groups to see if there are job-stealers among the A Team and B Team. We will have to wait and see what Babcock says today and tonight.

 

Update 2x at 11:42 AM: The Detroit Red Wings will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/ROOT/NHL Network U.S. and 97.1 FM) in the team's final home exhibition game and 5th of 8 exhibition games overall. The Free Press's Helene St. James has already posted the roster for tonight's game:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Previewing The Tampa Bay Lightning

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

Biggest story line to watch: While it will be interesting to see if so many of the core Lightning players coming off career seasons—Palat, Johnson, Bishop, Hedman, Valtteri Filppula—can continue their upward trajectory, the greater topic of conversation will surround the one guy coming off a nightmare campaign. Despite coming back toward season’s end and producing, Stamkos admitted his displaced right leg was still not quite at 100 per cent power in April. Can hockey’s most dangerous sniper return to his 60-goal form and give Sidney Crosby a run for the NHL scoring title?

2014-15 prediction: A surprising runner-up to Boston for the Atlantic crown last season, don’t be shocked when Cooper’s crew learns from its playoff humbling, plays a more balanced game and goes as far as the Eastern Conference final.

more

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

KK- The Kukla’s Korner Office Pool

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Kukla's Korner has established a partnership with Officepools.com to create a KK pool.

Now this pool is different, no salary cap, you can only pick three players from the same NHL team, you are allowed four transactions a month and this is a season pool.

You also pick nine forwards, five defensemen and two goalies and if you have any questions they are answered here.

The scoring, we keep it simple and basic...

Scoring:

F/D : G = 1, A = 1

G : A = 1, W = 2, OTL = 1, SO = 1

Let's have some fun, sign-up for the season long pool right here.

Filed in: Fantasy Hockey and Gaming, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Ryan Johansen Has A Decision To Make

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

Is Johansen ready to say, “I’m a Blue Jacket. The regular season starts in a week. My teammates need me. Do a deal.”?

Or, is Johansen hurt enough, and angry enough, to sit out until Dec. 1, at which point he must sign or miss the entire season?

Is he ready to turn his back on $3 million plus, on principle?

Such questions must be considered in a worst-case scenario.

Maybe Johansen caves and comes back out of shape and has an awful season. Or, maybe he demands a trade. Why play for a team that is stubborn enough to make an example out of its best offensive player? What star, or future star, would want to play for such a team?

The Blue Jackets are saying, “We’re adhering to small-market budget practices to ensure our long-term health. We have other centers. Joey can sign for whatever we put on the table or he can sit for as long as he wants, and we’re not trading him.”

Of course, none of this will have any impact on the team’s on-ice fortunes. The players don’t even talk about it in the locker room. Naaaah, of course they don’t.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ryan+johansen

Morning Line - Jonas Hiller

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I’m definitely excited to have a fresh start. Talking to the coach [Bob Hartley], talking to management, they want me to have success, and that definitely makes your life easier. It keeps your mind free to just go out there and play as good as you can, instead of worrying about giving up bad goals and having to prove yourself every night – not just to the public, but to the coaching staff and everybody else. That’s definitely a nicer way to feel comfortable, if you know they have your back.”

-Jonas Hiller of the Calgary Flames.  More on Hiller from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jonas+hiller

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