Kukla's Korner

Derek Stepan’s Next Contract

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

It was Christmas in July for Derek Stepan but a lump of coal in Jeff Gorton’s stocking, this gift of Buffalo’s seven-year, $52 million ($7.5 million per) extension to Ryan O’Reilly that kicks in next season and will keep on giving headaches to the Rangers and their newly installed general manager.

In a flash, Friday’s agreement between the needy Sabres and the 24-year-old center they obtained from Colorado last weekend blows to smithereens any hope the Blueshirts had of signing the 25-year-old Group II free agent center Stepan to a long-term deal in the range of $6.2 million to $6.5 million per.

It likely means Stepan, whose numbers are superior to O’Reilly’s in every meaningful category other than faceoff efficiency, not only will file for salary arbitration by Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but could be in line for a two-year award taking him to unrestricted free agency worth well over $7 million per.


Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: derek+stepan

Minnesota Wild Make Devan Dubnyk Extension Official

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has re-signed goaltender Devan Dubnyk (pronounced DOOB-nihk) to a six-year contract through the 2020-21 season.

Dubnyk, 29, went 36-14-4 in 58 games during the 2014-15 season and ranked second in the NHL with both a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA) and .929 save percentage (SV%), T-4th with six shutouts and T-6th in wins. He won the 2015 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team, and finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting and fourth in the Hart Trophy voting. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound native of Regina, Sask., set single-season career highs in GAA, SV%, games played, consecutive starts (39), wins, shutouts, minutes, assists (2), shots faced (1,625) and saves (1,510).

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: devan+dubnyk

Afternoon news: On Kindl, Marsh, Van Pottelberghe and coach Nelson’s take on development camp

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding one Jakub Kindl, who had a conditioning stint in Grand Rapids this past season, and it certainly sounds like Kindl will be given a chance to redeem himself on the Wings' blueline:

"I thought when he came down he did a great job for us," Blashill said. "You can say, well, it's an NHLer coming down and playing — you have to stand out, and he stood out. He did a great job.

"When he's playing his best he's a great puck-moving defenseman — he's going back for the puck, he's seeing through the forechecker making the proper passes. I think that is the number one ingredient for a defenseman to be great, is their ability to play the puck out of their end, because then you just don't play any d-zone and you play in the other team's end and that's the formula to win."

It's likely the Wings do something on the back end before training camp to make room for a young guy (Alexey Marchenko/Xavier Ouellet) to play, but if Kindl shows up at camp in top shape, it sounds like he may get a chance.

"He's got really good ability, he's a really good person," Blashill said. "He's done a great job of persevering through tough times over the last few years. Hopefully he's put himself in position to compete for spots at camp."

In a different kind of redemptive tone, Mitch Callahan is up here in Grand Rapids rehabbing a torn ACL, and he spoke with MLive's Brendan Savage about that process...

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

The New York Rangers Face Stiff Competition In The Metropolitan Division

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News,

What does clearly set the Rangers back, however, is what happened elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division these past couple weeks, primarily in Washington and Columbus:

As the Rangers failed even to maintain the status quo, many of their closest rivals improved or — at the bare minimum — had the cap space and wherewithal to take their best run at doing so.

There may be significant skepticism about how much the Capitals upgraded by trading right wing Troy Brouwer in Thursday’s deal for St. Louis Blues right wing and USA Olympic shootout phenom T.J. Oshie, 28. Yet there is a question to pose to the doubters: How long can a team continue trotting out the same core of players, year after year, and always come up short before changing something up front?

Washington revamped its blue line last summer with the signings of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Goaltender Braden Holtby had by far his best season as a pro. Alex Ovechkin didn’t win the MVP award, but he played like one. And now GM Brian MacLellan has added the skilled Oshie (115 points the past two seasons) as well as “Mr. Game 7,” former L.A. Kings Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams, 33, on the right side.

You know who needed a player exactly like Williams? The Rangers. Too bad a two-year, $6.5 million deal shoved them out of any consideration, since they’re so tight against the salary cap.

more on the Metropolitan Division plus other hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Impressions from the morning skate at day 2 of the Red Wings’ summer development camp ‘15

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

This morning, the Red Wings' prospects engaged in a set of drills that were designed to get them ready for today's scrimmage (4-5:30 PM), and Team Lindsay and Team Howe practiced simultaneously, so I was able to get in about 20 minutes of viewing of each set of prospects and a good look at some of the goalie drills that goalie coaches Jim Bedard and Jeff Salajko put the goalies through...

But 20 minutes of assessment isn't a particularly fantastic indicator of where a player's going to be, and scrimmages allow some players to shine and others to fade into the woodwork, so I can't promise that there's going to be some sort of massively revelatory observation today, but I'm going to do my best.

I should note from the outset that Andreas Athanasiou is not playing thus far; I've heard that he has a finger injury, but he is present at the camp and taking part in the off-ice activities, and Mitch Callahan continues to skate under the watchful eye of team trainer John Bernal as he recovers from a torn ACL.

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Format for today’s summer development camp ‘15 scrimmage

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings' summer development campers are taking part in a scrimmage from 4-5:30 at Centre Ice Arena today, and he's its format:

The game will have a "running time warm-up" at 4 PM;

1. The game starts at 4:05 PM, and there will be 2 30-minute periods (i.e. two "halfs") which break down like this:

  • 10 minutes of running time;
  • 5 minute 5-on-4 PP for Team Lindsay; 5 minute PP for Team Howe;

2. There will be a 15-minute intermission to resurface the ice in between the two periods;

3. There will be a short dry scrape after the "second half," and then there will be a 10-man shootout with a sudden death option if there is a tie.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Audio from the second day of the Red Wings’ summer development camp ‘15

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings' summer development camp continued today with a set of simultaneous and split practices in which Team Lindsay and Team Howe prepared for the 4-5:30 PM scrimmage, and as the players were ready to get in the shower, have lunch and take their pre-game naps, I had to scramble as best I could for interviews, but I hope this is a "quality over quantity" scenario:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

A Deeper Nashville Predators Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adam Vingan of The Tennessean,

"We now have the depth that we need," Poile said.

Jackman's veteran presence, which cost $4 million over two years, will balance what many believe is the NHL's strongest defense, led by do-it-all tandem Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Behind them stands Pekka Rinne, who reestablished himself last season as one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.

Nashville's top-six forward group will be anchored by centers Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, "two 35-year-old centers that we've eventually got to replace, whether that's in two years (or) three years," according to Poile.

In the mean time, they should be joined by Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, all of whom scored at least 20 goals last season. The last two remain unsigned as restricted free agents, but the expectation is that both will return on longer-term contracts.

Coincidentally, the Predators offered Hodgson the same one-year, $1.05 million contract that they gave Ribeiro last July after the Coyotes bought out his contract. The hope is that it will have the same effect on Hodgson, a former 20-goal scorer who will likely start as Nashville's third-line center, as it did on Ribeiro.

Rookies Steve Moses, whose 36 goals set a single-season KHL record, and Kevin Fiala are also intriguing options for coach Peter Laviolette to consider.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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.


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.”

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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