Kukla's Korner

Khan: Wings’ moves illustrate ‘commitment to winning now’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Ansar Khan penned a column discussing the Wings' free agency moves as a "commitment to winning now, while the Cup window is still open," and here are his takes on the Green and Richards signings:

Green, 29, was the key. He's been one of the league's premier offensive defensemen for a decade with the Washington Capitals. Other than Kronwall, the Red Wings don't generate much offense form the back end. Green also will boost an already strong power play (ranked second in the NHL last season).

Green has defensive deficiencies, but he'll be protected to some extent on the second pairing with Danny DeKeyser, who Babcock often referred to as "The Human Eraser" for his ability to clean up others' mistakes.

Richards might start the season as the No. 1 center, depending on Datsyuk's recovery. That's not ideal, but options are limited. He'll eventually settle into the second-line spot, where the Red Wings hope he'll mesh with either Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar.

New coach Jeff Blashill has options, and depth. The Red Wings have 15 forwards, including Johan Franzen, whose status is uncertain due to a concussion, and nine defensemen.

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Peter Karmanos On Fire

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

Carolina owner Peter Karmanos offered a blistering critique of the way the Penguins do business during a meeting with Raleigh-area media Wednesday.

He took numerous shots – some subtle, some not – at the franchise, with general manager Jim Rutherford the primary target. Rutherford was the Hurricanes’ GM for two decades until he was replaced by former Penguins center Ron Francis in 2014, shortly before Rutherford was hired here.

Among Karmanos’ observations:

On the large contract Rutherford gave to winger Alex Semin, who was bought out this week – “Ultimately, I take responsibility for everything. I do not have to take responsibility for Pittsburgh signing [Phil] Kessel, however. [The Penguins actually traded for Kessel, who has seven years left on his contract.]”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: peter+karmanos

Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill presser Twitter play-by-play

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated 9x at 11:42 AM: I wasn't invited to this one (and am a little aggravated about that), but the Red Wings held a press conference in which Ken Holland, Jeff Blashill and several Wings prospects spoke with the media ahead of tomorrow's development camp in Traverse City. Holland and Blashill have already spoken to the media, and here's the Twitter play-by-play of their comments:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Is Kevin Shattenkirk Available?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

In what continues to be the case locally, Blues’ trade talk is overshadowing the scheduled events on the NHL calendar.

Over the weekend, the chatter garnered more attention than the league draft, and on Wednesday, word of the club perhaps being interested in dealing defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk consumed the opening day of free agency.

The Blues have been the subject of much trade conjecture over the past couple of months, but for the most part, it’s been confined to a handful of players: T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Backes to name a few.

Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kevin+shattenkirk

#91 To The Rafters?

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

Update: Here's more from the Free Press's Helene St. James:

So, general manager Ken Holland said today, he will bring up the matter with owners Mike and Marian Ilitch and longtime executive vice president Jimmy Devellano.

"At the appropriate time, I'll weigh in, we'll talk about whether his number should go in the rafters or not," Holland said. "But certainly, being selected to go in the Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment. He was a great player and a great Red Wing. Certainly worth serious consideration."

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The Best UFAs Left

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

For now, with the dust slowly settling on the first day of the signing season, the market is still flush with unrestricted free agents who could make a difference with a new team.

Here is a list of some of the best still available (by position and in alphabetical order):

Note: All salary cap figures are from war-on-ice.com.

FORWARDS

SEAN BERGENHEIM, MINNESOTA WILD

Previous cap charge: $2.75 million

Bergenheim had one goal in 17 games and no points in three Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Wild. However, he had 18 points in 39 games with the Florida Panthers before he was traded to Minnesota in February. Bergenheim has 17 points in 26 career postseason games.

BRAD BOYES, FLORIDA PANTHERS

Previous cap charge: $2.625 million

The Panthers bought out the final year of Boyes' contract, making him a free agent. He had 38 points, including 14 goals, in 78 games last season. That was two more points than Boyes had in 2013-14 in the same number of games, but his goal production dipped by seven.

read on

Also, the full list of available players.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Jim Rutherford Feels He Made The Right Move Acquiring Phil Kessel

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

Does the newest Penguin and the centerpiece of the convulsive nine-player trade Wednesday with the Maple Leafs come with the kind of carrier-approved baggage that fits easily in the overhead bin or safely under the seat in front of you, metaphorically speaking, or is it of the oversized, overstuffed variety that has been out of his possession and possibly augmented by materials from persons not known to him?

“I don’t have any concerns,” said Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford in a Fifth Avenue bunker hours after he’d acquired the one goal-scorer in the trade market he coveted above all others. “Everybody gets a fresh start in a new place. You always hear stories about different people in different situations, but I feel very comfortable with getting Phil.

“I’ve done a lot of homework on this and I’ve talked to a lot of people. I do believe that getting a fresh start, getting out of Toronto, where he went under the microscope from day one, he was always the guy, the guy that got blamed when things weren’t going well, and he doesn’t have to be the guy here. We have a bunch of them.”

So that’s the working premise for the trade that likely will define Rutherford’s tenure, that the marvelously talented Kessel, a classical NHL blend of speed and snipery, quickly will observe that there’s no smoking on the Penguins bench, and no yawning either, and perhaps discover that a recommitment to conditioning could make his future so much brighter than his recent past.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Not Much Hope In Vancouver

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,

The Canucks are not helping themselves with their mixed messages. They keep talking about getting younger, but continue to acquire players like Prust who are in their 30s, and chase players like 27-year-old Milan Lucic.

It drives a fan base nuts when you do things like that, even though there’s a chance the opening night lineup could include Frankie Corrado, Adam Clendening, Sven Baertschi and Jake Virtanen.

Rather harshly, TSN’s main Free Agent Frenzy broadcast aired an edited string of calls into TEAM 1040 from inflamed listeners who were going to town on Vancouver’s front office. It means next week’s town hall with season-ticket holders has the potential to be a gong show.

But the truth is, it’s going to take more than one year to really see what Benning’s Canucks are going to look like.

He’s freed up some money for next summer and is hoping now to be a player in the high-end of the free agent market.

If Corrado, Baertschi and Virtanen hit this year, and if Benning can lure a quality free agent or two next offseason, things will change.

But right now? Right now, there isn’t a lot of hope. There is still no succession plan for the Sedin twins and this current collection of Canucks do not look like a playoff team. Like, at all.

Then again, many of us said that same thing last summer.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Philadelphia Flyers Need To Do More

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,

At the top of that fat content is Vinny Lecavalier and a contract that pays $4.5 million for each of the next three seasons. Why Hextall did not try to buy him out before this is at the top of the intrigue. But if those trade-deadline deals and the great Pronger escape didn't buy your GM some "In Hexy We Trust" points - well, then, Sam Hinkie has a whole lot more work to do.

Here are two thoughts: There are a group of teams that might need dead contracts to reach the NHL's salary-cap basement of $52.8 million. That's how Pronger became a Paper Coyote, and maybe one reason Kings GM Dean Lombardi was even in conversations about Mike Richards with the GMs of Edmonton and Calgary before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police got in the way.

If there's any light in the dark tunnel, it's that Vinny will cost a team less to play for them next season, while counting against the cap more. Just as Pronger costs Arizona $575,00 in real money but counts as $4.5 million toward getting to the cap-mandated minimum payroll of $51.7 million, Lecavalier's real cost from here on is $2 million less than his cap hit.

Still, $13.5 million over the next three years for a 35-year-old player coming off two subpar seasons?

If Hextall pulls this one off and I'm the Phillies, I have Andy MacPhail call him immediately.

That Umberger is even here is the best evidence that, despite refining his public rebuilding message to include a win-now clause, Hextall's target date is not the upcoming season, but the ones after it. He traded a better player for a worse one in the Scott Hartnell deal for one season of cap relief. That's not a win-now strategy.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Glen Sather Did It His Way

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

These words, uttered in the aftermath of the 2001 trade that brought Eric Lindros to New York, were the ones Glen Sather lived by throughout a pro hockey lifetime that began when the NHL was still a mom-and-pop Original Six operation:

“It’s better to be a lion for one day than it is to be a mouse for life,” Sather said then, addressing the high-risk nature of the trade for No. 88, and he might just as well have said the very same thing when he traded for Pavel Bure or Rick Nash or Martin St. Louis or Keith Yandle, or when he signed Bobby Holik, Wade Redden or Brad Richards, or when he hired then fired coach John Tortorella.

You know for whom playing it safe really equated to death? Sather, that’s who. Sather, who went for it when the going was good, as it most certainly has been for the last four seasons over which the Rangers have been the NHL’s third-best team — advancing to the conference finals three times, and the Cup final once while finishing with the East’s best record twice and capturing one Presidents’ Trophy.

It’s been kind of the Silver Age of Rangers’ hockey, only without the precious silver chalice.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: glen+sather

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