Kukla's Korner

Questions Regarding The Wings

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

Max Bultman of The Athletic answers questions from the fans...

Given the fairly strong haul of free agents and potential impact of more young talent, how high should fans raise their expectations for this year? Is missing the playoffs a giant disappointment?

I thought this was a good follow-up to the previous question because the two are ultimately related. Even with all the additions, I still am entering the season expecting Detroit to miss the playoffs. So to me, no, that in itself would not be a disappointment. Especially with an impressive draft class waiting as a consolation prize.

That being said, if the team misses the playoffs because their young stars Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond hit sophomore slumps, veterans like Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi can’t maintain their performances from last season, and the big-ticket free agents like Copp and Chiarot fall short of expectations? That would be disappointing — and, ultimately, a much more worrying development long-term than just missing the playoffs.

I don’t expect those things to happen — and certainly not all of them — but if you’re judging what a successful or unsuccessful Red Wings season looks like, those are the top things I’m watching, with the readiness of Simon Edvinsson and Jonatan Berggren also part of that conversation.

Which of the following is most likely: Seider top-10 Norris finish, Raymond hits 75 points, Larkin hits 40-goal mark, Edvinsson top 3 in Calder voting? 

I think it’s the Seider top-10 Norris finish, but I’m certainly not ruling out Raymond scoring in the 70s. The now-20-year-old Swede is so smart, skilled and savvy, and as he continues to develop physically, he’s going to be an offensive force for the Red Wings. I think he’ll be the team’s leading scorer within three seasons and maybe sooner.

But we’ve seen in recent years with players like Cale Makar, Adam Fox, Quinn Hughes and Miro Heiskanen that young defensemen can earn Norris consideration very quickly. And Seider could be joining their company as soon as next year. My tentative guess is Seider ends up somewhere between eighth and 15th on the Norris balloting in 2023, so I’m taking that one.

more ($)

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The Trade That Put Dominik Hasek In The Spotlight

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dave Stubbs of NHL.com,

Dominik Hasek remembers being at home in the Czech Republic 30 years ago, on Aug. 7, 1992, on his way out for a Friday night at the movies.

He had no idea that the ringing phone he hesitated to answer as he tied his shoes would dramatically change his NHL career, putting him on the path to iconic goaltending status and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Phoning from across the Atlantic Ocean was Hasek's agent, Ritch Winter, to tell the veteran of 25 regular-season NHL games that he'd been traded by the Chicago Blackhawks to the Buffalo Sabres. Going the other way was goalie Stephane Beauregard and a fourth-round selection in the 1993 NHL Draft.

"I think it was 'Basic Instinct,' in English with Czech subtitles, but I can't be 100 percent sure," Hasek said last week by phone, speaking from his car near Prague. "To be honest, after that call I didn't pay much attention to the movie.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Notes On Our Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- What rarely gets mentioned in the Nazem Kadri wait for a free agent contract: He’ll be 32 years old when next season begins. It’s understandable why teams are hesitant to open the vault for Kadri, who really has only had one sensational NHL season of an otherwise sound career.

- That said, if I was the Calgary Flames, I would have found a way to sign Kadri, especially after signing Jonathan Huberdeau long-term. They may have overpaid a touch for Huberdeau, but if I was GM Brad Treliving, I would still move money around to bring in Kadri as a second centre behind Elias Lindholm.

- Why doesn’t an NHL team with money to spend take a run at the restricted free agent Jake Oettinger? He could be your goalie for the next 10 years

- I have decided to adopt the Lou Lamoriello game plan for my life: Have a five-year plan that changes every day.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Colorado Avalanche Need A 2nd Line Center

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post

My assessment: No matter how Avalanche management might be able to juggle its roster to create cap room, whether that involve trading J.T. Compher or Sam Girard, it would be foolish for the team to pay Kadri a penny more than $26 million over the course of four years to remain in Colorado....

With this new contract, I get why Kadri wants to earn top dollar, maximize the term of the deal and play for a legit championship contender. These 25 days have revealed it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to check all three boxes on his wish list.

Kadri is certainly entitled to take all the time he wants to land the best possible deal, whether it’s with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames or any other team in the league.

Colorado should operate on its own terms, rather than be beholden to outside market forces....

It’s also conceivable the Avs could look outside their organization for a veteran center.

Our old buddy Paul Stastny is patiently watching how the market shakes out, looking to sign with a contender to make one more run at the Cup. At age 36, Stastny is no longer the skater we fondly remember wearing a sweater for the University of Denver Pioneers or the Avalanche.

Stastny, however, is the same great team-first guy he has always been. His 21 goals and 24 assists for Winnipeg last season indicate there’s still real skill in Stastny’s stick. On a one-year deal with the Avalanche somewhere between $1 million-$2 million, he could adapt to any role to compliment Compher and Newhook.

If Sakic and new general manager Chris McFarland are willing to play the long game, they might be able to pry Jonathan Toews away from the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks sometime before the trade deadline this upcoming season.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Wings At The WJC

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

The Wings have players on the rosters of half of the participating nations. For some of them, it will be an opportunity to make an impression ahead of challenging for an NHL job next month in Traverse City.

"It's fantastic for players to go into these world junior tournaments," general manager Steve Yzerman said July 14. "They're great experiences individually for them, but also in their development as hockey players playing in big games, do-or-die games and under the pressure, I think is great."

[ How Steve Yzerman's Detroit Red Wings measure up in Eastern Conference playoff race ]

As can be expected with a Swedish national team, there are Wings in the mix: defensemen Simon Edvinsson and William Wallinder, and forward Theodor Niederbach. Edvinsson — the No. 6 overall pick in 2021 — is 6 feet 6, 205 pounds and stayed in Detroit to prepare for the event after turning heads in early July at the Wings’ prospects tournament....

The big one — literally — to keep an eye on here is 6-6 goaltender Sebastian Cossa. Yzerman valued Cossa enough to trade up to select him at No. 15 in 2021, ahead of Jesper Wallstedt, who was projected to be the first goaltender drafted that year. (Wallstedt is part of Sweden’s roster.) Cossa was on the roster in December, but Brett Brochu, a goaltender twice passed over in the draft, was named starter by coach Dave Cameron.

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Video- Goals While Falling Down

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

All from the past season, 10 minutes to watch.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

A Few More Hockey Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

-There won’t be quite the pomp and circumstance as the first time, but Slap Shots has learned that a reunion between the Rangers and Jimmy Vesey is on the horizon.

The 29-year-old famously signed with the Blueshirts as a Kevin Hayes-type free agent in 2016-17 after rejecting offers from both the Predators, who drafted the Harvard product 66th overall in 2012, and from the Sabres, who traded for his rights. Following stops in Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver after leaving Manhattan, Vesey is coming off a solid season in New Jersey as a depth forward....

-So the myth that no one wants to play in Calgary took a hit when superb 29-year-old playmaking left wing Jonathan Huberdeau signed up for eight years at $84 million ($10.5 million cap hit).

Then again, legal bribery does have its charm....

more on tha bove topics plus a few more observations...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

There Is Hockey Talk In Early August

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

- Now more than three weeks post-July 1 – the start of free agency, and the ability of teams to negotiate extensions with players about to enter the final season of their contracts — it has been radio silence over at Bruins HQs.

No word yet on a contract extension for Pastrnak.

Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, last seen dancing the night away at Tuukka Rask’s nuptials in Italy, technically remain unsigned, though word around town is that GM Don Sweeney remains confident they’re done deals, each veteran pivot to sign on for one year.

Jeremy Swayman, possibly on the cusp of becoming the franchise tender, also is eligible to sign an extension. No word there either.

- All of these pending issues interrelate, though none is more important than tying down the 26-year-old Pastrnak, possibly through the spring of 2030-31. That would mean buying eight years of free agency, bringing him to age 35.

The price for that? Gigunda. Cast your eyes above to that list of 200-plus goal scorers. The other four big sticks in that group average a cap hit of $10.5 million, topped by McDavid’s league-high $12.5 million.

Keep in mind, though, McDavid inked that deal July 5, 2017. And Ovechkin ($9.5 million) was 36 when his latest deal (five years) began last October. It all points to a Pastrnak deal, at least at this hour, of somewhere around $11 million a year.

more on the above topics plus other NHL notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Detroit’s Goalies

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

The Wings feel they've solidified their goaltending heading into next month's training camp with the tandem of Husso, who the Wings quickly signed to a three-year contract  worth $14.25 million ($4.75 million salary cap hit), and Alex Nedeljkovic.

The hope last season was for Nedeljkovic to share the workload with Thomas Greiss. But Greiss never got on track and lost playing time to Nedeljkovic, who struggled at times with the workload (Greiss left for St. Louis in free agency)....

Husso is 27 and Nedeljkovic is 26. Nedeljkovic is under contract for another year with a $3 million salary cap hit. He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer while Husso is under contract for three years.

Nedeljkovic was 20-24-9 with a 3.31 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. He was not happy, in sum total, with his season.

"It’s my job to stop the puck. It’s my job to keep us in games and help us win games every single night,” Nedeljkovic said. "I understand that. If you want to be a great goalie in this league, you have to do that every single night.

“My job is to stop the puck. Obviously, I didn’t do it enough. We were (second-to-) last in the league in goals against. Obviously, that’s not good enough. It will be better. I’ll just tell you that right now. We’re not going to be in this position next year. If nothing were to change from how the season ended to next year, I’m not going to allow that to happen again."

more (paid), includes goale depth chart...

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Mel Pearson Done As The Coach Of Michigan Hockey

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News,

Mel Pearson, Michigan's hockey coach the last five seasons, will not have his contract extended and has been relieved of his position.

The move was first reported by journalist John Bacon and confirmed by The Detroit News on Friday. This comes just days following the revelation of allegations made against Pearson and “cultural issues” identified in the program that “require attention” in a 70-page report from Washington D.C.-based WilmerHale law firm. The report, obtained Tuesday by The Detroit News, was given to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel on May 5.

Pearson’s original five-year contract expired at the end of April, just more than three weeks after he had taken his team to the NCAA Frozen Four. Pearson, 63, has been the head coach of Michigan’s hockey program since 2017, taking the program to two Frozen Four appearances, and continued to work the last three months in this role despite not having a new contract.


added 1:34pm,

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