National Hockey League roundup
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:45:14 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Dallas Stars reached agreement Tuesday on a four-year contract with forward Antoine Roussel, avoiding a scheduled salary arbitration hearing later in the day. In 81 regular-season games last season, Roussel had 29 points (14 goals and 15 assists) and 209 penalty minutes. He was the only player in the NHL last season with more than 25 points and 150 penalty minutes. His penalty minutes were the third highest in the NHL.
NHL roundup: Stars, Roussel agree on deal (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:22:06 PDT)
The Dallas Stars reached agreement Tuesday on a four-year contract with forward Antoine Roussel, avoiding a scheduled salary arbitration hearing later in the day. In 81 regular-season games last season, Roussel had 29 points (14 goals and 15 assists) and 209 penalty minutes. He was the only player in the NHL last season with more than 25 points and 150 penalty minutes. His penalty minutes were the third highest in the NHL.
Maple Leafs sign F Booth (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:10:39 PDT)
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed forward David Booth to a one-year deal reportedly worth $1.1 million. It is a team-friendly deal for Toronto, which adds a veteran forward known for his strong two-way play. Booth, 29, had nine goals and 10 assists in 66 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season, but was bought out of the final year of his six-year contract. In 443 career games with the Canucks and Florida Panthers, Booth has 218 points.
Leafs take a gamble on David Booth at one year, $1.1 million (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:03:55 PDT)
It's been a busy Tuesday for the Toronto Maple Leafs. First, they announced the dismissal of two members of their front office, as well as the addition of 28-year-old wunderkind Kyle Dubas.
Then, mere hours later, they added to their on-ice product as well, signing lovable weirdo David Booth to a one-year, $1.1 million deal.
It's a low-risk move, a steal, and it, like the Dubas signing, speaks to a team beginning to get a sense of how to use analytics to their advantage. (One wonders if the two acquisitions are in any way connected. I'd hazard a guess that they are.)
Booth had one year remaining on his deal with the Vancouver Canucks before the team opted to buy him out, presumably because he didn't score nearly enough for a guy making north of $4 milion dollars. He put up just 9 goals and 16 points in 66 games.
But while that kind of production isn't worth that kind of money, Booth is hardly without value. In fact, the moment he was bought out, he became the sort of guy any team, the Canucks included, should want. From Pass it to Bulis :
While this makes sense, it’s a shame to see Booth go, because with this buyout, he instantly becomes the type of guy a team like the Canucks would be wise to pursue.
He’s been a positive possession player ever since he came to Vancouver. He had a 58.4% corsi for the Canucks in 2011-12, a 60.5% corsi in 2012-13, and a 52% corsi in 2013-14. His offense was subpar, sure, but there were injury troubles all along the way, and by his own admission, he didn’t really get up to speed following the lockout until late last season. There’s enough evidence in his underliers and his story to suggest that his days as a 20-goal scorer aren’t up. He’s worth a gamble.
And even if Booth doesn't hit 20 goals with the Leafs, he's likely to tilt the ice in their favour from the third line. He's strong, he's good in the corners, and he gains the zone with relative ease. That's immensely valuable, even if his finishing ability isn't where it once was. It's not worth $4.25 million, of course, but I'd argue that it's worth far more than the $1.1 million the Leafs are paying him.
Finally, Roberto Luongo approves:
Congrats on the new deal @D_Booth7 ! Hope they gave you a NTC ( no tightrope clause ) pic.twitter.com/31f5EhqVu0
— Strombone (@strombone1) July 22, 2014
He refers, of course, to the time Booth took a slackline to the groin, then uploaded the video to Instagram . Oh yeah. He's super weird.
Canucks sign Fs Archibald, DeFazio (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:53:36 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks signed forwards Darren Archibald and Brandon DeFazio. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Leafs sign winger David Booth to 1-year deal (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:15:46 PDT)
TORONTO (AP) -- Veteran forward David Booth has signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs after spending last season with Vancouver.
Winners, losers in NBC Sports 2014-15 NHL TV schedule (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:32:34 PDT)
You've got to feel for the San Jose Sharks. Not only did they see a good season wasted with yet another early-season exit, but this one may have been the most heart-breaking of all, with the team squandering a 3-0 lead to the eventual Staney Cup Champion LA Kings. Then, to make matters worse, they'll have to open the season playing those same LA Kings and standing around trying not to look as their in-state rivals raise their second Stanley Cup banner.
It's going to be truly uncomfortable for them, which means it's appointment viewing for us, which is likely why NBC was all to happy to lead off their 2014-15 regular season coverage with this game.
In a manner of speaking. The game will be the second of an opening night double-header for NBCSN's growing Wednesday Night Rivalry brand, immediately following a tilt between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins.
On Tuesday, NBC released their next-season broadcast schedule, which will see them airing a grand total of 103 regular-season games. As with past seasons, they know what the people want: the teams of the Northeast, minus the Islanders. From NBC:
Coming off of the most-watched NHL regular season ever on NBC and NBCSN, the most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006 and most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs on cable in 17 years, NBC Sports Group will deliver coverage of 103 NHL regular-season games during the 2014-15 season, featuring 14 games on NBC and 89 games on NBCSN. All games will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra.
• NBC will present the 2015 NHL Winter Classic from Washington, D.C., between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET.
• Making its return for the first time since 2012, NBCSN will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All-Star weekend will take place Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25 and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.
• This year’s regular-season coverage features 31 games spanning 14 of the 15 series from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including back-to-back rematches of the 2014 Western and Eastern Conference Finals on NBCSN (Blackhawks-Kings on Jan. 28, Canadiens-Rangers on Jan. 29), and a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Kings on March 24. Bruins-Red Wings, Blackhawks-Blues,
• Penguins-Flyers and Kings-Sharks are the most featured matchups, each appearing four times on NBC and NBCSN.
• 56 of NBC and NBCSN’s 103 telecasts feature at least one Western Conference team.
And as we often do, here's a breakdown of how often each team will appear on the NBC Sports Group properties:
Anaheim Ducks: 7 Arizona Coyotes: 1 Calgary Flames: 0 Edmonton Oilers: 0 Los Angeles Kings: 13 San Jose Sharks: 13 Vancouver Canucks: 0
Chicago Blackhawks: 20 Colorado Avalanche: 7 Dallas Stars: 4 Minnesota Wild: 11 Nashville Predators: 1 St. Louis Blues: 11 Winnipeg Jets: 0
Boston Bruins: 17 Buffalo Sabres: 11 Detroit Red Wings: 15 Florida Panthers: 0 Montreal Canadiens: 2 Ottawa Senators: 0 Tampa Bay Lightning: 5 Toronto Maple Leafs: 2
Carolina Hurricanes: 3 Columbus Blue Jackets: 1 New Jersey Devils: 2 New York Islanders: 0 New York Rangers: 14 Philadelphia Flyers: 16 Pittsburgh Penguins: 19 Washington Capitals: 13
And finally, a look at some of the winners and losers:
WINNER: The Buffalo Sabres. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that the Sabres are going to be bad, and yet, somehow, they'll appear on an NBC property 11 freaking times . If the goal is rivalries, one wonders what the hapless Sabres are going to be able to contribute. It seems reasonable to assume, more often than not, they're going to get blown out on national television. That said, maybe NBC is counting on that and wants a lot of goals? But if that's the case, they should have opted for more than zero Oilers game.
LOSER: And speaking of teams shut out, how did the Islanders get zero appearances? It's clear NBC cares very little for Western Canada, as evidenced by the Oilers, Flames, and Canucks being shut out here, but the Islanders are right in the thick of the Northeast. All the teams within bussing distance have at least one appearance, and most have more than 10. But the Islanders don't even get a sniff. Clearly, NBC doesn't see much in them. In this way they're like every free agent Garth Snow tried to sign early.
WINNER: The Western Conference. It became very clear last season that the better hockey is being played in the West right now, which might explain why NBC seems more willing than ever to give the teams out west some dap. As they pointed out, more than half of the broadcasts feature a Western Conference club. (It probably also helps that that's where the Cup is right now. The Blackhawks, last year's champion and a massively popular brand still on the rise, have the most appearances, at 20.)
LOSER: The New Jersey Devils. Like the Islanders, NBC clearly doesn't have much faith in them to be compelling or competitive, as they have only two measly appearances. It's a shame, in a way. Their non-playoff year is the issue here, but a look at their underlying numbers from last season suggests they're going to be much better than most expect.
WINNER: California. The Pacific Division is ruled right now by the three California teams, and unsurprisingly, NBC wants to showcase a lot of that hockey. The trio will appear a combined 33 times. Plus, not only are the Sharks and Kings arguably the big draw on opening night, but NBC is going to that well four times over the season, as many as the Battle of Pennsylvania, Red Wings-Bruins and Blackhawks-Blues.
LOSER: Canada. Just two appearances for the Leafs, two for the Canadiens, and none for anybody else. But the country probably doesn't care too much. They'll be watching all their games elsewhere anyhow. Still, you'd think Canada would get a few more national showcases if their teams were any good.
WINNER: The Blues. Between a growing rivalry with the Blackhawks and their continued employment of American hero T.J. Oshie, they get a lot of play. As mentioned, four games versus Chicago, and eleven overall.
LOSER: The Arizona Coyotes. New name, new lease on life, no exposure. While plenty of Western Conference teams get their fair share of TV time, the Coyotes, who could probably use a boost, almost get Canada'd, with just one game to their name. It probably doesn't help that they're sharing a Division with the California three, nor that they're known for playing some pretty bland hockey.
NHL-National Hockey League roundup
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:01:23 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract on Monday, just hours before he was scheduled for a salary arbitration hearing. Franson had five goals and 28 assists in 78 games with Toronto last season. He has 28 goals and 133 points in 322 games NHL games with the Nashville Predators and Maple Leafs. He also has four goals and nine assists in 23 playoff games.
NHL roundup: Maple Leafs sign Franson (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:45:47 PDT)
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract on Monday, just hours before he was scheduled for a salary arbitration hearing.
Blues sign F Welsh (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:58:31 PDT)
The St. Louis Blues signed forward Jeremy Welsh to a one-year, two-way contact, the team announced Monday.
GMs should learn to shop smarter (What We Learned) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:26:48 PDT)
( Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)
Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak are teammates again, for the first time since spring, and second time since 2004-05. That year, they played together at Dartmouth, with Stempniak a senior and Glass a sophomore.
Now, they're both on the New York Rangers and highlight a particularly bizarre portion of the NHL's annual summer free agency period.
The early days of free agency almost always come off as being woefully inefficient. Guys who sign on or around July 1 tend to be overpaid in terms of dollars and years, and that's a secret to approximately nobody. But the weird part is that things go from laughably expensive to laughably cheap pretty quickly, and it usually happens around the start of the second week of the month. The TSN-coined term “free agent frenzy” is, as a consequence, alarmingly apt. Teams get themselves all worked up to make it appear as though they're doing something that they pay top dollar for players they shouldn't.
Glass is the case in point here. He's played 337 NHL games, and in them he's piled up 54 points. He's also on his fourth organization in five seasons, because what Glass does — get buried in possession and occasionally fight — is available on the open market for very cheap if you know where to look, and that's if you have to go shopping for it; most minor league teams have at least one guy who can do what Glass does.
And yet his cap hit, on a contract unsurprisingly signed on July 1, will be $1.45 million for the next three seasons. That's too much money and too many years for a fighter who'll be 31 in November; remember how Shawn Thornton dropped off a cliff the last two or three seasons? Glass was never as good as Thornton.
Meanwhile, his old college buddy Stempniak had to wait until July 19 to sign his deal with the Rangers. Stempniak has more points in his 637-game career than Glass has games played. For each of his three seasons in Calgary, Stempniak's possession numbers were better than what the rest of the team was doing when he wasn’t on the ice. His career low in points (13) is three below Glass's career high, and that's because the season in which he bottomed out was also one in which he played just 14 games.
You don't need stats to tell you that Lee Stempniak is better than Tanner Glass, of course. That much should be obvious. And yet no one would ever deign to call the former a highly sought-after free agent, obviously. Glass obviously was.
That's why Glass collected a contract worth $4.35 million in total over three years — one that wasn't worth the commitment for the Rangers the second it was signed — while Stempniak got just $900,000 for one year, and that was the end of it.
One wonders what, exactly, possesses a Glen Sather to consider Glass to be worth 1.6 Stempniaks, but “rational thought” cannot be included among the acceptable answers.
The point is, though, that this kind of thing happens all the time. From July 7 on, NHL teams have signed a total of 13 players, all but two for just one season, for an average cap hit of $1.17 million. Compare that to the first five days of July, when teams committed an average of about $7.15 million to 79 players, and the average term was about 2.3 seasons (that means an AAV of roughly $3.1 million).
Now granted, some of that is skewed by the fact that the big-name free agents tend to get signed only July 1, or maybe a few days after that. None wait around until the middle of the month to make their decisions. But then again the vast majority of players being signed in that initial rush aren't highly sought-after, or at least shouldn't be. You'd have to feel comfortable lumping the more recently hired guys in with most July 1 signings in terms of quality.
Were you a betting man, you might be able to make some good money betting that Lee Stempniak has a better season than, say, Dave Bolland. Since 2007-08, they're in roughly the same neighborhood in terms of ES points per 60; Stempniak is 142nd in the league at 1.66, and Bolland is 155th at 1.61. And yet the latter, who's more injury prone and demonstrably worse, was the one who got $5.5 million a year for the next five seasons.
You can grab a lot of headlines on July 1, no doubt about that. But you're not likely to grab good value. Teams that sit back and wait for players to come to them — teams like Nashville, which signed Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro, and Anton Volchenkov in an eight-day period for a total of $3.05 million, for instance — are the ones that grab the value. Were you a betting man, you might also be able to make pretty good money wagering that Volchenkov will have a better year than Brooks Orpik.
Just because you have money doesn't mean you should spend it. Splash the cash on quality free agents all you like, but don't mistake a Day-1 bidding war for a bargain. Unless you're adding players to your starting lineup, it will almost certainly be far cheaper to sit back and wait.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks : Please don't count on John Gibson being a Calder candidate . It would take a disaster for him to get a full-time starting job this season.
Arizona Coyotes : Does Ray Whitney still have something in the tank ? Possession numbers remain shockingly fine, but anyone hoping for 60-point seasons any more will be sorely disappointed.
Boston Bruins : Milan Lucic says he will not apologize for the handshake line threats he made to various Canadiens. And if you ask him about it again, he's going to [expletive]ing kill you.
Buffalo Sabres : Remember that kid who couldn't stick with the team last season? Put him on the first line !
Calgary Flames : The Jonas Hiller contract is off to a running start .
Carolina Hurricanes : Easy to be happy with the Hurricanes' depth additions this summer , but wouldn't it also be nice to get some actual good star players too?
Chicago Blackhawks : Niklas Hjalmarsson believes the the Winter Classic will once again be a “ surreal ” experience. Agreed. Absolutely unreal that this is the team's third outdoor game in six years.
Colorado Avalanche : Joe Sakic says Jarome Iginla's shot and leadership are good . If his legs actually work for the next three seasons, that just might matter!
Columbus Blue Jackets : Hey, they're making strides in Ryan Johansen's contract talks. The kid's good but 30 goals might be a bit much to expect; I wouldn't count on him shooting almost 14 percent next season. He's lucky he got so lucky when he did, really.
Dallas Stars : Antoine Roussel wants $2.35 million in arbitration . The team wants to pay him $1.5 million. Let's call it $2 million and who cares? Dallas has tons of cap space.
Detroit Red Wings : Yeah, “ bold ” is one way to put asking a bankrupt city to foot a too-large part of the bill for a $650 million downtown district that includes an arena that seats 20,000-plus. Public stadium financing is a scam to make the rich richer, and always has been.
Edmonton Oilers : Remember when the Oilers started their rebuild in 2009-10? There's no one left from that team on the roster. What a life.
Florida Panthers : Love that Dmitry Kulikov contract. What I love even more is that he's apparently “ inconsistent .” If having a 23-year-old who can drive possession out of his own zone against good competition isn't good, then I don't know what to think.
Los Angeles Kings : Justin Williams received the Key to the City of Ventnor City, N.J., when he brought the Stanley Cup back to his adopted hometown. That's the second time he's brought it there, but given the way the Kings are going, residents might want to get used to this kind of party.
Minnesota Wild : The Xcel Energy Center is getting a new scoreboard for the coming season. It will be about five times bigger than the previous one, giving fans a closer look at a team that will probably disappoint them this year.
Montreal Canadiens : The Canadiens haven't done much this summer , which makes it all the more likely that this season will be like the one that followed the last time they made the Eastern Conference Final. A first-round bounce-out might actually be the best they can hope for.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team : Seth Jones remained in Nashville to train this summer. Apparently, almost no Preds actually do that.
New Jersey Devils : The Devils have a lot of good, young defensemen . And Adam Larsson.
New York Islanders : Griffin Reinhart wants to be on the Islanders next season . Someone's gotta take all those tough Andrew MacDonald minutes.
New York Rangers : The city would burn .
Ottawa Senators : The Senators want to know how they can improve Canadian Tire Centre . One assumes most fans wrote, “Put a competitive team in it.”
Philadelphia Flyers : John Stevens brought the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia this past week, and people in Philly are apparently mad that he took it to the Rocky Steps . Does anyone want to let the city of Philadelphia know that “Rocky” isn't even that good of a movie? Ay at least they didn't bring it to Pat's or Geno's!!!
Pittsburgh Penguins : Mark Recchi was named the Penguins' player development coach . Word of advice: Don't ask if he wants to go to the movies.
San Jose Sharks : People are still upset about the Sharks' new ice girls team . It's a reasonable thing to be upset about, but the conspiracy theorist has to think this is at least partly a ploy to distract from how little Doug Wilson has done this offseason, eh?
St. Louis Blues : So cute. Doug Armstrong thinks Chris Butler is a “ qualified defenseman .”
Tampa Bay Lightning : Yeah look if you can't squeeze Jonathan Drouin onto this roster you're not doing a very good job of making the team better. Pretty simple.
Toronto Maple Leafs : If David Clarkson thinks last year went badly , just wait until he's in year five of this awful contract and still has two to go!
Vancouver Canucks : A decent number of people in Vancouver still don't like Derek Dorsett from his junior days. Can't imagine why.
Washington Capitals : Dmitry Orlov just isn't an offensive defenseman . Sorry.
Winnipeg Jets : Another season of missing the playoffs coming up in Winnipeg. No one gets fired! Hooray!
Gold Star Award
Hiller's 'appendicitis attack'; Babcock scaring away UFAs?; learning 'stupid easy' fancy stats (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:45:42 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
What does Kevin Cheveldayoff do, exactly? (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:40:21 PDT)
Evander Kane has never come right out and said that he'd prefer to be employed by a different NHL team, but I think it's a pretty safe assumption at this point. There was the Vancouver radio interview , in which he said he was a Winnipeg Jet "for now" (while conveniently providing little in the way of evidence that he'd like to be a Winnipeg Jet "for longer"). There was the infamous favourited tweet .
And then there's the question of why he would even want to play for Winnipeg anymore , which is pretty well unanswerable. So sure, he's never said "I want out of Winnipeg", but I'd be willing to wager he's thought it. In the last twenty seconds. A bunch of times.
Yet he remains in Winnipeg? Why?
The simple answer, I guess, is he's a very good hockey player that the Jets are loath to part with. This is a 22-year-old kid that's already got a 30-goal season under his belt. You want guys like that around.
But the more complicated answer is that the man employed to make these trades seems to think he's a shadow GM in the vein of Greg Sherman. The more I look at the Winnipeg Jets, the more I'm left to wonder what Kevin Cheveldayoff actually does all day.
(I know he doesn't sneak off to the park, since Winnipeg doesn't have any .)
It's time to trade Evander Kane. It's been time for ages. Move him, get something back, establish loud and clear that the Winnipeg Jets only want guys that want the Winnipeg Jets back. Even if you lose the trade slightly, this is a defensible stance.
It's what Jim Benning did when he arrived in Vancouver. Ryan Kesler wanted out, and he severely handcuffed the Canucks, providing the shortest shortlist imaginable. Benning could have gone full Gillis, refusing to trade Kesler until he got just the perfect package and kicking off a circus, but he weighed his options and decided that it was better to lose the trade than to drag the whole thing on unnecessarily, divide his room, and employ a guy who wasn't playing for his teammates so much as he was playing to keep his stats, and thus, his resale value up.
Same goes for Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay. He didn't have to trade Martin St. Louis. But he knew it was about to become a headache. So he staved it off by making a difficult move.
It's as though Cheveldayoff doesn't know trading is an option. He's been an NHL GM since June 8, 2011. He's never made a player-for-player trade, ever.
As pointed out by Illegal Curve Hockey in this excellent examination of his tendencies , not only has he traded away more draft picks than he's brought in, which makes no sense for a team that's never been a contender during his tenure, but he seems unaware there are other ways to exchange assets:
Disregarding the exchange of draft picks, as the net result of those moves is that all the draft picks that are traded, essentially are returned in another, similar, form, the most disconcerting part of Cheveldayoff’s tenure as GM of the Winnipeg Jets is that he has not made one NHL player for NHL player trade.
That seems quite astounding does it not? Repeating: In more than three years on the job, the GM has yet to trade an NHL player for an NHL player in return.
Not surprisingly, no other NHL teams can claim that title.
This is baffling. I've played EA's NHL games. This is the best part of the job. He's skipping the best part!
One assumes Evander Kane would be gone by now if the guy orchestrating the deal knew you could take players back in return.
Between that, his team's absurd insistence on giving the below-average Ondrej Pavelec the bulk of the starts, seemingly just because he was in the net when the Jets came to Winnipeg, and the fact that the Jets are still basically just the Atlanta Thrashers in bluer shirts, you wonder what Kevin Cheveldayoff, who puts the "day off" in his own last name, is even doing over there.
Fantasy Hockey: The fantasy spin on this summer's free agent signings (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:21:41 PDT)
With the first two-plus weeks of free agency officially in the rearview mirror, we can compare and contrast the dozens of UFA deals to get a true feel for which teams should be patting themselves on the back (or suffering from buyer’s remorse) and which agents might be getting a shiny new Rolex come holiday time (or settling for the gift that keeps on giving the whole year ).
The Rich Don’t Need to Get Richer
How can signing UFA forwards Adam Cracknell and David Van Der Gulik (combined 29 points in 113 career NHL games) count as having a positive impact on a team? Easy - when that team is the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Another reminder that although making a big splash in free agency is impressive, it’s almost always better to enjoy the luxury of not having to fix what isn’t broken.
And in the UFA poker game among the NHL’s elite teams, the cap-challenged Boston Bruins folded (none signed so far). But the 2015 Cup frontrunner Chicago Blackhawks called the two spare parts deals of the Kings (signing Cody Bass and Pierre-Cedric Labrie - combined 10 points in 95 NHL games), and raised them one former Conn Smythe winner in Brad Richards, who agreed to a one year, $2M deal.
But the reality is the Richards experiment won’t end well. Last season the highest point total by any bought out forward was 37 from Vincent Lecavalier, whose intended second/third line role with Philly was a lot like what’s probably envisioned for Richards. And since Chicago evenly spreads its PP time, Richards - who normally relies upon at least a third of his scoring via the man advantage – won’t even see close to the 3:40 of PP time (second lowest average of his career) he got last year.
From Penn Plaza to Del Boca Vista
Former New York Rangers Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman left the Big Apple for the sunny confines of Tampa Bay, where they’ll also be joined by Brenden Morrow. Is it just me, or is over $8M per season a lot to spend on three players whose points totals have headed in the wrong direction in the past few full seasons (Boyle had 35 points in 2011-12, 26 in 2011-12, and just 18 in 2013-14; Stralman had 18 in 2010-11 and 2011-12, but just 13 in 2013-14; Morrow had 56 in 2010-11, 26 in 2011-12, and only 25 in 2013-14)?
Maybe the most interesting tidbit to come from the Boyle and Stralman signings is how the advice of Ryan Callahan – he of the only 24 career games in a Lightning uniform – apparently played a large part in getting them to come to Tampa. No word yet on whether Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen sought input from UFA Dustin Penner (18 games for Washington last season) on the quality of D.C.’s breakfast fare before agreeing to their massive deals with the Caps.
Coming to a Theater (but maybe not a Rink) Near You - Dallas IR Club
Dallas Stars fans are eager for newly signed Ales Hemsky to rekindle his 2013-14 magic (17 points in 20 games) with Jason Spezza, whom the Stars acquired via trade. But prior to last season when they combined for 150 games played, you’d have to go back to 2008-09 to find the last time both suited up for 70+ games in the same campaign; and each has more seasons of missing 10+ games than not. Hopefully their suits and street clothes made the trip south from Ottawa…..
The 2014 offseason is shaping up to be all about inexpensive reclamation signings, where you can literally picture general managers saying, “For that little money – why not!?” Between Morrow, Steve Downie ($1M with Pittsburgh), Dany Heatley ($1M with Anaheim), Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy ($1.05M and $1M with Nashville), and Martin Havlat ($1.5M with New Jersey), you could ice a fantasy hockey top six...if this was circa 2009.
Forget about Heatley making a positive impact. If he couldn’t produce when he had to earn a new contract, then he’s unlikely to be resurrected on Anaheim, especially since unlike the Minnesota Wild (who paid him $5M last season) the Ducks can afford to play him wherever they want (or not at all).
Morrow’s higher salary ($1.55M) could help his cause. But the reality is that barring injuries to other players (and – by some miracle – not to him), he’s likely to see time mostly in the bottom six, which means even 35-40 points would be a big stretch.
Ribeiro and Roy are going to perhaps the best possible landing spot, as on Nashville their offensive flair (particularly on the PP, where Roy has thrived his entire career and Ribeiro tied for the NHL lead in PP points in 2012-13) should be more than enough to compensate for their defensive shortcomings. It’s safe to count on both topping 50+ points if they stay healthy.
With Downie, he’s in line to get regular time as watchdog alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin , allowing him to have points literally dropped onto his lap. Plus he had some early season traction (seven points in 11 games, 36 PIM) with Colorado during 2013-14, so clearly he has something left in the tank.
As for Havlat, to some his situation might look just as hopeless as Heatley’s; but the difference is New Jersey actually needs him (27th in goals scored last season, versus 2nd for Anaheim). And it helps that Havlat will be welcomed with open arms by countrymen and ageless wonders Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias. If Havlat plays in 75 games, he could tally 55+ points.
When More Definitely Is Less
Pop quiz – what happens when you mix the cap floor with two top prizes in the 2015 entry draft? You get Florida and Buffalo combining to commit huge money to some questionable UFAs.
In fact, if you remove Matt Moulson (51 points), Jussi Jokinen (57) and goalie Al Montoya, the combined 2013-14 scoring for the other seven UFA skaters they signed was 119 points in 410 games, translating to a full season rate of just under 24 points per player. So essentially they signed the equivalent of seven Kyle Brodziaks and Marc Methots, and will pay the seven in excess of $22M next season.
But hey - at least Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will have some “character guys” to help transition them into the NHL in 2015-16.
Short, but Not Always Sweet
Other than Niskanen, no UFA this summer has been signed for more than five years, making it interesting to compare and contrast all the multi-year deals. Here are the best and worst – by number of years – in terms of impact on the signing teams.
• Best Two Year Deals : Chad Johnson by the New York Islanders Islanders and Justin Peters by the Washington Capitals. Remember how great Anton Khudobin did after coming to Carolina from Boston? Johnson and Peters have a chance to replicate that success in 2014-15, especially given the shakiness of the guys in front of them (Jaroslav Halak for Johnson and Braden Holtby for Peters).
• Worst Two Year Deals : Radim Vrbata by the Vancouver Canucks. He’ll get a shot with the Sedins; but they combined to score fewer points (97) in 2013-14 than Henrik had in 2009-10 or Daniel posted in 2010-11. Dan Boyle by the New York Rangers. He only amassed 56 points in his last 121 games while getting top minutes and responsibilities, but now will be second banana to Ryan McDonagh.
• Best Three Year Deals : Stephane Robidas by Toronto: An ageless workhorse who’ll lessen the tough minutes workload on Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson. Mason Raymond by Calgary: He won’t forget how close to bottom he was last September , and will give the Flames everything he has. Thomas Vanek by Minnesota: The deal’s short term and the return to his college stomping grounds ensure he’ll actually remain dialed in.
• Worst Three Year Deals : Ryan Miller by Vancouver: Either he didn’t have many suitors or he decided the pressure of a top contender wasn’t for him; either way, this looks like a bad fit. Brian Gionta by Buffalo: Great guy to root for, especially since he’s literally going home again ; but 81 points in his last 160 games is a far, far cry from 89 in 82 games back in 2005-06.
• Best Four Year Deal : Paul Stastny by St. Louis. Exactly the right term and dollars from a team that makes perfect sense as a landing spot; the only concern might be keeping his dad away from a live mic.
• Worst Four Year Deal : Nikolai Kulemin by New York Islanders: By most accounts he was coveted by Pittsburgh, where he could’ve feasted by playing with countryman Evgeni Malkin; but instead he landed with the Islanders….cough cough…..money grab….cough cough.
• Best Five Year Deal : Benoit Pouliot by Edmonton. After going from being drafted fourth overall to playing for five teams in as many seasons, something clearly clicked with Pouliot on the Rangers; and that something will go a long way in helping him and the Oilers even if he never scores 30 goals or reaches 70 points in a season.
• Worst Five Year Deal : Matt Moulson by Buffalo: In his final 130 games with the Islanders, Moulson posted 122 points, while in 74 games since then he tallied only 45; anyone who thinks this’ll work out well is likely on Moulson’s payroll or works in PR for the Sabres.
Rick Roos is a Senior Writer over at DobberHockey.com where you can read his Cage Match articles every Wednesday.
Canucks ink Vey for 1 year (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:00:32 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks signed newly acquired winger Linden Vey to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday.
NHL roundup: Surgery still possible for Crosby (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:34:45 PDT)
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Sidney Crosby will not require surgery on his injured right wrist, but agent Pat Brisson said surgery is still a possibility if treatment doesn't work.
Blues sign Ferriero, Butler to 1-year contracts (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:37:37 PDT)
The St. Louis Blues signed forward Benn Ferriero and defenseman Chris Butler to one-year, two-way contracts, the team announced Wednesday. Ferriero, 27, played two games with the Vancouver Canucks last season, but spent the majority with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. He ranked second on the team with 19 goals and third with 39 points in 54 regular-season games. In his career, Ferriero has 14 goals and 23 points in 98 games with the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Canucks.
Renney ready for the challenge of running Hockey Canada (Yahoo Sports)
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:33:02 PDT)
As the new head of Hockey Canada, Tom Renney says he's ready to tackle the big challenges ahead.
Sabres sign F Dalpe (The SportsXchange)
(Sun, 13 Jul 2014 12:26:53 PDT)
Forward Zac Dalpe signed a one-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres, the team announced Sunday.
Wild sign Schroeder, Blum (The SportsXchange)
(Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:28 PDT)
The Minnesota Wild signed forward Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract and defenseman Jonathon Blum to a one-year deal on Friday.
Dread Pirate Steve Ott; new Leafs assistants; CHL players' summer jobs (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:33:22 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
Two more years of this? Yes, please. " @apetro_27 : great performance by @otterN9NE "aKa Steve the pirate" pic.twitter.com/JU8zBoHuU7 " — St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) July 10, 2014
• Dread Pirate Steve [Ott]: "Yarr...Peter..." [St. Louis Blues]
• I get the feeling some Blues fans might prefer the actual Dread Pirate Steve on their team over Steve Ott, especially after Vladimir Sobotka booked it to the KHL. [St. Louis Game Time]
• Randy Carlyle has some new friends behind the bench. The Maple Leafs announced former-Panthers coach Peter Horachek and former-Marlies coach Steve Spott are the two new assistant coaches in Toronto. [Toronto Maple Leafs]
• CHL players haven't yet hit the big time where they make enough money to NOT work during the off-season. Here's the first installment of a summer series looking at what those CHL'ers do to make ends meet when they're not on the ice. [Buzzing the Net]
• Nobody wants to work on Fridays, so we've given you something to pass the time. Can you find things hiding in your favorite hockey logos? [Icethetics]
• “When I went to the University of North Dakota, and I sat in the crowd, I felt so proud that Rocco Grimaldi was a Panther because people are talking about him. They’re all talking to him getting ready for warm-ups saying ‘Hey, watch this little guy! He’s going to light it up’. He never disappoints," said Brian Skrudland, the Panthers director of player development. [ Panther Parkway]
• Interesting analysis of center Mikko Koivu, and his role for the upcoming season with youthful Wild [Hockey Wilderness]
• Some unhappy citizens of Red Wings country? George Malik writes an open letter to Red Wings GM Ken Holland regarding the Kyle Quincey and Dan Cleary signings. (BONUS: Perfect Strangers reference for those of us who grew up watching TGIF.) [Kukla's Korner/Malik Report]
• Mike Babcock is on the verge of looking for a new assistant coach to join him on the bench. Ken Holland confirmed current Detroit assistant Tom Renney is close to signing a deal to join Hockey Canada. [Red Wings Front]
• The 2018 Olympic games are in PyeongChan g, South Korea. Don't worry, this isn't a debate on whether NHL-ers should go or not. 28 players from Seoul’s Yonsei University are in Vancouver to hone their skills in hope of making their nation's team in a few year. [The Province]
• Drama and the Vancouver Canucks go together like peas and carrots. 'Nucks goalie Jacob Markstrom reportedly requested a trade following the Ryan Miller signing. Guess what?! Markstrom is now denying that report. Shock me, shock me. [ProHockey Talk]
• " The Canucks are prepared to simply remodel their team a bit and then go into the season hoping for the best ... I believe that the time for a rebuild is now, while their best players are still in their prime and can get the best return via trade ... there’s no point in delaying the inevitable in Vancouver, and the time for change is now." [Too Many Men On The Site]
• A look back at a dark day in Pittsburgh Penguins history. This day, 13 years ago, Pens GM Craig Patrick traded Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera to the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, and Ross Lupaschuk. [The Pensblog]
• 1922-1923 Montreal Canadiens 'shock the world twice' on this day in hockey history [Greatest Hockey Legends]
• Eliot Antonietti, the 6'6" Swiss defenseman at Capitals prospect camp, has taken hold of his new-found fame and has deemed himself 'The Beard'. Not sure if that will improve his chances of signing with the team, but hey, any marketing is good marketing. [RMNB]
• Hockey talent from Southern California continues to invade development camps across the NHL; however unbeknownst to many, Miles Koules brings a Hollywood heavyweight family background with him to Caps camp. [Washington Post]
• The Lighting have re-signed Brett Connolly as they continue to add to their depth at forward . [Tampa Bay Lightning]
• Wonder how this will work out: "It appears that the Carolina Hurricanes are planning on relying less on talent and more on hard work and strategy for the next hockey season. Do not get me wrong, the Canes do have talent, but as we have learned in the past few seasons that it is not enough. As Bill Peters mentioned in his first interview with the Hurricanes, ice time will be given to the players who work hard and are the right ones for the job." [Cardiac Cane]
• An academic analysis (with equations!) at changing the NHL point system by someone that didn't have to take macroeconomics four times while getting her B.A. (i.e. me) [Jewels from the Crown]
• A look back at the very busy past few weeks for the Nashville Predators [View from 111]
• Should the Oilers kick the tires on 32-year-old, free-agent winger David Moss? [Oilers Nation]
• Getting you ready for your future fantasy drafts: the guys at Dobber look at the implications of Sobotka's departure and Ott's re-signing with the Blues. [Dobber Hockey]
• To close Puck Headlines the way we started, we head Winnipeg where the Jets prospects are living the immortal words of Dodgeball's Patches O'Houlihan: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball..." [Winnipeg Jets]
Blues re-sign Ott to 2-year contract (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:08:57 PDT)
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Blues have re-signed forward Steve Ott to a two-year contract.
Schneider gets 7-year, $42 million deal with NJ (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 09 Jul 2014 17:04:00 PDT)
The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a seven year, $42 million contract extension. ''The first word that comes to mind is excitement,'' Schneider said on Wednesday. ''I always wanted to be a New Jersey Devils goaltender for a long time. I just wanted to be here.'' The 28-year-old Schneider would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season, but this contract keeps him with New Jersey through the 2021-22 season.
Cory Schneider accepts 7-year, $42-million Devils’ deal and Brodeur's mantle (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:07:10 PDT)
Lou Lamoriello did his best to make Cory Schneider’s new 7-year, $42-million contract extension feel like the dawn of a new era for New Jersey Devils hockey.
“Cory’s not here to replace Marty. Cory’s here to establish his own identity,” said Lamoriello, as the Devils President/GM/Ruler Of All He Surveys announced the contract on Wednesday. Schneider’s deal kicks in during the 2015-16 season, as he has one more year at $4 million on his previous deal.
“We go from one great goaltender to another.”
The spectre of Brodeur haunts the organization. Not in the sense that anyone expects Schneider, 28, to replicate the Hall of Fame-worthy success Brodeur had in New Jersey for 20 years. But rather that he’s continuing the model the Devils perfected with Brodeur between the pipes: Success is created starting in the crease, and then built out.
Schneider said it’s all about “continuing a tradition of great goaltending in New Jersey,” and that he respects “what Marty has done for this organization.”
When Lamoriello traded the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks for Schneider, he knew he was acquiring a goalie that could be Brodeur’s successor. He’d have a full season to evaluate Schneider, and liked what he saw.
“Timing is everything in life,” said Lamoriello.
In 45 games with the Devils, he posted a .921 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA. His 16-15-12 record wasn’t stellar, but the win total was suffocated under the Devils’ lack of shootout success. Schneider was 0-8 in the shootout.
The key for Schneider in signing his new deal: That the Devils wanted to commit long term, and that the crease was his next season and beyond.
“That was a part of it. You don’t do this kind of deal if they didn’t believe I was the guy or if I thought I wasn’t going to be the guy,” he said. “They believed in me. Had confidence in me.”
Evaluating Schneider’s new contract comes down to whether one believes he’s a proven starter. If so, then $6 million against the cap over seven years is in line with what starters receive in the NHL. It’s less than Carey Price, the same as Corey Crawford and slightly more than Semyon Varlamov and Mike Smith – although the former two are on six-year deals, and the later two are on 5-year deals.
The bottom line for the Devils, when it comes to term, is that they wanted stability in goal as the rest of the team transitions from a veteran group (for at least the next two years) to one led by Schneider, a cadre of young defensemen and players like Adam Henrique up front.
After being spoiled by having the same goalie for 20 years, one understands why Lamoriello wanted the next guy for at least eight – and signed him well before his UFA status came around next summer.
“The CBA has changed the thought process with reference to key players,” said Lamoriello.
So Schneider was signed, officially signaling the end of an era for the Devils. But Lamoriello didn’t agree that “sadness” was the emotion he was feeling.
“Marty will always be a Devil,” he said of Brodeur, who is still looking for a new home for next season. “[Brodeur] was excited for the organization when we acquired Cory because he respected Cory so much as a player.
“He’s had a great career. He’ll always be a Devil. Just in a different way.”
Devils sign G Schneider to extension (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:36:48 PDT)
The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Cory Schneider to a multiyear contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. Terms of the contract were not released, but The (Bergen) Record reported Schneider's contract was for seven years at an average annual value of $6 million. Schneider, 28, would have become an unrestricted free agent following the 2014-15 season. Last season, his first with the Devils, Schneider was 16-15-12 in 45 games, and his 1.97 goals-against average was third in the NHL.
Predators' Fisher out 4-6 months after foot surgery (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:12:02 PDT)
The Nashville Predators could be without center Mike Fisher until the middle of the upcoming season due to a foot injury. The team announced Monday that Fisher ruptured an Achilles tendon last week while training, and he underwent surgery Thursday. The recovery period is expected to last four to six months, meaning Fisher is likely to miss at least 20 games in the 2014-15 season. General manager David Poile told the Tennessean, "I hope we have enough depth.
NHL roundup: Oilers sign D Petry (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:17:29 PDT)
The Edmonton Oilers agreed to terms with defenseman Jeff Petry on a one-year contract, the team announced Monday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Hockey Night in Canada reported Petry will make just under $3.1 million. Selected by the Oilers in the second round (No. 45) of the 2006 draft, Petry had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) and 42 penalty minutes in 80 games last season while leading Edmonton in blocked shots (132) and hits (181), the third straight season he ranked in the top-two on the team in hits. The 26-year-old Petry has spent his entire NHL career with the Oilers, and has 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists) and 107 penalty minutes in 236 games.
Canucks add Weisbrod; Feaster to Tampa (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:00:48 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks announced John Weisbrod was hired as the franchise's Vice President of Player Personnel. Weisbrod was previously the assistant general manager for the Calgary Flames before being fired along with general manager Jay Feaster last December.
Wingels, Petry re-sign; Blues' new jersey preview; underrated signings (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:50:42 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
Pressed and ready to go! They'll be in stock starting tomorrow at the @insideaacenter fan shop! pic.twitter.com/T7tRybyrjs — Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) July 6, 2014
• Jason Spezza is now the eighth NHLer to ever wear the no. 90.
• After resigning as president of the Buffalo Sabres after Ryan Miller was dealt away, Pat LaFontaine has re-joined the NHL as vice president of Hockey Development and Community Affairs. [ TSN ]
• Twenty NHL players filed for arbitration before Saturday’s deadline. P.K. Subban, Chris Kreider and James Reimer headline the list. [ NHLPA ]
• Tommy Wingels has re-signed with the San Jose Sharks. It’s a three-year deal worth $7.4. million. [ CSN Bay Area ]
• Nashville Predators GM David Poile on acquiring James Neal: “If I wanted to change a guy, I probably wouldn't trade for him.” [ Tennessean ]
• David Legwand has inked a two-year, $6 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. [ The 6th Sens ]
• Jeff Petry re-ups with the Edmonton Oilers for one year and will make $3.075 million. [ @Bob_Stauffer ]
• Chris Tanev will return to the Vancouver Canucks with a one-year, $2 million deal, but Jacob Markstrom likely won’t after reportedly requesting a trade. [ Province ]
• Clay Witt was a Tampa Bay Lightning fan growing up in Florida. Now he’s at their developmental camp living out his dream. [ Tampa Tribune ]
• The 2015 Winter Classic could have been played on The National Mall in D.C. had one architect gotten his way back in 1964. [ Puck Buddys ]
• The Philadelphia media reaction to Claude Giroux’s arrest is as expected. [ Broad Street Hockey ]
• Cory Conacher has come a long way in his hockey career and he’s looking to make the most of his newest opportunity with the New York Islanders. [ Islanders Insight ]
• How strong is hockey growing in the U.S.? “USA Hockey saw a record 519,547 people register as amateur hockey players across the country, busting the previous high by more than 8,000 players.” [ Eye on Hockey ]
• Here’s your first look at the St. Louis Blues’ new home jersey. No more piping! [ Icethetics ]
• Edmonton Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal will move from the WHL to the AHL after taking over as new head coach of the Texas Stars. [ Buzzing the Net ]
• Almost a week after free agency began, what are the top 10 most underrated signings? [ Dobber Hockey ]
• Finally, here’s a behind-the-scenes look of how the James Neal trade went down: