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Lindros finally a HOFer; Spaling, Pens avoid arbitration; hottest NHL logo (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:16:26 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. . @PKSubban1 @canadiensmtl is not only the best black player in #hockey , he might be the best player. What an incredible talent! — Larry King (@kingsthings) July 31, 2014 • Hopefully P.K. Subban’s agent submits this as part of his arbitration case Friday, should things get that far. • Will the $5.25 million salary arbitration offer the Montreal Canadiens submitted for Subban be remembered by the defenseman down the line? [ CBC ] • Meanwhile, Subban’s agent said he wasn’t instructed by his client to make him the league’s top-earning blue liner. [ PHT ] • The Philadelphia Flyers announced that John LeClair, Eric Desjardins and Eric Lindros will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame this season. [ Flyers ] • Nick Spaling and the Pittsburgh Penguins avoid arbitration and agree to a two-year, $4.4 million deal. [ Penguins ] • Paul Stastny’s signing in St. Louis means the Blues have employed a trio of Stastny’s. [ Post-Dispatch ] • The Vancouver Canucks changing jerseys again? Can Johnny Canuck make it on the front of the jersey this time? [ Nucks Misconduct ]  • Barry Trotz will put his stamp on the Washington Capitals forward group, thanks to the fact he’ll have some options to play with. [ Japers’ Rink ] • Paul Bissonnette on his uncertain future: "There's a stalemate right now where some are either at the cap, maybe a little bit below it or over it where they want to make moves, but teams are waiting. I find that one or two trades are going to spark more movement." [ Arizona Republic ]  • How did the biggest trades from last season work out for each team? [ Grantland ] • An unofficial list of Ottawa Senators marketing slogans, including, “This Town Needs a REDnema.” [ Welcome to Your Karlsson Years ]  • Kevin Hayes is going to hit the open market after failing to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Should the Vancouver Canucks get involved in the sweepstakes? [ Canucks Army ] • Kale Clague has a cool name and he’s also ready to make an impact with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. [ Buzzing the Net ]  • Time’s running out for Max Reinhart to make an impact with the Calgary Flames. [ Flames Nation ] • Who’s the most frustrating player in fantasy hockey: Cam Ward or Mike Green? [ Dobber Hockey ] • What is the hottest logo in hockey? It’s a bit of a throwback. [ Hockey By Design ] • Finally, the NHL on FOX commercials from the 1990s are probably something we'll never see again:

Shahanan remodels Leafs; Marchand hates Plekanec; Subban homecoming? (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:11:18 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. RT @NYIslanders : #Isles training camp begins Sept. 18 @ochocinco : I'm also the back up goalie for the NY Islanders... — Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) July 30, 2014 • Chad Ochocinco may be in the Canadian Football League right now, but he's hoping to get back to America some way, somehow. His newest plan: backup goalie for the New York Islanders. It'll be an easy transition, since they already have a Chad Johnson in that role. • What hath the Brendan Shanahan era in Toronto wrought? No major changes to the core, but some serious adjustments to the team's depth, on and off the ice. [ Maple Leafs Hot Stove ] • The best players from every franchise in the NHL. What, no Jagr? [ ESPN ] • What do the fancy stats say about Jake Gardiner? He's really good. [ The Score ] • Alex Semin has gotten married in a secret ceremony. The whole thing is shrouded in mystery, but here's one scandalous detail: Alex Ovechkin wasn't there! Le gasp! [ RMNB ] • Dan Lacroix has joined the Montreal Canadiens coaching staff as an assistant. [ Canadiens ] • We've already talked about Steven Stamkos potentially being Leafbron , and going to play in his hometown, but what about P.K. Subban? He certainly doesn't throw any water on the question. Here comes the speculation! All hail Subbron! [ National Post ] • Paul Stewart on how an NHL official can command respect. [ Huffington Post ] • The Kings have signed Dwight King to a three-year extension worth $5.85 million. [ LA Kings Insider ] • What's the greatest hockey game you've ever witnessed? [ The Hockey Writers ] • Contract negotiations between Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings are on hold. I'm skeptical they're going to go anywhere, either. [ MLive ] • Trevor Linden on Vancouver radio: "I'm not sure that the intended use of fighting - which is to protect our stars - actually works." [ Canucks Army ] • I love Joe Pelletier's hockey history. Here's some stuff on the NHL during World War II, when "errant pucks shot into the crowd at games had to be returned because of a rubber shortage." [ Greatest Hockey Legends ] • The Champions Hockey League has secured a three-year broadcasting deal with One World Sports in the U.S. [ CHL ] • Nail Yakupov talks about the upcoming season, which is terribly important for his NHL career. [ Oilers Nation ] • How bad is John Scott going to be for the Sharks? I love that this is the title of this post. [ Fear the Fin ] • Brad Marchand talks about his hatred for Tomas Plekanec. “I can’t stand him. No, I probably shouldn’t say that. I dislike him very much," he says. It's the turtleneck, I'll bet. [ CSNNE ] • And finally, here's video of Marchand saying exactly that:

How long until John Tortorella is back behind an NHL bench? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:13:29 PDT)
It's no secret that John Tortorella's tenure in Vancouver was a disaster, but here's one story you may not have heard. Tortorella never actually lived in Vancouver. Instead, he lived in nearby Point Roberts, which is across the American border, but only about a 45-minute drive from Rogers Arena on a good day. For practice days (which were so rare the players complained) Tortorella would drive in for a brief appearance, and then head home, leaving his assistants to handle everything else. Mike Gillis got so frustrated with his quick turnarounds that the team eventually built a bed into Tortorella's office so he could take naps there instead of driving home. You can watch Willie Desjardins react with bemusement to the fold-out bed  in this video of the Canucks showing their new coach into his office. But despite Tortorella's one-and-done turn in Vancouver, which is destined for infamy and seems like a pretty logical endpoint to his NHL head coaching career, former GM Jay Feaster is confident that Tortorella's not done. "I think time heals all wounds," he said in an exclusive interview with the Fischler Report: I believe that John will get back. General managers in the league know he’s a good coach, and you take the good with the bad. Part of what makes him a good coach is that he does not have the political correctness gene. He is not worried about what you or me or what anybody else thinks about him – he’s going to do what he thinks is right. I think some time away, so time to decompress, I think that’ll be good for him. I don’t have any doubt that at some point in time, a team is going to be struggling and a team is going to need some discipline, some structure, and a general manager is going to say, “This is a guy that can provide it.” Feaster's probably right. It won't be too long before some team decides they need discipline, and then makes the puzzling leap that the famously difficult Tortorella is the man to provide it.  It will be insane, especially when you consider a story Feaster told just prior to vouching for Tortorella, about one of the legendary run-ins between Torts and Larry Brooks of the New York Post . After a heated game versus the Devils, Feaster was worried Tortorella would blow up if he went out for his postgame presser before calming down: We were literally nose to nose in each other’s faces. I was between he and the door. He said, “Jay, I’m telling you, I’m fine.” We go back and forth with this song and dance, so off he goes to do the media. It wasn’t three minutes later that somebody came walking by and said, “Guess what your head coach just told [NY Post reporter] Larry Brooks to do on live television?” Of course he dropped another F-bomb and he came back in and I looked at him and I said, “I thought you were fine!” He hanged his head and looked at me and said, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard him say, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” We had a lot of fun together. "Did I put you in a bad spot?" is the new "Did I do that?" One assumes he also said this to Mike Gillis after trying to punch his way through the Calgary Flames' hallway like that one scene in  Oldboy . And yet, Tortorella's next opportunity -- to be a paragon of discipline, ironically enough -- will undoubtedly come. I can hardly fathom it. Back in March, I asked aloud if we were living in the end times of Tortorella's coaching career : If John Tortorella is let go after this season, he may never coach in the NHL again. There were few that wanted him last season before the Canucks surprised everyone and decided to take a chance, and they were burned for it. Who else is going to look at what's happened here in Vancouver, and how clearly at fault the coach has been for much of it -- how out of control he was that night in the hallway versus Calgary, how badly he mismanaged his goalies at the Winter Classic, how thoroughly he destroyed the Sedinery that made Vancouver so special, how, by the end of one season, nothing worked, and he looked completely out of ideas -- and say, 'he's our guy'? Nobody is, I suggested, foolishly, but Feaster's words are a reminder that I wasn't being nearly cynical enough about the NHL's front-office recycling program. Still, as crazy as it seems to me, I'm looking forward to Tortorella's return. Hockey needs personalities like him -- guys who can't help but be themselves, regardless of how difficult that is.   And let me tell you, it is difficult. In the interview, Feaster tells of players coming to his office to complain about Tortorella's in-your-face approach. "The guy would come in and say, 'He hates me.' I would always tell him, 'Don’t flatter yourself, he hates all of us.'"

Subban mum on contract talks; unique NHL sticks; Winnik to Leafs; (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:35:47 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. Not a bad collection of hardware for Jeff Carter eh @LAKings @HockeyCanada #Silver &Gold — Dave Sandford (@Dave_Sandford) July 26, 2014 • Safe to say Jeff Carter has had a pretty successful hockey career. [ @Dave_Sandford ] • How often does Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks think about the team’s first round collapse to the Los Angeles Kings? “I think every time I see hockey on TV or read about it in the paper.” [ CP via THN ] • Aside from hanging with Seth Rogen, P.K. Subban was at the RBC Canadian Open in Montreal over the weekend and not in a mood to discuss his pending contract extension. “It’s been kept pretty quiet the whole time and it’s going to remain that way until a deal is done.” [ Montreal Gazette ] • Michael Leighton won’t be playing in the KHL this coming season after an illness made him unavailable to attend training camp with expansion HC Sochi. [ Windsor Star ] • Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, a current restricted free agent, is confident that a new deal will be done before training camp opens. [ FOX17 ]  • Tomas Tatar will return to the Red Wings after signing a three-year deal. [ Red Wings ]  • A look at the Robin Lehner contract negotiations for the Ottawa Senators and their crop of UFAs next summer. [ 6th Sens ]  • Real good read on the sons of the late Steve Chiasson, who attended Carolina Hurricanes developmental camp last week. [ ] • The largest private-sector union in Canada is attempting to organize junior hockey players. [ TSN ] • NHL player sticks come in all different varieties. Here are five players who use some unique twigs. [ Backhand Shelf ]  • Daniel Winnik heads from Anaheim to Toronto after signing a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs. [ TML ] • The QMJHL has been a bunch of movement on the management side of things of late. [ Buzzing the Net ]  • There’s lots for Tampa Bay Lightning fans to be excited about next season. Ondrej Palat’s continued development is one reason. [ Bolts by the Bay ] • “Report: Islanders to pay players in Bitcoins next season.” This is satire, but would you even think twice if it wasn’t? [ Lighthouse Hockey ]  • Kate Gillis is currently representing Canada in the Commonwealth Games as part of the country’s field hockey team. She’s also the daughter of former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis, and dealing with the criticism of her dad wasn’t easy. [ CP via Surrey Leader ] • Luke Adam will be back with the Buffalo Sabres after inking a one-year, two-way deal. [ Sabres ]  • Part 3 of Dobber’s look at most frustrating players when it comes to fantasy hockey. [ Dobber Hockey ]  • Finally, here's a reminder that dogs do not make good defensemen:

What We Learned: Breaking down Central Division, NHL Group of Death (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:32:25 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.   Things have calmed down considerably in the free agent market. Rosters at this point are more or less set, and we can therefore go about taking stock of who did what this summer, and what that means for the season that's currently still three or so months away. It's pretty tough to make the case that any single division improved more than the Central, and given the league's new playoff format, those several teams that took huge steps forward might find that it's not going to be enough for them to get things together and actually make the postseason. We can all more or less agree that Chicago, which made only one significant move in bringing aboard bargain-basement Brad Richards and letting Michal Handzus walk, not only is the best team for this coming season as it was for the prior one, but also improved marginally. That top spot in the Central, and perhaps the whole of the Western Conference or even NHL, is very much spoken for. But then there's the matter of everyone else. The race to get into the bottom two to five spots in the West's playoff picture — though banking on the higher side there seems foolish — is going to look like when all three Stooges try to go through the same door at once. St. Louis, Dallas and Minnesota all seem very likely contenders for those spots, having either remained good from last season or improved in this summer signing period. Dallas has clearly taken the largest step forward in adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, but they also have a lot more ground to make up in terms of the point gap from last season; getting into the playoffs with 91 points is barely an accomplishment. The Blues are obviously in the best position, having added Paul Stastny and despite the loss of Vladimir Sobotka. Their biggest need was an additional top-six forward, and they added one. The decision to stick with someone who isn't Ryan Miller, meanwhile, seems a prudent one in goal. As for Minnesota, there's still a lot to dislike about this team. Depth and goaltending remain issues that need to be proven out if anyone's going to believe they're a contender for anything any time soon. But 98 points last season does sort of seem like a fluke. One can't imagine that Josh Harding continues to post a save percentage north of .915 or so, and the rest of that cast doesn't do much to inspire confidence. But as with a few divisions last season, the importance of finishing second versus third or fourth or, if you're really unlucky, fifth is massive in the Central. Finish third and you probably play a 100-point team that's considerably better than you are. Finish fourth and you play either the Blackhawks or (probably) Kings. A lot of people seem to think it's likely that the Central sends five teams to the playoffs, and successfully holds the fourth team in the Pacific out, but it's tough to see where that would be the case; it happened last year mainly because the Canucks were pitiful under John Tortorella. While they haven't exactly taken a step forward so far with Jim Benning at the controls, they haven't taken a step back either, overall. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Anaheim and Vancouver duke it out for a wild card spot. Both, certainly, are better than Winnipeg, Nashville or Colorado, full stop. Of course, all this comes with the caveat that Chicago could falter as it did last season and somehow not end up first in the division, but that doesn't seem likely. Big problems with special teams was what did them in last season, but it's hard to imagine the power play finishes 10th in the league again this year, or the PK 19th. It's also difficult to envision the Avalanche doing anything but crashing and burning after a full year of cheating death in terms of possession; they were sixth in goal differential in their own conference and yet finished second in points. That doesn't happen often, especially not when your percentages are in the league's toilet. If it's between St. Louis and Dallas for the second spot (and it probably is), though, then it's tough to see Dallas making a 20-something-point jump without a “2013 Maple Leafs” measure of luck stirred in. No team in the league improved as much as Dallas did this summer, but even no improvement from the Blues would have left them pretty tough to squeeze past. Even with unproven rookie Jake Allen in net, it's not like things are ever going to go especially badly for them, not with that lineup and depth. A worst-case scenario for the Blues is probably in the 105-point range, which you can't be too unhappy with at the end of the day. Then there are the Stars, who could be a 100-point team if things go right. They're clearly counting on some internal improvement from the kids, especially on the blue line, to make their planned improvement. Minnesota's not far behind them, though, in both the overall quality and “expecting young players to make a jump” departments. For me, these are the two most fascinating teams in the West this season. Everyone else seems to be a known quantity, more or less. Not that any of this really matters, of course. It's probably going to take more than moderate improvement to be better than Chicago over 82 games, or again in seven when the playoffs roll around, and even then, that doesn't make you elite. But getting closer is the goal, and Dallas and St. Louis have certainly made that step. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : Saku Koivu is selling his home near Anaheim for $6.6 million . Say, Ryan Kesler's due $10 million over the next two seasons. Hint hint. Arizona Coyotes : Y'know, when you look at it all laid out like this , the Coyotes' only additions this offseason being Sam Gagner (a player who's pretty good but was always getting unduly flogged in Edmonton for one reason or another), BJ Crombeen, Joe Vitale and Devan Dubnyk, you have to say that Don Maloney didn't have a very good summer. Another year without playoffs in the desert. What fun. Boston Bruins : Loui Eriksson moving to the Bruins' “ first line ” is a little misleading because he was on it last year. Patrice Bergeron plus Brad Marchand plus (anyone) equals “first line.” They're better at all aspects of the game than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, not that you'd know it in this town. That Claude Julien gives more minutes to Lucic and Krejci is a major failing of Claude Julien's. It's really that simple. Buffalo Sabres : Pretty alarming, isn't it, that Luke Adam had to sign a two-way deal ? What happened to that dude? Pre-lockout he looked like he could be a decent contributor, but he's just dropped off a cliff. Calgary Flames : Karri Ramo was pretty effectively put on notice by Flames brass this summer. First they bring in Jonas Hiller to take his No. 1 job — which it must be said Ramo didn't do badly with in his first season, given the circumstances — for the next two years, then they give AHL starter Joni Ortio a two-year deal that guarantees a one-way in 2015-16 . Carolina Hurricanes : Bill Peters says Eric Staal's power play output last season was “ unacceptable .” Would you believe he scored just one time on the man advantage? He had more shorties than that. Good lord. (Another guy that had only one power play goal last season? Evander Kane. Five or six more of those and I doubt any of these rumors come up.) Chicago Blackhawks : Growing up, Brad Richards dreamed of being the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, and I don't blame him. Look what they pay their goalies when they're not even good. Colorado Avalanche : While riding his bike last week, Cory Sarich was hit by a car and broke multiple vertebrae . Horrible news but he's apparently doing much better already. He wants to continue his playing career, which, I dunno... Columbus Blue Jackets : Question posited by someone who I'm pretty sure is a Blue Jackets fan: “ Is Sergei Bobrovsky truly the goalie of the future ?” Hmm, a 25-year-old who has a .926 save percentage with the team over 96 appearances, and already has a Vezina to his name? Nah, it's probably Oscar Dansk. Dallas Stars : One point of concern for the Stars is the workload Kari Lehtonen has pulled the last few seasons because of how bad his backups have been. This time around they have Anders Lindback and maybe, like, Jack Campbell or Jussi Rynnas. So, no? Detroit Red Wings : Danny DeKeyser says “ there won't be any problems ” getting his new contract done before camp. No kidding. If they gave Danny Cleary another year, DeKeyser might be able to pull a max contract. Edmonton Oilers : If the Oilers try to use their organizational depth to fill their hole at center , they're not really approaching things very wisely. Florida Panthers : It's looking like Jimmy Hayes and the Panthers will indeed go to arbitration this week. There goes that chance of signing Kevin! Los Angeles Kings : Nice to see the Kings get one of their draft picks into the Hall of Fame. Minnesota Wild : Well sure they're never going to win a Stanley Cup, but Stephane Veilleux will lead the Wild to ping pong glory . Montreal Canadiens : Please stop asking PK Subban about contract negotiations . He doesn't appreciate it. Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team : Kevin Fiala is one of the growing number of high-quality Swiss players in the NHL. Thanks a lot. New Jersey Devils : One of the things that doomed the Devils (not rhyming with Farty Frodeur) was the fact that they didn't win their first seven games of the season . That's gotta change this year. Probably will, too. New York Islanders : Kevin Poulin will be back for another season on Long Island. After he went .893 in 28 appearances last season, they basically had to re-sign him. New York Rangers : The award Derick Brassard wanted to play his prove-it year with the Rangers as their presumptive No. 2 center was $4.95 million. Glen Sather talked him down to $25 million over five seasons. Now THAT'S negotiating! Ottawa Senators : The Senators plan to meet with the agents for Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur about extensions in the coming week. “How does league minimum sound?” Philadelphia Flyers : The Flyers neither improved nor took a step back this summer. Given the way the rest of the division improved, though, that's tantamount to taking a step back. Gonna be a tough season in Philly, one suspects. Pittsburgh Penguins : Now this is a fascinating question: Will this be the last season in Pittsburgh for Marc-Andre Fleury? Pretty easy to see this going either way, really. San Jose Sharks : Dude, they didn't run over your dog . They beat you in hockey four games in a row. It happens. St. Louis Blues : The Blues' success, ultimately, rests on whether Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz can become even better offensive weapons . They both averaged about one goal every three games last season, which will need to improve. Tampa Bay Lightning : This was a fairly good look at the youth in the Lightning system. Shocking to see Jonathan Drouin at the top of the list. Shocking. Toronto Maple Leafs : Loved this look at the Kyle Dubas hire from Fluto Shinzawa, which included the shocking new idea that maybe you don't need to have been in the NHL to make player evaluations, because other major business executives don't need to know how to make the products their companies sell. Vancouver Canucks : Jake Virtanen signed Sunday . He's going to do very well at World Juniors this season. Washington Capitals : Expecting Joel Ward to be a driver of success with the Caps this season is asking a lot. Or, if you prefer, the impossible. Winnipeg Jets : When you're trying not to spend a lot of money, maybe giving a bunch of money to bad players is not a good idea . Just a thought. Kevin Cheveldayoff really ought to be fired. This is a catastrophe. Gold Star Award

Canucks sign No. 6 overall pick (The SportsXchange)
(Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:20:28 PDT)
The Vancouver Canucks signed their first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft to undisclosed contract terms on Friday.

Canucks sign first-round pick Jake Virtanen (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:09:59 PDT)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks signed first-round pick Jake Virtanen on Friday.

Jim Nill reads your blog; Babcock on analytics; Rich Clune on naked pic etiquette (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:02:14 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. S/O to Patty Kane for knowing what's up and covering the blues logo — Megan (@MeganStael) July 23, 2014 • Patrick Kane poses for a photo with a fan, wisely covers up the St. Louis Blues logo. Company man to the end. • Jim Nill throws a little love towards the hockey blogosphere. "There’s amazing stuff in the blogosphere. We sit down all the time and analyze it. Lindy and I are on the plane all the time and looking at this stuff – we look at it and track it to see if there’s something there. Like I said, we’re all very competitive, and we are all looking for the edge. And whatever’s gonna help us is great for the game.” [ Sporting News ] • James Mirtle on why the Kyle Dubas hiring signals the dawn of a new era in Toronto. [ The Globe & Mail ] • In case you weren't sold on how young Kyle Dubas is, here's a handy infographic contrasting his age with his NHL GM peers. [ Sportsnet ] • Mike Babcock is beginning to get into analytics. [ NHL ] • And speaking of analyitcs, if you still haven't checked out Corey Sznajder's zone entry tracking project, amend your error now. [ Shutdown Line ] • The Sedins have escaped a lot of criticism in Vancouver, and likely will if the team is poor again next year. Here's who will face fan wrath instead. [ The Province ] • Important advice from Rich Clune in this NSFW Q&A: "If you’re a dude: don’t send dick pics. And don’t ask a girl to send a naked picture, just take what comes your way. It’s a lot classier if you let things happen organically." Truth. [ No Filter Blog ] • The Islanders have avoided arbitration with Kevin Poulin, signing a one=year, two-way deal. [ The Score ] • Great stuff from Jeff Klein on the coming revolution in hockey helmetry. [ New York Times ] • Who will win the least next season, and in so doing, set themselves up to win next summer? [ The Hockey News ]  • NHL veteran Cory Sarich was hit by a car while riding his bike earlier this week. He hopes to recover and resume his NHL career. [ Denver Post ] • Scenes from Tom Sestito's five-goal season. [ Pass it to Bulis ] • Great stuff on former NHLer Claude Vilgrain, and his daughter Cassandra, who's picking up the hockey torch. [ Color of Hockey ] • The strangest and saddest lines from every NHL team's Wikipedia page. [ Grantland ] • If you have $500,000 lying around, you could buy yourself a minor-league hockey franchise. [ Biz Journals ] • Taylor Pyatt signs in Switzerland. [ Swiss Hockey News ]  • Here's new Canucks GM Jim Benning selling the rest of his staff on the Ryan Kesler trade. More behind-the-scenes stuff like this, please.

Canucks sign first-round pick Jared McCann (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:32:45 PDT)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- The Vancouver Canucks have signed center Jared McCann to an entry-level contract.

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 ) — 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: PACIFIC DIVISION Anaheim Ducks: 7 Arizona Coyotes: 1 Calgary Flames: 0 Edmonton Oilers: 0 Los Angeles Kings: 13 San Jose Sharks: 13 Vancouver Canucks: 0 CENTRAL DIVISION Chicago Blackhawks: 20 Colorado Avalanche: 7 Dallas Stars: 4 Minnesota Wild: 11 Nashville Predators: 1 St. Louis Blues: 11 Winnipeg Jets: 0 ATLANTIC DIVISION 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 METROPOLITAN DIVISION 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….. Reclamation Millionaires 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… 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 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.

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