Flames sign Colborne to 2-year deal (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:44:00 PDT)
Center Joe Colborne avoided arbitration by signing a two-year contract with the Calgary Flames. Financial terms were not announced, but the deal is worth $2.55 million according to Sportsnet.
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.
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
Rangers sign F Stempniak (The SportsXchange)
(Sat, 19 Jul 2014 10:29:00 PDT)
Free agent forward Lee Stempniak signed a one-year contract with the New York Rangers on Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
National Hockey League roundup
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:40:05 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Nashville Predators signed free agent centers Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy to one-year contracts on Tuesday. The team also announced the signing of first-round pick Kevin Fiala to a three-year entry-level contract. Fiala, 17, was a finalist for the 2014 Swedish Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award and the 11th overall pick by the Predators last month. Ribeiro, 34, scored 47 points with 16 goals and 31 assists for the Phoenix Coyotes last season.
NHL roundup: Ribeiro, Roy join Predators (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 16:30:28 PDT)
The Nashville Predators signed free agent centers Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy to one-year contracts Tuesday. Ribeiro's deal is worth $1.05 million and Roy will make $1 million next season. The team also announced the signing of first-round pick Kevin Fiala to a three-year entry-level contract. Fiala, 17, was a finalist for the 2014 Swedish Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award and the 11th overall pick by the Predators last month.
Hurricanes name Marcoux goaltending coach (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:03:00 PDT)
The Carolina Hurricanes hired David Marcoux as their new goaltending coach Tuesday.
Erixon re-signs with Blue Jackets (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:56:24 PDT)
The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed defenseman Tim Erixon to a one-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The top 5 shootout moves from this summer's NHL development camps (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 13 Jul 2014 11:20:04 PDT)
In a lot of ways, NHL Development Camps are little more than a precaution. As the offseason proper rears its ugly head -- it technically begins when the Stanley Cup is hoisted, but it really begins after the draft and free agency -- teams want to ensure that their kids are going to come into camp ready for a spot, not fat from eating Arby's all summer. After all, you don't have much time before the kids have rights . You can't have them losing a year to poor conditioning.
But it serves a purpose for the fans too. It fills the hockeyless days of summer, for one thing, and it gives supporters a chance to get excited about the skill coming down the pipe.
It helps when the kids show off some of that skill in the shootout drills, and several did this year. Here are our top five shootout moves from development camps the NHL over.
5. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
We already know all about Barkov's insane shootout moves, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he makes this countdown. But he sure surprises the goaltender here, faking like he's going to pull the puck forehand -- with two hands, like a normal person -- before flipping it top corner on the backhand with one.
Barkov loses points because it looks so easy. Tough to say if he's really that good, and he fooled the goalie that badly, or this is a KHL All-Star game level of effort.
4. Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers
Jujhar Khaira gives us a similar move, but he wins points because the Oilers slowed it down for us. Production matters, friends.
No offense to the goalie, but I'd say, in future, if he telegraphs that move, the poke-check is your friend.
3. Sam Bennett, Calgary Flames
Bennett reminds people why the Flames took him fourth overall, beating the goalie here on a deke that actually takes him below the goal line before releasing the puck.
Seems counterintuitive, to skate past the goal before shooting at it, but Bennett makes it work.
2. Jakub Vrana, Wahsington Capitals
Vrana scores on a similar move here, pulling the puck forehand while skating backwards, then flipping the puck top corner with ease.
Again: pokechecking is a thing you're allowed to do, goalie. But after you buy the fake like this one did, you're finished.
1. Viktor Arvidsson, Nashville Predators
My favourite move by far is this modified spin-o-rama from Arvidsson. Rather than cradle the puck with his stick then try to find it when he comes out of the spin, he pins it to the ice with the bottom of the shaft for maximum control, then flips it under the goalie's arm.
Viktor Arvidsson & Kevin Fiala Shootout Skills from Nashville Predators Broadcast on Vimeo .
Frankly, I'll be oklay with the shootout if we get more moves like this, and I suspect we might, as a generation of kids that grew up with the shootout as an important part of the game start pouring into the league.
Coyotes re-sign F Moss (The SportsXchange)
(Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:53:14 PDT)
The Arizona Coyotes re-signed forward David Moss to a one-year contract, the team announced Friday. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Moss recorded 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) and 18 penalty minutes in 79 games with the Coyotes last season. The 32-year-old native of Livonia, Mich., has registered 166 points (74 goals, 92 assists) and 133 penalty minutes in 441 career NHL games with the Calgary Flames and Coyotes. Moss was originally drafted by the Flames in the seventh round in the 2001 draft.
Hannan remains with Sharks (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:30:39 PDT)
The San Jose Sharks re-signed veteran defenseman Scott Hannan to a one-year, $1 million contract on Thursday. The 35-year-old played in 56 regular-season games last season for the Sharks and had three goals and 12 points. "Scott is a high-character, veteran player who leads by example," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. Hannan spent the first eight years of his career with the Sharks before moving on to the Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators before returning to San Jose.
Salary arbitration dates; Hawerchuk on Kane; hockey on a navy ship (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:51:11 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.
“ @10PSharp : I wonder if Toews has smiled yet?” Toews can buy a big smile now! pic.twitter.com/lldGX2680z — Adam Burish (@ABurish37) July 10, 2014
• Yeah, he's probably smiled by now.
• Here are the 20 players that have elected for salary arbitration, and the dates of their hearings. [ NHLPA ]
• Dale Hawerchuk can't see why Evander Kane would want out of Winnipeg. “My short time being around (today’s Jets), they do everything first-class. So I don’t know why players wouldn’t love it.” Thanks for your insight, Dale. [ Winnipeg Sun ]
• Interesting hockey statement: points aren't offense. Tyler Dellow explains it. [ MC79 Hockey ]
• Cody McCormick is thrilled to be back in Buffalo. [ Buffalo Hockey Beat ]
• More on the possible union of the Detroit Red Wings and Mike Green, and why he's an attractive risk to take. [ Winging it in Motown ]
• Griffin Reinhart is hoping to make the NHL this season. Weird, so am I! [ Islanders Point Blank ]
• Braden Holtby is the Capitals' starter next season, according to Barry Trotz. Can he hold down the job? [ Capitals Outsider ]
• What does Dany Heatley's new contract mean for the Ducks? [ Anaheim Calling ]
• Who won the Dany Heatley trade when the winger asked out of Ottawa? Tough to say. Dany Heatley won, probably, since he got to leave Ottawa. [ 6th Sens ]
• What's left for the Calgary Flames to do this summer? Hopefully not much. After the Deryk Engelland contract, they should probably spend the next month or so thinking about what they've done. [ Flames Nation]
• Does the Winnipeg Jets roster hold up to... fancystats?? [ Arctic Ice Hockey ]
• Vladislav Kamenev was the first Russian drafted by the Nashville Predators in 10 years. Is it safe now? [ Section 303 ]
• Blue Jackets fans have questions, man. [ Jackets Cannon ]
• Pierre Marc-Bouchard is off to Switzerland to play for EV Zug. [ PHT ]
• Gary Agnew is the newest assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins. [ Penguins ]
• And Andrew Brunette is now an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild. [ Star Tribune ]
• Erik Gudbranson has re-signed with the Florida Panthers for two more years. It's one of those bridge contracts. [ Panthers ]
• Should the Leafs and their fans feel slighted that Brian Boyle turned down their contract offer? [ Leafs Nation ]
• The Five Hole For Food tour hits Toronto on Thursday, but before that, they were in Nova Scotia, where they played hockey on the deck of the HMCS Preserver. [ Five Hole For Food ]
What Went Wrong:Flames, Oilers (Rotoworld)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:01:00 PDT)
Ryan Dadoun wraps up our look at the teams that failed to make the playoffs.
Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Giroux’s backside pressure, Brooks Orpik, Red Wings (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 09 Jul 2014 05:53:12 PDT)
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.
What We Learned: Bad players getting bad contracts from bad teams (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 06:39:39 PDT)
20 players file for arbitration (The SportsXchange)
(Sat, 05 Jul 2014 17:13:04 PDT)
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was among 20 NHL players who filed for arbitration.
Jokinen eager to play for Laviolette, Predators (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 05 Jul 2014 16:52:06 PDT)
Olli Jokinen said the opportunity to play for new Nashville coach Peter Laviolette was one of the reasons why he chose to sign with the Predators. Jokinen met the Nashville media on Saturday, three days after the Predators signed the 35-year-old free-agent center to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. Very organized, and stick with the game plan.'' Jokinen also said he was eager for the opportunity to get to the postseason, something that has eluded him and the Predators recently. After making the postseason in seven of eight seasons, the Predators have failed to get there the past two years.
Trending Topics: NHL free agent value system is still broken (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 04 Jul 2014 11:44:24 PDT)
Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
The world has learned a lot about how to better judge the value of a hockey player over the last several years, in much the same way baseball and basketball have in the past.
While hockey is a little bit behind in this regard overall, the fact of the matter is that we're now seeing teams invest in guys who can drive the play forward pretty convincingly through possession numbers. In the past, a guy might get signed on his point totals — with a pretty heavy disregard for, say, shooting percentage, which might have inflated his numbers — or a strong plus-minus, which were seen as evidence that they could do something beyond “the eye test.”
Now we have many tools at our disposal in this regard. Zone start data, quality of competition metrics, corsi percentage in certain situations, on-ice shooting percentage, on-ice save percentage, zone entries and exit success, icing percentage for and against, penalties drawn versus committed, and so on, are all things that teams can and should keep a close watch on when they try to find the players that might help them succeed, if even incrementally.
And when it comes to forwards in particular, it seems that teams are mostly figuring out the ways in which they can be helped by specific players. The fact that Dave Bolland, for instance, went from wanting eight years to settling for five, and even the Maple Leafs stayed away from his asked-for dollar value, is proof that the league might be learning something in this regard. There are still bad deals out there — and Bolland's with Florida certainly qualifies as one of them — but for the most part you don't see too many guys getting completely nonsensical money to play center or either wing. Most forwards in the league seem to be somewhat reasonably valued overall; in fact, most probably fall within $1 million of what a normal human being would consider fair. If you have to overpay someone by that much and you really want them, does it really matter when the salary cap is almost $70 million?
However, this is not the case with defensemen or goaltenders, who still routinely get crazy money that's not in any way commensurate with what they actually do on the ice.
As far as goaltenders go, there's really no excuse for this. Goalies are the most valuable players you can possibly sign because the difference between mediocre and good is often the difference between a playoff spot and not making it; no player has a larger and more singular direct impact on winning percentage. You could very easily make the argument, therefore, that even league-average netminders are underpaid, but the market is the market, and it looks as though there's not going to be a team outside of the New York Rangers willing to pay more than $7 million for their goaltending.
When lumping in the guys signed after their teams were eliminated from the playoffs (Jaroslav Halak on Long Island, Brian Elliott in St. Louis, Carter Hutton in Nashville, Jonas Gustavsson in Detroit, Alex Stalock in San Jose, and Curtis McElhinney in Columbus), there had been 21 goalies signed — about one-third of all the jobs in the league. Their combined AAV is nearly $34 million, meaning that the average paid to each is a little less than $1.62 million. Not so bad, except that the vast majority are slated to be backups.
Jonas Hiller and Elliott are likely to be 1a/1b guys with younger prospects teams likely have more long-term plans for (Kari Ramo and Jake Allen, respectively). For that job, you'd have to say that Elliott's $2.5 million is reasonable, given that he typically delivers a save percentage that's not guaranteed to be great but over the balance of his career he's about league-average (.911). Hiller's save percentage is steadier from one year to the next than Elliott's, but he's also just .911 career in that time, and paid $4.5 million. Granted, Calgary had to get to the cap floor, but that seems a gross overvaluation for help at a position where they didn't need help; Ramo's save percentage last year? You guessed it: .911.
Hiller's was the second-largest AAV handed out to any goalie in this offseason, tied with Halak, who has a much more legitimate chance to put up solid or even strong numbers behind the Islanders. The runaway leader for first in this regard, obviously, is Ryan Miller, who's pulling $6 million per season from Vancouver for his age-34-to-36 campaigns. This despite the fact that Eddie Lack presented a far more affordable alternative.
Moreover, the Canucks are, as a result of this contract — which is indefensible for a declining team that's a seventh or eighth seed at best — currently paying $9.15 million to goaltenders alone for next season between Miller, Lack, Jacob Markstrom (who'll be stuffed in the minors if he can't be traded), and the retained salary for Roberto Luongo, which you necessarily have to count because it was his trade that created this mess. That's more than any other team in the league, including the New York Rangers, who pay Lundqvist alone $8.5 million against the cap.
Miller's probably going to post a save percentage in the range of his career average (.915), and if you go by a pure “This many dollars equals this many points in the standings” he's more than worth $6 million. But by that token, Lundqvist, Tuukka Rask, and most other elite goalies are worth something like league-max contracts. That Miller or Corey Crawford or Mike Smith or Cam Ward are making anywhere near as much money as them shows that this market is flat-out crazy.
Vancouver seems to have paid Miller based on the fact that he had a good 40 games behind a miserable Buffalo team (.923, well beyond all but his Vezina-winning season as a career outlier), and what he's done in the past, which is always a very dicey proposition. The Islanders, meanwhile, paid 25 percent less for a goalie who's better historically put up strong numbers behind both a good team and a terrible one. Doesn't make a lot of sense; who were they bidding against?
The fact of the matter is that goalies should be the easiest guys to value in the league. They can be judged on one stat, and one stat only: save percentage. That's it. If you're above league average — as Miller is — then you're good. If you're below it, then you really don't deserve to be paid very much at all, because you're actively detrimental to the team. Pretty simple, some team factors enter into it, but not as much as one might expect.
But at the same time, the guys who many believe are most directly responsible for influencing goaltender decisions are the least reliably evaluated pretty much every year. This is pretty easy to illustrate.
More than half of the 30 defensemen signed this offseason — that constitutes one-sixth of the league's blue line spots — signed for $2.5 million or more per season, but the breakdown of where each falls is very strange indeed.
For instance, Tom Gilbert got $2.8 million AAV and two years from Montreal despite the possession statistics saying that he generally makes his teams better when he's on the ice. Meanwhile, Deryk Engelland got $2.9 million and three years from Calgary, despite the fact that among defensemen who played 1,000-plus minutes over the last two seasons, Engelland's relative possession numbers ranked 159th out of 174. Gilbert, for the record, was comfortably in the top one-third at No. 53, suggesting he's a top-pairing defenseman. Clayton Stoner, who got $3.25 million per year out of Anaheim, ranked 139th on the list.
And this goes on and on. Possession stats darling Anton Stralman got $4.5 million (No. 2 out of that 174), the same money as aging power play specialist Dan Boyle (No. 34, pretty fantastic), and middle-pairing-at-best Nikita Nikitin (No. 101). Kyle Quincey (119) and Willie Mitchell (117) got a quarter of a million less per year. Christian Ehrhoff, at No. 13 and therefore an elite possession defenseman, signed with Pittsburgh at $4 million, though to be fair he would have commanded a lot more had he chosen to go to the open market.
These same reasons are also why one can't begrudge Matt Niskanen — No. 10 on the list — his big-money deal in Washington ($5.75 million AAV for seven years), because again, he objectively makes his team better and that is extremely valuable. Particularly for Washington. He's clearly a No. 2 guy at the very least, but not much more than that, because you have to account for the fact that he's often been on the ice with possession monsters like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those guys also helped significantly boost his production, which is what Washington likely thinks they're getting for their money. They shouldn't count on it.
But there are deeply mystifying deals mixed in here too. Brooks Orpik (No. 169 of 174) getting $5.5 million per for five years, has been widely ridiculed and rightly so. But people seem to have also forgotten that Andrew MacDonald (No. 173) got $5 million per for six from Philadelphia back in April.
There's a reason that these guys who actively make their teams more likely to concede goals get this kind of money, however: It's the perception that they do the opposite. Flames GM Brad Treliving from suggesting that Engelland — who is abjectly and objectively terrible — had been “undervalued.” By whom? In what regard?
You have to look at what Calgary values. Toughness, first and foremost. If you have guys who are “hard to play against,” then you are more likely to win, and if you're going to lose, teams will know that they played you. That's the thinking. That's why Engelland and Orpik and MacDonald and Nikitin and Mitchell got the deals they did. They're gritty defensive defensemen. But Dave Tippet, who runs a pretty successful team in Glendale (at least, given what's being paid for it), has a pretty good view of the ways in which stay-at-home guys are really affecting the games .
And yet they're seen as valuable. Millions of dollars per year put toward making a team actively worse. It seems exceptionally irresponsible for this line of thinking that “purely defensive defensemen can be good” to lead directly to big contracts. Not that relative corsi is the be-all, end-all — you have to take into account quality of teammates and competition, for example — but the fact is that eight of the bottom 10 of this list is largely under contract (only Chris Butler and Douglas Murray are currently without a team), and getting paid an average of about $3.85 million per. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
People still say this is an eyeballs business, but you can watch 82 games a year and safely say Orpik or MacDonald or Engelland are disasters in their own end, and they never leave it. That's borne out in the numbers. But there's very little way to test whether a defenseman actually lowers the quality of shot his goaltender sees. There's on-ice save percentage, and over a long period of time you can probably surmise that those with the highest numbers in this regard are also those who can do a little bit better to keep opponents to the outside (or maybe just play with good goaltenders, or both).
Until someone comes up with a way to better quantify this kind of thing — and here's hoping SportVU arrives sooner than later to do just that — there are players who are still going to get into the league, and still going to get a lot of money that they flat-out do not deserve on the merit of their play.
Good-team discount or not, a league in which Brooks Orpik is making almost 40 percent more than Christian Ehrhoff is one that has plainly gone mad. Or perhaps it's always been that way, and the problem's just undiagnosed.
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here .
FA/Trade Grades - Part 2 (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 04 Jul 2014 04:54:00 PDT)
Ryan Dadoun evaluates the Metropolitan and Pacific Divisions' off-season moves.
FA/Trade Grades - Part 1 (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 04 Jul 2014 04:28:00 PDT)
Corey Abbott examines the off-season activity of the Atlantic and Central Divisions.
Coyotes hire former Sabres GM Regier (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 03 Jul 2014 18:15:41 PDT)
Longtime Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier joined the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday as a senior vice president and assistant general manager. Regier was the GM in Buffalo for 17 years before he was fired on Nov. 13. "We are very pleased Darcy has decided to join us in Arizona," Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said.
Coyotes tab Regier as assistant GM (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:31:48 PDT)
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Coyotes have named former Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier as senior vice president and assistant general manager.
Puck Daddy’s 2014 NHL Free Agent Report Card (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:03 PDT)
Pressure in Pittsburgh; arbitration for Reimer; Happy birthday, Teemu (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 03 Jul 2014 09:33:41 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.