Jets re-sign Frolik; Reimer on return; Sharks' troubling offseason (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:17:24 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.
Which #stanleycup tastes better? @HockeyHallFame @NHL @lakingspr pic.twitter.com/1Y32Eh200k — Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) July 28, 2014
• Good question. Let's ask Hayden Panettiere .
• The Winnipeg Jets have avoided arbitration with Michael Frolik, signing the winger to a one-year, $3.3 million deal. [ Jets ]
• The Minnesota Wild and Justin Fontaine done the same and signed a two-year, $2 million deal. [ PHT ]
• Sean McIndoe looks at the five biggest Forrest Gumps in hockey history -- the otherwise ordinary guys who stumbled into the sport's biggest moments. [ Grantland ]
• The San Jose Sharks have had a troubling offseason, but even more troubling is that they've been unable to massage it for fans so it seems less troubling, which makes it double-troubling . [ Fear the Fin ]
• Three on-ice situations where players need to change the way they think. [ The Score ]
• Classic summer hockey story: The Ottawa Senators goaltending coach's neighbour's house burnt down. [ Ottawa Sun ]
• How Mike Vernon set the stage for Patrick Roy's exit from Montreal. [ Habs EOTP ]
• The first line of the 2014 All Good Contracts Team is basically just the first line of the Dallas Stars. Jim Nill is so good. [ Defending Big D ]
• Seven rules the NHL needs to change right away. And here's a bonus eighth: there's currently nothing in the rulebook that says a giraffe can't play hockey. The league needs to close that loophole before the NHL is full of giraffes as teams try to get a leg up on the Boston Bruins. [ Puck Drunk Love ]
• Former NHL blueliner Todd Gill has been hired as an assistant coach for the AHL's Adirondack Flames. [ Calgary Sun ]
• The Leafs' offseason signings should give them a leg-up in the penalty-drawing department. [ Leafs Nation ]
• James Reimer talks about his decision to come back, and battling for the no. 1 job a year after thinking things were through in Toronto. [ Toronto Star ]
• Will the new backups in Dallas be able to give Kari Lehtonen a breather every now and then? [ Defending Big D ]
• Is Jimmy Hayes worth seven figures yet? Nah. [ Panther Parkway ]
• Have the Islanders done enough this summer to get back into the playoffs? [ The Checking Line ]
• Which members of the Chicago Blackhawks are destined for the Hall of Fame? [ NBC Chicago ]
• Wherein a Bruins fan has her office redecorated by Leafs fans. Clearly she's in Toronto, since she walks in with a Tim Hortons coffee, so this probably happens all the time. Video would have been better if she'd flown into a rage and started shouting "It was 4-1!" and throwing things.
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.'"
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
Flames sign D Cundari (The SportsXchange)
(Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:10:38 PDT)
The Calgary Flames signed defenseman Mark Cundari to a one-year, two-way contract on Saturday.
Where is the Ryan O'Reilly saga headed next? (Trending Topics) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:16:54 PDT)
It never got as bad as it could have, but it's tough to be convinced it's not still bad.
Arbitration is a cutthroat and nasty process that often leaves both sides feeling hard done by, so it was no surprise that Ryan O'Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche settled on a contract that will carry a cap hit of $6 million for the next two seasons.
We're told now that everyone looks good in this situation. The Avs came up from their initial arbitration offer, O'Reilly came down from his. The definition of compromise is when both sides are unhappy, you see. But that's a fairly fatuous view of things, if we're being honest. The Avs lowballed — to a ludicrous extent at just $5.525 million — because they wanted to keep his cost down and it's in their best interest to do so. O'Reilly went beyond what he's worth by a hair or three, asking for a $6.75 million AAV, and it's in his best interest to do so. In arbitration, as with just about any negotiation, you don't ask for what you think you're going to get, you just try to maximize the wiggle room so you get closer to what you really want. Simple stuff, really.
The big knock on O'Reilly this whole time was, weirdly, that he's not a team guy. You can kind of see where those who feel that way about him are coming from, to an extent. He stayed in the KHL last season even after the NHL restarted — but only because the Avalanche offered him just $3 million to come back, which was flatly absurd. Then he wanted to be paid more than Matt Duchene, which is apparently some sort of unforgivable crime.
But all that talk should be over now, both because it was absurd to begin with and because he can say, “See? I took less money than I wanted to better fit within the team's salary structure.”
This flatly ignores that the team's salary structure is silly, though. Over the past however-many years in the NHL, a number of teams have tried the, “No one gets paid more than (Player X)” rule, and with some justification. Most famously, it worked in Detroit for quite a while, because their “No one gets paid more than Nick Lidstrom” rule, which made sense because anyone arguing they should be paid more than the second-best defenseman of all time wasn't coming in talking sense to begin with. That Lidstrom kept taking hometown discounts to help himself and his team simultaneously was a nice thing to do.
But the Avalanche's rule is apparently still, “ No one gets paid more than Matt Duchene ,” which seems a little silly. Matt Duchene might not be the second-best center in his own division, as you'd have to put him behind Jonathan Toews and perhaps Paul Stastny at the very least (and it wouldn't be hard to hear arguments for Mikko Koivu and David Backes either, all things considered). Is O'Reilly as valuable to Colorado's, ahem, “success” as Duchene? Yes. But the thing is, Duchene is probably underpaid, as is Gabriel Landeskog. And look, the Avs are a team that generally don't want to spend a lot of money, as is their prerogative, but when it comes at the cost of a strained relationship with a difference-maker like O'Reilly, one has to wonder about the wisdom of the hardline.
You can't compare deals made this season, with the salary cap higher than it's ever been (discounting the partial lockout season, when teams could only spend $60 million but that was equivalent to $70.2 million against the cap) to those made when Duchene signed his extension in the summer following that work stoppage. Given the contracts to Toews and Patrick Kane, it seems the dollar value of deals for star players might actually be increasing commensurate with their actual on-ice value, and if Duchene cashed in early, it shouldn't be O'Reilly who has to pay for it. If Duchene had a better eye for negotiating, maybe he works out an extension this summer instead of last and pulls more money. He's certainly worth it.
The point, though, is that people think this deal has sown seeds of contentment and amiable feeling that could sprout into a new deal as soon as next July 1.
Wouldn't that be something? O'Reilly locked up long-term, just to prove the Avs really do like him as much as Joe Sakic is all of a sudden swearing they do?
It's not a sign-and-trade situation, Sakic crosses his heart and hopes to die. They really value him now, Sakic says with the full assurance that his pants will not catch on fire. There was never any animosity from either side, he said before not-being struck by lightning. So all of you trying to make a big to-do out of it are just misinformed.
And it's easy to believe Sakic that Colorado wants to have O'Reilly under contract for many years to come. At least, it would be if everything the Avs have done in the past 18 months or so in any way reflected that they didn't want to trade O'Reilly, or that they valued him, or that there wasn't animosity between the two stemming from the post-lockout decision to keep playing in Russia and then sign a reasonable two-year offer sheet (insofar as you have to overpay at least a little with an offer sheet, and certainly not related to the whole debacle that would have resulted had Colorado not-matched) advanced by the Calgary Flames, an Avs division rival at the time.
But we can't take Sakic at his word here, because if this were a sign-and-trade situation, it wouldn't really behoove Colorado to say, “Yeah, we still want to trade him at the earliest convenience.” When guys are clearly on the market, they don't pull as much as they could if a team has to come sniffing around of their own volition. That's basic business.
This deal makes it pretty easy to see him with the team for the entirety of the coming season, of course. And as for the contention that they wouldn't have signed him to a two-year deal if they didn't want him, well, having O'Reilly at a known price tag for 2015-16 makes him more valuable on the trade market.
That's pretty simple as well.
Beyond that, it's still difficult to believe this whole play won't start all over again as soon as next summer. At least, not without an actual show of faith from the team that has treated its player so badly for so long. The person who probably has to be most convinced is O'Reilly.
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here .
Gambling and the NHL; big dollars for dynamic duos; own your own hockey team (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:39:45 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.
Cup in #ldnont Reggie and I by the pool showing his skills. Can't wait to party my ass off with family and friends pic.twitter.com/Jp4ZDnEwsA — drew doughty (@dewyy8) July 25, 2014
• Drew Doughty with his buddies Reggie and Stanley just hanging out by the pool before the day's festivities begin. [Twitter]
• Earlier this week, Thomas Vanek admitted he was a witness in an investigation of an alleged Rochester-based gambling ring. This isn't the first time gambling and hockey have crossed paths. [USA Today]
• Many NHL'ers learned to play the game on frozen ponds and lakes. With climate change becoming even more of a pressing issue, the NHL has launched a 'Green Initiative' to do their part in keeping future generations out on the ice. [Green Biz]
• Malkin and Crosby; Getzlaf and Perry; Suter and Parise; and Toews and Kane. All dynamic duos their respective teams have spent big bucks on for the long-term. Will it pay off in the end? [SB Nation]
• A common sports fan's dilemma when it comes to contracts: is your loyalty with the team or the player? [Winging It In Motown]
• Ryan Johansen and the Blue Jackets are attempting to hammer out a new deal, and naturally there is tension between the two sides. Worries are increasing that the negativity from the negotiations will impact Johansen's attitude the following season, a la Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik. [Union and Blue]
• Got an extra $500K (US) laying around? (Who doesn't?!) You too could be the owner of a brand new minor league hockey franchise in the western United States. [Phoenix Business Journal]
• The Culver City Ice Arena, once used by many future and current Hockey Hall of Famers, is on the verge of demolition by the property owner if the City Council in Culver City doesn't declare it a 'city cultural resource'. [Frozen Royalty]
• The loophole that allowed Justin Schultz to sign with the Oilers over the team that drafted him, the Ducks, wasn't closed in the current CBA. Are the Panthers about the next victim to it with prospect Kevin Hayes? These Blackhawk fans hope so. [Blackhawk Up]
• "It may unfortunately be that the main reasons people don't talk about Doug Harvey have little to do with his performance on the ice. Often speaking out against the establishment, particularly in relation to player rights and salaries, Harvey didn't exactly make friends among the ownership ranks. Being a hockey player in that era was nowhere near as lucrative as it is now, players had far fewer rights. Doug took it upon himself to fight the establishment." [Eyes on the Prize]
• It's the 20th anniversary of the Calgary Hitmen, and they're bringing back their hot pink and black sweaters. They are just ridiculous and I totally want one. [Icethetics]
• Flames sign Finnish goalie Joni Ortio to a two-year deal. Ortio was 27-8 with .926 save percentage for the Abbotsford Heat last season. He'll likely end up as backup-to-the-backup this coming season with Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller already in place as the veteran starting tandem. [Flames Nation]
• Craig MacTavish wants his team's fourth line to be like Chicago's fourth line, sorta. I'm sure this experiment will work out swimmingly for the Oilers. [Oilers Nation]
• Oilers' prospect Darnell Nurse leads the next generation of athletes from a competitive family tree. [Color of Hockey]
• The off-season for the WHL saw 10 coaching changes. The Regina Pats are the only team left without a head coach. Please submit your resume and cover letter to HR. [Buzzing the Net]
• Reflections on Penguins-related thoughts by Elliotte Friedman [Pensburgh]
• Jim Rutherford has a big spotlight on him as he works towards turning Pittsburgh from regular season juggernaut to post-season winner. Has he done enough so far to help his cause? [Bleacher Report]
• The Rangers are looking for their next captain. Here are the top six candidates for the job. [NY Rangers Blog]
• David Warsofsky signed a $600K deal with the Bruins. The defenseman joins the small army of blueliners already assembled for the Boston. [Bruins Daily]
• Top 215 prospects to get you ready for your fantasy draft [Dobber Hockey]
• Capitals backup-to-the-backup goalie Phillipp Grubauer has a new mask and it is a 'sequel' to his old one, "The Desolation of Grubi". David Gunnarsson, mask painter to the stars, calls it 'Atomic Breath, and enthusiastically describes it as, "... fully loaded of energy… atomic energy…so the whole design boils and is ready to erupt… all the colors from the previous design has inverted… and the atomic power is ready to spit fire, or as we call it, deliver some atomic breath! Watch out!" Got that? [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
• Washington signed forward Nathan Walker, formerly of the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), to a three-year entry-level contract. Walker is the first Australian to be drafted into the NHL. [Capitals Today]
• The hockey blogosphere family recently lost two members. We send our deepest sympathies to Sam Fels of The Committed Indian on the loss of his brother, Adam , and The Royal Half of The Royal Half on the loss of his father.
• Finally, here's Brandon Saad reading a mean teammate Tweet:
Expect 2014 draft class to make fantasy impact (NHL)
(Fri, 25 Jul 2014 09:00:00 PDT)
Nine players from the 2013 NHL Draft class saw action in at least one regular-season game in 2013-14. MacKinnon became the youngest Calder Trophy winner in NHL history;
National Hockey League roundup
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:19:17 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - The Montreal Canadiens and forward Lars Eller agreed to terms on a four-year contract, the team announced Thursday. No financial details were released, but the Montreal Gazette reported the total value to be $14 million. The signing avoids a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday. Eller, 25, had 12 goals and 26 points in 77 regular-season games in 2013-14, but he was even better in the Stanley Cup playoffs -- his five goals were second on the team to Rene Bourque's eight, and his 13 points trailed only defenseman P.K. Subban's 14. ...
NHL roundup: Canadiens, Eller reach agreement (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:10:31 PDT)
The Montreal Canadiens and forward Lars Eller agreed to terms on a four-year contract, the team announced Thursday.
2014-15 Preview - Part 2 (Rotoworld)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:38:00 PDT)
Dadoun takes a look at Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Carolina, and Columbus.
Flames sign G Ortio (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:20:40 PDT)
The Calgary Flames signed goaltender Joni Ortio to a two-year contract, the team announced Thursday.
Defenseman Sarich injured in cycling accident (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:33:07 PDT)
Cory Sarich, a 15-year NHL defenseman who is an unrestricted free agent, was in stable condition Wednesday after being in a cycling accident Monday, the Colorado Avalanche confirmed Wednesday. Sarich, 35, played in 54 games for Colorado last season, with one goal and nine assists. He was struck by a vehicle while training in Invermere, British Columbia, according to a release by the Avalanche.
Cory Sarich injured in cycling accident (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:30:05 PDT)
DENVER (AP) -- Free-agent NHL defenseman Cory Sarich is recovering in a Calgary hospital after a cycling accident this week.
Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Flames' negotiating plan, O'Reilly's worth, Toronto gets smart (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:23:24 PDT)
[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
6. The Calgary Flames
The Flames are currently going about the business of locking down all their restricted free agents, which is a fine idea.
After that, they will apparently turn their attentions to getting new contracts for the guys who still have one year to go on their existing ones, but who they don't want to see leave any time soon. That's obviously also a good idea. Where they're starting, however, is not.
They're starting with... well, no, it's not Mikael Backlund, the soon-to-be first-line center who drives possession better than just about anyone on the team. And no, it's not going to be T.J. Brodie, who's probably one of the most overlooked very good defensemen in the league. It's not those guys, who should be tied to the organization for years at reasonable dollar figures to come because they're strong players in their mid-20s.
No, the Flames are instead focusing on 31-year-old, oft-injured winger Curtis Glencross . Late last week, Glencross said that the Flames want to get going on a new deal for him, one that would explicitly not-include any sort of hometown discount for the team that's made him an inexplicable folk hero. Which, you know, is his prerogative; when you're on the wrong side of 30, you can't be blamed in any way for wanting to cash in on a deal in the eight figure range.
But why would Glencross be Calgary's priority when so many more pressing ones are on the table? Unless they're expecting a protracted negotiating process with Backlund and Brodie, which they might be, the only reason to focus on Glencross first is that the Flames are a team as poorly run as they are fundamentally bad. Watching a good number of Flames games makes you realize Glencross really isn't very good; he doesn't drive possession in any appreciable way, he's hurt all the time, he doesn't draw penalties because he rarely has the puck, and he lives off a high shooting percentage.
He's fine, but he's not the kind of guy you should try to secure before your No. 1 center and No. 2 defenseman. Pretty simple, really.
5. People who don't think Ryan O'Reilly is “worth it”
It's been somewhat shocking to see so many people come out in droves in favor of the Colorado Avalanche's attempts to marginalize Ryan O'Reilly.
They did not believe that he's worth the $6 million he sought ( and eventually got ), and they did believe the Avs were justified in asking him to take the maximum 15 percent pay cut allowable under the current arbitration rules. It's pretty baffling.
On the one hand, O'Reilly is something of a bellwether for the new analytics movement. He's not a guy who scores a ton, in theory, given that his career high in points per game is just 0.8, set this past season. But he is a guy who gets the puck into the attacking zone, which is incredibly useful to have.
But here's the thing, over the last seven seasons, there are very few centers who have been as good at putting up points as O'Reilly, who just completed his age-22 season. In fact, when looking at scoring rates from the Behind the Net era — which runs 2007-08 to present — only 11 centers have produced 0.7 points per game from the ages of 20 to 22, and O'Reilly is one of them. The company is pretty exclusive: Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, Backstrom, Tavares, Kopitar, Toews, Seguin, Duchene, Couture. The full details are here , and Jordan Eberle is on the list despite not being a center. He's obviously at the lower end of that list, at 10th of 11, but if you're going to be in a group, that's the group to be in.
In addition, you can also look at the relative corsi numbers for all forwards, regardless of age, over the last three seasons and see how O'Reilly stacks up as well: He's 23rd in the league. But if you break it down to just centers, he's sixth in the league, at 3.7 percent more than the rest of his team during that time. The guys ahead of him: Patrice Bergeron (who has a pornographic league-leading 9.2 percent), Henrik Sedin, Kopitar again, Joe Thornton, Toews again, and Seguin again. That, too, is pretty exclusive company.
So let's take all those players who were ahead of him on both lists, and let's think about what they got paid against the cap in the years coming out of their age-22 seasons. (The chart, made yesterday, assumed he wanted $6 million — which is exactly what he took — because even if the award he was seeking in arbitration was $6.75 million, everyone knows he was not going to get that much. You ask for the moon because you know the arbitrator Is likely to come down between the team and player's valuations.)
No one's arguing O'Reilly is as good as Crosby or Stamkos or even Seguin. But he's at least in the same ballpark overall. He's certainly worth in the neighborhood of $6 million-6.5 million. Pretty demonstrably.
T.J. Oshie is a very famous hockey player because he happens to be really good at a skills competition that has — or at least should have — no bearing on the actual sport itself. This weekend, though, Oshie showed that when it comes to golf, he has the opposite problem .
When he's gotten all the way to the green and has a pretty easy lie, you'd think it would take a professional athlete just one putt to get it in the hole. Not Oshie. He needed a second putt. Then a third. Then a fourth.
The, “Ohhh. No no no,” after he misses the third one is a highlight.
Now, where have I seen this kind of no-closing work from Oshie before? Oh right, the playoffs. And all non-shootout parts of the Olympics. Right.
3. Piling on Ovechkin
Poor Alex Ovechkin got dumped this weekend, and that provided some clowns the ability to once again conjecture if the Caps would also like to break up with their three-time MVP and four-time Rocket Richard winner.
Pretty easy answer: Nope.
The definitive thought on the subject of Ovechkin's breakup, though, is this one:
once again ovechkin fails to get a ring. — Jeff Israel (@jeffisrael25) July 21, 2014
2. Ryan Johansen's negotiating power
Contract talks are progressing between the Columbus Blue Jackets and their ostensible No. 1 center, Ryan Johansen, after a few months of what seemed like a bit of a cold war.
Johansen, following his first full season of really effective hockey for the Blue Jackets, may or may not want a two-year bridge deal, and there's no word on the money. But as Elliotte Friedman suggested in the final 30 Thoughts of the 2013-14 campaign, that Brandon Dubinsky $5.85 million mark probably isn't the worst guess for a jumping-off point.
But you have to examine whether Johansen is worth that kind of money. The short answer, from a cursory look, is “probably not.” Yeah, 33 goals. Because his shooting efficiency was 13.9 percent. Of the 21 guys who broke 30 goals last season , Johansen's shooting percentage was 10th, but behind guys who can demonstrably keep theirs high, like Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, and Jarome Iginla. This despite the fact that his shots per game (2.89) was 15th of those 22.
The likelihood that Johansen doesn't score 30 goals again next season without significantly boosting his shot total is at least somewhat high. Will he still be a .75 points-per-game guy? It seems unlikely. You can't count on that kind of production in terms of goals, but he's still an improving player, and will likely be one for another three or four years overall at least.
His possession numbers, meanwhile, are good (plus-1.5 percent) despite some pretty tough usage, facing the best competition on the team, and third-hardest zone starts among Jackets forwards. That's not bad at all for a 21-year-old on a team without a ton of high-quality scoring threats. Again, we have to consider whether this is something he can repeat; all indications would be that it is, because you don't see guys that young getting minutes that hard and driving play too often.
If you can get Johansen for something in the neighborhood of $5.5 million for the next two to four seasons, then that's something you basically have to do, right? Jarmo Kekalainen is a terribly smart manager and will likely make the correct decision in the end. The good news is team and player have the rest of the summer to work it out.
1. The Toronto Maple Leafs(?!?)
Well who in the world would have guessed that of all the people the Toronto Maple Leafs would hire as their new assistant GM, it would be 28-year-old “advanced” stats darling Kyle Dubas, ex of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL.
A bit of an unconventional pick, all things considered, especially when you look at who made it. The Leafs have, in fact, spent the bulk of the last several seasons — first under Brian Burke and now under Dave Nonis — screaming that if you look at stats when evaluating hockey players, you are a nerd and an idiot who hates the sport. Dubas, who made his name implementing the kind of data the Randy Carlyles of the world would like to banish forever, was a Brendan Shanahan hire. Very obviously so. And that signals that things are changing in Toronto.
(However, anyone suggesting that he was hired because he represents a reasonable middle ground between “a numbers guy” and “a hockey guy” is being daft. They don't give jobs to non-hockey guys, obviously, but if you want hockey guys they're lined up outside Air Canada Centre around the clock. The team, in fact, fired two of them to make room for Dubas. They brought him in because he's going to make Carlyle and Nonis see the value of these numbers or see themselves out. That's Shanahan's endgame here.)
Here's what you have to understand about Dubas, and what might make his effectiveness in the NHL a little harder to spot: No one in the OHL was making heavy use of advanced stats when he was hired in 2011. The Soo was bad that previous season , putting together just 56 points in 68 games. In Dubas's first year, they improved to 64, but still finished out of the playoffs. In 2012-13, they jumped to 78. This past season, they hit 95 and won their division.
The competitive edge won't be there in the NHL, where many teams are already investing heavily in analytics and have been doing so for years. But if the Leafs can start spending money wisely, and using players wisely, and making personnel decisions wisely (basically, change the way they do everything at present), then that's at least something.
Dubas may indeed lead a revolution: One that brings the Leafs to actually being good again in a few years' time.
(Not ranked this week: The old guard.
Tough bounce, Steve . The good news is the people who scream and cry about how much they hate Mikhail Grabovski will have a built-in excuse when the team Randy Carlyle coaches still loses because it's doing Randy Carlyle things. The Leafs are only starting to play in the Corsi Hockey League, but the growing pains will still be there. And they'll rain hell on the Calculator Crowd when it happens.
Brian Burke, meanwhile, is going down with this ship.)
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.
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.