NHL roundup: Pens, Spaling agree on two-year deal (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:24:40 PDT)
The Pittsburgh Penguins and restricted free agent forward Nick Spaling agreed to terms on a two-year, $4.4 million contract, the team announced Thursday.
Sens sign goalie Robin Lehner to 3-year extension (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:02:22 PDT)
The Ottawa Senators have signed goaltender Robin Lehner to a three-year contract extension. Lehner played a career-high 36 games last season with a record of 12-15-6 with a 3.06 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. ''I'm very, very happy that it got done,'' Lehner said Thursday. So yeah, I'm very happy.'' In 61 regular-season games with Ottawa, Lehner has a record of 21-24-10, with a 2.82 GAA and .918 save percentage.
Lindros finally a HOFer; Spaling, Pens avoid arbitration; hottest NHL logo (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:16:26 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
. @PKSubban1 @canadiensmtl is not only the best black player in #hockey , he might be the best player. What an incredible talent! — Larry King (@kingsthings) July 31, 2014
• Hopefully P.K. Subban’s agent submits this as part of his arbitration case Friday, should things get that far.
• Will the $5.25 million salary arbitration offer the Montreal Canadiens submitted for Subban be remembered by the defenseman down the line? [ CBC ]
• Meanwhile, Subban’s agent said he wasn’t instructed by his client to make him the league’s top-earning blue liner. [ PHT ]
• The Philadelphia Flyers announced that John LeClair, Eric Desjardins and Eric Lindros will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame this season. [ Flyers ]
• Nick Spaling and the Pittsburgh Penguins avoid arbitration and agree to a two-year, $4.4 million deal. [ Penguins ]
• Paul Stastny’s signing in St. Louis means the Blues have employed a trio of Stastny’s. [ Post-Dispatch ]
• The Vancouver Canucks changing jerseys again? Can Johnny Canuck make it on the front of the jersey this time? [ Nucks Misconduct ]
• Barry Trotz will put his stamp on the Washington Capitals forward group, thanks to the fact he’ll have some options to play with. [ Japers’ Rink ]
• Paul Bissonnette on his uncertain future: "There's a stalemate right now where some are either at the cap, maybe a little bit below it or over it where they want to make moves, but teams are waiting. I find that one or two trades are going to spark more movement." [ Arizona Republic ]
• How did the biggest trades from last season work out for each team? [ Grantland ]
• An unofficial list of Ottawa Senators marketing slogans, including, “This Town Needs a REDnema.” [ Welcome to Your Karlsson Years ]
• Kevin Hayes is going to hit the open market after failing to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Should the Vancouver Canucks get involved in the sweepstakes? [ Canucks Army ]
• Kale Clague has a cool name and he’s also ready to make an impact with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. [ Buzzing the Net ]
• Time’s running out for Max Reinhart to make an impact with the Calgary Flames. [ Flames Nation ]
• Who’s the most frustrating player in fantasy hockey: Cam Ward or Mike Green? [ Dobber Hockey ]
• What is the hottest logo in hockey? It’s a bit of a throwback. [ Hockey By Design ]
• Finally, the NHL on FOX commercials from the 1990s are probably something we'll never see again:
Police arrest Montreal Canadiens meth kingpin (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:18:25 PDT)
Robin Lehner, Senators agree to three-year, $6.675 million extension (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:15:01 PDT)
The last remaining Ottawa Senators restricted free agent is now off the market. Goaltender Robin Lehner will be in Canada’s capital for the next three seasons after agreeing to an extension on Thursday.
According to the team , the three-year pact is worth $6.675 million. The deal is backloaded with the 23-year old Lehner earning $1.5M, $2.025M and $3.15M in each of the next three seasons.
From the Senators :
Lehner, 23, set a new career high in playing 36 National Hockey League games last season while establishing a new personal best in victories with a record of 12-15-6. He also set a personal and franchise high with 53 saves in a 5-4 shootout setback to the N.Y. Islanders on Nov. 1, and then became the first goaltender in franchise history to face greater than 50 shots in one game and earn a victory in a 5-4 shootout win over the Blues on Feb. 4 in St. Louis, which was ultimately the first shootout win of his NHL career.
Craig Anderson is entering the final year of his contract with the Senators, so the uptick in salary for Lehner will coincide with him taking over the no. 1 job in Ottawa. Locking up Lehner will also allow the Senators to potentially move Anderson by the trade deadline for assets. According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun , there haven’t been any extension talks between Anderson and the team.
Now general manager Bryan Murray can shift his focus to summer 2015 where Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Ryan's decision, as The 6th Sens laid out earlier this week, could have a big effect on how the franchise moves forward.
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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy
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.
Subban mum on contract talks; unique NHL sticks; Winnik to Leafs; (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:35:47 PDT)
Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
Not a bad collection of hardware for Jeff Carter eh @LAKings @HockeyCanada #Silver &Gold pic.twitter.com/Dt1Dac5gLl — Dave Sandford (@Dave_Sandford) July 26, 2014
• Safe to say Jeff Carter has had a pretty successful hockey career. [ @Dave_Sandford ]
• How often does Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks think about the team’s first round collapse to the Los Angeles Kings? “I think every time I see hockey on TV or read about it in the paper.” [ CP via THN ]
• Aside from hanging with Seth Rogen, P.K. Subban was at the RBC Canadian Open in Montreal over the weekend and not in a mood to discuss his pending contract extension. “It’s been kept pretty quiet the whole time and it’s going to remain that way until a deal is done.” [ Montreal Gazette ]
• Michael Leighton won’t be playing in the KHL this coming season after an illness made him unavailable to attend training camp with expansion HC Sochi. [ Windsor Star ]
• Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, a current restricted free agent, is confident that a new deal will be done before training camp opens. [ FOX17 ]
• Tomas Tatar will return to the Red Wings after signing a three-year deal. [ Red Wings ]
• A look at the Robin Lehner contract negotiations for the Ottawa Senators and their crop of UFAs next summer. [ 6th Sens ]
• Real good read on the sons of the late Steve Chiasson, who attended Carolina Hurricanes developmental camp last week. [ NHL.com ]
• The largest private-sector union in Canada is attempting to organize junior hockey players. [ TSN ]
• NHL player sticks come in all different varieties. Here are five players who use some unique twigs. [ Backhand Shelf ]
• Daniel Winnik heads from Anaheim to Toronto after signing a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs. [ TML ]
• The QMJHL has been a bunch of movement on the management side of things of late. [ Buzzing the Net ]
• There’s lots for Tampa Bay Lightning fans to be excited about next season. Ondrej Palat’s continued development is one reason. [ Bolts by the Bay ]
• “Report: Islanders to pay players in Bitcoins next season.” This is satire, but would you even think twice if it wasn’t? [ Lighthouse Hockey ]
• Kate Gillis is currently representing Canada in the Commonwealth Games as part of the country’s field hockey team. She’s also the daughter of former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis, and dealing with the criticism of her dad wasn’t easy. [ CP via Surrey Leader ]
• Luke Adam will be back with the Buffalo Sabres after inking a one-year, two-way deal. [ Sabres ]
• Part 3 of Dobber’s look at most frustrating players when it comes to fantasy hockey. [ Dobber Hockey ]
• Finally, here's a reminder that dogs do not make good defensemen:
What We Learned: Breaking down Central Division, NHL Group of Death (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:32:25 PDT)
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Things have calmed down considerably in the free agent market. Rosters at this point are more or less set, and we can therefore go about taking stock of who did what this summer, and what that means for the season that's currently still three or so months away.
It's pretty tough to make the case that any single division improved more than the Central, and given the league's new playoff format, those several teams that took huge steps forward might find that it's not going to be enough for them to get things together and actually make the postseason.
We can all more or less agree that Chicago, which made only one significant move in bringing aboard bargain-basement Brad Richards and letting Michal Handzus walk, not only is the best team for this coming season as it was for the prior one, but also improved marginally. That top spot in the Central, and perhaps the whole of the Western Conference or even NHL, is very much spoken for.
But then there's the matter of everyone else. The race to get into the bottom two to five spots in the West's playoff picture — though banking on the higher side there seems foolish — is going to look like when all three Stooges try to go through the same door at once. St. Louis, Dallas and Minnesota all seem very likely contenders for those spots, having either remained good from last season or improved in this summer signing period. Dallas has clearly taken the largest step forward in adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, but they also have a lot more ground to make up in terms of the point gap from last season; getting into the playoffs with 91 points is barely an accomplishment.
The Blues are obviously in the best position, having added Paul Stastny and despite the loss of Vladimir Sobotka. Their biggest need was an additional top-six forward, and they added one. The decision to stick with someone who isn't Ryan Miller, meanwhile, seems a prudent one in goal.
As for Minnesota, there's still a lot to dislike about this team. Depth and goaltending remain issues that need to be proven out if anyone's going to believe they're a contender for anything any time soon. But 98 points last season does sort of seem like a fluke. One can't imagine that Josh Harding continues to post a save percentage north of .915 or so, and the rest of that cast doesn't do much to inspire confidence.
But as with a few divisions last season, the importance of finishing second versus third or fourth or, if you're really unlucky, fifth is massive in the Central. Finish third and you probably play a 100-point team that's considerably better than you are. Finish fourth and you play either the Blackhawks or (probably) Kings. A lot of people seem to think it's likely that the Central sends five teams to the playoffs, and successfully holds the fourth team in the Pacific out, but it's tough to see where that would be the case; it happened last year mainly because the Canucks were pitiful under John Tortorella. While they haven't exactly taken a step forward so far with Jim Benning at the controls, they haven't taken a step back either, overall. It's not outside the realm of possibility that Anaheim and Vancouver duke it out for a wild card spot. Both, certainly, are better than Winnipeg, Nashville or Colorado, full stop.
Of course, all this comes with the caveat that Chicago could falter as it did last season and somehow not end up first in the division, but that doesn't seem likely. Big problems with special teams was what did them in last season, but it's hard to imagine the power play finishes 10th in the league again this year, or the PK 19th. It's also difficult to envision the Avalanche doing anything but crashing and burning after a full year of cheating death in terms of possession; they were sixth in goal differential in their own conference and yet finished second in points. That doesn't happen often, especially not when your percentages are in the league's toilet.
If it's between St. Louis and Dallas for the second spot (and it probably is), though, then it's tough to see Dallas making a 20-something-point jump without a “2013 Maple Leafs” measure of luck stirred in. No team in the league improved as much as Dallas did this summer, but even no improvement from the Blues would have left them pretty tough to squeeze past. Even with unproven rookie Jake Allen in net, it's not like things are ever going to go especially badly for them, not with that lineup and depth. A worst-case scenario for the Blues is probably in the 105-point range, which you can't be too unhappy with at the end of the day.
Then there are the Stars, who could be a 100-point team if things go right. They're clearly counting on some internal improvement from the kids, especially on the blue line, to make their planned improvement. Minnesota's not far behind them, though, in both the overall quality and “expecting young players to make a jump” departments. For me, these are the two most fascinating teams in the West this season. Everyone else seems to be a known quantity, more or less.
Not that any of this really matters, of course. It's probably going to take more than moderate improvement to be better than Chicago over 82 games, or again in seven when the playoffs roll around, and even then, that doesn't make you elite. But getting closer is the goal, and Dallas and St. Louis have certainly made that step.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks : Saku Koivu is selling his home near Anaheim for $6.6 million . Say, Ryan Kesler's due $10 million over the next two seasons. Hint hint.
Arizona Coyotes : Y'know, when you look at it all laid out like this , the Coyotes' only additions this offseason being Sam Gagner (a player who's pretty good but was always getting unduly flogged in Edmonton for one reason or another), BJ Crombeen, Joe Vitale and Devan Dubnyk, you have to say that Don Maloney didn't have a very good summer. Another year without playoffs in the desert. What fun.
Boston Bruins : Loui Eriksson moving to the Bruins' “ first line ” is a little misleading because he was on it last year. Patrice Bergeron plus Brad Marchand plus (anyone) equals “first line.” They're better at all aspects of the game than David Krejci and Milan Lucic, not that you'd know it in this town. That Claude Julien gives more minutes to Lucic and Krejci is a major failing of Claude Julien's. It's really that simple.
Buffalo Sabres : Pretty alarming, isn't it, that Luke Adam had to sign a two-way deal ? What happened to that dude? Pre-lockout he looked like he could be a decent contributor, but he's just dropped off a cliff.
Calgary Flames : Karri Ramo was pretty effectively put on notice by Flames brass this summer. First they bring in Jonas Hiller to take his No. 1 job — which it must be said Ramo didn't do badly with in his first season, given the circumstances — for the next two years, then they give AHL starter Joni Ortio a two-year deal that guarantees a one-way in 2015-16 .
Carolina Hurricanes : Bill Peters says Eric Staal's power play output last season was “ unacceptable .” Would you believe he scored just one time on the man advantage? He had more shorties than that. Good lord. (Another guy that had only one power play goal last season? Evander Kane. Five or six more of those and I doubt any of these rumors come up.)
Chicago Blackhawks : Growing up, Brad Richards dreamed of being the starting goaltender for the Blackhawks, and I don't blame him. Look what they pay their goalies when they're not even good.
Colorado Avalanche : While riding his bike last week, Cory Sarich was hit by a car and broke multiple vertebrae . Horrible news but he's apparently doing much better already. He wants to continue his playing career, which, I dunno...
Columbus Blue Jackets : Question posited by someone who I'm pretty sure is a Blue Jackets fan: “ Is Sergei Bobrovsky truly the goalie of the future ?” Hmm, a 25-year-old who has a .926 save percentage with the team over 96 appearances, and already has a Vezina to his name? Nah, it's probably Oscar Dansk.
Dallas Stars : One point of concern for the Stars is the workload Kari Lehtonen has pulled the last few seasons because of how bad his backups have been. This time around they have Anders Lindback and maybe, like, Jack Campbell or Jussi Rynnas. So, no?
Detroit Red Wings : Danny DeKeyser says “ there won't be any problems ” getting his new contract done before camp. No kidding. If they gave Danny Cleary another year, DeKeyser might be able to pull a max contract.
Edmonton Oilers : If the Oilers try to use their organizational depth to fill their hole at center , they're not really approaching things very wisely.
Florida Panthers : It's looking like Jimmy Hayes and the Panthers will indeed go to arbitration this week. There goes that chance of signing Kevin!
Los Angeles Kings : Nice to see the Kings get one of their draft picks into the Hall of Fame.
Minnesota Wild : Well sure they're never going to win a Stanley Cup, but Stephane Veilleux will lead the Wild to ping pong glory .
Montreal Canadiens : Please stop asking PK Subban about contract negotiations . He doesn't appreciate it.
Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team : Kevin Fiala is one of the growing number of high-quality Swiss players in the NHL. Thanks a lot.
New Jersey Devils : One of the things that doomed the Devils (not rhyming with Farty Frodeur) was the fact that they didn't win their first seven games of the season . That's gotta change this year. Probably will, too.
New York Islanders : Kevin Poulin will be back for another season on Long Island. After he went .893 in 28 appearances last season, they basically had to re-sign him.
New York Rangers : The award Derick Brassard wanted to play his prove-it year with the Rangers as their presumptive No. 2 center was $4.95 million. Glen Sather talked him down to $25 million over five seasons. Now THAT'S negotiating!
Ottawa Senators : The Senators plan to meet with the agents for Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur about extensions in the coming week. “How does league minimum sound?”
Philadelphia Flyers : The Flyers neither improved nor took a step back this summer. Given the way the rest of the division improved, though, that's tantamount to taking a step back. Gonna be a tough season in Philly, one suspects.
Pittsburgh Penguins : Now this is a fascinating question: Will this be the last season in Pittsburgh for Marc-Andre Fleury? Pretty easy to see this going either way, really.
San Jose Sharks : Dude, they didn't run over your dog . They beat you in hockey four games in a row. It happens.
St. Louis Blues : The Blues' success, ultimately, rests on whether Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz can become even better offensive weapons . They both averaged about one goal every three games last season, which will need to improve.
Tampa Bay Lightning : This was a fairly good look at the youth in the Lightning system. Shocking to see Jonathan Drouin at the top of the list. Shocking.
Toronto Maple Leafs : Loved this look at the Kyle Dubas hire from Fluto Shinzawa, which included the shocking new idea that maybe you don't need to have been in the NHL to make player evaluations, because other major business executives don't need to know how to make the products their companies sell.
Vancouver Canucks : Jake Virtanen signed Sunday . He's going to do very well at World Juniors this season.
Washington Capitals : Expecting Joel Ward to be a driver of success with the Caps this season is asking a lot. Or, if you prefer, the impossible.
Winnipeg Jets : When you're trying not to spend a lot of money, maybe giving a bunch of money to bad players is not a good idea . Just a thought. Kevin Cheveldayoff really ought to be fired. This is a catastrophe.
Gold Star Award
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.
Bruins sign D Warsofsky (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:30:40 PDT)
The Boston Bruins signed defenseman David Warsofsky to a one-year, two-way contract, the team announced Thursday. Warsofsky's salary is worth $600,000 at the NHL level. Warsofsky appeared in six games for Boston during the 2013-14 season, scoring his first NHL goal against the Senators in Ottawa on Dec. 28 and his first NHL assist on Feb. 8 also against the Senators. Warsofsky skated in 56 regular-season games for Providence last year, registering six goals and 26 assists (fourth on the team) for 32 points with a plus-8 rating.
NHL roundup: Rangers, Kreider agree on two-year deal (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:20:51 PDT)
The New York Rangers and forward Chris Kreider avoided a salary arbitration hearing by agreeing to a two-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. The 23-year-old had career highs of 17 goals and 37 points in 66 games last season, and five goals and 13 points in 15 Stanley Cup playoff games. ---The Colorado Avalanche and center Ryan O'Reilly agreed to a two-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing, the team announced Wednesday. He won the Lady Byng Trophy after being assessed only two penalty minutes while playing 80 games.
Sabres sign free-agent Andre Benoit to 1-year deal (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:52:10 PDT)
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres signed free-agent defenseman Andre Benoit to a one-year contract Wednesday.
Sabres sign D Benoit (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:02:40 PDT)
The Buffalo Sabres signed defenseman Andre Benoit to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.
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
Bryan Berard wants $18 million from insurance company that handled his eye injury (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 11 Jul 2014 12:05:41 PDT)
Bryan Berard is leading a very interesting retirement. First, there was his turn on Battle of the Blades ( he deserved to win, dammit ). Then there was his adventure as a private eye, where he helped bring down two con men that swindled millions from retired NHLers .
Now, speaking of eyes, Berard's right one continues to be a problem, and he's locked in a legal battle with the insurance company that paid him millions after the retinal tear and detached retina he suffered during his playing days.
Berard was clipped by the stick of Marian Hossa during a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000. It was initially feared that his playing days were over, and he received a $6 million insurance settlement from Standard Security Life the following year.
He didn't give up on returning to hockey, however, and after seven surgeries, he was fitted with a special contact lens that allowed him to meet the league's minimum vision requirement. He signed a tryout contract with the New York Rangers in 2001, which turned into a $2 million contract in 2002, at which point he returned the insurance settlement.
And now he wants it returned back to him . With interest.
From the NY Post:
But then in 2013 he hired an attorney and came after Standard saying he never should have had to repay the insurer.
He is demanding $18 million in benefits, interest and penalties, claiming the agreement to relieve Standard of future claims was a fraud.
Berard, 37, told The Post, “I’m disabled. I have no vision in my right eye.”
Standard has preemptively sued Berard.
Here's hoping it works out for Berard. By his own admission, he lost about $6 million in that con man scheme, so he could probably use the money.
NHL roundup: Blues sign Ott to two-year contract (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:55:27 PDT)
Free agent center Steve Ott signed a two-year, $5.2 million deal to stay with the St. Louis Blues, who acquired him in the blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres last season that included goaltender Ryan Miller. Ott posted just three assists in the 23 games after the trade to St. Louis with two assists in six playoff games. Ott won 53 percent of his 423 draws last season and is likely to be used on the third or fourth line. Ott, 31, notched 23 points, 92 penalty minutes and 254 hits with the Sabres and Blues last season.
Senators re-sign F Grant (The SportsXchange)
(Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:21:31 PDT)
The Ottawa Senators re-signed forward Derek Grant to a one-year, two-way contract, the team announced Thursday.
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.
Ducks sign what’s left of Dany Heatley for 1 year, $1 million (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:12:50 PDT)
Dany Heatley was once traded for a package that included Jonathan Cheechoo. Five years later, he’s basically become him.
Heatley signed a 1-year, $1-million contract with the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday; the kind of contract NHL teams hand out to former gunslingers in full decline, and the kind of contract former goal-scoring leaders get before their seemingly inevitable KHL deal.
He spent the last three seasons with the Minnesota Wild after the San Jose Sharks flipped him for Martin Havlat in July 2011. He was in San Jose for two seasons after demanding and approving a trade from the Ottawa Senators in Sept. 2009, ending a bitter standoff.
Heatley, 33, has 372 goals and 419 assists in 863 career games. But his goals (0.16) and points per game (0.37) dipped to career lows this season, as he managed just 28 points in 76 games in 14:49 of ice time on average. He was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career for a critical late-season game for the Wild and then five more, and thus the writing was on the wall.
He wanted to continue his NHL career, and Wild GM Chuck Fletcher felt he could, as he told TwinCities.com:
"I really believe he can help a team, and I believe he will get another opportunity," Fletcher said. "He's got such high character, he's such a tremendous human being, I hope for him he gets an opportunity and it works out great.
"I talked to (Colorado Avalanche coach) Patrick Roy, and he thought one of the key things in that (first-round) series was in Game 3 (with the Wild down 2-0), Heatley went back in the lineup and our bottom six started contributing a lot more. He thought that was a big turning point in that series. He expressly mentioned Dany Heatley."
It’s a no-risk deal for the Ducks, who are looking for veteran help at forward after Teemu Selanne retired and Saku Koivu wasn’t retained. So when it comes into focus how far Heatley’s skills have eroded and how he couldn’t keep up with the Wild’s young, lower line players, at the very least it won’t be a costly mistake.
NHL roundup: Sharks secure deals with Wingels, Sheppard (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:50:27 PDT)
The San Jose Sharks signed restricted free-agent forward Tommy Wingels to a three-year contract and re-signed forward James Sheppard to a one-year deal on Tuesday.
D Grant re-signs with Senators (The SportsXchange)
(Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:53:46 PDT)
The Ottawa Senators re-signed defenseman Alex Grant to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday.
Predators' Fisher out 4-6 months after foot surgery (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:12:02 PDT)
The Nashville Predators could be without center Mike Fisher until the middle of the upcoming season due to a foot injury. The team announced Monday that Fisher ruptured an Achilles tendon last week while training, and he underwent surgery Thursday. The recovery period is expected to last four to six months, meaning Fisher is likely to miss at least 20 games in the 2014-15 season. General manager David Poile told the Tennessean, "I hope we have enough depth.
Predators' Fisher has ruptured Achilles tendon (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:28:55 PDT)
Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher has a ruptured Achilles tendon that likely will cause him to miss at least the start of the upcoming season. In a statement released by the team Monday, Predators general manager David Poile said Fisher underwent surgery Thursday after rupturing the tendon during a training session. The Predators open the season Oct. 9 against Ottawa. Fisher, 34, served as Nashville's alternate captain last season and had 20 goals and 29 assists in 75 games.
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.