For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

30 June 2007

Wild deal Fernandez to Boston as Tkachuk signs pact with Blues

I'll get more up on this later, just wrote a huge post on Briere and Drury, so I'm kinda pooped, but here's the basic:

The Boston Bruins have finally got their no.1 goalie, and no, it's not Evgeni Nabokov like many fans might've hoped but the well-rested Manny Fernandez, who after a breakout 2005-2006 season in which he stole the starting role from now Oilers goalie, Dwayne Roloson, missed a huge chunk of 2006-2007 to multiple injuries and eventually lost his starting role to the emerged and fully loaded Niklas Backstrom.

This deal per the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Fernandez was expendable from the Wild's point of view, with their new no.1 man in Backstrom and Josh Harding itching to finally get playing time, there was no more room for him.
His $4 million salary is also a hefty addition to the Bruins' payroll, and should hinder them from targeting any major players on this summer's UFA market.

The Wild received top prosepct Peter Kalus, who had an awesome end-of-season stint with the Bruins last year and impressed many many people.
I guess Minnesota fans can consider Kalus a replacement for Patrick O'Sullivan, another top prospect, who was dealt to the LA Kings at last year's draft for Pavol Demitra.
They got O'Sullivan back, but now his name's Kalus.

The Blues have also signed forward Keith Tkachuk to a 2-year deal worth $4 million per season.
Tkachuk's a valuable asset to any lineup and his return to St. Louis is heroic and I hope they seriously turn it around next year, they have the tools, all they gotta do is bring in a big name tomorrow.


Darcy Regier's the one man to blame for Sabres' potential losses of Briere and Drury...

Less than a day until one of the most exciting times of the hockey world's year.

Tomorrow, on July 1st 2007, promises to be an even better showing of the unrestricted free-agent party than its 2006 version.

Big names like Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Scott Gomez, Sheldon Souray, Ryan Smyth, Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg, Scott Hannan, Roman Hamrlik and last but maybe the least, Alexei Yashin, are the creme of this year's unrestricted free-agent class and nearly all seem to be ready to sign with new teams.

And in less than 24 hours, the Sabres may have to face reality and possibly lose both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.

Drury and Briere held the C for this year's version of the Buffalo Sabres, and both had career years with Drury setting a high in points (69) and goals (37).
Meanwhile, Briere surpassed his fantastic but short 2005-2006 season and his previous "career year " of 2003-2004 by scoring 95 points, 32 of them being goals and 65 helpers.

You could argue their offensive success was due to the fact that the team has so much depth and so many quality forwards available to them on their sides, or that both were looking to cash big at tomorrow's much anticipated event.

Chris Drury was for the most part of the 2006-2007 season expected by media and fans alike to be the one Darcy Regier "chooses" in the two-man Sabre saga.
That same saga that captured almost everyone's focus during the year rendered guys like Scott Gomez, Paul Kariya and Sheldon Souray seem like second-rate.

However, reports near the end of the season and heading into the playoffs became stronger and stronger and indicated that Darcy Regier may even have a tough time keeping one of the two, that both could command up to $7 million should they hit the open market.

As the playoffs wore on, Chris Drury made it easy for Regier to make his choice, putting up 8 goals and a total of 13 points in 16 contests while his counterpart in the two-man battle, Daniel Briere, put up more points than he did but felt unpolished in many ways.
He felt unpolished when it came to leadership and didn't lead his team when it needed it the most, especially in the Ottawa series, when he looked totally lost on the ice and made me think on more than a few occasions "Where the heck is Daniel Briere?"

His offensive game was also lacking the same zip it had in the regular season, and managed only 3 goals, and that might have been the factor to this blogger's disappointment in him.

The 12 assists number is also very deceiving; at a glance, you first think: "gee that's good" but if you seriously watched the games, then you realized that most of them meant nothing and only a few really were game-breakers.

Briere had a good series against the Rangers, but completely faded away against Ottawa, while Chris Drury stood tall till the end, and this might lift up more than a few a true captain.
I said it before, I think Briere had leadership issues in the playoffs, or UFA status was clouding his mind or whatever, something didn't click and down Buffalo went in 5 against the Senators.
And if rumours are true, that a Briere-Drury lockeroom fight occurred over a few harsh words spoken by Briere in the lockeroom, then so long, happy trails!

It truly is sad to think that the Sabres might lose both of them and get nothing back, nothing at all, imagine how the team will play next year potentially without its two captains and two of its top scorers?

Not very good I assume.

But anyhow, I'm sure Darcy Regier now regrets not signing Briere to that 5-year $25 million contract he wanted last year, and having the same offer rejected by him this year.

Chris Drury?

I'm not so sure about his status right now, but I assume he would likely be willing to take a "hometown" discount and remain with the same team that traded Steven Reinprecht and Rhett Warrener to get him (which at this point seems pathetically shallow on the Flames' side).
There's pretty strong speculation that he will part ways from Buffalo and sign with a California-based team, rumoured to be the Los Angeles Kings.
All this while Briere would look for greener pastures in the towns of Philadelphia, with buddy Martin Biron, or in Montreal, where the media is already building the barrier that would keep him out and raise my blood pressure.

As I said in the beginning, tomorrow should be a very interesting and most certainly eventful day, and Buffalo Sabres fans should prepare for major disappointment and lament their close to certain losses of the beloved Chris Drury and the 95-point man in Daniel Briere.

The loss of a captain, a leader and of such a complete player that is Drury, may wind up hurting the Sabres real bad, on and off the ice.
I'm sure Derek Roy can carry the load once Briere is gone, and he may even end up doing better than the latter.

And to end this prequel to tomorrow's live-blog event, I blame Darcy Regier for keeping this until the last minute and not bending his ways of not negotiating contracts in the regular season and here's the fatal result: losing Daniel Briere and/or Chris Drury.

Until tomorrow...

Check out this full "per team" list of 2007's NHL free agents.


29 June 2007

GM Waffledave

Less than three days to go before one of my favourite times of the year.

The opening of Free Agent season is always an exciting time for hockey fans, each of us desperately clinging to the hope that our respective GMs will manage to sign a star player and turn their team into a contender overnight. Never mind that this hardly ever actually works, we all still get excited when we hear a new player is coming to town.

Montreal hasn’t really had the best of luck when it comes to recent free agent signings. Samsonov turned out to be a spectacular flop, and Kovalev hasn’t exactly been on anyone’s favourites list lately. This is especially frustrating for Habs fans after weeks of rumours and speculation about big-name players like Shanahan and Elias. How can we forget the sick feeling we all felt when Shanahan, after weeks of stringing us along, decided on New York over Montreal? Yes, I think we can all agree that Free Agent season tends to be anything but satisfying for Habs fans. There is only so much "Plan D" we can take.

But this doesn’t really stop the speculation, does it?

I feel this year may very well be different. I truly feel that this time, The Canadiens are serious about signing some top-end talent, and Bob Gainey will deliver. That being said, we all know that Gainey’s mind works in mysterious ways, so predicting what he’s going to do is near impossible and will probably make you look quite silly in the end. Hence, instead of trying to make predictions, I’ll simply state what I would do in Bob’s position.

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin, I’d just like to clarify that I’m going to try and keep this as realistic as possible. It would be easy to simply jot down the names of a bunch of stars like Forsberg and Smyth but realistically, I doubt they’d sign in Montreal. However, being that realism isn’t much fun, I’ll still try and keep it exciting at the same time.

On to business!

The first Free Agent I would sign is C Scott Gomez.
What? No Briere? Yes, that’s absolutely correct. “Gomer” is the perfect fit for this team. Young and entering his prime, and coming off a bad season so his salary demands won’t be too outrageous. Most importantly, however, he’s spent his career playing on a defensively-minded New Jersey team and would fit in perfectly with Carbonneau’s similarly structured system. Plus, he’ll be significantly cheaper than Briere, who I personally feel is a bad fit for The Canadiens.

Next would be LW Paul Kariya.
Okay, so I admit that this is partly due to all the rumours saying he wants to play in Montreal (I’m a sucker for the hype). But truthfully, I’m a big Kariya fan and I simply want to see him in on The Habs. It’s risky, of course, because Kariya’s defensive play may get him the Samsonov treatment by Coach Carbonneau, but I feel his speed and scoring ability is badly needed on this team. He’s a solid 5-on-5 player, which is what The Habs need to improve the most on.

My next signing would be F Pascal Dupuis.
Dupuis would be my choice to replace Mike Johnson, who I feel will not be returning. I’m a huge fan of Dupuis and feel he is highly underrated. He’s a local boy who will be an excellent checker, and who can contribute to the score sheet as well. His energy and feistiness will be appreciated by the fans in Montreal, and he has the ability to play on the top 2 lines in case of injuries. If Bob doesn’t land any of the UFAs I listed above, I do hope he at least can bring Dupuis aboard.

My final Free Agent signing was a tough decision. To be frank, I could not decide on one guy in particular, so I’ll simply list them all. Ideally, I’d like to see Gainey retain Souray, but if he becomes too pricey, I would sign any one of D Tom Preissing, D Cory Sarich, or D Mat Schneider.
I don’t want to see Souray go, but if he commands a salary upwards of $6 million, I can’t justify keeping him aboard. The other defencemen I listed will be significantly cheaper and all extremely useful in their own right. Preissing is a smart player who will be an asset on the powerplay and an overall solid d-man. Sarich, while never being much of a goal-scorer, would replace some of Souray’s physicality and is an upgrade on Sheldon defensively. Schneider is, well, old, but he can replace Souray’s offensive production while providing a veteran presence for much less of a cap hit.

Aside from these UFA signings, I’d also shake things up on the team internally. I was once a huge Kovalev fan, but I feel the time has come for him to go. I simply do not see him being able to play under Carbonneau, and there are better options available. Whether he is tradable or not is another story, but he is not in my plans for the future of this team.

Neither, for that matter, is Frankie Bouillon. Yes, I know a lot of people out there love him, but if this team is to move forward, he needs to go. Everyone wants to see the little guy succeed, but his fat contract does not justify what he brings to the team. I’m aware he was coming off an injury this year, and that last season he was pretty good, but what people need to realize is that last season was the only season he’s ever looked like an actual NHLer. His big hits look nice on TV, but his shoddy positioning is extremely frustrating to watch, especially live.

On the topic of internal movement, there are several rookies that I feel deserve a shot in the big leagues this season. Namely, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kyle Chipchura, Jonathan Ferland and Ryan O’Byrne (I did not include Maxim Lapierre and Jaroslav Halak because they have already earned their spots on the team). Whether they can prove their worth at training camp remains to be seen, but I remain confident.

So what does all that movement give us? Here are the lines I’d put together if I were in charge:

Kariya – Gomez – Ryder
Latendresse – Koivu – Kostitsyn
Higgins – Plekanec– Dupuis
Lapierre – Chipchura – Begin
Ferland, Murray (yes, I’m keeping Murray, suckers!)

Markov – Komisarek
Souray/Preissing/Sarich/Schneider/ – Streit
O’Byrne – Dandenault


Gomez, an elite playmaker, would be benefited by having a pair of pure scorers on his wings, and Kariya’s defensive shortcomings won’t look as bad with Gomez and Ryder covering for him (contrary to popular belief, Ryder is actually pretty good defensively and one of the best backcheckers on the team). Overall, this would be one of the fastest lines in the East (again, contrary to popular belief, Ryder is quite fast indeed).

Bumping Saku down to the second line is not a slight to him. If anything, Koivu will greatly benefit by playing with less pressure on the 2nd and might even surpass last year’s point totals. He has great chemistry with Latendresse, and Kostitsyn’s amazing shot is what a playmaker like Koivu dreams about.

Some may be upset about me bringing Higgins down to the third line, but by no means does this mean I want him to be a checking forward. Simply put, Higgins and Plekanec are the best two-way forwards on the team, and if anyone can put up numbers while being defensively responsible, it’s these guys. Add in a feisty Dupuis, who has the potential to put up respectable numbers, and you have a pretty deadly trio, in my opinion of course. Ideally, I'd like to see Carbonneau roll the above three lines.

The fourth line should be fun to watch as well. Lapierre impressed the hell out of me, and I’m hoping Begin can make it through the season healthy/alive. Chipchura deserves his chance, and will work his way up from the bottom like all rookies do. This will be a line I’d hate to play against and I personally can’t wait to see these guys raise hell on the ice. Ferland will get his shot here when Begin needs a break, and Murray, well, I’m keeping him just to be controversial.

My defensive pairings are pretty straight-forward and do not differ much from last season. I feel Streit deserves a shot as a permanent fixture in the top four, and he’s primed for a breakout season. Streit, in my eyes, is the next Markov, and his overall seamless play will soon turn him into a household name. As for O’Byrne, his performance during the Calder Cup playoffs has made me a believer and I can’t wait to see him (hopefully) make the team. Dandenault gets a lot of flak, but once he’s separated from Bouillon I think we’ll see a new side of him, one that was too busy covering for his partner’s mistakes to show itself.

While some feel that Carey Price is ready to make the jump, I’d prefer to start the season with Huet and Halak splitting time in nets. Huet was at his best when he split time with Aebischer, so a similar set-up with Halak is the best scenario I can see.

And just like that, my team is complete. I’ve gone in depth as much as I can, and tried to justify every move in a hopefully convincing manner. This is what I would do, or at least try to do, if I were Bob, and look forward to seeing how things play out in reality. Who knows, I may just be able to figure him out after all.

As always, comments are encouraged.

28 June 2007

Why Shattenkirk Was the Best Name in the NHL Draft

This past weekend the NHL draft came and went. This was actually the first draft I can remember watching with any interest, simply because I knew about it ahead of time and NHL hockey has become an accepted obsession in my household these last two years (more on this at a later date). Anyway, I had a smidgen of knowledge about some of the highly touted picks, but my main reason for watching was to use my highly scientific methods to determine who has the best NAME for the NHL. That is, which players SOUND like NHL'ers to me? Why is this important? One of my social gaffs is to give NHL player names to hostesses at restaurants just to see how they attempt to pronounce and spell them. Sadly, Ponikarovsky is too easy to sound out phonetically. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the some of the draftees and names, all meant to be in good fun:

PATRICK KANE - Sounds like the alter ego for a superhero. Trust me, I've read a ton of comics and this name would fit perfectly for any cape or cowl created after say 1989. Subsequently, he'll need super-powers because the 'Hawks will likely be firmly on his shoulders in a couple of years.
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK - I don't know why, but this kid's name makes me think of Dawson's Creek. That can't be good for hockey in general or the Flyers.
KYLE TURRIS - Strong name, but doesn't really jump out at ya. Kinda like the Coyotes. They SOUND like they would be a strong team, but ...For some reason I also say his name with a bad Scottish accent when I say it out loud. Good times.
THOMAS HICKEY - If this kid doesn't have bulletproof skin after having grown up with a name that is synonymous with teenagers making out in the back of cars, he has real issues. Then again, so do the Kings. This may be my favorite so far.
KARL ALZNER - Sounds like a cross between Pilsner beer and Alzheimer’s. I dub thee Karl "the forgetful Drunk" Alzner!! No that doesn't really work... Still, if forgetful drunks can be the mayor of DC, maybe this kid will turn out OK for the Caps.
JAKUB VORACEK - This kid should be a voracious checker. I mean, look at his name!!! Couldn't the BJ's demand their money back due to false advertising if he turns out to be soft?
ZACH HAMILL - The mysterious love child of Zak from "Saved by the Bell" and Dorothy Hamill. Or was it Mark Hamill from Star Wars? Wouldn't it be cool if he spoke in the Joker's voice and was a great gymnast? Then maybe Boston could get some of their fans back.
LARS ELLER - Wasn't this guy a James Bond villain once? Really? No? Coulda swore...
KEVIN SHATTENKIRK - Wow. Just wow. Tons of possibilities here. Like when he destroys some fool into the boards, you can say "He just Shattenkirk-ed that dude!" or if he dangles the puck and puts a ridiculous move on a goalie you can exclaim "He was Shattenkirk-ed out of his jock!"
ALEXEI CHEREPANOV - Share-a-pawn-off?? I don't know, that sounds questionable to me...
IAN COLE - His name sounds like a Blue to me for some reason. Strong, understated. Playing for the Golden Dome next season.
ANGELO ESPOSITO - One of the best names in the draft. Do his friends call him Angel? Like the vampire? He'd have to have some special abilities to be taken by the Pens, who have plenty of depth at center. I questioned this pick because I just don't see him on this team.
RILEY NASH - My son's name plus "Nash". I have a bias against the name Nash ever since that horrible show with Don Johnson and Cheech. Terrible TV. Mixed bag with this name though. Sounds hockey-ish though. Only the Oilers will know for sure.
JONATHON BLUM - If his hockey career doesn't take off, I could definitely see his name on the letterhead of an accounting firm somewhere. And God knows Nashville could use an accountant right now...
MIKAEL BACKLUND - I wish my first name was spelled like that. Noooooooooooooooo, my dad had to drop the 'a' from the traditional spelling of Michael, so I got to start every first day of school with "Michelle? Michelle?" Thanks, pops. Thanks for nothing.
NICHOLAS PETRECKI - I'm a fan of the name Nicholas, as it's my little brother's name. "Nick Petrecki" could play havoc with some hostesses. This name has potential.
JAMES O'BRIEN - He's going to be a Golden Gopher next year. Plus, this is like the 5th name that sounds like I would run into him at one of my wife's family reunions. I wasn't aware that there were this many strong hockey genes from Ireland and Scotland. No wonder Theo Fleury played over there!

And the winner? Gotta go with Shattenkirk. There's even a loose possibility that there will be William Shatner references in his future. That and he's an Avalanche prospect now, so I have to like him! Unfortunately, he's also an "offensive-minded" defenseman, which they seem to have a wealth of these days. I'm not the first to comment on this, nor will I likely be the last. Still, Shattenkirk isn't expected to fill a need next season for the Avs, but is more of a depth pick, in my opinion.

27 June 2007

What’s all the fuss about?

Another draft has come and gone, and what would Montreal be without yet another hockey controversy to shake the very foundation of the city?

Yes, Bob Gainey and his band of hooligans did the unthinkable. They passed up on The Saviour himself, Angelo Esposito. I knew from the moment the #12 pick was announced that the usual media cowboys wouldn’t be happy with another American defenceman, and when Angelo finally did get snatched by the Penguins, well, I probably couldn’t have scripted it any better.

Needless to say, it will take a colossal failure to produce on Angelo’s part for the media in this city NOT to mention this year’s draft for years to come. That, or the Ryan McDonagh pick to work out extremely well (which, by the way, would not surprise me in the least, but more on that later).

Either way, don’t expect this to be forgotten anytime soon. Angelo is a talented player and will likely do very well in Pittsburgh with Crosby and Co. In fact, Pittsburgh is probably the best fit for a prospect like Angelo. I fully believe his weaknesses will be compensated for on a stacked team like the Penguins, and he will be a star (not exactly what you want to see when your team passes over him in the draft).

I also fully believe some of the media in Montreal were literally smacking their lips at the prospect of yet another local player flourishing somewhere else. Funny how certain media figures seem to actually prefer when The Habs screw up, but I can’t really blame them. That’s where they get their best material.

With all this drama in the city of Montreal, the real shame is that the two players chosen in the first round, as well as Montreal’s second round choice, actually seem like pretty good picks. I, for one, am delighted to see that defenceman Ryan McDonagh is now Habs property. I must admit, I thought he’d only be available had Gainey succeeded in moving up in the draft and am shocked that he was passed on by Los Angeles in lieu of Thomas Hickey.

McDonagh is the real deal; a puck-moving defenceman with size who can really skate. He’s also the second “Mr. Hockey” award-winner chosen in the first round by the Canadiens, a testament to the qualities they look for in a player. As I mentioned before, I love the McDonagh pick, and while he probably won’t make us forget about Angelo (and all the cups he’ll win with Crosby) right away, I’m convinced McDonagh will be a useful player for years to come and a fan favourite.

Speaking of useful players, how can anyone be unhappy with big Max Pacioretty at pick #22? I love this kid and am thrilled to see another power-forward join the ranks and don the Ste-Flanelle. He mixes size with smart hockey sense and good skating, and has been compared to players like Keith Tkachuk, Erik Cole and Ryan Smyth.

I’d also like to say a few words about P.K. Subban, Montreal’s second round (#43) pick, who’s amassed somewhat of a cult-like following. Never mind his offensive talents and supreme skating ability, you just gotta love this kid’s attitude. We always hear about the need to draft Quebecers because they love the team and would play better for their hometown, but this guy has every bit of passion and love for the sweater that they do. His smile is contagious and his confidence makes ME confident in his abilities. I’m looking forward to seeing him give interviews, he’s a real character.

So what IS all the fuss about? In this blogger’s eyes, it should be on the excellent draft Timmons and his crew put together. I remain optimistic that in the near future, everyone will agree.


I’d also like to apologize for my hiatus these past months. I had some personal issues to deal with but will make more of an effort to contribute in the future and appease all the "Waff-aholics" out there. As always, hit me up at if you ever want to chew the fat about hockey, berate me incessantly about my articles, or write me death threats.

8 questions with a Senators fanatic...

Seriously, how can Bryan Murray make the Sens better? They're already light years ahead of most teams when it comes to talent and finesse. You won't find guys like Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Wade Redden (?) and Ray Emery on most other teams.

Sherry, the Sens' beat writer on this blog and over from the always zealous Scarlett Ice was kind enough to be answer 8 burning questions about her Ottawa Senators.

Enjoy, and Habs fans should wait for a surprise that might come later.

1) First off, I know this is kind of old, but how do you feel about the Sens' loss to the Ducks in the final? What went wrong, is there someone in particular that needs to be blamed?

Well, at first I sort of felt calm. The truth is I was expecting it. The way they were playing they didn't deserve to win. I was disappointed, but I kept on trying to tell myself that making it to the finals is a huge accomplishment and I shouldn't let losing overshadow what a great season they had.
But then after the dust settled I started to make myself look closer at what happened. As a fan, I was mad that my team didn't show up in the final. They did a lot of great things but it obviously wasn't enough.

As for what went wrong, I think they were just out of their depth. They didn't really have any trouble handling opponents in the playoffs until that point and the Ducks were just a stronger, grittier team.
I don't think anybody can be blamed solely for it. The top line, asides from Alfie, completely disappeared and the lack of secondary scoring was exposed. Muckler got the boot because coaching wasn't the reason they lost but something had to be done.

2) The Sens have had terrific players and terrific seasons for too long now, what needs to change? Was John Muckler really the one that deserved to go?

I think the poor start this past season was really beneficial to their development, and getting hit with all of those injuries, they really learned to play as a team. Murray was a coach that they were willing to play for; they really wanted this for one another but also for him.

As far as change, I think the younger players need to develop in a positive direction and try to find the role which they fit. For example, everybody had high offensive expectations for Antoine Vermette, yet he turned out to be a great defensive player. Same with Mike Comrie. Spezza and Heatley need to continue to develop their defensive sensibilities. They're moving in a very positive direction and I think more size and sandpaper will help. Muckler really enjoyed skilled, finesse players yet as we saw in the final, it might not be enough if you're going to be wallpapered into the boards.

I think if you look at Muckler's track record, one might say he didn't deserve to go but as I said before, the Senators have had the same story these past couple of years and still haven't won anything.
Melnyk and Mlakar couldn't keep on motoring ahead with the status quo, and since coaching wasn't the problem and Murray, being a free agent had more negotiating power, Muckler was the one who took the fall.

3) Bryan Murray's the new Sens GM, in what way do you think he'll be different from his predecessor in John Muckler?

Hmm, well if you believe the reports that came out, Muckler and Murray had a very different view of what the team needed. Murray has had experience as a GM before, and they both have a very keen hockey sense.

I think Murray is a lot less gun shy about making the necessary moves. He's not afraid to use players in a very limited role if he feels they aren't contributing and I'm sure he won't be as reluctant to part with assets if it means bringing in somebody that could help the team. Not that

Muckler was, but during his tenure, you always got the sense that maybe he was waiting for a payoff with his current squad that just wasn't happening.

You can see from the draft already that Murray wants more size and grit from this team. He had a large hand in putting together a lot of the assets on the Ducks squad that won the Cup this year and a lot of the players he drafted and signed were big guys who had a really complete all-around game.

4) Tell us about the Senators' impending UFA's, what's their plan?
Who should be retained and who will walk the plank?

Well, the Senators only have a couple of notable UFA's.

The one I really wanted to keep the most was Dean McAmmond, and he was luckily signed to a new 3 year deal recently. The others are Mike Comrie and Tom Preissing.
Both of whom I would like to keep for a realistic salary.

The truth is Comrie and Preissing will both most likely be asking for huge raises and in a salary cap world, it would probably best to let them walk and use the money somewhere else.
Comrie and Preissing both have a lot of potential and a lot of upside but at times what they provide can be very limited.

For the most part, the Senators will probably try to retain both and maybe create cap space via trades. But Murray will hardly be reluctant to let them walk if they can't realistically fit under the cap.

5) How should Ottawa handle the Wade Redden saga?

Here's one I'm personally interested in.

It's hard to say.

I think the poor guy is having a lot of pressure on him from playing in a market like Ottawa and it's even more magnified because of the size of his paycheque.
He's got one more year on his contract before he's a UFA again and he has a no trade clause. Edmonton has been famously trying to lure him over there and he's come out publically to say he's not interested.

I think that means a lot to the Ottawa fanbase, even though we are the ones who are giving him the roughest time.
As a fan, it's frustrating to see him struggling the way he is because you know he's capable of so much more. A lot of people will point to his disappointing season as a sign that we should have signed Chara instead, but he's hardly been earning his paycheque over in Boston.

I think it would be a lot easier to just cut him loose and use the money somewhere else, but I feel like no matter who we trade him for, or who we use his salary to sign, it just wouldn't make up for what Wade Redden is capable of providing.

It's a big 'If', but Redden is somebody who is very important to the Senators franchise and the Ottawa community. He's a sentimental favourite, he's grown up in front of our eyes. I think as it stands, the Senators should keep him, at the very least until the trade deadline. He only has one more year and the upside of him having a horrific season is that it'll be more realistic to sign him for less when his contract is up for renewal

6) Now onto more frustration, how exactly do you feel about Martin Gerber?
At first sight, his overall numbers aren't terrible, but that's probably deceiving.

You know, when Gerber came to Ottawa, I was somebody who was very excited that we were finally getting a number 1 starter.
His numbers this season are almost exactly the same from his numbers in Carolina. The difference of course being he had 38 wins in Carolina.
I think his psyche was really damaged from having to start in the series against Montreal [mouhhahahaha] when his health wasn't 100% and I was very adamant in defending him, but there's got to be a time where you say enough is enough.
He played well during the end of the season, but there were just times where you held your breath and wondered if he was going to make that save. [sounds like Jose Theodore]

I would like to keep him, because as a back-up he's better than some teams have.
But as it stands, you don't want somebody on the bench with that kind of contract.
Gerber's been a great team player for this squad and he has said that he likes Ottawa, but understandably as a goaltender, you want to go somewhere where you can play.

I think he should definitely be traded, but I'm not in any rush to see him go.
I'm willing to wait until after the season starts or until the trade deadline even, seeing as how Emery recently had wrist surgery and we won't know how he'll be coming back.

7) Who do you want the Sens to go after in this year's UFA crop?

I think the Senators need to get a veteran.
Everybody was talking about how they needed to get Gary Roberts. Roberts was on the Pens but couldn't help them past the first round.

I think getting a gritty veteran who's also been to the big dance before will help, but you have to make sure he's somebody who can help.
The Senators need help with secondary scoring, so somebody who can provide both will be helpful. It's completely unrealistic and will never ever happen, but I love what Chris Drury brings to a team. Maybe even a Bill Guerin or Paul Kariya.

These are guys I would LOVE to see in a Senators jersey, but again, just a pipe dream, haha.

I also think the Senators need to get a bigger, more physical D. Volchenkov and Phillips are a great shut-down tandem, but asides from them we have a lot of puck moving offensive defensemen whose defensive abilities are questionable at times.
If Preissing does end up leaving, Schubert will most likely go back to playing D.
He's the type of defenseman who we need more of, but he still has a bit of a way to develop so as to make smarter decisions and not take stupid penalties.

8) You guys were all drooling over the possibility of having Alexei Kaigorodov as the team's 2nd line centre, I was worried he might become another lethal force at centre, such as Jason Spezza, and end up hurting the Habs badly.
Now he's in cold Russia, what exactly went wrong with him?

I think nothing went wrong with him per say, except for the fact that we built up unrealistic expectations of him.

We had these hopes that he would become the second line centre we so badly needed, yet he came over here and fell flat.

Yet, if you think about, if you're pulling a kid out of Russia, a second round draft pick who has never played the North American game before, you can't possibly expect him to perform right away, yet we heard all of the amazing things he could do and put too much pressure on him way too early.

Muckler did the right thing by wanting to send him down to Binghamton. A spell in the AHL never hurt anybody, but Kaigorodov refused. I guess it was a pride issue but the Senators had no choice but to trade him. I think Kaigodorov can play in the NHL.

Phoenix has his rights now and he could be really useful for a team in their situation.


25 June 2007

Briere and Drury Appear To Be Gone WIth The Wind

In a move that seems shocking to even the most pessimistic Sabres fan it appears Darcy Regier is prepared to let Danny Briere and Chris Drury go without a fight. Agents for both players report little or no contact in the way of negotiations with the Sabres' general manager. With each passing day it appears less and less likely the Sabres will be able to retain either of their co-captains. Also, Danbius Zubrus' agent reports no contact at all with the Sabres in regards to a new contract.

This is not a unique situation as in that Regier doesn't seem to like to make token offers to players just to stay in the game. He does have a tendency to work late and come in with the last/best offer in many of his negotiations. He has utilized similar tactics in situations involving Mike Peca, Jay Mckee, Mike Grier and numerous prospects. It has mnet with, at best, mixed results.

My hope is that Regier goes to the players and at least requests a chance to match the best offer they receive. Unfortunately, the message that the tactic sends probably isn't one that leads a player to have faith in the progression of the team. When you factor in the captaincy of each player it is probably deemed more as insulting.

If Regier has simply turned the page and intends to move forward without the co-captains I wish he would just come out and say so and then move forward in restructuring this team. He and Ruff alluded to that when they signed their new deals. Unfortunately, Chris Drury seems like a cog that would be needed in a more defensive, tight checking style of game.

At any rate, Regier's inaction, at the least, has Sabres' fans on edge and the pessimists running rampant. My simple request of Darcy is this: do something!

23 June 2007

Redden for Cogliano in the works?

According to an online French website, hosting a live-draft blog, the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators finalized a deal about an hour ago that would send defenceman Wade Redden to Edmonton for top Canadian prospect that many of you of know very well thanks to international junior play, Andrew Cogliano and a roster player.'s live blog reports that the deal is in place as of 12:10 PM and that it should be announced very soon.

"(23h07) Après une première ronde sans échange majeur, les discussions sont plus qu'intenses entre les directeurs-généraux de la ligue. Wade Redden pourrait quitter Ottawa pour Edmonton en retour d'Andrew Cogliano et d'un joueur. "

I'm still wondering how credible this website is.

It seems like a valued site with lots of interesting information, but I wonder...

If this were true, then the Oilers would be paying a hefty price to acquire a seemingly overrated defenceman, who has lost nearly all of his offensive prowess he showed during the 2005-2006 campaign.
Last season, he was inconsistent and often injured, and managed to have his worst season since 2001-2002, when he scored only 34 points.

His +/- rating difference equalled his 2001-2002 points total, dropping a whopping 34 points (from +35 to +1) while his powerplay numbers suffered and fell 11 points from last season.

I guess Kevin Lowe really is desperate for a solid defenceman, even if it is Wade Redden, to offer up one of his brightest young lights.

The same site confirms speculation that the Sharks would acquire the rights to Chris Drury, re-sign him and trade Patrick Marleau to the Canadiens.

Anyone have any info to share, regarding the site's credibility?

Stay tuned folks...

GM's are busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy...

Yep, GM's are busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy at this time of year.

Not only do they have to work with their scouting department to pick a single player out of a thousand and pray to God he becomes a star and hope that they didn't just choose the next Patrick Stefan, but those moody guys in tight suits also have to deal with their players, trades and contracts.

Here's my shopping list of the trades and signings GM's have announced over the past 2 days, and they are in chronological order, with the most recent one being at the top of the list and in red.


Ryan Shannon moves from Anaheim to Vancouver.
Jason King moves from Vancouver to Anaheim.
Minor-league winger Jesse Schultz moves from Vancouver to Atlanta.
Minor-league defenceman Jimmy Sharrow moves from Atlanta to Vancouver.
Minor-league centre Stephen Dixon moves from Pittsburgh to Anaheim.
Minor-league centre Tim Brent moves from Anaheim to Pittsburgh.

Kent Huskins is staying in Anaheim for 2 more seasons ($1.25 million)
Sean O'Donnell is staying in Anaheim for 2 more seasons ($1.25 million)
Alyn McCauley is packing him bags and will move out of Los Angeles. (buy-out)
Chris Thorburn moves from Pittsburgh to Atlanta.

FRIDAY, June 22nd
Tomas Vokoun moves from Nashville to Florida.
Dean McCammond is staying in Ottawa for a at least 3 more seasons (est. $1.5-$2.5 million)
Tyler Arnason is staying in Colorado for two more seasons (est. $1.5-$2 million)
Gary Roberts is staying in Pittsburgh for one more season ($2.5 million)
Mark Recchi is staying in Pittsburgh for one more season ($2 million)
Vesa Toskala moves from San Jose to Toronto.
Mark Bell moves from San Jose to Toronto.
Andrei Zyuzin moves from Calgary to Chicago.
Adrian Aucoin moves from Chicago to Calgary.

Check back throught the day, as the list will be updated.


The "New NHL" uniform and logo concept...

The NHL is rapidly changing, and RBK Hockey is leading the way in the appearance department.

After shockingly overtaking hockey God manufacturers, CCM and Koho 3 years ago and revolutionizing the way hockey equipment looks and feels, they're at it again.

But this time, it's in a delicate category named "jersey", and if their presentation at the ASG is any indication, then the hockey world will be the first professional sports league to don such an advanced piece of fabric technology.

But just how revolutionnary will the new NHL jersey be?

If you missed their little promo at the ASG, here is RBK's concept of that advanced piece of fabric technology.

The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals are the first to reveal their "new" jerseys for the upcoming season.

Techincally, the Bruins have a new logo, and their jersey will essentially be the same in terms of colours and design.

The Capitals, however, have gotten out of that dark and ugly jersey they have worn for so many years.

Oh and it was men and commentators have trouble reading the player's name and number behind the jersey.

Presenting your 2007-2008 Washington Capitals jersey
(If you have Adobe Flash Player installed, go to Washington's website and check out "the way it should be" for yourself)

From left to right: Ben Clymer, Brian Pothier, Chris Clark and Jeff Schultz.

And I guess we can read the numbers now too:

An excerpt of the "Bruins new jersey" article per the Boston

Today, the Boston Bruins will unveil the new Reebok uniform, the first NHL team to show off the sleek look with tighter-fitting jerseys and advanced moisture technology. The Bruins also are one of six teams that are using the introduction of the uniform to change their logo and striping, bringing back a vintage look reminiscent of the Bobby Orr era and showing that the redesign is about profit as well as performance.

Alright, I'll get to the point already, here's what the Bruins' 2007-2008 logos will look like, and if you're curious, here's how the B's logo has evolved over the years (for some reason, the link to doesn't work anymore)

There isn't much of a difference at all.
The "B" on the primary logo is a bit wider and more rectangular, while the "BOSTON" on the vintage crest is bolder and black rather than .
Anyway, to sign off, I love these new concept designs, and I can't wait to see them in action next October!

22 June 2007

A flurry of deals...Vokoun, Toskala, Aucoin and Bell...

Just got home, and realized that some huge deals have been pulled off in the last few hours, especially in the goalie market.

For starters, the Nashville Predators traded goalie Tomas Vokoun to the Florida Panthers, about an hour and a half ago, in exchange for a first round pick and two second rounders.

Vokoun agreed to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt to the Panthers.

The Czech goaltender had a in-and-out 2005-2006 season.
He got injured for about 2 months early into the year but remained his usual solid self when he returned.
Chris Mason, however, proved to be too good to sit on the bench down the stretch and for the entire playoffs in GM David Poile's eyes.

As a result, Poile has chosen him as the team's number one goalie heading into next season.
Mason broke out of a backup role to post all-star like numbers.
I think a 2.38 GAA, 24 wins, a .925 save percentage and 5 shutouts in 40 games is pretty wicked.

Vokoun had a nearly identical season to Mason's, posting 27 wins, a .920 save percentage, a 2.40 GAA and 5 shutouts in 44 games.

But, in the end, Poile dealt Vokoun and showed the hockey world that money is still talking.

Vokoun will be paid an average of $5.5 million over the next 4 seasons, while the thrifty Mason will earn only $1.25 million over the 2 coming seasons, before being eligible to hit the open market at the end of 07/08.

That, faithful fanatics, explains the entire logic and reason behind this deal.

Vokoun is an established no. 1 goalie, something Florida hasn't had since Roberto Luongo, and certainly something they didn't get from the terrible Alex Auld and the party-wild Eddie Belfour last year.
Time will only tell how he adjusts to Eastern Conference teams and especially his new team, which is a huge downgrade from the dominating and powerful Predators he played for in the recent years.

It wasn't Manny Fernandez, or Tomas Vokoun but, hallelujah! The Toronto Maple Leafs have FINALLY gotten a respectable goalie.

And GM John Ferguson Jr. has just silenced his critics and some sour (aren't they all?) Leafs fans by getting top-notch 'tender Vesa Toskala from the cross-continent Sharks to go along with tough-hitting and scoring forward (see Blackhawks days) Mark Bell.

But it's worth mentioning Bell had a pathetic season on the scoresheet, scoring only 11 times and ending up in the coach's doghouse during the Sharks playoff run in favour of youngsters Ryane Clowe and Patrick Rissmiller.

I'm also feeling lazy today, and don't really want to write this up myself, but here are the complex details concerning the picks San Jose gets, courtesy of the Globe link above:

The deal, which includes forward Mark Bell going to Toronto, has cost the Leafs a conditional first-round selection, 2007 second-round choice and 2009 fourth-round picks. The Sharks can choose whether to take Toronto's first choice tonight (13th overall) or the 2008 first-round selection. If the Sharks choose the latter condition and the Leafs have a top-10 pick next June, the Sharks have to wait until 2009 for Toronto's first-rounder.

And where does this leave Andrew Raycroft, whom the Leafs gave top goalie prospect Tuukka Rask to the B's so he can go back to his Calder days, and be their solid number one goalie.
He did neither, and had a very streaky season in goal.

Toskala didn't quite repeat his terrific 2005-2006 year, he was good, but not better than the wall named Evgeni Nabokov, who re-claimed top-goalie status after losing it in the previous year.

Adrian Aucoin's miserable and injury-raddled days in Chicago are over.

TSN is reporting that the Flames will acquire the former star defenceman from Chicago, along with a seventh round choice for defenceman Andrei Zyuzin and prospect Steve Marr.
Zyuzin was a quite "gets the job done" type player for Calgary last year, and was well-liked by the media and fans.

Aucoin, on the other hand, was not.

Constantly booed, injury and lost on the ice, Aucoin's tenure in Chicago has stained his successful career, and has erased all memory of his glorious Islanders days as a top scoring point man.

His hefty salary of $4 million over the next couple years is also a major cap hit in Darryl Sutter's books, and the Flames clever GM must be praying this pans out for him.

Aucoin may be a replacement for impending UFA's Roman Hamrlik or Brad Stuart, one of which is expected to pack his bags and play elswhere next year with the most likely being Stuart.

And that's all for now!

If anything else happens, you'll hear from me later or if I'm still lazy, tomorrow.


21 June 2007

Walker, Rivet and Horton off the market, Emery to have surgery...

The Florida Panthers have re-signed restricted free-agent forward Nathan Horton.

The deal will pay out a total of $24 million to the 22-year old over 6 seasons.

The signing, per TSN, officially ends all speculation that Horton will be dealt at tomorrow's NHL Entry Draft in Columbus.

Horton had a spectacular season at such a young age, ammasing 31 goals and putting up 31 assists while appearing in all 82 games.

A star on the rise, Horton's season was awesome on the scoresheet, but some off-ice rumours a few months before the deadline, which consisted of Horton's unhappiness in the Sunshine State and his desire to be dealt to a contender, prompted speculation he would be dealt at the trade deadline (didn't happen) or at the draft.

-Craig Rivet really like the weather in Western California, and he's going to be there for another 4 seasons.

The Sharks officially signed their hard-hitting defenceman to a 4-year $14 million contract, a potential UFA, Rivet fit in well with the Sharks and broke out in the playoffs as the team's leading defenceman.

Rivet was traded to San Jose on the eve of the trade deadline, in exchange for Josh Gorges and the Shark's 1st round draft choice (23rd overall)

That comes out to about $2.5 million per season.

The 33-year old was eligible for UFA status on July 1st; he had a decent season in Carolina, but nothing compared to his old Nashville days, scoring 21 goals and adding 31 helpers in 81 games.

"Keeping Scott in Carolina was one of our top priorities this off-season," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement. "He brings skill and grit to our forward lines and he has become one of our team's leaders on and off the ice."

"It was one of the best experiences that I had in renegotiating. I felt really wanted," Walker said. "I like my role, but I also like the way the team is set up for the future, and I think we have a chance to win."

-And to top this transaction segment off, goaltender Ray Emery will undergo surgery for his wrist, which he hurt in November and re-aggravated in the playoffs.
He is not expected to miss the beginning of the regular-season, TSN says he will be out 2-3 months.

Emery, a restricted free-agent, made 925K last year and will likely seek a substantial raise from new Sens GM Bryan Murray, Emery's agent was quoted on TSN's Off the Record with Michael Landsberg that his client might receive an offer sheet soon, and that many teams would be interested in doing so, especially 2-3 teams that he obviously didn't name.


2007 Mock Draft - Still With Colory Goodness


RW, London, OHL

The most people seem to believe that Kane is the best player in the
draft, and the potential of he plus Johnathan Toews in a few years might not even be fair.


C, Burnaby, BCHL --> Wisconsin (NCAA)

Turris has had interviews with the Flyers more than any other draft prospect, and while not a complete shock when talking about the Flyers, they've tipped their hand for once.


RW, Halifax, QMJHL

The Coyotes go to the Q for one of the more creative players in the draft, and should fit well down the line with touted centers such as Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal

los angelesKINGSkarlALZNER

D, Calgary, WHL

I'd look for the Kings to trade down here, but I think this is Dean Lombardi's target. With established and improving forwards, Deano looks to build out from the net after drafting Johnathan Bernier last year. The prospect of a pair featuring JMFJ and K-TBA-A is very intriguing.


LW, USNTDP --> New Hampshire (NCAA)

JVR is #2 on a lot of draft boards (including mine), it may be bewildering to some. Hopefully for the Capitals, JVR can team up with Eric Fehr for a nice 2nd line in a few years.


C, London, OHL

A guy who will look to shed the moniker of being Pat Kane's teammate should have the opportunity next season to grow into his own game. Big things shouldn't be expected for a right away.


D, Kamloops, WHL

A lot of people, including me, have Ellerby as the 2nd best defenseman in the draft. I think if the Kings move down, the Jackets could move up, in a trade reminiscent of a draft day trade with Carolina a few years ago - a team looking to move up in a draft held in its own building.


C, Quebec, QMJHL

The year after playing with Alex Radulov didn't work out as well. The Bruins showed last year they are willing to work with prospects who were not as advertised the previous year, and they seem to really be thrilled with Esposito.

st. louisBLUESloganCOUTURE

C, Ottawa, OHL

I think the Blues may add yet another center to their lineup with Oshie and Berglund, with the possibility of moving one to the wing.


RW, Omsk, Russia

The highly touted Russian sniper finally comes off the board, with various questions surrounding development and viability, the Panthers seem like a team always willing to take a chance.


D, USNTDP --> Boston College

After a trying Cup defense, and a depleted pipeline, the Canes may try to restock by trying to replace the traded Jack Johnson. For a team that will still be built to contend next year, the team may allow time for Petrecki to attend college.


D, Minnesota (HS) --> Wisconsin (NCAA)

Les Habitants could look to continue a trend of taking American defensemen who are going to college. With solid defensemen around, they should fit well with emerging blue chip goalie Carey Price.


LW, Frolunda Sweden

The Maple Leafs only other color is white. We can't read white.

Lars Eller seems to be all over everyone's board. Recently, I've seen him as high as 9, he seems to be going in the mid-teens, and the Leafs could use someone with such natural abilities. His Danish heritage is of no concern because just like Slovenian-born-and-raised Anze Kopitar, he played in Sweden


D, USNTDP --> Boston U (NCAA)

The Avalanche haven't had the best of luck drafting defensemen. With this pick, if they choose, they can let him play in college for 4 years and be a patient as they want to be.


C, Everett, WHL

He may be another center, but you can't have enough centers, and if you can move a center to a wing they become a very versatile player. Personally, I think they're moving the pick.

2007 Mock Draft - Now With Colory Goodness, 16-30


LW, Colorado College (NCAA)

It's almost not even fair that the defending Cup Champs get to pick in the middle of the first round. They got this pick in a rather curious trade with the Lightning. Still, not to say that the Ducks don't need prospects in their system, but they can afford to take a chance here with an up tempo player and season his game in college.


C, Vasteras, Sweden

Backlund had a roller coaster year, where at any point some publications had him high and then completely off the radar. That tell me that someone will take a chance on him, and Glen Sather is always a willing player. The Rangers are also not afraid to draft overseas.


C, Red Deer, WHL

It's not a reach, and the parallels are too obvious. There isn't much more to say.

C, Minnesota (NCAA)

The Wild are being totally lame and dumping their green color scheme for yet *another* red one. So I need to get my quota in of my favorite color because the way Dallas runs their team, they don't have 1st round picks too often (including next season).

O'Brien I think is a real sleeper, and he plays on one of the deepest teams in the history of college hockey. He'll get more ice time next year, and is a pick where you're really taking a chance looking for improvement and hopefully his game isn't completely exposed.


RW, Chilliwack, WHL

The Penguins can pick whoever they want and if it doesn't work out, no one will really blame them, looking at their recent history. They're not used to drafting this late, and unselfishly, it's nice to see that they're this low because this means they're good again, and more importantly, they're still Pittsburgh.

Moller is a rare Swede who made the jump to play in the CHL, which I feel says something about his desire to play in the NHL. He's taken extra steps and what he thinks is necessary to get to the highest level, and they're guys I'm always looking for.


D, Calgary, WHL

This time a defenseman is looking to shed the label of being someone's teammate. Here's a player a lot of people feel is overrated. I don't know much about Don Maloney and what he likes to do in drafts, but it wouldn't be the Coyotes unless they took someone where patience is the hallmark of the pick.


LW, Leninogrosk, Russia

The Habs are always willing to draft out of Russia. They're deep in prospect that they can take a chance on Russian picks, who are always have more questions than answers anymore.


C, Prince George, WHL

Nothing needs to be said about the background of the draft pick before it is made. The Preds like to look to western Canada in recent years. The Predators look to re-solidify their prospect depth, and they can start down the middle where they could really use some help. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Predators trade down here.

st. louisBLUEStommyCROSS

D, Massachusetts (HS) --> Boston College (NCAA)

The Blues could have a real sleeper pick here. The Blues, already in the process of solidifying down the middle, still also need help on defense. They could also trade the pick to make a big move.


LW, Oshawa, OHL

MacLean has gotten a lot of exposure playing with Super-prospect John Tavares in Oshawa. MacLean has had plenty of practice production offense and should continue before being ready to contribute to the Canucks.


LW, Sioux City, USHL --> Michigan

I think this pick could also be traded, and I think the player may make people wish they had more of a look at him. He will get plenty of ice time with a new crop of young players as Michigan still has some other good players left over from the JMFJ era. I look for him to blossom like Mike Cammalleri once did for the Wolverines.


C, Frolunda Sweden

The Red Wings love Sweden, they get plenty of looks and are rarely wrong. Andersson seems like a good fit here. I just wish they had a 2nd real color.


D, Seattle, WHL

Here's a case of where player fills a need. Hickey seems like a safe pick, so let's hope for the Caps sake that he is. He will be an important prospect.


C, Saskatoon, WHL

This may have raised some eyes. Just because you may drop doesn't not make you a good prospect. People like me will be looking for more from Gilles next year and he looks to bounce back and possibly give the Senators a much needed steal.


D, Lincoln, USHL -->Boston U

Cohen might be a bit of a wild card. He left the USNTDP in the middle of the season because he felt that it held back his game. He's also reppin' Philly, so I gotta get his name out there.

20 June 2007

Stanley Cup takes a hit in SoCal

Hold the presses...the Stanley Cup has been dented in sunny California!

Jes Golbez writes:
I know the Stanley Cup has been beat up more than a GW Bush piñata at Osama Bin Laden’s 50th birthday bash, but can’t these teams show a little more respect and care for the holy chalice?

Nice choice of words Jes!
Check out his post and take a look at the picture he included, clearly showing a dent.

And here's a nice little cartoon I found while scanning the net, thanks to Offside Sports


19 June 2007

5 questions on the Habs...

Decisions...decisions, the Montreal Canadiens success lies in GM Bob Gainey's hands, as he prepares to head into, perhaps, the most difficult and demanding offseason of his life.

Hey everyone,

Jibblescribbits recently sent me 5 questions about the Habs, and I thought they'd be interesting enough to share with you, but beware, this is long and painful for some Canadiens fans out there.

Once he gets his official link out, I'll let you know here.

Here are my answers, via e-mail.

First thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about certain Habs, and their play last season. I am looking at certain teams, and their potential unrestricted free agents.
I can look at for stats, but I like getting a first hand account of the players, and how fans of the team feel about those players.

1) So as I can see, Montreal has 3 potential Free Agents that I think the Avs might have at least an inkling of interest in. Niinimaa, Souray, and Bonk. Which ones would you rather keep, and why? If you had to let one go who would you let go of first?

There's no question the Canadiens would love to retain Souray, but, his sudden explosion onto the scoresheet last season will make him a hot commodity, should he hit the open market.
We all know he scored the most goals since Al McInnis did it about a decade ago, and broke a franchise records for goals scored on the powerplay, but he also was a complete black hole in his own end.

He was relied on way way too much by Guy Carbonneau, and a few of his bonehead plays may have cost us a couple of wins.

Nevertheless, Souray's offensive production was his main weapon, and fans loved it when he would get the puck at the point, wind up and just BAM, smash it in there.

Soon after though, teams learned that the Habs' no.1 ranked powerplay in the NHL was all because of Sheldon Souray, and his booming 95-100 mph slapshot.
I'd love to retain him, but if reports that the Habs offered him $4,5 million per season are indeed true, sayanora Sheldon, no way he's going to make less than Andrei Markov (5,75 per season), and if anything, he'll make more.

Personally, I'd like to keep Bonk, he's a great 2-way forward and played perhaps some of the best defensive hockey of his career, of his life, last season under Guy Carbonneau.
Originally acquired to provided a ''sized'' offensive output as the team's checking line centre, Bonk did the complete opposite and played inspired 2-way hockey, even if the Canadiens originaly got him to perform score-wise.

Still, Bonk was a pleaseant surprise last year after a horrific first season with the Canadiens back in 2005-2006.

He's a great guy, gets along well with the players and he is by far Carbonneau's favourite player out there, Bonk made $2,5 million last season, and that money was given to him while he was back in Ottawa, in the pre-lockout years, when his role as a forward was clear: Crash the net, and score.
Now, not so much, Bonk still uses his size and puckhandling skills to his advantage, but he is definitely not the player he used to be with the Senators.

Janne Niinimaa is expendable.
I was actually jumping up and down when I heard the Habs got him for the princess that is Mike Ribeiro, but I was quickly silenced as he really just turned out to be a totally different player than his days with Philly, Edmonton and the Islanders.
He played well in the second half, and after Craig Rivet was dealt, he earned more playing time and even got some powerplay time, but, he only had 3 points to show for it.
There are also reports out there that he will return to Finland next season and play for Karpat, I'm not sure what his current status is, but, if he can get more money and start in Finland, rather than earn minimum wage and be a 7th defenceman in the NHL, he'll go back to his country, and that may be good for him too, as he just didn't seem to be in the game last year.

At $2,7 million, he was also the team's highest paid defenceman, and only second behind Patrice Brisebois as the NHL's most expensive depth defencemen.

To directly answer your question, definitely Radek Bonk and if God allows it, Sheldon Souray.
If I was Bob Gainey, I'd let go of both and go after a guy like Danny Briere or now, Alexei Yashin, rather than give them a ridiculous amount of money, only to see them (more specifically, Souray) underachieve.

2) On some of the Avs boards Souray has been called an overhyped product of Eastern/Montreal Media.
The general thought is that he is excellent on the powerplay, but is a defensive liability the rest of the time. His team worst -28 rating (an overated stat to be sure) would tend to point to this.
Is this a fair assessment?

Haha, these guys have obviously never watched Souray play.

Souray, is not a no.1 defenceman, like the Habs treated him last year, he is at best an upper tier no.3-4 defenceman with a no.1 defenceman status on the powerplay.

Souray was not overhyped by the Montreal media, far from that actually, he was actually underhyped most of the time as the Quebecois media thought that guys like Sergei Samsonov, Alex Kovalev, Andrei Markov and especially, quebecers Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre were more important than Souray.

The only time the media overhyped Souray was near the trade deadline and in the final games of the regular season, when they realized that good ol' Bob may not be able to retain him.

His -28 rating is also deceiving,

When the Habs lost Mathieu Dandenault, Francis Bouillon, Craig Rivet and even Andrei Markov to injuries, they had no choice but to rely on Souray to lead the way, and as a result, he was on the ice for most of the goals scored and most of them that were scored against, had he been treated like a n.3 defenceman, his +/- would certainly be a lot better, just because he'd have played less.

So, increased playing time during the Habs second half slump led to his terrifying +/- rating (and those of Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder).
Ryder and Koivu were also first liners for the entire season and received a lot of playing time as well, you have Guy Carbonneau to blame for Souray's -28 rating and playing these guys so much.

3) Souray is getting all the attention, but how good is Niinimaa?
He had a -13 rating last season, but that is a deceiving statistic to be sure.
His 3 points in only 41 games played is worrisome, but is he a good defensive defensiveman that was usually stuck against top opposition and with a crappy partner (like Souray)?
Or was that partially his fault too?

Janne Niinimaa was a terrible defenceman for the Habs last year.
And no, he is no longer a solid defensive defenceman and seems to have lost all of his offensive instinct.

He is nervous with the puck and has trouble getting it out of his own end, he also took stupid holding and hooking penalties on more than one occasion, when he got a chance to play.
Niinimaa played with Sheldon Souray and Francis Bouillon, and that's all you need to know, both are not very good defencemen and Niinimaa's sloppy footwork didn't help his cause either.
He is also no longer the smooth Finnish skater of the pre-lockout era, he looks so uncomfortable skating backwards, it's actually kind of pathetic.

So in a word, no, you don't need Niinimaa and I don't think any other team in their right mind would want Niinimaa at this point.

4) I know you would love to get rid of Samsonov. What happened? Is he that bad an apple, or is it just a clash of styles (him and Guy Carbeneau). His salary is pretty daunting to a guy perceived to be a cancer, but the Avs could afford to take a chance with him. What would Montreal want in return? Would it even be worth the Avs wild? (remember you're not trying to swindle me, I'm not making the decisions so be honest :) )
First off, you ask any other Habs fan, he will tell you straight out the Sergei Samsonov sucks.

At first look, yes, he sucked bad last year, but that wasn't completely his fault.
We thought we knew what Bob Gainey had given us with Samsonov: a goal scorer and the perfect Russian linemate for Alex Kovalev.

That turned out to be the complete opposite, Samsonov did not score goals, far from that, and had one of the longest goal-scoring drought of his career, one that surpassed the likes of 20-games and made Habs fans feel like it would never end.
He was officially scratched for good in mid-February, after a horrible performance against the Atlanta Thrashers, who blew the Habs away bad.

There's no question Gainey is doing everything he can to dump Sammy, and I'm even hearing that Chicago would be intereted.
I don't care who it is, as long as anyone takes him and if we do get anything back from him, I'm happy, otherwise, play him, he's getting paid a lot of money to sit in the press box, and I think he would be just A LITTLE INCY WINCY BIT more valuable on the ice than in his street clothes.

And if the Avs did want to make a pitch for him, then they'd have to give up someone like Ken Klee, or Mark Rycroft in the same deal.
I can see someone giving up a checking line player and an overpaid defenceman for him, there had been rumours that the Hawks would give up Aucoin and Lapointe for him, but that's just going off the chart.
Giguere could take a chance on him, but don't expect production, especially if he's paired with the wrong guys.
A move to a place pressure-free (or, at least with less pressure) than Montreal could soothe Samsonov and bring back his old ways.

UPDATE: Gainey traded Samsonov to the 'Hawks, like I had said, and totally won out on another deal!
Adios Sammy, and it wouldn't surprise me if his production is much better in Michigan than it was up here, especially with a better coach in Denis Savard and a dead fanbase like the 'Hawks's, who demand simply nothing out of their players.

5) What would you like to see Montreal do? They don't seem to have a boatload of Free Agent money if they resign all their FA's, and this was a team that didn't make the playoffs last season. How are they going to accomplish that next season?

I'd like to see the Habs get a quality 1st-2nd line scorer with some size, but that'll be difficult to get, since it seems when it comes to size, the Habs either are hugely under average, or just can't find a way to bring any in.
Regardless of his size, Daniel Briere is the guy the Habs should target, and I'm not saying this like a Habs fan and I like him, I'm saying it since it's the truth.
Gainey said he'd aggressively pursue FA's, and if he can nail Briere, Gomez or even Bill Guerin, I'd be a happy duckling.
And no, if reports out of Montreal here are true (and what Bob Gainey quietly mentioned to the media), then don't expect the Habs to make any fatherly attemps to sign Mike Johnson, Radek Bonk and especially, Janne Niinimaa (gone) and David Aebsicher (gone for 2 months now).
Johnson and Bonk would be nice to retain, as I said above, but, there's only so much money Gainey wants to target to his UFA (Briere), and this may not leave much left for them two.
Barring any change in heart on Gainey's side, these guys, and their total 2007 salary of around $4.4 million combined will be tossed out the window, and that is really too bad.

I just hope the Canadiens don't pull another Samsonov but bring in some real, hard-core talent, something Habs fans have been waiting for a long time, a really long time, and hopefully, something we've waited for even longer, our old buddy Stanley...

Thanks for this, I had fun writing this and I know it's a bit long!


18 June 2007

Flyers sign Hartnell and Timmonen...already?!

The title should really be: "Flyers acquire Hartnell and Timmonen for Flyers"

Our buddy and faithful hockey insider over at TSN, Bob McKenzie, is reporting that the Flyers have signed defenceman Kimmo Timmonen and forward Scott Hartnell to multi-year contracts.
That is, of course, after the Flyers dealt the first round pick Nashville gave to them for Peter Forsberg, in exchange for two unisigned UFA's, Kimmo Timmonen and Scott Hartnell.

Both were expected to be hot commodities on the open market.

The terms of the deals?

Hartnell, who was scheduled to become a free agent on July 1, signed with Flyers on a 6-year, $25.2 million deal for a cap hit of $4.2 million per year.

The Flyers also agreed to terms with Timonen on a 6-year, $37.8 million contract for an annual cap hit of $6.3 million.

Someone bring me some painkillers...did I just read right?
Scott Hartnell and $4.2 million in the same sentence, in this universe?

Oh God, that is huge overpayement for a guy that ammassed 39 points last year, 22 of them being goals. I understand the hype around him, but $4.2 million, at this point in this career is really overdoing it.


The Philadelphia Flyers have dipped into the free agent market a little early, thanks to the Nashville Predators.
Because of Nashville's uncertain ownership future and an expected tight budget in the coming year, sources tell TSN the Predators arranged with the Flyers to give them exclusive negotiating rights to two coveted free agents — defenceman Kimmo Timonen and forward Scott Hartnell.
Sources tell TSN the Flyers have now signed both Hartnell and Timonen to long-term contracts.

Wow, wow, wow, totally unreal.

At first, I thought this wasn't allowed, that you couldn't do this, but then I just realized that you can.

Not trying to say that this is bad, but it goes against everything that free-agency means, and how it works.

I just don't get how the NHL, really, can allow a team to do this, to trade for an impending UFA and sign him, that's just trying to get to the UFA pool early...hmmm, come to think of it, if the Habs can't sign Sheldon Souray, they should trade him to a team that really wants him right away, since this kind of activity is apparently allowed!

Still, legal or not, top talent shouldn't be allowed to be taken away by any other team before July 1st, and as a result, this is going to make more than a few GM's lose their tops.


Julien gets another shot?

Coaching changes and GM changes seem to be in style when it comes to the new NHL.
A report out of the Fourth, quoted by Greg Wyshinski in his column over at AOL Fanhouse, suggests that the Bruins have hired former Devils and Canadiens head coach Claude Julien to replace the failure that was Dave Lewis.

Julien, if you remember correctly, was shockingly fired on the eve of the Devils playoff debut by Lou Lamoriello, who obviously saw something he didn't like.

Julien had a terrific season behind the bench and it's time this guy got settled down somwhere, he's too good of a coach and too classy of a guy to be flimsing in and out of motel rooms accross the country, dragging his poor wife with him in the process.

If the report is true, then Claude Julien will have a challenge and a goal to fulfill in Boston, that is, make the playoffs and turn the franchise's misery around.

It's not that Dave Lewis was a bad coach, it's just that he was a sour-head who obviously doesn't fit in anywhere except the Wings, and it's not as if it's that difficult to coach a talented team like Ken Holland's, is it now?

Oh, the Datsyuks, the Zetterberg, the Haseks, the Lidstroms, the Chelioses, the Schneider, the Fillpullas, the Bertuzzis, the Kronwalls and the Clearys are a terrible bunch with limited or no talent.

You make the call, and I'll make mine: anyone can coach the Detroit Red Wings, they're just that kind of team, just like anyone can manage the New York Yankees.


Vanek Situation Creates Tense Times in Buffalo

Reports are starting to filter out of Canada and Philadelphia that the Flyers intend to make a sizable offer sheet to Buffalo Sabres restricted free agent Thomas Vanek. Vanek, who led the NHL in plus-minus, led the Sabres in goals with 43 and was named a Second Team NHL All-Star. Now in the big scheme of things, a player with those type of credentials deserves that type of money. Unfortunately, this type of contract concern is gigantic when it comes to a 23 year-old forward who is the cornerstone of the Sabres future. Already saddled with the likely enormous demands of free agent co-captains Danny Briere and Chris Drury the conventional wisdom is that Vanel would get mid-range money for 4 years and then score big as an unrestricted free agent in his next contract.

The reality appears to be that instead of having "affordable" young stars for two contracts team will have to pay top dollar almost immediately. This seems counter intuitive to what people expected from the Salary Cap era. It is quite possible that the Salary Cap era could end up being the death of small markets as opposed to their saving grace.

In my estimation, this has changed the entire dynamic of the Sabres off-season. I believe that Vanek has to be priority one. If they lose him it sets the franchise back years. Sure losing Briere, Drury or both would be awful, but losing Vanek would be devastating, he is that good.

I imagine teams all over will be watching this situation very closely and more offer sheets to other young stars could follow.

Ruff and Regier Back For More

Sorry I haven't posted. It has been a crazy ole time here in Buffalo. Anyway. General Manager Darcy Regier agreed to a two-year deal and Head Coach agreed to a three-year deal with an option year to return to the Sabres. Interestingly, both acknowledged they took under market-value deals to return. On face value this would seem to indicate a significant comfort level with the current Sabres organization. Hopefully this will translate into a willingness by owner Tom Golisano to pay top dollar to keep the franchise competitive.

The Senators Will Rue This Day

I guess every franchise goes through this. The resident genius leads the team to the promised land and then his eccentricities lead him out the door. It has happened all over the place. Here in Buffalo it is an all too familiar story... Bill Polian anyone? You're welcome Indianapolis Colts!

The Senator's decision to move on without John Muckler didn't surprise me. He has had a history of being cantankerous and difficult to work with from a management perspective. He also had been whispering retirement out of one side of his mouth while espousing plans for the future on the other side. Remember, this is the man who hired Ted Nolan, a man who resurrected a flagging Muckler built team in Buffalo, only to turn and try to slit Nolan's throat when Nolan asked for more juice.

I suspect much was the same in Ottawa. It seems that Muckler had his hands tied by Eugene Melnyk when it came to bringing Dominik Hasek back for another run. In my opinion Muckler was forced to go with Emery and Gerber and then had his hand forced by Emery with his superb play. Never one to forget a slight I can surmise that Muckler used his current possible retirement scenario to try and gain some leverage on Melnyk. Instead, Ottawa decided to move him out rather than have a Buffalo like controversy on their hands. In short, Muckler picked a fight with a billionaire owner and got swatted down for his trouble. Bryan Murray is the big winner as he comes out golden for simply having his talented group of players finally play to expectations.

Sadly, as in most cases. A man like Muckler isn't easily replaced. He has made all of the right moves since coming to Ottawa and the team's success is directly attributable to Muckler's leadership. Not that I blame Melnyk, he is a shrewd businessman and Ottawa's true rise also coincided with his appearance on the scene. This team of strong egos led to a dynamic and successful organization. Unfortunately, I doubt that the Senator's will maintain under Murray's watch half as well as they did under Muckler's. It should be interesting to see in 5 years if this is the day that Sens fans point to as the day it started all coming apart.

© 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

All Rights Reserved. The content of this blog is the sole opinion of these bloggers and does not represent an opinion of any kind of a professional NHL hockey team mentioned.