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

31 July 2007

Sens Lock Up Kelly

With one day to go until arbitration, the sens locked up Chris Kelly for one more year, 1.2 mil. Most people will look at his numbers and think- this guy isn't worth 1.2mil? Well, I agree his stats aren't that great, but the way to find his true value in the contract is watching him on the ice, and how hard he works.

I have always thought Kelly is one of the hardest workers on the team, and he is also so versatile. He is a full-timer on the PK, and when injuries occur, he can fill a spot on the scoring line and rack up the points. He is key to our organization since Schaefer is gone, and Donovan is unproven to us sens fans.

Even with the 1.2 contract handed out to Kelly, the sens still have cash to spend on that one final forward spot, then the forward depth chart would look like this-

(UFA)-Henessey- Donovan

Murray has 2-3 mill to spend on this UFA, so I hope whoever this person is makes an impact on something that we were missing in the cup final. That something is unknown to me- it could be grit, leadership, speed... ?

If unrestricted free agency is not an option, then Murray will have to look eagerly at the waiver wire during the pre-season. Who knows, there maybe a young forward who stands out in training camp and is good enough to make the team ( Foligno, Bois? )

Rangers' Avery Strategy Shortsighted

I applaud the moves made so far this off-season by Rangers GM Glen Sather. The moves for Drury and Gomez certainly were expensive long-term commitments. But, they were the right moves for a team looking to both make a cup run before Jaromir Jagr retires and establish a foundation for the post-Jagr years. The salary cap forced them to trim some of their depth at center by trading Matt Cullen back to Carolina. But, the impetus for that move was a mistake Sather made last off-season when he paid a third-line center in Cullen a second-line center's salary. A mistake you could live with in the days before the cap, but not now.

It could be argued (as I did) that the Rangers gave Lundqvist too much in the one-year deal, when they could have given him less now and more in the long-term contract they are expected to complete in January, but he's the Franchise goaltender, and they got him locked up for this season, so it's hard to complain.

Up to this point, I'd argue that Sather has had a strong off-season. But, now comes word from Larry Brooks, in the New York Post, that he is playing an extreme version of hardball in the club's arbitration proceedings with forward Sean Avery.

According to Brooks:

The Post has learned that in addition to referring to Avery as, "a reasonably effective player as well as a detriment to the team," in the team brief that was presented to the arbitrator, Ranger management also said:

"Avery is not a mature player. He plays, at times, like an individual rather than a member of a team. This is sometimes referred to as an inability to see the ice, and in Avery's case this seems to fit with his overall approach to the game."

Understand. These are the words chosen to represent Rangers management's view of Avery's worth.

Apparently forgotten were all the testimonials delivered to Avery from the Rangers' hierarchy last spring when the winger was repeatedly lauded for the intangibles he brought to the team both on and off the ice upon his Feb. 5 acquisition from the Kings.

Apparently forgotten as well were similar testimonials delivered by teammates including Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Henrik Lundqvist.

"I have no idea what to say," Avery, who went into the hearing seeking $2.6M, wrote in an e-mail to The Post following the hearing in Toronto. "I don't know what this was about.

"I'm shocked."

It's shocking that GM Glen Sather, who attended yesterday's hearing with VP Cam Hope, would have directed this type of strategy. One can only wonder what coach Tom Renney, who will be left to reassemble the pieces once camp begins, makes of all this.

If the assault works, if the Rangers were convincing enough in tearing down their player, maybe they'll wind up paying Avery - eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer - $1.8M rather than $2.1M when the decision is released tomorrow or Thursday.

But at what price, and at what ultimate cost?

Brooks is right. I'm sure Avery is not going to get a lot of sympathy from players and fans around the league. But, he will get support from two of Sather's critical constituencies: Ranger players and Ranger fans.

They are the ones who know how much different the team played after e was acquired in a trade from the Kings on February 5. And, they understand that his presence in the lineup will be key to the team's success this season.

This has been one of Sather's fatal shortcomings in his tenure on Broadway. He throws around money on free agents, but consistently nickel and dimes his own players. For example, the Rangers had an $80 million payroll the final season before the lockout, yet they refused to make bonus payments to three of their players during the lockout. They were the only team in the league to take that stand. The payments totaled less than a million dollars. That's being penny-wise and dollar foolish. They are making the same mistake with Avery. They just threw around $85 million on Drury and Gomez, but they are attacking one of the key players from last season, in order to save $500,000.

The Rangers had a close room last year, but how does Slats expect team chemistry to develop this season when management is throwing bags of cash at a few players and badmouthing other players to save a few bucks?

This is the kind of gaffe that can erase all the good Sather has done to this point. I just hope Tom Renney will be able to repair whatever damage Sather has done.

Around the NHL...31/07

In NY Glen Sather has played the Sean Avery arbitration case to I am sure you have heard by now Glen Sather presented the argument that in addition to being a solid player for the Rangers, Avery can also be a "detriment to the team", as well as being "Immature" at throwing him under the bus he has put Avery in a lose lose situation for himself and a win win situation for team....Avery's past is all to blame for Sather going this route......if Avery goes on tilt during this season and starts causing problems Sather has the, "I told you so" line ready to go......If Avery tries to prove Sather wrong and plays hard, Sather gets a guy who goes out on to the ice and tries his best to produce the same way he did when he got here last year, hence Sather gets bang for his buck, who cares if Avery hits UFA market after that.......

In Florida Stephen Weiss and the Panthers are far apart on a contract is believed that Weiss is seeking 3.25 mill per year, coming off a career high 48 pt season...... In each of his last 4 seasons Weiss has avg'd 60 games played per........24 years old, history of injuries and one 20 goal season asking 3.25 mill per? Sorry Stephen......

As for the Dustin Penner situation, Burke needs to make a decision today on whether or not he matches Lowe's offer sheet to Penner.......I believe he matches the deal because I think he knows Niedermayer is not coming back to Anaheim this year which will free up 7 mill to sign Penner. Anaheim is currently at 48 million dollars cap wise, if Niedermayer retires that will bring the cap number back down to 41 million, leaving almost 10 million to match Penner's offer, and still sign 3 players to fill out roster.......if he matches offer and Niedermayer DOES come back then that will put Anaheim at appx 52 million leaving Burke with some work to do to get them back under for Burke calling Lowe, "Gutless", I have to disagree. Lowe is doing nothing illegal what's so ever and Burke claims that Lowe should have at least called him to give him a heads up, why? This is a business, and that's how things go. Get over it. You are Stanley Cup Champs which puts a bullseye on your back in more ways then one.

Michael Ryder who got a one year deal from Bob Gainey worth 2.95, in alot of people's eyes means he is a goner after this season. No problem. I believe Guy Latandresse can easily do Ryders job , if not better after this season. And with the very good talent coming up from Hamilton over the next year or two to plug some holes, Ryders one dimensional aspect of the game will not be missed......I agree with many when they call Ryder breakaway speed, can not play defense as a forward what's so ever......believe me , he won't be as missed as you think he will be.......

30 July 2007

Patrick Marleau

This would be a great deal for the Habs ONLY if certain things were to accompany such a trade.

First, you would have to sign Marleau to an extension immediately, as we have seen with players like Smyth and Briere, the closer they get to the end of the season the more tempting it is for them to test the UFA market; Marleau is still only 27 years old and proven, give him the 7 mill per year he is gonna want now and lock him up.

Trading away a 22 year old goalie like Halak to some is not a big deal, but he did play very well last season winning 10 of his 16 starts and posting a 2.89 g.a.a.

Why is that important?

Because Gainey has said Carey Price will not play this season for the Canadiens unless he is the starting goalie. So my question is, if Huet starts to crumble, which he did show signs of doing last season repeatedly before he got hurt, who comes in and plays for him?
Without Halak's performances last season the last game vs Toronto would have meant nothing anyway because the Habs would have been eliminated way before then.

Another problem facing the Habs if they do make that trade, is what do the lines become?
Are guys gonna gel as well once they are moved around? The Koivu Higgins Ryder line was the best line for the last 2 seasons by far when healthy.
Marleau is a center, as is Koivu, Plekanec, Smolinski, Chipchura. So somebody has to move to the wing, my guess is Plekanec. The best lines I could think of would be:


The fourth line could rotate with Murray and Kostopoulos...a lot of possibilities for Carbonneau..

Marleau would also be a great addition so in two years from now as we start to phase out Koivu and Kovalev.
Along with guys like Higgins, Latendresse, Chipchura, Lapierre and Plekanec, Marleau would be great to build around.

If Gainey could get this deal done and net a decent backup goalie for this season I am all for it but I think it might be a little late to do get that goalie now.
I would assume since Danis has no starting position with the Bulldogs he would have to be that guy.

I would also be curious to see if Ryder could score 30 again in SJ where he won't be saying Raycroft 8x per year.

My take on the Marleau talk

By now you must have seen it. It crept its way into the hockey world early this morning. A glimmer of hope for Habs fans. An unconfirmed report that San Jose would be willing to part with Patrick Marleau for Michael Ryder, Mark Streit and Jaroslav Halak…A deal almost too good to be true, one that would finally propel Montreal into a sure-fire playoff spot.

Is it real? Was it truly reported on RDI this morning? Does it matter? In a matter of hours the rumour spread like wildfire through every major hockey message board on the Internet. Already, potential lineups with Marleau penciled in at the number 1 spot were springing up everywhere. Ironically, it was very much like every other Monday morning so far this summer, but that doesn’t stop Canadiens fans.

The deal itself? Well, it really is too good to be true. I mean, no way could San Jose be willing to deal Marleau for a bunch of lower-tiered players, right? Right?

Or maybe…maybe they could…no, they can’t, but…

Could it possibly work?

Let’s look at the facts. Marleau is a UFA-to-be. As are Ryder and Streit, although realistically, the former will be much easier to re-sign due to less demand on the market. Halak is a promising young goalie who, on the low end is nothing but a prospect, and on the high end, can fill in the backup spot and potentially be a starter one day.

Value wise, this deal isn’t great. Marleau is a very, very good player and he would fit nicely on virtually any team the league. San Jose could easily fetch a better return than the above mentioned if the other team can sign Marleau to an extension.

And that, my friends, is the key. The extension…Marleau, set to be one of the top UFAs on the market come summer 2008, is looking at a big payday. Already superior to Briere, Gomez and Drury, he’s got to be licking his chops at the money he could potentially be making. That being said, I do wonder what San Jose is thinking about all this. Their best player, Joe Thornton, just signed a very reasonable extension far below his market value. Are they really willing to pony up for Marleau and pay him more than their 1st line guy? Something tells me this is why we haven’t seen any news about a Marleau extension coming out of San Jose. You’d think they’d be hard-pressed to get their captain under contract as soon as possible right? So why hasn’t he been signed?

Could Marleau possibly be looking to score more than The Sharks are willing to give? I mean, he deserves it. Let’s not kid ourselves…Joe Thornton was extremely generous to take a “mere” $7-something million. That was an act of goodwill, and we should not expect every player to follow suit.

If this is indeed the case, then San Jose will trade Patrick Marleau before the start of the season. This is this blogger’s unprofessional opinion. If he is not signed to an extension before training camp, expect to see him shipped out.

Not doing so would be a huge risk to take by San Jose, as Marleau could walk at the end of the season and be lost for nothing. Waiting until the trade deadline is a bad idea, as his value will be much lower by then. San Jose will likely be in the playoffs, and will want something more than just picks and prospects, which is all that teams looking for Marleau as a rental will be willing to give up. His value is at its highest right now, during the offseason.

So now we go back to the original issue…Why would San Jose accept so little value now when they could, theoretically, get so much more?

Simply put, Marleau will only fetch something good if he agrees to sign an extension before hand. This, in effect, gives Marleau a sort of no trade clause, in the sense that he will only be traded to teams that A) he wants to go to, and B) have the means and desire to pay him what he’s looking for. Otherwise, he would simply refuse to sign an extension and the trade talks end there.

Now let’s say, hypothetically, that Montreal is willing to give Marleau the best deal in terms of a contract extension. Something that puts him out of the price of the other teams interested in acquiring him. He will only agree to sign this new lucrative extension, assuming he wants the best deal he can get of course. That, in effect, puts the ball in Montreal’s court. San Jose now has the choice of taking the deal on the table, or rolling the dice with Marleau and hoping they can somehow get a better deal (unlikely) or retain his services next summer (somewhat less unlikely, although far from probable).

San Jose is in a tight spot. By no means do I claim everything I said to be the current situation, but it is an entirely realistic scenario that would explain why Marleau’s value isn’t as great as some people think it is.

What I do know is, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or at least someone is cooking something.

29 July 2007

Habs ink Ryder...

Various sources report the Montreal Canadiens have re-signed restricted free-agent forward Michael Ryder to a 1-year contract, effectively avoiding arbitration with the young scorer.

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Educated guess: $3.5-$4 million sounds about right, our buddy Eklund has gone way off the dartboard this time, reporting it's $5 million.

The 27 year old scored 30 goals for the second season in a row and added 55 points in the process.

Ryder is known for his scoring touch and devastating shot, but he is considered a defensive liability and has trouble creating his own scoring chances.

More details to follow.


28 July 2007

Soo...Roy got his 4m a year, now what?

Well, at least I am right once in awhile. The Sabres and Derek Roy agreed to a contract nearly identical to the one the Panthers gave Nathan Horton. It averages out to 4m per year for 6 years. Nor really a surprise especially since the Dustin Penner fiasco in Edmonton.

So this leaves us with the Sabres and whats next. The only unsigned player of note is Nathan Paetsch who is pending arbitration. It would seem Paetsch is ready for prime time. So that leaves the Sabres with two obvious marketable commodities on defense in Jaro Spacek and Dmitri Kalinin. The Sabres seem to have a large hole at center after Connolly, Roy and Gaustad. Do they swing a deal, do they give Clarke Macarthur and Marek Zagrapan first shot? Could they take a preemptive strike and move a guy like Brian Campbell for a big name center?

My guess is the Sabres use the depth in their system to pick up a veteran centerman who can fill that third line role for the team. I am thinking someone along the lines of a Steve Reinprecht of Phoenix or Jeff Halpern of Dallas. Both games translate well to Buffalo and Lindy Ruff's various styles and both are defensively reliable.

Lets see, maybe a blind squirrel can find an acorn again ;)

Panthers new apparel unveiled...

New Florida Panthers jerseys were released earlier today, and many fans aren't too pleased with this change of look.

I'm not too amazed or blown away by these last two additions.
The Rangers jersey (posted yesterday) was a lot worse than their current one with the slanted lettering and this Panthers jersey looks OK but too Wal-Marty for my tastes.


Is Brisebois on his way back?

According to RDS, Bob Gainey has sent an offer to Brisebois. A one year deal for 700 000. Brisebois is said to be considering this option.

After having calculated the payroll for the Canadiens, we can agree that they surely have the cap space to acquire Brisebois, but is this a good idea? He was literally booed out of the Bell centre, and let's face it, he didn't have a great year last year in Colorado. Maybe a return with the Habs at an affordable salary will calm the fans down somewhat. This rumour will either die down rather quickly, or a deal will be announced within a couple days. Keep in tune for more developments!

27 July 2007

Rangers new jersey leaked?

Ok, I've had a habit of striking out in the past...twice to be exact, receiving fake Canadiens and Sharks jerseys by email and posting them on here, only to get incredible threatening hatred comments.
If this is not the real thing (though I'm betting it is this time) ignore it, you don't need to make it your life's priority to go around hating everyone who presents you with a fake jersey unknowingly on a blog which he does for fun in his spare time.

Here is the most recent gamble of mine: the New York Rangers new insignia and uniform style for next season (Special thanks to reader Matthew)

Away jersey:
(For a higher quality and better resolution version, click here)

Home jersey:
(For a higher quality and better resolution version, click here)

I really believe this is the real thing, and here are some points that lean into my favour:
1) It is a photograph, not an image or concept.
2) It was said the Original Six teams would be allowed to keep their horizontal stripes if they wanted to...observe the Blue, White and Red stripes.
3) Jersey authenticity can also be seen through the shape of the jersey, the NHL crest on the front, and the Canadian flag tag in the collar, meaning that the jersey was made in Canada (as always).
4)And for those of you who still doubt, there are no crappy cover-up Photshop attempts anywhere on these photos.

I think made my point...but one thing I cannot verify, is whether or not this jersey is one of many prototypes, a widely suggested theory for the New York Islanders new jersey photo found in the uniforms post as few stories below.

I also find it interesting how the RANGERS is aligned, diagonally...hmmm could be interesting; I wonder how many perfectionist fans will take to that.

Go ahead, and prove me wrong!


26 July 2007

EDM Offer Sheet To Penner

looks like KLowe is at it again...

per tsn-

The Edmonton Oilers are back at it again, tendering a five year, $21.5 million offer sheet to Anaheim Ducks Group II restricted free agent Dustin Penner.

Kevin Lowe is definitely trying to make a point that he is still a shrewd competitor with other GMs. He has been heard, and now everyone in the hockey world knows that their RFAs are currently not safe. Lowe is proving that he is still an excellent GM and nothing is going to stop him from giving an offer sheet to talented high-priced RFAs. Even though things went wrong in the EDM organization this year, he is still giving a huge effort into his team.

Props to Kevin Lowe.

BBeR hearts YouTube! I am Canadian!

Absolutely nothing to do with hockey, but it's a must-see for Canadians and even more Americans, hehe.

Watch this one first, then the one below!

Haha, and for you Quebec viewers.

Proud to be Canadian!
That's right bitches! Wooohoo! *National anthem plays in background*



25 July 2007

Murray Proves his Worth

Everyone knows Bryan Murray is an excellent GM as he has built many stanley cup contenders in the past, but when his time came with Ottawa at the beginning of the offseason, nothing really happened. Sens fans were waiting for a huge acquisition that could take us to the next step. They wanted something, anything, that could make the Senators look different next year.

The first two weeks of the offseason came and went with no transactions, and sens fans were left waiting. They felt annoyed, bored, surprised, but they still had a sense of anticipation that things would shape out. In the past week, things definitely have, as Murray shipped out the biggest under-performer in Schaefer, for a much grittier veteran who comes cheap in Shean Donovan. This move was great also financially, because then Murray had enough $$ to keep Emery and Schubert away from arbitration.

The contracts he gave out, I thought , were great and fit the players talent level. Hopefully Bryan will now be able to sign Kelly for a cheaper price than an arbitrator would award him. After all this, the sens have a great overall roster with no holes and suits them financially. Thank you Mr. Murray.

24 July 2007

Oh, Thank Goodness

It was an eleventh-hour deal but it still got done and that's what matters. The Ottawa Senators have managed to avoid arbitration with their number 1 goaltender Ray Emery just hours before his hearing was set to begin:

'It was a difficult negotiation,'' Emery's agent J.P. Barry told The Canadian Press. ''Bryan and I started pretty far apart but we worked hard to close the gap and were able to do so this morning after Bryan was able to speak with Mr. Melnyk.''

The 24-year-old Emery was a restricted free agent. He will earn $2.75 million next season, $3.25 million in 2008-09 and $3.5 million in 2009-10, for an average of $3.16 million a season, a big raise over the $925,000 he made last season.

He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.

Emery emerged as Ottawa's starting goalie last season and led the team to a Stanley Cup final appearance. He went 33-16-6 in the regular season with a 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He was 13-7 with a 2.26 GAA and .907 save percentage. Emery has started all 30 of Ottawa's playoff games post-lockout.

The $3.16-million average for Emery eclipses the $2.66-million average salaries from Buffalo's Ryan Miller (signed last summer) and Carolina's Cam Ward and is less than the $4.25-million, one-year deal signed by New York Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist.

Reports are that Emery turned down a contract that averaged $4 million per season so maybe the contentious issue was that of length and bonuses.

Update: The spreadsheet has been updated with Christoph Schubert's salary number, which averages out to be $833,333 per year (3-year deal worth $2.65 million in total). The red figure for Chris Kelly of $1,046,000 is a hypothetical amount. I don't expect him to come in for over $2 million, and $1.046 million was the number Muckler had previously offered Saprykin.

According to the math, it puts the Senators at just over $44 million. Kelly and Schubert shouldn't cost more than $2 million - $2.5 million which means the Senators could be looking at adding one or two more players. The Senators ought to look at adding at least another two forwards to the mix, assuming that re-signing Lawrence Nycholat was meant to replace Tom Preissing, the Senators should be set on the blue-line although understandably, another bigger, more physical d-man would also help. If the Senators can get another forward signed, Schubert could drop back to D.

However, it is clear that Murray's job isn't finished yet as there are still at least two holes to fill in the forward position. Depending on how he does at camp, Hennessey could be looking at staying on with the big club permanently and it is expected that Nick Foligno should challenge for a spot next year, but there's also no guarnatee on how much playing time Brian McGrattan will see.

UPDATE: That's another one crossed off the list as TSN is reporting that the Senators have re-signed RFA Christoph Schubert to a new 3-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed but I would probably peg it definitely at either $1 million or under. Perhaps somewhere in the $800,000 - $975,000 mark.

Parts cross-posted to Scarlett Ice

Emery, Avery, Cammalleri, Roy, Ryder, Hunter, Stempniak

Arbitration is a time of year where fans hold their breath that one of their favourite, usually good, players doesn't demand too much and sign for more than he's worth.
If you want a relevant example of how arbitration affects the new NHL and its salary cap, see JP Dumont with the Buffalo Sabres at this exact same time last year.

The French-Canadian was awarded a one-year contract worth an estimated $2.9 million by a salary arbitrator after coming off a decent season while scoring 20 goals and adding the same number for assists in 54 games.

The number was grand, grand in many ways since a checking-line player is hardly worth anything over $2 million these days, so, the Sabres exercised their right to reject a contract and let Dumont walk to free-agency.
Dumont eventually signed for about 700K less with the Nashville Predators and scored 66 points with the last season, a career high.

That's only one and perhaps the best example of salaries awarded that affect a team's ability to keep him under the salary cap.

EMERY UPDATE: TSN reports that the Senators and Ray Emery have avoided salary arbitration with them agreeing to a 3-year contract worth $9.5 million (or almost $3.2 million per season)
(Hat tip to Sherry over at Scarlett Ice)
Now the question remains, what will they do with Martin Gerber?

This year promises to have some pretty big surprises on both sides, starting with the Senators' Ray Emery, coming off a career year all while carrying Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in the modern era.

Emery had 33 wins, a 2.47 GAA and a .918 SPCT after overtaking Martin Gerber as the team's number one heading into December.
He made $925,000 last season and is looking for a hefty raise, that will likely come easily.
Reports out of Ottawa suggest that the only way Murray will be able to effectively sign Emery and have room to re-sign Jason Spezza (RFA), Dany Heatley (UFA), Antoine Vermette (RFA), Patrick Eaves (RFA) and Wade Redden (UFA) next summer is if he moves backup goalie Martin Gerber and his $3.7 million salary, which will be a difficult task.

All in all, Emery should get between $2.5 and $4 million next season, as arbitrators have proven they're still in love with the old NHL way of doing these things.

His agent, J.P. Barry is rumoured to be negotiating a multi year contract for Emery, and should Murray not be able to dump Gerber, he could have no choice and let Emery walk to free-agency, deeming his potential hefty salary too high for a goalie of his current status.
The trading of Peter Schaefer last week to the Bruins cleared up significant cap space over the next few seasons for Ottawa, in order to attempt to keep Emery and the crop of 2008 free-agents mentioned above.

Gerber finished the season off well for Ottawa and put up the exact same GAA and SPCT% he had with Carolina 2 seasons ago, all while maintaining a total of 15 wins.
The Swiss-born keeper is capable of a lot more than a backup role, and many fans feel that way; as we saw last season, if Gerber is not confident, he is weak...VERY Sens fans better be hoping that if Emery is indeed let go (and come on, it's not the end of the world) that Gerber finds his confidence and uses it like he did with Canes 2 seasons ago, and like he did when he shut out Team Canada with an amazing 47-save performance at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.

Among others, Buffalo's Derek Roy could command a Nathan Horton type salary, according to the Ghost, who has a great post handling the fact that Roy could indeed be an equal to the Panther forward.
Roy, an impressive +37 last season, is the team's projected no.1 centre next season, with Bufalo GM Darcy Regier losing both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere to the Rangers and Flyers respectively via free-agency.
The Sabres are expected to push hard to sign Roy and don't expect another JP Dumont-type situation to unfold this time around, as whatever the arbitrator awards Roy, Regier will pay with open arms.
He had a career-year as the team's 3rd line centre, scoring 21 goals and adding 42 assists for a total of 63 points in 75 contests.

On the other side of town, Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa's cases are still unresolved, with both wanting and deserving raises from the salaries they had last season.
Avery, being the most deserving, made $1.1 million last season and could command a salary upwards of $2.5 million in arbitration, while Marcel Hossa is second-rate and definitely not a priority in this case.

The Rangers may indeed sacrifice Hossa, should his contract be too expensive for their taste, and focus on signing the hard-hitting and well-hated Avery instead.
Avery, who came over in a deal from the Los Angeles Kings at mid-season, scored 18 goals and added 30 assists with LA and New York, 20 of those points coming in 29 contests after his trade to the Rangers, making his value as a checking-line player skyrocket.

Speaking of LA, the Kings will have a difficult case in Mike Cammalleri.
Coming off a career year, the 25-year old tallied 34 goals and added 46 assists to lead the Kings, his salary projects to be upwards of $4 million, and his best-case scenario would likely be a salary of $5 million, though, at this point of his career, the Kings better hope it's a multi-year deal for that kind of money.

The Islanders have scoring centre Trent Hunter heading into arbitration, and the veteran shouldn't be too expensive.
Coming off a 20-goal and 35 point campaign, Hunter is likely to get a deal within the likes of $1 and $1.8 million.

Michael Ryder, a potential 40, maybe even 50 goal scorer for the Canadiens, is scheduled for arbitration on July 30, same as Sean Avery.
Ryder had an up-and-down season in Montreal, potting 30 goals and adding 28 helpers for a respectable 58 points.
The downside? A horrendous -25 rating and a decrease in consistency could hurt Ryder's value when it comes time to talk turkey.
Still relatively young at age 27, Ryder still has the time to fully break out into the 40-goal scorer he was projected to become, although he may prove to be pricey when this is all said and done.
Ryder made $2.2 million last season and is expected to once again, get a raise from that.
Often criticized of being a one-dimensional player, Ryder actually evolved into a penalty-killing role last season despite putting up a +/- rating of -25.
He is a key component of Montreal's already borderline offence, a salary of $3 million sounds reasonable.

I have long suggested the Canadiens should do a kind of sign-and-trade of Ryder in order to acquire that star player the Canadiens have longed for, someone like Patrick Marleau.
Besides Ryder, there isn't anyone the Habs could realistically trade that has good value without jeopardizing the club's future (Carey Price, Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse).

Lee Stempniak, the 24-year old scoring sensation out of Darthmouth University in New Hampshire, is the kind of player the Blues need to lock up for a long time.
Stempniak scored 27 goals and 52 points in only his second pro NHL season!
He will likely get a deal done that will pay him between $2 and $3.5 million

And that's all folks, hope you enjoyed BBeR's preview of this year's arbitration saga, which is shaping up to be an intriguing one in many ways!
This took me a long time to write, with only statistics and salary numbers being available to me, I have yet to find a decent list/preview of all this out there, so I decided to write one up myself!

-In goalite news, the Blues have acquired goalie Hannu Toivonen from the Boston Bruins in exchange for centre Carl Soderberg.
Toivonen had a terrible 2005-2006 campaign after a spectacular rookie season, a trade was expected with the B's acquisition of Manny Fernandez from the Wild.

-Some more goalie talk, Brian Boucher is heading back to where he started, signing a one-year minor-league deal with the Flyers' farm club, the Philadelphia Phantoms.



22 July 2007


So far I've seemed to have a strange case of lurk-a-sitis on this blog, you know the one; You sign up for a blog you love and then nothing comes up that is particularly interesting to write about. You're then left sitting around hoping that the owner of said blog doesn't think you've just decided to blow the blog off after he painstakingly entered your spiffy Bio on the sidebar. Man, life is rough for those of us suffering from lurk-a-sitis.

I don't have a whole lot to say about my team at the moment because we've been being relatively invisible this off-season. We've signed a couple guys for the AHL and a couple that are (hopefully) pieces to our rebuild puzzle. Most important was the goalie situation. We've gotten word that Cujo won't be back with us (at the least) next season so we only had Telly to rely on and we (as fans) know how much trouble that can get us into. According to some fans we were in desperate need of a goalie; I, however, was choosing to plant my faith in the Telly/Lenny duo. My logic being that we're not going to be contenders for a few years anyway, why not give the young guns a chance to get in there and show what they're made of?

Of course, we all know that whenever you start to think you know what your team should do they turn and do the exact opposite. Maybe that's just my team...

So we went out and we signed David Aebischer to a one year $600,000 contract. I've heard a lot of conflicting opinions on this signing. No one really seems to think that this is a fabulous signing for my 'Yotes but the general consensus is that if Abby can keep it together then it'll at least be a steal for the Coyotes because of his low price.

I haven't quite made up my mind yet. On one hand he did come really cheap and he'll (hopefully) get Telly and Lenny in the mindset that they need to fight and keep fighting for their position next year; They'll know they won't be able to just coast through because we have no one else to turn to, we'll have others who can take their place. On the other hand, when I think 'No. 1 Goalie', Abby doesn't even come close to the top of my list and it's no secret that I was really hoping to hold out for Vesa (before he was traded). It's another case of me thinking I know what we'll do and then getting slapped in the face with reality.

All I can really say at the moment is that the Coyotes are taking baby steps toward what we hope is a Stanley Cup winning future. Don't laugh! It could happen...

21 July 2007

Why the Avs?

It's the slow news time of the NHL season, and since I just recently joined the BBeR family, I figured I'd post a little (Ok, more than a little) something about myself and my trek to becoming a hockey, NHL, and especially, Colorado Avalanche fan.

So how did it happen?

I don't know really. I wasn't exposed to hockey all that much during my formative years, but I definately remember one of the first hockey cards I ever saw being Joe Sakic in the blue Nords jersey. I remember wondering what those weird symbols were, you know the ones that looked like the ones on the Saints helmets. So I looked them up (in an antiquated tome of knowledge known as 'Encyclopedia Britanica) and learned a little about french-speaking parts of Canada, a little about hockey, and a little about the NHL.

Years passed, and growing up in Wyoming, the only pro team that was considered local was the Denver Broncos. They had a stud quarterback in Elway, were always decent, but always losing in the end. Still, there were some great seasons in there. I naively pledged to support all Colorado teams at this point in my life. In the interum, I still followed hockey, and the NHL and kinda kept my eyes on every team, but I still remember liking the uniqueness of the Nordiques. The name was different than anything else in pro sports. My first name is French, so that probably didn't hurt. I had unwittingly started down a long, winding road to an obsession that continues today.

Not long after my family relocated to south Mississippi, pro sports became really big in Denver. The Rockies and Avs were instant hits, and I dilagently followed their first few seasons. It was (and still is) easier to follow the Avs rather than the Rockies, due to them winning a lot out of the gate, plus that fact that I had a least a passing familiarity with the team and its players.
Anyway, by the time I was in high school, having never played the game, and only seen it on TV, I started trying to convince my younger brothers and friends what a great game it was. Roller-blading lead to pick-up up games of inline hockey in my drive-way.

Jump to college, and I'm able to follow the game more due to the freedoms that come with college life. I take a vested interest in the newest Avalanche players, notably Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk. Drury stood out to me with his lifelong tendancy to be a winner. My vested interest soon turned into full-blown fandom when the Avs continued to carve a swath through the NHL every year, coming close, but just a little short of the promised land. Then the Bourque trade and the pieces started to come together. So close.

The next year saw Blake join the team at the deadline and push the Avs into another gear. Victory! I even remember my mom calling me up during the SC Finals and asking me what Roy was doing skating out of the crease, turning over the puck, and putting the Avs in a hole. I didn't even know she knew what hockey was. I asked why she was watching, and she said because she knew it was important to me, since it's all I talked about the last month! She then stated that every time she tuned into the game, something bad happened. I remember screaming in a somewhat high-pitched voice "THEN STOP WATCHING!" Even when she was visiting my younger brothers and I during the weekend of Game 7, she sat on a couch in the back of the room so she couldn't see the game, and consequently jinx the outcome. Well, it worked. Yes, Avsnation, you have me to thank for that Cup in 2001. Me and my mom.

A couple of years later, I teamed up with some 'Yankees' and 'Canucks' that were going to the same college and we started an inline hockey league in 2003 that is still going today. I picked goalie because the league was in desperate need of netminders. Obsession number two kicked in to full gear. After getting married (and subsequently brainwashing my wife into being a hockey fan, but not an Avs fan), graduating with my Masters (finally), and relocating to Oklahoma, I finally got the chance to play ice hockey. It was a long strange trip, but I loved every second of it, even the Theo Fleury experiment. I started following Avstalk shortly after the lockout, then Jibbles, then DLS, and finally Draft Dodger. I figured if I was going to post a comment on each blog every day, I should just start writing one myself. That's how I hooked up with BBeR as the Avs "correspondent". Recently, a couple of those guys have teamed up with Mile High Hockey. I hope other Avs fans will give it a look. Heck, any hockey fans should drop by, even Red Wings fans!

So far, I've had a blast writing my few additions to the site, and I'm looking forward to the season. I hope to contribute regularly, and I'll do my best to bring more great quality to this little corner of the hockey world.

20 July 2007

Peca Wants Buffalo But......

According to the Buffalo News article today Buffalo doesn't want him. Don Meehan says he called Darcy to indicate Peca's desire to play in Buffalo. He said Regier indicated to him that they weren't interested and were going to keep the team building in-house. Oddly, Regier denies speaking to Meehan about Peca (here we go again?).

On the surface it seems like a good move for the Sabres. Peca would definitely help fill the hole left by Chris Drury. This could simply be a situation were Regier feels that Peca is done and just isn't good enough. If that is the case, so be it. If he still can play I think it would be a great move to help heal some of the wounds incurred in recent weeks by the Sabres' (mis?)-management.

Interestingly, yesterday in a post on the Billszone Sabres' message board poster Coach Sal (via poster Dr. Lecter). Coach Sal states that Regier is still upset with Peca and wouldn't sign him unless there was an apology for statements and treat of Regier by Peca during the dispute many years ago. Apparently money isn't a problem. Furthermore, he reports a sit-down with Sabres management over coffee. Whether or not Peca apologized is not clear.

So that raises the question. Is this a case where Peca isn't good enough or one where Regier is holding grudge? I hope it isn't the latter. Personal feelings need to exorcised from Sabres' negotiations and the right thing needs to be done. Hopefully any decision to sign or not sign Peca is a true hockey decision. The Sabres and their fans deserve that.

19 July 2007

Say that again...Coyotes sign...David Aebischer?!

Usually I will think of a logical solution for every team's UFA signing, but sorry folks, certainly not this time around!

The Coyotes today picked up former Canadiens goaltender David Aebischer off the free-agent front, signing the "crappy" Swiss goalie to a 1-year contract worth a thrifty $600,000

You read the vulgarity right, and Habs fans know that all too well.

I don't understand why a goalie like David Aebsicher would be of logical interest to any general manager in the game at this point in his career.

Surely the 'Yotes could've done better than a 3.57 GAA and a .885 SPCT after the all-star break.
This is the same goaltender who was expected to be a decent 1B goalie and step up when needed.

Well, he was needed, in late February, Montreal starter Cristobal Huet suffered a pulled hamstring and would be out an entire two months, thus making Aebischer the undisputed no.1 goalie during his absence.
So how did this all turn out for our good friend?

Well, he didn't step up like the team needed him to you guessed it, he sucked.
He sucked so bad, that my blood pressure would rise every single time a crappy goal would go in.

At one point, the scouting report opposing teams had on Aebischer was simple...shoot anywhere and you will score.
The team ultimately missed the playoffs and one could argue Aebischer's horrible play in the second half was the main reason.
Even in his backup role down in Hamilton, Bulldogs' goaltender Yann Danis could've performed a hell of a lot better than the Swiss stopper.

I just don't get what was the problem with bringing up Cornell University star David LeNeveu from down in San Antonio?

Exactly, nothing, useless signing, wasted money.

And David isn't too bright either, accepting a backup/1B role on a shaky NHL team with his reputation as a stopper at an all time low while he could've easily signed on with a European team and earned a better living as a no.1 goalie.

This is Aebischer's last good chance to prove he has something left, as he'll likely battle for the starter's role with Swede Mikael Tellqvist.
In 2006, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey pulled off a shocker, dumping the struggling and the troubled Jose Theodore to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for David Aebischer.

Despite his poor numbers with Montreal, Gainey swung a deal that is still being hailed as a steal in the Canadiens' favour, as Habs fans happily watch the miserable Jose Theodore ride the pine at an expensive $6.5 million down in Colorado.

And to this day, I am grateful for this deal, so long Abby, you will not be missed!


Michael Vick Reminds Us Why the NHL Is Still Great

Fighting and killing dogs. A little canine forced Darwinism brought by Michael Vick. Nice, eh. That is today's NFL for you.

Say what you will about the NHL and it's TV contract, "limited" fan base and myriad other problems. I say, at least it isn't the NFL. There is something to be said for a league who's biggest controversy (Chris Simon bonehead move excluded) is clutching and grabbing not being enforced instead of which player is going to be charged next in Federal court.

It is funny that that hockey is portrayed as a violent sport while football, where most players have lasting and continual physical issues when the retire, is a "contact" sport. It is all a matter of perception and largely media driven (listening ESPN?). Unfortunately for the NFL, the rise in television money, the era of gangster culture and the cultural makeup of the league have led them to this point. Lets face it the NFL is made up of men, violent men, who are given ridiculous amounts of money, even the mediocre ones, and set loose. Society is then surprised that things go astray. I guess two guys dropping gloves and settling their differences is far more socially unacceptable than say, canine mass murder.

Hockey is lucky on a few fronts. First, the culture of hockey generally is one dictated by middle class and higher families. The economics of the sport drive many of the high risk kids away from it. Hockey players generally, via juniors, college, etc.. have far more life experience and are left to their own devices far earlier in life and before they have crazy money. This seems to lead to a greater level of responsibility, both financially and socially, for hockey players. Furthermore, the extremely long hockey schedule leaves little time, comparatively, for the hockey player to find trouble. NHL players by comparison have an off season nearly as long as the hockey season is long. Idle time breeds bad ideas.

Now, I am hardly saying all hockey players are good and all football players are bad. Remember, Mike Danton? Eddie Belfour can always be counted on to lend a black eye. Craig Mactavish? There are plenty of outstanding human beings playing football. The unfortunate truth is that there are too many men playing pro football that would probably be in jail if they were not playing football.

Anyways, hockey fans, let us rejoice in the fact that we still have men playing our sport that our kids can idolize without us fearing what they are going to do next. It is something all to rare in sports and the world today.

17 July 2007

Young Guys Taking Over.

So, while I was working today, I was e-mailing one of my friends and I asked him to help me come up with something to write about. His assignment to me seemed simple enough.

Why do you think the young guys are taking over hockey while the veterans are starting to call it quits?
And, no offense to my friend who asked me this...but he has very limited knowledge of hockey, and what it is all about...but I will get to that later. I wanted to keep this just to me...but, I had to enlist the help of some of my lovely HLOG. The lovely CapsChick came up with the easiest answer. She said that well the game has gotten faster. This isn't the same game that it was before. It's not the game they grew up playing. This is a game about speed and skill. It's not a game about who can hit the hardest or who can fight the best (even though our defending Stanley Cup Champs could prove me wrong). Sherry said basically the same thing. She said that they are getting older and it's harder for them to keep up.

Steph seemed to think along the same lines as me.
I don't's kind of sad though, I mean, I love seeing the kids able to step up, but seeing all the guys you grew up watching retiring is sad... And it's funny the way they're adding more pads and cutting down on fighting, you'd think it would make people end up playing longer, but people do seem to be retiring at earlier ages.
Thinking of guys like Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne retiring makes me frustrated. Scott seems to think that the NHL has nothing left to offer him. And, Teemu probably wants to go out on top. But, I think the game needs them. Anyway, that's really off topic...another day perhaps.

I don't know that the game is actually being "taken over" by the young guys...although I suppose you could look at it that way. Veterans play a part in the game just like the young guys do. You need the veteran guys on your team. Look at the Ducks. Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, and Brad May, older guys who played an important role in winning the Stanley Cup. Would the Ducks have won the Cup without them? No, they would not. You need veterans to lead, on and off the ice. And, the veterans will always a spot in the game.

So there ya go buddy. I made my midnight deadline...enjoy and I expect a gentle ;)

Cullen to Canes Challenge - Prove That I Didn’t Nail It First!

Maybe it’s a case of petty-pomposity, or maybe I just have nothing better to do with my time. But my July 9 blog (at another site) was the first written occurrence in the hockey world to speculate on the Rangers trading Cullen back to Carolina.

Click Here to See the First Written Mention of This Trade:

It wasn’t a case of sudden, brilliant prognosticating. Instead it was a simple case of putting 2 and 2 together (No I’m not cloning Brian Leetch, bringing them out of retirement and pairing them with each other). It was reported that Carolina was looking for a third line center, and with the Rangers tight to the cap and having recently acquired Gomez and Drury, Cullen’s expendability and recent history with the Canes seemed to make this one obvious. Within a couple of days of July 9, this trade was being speculated everywhere. But on July 9, it was only “moi”.

The Challenge: If anyone can produce concrete evidence that this trade was publicly mentioned in writing before my post on July 9 at 4:06 PM Eastern Time, then I will owe you a bag of pucks. Not much I admit, but I’m just an unpaid, volunteer blog writer. If by some miracle you do win this challenge, hit up Matt Cullen and his $2.8 million a year contract for a grander prize. Besides, humiliating a Rangers fan in public should be reward enough for any of you.

The Secrets Revealed: While we’re at it, here is another chance for you to learn about why the Rangers seem to be able to maintain a mysterious defiance of the salary cap, while also holding an iron grip on Russian Hockey fans. This tale of intrigue includes a mystical Russian man and suggests an underground pipeline of dubious double dealing that flows from Russia to the Rangers Management - and all the way to the National Hockey League Headquarters.

Click Here to Uncover The Truth About All the Above-Mentioned Secrets:

I'm sorry but 3 comments just were not enough.

Cullen Back to Canes

According to TSN.

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, the Carolina Hurricanes have re-acquired Matt Cullen from the New York Rangers for two stiffs and a 3rd round pick. Maybe the Rangers intend to get under the cap after all!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Cullen profess that he'd prefer to stay in NY?

Lies, damn lies!!! So, is this just a classic case of the hot girl dumping the nice guy after he dumped his original girlfriend? Or could it be that Cullen has been so thoroughly programmed with cliches like everybody else in the NHL that he honestly didn't believe he could be traded to a team that might actually want him?

Senators swap Schaefer for B's Donovan...

Our amigo Eklund is reporting this deal as an "e5", which means it's infallible and that the deal will be posted soon, and quite frankly, Sens fans should really shut their eyes and not read the innuendo that follows.

In one of those rare inter-division deals, Boston sends the 32-year old Shean Donovan to the Senators for winger Peter Schaefer.

Donovan had 7 goals and 11 assists in 76 contests for the Bruins last season for a total of 19 points, mainly as a 4th liner while his counterpart, Schaefer, more than doubled his point total, scoring 12 goals and adding 34 assists for 46 points in Ottawa.

Boston just fleeced Bryan Murray so badly, they dumped a declining checking line player, who seems to have lost that offensive spunk he showed with the Flames a few years ago, and got back a quality secondary scoring player, who can bring a consistent offensive game to the table.
Schaefer was long rumoured to be on Byran Murray's chopping block, but one couldn't imagine him giving up a decent scoring liner for a mediocre and borderline NHL player, even if it meant dumping an annual salary in the area of $2.3 million over the next few seasons.

But on the other hand, Murray had his reasons for doing this.

As Darren Dreger so gleefully pointed out last week, the Senators still don't have Jason Spezza and perhaps more importantly, 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley under contract for the 2008-2009 season, making them potential restricted and unrestricted free-agent in less than 365 days, respectively.
Heatley is expected to break the bank for whatever teams signs him, whether it's Ottawa or someone else while Spezza's current $5 million salary could take a serious hike should he elect to go to arbitration.
The enigmatic and ever-frustrating Wade Redden will also be able to hit the open market, and he would surely be an attractive defenceman to own for many GM's, even if his game isn't what is was 2 years ago.

So, in short, Murray got fleeced, but he gave up a good 2nd liner in hopes of retaining an elite 50-goal scorer, an all-star centre and...Wade Redden, not to mention the many restricted free-agents he has to deal with such as Antoine Vermette and Patrick Eaves.

The move clears up more than 1 million in cap space, still a small step, and don't be surprised if Murray makes any other eye-shocking deals to save his team's core (Spezza, Heatley, Redden) sometime this season.


Does Derek Roy = Nathan Horton? You be the Arbitrator

Derek Roy is scheduled for arbitration at the end of the month. Sabres fans, in my most humble opinion, are likely to get another real jolt. If you look at message boards such as Hockey's Future or Sabreszone or listen to Sabres flagship station WGR550 it seems that the Sabres, and the Sabres fans, want to believe a salary of about $2.0-$2.5 million will get it done. I believe this is wishful thinking.

The Sabres, themselves, set somewhat of a benchmark when they signed Maxim Afinogenov to a $3 million a year contract prior to last season. With the escalation of salaries this is the least I would expect. More likely in my opinion is a salary of nearly $4 million a year. Lets examine the Sabres rational for their offer, which I fully expect to be a 2-year contract with a lowball figure around $2.75 million a year.

Why the Sabres would say Derek Roy isn't worth $4 million a year:

1) He plays regularly with the Sabres two most dynamic players, Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov. This artificially inflates his statistics.

2) He does not regularly play the power play.

3) He is not an especially gifted defensive player as well. In short he is nothing special either way.

4) His offensive production, with the Afinogenov and Vanek factor considered, is consistent with that of Mike Peca who earned $2.5 million last year.

All in all, I think these are easily defeatable arguments for Roy. There are actually few players in the below $3.0 range as productive as Roy. These are tough arguments for the Sabres.

Now let's examine Derek Roy's likely arguments. I expect, factoring in inflation that Roy will ask for a 2 year deal with a salary in the are of $4.3 million per season.

1) He centered the teams most dynamic offensive line. He had 21 goals, 63 points and a +37 rating in relatively limited ice time. His production is far above average for a 3rd-line center.

2) With Drury and Briere gone he can reasonably expect more ice time, power play time and his statistics to rise in correlation.

3) He compares favorably with John Madden of the Devils who earned $3.982 million last season. Here are their statistics last year in comparison:

Madden 74 games 12 goals 20 assists 32 points -7
Roy 75 games 21 goals 42 assists 63 points +37

4) Careerwise he compares to Nathan Horton who recently signed a 6 year, $24 million deal. Here are their career statistics for comparison:

Horton 208 games 73 goals 58 assists 131 points +18

Roy 194 games 48 goals 80 assists 128 points +30

I believe that Roy's arguments would be extremely persuasive and that he is far more likely to reach the $ 4 million a year plateau than stay down near the $3 million mark.

This, of course, causes the Sabres another headache. I fell the Sabres could ill-afford to walk away from the award. More likely, in my opinion would be for them to cut ties with someone (Spacek and Kotalik are first to come to mind) to clear salary. I respect the Sabres business plan, but it is becoming more apparent by the day that to remain competitive the Sabres will have to readjust up from their current salary structure or fail miserably.

15 July 2007

Columbus Blue Jackets "Frenzy"

The Blue Jackets are pretty much done with our Free Agent Frenzy and unless you are a Blue Jackets fan you probably don't know what happened or what we got. We didn't sign a Scott Gomez or a Daniel Briere, we didn't sign a Sheldon Souray, or really any BIG name Free Agents. But, we did sign some guys who apparently are perfect for our organization.

First thing we did was sign Sheldon Brookbank the best defenseman in the AHL. We signed him with the hope of him stepping up and being able to compete at the NHL level now maybe not put up the same numbers but for sure help. We also signed Jiri Novotny, a first round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres. Novotny is a center who tends to be lazy (luckily we have one of the best coaches in the League to get through to these guys except Zherdev who is just a moron) but we are hoping he will be able to contribute. Our second line center position is up for grabs so time will only tell who will be feeding the puck to Modin. We then signed Jan Hejda, who is expected to be one of our top 4 defenseman. I have heard nothing but good things about him, and can't wait to see him in the ice.

Thinking about who we lost the only name that pops in my head is Anders Erikkson, who is a great defender and on a team like Columbus had a plus/minus of +12. Pretty impressive!! While I will miss seeing him on the ice, I am really happy that he signed in Calgary and I wish him the best of luck.

Rumors have been FLYING that the Blue Jackets are looking for a legitimate #1 goaltender either via trade or Unrestriced Free Agency. That is simply not true. And, trust me, I wish it was true. I have been saying all along that Leclaire is too injury prone. I absolutely adore Norrena but to be successful you need 2 capable goaltenders.

"Until you establish yourself as a bona fide No. 1 goaltender, there are going to be questions," Howson said. "Pascal hasn't done that yet."
However, I do plan on going into this season with faith in Leclaire. I hope he shows everybody that he's not a band-aid and can split the time with Norrena. Leclaire is working out 6 days a week back home in Montreal. I really hope he steps up. He is set to be a Restricted Free Agent on July 1, 2008.

The Jackets have also signed Dan Smith and Derek MacKenzie to two-way contracts. They are likely to be spending most of their time with the Syracuse Crunch. Also, Howson has said that we are in the market for a goaltender to go in and back up Tomas Popperle, it will not be anyone with NHL experience though.

X-posted on HLOG and Bethany's Hockey Rants

A Fitting Tribute via Spector

Our buddy Lyle over at Spector's Hockey recently posted a great tribute to Habs legend John Ferguson. Here it is for all of you to see:

The hockey world lost one of its legendary tough guys on Saturday.

John Ferguson, who played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1963 to 1971, died Saturday of prostate cancer at the age of 68.

"Fergie", as he was known, was a member of five Stanley Cup championships in Montreal, earning a reputation as one of the toughest and most respected players and brawlers in the game, amassing 1214 penalties in 500 regular season games.

He was more than just a goon or bodyguard for the stars. He was part of the Habs first line with Jean Beliveau and Yvon Cournoyer in the late 1960s, was the rookie scoring leader in 1963-64 with 45 points in 59 games, and had two 20+ goal seasons, including 29 goals and 52 points in 1968-69.

Ferguson was also assistant coach of Team Canada in the famous 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He went on to become GM and coach of the NY Rangers from 1976 to 1978, GM of the Winnipeg Jets from 1979 to 1988, director of player personnel for the Ottawa Senators from 1992 to 1995 and a senior scout for the San Jose Sharks since 1995 (source: TSN).

He lived by a tough code on the ice and behind the bench, freely admitting in an interview commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Summit Series that he told Bobby Clarke to try and break the ankle of Soviet star Valeri Kharlomov in the sixth game of the series.

Still, Ferguson is remembered as one of the most popular players in Canadiens history and was well-respected as an executive and as a person. His surviving family includes his son, John Ferguson Jr, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thanks, Lyle. He was a great player and personality in the hockey world. He will be sorely missed.

14 July 2007

Wilson deceives Sharks fans once more...

It'll take more than the annual "Shark for a day" fantasy camp to calm down angered Sharks fans this this time around.

Reader and Sharks fan Brian Smith has these comments on the Sharks' current disappointing offseason and Doug Wilson's promised "changes"

It's a funny thing here the Sharks are already in PR mode after failing to sign Sheldon Souray. Tonight on their website, the radio broadcaster talks about how things are going well this off season, with our draft choices and players working out. And excuse after excuse about why the Sharks haven't signed anyone in free agency. Funny they didn't mention anything about the Doug Wilson comment after we got beat in the playoffs again. At that time Doug Wilson said "Changes would be made." and that "he just won't sit around doing nothing till september."
Hmmm funny thing it looks like the Sharks have done NOTHING, which is typical year in and year out with them now.
It's kinda funny every year we get the same speech at the start of the Season the Sharks are committed to winning the cup this (put in any year) season. Yet every year they fail come free agency time they do nothing except talk their way around it, then they raise ticket prices to stay more competitive, lose 4 players sign no one, and then try and convince everyone they are better than they were last season.
It's kind of comical that people actually buy into that, because its the same song and dance every year.
Right now there are NO free agents worth any value left on the market and Sharks management will most likely spin it by saying "Oh we tried, and had offers on the table."
But in the end losers try, winners succeed. 5 years at 27 Million for Souray is cheap, but the Sharks won't do contracts of over 3 years length, so I guess its no wonder they struck out once again come free agency time. But hey they raised our ticket prices, now they are putting out a new logo so we have to buy more merchandise, thank god management is so concerned about winning the cup. Their Actions speak a lot louder then there hollow words.

You're absolutely right, the Sharks were HEAVY free-agent favourites heading into the summer, but failed to pursue guys like Chris Drury, Daniel Briere and perhaps most "shockingly", Sheldon Souray to join the Sharks' ranks.
I think Wilson's comment was far too rash and blunt, he had no idea if changes were to be made and if Drury or Souray wanted to come to California, come on, he was basing his words on the rumours that were circulating around at the time, how could he have known first-hand that either one of them was interested in signing with the Sharks?
He couldn't, pure speculation on his part, and he made a terrible mistake with his fan base by promising them something (or rather someone) they haven't gotten so far (but hey, a trade could always be in the works)

That speech is basic "protocol", name me one team that's committed to losing and not winning the Cup.
No team heads into a new season with that approach, but this is exactly what separates the pretenders from the contenders, for example, the Capitals can walk into a new season and say "we are committed to winning the Cup" while Wilson can say the same to his media.
In this case, Wilson has a better team to back his claims up with while Caps GM George McPhee doesn't.

The Sharks have come up empty handed via free-agency, but look at their roster now, they've developped most of their core talent like Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo, Matt Carle, Evgeni Nabokov to name a few and they made a HUGE splash acquiring Joe Thornton last season.
So maybe fans should look more to clever draft choices rather than big name free-agents to improve the team, based on what the Sharks have done with their young talent so far.

Anyone remember Brad Stuart? He's turned out to be fine defenceman...thanks to yours truly
They have Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Patrick Rissmiller and Joe Pavelski shaping up to become a quality pack of players in a few years, it's all from within, and that's the way Wilson should go, and stop mesmerizing his fans by foolish and vague claims that he'll make changes by making splashes in free-agency, since it obviously never happens.

You tell me if this is how the Sharks should go on improving their team, since I don't see it happening realistically any other way.


From Russia with Love: Ruskees Root for Rangers

In a painfully, horribly translated Russian article*, only one thing is clear - the favourite NHL (NKHL) team of Russian “compatriots” is the New York Rangers.

Click below for link to article. Warning! English majors and linguistic purists should keep some aspirin near their mouse before clicking.

Link to Russian article:

Second Warning! Do not attempt to use your spell checking and grammar correction tools on above article, as previous attempts to do so have generally resulted in software crashes and hardware failure. I hope that this second warning wasn’t too late.

Now back to proper English. The Russians’ top ten NHL teams in order of preference are:


In trying to understand exactly why Russians feel a bond (shaken, not stirred) with the Rangers, three reasons come to mind.

1) Brighton Beach, home of the largest Russian community outside of the motherland, is located in New York City.

2) Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov, who were the first Russian players to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup, did so while members of the 1993-1994 New York Rangers.

3) The Rangers were the team who selected (with the 17th pick) the highly touted Russian, Alexei Cherepanov, in this year’s entry draft – finally stopping his freefall from one of the top five prospects in the draft (as ranked by many scouting organizations).

In fact, none of these answers are correct, and as is often the case, we have to dig a little deeper to find the real reason.

The answer lies in one of the best kept secrets in the hockey world – Yuri Snirakov. Mr. Snirakov, a mathematical genius and devout connoisseur/consumer of Russia’s favourite inebriating brew (vodka), has been employed by the New York Rangers for the past two years as their head salary cap strategist. As it turns out, Snirakov moonlights as one of the United States’ largest importers of Russian vodka, and it is speculated that many of the recently built hockey arenas in Russia were partially funded by proceeds from Snirakov’s vodka sales. Always the loyal employee and diplomat, Snirakov keeps a bountiful amount of the “White Stuff” continuously free-flowing throughout the Rangers upper management - all the way to the Salary Cap Compliance Division at the nearby NHL headquarters in New York.

Click below to see directions from Madison Square Garden to the NHL headquarters in New York – a.k.a. “the Vodka Pipeline”.

Link to map and directions:

Let’s face it - how else could the Rangers 1) sign the two most expensive UFAs in this year’s pool, 2) re-sign all of their own key free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, to substantial salary increases, 3) retain all of their key players** under contract (including “yaromira Of yagra” who will make over $8.3 million this season), and still manage to keep anyone from their own organization or NHL headquarters from questioning whether they’ve exceeded the upper salary cap limit?

*First discovered original Russian article on Blueshirt Bulletin.
**I'm not counting former third liner, Matt Cullen, as a key player.

Yuri Snirakov is a fictional character – a figment of my slightly warped mind. To the best of my knowledge, there is no one by that name employed by the New York Rangers. Any resemblance or similarity of Yuri Snirakov to any person (fictional or real) who is either living or deceased; or any resemblance or similarity of Yuri Snirakov to any business, organization, or other entity (fictional or real) is strictly coincidental.

I have no knowledge or evidence that the New York Rangers management has ever used any illicit means to garner favors from the National Hockey League. I have no knowledge or evidence that any form of alcoholic beverage has ever been exchanged between (or even consumed by) any one associated with the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League. For all I know, everyone associated with both organizations might be teetotalers.

I have no knowledge or evidence of a division actually named “Salary Cap Compliance Division” at any National Hockey League headquarters anywhere in the world. Therefore, in order to determine for yourselves how the Rangers keep managing to mysteriously stay under the upper cap limit, I suggest that you hire your own private investigators, contractual attorneys, and mathematicians. On the other hand, perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved.

For all of our Russian “compatriot” readers who are offended by this blog, because it contains content that can be construed as “Russian Stereotyping”, I do apologize. If it helps, my ancestry is partially Russian, and I don’t consume vodka or any other form of alcoholic beverage – although I am good at math.

Finally, for all of our Russian “compatriot” readers who are either a) not offended by any “Russian Stereotyping” contained in this blog, or b) don’t care about the “Russian Stereotyping” and are just looking to get “sloshed”, I understand that Mr. Snirakov is quite generous in dispensing the “Monopolka” to his fellow countrymen. However, since I’ve already admitted that Yuri Snirakov doesn’t actually exist, your chance of scoring a couple pints from him is relatively low – if not impossible. Try your local pub or liquor store.

13 July 2007

Have the Canes done enough?

After bringing Lord Stanley to North Carolina in 2005-2006, the Canes had a very mediocre year. Finishing 40-34-8 and 12th in the East, eliminated from the playoffs officially during the last week of the season. Not even a chance to defend their title.
As disappointing as that was for the entire Caniac nation, despite the amazing outcome of the last game of the season, we knew that something had to give. My theory is that there was a bit of an expectation for their playoff spot to be "handed" to them. Not many changes had been made between the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 seasons in our core. Our biggest loss was probably Matt Cullen on our third line. I don't think anyone expected the role he played to be so difficult to be filled. I believe a total of 4 forwards were brought in to fill the role and none of them were successful.
Many players fought off injury through the shortened offseason and then through the entire season. Whitney played a good portion of the season with hurt shoulder and Brind'amour was fighting through a foot injury as well. On top of that, our blue line seemed to take the hardest hit. Frank Kaberle missed half of the season after surgery, Tim Gleason seemed to get injured any time we played the Panthers, and Bret Hedican had hip injury after hip injury.
Honestly it probably was very possible for them to push harder to try and make the playoffs, but I doubt they would have made it past the first round had they made it.

More important than wondering what the heck happened this season was focusing on making the next season better. The biggest step for us was re-signing our free agents who are core part of this team. Ward, Whitney, Walker, and Wesley were all re-signed before the FA period began. We got rid of some "extra" baggage by letting Vasicek and Carter (both brought to try and fill that gap a bit) become free agents. Being that we had 8 defenseman under contract, we also let Tanabe become a free agent. He is the only one out of those three that I would have kept. He is a good offensive blue-liner and after the All-Star break, he really shone as a top defenseman for us. Jim Rutherford also decided to let Anton Babchuk go play in Russia after unsuccessfully trying to get rid of him since his falling out before the trade deadline.
Draft day we traded our 7th round pick for goaltender Michael Leighton to be our "third" goalie. I think this was a steal on our part and perhaps if John Grahame isn't able to stay after his contract is up at the end of this season, I think we could rely on him to back up Ward.

Free agency period began July 1st and after watching his first choice, Todd White, get snatched up JR picked up Blackhawks centre Jeff Hamilton with an $800,000 contract. I think this is another steal for us. Hamilton put up good numbers considering his team's overall success this past season. He can score on the shootout and also play point of the PP. Just what we need.
Although it seemed that Hamilton would for sure be playing 3rd line centre JR has now expressed that he is looking for someone who is a bit more of a solid 3rd line centre.
Rumours are now flying that we are looking to bring Matt Cullen back from the Rangers (who are looking to get their salary back under tha cap)

While many people think that we should be doing more to change our team, I really find that what we have done is sufficient and will help us have a great year. We are well rested with our core players resigned, a few alterations have been made with maybe one or two more in store. Unless they go out and aren't hungry for it, the Canes will be contenders this year, so watch out Habs! : )
Please feel free to share your thoughts here and/or email me your thoughts at
Go Canes!


Blogging for : Montreal Canadiens

Favourite team:
Montreal Canadiens
Favourite current player:
Saku Koivu
Favourite coach/GM (current or all-time)
no favorite coach, Bob Gainey
Most hated player:
Mats Sundin
Most hated team:
Toronto Maple Leafs
Real position (if you play, hockey, what are you? forward, d, or goalie?)
Don't have one
favourite broadcaster:
Pierre Houde
Favourite hockey saying:
Stopped by Luongooo! (no idea y)
If I were commish of the NHL, I would
Have less teams and more canadians teams!

Potential New Sharks Logo?

I know I'm usually the Senators blogger, but the Sharks are admittedly my Western Conference Team.

Via James Mirtle, could this potentially the new San Jose Sharks logo?

It's not that big of a change, but I can't say I'm a big fan of it. I suppose there's really no way you can have a Shark in your logo without it being slightly cartoony. Can't say this shark instills much fear in me though.

12 July 2007

Souray Sweepstakes: We All Missed the Obvious

For the past two weeks the Sheldon Souray Sweepstakes has intrigued everyone. Speculation has centered mostly around the Kings, Sharks, Ducks, Devils, Rangers, etc. But this stallion (offensively at least) went to a "dark horse" candidate - the Oilers.

One could argue that Souray being an Alberta native, combined with Kevin's Lowe's ability and need to spend big bucks to land a thoroughbred UFA, would have made the Oilers one of the favourites all along. Those issues were probably a factor, but the most important element and main reason why Souray will be doing his skating (and shooting) in Edmonton this year is because he is not living with his wife. Since Angelica Bridges is a Los Angeles based actress, there is currently no Mrs. Souray accompanying him - telling him to choose between her and the City of Edmonton. Where Kevin Lowe failed with Mrs. Pronger and Mrs. Nylander, he never had to worry about with Souray. Although we all should have known this, we never saw it coming.

In fact as an offshoot of the Souray situation, Kevin Lowe may have brilliantly hatched an effective new strategy: target the most talented, maritally non-attached free agents in the NHL. He could further enhance this strategy by turning Edmonton into a singles haven. Don't be surprised if the next contracts he signs are with Hooters or Playboy Enterprises, before resuming his pursuit of elite hockey talent. Let's not underestimate Kevin Lowe again. He's a great competitor, who may have just learned how to turn a liability into an asset.

Souray Signs with Oilers!

BBeR 5:07 PM update: [Sorry for butting in by the way, just wanted to add one thing]
Souray's deal will pay him a total of $27 million over the course of 5 seasons, according to nos amis over at RDS.

According to

Sheldon Souray is on his way to Edmonton as the Oilers and the free agent blueliner agreed on a contract.

The Elk Point, Alberta native appeared in 81 games with the Montreal Canadiens in 2006-07 and had a career year with 26 goals and 64 points. Nineteen of his 26 goals came on the power play, which set an NHL record for defencemen.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound blueliner was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 entry draft. He has played in 506 regular-season games with New Jersey and Montreal, recording 66 goals and 120 assists while posting 812 penalty minutes.

The two-time All-Star played three seasons with the Devils before being traded to the Canadiens in 2000 in a deal for Vladimir Malakhov.

(Details to follow)

Looks like Kevin Lowe finally succeeded in landing a big-name free agent. It will be interesting to see how much Souray got.

A look at the Ducks free-agent adventure...

Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke was said to be quiet heading into this year's free-agent frenzy, with only depth on his radar, after all, what else did he need to do as his team had just won the Stanley much better can you get?

But with Conn Smythe winner and team captain Scott Niedermayer still pondering retirement, Burke went all out and picked up former Red Wings defenceman Mathieu Schneider, signing the 38-year old to a 2-year contract worth $11.25 million.

With this signing, speculation fled around the NHL that Niedermayer had indeed decided to retire and that Schneider was his eventual replacement.
Later on, Niedermayer called a press conference, with everyone including my grandma, expecting him to call it a career and hang 'em up.

However, in a surprising twist, he did not announce his retirement and reports indicated that he was unsure of what to do, and that he will have made up mind between now and the start of the 2007-2008 season.

With his salary still counting against the salary cap at a hefty $6.75 million, the Ducks have only $2 million left in wiggle room and that doesn't even include Teemu Selanne, who is technically still an unrestricted free-agent, but it's expected he will either re-sign with Anaheim or retire.
After playing in just a little over one thousand career games, the Finnish-born winger finally won hockey's revered trophy for the first time in his sixteen season career.
Burke also took the liberty of finding a potential replacement for his prized winger, by reuniting himself with an old friend from back in Vancouver, Todd Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi's signing came as a shock to most people, and his the terms of his deal nearly knocked them out.
$4 million a season over the course of the next two seasons is a lot of money for a guy who hasn't been successful since his days in Vancouver with...what a surprise...Brian Burke.
Burke feels Bertuzzi still has some steam left in the tank, even if he hasn't been entirely healthy or on his game since...what a surprise...his days with Brian Burke up in Vancouver.

I really think that this signing will totally backfire on Burke and the Ducks, Bertuzzi hasn't proven he's worth the money he got, especially after a terrible postseason in Detroit.
It seems to me Burke is forgetting Bertuzzi's past few years, his multiple injuries, his inconsistency and his inability to play a full season.

This is also a strong sign that that Burke's still desperately in love with the player he was in Vancouver, the "old" Bertuzzi, if we can call him that, but this isn't the player Burke's signed on to get.

Come on Brian! Wake up and smell the sunshine, we're not in Vancouver here, this isn't the player you adored, that all Canucks fans adored before he labeled himself a total bonehead by nearly killing Steve Moore on the ice.

The player you'll get is the player you see, I doubt Bertuzzi ever becomes what he used to be again, he's just not that kind of player.
Sure he'll put up a decent point total, but it's nothing compared to what the RESPECTED (emphasis on RESPECTED) and gentlemanly Teemu Selanne brought to the table.
Not only did he bring a dangerous offensive game, but he was also able to play a smart two-way game, on both ends of the ice, he made excellent decisions with the puck and always seemed to score when his team needed it most.

But this all comes to down to Niedermayer.

If he retires, Schneider's signing is validated, a good move, a worthy replacement for a future hall-of-fame defenceman and then there's cap space to bring back Selanne, should he want to return with the club.
However, if he does not retire (which would utterly surprise me, to say the least) then Mathieu Schneider's signing is a waste.
A waste in many ways:
1) Cap-wise, a wasted $5.5 million considering Selanne is still unsigned (this goes for Bertuzzi too)
2) Player-wise, pushing Kent Huskins out of the lineup and into the pressbox and rendering the nicely developped defenceman very unhappy.

Well, you make the call, this can go one way for Burke, or entirely the other way.

He did a fairly good job of attempting to replace those two players he may lose, but, when all's said an done, you can't replace what Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne brought to the team, and you can't do it with a 38-year old pointman coming off a serious injury, and a questionable forward whose ability to be effective and contribute to a hockey team consistently still up in the air.


© 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.