A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

oln, nbc release schedules

Not surprisingly, the Canes will only be on nation-wide cable once this season. Our January 10 home game against the Red Wings will be on OLN.

Here's their full schedule.

There hasn't been much action in the past few days. This is the best I can do. I also have one foot out the door on my way to work.

Monday, August 29, 2005

practice today

I hauled my ass out to Raleigh this morning to watch the 'Canes informal "practice", and I'm glad I did. I've never been to a practice before, so it was kind of neat to see the skating drills.

Despite reports to the contrary, former Cane Bates Battaglia was not present.

There were only nine skaters there today:

Rod Brind'Amour
Kevyn Adams
Glen Wesley
Cory Stillman
Erik Cole
Jesse Boulerice
Chad LaRose
Danny Richmond
Aaron Ward

In the skating drills, Jesse looked like crap. He lagged behind in the "herbies", and was clumsy in the technical skating drills. During the four-on-four scrimmage, he fell down a bunch and lost his edge a bunch of other times. He's just not in playing shape right now.

I was most impressed with Cole. He looked good all day. Adams, too. And during the 4-on-4s, Stillman looked terrific, as did Wesley. I can see that Stillman is going to be a big part of our offensive production. His passes were always right on the tape. He made a lot of things happen in a little scrimmage.

Ward was barely noticeable.

The two noobies are smart to be there for these voluntary unofficial practices. I really liked what I saw from Danny Richmond, but I wasn't sold on LaRose.

I brought along my camera, but none of my shots were turning out good at all. About 80% of the pictures I took from the 2003-04 season are poor in quality. The one in the banner at the top of this page is one of maybe three dozen that don't suck. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to learn how to use my digital camera properly.

Afterwards, I stopped by the arena to go to The Eye. I wanted to maybe get a new t-shirt or something, but the new stuff won't be getting there until the first of September. I'll wait until I go to a pre-season game to buy a new sweater (probably Adams), but I might return next week to check out the new gear.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Tarnstrom awarded $1.6M, and the Penguins woeful +/- category

Dick Tarnstrom was one of 11 players to file for arbitration, but the only one who actually went. The other 10 came to agreement with their team before their scheduled hearing.
Arbitrators awarded the defenseman a one-year $1.6M contract, but the Penguins are not obligated to honor it. They may trade his rights or simply reject it, which would allow him to go on the UFA market. They have until Monday to make a decision.
Although it isn't clear who was asking for what, the $1.6M amounts to a 45% raise over his 2003-04 salary of $1.1M. Tarnstrom's agent called it "fair", and indicated that it was less than what he wanted but "well above" what the Pens offered.

Although the 30-year-old lead the Penguins in scoring in 2003-04 (16/36/52), there's one other statistic that should be in bold, italicized, underlined, supersized font. He was a -37 that season. The only player in the entirety of the NHL who had a worse +/- was his teammate Rico Fata, with a stunningly bad -46. Actually, the bottom three are all Pens. Defenseman Brooks Orpik(-36), Tarnstrom, and center/winger Fata. Just above them is the otherwise brilliant Rick Nash, who somehow managed to finish with a -35.
I know, I know. The Pens were weak offensively. But take a look at the Carolina Hurricanes. We were dead last in the Goals For category, but our worst +/- rating was a -14 for Ryan Bayda. The Pens, on the other hand had four players with a -30 or worse (the fourth was winger Konstantin Koltsov with a -30). What's going on up there?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Oh Captain, my captain!

The Hurricanes finally announced what most of us already had in mind. Rod Brind'Amour will be our Captain. We've been without one since the tragic "Ron Francis trade II", on March 9, 2004.
Glen Wesley will serve as one of the alternates, which came as no surprise, and Kevyn Adams will also serve as an alternate. Most people figured that Adams would also get this honor.

Here's the curveball: We've got a third alternate. I didn't know you could have three alternates, but I'm pleased that they'll let Cory Stillman also wear the "A".

More later. For now ... work.

According to NHL Rule 14, teams are permitted to have no more than two alternate captains designated for each game. I'm sure Glen Wesley will wear his A every night, while Adams and Stillman alternate. Maybe one will be designated as the "home" alternate captain, while the other will be the "road" alternate. If Brind'Amour, for some reason, is not in uniform, then it is okay for us to have three alternates.

Trouble in the swamp

Does somebody want to tell the New Jersey Devils that there's a salary cap? Please don't make me do it.
Looking at the players they have under contract, there's a few problems they really need to deal with.

The first is the one people know about. With the signing of Patrik "Hepatitis Boy" Elias, they're WAY over the cap. They're only allowed to spend $39M, but Elias' contract puts them at 21 players for $43,748,929. As we're all aware by now, as long as Elias is unable to play (and it certainly looks that way), his pay won't count towards the cap. Fine. Assume that he won't be able to play all season¹, which raises the second point.
Back out his $4.18M, and their total payroll is $39,568,929 for only 20 players. Still over cap. And, now, understaffed. They need to make some major moves. They need to deal one of their name-brand players for multiple players. I'm guessing Viktor Kozlov for a backup goaltender and a young "extra" d-man. Mind you, I said "guess". My opinion is the epitome of "un-professional" This, though, brings me to the third point.
The Devils don't have a second goaltender. All they have is Martin Brodeur. He's great, no doubt, but he needs an occasional night off, and in case of emergency and/or injury you have to have another goaltender. With their current financial state, they won't be able to sign one without freeing up some space.

Now, lets assume that Elias will be able to play. If and when that time comes, the Devils better be prepared to make multiple HUGE moves to get under cap.

Including Elias, they currently have under contract:
    Left Wing: 5 players: Patrik Elias, Jeff Friesen, Jay Pandolfo, Krzysztof Oliwa and Darren Langdon
    Center: 5 players: John Madden, Scott Gomez, Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Brylin, Erik Rasmussen
    Right Wing: 4 players: Alexander Mogilny, Jamie Langenbrunner, Grant Marshall, Brian Gionta
    Defense: 6 players: Brian Rifalski, Vladimir Malakhov, Dan McGillis, Colin White, Richard Matvichuk, Sean Brown
    Goal:1 player: Martin Brodeur.

They need help.

¹I refuse to believe that the Devils signed Elias to a one-year deal with the belief that he wouldn't play all season long. Unless they like throwing money away. Even if it doesn't count towards the cap, they still have to pay it.

Roberto Luongo loses

The Roberto Luongo battle is over. The arbitrators came back with a ruling of $3.2M for one year.
The first ever case of a player being summoned to arbitration by his team worked in favor of the team. Maybe this will set an example for other teams in the future. Don't let the pouting players hold you hostage. Take them to arbitration.
Of course I say this now, but if this option was available 5 years ago, the Hurricanes might have taken Keith Primeau to arbitration, and we might have never orchestrated the Brind'Amour trade. We're much happier with Hot Rod, so we're glad it wasn't available. However, I think the trade would have come anyway. We weren't enjoying Keith's company very much, and we weren't about to bend over for him. Just prior to the trade, Peter Karmanos had this to say about the Primeau ordeal:
"We refuse to pay a prima donna, a petulant, pouting player who had 30 goals last year the same money as Toronto is paying Mats Sundin or Pittsburgh is paying Jaromir Jagr."

Anyway, this is what you get, Roberto Luongo, for playing hardball. The Panthers had offered a five year deal for $25M, which he refused. For a long term contract, he said, the pay would have to be better. He was eyeballing unrestricted free agency two years down the road and wanted a shorter contract. He felt that he would be worth at least $4M in a shorter contract, but the arbitrators didn't see it that way. Just who does he think he is? $25M over five years wasn't enough??

What next? Luongo clearly doesn't want to be a Panther, or he would have accepted the 5 year deal. Will they trade him so they don't have to put up with his pouting all season? Their backup goalie, Jamie McLennan, leaves a lot to be desired, so if they make a trade, it had better be a really good one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The little guy re-signs with the Bolts

Martin St. Louis has signed a 6-year, $31.5M deal with the Bolts

Tampa's payroll now rises to $35,649,379 for 19 players according to TSN's payroll tracker, with $5.25M being the "undisclosed" amount for the little guy. With at least two players left to sign, they should approach, but not have problems with the cap of $39M.

More later. For now... work.

Ohlund avoids arbitration, signs four-year deal

Defenseman Mattias Ohlund signed a four-year deal with the 'Nucks, avoiding a Friday arbitration hearing. It is widely believed that his contract will be worth something like $3M per season, but the financials aren't available yet.
Dick Tarnstrom is the only remaining player scheduled to take his team to arbitration.

Clean sweep for Islanders

Justin Papineau came to his senses and signed a one-year deal with the New York Islanders for an undisclosed amount. This means that all four Islanders players who filed for arbitration managed to work it out before their hearing.

Not a very gifted player, I have no idea what Papineau was thinking when he filed. He's never played a full season in his brief and un-noteworthy career. He should be playing for the league minimum if you ask me. Anything beyond that, he should be thanking his lucky stars.

Now there's just two players left who filed for arbitration: Dicky Tarnstrom and Mattias Ohlund. Roberto Luongo is going to arbitration today, but that was at the request of the Panthers.

Elias signs a one year deal

Patrik Elias signed the qualifying sheet from the New Jersey Devils. He will make $4.18M this season and will become an UFA next summer.

The three-time All-Star is a perennial 30 goal scorer, and has played his entire NHL career with the Devils.

This will cause a lot of head scratching.

You're probably thinking the same thing I was. Weren't they already right at the upper limit of the cap? Indeed they were. Here's where it gets tricky. Or stupid. Elias is recovering from a severe bout of Hepatitis A, which he contracted at some point during the lockout while playing in Russia. As long as he is on the IR, his salary does not count towards the cap. Once he is ready to play, though, they will have to make a move. Expect a major move by the Devils. Sooner rather than later.

Hepatitis A, by the way, is the strain of the virus that is most likely foodbourne. It originates in fecal matter and is usually spread orally. Improper personal hygiene techniques will cause the spread of the non-deadly strain. It can also be spread through sexual contact, but I am not at all suggesting that Elias had sexual contact with an infected man. Here is the fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control.

Now I vaguely remember hearing about this. He had a super-high fever and sat out a few games with what Russian doctors were calling a "mystery illness". As his condition got worse, the doctors were completely dumbfounded by his flu-like symptoms. It wasn't until weeks later that blood test results identified it as Hepatitis A.

Now... Think about how many times you've not washed your hands thoroughly after using the toilet. This simple technique, not employed by some food preparation worker in Russia, can very effectively prevent the spread of Hep A and many other viral diseases.

Caps sign a name-brand player, but it isn't what you think

On Tuesday night, the Caps Signed Petr Sykora to a one year deal, the terms of which are not available.

Wait a minute.... Petr Sykora???

Oh... no. Not that guy. This guy.

The two Petr Sykoras will meet one another when the Ducks host the Caps on Friday January 13. I have no idea whether anything like this has happened before.

This will surely wreak havoc on fantasy hockey leagues the way "the other" Ricky Williams did on fantasy football leagues two seasons ago. Be careful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

...okay, so the Sens haven't lost their mind. But maybe they have.

I don't know where to begin on this one.
I guess I'll begin with the particulars, which, by now, we should all be aware of.

TO ATLANTA: Marian Hossa and defenseman Greg de Vries

TO OTTAWA: (the rights to)Dany Heatley

Upon his "trade", Heatley promptly signed a 3-year, $13.5M deal with the Sens. Apparently, Heatley had asked Thrashers suits for a trade. Boy did they ever come through.

This is good for Ottawa in that they got out of that absurd contract they signed with Maid Marian. They'll save $4.5M over three years. They'll also be free of the completely ludicrous $2.28M they would have had to pay de Vries this season. By the way, I REALLY need help with that one. Why in the world were they paying him that kind of money? His offensive game isn't that great, and his +/- isn't even what I would call "impressive". Granted, I don't have any exposure to the guy, so I don't know what intangibles he brings to the ice, but on paper, that looks like WAY too much money for that dude.

Now, it seems, the shoe is on the other hand. Atlanta might soon find themselves sandwiched between a rock and ... another rock. With one undisclosed salary and Ilya Kovalchuk still unsigned, they are in for $30,642,000. Assume that Kovalchuk gets one of those idiotic escalating salary contracts for, say, $5M this year and +$.75M for the next two years. I think it would be safe, at any rate, to assume that he'll get $5 this year. So they'll be somewhere in the $36M neighborhood. They're also gonna need to sign another netminder. One rumor I heard today indicated that Pasi Nurminen is going to be forced into retirement by knee surgery. I don't even remember where I read it, but even that source was skeptical because their source was an article written in Finnish, which they had a very rough translation of.
Nonetheless, the Thrashers got stuck with Hossa's idiotic salary and de Vries' absurdity. If they're smart, they'll sign Kovalchuk to a single season, or perhaps to a multi-year deal where the salary doesn't escalate.

The Sens suits apparently haven't been reading this blog. Never mind that they know what they're doing (and have better things to do) and I don't, but I've been repeatedly warning them about these stupid escalating salaries. Heatley's deal is for $3.5M this season with a raise of $1M each of the following two seasons. Why not just offer him $4.5M/season for three years? Or do something else so it isn't so back-heavy. I'm not saying Boy Wonder won't be worth it, but I just really hate those back-heavy contracts.

Everyone knew that the Sens had to do something, and it had to be sooner than later. I don't think anyone expected this, though. Is it good for them? Obviously, they're saving a pile of money, so it's good for the wiggle room. I don't know if they're going to be pleased, though, with the drop-off in offensive numbers from Hossa to Heatley. That's right... I said drop-off. I don't think Heatley will ever be the same as he was before the accident. Although he had good numbers in the games he played coming back last season, he just didn't look the same. I predict that for a number of reasons, he'll only be able to put up about 55 points this season, whereas Hossa will put up about 85.

Despite all of that, I do think that it was a good thing. They had to get rid of Hossa, and better to get a proven star right now than a few crapshoot draft picks down the road.

Will this put an end to the "Wayne Redden on the block" rumors? Yes.

What about Bondra? Now they've got the cap room to re-sign him.

The point that folks need to get from this is that the madness has to stop somewhere. The Flyers were forced, by cap issues to make a really incredibly bad trade (J-Ro for a bag of pucks). And now this trade was necessitated by Ottawa's own cap issues. There's no doubt that they got the short end of the stick on this one. I might even make that argument if it was Hossa-Heatley straight up, but de Vries makes it decidedly in Hotlanta's favor. Teams have got to spend more responsibly and to cut it out with these absurd escalating salary contracts.

This post sucks. Sorry.

Maid Marian for the Toothless Wonder

So..... At 5:30, they'll announce that the Thrashers are shipping Dany Heatley to the Sens in exchange for Maid Marian Hossa and a defenseman.


Unfortunately, the staff of red and black hockey has to go to their paying job, so this is the best I can do right now. Unless someone wants to pay me to do this stuff like someone has done for net files, I'll have to maintain an actual job.

Now the Thrashers will have to deal with Maid Marian's escalating salary.

Did I miss something? When did the Thrashers re-sign Heatley? I thought he was still a RFA.

Either way.... this doesn't make any damn sense to me. Someone help me figure this out.

By the way, I'm still working on changing the way things look around here. Excuse my mess in the meantime.

The Sens have lost their mind

The Ottawa Senators and Maid Marian Hossa have come to an agreement, avoiding arbitration. The three-year, $18M contract will pay Hossa $5M this season, $6M in 2006-07 and $7M in 2007-08.

The Sens said all along that nobody would be paid more than their Captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who will earn $4,662,894 this season. I guess they changed their mind.
I think it's fine that he'll get $5M this season, but it's the years beyond that where I have a problem. This is a case of the team allowing the player to control the negotiations. Had they held their line and taken it to arbitration, it isn't likely that the result would have been more than $5M. Chances are, it would have been less; something on the order of $3.75M-$4.25M (see my Hejduk/Demitra/Hossa comparisons). That would have been a one year deal that Hossa would have been obligated to take. The next season, he wouldn't have the kind of bargaining leverage to demand $6M escalating to $7M. Unless, of course he wins any combination of the Rocket Richard, the Art Ross and the Hart Memorial Trophies. The Sens, however, caved in. They swerved first.
The Sens are going to "just" make it under the cap this season. But what if the cap slides down next season? What if it stays at $39M or barely inches up? They'll be in rough shape. Daniel Alfredsson is under contract through the 2007-08 season at roughly $5M per season. They say they want to commit to long term contracts with Zdeno Chara and Wayne Redden, both of whom will be free agents after this season and could demand more than the $3.724 that they're both getting.
Go ahead, Ottawa... Spend to your heart's content. Commit to these foolish escalating salaries. Just don't complain that red and black hockey didn't alert you to the perils.

Monday, August 22, 2005

If it quacks like a duck...

Teemu Selanne has signed a one year deal with .... the Ducks???
This one kind of came out of the clear blue. Everyone was sort of expecting him to go to Les Habitants to be with his buddy Saku Koivu. Eklund even used his new-fangled "rumor veracity" scale to place that one at three Es out of five. This means that someone "very close to the matter" said he would be in Montreal. Other rumors had him landing in St. Louis, Atlanta or Florida. I never heard anyone talk about his return to Anaheim. The nine-time All-star and one-time (1998-99) Rocket Richard winner played six seasons in Anaheim between 1995-96 and 2000-01. During that time, he scored 225 goals and tallied 257 assists for a total of 482 points in 394 games. He was then traded to San Jose for backup goaltender Steve Shields and left wing Jeff Friesen.

In other news, the Coyotes re-signed defenseman Paul Mara to a one year deal worth $1.14M. Mara was scheduled to be one of only 7 players going to arbitration, and one of the five who took their team there. Now I will update my arbitration list.

According to Eklund, one of the remaining six, goaltender Roberto Luongo, (who was summoned to arbitration by the Panthers) will be traded to Les Habitants for Jose Theodore. I didn't realize until looking at his bio that Theodore is only 28 years old. Crap. Although I would certainly look forward to being rid of Roberto Luongo in the Southeast Division, I'm not exactly crazy about the idea of going up against the Beav eight times, either.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

looking for more stuff

The staff of red and black hockey has been working hard to improve this site, and we want to work even harder.

We've added a store, where you can purchase t-shirts. Other items may be on the horizon as well.

We've added a newer, better e-mail address dedicated to this blog.

We've added a number of links to other blogs. We like where this is going, but we want more. If you, or anybody you know is a hockey blogger, we'd like to know the URLs and primary teams associated with them. Eventually, we'll have all the blogs indexed by team.

Also, if we are missing any general hockey links, please let us know.

Thanks for your support.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Canada's new sweaters: too tight

Team Canada unveiled their new-look sweaters and socks on Thursday. The gear, which will be used during the 2006 Olympics, is designed by Nike to reduce air resistance and friction, enabling the skaters to be quicker and more efficient. The design technology that was used is similar to that which is used in designing cycling jerseys.

In this photo, check out the facial expressions on the three men:

Simon Gagne:"I HATE this. Will you hurry up with the pictures so I can change?"

Bob Nichols:"Holy cow! Gagne's got a nice ass! I like the form fitting stuff."

Wayne Gretzky:"Jeez, he really looks like a clown in that outfit."

Most of the team donned the new sweaters for one twenty minute session of a scrimmage on Thursday before Coach Gretzky cried "Hold! Enough!" Some players, however, such as Todd Bertuzzi, Chris Pronger, Rick Nash and Keith Primeau couldn't even get the damn things on. After it took four guys to unsuccessfully help Bertuzzi, he said:
"They couldn't quite get it on me over my stomach. They would look good with a pair jeans going to a bar maybe. I think they are going to have to fix them up for a few guys. We have a lot of big guys on this team."

The overall impression was that they were just too tight, to the point of being uncomfortable. Especially the socks. Although he didn't wear the sweater, Pronger wore the socks, and lamented afterwards:
"The socks were a little tight, too," Pronger said. "My feet are still a little numb, they were so tight."

Across the board, the players agreed that they would gladly forgo the sleekness and sexiness of the new unis for the comfort of the old stuff.

In my opinion, they look like something a motocross rider wears. The tightness of it all sort of takes away from the intimidation factor of it all. A bulky sweater accentuates the hugeness of a player like Pronger. On the flipside, the tightness of the new sweater makes everyone look little. Especially someone who is already little, like Martin St. Louis.

In the second photo, look how ridiculous Martin St. Louis looks standing next to Gagne. Of course Gagne is wearing skates, and St. Louis flip-flops, but it really makes him look tiny anyway.

This was just a test run, and judging from the results, Nike has a lot of work to do.

....and then there were... five

On Friday, Left Wing Brenden Morrow re-signed a two year contract with Dallas, which will pay him $1.9M this season and $2.2M next season. Meanwhile, Edminton re-signed Center/Left Wing Shawn Horcoff to a one year deal.

Why do I care about these guys? I don't really. I'm only mentioning it because these are two of the 11 guys who filed for salary arbitration. Here's the complete list.

  1. Shawn Horcoff, Edminton (signed August 19)

  2. Marian Hossa, Ottawa(signed August 23)

  3. Trent Hunter, New York Islanders (signed August 13)

  4. Paul Mara, Phoenix (signed August 22)

  5. Josef Melichar, Pittsburgh (signed August 15)

  6. Brenden Morrow, Dallas (signed August 19)

  7. Mattias Ohlund, Vancouver(signed August 24

  8. Justin Papineau, New York Islanders(signed August 24)

  9. Brent Sopel, New York Islanders (signed August 16)

  10. Dick Tarnstrom, Pittsburgh (awarded $1.6M)

  11. Mike York, New York Islanders (signed August 13)

The players who have signed contracts and avoided arbitration have been crossed off the list.

Additionally, two players have actually been summoned to arbitration by their team. Star goaltender Roberto Luongo of the Panthers and winger Alexander Korolyuk of the Sharks have been called out for holding their team hostage. The new CBA allows teams to force hold-out players into an arbitration hearing. The players then must abide by the results of the hearing.

So the total number of players still slated for arbitration hearing is actually seven, but only five of them are there of their own volition. The hearings will begin on Tuesday (the 23rd) and will be resolved by next Saturday (the 27th).

Good luck.

I'm just grateful that I root for a team that is devoid of drama right now. Nobody filed for arbitration, nobody is holding out, and we've got everybody of consequence signed. There are no trade rumors. Nothing. Now we just prepare for opening night.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It's getting ugly in Ottawa

It must be frustrating to be a Senators fan right about now.

First, you have Marian Hossa filing for arbitration.
I've written about this here and also here. I've said that Hossa is underpaid and deserves more. Now I'm not so sure. I've said that his numbers make a compelling case for him to get Iggy/Thornton type salary. Despite his point production, though, Sens management doesn't see fit to reward him with even an "A" on the sweater. Nor do they see fit to reward him with a better salary. I don't know what it is, but there's something that they don't like about him.
The Sens have stood by their resolve that Daniel Alfredsson will be their highest paid player at $4.66M. They have made two offers to Hossa in the neighborhood of $4M/year(3-year/$11.9M, 2-year/$8M), which were both refused. He wants what he thinks is fair, and what he thinks is "fair" is $7M. He's been watching players with very similar numbers sign huge contracts (Iggy -- 3-year/$21M; Thornton -- 3 year/$20M; Lecavalier -- 4 year/$25.7M), and wants in on that. The Sens will argue that Hossa should be held in the same light as Milan Hejduk, who has similar numbers and just signed with The Avs for $3.7M.
According to this article in the Sun, NHL sources are suggesting that Hossa will lose this arbitration battle, which begins next Tuesday, and will be awarded $3.7-$4M. If this is the case, maid Marian will be very unhappy, and may start to play like a bitter player, just waiting to be traded. If he wins the arbitration, the Sens can't afford it. Either way, it seems like a no-win situation for Ottawa.
I've already beaten the Hossa/Iggy/Thornton numbers to death, but let's take one more look at his numbers, and this time, just for argument's sake, we'll compare them to those of Milan Hejduk and Pavol Demitra, both of whom have contracts roughly in the $4M range.

RW MARIAN HOSSA, Ottawa. age 26. (offer of 3 years/$11.9M refused)
2000-01 81GP...32G...43A...75TP...+19...44PIM
2001-02 80GP...31G...35A...66TP...+11...50PIM
2002-03 80GP...45G...35A...80TP...+8....34PIM
2003-04 81GP...36G...46A...82TP...+4....46PIM

C/RW PAVOL DEMITRA, Los Angeles (formerly of St. Louis) age 30 (3 years/$13.5M)
2000-01 44GP...20G...25A...45TP...+27...16PIM
2001-02 82GP...35G...43A...78TP...+13...46PIM
2002-03 78GP...36G...57A...93TP....0....32PIM
2003-04 68GP...23G...35A...58TP....+1...18PIM

RW MILAN HEJDUK, Colorado. age 29 (5 years/$19.5M)
2000-01 80GP...41G...38A...79TP...+32...36PIM
2001-02 62GP...21G...23A...44TP....0....24PIM
2002-03 82GP...50G...48A...98TP...+52...32PIM
2003-04 82GP...35G...40A...75TP...+19...20PIM

There's an equally compelling argument using those stats. Look at Hejduk's +/-, by the way. !!!!! In 2002-03, he was the Rocket Richard winner and he shared the Bud Light Plus/Minus Award with teammate Peter Forsberg.
Hejduk and Demitra aren't whining for Iggy-type money, and maybe, in view of this argument, neither should Hossa.

Then, after all that, you have all the rumors about defenseman Wade Redden being on the trading block. According to many blogosphere and message board rumors, Redden is being aggressively marketed. However, according to this article in the Ottawa Sun, those rumors are completely false, and "stupid". He and fellow D-man Zdeno Chara are set to be UFAs next summer, and the club is trying to avoid that by getting both to sign to multi-year contract renewals.
This one shouldn't be a problem at all. The Hossa situation, though.... that may be ugly.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vasicek inks a two-year deal.

This whole ordeal is finally over. The Hurricanes and Josef Vasicek finally came to an agreement. The two-year, $2.3M contract will pay Joe $1M this season and $1.3 in 2006-07. This is a huge part of the puzzle that we're glad has fallen into place.
When the Canes were the league's worst scoring team in 2003-04, Vasicek managed to net 19 goals and 26 assists. His game has shown steady improvement in the four years with the club, and we'll look forward to seeing him have a breakout year.
During the lockout, Vasicek returned to his native Czech Republic, where he played alongside Ziggy Palffy on Slavia Praha HC of the Czech Extraleague. Vasicek scored 20 goals to Palffy's 21.
This is important that he signed a two year deal for a number of reasons. One, obviously, is that we make a commitment to him. Second, we'll avoid arbitration (which he would be eligible for following this season).

I really like Vasicek. He works really hard and finds a way to be in the right place at the right time. Of his 19 goals in 03-04, 5 were game-winners, making him tied for eighth best in the league among centers in that category. He also demonstrates a lot of hockey smarts and is able to stay focused in key situations. During the 2002 run to the Stanley Cup Finals, he showed a lot of poise under pressure, scoring a key game-winner versus New Jersey in game 4 of the first round. He's got pretty decent defensive skills, too.

I think, actually, that the Canes are done. I wouldn't expect any more signings outside of obvious Lowell-filling ones. I wouldn't be surprised if there's maybe a trade somewhere, but nothing of significant impact.


Two years, $2.3M for big Joe.

Details to follow

push comes to shove with Vasicek

Negotiations between the Carolina Hurricanes and Josef Vasicek have reached a critical point. According to this article in today's Raleigh News and Observer, big Joe has been given a "final offer" of slightly less than the $1.14M/season that Erik Cole just signed. Hurricanes management is expecting an answer from Vasicek's agent sometime today.
Vasicek led the Canes in 2003-04 with 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 total points. He screwed himself out of being eligible for arbitration by not signing last summer. If he and the Canes are unable to come to terms and remains unsigned on the December 1 free agent signing deadline, he would have to go back to Europe.
Canes fans everywhere have gone from being a little frustrated to being very worried about this.
If this doesn't work out, I don't think our players in the system are capable of stepping up. We're going to have to dip into the free agency pool.

There's a rumor being trumpeted by certain Canes fans that we're looking at Martin St. Louis , who remains a RFA. It indeed looks like the Bolts won't be able to afford to retain him, but I want to make one thing very clear. I DO NOT WISH TO ENDORSE THIS RUMOR. Sure, it would be sweet, but it wouldn't make sense for the Canes to go for him.
We need a mid-tier forward, and at this point, there's not a lot left. We may, though, have to grab some of the cast-offs who nobody wants. If this Vasicek thing falls through, I'd like to see us grab former Cane Bates Battaglia, who lives in the area, and is apparently anxiously waiting for Jim Rutherford's call. The numbers won't be anywhere near the same, but he'd give us decent numbers. I've posted about this before. He's a good player who would come very cheap, and would be worth every penny and then some. I say we should sign him just as insurance. However, the team is looking to carry only 21 players, so they might want to set their sights a little higher.

I'm just hoping that things turn out alright. Unfortunately, I won't know until very late tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mogilny to Devils

The New Jersey Devils signed Alexander Mogilny to a two-year, $7M deal. This will be the 36-year-old's second tour of duty with New Jersey.
The five-time All-Star was originally a fifth round selection by the Sabres in the 1988 entry draft, and has also played for The Vancouver Canucks, and of course, most recently, Toronto Maple Leafs. In 956 career NHL contests, Mogilny has tallied 461 goals and 546 assists for 1007 total points. Although age and injury are catching up with him (he missed 40 games in 2003-04 with a hip injury), he's still able to produce at nearlya point a night. I think this is a great pick-up by the Devils.
I usually have no love to give for Leafs players, but I always liked Mogilny. He works hard and doesn't let his talent go to waste. In addition to being a remarkably gifted skater, he plays a very clean, sound game. Anyone who wins the Lady Byng, as he did in 2003, gets my respect.

Then another big-name free agency signing came late last night which finally answered a question I posed nine days ago. CuJo has signed a one-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes. I'm not sure of the financials on that, but it doesn't matterThe deal is reportedly worth $900k. This is an outstanding pickup. One that will make Coach Gretzky's job a lot easier. The three-time All-Star had a "shaky" season with Detroit in 2003-04. He sat out a number of games with different injuries to the same (right) ankle, and was constantly the center of trade talk. He played in 32 contests, and had a record of 16-10-3, had a Goals Against Average of 2.39 and a save percentage of .909. In the 2004 playoffs, he appeared in 9 games, going 4-4 with a GAA of 1.38 (!!!) and a save percentage of .939. He did not play at all during the lockout.
Often considered to be among the best in the game, CuJo has never hoisted the Cup. This move will certainly mean that he won't be doing it in 2006 either.

The NHL free agency gods also answered another one of my questions from about three weeks ago. Anson Carter signed a one-year, $1M deal with Vancouver. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was pretty much a done deal that he was going to be a Maple Leaf. I know, I know. Every player in the NHL has been rumored to be headed to the Leafs at some point this summer, but I swear I heard that he was in Toronto undergoing the physical examination as a formality to a deal with them.
Actually, I don't like this guy. He doesn't assert himself well at all, and he doesn't put up numbers that are all that impressive. For $1M, though, it's not bad. Carter, who didn't play at all during the lockout, was traded two times during the 2003-04 season. Both of them were horrible trades by the Capitals. I've already written about this at great length, but to refresh.... In a move that would have certainly been vetoed in any fantasy hockey league, the Caps traded Jaromir Jagr to the Rangers straight-up for Carter. The Caps also agreed to pay half of Jagr's salary. Shortly thereafter, the Caps traded Carter to the Kings straight-up for Jared Aulin. So in a six week span, the Caps went from Jagr to Aulin. From premiere player to prospect. From stud to bum. Caps owner Ted Leonsis can try to rationalize that as much as possible, but if I live to be 200 years old, I'll never understand that. I know it was a money thing, but it still doesn't make sense to have gotten as little out of it as they did.

Here's a question I'd really like the free agency gods to answer... Why isn't anyone talking about Ilya Kovalchuk? He's still unsigned, and I haven't heard a single rumor about him.

Lavi named Olympic Coach!

Hurricanes Coach Peter Laviolette was named as the Head Coach of the United States Olympic hockey team for the 2006 games in Turino, Italy. The 40-year old was also the coach of Team USA for the 2004 and 2005 IIHF World Championships. Lavi was a player on the 1988 US Olympic team (the only Division III player to make the squad) and he was captain of the 1994 Olympic team.
Under the direction of the late Herb Brooks, the 2002 Olympic team took home the silver medal. We're all hoping that Lavi can improve on that.
It's way too early to even speculate about who will make the squad, but there's a good chance that fellow Hurricane Erik Cole (Oswego, NY) will be given serious consideration.

Here's a list of players who have been invited to the Orientation Camp, which will be held Sept. 5 - 8 in Colorado Springs, CO. (obtained from usahockey.com)
2005 United States Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Orientation Camp Roster

Name Ht (cm) Wt (kg) Birthdate S/C Birthplace NHL Team
Ty Conklin 6-0 (183) 180 (82) 5/30/76 L Anchorage, Alaska Edmonton Oilers
Rick DiPietro 5-11 (180) 185 (84) 9/19/81 R Winthrop, Mass. New York Islanders
Robert Esche 6-1 (185) 210 (95) 1/22/78 L Utica, N.Y. Philadelphia Flyers
Ryan Miller 6-2 (188) 166 (75) 7/17/80 L East Lansing, Mich. Buffalo Sabres

Bryan Berard 6-2 (188) 220 (100) 5/5/77 L Woonsocket, R.I. Free Agent
Mark Eaton 6-2 (188) 212 (96) 5/6/77 L Wilmington, Del. Nashville Predators
Hal Gill 6-7 (201) 255 (116) 4/6/75 L Concord, Mass. Boston Bruins
Tim Gleason 6-1 (185) 217 (98) 1/29/83 L Southfield, Mich. Los Angeles Kings
Derian Hatcher 6-5 (196) 235 (107) 6/4/72 L Sterling Heights, Mich. Philadelphia Flyers
Jordan Leopold 6-1 (185) 205 (93) 8/3/80 L Golden Valley, Minn. Calgary Flames
John-Michael Liles 5-10 (178) 185 (84) 11/25/80 L Zionsville, Ind. Colorado Avalanche
Paul Martin 6-1 (185) 190 (86) 5/5/81 L Minneapolis, Minn. New Jersey Devils
Aaron Miller 6-4 (193) 218 (99) 8/11/71 R Buffalo, N.Y. Los Angeles Kings
Brian Pothier 6-0 (183) 198 (90) 4/15/77 R New Bedford, Mass. Ottawa Senators
Brian Rafalski 5-9 (175) 190 (86) 9/28/73 R Dearborn, Mich. New Jersey Devils
Andy Roach 5-11 (180) 181 (82) 8/22/73 R Mattawan, Mich. St. Louis Blues
Ryan Suter 6-1 (185) 183 (83) 1/21/85 L Madison, Wis. Nashville Predators
David Tanabe 6-1 (185) 195 (88) 7/19/80 R Minneapolis, Minn. Phoenix Coyotes

Jason Blake 5-10 (178) 180 (82) 9/2/73 L Moorhead, Minn. New York Islanders
Dustin Brown 6-0 (183) 195 (88) 11/4/84 R Ithaca, N.Y. Los Angeles Kings
Erik Cole 6-2 (188) 200 (91) 11/6/78 L Oswego, N.Y. Carolina Hurricanes
Matt Cullen 6-2 (188) 218 (99) 11/2/76 L Virginia, Minn. Carolina Hurricanes
Chris Drury 5-10 (178) 180 (82) 8/20/76 R Trumbull, Conn. Buffalo Sabres
Brian Gionta 5-7 (170) 175 (79) 1/18/79 R Rochester, N.Y. New Jersey Devils
Scott Gomez 5-11 (180) 200 (91) 12/23/79 L Anchorage, Alaska New Jersey Devils
Bill Guerin 6-2 (188) 210 (95) 11/9/70 R Wilbraham, Mass. Dallas Stars
Jeff Halpern 6-0 (183) 201 (91) 7/3/76 R Potomac, Md. Washington Capitals
Chris Higgins 5-11 (180) 192 (87) 6/2/83 L Smithtown, N.Y. Montreal Canadiens
Ryan Kesler 6-1 (185) 195 (88) 8/31/84 R Livonia, Mich. Vancouver Canucks
Mike Knuble 6-3 (191) 228 (103) 7/4/72 R Toronto, Ont. Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Konowalchuk 6-2 (188) 207 (94) 11/11/72 L Salt Lake City, Utah Colorado Avalanche
Ryan Malone 6-4 (193) 215 (98) 12/1/79 L Pittsburgh, Penn. Pittsburgh Penguins
Mike Modano 6-3 (191) 205 (93) 6/7/70 L Livonia, Mich. Dallas Stars
Zach Parise 5-11 (180) 186 (84) 7/28/84 L Minneapolis, Minn. New Jersey Devils
Richard Park 5-11 (180) 190 (86) 5/27/76 R Seoul, South Korea Minnesota Wild
Mark Parrish 5-11 (180) 200 (91) 2/2/77 R Edina, Minn. New York Islanders
Brian Rolston 6-2 (188) 210 (95) 2/21/73 L Flint, Mich. Minnesota Wild
Keith Tkachuk 6-2 (188) 225 (102) 3/28/72 L Melrose, Mass. St. Louis Blues
Doug Weight 5-11 (180) 200 (91) 1/21/71 L Warren, Mich. St. Louis Blues

Please note that I cut and pasted this chart. Don't come yelling at me if some of the "team" listings are wrong. I know, for example, that Richard Park isn't with the Wild anymore.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wesley signs

Glen Wesley just signed for one year at $1M. I would imagine that the soon-to-be-37-year-old will call it quits after this season. I'm further imagining that his very specific directions for this season will be to play role model to the young guys, and to especially to take fellow red-headed d-man Mike Commodore under his wing. Beyond this season, it would be nice to see Wesley step behind the bench as an assistant to Lavy. He's earned a lot of respect within this organization and also from the fans. Provided he has any interest in doing it, it would be a classy move.
Let me state again... We had a really cruddy team in 2003-04, but Wesley managed to amass a +18 rating. That's pretty incredible.

Now all that's left is the Czech Condor. All indicators are that we'll get to work on him tomorrow, and hopefully nail down the multi-year deal.

According to Eklund, Philly is still looking to dump a player. Now they want to sign Peter Bondra and dump Michal Handzus. Although not the best in the world, a lot of teams would really like to have Handzus anchor their third or fourth line. The Phlyers have a glut of centers, so it makes sense for them to get rid of one, and to bring in Bondra wouldn't exactly be a step up, numbers-wise, but it would give them a guy who can play either wing position. We'll see....

I can see it now... Handzus to Atlanta.
Actually, folks keep talking about how Carolina and Philly have historically made good trading partners, and how nice it would be to have Handzus here, but I won't promote that theory.
I'm seriously thinking about driving to Raleigh to watch workouts.... I've got thoughts about that, but I'll post them later.

waiting game

From what I'm hearing, this unbearable delay in getting Josef Vasicek signed has been at the request of his agent. The agent, apparently, has lots of UFAs he wants to deal with first. According to what people have been saying and from reading articles in the News and Observer, they'll get started with those talks on Wednesday. Canes GM Jim Rutherford will be looking to hammer out a multi-year deal that many believe will be in the neighborhood of $1.1 per year. While playing for the league minimum in 2003-04, Vasicek led the Canes (who were last in the league in Goals For) with 19 goals. Last summer, he refused to sign a two-year deal, which means he lost a year of NHL service, and made him ineligible for salary arbitration this summer.

I'm not sure what's going on with Glen Wesley. The veteran defenseman has been our alternate captain for a while now, and offers obvious leadership to what would otherwise be a relatively young defensive group. While he has absolutely no offensive upside, Wesley is a very sound defensive d-man. Somehow, he managed to have a +18 in 2003-04. Our other d-man with significant experience, Bret Hedican will be coming back from a successful back surgery and will be somewhat of a question mark. Despite his age (he'll be 37 by opening night), I'd like to see him back for one more season. We'll need, if nothing else, his leadership skills.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Canes re-sign St. Jacques, Brendl

The Canes have re-signed defenseman Bruno St. Jacques and right winger Pavel "Krispy" Brendl. It was these same two guys who were obtained in a February '03 trade that sent Sami Kapanen to the Flyers.
I like St. Jacques. Like a bunch of guys we have, he makes up for any lack of talent with a surplus of effort.

Krispy, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He is blessed with a ton of talent, but is the classic under-achiever. When he played junior hockey for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, he tallied an incredible 73 goals and 61 assists for 134 points in 68 games during the 1998-99 season, leading his team to the WHL Championship. He also had 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points in 20 playoff games that same year. That summer, he was selected by the Flyers Rangers with the fourth overall pick in the 1999 entry draft. Two more impressive seasons in the WHL, then a trade to the Flyers and a very good season with the Flyers AHL affiliate (which is also in Philly). Once he moved up to the bigs, though, it wasn't there for him. He has such tremendous upside, and all the coaches can see that, but one thing that holds him back in the NHL is his work ethic. I've ranted about this before, so I'll try to avoid sounding like a broken record, but I just don't get it with this kid.

Here's where some explaining will be necessary. You might see that Krispy's contract is for one year at $899,745. If you're not a Canes fan, you might ask, and a lot of casual Canes fans might "why pay an under-achiever so much?" Well.... The provision in that contract is that if he ends up in the AHL, he'll only make $35k. Talk about forcing a guy to achieve! Dangle that carrot doughnut in front of him, and he may perform to the best of his ability. I know the coaches have faith in him to have given him the two-way contract, and I'd like to be proven wrong about this kid. Something tells me that he will make the opening night roster.

St. Jacques' contract is for the league minimum $450k, with a provision that if he ends up in Lowell, he'll make the AHL league maximum of $75k. There's no doubt in my mind that Bruno will make the big club, but it's a classy move to offer him the AHL league max if things don't work out. The same was done for a number of the other young guys, but obviously not for Krispy.

... STILL waiting on Big Joe.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

please hammer, don't hurt em

As soon as I said "there's no more big names signing with new teams", the official word came in on the Roman Hamrlik signing. The Flames inked him to a two-year deal for $7M. Actually, I had forgotten about this, because I had already stored it in my mind as a "done deal". Even the terms of the contract were already known to the hockey world. The 2003-04 Clarence S. Campbell Bowl defending Flames have got to be happy with this. The 13-year veteran was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 entry draft and has played in three all-star games. In addition to being a very strong defenseman with great size, he has a tremendous offensive upside. Including re-signing some of their own RFAs, this is Calgary's tenth signing during the free agency market.
I'd look for the Flaming Cees to make a serious run at repeating as Western Conference Champs.

While doing some research for this post, I looked for songs with "hammer" in the title because I wanted to make a better joke than the one I did. What I came across was something I hadn't noticed before. Maybe this has to do with my lack of knowledge on the heavy metal music scene, but there's a song called "The Hammer" by Motörhead that sounds almost exactly like their "Ace of Spades" (which, prior to ten minutes ago, was the only Motörhead song I knew). Again, it might have to do with my lack of real exposure. With some slight variation, though, the guitar chord progression is the same and the drums are exactly the same. I don't have the mp3 files to post, but if you really care, check out the short samples available at this page.
Dangit. I'm not supposed to talk about music here, and I'm not supposed to talk about hockey on my other blog , but I've already broken both rules in the short three weeks of their co-existence. Trust me, though, I would never write about Motörhead except in a case like this.

Still waiting for the "Canes re-sign Josef Vasicek" news.... Maybe Monday.

Kings get Valeri Bure

In the waning days of the free agency period, we're seeing a lot of RFAs get re-signed by their teams. Fewer are the big name players going to different teams. Friday, though, the Kings signed Valeri Bure to a one-year deal. Assuming they're paying him less than $3M, it's a good deal. Otherwise, I don't know. Make no mistake: Valeri is good, but he can't hold a candle to his brother Pavel. Face it, he can't really hold a candle to his wife Candace Cameron either. I digress. He's a good player, but he can't really stay healthy. (Sounds like his brother). Healthy or not, though, this dude will give you a point two out of every three nights. I'd take that every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Like his brother (who had an excuse -- injury), Valeri didn't play at all during the lockout.
I don't know about his change of cast, though. He last played alongside Mike Modano in Dallas. A great player, and a classy guy. Now, his marquee teammate will be J-Ro. Don't get me wrong... I think J-Ro is a great player, but he's just a little too loudmouthed for my liking. LA is the right city for him, though.

By the way, ¿Dondé Pavel Bure? Does anyone know? Aside from the gloom-and-doom "the league is going to hell in a handbasket and lots of players are fleeing for Europe" comments, I haven't heard a word about Pavel. I know his knee is a significant concern, but he won the freakin' Rocket Richard trophy twice in a row (1999-2000, 2000-01) and has regularly produced at a clip of more than a point a night. I'm sure a lot of clubs would be willing to offer him Jason Allison type money.

There's crazy stuff going on at the Canes boards. People getting banned, the whole board getting locked, the same people getting other screen names banned, everyone getting really defensive. I'm sure the offending party(-ies) will get bored eventually and leave us alone, but it's kind of ugly right now.

If you wanna see some spectacular goals, check out the NHL Network's "Top Ten Goals of the 2003-04 season". Coming in at #4 is a really nasty backhander goal scored by the Canes' Kevyn Adams against the Rangers. I think I've posted the link to a video of that specific goal, but take the 20 minutes to watch the top 10. They're all jaw-dropping.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Canes re-ink Cole, Boulerice

Canes fans can breathe a little easier now. Erik Cole has been re-signed to a one-year $1.14M deal. Cole got us a little worried yesterday when he expressed some concern about the club's commitment to him. Frankly, I think he has a right to be concerned. He really wants to play for this team, and wants a long-term commitment. A one-year deal is not what he had in mind, and is not what we fans have in mind either. Our team, though, has never been known to shore up players with long-term contracts. Even still, it would have been nicer to get a three-year deal.
Cole, who can play either wing position, was the C to Bates Battaglia and Rod Brind'Amour's Bs on the BBC line which caught fire during our run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002. During that post-season, Cole lead all rookies with 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 points. He also grew a really kick-ass playoff beard (see picture).
On the ice, Cole isn't the most talented skater, but he works hard and plays aggressively.
Off the ice, Erik is one of the fan favorites. He always makes time to talk to fans and to sign jerseys and caps. I've never met him, but everyone who has says he's a hell of a guy.
I'm happy that we've retained him, but I just wish it had been a longer contract. I don't know what the team has in the works, but I would assume that they have some plans for Colesy beyond this season.
There's still some talk of trying to get Battaglia back here. He would come cheap, and the ladies would really like it. I think we'd all like it, but the ladies especially. He'll never be a Rocket Richard contender, but his production would be well worth the salary he'd get (probably around $600k).
Right wing Jesse Boulerice is another guy who I think we had to retain. Yes, he's our "enforcer", but he made some really significant improvements in his offensive game in 2003-04. No longer just the agitator, he scored 6 goals in the 03-04 season to go along with his team-high 127 penalty minutes, and earned an "every-night-player" status rather than being a healthy scratch. I'm concerned, though, because he didn't play at all during the lockout. His contract, by the way, is for one year at $501,600.

Now, the only player I think we MUST retain is Josef Vasicek, who is rumored to make Cole-type money. I'm waiting....

Thornton commits to Bruins, Leafs steal Lindros

On Thursday, Boston Bruins centerman Joe Thornton signed a three-year, $20M deal to stay with the only NHL team he's ever played for. The 26-year old captain of the Bruins was the first overall selection in the 1997 entry draft, and has been an all-star three times in his seven NHL seasons. Thornton would have become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but opted to avoid that by signing the three year contract.

This contract should help Marian Hossa in his arbitration. Thornton's numbers are pretty similar to those of Iggy and Hossa, yet Hossa gets paid chump change compared to Iggy and Thornton

C JOE THORNTON, Boston. age 26. 3 years/$20M
2000-01 72GP...37G...34A...71TP...-4....107PIM
2001-02 66GP...22G...46A...68TP...+7....127PIM
2002-03 77GP...36G...65A..101TP...+12...109PIM
2003-04 77GP...23G...50A...73TP...+18...98PIM

C JAROME IGINLA, Calgary. age 28. 3 years/$21M
2000-01 77GP...31G...40A...71TP...-2....62PIM
2001-02 82GP...52G...44A...96TP...+27...77PIM
2002-03 75GP...35G...32A...67TP...-10...49PIM
2003-04 81GP...41G...32A...73TP...+21...84PIM

RW MARIAN HOSSA, Ottawa. age 26. (offer of 3 years/$11.9M refused)
2000-01 81GP...32G...43A...75TP...+19...44PIM
2001-02 80GP...31G...35A...66TP...+11...50PIM
2002-03 80GP...45G...35A...80TP...+8....34PIM
2003-04 81GP...36G...46A...82TP...+4....46PIM

With the exception of Thornton's number of penalty minutes, all three of those statistical sets are almost identical. This signing will go a long way to helping maid Marian get what he wants and deserves. But the difference in the players is that Thornton and Iggy each wear the "C" on their sweater, whereas Hossa doesn't even wear an "A". Something screams out about that. A guy who consistently produces at nearly a point a night, but he's not even the alternate captain? There's something else going on there. I don't know what, and I can't even begin to speculate, but something's going on in the state of Denmark. I don't want to call it rotten, but it's not exactly fresh, either.

Meanwhile, the Leafs continue to add big names at bargain bin prices. They signed Eric Lindros to a one-year, $1.55M deal ....


(back to our regularly scheduled post, already in progress)

Lindros, who, Like fellow Leafs newcomer Jason Allison , has had concussion problems, should still be a nice pickup for the perinnial Prince of Wales contender. The concerns are more significant for Allison, but folks are a little worried about #88, too. At that price, though, it's a risk well worth taking. If both of these guys play at about 85%, or even if either or both of them miss half a season, the benefits will outweigh the costs. Nobody will expect spectacular seasons from them, but Leafs fans should expect about 60 points out of both guys.
As much as I dislike the Leafs, I like the moves they've made this summer.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

More on the NHL/Comcast deal

I don't think I did a very good job with my initial post about the agreement the NHL has come to with Comcast. There were some important details that I left out.

First, the owner of OLN, Ed Snider, is a hockey guy. He's also part owner of the Flyers. What this means is that although OLN isn't as high profile as ESPN, the TV deal will be in better hands. As a hockey guy, Snider wants this to succeed and he wants the NHL to succeed. That's in contrast to ESPN, who may has well change their name to THEC ("Texas Hold 'Em Channel"). Some folks around here are humorously suggesting that ESPN, who is based in Connecticut, is still angry that the Whalers relocated to Raleigh, and stopped caring about hockey then.

The other key piece of information that I neglected to include is that there's some buzz about the OLN folks having a long-term plan to establish an NHL Network. If this is true, then this might be the best thing in the world.


When yesterday's deadline for players to file for salary arbitration came, there were only 11 players who stepped forward, which is much lower than expected.

The most notable player on that list is 26-year old Marian Hossa of the Ottawa Senators (story)
The smart money is on Hossa to win the arbitration hearing. The Sens have offered him a three-year, $11.9M deal, which he has rejected. He believes that he should be compensated the same way that Jarome Iginla. Iggy just inked a deal for three years and $21M.
Hossa's last four seasons have been quite spectacular. Way more impressive than I had remembered:

2000-01 81GP...32G...43A...75TP...+19...44PIM
2001-02 80GP...31G...35A...66TP...+11...50PIM
2002-03 80GP...45G...35A...80TP...+8....34PIM
2003-04 81GP...36G...46A...82TP...+4....46PIM

Compare those regular season numbers to those of Iggy over the same period of time...

2000-01 77GP...31G...40A...71TP...-2....62PIM
2001-02 82GP...52G...44A...96TP...+27...77PIM
2002-03 75GP...35G...32A...67TP...-10...49PIM
2003-04 81GP...41G...32A...73TP...+21...84PIM

Those numbers are pretty similar. In fact, it's a difference of only four points. So why should Iggy get paid so much more? Hossa has a point, and he will win the arbitration hearing. From a pure numbers standpoint, there's no doubt. Of course people will say that Iggy has more leadership qualities and other stuff that doesn't show up in the box score, but it's hard to argue with the offensive production. Problem is, Ottawa can't afford to pay him. Expect to see a trade involving multiple players to the Sens and Hossa somewhere else. I can't speculate about who the trading partner would be, but at this point it seems unlikely that the Sens will pay him an Iggy-like salary.

On the 'Canes front, winger Erik Cole made news this morning by expressing doubts about his future with the Canes. In this article from today's News & Observer, Cole (who did not file for arbitration) is quoted as saying:
"Obviously, my wife and I would prefer to stay in Raleigh... We love the area, we love the fans and it's a great place to be and a great place to play. At the same time, you want to make sure the organization is headed in the right direction and you're going to be treated like they want you there."

Wow. I'm not sure where he's been getting his information, but the last time I checked, he's one of the favorites around here, and to my knowledge, the organization has never given him anything but positive reinforcement. The Canes are offering him $1.1M, which he hasn't accepted yet. This is a key guy who we really need to retain. I hope it doesn't get ugly.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Canes re-ink Williams

Speaking of Fleury, (man, is this ever a bad pun) there's been a flurry of RFA re-signings today.
The only one I care about is that the Hurricanes re-signed Justin Williams to a one-year $1.225M deal.
The 23-year old right winger was acquired from Philly in a January 2004 trade. Daniil Markov for Williams. Markov was later traded to Nashville for a conditional pick, which was then bundled with J-Ro and shipped to LA for future considerations. Quite possibly the worst trade ever made in any sport. All of this was done to make room for the great Peter Forsberg's outrageous salary. I don't want to talk about that today, though. This is about Justin Williams.

Williams immediately became a fan favorite upon his arrival in Raleigh, and is expected to be on the verge of a breakout season. At the very least, he's on the verge of becoming a very good player. My concern here is that we signed him to a single-year deal. I'd really like to see him around for many years to come. I really like this guy. He's got good stick-handling skills, he's fast as all getout, he has good defensive skills, and you never see him lagging behind the play or dogging it. Best of all, he's young and will continue to improve.

I'm still waiting for the news that we've re-signed Erik Cole and Josef Vasicek, but I suppose I'll have to be patient.

Goalies find new homes

Two key goalies found new homes over the last 24 hours.
First, Sean Burke was picked up out of the free agency pool by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts will be paying the 38-year old journeyman $3.2M over two seasons, which in my opinion is about $3.1M more than he deserves (I'll get to that later). This will be his eighth team in his 17-year career, including two stops in Philly and a stint with Hartford/Carolina. He's been involved in a number of trades, including a January 1998 multi-player trade that sent him, Geoff Sanderson and another player to Vancouver for goaltender Kirk McLean and Marty Gelinas.

As you may or may not recall, the impetus for that specific trade was Burke's domestic abuse arrest in November 1997. After the incident, Burke denied the charges against him, but ultimately plead guilty. From what I've heard, this was not the first time he had beaten his wife, Leslie. I generally don't have any use for wife-beaters, and this is certainly the case here.

Apparently, many clubs were aggressively courting Burke, including the Penguins, who ended up signing Jocelyn Thibault . The 11-year veteran and one-time All-Star missed 60 games with the Blackhawks in 2003-04 due to hip surgery. I'm not sure what the plans are for M-A Fleury. Perhaps they'll platoon in goal, which seems to be a new trend with all these teams having two #1 goalies.

And the goalie merry-go-round continues to spin.

I give Tampa a D- on their change in net. They lost out on Khabibulin and picked up a very marginal (not to mention scum of the earth) Sean Burke. Bad. Very bad.

I give Chicago an A. Although Thibault is excellent, his hip is a big question mark. They couldn't have done any better than the Bulin Wall. Very solid pick-up.

Penguins will get a B-. As stated above, Thibault is kind of a question mark. His experience will be a big plus, as Emma Fleury will still need some guidance. He's also (if healthy) a very good keeper. It'll be interesting to see how that goalkeeping scenario unfolds in Pittsburgh.

Comcast, NHL ink a deal

The NHL has found a new cable TV home.

On Tuesday, the NHL and the cable giant ComCast came to an agreement in principle valued at $100 million for two years of broadcasting. The deal will be ratified by the NHL's Board of Governors and set into place for the upcoming season.
The Philadelphia-based cable company will nationally broadcast one to two games per week on its Outdoor Life Network . Formerly known best for its huntin' and fishin' shows, the channel has gained popularity over the past couple of years thanks to its outstanding full coverage of the Tour de France.
ESPN will have a chance to match or better the offer, but the smart money says that they won't. ESPN had been the national cable home of the NHL since 1985, but opted not to renew the contract or to have anything to do with the draft lottery or the draft itself.

NBC also has a contract with the NHL, but is limited to seven regular season games, six playoff games, and games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Most clubs will still enjoy the same regional coverage they had through the Fox Sports Net or other broadcasting groups.

If OLN can do a job that is even half as good as the job they do with the Tour de France, this'll be an awesome deal. I have a lot of faith in them.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Kevyn Adams re-signs

Very good news on the homefront.

The Hurricanes have re-signed Kevyn Adams to a two-year deal. We don't yet know the terms of the deal because the club does not disclose that, but the speculation was that he would get something like $750k per season. This is an absolute steal for a player who works exceptionally hard on every shift and has a fantastic attitude.
I won't kid anyone by saying that Adams is a good goal-scorer. He'll likely have somewhere in the neigborhood of 15 goals. What he brings, though, is incredible tenacity, and a never-give-up outlook. A perfect example of this is Kevyn's shorthanded goal with less than a second remaining in an overtime game at Atlanta on March 5, 2004. He was among the league leaders in shorthanded goals with five.

There has been a good deal of speculation that Kevyn will be wearing an A on his sweater this year, while Brind'Amour wears the C. I am a very vocal supporter of that.

Check out this stunning goal Kevyn scored against the Rangers on January 8, 2004.

Bertuzzi reinstated

I thought long and hard about whether I should write about this, and I finally decided that I should.

On Monday, Gary Bettman decided to accept Todd Bertuzzi's plea for re-instatement into the NHL. Bertuzzi was suspended "indefinitely" after a vicious attack on Colorado's Steve Moore on March 8, 2004, resulting in a broken neck for Moore. The suspension amounted to 13 regular season games and 5 playoff games. It is said that this was a $501,926.39 forfeiture in salary. Additionally, Bertuzzi was banned from play in Europe and Canada during the lockout.

Bettman believes that Bertuzzi is "genuinely remorseful" for his actions. I actually believe that, but I am not of the opinion that he should be allowed to play again. While he wishes he could take it back, anyone who is familiar with the situation knows that this was an intentional, even planned attack on Moore. It was not a clean hit and served no purpose other than to severely injure Moore. Retaliation for Moore's hit on Naslund isn't a good enough excuse for what happened. Bertuzzi went WAY over the line. To his credit, he knows that he went way over the line, and his tear-filled apology gave him a shred of dignity. Does he deserve forgiveness? I don't think so.

I think Bettman messed this up in the first place by not being more clear about the terms of the suspension. He should have made the suspension "no less than 82 games" instead of using the vague "indefinite". The reason I use that as an example is that's the suspension Marty McSorley got when he clubbed Donald Brashear over the head with his stick. Bettman should have looked for precedence in doling out suspensions for predatory attacks like that. It would have been very easy to come up with the answer. I was disappointed with the terms of the suspension then, and I'm disappointed with the re-instatement now.

Bertuzzi has only missed 13 (regular season) NHL games. Nobody played any NHL games in 2004-05, so I don't think that should have been taken into consideration. Nor should the Canucks' postseason games be taken into consideration.

Meanwhile, Steve Moore is nowhere near ready to play hockey again. There are civil charges pending against Bertuzzi, which should result in significant compensatory damages.

Caps ink Cassels

The Washington Capitals have finally done something else. This time, I kinda like what they're doing. They picked up center Andrew Cassels, signing him for one year at an undisclosed amount.

Cassels, who is 36, is still able to put up some respectable numbers. His best season was 1992-93, when he tallied 85 points (21/64) for the Hartford Whalers. That season was not unusual in that his assist total was three times that of his goals. With few exceptions, that has been the case every year. His career totals are 720 points on 200 goals and 520 assists. I'm still not sure who (other than Ovechkin) he will have to pass to, but he should have some decent numbers this year.

Cassels was actually part of one of the biggest trades in Hartford/Carolina history. During the summer before the Canes inaugural season, he and J-S Giguerre were traded to the Flames for Gary Roberts and Trevor Kidd.

With a VERY limited budget, this might be about all the Caps can do. According to owner Ted Leonsis, they want to spend $25M this year. He, along with Canes owner Peter Karmanos thinks two things. First, that his team will qualify for revenue sharing, allowing the team to break even or possibly turn a profit. Without the revenue sharing, there's no way. Second, that the league-wide cap will have to be lowered next season. In respect to this, he and Karmonos are preparing themselves to be in a situation where they can actually spend money next year while other teams are frantically trying to shed contracts. It's brilliant strategy, but it will take some time and patience for it to pay off. You can read Leonsis' letter to fans here.
One thing I find laughable is when he attempts to quell fans' frustration over the Jagr-for-Anson Carter (and subsequent Carter-for-Aulin) trade. He states, correctly, that there's no way the Caps could have afforded to keep him around, and they would have had to buy out the contract, losing $ and getting nothing in return.
If we would have kept Jaromir Jagr, we would have had to buy him out by writing him a bigger check than we currently do and we would have received nothing in return. We now have Jared Aulin in our organization as a result of the Jagr trade.

Where he's gone a little screwy, though, is that they could have done much better with their negotiating skills. Agreeing to pay half of Jagr's salary was more idiotic than getting Carter in return for him. Then the crack-smoking continued when they gave up Carter for Aulin, who is still barely more than a prospect.

This is freakin' brilliant, though.

And as a final gesture to display our gratitude for purchasing season tickets, I'm happy to announce that this year's season-ticket holder gift is a replica Caps CCM jersey.

For the record, Canes season ticket holders get a drawing of a player. They make it sound nicer by calling it a "limited edition lithograph". I've never collected mine.

Jaromir Jagr - age 33
career totals: 1027 GP 537 G 772 A 1309 TP 699 PIM

Anson Carter - age 31
career totals: 529 GP 158 G 180 A 338 TP 170 PIM

Jared Aulin age 23
career totals 17 GP 2 G 2 A 4 TP 0 PIM

You see the progression? Plus, they're still paying half of Jagr's salary! Unbelievable. What's next, I wonder. Trading Aulin for a couple of rolls of tape?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Osgood back to Wings

The Detroit Red Wings have signed goalkeeper Chris Osgood to a one-year contract.

Osgood was originally drafted by the Wings in the 1991 entry draft, and spent 8 seasons in Detroit, winning the Cup twice. He's played solidly for the Islanders and the Blues since then, but did not play at all during the lockout.

I'm guessing that the Wings have no intention of re-signing UFA CuJo, and will use Osgood as the every day goalie and Manny Legace (who is already under contract) as a respectable backup.

What will become of CuJo? Hello, Tampa Bay Lightning! As a Canes fan, I certainly hope not, but they've just lost Khabibulin, so they need a #1 netminder.

Very interesting.

'Canes re-sign Cullen

The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed center Matt Cullen to a one-year deal.

Cullen, who signed a one-year deal just before the lockout, spent 2004-05 playing in Italy, where he potted 60 points (27/33) in 36 regular season games plus 22 points (8/14) in 18 playoff games for Cortina of the Italian league.

Although Cullen has never suited up for the Hurricanes, he has played for Coach Peter Laviolette. He was on the Lavy-coached Team USA at the 2004 IIHF championships in the Czech Republic.

We're not expecting big things out of Cullen. Maybe a 30-point (10/20) season. One thing that we really like about him, though, is that he's a guy who plays a smart game and isn't going to do anything to hurt us.

I expect this to be the first of many re-signings by the Canes today and the rest of the week.

Around the league, I wouldn't expect a lot of free agency signings today. There's still lots of speculation about Eric Lindros. There had been speculation (mostly fueled by Eklund) that he was set to sign with the Leafs for something nominal like $1.5M. There are significant concerns about his health after multiple concussions. There are also new concerns about his conditioning. The Leafs have already gambled on one cobweb-head (Allison) and one fat slob (O'Neill), so I think they probably wanted to avoid gambling on a guy that is both. I can't blame GMs for not blazing a bath to pound down his door, but his price has dropped, and as Eklund so lucidly put it:
Face it, when 88 is playing even at 75% he is capable of doing more than a majority of NHL players. And a year off does great things for concussions.

He deserves a chance, and wherever he ends up, I'm sure he'll do well.

...but can he coach?

Another inevitability will be officially announced today.

Sometime around 4:00 ET, The Phoenix Coyotes will announce that Wayne Gretzky will become their new head coach. Gretzky, who has been a managing partner and 18% owner of the Coyotes for a few seasons will retain his ownership. This has been the speculation since his retirement from the game in 1999. Rumors about this started to get serious before the lockout, and they'll finally become a reality today.

Lots of people have concerns about this. Just because he's the greatest player ever doesn't mean he'd be a good coach. Coaches are wired differently. Nobody will doubt his passion for the game or his knowledge of the game or his insight into the game, but they might doubt his ability to coach. Also what comes into question is how the players will respond. It's not far-fetched to say that the players may feel intimidated. They may get a little star-struck. I, for one, discount the "star-struck" theory, but I can see how they may be overly intimidated. Hopefully, for the Coyotes sake, they'll be able to have a more relaxed approach.

I do have some concerns though. Why push him into the Head Coach position? Why not try a season or three as an assistant? You know, to get some coaching legs.

Some people, though, will say "What about Larry Bird?", which is an excellent point. Bird was one of the greatest basketball players ever. After his retirement, he spent a few years doing absolutely nothing, and was then thrust into the Head Coach job with the Indiana Pacers. Bird had never coached, but was excited, as the team was, to have him. He actually did very well, but he inherited a VERY good team. The Great One, on the other hand will be inheriting a team that isn't good. He'll really have his work cut out for him.

I hope he does well. I hope also that Yotes fans will be patient. This team will not become a Cup contender overnight. One thing we can be sure of is that fans in the desert will be very excited about this.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

big news on a slow day

While I was out of blogging commission Saturday night, a series of significant signings were made. Not very many of them, but they were pretty big.

The Penguins got another name-brand player when they signed right wing Ziggy Palffy to a three-year, $13.5M deal. Fans should not be concerned about Ziggy's right shoulder, which kept him out of 42 games with the Kings in 2003-04. During the lockout, he tallied 40 points (21/19)in 41 games for Slavia Praha of the Czech Extraleague. He also scored 13 points (10/3) in 8 games for Skalica of the Slovak Republic Extraleague.
This is kind of out of the clear blue sky. There were lots of rumors about Palffy, but none of them involved the Penguins. Most rumors saw him going to The Rangers, Flames or Sabres

The Avs were active on Saturday, securing two brand-name players. They re-signed right wing Milan Hejduk to a five-year $19.5M deal. According to the terms, the 2002-03 Rocket Richard winner will get $3.7M this season, $3.8M the next, and $4M in each of the following two seasons. If you ask me, this is a very good price on a player of this caliber. The 'Lanche also picked up winger Andrew Brunette, signing him to a two-year deal. The sound but unspectacular wingman won't even come close to filling the void left by Peter Forsberg, but it's still a great addition. Even without Forsberg, I think the Avs should be in great shape. They've made some very solid and very economical deals this off-season.

Finally, my Hurricanes made another offensive acquisition. We signed left wing Ray Whitney to a two-year, $3M contract. The two-time All-star tallied 43 points (14/29) in 67 games with the talent-laden Red Wings during the 2003-04 campaign. One of his upsides is that he's very effective on the power-play. This is a recurring theme with our new additions, and thankfully so. Our power play production has been paltry, to say the least.
I really like this pickup, and I LOVE our other offensive signing, Cory Stillman. We haven't spent a lot of money, and we haven't picked up any superstars, but we should be able to field a very competitive team. With these additions, and assuming that we'll re-sign Erik Cole, Josef Vasicek, Kevyn Adams , and Justin Williams, we'll be in good shape. Re-signing ALL of those guys is crucial, though. They've all been offered qualifying sheets, which is a start, but I won't be able to rest easily until they're inked. Caniacs everywhere have been losing sleep over the horrifying possibility that Pavel Brendl (AKA "Krispy") might make our opening night roster. Thankfully, these moves have virtually assured that he'll find himself in Lowell. Brendl has made a bad name for himself by grossly under-achieving, by his exceptionally poor conditioning habits, and by his fondness for the doughnut. During the lockout, he was booted from no less than four European clubs for his attitude and his conditioning habits. I was really surprised to see him receive a qualifying sheet, but I guess JR still sees something in the kid.

I'd still like to see the Canes pick up one more recognizable offensive name, but I'm very happy with what we've done so far.


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