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

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sabres sign Gaustad, avoiding arbitration

On Sunday, the Sabres avoided arbitration hearings with Paul Gaustad by signing the fourth-line center to a two year deal valued at a total of $1.425M. This season, he will make $675k, followed by $750k in 2007-08. As far as the cap is concerned, his salary will be $712,500. Quite a bit under my late June estimate of $900k.

There are only three players remaining on their arbitration list and of them, JP Dumont and Maxim Afinogenov are the only ones who matter. Adam Mair has also filed, but who does he think he's kidding? JP Dumont is scheduled for his hearing today, barring any last second heroics.

Through all of this, evidently the Buffalo News is writing about everything except the Sabres. So says Kevin BFLOBLOG, anyway.

He's not kidding.

Since there's not much going on these days, I'll get to work on a big project that I would only even dream about during the off-season. I'll let you know when I'm done.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

another strange dream

Last night I had a strange dream. Not like the one where I was abducted by Vancouver Canucks thugs, but it was strange anyway. It has to do with the Canes, so be patient.

I dreamt that I was attending a Carolina Panthers pre-season football game against the Buffalo Bills. In real life, my dad has season tickets to the Carolina Panthers, and I occasionally go to regular season games, but pre-season football games aren't even remotely fun, so I never go to those, even when I get invited and have the free time.

Back to the dream...

The Panthers were playing the Bills, and it was really late in the game. The Bills were up by four and had the ball deep in their own territory. Buffalo wasn't going to be able to simply run the clock out, so they had to get a first down. Carolina's defense held, and the Bills elected to take a delay of game penalty on fourth down, running the clock down to 0:10. Next, they took a deliberate safety just to give their punter some breathing room, and an unmolested kick.

They punted the ball away, as you have that option following a safety, and there was some mayhem as the Panthers attempted to field the ball. It was a lousy kick, only making it to about the 50 yard line, and there was a big pile of players surrounding the kick returner. After a second or two, the player, Justin Williams emerged from that pack, slipped a few tackles, and lumbered all the way to the end zone for a touchdown and a thrilling win. Nobody knew who he was, because for some reason, he wasn't wearing a Panthers jersey. Or the pants. Or a helmet. He was just wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeve black t-shirt. For some reason, the referees allowed it. I immediately recognized that it was Viva, but I looked at the game program just to make sure. It was him, alright. The hero of the game.

Viva didn't make the opening night roster for the Panthers, but he had that moment of football fame.

Weird, huh?

As a tidbit of trivia, the empty net goal Viva scored in game 7 was the only empty net goal in Stanley Cup Final game 7 history.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sabres re-ink Connolly; things getting close

On Friday, the Sabres came to an agreement with Tim Connolly, avoiding his scheduled arbitration hearing of August 1. He signed a three year contract valued at $8.9M. No other details have immediately been made available, but I would assume that his actual salary escalates. Something like $2.5/$2.9/$3.5. As far as the cap is concerned, though, his "salary" for next season will be $2.966M.

This makes my friend Amanda very happy. She's a relocated Sabres fan, and the proud owner of one Tim Connolly home sweater. At least the "home sweater" that they wore for the past few years. For those who ask "Hey DL, why do you talk about the Sabres so much?", she's the main reason. Over the past 10 years or so, I've come to know a dozen or so people who have relocated to central North Carolina from Buffalo, and because of that, I've developed somewhat of a bizarre interest in the Sabres. Not so much the Buffalo Bills, though. Anyway, it's because of her that I care about the Sabres.

According to this guy's site, which provides salary and "cap hit" salary information on all teams, in easy to read format, the Sabres have 16 guys signed, and have spent $34M. They only have a few important pieces of the puzzle remaining. Sure they need to sign 8 or so guys, but only a few of them are key. Dmitri Kalinin is one of those. He isn't scheduled for arbitration, and remains an unsigned RFA. Last season, he had a bevy of injuries, causing him to miss 27 regular season games, but he still managed to amass 18 points (2/16) and a rating of +14. He missed the Sabres final 10 playoff games with a broken ankle. He's a very important part of the Sabres blue line, and will be due for a slight raise over the $1.33 that he made last season. His qualifying sheet had to be for at least $1.4, so let's say he gets $1.5.

Ryan Miller is the other unsigned RFA that simply must be signed. He had a sensational season, and my guess is that he gets $1.75. Tom Luongo, ofSabre Rattling thinks that he'll get more like $2.1, but I see a discounted rate. It'll all depend on the length of his contract. The longer the contract, the more likely that it'll be one of the escalating variety, and the more likely that his cap hit will be something like $2M.

Then, the arbitration filers. There's only a few of those left on the slate. Most notably, JP Dumont and Maxim Afinogenov. Afinogenov earned $1.33M last season, and had a great season, accruing 73 points (22/51) in 77 games, but only 8 (3/5) in 18 playoff games. His points and assists totals were top on the team last season. He'll be due a huge raise. Well above, actually, my initial guess of $2.75M. In light of the $5M Briere award, I'm modifying my guess and saying that Maxi gets $4M.

JP Dumont got $1.596M last season, and scored 40 points (20/20) in only 54 games. He'll be due a raise, and I'll stick with my guess of $2.5.

If Kalinin gets $1.5, Miller gets $2, Afinogenov gets $4 and Dumont gets $2.5, that'll only be 20 guys, and they'll be right at the cap of $44M. They're going to dump Marty Biron and his $2.128. That's a foregone conclusion. Replace him with someone from Rochester, or sign an NHL-ready #2 goalie for about $900K, and they'll still be in a tight spot.

Somebody's gotta go. Afinogenov? Dumont?

All of this is, of course, assuming that the Sabres accept the Briere award. They won't "walk away", but if they sign-n-trade, they'll be in a much better position vis-a-vis the cap. But they'd be losing Danny freaking Briere. I don't see it happening. They'll come up with some other creative way to handle their cap situation.

New Jersey, on the other hand.... They're way over cap right now. The rumor is that Alex Mogilny will get "injured" during training camp. You know... A hockey injury. (wink, wink) One that will require season-ending surgery. The Devils will be "upset" that Mogilny will have to miss the entire season, but his $3.5M salary won't count against the cap. They still, by the way, need a backup goaltender.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

sabres new unis

According to a press conference just minutes ago, the Sabres have gone ahead and released the new uniform now, rather than in September.

They will wear the "original" running Buffalo with crossed swords with the blue and gold as a THIRD SWEATER for 15 home games:

Saturday, October 14 vs. New York Rangers
Tuesday, October 17 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Saturday, November 4 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Friday, November 17 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Friday, November 24 vs. Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, December 14 vs. Florida Panthers
Tuesday, December 19 vs. Montreal Canadiens
Monday, January 1 vs. New York Islanders
Friday, January 19 vs. Vancouver Canucks
Tuesday, January 30 vs. Boston Bruins
Thursday, February 15 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Thursday, February 22 vs. Ottawa Senators
Saturday, March 10 vs. New Jersey Devils
Friday, March 23 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Thursday, April 5 vs. Boston Bruins
and will presumably wear the Slugalo sweater for the other games.

Because of a recent fit of rage by the Buffalo natives surrounding the rumored Slugalo sweater, they pushed the announcement ahead to today. The presser isn't available for viewing yet, but here's a quote, from the Sabres official website

Larry Quinn:
We are still committed and enthusiastic about our new uniform and believe that fans will embrace it once they have a chance to actually see it.

They won't officially unveil the "Slugalo" sweater until September. That is, of course, unless they have a trick up their sleeve. We do know that they will be sporting blue and gold instead of red and black.

Sabres get Pominville, Lydman to sign on the line which is dotted

On Thursday, the SlugBuffalo Sabres got Jason "I don't even know the kid's first name" Pominville to commit to a three-year deal worth $3.1M. This season, he'll get $800k, but $1.03 will count towards the cap. My late June estimate of $900k wasn't far off the mark. He was scheduled for a Friday arbitration hearing.

Meanwhile, it seems like I misunderstood the exact protocol on these hearings. Specifically with reference to the Daniel Briere. My initial understanding was that the Sabres had 48 hours after the Briere hearing to decide what to do about that. Actually, they have 48 hours after their final arbitration hearing to make a decision on all of them. As of this moment, their last scheduled arbitration hearing is August 4 with Adam Mair.

I failed to mention that the Sabres also came to an agreement with Ales Kotalik for three years and $7M, avoiding arbitration there. I still haven't seen a specific breakdown of that contract salary structure, but as far as the cap is concerned, he's getting $2.33 next season, which is a little higher than my estimate of $2M.

News also today that the Sabres have Toni Lydman signed (thanks, BFLO blog!) Lydman is inked for four years at $11.5M, which amounts to $2.875 against the cap. Again, this is slightly more than my late June estimate of $2.5M.

With these guys off the arbitration table, there's five left. Dumont, Connolly, Gaustad, Afinogenov, Mair. Of course, there's also Ryan Miller, who remains an unsigned RFA.

I'm going back to update my list of Sabres arbitration filers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

blogathon '06

The following is a cut-n-paste job from a post I made on my other blog. It's all about the Blogathon, which is coming up this Saturday. I strongly encourage everyone to sponsor someone. At the very least, show moral support. Anyway, here's the post.

I had this notion that I was going to participate in the 2006 Blogathon, which is a 24-hour blog fest going on this Saturday. Bloggers of all kinds from across the world (although presumably mostly in North America) will be writing till their fingers bleed and their eyes pop out. The rules are that you have to post something once every 30 minutes, and that writing stuff ahead of time and post-timing it is not permitted. Sleep if you want, but only for VERY short bursts of a few minutes. 24 hours. 48 posts. Why? It's a charity thing. You get people to sponsor you as you raise money for your selected charity. Pledges can be made on a per hour rate, or a flat donation.
You can learn all about it by clicking the link above, or the button on the sidebar.

I learned about the thing as the registration deadline was fast approaching. I was already scheduled to work that day, and I couldn't work anything out to free up my schedule. However, I've sponsored a blogger I've never met (or even read for that matter).

If you're interested in sponsoring someone, just click through the link and you'll find a button for a list of blogs or a list of affiliated charities.

Two of my daily read hockey blogs are participating.
--Alanah Downie, from the brilliant Vancouver Canucks Op-Ed will be blogging away while raising money for Canuck Place Children's Hospice

--Michael Fedor, who writes Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic may or may not be participating. If so, he's presumably supporting The Mario Lemieux Foundation.

Other people who are complete strangers to me, but who are supporting causes that are very close to me:
--"Dreama", who writes Random Again is raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

And finally, "Aurora Lamour", who writes The Beauty of Love, will be writing and raising money for The Lupus Foundation of America.

Please stop by some of these blogs on Saturday, starting at 9:00 am eastern time, all the way to 9:00 am on Sunday. Even if you don't give them financial support, give them moral support.

Stop by the main site and take a look around.

In a month or so, some of us may be doing a hockey blogathon with some modified rules. If we can get the particulars nailed down, I'll keep everyone posted.

now playing:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Brooks Orpik avoids arbitration, re-signs with Pens

On Sunday, the Penguins announced that Brooks Orpik has agreed to a two-year deal with the team and will avoid his arbitration hearing, which was scheduled for July 24. No financial details are available yet.

Erik Cole will get to meet Orpik for the first time since "the incident" on October 14 in Pittsburgh. I'm not really a fan of the vigilante justice, but Colesy is very much looking forward to "saying hello" to Orpik.

Briere awarded $5M. Mike York awarded $2.85M.

The first round of arbitration hearings came back with decided wins for the players. Buffalo's Danny Briere was awarded $5M and the Islanders Mike York was awarded $2.85M Darcy Regier Garth Snow, respectively, will have 48 hours to accept or "walk away".

The Briere arbiter took slightly more than the allotted 48 hours to hand down his victory. While we were waiting, the Mike York hearing served as a good watermark. I expect to see different reactions by the general managers.

Mike York, who came to the Islanders in the Peca trade, was an upgrade from the overpaid, underperforming Peca. In 2006, York earned $2.05M and totaled 52 points (13/37) in 75 games. An average of 0.69 points per game. The arbiter awarded him $2.85M, which amounts to a 39% increase. Garth Snow will have to make his first real decision. I suppose his first "decision" was which one of these whores he wanted to contract syphilis from.

There is a history of the Islanders throwing away money (Yashin), and they might do the same on this one. Garth Snow's only qualification for his job, in his own words, is that he's "watched a lot of hockey" and has "read the CBA". By that standard, just about everyone who writes a hockey blog is "qualified" for the job. If I'm Garth Snow, I "walk away" from the hearing and allow York to go sign for $2.1M for the Blue Jackets. But I'm not, and Garth probably won't.

Danny Briere had a phenomenal season as the rotating Captain in 2006. While getting paid just $1.93M, he put up 58 points (25/33) in just 48 games. This is 1.21 PPG, which would play out to 99 points over a full, healthy season. Briere missed 8 games with an abdominal injury and another 24 after having surgery for the injury. The award amounts to a raise of 159%.

Does Briere deserve a big raise? Absolutely! Is it too much? Possibly. Three years ago, Miro Satan won an arbitration hearing that gave him two years. After his salary was rolled back because of the new CBA, it would have taken right at $4M to extend him a qualifying sheet last summer, but Regier declined to do so, and the Sabres leading scorer signed with the Isles for $4.015M. I would argue that Miro Satan has been a better player, and certainly I would argue that you get more bang for you buck paying Satan $4M than paying Briere $5M.

Obviously, Briere brings more to the table than just his offensive stats. He's the co-Captain. And while he isn't busy throwing his team under the bus during the ECF and getting Lindy Ruff in a huff, he provides excellent leadership for the team.

By my estimations, this ruling will make it VERY difficult for the Sabres to get everyone signed. Especially with Ryan Miller holding out. Also, the Tallinder "undisclosed" contract looks like it's going to be $1.6M, which is well above my estimation.

If you're Darcy Regier, do you accept the arbiter's ruling, knowing that you'll have to sacrifice some of the other free agents, or do you walk away from it, giving yourself room to sign everyone else and still have wiggle room? There's always option C. Accept the ruling, then trade him away.

This will be a VERY hard call for Regier, and I imagine Sabres fans will be waiting with bated breath.

If you force me to make a prediction on this, I'd guess that Briere won't be wearing the blue and gold slug in the fall.

If you force me to make another prediction about the remainder of the arbitration season, I'd guess that these two open up a huge Pandora's box that could bring disease to certain teams with lots of guys slated for arbitration. However, remember that according to legend, Pandora shut her box, keeping just one thing in there -- hope.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tallinder signs, avoids arbitration

On Friday, Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder signed a deal with the Sabres, and avoided arbitration hearings. The terms of the deal were not announced, but it is believed to be of the "multi-year" variety. One source indicates that it is a four year deal. No financials have been guessed.

The Sabres had 12 players file for arbitration, and thus far three have agreed to terms before the hearing was scheduled. The only player to have his hearing date so far has been Danny Briere, who had his hearing on Thursday morning. We'll know by Saturday night what the arbitrator decided, then we'll know by Monday morning what the Sabres do.

Here's the updated arbitration list, including the newly added hearing dates. Anything in green font indicates that they came to terms before their hearing. I haven't decided how to color code the "wins" and "losses" yet:
  • July 20 Danny Briere (2006 salary - $1.93M) -- likely to get something like $2.75M Awarded $5M.
  • July 26 Toni Lydman (2006 salary - $1.9M) -- likely to get $2.5M 4 years, $11.5M
  • July 31 JP Dumont (2006 salary - $1.596M) -- likely to get $2.5M
  • August 3 Maxim Afenogenov (2006 salary - $1.086M) -- likely to get $2.75M 3 years, $10M
  • August 1 Tim Connolly (2006 salary - $1.036M) -- likely to get 0 $2.25M 3 years, $8.9M
  • July 25 Ales Kotalik (2006 salary - $837,900) -- likely to get $2M 3 years, $7M.
  • Henrik Tallinder (2006 salary - $591,000) - likely to get $900,000 - $1.6M next season.
  • August 2Paul Gaustad (2006 salary - $501,600) - likely to get $900,000 Signed for 2 years ($675k, $750k)
  • Brian "Soupy" Campbell (2006 salary - $459,800) - likely to get $1.66M. Signed for 2 years ($1.25M / $1.75M)
  • August 4Adam Mair (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $450,000
  • Andrew "Golfy" Peters (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $450,000Signed for $460,000
  • July 28 Jason Pominville (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $900,000 3 years, $3.1M

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What in the world is FIFA thinking?

On Thursday, FIFA, the governing body in international soccer, handed down their ruling in the now famous Zinedine Zidane headbutting incident. The ruling is sheer lunacy.

Marco Materazzi was fined $4,000 and banned for two matches for, essentially, making a "your mama" joke. That, and being the recipient of a vicious head-butt.

Zidane, who retired anyway, was banned for three matches and fined $6,000.

Story here

This is a tragic mistake by FIFA. They have set a precedent that is, in my mind, one they do not want to set. From now on, a player will be able to cry "oh, but he insulted my mother", and have the opposing player sent off, banned and fined. In every sport where grown men are the participants, the players insult each other all game long. They insult each other's children, wives, mothers, dogs, sisters, third grade teachers, whatever. It's part of the game, no matter what the sport is.

Even if the taunts are racist in nature, a grotesque violent retaliation such as the Zidane head-butt is not warranted. FIFA has made a mistake in many areas. First, they have set a standard that they cannot possibly maintain. If Materazzi is to be fined and banned for a "your mama" joke, they must penalize every player who makes a "your mama" joke. This, simply, cannot be done. Every team at every level would be reduced to a handful of non-suspended players.

Second, FIFA is indicating that Zidane's deliberately violent action, with intent to injure, is only slightly more reprehensible than taunting and name-calling.

Third, I fail to see the logic in suspending a retired player. It's like that scene in Clerks when the lady says she's never coming back to the video store, and Randal screams at her "Hey, you're not allowed to rent here anymore!". If they are going through the motions just to go through the motions it still sets a bad precedent. And why three games? In October of 2000, Zidane was suspended five games by UEFA for a head-butting incident against a German player. I guess UEFA takes things more seriously.

Finally, it just doesn't make sense. Put the fines/suspensions side-by-side. Put the offenses side-by-side. It just doesn't stack up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy birthday to our newest Cane

On Tuesday night, the Canes orchestrated a trade with the Preds for veteran winger Scott Walker. Out goes Josef Vasicek. I knew it was coming. I just didn't know where or when. I've been a big JoVa supporter, but I just don't think that the new NHL is for him. At least the new Canes system isn't. He's a big, strong guy who is good at scoring garbage goals, but frankly, he's not good at much else. Speed is not one of his strong points, and defense isn't either. No matter what the scouting reports say, he's too slow and clumsy to be of any discernable defensive value.

It hurt me to say that. Like I say, I really like "The Condor", but he just wasn't fitting in anymore. Towards the end of the regular season, I could start to see the writing on the wall. As the playoffs got rolling, it became painfully obvious that Josef Vasicek's days as a Hurricane were numbered. I made the decision to buy a Viva sweater, which will make its debut on October 4, which happens to be Williams' birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, today (Wednesday) is the 33rd birthday of the newcomer, Scott Walker. I'd like to wish a happy birthday to him as we extend a laurel and a hardy handshake to our new ....

Seriously, and without any further Blazing Saddles references, I'm pretty excited about this. Although Walker is getting up there in age, he should be an exact replacement for Matt Cullen. He's capable of scoring 25+ goals, and could give us something on the order of 60 points if he can stay healthy. In my limited exposure to the Preds, I've been impressed with what I've seen from the guy. Everything that I've heard and read about him indicates that he's a terrific guy to have in the room and a consummate "team" player. He should fit in just fine in Carolina.

Walker is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $1.52M.

In other good Canes news, the Hurricanes signed free agent Shane Willis to a one year deal for $450k. Willis entered the league as a Hurricane in 1998, and was showing a lot of promise as a prospect. In 2001, he had a good regular season, notching 44 points (20/24) in 73 games. In the first round of the playoffs that spring, Willis was crushed by Scott Stevens and was knocked out of the series. Since then, he hasn't really been the same and has had limited NHL experience, most recently with the Bolts during the 03-04 season. He has a two-way contract, and will likely spend most of his days in Albany. I like the Willis thing.

I'm pretty excited about the Walker pickup. I'm not sure what his sweater number will be. He has traditionally worn #24, which is presently worn by Andrew Hutchinson, who is coincidentally also a former Predator.

I hope for big Joe's sake that he can get back into the groove of things. For now, we've made a great tradeoff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Charles Wang is a maniac

Just a few weeks ago, the Islanders hired Neil Smith to be the GM after Mike Milbury stepped down. Things immediately went to pot. I guess they weren't happy with the way the off-season has gone. I dunno, but he's gone.
His replacement will be backup former goaltender Garth Snow.

I don't get it. Not one bit. Garth Snow? Charles Wang is obviously trying to kill the Islanders.

story here

Where's the beef?

Before game one of the Stanley Cup finals, a DJ from an Edmonton radio station smuggled some Alberta Beef into the RBC center and chucked it on the ice following the singing of the national anthems. This stunt worked in Detroit, and in Anaheim. Not so much in Carolina.
Gary James was arrested on misdemeanor charges, escorted out of the building, banned from the RBC Center, and ordered to appear in Wake County court. That immediately made news, and it didn't seem like that big of a deal. What we didn't know, though, was that he was actually led out of there and taken "downtown" in handcuffs. It seems excessive, but in our previous series there had been some violent incidents and the arena security/police were on orders to "notch up" their enforcement.

His court day came, and his lawyer arranged for a very special plea bargain. Instead of paying a fine to the city, James has agreed to make a donation to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society on behalf of Canes coach Peter Laviolette. He thinks the donation will be around $500. Laviolette has embraced this cause because his next door neighbor has a five year old daughter battling Leukemia. He set up kiosks throughout the RBC Center selling red wristbands for a minimum donation of $1. He matched all donations dollar for dollar.

To make a donation to LLS, visit their secure donation page. To learn about Leukemia/Lymphoma, including other ways to help the cause, visit their main site. For my Canadian readers, the main site is here and the donation page is here.

The "Relentless" wristbands are available on-line here


On Monday, the Blackhawks re-signed right wing Radim Vrbata. However, I was stunned this morning when I logged into the free agent tracker over at sportsnet.ca. They reported a one year contract at $2.45M. I was about to go on a rampage with that one, as I don't think Verby is worth more than about $900k. He's got loads of potential, but he never lived up to it in Colorado, and he never lived up to it here in Carolina. Tired of giving him numerous chances and using him as a healthy scratch, the Canes dumped him to the 'Hawks for "future considerations". He may have found his place in Chicago, because he had 34 points (13/21) in 45 games for them last season.

I leapt out of my chair and screamed several obscenities when I saw that figure. One year, $2.45M. I thought for sure they (the Blackhawks) were on crack. After researching the matter, it turns out that it is a TWO year deal worth a total of $2.45M. $1.225M per year. That's a little more like it. When he proves that he can consistently play like he did in those 45 games, then he'll deserve something like $2.45M or more a season, but time will tell.

I guess the point is, sometimes these things aren't entirely accurate.

Oilers take another hit; Peca gone

On Tuesday, the Oilers suffered another loss, as center Mike Peca was signed by the Leafs to a one year deal for $2.5M.
Peca was acquired last August in a trade from the Islanders. It looked like a salary-shedding move by the Islanders, and even then the trade (Mike York and a conditional pick for Peca) seemed to favor the Islanders. Peca, despite being an important piece of the Oilers playoff puzzle, had a weak (by his standards) season, tallying just 23(9/14) points in 71 regular season games. He picked it up quite a bit in the playoffs, with 11 points (6/5) in 24 games.

Mike York, meanwhile, had a great season for the Fishermen, notching 52 points (13/39) in 75 regular season games.

Offensive statistics, though, aren't what people look for in Mike Peca. He's a great face-off guy. Last season, he won 55% of his faceoffs while taking 24.5% of his team's draws. He's also important to his team in special teams situations, as he plays a very sound defensive game.

That said, I've never thought that he has earned his pay. For the record, here's what I had to say about the York-Peca trade last August:
In a room-making move, the Islanders are having to ship Michael Peca to the Oilers in exchange for Mike York and a conditional pick. I immediately thought that the Oilers made another spectacular trade, but I'm not so sure. Peca is way overrated. For the money they'll have to spend, it was probably a bad deal.

Now. Let's look at the particulars. In 03-04, he scored 40 points (11/29) while getting paid $4.25M by the Islanders. Not terribly cost-effective, even when you figure in his faceoff and special teams value. Last season, with the Oilers, he was paid $3.99M and had a very disappointing offensive season.

The deal he has signed with the Leafs is a little more sensible. At that price, I don't think he's overrated.

Add him to the list of departed Oilers. Pronger. Spacek. Samsonov. Laraque . Peca.

They did pick up Marty Reasoner and Daniel Tjarnqvist, but they have suffered more setbacks than these two can atone for.

Insert your own emasculating juvenile play on words here. I'll give you a suggestion or two.
They won't win a Cup anytime soon because they have a tiny Peca
The Stanley Cup is too big for their Peca
For the record, I saw both of these on fans' signs during the Cup Finals.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy 1st Birthday, RBH!!!

Today is the first birthday of Red and Black Hockey. A year ago today, I decided to stop boring the two readers of my other blog with all the talk about hockey, and do the right thing by setting up shop at RBH. The road was tough to hoe at the beginning, and I knew that a spin-off from a blog that only had two readers wasn't a great idea, but I wanted and needed to write about hockey. In the beginning, I had one reader. One. You know who you are.
This community has been very supportive, though, and as the weeks and months wore on, and every day to my amazement, I was getting more and more readers. Some, astonishingly, became regular readers. Now, I'm no VCOE, by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes me proud that I've managed to amass 42,900 hits in my first year. To be honest, that's about 42,875 more than I thought I would get.
Thanks to the support of the many bloggers who have inspired me, the many who have given me links, and of course to my Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes. Without any of that, I might have given up the ghost.

Thanks for a great year. I hope you keep coming back.

<<We interrupt this blog post for a special announcement>>

And while I celebrate myself, the horrific events in the "real world" today remind me that while we can watch hockey and go to the movies and blog about stuff in order to escape from the "real world", we are very fortunate to even have that luxury. I'll try not to forget that.

<<We now join the regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress>>

Once again, please note the countdown to opening night at the top of the page.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lindros maybe a Star

On Saturday night, reports started to surface that the Stars were to the dotting the eyes and crossing the tees part of a contract with Eric Lindros.

Lindros, who has a long history of concussions, missed more than half the 2006 season due to a broken wrist. He scored 22 points (11/11) in 33 games with the Leafs.

Early Sunday morning, the Dallas Stars website posted that they had come to terms on a one-year contract with the 33-year old, but it was removed after a couple of hours. Now the team says that no deal has been reached.

Does this Dallas two-step sound familiar? It should.

They're saying "within the next 24 hours". Meanwhile, fans in Edmonton are excited. They still have a chance at him.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE The Stars and Lindros have come to a one-year agreement. No details about the pay yet.

Some AHL stuff

I can't pretend to write about the AHL as proficiently as Dave from Sidearm Delivery, but I've got some AHL stuff on my mind today.

The free agency period is winding down, the qualifying offers have expired, and arbitration is set to begin on Thursday. I've been keeping an eye on the situation in Buffalo because of their insanely high number of arbitration filers and their insanely low number of guys signed to this point.

However, I'd much rather be them than be Edmonton. Buffalo will tidy their house eventually, but Edmonton is in a really rough spot right now. After reading a post at Covered In Oil (tip of hat also to Lowetide) , I caught wind of the fact that Edmonton doesn't have an AHL affiliate. That's right. Their top prospects have nowhere to go. Last season, after they forced their former AHL affiliate Toronto/Edmonton Roadrunners to cease operations, they had no choice but to have a partial hand in two different AHL clubs. They shared the Iowa Stars with Dallas and they also shared the Hamilton Bulldogs with Montréal, which made things very confusing for everyone.
Dallas and Montréal have both declined to share their affiliates for the upcoming year, which has left the Oilers in the cold. There is some speculation that they will do some eleventh hour negotiations with Phoenix to share the San Antonio Rampage or perhaps with Nashville to share the Milwaukee Admirals.

To make matters even worse, the Oilers only other minor league affiliate, Greenville Grrrowwwwwl of the ECHL, was kicked out of their league because the owners could no longer keep the team afloat. As of today, the Oilers have absolutely no place to put any of their prospects.

This will be really fun to see how this pans out.

Friday, July 14, 2006

rating the DVD

On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup Champions DVD was released.

Naturally, I bought it.

The DVD features:
  • NBC's feed of the Stanley Cup Finals game 7, in its entirety and without commercials or intermission stuff
  • Highlights from the Cup Finals series
  • Highlights from the Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo
  • a gloss-over of the Eastern Conference semifinals against New Jersey
  • highlights of the first round with Montréal
  • gloss-over of the regular season
  • snippets of interviews with key players like Aaron Ward, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Bret Hedican, Mike Commodore, Eric Staal, Rod Brind'Amour, Cam Ward
  • a "ride to the game" with Kevyn Adams featuring several minutes of footage of his private life.
  • a few "vignettes" about some of the players
  • interview footage with Canes radio and TV personalities
  • a short feature about Peter Laviolette's "Relentless" campaign to raise funds and awareness for leukemia research

Overall the DVD is good but not great. I can't imagine anyone buying it unless they're a Canes fan, so I won't even qualify it in that way.

The game seven feed is good, but they tried too hard to compress it for time. Some of the replays and analysis was cut out. Also, I kind of miss the intermission reports. However, it's nice to have it on DVD. Now I can clear my DVR.

I wish there was more about each series, and would have been willing to shell out the dough for a multi-disc set. It particular, there was virtually nothing about the New Jersey Series. I might have been willing to sacrifice the regular season highlights for more focus on each playoff series if they had to keep it to a one disc package.

One other thing I wish there had been more of is some of the audio clips from Canes radio guy Chuck Kaiton. He's one of the best in the business, and is in the broadcaster's hall of fame. They only gave us a few of his calls. Specifically, I really wish they would have included his call of Viva's empty netter to secure the win ...
"And he wins the Stanley Cup!!! Justin Williams has just won the Stanley Cup for the Carolina Hurricanes, in all likelihood!"

The "vignettes" are horrible. They devote about 60 seconds to Ray Whitney, Mike Commodore, Eric Staal, Cam Ward. I would just assume throw all those out.

The thing about Kevyn Adams is great, and almost makes the thing worth it on its own. About five minutes of talking with him about game day, riding in the car with him. One of the best moments from that section is when his little daughter Emerson is singing "Tomorrow" for the camera. She's really cute, and in that little film you can tell that K-Ads is a really good dad. Also, the way he lifted her up on his shoulders during the Cup celebration and did a lap with her. The video doesn't show that, but anyone who was in the RBC Center that night could see it. As a side for those of you who have the DVD, check out the dog while Emmy is singing. I wonder what he's staring at.

Another really cool moment from the DVD also involves Kevyn and Emerson Adams. It's in the very beginning of the disc in the middle of that montage. He's hugging her and telling her that he loves her. He's headed off to some game during the playoffs. She just says "good luck, daddy". I don't know what it is, but I think it's the cutest thing in the world.

My other favorite moment of the DVD is when they're talking to Doug Weight about Cam Ward. Specifically, they're talking about Cam coming in off the bench to start game 3 of that series when the Canes backs were really against the wall. Dougie says that he was nervous, and especially so for Cam. He says something like:
I was nervous for him, coming in like that. He was giving me winks and stuff at the faceoffs and I was thinking "This isn't right. I'm the one who's nervous, and he's calming me down."

Overall, I like the DVD, but I would have done a few things differently. Don't get me wrong... I've watched it twice already, and I'll watch it many more times, and I do think it's worth it. Overall, I give it a B.

I'll be looking forward to a different DVD (or a set) put together by the Canesvision/Gale Force Media folks. They put one together for our 2002 SCF loss, so I see no reason for them not to do one for our win. No word yet, though.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Schedules released today!

Sometime this afternoon, while I am working, the NHL will release the schedules for 2006-07.

I'm hoping that the southeast hosts the northwest and visits the central. I would have an excuse to go visit my friend in Nashville.

Then again, I'd sure like to plan a trip to Vancouver. I'm already tentatively planning a trip to Buffalo, and a trip to Atlanta, and at least one to DC for road games.

I say all of this as if I have piles of money to spend on traveling expenses and game tickets.

Anyway, I won't know until I get home tonight sometime around midnight. Expect a full-on post about the schedule tomorrow morning. If I were betting, I would say that we'll open the season at home and the Thrashers will be our opponent.

Scratch all that. Carolina opens at home against the Slugalo Sabres on October 4. Viva's birthday, and the day after my own birthday. I won't tell you how old I'll be.

We're hosting the Pacific and visiting the Northwest. Looks like I better start saving up for a flight to Vancouver.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Buffalo starting to sign their guys

Since I last wrote about the Sabres signees, they've gotten two more guys inked. Both Andrew Peters and Brian Campbell were slated for arbitration hearings, but avoided them by signing to short contracts. Turns out I wasn't far off the mark in my estimates of their salaries either.

Peters signed a one year deal for $460K. I guessed he would get the league minimum $450K.

Brian "Soupy" Campbell signed a two year, $3M deal that will pay him $1.25M in 07 and $1.75M in 08. I guessed $1.66M. Either way, this is a huge (and well deserved) raise from his $459,800 salary in 06.

I have updated that post, highlighting the players in green as they sign, crossing out my guesses, and indicating the actual amount of their contract. I will continue to do this, just like I did last summer with the list of league-wide players scheduled for arbitration.

curse the modern things

I had a major issue with my computer. I guess I had a virus or some such thing, and my machine wouldn't function at all. I had to re-install the whole system, and lost all my data. Luckily all of my music is saved on an external drive and all of my photos have been saved on external storage, so it wasn't really that bad. I had some documents and spreadsheets that I would have liked to have kept, but it's not the end of the world.
After wrestling with it for quite some time, I finally got the e-mail reconfigured, but I lost my address books. Again, not the end of the world, but it's been a pain in my ass all night long.
I'll spend the next few days re-installing software, downloading applications and reworking the "look and feel". All that fun stuff.

Of course I'll have my eyes open for the free agent signings, trades, and whatnot.

Oh, and the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup Champions DVD will be released this Tuesday (the 11th), so that'll be my "thing to do".

This is the third time this has happened to me, and yet I still fail to learn the following easy lessons: (1) back up ALL of my data once in a while; (b) do not let the registration lapse on anti-virus software.

I don't suppose I'll learn this time either.

Also, I have been having issues with the (un)reliability of my cell phone. I don't have a land line, and since my whole computer was down and my celly was iffy, I was temporarily unavailable to anyone using an electronic device.

It's all good now.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I need help understanding the Devils.

While I was checking out the list of signed players and the salary obligations for each team, I was baffled by the New Jersey Devils list.
It appears that they have 17 players under contract and $43.48M in salary obligations. The salary cap is $44M. If all of that salary obligation is going against the cap, they have $520k left to sign a minimum of five players. That won't work because the league minimum in the NHL is $450k. I seriously need some help from someone who's more familiar with the CBA and/or the specific contracts some of these players are under.

For example, Hepatitis Boy is earning $7.5M this season as part of a seven-year, $42M contract. I can't remember how those work as far as cap obligations are concerned. I think a player has to be 35 or older before they start factoring in the average yearly salary. Elias is just 30, so I think they have to count the whole $7.5M towards the cap. Either way, they're in trouble.

The Devils were in a similar situation last summer as I repeatedly wrote. They got out of trouble by unloading Jeff Friesen at a bargain basement price , and also thanks to the fact that Hepatitis Boy wasn't getting paid while he was on the mend. This summer, it looks like they'll have to unload a couple of players or something. They seriously need to shed some of those salary commitments.

If I'm missing something about their salary commitments vis-a-vis their cap commitments, please let me know.

Speaking of Hepatitis Boy and his $42M contract, I have a question there as well. This summer, I've seen a bunch of players sign contracts in the 7- and 8-year neighborhood. Last summer, the Islanders offered Rick DiPietro a 15-year deal, but he refused it in part because of insurance issues. My understanding is that the NHL will only cover insurance through the first five years of a contract, and the player is on his own after that. Why would anyone, then, sign a deal for more than five seasons? I can only imagine that the premium on health insurance for a hockey player would be insanely expensive. Especially when 100% of it is out-of-pocket. Insanely expensive to the the point of making it pointless to have signed the contract.

My question there is if I'm missing something. Am I, perhaps, wrong about the five years thing? My other question is about the cap. How much of Jersey's $43.48M is going against the cap?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The arbitration issue in Buffalo

A few days ago, I wrote that Buffalo has 12 players filing for arbitration, that they have five regular players signed for next year, that Ryan Miller isn't one of them, and that these three factors would have me worried if my team were in this situation. I think my position wasn't stated clearly, so I'll get further into it.

The Sabres have roughly $12M in salary commitments to five players for next season. Nothing wrong with that. The salary cap has been raised to $44M for 2006-07, meaning they still have $32M to spend on 17 more players. At an average of $1.88M per player, this isn't impossible. Buffalo did a fantastic job of putting together a very good team while coming nowhere near the $39M cap in 2005-06. There is certainly no reason to believe that they won't be able to fill their roster under the cap. That isn't the issue.

The key issue here is the arbitration. The players have filed for arbitration because they weren't happy with the offers that were tendered to them. We have to assume that every one of them was offered a raise, and in some cases, a substantial one. I don't think there's any way all 12 guys actually have hearings, but the fact that they filed at all indicates that it won't be easy for Tom Golisano and Darcy Reiger.

Last summer, when there were oodles of free agents available, a grand total of 11 players filed for arbitration in the whole League. All but one of them was settled before the hearing. Dick Tarnstrom, of the Penguins was awarded a 45% raise, which was "well above" what the Penguins offered but less than what the player wanted. This is almost always the case.

When a player has an arbitration hearing, it's more likely that the team will be hurt than the player. The player can "win" the hearing by getting a little less than what he's asking for, but well above what the club is prepared to pay him. The player can "lose" the hearing, getting far less than what he wants. In such a case (we see this all the time in other sports), the player who loses arbitration is a very unhappy camper and might be a bear for the coaches and other players to deal with. When the arbitration is initiated by the player, the club can refuse the outcome of the hearing, and the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. The player cannot walk away from the hearing whether it is initiated by him or by the club. Last summer was the first time arbitration could be called by the club, and it was only used once. The Panthers took Roberto Luongo to arbitration, and they won, getting him for actually less than their initial offer. One year later, he signed a long term contract with Vancouver. In my opinion, the 'Nucks are paying him WAY too much ($6M), but that's just me.

Anyway, they can continue to negotiate until the scheduled hearings, which will begin on July 20. However, any successful avoidance of arbitration usually involves the player getting his way.

While most of the players wouldn't end up with huge salaries either way, it's still a lot to go through. And the prospect of not being able to maintain a core group from such a good team is scary.

  • July 20 Danny Briere (2006 salary - $1.93M) -- likely to get something like $2.75M
  • July 26 Toni Lydman (2006 salary - $1.9M) -- likely to get $2.5M
  • July 31 JP Dumont (2006 salary - $1.596M) -- likely to get $2.5M
  • August 3 Maxim Afenogenov (2006 salary - $1.086M) -- likely to get $2.75M
  • August 1 Tim Connolly (2006 salary - $1.036M) -- likely to get 0 $2.25M
  • July 25 Ales Kotalik (2006 salary - $837,900) -- likely to get $2M
  • Henrik Tallinder (2006 salary - $591,000) - likely to get $900,000 -- undisclosed "multi-year" contract
  • August 2Paul Gaustad (2006 salary - $501,600) - likely to get $900,000
  • Brian "Soupy" Campbell (2006 salary - $459,800) - likely to get $1.66M. Signed for 2 years ($1.25M / $1.75M)
  • August 4Adam Mair (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $450,000
  • Andrew "Golfy" Peters (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $450,000Signed for $460,000
  • July 28 Jason Pominville (2006 salary - $450,000) - likely to get $900,000

These are guesses, and I realize that some of them may be a bit high. If my guesses are right, this is $28.11M for 12 players, leaving them with $3.89M to sign an additional 5 players. Please note that Ryan Miller is not signed and is due a huge raise. He played for $501,600 last season, and should get at least $1M as the #1 goaltender. They will need to sign one more goaltender, and will probably have to let Biron ($2.128M) go. After signing Miller, another goaltender and a few depth guys, they won't have much wiggle room.

Frankly, I think some of these guys, if they go all the way to arbitration, might get even more. For example, Maxim Afenogenov, might point to a contract given to Carolina's Justin Williams as bargaining leverage. They put up similar numbers last season, and have almost identical career numbers. Viva just signed a deal which will keep him in Carolina for five years at $3.5M per year. Arbitration-settled contracts are only for one season, so they're not shooting for length, but $$.

One problem is that if the players actually go to arbitration, you've got a slew of guys who are under single-season contracts. Then you've gotta do it again next summer. If they "win", it might be that you have to let them walk. If they "lose", they might (MIGHT) become pouty and difficult. You hope that they all get settled in a fashion that suits both sides, but out of the 12, probably 4 have a chance to be ugly for the Sabres.

Whereas last summer, the free agent pool was very deep, it isn't so much this summer. If the players actually go to arbitration, and things don't work out for the Sabres, and they have to "walk away" from arbitration results, it could be dangerous.

To make matters even more complex, the qualifying offers tendered to RFAs Dmitri Kalinin, Ryan Miller, Taylor Pyatt, and Derek Roy will expire if the players aren't signed by July 15. At that point, they become UFAs, and anyone can take them without compensating the Sabres.

What it all boils down to is that the Sabres front office has a ton of work to do and not a whole lot of time to do it. This isn't a judgement about the Sabres. It's just a fact.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Canes sign Letowski

On Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes signed right wing Trevor Letowski to a two year deal, valued at $800K per season. Letowski, who is 29, has played 7 NHL seasons, doing time in Phoenix, Vancouver, and most recently, Columbus. In 480 NHL contests, Letowski has notched 175 (73/102) points.

Letowski was selected with the 174th overall pick (7th round) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, just ahead of current NHLers Sami Pahlsson (176), Pavel Kubina (179), Fernando Pisani (195), Tomas Kaberle (204), Craig Adams (223), Ronald Petrovicky (228) and Sami Salo (239). He will be Carolina's second player from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Eric Staal was the first.

Make no mistake. Trevor Letowski is NOT Matt Cullen, nor is he anything close to Mark Recchi. This is a marked downgrade. Carolina will still probably need one more right wing, and possibly another left wing. Of course they could call up Keith Aucoin. Josef Vasicek could be traded. I'm guessing for a young winger. There could be other trades as well (Tverdovsky).

From what I can tell, Letowski has always worn #10 in his NHL career. He'll have to pick something different.

Wesley signs

Glen Wesley signed a one-year contract with the Canes on Thurdsay afternoon. This ends all speculation that the 38-year-old would retire. He will be paid $1.2M and will continue to wear the "A".

Wesley had been the longest tenured active player in the league without a Cup ring. Of course that has changed now, and I imagine that honor now belongs to Jeremy Roenick. The way Phoenix is doing things this off-season, he may have a shot to relinquish that honor.

Jared Aulin not given qualifying offer

It was just brought to my attention that Jared Aulin was not given a qualifying offer by his team.



Remember the guy who the Caps ended up with as a result of two ill-advised straight up trades during the 03-04 season? Sure you do. I've written about this many times before. Jaromir Jagr was traded from Washington to the Rangers straight up for Anson Carter. Six weeks later, Carter was traded to the Kings straight up for Jared Aulin. Aulin never suited up for the Caps, but notched 39 points (11/28) in 61 games with the AHL Hershey Bears.

Last summer, Caps owner Ted Leonsis tried to justify the trading of name brand players like Sergei Gonchar and Jaro Jagr by saying something tantamount to "two birds in the bush are worth one in the hand". He'd rather have prospects and late round draft picks than bona fide stars. He didn't want to have to sell his yacht or his Ferarri in order to be able to afford Jagr. Instead, he authorized a series of incredibly stupid trades, and then triumphantly declared in an August 2005 letter to the fans
"We now have Jared Aulin in the organization as a result of the Jagr trade".

The joke is now on Leonsis, as Aulin has not been tendered a qualifying offer, and the Caps now have zero return on the Jagr trade. This season, Jagr won the Lester B. Person award, finished second in the balloting for the Hart Trophy, and was second in both total scoring (123) and goals (54). Aulin didn't play in the NHL.
To make it even more interesting, Anson Carter had a very good season, playing on the Sedin line in Vancouver, scoring 55 points (33/22). He is an UFA, and will probably be somewhat of a commodity.

What will happen when Ovechkin's rookie contract expires after the 07-08 season? Surely Leonsis won't be able to afford him then. I wonder what kind of trade will take place.

In other Caps news, Jeff Halpern is now a Star. Who will be the Captain?

Edmonton blueline gets even weaker, and some Buffalo stuff

Just a few days after the Pronger trade, the Oilers took another blow to their blueline when Sissy Jaroslav Spacek was signed by the soon-to-be-butt-end Buffalo Sabres. Spacek had 19 points (5/14) in 31 regular season games with the Oil after being traded from the Blackhawks. He also had 14 points (3/11) in 24 postseason games with the Oil. He played a major role on special teams, notching two goals and five assists on the power play during the playoffs. He also was an ice-time monster, putting up an average of 25:52 per game in the playoffs.

At the end of the day, the Oilers have lost their top two defensemen. As the free agents are dropping off in quantity and quality, they will have to orchestrate some trades to beef up their D.

Earlier this week, things looked a little rough for the Sabres defense. They allowed Jay McKee to walk, which seemed like a really bad idea to me. However, picking up Spacek is a great move for them. On the flip side, though, is the fact that there are twelve Sabres who have filed for salary arbitration. Twelve! Three of them -- Brian "Soupy" Campbell, Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder -- are defensemen.
I'm not sure what's going on up there, but right now, they only have five players under contract for next season. If I were a Sabres fan, I would be very worried right about now. Obviously it's still very early, but the inactivity has to have the faithful worried.
They should also be worried about the new logo, pictured above. It won't be official until September, but many believe that this one will be the main logo. For myriad reasons, I don't like it. Maybe it's not true, though. Maybe this is a deliberate smokescreen. Maybe they'll surprise everyone by unveiling something completely different. By September, the Sabres will have a logo, and (presumably) some players. In the meantime, they have nothing.

UPDATE The Oilers have just signed defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist from the Wild to a one-year deal. That's a start.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Colesy inked for three

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes re-signed left wing Erik Cole to a three-year deal, paying him $4M per season. Cole tallied 59 points (30/29) in 60 games during the 2005-06 season, before missing the final quarter of the season with the C-5 compression fracture. He made a surprising return to the Hurricanes lineup in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, playing an average of 15:30 in the final two games. He had no goals and no assists, but it was his speediness that caused the Oilers to take the penalty, which produced the power play during which Frantisek Kaberle scored the Cup-winning goal in the second period.

Despite missing 22 games, Cole's 8 game-winning goals were 7th in the entire League. He was also one of Carolina's go-to guys on the shootout. Also, he made NHL history by being awarded two penalty shots in the same game this season. He converted one of those. The next game, Cole again made (or at least shared) history, by being awarded a penalty shot in consecutive games.

Although I've disagreed with some of what he's said since the injury, and I've been unimpressed by his attitude about it, he's a crucial member of this team, and a guy that is generally well liked. I thought, though, that the team would only give him one year. His health is now a question, and given the remarks that he's made specifically about Brooks Orpik, he's putting himself at risk just by playing.

So all five RFAs (Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Viva, Mike Commodore, and Sharpie were signed without issue. Only Cullen, AWard and Gerber were picked up out of the UFAs so far.

As for their own needs, the Canes will still need to pick up a defenseman or two and a winger or two. Look for some trades involving Josef Vasicek or Oleg Tverdovsky.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pronger a Duck

On Monday, the Oilers sent Chris Pronger to the MightyDucks, and will be getting a bunch of spare parts in exchange.

The key part of the trade is 22 year-old Joffrey Lupul, who tallied 53 points (28/25) last season, including 23 (12/11)power play points. He also scored 11 points (9/2) in 16 post-season games. The Ducks also give up their top prospect, a first round selection in 2007, a first and second round selection in 2008. It seems to be a pretty good deal. Lupul shows a ton of promise, and is still young enough that he can learn new tricks. The prospect, Ladislav Smid is a big lanky defenseman who still needs a lot of shaping. The three picks are good ones, so it might be that Edmonton got a good deal here.

Now that we know that, I can't wait to hear the other part. The "real reason" he and his family want to leave Alberta. If it's to get away from puck bunnies, he's making a terrible choice. Anaheim would be a step backwards in that regard. Maybe Lauren just didn't like the Edmonton Mall and wanted to be closer to Beverly Hills so she can get her shop on. I can't remember when that press conference is, but I thought it was scheduled for sometime today.

I haven't made a comment yet about either of the new logos scheduled for use next season, but I'll say that the train wreck that is the new Ducks logo is vastly superior to the jumbo jet crashing into a skyscraper that is the new Les Mouflons¹ Sabres logo. I'd still prefer the old Islanders Morton's Fisherman logo to either of these monstrosities, though. Please re-visit my post about my least favorite alternate sweaters of the 1990's. It looks like it might be time to do an updated post to include these horrid sweaters. But I'll have to wait until the Sabres new logo is "official".

¹ Another reference to "Tuesday Morning Quarterback". Gregg Easterbrook always refers to the St. Louis Rams as "Les Mouflons" because those are the specific type of sheep that have the curved horns depicted in the Rams' logo. I'll do a more throrough comparison later, but the Sabres logo and the Rams logo are very similar.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Adios, Matt Cullen. Hello John Grahame.

On Saturday, the New York Rangers picked Matt Cullen off the free agent market. As of right now, the details are only that it is a multi-year deal. Four years for a total of $11.2M. He deserves it, and we'll miss him. Cullen had a good season with the Canes, tallying 49 points (25/24) in the regular season and 18 points (4/14) in the playoffs. This loss will absolutely mean the Canes will have to shop for some wingers. It was already looking that way anyway, but now it's even more apparent.

In other free agents, Cane-related stuff, the Canes signed John Grahame to a two-year deal for $2.8M. Grahame will be the #2 goalie, and we will bid a fond farewell to Martin Gerber.

I have a HUGE house-cleaning project in the works for today, but perhaps I'll take a break at some point and post about the very big non-Cane free agents. Mark Savard and Zdeno Chara to the Bs, Jovocop to the 'Yotes, and Hall Gill to the Leafs. Those are just a few of the big name team changes. There were some other key re-signings, too.

Staalsy inked to three year deal; Commy signed; Wallin retained

On Saturday, the Hurricanes locked down Eric Staal for three seasons with one of those escalating salaries I complained about all summer last year. In 2006-07, he will earn $4M, followed by $4.5M in 07-08 and $5M in 08-09. They also re-signed defenseman Mike Commodore to a two year deal worth $2.5M. Late Friday, Nic Wallin was retained with a four year deal.

During the regular season, Staal led the team in points (100) and goals (45), and was tied for first on the team with 55 assists. During the postseason, Staal led the entire league in points (28), assists (19) and power play goals (7).

This puts to rest the rumors that he wasn't going to sign. I don't think there were any "real" rumors. Just ones that people were trying to start on the Canes boards.

One of these days in the near future, I'll compile a chart outlining Carolina's salary commitments. Although we don't have any 6 million dollar men, the 3 million dollar men are really starting to pile up. Erik Cole remains to be signed, and I'm guessing he'll be in the neighborhood of $3M.

Mike Commodore was signed to a two year deal worth $2.5M.

Also, on Friday, another rumor was put to rest with the re-signing of defenseman Niclas Wallin. The talk around the water cooler was that he was going to go back to his native Sweden. However, the Canes signed him to a four-year deal at $1.75M per season.


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