A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.
Showing posts with label Kings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kings. Show all posts

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer doldrums continue

This summer has been magnificently boring. The Olympics broke the monotony a little bit, but the stuff I'm interested in is over, so now I'm just counting down the days to when training camp starts, to when the preseason games start, to when the third sweater will be released, and finally to when the regular season begins.

There hasn't been very much action at all. Some bloggers have been writing "five things I would change about the NHL" or "100 things about me" posts, just so they could have SOMEthing to write about. I've been thinking about writing a "one thing about me" post, or maybe some posts about music. I'll get to those later. Or not.

I've been keeping half of one eye on the Kings this summer. They're well below the salary cap floor and there have been a number of rumors about how they're going to remedy that. I'm completely puzzled by the fact that they haven't re-signed the youngster Patrick O'Sullivan, who was one of their best players last year with 53 (22/31) points last year. They've already let Mike Cammalleri go, they're overstocked with inexperienced goalies, dreadfully thin on defense, and as September looms, they're still not doing anything about it.

The most puzzling of all that is the O'Sullivan situation. I haven't heard a word about contract negotiations, and I've heard his name mentioned in a couple of trade rumors, but I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw "O'Sullivan wins 49'ers QB starting job" on my Yahoo NFL news. I thought "Wow, that's certainly a surprise", but then I quickly realized that they weren't talking about Patrick O'Sullivan. As it turns out, it's J.T. O'Sullivan, who has never started an NFL game in his six year career.

This is what happens when you're desperate for some hockey news. You misinterpret things. One time, my friend Patrick saw "Shockey", as in Jeremy Shockey, NFL tight end, come across the ESPN crawl. Without pausing to think about it, he said "What the heck is ess hockey?"

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Kaberle might go to LA. Johnson might leave.

While I was catching up on some of my blog reading, I found a short post over at The Battle of California about the Kings and their struggle to reach the salary cap floor.

So far, the Kings have only $27.7M in salary commitments for the 2008-09 season. The salary cap floor is $40.7M. They have yet to re-sign RFA forward Patrick O'Sullivan, or the recently traded for Jarret Stoll and Brad Richardson. They have bought out goaltender Dan Cloutier, but still have somewhere between three and five goalies under contract. Granted, most of those contracts are two-way deals, so that money won't count against the cap. They have just four defensemen signed. The free agent market has pretty much dried up, so they're going to have to make some trades to get defensemen and possibly some trades just to take on some salary commitment.

O'Sullivan had a pretty good season in the last year of his entry level contract. He put up 53(22/31) points, and stands to have a payday probably in the neighborhood of $3.5M. Even if that's the case, the Kings would be $9.5 below the cap, and they'll need defense. None of their free agent defensemen can command a big bucks payday, so they're still in trouble versus the cap floor. Why not trade some of their young talent and/or draft picks to Carolina for defenseman Franke Kaberle and his hefty $2.5M salary?

Another interesting thing that's being discussed in LA is another trade that would be done for the express purpose of spending money. One of Carolina's favorite "I hate that guy" guys, Jack Johnson, is in the last year of his entry level contract and could be dangled as attractive trade bait to a team looking to shed some salary this season. Jim Kelly from SI.com suggests that the Blackhawks would make a good trade partner, but his suggestion of Johnson for Khabibulin doesn't make sense because the 'Hawks aren't deep enough in goal to do that, and I don't think Huet is ready to be anointed "the one". The Hawks (and Flames, and Flyers) need to shed salary, but I don't see that particular trade going down.

As for the other? Picking up a veteran defenseman and a salary commitment? Absolutely! I'm not sure what Carolina would want in return if they sent Kaberle that way, though. Draft picks? A bag of pucks? 20 gallons of fuel for the Olympia? (Zamboni™ is a registered trademark, and Carolina's is not a ZAMBONI brand ice resurfacer).

When the Kings traded away their best player -- Mike Cammalleri, it was evident that they're entering yet another rebuilding phase. Now, they have yet to re-sign one of their best young players --Patrick O'Sullivan, and there is talk of trading away one of their other young promising players -- Anze Kopitar or Jack Johnson. They're never going to get better if they keep doing that.

Anyway, I hope the Canes can help them (and themselves) by sending Kaberle out there. Anything at all in return would be great.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Michigan loses, Johnson bails

On Saturday, the Michigan Wolverines fell 8-5 to the UND Fighting Sioux, ending the Wolverines quest for a national title.

After the game, the team flew back to Ann Arbor, but Jack Johnson stayed in Denver. According to the Michigan Daily, Johnson signed a deal with the Kings.

Last spring, when the Wolverines lost, and the Canes were wrapping up a fantastic regular season en route to winning the Stanley Cup, they offered Johnson several contract deals. All were turned down, Johnson said, because he wanted to win an NCAA championship and to graduate from Michigan. After winning the Cup, Carolina continued to offer contract deal after contract deal. All were rebuffed.

After a freakishly awkward dinner meeting and another rejected deal, Jim Rutherford pulled the trigger on a trade just before the start of regular season.

Johnson will join the Kings and will be in the lineup on Tuesday night. After the season is over, Johnson will return to Ann Arbor to finish out the spring semester. He says he still plans to stay in school, but that's kinda hard to do when you're playing in the NHL.

Credit goes to James Mirtle for drawing my attention to the story.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Canes edge Kings

On a cold wet Tuesday night, the Hurricanes emerged from their barn with a 2-1 victory over the visiting last place Kings. This gives the Canes an opportunity to gain ground on Atlanta, who is playing a late game in Calgary, getting crushed early. Carolina will also be keeping a close eye on Toronto, who is also battling for the eighth spot in the East. The Leafs are, as I write, tied with the Islanders midway through the third lost to the Islanders in the shootout.

One important thing happened, and I can almost guarantee that nobody else will mention this. It'll take me a little ways to get there, so bear with me. According to the Mirtle Model, 95 points will be needed for a team to qualify for the playoffs. Los Angeles is now in a position where the most they can accrue is 93 points. They're out. James Mirtle isn't god, I know, but his model seemed to work last season. He predicted 95 would get you in, and that's exactly what Edmonton had with the eighth seed in the West.

Bear with me. I'm getting to the point.

The Kings are out. They won't be winning the Stanley Cup. Center Patrick O'Sullivan won't be getting his name etched on the Stanley Cup come September. Who? Patrick O'Sullivan. He's the only native North Carolinian playing in the NHL right now. Or ever, for that matter. He was born in Winston-Salem while his dad was playing for the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds of the defunct Atlantic Coast Hockey League.

Why is this important?

Chris Huffine, video coach for the Hurricanes, became the first native North Carolinian to have his name etched on the Cup last year. The fact that the Kings are realistically eliminated and O'Sullivan isn't high on anyone's trade priority means that Huffine won't have to share that distinction with anyone. At least for one more year.

Okay... the game. I didn't go, it wasn't on Canes TV, I don't have Center Ice, and I had no desire to be in a bat. I had to listen on the webradio.

Ray Whitney got the Canes off and running late in the first to continue his sizzling pace. His power play goal was assisted by Rod Brind'Amour and David Tanabe.

Alex Frolov tied it for the Kings midway through the second with a power play goal.

Scott Walker got the game winner midway through the third, assisted by Josef Vasicek and David Tanabe.

Tanabe didn't earn an "official" star, but the RBH stars go to:

THIRD STAR David Tanabe, CAR -- 2 assists
SECOND STAR Ray Whitney, CAR -- goal
FIRST STAR Scott Walker, CAR -- GWG

Ray Whitney continues to be absolutely incendiary. He's got a three game goal streak and a five game point streak during which he has totaled 10 (5/5) points. He's got 68 points, and with 23 games remaining, he's just 8 shy of his career best. Somehow, a guy who's in the top 10 in the League, and is on pace for 94 points is completely under the radar. Go figure.

The Canes will stay at home and will face the Rangers and their legion of ex-Canes on Thursday. I'll be donning 63 for the first time since game 7.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Canes to host Kings

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes will play host to the cellar-dwelling Kings in their fourth of five games against Pacific Division teams. Carolina will complete the cycle on March 24 against the Sharks.

Please note that it is a matter of pure objective fact that Los Angeles is a last-place team. It is by no means a personal value judgement. To hear some folks tell it, we Canes fans wouldn't know how to formulate a subjective opinion anyway.

Speaking of last-place teams, the abysmal Flyers put a hurtin' on the Red Wings tonight, blasting them 6-1. Despite the fact that Philadelphia is a really horrible team this season, the Red Wings failed to end their decade-long losing streak. It has now been more than 10 years since the Red Wings have won a game in the City of Brotherly Love. Their last triumph there was January 25, 1997 when the Wings won 4-1. For the record, two of the goal scorers that night (Tomas Holmstrom and Kris Draper) are still with the wings. Rod Brind'Amour scored the lone Flyers goal that night.

Because of the new "unbalanced" NHL schedule, the last time the Kings were in the
RBC Center was November 8, 2003, and the next time will be 2008-09 at the very earliest. For the record, Carolina won that game in overtime on Eric Staal's third career goal. I was there and got a few decent pictures, including this one, showing a motley crew of former Canes. In addition to the four pictured, there were others like Jeff O'Neill, Bob Boughner, Daniil Markov. There for the Kings that night were Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger.

In a year that not much went right for me personally and very little went right for the Canes, that night was one of the good ones.

According to the Mirtle Model, which suggests that you need 95 standings points to qualify for the playoffs, the Kings aren't out. Yet. They'll need to win every single one of their remaining 24 games. That, and get a lot of help.

Carolina can't take this too lightly, though. They are barely grasping onto the eighth spot (from a points standpoint). After adjusting for teams that have games in hand, the Canes are actually on the outside looking in. They need to start winning with regularity. They need to win games like this, plus a few that they shouldn't. They'll also need to throttle up when they head down the division game-laden homestretch in late March/April.

Sadly, I won't be in attendance Tuesday night. My 63 sweater will make it's first reappearance on Thursday.

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