Friday, July 31, 2009

He'd Hit That: As Ottawa Turns

In case you haven't heard, Jason Spezza just got married last Saturday. So first off, congratulations to him. Bruce Garrioch was there to paparazzi the event apparently, and all of Ottawa wanted to see the reason behind Spezza's inconsistent play. Well they got their look, and so does she.

Mr. Spezza, congratulations to you! The former Jennifer Snell looks like a keeper. Though I certainly question your sanity by having Ray Emery in your party. Dany Heatley was a no show, couldn't find a spot I guess.

What Happened in Minny? A New Look Wild?

Free agents:
RW Marian Gaborik, $7,500,000 (u)
D Martin Skoula, 1,900,000 (u)
D Marc-Andre Bergeron, 1,691,000 (u)
D Kurtis Foster, 1,025,000 (u)
C Dan Fritsche, 875,000 (u)
LW Stephane Veilleux, 862,500 (u)
LW Peter Olvecky, 550,000 (u)
C Krys Kolanos, 500,000 (u)
LW Benoit Pouliot, 1,700,000 (r)
G Josh Harding, 750,000 (r)
C Kyle Brodziak, 500,000 (a)

RW Martin Havlat, 6 years, $30M (Blackhawks)
D Shane Hnidy, 1 year, $750,000 (Bruins)
G Wade Dubielewicz (Blue Jackets)
C Kyle Brodziak, 3 years, $3.45 M
G Josh Harding, 1 year, $1.1 M

RW Marian Gaborik (Rangers)
D Kurtis Foster (Lightning)

I've always liked the Wild, even if they are/were the Devils of the West. Gaborik was as flashy as they came, and they always seemed to be right there. Whatever the hell that means. But, with the ever shifting sands of NHL management, out goes Jacques Lemaire and his modified trap, and in comes new GM Chuck Fletcher and new coach Todd Richards, promising to eschew the defensive mindset that has defined the organization from its onset, to a tempo better suited to some of the talent in the system.

The new talent? Well, the hurt, both emotionally, and eventually, physically, Martin Havlat, who signed that 6 year, $30 million dollar contract, effectively replacing the equally hurt Marian Gaborik. Horizontal? Maybe, I dunno, they're both elite, so you know, whatever.

I'll be interested to see the real Niklas Backstrom when he doesn't have the trap to rely on. Will those numbers skyrocket? Will he see more shots per game than the 29 per average he faced last season? We shall see.

One more thing: Cal Clutterbuck.

I look forward to seein' what the Wild look like, and play like, this season. Should be interesting, to say the least. Especially when they play Chicago.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Happened in Hollywood? On the Verge of...Above Average

Free agents:
LW Kyle Calder, 2,700,000 (u)
D Denis Gauthier, 2,200,000 (u)
Derek Armstrong, 1,600,000 (u)
RW Teddy Purcell, 850,000 (r)
D Jack Johnson 850,000 (r)

D Rob Scuderi, 4 years, $13.6M (Penguins)
D Jack Johnson, 2 years (re-signed)
RW Teddy Purcell, 1 year (re-signed)

Trade In:
Ryan Smyth (Colorado)


Trade Out:
Kyle Quincey
Tom Preissing

They should be good. For what, 3 seasons now we've been sayin' that? Is this the year they finally bring it all together? Well, I guess that depends on Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg. The failures of the Cloutiers, the LaBarberas, and the Aubins are all well documented, and we've all had fun at their expense. But now they've got a little bit of talent in net, and now the Pacific division might just have another player.

The big move for the Kings was obviously bringing in Rob Scuderi, who single handedly, err, single leggedly, made himself about $1.5 million more with his performance in the playoffs with the Penguins. Between the kick save and his job on Ovechkin, he priced himself right out of Pittsburgh, and into Hollywood. Maybe overpriced, but as a guy to mentor Doughty and Jack Johnson, you can't go wrong. A far better guy for that role than the asshat known as Denis Gauthier.

Thanks to Matt Reitz for the reminder, but we can't forget that Ryan Smyth, and that contract, were added to the Kings' lineup as well. Captain Canada could do well cleaning up after Frolov, Kopitar and Co., that is, if he could ever stay healthy.

I would say more, but there's not much else to say about their offseason moves. As long as they continue to progress, I don't see why they can't at least contend for a spot in the top 8.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Looks, um, like, uh, you know, uh


First off, this is blade tape. This is blade tape available on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Website, in the hockey section, full of pins and other grandma-esque collectibles. The blade tape sells for $14.99. They say those are green maple leaves on said blade tape. I call bullshit.

Image test!

I think we all know which is which. I think we all know what those Canadians are tryin' to pull. Hippies.

What Happened in Florida? Well, David Booth is Still There...For Now

Free agents:
D Nick Boynton, 2,950,000 (u)
D Karlis Skrastins, 2,400,000 (u)
RW Richard Zednik, 1,750,000 (u)
RW Radek Dvorak, 1,600,000 (u)
D Jordan Leopold, 1,500,000 (u)
LW Ville Peltonen, 1,200,000 (u)
D Steve Eminger, 1,200,000 (u)
D Jassen Cullimore, 830,000 (u)
G Craig Anderson, 575,000 (u)
LW Tanner Glass, 570,000 (u)
RW Anthony Stewart, 522,500 (u)
LW David Booth, 675,000 (r)

LW David Booth, 6 years (re-signed)
RW Radek Dvorak, 2 years (re-signed)
G Scott Clemmensen, 3 years (Devils)
D Jordan Leopold, 1 year, $1.75M (re-signed)
D Ville Koistinen (Predators)

RW Richard Zednik (Russia)
G Craig Anderson (Avalanche)
D Karlis Skrastins (Stars)
D Nick Boynton (Ducks)
LW Tanner Glass (Canucks)

There's been a lot of movement down there in Miami, or wherever it is in Florida these guys play. After, and let's be honest here, surprising the hell out of everyone and their uncle last season by finishing in 9th in the East and, *gasp*, putting a competitive team out on the ice. Can they replicate that moderate success with the moves they've made this offseason? Well, let's take a look.

Who's gone? Well, a goalie in Craig Anderson that saved their asses when Vokoun was out. To replace him? Oh, just the goalie that saved the New Jersey Devils asses when Marty Brodeur went down. I think it's advantage Panthers. Nick Boynton and Jordan Leopold, in my mind, are essentially the same guy, with Leopold stronger in the transition and Boynton being a grittier player. All pretty much horizontal moves in my mind.

Where the Panthers might miss someone is the always underrated Karlis Skrastins, who led the Cats in blocked shots last season with 171 in 80 games, good for If you'd recall Skrastins also owns the NHL Iron Man record for defensemen by playing in 487 straight games back in 2007, that kind of durability isn't altogether too common.

The smartest move of their offseason was resigning David Booth (and not trading Nathan Horton along with Bouwmeester, who's all encompassing coverage leading up to the draft ensures he will not be mentioned here, I'm tired of him). Booth emerged as a star last season, and extending him at a relatively affordable price for 6 years will more than likely prove wise with the new youth movement in Florida.

All in all, you have to think the Panthers, like the Sabres, Habs, Rangers, and Canes, could finish anywhere from 6 - 10, it's such a crap shoot, so who knows. I'm starting to get a little excited over here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Those Jerseys Puck Daddy Couldn't Post

Well, since Greg says they're awesome, well, I guess they must be. I might make more tasteless, garbage sometime soon. But hey, here's what I got so far.

San Francisco Queens

Hershey Highway

El Paso Invaders

And you know what, here's the blank jersey template. Ravage a poor city with tasteless nonsense, and I'll post it, I don't care, I have no rules. I take it to the man (no homo).

In fact, you know, I dare someone to think of a jersey design gayer than a Clay Aiken San Francisco Queens sweater. Do it.

What Just Happened Here? A Twitchy Bastard Comes to Town

Free agents:
G Dwayne Roloson, 3,000,000 (u)
D Jason Strudwick, 650,000 (u)
G Dany Sabourin, NA (u)
D Denis Grebeshkov, 1,500,000 (a)
D Ladislav Smid, 952,381 (r)
C Gilbert Brule, 765,000 (r)
LW Liam Reddox, 515,000 (r)

G Nikolai Khabibulin, 4 years, $15M (Blackhawks)
LW Chris Minard (Penguins)
D Denis Grebeshkov, 1 year, $3.15M
D Jason Strudwick, 1 year, 700K

RW Ales Kotalik (Rangers)
G Dwayne Roloson (Islanders)
G Dany Sabourin (Bruins)

I'm not going to sit here and act like I know everything there is to know about Edmonton. Being an East Coast guy, it's hard enough to watch any West Coast games, let alone give a damn. Last season I saw two, count 'em, two, Edmonton Oilers tilts: one live, one on television. The first saw Edmonton beat up on the Capitals 5-2 here in Washington in January, only to watch the 10-2 shellacking at the hands of the Sabres just 2 weeks later. One night they were a solid shutdown team against the high flying Caps, the other a delightfully pathetic display of ineptitude and laziness. A tale of two teams? Doppelgangers? Probably the former.

Looking at the team superficially, yeah, I'd say an over 35+ contract to Khabibulin wasn't the wisest move in the world. But it's damn well better than giving Dwayne Roloson a 35+ contract. I think that that twitchy bastard's still got some left in him, where as Dwayne went off to obscurity on Wang's Island for a reason.

But in reality, this team really has been searching for an identity. I wouldn't build a franchise around Alex Hemsky or Shawn Horcoff, I'm sorry, they're good players, but they ain't great. Dustin Penner has been the epitome of fail, while the young picks like Cogliano, Ganger, and Nilsson are still waiting for those breakout seasons.

I'm a little curious how Western Conference fans see this team, because me looking at them on paper, I'm just a tad bit underwhelmed. Am I missing something that makes this team tick? They did have a "winning" record at 38-35-9, but even still, what was the reason for their relative success? Fill me in.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What Just Happened Here? An Exodus of Sorts

Free agents:
RW Marian Hossa, 7,450,000 (u)
RW Mikael Samuelsson, 1,200,000 (u)
G Ty Conklin, 750,000 (u)
D Chris Chelios, 750,000 (u)
RW Aaron Downey, 575,000 (u)
RW Darren McCarty, 575,000 (u)
RW Tomas Kopecky, 525,000 (u)
C Jiri Hudler, 1,150,000 (a)
LW Ville Leino, 875,000 (r)

LW Ville Leino, 2 years, $1.6M (re-signed)

RW Marian Hossa (Blackhawks)
RW Tomas Kopecky (Blackhawks)
G Ty Conklin (Blues)
RW Mikael Samuelsson (Canucks)
C Jiri Hudler, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

Like the Sabres and Lightning before them, the realities of the salary cap era befell "Hockeytown" which has seen a diaspora of sorts leave the graces of Jou Louis, finding themselves riddled across the rest of the Western Conference, oh, and one guy back home in Mother Russia.

Are Red Wings fans worried? Probably not? Why would they be? They still have Zetterberg and Datsyuk, two of the best two way forwards in the game, let alone Franzen still in the fold. Oh, and that Lidstrom guy.

Now the question remains; are Filppula, Leino, and Abdelkader all ready to make that step into the bigger roles? Are they ready to take jobs previously held by the likes of Tomas Kopecky, Mikael Samuelsson, and Jiri Hudler? In my mind that remains to be seen, as much as I like Filppula and Leino, and enjoy making Adjudicator/Eradicator/Enunciator jokes, the uncertainty of these kids certainly can't make up for the loss of established role players, yet. Hell, is Darren Helm the real deal we saw in the playoffs, or is he just the next Fernando Pisani, minus the ulcerative colitis?

Now here's the million dollar question, are the Wings odds-on favorite in the Central Division anymore? There's arguments to be made for both Chicago and Detroit for taking the Central, let alone the Western crown, and I'm especially excited, knowing both have the same old, same old, questions in goal. With that said, go Columbus. Woooooooooo.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What Just Happened Here? Uhhhhhhh I Dunno

Free agents:
D Sergei Zubov, 5,750,000 (u)
RW Jere Lehtinen, 4,100,000 (u)
D Darryl Sydor, 2,500,000 (u)
C Steve Begin, 1,300,000 (u)
C Joel Lundqvist, 750,000 (u)
RW Landon Wilson, 550,000 (u)
RW Mark Parrish, 500,000 (u)
D Mark Fistric, 789,000 (r)
G Tobias Stephan, 485,000 (r)
C Brendan Morrison, 2,750,00

RW Jere Lehtinen, 1 year, $1.5M, plus bonuses (re-signed)
D Karlis Skrastins, 2 years, $4.4M (Panthers)
D Mark Fistric, 3 years, $3M (re-signed)
D Jeff Woywitka, 2 years, $1.3M (Blues)
C Warren Peters, 1 year (Flames)

C Steve Begin (Bruins)
RW Chris Conner (Penguins)
C Brendan Morrison (Capitals)
C Joel Lundqvist, 750,000 (Elitserin)

Dallas made waves this offseason by finally realizing a two headed monster at GM doesn't work, let alone giving Brett Hull any sort of responsibility. That was a disaster waiting to happen. Oh, you say last season was a disaster? I'd agree. Way to go Brett! NO GOAL!

Ok, sorry. I'm over it, I swear. Now since Les Jackson and Brett Hull were "reassigned," Joe Nieuwendyk took over. His first prey? Jonas Gustavsson, the Monster, or so I hear he's called. He failed, as Gustavsson picked the Leafs and playing time over tutelage behind Marty Turco.

Overall though, the Stars moved laterally, but with Zubov still wallowing as a UFA, they could potentially lose their PP quarterback, which could be a blow. Bringing in Skrastins will be good for a shot blocking and consistency standpoint, but none of the other additions really scream game-changer now do they.

Hopefully Brendan Morrow healed from that ACL injury, the collective personae of the Stars organization has recovered from the onslaught of Sean Avery, and Marty Turco remembered how to play goalie, then everything will be just peachy in Dallas.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Just Happened Here? Columbus Kept Their Franchise

Free agents:
D Christian Backman, 3,400,000 (u)
C Jason Williams, 2,200,000 (u)
C Manny Malhotra, 1,500,000 (u)
C Michael Peca, 1,315,000 (u)
C Chris Gratton, 1,250,000 (u)
C Jiri Novotny, 800,000 (r)
D Aaron Rome, 554,500 (u)
G Wade Dubielewicz, 500,000 (u)
LW Alexandre Picard, 787,500 (r)
D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, 750,000 (r)
G Dan LaCosta, 525,000 (r)
D Marc Methot, 522,500 (a)

C Samuel Pahlsson, 3 years (Blackhawks)
G Mathieu Garon, 2 years (Penguins)
D Marc Methot, 2 years

LW Rick Nash, 8 years

G Wade Dubielewicz (Wild)

Well aside from apparently having no Centers under contract for the upcoming season (exaggeration, but seriously, how many they gonna let go?), this season was marked by the public, but swift, contract negotiations of franchise player Rick Nash. By signing him through the 2017-2018, Columbus now has the player to which they can build hockey in Ohio, and really start building something special in that God forsaken hell hole that is Columbus.

If you haven't noticed what the BJ's have done, and only know the names Steve Mason and Rick Nash, maybe it's time to start paying some attention. Look at the 4 guys up the middle now. R.J. Umberger, or as I like to call him "Scrambled Eggs", Antoine Vermette, Sami Pahlsson, and Derick (one r?) Brassard, form a pretty special group of centers. Recall Brassard was lighting it up before his season ending surgery, Umberger was the only guy to perform in the playoffs, Pahlsson will anchor that 3rd shutdown line, with Stanley Cup credentials to boot (replacing the elderly Mike Peca in this role), while Vermette will offer speed and flexibility to the top lines.

Outside of Nash, and at times, Huselius, the Wingers aren't anything to write home about, nor is the defense corps, led by, I guess, Mike Commodore. But with Steve Mason between the pipes, as long as he's no Andrew Raycroft, I don't see the Blue Jackets faltering anytime soon. They are a franchise...on the rise? Yeah, we'll go with that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Colorado's Gunning for the Basement Again

Free agents:
C Joe Sakic, 6,000,000 (u)
C Tyler Arnason, 1,750,000 (u)
RW Ian Laperriere, 1,150,000 (u)
D Daniel Tjarnqvist, 750,000 (u)
D Lawrence Nycholat, 600,000 (u)
C Cody McCormick, 522,500 (u)
RW Ben Guite, 475,000 (u)
D Kyle Cumiskey, 475,000 (r)

G Craig Anderson, 2 years (Panthers)
LW David Koci, 1 year (Lightning)
C Cody McCormick, 3 years (re-signed)
D Kyle Cumiskey (re-signed)

RW Ian Laperriere (Flyers)
G Andrew Raycroft (Canucks)
RW Ben Guite (Predators)
C Joe Sakic (retired)
C Tyler Arnason (Rangers)

Man, how the mighty have fallen. You can't look at that roster and say they've improved, unless, one could argue, they have simply by ridding themselves of Andrew Raycroft (poor bastard). But it's been rough offseason for the fans of these Avalanche. One of the living legends of our generation, a sure hall of famer, and all around great dude, Joe Sakic, hung up the skates, and left the NHL for good, all the while the man who led them to the glory land, Patrick Roy, really wants nothing to do with that management situation. Yikes.

The only signing of any true magnitude was goalie Craig Anderson, obviously an upgrade over the aforementioned garbage that was former Calder trophy winner Raycroft, but we've only ever seen him in spot duty. He was fantastic when covering for Vokoun in Florida, but 109 career games with a 36-43-2 record does not a starter make. He'll be splitting time with Peter Budaj, but I certainly don't think those 2 were a better option than Marty Biron or even Manny Fernandez.

As for who left, other than Mr. Sakic and Mr. Irrelevant (Raycroft) of course, Ian Laperriere found a natural and compelling fit with Philadelphia, while the enigmatic and disappointing Tyler Arnason, naturally, finds his way onto the roster of those New York Rangers. All in all, I doubt the people in Denver will miss those two all that much, but who knows.

There's not much else to say about Colorado. This offseason will be remembered as the one where Joe Sakic retired, Patrick Roy decided Juniors was a more attractive option than the Avs, and hopes are at an all time low. Good luck to Colorado, cause things aren't lookin' too promising. That's for damn sure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Just Happened Here? Half the League's Offseason Transactions, Apparently

Free agents:
G Nikolai Khabibulin, 6,750,000 (u)
RW Martin Havlat, 6,000,000 (u)
C Samuel Pahlsson, 1,400,000 (u)
D Matt Walker, 600,000 (u)
D Cam Barker, 984,200 (r)
C Dave Bolland, 887,500 (r)
RW Troy Brouwer, 700,000 (r)
LW Ben Eager, 650,000 (r)
D Aaron Johnson, 525,000 (a)
C Colin Fraser, 500,000 (r)
LW Kris Versteeg, 490,000 (r)

RW Marian Hossa, 12 years, $62.8M (Red Wings)
RW Tomas Kopecky, 2 years, $2.4M (Red Wings)
C Dave Bolland, 5 years, $16.875M (re-signed)
C John Madden, 1 year, $2.75M (Devils)
Troy Brouwer, 2 years (re-signed)
LW Kris Versteeg, 3 years (re-signed)
LW Ben Eager, 1 year (re-signed)
C Colin Fraser, 1 year (re-signed)
D Aaron Johnson, 1 year (re-signed)
G Corey Crawford, 2 years (re-signed)
D Cam Barker, 3 years (re-signed)

D Matt Walker (Lightning)
G Nikolai Khabibulin (Oilers)
C Samuel Pahlsson (Blue Jackets)
RW Martin Havlat (Wild)

You know, Tallon put in a helluva lot of work only to get fired. The team that probably received the most coverage this entire offseason, these Blackhawks are gunning for next year, they have to be, right? I mean, I don't need to tell you they're going to have cap issues, hell, they're going to be epic. But if they reach the Cup, it's all gravy. There's a reason Hossa signed the career deal.

But in all seriousness, how can you not say that Tallon did a fine job assembling this team from laughingstock to serious contender? He got Patrick Sharp for, oh what was it, Matt Ellison (had to look it up) and Havlat for Preissing and Josh Hennessy. He gets the draft right, lands the stud defensemen, lands the game changing forwards, picks up the grit in Eager and Burish, and takes the shaft from the Blackhawks organization.

As for those cap issues, next season Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Andrew Ladd, and Duncan Keith all become restricted free agents. Needless to say Kane and Toews are getting huge bumps over their $875K and $850K contracts, respectively, from this season (granted their cap hits are around $3 million due to the hefty bonuses they receive for being awesome). While Ladd and Keith, although they both make well over $1.5 million, will be getting hefty bumps too.

So where does that leave freshly appointed GM Stan Bowman? Well, besides a position of little power to make moves. The logical move? Brian Campbell. Will it happen? Absolutely not. Not until salary sharing becomes a reality (will it come up in the upcoming CBA, we can only hope). His $7+ million salary for the next gajillion years is a behemoth that no GM will take on with the uncertainty coming in future seasons.

So who's the trade bait? Well, 3 guys: Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, and Dustin Byflugien. Each makes over $3 million, each are expendable to an extent. I'd say there's a small chance of Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg moving, but I can't see why the 'Hawks would do that. But I've seen crazier deals made.

It'll be interesting to see what Bowman will take in exchange for some of his bloated salary. He's in no position for haggling, the other 29 GMs know what kind of trouble he'll be in next year, so he'll have to take picks and prospects right?

But hey, like I said, next season, between Kane, Toews, Hossa, and company, looks like the Hawks have a great chance at being Western Conference Champs, but that's it. You know, cause they have Hossa. [Insert played out joke here].

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Would You Do? Participate or Not?

It already seems the fans and players have already aligned themselves against the NHL and apparently, the NHLPA, when it comes to participation in the Olympics. If you'd recall over the past couple weeks each nation (but mainly USA and Canada) released their Olympic Camp invitees for later this summer. Well we all know the players love the honor of representing their country, we know the NHL hates stalling the season for 3 weeks a year, while now the Players Association seems to want to keep the Olympians off the ice as well.

Now these camps range from video and orientation to drills etc. but apparently these week long camps are an "unwarranted and unnecessary risk" to the players, and they recommend these guys to stay off the ice, if they choose to participate at all.

Naturally it comes down to an issue of insurance. NHL Teams aren't responsible for their players while playing, while the NHLPA considers each hockey federation unsuitable when it comes to covering the risks and potential damage to careers if they were to sustain an injury during Olympic participation.

So, let me pose this question to you, if you were invited to Team [Enter Nation Here]'s Olympic Development Camp...Would you go? Wouldn't you? Would you trade off a gold medal for missing half a year with an injury?

Let's hear it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Just Happened Here? A Hurricane Blow Through?

Free agents:
LW Erik Cole, $4,000,000 (u)
D Dennis Seidenberg, 1,200,000 (u)
RW Chad LaRose, 875,000 (u)
LW Ryan Bayda, 475,000 (u)
RW Tuomo Ruutu, 2,250,000 (a)
D Anton Babchuk, 1,000,000 (r)

LW Erik Cole, 2 years, $5.8M (re-signed)
RW Chad LaRose, 2 years, $3.4M (re-signed)
D Andrew Alberts, 2 years, $2.1M (Flyers)
RW Tom Kostopoulos, 3 years, $2.75M (Canadiens)


I'm not sure over the past decade that there is a team that has done more with less than the Carolina Hurricanes. I don't mean that as a slight, more of a compliment actually. There's more turnover behind the bench than their is on their roster.

They bring in has-beens or never-weres, the Jussi Jokinen's and Sergei Samsonov's of the world, and completely turn around their career. But that's not what we're talkin' about here, let's talk about their offseason.

Oh wait, I guess those first two paragraphs do kind of fit in. The Canes kept Erik Cole in the fold this time, instead of letting him walk and pining for his services come trade deadline time, and Chad LaRose, who was the only guy who showed up in the series against Pittsburgh, gets a modest raise.

Now for the signings. Is Tom Kostopolous going to turn into a 50 point player? Probably not, but perhaps joining Matt Cullen and Chad LaRose on that 2nd line might be a boon for his career. That is, of course, if Paul Maurice deems him worthy. It seems that the Canes must think they're going to lose out on the services of Dennis Seidenberg over the course of the next couple weeks, otherwise I'm not sure on what planet Andrew Alberts gets a 2 year contract. But in reality, Alberts at $1.1 million a year is probably much more acceptable than a Sedienberg at $1.8.

So I think the Canes, not unlike the Sabres, went horizontal. There's no way they close the gap on Washington, but I think Tampa might be a little too close for comfort for Jim Rutherford. It seems they're pretty much done with free agency, so looks like this will be the team they move forward with.

Will they finish 6th in the conference again? Well, will we see Cam Ward circa rounds 1 & 2 against the Devils and Bruins or Cam Ward circa PWND in round 3? Imagine that, a season hinging on a goalie's performance, haven't heard that one before.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why Versus Coverage Beats NBC's in my Book

As you can tell by the post before this one, I'm completely tired of having the same so called elite franchises (no offense to those fan bases, but you probably already think that anyway so whatever) that are deemed special enough by network executives to grace NBC are always on the "NHL on NBC."

Then Lepore came back with the Versus TV schedule and I thought hey, this looks better. 16 teams were left off the NBC schedule, while only 4 were left off the Versus. The teams that were left off Versus'? 4 Canadian teams that I'm sure are all over the CBC and TSN schedules.

Well, I thought I'd throw some quick graphs together that prove the point. First off, the NBC schedule.

Click on it to blow it up. But look at that, 6 teams have over different 5 chances (in just 10 weeks!) to be on the national NBC broadcast. Way to switch it up. Oh and WTF! Colorado...COLORADO?!? Are you shitting me? Last place 32-45-5 Colorado gets five chances on national tv? Good choice.

How 'bout Versus? How did they divvy out their broadcast schedule across the 30 (hear that NBC? There's 30 teams in the NHL) franchises? Let's take a look.

Oh look at that relatively even distribution, at least every American franchise gets a look. Even the Thrashers and Coyotes will get a game broadcast on Versus, do you think they'll ever get a look from the execs at NBC? Not a chance. Hell, even the Blue Jackets, Lightning, and Islanders get 5 appearances on Versus.

Now to be fair, NBC only gets 10 broadcasts, and Versus gets 58, and I recognize that fact. So to do I see the fact that those same teams Philly, Boston, Washington, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have as many, if not more, broadcasts on Versus than on NBC.

Yet this is supposed to be a "partnership" between the league and NBC. Not Gary Bettman bending over backwards so that NBC can squeeze every single rating out of his product. Oh we know that's how NBC works, we saw that in Pittsburgh during the Cup finals.

I think it's about time that the NHL starts looking back towards ESPN2 for NHL 2Night and really expanding Versus' offering, maybe even trying to get NHL Network on some basic cable offerings, because frankly, NBC isn't promoting the league like they should be. But they sure are promoting the same teams over and over again.

But hey, might as well queue up the Crosby vs. Ovechkin promo's, think they'll use the same ones as the past 2 years?

Oh and seriously, potentially 11 chances to see those Avalanche sans Sakic?!? Woooooooooo. To steal a phrase, vomit.

In NBC's World There are Only 8 NHL Teams

Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and...Colorado?!? Steve Lepore, as he always does, got his hands on NBC's potential lineup for those lovely Sunday matinees of the same damn teams. Well lookie here, same old, same old. Honestly, NBC is a joke.

January 1, 1:00 PM
Philadelphia vs. Boston

January 17, 12:30 PM ET
Philadelphia vs. Washington OR
Chicago vs. Detroit

January 24, 12:30 PM ET/3PM ET
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia OR
Boston vs. Carolina OR
Dallas vs. Colorado

January 31, 12:30 PM ET
Tampa Bay vs. Washington OR
Detroit vs. Pittsburgh

February 7, 12:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh vs. Washington

March 7, 12:30 PM ET/1PM ET
Boston vs. Pittsburgh OR
Detroit vs. Chicago

March 14, 12:30 PM ET/1PM ET
Colorado vs. Dallas OR
Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers OR
Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay OR
Washington vs. Chicago

March 21, 12:30 PM ET/3PM ET
NY Rangers vs. Boston OR
Colorado vs. Anaheim

April 4, 12:30 PM ET/3PM ET
Detroit vs. Philadelphia OR
San Jose vs. Colorado

Aprill 11, 1PM ET
Los Angeles vs. Colorado OR
Detroit vs. Chicago OR
NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia OR
Boston vs. Washington

There are 14 teams that MIGHT get a chance to be on national TV via NBC this season, yes, less than half the league. Out of the 10 weeks that the NHL is on NBC, Philly gets 6 chances, Boston 5, Washington 5, Detroit 5, Pittsburgh 5, Colorado 5, Chicago 4, and New York 3. Oh yeah, that won't get old quick. Steve's right, this is how it'll look. Hurray, hockey with now 50% more Crosby commercials!

And let's be honest, even though Dallas and Tampa have 2 shots, and Carolina, Anaheim, San Jose and LA all get 1 shot, they really won't.

Save me your market research, save me your "these are the best teams" arguments, your "best markets for TV", this is just boring. Thank God the NHL decided to re-up with NBC for 2 more years. That way, fans of these cities won't have to illegally stream the games 5 less times than everyone else. So be prepared for more Crosby and Ovechkin love rammed down your throats, for 2 more years at least.

Before the Dawn: Winter Classic 2010

This particular pic comes from Schuyler Baehman (that's a hell of a name), who just happens to be the NHL Manager of Communications. Naturally, of course, from his twitter page.

So here I think we can say for certain that the Flyers and Bruins will be playing in Fenway on January 1st, 2010. The announcement is going to be at 2 PM, it'll be streamed live on for you kids that care.

What Just Happened in Calgary? A lot

Free agents:
D Jay Bouwmeester, $4,875,000 (u)
D Adrian Aucoin, 4,000,000 (u)
LW Michael Cammalleri, 3,600,000 (u)
RW Todd Bertuzzi, 1,950,000 (u)
D Anders Eriksson, 1,500,000 (u)
C Jamie Lundmark, 600,000 (u)
LW Andre Roy, 550,000 (u)
D Adam Pardy, 500,000 (u)
C Dustin Boyd, 675,000 (r)

D Jay Bouwmeester, 5 years, $33.4M (re-signed)
D Adam Pardy, 2 years, $1.4M (re-signed)
RW Fredrik Sjostrom (Rangers)

LW Michael Cammalleri (Canadiens)
D Adrian Aucoin (Coyotes)

I feel like the Flames change their roster just because they can. The turnover on this team, outside of Iginla, Phaneuf (who's subject to trade rumors all the time), and Kiprusoff, I'm pretty sure no one is safe. But with that kind of willingness/desire to win, you also end up with some hefty cap issues. That's kinda where the Flames sit right now.

But you certainly can't say they didn't improve their team. Yes, they lost Cammalleri, but now they have a full year of Olli Jokinen (take that for what it's worth). They traded the rights of Jordan Leopold for the rights of Jay Bouwmeester, yeah I think they won that one. Oh, and Adrian Aucoin? He deserved a $4 million a year contract about as much as Jay McKee ever did.

The Flames are top heavy, and outside of Langkow I'm not even sure I'd recognize anyone else on their forward depth chart. But I'm sure they're going to be right there at the top of the Northwest division before it's all said and done.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Havlat's Talking Shit Again

I can't even tell you how much I enjoy Martin Havlat's twitter page. First he goes ape shit on Chicago the organization for the way he was treated in his negotiations. Naturally I loved the drama, and we watched it play out here.

But now with the firing of Dale Tallon, Marty's back with a vengeance. He says, and I quote "I guess everyone saw what happened to Dale....yes, the story is starting to come out but it's just the tip of the iceberg." What a bad ass. You give Rocky Wirtz hell.

And yes, here is the screen cap of his page. Go get 'em Martin, you're quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Not just because of dangle, dangle, but because you're so bad ass.

Hell yes Marty, Give us the truth! WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!

What Didn't Just Happen In Buffalo?

Free agents:
RW Maxim Afinogenov, 3,500,000 (u)
D Jaroslav Spacek, 3,300,000 (u)
D Teppo Numminen, 1,100,000 (u)
C Dominic Moore, 900,000 (u)
G Mikael Tellqvist, 800,000 (u)
LW Andrew Peters, 550,000 (u)
LW Matt Ellis, 475,000 (u)
RW Drew Stafford, 984,200 (r)
D Andrej Sekera, 659,000 (r)
LW Clarke MacArthur, 522,500 (r)
RW Patrick Kaleta, 500,000 (r)
RW Mark Mancari, NA (r)

D Steve Montador, 2 years, $3.1M (Bruins)
LW Matt Ellis, 1 year, $500K
D Joe DiPenta, 1 year, $550K

D Jaroslav Spacek (Canadiens)
G Mikael Tellqvist (KHL)

There will be turnover in Buffalo, that is for certain. The longest tenured Sabre, Maxim Afinogenov, was not offered a contract. The shortest tenured Sabre, Dominic Moore, was not tendered an offer. The oldest Sabre, Teppo Numminen, is about 67th priority. The 68th priority? That would be "enforcer" Andrew Peters.

The Sabres are going to be signing their RFA's, eventually, I think, I hope. Of the 5 players who were restricted, only Clarke MacArthur filed for arbitration, leaving top 6 forward Drew Stafford, and the others to sign their deals. I would expect that deal Ryan Callahan just signed to be the benchmark for Stafford's deal, while each of the others should expect modest, at best, raises over their 2008-2009 salaries.

So with the loss of PP Point, and leading point getter on the blueline, Jaro Spacek, and naturally no replacement brought in via free agency, look for Andrej Sekera and 2nd year player Chris Butler to fill the transition role for the Sabres. They did bring in a gritty defensemen in Steve Montador to go alongside Craig Rivet, essentially making Andrew Peter's role obsolete, and actually having someone who might just stand up for your goalie on the roster..

So overall, what did the Sabres do? Pretty much nothing. Completely horizontal moves all the way around. They're hoping rookies Tim Kennedy, Nate Gerbe, and potentially Tyler Myers can step in and upgrade the skill level. Lindy Ruff says he's happy with his roster, and Darcy Regier says they will be actively looking for trade opportunities (Lydman, Tallinder, Hecht). I don't think their offseason is done, but did it ever really get started?

Did Dale Tallon Deserve This?

I'm conflicted. We've been thoroughly mocking his strange, yet decisive, moves over the past couple weeks. There was the snafu, ok there was the Hindenburg sized screw up with the qualifying offers to Versteeg and Barker, the ill treatment of one of their stars (Havlat), and insane contracts being thrown out there like tootsie rolls at a parade. What's all that add up to?

The son of a legend stealing your job. But in reality, you see those ef ups above, but think about what he did. Brought in Havlat, stole Versteeg for Bochenski, led the drafting of guys like Seabrook, Toews, and Kane, yet here after 4 years, caput. Second City Hockey has a nice run down of what just happened.

But after I think about the last 2 paragraphs...I'm still conflicted. He's messed up sure, but he was also the architect behind bringing the Hawks back from the dead, and making Chicago hockey relevant again.

What do you people think, was this firing deserved? Are we going to hear some circumstantial excuse from the Hawks org. when they just really wanted to get Stan Bowman into the GM position? Let's hear it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Just Happened in Boston?

Free agents:
G Manny Fernandez, $4,750,000 (u)
LW P.J. Axelsson, 1,850,000 (u)
RW Mark Recchi, 1,250,000 (u)
D Steve Montador, 800,000 (u)
D Shane Hnidy, 760,000 (u)
C Stephane Yelle, 750,000 (u)
C Phil Kessel, 850,000 (r)
D Matt Hunwick, 775,000 (r)
RW Byron Bitz, 675,000 (r)

RW Bryon Bitz, 2 years, $687,500 (re-signed)
C Steve Begin, 1 year (Stars)
RW Mark Recchi, 1 year, $1M (re-signed)

D Steve Montador (Sabres)
D Shane Hnidy (Wild)

The Bruins now are essentially the same team they were, they are who we thought they were. That is, unless P.J. Axelsson bolts. I have always liked P.J's two-way game, and I feel he's a pretty important cog there in Boston, but with their cap issues, and the 900 lb. gorilla in the room that is Phil Kessel's contract situation, can they fit him into their lineup.

Losing Montador and Hnidy won't really hurt, and their pickups aren't exactly world breakers. But they are still the same team that ran away with the East, and should be favored again to do so, that is, as long as nothing extravagant changes (i.e. offer sheet for Mr. Kessel).

I suppose they still need a backup goaltender with the almost guaranteed exit of Manny Fernandez, unless they feel that sitting Tuuka Rask for 60 games won't hinder his development. Considering the extension Tim Thomas recently signed, I'm not sure Rask will be seeing full time duty anytime soon.

Julien and Chiarelli were happy with where they stand, between a Vezina 'tender and a Norris blueliner, I'm pretty sure Boston is ok with what they've got.

Friday, July 10, 2009

He'd Hit That: [Tear]

Awww it's Roberto and Gina Luongo. Good thing Robbie's over his temper tantrum he threw at the end of the season.

God Mark, get a freakin' grip.

And can I be honest, doesn't Mrs. Luongo look like a worn piece of leather?

What Just Happened Here? Atlanta Thrashers

Movin' on to that team in the Southeast.

Free agents:
C Eric Perrin, 750,000 (u)
D Nathan Oystrick, 577,500 (u)
C Chris Thorburn, 535,000 (u)
G Kari Lehtonen, 3,000,000 (r)
RW Colby Armstrong, 1,200,000 (r)
D Boris Valabik, 925,000 (r)
C Jim Slater, 800,000 (r)

RW Nik Antropov, 4 years, $16M (Rangers)
C Chris Thorburn (re-signed)
C Jim Slater (re-signed)
D Joel Kwiatkowski, terms undisclosed (Russia)

Trade In
D Pavel Kubina, 1 year, $5M
C Tim Stapleton, RFA


Trade Out:
D Garnet Exelby
C Colin Sturt

What do I think about the moves here? Well outside of needing to sign their franchise goaltender to an extension, you can't really say they haven't done anything to hurt themselves, but probably more like appease Ilya Kovalchuk. There's a bit of criticism of Don Waddell (when isn't there?) going around that he's not really improving his team, but simply showing Kovalchuk that he's bringing in guys to play with him, hoping for that extension.

But honestly, how is bringing in the best players from Toronto, who finished...well, we all know where they finished...into Atlanta going to improve your team? An interesting thought to say the least.

Now the funny story with the Thrashers offseason. Waddell signed Joel Kwiatkoski to a contract...days after he had already signed a deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. Kwiatkowski doesn't have an agent, he represents himself, so apparently he wasn't aware of all the, you know, rules. Guess what? He's headed back to Russia.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What Just Happened Here? Anaheim Ducks

Ever have that flurry of just shit go down that you're just like "What just happened here!?!?11?11?!!" Yeah well, that's how free agency kinda feels. So we'll recap. Maybe Denson will even pop his head in. Maybe. But might as well go in alphabetical order, that way, won't get lost. Or forget, oh wait, I'm sure I'll forget.

Free agents:
D Scott Niedermayer, 6,750,000 (u)
C Todd Marchant, 2,660,000 (u)
RW Rob Niedermayer, 2,000,000 (u)
D Bret Hedican, 870,500 (u)
LW Brad Larsen, 560,000 (u)
C Josh Green, 550,000 (u)
D James Wisniewski, 900,000 (r)
C Erik Christensen, 750,000 (r)

C Erik Christensen, 1 year, $750,000 (re-signed)
D Scott Niedermayer, 1 year, $6M , plus bonuses (re-signed)
F Saku Koivu, 1 year, $3.25M (Montreal)

Trade In
F Joffrey Lupul, 4 years, $4.25M
D Luca Sbisa, 2 years, $.875M

D Francois Beauchemin (Maple Leafs)

Trade Out:
D Chris Pronger (Flyers)

So there's the Free Agency breakdown for the Ducks, with a little trade action sprinkled in. They have James Wisniewski left to sign, an RFA who was obtained from the Hawks for Sami Pahlsson. Otherwise one would assume that the Ducks are pretty well set.

From my standpoint? The Ducks did an amazing job this off-season. Whether or not you think moving Pronger was the right decision, the return for him was downright sick. 2 1st rounders, Luca Sbisa, and Lupul? I'd take that.

Take a look at that top 6...Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Lupul, Koivu, and Ryan. Bringing in Koivu gives them a legitimate 1-B line, to go along with that 1-A. Speed, size, and I'm sure Captain Elbows taught them plenty about grit before he left. The Ducks are in fine shape...especially if Jonas Hiller turns out to be the real deal.

Word around is that Nick Boynton will also be joining the Ducks here shortly, not a big signing, but a decent one.

So what do you think of the Ducks moves so far? Legitimate top 5 team in the West? Eh? Eh?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Joe Sakic: A BP Farewell

Word out of Colorado, and Twitter, is that Joe Sakic will be having a press conference announcing his retirement. To say we say thanks for some awesome teams out there in Denver.

And for God's sakes, hire someone else to snowblow your driveway. You can afford it.

Listen, I'll have a more comprehensive farewell to one of the greats of our generation tomorrow, but I'm just too tired right now.

The Ultimate Team Rankings

Everyone has seen this by now right? ESPN has been killin' it lately with some of these little gadgets. But check this one out, ranking all the major sports franchises, the NHL doesn't claim the top spot (that honor goes to MLB's LA Angels) but do claim spots 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.

Also, hey Toronto...Suck it. Lasssssst in the NHL.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who's Stick is Longer?

These guys in Minnesota?

Or these guys in British Columbia?

Either way, I'm pretty sure a 10,000 lb. stick is a little too big for anybody; Chara included. What a joke this website has become. We need hockey back. Or at least Kovalev to sign with Pittsburgh, so all those damn Pens fans come outta the woodwork again.

New EA Sports NHL 10 Video

If you've learned anything about us over these past 8 months, is that we play a lot of video games, and we watch a lot of hockey. And sometimes, sometimes, those two worlds meet in a glorious, GLORIOUS, amalgamation of laziness and sport. Ladies and gentlemen, actually, you know what, only gentlemen, cause there's no way girls read this piece of crap, NHL 10 preview vids.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Allow Me To Ruin Your Sunday

Go to this link. Be depressed.

ESPN's Salary Crunch.

Marian Gaborik will earn my yearly salary in .xx games. Quit trying to see how much money I make! Jerks! But, Glen Sather, you can still go to hell.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fan of the Week: Piss off Alberta

This has been a long time coming. Between a new role at work and lack of motivation, we haven't tackled a fan base in a good long while. Let's change that, starting right where we left off, Edmonton.

Edmonton. Edmonton. Edmonton. A franchise who remembers all the glory days as if they were Springsteen himself. A franchise where not even Dany Heatley will play. A franchise with some retarded, douchebag fans. On to the pictures, eh?

Need I say more? I guess this was taken back in 2006 between Carolina and Edmonton. This doesn't really jive with those same Carolina fans we found earlier though eh? Go hide with your polar bears and Eskimos Mr. Edmonton fan. You're letting the terrorists win.

What the hell is it with people and making their dogs look like such bitches! We had that Pittsburgh dog sniffing some dudes grundel, then the Ryan Miller Weiner dog, and now we've got FuFu the Perez Hilton of the Canine species. Nice touch adding the stuffed Oilers dog, it makes me hate you that much more.

Fact: You cannot drill for oil in the back of your pickup truck. No matter how much it might be leaking. But seriously, what are the chances that there are two different sets of people who build oil derricks in their pick up bed? What are the chances these people cry more than Messier?

You're right. Impossible. Nobody cries more.

Alright folks, that's all I've got today. If you want to see the rest, as always, they're right here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Marty Havlat Is Pissed Off

Check this out, we know nothing more than this "tweet" from Marty Havlat. Yes, Marty Havlat actually uses twitter, so does Kevin Weekes, Danny Alfredsson, Steve Sullivan, and others. But looks like we may have some fightin' words.
@martinhavlat: Excited to be in Minny where I was welcomed and appreciated by management. The real story about what happened in Chicago to come out.
I can't wait to hear his side of the story. I can't wait to hear Tallon's side of the story. Christ, I just wanna know the damn story. Tomorrow might be awesome.

Good Lord, he's not done!
@martinhavlat: There's something to be said for loyalty and honor.

Now before Havlat realizes that maybe burning bridges is bad idea, I screen capped the his trade deadline day twitter page. Have a look, if you're too lazy to freakin click on the links above.

But here's word on the street, coming from Dave Pagnotta and The Fourth Period. Havlat was looking for a long term deal, not unlike the one that the Hawks had just handed out to Marian Hossa. The counter offer from Tallon and co? A 1 year deal. Havlat ends up getting 6 years, $30 million bucks from Minnesota. Ouch.

Now it's pretty obvious that Havlat can read between the lines of that contract offer. Tallon realizes the unbelievable cap trouble his team is already in, let alone the fact that another long term deal would make retaining Duncan Keith, Pat Kane, and Jon Toews (all RFA's following next season) nearly impossible. A 1 year deal would've given Tallon the flexibility to easily shed his contract but instead he get's called out for being ruthless by Havlat. I certainly don't think this is tearing up Tallon on the inside, because hey, read inbetween the lines, Havlat didn't have a future with those Hawks.
Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.