Monday, July 30, 2007

The Avery Arbitration

Sean Avery and the New York Rangers went to arbitration today. The feisty winger wasn't thrilled with Glen Sather's comments about him, but you don't go to these hearings hoping to mend fences.

The Blueshirt Bulletin gives a pretty good overview of the comparables both parties might have in their briefs as well as which player salaries are ineligible as evidence.

Any contract signed as an UFA can't be presented. But what about Dustin Penner? He and Avery have similar enough stats. (For quick reference: Avery, Penner) He's a RFA.

Well, unfortunately, Penner doesn't yet have a contract with either the Ducks or the Oilers until Brian Burke decides his fate - and the GM has seven days from the date of the offer sheet to do so.

Whether it was to help Sather or merely sweat out Kevin Lowe some more, Burke's procrastination maybe be the Rangers' biggest coup this summer.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Burke calls Lowe "gutless" and more

Ducks GM Brian Burke addressed the press today in response to Kevin Lowe's offer sheet to Dustin Penner. He had a lot of not so nice things to say, calling Lowe "gutless" for not telling Burke directly about the offer and "classless" for stealing the thunder at tonight's BC Hockey Hall of Fame.

One of Burke's less sensational comments is what should really concern fans and the league itself:
"I have no problem with offer sheets, they are part of the CBA," Burke said on a conference call. "I think it's a tool certainly a team is entitled to use. My issue here is this is the second time this year in my opinion Edmonton have offered a grossly inflated salary for a player, and it impacts on all 30 teams."

- Canadian Press

We'll have to wait and see if these sheets start driving up salaries but it's a real possibility.

The Vanek offer was a bit more reasonable. A proven point-a-game guy with a solid +/- can easily command $7M per year. But Vanek should have to string together at minimum back-to-back seasons like that before sniffing that kind of cash. Consistency is what separates a good season from a great career.

The same could be said of Penner: great potential but unproven. The problem here is, his sheet is about $1M above market for guys with similar numbers.

If Burke refuses to match, he'll receive Edmonton's first, second and third round picks. The Ducks could conceivably have a shot at both the Cup and first choice in the 2008 draft.

If I was Burke, I'd take the picks and start lobbying for John Tavares to enter the draft early.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lowe keeps the off-season interesting

The Oilers GM is at it again.

Kevin Lowe tendered his second offer-sheet of the summer, this time luring Dustin Penner to Edmonton for $21.5M over 5 years. For anyone counting, that's a raise of $3.8M per year for the Ducks forward after only one full year in the show.

They used to blame big market teams for ratcheting up salaries. In the new NHL, it's a way to put cap pressure on your competition. Or just cure the fact you can't lure an UFA. I'm not sure which is Lowe's master plan.

Lowe hasn't had a lot of luck in the open market. Sure, he snagged Sheldon Souray. But what if the former Montreal defenseman hadn't waited for an offer from the Rangers? I'm sure Souray had a number of potential offers July 1. But two weeks later, buying teams have significantly less cap space after their initial spending spree. The market for big-ticket UFAs dries up.

If Lowe's plan is the former, it could backfire if Brian Burke refuses to match the offer. Penner is a great asset for the Ducks but not irreplaceable. Lowe will be left hoping he gets more out of Penner than he did Joffrey Lupul.

Either way, Lowe has definitely spiced up the NHL's dog days of summer.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CuJo: HHOF candidate?

If don't already have him in your Google Reader, James Mirtle is the best blog to keep up to date on the latest talk around the league. His analysis is consistently spot-on and unbiased, except for this little ditty today:
"Cujo's in a similar situation to Jeremy Roenick in that he's on the cusp of a big milestone, just one win away from tying Terry Sawchuck for fourth place on the all-time wins list, and facing potential retirement. And, probably more so than Roenick, he's a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame at some point, whether this summer is the end or not."

- James Mirtle

You're smoking crack, Mirtle.

Curtis Joseph's sole piece of hardware is the Clancy Trophy. (Do they even give that out anymore?) He's never won the Cup. His peers are Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Mike Richter, to name a few.

Even with Dick Duff's induction as precedent I'm not holding my breath.

Vadim Sharifijanov (whoever you are) made a pretty astute observation in the comments of Mirtle's post:
"if you consider cujo a hall of famer, then that makes a strong case for john vanbiesbrouck, andy moog, and probably others i can't think of off the top of my head."


Staals: Now that's a party, eh?

The NHL's Staal brothers, Eric (Hurricanes) and Jordan (Penguins), were arrested last night after what must have been a blow-out bash for Cook County, Minnesota. Apparently, Eric's bachelor party got a little too rambunctious resulting most a number of revelers spending the night in the pokey.
Up rolled the riot van
And sparked excitement in the boys
But the policemen look annoyed
Perhaps these are ones they should avoid

"Riot Van"

Oh, if they had only heeded the Arctic Monkeys' advice. Instead they got their team photos taken early:

Up rolled the riot van
And these lads just wind the coppers up
Ask why they don’t catch proper crooks
Get their address and their name’s took
But they couldn’t care less
Sounds like a rager. Sorry I missed it.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

THN picks the Rangers to win the Cup!

OK, I live in the States so I haven't actually read the article yet. The Hockey News gets delivered late here, so I can only go by the cover.

Putting aside my Rangers bias for a second, it's tough to name a clear favorite from the off-season shuffling so far (which tracks by East and West). I subscribe to the theory you have to lose the Cup to win it, but recent losers haven't really addressed their weaknesses, namely scoring depth for Ottawa and Calgary. If Scott Niedermeyer returns, I'm picking the Ducks to make it two in a row.

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San Jose unveils new logo

After some speculation, the San Jose Sharks confirmed it's true. This is their new logo:

"It’s great for the fans because it adds something new and it doesn’t change too much from the old."

- Jonathan Cheechoo

That's an understatement.

Here's the old logo if the new one doesn't jog your memory:

Actually, I don't think the redesign is good or bad. It's just different...sort of. I mean, if you're going to change, then change - unless your Original Six in which case make it subtle, which the Bruins did deftly earlier this summer.

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Janssen set to go for his second point

Megapest Cam Janssen resigned with the Devils today, as the team announced a number of new contracts. Janssen increased his scoring last season by, well, finally notching a point. While that may be the only NHL goal puck he collects in his career, he can always proudly show his kids the Verizon commercial which features his highlight clip.

Seriously? There wasn't a single hockey fan involved in the creation of that ad to say that not only is it the most unexciting clip ever, it's effing Cam Janssen? You mean to tell me with Elias, Parise and Gionta - heck I'll even throw in Brodeur who's made a spectacular save or two - there wasn't a better highlight to choose from?

Well, maybe Janssen will score another one so there's some footage for the next commercial.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Speaking of Pronger...

"Chris Pronger, I didn't know whether he would be able to play in the "new NHL." He used his stick a lot. He doesn't use his stick anymore, because he would be penalized. He adjusted to the new stick rules, but he's hit two guys pretty hard."

- Scotty Bowman during the 2007 Stanley Cup Final

Let me translate:
"Pronger has stopped using his stick and started using his elbows."

Actually, I dare not try to interpret the greatest coach of all time. Look at Pronger's list of suspensions and decide for yourself.

My biggest problem with Pronger is everyone thinks he's "tough". He's not. He's chippy, particularly when caught out of position. And that's something that happens to the immobile defenseman more in the new NHL.

Don't get me wrong, with his reach, shot from the point and veteran leadership, who wouldn't want Prongs on their blueline? (Answer: bitter Oilers fans) But I'd vote for Rory Fitzpatrick before him.

OK, maybe that's a tad bit of an exaggeration, but I'm no Scotty Bowman.


Paul Bunyon's back

I mean, the Isles resigned Chris Simon, the blue ox who felled the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg with one fine chop. I suppose his $325K games played bonus is insurance against Simon getting the boot again for doing something equally stupid.

I liked Simon as a Ranger, a hard-working, team-first player during a time when those were rare at least in a home jersey. It's too bad history will only remember him losing his cool (repeatedly).

You hear that, Pronger? Stanley Cup, Norris Trophy, or smashing a guy's head in because you're "tall". Which will be your legacy?

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sens sign Dimitrakos

Do you blame the Flyers for letting Niko Dimitrakos go? It was his suicide pass that sent RJ Umberger to loony bin. In case you don't remember, here's the Brian Campbell hit:

To be fair, if Umberger had his head up he could have tipped the puck out, avoided Campbell and ripped Dimitrakos a new one when they got back to the bench.

I'd be a bit concerned if I'm the fourth line center in Ottawa. Now that Dimitrakos is a Senator, his next breakout pass could be headed for you.

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The Return of Al Arbour

Being a Rangers fan, it's difficult for me to say anything nice about the Islanders. But I have to give it up to Ted Nolan, Crazy Wang and the NHL for making it possible for Al Arbour to return to coach his 1,500th Islanders game.

Here's to hoping the combined braintrust of NHL and Versus will nationally televise the November 3 game vs. the Pens...but somehow I doubt it will bump bullriding on a Saturday night.

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