Sunday, June 22, 2008

Getting reading for next year

The NHL Awards aren't just the (anti)climax of the hockey season. It's the beginning of your team's run for the Cup, as GMs position themselves for 08-09 and beyond, beginning with the NHL Draft.

Here's some thoughts and the first few days of the off-season:
  • The transfer agreement between the NHL and IIHF has expired. NHL teams now must negotiate directly with European clubs to bring players to North America. While Russia has been successful in luring third and fourth line wingers with million dollar contracts, you don't hear about many NHLers bolting to the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Slovakia or Switzerland (the six major European members of the IIHF) for richer pastures.
  • The Russian Super League, er, Continental Hockey League (KHL) on the other hand is continues to try to lure star players back to Russia. The Toronto Star recently reported that the KHL wants to offer Evgeni Malkin $12.5 million dollars a year to return home. Equally amusing, the renamed leagued has employed Bob Goodenow as a consultant.
  • For the second straight year, there was a conspicuous absence of European players chosen at the NHL Draft, only 39 of 211 picks. Compare that to 2000 when 123 of 293 players were from across the pond, the most of any single draft class.
  • John Tortella's firing in Tampa has apparently cleared the way for Vinny Prospal to return to the Lightning. Interesting, as after he was dealt to the Flyers, Prospal had some parting words for GM Jay Feaster as well. Water under the bridge, I guess.
  • Speaking of the Lightning, while I wasn't impressed by new owner Oren Koules' turn at the podium to select Steven Stamkos with the first overall pick, he's shed my Hollywood-cum-NHL skepticism with the Lightning's seventh round pick, David Carle (brother of Sharks D Matt Carle). Carle withdrew his name from the draft after being diagnosed with a heart condition. Said Koules, "The kid worked his whole life to be drafted. I didn't see any reason why he shouldn't." OK, maybe I'm still a little skeptical.
  • Ray Emery and Dan Cloutier were placed on waivers, the first step in being bought out of their contracts. I'd rather seem Emery rot in the minors, but I'm sure the Senators would rather wash their hands of him as soon as possible.



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