Monday, July 14, 2008


After only 2 seasons back in the NHL Ted Nolan was fired by Garth Snow today for what Snow called "philosophical differences".

So for the record, that's three seasons in the NHL for Nolan and he's been fired after 2 of them. There has to be more to this story, Nolan got the Islanders into the playoffs when no one thought they would in 2007 (almost no one, Doc Hock? Yeah I sniped that before the season started) and then had a bad season this past year, but this time with a very depleted line up. That Islanders team missed the playoffs despite coaching.

This is very surprising and after hearing Jason Blakes comments raving about Nolan, and apparetnly everyone who has played for this guy says he is really a great coach, this seems like an odd move by an odd organization.

So now we have some questions?

Is there behind the scenes reasons for his firing like in Buffalo over a decade ago? (I think No. The comments made by Nolan and Snow seemed to indicate they're leaving eachother on good terms).

Is anyone going to hire Nolan again, or is his character going to be questioned around the league?(My guess is yes, how do you win the Jack Adams trophy and also get fired, only to return years later and immediately lose your job again?!)

Who is going to coach the Islanders? (My hope is Paul Maurice, I think he's a really smart guy and he deserves another shot. I think with the right mix of guys he can get average players to do great things. Maybe he'd be a good fit on the Island).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Players rumoured to be on the block

Hey Doc Hock back with another amazing post. This summer and at last seasons deadline all the guys who were rumoured to be moved were almost all moved! Camalleri, Jokinen, Tanguay, Brad Richards all traded. Here are the guys who are on the block right now:

Sorry I don't have a source here, but I believe Patrick Marleau is NOT on the block anymore, but there were rumours that the Sharks were looking for a potential shake up with their forwards, the article I had read (it was from the Toronto Sun) had speculated on Milan Michalek potentially being the guy they move. Not sure how valid that is, but the Sharks have made a few key moves bringing in Rob Blake for example, so its possible they're done this offseason.

According to various reports the Carolina Hurricanes are shopping defensman Frantisek Kaberle for forward depth. They can afford it after having brought Joni Pitkanen over from Edmonton. One team that was rumoured to be interested was Ottawa but they have since signed Jason Smith. I think Kaberle might start the season off with the 'Canes as most teams are starting to have their rosters set for next season but look for these rumours to persist as the season goes on.

The Anaheim Ducks are apparently shopping defensman Matthieu Schneider. At close to $6 million on the cap this season Schneider could be tough to move, but he is a great player and I'm sure there is interest out there for a complete player like Matty. Since its a pure salary cutting move by Brian Burke its possible he could be had for a tier-2 scorer, and maybe a draft pick on top of that. The Schneider for Glen Murray rumours quickly died, Murray is still on the block(2 years and counting now)

Jay Bouwmeister's name has come up since he supposedly is not happy with the direction the team is going after losing their captain Oli Jokinen. Jay-Bo is heading for arbitration which is often a sign that things aren't going well between a player and a team. Since Pitkanen was traded for Erik Cole, I expect Bouwmeister to go for a player of at least that calibre if he is dealt. If Jay-Bo is singed to a one-year contract you can expect the trade romours to swirl throughout the season especially if Florida struggles early on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Remaining UFA's and where they might go:

There's still a few players that could be useful to some teams, let's get right to it:

Grizzled Veterans

Kevyn Adams - Here's a guy who is still 33, didn't really have his best season with Chicago, he wasn't really a force with Phoenix, I would say he played his last good hockey with the 'Canes a few years ago but he could still provide some cheap 4th line help to a team looking to fill a roster spot. He has worn the "A" in his career and kills penalties.

I'll throw a guess out there for Kevyn, ummmm...... Pittsburgh doesn't like the looks of their depth at training camp and Shero signs Adams to a 1 year deal in September.

Stephane Yelle - Same type of guy as Adams. I would say at 34 Yelle still actually has a lot to offer. I thought he was excellent in the playoffs last year, and Yelle has always been a good playoff type guy. He only scored 3 goals in 74 games last year as a 4th liner with the Flames, but scored 2 in the playoffs in 7 games.

I really think he should be picked up by someone, maybe the Red Wings to replace Dallas Drake as a 4th liner....? Maybe the Dallas Stars if Stu Barnes retires? (*Note on Stu, he hasn't said this publicaly but my friend talked to him and Stu said he would only play for Dallas or retire, he doesn't feel like moving his family right now.)

Yannick Perrault - I know everyone thinks he's the greatest face-off man since sliced bread. But keep in mind, his percentage is outstanding because he only takes 10 draws a night, and wins 7. The real top two faceoff men in the league (not just according to me but also the SUN media poll, in which 300+ players and managers were polled) are Rod Brind'Amour, and Mats Sundin. As for Yannick, he didn't look good with Chicago last year, maybe at 37 years old if he's willing to take on a defensive role somewhere, he can still play.

Same thing with Adams and Yelle, Yannick is a decent depth pick up, and I could see him going somewhere as late as October or even in November. Another possibility - retire.

Peter Forsberg - 34 years old, and I want to emphasize the word "old". If Peter still feels the way he did before he'd be most comfortable with a multi year deal. Why wouldn't he? With his health that's the best way to ensure more finacial security.

I want to say he'll go back to Colorado or just play in Sweden or retire. But who knows, what's the market for Forsberg now? He put up over an assist per game with Avs last season, he obviously can still play. Maybe some team will offer him $3-4 million per season on a 2 year deal.

Under 30's

Jason Williams - What's wrong with this guy? Does anybody know? He's still only 27 years old. Maybe he wants way too much money, but I'm shocked no one has jumped on him. In 2006 with the Red Wings he put up 58 points! Then he bounced around in 2007 between Philadephia and Chicago and registered just 32 points. But then last year in an injury plagued season he posted close to a point per game 36 poitns in 43 games. Thats a 70 point pace last I checked.

This guy was high on my radar going into free agency and I still think whoever gets him is getting a good heads up centreman and product of the Detroit Red Wings organization. I would like to say he should play for the Leafs but Cliff seems to be done with free agency. Good fit anywhere though.

Joseph Vasicek - He'll be 28 by the time the season starts, he put up 36 points as one of the Islanders top scorers last year. I still think for someone willing to take a shot, he could be affordable and could still regain his touch that saw him score 45 points under Maurice's Hurricanes in 2004.

No speculation, might even go to Europe.

Okay well that's it for today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Leafs Forwards

Continuing with the Leafs I'll post potential lines for their forwards:

In the paper today the possible lines were listed like this:

Blake - Antropov - Steen
Hagman - Grabovski - Kulemin
Tlusty - Stajan - Mayers
Poni - Moore - Devereux

Spare: Bell

Well I find this kind of laughable. I kind of like what they have going on on the top 2 lines, but Mark Bell out of the line up? Pfffff. And Ron Wilson said he might want to get some type of grind line going which would feature Jamal Mayers, possibly Nik Hagman, although Hagman might be used in a scoring position on the top line. Here's my lines:

Hagman - Antropov - Steen (all feisty, tough, smart defensively, solid 2 way line)
Blake - Grabovski - Kulemin (need for speed, some good scoring potential)
Poni - Bell - Mayers (Grind line, tough, fast, though Poni's gotta step up the physical stuff)
Tlusty - Stajan - Moore (don't worry all you Stajan lovers, I see this team rolling 4 solid and Matty will get out there on the PK)

Spare: Devereux (interchangeable with Moore)

Penalty Killing units:

Antropov - Hagman
Finger - Kubina

Stajan - Steen
Kaberle - Frogren

Moore - Mayers
Finger - Kubina

Power Play Units:

Hagman - Antropov - Blake
Kaberle - Kubina

Poni - Stajan - Steen
Colaiacovo - Stralman (assuming McCabe is gone)

Leafs Defense

First one quick thing, looks like I was right all along about Demitra going to Vancouver. Some radio station said that he will be signing a 3 year deal worth $12 million. More to follow on that.


Today I'd like to write some more about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Specifically their defense. As it stands right now they have 10 NHL calibre defensman, who will be on the team next year? Check this out:

1) Tomas Kaberle: Well barring any shocking trade (which Kaberle would have to agree to - NTC) Kaberle will be on the team next year as the teams #1 defensman. Any dummy knows that.

2) Pavel Kubina: The Leafs still have a window to trade this guy before his NTC kicks back in August. I would expect him to be on the team next season. Here's a guy who finished with over 40 pts last season. 11 Goals and 29 assists and was + 5. Not bad. In fact when you look at what other high profile d-men did last season, Kubina stacked up well. And given the amount of money that ws thrown around at UFA defensman this summer, Kubina's salary which was once considered overpayed is now about right for a guy who plays big minutes and throws the body. Down the stretch (trade deadline and on) Pavel Kubina was the Leafs top defensman on a lot of nights and on a lot of nights he was the Leafs top player. (Most notably his 2 goal performance in which he scored the OT winner from behind the net....anyone wanna help me with who that was against?)

Just to compare statistically, look at how Kubina faired compaired to some other NHL defensmen:

Kubina: GP 72, G 11, A 29, PTS 40, + 5, mins 23:55, GWG 4
Whitney GP 76, G 12, A 28, PTS 40, -2, mins 22:26 , GWG 1
Redden GP 80, G 6, A 32, PTS 38, + 11, mins 22:12, GWG 1
Pronger GP 72, G 12, A 31, PTS 43, -1, mins 26:00, GWG 4
Timonen GP 80, G 8, A 36, PTS 44, E, mins 23:34, GWG 1

Not saying he's necessarily better than Pronger, and there are other d-men who put up over 50 points this season, but clearly the stats would indicate that Kubina is in the same echelon with a lot of these players. Consider that Kubina logged big minutes on a team that finished 24th out of 30 and was +5 compaired to Whitney or Pronger or Timonen who were all on team's with good records. Also Kubina's 4 game winners is no fluke as he was clutch after the trade deadline as mentioned.

Kubina should be on the team if you listen to the comments made by Cliff Fletcher and Ron Wilson but I don't see him as an untouchable and I could see Fletcher moving him while the window is open and his NTC is not in effect if there is a deal that he can't refuse. I imagine it would have to include a top prospect or a good young roster player.

3) Anton Stralman: Here's a guy who showed a lot of promise in his rookie season, he's still really young and still needs to work on his game. Along with Kaberle, Kubina, and McCabe, Stralman has the most offensive potential. He'll be on the team.

4) Jeff Finger: Avs leader in blocked shots and hits last season. Also the Avs leader in ice time (on average per game) in the playoffs. Howeve Finger was benched for 5 games in the playoffs in favour of the more veteran players. According to Leafs TV's Paul Hendrick's (I play hockey with this guy, or rather against) It was Al Coates and Ron Wilson who pushed Fletcher to sign Finger and although there has been a lot of heat from Leafs fans over the Finger signing, there's no doubt Finger will be on the team and I think a lot of Leafs fans might change their opinion by mid season. On the other hand Wilson, Coates, and I could be wrong about Finger....We'll have to wait and see how he performs.

5) Jonas Frogren: This is an interesting one. He was Stralmans defense partner with the Swedish National team and was considered one of the top defensive defensman from the SEL. We'll see how he faires in the NHL but as a defensive, strong positional player he should have an easier time adapting. I'm not expecting him to be a stud but a solid 5-6 guy, kind of like what Lilja is for the Red Wings. He may or may not make the team.

6)Ian White: Logic would suggest that White should be on the team again. However with this logjam I could see him being one of the guys bumped out. Ian White has his ups and downs. He's a good puck handler and with time and space he can pick up some speed and rush well and make good passes. But his size is an issue and he gets beat in the corners, loses a lot of battles, gets
caught out of position etc. These are exactly the types of things Finger, Frogren, and Schenn are not known for.

7)Bryan McCabe: I think the Frogren and Finger signings would indicate what has been speculated for a long time. McCabe is done in T.O. Fletcher has to honour McCabe's contract and invite him to training camp, but he has no obligation to play McCabe. I would bet money that McCabe will eventually waive the NMC and I have no idea what kind of return the Leafs will get for him. (More on this when McCabe trade rumours start swirling)

8)Carlo Colaiacovo: Coco! I love Coco, I like his open ice hits, remember when he leveled Bertuzzi at centre ice 3 years ago. Remember when he decked Guerin cutting across the middle, 3 years ago. Too bad this guy is always hurt, he actually missed the last 8 games of last season with some type of tear in his leg. He's dealt with concussions, and all sorts of injuries. I think if he could stay healthy he's a top 4 for sure, but we'll see what happens there.

9)Staffan Kronvall: Good player. He's been NHL ready for a while now, I would like to see him get in there and get some more NHL games under his belt. He could be a valuable defensman. He likes to hit, maybe doesn't posess the offensive capabilities of his brother but certainly likes to play with that physical edge. I could see since Fletcher has been mostly drafting and trading and signing for speed and/or size that Kronvall might get the edge over a small guy like Ian White. On the other hand Kronvall has always been a bit lower on the depth chart so he'll need to have a monster camp to leap frog some of these guys. I see him starting with the Marlies as a top 2 guy in the AHL.

10)Luke Schenn: Luuuuke! I went to the draft in Ottawa and I was pumped to see the Maple Leafs move up in the draft to take Schenn. Schenn likes to hit and and plays a good defensive game. I don't think he'll make the team because of the depth but this could be better for his development. On the other hand, who knows, if he comes out and is one of the top guys at camp its possible that he makes the team. Ron Wilson said in his press conference before Schenn had even been drafted that there is nothing wrong in today's NHL with having an 18 year old defensman step right into the NHL and start learning at that level. I especially think this would be true for a defensive d-man who is already positionally sound and just needs to work on his size (in terms of weight) and speed, as opposed to an offensive d-man who still needs to learrn the game.

So that's it for today.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leafs Re-Sign Stajan/Power Forwards in the North West

Matt Stajan signed a 2 year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $3.5 million over 2 years. Alex Steen who is probably worth more to the Leafs and has more first line potential signed an extension a few month's ago worth $3.4 million over 2 years proving that it pays to wait it out until the summer. Although that little bit of money doesn't really make a big difference.

Two veteran power forwards signed out west with Bertuzzi going to Calgary and Nolan going to the Minnesota Wild. I like these signings for both teams, I thought Nolan was really good last year in the playoffs and probably still has some good hockey left in him. His deal was worth $2.75 million on average per season for 2 years while Bertuzzi's deal is worth $1.95 million for one year, a very affordable signing for the Flames.

As it stands right now the West is looking really strong here are some free agents still lingering out there and speculation on where they might sign:

Pavol Demitra: Canucks - reason being the Gillis connection
Florida Panthers - reason being the Panthers need for a #1 Centre after dealing away Jokinen and the rumours from earlier in June that Demitra would be most intersted in signing with a Southern, warmer city.

Brendan Shanahan - Earlier speculation that the Red Wings would bring him back seems to be done since they don't have the cap space or roster space after signing Hossa and still having to get Filppula under contract (scheduled for arbitration). It's also been said that the Rangers don't have any room to bring Shanahan back.

So where will Shanahan end up? He could be a good fit in Pittsburgh with Roberts gone, especially if he wants to play for a team that should be in contention again. Other then that I haven't really heard anything about Shanahan but I'll keep you posted.

Keep checking this blog I'll be adding more UFA's to this list and updating throughout the summer.