Monday, June 30, 2008

Stoll's In To Replace Cammalleri, Visnovsky To Oilers

The L.A. Kings have dealt defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for centerman Jarett Stoll (who plays at the point on the powerplay just as Cammalleri did) and defenseman Matt Greene.

The Oilers believe VisnovsKy will be a lethal weapon playing the point on the powerplay alongside Sheldon Souray. Plus, with the rapid development of their young forwards, Jarett Stoll was expendable, but should be a real asset to the Kings.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bolts Ink Malone, Roberts? + Acquire Rolston's Rights

Ryan Malone has agreed to a 7-year, $31.5 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning had traded with Pittsburgh to acquire the rights to Malone and Gary Roberts yesterday.

Rumours are swirling that Roberts has also agreed to a deal with Tampa Bay, one-year worth $2 million.

The Lightning capped off a very busy night by trading with Minnesota to acquire the negotiating rights to Brian Rolston. The deal will send Minny a conditional pick in either the 2009 or 2010 draft, depending on whether Rolston signs with the Lightning.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

JULY 3, 12 a.m.: The Free Agent List (UFA/RFA)

Alright, here we go with one of the most exciting times of the hockey year: The free agent period!

Below is a list of what I believe to be the top free agents available as of June 26th, by position, in order from best to not as great ("worst" is too harsh of a word!)

UPDATED July 3, Midnight.



Mats Sundin
Sergei Fedorov
Martin Straka
Brendan Morrison
Jason Williams
Mike Peca
Mike York
Niko Kapanen

(Joe Sakic left off bcz will only return with Colorado; Peter Forsberg left off bcz will only play if healthy.)

Left Wing:

Brendan Shanahan
Ladislav Nagy
Todd Bertuzzi
Jason Chimera

Right Wing:

Pavol Demitra
David Vyborny
Mark Recchi
Owen Nolan
Martin Lapointe

(Teemu Selanne left off bcz is 99% certain to only return as a Duck.)


Jason Smith
Mattias Norstrom
Steve Montador
Keith Carney
Duvie Westcott
Paul Mara
Steve McCarthy
Alexei Zhitnik


Ray Emery* (if on best behavior)
Johan Holmqvist

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (wow, what a list coming up!):

Jay Boumeester
Pascal Leclaire
Antoine Vermette
Kari Lehtonen
Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Valtteri Filppula
Andrej Meszaros
Ryane Clowe
Steve Bernier
Jaroslav Halak
Patrick O'Sullivan
R.J. Umberger
Marek Svatos
Nigel Dawes
Ville Koistinen
Kevin Klein
Brooks Laich
Daniel Carcillo
Jarett Stoll
Christian Ehrhoff
Rene Bourque
Eric Fehr
Jonathan Ericsson

There you have them, folks: The biggest names to follow as of Tuesday, July 1st!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Canadiens Qualify Six; Sundin News; Minor Trade

The Habs have tendered qualifying offers to six skaters, including Andrei Kostitsyn.

However, Kostitsyn's agent, Don Meehan, stated that the Habs and his client will likely ink a longer-term extension within the week.

Also qualified were forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Corey Locke, defencemen Ryan O'Byrne and Josh Gorges, and goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Extending qualifying offers guarantees that these potential RFA's can be resigned by Montreal if another team offers them an offer-sheet contract after July 1st. The Habs now own the right to match any offer thrown at the players mentionned above.

The players have until July 15th to accept or decline the qualifying offer.

It appears that no offers have been made as of yet to impending unrestricted free agents Mark Streit, Patrice Brisebois, Michael Ryder and Bryan Smolisnki. The MATS SUNIN saga might be playing a major role in that.

It is rumoured that Canadiens GM Bob Gainey has offered Sundin a two-year, $7 million per year contract. According to Pierre McGuire, sepaking on the Team990 with Mitch Melnyk, just the fact that Sundin hasn't already jumped on the offer is significant. He also stated that if Sundin doesn't sign with Montreal by July 1st, he'll be headed off to NY to join the Rangers. That is a little mysterious as other reports indicate that NY don't envision Sundin in their plans.

Finally, a minor trade to report: The Senators dealt tough guy Brian McGratton to Phoenix for a 5th round pick in 2009.

Leafs Make More Noise: Buyout Tucker

Darcy Tucker is done as a Leaf.

GM Cliff Fletcher informed Tucker that his stay in Toronto is terminated as the club will forego with buying out his contract. Toronto will be on the hook for two-thirds of what remains on the remaining three years, which is $6 million. The rule says that the buyout must be spread over twice the length of the remainder of the contraft, therefore the Maple Leafs will suffer a cap hit of exactly $1 million over the next 6 years.

In case you never knew, Tucker is a former 6th round, 151st overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. He appeared in 42 games and tallied 6 points (1-5) for the Habs before being traded to Tampa Bay, and then to Toronto.

Updated rumours coming tomorrow night!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Leafs Waive Wellwood & Raycroft, + Rumours

The Maple Leafs have placed goaltender Andrew Raycroft and forward Kyle Wellwood on waivers.

The move to place Raycroft on waivers was predictable, as his welcome in Toronto was clearly worn out. Plus, Toskala looks great in goal for the Leafs, making Raycroft a waste of money on the bench.

The Wellwood move is a little curious to me. Personally, I am one of those people who loves watching Wellwood play; his playmaking ability and stickhandling talents are marvelous. Wellwood did have an injury-plagued season, and as a result was only able to tally 21 points in 59 games, playing much of it on the 2nd or 4th lines. There is no doubt in my mind that Wellwood will be plucked off the waiver wire, and having already expressed interest in him, expect the Canucks to try and nab him. They don't plan to have Brendan Morrison back next season, so a spot is immediately available for Wellwood. Weird to me how no team would have offered any sort of last-round future draft pick for Wellwood...something strange going on.


According to some rumour sites...:

SEAN AVERY may be interested in the Islanders and the CANADIENS.

BRIAN CAMPBELL's INTERSTS: Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Atlanta, NY, Philadelphia, and Washington.

MARIAN GABORIK is being offered around, and the Sabres may have the best package in place to trade for the Slovakian...

Sundin is rumoured to be headed to UFA July 1, and is interested in playing for all of the following: Toronto, Montreal, and NY Rangers. The Rangers have apparently denied interest, and rumours say that NY would indeed have been Mats' first choice.

Gary Roberts is done in Pittsburgh, as they have no plans on resigning him.

Lightning G Marc Denis is also on waivers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

2008 Entry Draft: Top 5 Analysis & Habs' Picks

Despite all the wheeling and dealing going on at the draft, some very talented young men were drafted into the NHL and got one step closer to realizing their lifelong dreams.

Here's a quick summary of what the top 5 draftees will bring their NHL clubs...

5) Toronto's LUKE SCHENN: GM Cliff Fletcher moved up from 7 to 5 to draft Schenn, but stated that the price is never too high when the chance to draft a high-quality player arises. Luke Schenn will bring a VERY stable presence to Toronto's blue-line for many, many years to come. The report on him is that he knows that he is limited offensively, therefore he focuses on the defensive aspect of his game, which is why the potential is there for him to eventually be a premiere stay-at-home bone cruncher.

4) St. Louis' ALEX PIETRANGELO: The Blues selected defenseman Erik Johnson first overall in 2006, and we have all seen that Johsnon is a great two-way defensman with a higher upside defensively. Therefore, opposed to drafting Schenn, the Blues opted for a more offensive-minded rearguard in Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo will bring solid puck moving skills, powerplay presence, and will also provide defensively, as he, like Johsnon, is a two-way defenseman; just more offensively oriented.

3) Atlanta's ZACH BOGOSIAN: Pierre McGuire said it best: The Thrashers are still feeling the sting of trading away former 1st rounder Braydon Coburn to the Flyers in exchange for Alexei Zhitnik. Bogosian brings size & skill to Atlanta's backend, and if the Thrashers fail to sign any UFA defenceman come July 1st, Zach will have a very high chance of playing next season. Bogosian has the potential to be a top 2 defenseman down the road.

2) L.A.'s DREW DOUGHTY: The offensive d-man grew up cheering for the Kings and Wayne Gretzky, so to be drafted by L.A. was quite the treat. Doughty is very good at taking time and space away from the opposition skaters. He uses his speed very well and is very creative with the puck. Those attributes combined with his patience and confidence make Doughty a possible franchise defenseman. The Kings already have a young, potential franchise defenseman in Jack Johnson, so good things are on the horizon for the Kings.

1) Tampa Bay's STEVEN STAMKOS: So much hype around the kid...for good reason. A potential franchise player, he is an excellent skater, and a top puck handler with a great release on his shot. He has the ability to put the puck in the net almost with his eyes shut, but Stamkos' strength is that he is already able to play at both ends of the ice, with and without the puck. Already being compared to Steve Yzerman should give you enough of an idea of how good Stamkos is and can be. Stamkos is 90% sure to make the team in Tampa as of next season.


As we know, the Habs traded away their first round, 25th overall selection to acquire Alex Tanguay, which is an excellent move to acquire immediate help as opposed to long-term. Alex is a top-six forward with speed and scoirng ability, and will be a welcome addition to the team.

The Habs did own other picks in the draft, and used them mostly to keep the trend of drafting American-born skaters into the team.

56 overall; Danny Kristo; Edina, Minnesota - In Kristo's own words: "I would describe my game as an up-tempo, speed game. I think my strengths as a player are my speed, hands and vision. I would like to improve on playing more consistent and improving in the weight room." At 5'11'' and 172 lbs., Kristo has room for development, but the potential is there for Kristo to crack the Habs lineup possibly 2 or 3 years down the line.

86 overall; Steve Qualier, Arvada, Colorado - from Hockey'sfuture - Quailer has excellent breakaway type of speed and a good stride. He has good hands and shoots the puck well. He has good playmaking ability, good vision and is able to play any one of the forward positions. He utilizes a very quick release, not generally winding up but is able to snap the puck from all areas of the ice. Quailer is very strong on the puck and is able to protect in the corners.

The Colorado native is naturally strong but he still needs to fill out his frame. He hasn’t been working out off the ice as some players might be doing at this point in their early careers. It has been noted that he should focus on going hard to the net and burying the puck when he gets his chances. Once his confidence levels rise a long with maturity, he’s appears to be a strong diverse power upfront. "He has good size and he's an excellent skater," Trevor Timmins said. "He played for the same USHL team as (2007 first-rounder) Max Pacioretty and he was the team's MVP."

116 overall; Jason Missiaen; Chatam, Ontario - Wow, this guy is huge! Missiaen is a 6' 8'', 193 lb. GOALIE! Sean Burke, eat your heart out! However, Missiaen is NOT highly skilled; he played backup pretty much his entire stint for the Peterborough Petes, and was ranked 23rd among North American goalies by Central Scouting. Plus, at 193, he is WAY TOO FAR from filling out his frame paint a better picture for you, Chara is 6'9'', 251 lbs! Missaien appears to be a long-shot for the NHL, but projects are always fun to work on!

138 overall; Maxim Trunev (Draft pick acquired from CGY in Tanguay deal); Russia - Trevor Timmons went on record saying that he believes he's already nabbed 'the sleeper of the draft' in picking up Trunev. Timmons says Trunev is in the same mold as another late-round choice from year's past, Sergei Kostitsyn. Timmons: "We saw him at a midget tournament in Calgary and our European scouts were really pushing him."

Timmins said the plan is to have Trunev play major junior hockey next season so that he can work on his English and adapt to the North American game.

206 overall; Patrick Johsnon; Madison, Wisconsin - Johnson is a 5-foot-9, 155-pound forward from the University of Wisconsin.

Johnson severely lacks size, but has speed, good hockey sense and outstanding genes. His father Mark was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that pulled off the Miracle on Ice, while his late grandfather, (Badger) Bob Johnson coached that team.


There are your new Habs! Interesting note to leave you with:

Of the 211 players drafted into the NHL in the 2008 Entry Draft, just 46 were European! It shows that the expired transfer-agreement is causing GM's and scouts to stay away as much as possible from the uncertainty that now comes with drafting a european skater.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stay Tuned...

Busy with work and stuff, plus the Italy/Spain game goes today, so no time to update this afternoon either...check back Sunday night, and if nothing, Monday FOR SURE! Thanks!

QUICK HITS: Hossa going UFA, Jagr expected to take discount to re-sign in NYR, One of Rolston/Demitra will be resigned, the other, let go to UFA.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Looking Back At The Trade Deadl--I Mean, Draft!

It almost felt like the trade deadline, didn't it!?

I was so happy to tune into the draft on TSN and find out that Cammlleri had been dealt to the Flames; if it was planned for this to be announced right at the start of the program, well done: It kept me itching for more trades!

Of course, it took away from the talented youngsters being drafted into the league, but hey, as happy as we are for them, trades are trades: this was confirmed by the loud ovation of the Sens fans at Scotiabank Place who ROARED each time Bettman came up to announce another deal.

And the deals were huge!

Flames: Acquire Mike Cammalleri from L.A.
Kings: Acquire Ducks 1st rounder (12th overall)
Ducks: Acquire Kings 17th overall (from CGY) and 28th overall picks.

Flames boost their offense, parting ways with an older, more expensive Tanguay for a less expensive, younger, proven #1 centerman. Calgary will enjoy Cammalleri's style; he can take a bit of the load off Iginla's shoulders.

Flames: Acquire 25th overall pick and 2009 second round pick from Canadiens
Canadiens: Acquire Alex Tanguay and 2008 5th rounder

Canadiens get their man; they coveted him since last trade deadline, and paid fairly low to acquire the 28-year old left winger (seeing how the draft was said to be weak in late-round talent this year). The only knock is Tanguay's cap-hit at $5.25 million, but he should fit right in with the style of play in Montreal.

Panthers: Acquire Nick Boynton, Keith Ballard and 49th overall pick
Coyotes: Acquire Olli Jokinen

Mind-boggler! Can't believe that this is what the Panthers settled on! Jokinen was heavily pursued at the trade deadline, and SURELY a better offer or two had to have been on the table for Florida at that time. They acquire an aging rearguard in Boynton, and a solid stay-at-home defenseman in Ballard. Phoenix gets a bonafide #1 centerman to build around, but I don't know if Jokinen's NHL record streak of games played without reaching the playoffs will end just yet...

Blue Jackets: Acquire R.J Umberger and 119th overall pick
Flyers: Acquire 19th and 67th overall picks

The Flyers made the move they had to, as both Umberger and Jeff Carter are RFAs. Signing both was out of the question, so they decided to move with the playoff sensation in Umberger. R.J. played for Ohio as a youngster, so its a kind of homecoming. This must mean that Carter is on the verge of signing a long-term extension in Philly. Umberger might not be that #1 center that the Jackets are said to be pursuing, but he can slot into #2 or #3 if needed.

Flyers: Acquire Steve Eminger + 84th overall pick
Capitals: Acquire 27th overall pick

Mike Green left his mark as the teams offensive defensman...couple that with Eminger's slow-development rate, and you have an unnecssary salary being paid out. The Caps recognized that, and thusly parted ways with the former 12th overall pick in 2002. Flyers blue-line gains in youth, and Eminger is still very capable of eventually reaching that enormous seems as though the Flyers are willing to exert more patience that Washington, though.

Other deals were made, all of which only saw draft picks being swapped.


So, indeed, Jokinen WAS moved, as the headline hinted. As was Cammalleri, who was openly being shopped around. Tanguay was a bit out of the blue, but, still, very nice for us Habs fans.

This doesn't mean the trading is all done contraire. This may have opened the gates for more deals in the coming days, even hours. Expect Marleau to possibly move soon, as well as other key names, such as: Redden? Afinogenov? Campbell? Pitkanen? Sundin to Montreal?

Check back throughout today for updates, plus a recap of the top 10 draftees!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Habs Have Permission To Talk To Sundin's Agent

from TSN - Darren Dreger

Sources tell TSN the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to encourage Mats Sundin to decide his playing future before July 1.

In the past 24 hours the Montreal Canadiens were granted persmission by the Maple Leafs to speak to Sundin's agent about the possibility of the 37-year-old centre signing in Montreal.

The Leafs would have to trade Sundin's negotiating rights to the Canadiens to facilitate an early signing.

It's too early to say whether or not the two Canadian teams will make that move, as the Canadiens' reluctance to give up any assets for the privilege to get to the Leafs' captain may be based on his willingness to speed up his decision making.

At this point, Sundin remains uncertain as to whether he or not he will play at all, so the Canadiens' attempt to get a head-start may turn out to be a fruitless exercise.

The Canadiens believed they were close to a deal to acquire Sundin at the trade deadline, but Sundin refused to waive his no-trade to accomodate that deal, or the potential for any other.

HABS Free Agent News...Starting The Waive... Trade + Rumours!

Busy morning/afternoon, and likely to stay that way through tonight with the draft at 7 p.m.

The Canadiens continue to negotiate with restricted free agent winger Andrei Kostitsyn. They will NOT buyout Mathieu Dandenault. Defenseman Mark Streit, on the other hand, will hit the open market, July 1, without a contract from the Habs. Streit wants to stay in Montreal, but Gainey claims the team is keeping its options open.

"Because he's in the unrestricted free-agent market and we want to play in that market, we don't want to arrive on July 1 and not have enough space in our budget or our cap to attract a player that's available," Gainey said.


Alright everyone, it's time to start the wave!!

As for Ottawa and L.A., they're starting the waive.

The Sens have placed goaltender Ray Emery on waivers, which is believed to be the first step of buying him out. To be bought out of a contract, a plaeyer must first be placed on waivers; then, if unclaimed, a team may buy out his contract for a percentage of the remainder. Emery signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract in July of 2007 and has two years and $6.75 million remaining on his contract. Under CBA rules, the Senators are on the hook for one-third of Emery's remaining salary, $2.25 million. That amount will be spread across twice the length of the remaining years of the contract, resulting in a cap hit of slightly less than $600,000 for the next four years.

The L.A. Kings have done the same thing with goaltender Dan Cloutier.


The Preds made two transactions today, significantly clearing up the goaltending picture.

Dan Ellis had a very happy birthday yesterday. Ellis signed a multi-year deal with the club, financial terms undisclosed. The Preds have since moved goaltender Chris Mason to division-rival St. Louis for a 4th round pick in tonight's draft. The Preds now have 9 picks this draft, with multiple 1st, 2nd and 4th round selections. Ellis, who turned 28 yesterday, led the NHL in save percentage (.924) and established a franchise record in shutouts (6) in his first full season with Nashville in 2007-08. The Blues acquire a bonafide starter in Mason for a pretty low cost, and the duo of Legace and Mason should help the team improve from the back out.



The Leafs are planning something HUGE, with the name Mike Cammalleri being involved.

Sabres dangling Afinogenov; Washington, Chicago and Carolina showing interest.

Also, one sites headline: JOKINEN TO BE TRADED TODAY

Thursday, June 19, 2008

UPDATED (Friday, 1 am): Trade Rumours

Late night following up on stuff...

UPDATE (12:30 am Friday) St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced that the club has acquired a 2008 3rd round draft pick, 70th overall, from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Jamal Mayers. Mayers, a gold medalist with Team Canada, is a native of Toronto.

Thrashers hire John Anderson, their Chicago Wolves Calder Cup winning head coach, to an NHL head coaching position. This leaves John Tortorella linked to Los Angeles. Anderson, 51, has won 5 minor-league championships over the years.



Reports are claiming that Leafs d-man Bryan McCabe is willing to waive his no-trade clause on ONE condition: He be traded to the New York Islanders. Why? His wife, Roberta, is a native of Long Island, and she has seemingly been reluctant to having her husband sign a long-term Toronto contract... however, according to McCabe's agent, McCabe is not interested in waiving, and plans to remain in Toronto. Get used to this roller-coaster of rumours and denials!

Vinny Lecavalier is rumoured to be on the verge of signing a lifetime deal in Tampa...Less than 24 hours after I posted the Lecavalier to Montreal/Toronto rumours. Bummer. It appears the contract negotiations have gone along better than ever now that the new management is in place in Tampa, and an announcement of a long-term deal could be made early July, reports

Ryan Malone WILL test the UFA market July 1st, dousing the flames on speculation of him heading to Columbus, amongst others.

Patrick Marleau is reportedly targeted by Columbus as they search for a #1 C to feed Rick Nash. Columbus have two draft picks with which to dangle as bait, the #6 and #19 overall picks, respectively.

Speculation has the Habs being interested in moving up at the draft, with that #19 Columbus pick being rumoured as a possible trading chip. Montreal currently holds the #25 pick. It appears the Habs are also interested in Atlanta's 1st round draft choice...

Montreal is apparently interested in Marian Gaborik as well. The team 990 presented this rumour today courtesy Tony Marinaro and P.J. Stock, and according to them, Minny would request Christopher Higgins as the centerpiece of the deal. A little too early to bite into this one, but intriguing nevertheless.

Speaking of the Wild: Minnesota are HIGHLY interested in Panthers' captain Olli Jokinen, but are unwilling to part ways with "a young, up-and-coming" player. One site suggests that Florida may be requesting a good puck-moving defenseman and a 1st round draft pick for the Finnish centerman.

Rumours are flying out of L.A. Some say the Kings offered their #2 overall pick and Mike Cammalleri to Tampa for their #1 overall pick, which will materialize into Steven Stamkos.

Also, The Kings apparently have a deal on the TABLE (according to a rumour) that would send Cammalleri and the #2 overall pick to Ottawa for Jason Spezza and Ottawa's first round pick (#18 overall). Sens GM quickly shot down that rumour, however (see, more roller-coaster stuff!)

The San Jose Sharks have reportedly received inquiries for Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Thornton, and the rights to impending UFA Brian Campbell. Reporter Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Campbell has opted for unrestricted free agency, but no confirmation on this from anyone involved with the Sharks or Campbell himself. San Jose has also in turn reportedly expressed interest in Toronto's Pavel Kubina. UPDATE!: According to a source, Campbell is in fact in negotiations with the Sharks to re-sign, and he met with them tonight and plans to meet again Friday. I expect Campbell to re-sign with SJ.

A minor trade today saw Darcy Hordichuk being dealt from Nashville to Carolina for a conditional 5th round draft pick.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Trade Rumours Prior To Draft Day Friday

The trade winds are blowing once again...not as heavily as they do prior to trade deadline day, but it's the next best thing.

Especially when names like Marian Hossa, Vincent Lecavalier and - get this - EVGENI MALKIN, are being thrown around.


First and foremost, a trade has been made today, as the Flyers sent Vaclav Prospal's negotiating rights back to the Lightning for a 7th round pick in this upcoming draft and a conditional choice in 2009.

It seems as though the Edmonton Oilers are willing to part ways with 24 year old d-man Joni Pitkanen. Pitkanen is reportedly being coveted by L.A. (in a deal that would reportedly involve Mike Cammalleri), and by Carolina (in a deal that would involve any of Erik Cole, Justin Williams or Tuomo Ruutu).

Patrick Marleau's name is resurfacing again, as always. It is being speculated that he WILL be moved prior to July 1st's Free Agent season, and according to a trade rumour website, Ottawa, Florida, Buffalo, Boston, NJ, and Columbus appear to be expressing interest.

Same goes for Olli Jokinen, who is likely being coveted by the same teams plus some others such as Calgary and Montreal.

Montreal are trying to pull a real coup on rival Toronto, it appears, as they are apparently interested in signing Mats Sundin. A trade rumour website suggests it most likely for Sundin to sign on with Montreal, before the options of re-signing with Toronto.

The Habs are also apparently trying to acquire the rights to Marian Hossa, but there are so many different stories on the net about this one. Many are claiming that the Pens have offered Hossa a 7-year $50 million deal, and are also saying that he will take it. Then, another source quoted Hossa's agent Rich Winter saying this: "The newspaper and television reports generated so far are completely inaccurate," Winter said. "None of the information has come from the principles involved in the discussions. Ray Shero and I have not spoken with anyone about a contract, so I have no idea where the information is coming from. There is not even one basic piece of information from those reports that are true." No one really knows what to expect with this whole situation, but many are now beginning to throw up a different Penguin player's name...

Evgeni Malkin's name has surfaced in many articles straight out of Pittsburgh, as the writers are hinting that if Pittsburgh keeps Hossa, they'll also keep Staal and be prepared to part ways with Malkin. Malkin is apparently seeking a lenghty, lucrative deal in the ballpark of 10 years, $100 million, pretty much a la Alexei Yashin. The writers bring up the following point: "Malkin being traded isn't as far-fetched an idea as many may many years do you expect Malkin to play second fiddle to captain Crosby?" Whatever your favorite NHL team is, you can bet that they would be prepared to make the room for the Russian dynamo.

Ryan Malone's name is also being tossed around a lot, but it appears his trading value is at zero due to what he told the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: "We will not talk to anyone until July 1st", Malone told the paper. The Penguins had hoped to attract an early-round draft choice by shopping Malone's rights, possibly from the Columbus Blue Jackets who reportedly have serious interest in him. "The Dispatch reported that the Jackets are willing to offer Malone a four- or five-year deal worth at least $4.5 million annually. The Penguins are not willing to go much beyond $3 million annually for Malone, who posted a career-best 27 goals and 51 points during the regular season."

The Vinny Lecavalier to Montreal rumours are back, as expected. Reports suggest that Lecavalier may let his current contract run out to eventually sign as a UFA with his hometown Habs. However, it appears that the Maple Leafs are willing to offer a massive package which would include two first-round draft picks to pluck Lecavalier away from Tampa before he even gets to the end of his contract. Also, the possibility remains that Lecavalier will sign a lifetime deal in Tampa, as he takes part in multiple off-ice charity/benefit functions there.

Wade Redden is being heavily pursued by the New York Rangers. Boston is apparently also intrigued at the idea of reuniting Redden with Chara.

Teemu Selanne is trying to be convinced into coming to play for the Habs next season by Saku Koivu - that's the rumour being spread around, of course. No real leads leading into this story, but, of course, it's just as possible as it isn't, so we'll have to wait and see.

And that goes for all of the rumours mentionned above, as well!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ovechkin Has Hart - Amongst Other Things

Alexander Ovechkin standing alongside the four awards he collected throughout the season. From left: Rocket Richard (most goals, reg. season), Lester B. Pearson (MVP voted by NHLPA), Hart (MVP of league voted by execs. and professional writers), and the Art Ross (most points, reg. season)

The NHL awards ceremony took place last night, and my predictions were pretty accurate (of course!)

Here are the results:

PEARSON: Predicted: Ovechkin - Winner: Ovechkin
MASTERTON: Predicted: Pisani - Winner: Blake
JACK ADAMS: Predicted: Babcock - Winner: Bourdreau
SELKE: Predicted: Datsyuk - Winner: Datsyuk
LADY BYNG: Predicted: Datsyuk - Winner: Datsyuk
CALDER: Predicted: Kane - Winner: Kane
NORRIS: Predicted: Lidstrom - Winner: Lidstrom
VEZINA: Predicted: Nabokov - Winner: Brodeur
HART: Predicted: Ovechkin - Winner: Ovechkin

As you can see, I only got 3 wrong... not too bad I think. I was REALLY surprised by Brodeur's win over Nabokov...I thought Nabokov did enough to get the nod, but I guess I was in the minority on that one. Still shocked, though. Also, Boudreau, albeit very deserving, shocked me as well. I thought Babcock OR Carbo did enough to merit it, with Babs winning the cup and Carbo finishing first in the East when the consensus prediction amongst analysts was pretty much 12th to 14th. Anyway, congratulations to the winners!

Monday, June 9, 2008


With the NHL season behind us, it is now time to begin our quest into the off-season in preparation for the 2008-09 campaign.

Before saying goodbye to the season that was, we must do two things:

-Welcome a new crop of talent into the NHL with the draft on June 20th, and;
-Hand out some hardware to some individuals who excelled at the game this season (and that's what we're going to predict tonight).

Let's get to it with Habs Hockey-Talkey's own (and yours truly) Sal Amato's picks.


given to the NHL's top player, voted by the NHLPA

  • Jarome Iginla, Calgary
  • Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
  • Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh

An elite list of players mentionned above (as will be the case for all the awards of course). Despite the calibre of the forwards on this list, it will be hard to overlook the incredible season put on display by Alexander Ovechkin, a.k.a. Alexander the Gr8. His constant excitement, hard-hitting style, natural ability to tickle the twine and his overall fan-favorite personality virtually guarantees him as the consensus pick among the NHL's players' association.


awarded to the player who shows perseverance and dedication to hockey

  • Jason Blake, Toronto
  • Chris Chelios, Detroit
  • Fernando Pisani, Edmonton

Difficult to choose amongst this group, and it was hard to see a guy like Jose Thoedore left off the list as well. As we all know, Blake was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, which he described as "highly-treatable". The prognosis is for him to live a full, normal life. Pisani was striken with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the large intestine. The abnormality caused him to miss the first 26 games of the regular season. Chelios, on the other hand, is nominated because of his age. At 46, Chris is exemplifying top-level fitness and determination, but will likely be overlooked in this selection. Although Blake is a cancer-victim, his condition allowed him to play in every NHL game, whereas Pisani had to miss time, and has reportedly been battling this problem for many years. This is why my choice is Fernando Pisani.


awarded to the best coach in the NHL

  • Bruce Boudreau, Washington
  • Mike Babcock, Detroit
  • Guy Carbonneau, Montreal

The only Hab nominated for an award is the man with the popular Hermes tie. Benchboss Guy Carbonneau is a deserved nominee as he led his Canadiens to first spot overall in the Eastern Conference in a season that so many had written off prior to the puck hitting the ice for the 1st game. Boudreau was able to rally the Capitals after an abysmal start under then-coach Glen Hanlon, allowing the Caps to clinch the Southeast Divison and knock the Carolina Hurricanes out of the race on the very last night of the regualr season. Babcock, as we all know now, captured the Presidents trophy (team with the most points in the reg. season) and the Stanley Cup with a fantastic blend of youth and experience. All of these coaches are deserving in their own way, but only one can win, and in my mind, my choice has to be (sorry to break your hearts fellow Habs fans) Mike Babcock. His hockey-savvy was a little better than Carbo's, and his ability to use his depth in offensive ways (i.e. Franzen, Hudler and Filppula) demonstrated great hockey sense and tactical knowledge. Some may argue that Babcock has the all-time best coach Scotty Bowman to rely on, but what it all boils down to is that Bowman isn't behind the bench; Babcock is, and he's the guy that the players have to buy in to, which they did.


awarded to the NHL's top defensive forward

  • John Madden, New Jersey
  • Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
  • Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit

This award could also be named the Bob Gainey award, as he really was the innovator of the defensive-minded forward, winning the award in the first four years of it's existence (1978-81). No one has won it as many times as he did (4). Should Madden win, it would be his second (the other in 2001). He was also runner-up in 2003 and 2004, which goes to show how excellent he is in his own end. But the Detroit duo are no slouches themselves, usually on the ice to shut-down the opposition's top line and then counter-attacking to score at the other end. When it came to defending this season, Zetterberg was excellent, and Datsyuk (at least this year), was Excellent (notice the capital E). Datsyuk had a league-high 144 takeaways and was also a league-high +41, all the while totalling just 20 penalty minutes. I believe this is why Pavel Datsyuk will win this award.


awarded to the player best exemplifying gentlemanly conduct

  • Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit
  • Jason Pominville, Buffalo
  • Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay

It will be very hard to overlook Datsyuk for this award as well, particulalry due to the fact that he won this award the last two times it was handed out. Datsyuk's 20 PIM's, 31 goals and 97 points line him up perfectly to sweep up the award again and notch the trifecta. Pominville had an impressive 80 points while also registering just 20 PIM's, while St. Louis had 83 points and 26 PIM's playing alongside Vinny Lecavalier. The decision, once again, goes to Pavel Datsyuk.


awarded to the NHL player judged to be the best in his rookie season

  • Nicklas Backstrom, Washington
  • Patrick Kane, Chicago
  • Jonathan Toews, Chicago

To me, this one WOULD HAVE gone to Toews had he completed the full season. Instead, he missed 16 games due to a knee injury. The race is now between Kane and Backstrom. Kane started the season with 16 points in October as an 18-year-old, the most points by an NHL rookie in the season's opening month since 1992-93. He eventually finished with the rookie lead in points (72, PPG (7) and PPP (28). Backstrom had 69, but only began to turn it on once Boudreau took over and ushered him back to his natural center position, all the while increasing his ice time. However, Patrick Kane was the much-needed spark in a usually empty Chicago arena, and his stats give him the extra boost needed to capture this award.


awarded to the NHL's top defenseman

  • Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit
  • Dion Phaneuf, Calgary
  • Zdeno Chara, Boston

I should have stopped typing after I wrote the first nominee, because this award is going to Nicklas Lidstrom, hands down. Phaneuf will capture this, just not quite yet, and not as long as Lidstrom is around and playing this calibre of hockey. Chara was a filler here, almost as much so as Phaneuf was, simply due to the extremely reliable and solid play of Lidstrom.


awarded to the NHL's top goaltender

  • Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose
  • Martin Brodeur, New Jersey
  • Henrik Lundqvist, New York R.

It's a good indication of how difficult it is to get goals in the Atlantic Division when two of their goalies are nominated for the Vezina. Lundqvist and Brodeur are relied on to play lights-out hockey on a nightly basis, and, if he had a better team in front of him, Rick DiPietro could also be on this list as well. Also, if he can continue the way he played in the playoffs, Marc Andre Fleury can be here, too. Lundqvist and Brodeur saw a lot of each other this year, rgeular season and post-season, with Lundqvist's side advancing further. But, we still haven't spoken about Nabokov yet...what a year he had! We are so used to just giving this to Brodeur that the other guys are usually write-offs. But Nabby appeared in 77 regular-season contests this year (same as Brodeur), winning 46, two more than Marty B. His 2.14 goals-against average was third in the NHL and topped his previous best of 2.19 in 2000-01 when he won the Calder Trophy. He started the first 43 games of the season, winning 25 of them. He won 25 games all of last season when he played in only 50. Despite perennial finalist Martin Brodeur and 3-season-3-time-finalist Henrik Lundqvist being there to challenge, I believe first-time finalist Evgeni Nabokov will capture the award.


awarded to the player judged to be the best in the league

  • Jarome Iginla, Calgary
  • Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
  • Alexander Ovechkin, Washington

Deja-vu! Same nominees and same type of award as the Lester Pearson (see WAY above, first on the list). The difference is that the winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season...but the results will match the description for the Pearson anyways, so I will COPY PASTE IT! Despite the calibre of the forwards on this list, it will be hard to overlook the incredible season put on display by Alexander Ovechkin, a.k.a. Alexander the Gr8. His constant excitement, hard-hitting style, natural ability to tickle the twine and his overall fan-favorite personality virtually guarantees him as the consensus pick for this award, as well!


Other awards have already been decided, including the Art Ross and Rocket Richard awards. To see them, visit

There you have it! Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section below!

The awards ceremony is on CBC this Thursday, June 12th, at 8 p.m.

Habs, Lapierre Agree To Two-Year Deal


Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced Monday the signing of forward Maxim Lapierre to a two-year contract (2008-09 and 2009-10). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Maxim is part of our core of young players who contribute to the success of our team. The determination, grit and energy he brings to the ice are important assets that we are looking for in our young players,” said Bob Gainey.

Lapierre, 23, will begin his fourth season with the Canadiens this fall. In 2007-08, he set career highs in games played (53), goals, assists and points (7-11-18). He also served 60 penalty minutes.

A native of St-Leonard, Lapierre played his 100th NHL game on the last regular-season matchup last April 5, 2008. Thus far in his NHL career, he registered 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists), and added 84 penalty minutes.

Lapierre was selected 61st overall in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Canadiens.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Putting the WIN in Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup on foreign ground as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Mellon Arena in game #6, 3-2.

We all know about the outcome and the game itself, so this recap will be a statistical one dedicated to the Red Wings.


Detroit captured its 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Red Wings trail fellow Original Six teams Toronto (13) and Montreal (24) for the all-time lead in captured Stanley Cups. They lead amonsgt American NHL franchises.

Swedish-born Nicklas Lidstrom became the first ever European captain in NHL history to hoist the cup high over his head.

Fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg took home some extra hardware as he was named the winner of this year's Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the most valuable player of the playoffs. Zetterberg becomes just the second Swede to win the coveted trophy, joining fellow teammate and captain Nicklas Lidstrom. He is also just the 3rd non-Canadian out of 43 previous winners to win the award (joining Lidstrom and Brian Leetch). He finished with 13 goals and 14 assists in the playoffs.

Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Mikael Samuelsson also all joined Lidstrom in the very prestigious 'Triple Gold Club,' as they added a Stanley Cup ring to an Olympic Gold medal and World Championship both won in 2006.

Zetterberg scored the Red Wings' third goal of this game, thus giving him the Stanley Cup winning goal.

There were 20 games in this year's postseason in which the Red Wings out-shot their opponents. The Wings were 15-5 in the playoffs when they had more shots, including 4-2 in the Final. They were out-shot once and tied once.

Detroit held a 30-22 advantage in shots in game 6. The Penguins were out shot by the Red Wings by a 222-142 margin in the six-game series. Detroit registered 30+ shots per game in each of the 6 finals games, and outshot Pittsburgh by at least 7 each game as well.

The cup win is Detroit's fourth in 11 years (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). Five players were on all four Cup winning teams: Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.

Chris Osgood was sensational in the playoffs, playing in 19 games, winning 14 and losing 4 after replacing a struggling Dominik Hasek in the first round series vs. Nashville. He posted a 1.55 goals-against average in the Playoffs. Osgood surrendered only nine goals in six games in the Final, one of which went into triple overtime. Osgood set a record for the most wins by a goaltender who didn't start his team's first playoff game with 14. Hasek won Games 1 and 2 against Nashville, lost Game 3 and was yanked after allowing three early goals in Game 4. Osgood replaced him and played every minute the rest of the way.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall led the way in defenseman scoring these playoffs with 15 points, all assists.

The Red Wings killed off 2 5-on-3 Penguins powerplays this series; one 1:26 in length, the other, 1:33.

How important was home-ice advantage? The last 10 Cup winners held that advantage...The last team to win a Cup when opening on the road was the Red Wings against Philadelphia in 1997.

The Red Wings have won 62 playoff series all-time, including all four this year. That's second to Montreal (86) on the all-time list. Detroit passed Toronto (58) by winning its first-round series against Nashville.

They have proven how valuable experience is in the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup.

Although the Penguins failed to reach the ultimate prize, they can rest assured that they are not far off. With the talent core they have at such a young age, success is sure to come around for the Pens in the near future. Their future is as bright as any in this league if it isn't the brightest of all already. They fought valiantly and learned some tough lessons, but these lessons can be used as motivation to get right back on the horse as early as next year...only now, they'll know what it feels like to lose once you're so close, and likely won't let it happen again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stopping The 'Fleury'

Marc-Andre Fleury with the save of the series...and possibly the playoffs...and possibly the YEAR!

Marc-Andre Fleury withstood the flurry of shots fired his way Monday night, stopping 55 of 58 shots fired his way. The Pens had 32 shots, but won the game.

Fleury stood on his head throughout the match, putting on an exceptional clinic in goal to help lead the Penguins to a 4-3 triple overtime victory over Detroit in MoTown.

The Red Wings had their hopes of winning Lord Stanley's Cup on home ice crushed in the loss, but, should Pittsburgh win Wedenesday in game 6, they'll have another crack at getting the job done at the Joe on Saturday for a deciding 7th game.

Fleury made 55 saves (at least 10 highlight-reel worthy) in the memorable marathon victory before Petr Sykora scored 9:57 into the third overtime period.

The goal was scored on the powerplay as Jiri Hudler was assessed a 4-minute double-minor for high-sticking and causing Rob Scuderi to bleed from his chin. Sykora took a pass from Malkin and released a wrister high-glove and short-side on Osgood who had Ryan Malone on the doorstep providing the screen.

In a remarkable twist of fate, Sykora had promised his teammates during the intermission of the second overtime periods that he would score.
"Something stupid I said," Sykora said. "'Guys, I'm going to get one.'"

Malone took a shot off the nose, causing it to break for the fourth time of his career - and second this series alone.

Sergei Gonchar was injured late in the second period backchecking on a 2-on-1 Detroit rush, which wound up with Marc-Andre Fleury making the save of the series and possibly of the playoffs. Crosby coughed the puck up in Detroit's zone, which allowed Mikael Samuelsson and Valtteri Filppula to go on a 2-on-1. Samuelsson went cross ice to Filppula, who went back for Samuelsson for the easy 'slam-dunk'.

Not so easy after all.

Fleury gave a tremendous push off the right skate, moved laterally and got the left toe of the skate in the puck's way in superb acrobatic fashion.

This was the highlight of all Fleury's saves, but he had MANY other highlight reel stops in the contest.

''You win as a team and lose as a team and I just tried to do my job,'' Fleury said.

Penguins head coach Michel Therrien had nothing but praise for his young netminder.

"This was huge for him," Therrien said at the podium following the game. "No doubt this was the most important win of his career."

The Pens jumped out to an early 2-0 first period lead off goals from Marian Hossa, and - Niklas Kronwall?

After Hossa put the Pens up by one, Niklas Kronwall was trying to clear the puck out of the crease area. Adam Hall tried to beat him to the puck, and as Kronwall tried sending it to the corner, the puck wound up going top corner passed Osgood as it deflected off Hall's skate.

The Red Wings would answer, however, with three unanswered tallies.

First, Darren Helm had a shot of his own go in off a Penguin defenseman's skate.

Then, after hitting the crossbar ealier, Pavel Datsyuk redirected a Zetterberg slap-pass passed Fleury, five hole.

3 minutes later, Franzen, down low, hit a pinching Brian Rafalski, who stalled instead of one-timing, allowing Fleury to move too far off his position, and he wristed one far side.

As time dwindled down, moving images of Mr. Pritchard shining the Stanley Cup in the locker room were being displayed...but the Pens weren't set to lose just yet.

With Fleury pulled, Max Talbot came on as the sixth skater...and two fatal errors by Red Wings stars Zetterberg and Franzen allowed Crosby to get the puck down low to Hossa, who took a freak-wild shot at the side of the goal. Talbot, unmanned, had two cracks at the puck at the side of the net with Osgood offering just the left pad in defense. After being stopped by that same pad the first attempt, Talbot slammed home the puck on the second.

The Penguins were without D Kristopher Letang, who was excused by the team to attend former-teammate and best friend Luc Bourdon's funeral.