Free Agent Analysis From Around the NHL after Day 3

Posted July 3, 2014 By w84@me.com

Notes from the first few days of Free Agency

Since the craziness that is the Free Agent Frenzy is slowing down, let’s analyze what’s gone on so far.  I’m not going to comment on teams that didn’t make any moves, just the ones that did.

-          Confidential to the Winnipeg Jets Front Office – That was a HUGE mistake letting Al Montoya go. Last season he was CLEARLY better than Ondrej Paveleck (who is average at best) during his starts.

-          Keep an eye on the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames during this signing period. All were insanely embarrassed on a regular basis last season and all have taken the first steps to right their proverbial ships.

-          New Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning is making all the right moves so far….or should I say all the moves that former GM Mike Gillis should have made during his tenure. Sign an elite goaltender? Check. Start signing talent on the second line to take pressure off the Sedin Twins? Check.

-          Yesterday I was pretty critical of Islanders GM Garth Snow for letting two pieces of their franchise (Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson) that they’ve been working on building for years go for almost nothing. Then today they sign Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Good moves.

-          For you Rangers fans who are wondering why they signed Tanner Glass, this signing has Head Coach Alain Vigneault’s fingerprints all over it. You have to wonder if the Canucks let go of other people on their roster (like Jannik Hansen) will the Rangers be calling?

-          Yeah the Dallas Stars are as scary as everyone is making them out to be….on paper.  The Kings and the Ducks set the bar last season and the rest of the teams in their division are making modifications to get to or beyond that level.

-         While most teams don’t build teams through Free Agency, the Panthers seem to be doing that yet again.  Will their signings pan out?  Too early to tell.  On paper, they’re good role player signings.  I like what they’ve signed so far but you have to wonder if it’s time for some of their youth to come up to the show.

-        Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis has a huge problem with his club.  He’s got too many lazy and coddled players that are ruining the team.  He’s clearly no going to be able to fix this via free agency so he’s going to have to deal some of the problem players starting with Captain Dion Phaneuf either by trading him or giving another player the ‘C’ so he can concentrate on playing.

-       TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Philadelphia Flyers have given permission to Kent Hughes, agent of Vincent Lecavalier, to talk to other teams about a trade.  This is a win/win for both teams.  The Flyers need cap relief badly (approx. $2.5 million OVER the cap) and Lecavalier can find a new place to hang his hat.

-       The Colorado Avalanche made a good splash with trade and signings including Veteran Jarome Igilna.  This team is close to going on a very deep run into the playoffs and that’s an attractive selling point to players like Igilna.   “I do believe they’re going to win it, and I’d love to be a part of it. Whether that’s next year or the year after, I think they just keep getting better and better and have a great opportunity” said Igilna to reporters on a conference call after signing his deal.

   

Free Agent Frenzy Plundering

Posted July 3, 2014 By w84@me.com

 

Normally this time of year (especially with the craziness of the 2014 NHL Opening Day of Free Agency) trades are many and varied. Instead of inundating you with yet another Free Agent related article I’m going to take a different approach. Plundering. As in pirates plundering what could be buried treasure amongst the ranks of the NHL elite. Some teams leave enough space under the cap (say four or more million dollars) for worst case injury scenarios or things like that. Makes sense, right?

However, we’re going to look at the teams that have less than four million dollars left under the salary cap (based on data from CapGeek.com) after day 2 of the Free Agent Frenzy and are ripe for the picking by other GM’s in the league because of their salary cap situation or may want to sign a player and take the leverage away from GM’s who cornered themselves, cap wise.

 

Philadelphia – $2,486,429 OVER the cap

A team that is known as much as for their ineptitude with player contract signings over the years (three goaltenders on the roster at one point and the signing of Bryzgalov). Taking Chris Pronger’s $4,941,429 contract into consideration here, the Flyers need to make a huge trade here to not only get under the cap but have room to breathe under the cap. Seeing how they’re probably stuck with Claude Giroux’s $8 million contract until 2022, players ripe for plundering that could help teams are R.J. Umberger (Three years left at $4.6 million per with a no movement/trade clause), Jakub Voracek (2 years left at $4.2 million per), Brayden Schenn (2 years left at $2.5 million per), Braydon Coburn (2 years left at $4.5 million per with a no movement/trade clause), or Luke Schenn (2 years left at $4.5 million per with a no movement/trade clause) all could help get the team under the cap.

 

Chicago – $2,216,795 OVER the cap

Chicago is going to have to make some moves not only because they’re over the cap but they only have $24 million cap space for next season with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Johnny Oduya, and Michal Rozsival all due to become free agents at the end of this coming season which are all great suggestions for plundering!

 

Washington – $1,113,205 UNDER the cap

New Capitals GM Brian MacLellan started his first Free Agent Frenzy day by displaying awesome Mike Milbury-like signings doling out $67.75 million worth of contracts to two players. Nine players have expiring contracts after this season including defenseman Mike Green. If MacLellan plans on keeping Green as he stated something has to give. Teams looking for expiring contracts or want to take a gamble on one of the Capitals long contracts may want to look here for a gem. Players to target – F Brooks Laich (3 years left at $4.5 million per with a No Movement/Trade clause), D Mike Green (1 year left at $6 million with a No Movement/Trade clause), D John Carlson (4 years left at $3.9 million per), C Marcus Johansson (1 year left at $2 million – RFA), or F Troy Brouwer (2 years left at $3.6 million per with a No Movement/Trade clause).

 

Boston – $1,640,857 UNDER the cap

The team that everyone wants to be like have lots of expiring contracts within the next year or two and still have players they need to sign before camp. Something has to give. The problem? 11 key players have no movement /trade clauses which makes trading that much more difficult. The problem is who would Boston part with? Players to target – F Davic Krejci (1 year left at $5.2 million with a no movement/trade clause), D Johnny Boychuk (1 year left at $3.4 million with a no movement/trade clause), F Loui Eriksson (2 years left at $4.2 million with a no movement/trade clause).

 

Tampa Bay – $2,131,698 UNDER the cap

This is an interesting scenario where their roster is stoked with youth that I’m pretty sure that GM Steve Yzerman isn’t going to want to get rid of. – Players to target – D Victor Hedman (4 years left at 4 million per), F Ondrej Palat (3 years left at $3.3 million per –RFA)

 

Los Angeles – $2,208,106 UNDER the cap

The reigning Stanley Cup Champions. With the exception of F Mike Richards, no one on the roster has a No Movement/Trade clause. – Players to target – Jeez just close your eyes and point at a name on the roster. This is a plundering GM’s dream!

 

 

   

Dodgers trash Stadium Series game in their own house

Posted January 25, 2014 By w84@me.com

So by now you know that there’s a Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium this evening.  With the national and international spotlight on this game, how do the Dodgers promote this game in their own house?

 

 

Stay classy Los Angeles Dodgers!

Source:  Dodgers Twitter

UPDATE: 4:40 PM Arizona Time

Let’s not forget the moment where the Los Angeles Dodgers set the bar for class and professionalism.  By celebrating their National League West title last season by jumping into the pool at Chase Field in full gear.  Oh and they seem to allegedly had the urge to piss in the pool as well.

Source:  Yahoo

 

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Hockey Day in Canada is on NHL Gamecenter!!

Posted January 18, 2014 By w84@me.com

Wait a sec…no it’s not.

This is completely and utterly inexcusable that subscribers of NHL Gamecenter cannot watch CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada. I know the coverage is on the NHL Network right now but I don’t want to watch the Ottawa Senators take on the New York Rangers. I want to watch the Edmonton Oilers/Winnipeg Jets game with all the Hockey Day in Canada goodness.

It amazes me that even though the NHL has taken great strides in making games available online, they still have a long way to go with their coverage/services. I know the response will be the canned/archaic rights holders have US rights blah, blah, blah. However, like print papers versus online news papers, people are moving away from TV game watching for online game watching. The sooner the NHL figures this out, the more their viewership across the board will increase.

People in Canada can watch whatever feed they want from CBC’s website in Canada, right? Why oh why can’t we see the same online feeds as well in the US?!?!?!

 

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Where I’ve been all this time….

Posted January 17, 2014 By w84@me.com

 

 

NOTE:  Not using any style.  Its been edited but not that much.  This was written in February of 2013 and didn’t touch it until today.

It’s been a long time since I wrote here full time or in the very least with some form of frequency.  

This post and the previous post were, without a doubt the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. and the reason I’m posting this now is that it took me this long to even write about it and publish.  This update was written in two parts – The first was the eulogy to Jessica Redfield.  This is the second which is an update on where I’ve been and why the long time off and the second.  These both are going to be pretty somber and I’m throwing any form of a styleguide out the window.  Don’t like it?  Don’t care.

I stopped writing back in September of 2011 pretty much after the KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl disaster.  When this event happened I was in a place in my life where I could follow every part of this story as it developed.  I was up in the middle of the night when the plane crashed and I followed all aspects of the story including the Russian media’s coverage of the crash both with their English language coverage and their Russian language coverage.  What I didn’t know at the time was that ‘tact’ and ‘respect for the dead’ were two phrases that weren’t even practiced in that part of the world.  What this means is that when it comes to covering a plane crash of this sort, it seems to be common practice to show unedited photos and video of all aspects of the crash.  This includes recovery of the easily recognizable bodies of former NHL players…body parts…close up photos and video of the recovery efforts.

This rocked me to my core unlike anything else I’ve experienced in my life.  Deaths, accidents, breakups…nothing shook me like this crash did.  At that moment I got up and walked away from the game that I loved.  I couldn’t look at another hockey rink or anything hockey related for a VERY long time.  It got to the point to where I wanted to fly to neutral NHL city that I’ve never been to before to watch a game as a spectator to remember why I loved the game.  I walked away from the game at this point for the season.  That is until the 2012 NHL Awards in June.

It was very hard for me to get on that plane to Las Vegas but I did for two reasons 1) I missed covering the NHL but I didn’t know what capacity I was going to cover the awards.  I just wanted to jump in and see what happened and 2) I wanted to offer Jessica Redfield a job the next season to write for me.

That’s the short story.  Sure there’s some twists and turns in my life but I’m going to put that into a book.

One more thing to note is that I lost ALL of my backups for my previous sites.  That includes articles, photos, podcasts, interviews….everything.

The only thing that I have from the old site are all the video uploads on my YouTube page.  You can get a good feel of what I covered over the course of five or so years.  Anyways, after I kick this cold/flu/whatever I’m back at it.

 

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Goodbye Jessica, My Friend

Posted January 17, 2014 By w84@me.com

NOTE: This was written in February of 2013 and published today.  Yeah, it’s taken me that long to post this as her death really shook me up.

 

The night of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado I was on the phone with my then girlfriend talking about the theater shooting as it happened and she asked me if I had any friends in the area that might be there.  Instantly, I thought of Jessica and said brazenly that I didn’t think she was there.

I woke up the next morning and my worst fears had been realized.  Jessica was gone.  A shooting star was snuffed out before her full potential was realized.

I met Jessica online via Twitter while she was covering the San Antonio Rampage  (a farm club for the Phoenix Coyotes).  Like everyone else, I saw her now famous YouTube video.  In that video along, I saw a raw talent that had the potential to be one of the greats.

One of the things I’ve learned about PR and the media in the years I’ve run this rag is that when it comes to finding writers and judging their talent they are either 1) talented but not dedicated or 2) dedicated but not talented.  Even in Phoenix where we have one of the top Journalism schools in the nation (ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism), I have been unable to find someone who has the characteristics of #’s 1 and 2.

Jessica had both.  Sure, she was rough around the edges with experience but she had the dedication to learn and be the best.  She had the talent but at this moment in time she did not have the ‘street smarts’ in this biz.  Jessica had moved from the comfy confines of San Antonio to Denver to follow that dream.

After I got to know her I was too busy covering the Phoenix Coyotes full time to read anyone other articles (locally or nationally) but whenever she posted something I stopped and took the time to read it.  To me, she was a developing talent that needed to be helped along her path with advice and whatnot.

Once I became friends with her on Facebook I saw the extent to not only which she loved hockey and the NHL but her desire to become the best in the media.  She lived, breathed, slept, and ate hockey.

In this day and age with the decline of the print media and the rise of online publishing, people can’t always recognize when there is a talent that should be paid attention to and nurtured.  In the NHL biz, if you aren’t mainstream print, online, or TV media more often than not you’re considered to be shit.

One of the ways that you can tell a good PR person from the rest of the wannabes is the following:

-    The good PR people will be able to recognize the ability for a media type to promote their client
-    The rest just earn paycheck.

Jessica kept running into the  ‘paycheck earners’ at just about every corner she turned.  Even when she was discouraged, she kept talking with people for advice or just to vent when things didn’t go right.  She never gave up her dream.  She knew what she wanted and she went after it.

We had long talks about the business and the things she had to deal with in Denver with different aspects of her job.  She went though some very tough times with some of the teams in Denver  (including a sexual harassment incident with one of the Denver Area pro teams) but she kept with it because she believed.

At this point in time the 2012 NHL Awards were rolling around.  Jessica and I had chatted about the awards and we kept trying to find a time during the craziness in Vegas to meet.  I wanted to offer her a job to write because she needed an environment where she could be free to try new things, find her voice, and occasionally stumble without worrying about getting fired.

We had talked about getting her credentials for the NHL Awards but I never followed through with it.  Because of my absence from reporting for the season and remaining emotions of the KHL disaster, I hesitated to ask for credentials for her.

This will be a regret that I will carry to my grave.

Goodbye Jessica, my friend.  I’ll miss our long talks.  You were a shooting star destined to become one of the all time greats.  I’m going to miss you dearly.

 

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