Free Agency Preview, CBA Concerns, Bizarre Hockey Injuries + Much, Much More!
Inside Hockey Newsletter: July 1, 2011 July 1, 2011 History Doomed to Repeat Itself?
by Kevin Greenstein
It doesn’t seem very long ago that former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt was speaking on behalf of the NHL’s owners, explaining that the league was on a “treadmill to obscurity” and that a drastically different financial model was needed to ensure the league’s survival.
In service to that concern, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the entire 2004-05 season in dogged pursuit of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NHLPA. With a salary cap based upon league-wide revenues, it appeared (at least to some observers, if not this one) that the desired “cost certainty” had been attained, if at a very steep price.
“I want the fans in every market to think, at the beginning of the season, that their team has a chance,” Bettman told the Edmonton Journal back in 2003. “I don’t want fans — you pick the market — to think, well, this team over there is spending three times as much, how can we compete with them?”
Unfortunately, only six years later it’s painfully clear that the current CBA is every bit as flawed as the one that preceded it, and probably even worse…
Flyers Different, Not Necessarily Better
by Chuck Tay
On the eve of the free agency free-for-all, the Flyers landscape has changed completely. Gone is the carousel at the goaltending position, the size on the wing has been addressed, and hopefully, as well, the disputes over leadership.
Bobby Clarke, the Flyers’ senior vice president, spoke on Paul Holmgren’s decision to send captain Mike Richards to LA and goal scorer Jeff Carter to Columbus: “He’s made our team better.”
Actually, at this point, the team is not better, it’s just different. Including Sean Couturier, acquired with the eighth overall pick from Columbus in the entry draft, the Flyers now have four new young players in place of two seasoned veterans.
It’s a faster and younger team, and the trade to acquire Jacob Voracek and Couturier in the draft for Carter was pure gold for Holmgren, but moving Richards has left a gaping hole…
Pens' Free Agency Decisions Take Shape
by Angie Carducci
Halfway through a too-long offseason for the Pittsburgh Penguins – their longest in the past four years – the club’s 2011-12 roster is starting to take shape.
Unlike last season, when GM Ray Shero made a splash on the opening day of free agency by signing two of the highest-profile defensemen on the market, the Penguins aren’t expected to look outside their organization to fill many needs. Instead, in the days leading up to July 1, Pittsburgh started to make decisions on its own personnel…
Sabres Setting Sights on Richards?
by Joseph DeLuca
For years Buffalo sports fans have been given empty promises. However, it appears that Terry Pegula meant every word he said on the fateful day of February 22, 2011.
With free agency quickly approaching, the Sabres brass may now have their sights set on Brad Richards, thanks to the billionaire owner.
Why the Flyers Should Pursue Stamkos
by Jerry Del Colliano
The Flyers weren’t messing around last week when they blew out 26-year-old star centers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards for a package of high picks, premium prospects and young, promising talent.
Chairman Ed Snider wasn’t kidding at the end of the Flyers’ season when he told fans that the goaltending issues were going to be solved. He and his team of Paul Holmgren, Bobby Clarke, and Peter Laviolette went out and traded for the rights of Ilya Bryzgalov and then promptly signed him before the mushroom cloud near the Wells Fargo Center had settled.
The Flyers have basically been retooled as the Flyers’ brass had privately lost confidence in its young leaders, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. The team would rather take a shot on a number of high probability “ifs” than be stuck with Richards and Carter for the next decade.
But somehow the Flyers are done making moves for a premium center. Not by a long shot…
'Canes Faced With Potential Cap Problems
by Andrew Hirsch
Ruled by the almighty salary cap, NHL teams often struggle to fit their budget within the financial confines established by the league’s Board of Governors. While much of the talk that surrounds the cap relates to the ceiling—the maximum a team can spend on their roster—the ever-increasing cap floor is starting to create problems for many franchises, including the Carolina Hurricanes.
The concept of a cap floor is vital to the success of quite a few teams. It forces smaller markets to invest enough money in players to win hockey games, even if it leads to financial losses. While the floor has its benefits, forcing teams to spend too much can create problems. This is especially true when that number continues to rise every year.
The salary cap floor for the 2011-12 season has been set at $48.3, and with the start of free agency underway, the Hurricanes may find themselves struggling to add enough money to their payroll. GM Jim Rutherford recently signed pending free agents Jussi Jokinen, Chad LaRose, and Joni Pitkanen to multi-year deals, but Carolina isn’t out of the woods yet…
Sens Draft, Prospect Camp Review
by Ben McCoy
Plain and simple, the Sens made out like bandits at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Selecting three forwards in the first round, plus Shane Prince in the second and trading for Nikita Filatov quickly restocked their prospect pool. There are no guarantees any (or all) of those players will make the Sens a top team down the road, but it certainly increases the odds that this draft will be considered a success.
Drafting at the six spot, Ottawa made an effort to move up and select Gabriel Landeskog. When he went second overall, it became a foregone conclusion the Sens would keep their original spot. The Senators then selected Mika Zibanejad, a skilled and physical centre from Sweden. He will be in camp come September but will most likely return to Djurgardens for the 2011/2012 year…
Free Agency Could Be Shark-Friendly
by Andrew Bensch
As the calendar creeps closer to July, the anticipation of free agency grows and grows for most NHL fans. And with the dawn of free agency less than 24 hours away as I type, the closer we get to the Brad Richards sweepstakes.
Or at least that’s what most fans are referring to this year’s UFA class as: “The Brad Richards Sweepstakes.”
In terms of free agent forwards, no other player touches the point production of Richards outside of the ageless Teemu Selanne, who is all but assured of finishing his career with Anaheim.
Combine the lack of forward star power in this year’s free agent class with the minimal amount of top-four defenseman available and there aren’t many opportunities to make that big splash.
However, for a team like San Jose which doesn’t often sign big name free agents to expensive contracts, (actually I’m having a hard time re-calling them ever making such a signing) there is a rather large group of quality free agent forwards available to fill (mostly) bottom-six roles…
Habs Start Building for 2011-12
by Emna Achour
Pierre Gauthier sure knows how to stay busy during the summer.
Since the Montreal Canadiens’ elimination in Game 7 of their first round series against the Boston Bruins this spring, the team’s GM didn’t waste a single minute. He signed seven current players while adding defensemen Raphael Diaz and Alexsey Emelin to his roster.
With six defensemen on the verge of becoming unrestricted free agents on July 1st, Gauthier decided to start it off by giving Hal Gill a one-year contract worth $2.25 million per season. Most Habs fans were concerned about the 36-year-old American’s skating abilities, but the truth is he rendered valuable services last year to the Canadiens in the absence of injured Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, while being a mentor and a big brother for rookie P.K. Subban.
Gauthier’s biggest and most significant move was however the signing of veteran blueliner Markov, worth $11.5 million for three years…
Caps Re-Sign Laich… What Now?
by Charlie Passero
Today is a good day. You can put an extra ice cube in your glass this summer night, and toast to Brooks Laich. He is a great Capital and almost a great NHL player. If the Caps ever win a Cup, you can be sure that he’ll play a big role.
At 28 years young, “Brooksie” inked six years for $27 million. Four and a half per year. Without question, he’s a very valuable member of the team. But as an objective hockey insider, I have to say that he makes a half million more than Joe Pavelski and a full million more than Jordan Staal. Those guys both have four-year contracts, and the latter kissed the Cup.
It’s still a good day because the Caps are a team of honor that sticks to their word, and more importantly, their plan. Since the beginning of these new Capitals adventures, management has always maintained that they will develop players and then sign them to long term deals. The Caps are in a great position, but how great?
Top 10 Weirdest Hockey Injuries
by Christine Gosselin
Summer is upon us and while most of us can sit back, sip on a Mojito in our backyards and wait for hockey season to start up again, NHLers continue to work out and get ready for the upcoming campaign. Many must also recover from injuries to be back in time for training camp.
While many injuries happen on the ice during the fast-paced games, others occur off the ice (or while stepping onto it), in the weirdest of situations. As I kick back and tan on my lounge chair, I give you my Top 10 weirdest hockey injuries…
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