Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hockeybuzz for Latest NHL Free Agent Signings

Rather than post every signing that goes down over the next little while, here's a site that will give you all of that latest news.

Great site for all the news, trades, signings and rumors.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

*Updated* My Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents for 2010

With July 1st around the corner, your best 2010 NHL Free Agents are...

10. Alex Frolov - Los Angeles Kings

Age: 27 09-10 Salary: $2,900,000 81GP 19G 32A 51PTS 26PIM -1+/-

Note: The former 1st round pick could really boost a team's offense, especially considering he has scored at least 20 goals in every season minus his rookie campaign and last season's setback. In 08-09, he recorded 32 goals and is likely in need of a fresh start. Don't expect this 6' 2" and 204 lbs Russian to last long after July 1st.

9. Matthew Lombardi - Phoenix Coyotes

Age: 28 09-10 Salary: $1,816,666 78GP 19G 34A 53PTS 36PIM 8+/-

Note: The Montreal native saw a career high in points and assists last year as a member of the Coyotes. The former Flame has always shown great quickness and agility, making him another player many teams will look at. He will certainly be looking for a raise heading into free agency.

8. Pavel Kubina - Atlanta Thrashers

Age: 33 09-10 Salary: $5,000,000 76GP 6G 32A 38PTS 66PIM 0+/-

Note: The frightening 6' 4" and 250 lbs frame that Kubina bares would be something any team would love to have on their side. The former Stanley Cup Champion and powerplay quarterback has never dipped below 20 points in his career. The big defenseman has also recorded at least 40 points in two of his last three seasons.

7. Maxim Afinogenov - Atlanta Thrashers

Age: 30 09-10 Salary: $800,000 82GP 24G 37A 61PTS 46PIM -17+/-

Note: The oft-injured, long time Buffalo Sabre experienced a fabulous season last year, recording a career high goals. Known for his blinding speed, Afinogenov also managed to participate in every regular season game last year for the first time in his career. At just $0.8 million last season, he was steal for the Thrashers, however many teams will still be scared to take a chance with this guy.

6. Vaclav Prospal - New York Rangers

Age: 35 09-10 Salary: $1,100,000 75GP 20G 38A 58PTS 32PIM 8+/-

Note: The Czech winger has been a bit of a suitcase the last little while, playing for 6 different teams in the last 9 seasons. However, scoring 20 goals last season and netting 33 back in 07-08, makes this guy a great veteran to have on a team. After three stints with the Lightning, nobody really knows where he will be going. He will likely want to go to a contender though, as he has managed just 60 playoff games, compared to nearly 950 regular season contests.

5. Ray Whitney - Carolina Hurricanes

Age: 37 09-10 Salary: $3,550,000 80GP 21G 37A 58PTS 26PIM -6+/-

Note: When will this guy get the credit he deserves! The former Stanley Cup Winner and two time NHL All-Star is one of the most underrated players in the game. With 869 career points and 4 consecutive 20 goal performances, he just keeps producing. A hot commodity at the trade deadline, this small winger will also likely want to go to a contender, considering his age.

4. Anton Volchenkov - Ottawa Senators

Age: 28 09-10 Salary: $2,500,000 64GP 4G 10A 14PTS 38PIM 2+/-

Note: Another player that is often underrated because of his role on the team. He won't blow you away with fast skating or as a sniper, but can he ever block shots! He has always been atop the league in blocked shots and hits. He is considered to be one of the toughest players around the NHL. Also known to be an excellent shut-down defenseman and Sens fans will be said to see him leave, if that's the route he chooses.

3. Evgeni Nabokov - San Jose Sharks

Age: 34 09-10 Salary: $5,375,000 Record: 44-16-10 2.43GAA 0.915SV% 3SO

Note: After 3 consecutive 40 win seasons, Nabby is the best goaltender on the market. The Russian backstopper has played for the Sharks his entire career and also set a career high in SV% last season with a mark of .922. The former Calder Trophy winner and NHL All-Star may also go to a team looking for more scoring, after his powerplay goal against the Canucks in 2002. In all seriousness, for a team looking for solid netminding Nabokov will deliver, however the price may be scary.

2. Sergei Gonchar - Pittsburgh Penguins

Age: 36 09-10 Salary: $5,000,000 62GP 11G 39A 50PTS 49PIM -4+/-

The former Stanley Cup Champion and NHL All-Star is second among Russian defensemen in scoring with 684 points. Known for his hard shot and powerplay assets, he definitely won't last long on the free agent market. The aging Gonchar has managed to record at least 50 points in 9 of the last 10 seasons.

1. Ilya Kovalchuk - New Jersey Devils

Age: 27 09-10 Salary: $6,389,300 76GP 41G 44A 85PTS 53PIM 10+/-

Here's the big boy of the 2010 free agency period, no doubt. Clearly the best player to become available, he will almost certainly continue to put up big numbers. The former Rocket Richard winner has put up at least 40 lamplighters in his last 6 NHL seasons, two of which were 50 goal efforts. He has only dipped below the 40 goal mark for two seasons, both of them being his first in the league. One team is going to have a lot more firepower next year, but boy are they going to pay for it!

Who else belongs in the Top 10?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top 5 NHL 1st Overall Draft Pick Busts

Not saying Taylor Hall will turn out anything like these guys because I agree with him going first, but with all the draft buzz I thought it would be fun to look at some of the first overall failures!

5. Brian Lawton - 1983 by the Minnesota North Stars

483GP - 112G - 154A - 266PTS

Note: The North Stars were glad to take Lawton as the first US born player to go at #1, and so were the Red Wings who ended up with Stevie-Y.

Who they could have taken:

Pat LaFontaine: 3rd overall (865GP - 1013PTS)
Steve Yzerman: 4th overall (1514GP - 1755PTS)
Cam Neely: 9th overall (726GP - 694PTS)

4. Greg Joly - 1974 by the Washington Capitals

365GP - 21G - 76A - 97PTS

Note: The first overall pick led his Caps to a grand total of 19 wins in 160 games over his first two seasons.

Who they could have taken:

Wilf Paiement: 2nd overall (946GP - 814PTS)
Clarke Gillies: 4th overall (958 - 697PTS)
Bryan Trottier: 22nd overall (1279GP - 1425PTS)

3. Patrik Stefan - 1999 by the Atlanta Thrashers

455GP - 64G - 124A - 188PTS

Note: Just 7 years after being number 1, Stefan found himself in retirement, but I'd want to retire too after missing that empty net against the Oilers in 2007.

Who they could have taken:

Daniel Sedin: 2nd overall (705GP - 547PTS and counting)
Henrik Sedin: 3rd overall (728GP - 572PTS and counting)
Martin Havlat: 23rd overall (543GP - 450PTS and counting)

2. Alexandre Daigle - 1993 by the Ottawa Senators

616GP - 126G - 198A - 327PTS

Note: "I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two"
- Alexandre Daigle after being picked #1 overall.
He deserves a kick in the mouth, I think we all remember Mr. Pronger a lot better than him.

Who they could have taken:

Chris Pronger: 2nd overall (1104GP - 661PTS and counting)
Paul Kariya: 4th overall (989GP - 989PTS and counting)
Jason Arnott: 7th overall (1099GP - 873GP and counting)

1. Gord Kluzak - 1982 by the Boston Bruins

299GP - 25G - 98A - 123PTS

Note: It was close, but eleven knee surgeries later here's your worst, just 299 games is the least by any 1st overall pick.

Who they could have taken:

Brian Bellows: 2nd overall (1188GP - 1022PTS)
Scott Stevens: 5th overall (1635GP - 908PTS)
Phil Housley: 6th overall (1495GP - 1232PTS)
Salt in the wound - Dave Andreychuk: 16th overall (1639GP - 1338PTS)

That's my opinion anyway, who have I missed?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Recchi Resigns; Hamhuis Moved (Again)

1-year deal at $1 million plus bonuses.

Hamhuis's rights are now with the Pens, in exchange for Pittsburgh's 3rd round pick on 2011. Philly couldn't agree on a contract with the free agent to be.

more later...

Leading the Way: Rob Blake

A few days back we saw one of the great leaders in the game call it quits after 20 hard fought NHL seasons.

Rob Blake grew up in Simcoe, Ontario playing for the local minor hockey association alongside current NHL goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The two would lead their hometown to two Ontario Minor Hockey Association Championships.

Soon after, Blake played Jr. B hockey in the Midwestern Ontario Jr. B league until he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1986 OHL Priority Selection by the Sault Saint Maire Greyhounds. However, Blake never dressed in a game for the Greyhounds but instead opted to get an NCAA scholarship. This led to him signing with the Stratford Cullitons. Blake also played for the Bowling Green State University Falcons of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, after receiving a scholarship. Blake played three years at the college level, receiving an All-Star Team award in 1990.

In the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings selected Blake 70th overall. That 70th overall pick would go on to be a very valuable pick for the Kings squad. In his rookie year of 1990-91, he scored 12 times to accompany 34 assists for 46 points. He and a certain "Great One" would lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993. In 1996, he was named team captain and he would hold this title with the Kings until 2001. Amongst those years, he earned a Norris Trophy in 1998.

Before he could become an unrestricted free agent, Blake was traded to Colorado during the 2001 season. The impact of such a leader and competitor like Blake became evident, as that season he and the Avs would bring home the Stanley Cup. Not only did his size and hard-nosed style contribute to the effort, but he also put home 19 points in the 23 playoff games. Let's just remember, he was a defenseman!

Blake would resign in Colorado and remained with the club until 2006. That's when he was reunited with his Kings, signing on for 2 years. Realizing Blake's leadership abilities were still superb, the Kings renamed him team captain in 2007.

In 2008, Blake signed on with the San Jose Sharks and reached the 40 point mark for one final time, this time at the tender age of 39! That season saw him record 10 goals and add 35 assists for 45 points. After extending his contract for another year with the Sharks, it is no surprise that he was named the captain of this team as well! He held this title until his retirement on June 18th of this year.

Blake was also a mainstay on Team Canada at both the Olympics and World Hockey Championships. He was on Team Canada for the World Hockey Championships in 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999. During these appearances he earned 3 golds and a silver medal. He won a silver at the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 as well. Team Canada also came knocking on Blake's door for many Olympics. He played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics for his nation, capturing the gold in 2002!

Blake's points as a defenseman were quite remarkable, in a total of 1270 NHL games he tallied 240 goals and assisted on 537 more for 777 points! His best season was in 1994 where he scored 20 goals and added 48 assists for 68 points. However, looking throughout his stats he was always a consistent performer. As previously mentioned, his 6' 4" and 225 lbs frame was very solid on defense and quite intimidating. He was not a player you wanted to mess with, as shown by his 1679 PIMS. Internationally, he recorded 23 more points in 58 games. Blake truly was an killer combination of power, offense and leadership that any team would love to have.

Although he may not be quite as storied as the other "Number 4," not everybody gets to play alongside goaltender Justin Timberlake against the Leafs for the Stanley Cup! Stellar performance in "The Love Guru" too!

Does Rob Blake belong in the Hall of Fame? I think it's a YES!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sharks, Bruins and Coyotes Lock up Key Components

The San Jose Sharks took care of some much needed business today, locking up forward Patrick Marleau and playoff hero Joe Pavelski to long term deals.

The 6' 2" and 220 lbs Marleau has spent his whole career with the Sharks and recently helped Team Canada claim the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Last season the 30-year-old was very successful, playing in all 82 games and recording 44 goals to accompany 39 assists, for an impressive total of 83 points. His 83 points marks his best total since the 2005-06 season, and his 44 goals were a career high in that respect. The 3-time NHL All-Star and franchise points leader lead his team to the Conference Finals this past season. His deal will see him earn $6.9 million per year for the next 4 seasons. He was set to become a free agent on July 1st.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Pavelski also signed a 4-year deal, his sees him make $4 million per season. Pavelski had another solid season as a member of the Sharks, he netted 25 goals and added 26 assists for 51 points in just 67 games. "Little Joe", as he may be called, was anything but "little" in the playoffs, where he managed 9 goals and 17 points in just 15 games. He was a crucial piece to San Jose in the playoffs, and also to Team U.S.A.'s silver medal effort in Vancouver. The 5' 11" and 194 lbs Pavelski has also spent his entire career as a member of the Sharks.

Also inking up key players recently were the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.

The Bruins reached a deal with playoff workhorse Johnny Boychuk for 2 more seasons, the contract totals $3.75 million. The 26-year-old defenseman had a great season with the Bruins and an even better playoffs. He was key to the Bruins upsetting 3rd seed Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs. Boychuk scored a total of 5 goals and 15 points in just 51 regular season games and added 6 more points in a mere 13 playoff contests. However, the 6' 2" and 225 lbs Boychuk was more noted for his defensive attributes and hard hitting style. He also logged a lot of minutes alongside Captain Zdeno Chara during the playoffs.

The Coyotes were the last to get in on the spending, resigning Polish forward Wojtek Wolski. Wolski was late season acquisition by the Coyotes, who acquired the 24-year-old from the Avalanche. His 2009-10 season totals included 23 goals and 42 assists for 65 points in 80 games, split between the two clubs. The 6' 3" and 210 lbs Wolski will $7.6 million over the next 2 seasons.

As both the Entry Draft and NHL Free Agency dates near, there will certainly be more teams looking to lock up players for next season. Teams will also be looking to free up cap space in the coming days, likely via trades. Stay tuned and enjoy the Draft!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Playoff Brute Byfuglien and Company on the Move?

To Atlanta: F Dustin Byfuglien, F Ben Eager, D Brent Sopel, F Akim Aliu

To Chicago: F Marty Reasoner, F Jeremy Morin, FJoey Crabb, 24th overall pick in 2010, 54th overall pick in 2010.

To get under the league limit of 50 contracts (which I was unaware of), the Thrashers sent F Brett Sterling, D Michael Vernace and a 7th round pick in this year's draft to San Jose, for future considerations.

As predicted, because of cap space the Hawks had to dump salary somehow. The deal just has to be confirmed by the NHL.

Also of importance for the coming weeks, the cap has been set at $59.4 million which is up $2.6 million from last season.

More info and updates later...