Around the League – July 7th Edition

In this post-draft free-agent offseason, lots of surprises are the order of the day. I didn’t believe ESPN’s E.J. Hradek when he said that there would be plenty of movement and unexpectedness, but that belief certainly has been thrown out the window over the past couple of days. All we know for sure is that we don’t know anything for sure. Is it October yet?

LOTS OF HATE FOR HACKETT, MALEK MIGHT NOT MAKE IT (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Columnist Tim Panaccio yesterday opined that the Flyers, in signing free agent goaltender Jeff Hackett to a two-year deal, are simply buying time for Robert Esche to develop as a number 1. Panaccio goes at great lengths to describe, in detail, Hackett’s long history of injuries and losing during his 14-year NHL career. Not one to sugarcoat it for the Flyers’ faithful, he said that “if you’re looking for Hackett to take the Flyers to the Stanley Cup, it’s not going to happen.” Panaccio went on to say that team never had a deal for Buffalo netminder Martin Biron. Bob Clarke said that he “was never offered to us…it never happened.” Clarke is evidently having difficulty in coming to an agreement with Czech goalie prospect Roman Malek, whose agent wants a one-way deal “with an option for Malek to leave in December if things don’t work out, plus guaranteed millions regardless” for the former sixth-round pick.

My take: Panaccio does bring up solid arguements. There is no reason not to see Hackett as more than a stopgap. That being said, fans would do well to consider that he was the best available goaltender on the FA market. While many (myself included) would have liked Clarke to trade for a starter like Biron, the GM stuck to his guns and refused to give up young roster talent when he could have a stopper for nothing more than the salary he was owed. Hackett could indeed thrive in Philadelphia, playing behind a defense that allowed the least amount of goals in the League last season. As for young master Malek, this young man and his agent better know their place. Sixth-round selections don’t hold franchises hostage with contract demands of freedom and a boatload of bling-bling.

SVEHLA HANDCUFFS MIGHTY QUINN & CO. (Toronto Star)

While their feeble (and possibly futile) search for a new general manager moves along at a slug’s pace, Pat Quinn and his cronies in Toronto are equally sluggish in their attempts to woo free agent talent to improve their aging team. Defensemen Glen Wesley and Oleg Tverdovsky are two players the Leafs actually HAVE interest in (I’ll get to that in a second), but no immediate deals are on the horizon. The reason? Quinn and the Leafs’ braintrust have no idea whether or not “retired” blueliner Robert Svehla intends to stay in Slovakia or return to the team. Svehla has yet to file his official retirement papers with the team and the league, leaving the Leafs high and dry. Svehla says that his agent is advising him to keep his options open, while Quinn feels like the player should hurry up and make up his mind. Quinn is hesitant to commit any funds elsewhere to improve his club, because if Svehla does intend to make a comeback, the Leafs are still on the hook for his $4 million salary.

My take: Quinn made a mistake by qualifying Svehla at the end of the year without full knowing the player’s intentions. This is another in a long line of bad decisions by the team’s front office, and there is no knowing what Svehla will do. You can’t blame Svehla, he’s just looking out for himself and his family. You can blame Quinn for not being smart enough to see this coming.

LEAFS SHUTTING THE DOOR ON POTENTIAL HOMECOMERS (SLAM! Sports)

While twiddling his thumbs and waiting on a decision from Svehla, Quinn and the Leafs aren’t making nice with the fans by ignoring players who show an interest in playing for them. Joe Nieuwendyk, Brian Marchment, and even Sergei Federov have all recently shown more than a passing interest in toiling for Toronto, only to see their overtures to the team met with the cold shoulder. Nieuwendyk and Marchment are homeboys who only want to play where they grew up, while Federov actually believes he could be a difference maker there. Rick Curran, who represents both Torontonians, was told by both players to seek oppurtunities to come home at reasonable prices. The Leafs have reportedly said: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” With his budget handicapped by the Svehla situation, Quinn isn’t interested in taking on a big contract like Federov, and has said as much.

My take: The front office of the Toronto Maple Leafs is in disarray. A GM/coach who agrees to not be GM anymore, but wants final say on who his replacement may be, and who refuses to surrender any little bit of power he has such a tight grip on is not a recipe for success. We’ve all seen this before when Mike Keenan gets out of control. This is Quinn’s last chance as an executive, since he will probably hold onto the position until the lockout (he even said so himself, isn’t that nice?), and he’s not even doing things the right way. Even if the team doesn’t want those players, at least they can be gracious about it. “Thanks for your interest, guys, but we are heading in a different direction.” Don’t just be a jerk and not respond publicly. They must be taking PR lessons from Osama bin Laden.

NOT TAKING A QUACK AT FEDEROV (Orange County Register)

Speaking of Sergei, those of you who believe that he is a rock-solid lock to join the Mighty Ducks might have to think again. Columnist Bill Plunkett had a sit-down with Anaheim GM Bryan Murray shortly after Murray lost Paul Kariya to conference rival Colorado. Murray admitted to placing a call to Pat Brisson, Federov’s agent, but also owned up to contacting the representatives for other available free agents as well. While admitting that there is some available salary to use to improve the club and fill the void left by Kariya, Murray refuses to get into a bidding war for Federov’s services. Ducks ownership didn’t tender an offer to Kariya because they could not justify spending all that money on one player, and, says Murray, “that philosophy does not change if the player’s name changes.”

My take: So much for Feds heading to the Pond. According to most reports, he is still seeking more than the $10 million per annum he was offered by Detroit, and won’t get that from Anaheim. Despite being a better overall player than Kariya, the Ducks won’t pony up that kind of cash for just one man. They have lots of holes to fill after their magic carpet ride, not only replacing Kariya, but Adam Oates and possibly Steve Thomas, along with re-upping the likes of J-S Giguere and Mike Leclerc.

DROPPING THE HAMR (Tampa Tribune)

While they were admittedly interested in bringing him back to the place where his NHL career started, the Tampa Bay Lightning have put the brakes on their pursuit of New York Islanders defenseman Roman Hamrlik. The Bolts are reportedly offering forwards Fredrik Modin, Sheldon Keefe, and a draft pick to Mad Mike Milbury, while Triple M is asking for Alex Sitov or Nikita Alexeev, or even both. Tampa is exploring all of its blueline options, and is in contact with Colorado UFA Greg deVries.

My take: I don’t doubt that Jay Feaster is interested in Hamrlik, but he would be better served getting deVries at a slightly less than what Hamrlik makes. Plus, he wouldn’t have to give up young talent in order to fill a need elsewhere. The Lightning’s defense is already solid, they would do well to concern themselves with other problem areas, like re-signing Vaclav Prospal, one of their leading scorers from last season.

SLATS SHOT DOWN BY WONDER TWINS (New York Post)

Hey kids, it’s Larry Brooks time! Yaaaayyyyy! This week our favorite narcissist offered up this little tidbit from his beloved imaginary kingdom of Rangerland: Slats really really really wanted the two newest members of the Colorado Avalanche, namely Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. Evidently, Rangers GM Glen Sather offered “what amounted to a blank check to bring their act to Broadway.” The offer was never given much thought, as while the players wanted to stay in the Western Conference, they also concerned themselves with another thing that the Rangers aren’t really familiar with – winning.

My take – In the immortal words of the Fab Four: “Can’t buy me looooooove, looooooove. Can’t buy me looooooove, money can’t buy me love.” Slats must feel so unloved right now. In the immortal words of Chicago: “Does anybody really care?” No, not really.

That’s it for now, y’all. Release the hounds!

Sorry big_booty and all. I just wanted to give a small sad update here. Twenty-four year old Rangers prospect, and former Dallas Star draft pick, Roman Lyashenko was found dead in Turkey. No reports on what caused the death (maybe heart failure). Prayers and thoughts go to his family and close friends.


17 Responses to Around the League – July 7th Edition

  1. mikster says:

    I like Hackett and he will be a good mentor for Esche. But, aren’t the Flyers supposed to get further in the playoffs? To me, this appears more of a step backwards in hopes of Esche and Hackett actually getting them to at least the Eastern Finals. It’s a long shot for now, i think. It’s the playoffs the Flyers need to succeed in…it’s what is driving the fans nuts! I like both Esche and Hackett. This past season, i did make statements that Esche has more skills than Cechmanek and i’d be starting Esche. He is also a positive lockerroom guy, unlike Cechmanek.

    Still as of now….Flyers have decent goaltending at best.

    Svehla should make up his mind. If i were Quinn, i’d tell him to screw off by now. There are many defensemen out there, he is wasting his time. Also, Leafs should not be making any decisions until they find a GM.

    As for Feds, I TOLD YA SO MANTA!!!!!!!

    Apparently, it’s what Brooks believes happened. But, i doubt it’s true. Two blank checks? I seriously doubt it……they are not his checks, they are Dolan’s checks. Rangers didn’t overpay for Marchant, they are not giving up blank checks.

  2. MantaRay says:

    Toronto is does seem pretty unorganized and lost in management. Svhela is a great defensemen but even Florida never knew if he’s was leaving or staying. Quinn should have established this before his acquisition.

    I think Murray will sign Federov at $8 million. There are no other teams interested in him, or that actually have the money. Kariya and Oates, along with unanticipated playoff money leaves Anaheim with some cash and compensation for Kariya.

    Add Selanne and Kariya, to a long list of players and coaches that realize what a joke of a franchise NY has become in the past 7 seasons.

  3. Cyrax89 says:

    Why the hell can’t Quinn pick up the phone, call Svehle and say “yes” or “no”?

    Man I’m starting to hate the leafs. Guess its time to change teams.

  4. Habfan1234 says:

    If the Leafs had better management they would be a lot closer to a Stanley Cup or even have won one by now. Quinn made a big mistake by trading Boyes, McCauley, and a 1st Rounder for a player that disappears in the playoffs (Nolan). He would have been better off saving the 6.5 mil and not trade for Nolan and take that money and sign what your team desperatly needs, which is a smash mouth defensmen like Derian Hatcher. I know hindsight is 20/20 but I would hope that a GM has the intelligence to note that fact that a great defensmen could and would be on the market. But with Quinn still at the helm your team will unfourtunatly not win any Cups for the foreseeable future.

    BTW, now I think I know why Gainey did not want to go to T.O. He would have been hamstrung in doing his job by Pat Quinn. The Leafs missed getting one of hockey’s best GMs that knows how to build a winner because of the obstinate Pat Quinn.

  5. mikster says:

    Anaheim has yet to re-sign Sykora and Giguere. They will not sign Fedorov before the re-sign those two. Accept it, Murray said he is not that interested.

    Fedorov will wait to see what happens with the crazy rumors that involve Bure, Lindros, Hasek, Cujo, Dunham, Samsonov. The Ducks will not sign a guy who at the very least may want a $32M contract for 4 years with the CBA coming.

    Seven? It’s six…..and if what you said was true…the Rangers would not have that many players.

    But, if you want to keep bashing the Rangers do so. You’re an expert!

  6. Freeze says:

    Nice update during a very dull and mostly uneventful FA signing period (so far).

    Bobby Clarke must be supremely confident in his job in Philly. Otherwise, he’d be scrambling to get a quality goaltender and win now. He knows that time is on his side, but this has to frustrate the Flyer fans.

    I have more respect for Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne now that they turned down Slats and his bank vault in favor of playing for a winning organization.

    Fedorov needs to come clean with the Detroit fans and Red Wings players and management on why he wants out of Hockeytown. Everyone is baffled as to why he wants out, especially when it appears that he will take substantially less money to leave Detroit.

    What’s the problem? He bitched about how Scotty used him on defense. Scotty’s gone. Detroit has offered Sergei the richest contract yet of any team. I guess it can’t be money. Yeah, he’s surrounded by stars and he has to share the limelight – a necessary condition for a team that has won 3 Cups in the past 7 years. You can’t be a one man team and win it all. Giguere proved that point this year. Maybe the Wings should throw in free time with a psychiatrist in their contract offer.

    My suggestion: Take a year off from hockey like Hasek did and get you head straight. If you need time to get over Anna, take it. When you’re ready to play hockey, let’s talk about a contract. Running away has never fixed anyone’s problems. You always end up taking your head with you where ever you go.

    Toronto needs to set a deadline with Svehla. My take on it is Svehla will not be back and Toronto should act accordingly. Svehla has a family to look out for. Quinn has a team to look out for. Why would an extra $4 million stop a big market team like Toronto from getting the guys they need to improve, especially at reduced prices? This is the summer of collusion.

  7. MantaRay says:

    Sykora is not going to be much more then he already gets. JS will probably get a raise, he will get Oates salary money. They will still have $10 million to spend. Not many other teams have that kind of cash to spend.

    Don’t be so naive, Murray’s public stance is posturing to get Federov’s price down. Its called negotiating through the press. He is doing the same thing that Federovs agent is doing for his client by starting rumors.

    The Rangers will not sign Federov if thats what your thinking. They don’t have the money.

    It will be 7 years of ineptitude this year. Probably Sathers last. Its not so much bashing them as exposing reality.

  8. cwthrash says:

    I’m not a Ranger fan either, but the last part seemed like semantics.

    Bashing; exposing reality.

    However you say it, the intent is the same. The context of the comment gives away what you mean.

    But since I’m not a Rangers fan, I probably shouldn’t care. Offseason, a slow one at that; I get bored easily.

  9. kidhenry1 says:

    the isles won’t trade hamrlik if it means they have to pick up a lot of salary– also, mad mike wants to get young and cheap–why else would he fire distant but successsful Peter Laviolette and hire AHL coach Steve Stirling? Neither Keefe isn’t getting any better, and Freddie Modin rings lightly of Oleg Kvasha (who’s been voted out of the island several times, but hey, nobody’s put out his torch)

    Also, I’m heartbroken over the death of Roman Lyashenko (now who’s gonna center my fourth line in NHL 2K3?). My thoughts and prayers are with those close to him.

  10. Aetherial says:

    This year the Leafs have a budget they are trying to stick to because next year they don’t anticipate making any money.

    This is a problem when your ownership is mostly the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund.

  11. Aetherial says:

    Amazing how Philadelphia never seems to realize you need a big name money goaltender to win the cup. Think of the cup winners in recent memory? My only thought there is that perhaps they *know* they are not going to win the cup now so are just trying to hold on until they believe they have a real shot. Esche (sp?) will never be a good number 1. Why would they want someone named Roman “Czech”Malek?

    Svehla? Theoretically the Leafs should just say “who cares” and go ahead assume he is not there. If they spend the money and he comes back they are 4mil over budget. I know the organization is about to get real cheap but sheesh, 4 million does not touch possibly the wealthiest ownership group in the league.

    Toronto is in disarray. Then again, unless you live in Toronto you have no idea what it is like. A member of the Leafs organization cannot even f*rt without the smell being analyzed in excrutiating detail by dozens of media types. My guess is that they HAVE spoken with the players mentioned and expressed their disinterest. There is no place like Toronto for false rumors and crap. I don’t believe 80% of what I read in our newspapers.

    I hope Fedorov sits, moron. NO ONE is going to pay any player 10 million this year, unless they pick up or have a contract already on their team for that amount. Sorry Sergeeee bad timing on the UFA thing Bud.

    You are Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, you choose… Rangers or Colorado? Hmmm, hockey players are not quite as stupid as I thought.

    Hamrlik’s best days are behind him. If I am Tampa (or the Leafs, they are in Hamrlik trade rumors also) I would prefer De Vries. Not sure how the prices of those two players stack up?

  12. MantaRay says:

    Wow, CW you have too much time on your hands and yes, it is a slow off-season. I too am bored.

  13. titans says:

    HACKETT SUCKS ASS!! WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE SAID?!?!

  14. cecilturtle says:

    Come on Big Booty, You know you need a team like the Rangers to point your finger at and say, “hay there goes the bad guys (TM)” Seriously though, if your going to rag on the Rangers about free agent snubbs… Have it be about a player the Flyers signed. (IE) Like if the Flyers signed Leetch. All I could do then is crawl into my shell and agree with you that Clarke is the best GM in the game.

    To Give credit where credit is due… For like the last 10 years Clarke has been one goalie away from the cup. He always has the most draft picks and the Flyers have as much young talent as any team in hockey. The longer Clarke stays GM… Sooner or later he is due to stumble upon a skilled goalie who can win under pressure situations. Don’t lock me up but, “Maybe Clarke aint so bad?”

    Cecil Turtle

  15. mikster says:

    “Sykora is not going to be much more then he already gets.”

    Says who? What are you basing that on?

    The Ducks didn’t have $10M to spend on Kariya, so no…they don’t have $10M to spend.

    The only way the Rangers get Feds is if Bure and/or Lindros go.

  16. cwthrash says:

    The observation hit me pretty quick actually. But I’ve only put out one or two comments in the past week, so I just wanted to get my feet wet again.

    Without annoying somebody too much that is.

  17. MantaRay says:

    Common and economic sense. Something apparently you need to learn.

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