NHL Newsand Rumors – August 7, 2009

We know the Tampa Bay Lightning is interested in Alex Tanguay; agent says it is mutual

Bullish Burke wants bruising Buds to work hard

No future for Pogge in T.O.

Does Zherdev make sense for the Wild?We know the Tampa Bay Lightning is interested in Alex Tanguay; agent says it is mutual

Damian Cristodero

Scoring wing Alex Tanguay switched agents recently to Steve Kotlowitz. That shouldn’t change the dynamic too much in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s pursuit of the unrestricted free agent (Tampa Bay’s ace in the hole could be that Tanguay played for coach Rick Tocchet when Tocchet was an assistant in Colorado). But Kotlowitz, unlike Tanguay’s former agent, Bob Sauve, is a little bit more forthcoming.

Not much, mind you, but it is more than we got from Sauve.

“Tampa is certainly one of the teams Alex has strong interest in,” Kotlowitz said Thursday.

What does that mean? Well, let’s read between the lines. It probably means Tanguay understands the Lightning’s financial situation and perhaps is willing to go the one-year-contract route. That serves two purposes. It doesn’t lock in Tampa Bay to a lot of money over a long-term deal. It also gives Tanguay some incentive to perform while looking for a bigger payoff and playing with guys like Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. It also probably means Tanguay likes what he has seen the Lightning do in the offseason and believes the team has at least a chance to win.

Still, it will take some money to sign Tanguay, and Tampa Bay’s payroll is at $46.72 million. So let’s speculate on how the team can make some cuts. Who, in other words, could the team trade? I’m not saying any of these players will go, just saying why they could be candidates.

Lukas Krajicek: The defenseman was signed to a one-year, $1.475 million deal. Now that Tampa Bay has added Mattias Ohlund, Matt Walker and Kurtis Foster, Krajicek, who does not play a physical game, is, at best, sixth on the depth chart.


Bullish Burke wants bruising Buds to work hard


Training camp doesn’t begin until Sept. 12, but Brian Burke already has thrown down the gauntlet.

“One of the biggest problems last year was the sense of entitlement here,” the Leafs GM said yesterday as he introduced new Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins.

“I want every player under contract to realize that I will not hesitate to send a player on a one-way (contract) to the minors if he’s not prepared (to play hard).”

Burke says he is not looking to make any more roster moves, but he has cap room and an glut of defencemen.

“I’d like to see a little bit Darwinian theory at work at training camp and see who wants to play here,” Burke said. “If something materializes that made sense, we’d look at it.”

One defenceman Burke expects to be in the opening-day lineup is veteran Tomas Kaberle, whose window to be moved closes on Aug. 15.

Kaberle brings an offensive element on a team that is bigger and tougher.

Burke said he is “excited” to see what Kaberle can do with some of the veteran defencemen he acquired, particularly Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin.

“Say your first (defensive unit) is Kaberle and Komisarek,” Burke said. “Kaberle is not picking his teeth out of the glass all night (anymore). I’m excited about that.

“There’s some notion that everyone has to be tough on a hockey team. They don’t. You have to surround your skill guys with enough size and toughness that they can play their game. And I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Burke reiterated his belief that the club’s so-called skill players — Mikhail Grabovski, Jason Blake, etc — could enjoy excellent seasons because they now are surrounded with sandpaper.

“I believe that toughness and fear are contagious,” the GM said. “And I count on improved performance from some of those kids just because we’re bigger and meaner.”


No future for Pogge in T.O.


Justin Pogge apparently hasn’t checked his answering machine in a while.

If he did, he would have learned that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has promised to find him a new home.

“I left him a message and told him (that),” Burke said yesterday.

“He’s a good kid and if it’s not going to work out for him here — and obviously he got pushed down the depth chart with the acquisition of (Jonas) Gustavsson — then I would try to find him a place to play, and I’m going to do that.

“But I don’t intend to give away a good, young goaltender either.”

With the acquisition of free agent Gustavsson — widely considered the best goaltender outside of the NHL last season — from the Swedish Elite League, and the improving play of James Reimer with the Toronto Marlies — it’s doubtful Pogge will see much playing time in Toronto this coming season.

The Fort McMurray, Alta., native played seven games for the Leafs last season, posting a goals against average of 4.35.It’s clear the club now looks at the 24-year-old Gustavsson as their goaltender of the future — a mantle once worn by Pogge, who struggled at both the AHL and NHL levels last season.

As he did with defenceman Staffan Kronwall, Burke said he will bend over backwards to help a quality individual within his organization find another place to play if his time has run out with the Leafs.

“If the guy’s a bad kid, or a dirt bag, then he can gut it out (and stay put),” Burke said.

“But if he’s a good kid like Justin Pogge, then you want to find him a place to play.”


Does Zherdev make sense for the Wild?

Michael Russo

Maybe. Maybe not, and probably leaning toward the latter.

Nikolai Zherdev, the 24-year-old winger and former first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is suddenly an unrestricted free agent after the New York Rangers on Tuesday walked away from his $3.9 million arbitration award.

Zherdev scored a career-high 27 goals with Columbus in 2005-06 and a career-high 61 points with Columbus in 2007-08. Last season with the Rangers, he scored 23 goals and 58 points but disappeared in the playoffs and was largely criticized for a perceived lack of drive and determination. Zherdev can be maddening at times because he is so talented and goes through streaks of ineffectiveness.

At some point the Wild must make another move in my opinion, but the above red flags and one other has me thinking the team will stay away from him.

Zherdev would always be a risk to just bail for the Continental Hockey League (KHL) mid-contract. The KHL would undoubtedly be interested in him and as the league keeps proving with guys like Radulov and Hudler, it’s willing to take NHL players without regard to whether they’re under contract.

According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks here, Zherdev was seeking $4.75 million in arbitration. As you can read in Larry’s column, he does an interesting analysis of that contract desire. According to Larry’s research, 22 wingers under contract next season will earn as much as $4.75 million, and 13 of those came when they were signed as UFA’s or pending UFA’s. Of the remaining nine, only three are under 25 and they are Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Carter and Corey Perry.

As Larry writes, Zherdev’s not in that league.


16 Responses to NHL Newsand Rumors – August 7, 2009

  1. bodangles87 says:

    Nothing but class from Mr. Burke.  Go Leafs Go

  2. DJTOKid says:

    If the Leasf are keeping Kaberle then I gotta say their defense is gonna be pretty damn good. I'm interested to see what Burke could get for Pogge, i'm thinking a good prospect at the forward position or a solid draft pick.

    Kaberle            Komisarek
    Beauchiman      Schenn
    Thats an awsome top 4 and then to have the ability to move in Finger, Frogren, Van Ryn, Exelby, and White for your bottom two is amazing to me. Far cry from the last few seasons.

    Burke has done an amazing job, another somewhat tough season to go through but next off season Burke focuses on forwards and the Leafs are gonna be right back in this thing.

  3. zackman13 says:

    im wonfering who can send the most hate through a comment so…

    The Leafs are going to beat san jose in the stanely cup finals!

    led by sundin returning at the trade deadline!

  4. mojo19 says:

    there will definitely be a war at camp on defense, but also on forward:

    suppose they carry 14 forwards into the season and assume everyone is healthy out of camp, we have a number of guys with a shot at making it heres my list:

    1. Jason Blake
    2. Alex Ponikarovski
    3. Mikhail Grabovski
    4. Nik Hagman
    5. Matt Stajan
    6. Nik Kulemin
    7. Jiri Tlusty
    8. Lee Stempniak
    9. Johnny Mitchell
    10.Rickard Wallin
    11.Tyler Bozak
    12.Jamal Mayers
    13.Wayne Primeau
    14.Colton Orr
    15.Christian Hanson

    I think 1 or 2 of these guys gets cut. And outside chance to some of these wild cards:

    1. Victor Stalberg
    2. Mikhail Stefanovich
    3. Ian White (*as a fwd if the defense is impressing and the fwds are lacking)
    4. Chris DiDomenico
    5. Robert Slaney
    6. Jimmy Hayes (needs a monster camp)

  5. mojo19 says:

    My ideal line up would be Lee Stempniak waived for a young guy (I know Stemps is just 27 but I think he is what he is, we don't need him). Here's an early draft up of my team, anything could change at camp:

    Jason Blake – Matt Stajan – Alex Ponikarovsky
    Nik Hagman – Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin
    Tyler Bozak – Rickard Wallin – Jiri Tlusty
    Jamal Mayers – Wayne Primeau – Colton Orr

    x – Johnny Mitchell, Christian Hanson (rotated in and out with that 3rd line or any player who is struggling) I see Hanson playing 40-50 games this year and really getting his feet wet. Johnny Mitchell could make Wallin obsolete, but I'm interested in seeing what the Swede can do. So for now I'm writing in Rickard.

  6. albertateams says:

    No way he gets a top prospect for pogge or any first or 2nd round pick

  7. quick_stick says:

    I thought the line of Grabovski- Kulemin – Ponikarovsky played well together at the end of last year. 

    I figure Mayers will be rotated in and out of the line up, with Mitchell playing more consistantly.  I also think Stempniak should get another chance…say 10-15 games…if he doesn't give anymore than last year, then I could see moving him or waiving him.

    It would be nice if we could package a forward with a d-man to upgrade the position.  Stajan/Ponikarovsky and Van Ryn/Exelby/Frogen could potentially bring a little more skill into the line up.

  8. Tachmo says:

    From an outside look to this team, from someone who isn't a leafs fan. Oh. Excuse me I just puked in my mouth quickly as I scanned the group of forwards.

    No seriously, the group of forwards is really not very good at all. For starters Matt Stajan as the #1 center is not good, and the overall depth is not good either. The group of wingers is decent on the top 2 lines but not scary. Overall it should be able to get it done as I'm sure they will play a defensive style under Ron Wilson and now have the defence to back it up.

    I would say the defence is looking pretty solid. Komisarek did not have a very good year last year and coughed up the puck quite a bit which led to a lot of goals. Overall it is a solid D with a ton of depth. I think Toskala is a pretty good goalie, so I think this Leafs team will be in a battle for the final playoff spot all year. They should be competitive.

  9. Kramer says:

    The remains of an ancient hockey stick were found in the Gobi desert.

  10. TheLeafNation91 says:

    1) I'm REALLY excited to see how Mikhail Grabovski will play this year. He said an interview at seasons end how he was going to:

     A) Learn English. He wants to speak to reporters i believe.

     B) Bulk up. He said he wanted to get bigger and stronger so he caan be tougher, and last 82 games in a season without breaks.

    This shows dedication…Which is rare for Belorussian/Russian players

    2) The Leafs offence. They played well last year with the same guys, so i want to see how it will be this year. If they can score like last year, and healthy Toskala…Are they a contender? I'm not saying they are…but could they be?

    3) Should Dominic Moore be brought back cheaply? He has not signed yet, and worked well with Blake…So should he be even considered to bring back to the Leafs after his diva-contract 3ways backfired

  11. mojo19 says:

    Yes, its no secret that the strength of this team will be on defense, and any success will rely heavily on Toskala having a strong year, and/or Gustavasson pushing him and playing some solid games as well.

    I have to agree that Matt Stajan is not a legit #1 centre, not even close. 55 points last year was a career high, I think his cap is in the 60's if he plays at his best. For a guy who isn't really a physical player he is best suited to be a 2nd or 3rd line centre.

    Grabovski on the other hand has a little more sand paper and a little more star power, although I don't think hes as much of a complete two way player as Stajan, he and Matty could be a decent tandem if they both play like 2nd line centres at least. We don't have a real first line centre, but 2 quality 2nd line centres could be decent.

  12. mojo19 says:

    Like Nords mentioned earlier, the addition of Rickard Wallin pretty much cancels out any need for Moore now. Wayne Primeau as well gives us depth down the middle and a guy who can play PK, so we dont need 29 year old Dominic Moore back.

    I would rather not sign anyone else and let guys like Bozak, Tlusty, Mitchell etc. battle for more ice.

  13. mojo19 says:

    Poni did play well with Grabs and Kulemin, but he played his best hockey with Matt Stajan IMO. Also when after Hagman got healthy again and was reunited with Grabovski they were money. They move the puck around really well together and Kulemin has a great shot and good release.

    I expect those three to all be in the 20's in goals next year. Kulemin especially, if he doesn't suffer a sophomre slump, I could see him really building on a solid 15 goal rookie campaign and maybe scoring close to 25 this season.

  14. mojo19 says:

    I agree. I don't think Pogge would be an upgrade to any organization so his trade value would be minimal. Best thing to do would be keep him and let him continue to be the starter for the Marlies.

    Best case scenario – he has a good year and is valuable to the team or as trade bait. Worst case scenario – he has a bad year or suffers an injury and his value is nothing, which is basically the case now anyway's, so keep him.

  15. reinjosh says:

    i could see Stefanovich being brought up and given a chance on the same line with Grabovski
    While everyone believes that Burke has an anti-european view, he has shown that he really just has an anti-entitlement and anti-lazy view. Grabovski is a player that has proven this and has shown his skill not just in scoring but in trying to play to the best of his ability and work as hard as he can.
    Stefanovich is the same type of player. While Stefanovich did fall from the first round in the 2008 draft, he showed mad skill in the Q last year by being one of the highest scoring forwards as well as hard work and the ability to hold his own in the corners. I think he could maybe gain a spot right out of camp or join the Marlies and get called up in the future for injury replacement or just to be given a chance.
    Grabovski, Hagman and Stefanovich could make a very talented second scoring line not only this year but in the coming years.

  16. mojo19 says:

    Stefanovich is an interesting one. Hopefully he works hard. No one questioned his ability or his talent, but he had a reputation of being lazy which is why he slipped way out of the top 30 and was taken in the 4th round . This kind of clashes with Burke's hard work mind frame. But maybe Stefanovich has matured since then.

    I definitely am excited about this guy, his numbers in the Q were unreal last year, I agree, he could make the team and go on to have a good NHL career.

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