Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
How highly did the Blue Jackets value defenseman Ryan Murray before taking him with the No. 2 overall pick in Friday’s first round of the NHL Draft? Enough to turn down an eye-opening offer from the New York Islanders, who, according to numerous NHL sources, offered all of their picks — one in each round — for the right to move up from No. 4 to No. 2 for Murray.
That’s right, for the Jackets’ No. 2 pick, the Islanders offered pick Nos. 4, 34, 65, 103, 125, 155 and 185. The bounty would have given the Jackets the following picks: 4, 31, 34, 62, 65, 95, 103, 125, 152, 155, 182 and 185. And if that weren’t enough, the Jackets could have had the Kings’ No. 30 if they wanted it.
Next week’s development camp would have required two sheets of ice.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson offered a “no comment” when reached by The Dispatch late Sunday. After Friday’s first round, he did mention a “very attractive” trade offer the Blue Jackets declined before selection Murray, a precocious prospect whom many think could play in the NHL this season.
The first act of the Wild’s summer is over. They made seven selections in the NHL draft over the weekend, taking Matt Dumba with the seventh overall pick and adding a 17-year-old defenseman whose high-wire style of play could make him a fan favorite.
But the most interesting act of the Wild’s summer is just about to begin.
It will start on Sunday, July 1, when a crowded field of suitors can officially begin chasing New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter — the two biggest prizes on the free-agent market and two players who could do nothing less than change the Wild’s future should they wind up in St. Paul.
Making that happen would require a convincing sales pitch, a little luck and lots and lots of cash. The Wild have the third one. They’ll soon see if they have the first two.
“You can’t control what happens on July 1,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said Sunday. “You can have your list. You can have your game plan. You can do a great job with presenting your situation. But the players have earned the right on July 1 to choose where they want to go.”
The question in light of Rangers general manager Glen Sather’s declaration yesterday that the Blueshirts intend to be “as aggressive as possible” in the free agent market essentially can be distilled to this:
Do the Blueshirts necessarily believe Devils captain Zach Parise meant what he said on his team’s breakup day — less than 48 hours after losing in the Cup finals to the Kings — when the impending free agent three times renounced interest in crossing the Hudson, once using the words, “No way”?
Stymied thus far in his attempts to acquire the offensive force the Rangers likely need in order to take the next step following their so-near-and-yet-so-far 2011-12, Sather indicated his team would dive into the free agent pool that isn’t all that deep.
“The closer to the top you are, you have to be a little more aggressive if you want to get better,” the GM said. “If you trade, you have to give away assets, but in free agency you’re just giving away money and [taking] the chance the cap might shrink.
“I think we’re going to try to be as aggressive as possible in the free agent market.”
The Blueshirts appear to have approximately $20 million available in summer cap space, some of which would be devoted to re-signing restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto and impending unrestricted free agent goaltender Martin Biron.
Parise is the lone elite forward coming up on unrestricted free agency, and the Devils have vowed to attempt to sign him before the market opens on July 1. The Penguins, who cleared cap space by dealing Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek, are expected to make a strong bid, as are the Red Wings, Wild and several other clubs.
Alexander Semin is perhaps the most skilled sniper on the market but it’s difficult to imagine the Rangers engaging in the type of long-term deal the impending Capitals free agent is believed to be seeking.
Friday night at the Coliseum draft party, Islanders radio man Chris King interviewed the newly acquired Lubomir Visnovsky via phone from Europe. Visnovsky was at home in Slovakia and there’s now a chance that he may stay in Slovakia to play or even head to the KHL in Russia. The slovak website hokejportal.net snagged an interview with Visnovsky after he was acquired by the Islanders yesterday. (Credit to NYIFC for finding it)
In the interview, Visnovsky says that he is weighing offers from both the KHL and from a team in his home country of Slovakia. He has not come to a decision as to where he will play in 2012-13 yet, but it appears that he is seriously considering the other offers. Here’s the Google Translate version of the pertinent questions:
(Emphasis is mine)
In early May, you said that you expect in the NHL last season. Still this is true?
“Still, but I can say that I get a bid from Russia and I think about them. He and his wife have already talked about the fact that in New York can not not go and I’ll take any offer from the KHL, and because I have such opportunities. We’ll see where I end. KHL has signed a contract for some of the NHL and Europe is the only league where I could play in the NHL despite the contract. ”
An interesting approach. Can you give a percentage, where you play next season?
“While I do not know it really well so I think in the head. NHL is certainly paramount, but we need to discuss this at home. But as I said, the KHL is a possibility. ”
Certainly expect that you will be asked for your interviews with managers of the Slavs.
“We met, but I did not get an offer. Maros knew that I still have a contract in the NHL, so it probably did not address. But I think also the fact that I finished a career at Slovan, because this is my Heart. In the meantime, do not want to end a career, perhaps waiting for me last season in the NHL, but I hope and believe that it will not last season in his career. ”
And when you offer, that official will come, it is possible that the longer you play next season in Slavic?
“It’s possible, this option also exists. But not really in a very theoretical. I do not know if I Slovan wants. ”
If we say that the season 2012/13 occurs in the Islanders, it’s part of our bold claim?
“Would it be so, so you can write it. However, there are other ideas, as I would like to address. ”
The Islanders would probably be disappointed, right?
“Of course. But now I have these things to pass, it’s business and I’ll deal with it according to what is best for me and for my coming. “
It depends how bad the feelings are between Brian Burke and Mike Gillis.
After the weekend, it’s not hard to say they’re sour, with gusts to out-and-out dislike.
That’s okay. GMs who don’t like each other can do hockey deals, and part of the weekend was spent by both men trying to see if they can work out a trade that would move Roberto Luongo and his enormous contract into the Leaf tent.
Nothing happened, and Burke’s comments that he wasn’t going to “strip-mine” his organization to get a goalie without mentioning Luongo specifically suggested Gillis is asking for a lot more than Burke – or anybody – is willing to give. Only Florida is also in the mix, it appears, which works for Luongo since it’s his first choice.
Gillis says he’s in no hurry. Well, he might want to re-think that.
There’s one card Burke could play, one that would turn relations between the two clubs downright ugly.
The Leaf GM could lay down a huge, multi-year, multi-million offer sheet next Monday for the other Vancouver goalie, 26-year-old restricted free agent Cory Schneider, the Canucks goalie every team would rather get if they had a choice.
That wouldn’t get them Schneider; Vancouver would have to match rather than accept multiple first rounders from Toronto.
But it would force Vancouver’s hand in the same way San Jose forced Chicago to let Antti Niemi go a few years ago by signing Niklas Hjalmarsson. Let’s say the Schneider offer was eight years for $40 million. The Canucks would be stuck with more than $10 million in annual goalie costs, with both at lengthy terms. The Leafs could also, if they wanted, load the deal with so-called “lockout” money, say $15 million in the first year that would be Schneider’s even if there’s a lockout next season.
In the wake of the Jordan Staal trade Friday, the Penguins have identified their nucleus as Crosby, reigning league MVP and scoring champ Evgeni Malkin, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, winger James Neal and defenseman Kris Letang.
Fleury, 27, is the oldest of those players. Neal and Crosby, both 24, are the youngest.
Any deals by the Penguins to add Suter, 27, and Parise, 28, would be made with the idea of keeping Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Neal and Letang through at least the expiration of Fleury’s contract in three years.
The Penguins won’t consider signing a player to a salary higher than Crosby’s, and they will not front-load deals to lure free agents.
The Penguins are aggressively shopping defenseman Paul Martin. His contract, which has three years and $15 million remaining, must be shed to make a serious run for Suter and Parise.
Trades of Staal (to Carolina) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (to Phoenix) on Day 1 of the draft opened $6 million in annual salary-cap space for the Penguins. They are nearly $15 million under the projected $70 million upper limit for next season, pending terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Though defense is the organizational strength at the prospect level, including four defensemen selected in the first two rounds of the most recent drafts, the Penguins crave a top-pairing partner for Letang.
Suter is the target, though there are contingencies to add a defenseman this offseason — most likely via trade — if the Penguins fail. They are open to including defensive prospect Simon Despres in a potential deal to land a top-shelf defenseman.
Roberto Luongo remained Vancouver Canucks property as the NHL draft weekend wrapped up. Same went for Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Really, no surprise on either end.
Neither blockbuster trade was ever much dependent on the timeline related to the draft — the Canucks certainly are not that interested in a first-round pick as the chief asset in return for Luongo. They want players who can help them now while their window to win the Stanley Cup remains open.
Although you could argue the Blue Jackets, meanwhile, should have been trying to garner as many first-round picks as they could, the reality is that the first-round picks who would have been in play from the front-runners — the Rangers, Flyers or Sharks — weren’t high enough in Friday’s first round to compel the Jackets to make a move.
Instead, much to the chagrin of the Nash camp, the Jackets almost certainly will wait until July 1 unfolds and try to recoup interest from teams that strike out on UFA star winger Zach Parise.
But what might frustrate the Rangers to a degree is that Parise has said he won’t sign with them. He wouldn’t do that to the Devils. Thus, New York isn’t terribly thrilled this Nash thing is dragging out, although not nearly as annoyed as the Nash camp itself. In a smart move, the Rangers opened a dialogue with Anaheim on winger Bobby Ryan.
A Plan B is a necessity.
Other clubs also interested in Nash include Ottawa and Carolina. The Senators want to stay in the mix even though their best hook is now gone. With the Jackets drafting two goalies Saturday, plus trading for Sergei Bobrovsky on Friday, I doubt the Jackets would have interest in either Robin Lehner or Ben Bishop at this point. Still, the Senators can stay in by changing their possible offer. It might surprise some that the Hurricanes are in the mix, especially after picking up Jordan Staal Friday. But a source confirmed that Carolina is intent on staying in the race for Nash.
In essence, both teams are hoping a change of scenery helps the players blossom into game-changers.
And when you draft a player second overall (van Riemsdyk in 2007) and fifth overall (Schenn in 2008), that’s what you expect: a game-changer.
The deal saves the Flyers some money – Schenn has a $3.6 million cap hit for four years, JVR has a $4.25 cap hit for the next six years – and it appears to shut the door on the Flyers’ pursuit of Ryan Suter and Justin Schultz, a pair of soon-to-be free-agent defensemen.
Assuming captain Chris Pronger is unable to return and that the Flyers re-sign Matt Carle, their defense for next season might look like this: Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann; Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros; and Carle and Schenn, a stay-at-home, 6-foot-2, 229-pound defender.
That would give the Flyers a formidable (and beefy) unit, with Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson providing solid depth if needed.
But, suddenly, there is a hole in the offense. General manager Paul Holmgren said it is 50/50 that the club will be able to re-sign Jaromir Jagr, who can become a free agent next Sunday. Even if Jagr is re-signed, the Flyers appear to have enough cap space to go after winger Zach Parise, the jewel of this free-agent class.
Problem is, Pittsburgh – whose fans booed so loudly when the Flyers made a draft pick here this weekend that they drowned out the announced selections – have cleared lots of cap room and seem primed to make a strong run at Parise, who will have a long list of suitors.
Landing Parise, then, would be a double-win for the Penguins, who lost out to the Flyers in the Jagr sweepstakes last summer. (Side note: Late-blooming P.A. Parenteau of the Islanders is an intriguing free-agent winger.)
For Pittsburgh, getting Parise in his prime would trump the Flyers’ getting the still-effective Jagr late in his Hall of Fame career.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has said repeatedly he wants to get bigger up front.
He took a step in that direction Saturday.
The Leafs GM pulled the trigger on a significant move after the NHL draft concluded, acquiring left-winger James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenceman Luke Schenn.
Van Riemsdyk, who missed significant time last season with a broken left foot, had 11 goals and 13 assists in 43 games for the Flyers in 2011-12.
Burke says the six-foot-three, 200-pound van Riemsdyk will add a physical element to a lineup that was pushed around far too often last season.
“He will provide speed, size, and finesse to our top two lines and we know that he fits those needs that we have wanted to address for some time,” Burke said in a statement.
Van Riemsdyk shared the Flyers’ team lead with seven goals in 11 playoff games in 2011 after earning career highs in goals (21), points (40) and a plus-15 in 75 games during the regular season.
“To go to a place like Toronto is unbelievably exciting for me,” van Riemsdyk said on a conference call. “Just the tradition they have there, the city, the fans it’s all unbelievable and growing up a big-time Yankees fans, a good analogy for me is that it’s like playing for the New York Yankees of the NHL.”
NHL draft: Luongo trade chatter heats up as Canucks insist they’ll wait for the right deal
Tampa Open to trading their first round pick
Brophy on NHL: Luongo likely for Leafs
Strategy Room: Trade talk taking over
Nash deal unlikely, should Sharks turn to JVR?
Could the Bruins trade Thomas?
Could Yakupov fall to 3rd?
Rangers, Flyers have Nash, Ryan on radars
Phoenix Coyotes may look to move pick in NHL Draft
Staal rejects Penguins’ 10-year offer
Yandle in play
The salary’s not the thing for enlightened GMs
By September, Rogers Communications Inc., and BCE Inc., will have closed their purchase of MLSE (the NHL governors put their rubber stamp on the deal this week). Assuming they keep the MLSE board at seven directors, five new ones will join chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Dale Lastman. Give one spot to the successor to now-retired MLSE president Richard Peddie and it would work out that Rogers and BCE would each name two directors.
By that time, if indeed they haven’t already, Tanenbaum and Lastman should be asking themselves and others they respect in the hockey and business worlds what they should do when Burke’s contract enters its final lap in the 2013-14 season. This may seem a tad premature (but not to the many Burke bashers in Leafs Nation) but it is only prudent with five new board colleagues coming in.
Burke, then, needs to make a solid impression with his new bosses this season. Fortunately for him, this does not mean taking a big swing in the usual vain hope (at least where his predecessors were concerned) of hitting a playoff home run. A lot of NHL types agree with former Leafs director of player personnel Rick Dudley, who said as he departed for the Montreal Canadiens that all the Leafs need to finally get on the right track is a reliable, veteran goaltender.
Thus the slow-motion chase for Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. He is the best goaltender available in a slim market but Canucks GM Mike Gillis is keeping quiet about his asking price. Neither the Leafs nor the Florida Panthers, the only other team with more than a lukewarm interest in Luongo, have been able to get Gillis to say just what he wants. But some progress was reported by Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets have shown much patience in making a Nash trade, turning down offers that weren’t to their liking at the NHL trade deadline in February. GM Scott Howson continues to insist that he’ll wait as long as it takes to get the right return for Nash, even if it means going beyond the start of free agency on July 1, and even if it means Nash remains a Blue Jacket heading into next season.
Can you say elephant gestation?
Howson and Nash’s agent, Joe Resnick, are going to meet this afternoon in Pittsburgh, site of the 2012 NHL Draft. The message from Resnick will be loud and clear: “Trade him!” The message coming back from Howson will be just as succinct: “Not until the deal is right.”
Even if the Blue Jackets agree to a trade with a club on Nash’s preferred list, they have to seek approval ffor the trade rom Nash and Resnick. As of noon on Thursday, that has not happened.
The waters have been muddied in recent days with the revelation that Anaheim is willing to part with forward Bobby Ryan. This does not help Howson’s case at all, as Ryan and Nash are similar players, except that Ryan is younger (25 vs. 28) and cheaper ($5.1 million cap hit through 2014-15 vs. Nash’s $7.8 million through 2017-18). The asking price for Ryan is said to be lower than what the Blue Jackets are seeking for Nash, too.
When another 30-goal scorer hits the market, the demand goes down.
Friday’s first round creates an interesting dynamic, too. Clubs planning to include a first-round draft pick in their offers for Nash — clubs who can’t get the deal done with players and prospects alone — have less than 30 hours now to make it happen. If a deal isn’t done Friday, the chances increase dramatically that the deal won’t get done until after free agency starts, until a club that doesn’t get Zach Parise becomes desperate to land Nash.