Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
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.”
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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.
“There is [trade] interest that’s in place right now,” Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman told reporters gathered for a sidewalk press conference late Thursday afternoon. “It is conceivable that we could make a deal this weekend. That being said, it’s also possible we don’t do anything before leaving Pittsburgh.
“The draft may be the most opportune time to make trades because you have 30 teams, 30 general managers and all their personnel in close proximity. It also happens on the eve of free agency. The situation lends itself to talking trades.
“We’ve tried to be methodical in our approach since we’ve been here — that’s the way Mike has operated the team — and it won’t change with respect to making a move this weekend.”
The Canucks could make a blockbuster if talks with Toronto involving Luongo result in the kind of draft-day deal for which Leafs general manager Brian Burke is known.
Despite speculation that Vancouver may not get a valuable asset in return for another team absorbing the final 10 years of Luongo’s $64-million-US contract, the Canucks believe they can make a genuine hockey trade for the 33-year-old that strengthens their lineup.
Toronto picks fifth in the first round, but the Leafs probably aren’t going to give that up as the Canucks try to move nearer the front of the draft line.
Brian Burke is in a bit of a pickle.
He’ll be in Pittsburgh this weekend to participate in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft where teams hopefully add prospects to their puzzle. And the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager will no doubt attempt to do exactly that, but the draft will be his secondary concern.
Somehow managing to get experienced players to fill some of the holes on his roster will be his No. 1 priority.
That is why for the past few weeks you’ve heard more about Burke possibly acquiring veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks and how he’ll be a player in the Rick Nash sweepstakes than what he’ll do with the No. 5 overall pick.
No player Burke chooses with that selection — should he not trade it — will come in and single-handedly lead the Maple Leafs to the playoffs.
Burke’s reputation as one of the top GMs in the NHL has taken a hit since he engineered his escape from Anaheim to join the Maple Leafs on Nov. 29, 2008. That was not too long after The Hockey News named him the best GM in the business. You sure don’t hear anybody making that claim these days.
Burke came to Toronto guns-a-blazing, telling the hockey world how his Maple Leafs would be bigger and bolder than ever; how they would be a tough team to play against and how he’d build the club from the goaltender out. Suffice it to say those words now ring hollow.
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Incumbent: James Reimer, 24, signed through 2013-14
Goals against in 2011-12: 259 (29th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 182 (29th in NHL)
Why here: In his season-ending news conference, general manager Brian Burke said the Leafs had tried and failed to acquire a veteran goaltender before the trade deadline. When asked about trying his luck this summer, he said: “We’ll have to see what the options are, and what the price tags are.” Reimer had a save-percentage of .900 last season — Luongo had a .919
Incumbent: José Theodore, signed through 2012-13
Goals against in 2011-12: 216 (12th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 144 (8th in NHL)
Why here: If the Tampa Bay Lightning have removed themselves from the market with the acquisition of Anders Lindback from Nashville last week, the Panthers would become another intriguing trading partner for the Canucks. Luongo played five seasons with the Panthers
Incumbent: Corey Crawford, 27, signed through 2013-14
Goals against in 2011-12: 231 (22nd in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 170 (27th in NHL)
Why here: According to capgeek.com, the Blackhawks have 23 players under contract, with about US$8.2-million left under the cap. That would leave more than enough space to fit Luongo.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Incumbent: Steve Mason, 24, signed through 2012-13
Goals against in 2011-12: 257 (28th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: (166 (26th in NHL)
Why here: Columbus finished 46 points behind Vancouver, holding the polar opposite position in the NHL standings.
Incumbent: Roberto Luongo, signed through 2022-23, Cory Schneider, restricted free agent on July 1
Goals against in 2011-12: 191 (4th in NHL)
Goals against, 5v5: 135 (6th in NHL)
Why here: Gillis has the laws of supply and demand working in his favour. The supply of proven or potential starters has dwindled, with Lindback (Tampa Bay, via trade with Nashville)
Given that he has no desire to trade Jake Gardiner, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, one has to think, is looking at parting with at least a player or two off the club’s roster in the coming days or weeks.
Making trades to improve the Leafs is the way to go. Burke has said it as much himself, knowing a thin free-agent market has few attractive players that could come in and help the Leafs become a playoff contender.
When you manage a team that finished 13th in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12, a full dozen points short of the eighth and final playoff spot, few players on your roster would be deemed untouchable.
But there are a few Leafs who know they aren’t going anywhere. Captain Dion Phaneuf, forwards Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Mikhail Grabovski, defenceman John-Michael Liles, goaltender James Reimer — none of these young men have trouble sleeping at night because they’re worried they might be traded the next day.
For the rest of the Leafs outside of Gardiner, there is no such certainty. Defenceman Luke Schenn likely will be hearing rumours until the time comes that he actually is traded, though Burke would have to eat some fairly significant words that he uttered last September when he signed Schenn to a five-year contract.
“What you see is a classic, hard-nosed Canadian defenceman,” Burke said at the time. “Luke plays the game we all dream about finding players to play that way. He plays hard, is hard to play against, he finishes his checks.”
On the surface, it appears that Burke has on his hands several unmovable contracts. Forwards Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong
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The Blues still need to address the defense position before next season which they’ll do either through a trade or in free agency. Finding a player to play with Alex Pietrangelo should be a priority. Sure he could play with Kevin Shattenkirk but that’s only if there are no other options. I don’t doubt Pietrangelo can play the left side but there’s no sense in taking him away from his natural side unless it’s really necessary.
There’s limited players available in free agency that register on the excitement meter. I’m not sure the Blues can afford a player like Matt Carle who will fetch north of $4 million come July 1st. Others such as 36 year old Bryce Salvador missed a full season with an inner ear issue two seasons ago. Salvador could still return to New Jersey but will be hoping for a three year deal similar to the contract Jackman received. He may have to settle for two.
The Blues have told Ian Cole he’s guaranteed a top seven spot but it’s up to him to nail down a top six position. He’ll need to improve his skill level to play with Pietrangelo. Blues assistant coaches worked several days towards the end of last season on improving his skill while the former Notre Dame standout was out of the lineup.
Just look at the defense of the last two Stanley cup winners and it gives you a good idea of how much the Blues probably need to improve to truly contend.
Look for both Jamie Langenbrunner and Scott Nichol to both re-sign one year deals with the Blues sometime this week or next.
Another day, another goalie locked up.
While Josh Harding may not be a well-known puckstopper, or one of particular note, he’s likely to come close to splitting the workload in Minnesota this season with Nicklas Backstrom, and so the Wild have locked him up with a three-year deal.
Harding, along with Anders Lindback, Cory Schneider and Jonathan Bernier, was viewed as a young backup netminder who might be able to become a starter elsewhere. Now Harding is signed, Lindback has been traded to Tampa, Bernier may stay in L.A. for the time being until Jonathan Quick is locked up long term and Schneider, most believe, will be the unchallenged as the No. 1 goalie of the Vancouver Canucks when the next NHL season begins.
If there were a plethora of teams anxious to upgrade in goal, that would create a nice situation for Canucks GM Mike Gillis in his efforts to move veteran goaler Roberto Luongo and his ridiculous contract, which still has 10 years left to run.
Except there aren’t many teams looking to upgrade. Indeed, unless Ondrej Pavelec flees to the KHL and leaves the Winnipeg Jets in the lurch, only two teams seem to be seriously prowling for a starter in the crease, the Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Even then, the money-losing Blue Jackets aren’t likely to be interested in Luongo and his massive contract, while Luongo, with a no-movement clause he can still exercise, isn’t likely to be too excited about Columbus.
Which leaves the Leafs as the only destination. Chicago? Most GMs don’t think the Hawks are looking, and why would the Canucks move Luongo to a conference rival? Florida? They have Jose Theodore and hot prospect Jacob Markstrom, and dicey ownership in south Florida makes it unlikely the Panthers would want to absorb that contract with $46.8 million still to pay, including $40.3 million cash in the next six years.
The temperature changed a little last week for the Vancouver Canucks when they filed to arbitrate against winger Mason Raymond. The environment may be dramatically altered this week as general manager Mike Gillis tries to trade goalie Roberto Luongo.
Gillis confirmed before travelling for NHL meetings on Tuesday that he is talking to teams about his goalie.
“There are lots of teams interested,” Gillis said. “There’s a limited number of proven No. 1 goaltenders in the world. Roberto is, without a doubt, a proven No. 1 all-star goalie.”
The Canuck manager insisted there is no urgency to make a deal this weekend at the draft in Pittsburgh and Gillis said he remains comfortable with the possibility that both Luongo and Cory Schneider, who became the Canucks’ starter during April’s first-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings, will be in Vancouver next season.
Neither goalie, however, would be comfortable with that scenario and it is in no one’s interest to have two No. 1s and nearly $10 million committed to Canuck goalies when one of them will be on the bench each night.