Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
Vancouver Canucks left-winger Mason Raymond has avoided salary arbitration but he hasn’t avoided a pay cut.
The 26-year-old forward agreed Monday to a one-year contract for $2.275 million, which represents a $325,000 reduction from his $2.6 million wage of last season. Maybe he’ll even have Shane Doan on his line after Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman confirmed the team is pursuing the unrestricted free agent captain of the Phoenix Coyotes.
“I have spoken to Shane Doan on behalf of our organization a couple of times,” Gilman said Monday. “I spoke with him on July 1 to express our interest in bringing him to Vancouver and subsequently followed up with Shane last night. I know from my experience in Phoenix that he has been interested in Vancouver in the past. He’s a western Canadian guy whose wife is from Kamloops. So I think there is interest there. I had productive discussions with both Shane and his agent.”
Gilman was quick to note there will be many suitors for Doan, 35, if he opts to leave the Coyotes and their unstable financial situation.
“Shane is a sought-after commodity and there are a number of teams who would be interested in adding him to their roster,” Gilman continued. “So we’ll see what happens.”
Well, we’re well into Day 6 of free agency, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have easily been one of the league’s quieter teams.
Especially if you look at all those that finished near the bottom of the standings alongside them.
The Carolina Hurricanes, for example, finished two points ahead of Toronto, dealt for Jordan Staal and are working to add another top six forward.
he Blue Jackets traded for Nick Foligno (and are working on a Rick Nash deal), the Oilers signed Justin Schultz, the Ducks added a pair of defencemen (and are looking for good return on Bobby Ryan) and the Wild may have hit a homerun in adding Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
There is, of course, still a lot of off-season to go, and Leafs GM Brian Burke insists he isn’t close to being finished. He’s listed his team’s top three priorities as (a) getting bigger (b) adding a veteran goaltender and (c) adding another top two centre.
Those aren’t easy holes to fill, even with some $12-million in cap space. In one case, it’s probably not even the right one.
This hockey town isn’t big enough for Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly.
Three outstanding centers are one more than Colorado needs.
Somebody needs to go.
Somebody needs to be bait for the well-known, top-scoring, fed-up wingers on the NHL trade market, Bobby Ryan of Anaheim and Rick Nash of Columbus.
The Avs have a need for somebody to put the puck in the net and a happy surplus of playmakers.
So what’s Colorado general manager Greg Sherman going to do about it?
Whenever the Avs lose two in a row, fans automatically take out their frustration on Stastny, whose rock-solid (and often boring) work on the ice never matches the expectations of his $6.6 million salary.
But here’s a different take: Duchene is the center who makes the most sense for the Avs to trade.
His flash would be an easy sell for a GM in another market. At 21 years old, his potential stirs the imagination. His new two-year, $7 million contract is easy to digest under the salary cap.
C’mon, LA, keep your grubby mitts away, won’t you? Isn’t pilfering one athletically gifted, civic-minded Canadian away from Phoenix enough already?
On the heels of Steve Nash’s departure to Los Angeles comes word that nearly a dozen suitors are courting Shane Doan, including the Kings, according to several reports, should the Coyotes captain choose to leave the Valley.
That isn’t the lament of a homer sportswriter. It is the reaction of a journalist who has spent several decades covering the games people play and knows how unique Doan is. Rarely does an athlete come along who spends his entire career with one organization and in the process serves as leader, scorer, mentor, promoter.
Yet his 16-year stay in Arizona is at risk of ending because of an ownership mess that appears to be growing more complicated by the minute. And it’s not just the Kings who appear to have interest in Doan. Eleven teams have inquired about the player, his agent, Terry Bross, said Friday. New York, Detroit and Montreal are among the group, according to various reports.
Doan deserves better.
Ray Shero has undoubtedly used knowledge and strategy he learned serving for eight years as David Poile‘s assistant in Nashville to become the tour de force general manager he is now in Pittsburgh.
Today, however, it might be time for mentor Poile to follow the lead of his former pupil.
Poile needs to handle the Shea Weber situation the way that Shero dealt with the Jordan Staal situation: You offer the player the best contract extension you can afford. If he doesn’t accept, you trade him, preferably to a place he wants to play.
The Predators probably don’t want to believe this, but it’s the best strategy for the organization and for the player. It’s the respectful approach. It’s the dignified approach. It’s the forward-thinking approach.
It certainly isn’t difficult to determine what to offer Weber: It’s the Sidney Crosby contract of $104.4 million over 12 years.
We know the Predators can go that high, because they were at least in the neighborhood in their bidding for Ryan Suter.
If the Predators make that offer, they are telling Weber they value him as much the Penguins value Crosby. And that’s the truth. They would be paying him more than Ryan Suter received when he left the Predators to sign with the Minnesota Wild this week. And that’s important. That offer also would tell their fans that the Predators are willing to do whatever it takes to build a winning organization.
After reading the results of a poll taken by our friends over at Mile High Hockey, it seems there is a sizable segment of the Avalanche fan base that wouldn’t mind seeing Paul Stastny traded for a player like Bobby Ryan of Anaheim.
Fact is, Ryan has made it very clear he’s not happy in Anaheim anymore. He’s a left winger, and the Avs need a left winger to fill a hole vacated by Peter Mueller. P.A. Parenteau, the more I’ve talked to him and others, is a right wing who isn’t going to feel all that comfortable if asked to play on the left side. He’d do it I’m sure, but he’s just much more comfortable on the right side.
I still don’t think Stastny will be traded yet, though. I could be proven wrong on that, but if the Avs were offering him around for a player like Ryan, I bet Anaheim would have already made that deal by now. To me, Anaheim would be foolish not to take Stastny if offered for Ryan. They need a center quite badly, and they can afford his $6.6 million cap hit. To pass up a player of his caliber for an unhappy Ryan would be just plain stupid.
My sense is that teams call the Avs and inquire about Stastny from time to time, but that the Avs are highly reluctant to move him. As much as he has frustrated fans with his up-and-down play the last couple of years, the fact remains: he’s still only 26, he’s scored 20 or more goals in three straight seasons and five of the six in his career. The only season he didn’t, 2007-08, he missed 37 games with injuries. He has 374 points in 427 career games.
If his trading is complete with the acquisition of the veteran defensive defenceman he promised, Bryan Murray still has at least one move he must make before the start of the NHL season.
He needs to spend almost $5 million to get to the salary cap floor, and here’s a way he might be able to do so plus answer his need for offence at the same time:
Make Alexander Semin an offer.
Semin, the enigmatic Russian, who was still available on Day 6 of free agency, might even cost a little more, as he picked up $6.7 million from the Washington Capitals last season. So dangle a similar number in his face. Don’t waver on the term, though. One year. If another team is willing to give him something longer, walk away.
Ya, ya, I know the knock on Semin. He’s a dog. Earlier this week, TSN’s Marc Crawford called him a “complete loser” with “no character.” Pierre McGuire said he’s the “ultimate coach killer” and “not a good guy to have around your group unless you have unbelievably strong leadership.”
So Chris Neil would keep him in line. Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza would explain to him how things are done in Ottawa. And Semin, a 28-year-old with one of the best wrist shots in the NHL, might actually respond to the vicious rip-jobs done by analysts.
If he has any type of gumption, any pride at all, he’ll shove those words right down the throats of Crawford and McGuire. The 13th player selected in the 2002 draft will play like he did three seasons ago, when he had 40 goals and 44 assists, along with a plus-36 rating, in just 73 games.
It’s worth a shot.
Of course, free agent Shane Doan would be a more desirable catch, which is why a number of others teams are trying to land the Phoenix captain. From what we are led to believe, only the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings have expressed any real interest in Semin.
There was no poker face from Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who laid all his cards on the table in an interview Friday and confirmed what everyone really already knew.
His days in Vancouver are done.
“I would never say never, you never know, but we all know what is going on and what has developed,” Luongo told CFOX radio. “At the end of the day I think it’s time to move on and I’m okay with that. I had a great six years in Vancouver, I think it’s a wonderful city, I really enjoyed my time there. “Unfortunately, I was not able to bring a Stanley Cup there which is probably my biggest regret, but it will be remembered for six good years.”
Luongo was interviewed by CFOX’s Jeff O’Neil morning show from Las Vegas, where he is competing, starting Saturday, in the World Series of Poker’s main event tourney.
Luongo’s $10,000 entry into the tournament is being covered by the B.C. Lottery Corp.’s Playnow.com website, which sponsors Luongo as well as O’Neil’s morning show.
Luongo said he does not yet have an inkling of where he will end up, but acknowledged Florida is one of his preferred destinations. Luongo resides in south Florida during the off-season and met his wife there while playing with the Panthers.
“It’s tough to say because (Vancouver GM) Mike Gillis is obviously in charge of the negotiations,” he said. “Florida is definitely one of the spots I’d be willing to go to. To be honest with you, I haven’t had much communication with Mike. He keeps me updated once in a while. I’m sure when something is close to happening, I’ll have to make a decision, but for right now to be honest with you I haven’t really made any decisions whatsoever.”
Now that prized free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have settled on a destination, both choosing to join the Minnesota Wild, trade talks are expected to intensify as NHL teams search for other ways to fill out their rosters.
And with a hearty collection of defensemen in their possession, an active trade market is just what the Coyotes want.
“There were so many teams pursuing those two players and where they go,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “Really, there are not a lot of people left on the board. … Discussions will pick up. Whether we see movement in the next two or three days or in weeks and months, I really can’t say.”
The Coyotes have started to turn their attention to the trade option. Six defensemen will crack the opening-night lineup, and aside from the four returning starters and the recently acquired Zbynek Michalek, another six will challenge for a spot.
The signings of forwards David Moss and Steve Sullivan weren’t blockbuster acquisitions, but the Coyotes were successful in nabbing the players they realistically had targeted.
“We did have discussion on a couple other wingers that had some skill, but we didn’t like the term or dollars,” Maloney said. “One or the other we really didn’t like. I know it’s hard for our fans to understand, but we just need to continue to stay patient. We do have very good financial flexibility.
“At some point between now and when the puck drops next season, we’ll find another good player to help us.”
The Rick Nash saga chugs on, and with this scary possibility — it might just be getting started.
Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson hoped the first few days of free agency — specifically the signing of free-agent winger Zach Parise — would spur the marketplace toward more serious trade offers for the Columbus winger and team captain.
But Howson has maintained that he won’t trade Nash for less than “market value,” even if the saga drags well into July, even into August, and yes, even into the start of training camp in September.
Parise was signed by the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, but as of late last night, Howson did not seem any closer to reaching a deal.
Howson has declined to speak publicly regarding Nash the past two days, and Nash’s agent, Toronto-based Joe Resnick, hasn’t spoken extensively in months. Nash has declined to speak to reporters since April 7, the last game of the season.
The Dispatch confirmed yesterday that the Boston Bruins are on Nash’s list of approved clubs, joining the New York Rangers, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and San Jose.
As of yesterday, the list hardly mattered for two reasons: First, Howson has listened to offers from all 29 clubs, hoping that Nash — eager to avoid a messy spat — would relent and broaden his list. And, second, because Howson hasn’t come close to trading Nash.
The general tone from GMs around the NHL is that Howson is asking too high a price for a player he is being forced to trade. The Blue Jackets, who never scored enough goals even with Nash in the lineup, figure to struggle mightily once their franchise player is gone, so they’re hopeful of getting at least one NHL-ready forward in return.