Rumors and News – June 4, 2010

Kings to go after Marleau

NHL Draft: Risers and tumblers

Avs sign Budaj, Koci to new deals

Could Jason Spezza Be Traded? Florida and Columbus Are Top Candidates

How players feel when their coach freaks out like Laviolette

Kings to go after Marleau

Marleau or Kovalchuk : Ilya Kovalchuk will the most prominent free agent in the marketplace and there will be more suitors for him than I originally thought. But if you ask me whether the Los Angeles Kings are more likely to go after either Patrick Marleau or Kovalchuk , I might say It’s expected that the Kings will pursue an elite-level forward and the presumption they will go after the dynamic, fan-pleasingMarleau. Kovalchuk to put more people in the stands. But GM Dean Lombardi knows Marleau well from their days in San Jose. If the Kings chase a free-agent forward, I’m guessing Lombardi will give strong consideration to Marleau .

NHL Draft: Risers and tumblers

Before we get into the rising and falling players of the past eight weeks, we must address the issue of Taylor vs. Tyler and as you can see from our top 150 rankings, we still feel that Tyler Seguin will ultimately have the better NHL career and is a slightly better prospect.

We debated the issue vociferously but at the end of the day, we decided to stick with our beliefs that when both guys are 25, they will both be all-stars but Seguin will be more valuable to his team. With that being said, there is no doubt in our mind that Taylor Hall is the best player in the draft right now but because of the advantage of his birth date, he has played an extra season in the OHL and is thus further along in his development than Seguin. But at the end of the careers, we believe that the highly skilled centreman will have a better career.

Since April, we’ve seen some prospects rise up the draft board, while others have slipped in the last two months.

Here are few notable names:

Jeff Skinner: No. 5 (Kitchener Rangers, L/C, Dec. 1 Ranking: 25)

The more we saw this kid as the season progressed, we found it harder and harder to find differences in this kid’s game from that of Hall and Seguin. All this kid does is score goals, 27 in his rookie season and then 50 in his sophomore season along with another 20 in the 2010 playoffs. As a result, we think this kid has risen dramatically but justifiably over the past four months.

Nino Neiderreiter: No. 17 (Portland Winterhawks, RW, Dec. 1 Ranking: 73)

We were probably a little late to the dance on Neiderreiter but he springboarded a fantastic world junior championship in Saskatoon into a great second-half and has busted into our top 20. Many of our competitors still have him much higher than we do but we think he would be good value at No. 17 with the draft being as deep as it is this year.

Ryan Johanson: No. 20 (Portland Winterhawks, LW, Dec. 1 Ranking: No. 64)

Not to turn this into a Portland lovefest but our Western Canada scout has been raving about Johanson all year and I was slow to listen but a trip after Christmas convinced me that this kid is a special player. I personally think he may be a better prospect than Neiderreiter but the multiple viewings by Jason Golden, our WHL guy, has convinced me that as special as Johanson is, Neiderreiter may be better. Either way, Winterhawk fans should be thankful for seeing these kids along with a few others all year and potentially next year as wel

Avs sign Budaj, Koci to new deals

The Avalanche on Thursday announced the signings of veteran backup goaltender Peter Budaj and enforcer David Koci to one-year contracts.

Both signed for what they made last season — Budaj $1.25 million, Koci $575,000.

The 27-year-old Budaj, the one-time Avalanche No. 1 goalie, played in only 15 games, starting 11, as Craig Anderson, brought in as an unrestricted free agent from the Florida Panthers, got most of the work and Colorado coach Joe Sacco seemed to have little faith in Budaj. Four of Budaj’s starts were consecutive, in early December, when Anderson was injured, and Sacco usually chose not to give Budaj one of the starts when the Avalanche played on back-to-back nights.

Despite that, Budaj was 5-5-2, and his regular-season numbers — a 2.64 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage — were nearly identical to Anderson’s. He earned a shutout Dec. 7 at St. Louis, a 4-0 Avs victory.

“Peter has been a valuable goaltender for our franchise over the last five seasons,” Avalanche general manager/executive vice president Greg Sherman said in a team release.

Could Jason Spezza Be Traded? Florida and Columbus Are Top Candidates

Rumours began to swirl this week that Ottawa Senators’ centre Jason Spezza wants out of the nation’s capital.

This after Senators’ general manager Bryan Murray gave an interview with Rogers Sportsnet on June 3rd in which he referred to a conversation he and Spezza had had at the end of the season.

Apparently, Spezza told Murray that he was unhappy about fans giving him a hard time.

Spezza who is a talented offensive forward has the ability to draw fans out of their seats as he executes a nearly impossible manoeuvre to deke a defenseman and pick the corner of the net and score a beautiful goal. Unfortunately, he also has a tendency to make blind back passes and is not known for his defensive prowess.

During the regular season, Spezza is often forgiven for his defensive lapses because of his ability to help win games by scoring and setting up game winning goals. However, in the Stanley Cup playoffs, when fancy dipsy—doodle plays are rarely effective, and a player’s value is measured as much by his ability to prevent a goal as to score one himself, Spezza doesn’t measure up well to fellow Senators like Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.

Despite the fact that Spezza had 7 points in 6 games in Ottawa’s series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, third liners Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, and Jarkko Ruutu received more credit for Ottawa’s ability to compete with the 2009 champs than did Spezza.

Now, whether Spezza is a net asset to the Ottawa Senators is not up for debate: he is. So, if Murray decided to explore trade options for Spezza, he would require a good return.

My feeling is that Murray would not be interested in trading Spezza to a team only interested in unloading some underachieving players of t
heir own. However, there are not many teams that would be willing to give up prime assets for a player with some defensive liabilities.

For a team to be willing to give up something of value for Spezza, the team would have to be in dire need of some goal scoring talent and have the cap space to take on Spezza’s $7 million a year hit for five more years.

The list of teams that fit the bill is pretty short. The Florida Panthers are pretty much the only team that is a prime candidate to acquire a player like Spezza. However, there are rumblings that the Columbus Blue Jackets are ready to make a move to get themselves into the playoffs next year.

How players feel when their coach freaks out like Laviolette

There’s a time and a place for a good coach freak-out, and the Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette nailed it in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Daniel Carcillo(notes) took a charging penalty at 18:02 of the first period with his team was up 1-0, and Laviolette acted appropriately — he flipped the eff out, then calmed the eff down.

On the bench, there’s a variety of coach freak-outs, and each one affects your team differently.

There’s the “holy crap we’re losing” flip-out that a coach will try to pass off as energetic and emotional, but is really jam-packed with panic. It’s the official laying down of the eggshells, where players start to live in general fear of having to return to the bench, and are guaranteed to start playing worse.

There’s the “give me your stick so I can javelin it at the opposing coach” (actually happened to me) level of panic, where you become aware that the most important stat of the night won’t be goals scored, but opponent’s teeth removed (OTR).

Then there’s Laviolette’s freak-out: The “we’re winning, but we respect our opponent, and we damn sure don’t need this to be any harder than it already is.” As a player watching your coach have a quick snap-out/regroup session while you’re ahead on the scoreboard, it’s easy to grab a piece of that contagious energy and still keep your head in the game.

Those cathartic bursts of rage can serve a purpose for a team.

For one, it can signal a fresh start the same way changing your goaltender can. It’s a divider that can give you something to build on. OK, we’ve been good since… When nothing is going right, occasionally you just have to give that etch-a-sketch a shake.

The Hulk-face glass-punch Laviolette treated us to was brief and awesome.,245567