Goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the Buffalo Sabres remains a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.
Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reported Miller’s performance has made him an asset for the Sabres, as well as a valuable trade chip. Interim coach Ted Nolan called the 33-year-old netminder the type of player around which to rebuild.
Late last week Miller had a brief “exploratory” meeting with Pat LaFontaine, the Sabres new president of hockey operations. Though Miller’s heard the Sabres could accelerate their rebuild, he said he won’t be swayed by talk, preferring to see actual results.
Re-signing Miller would be costly for the Sabres. He believes the new seven-year, $59.5-million contract Henrik Lundqvist recently signed with the New York Rangers “sets the standard” for NHL goaltenders. Given Miller’s age, the Sabres could balk if he seeks a comparable deal.
If the Sabres trade Miller, the move could happen close to the March 5 trade deadline. Thanks to the high number of teams (23) with limited cap space, there’s not much of a market right now. Read more
About a third of the way through 2013-14 and we’re starting to get a fix on what we have when it comes to this year’s rookie crop. Poolies around the world draft unproven youngsters late in hopes they scoop a nice sleeper, to varying degrees of success. In keeper leagues things are easier, as you can often afford to wait several years on a rookie, but one-year leagues need the help here and now.
Let’s take a look at the 15 best from a fantasy perspective (sorry, Morgan Rielly and Seth Jones fans) so far.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado
Although in a three-way tie for second in scoring among rookies, MacKinnon will be tops in the end if he stays healthy. He’s getting his points regardless of linemates and other than a five-game slump in late October he has been steady. His ice time has been great and he should pick up the pace to finish in the 60s for points.
2. Torey Krug, Boston
Tied with MacKinnon among rookie scorers, Krug has been a savior for fantasy owners. Defensemen are so hard to acquire once the season starts, so drafting Krug late or even getting him off the wire is a fantasy coup. He’s on pace for 48 points and frankly I don’t see him deviating from that, making it one of the best seasons for a rookie defenseman in years.
Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is the hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. The news he was a healthy scratch from Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators prompted speculation a trade was close, though the Panthers claimed it was a product of recent poor play.
Despite a recent report from the sun-sentinel.com denying the Panthers were trying to move Kulikov, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported the 23-year-old is being aggressively shopped.
McKenzie claimed GM Dale Tallon hopes to stoke a bidding war for Kulikov, though the blueliner’s slow development and the possibility of him heading to the Kontinental League as a restricted free agent could hurt his trade value.
CBC’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Toronto Maple Leafs could reignite trade talks with the Panthers about Kulikov. Friedman claimed the two clubs came close to a deal last season, but one of them backed out. The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox claimed the Leafs have had interest in Kulikov for some time, but are wary of his RFA status and the threat of the KHL.
Boxing is my favorite sport. Yeah, I said it. That makes hockey No. 2. So what? If you think that doesn’t make me a hockey fan, re-think again. All it shows is how much I love boxing, because I’m as hardcore as it gets about hockey.
I admit, though, I cringe every time I see the sweet science turned into a high school biology class. After all, hockey fighters throw nothing but haymakers, technique be damned, with all the grace of a deer in a yogurt shop.
But hey, I gots to get me my boxing fix somehow, and I’m paid to cover hockey, so as long as the NHL allows fighting, I may as well have a little fun with it.
With that in mind, then, I’ve put together my top 10 pound-for-pound ranking of the best fighters in the NHL, regardless of size.
The word “respect” gets used a lot in NHL circles. But sometimes in hockey’s top league, respect is a nebulous concept: one player’s idea of competing hard and gaining an advantage is another player’s idea of a vicious slight. Here’s an previously-untold example:
It was the 2001-02 season – Sean Avery’s rookie NHL campaign – and his Detroit Red Wings were taking on the defending-champion Colorado Avalanche. Avery’s reputation as a big-time trash-talker already was well established from his formative years in the Ontario League – and when Avs captain and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Joe Sakic lined up near the Wings bench before a faceoff, Avery stood up and yelled at Sakic to get his attention.
However, in the two or three seconds it took Sakic to turn his head toward Avery, Red Wings veteran and star winger Brett Hull stood up, reached around another Detroit player, grabbed Avery by the back of the jersey and unceremoniously yanked him back to the seated position before he could utter another word.
The Denver District Attorney announced Semyon Varlamov has been charged with third-degree assault stemming from an incident involving his girlfriend at the time, Evgeniya Vavrinyuk.
Varlamov also faced kidnapping charges, a felony, but those were dropped.
The 25-year-old Avalanche goalie was arrested for allegedly assaulting Vavrinyuk at their home in Denver on Oct. 30 and later released on $5,000 bail. He has been allowed to travel with the NHL team since.
According to Denver Post reporter Ryan Parker, Varlamov could face up to two years in jail if convicted for this misdemeanor charge. Read more
The Philadelphia Flyers’ recent improvement (5-3-2 in their last 10 games) hasn’t brought an end to the trade rumors dogging the club.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday the Flyers aren’t trying to push out center Brayden Schenn, but they quietly told teams they would consider moving him for the right deal, though Dreger didn’t elaborate what that would be.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos noted Schenn was linked to the Edmonton Oilers earlier in the month in a supposed swap for Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky. He doubts the Flyers are shopping the 22-year-old, but claims the Toronto Maple Leafs have had interest in Schenn for some time, though Kypreos believes any Leafs offer must include defenseman Jake Gardiner.
Brayden isn’t the only Schenn whose name surfaced in the rumor mill this month, as older brother Luke was subject to speculation after being scratched from three early-November games.
Of the pair, Brayden has the most trade value. He currently leads the Flyers in scoring (13 points in 20 games) and is on pace for a career best in points. One would think the “right deal” would have to include a slightly older (late-20s) established scoring forward. Read more
With the NHL having hit the first-quarter mark of the regular season, let’s look at some of the biggest surprises so far.
Biggest Surprise Team In The Sense That Doesn’t Make Their Fan Base Want To Cry: Colorado Avalanche. I don’t know too many people who thought that, under rookie NHL coach Patrick Roy, the Avs would hit the ground running, let alone running, jumping, singing and dancing like extras in a Bjork video. Winning 12 of their first 13 games gave Colorado a cushion in the standings, but a recent skid dropped them into a tie for seventh in the Big Boy (a.k.a. Western) Conference and showed that this supremely talented young team still has much to prove. Still, given their more recent history – they’ve played six measly playoff games in the past five seasons – seeing what Colorado is capable of when things go right has to be heartening for a fan base that was accustomed to much higher standards of success.