Two of them are slam dunks and the other is a very good bet to make the Hall of Fame this year.
When the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee meets Monday to determine the class of 2014, they won’t have to debate for very long on Dominik Hasek and Peter Forsberg. They’ll be automatics. Mike Modano, on the other hand, might spur debate. He’ll need at least 14 affirmative votes from the 18 selection committee members to make the grade.
Here’s a brief look at the careers of these three first-year eligible candidates The Hockey News is projecting to gain Hall approval for 2014.
For the second time in as many years, the Colorado Avalanche appear headed to another round of contentious contract negotiations with Ryan O’Reilly.
The Avalanche recently elected to take O’Reilly, 23, to salary arbitration rather than pony up $6.5 million to qualify his rights. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports the two sides can continue to negotiate up until July 15, but if still unresolved a date will be set for an arbitration hearing.
Dater claims the Avalanche prefer to use his annual average salary of $5 million as a starting point for negotiations, while O’Reilly’s agent Pat Morris believes it should begin at his actual salary ($6.5 million) for this season. Should this go to arbitration, the new CBA stipulates O’Reilly cannot receive anything less than 85 percent of his actual salary, which would be $5.5 million for 2014-15. He can also chose a one- or two-year contract.
Morris indicated O’Reilly hopes to remain with the Avalanche, but as he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agent status in two years, this could become a year-to-year situation until his UFA eligibility. This prompted Dater to speculate the Avalanche could shop O’Reilly, noting rival GMs can contact all free agents – restricted and unrestricted – starting June 25, plus there’s a five-day window (July 1 to 5) where O’Reilly can sign an offer sheet. He suggests O’Reilly’s trade value could fetch the stud defenseman the Avs need to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Read more
It’s been 15 years to the day that the most infamous game in Buffalo Sabres history began: On June 19, 1999, the franchise squared off in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final – and when it ended in controversy and anguish in the wee hours of the next morning, with Brett Hull’s foot, the rest of him, and his Dallas Stars teammates celebrating their championship on the ice of the then-named Marine Midland Arena (now known as the First Niagara Center), Buffalo fans might have believed they were at their nadir.
Unfortunately for the Sabres, the next decade-and-a-half hasn’t been much better. Sure, they enjoyed a brief resurgence after the 2005 lost lockout season, making two appearances in the Eastern Conference Final. However, in fourteen seasons after playing in the 1999 Cup Final, Buffalo missed the playoffs eight times and made it out of the first round on just three occasions. More often than not, the biggest news coming out of the organization has been about players leaving, ownership changes and management blunders.
That’s the bad news. The good news? Virtually all the circumstances that went on to affect the Sabres in that time have changed. Consequently, the next fifteen years are likely to be much better to Sabres fans. And I mean much better. Read more
The American League’s Calder Cup championship was decided in a similar way the Stanley Cup was at the end of last week.
Tuesday night the Texas Stars and St. John’s IceCaps played Game 5 of the Calder Cup final and it went into overtime. With the Stars holding a 3-1 series lead, they had a chance to close out the championship on the road.
And that they did. The Stars took a 2-0 lead in the game before the IceCaps roared back to take a 3-2 advantage. Texas tied it up again with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period. And, in the dying minutes of the first OT period, Texas’ Patrik Nemeth scored the championship goal with this nifty move. Hey, that looks like a Patrick Kane backhander. Read more
By Sean Shapiro
It was like being the new kid at school – if you arrived just in time for exams. With the exception of a morning skate, Brett Ritchie didn’t even have a chance to practice with the American League’s Texas Stars before making his 2014 Calder Cup Playoff debut in Game 6 of the second round against the Grand Rapids Griffins May 18.
Nursing an injured ankle back to health, the second-round pick (Dallas, 44th overall in 2011) missed the Stars’ first eight playoff games and hadn’t played since April 13 against the San Antonio Rampage.
Not knowing how the ankle would hold up or how he’d feel jumping into a playoff series against the defending Calder Cup Champions, Ritchie shook off some early jitters and scored in a 7-1 series-clinching victory. “It’s good, it gives you some confidence around the net,” Ritchie said. “I didn’t feel very comfortable around the net at the start of the game, but for that one (goal) to go in, it kind of bounced me back to where I was before I got hurt.”
Ritchie, recapturing his pre-injury form, provided a much-needed boost for Texas as it battled through a seven-game series with the Toronto Marlies to reach the Calder Cup final and a five-game series against the St. John’s IceCaps to win the AHL title. The Orangeville, Ontario native had 11 points in 13 post-season games, two of which came in Tuesday’s 4-3 Game 5 OT win that clinched the Calder Cup for Texas. Read more
With the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee scheduled to get together next Monday to determine the 2014 induction class, let’s take a look at one worthy candidate who continues to get overlooked.
Guy Carbonneau never played on the top line, never scored 30 goals or 60 points in a season and was never called the best player in hockey by a Russian coach. Yet his playing attributes and individual awards so closely resemble those of Hall of Famer Bob Gainey, you have to wonder why Carbonneau keeps getting short shrift.
Carbonneau was largely a defensive specialist through most of his 18 seasons in the NHL, even though he had 134 goals and an astounding 323 points during his final two seasons for Chicoutimi in the Quebec League.
He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1979 at the tail end of their four-Cups-in-four-years dynasty. In order to make the grade, he had to sharpen his defensive play. His first seven seasons with the Canadiens were spent playing with and alongside defensive forward ace Gainey, called the most complete player in the game by Russian coach Anatoli Tarasov in 1979.
The NHL’s buyout period has begun and runs to 5 p.m. EST June 30. This year is also the final one where teams can use compliance buyouts to shed contracts without the calculation counting against their salary cap.
The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin recently summarized the details of the buyout calculation and provided a listing of teams that have one or both compliance buyouts remaining. Only players under contract prior to Sept. 15, 2012 are eligible for such buyouts.
It’s expected Buffalo Sabres winger Ville Leino will receive such a buyout. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports Leino’s agent, Markus Lehto, has had a “few very short discussions” with Sabres GM Tim Murray regarding his client. Vogl notes Murray has said it’s a “very good possibility” the two sides will part ways.
Over the course of the playoffs there was growing speculation the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings could respectively buy out Brad Richards and Mike Richards. Of the pair, Brad is the most likely candidate. The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis believes the center will “almost assuredly” be bought out to free up cap space to re-sign several notable free agents, including Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derick Brassard and Anton Stralman.
Other compliance buyout candidates could include Columbus’ R.J. Umberger, Dallas’ Erik Cole, New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov, San Jose’s Martin Havlat, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone and Vancouver’s David Booth.
SPEZZA-TO-FLAMES RUMOR BURNS OUT QUICKLY
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports the Calgary Flames made a pitch for Spezza, offering up Jiri Hudler, Mikael Backlund, possibly defenseman Dennis Wideman and one of their second- or third-round picks. Garrioch considers that offer insufficient and cites sources claiming the Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are on Spezza’s 10-team “no-trade” list. Read more
Since the end of the regular season there’s been speculation Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza could be traded. On Wednesday Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed the center requested a trade.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claims the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks called Murray about his captain’s availability. The Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren suggests the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers as possible destinations.
Matt Larkin of The Hockey News includes the Toronto Maple Leafs on his list, but acknowledged Murray would prefer not sending Spezza to a team his Senators would have to face often. Larkin dismisses the possibility of the Canucks landing the 31-year-old center as “wishful thinking.”
Warren notes Spezza’s market value could be affected by the possibility of the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler and the San Jose Sharks’ Joe Thornton being shopped at the same time. Garrioch reports the Senators rumored asking price is a player, a first round pick and a top prospect. Murray’s admitted a couple of clubs have expressed serious interest in Spezza, but the GM hasn’t informed teams as to what he’ll seek in return. He claims he doesn’t really want to trade Spezza, admitting he probably won’t receive full value in a trade. Read more