All right, so now that (almost) all the dust has cleared in Free Agent Frenzy 2014, here are some thoughts on Day 1 of a crazy off-season:
MOTOWN NO TOWN FOR FREE AGENTS Let me get this straight. Dan Boyle took less money and term to sign with the New York Rangers than he could have received from the Detroit Red Wings. What is this, Opposite Day?
After pretty much ruling the NHL for the past two decades, the Detroit Red Wings have fallen on hard times indeed. Remember the days when free agency would open and the Red Wings would basically open for business, basically telling whichever veterans stars they wanted that playing for the Red Wings was a privilege? The Red Wings never begged and they never got turned down. Read more
PHILADELPHIA – There are probably only two people in the hockey world who were colossally disappointed with the return the Vancouver Canucks got for Ryan Kesler. One of them, we’ll call every single fan of the Vancouver Canucks. The other is Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray.
Now that is not to say that new Canucks GM Jim Benning swung and missed when he dealt Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Nick Boninio, Luca Sbisa and the 24th pick in today’s NHL draft. In fact, given the circumstances, Benning got as much as he could have hoped. He was in an untenable situation and made the best of it, so good for him. And if he turns that pick and the sixth overall selection into a higher pick in this year’s draft, then the deal becomes better. Read more
In the last 69 games Marian Gaborik played before landing with the Los Angeles Kings, he scored 18 goals. He’s been back and forth between a 40-goal pace and a 20-goal pace since 2010 and, like most goal scorers, can be very streaky. But when he gets hot like he did during this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, he’s a real dangerous, difference-making striker.
Would you give a 32-year-old streaky scorer like this a seven-year deal? That’s what Dean Lombardi – the best GM in the NHL business – did Wednesday. Read more
When Dean Lombardi was given the keys to the Los Angeles Kingdom in 2006, he inherited a team that had drafted Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick a year earlier. In retrospect, it was a little like being gifted a lottery ticket, one that wins the Powerball jackpot. While Kopitar was a first-rounder, he wasn’t a sure thing. Quick was a fifth-round project.
So why, then, are we anointing Lombardi The Hockey News executive of the year, when two of his key building blocks can’t be credited to him? And a third, Drew Doughty, was a no-brainer? Because the L.A. Kings are about so much more than their aristocracy. Read more
The NHL schedule has been released and the number-crunchers have already put in some great work in breaking it down. As always, there are fun match-ups to kick off the season, such as Los Angeles hosting San Jose and Montreal visiting Toronto. But which teams will really be grinding through 82 games and which ones get more of a cozier ride?
Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi has done an outstanding job of keeping the core of the best team in the NHL so far. The key, of course, has been an uncanny ability to identify which players are essential to the cause and which are expendable.
And Lombardi has done a masterful job at that. Only six players that were a part of the 2012 Stanley Cup team were not around to hoist it two years later – defenseman Rob Scuderi, forwards Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson, Simon Gagne and Andrei Loktionov and backup goalie Jonathan Bernier. It would be difficult to make a case that the Kings have missed a single one of those players and that the ones with whom they replaced them, both from acquisitions from other teams and within the organization, aren’t actually better. Read more
It’s an unusual year for centers. When you build a team these days, this is a position you really need to be strong in. The Kings are deep down the middle, just as the Hawks were when they won and the Bruins in 2011. It’s a key spot on the depth chart, so when you get a good center, you tend to want to hang on to him.
This summer, though, there are more than a few pivots who are potentially available. Whether it’s by trade or free agent signing, if you’re looking to fill a center spot on your roster, there are actually options this off-season. They’re not all equal, but they’re all available.
Here is a look at seven centers your team may be able to acquire this summer and the most likely destination for each.
Jason Spezza: He’s already requested a trade and since he’s one year away from unrestricted free agency, he’ll be gone somewhere this summer. Where is the most likely landing spot for the Senator? Even though I think Ryan Kesler is the better fit in Anaheim, I think the Ducks are the most likely destination for Spezza. They’re in the West, well away from Ottawa, and they have piles of young assets with which to barter. Exactly what the Sens need. The Ducks have a pile of cap space and it’s no secret they are going to chase after a second line center this off-season. A 1-2 punch of Ryan Getzlaf and Spezza would make up one of the better playmaking center combos in the league.
Joe Thornton: A lot could happen in San Jose this summer and Thornton has been at the forefront of those rumors. A superior playmaker and solid possession player, Thornton may be 35 at the start of next season, but he’s coming off a 76-point year. He’s also got a fresh new three-year contract kicking in that, inconveniently for the Sharks, has a no-movement clause. So even if you did want to trade Thornton, you’d have to do it on his terms – and he’s not likely going to want to go to a team that won’t win the Cup in the next three years. The Sharks committed to Thornton and Patrick Marleau when they re-signed them this season. If a big shake up is what needs to happen in San Jose, GM Doug Wilson should explore trade options for Brent Burns and even Joe Pavelski first. But Big Joe needs to stay for a ton of reasons, not least of which is that the market would be narrow. Most likely destination for Thornton? Right back in San Jose. Read more
The Stanley Cup has been through a lot of adventures in its lifetime. It’s been left on the curb at the side of the road. It’s been kicked, dented and tossed into a pool. It’s been pooped in. It’s been used for a baptism. It’s been left behind at a photographer’s house – and then used as a flower pot. It’s been used as a horse’s feed bag. Steve Yzerman showered with it, Doug Weight’s family ate an ice cream sundae out of it.
But you can’t do just anything with the Stanley Cup. The days of the Montreal Wanderers and Ottawa Silver Seven are long gone. Read more