It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Today we take a look at the 12th-place Rangers) and 11th-place Wild.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Gone – Brian Boyle, Stu Bickel, Brad Richards, Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman, Derek Dorsett, Daniel Carcillo and Raphael Diaz
Incoming – Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Dan Boyle, Matt Hunwick, Mike Kostka, Tanner Glass, Chris Mueller
Ready for full-time – The big one is J.T. Miller, who is more than ready for NHL duty. He can still get sent down without passing through waivers and he’s on a two-way contract, which counts against him. But as things stand now, the last forward spot would go to Chris Mueller or Chris Bourque – and Miller should easily beat those two. Expectations for Miller, as with most youngsters, should be kept low in the beginning. But he has the talent to work his way up the lineup quickly and injuries will play a role in that as well. Read more
In the August issue of The Hockey News, in the wake of baseball star Tony Gwynn’s death this past June, columnist Adam Proteau wrote a critical piece about the use of chewing tobacco in hockey.
A few pages earlier, in our table of contents, we published an image of Thomas Vanek throwing out the first pitch in a Minnesota Twins game. In the front right pocket of his shorts is the outline of what appears to be a cell phone. In the front left pocket, there’s something shaped like a tin of chew.
Apparently, the picture was worth about 10,000 words. We received a high volume of letters to the editor (particularly for July), mostly bemoaning our photo choice. Here’s an example:
Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek’s name was linked Monday to a federal gambling investigation connected to a Rochester, N.Y., restaurant. Vanek visited a federal courthouse in that city with his lawyer Monday and a local TV station filmed them leaving.
Vanek issued a statement on the situation through his agent, Steve Bartlett:
“Representatives of the U.S. Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.” Read more
We recently sorted out our Yearbook predictions for 2014-15, which included projected standings and which team will win the Stanley Cup. Without giving it away, our anticipated winner has been to the promised land before. Which mathematically, should not be surprising. Only 12 of the NHL’s 30 teams have never won the league title and it’s hard to say who will be next. When the Los Angeles Kings won their first Cup in 2012, they broke a streak of futility that had stretched back to 1968 when the team originally entered the league. The following teams would like to join them:
The NHL’s arbitration process is scheduled to begin later this month. Twenty NHL players have filed for arbitration, while three players were taken to arbitration by their teams. Usually, these contracts are settled before the team and player have to face off in front of an arbiter, so expect most, or all, of these to be settled before the process begins.
Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20 and August 5. Here are the eligible players:
Brandon McMillan - A third round pick by Anaheim in 2008, McMillan played 22 games with the Coyotes in 2013-14, scoring two goals and six points. He also played 46 games with the american League’s Portland Pirates, scoring 11 goals and 26 points. The 5-foot-11 winger was acquired by the Coyotes last year in a trade that sent Matt Lombardi to the Ducks.
Matt Bartkowski - A seventh round pick by Florida in 2008, Bartkowski averaged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen in 2013-14 and scored 18 assists. He was acquired by Boston in what turned out to be an awful trade for Florida, which sent Bartkowski and Dennis Seidenberg to the Bruins for not much at all. Bartkowski has emerged as a physical defensive blueliner who fits in nicely with Boston’s brawny way. Read more
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
The window for NHL clubs to interview free agents on rival teams opened on Wednesday. Though actual contract negotiations are prohibited, the interview period is a great opportunity for teams to woo prospective free agents before the unrestricted free agent market opens on July 1.
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector observes the Calgary Flames hope to re-sign left winger Michael Cammalleri while the Boston Bruins want to retain Jarome Iginla. However, this interview period provides players an opportunity to gauge interest from other clubs.
That’s why Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny is going to test the market, even though his agent claims he’s had good contract conversations with Avalanche management. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater notes the Stastny camp intends to circle back to the Avalanche to give them an opportunity to retain him. Read more
Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane remains a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. TSN’s Bob McKenzie believes the Jets are open to moving any player on their roster, including the 22-year-old Kane.
That prompted the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples to suggest Kane would be a good fit with the Oilers, citing his size, offensive skills and physical play. He wonders if the Jets would take a smaller skilled winger, like Nail Yakupov, in return.
Since relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg three years ago, the Jets have failed to secure a playoff berth. Usually cautious Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff recently acknowledged the possibility of swinging a blockbuster trade, but he also noted the difficulty of finding the right deal. Of the players the Jets could shop, Kane would fetch the best return. He’s still young, has a 30-goal season under his belt and his best seasons remain ahead of him.
The Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones reports Oilers GM Craig MacTavish hopes to add four or five players via trades or free agency to his roster. Kane would be a good fit with the Oilers, but he will also attract considerable interest from other clubs. Despite Yakupov’s promising skills, he hasn’t fully established himself as an up-and-coming NHL star. Should the Jets shop Kane they’ll likely want a player who can help them immediately. Read more