Rumor Roundup: Vinny Lecavalier and Joe Thornton trade buzz

Vincent Lecavalier (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Earlier this summer there was speculation the Philadelphia Flyers were shopping center Vincent Lecavalier. If Lecavalier is troubled by the trade rumors, Flyers coach Craig Berube told NJ.com’s Randy Miller the veteran center should get over it and focus on the upcoming season.

Lecavalier struggled last season, with only 37 points in 69 games. Miller notes Flyers management allowed the center’s agent to speak with other clubs hoping to drum up trade interest. Rumored deals to Nashville and Florida reportedly fell through. There was also talk Lecavalier’s no-movement clause made finding trade partners difficult.

Berube believes Lecavalier simply needs to change his game a little bit to become more effective. The coach is hoping Lecavalier becomes more defensively responsible. Berube claims the 34-year-old Lecavalier trained hard this summer and will be competitive when training camp opens in September. Read more

Will any GM ever have a summer like Lou Lamoriello did in 1991?

The cover of the Sept. 20, 1991 edition of The Hockey News questions the landmark ruling that made Scott Stevens a Devil.

If Scott Gomez and/or Tomas Kaberle make the New Jersey Devils this season and contribute in a meaningful way, GM Lou Lamoriello will be able to claim another feather for a cap that is already bursting with plumage. The veterans are reclamation projects, looking to revive careers that are ever-so-gently flickering.

Barring the spectacularly unforeseen, however, those potential additions won’t be able to match the magic Lamoriello performed 23 years ago.

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember the incredible summer of 1991, when the Devils acquired Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer via a series of head-scratching events.

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In defense of Scott Gomez

Ryan Kennedy
Why hate on him when he wants to come home?  (Photo by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils have been a haven for veterans in the past few years and GM Lou Lamoriello has been very good about giving older players one last chance at NHL glory. Petr Sykora landed himself a spot on the 2011-12 squad after a tryout and ended up sixth in team scoring. Martin Havlat was brought in this summer to reboot a career that had stalled in San Jose, while news is trickling out that Tomas Kaberle, who played last season in the Czech Republic with Kladno, has been offered a tryout.

Oh, and Scott Gomez is getting a tryout too.

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Why Mike Cammalleri and the Devils chose each other

Matt Larkin
MikeCammalleri

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Mike Cammalleri’s deal with the Devils was all about faith. He chose the team that believed in him most and the team he believed in most.

Calgary fans were disappointed but not surprised when he left in free agency after a resurgent 26-goal campaign. After all, team president Brian Burke retained Cammalleri’s expiring contract at the trade deadline. Burke tried to deal his veteran, but he felt the offers weren’t good enough. He decided to risk losing Cammalleri for nothing and stated his desire to keep him.

Burke and new GM Brad Treliving made offers this summer to Cammalleri for a long-term pact, but they couldn’t compete with what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils tabled: five years and $25 million for a 32-year-old who’s missed 15 or more games in four of his past five seasons and is six years removed from his best numbers.

That didn’t matter to Lamoriello, who says he followed and admired Cammalleri’s game all the way back to the University of Michigan.

“He played with an edge and had results,” Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

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What burning questions remain this NHL off-season?

Ryan Johansen is coming off his entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets, but hasn't signed an extension yet. (Getty Images)

These truly are the dog days of summer. Players, GMs and coaches get their brief time off between the free agency boom and training camps. Media have time to do fun stuff like rank every logo in the NHL. With no hockey, we spend our nights watching Bachelor in Paradise baseball.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening in the NHL. If you squint, you’ll notice several important questions still unanswered, such as…

1. Will Columbus mend fences with Ryan Johansen and sign him long-term?

The most recent reports out of Columbus had restricted free agent Johansen and the Jackets still $3 million apart. Per season. That’s a Grand Canyonesque gap. So far, the P.K. Subban story isn’t working as a cautionary tale about short-term bridge contracts. After his bridge, Subban won the Norris Trophy and his new long-term cap hit is probably about $2 million more than it would’ve been had Montreal ponied up two years ago and paid him, say, Drew Doughty money.

The Jackets want Johansen to prove his 33-goal breakout was for real, just as they wanted Sergei Bobrovsky to back up his Vezina Trophy campaign when they inked him to a bridge deal last summer. The difference? Nothing about Johansen’s development says fluke. He has pedigree as the No. 4 overall pick in 2010. He was always supposed to be this good. There’s every reason to trust him. Columbus could live to regret a bridge contract. The East is wide open, and this team can contend with its top pivot signed and happy.

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Should these five aging NHL veterans hang in there or hang ‘em up?

Daniel Alfredsson (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

As we approach late summer, a handful of older NHL veterans remain unsigned. And that begs the question: are they not listening to Father Time telling them they’re due to retire, or are they right to hold out in the hope a job opens up for them? Let’s take a look at five such players and offer an opinion on whether they should hang in there or hang ‘em up:

Saku Koivu, C: At age 39, Koivu had 11 goals and 29 points for Anaheim last season. His Corsi-for number has fallen steadily since 2012 and his ice time has been reduced by an average of more than three minutes a game (to just 15:02 last year) since 2011-12, but remember, he’s been on a deep Ducks team that didn’t need to rely on him. In the right environment – in other words, on a playoff-bound franchise – he can provide help down the middle and on faceoffs. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there

Martin Brodeur, G: Nobody questions why Brodeur wants to continue playing. When you’ve accomplished as much as he has and is considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, it’s only natural you’d want to stick around for as long as possible. But anyone who’s seen the decline in his game in recent years wouldn’t hold it against him if he retired. The lack of interest in him as a starter is telling. If the 42-year-old is willing to play a backup role on a contender, he might have a little bit left in the tank. If not, the writing is on the wall. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there as a backup; hang ‘em up as a starter. Read more

Oilers hire Tyler Dellow, advanced stat takeover continues

OilersKings

First, Fenwick Close. Then, the world.

We saw it two weeks ago when the Toronto Maple Leafs named Kyle Dubas assistant GM. Last week, it was the New Jersey Devils’ turn, as they hired Sunny Mehta. Statistician Eric Tulsky also works for a mystery NHL team. Today, as Bob McKenzie reported, Edmonton struck with Tyler Dellow.

A significant chunk of the hockey population likely said “Huh? Who’s that?” upon hearing each of those news nuggets. A minority, albeit a growing minority, went the other way, with a full nerd-gasm.

Those friends who texted you things like “OMG DELLOW, F— YES” are the advanced stat community, celebrating the fact four of their own have now penetrated the NHL.

Dubas is to front offices what Doogie Howser was to medicine, a 28-year-old prodigy (16 in teen doctor years) whose love of baseball statistics spilled over into his hockey analysis. Mehta is a former pro poker player with a strong online presence as an Oilers blogger.

Dellow, who has worked as a lawyer, is one of the strongest voices in the advanced statistic world. He’s best known for using the team he cheered for, the Oilers, as the main subject of his studies. He was often scathing, but he was groundbreaking in his use of the new metrics like Corsi. His site, mc79hockey.com, has been shut down, at least for the time being.

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New Jersey extends underrated Andy Greene for five years, will lead transition to younger blueline

Rory Boylen
Andy Greene

The New Jersey Devils locked up 31-year-old defenseman Andy Greene to a five-year extension that will kick in after next season, the final year of his current contract. The new pact will have a cap hit of $5 million.

Greene is a leader and underrated player on the Devils’ blueline. His 24:34 of average ice time led the team by nearly three minutes over the next highest total from Marek Zidlicky. And, according to GM Lou Lamoriello, they’d like to have him on the ice even more, if it wouldn’t wear him out.

“He’s the top defenseman right now if you have to look at who the top defenseman is,” Lamoriello said in a conference call. “He carries the most minutes in each critical situation, whether it’s 5-on-5, in a defensive situation, or in a power play situation, or in particular penalty killing. We have to try and keep ice time away from him, that’s how important he is, to make sure late in the game he isn’t tired. That’s in indication of what we think of him.”

Lamoriello praised Greene as an “all-situations” defenseman, a relatively rare value that left the GM confident to lock him up for five years beyond the next one. And given where the Devils are at, Greene will be the leader of the blueline as they transition to a younger core of defensemen with solid upsides. Read more