Rumor Roundup: Better fit for Red Wings – Green, Myers or Petry?

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Having been thwarted in his efforts to land a top-four, right-handed defenseman via free agency, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland will, according to Ansar Khan of mlive.com, continue to explore trade options.

Khan considers Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green a viable candidate following their recent blueline additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. CSNWashington’s Chuck Gormley speculates the Capitals could draw upon their blueline depth as trade bait for depth at center, with Green topping his list of possible trade candidate. The Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt believes Green (who will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer) might make a good trade-deadline chip, but Capitals management intends to keep him for the upcoming season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings ‘D’ hunting; Reimer stuck with Maple Leafs?

#34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stands by the net during a break in action in a game against the Edmonton Oilers on October 29, 2013 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

After striking out in their efforts to land a right-handed defenseman via free agency, the Detroit Red Wings could turn to the trade market to address their need.

Wings GM Ken Holland told Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News his club needs “another defenseman, maybe two,” adding he’ll see what the summer brings. Kulfan speculates Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry could be available.

Ansar Khan of mlive.com also believes the Wings could try to bolster their blueline via the trade market. In addition to Myers, Byfuglien and Petry, Khan lists Washington’s Mike Green and Toronto’s Cody Franson among the right-handed options, along with left-handed shots like Arizona’s Keith Yandle and Vancouver’s Alexander Edler.

The asking price for most of the aforementioned would be expensive, costing the Wings one of their promising young forwards as part of the return. The Wings won’t part with Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar, but clubs could seek Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco or Anthony Mantha. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes if Petry’s available the Oilers must get a young center for him. Read more

Can Alex Ovechkin be fixed? Ex-teammates and coaches say yes

Matt Larkin
AlexOvechkin

Watching Alex Ovechkin develop in the NHL is like watching a child grow up. When he entered the league at 20, his ceiling was sky-high, but first he had to learn how to play the game, even how to speak his first words. Of English, that is.

We watched with the same wonder as when a baby takes his or her first steps when Ovechkin hit the 50-goal mark in a freshman campaign for the ages. ‘The GR8’ was born, master of the breathtaking goal. His first coaches in Washington, Glen Hanlon and Bruce Boudreau, knew he was gifted and let him treat the ice like his personal playground. Fifty goals gave way to 60-plus and the Capitals stormed into perennial contention. Ovechkin was the best player on Earth.

But we all lose our innocence sooner or later. Ovechkin received the Capitals captaincy in January 2010 and learned about right and wrong when he blew up Chicago’s Brian Campbell with a hit later that season and wound up suspended. Ovechkin lacked the same youthful abandon when he returned, seemingly holding back. And, after four 100-point seasons in a five-year stretch, he hasn’t hit that milestone since.

Life as an adult NHLer hasn’t always been sunny for Ovechkin, 28. His Caps have regressed, from the second round of the playoffs, to the first, and out of the big dance altogether this season. Washington has burned through coaches, too. Ovechkin and Boudreau clashed when the coach cut Ovechkin’s ice time for a lack of accountability. The marriage with Dale Hunter was worse, and Ovechkin ended up playing checking-line minutes. Adam Oates produced a boom in Ovie’s game by moving him to the right wing, but by the following spring he was publicly lambasting his star for a lack of effort. Next up is Barry Trotz, a defense-minded bench boss who, on paper, doesn’t look like a natural match for Ovechkin.

Ovechkin has gone from the golden child who could do no wrong to a lightning rod for criticism, be it for a lack of leadership, not taking the game seriously and especially for his inability to play defense. Fans and keyboard warriors are no longer convinced he can carry a team to a championship, and his $9.5-million cap hit through 2020-21 suddenly looks more like a burden than a safety net.

Everyone has an opinion on Ovechkin these days, but what is the true story from within the Washington organization? Is he really a bad leader? Does he care about backchecking? It’s time to unearth the Myths of Ovie, with help from past and present coaches and teammates.

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CHL Import Draft: Who is coming and who is staying home?

David-Pastrnak

The CHL Import Draft is complex. On the surface of course, it’s straight-forward: Every team from the Ontario, Western and Quebec League has the opportunity to select two European players, assuming they have two import slots open on their roster.

But if one of your Europeans went in the first round of the NHL draft, you can keep the rights to three, in case the first-rounder bounces between the pros and junior (it’s basically the Mikhail Grigorenko rule). And you’re not allowed to take goalies anymore, which is protectionist and ignores the fact American netminders have been “taking jobs” from Canadian kids as much as Europeans were.

Also, some folks will tell you it’s not quite a draft because some teams have unofficial deals with players beforehand – which led to last year’s awkward situation where Washington Capitals pick Andre Burakovsky thought he was going to Windsor, only see to Erie scoop up his rights first. After a lot of fuss, Burakovsky went to the Otters and helped Erie make a nice playoff run.

The 2014 installment of the Import Draft happened on Wednesday and as always, there was drama, beginning with the first pick. The OHL’s Sarnia Sting tabbed Czech power forward Pavel Zacha first overall, but the youngster’s agent, Allan Walsh, immediately took to Twitter to announce that Zacha, a potential top-10 NHL pick in 2015, has a contract with Liberec back home and that Sarnia just wasted the pick.

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Rumor Roundup: How will the Blackhawks, Flyers and Capitals deal with their cap crunch?

Mike Green (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks addressed their need for an affordable second-line center by signing Brad Richards to a one-year, $2-million contract. The signing, however, means they’ll have to shed salary before the season opens in October.

CSNChicago’s Tracey Myers reports the Richards signing (as well as Peter Regin’s one-year, $650,000 contract) pushes the Blackhawks above the $69-million cap by more than $2 million. Under CBA rules a team can spend up to 10 percent over the cap ceiling during the off-season but must become cap compliant when the season opens.

GM Stan Bowman told Myers they had some ideas how to address the issue, believing it will “play itself out over the summer as we prepare for training camp.” Read more

Winners and losers of free agent day include Stars, Capitals, Lightning and Panthers

Jason Spezza (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

You’d hope by now it wouldn’t need to be said that the real winners of the NHL’s annual first day of free agency are at least as often as not the teams that don’t throw lavish contracts at every flavor of the summer. Today’s impulse buy can become tomorrow’s cold-blooded buyout quicker than ever – ask former Rangers captain and new Blackhawks center Brad Richards – and nobody can predict with absolute certainty how any player will fit into his new environment.

Nevertheless, when all teams come away from this first day spinning it as working in their favor, somebody has to try and make sense of it all. That’s what this free agency winners/losers column is all about: one opinion on which teams can realistically claim to have improved, and which ones you can argue have hurt themselves with their activity – or, as the case may be, their lack of action:

Winners:

Dallas Stars

The Stars signed winger Ales Hemsky to a very reasonable (three-year, $12-million) deal and added worker bee forward Patrick Eaves and backup goalie Anders Lindback via free agency, but their best acquisition Tuesday was the trade with Ottawa for center Jason Spezza. Nill made his team significantly better up front at very little cost to the roster – and, just as importantly, he’s given up virtually no contract flexibility (he’ll have some $35.4 million in cap space to spend next summer) to do it. In this day and age, that’s as much as you can ask for on free agent day.
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Red Wings left out in the cold after years of ruling NHL

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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

Fantasy Pool Look: Coyotes and Capitals off-season outlooks

Mike Ribeiro

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. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Next up, the Arizona Coyotes and the Washington Capitals

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