Archive for June, 2011

In 2006, Ryan Kesler signed a 1 year, $1.9 million offer from the Flyers.  Then-GM Bob Clarke was crushed by the hockey world for violating a “gentleman’s agreement”, in which teams wouldn’t sign other team’s restricted free agents.  Fans were calling for their team to try and poach a young player from the Flyers.  People were wondering if the Canucks would match $1.9 million for a kid who only had 23 points in 82 games in a new, unknown, salary cap era.  (Hindsight would show it was a good move by Vancouver.)  It was the first offer sheet to an RFA in almost eight years (Carolina’s offer to Sergei Fedorov in 1998).  In 1997, Clarke also signed Tampa’s Chris Gratton to a 5 year, $16.5 million offer, with a $9 million signing bonus, fully knowing that Tampa did not have the finances to match that type of offer.

As years passed, more players have been tendered offer sheets.   There have been six players to sign offer sheets since the lockout, with only one (Dustin Penner) changing teams.  Yet, people still believe signing Restricted Free Agents is an unwritten no-no.  The rule has been in place for over 25 years (with changing compensation), and if it is so unpopular, it would have been repealed by now.

So why is this relevant today?   (more…)

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Random thoughts after the NHL Draft this past weekend.

– I believe I predicted only one of my 10 selections in our CSH Mock Draft, and that one was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

– I am not completely sold on Winnipeg selecting Mark Schleifele when Coutourier was still on the board. This could be a potential reach.

– The fall of Brandon Saad is going to make it an interesting development for his time with Chicago. Did he just have groin issues that messed up the 2nd half of his draft year or is there more to it?

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We all know who the best players have been the best in the NHL in the 2010-11 season, but who have been some of the worst?  Years ago, I created some “awards” in my old sim league (DCHL), as a semi roast to certain players, GMs and teams.  I took some of these awards,  and created some brand new ones.

First, we start with the Trigger Happy Award, which goes to the GM who has pulled off the most trades in the last year (for the purpose of a starting point, I used 2010’s regular season end to this regular season’s end).  With 18 counted trades, including acquiring (and trading) Dennis Wideman, Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers is our 2011 winner.  The other GM award, the aptly named You Suck Award goes to Ottawa’s Bryan Murray.  Last summer, Murray signed Sergei Gonchar for 3 years and $16 million, and the 37 year old played like he was 57.  The team plummeted to last place and Murray started the firesale, trying to get what he could for many players.  Some of his deals were to rectify mistakes he had made in the summer, and in previous seasons.  All this, while Daniel Alfredsson remained on the team and his value continued to drop.

Moving on to some statistical awards, the winner of the Broad Street Bully Award goes to Islander Zenon Kenopka, who blew away the field in the penalty minute department, finishing with 307.  Kenopka is the first player to break the 300 PIM barrier since Dan Carcillo in 2007-08.   The Greg Millen Trophy for allowing the most goals in the regular season goes to the Colorado Avalanche.  The team allowed a whopping 287 goals, the most since the 06-07 Flyers.  On the topic of goalies, our Red Light Award for worst goalie of the year (minimum of 20 games) is Rick DiPietro.  DiPietro “lead” the league with a 3.44 GAA, had the second worst save percentage at 88.6% and finished with a record of 8-14-4.

The Bettman Trophy for Villain of the Year was no surprise.  Suspended for 21 games this season within two separate incidents, including missing the entire first round of the playoffs, Matt Cooke easily wins the award.

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In a span of an hour, the Flyers broke up the foundation of the franchise. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have been together in the Flyers organization since 2003, when they were both drafted by the team. They’ll be playing the 2011-12 NHL season in different colors though, after Richards was dealt to Los Angeles and Carter to Columbus. The deals came as a shock to fans, as two of the most known Flyers were sent packing.

The Return
So, what did the Flyers get in these deals?

Jakub Voracek had 14 goals, 46 points for Columbus last year. The 6’1, 205 lb Czech was Columbus’ first rounder (#7 overall) in 2007 and has played three years for the Blue Jackets, amassing 39 goals and 136 points in 241 games.

With Los Angeles, Wayne Simmonds scored 14 goals and 30 points while amassing 75 penalty minutes. The power forward has played the last three years with the Kings after being drafted by the team in 2007. “Simmer”, as he is known, has scored 39 goals and 93 points in 240 games.

Last year, Schenn spent some time with the Kings (0-2-2 in 8 GP), Manchester of the AHL (3-4-7 in 7 GP). He spent the majority of his time in the WHL with Brandon (1-3-4 in 2 GP) and Saskatoon (21-32-53 in 27 GP). In the 2011 World Junior Championships, he tied a Canadian record for points in a single tournament (8-10-18 in 7 games).  Schenn is one of the top prospects in all of hockey.

They also received the #8 & #68 picks in this year’s draft, as well as the Kings’ 2nd rounder next year. What the Flyers plan to do with the picks remains to be seen.

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WHOAAA NELLY! What a half-an-hour the Philadelphia Flyers had late this afternoon. Just on the off chance that you live under a rock, are a member of Swiss Family Robinson, or totally incapacitated via a Lumbar Puncture the quick summary of today is Jeff Carter to Columbus for Jakub Voracek, a 1st and 3rd round pick, followed quickly by Captain Mike Richards sent to LA for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, then the 9 year $51 million deal announcement with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Needless to say Paul Holmgren gave Shaken Baby Syndrome to his team, and additionally, his fanbase.

I am not going to worry about debating if which trades are good for whom in the immediate term or 2-3 years for now. Even not going to touch on the likelihood that Bryzgalov will complete all 9 years of this contract in Philadelphia.

First thing is I have to question the thought process going in to the goaltender position for Philly. By choosing to trade for the exclusive negotiating rights to Bryzgalov, it comes across as a “win now” mentality if they are going to push Sergei Bobrovsky aside.  Now signing the goalie they must have to an long term contract sure appears to eliminate any chance of Bobrovsky becoming the go to guy in Philadelphia. Should pushing to ‘win now’ be worth taking the starter position away from Bobrovsky due to a fade late in the season? Lest we forget that Evgeni Malkin hit the wall in his rookie year due to never playing an NHL length season before as well. Bobrovsky played almost as many games this season than his two prior years in the KHL. I easily would have seen him be much more prepared for the NHL grind this coming season.

I also want to question Bryzgalov as well. Did he want his money so badly that he took a very heavily front-loaded long term deal when the unloaded contracts to make room for his gaudy demands were also heavy long term deals? I say this in jest but it still honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Bryzgalov’s time doesnt go well in Philadelphia watch him get the heave ho and the reins given back to Bobrovsky.

I know that as a Penguin fan, it is a contractual obligation and morally requisite of me to hate the Flyers and should, by all rights, be laughing at the pain and anguish that the Flyer faithful is going thru tonight. But I have had a question for quite some time, “What does it mean to be a Flyer?”.  That isn’t meant in some ignorant way regarding the image of the team on the ice and within a fanbase.  What I wonder is the philosophy in the front office.  I’ve never was exactly knowledgeable of the ways that Bobby Clarke built his teams.

I have been more understanding of what Paul Holmgren has done since taking over GM duties for Clarke. The Flyers had the worst team in the league in the 06-07 season and several moves late in the season and the subsequent offseason earned praise from me for turning a doormat and team that looked for a slow rebuild into a team that was ready to be playoff caliber right away.  In fact I was impressed enough that I was willing to call him one of the best GMs in the league in such a short amount of time. Ever since then, however, more of his maneuvers tend to leave me scratching my head.

With signing two members of your core to epic length contracts only to trade them several years later to sign another player at a different position to equally surprising term has really lost me. Trading up and coming players or prospects and high level picks for that ever elusive final piece continuously when it hasn’t once paid off and never seeming to end such practices.  Always going the splash route in attempts to improve as opposed to scouring for the right pieces to get the Flyers over the top.  There appears to be no true rhyme and reason or method to their madness that I can discern. Maybe someone got jealous of all this Jagr talk. OK, no not really but that made you chuckle.

Looks like I need more help afterall. So, what does it actually mean to be a Flyer?

After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

The NHL’s ageless wonder, Mark Recchi, got to do what most can only dream of, going out on top. For the third time in his 22 year NHL career, Recchi gets his name engraved on hockey’s Holy Grail and after this latest triumph he rides off into the sunset.

Recchi is a very well respected veteran in the league and has done incredibly well to continue his longevity and in my opinion the final four years of his career were highly impressive. After Recchi’s fade early on in the 06-07 season which ended his time as a Penguin. I would have never guessed he had several more seasons left in him. I thought he was done.  His struggles made it appear that the end was near with the hands the most obvious to appear to be leaving him. So to see 4 more seasons, several of which was 40 point seasons and a shortened season where he started off at a point per game pace sure proved a lot of people wrong.

I have always found something rather intriguing about Mark Recchi. It seems that he can be the most loved and hated player amongst fans that I may have ever seen outside of the polarizing figures you get out of superstars like your Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s.

Long ago, I recall Flyers fans referring to Rex as a “Back Stabbing Rat Bastard”, yes capitalized words and BSRB for short. Often I had wondered exactly why he was referred to as such. Then recently I saw an article from Flyersfaithful.com after the Cup Finals ended that talked about Recchi had his hand in getting two Flyers  coaches fired behind the scenes, Terry Simpson in 1994 and Bill Barber in 2002. That isn’t to suggest that backstage politics isn’t commonplace behind the scenes. However it might raise an eyebrow or two when details ever surface.

Another fanbase that has mixed feelings about Recchi is the Penguins.  There were hot rumors out there there was a considerable rift between Recchi and Sidney Crosby during Crosby’s rookie year. One that Recchi downplayed the following offseason when he signed a new one year contract with the Penguins calling it overblown. Also that it reached one of it’s highest boiling points not long before Eddie Olczyk was fired in December that season.

More often than not, when a player has worn your team’s jersey, you have a degree of loyalty to that player often speaking well of him as well. It always interested me how when it came to Recchi that, especially among Penguins and Flyers fans, that he is loved by many and hated by just as many. And not surprisingly, there are quite a few who loved the player while hated the alleged image of the man.

The diversity of opinions is quite extensive. Where in this spectrum does your feelings lie?