Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Around the Rink 08.29.06

The Nashville Predators added some punch to their forward line as they signed J-P Dumont to a 2-year deal worth around $4.5M. Dumont had 20 goals and 20 assists in 54 games and became a free agent when the Buffalo Sabres declined to sign Dumont to an arbitrator's reward.

The Predators have done some work in getting some more offense into their system. With the signing of Jason Arnott and revitalization of Paul Kariya-- the Preds are looking to take over as the Central Division's top team and enter a new era of hockey. Of course, if Dumont can build off his stellar playoffs where he had seven goals and seven assists in 18 playoff games. With the high-tempo Preds gameplan, Dumont should be assured to up his numbers as a secondary scorer.

The Sabres were also dealt a blow by hearing that forward Tim Connolly will probably not be ready for training camp, as he is still feeling the effects of a concussion that he sustained during Game One of the Conference Semi-finals against Ottawa.

Connolly continues his history of concussion problems, having to miss out on the entire 2003-04 season with a concussion problem. At only 25-years-old, the worries are that he will become like Brett Lindros, taking too many shots to the head and having a promising career cut short. The Sabres are hoping Connolly will make sure that he is cleared to play before even thinking about stepping back onto the ice.

The Carolina Hurricanes brought back David Tanabe by signing the defenseman to a one-year, $900k deal. The defenseman was originally drafted by the Hurricanes in 1999 and since then has registered 94 points in 374 games. Tanabe has had some injury problems, but he worked out for the Hurricanes to show that he was over those problems.

Also in Canesland, there are rumors that the Canes have been persuing Brad Isbister to help fill the void that will be left by the absence of Cory Stillman. Stillman will miss up to 35 games at the start of next season as a result of shoulder surgey the forward had on Friday.

That's all from around the rinks in the NHL. Check out Face Off Hockey Show live on Wednesday night starting at 9 PM ET. If you can't make it live, check out our Podcast for anything you may have missed.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Around the Rink 08.24.06

It's been too long since a new story has been posted, so here's a look around the important spots of the hockey world.

Patrice Bergeron will be a Bruin for the forseeable future as he agreed to a 5-year deal worth about $4.75M a season. Bergeron had a career season last year putting up 31 goals and 42 assists after being thrusted into the top center with the departure of Joe Thornton.

With Bergeron locked up and plenty of other key players there for the next two to three years, the Bruins can actually focus on getting back onto the playoff track. There has been a lot of turmoil in the last couple of years, but with new faces behind the bench and in the front office; the fans of the spoked "B" will be hoping to get further than the first round this season.

According to reports from the Detroit Free Press, the Red Wings will have their first new captain since the 1986-87 season. The reports have pegged defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom as the top candidate for the position, while others on Red Wings fan sites are calling for Henrik Zetterberg to get the "C" since he's younger and could continue the process of long-standing captains.

Mike Babcock was reached and denied anything was happening, but odds are this has been in the making for a long time.

If you're a Blue Jackets' fan, you may be resigned to the fact that Nikolai Zherdev may not be in the line-up for the '06-'07 season. It seems that the staring game between Zherdev's camp and the GM/Czar of Columbus Doug MacLean has reached it's pinnacle and should see Zherdev head to the Russian Elite League to play for Khimik.

Granted, with Fredrik Modin having been acquired in the off-season, the sting probably won't hurt too hard. As valuable of a talent that Zherdev is, his performances in the past few season haven't been what the Blue Jackets had hoped. With plenty of underachiving performances, the Blue Jackets may welcome the leaving for more development. Getting him back could be the biggest hurdle, but I'm sure they'll cross that bridge when they get to it.

Winger J-P Dumont has narrowed his search for a home down to about four teams. Dumont, who didn't have his arbitration award signed by the Sabres, didn't mention the teams, but took the Canadiens out of the picture saying they didn't make a formal offer to Dumont's team. Odds are that the Red Wings and Sabres are two of the teams, while the other two could be out of the blue.

It's odd that so many people would be chomping at the bit for a guy who had only 40 points last season (20g-20a), and who's career-high in points is 51 (23g-28a). Of course, for an arbitrator to give said player a one-year $2.9M reward...that's a tad overboard, but who didn't see that coming??

That's some of the bigger stories that are out there. We're counting down the days before the training camps start, and if you haven't listened the the archived shows through the summer, like the one we did last night, then you're missing out on some crazy, crazy stuff. So check out our webpage, check out our Podcast, and check out our past shows so you can catch up on all the hilarity.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

FantasyHockey.com Draft Guide

Do you need a Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide that leave no stone unturned?? Do you need a Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide that gives you in-depth breakdowns team-by-team, player-by-player, stat-by-stat?? Do you need a Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide with two of the four members of "Face Off Hockey Show??" Then you need to get on the FantasyHockey.com Draft Guide.

That's right, it's Fantasy Hockey time again and I have to say this guide came out better than expected, and I'm not saying that because I have plenty of work put in there-- it's really a quality product for the people. It breaks down Fantasy Hockey for the beginners, gives alternate scoring ideas, and break downs of your favorite players and teams. All of it for $5 USD. It's a STEAL at twice the price. It's only available on-line and has 301 pages chocked full of news, notes, and stories you'll need to conquer your Fantasy Hockey League.

Plus, it includes stuff from me (Wazz) and everyone's favorite "That Guy" Jonny P. It's worth the price and worth it if you want to control your league. However, you could win one if all goes well and you answer a weekly trivia question and win in the raffle for the week. Will it happen?? You'll have to listen in to the show to find out.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cannonball Run: Malkin's Mission

To the surprise of no one, Evgeni Malkin landed in North America on Thursday after being holed-up in an apartment in Helsinki for a while when he was waiting for a work visa in the States. I guess in his time there, he took the Alexander Mogilny approach to come into the NHL. For the time being at least, the situation is cooling down. However, the fact of the matter is the off-ice issues are already in full swing.

Outside of the fact that Malkin still needs to be signed, there's a high chance Metallurg will use their legal team to get an injunction of some sorts to block Malkin from playing. Whether or not it will hold up is another thing entirely. I'm sure that the Russian club will make it as hard a possible for the Penguins to get Malkin on the ice in their jersey.....or they think that at least.

However, for all the comments about Russia signing the transfer agreement and be happy with any money gotten, there's plenty of comments talking about how he's not worth the trouble and may be overrated. Granted, some Penguins fans feel that this is the new era for the team......though they said that about Sidney Crosby and M-A Fleury, but they haven't turned the team around in the least.

I can see where the Russian clubs are coming from though. Malkin was brought up through the Metallurg school and was the face of the Russian elite league. For a guy like that, you want top dollar for him because having him there is almost a license to print money. Metallurg wants to get the money that he would bring in and what he would make for future earnings. I'm sure other club teams who play Metallurg would want to have the attendance bank too. To get only $200k for him isn't the fair market value for someone like that.

Yet, the labor law in Russia was the Russian Federation's own worst enemy. You can bet that something will change now that three players have now used that rule to their advantage to get out of their contracts. Some could see it as pretty craptastic, especially after the player signed a contract, but the law is the law.

When Vladislav Tretiak came to be the Russian Federation President, he said one of his top priorites was to get something signed to have a fair deal with the NHL. It obviously hasn't happened, but you can be that once Malkin suits up in the NHL, something will get signed, fair deal or not.

EDIT 7:30 ET-- According to our friends at the Russian Hockey Digest, Metallurg's lawyers have said that Evgeni Malkin's faxed resignation is unacceptable because some lines are illegible and may not have been written by Malkin. The fun has started, kids.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Desert Dogs Looking to Dine on Competition

When you look at the Pacific Division, there aren't many teams who have made a huge splash in the off-season. Outside of the Anaheim Ducks (who acquired Chris Pronger), the Phoenix Coyotes have made a big splash. How it will play out will be the biggest of questions.

Though the Coyotes were able to get Nick Boynton, Ed Jovanovski, Jeremy Roenick, Georges Laraque, Mike Morrison, and more recently Owen Nolan; the general feeling is that the Coyotes wanted to get more experienced players and players whom aren't that intimidated by the presense of Wayne Gretzky behind the bench. Of course, worries of underachieving and injury are very much at the forefront with this group of six mentioned above.

Especially with Jovanovski and Nolan, the injury bug is a very real concern. Of course, Nolan is coming off an ugly ordeal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which he was able to get $5M as a settlement for his release. Plus, Nolan hasn't played competitive hockey for two-and-a-half years, so wondering if he'll be able to hold his own in the faster NHL is something that will be seen.

Jovanovski on the other hand hasn't played a full season since the 2001-02 season. However, when healthy, Jovo can be a dominate rear-guard. His 33 points only 44 games also proves that he can keep up, even with his size. With a young defense, the veteran presense will be a welcome addition to the blue-line core.

Roenick is another interesting pick-up. With his abysmal season in Los Angeles last season, Roenick needs to prove to the Coyotes, NHL, and himself that his awful season was just a fluke. Coming out-of-shape last season was the beginning of the end. Now, it seems that Roenick has come in with a new demeanor, he's not spouting off his mouth, and he seems re-focused to actually get back to his old ways. It'll take a lot of work being behind Mike Comrie and Steven Reinprecht in the depth chart, but Roenick just wants to show he still has it.

Nick Boynton may not be able to replace what Paul Mara brought, but his physical force and time in the league should be useful to the team. Georges Laraque is going to be the peacemaker for the club, while Mike Morrison will more than likely back-up Curtis Joseph, giving David LeNeveu more time in the minors to hone himself.

Though the lack of movement in the Pacific Divison, the Coyotes are definitely looking good in their own division behind the Ducks. Whether or not the moves on paper translate to results on the ice remains to be seen, but it can't hurt that the team is willing to put some money out there in order to get the best team out of the ice.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

NHL: Caribbean Style

Now, I haven't talked about it on here, but it has been mentioned on the show and James Mirtle has mentioned it; but the NHL confirmed it with their releasing of the pre-season schedule. The Florida Panthers and New York Rangers will play a pre-season game in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Frankly, I don't know if I really see the purpose in doing something like this. I understand the branching out the game and all that jazz, but when the country doesn't even have a hockey program in the making; it may not be the best place to go and put a game.

Now, I could be proven completely wrong and the game will be a huge success. The country will then start trying to play the game and maybe get an IIHF sanctioning and be on their way to build up their own program. Why not, there are plenty of obscure IIHF members out there, but they all seem to have their own representation and doing rather well depending on the country, but it could happen.

However, I'm pessimistic. Somehow I don't see the Caribbean folks getting accustom to ice hockey at all. Maybe it's the fact they are so close to the equator that the ice wouldn't last or the extremely foreign nature of the game would not connect with the locals there. Granted, I wish them the best of luck in getting the game a jump start there; but even if it is a one and done-- it will be an interesting story for players and fans alike when it happens.

News and Notes 08.07.06

To the joy of many, the NHL released the TV schedules for the '06-'07 season. TSN, CBC, and RDS will carry national games on the Canadian side, while NBC and Versus (formerly OLN) will carry the national games for the States.

For the States, there will be plenty of Avalanche, Flyers, Bruins, Red Wings, and Penguins games, while it's almost all Leafs, all the time on the CBC. Whether or not that's a good thing depends on who you root for. I'll give VS. one thing, they are trying to switch it up-- there's plenty of Blue Jackets games on there for your Rick Nash fix.

With the Blues signing Manny Legace, it sures up their goaltending....for now. As much as some people may have been impress with Curtis Sanford, he's still a little rough around the edges to be a full time starter just yet. Also, Jason Bacashihua still needs some time to develop properly. With the new ownership (which equals money) and John Davidson helping make some decisions, then I think the Blues are on their way to rebuild and get back to their days of glory.

Now the real test is for Legace to show that he is more than a great back-up goalie and can be an excellent starter. It will be interesting to see how good he is without the renowned Red Wings defense around him.

On the heels of the Bruins rejecting the David Tanabe award, the Sabres walked-away from J-P Dumont's arbitration award of $2.9M. Dumont got 20 goals and 20 assists, and to me, 2.9M is a little to much for a guy who didn't do to well in the grand scheme of things. I'm sure that there is plenty of teams that want to get Dumont's services, but the price will have to come down a ton for many to be truly interested.

Plenty of retirements this past week. First, Eric Weinrich left the NHL after 1,157 games with eight teams. Weinrich will now join the Portland Pirates coaching staff. Another Eric retired, as Philly blueliner Eric Desjardins called it quits after 17 seasons. Desjardins has been hampered by injuries in the past couple of seasons, which could have lead to his retirement. Desjardins is the second highest scoring defenseman in Flyers franchise history.

Also, after 40 years, Harry Sinden stepped down as president of the Boston Bruins, but will stay on with the team as an advisor for owner Jeremy Jacobs. Many Bruins fans feel that this is the first move to help the Bruins get back on the winning track, but until the Jacobs family sells the team, many feel it's just more heartache.

The joys of the Malkin Saga. Wednesday, Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar came out to say that Malkin told Gonchar that he (Malkin) would stay in Russia. When Gonchar asked why, Malkin reportedly said, "I have my reasons." Gonchar had earlier said that Malkin wanted to come to the NHL this season and would do it at any cost.

It just keeps getting weirder and wackier, so definitely stay tuned for this one, because it's just another bump in the road for a promising young star.

So that's it for now. If you haven't checked out our archives, you should. Head to your favorite Podcast provider or head to our Past Shows section and get back into the game.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Somewhat Slow News Week

There wasn't much out there for big stories this past week, so I'll try to make this little condensed version worth your while.

"Operation Slapshot" (for a refresher, check it out here) took a turn as former New Jersey State Trooper James Harney plea-bargained and plead guilty and help the New Jersey State's Attorney to investigate outcasted Coyotes' assistant coach Rick Tocchet. Harney will face a maximum seven year in prison, which is far less than the possible 25 years that he was facing in the first place.

Tocchet's attorney Kevin Marino says that the former Trooper is just looking out for himself and not caring about the rest of it. Personally, I can see this as a true scenario, as it seems that the State didn't even trying to broker a deal with Tocchet, mainly due to his "celebrity" and trying to get a high profiled case to their names. As the story goes, so shall we.

The Sabres finally came to terms with Daniel Briere, picking up his one-year $5M contract that was awarded by an arbitratior. The Sabres also avoid arbitration with many of their players before the hearings. Rumors are now that J-P Dumont and Martin Biron could be packaged up and shipped out of Buffalo to free up some cap space in the line-up.

The Bruins strike again. Boston walked away from an arbitrator's ruling on defenseman David Tanabe. This is the third time Boston has walked away from arbitation, the first two being with Bryan Berard and Dmitri Khristich. Tanabe is now an unrestricted free-agent and could be picked up in the next week. Tanabe was awarded a one-year, $1.275M contract by the arbitrator.

What more can you say about the Russian Federation that wasn't said during the Cold War?? It seems the Russian were none too happy with the NHL/IIHF transfer agreement after they actually looked at it. That means that no NHL team can sign a player under a Russian League contract this season, unless something miraculous happens.

Of course, there are always loopholes, which we found out about on Thursday. Evgeni Malkin and his agent Don Meehan apparently found in the Russian Labor Law, which allows employees to give a two-week notice to get out of their contract whatever the work. Apparently, Malkin has given that notice and is now negotiating a contract with the Penguins.

However, even silver linings look a little bleak as nothing has come from the talks or negotiations as of yet.

Finally, the Flyers and Blackhawks swapped forwards, as Kyle Calder was traded to Philadelphia by Chicago for Michal Handzus. Calder was awarded a $2.95M contract in arbitration, which seemed to rich for Chicago's blood. Calder has played in 359 NHL games (all with Chicago) and racked up 85 goals and 125 assists.

Handzus is a big playmaking forward, who could work well with recently acquired Martin Havlat and oft-injured forward Tuomo Ruutu. In 509 NHL games, Handzus has posted 112 goals and 180 assists, as well as being a +47 career player.

So that's what I got out of the week. Of course, there were some re-signing and minor signings here and there, but you could have checked those out anywhere. Keep in check with us as we are only 6 weeks or so away from training camps taking place.