Tag:Carolina Hurricanes
Posted on: June 29, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Hurricanes agree to two-year deal with LaRose

Just a day after signing Joni Pitkanen to an extension and sounding pessimistic about some of his other free-agents-to-be, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford has agreed on a deal with winger Chad LaRose.

The two-year contract calls for LaRose to make $3.4 million, which would be paid out in $1.5 million the first year, $1.9 million the second.

"Chad has been one of my favorite players right through his entire Compuware career, and it is my hope that he is a lifelong player with the organization," Rutherford said. "His work ethic and locker-room presence drive our team, whether it's a game or a practice, and he excels in his role on the ice for the Hurricanes."

The 29-year-old Michigan native scored 16 goals last season, sixth most on the team. He ended with a career-high 31 points.

Rutherford is still trying to work out deals with Erik Cole and Jussi Jokinen.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 28, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 11:00 am
 

'Canes keep Pitkanen, face decisions with others

The players are flying off the free-agent market and the season hasn't even begun. You can add Joni Pitkanen to the list.

The Carolina Hurricanes locked up their young defenseman with a three-year contract at $4.5 million annually before he could test the open waters. The 28-year-old has spent the past three seasons in Raleigh with the 'Canes, scoring five goals with 30 assists last season.

"Joni has been a very important part of our defense as he plays in all situations," GM Jim Rutherford said. "He plays a lot of minutes, and is one of the top puck-movers in the league. We are very pleased that he wanted to return to the Hurricanes."

If he were to hit free agency, he was set to be one of the most coveted defensemen available. Instead, a rather bare market becomes even less inviting for the spenders.

"He's a guy that plays a ton of minutes in all situations, is a big, strong guy, and, if you look at the free agent list for defensemen, he was near the top of it," Rutherford said. "We thought he would want to test the market, but he really loves playing here and I really appreciate what he did to make that happen."

Also on Tuesday the Hurricanes re-signed Patrick Dwyer to a two-year deal.

They are the first of many decisions the Hurricanes have to make in the coming weeks. At this time, they have just five forwards under contract at the NHL level. Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, Chad LaRose and Jussi Jokinen are all unrestricted free agents come Friday while Brandon Sutter is on the restricted list.

Rutherford, holding little back, said things aren't going well with LaRose, Cole or Jokinen.

"For Erik and Jussi, this is about money to them," Rutherford said. "I'll use the same quote that I always use this time of year. You have players who say the right thing publicly about wanting to stay, but what they forget to add is, 'Unless I can get more money somewhere else.'

"That may very well be what happens, and in that way I understand their position."

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 25, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2011 11:07 am
 

NHL Draft: Grading each team for the weekend

Anaheim Ducks: I like the move trading down in the first round to get another early pick in the second from the Maple Leafs, assuming they weren't absolutely in love with any prospect on the board at No. 22. With the additional pick in Round 2 they grabbed who many felt was the top goaltender available in USA's John Gibson. In time, he could be excellent. Grade: B

Boston Bruins: The Stanley Cup champions were very quiet, as you would expect. They were picking from a position of luxury at No. 9 in the first round to finally wrap up the Phil Kessel trade and had to be ecstatic that defenseman Dougie Hamilton fell to them. They closed out with a goalie in the sixth round, a good idea to grab one at some point. Grade: A-

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres only had one pick in the top 75, which they spent on Finnish winger Joel Armia at No. 16. From there they selected three centermen, in Rounds 3, 4 and 7. But their biggest move was trading for Robyn Regehr and Ales Kotalik for Chris Butler and Paul Byron. I think the move benefits Buffalo most with Regehr's physical presence. Grade: B

Calgary Flames: Out of just five players drafted, the biggest they picked was a goalie in the sixth round. Three of the other four picks are all less than six feet, including fourth-round choice John Gaudreau. Top pick Sven Baertschi could be a very nice pickup for offensive punch. The move of Regehr and Kotalik wasn't a great trade in its own right, but it was solid when you consider it allowed them to re-sign Alex Tanguay. Grade: C+

Carolina Hurricanes: The 'Canes weren't active shoppers, content to take their six picks in peace. Among them, they selected three centermen, two defensemen and a goalie. Would have liked to see a little more balance and somebody to play outside, but there's always a chance for position changes. Top pick Ryan Murphy is unquestionably most offensive defenseman in the draft, but he's allergic to defense. Grade: B-

Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago was incredibly busy, selecting 11 players over the weekend, including six of the top 80. First-round selections Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault are both high-character, gritty forwards, then in the second round they scooped up a slipper in winger Brandon Saad. The biggest move though was getting rid of big contracts in Brian Campbell and to a lesser extent Troy Brouwer, freeing up cap flexibility. Excellent weekend. Grade: A

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs did most of their heavy lifting on Day 1 of the draft, first sending John-Michael Liles to the Maple Leafs for a second-round pick. I don't like the move all that much, but it shows they are serious about rebuilding. But they had a big play in the first round, selecting Gabriel Landeskog at No. 2, and he'll step in right away. They also grabbed a few defensemen, including Duncan Siemens at No. 11, to fill the void. Grade: B+

Columbus Blue Jackets: Their biggest move came Thursday when they landed Jeff Carter from Philly. It did cost them a first-round pick and a Jakub Voracek, but they got a guaranteed top-notch contributor, so it's a good get. They also traded Nikita Filatov to Ottawa. Thought they might be able to get more for him than a third-round pick, but it was a good decision to move him as he was likely going to KHL instead of returning and it just wasn't working in Columbus. As for the draft, I like the pick of LW Seth Ambroz in the fifth-round best. He was the 31st ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting. Grade: A-

Dallas Stars: Everything really is bigger in Texas. The Stars' six draft picks average over 6-feet-3 and 201 pounds. The three defensemen have an average height of just over 6'5 and 212 pounds, highlighted by first-round selection Jamieson Oleksiak from Northeastern at 6'7. It will take a little bit of time, but they will soon could have the biggest blue line in hockey. Grade: B+

Detroit Red Wings: In classic Ken Holland fashion, the Wings weren't afraid to move back in the draft, trading out of the first round to grab three picks in the second. Their first selection was Saint John winger Tomas Jurco at No. 35. I'm a big fan of the kid and he is oozing with potential. They decided to get defenseman-heavy with five out of nine picks, but I'm not going to challenge Holland's track record in the draft. Grade: B

Edmonton Oilers: They came in to the draft in a great position, obviously holding the top spot, but also the 19th overall selection. Drafting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the easy, but right choice. With their second pick they grabbed Swedish defenseman Oscar Klefbom. While many point to his lack of offense as a concern, I'm very high on him as a project. They did draft two goalies, one in Samu Perhonen who most considered the top European goalie. Grade: A-

Florida Panthers: The first pick of Jonathan Huberdeau was a great selection as I will maintain he could be the best in this draft. The Panthers didn't have quite the same impact as last season, but still selected eight of the first 91 players, including 5'6 dynamo Rocco Grimaldi. The move everybody is talking about, though, is trading for Brian Campbell. It's not a bad move for Florida as it actually needs to take on salary just to get to the floor and he has some use for an inexperienced blue line. Grade: B+

Los Angeles Kings: They too hopped into the Philly salary shedding by snagging Mike Richards in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. I love the addition for the Kings as it gives them two elite centermen in Richards and Kopitar. They didn't draft until 49th overall when they grabbed who I thought was the best goalie in Christopher Gibson, but didn't get any defensive help in any of their six picks. Would have liked to see at least one D-man. Grade: B

Minnesota Wild: I thought they made the best trade of the draft itself with their deal to get Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and San Jose's first-round selection -- which they used to get centerman Zack Phillips -- for Brent Burns and a second-rounder next year. They had a big need in offense and they addressed it for the current time with Seto. They also traded up to grab local favorite Mario Lucia, one of two Minnesota high-schoolers they drafted. Grade: A-

Montreal Canadiens: They patiently waited until the 17th pick when, much to the surprise of most, puck-moving defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was still on the board. For a team that's a bit thin on the blue line, he was the first of five defensemen they brought aboard. But Beaulieu was the only pick they had until the fourth round began, so they got great value and somebody who could prove to be a great pairing with P.K. Subban down the road. Grade: B+

Nashville Predators: I like the player they drafted with their first pick, No. 38 overall, but I don't like the fit. Magnus Hellberg is a very intriguing goalie prospect who stands 6'5, but going goaltender with your first pick, and making Hellberg the top goalie selected, was a bit surprising, especially when they have a still-young Pekka Rinne. After that they added a few guys who are a bit more stout, toughening up for years of Barry Trotz hockey. Grade: C

New Jersey Devils: With their first pick they took top defenseman Adam Larsson, who became the highest defenseman they drafted since Scott Niedermayer. But that's partly because the Devils don't often draft this high. And here they got a guy who most years would have gone first or second, but offensive needs above them dropped Larsson to New Jersey and I'm sure the staff has no qualms about that. Thought this was one team that could have stood to grab a goalie late. Grade: A-

New York Islanders: A lot of smoke before the draft was that they were showing the most interest in defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but they instead went out to get a Ryan Strome, a centerman they hope can be the yin to John Tavares' yang. He has great playmaking ability so it could be a great complement down the line. They got their big-bodied D-man in the second round with a nice selection of 6'4 Scott Mayfield from St. Louis, Mo., after trading Bruno Gervais to Tampa Bay Grade: B+

New York Rangers: Another team that was very quiet in this draft, they went up the middle with centers in their first three picks, starting with American J.T. Miller at No. 15 overall. It will be interesting to see how their last two picks develop, two defensemen who stand at least 6'3 and both weigh more than 205 pounds, you have to like where those guys are starting for blue line bruisers. But all in all, not much was happening for the Blueshirts. Grade: B

Ottawa Senators: My favorite team in this draft. They had a ton of draft picks entering the weekend and they made the most of them, spending two second-rounders to move into the first round for a third pick. Their No. 1 selection of Mika Zibanejad should be a good one, he's got a lot of power and grit. They got a lot of potential scoring with the other first-round picks in Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel. They topped everything off by getting a talented but still unproven Nikita Filatov from Columbus for just a third-round pick. Grade: A+

Philadelphia Flyers: Philly did its work on Thursday with their three blockbuster moves. While they seem to have weakened the roster by getting rid of Carter and Richards, it allowed them to bring in Ilya Bryzgalov and clear some cap space to maneuver. And, the part many were forgetting on Thursday, gave them a high first-round selection, which they must be thrilled with. Sean Couturier was a preseason favorite as the best player in the draft class, so to get him at No. 8 was a great nab. Could help fill one of the holes that just opened. Grade: A-

Phoenix Coyotes: The pick of defenseman Connor Murphy in the first round carries with it plenty of risk. He missed a significant amount of time due to injury and he has a pretty long projection. This is another organization I thought would be well served to look at a goaltender, considering they are pretty thin all throughout the organization, including with the big club. It's a need they will certainly look to address via free agency. Grade: C

Pittsburgh Penguins: They really must have taken the best player available strategy as they went defense with their first two picks, starting with Joseph Morrow at No. 23. I thought they really could have used some forward depth in the organization considering they have seven defensemen under contract next year with the big club and a good amount more in the system. The last three picks (just five total) did go offense, though. Grade: C+

San Jose Sharks: I said it before and I'll say it again, I don't like the Setoguchi-Burns trade, and right after they signed Seto to a new deal? Ouch. Sure, the Sharks landed a great defenseman after losing Niclas Wallin from the back after last season, but the price is too steep for me. As a result of dealing their first pick, San Jose wasn't on the clock until pick No. 47, taking Boston University's Matthew Nieto. For a team that is in full-contention mode, the move addresses a need, but I just feel the cost was too high. Grade: D+

St. Louis Blues: The Blues sat out the first round, but had three selections to make in the second and came out alright. Their pick of Ty Rattie at No. 32 was a very good one, getting a first-round talent. He still needs to put on some weight, but I like his outlook. Their next two picks of winger Dmitrij Jaskin and 6'5 Canadian defenseman Joel Edmundson were solid. They were another team that spent two picks on goaltenders, but it's an organization that could use some reinforcement in the crease. Grade: B

Tampa Bay Lightning: With their first three picks (Rounds 1, 2 and 5) they went all Russian. In the first they grabbed Vladislav Namestnikov, a center who can also play wing and was projected by many to go a little higher. They followed that up with winger Nikita Kucherov then defenseman Nikita Nesterov. One thing is for sure, though, they didn't add much size in the draft with nobody over 6'0. They know something about short guys, though. Add a little something to the blue line now in a small deal for Isles D Bruno Gervais. Grade: B

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Burke came out to make some moves, and he did. The first was landing John-Michael Liles from Colorado, a player he long coveted. While Toronto has a slew of defensemen already, Liles is still a solid addition. He then made a swap with Anaheim to move up for two picks in the first round, using one to grab defenseman Stuart Percy. I'm not terribly high on the guy, but he's somebody they saw a lot of in Ontario, so at least they have a conviction. The other first-round pick was Tyler Biggs, a true power forward. All in all, they added a lot of prospects to the system. Grade: B+

Vancouver Canucks: No team was treated more rudely in Minnesota than the Canucks, taking the podium each time to a chorus of boos and mocking shouts, many calling for a new goalie. I'm sure they are in no hurry to push Roberto Luongo away, but they did draft goaltender David Honzik with their second pick of the weekend. Their first selection of Dane Nicklas Jensen is a very nice selection as he possesses potential to become a potent scorer when his game is more refined. Grade: B+

Washington Capitals: Were the Caps even present in the Twin Cities? Aside from a move to get Troy Brouwer from the Blackhawks in exchange for Washington's first-round selection. Because of that trade, the D.C. brass sat on their hands until the fourth round when they spent their first pick on a goaltender. I do think the addition of Brouwer will be welcome as a power forward, but they leave the draft without taking home much in the way of restocking the system. Grade: B-

Winnipeg Jets: Well let's just start off by saying nothing is going to take away from the high in Winnipeg right now as the Jets are back and this was the first true hockey steps as a franchise in the 'Peg again. With that said, their pick of Mark Scheifele at No. 7 came as a surprise. With Couturier still on the board, they seemed to reach a little early for Scheifele, but they said after the pick they had done their homework on him. With the rest of their picks, they added great size. But we won't rain on any parades here. Grade: B+

--Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Draft Day 2: Wild stay home, Oilers miss legacy

Wild how these stories sometimes unfold.

With the second round winding down, the Minnesota Wild, the host team for this year's draft in St. Paul, Minn., traded up to get another selection. The crowd in attendance then roared when they picked local product Mario Lucia, who is the son of University of Minnesota coach Don Lucia.

It was quite the storybook move that was perhaps the most notable selection of the second round. Then we came just second from another in the third round.

With the Edmonton Oilers sitting on deck, the Carolina Hurricanes spoiled a potentially great nostalgic selection. The 'Canes picked up Keegan Lowe, son of Oilers legend and current executive Kevin Lowe. It was still a great scene when, after meeting the Carolina staff and putting on the 'Canes jersey, Lowe went and shook hands with each of the people at the Oilers table, who you could see were a tad disappointed but very happy for Keegan, including Mark Messier. Afterward, Keegan said he asked the Oilers not to draft him because he wanted to make his own way in the NHL.

But the Wild weren't the only team that picked a local boy as the Senators drafted a player from the Ottawa 67's of the OHL in Shane Prince. And while San Jose isn't neighbors with Long Beach, but in the state of California, it sort of counts as the Sharks took Matthew Nieto.

Speaking of California draftees, have to mention Rocco Grimaldi. There was an outside shot Rocco was going to go in the first round and set history as the first player 5'6 or shorter to go that high. Instead, he went three picks into the second to the Florida Panthers.

To check out all the picks of Day 2 of the draft, click here.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: June 23, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 12:46 pm
 

2011 Draft Order

The following is the order of selection for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to be held June 24 (round 1) and 25 (rounds 2-7).

Round 1

1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Florida Panthers
4. New Jersey Devils
5. N.Y. Islanders
6. Ottawa Senators
7. Winnipeg
8. Columbus Blue Jackets
9. Boston Bruins (from Toronto Maple Leafs)
10. Minnesota Wild
11. Colorado (from St. Louis Blues)
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Calgary Flames
14. Dallas Stars
15. N.Y. Rangers
16. Buffalo Sabres
17. Montreal Canadiens
18. Chicago Blackhawks
19. Edmonton (from Los Angeles Kings)
20. Phoenix Coyotes
21. Ottawa (from Nashville Predators)
22. Anaheim Ducks
23. Pittsburgh Penguins
24. Detroit Red Wings
25. Toronto (from Philadelphia Flyers)
26. Washington Capitals
27. Tampa Bay Lightning
28. San Jose Sharks
29. Vancouver Canucks
30. Toronto (from Boston)

Round 2

31. Edmonton
32. St. Louis (from Colorado)
33. Florida
34. N.Y. Islanders
35. Ottawa
36. Chicago (from Winnipeg)*
37. Columbus
38. Nashville (from New Jersey)
39. Toronto
40. Boston (from Minnesota)
41. St. Louis
42. Carolina
43. Chicago (from Calgary via Toronto) *
44. Dallas **
45. Calgary (from N.Y. Rangers)
46. St. Louis (from Buffalo)
47. Florida (from Montreal)
48. Chicago *
49. Los Angeles
50. N.Y. Islanders (from Montreal)
51. Phoenix
52. Nashville
53. Anaheim
54. Pittsburgh
55. Detroit
56. Phoenix (from Philadelphia)
57. Calgary (from Washington via Carolina via N.Y. Rangers)
58. Tampa Bay
59. San Jose
60. Vancouver
61. Ottawa (from Boston)

* Chicago will transfer pick No. 36, 43 or 48 to Ottawa
** Dallas will transfer pick No. 44 or 75 to New Jersey

Round 3

62. Edmonton
63. N.Y. Islanders (from Colorado)
64. Florida
65. Anaheim (from N.Y. Islanders)
66. Ottawa
67. Winnipeg
68. Columbus
69. No selection
70. Chicago (from Toronto)
71. Minnesota
72. St. Louis
73. Carolina
74. Edmonton (from Calgary)
75. Dallas **
76. Florida (from N.Y. Rangers)
77. Buffalo
78. Montreal
79. Chicago
80. Los Angeles
81. Boston (from Phoenix)
82. Nashville
83. Anaheim
84. Philadelphia (from Pittsburgh) ***
85. Detroit
86. Toronto (from Philadelphia)
87. Florida (from Washington)
88. St. Louis (from Tampa Bay)
89. San Jose
90. Vancouver
91. Florida (from Boston)

*** Pick No. 84 is conditionally traded to Phoenix

Round 4

92. Edmonton
93. Colorado
94. Nashville (from Florida)
95. N.Y. Islanders
96. Ottawa
97. Winnipeg
98. Columbus
99. New Jersey
100. Toronto
101. Minnesota
102. St. Louis
103. Carolina
104. Calgary
105. Dallas
106. N.Y. Rangers
107. Buffalo
108. Winnipeg (from Montreal)
109. Chicago
110. Los Angeles
111. Phoenix
112. Nashville
113. Montreal (from Anaheim)
114. Edmonton (from Pittsburgh)
115. Detroit
116. Philadelphia
117. Washington
118. Philadelphia (from Tampa Bay)
119. San Jose
120. Vancouver
121. Boston

Round 5

122. Edmonton
123. Colorado
124. Florida
125. N.Y. Islanders
126. Ottawa
127. N.Y. Islanders (from Winnipeg)
128. Columbus
129. New Jersey
130. Toronto
131. Minnesota
132. St. Louis
133. Winnipeg (from Carolina via Florida)
134. N.Y. Rangers (from Calgary)
135. Dallas
136. N.Y. Rangers
137. Buffalo
138. Montreal
139. Chicago
140. Los Angeles
141. Phoenix
142. Nashville
143. Anaheim
144. Pittsburgh
145. Detroit
146. Detroit (from Philadelphia)
147. Washington
148. Tampa Bay
149. Winnipeg (from San Jose)
150. Vancouver
151. Boston

Round 6

152. Toronto (from Edmonton)
153. Colorado
154. Florida
155. Phoenix (from N.Y. Islanders)
156. Ottawa
157. Winnipeg
158. Columbus
159. New Jersey
160. Toronto
161. Minnesota
162. St. Louis
163. Carolina
164. Calgary
165. Dallas
166. San Jose (from N.Y. Rangers)
167. Buffalo
168. Montreal
169. Chicago
170. Los Angeles
171. Ottawa (from Phoenix via Anaheim)
172. Nashville
173. Toronto (from Anaheim)
174. Pittsburgh
175. Detroit
176. Philadelphia
177. Washington
178. Tampa Bay
179. San Jose
180. Vancouver
181. Boston

Round 7

182. Edmonton
183. Colorado
184. Florida
185. N.Y. Islanders
186. Ottawa
187. Winnipeg
188. Columbus
189. New Jersey
190. Toronto
191. Minnesota
192. St. Louis
193. Carolina
194. Winnipeg (from Calgary)
195. Dallas
196. Phoenix (from N.Y. Rangers)
197. Buffalo
198. Montreal
199. Chicago
200. Los Angeles
201. Phoenix
202. Nashville
203. Toronto (from Anaheim) ****
204. Ottawa (from Pittsburgh)
205. Detroit
206. Philadelphia
207. Washington
208. Tampa Bay
209. Pittsburgh (from San Jose)
210. Vancouver
211. Chicago (from Boston)

**** Pick No. 203 is conditionally traded back to Anaheim

Posted on: June 22, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Daily Skate: Jagr loves Mario; Bryzgalov money

We present to you the return of the Morning Skate here at the Eye on Hockey blog, where we catch you up on what you might have missed while you were sleeping.

JAGR WATCH CONTINUES: First, it was contacting the Red Wings. In the last couple of days, it's been all about the Penguins. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sheds some light on Jagr's interest in returning to Pittsburgh: "A longing to reconnect with the Penguins could be part of what brings back legendary forward Jaromir Jagr. He loves that team, that city," agent Petr Svoboda said Tuesday from the Czech Republic. "And he loves Mario [Lemieux], so that is all on his mind." Jagr is expected to speak with the Penguins some time today.

BRYZGALOV LOVE: The Flyers and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov are still working on getting a deal done to help cover Philly's Achilles' heel, but as of yet, nyet. There has been talk that Bryz wanted to be the highest-paid goalie in the NHL and reports are starting to leak that he could become just that as the ballpark number right now is $7 million. Seems a bit much, don't you think?

LONG FOR LONG ISLAND: The Islanders are getting closer and closer to solidifying their home in New York as sides work toward a new arena. According to Newsday, details of the deal have emerged, and it would call for Nassau County to receive 11.5 percent of all revenue from a new Nassau Coliseum and would give owner Charles Wang a 30-year lease, beginning in 2015.

SHIRTS AND SKINNER: A finalist for the Calder Award as the NHL's top rookie, Carolina Hurricanes teen-sensation Jeff Skinner agreed to let readers of Seventeen dress him for the occasion (tonight at 7 ET on Versus). He and his family had a good laugh when reading Skinner was referred to as "The Justin Bieber of hockey."

NEVER TOO SOON FOR SNUBS: The Calder hasn't even been handed out yet (it will go to Skinner), but that doesn't stop Ricky Doyle at NESN from thinking Brad Marchand not only should have been invited, but maybe even should be the front-runner. He makes the argument, but I just don't see it. If we included playoffs, sure, but Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner all earned their spots.

PERRY GOES BLUE: Ducks star Corey Perry is in Las Vegas too as he's up for the biggest trophy of them all, the Hart. If his name isn't called for that award, at least he won't leave Vegas without making an appearance on a stage. Perry was called onto stage by the Blue Man Group and took part in their show. I was very excited to watch this video when I came across it, until I saw the footage and was left wondering what exactly Perry did. That was the equivalent of an empty-netter.

DEALIN' DAYS OF SUMMER: This is always a busy time for trades across the NHL, what with the draft on the docket and all. One team that could be an active participant is the Blue Jackets. The Columbus Dispatch says GM Scott Howson is surprised at some of the names available, and it would be wise for him to look at trades since the team's needs are plentiful.

NOT SMITTEN FOR SMYTH: There's been some debate on whether Kings forward Ryan Smyth asked L.A. for a trade to Edmonton, where he began and played most of his career. Smyth himself denied it, but media sources like Bob McKenzie of TSN wouldn't back off their reports. John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal says it shouldn't matter; Smyth isn't a good fit for the rebuilding club anyway.

TRADE TRACKER: Trying to remember who exactly your team traded to get that backup goalie in November? Want to forget that organization-crippling move your GM made? Here's a handy, dandy look at all the NHL trades made last season, thanks to hockeyinsideout.com.

-- Brian Stubits

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter or @BrianStubitsNHL

Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Calder Trophy: Skinner received my top vote


San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture, New York Islanders winger Michael Grabner and Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner were unveiled as the three finalists for the Calder Trophy -- the NHL’s version of the rookie of the year award -- on Tuesday. This a solid rookie class where an argument could be made for any of these three to be handed the trophy in June. As a proud, voting member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, here’s my top 3:

1. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes: This was one of the votes that I went back and forth on several times before I submitted my ballot. In the end, I gave Skinner the nod since the 18-year-old performed at a consistent level for nearly the entire season on a team that was in the playoff hunt until Game No. 82. Skinner led all rookies in points (63), was second in assists (32) and third in goals (31). He was a fixture on Carolina’s shootout from the beginning of the season and contributed key goals down the stretch, minus which Carolina wouldn’t have even been a contender. Also, I put a slight priority on centers over wingers if all else is equal.

2. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders : While Skinner was the seventh overall pick in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Grabner wasn’t even the Isles' property at the end of training camp. They claimed Grabner off waivers on Oct. 5 and he went on to lead the Islanders in goals (34), which was also tops among rookies. Probably even more impressive was his plus-minus (plus-13), a stat that doesn’t alway treat first-year players too well. At 23, he’s five years older than Skinner. I didn’t use that as a factor in my voting. I also didn't take into account he's one of the best follows on Twitter

3. Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks: On a team with Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, Couture was still one of the team’s most consistent forwards. Along with his speed, Couture is a tenacious back-checker and one of the best young finishers in the game. He was second on the Sharks (and among rookies) in goals (32). The line he typically centered with Ryane Clowe along with Heatley or others on the wings was often the Sharks line that got them revved up en route to another Pacific Division title. 

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 11, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: April 11, 2011 1:37 am
 

Blackhawks, Rangers receive assists

Two more Original Six franchises -- to bring the total to five -- made it on the final weekend of the regular season, not that the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks did it all on their own.

The Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars were a great supporting cast.

The Hurricanes needed a victory -- in regulation, OT or a shootout --- against to the Tampa Bay Lightning to make it in. Instead, they got boat raced in a 6-2 loss on Saturday. The Blackhawks faltered against the Detroit Red Wings, allowing the Dallas Stars to clinch with a regulation or OT victory later Sunday evening. Instead, the Stars fell to the Minnesota Wild, 5-3.

“With the fingers crossed and the wishful thinking, you have to look at it knowing that things can happen in your favor if you just believe,” Chicago coach Joel Quennville said in a conference call with reporters Sunday night. “But certainly we got lucky. Now let’s take advantage of being lucky.”

Both the Rangers and the Blackahwks enter as the No. 8 seed in their respective conferences, not that the low seed is necessary a bad thing in the modern NHL. The Montreal Canadiens, an eighth seed in the a East a season ago, dispatched the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals and made it to the conference finals. The Anaheim Ducks needed six games to beat the 2009 Presidents' Trophy winners, the San Jose Sharks. The 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers made it all the way to the finals as an eighth seed.

And these aren't the typical No. 8 seeds.

The Rangers have dominated the Washington Capitals this season and could give them a go even without Ryan Callahan, the Rangers' second-leading scorer who is out indefinitely with a broken ankle. New York won three of the four meetings this season, including a 7-0 victory on Dec. 12 and a 6-0 win on Feb. 25. 

"I think sometimes, (the season series) can work in your favor," Rangers forward Chris Drury, who played Saturday for the first time in two months, said on a conference call (via The New York Daily News). "I’ve been on teams that have done well in the series and lost in the playoffs, and vice versa. To me, it’s a whole new season and something we can learn from, having played against them, and had success in the year."

The Blackhawks are of course the defending Stanley Cup champs and even if many of the parts aren’t there from their title run -- including forwards Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd, and goalie Antti Niemi -- any team with Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith is formidable, especially if you consider their success against the Canucks

The Blackhawks have beaten the Canucks in the second round the last two postseasons. The two teams split their four meetings this season.

"I think with the group that we have we don't want to tip-toe our way to the Stanley Cup," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieska told The Vancouver Sun. "If we're going to win it I think we'd prefer to go through the best and that being said, Chicago are the defending champs. Until someone wins it this year, they are the champs. So what better way to start than with the champs."

-- A.J. Perez

 
 
 
 
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