Tag:New York Islanders
Posted on: September 16, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 11:53 am
 

Schenn, Leafs reach deal; Isles lock up Bailey

By Brian Stubits

Make that two restricted free agents down, two more to go.

Just in the nick of time, the Islanders re-signed Josh Bailey then the Leafs followed suit by extending Luke Schenn, each without new contracts the day before most teams reported to training camp. That means we reached camps with all the restricted free agents under contract except two: the Coyotes' Kyle Turris and the big name on the block, Drew Doughty with the Kings.

Schenn was a tough negotiation to figure out. Eventually he got a five-year contract for $3.6 million annually. The Maple Leafs were looking for a lower price for Schenn but the desire to tie him into a longer deal drove up what they were willing to pay. The money does seem high, but consider what the going rate is for defensemen these days...

The hard part of the Schenn talks is trying to figure out his value. He's still a young player and projects to be a star for the Leafs on the blueline for a long time to come, but he hasn't shown that form as of yet. Clearly GM Brian Burke thinks he will meet that potential soon enough.

Billed as a stay-at-home defenseman, Schenn had five goals and 17 assists with Toronto last season while recording a minus-7. Those numbers were certainly a contributing factor in getting a good contract.

First came Bailey. Word of his new contract came down in the late hours Thursday night and he made if official by signing his two-year, $2.1 million contract on Friday morning.

Bailey's contract comes on the heels of the team re-signing John Tavares, avoiding the restricted free-agency drama altogether. Reports all along were that the negotiations were close and going smoothly, a deal was expected to be reached. I wonder why it took so long, but as long as it was completed before camp, no harm no foul, just some uneasiness.

Bailey is another part of the young core the Islanders are building around. Last season playing 70 games he had a little stepback from his sophomore season, scoring 11 goals to go with 17 assists.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 10:54 am
 

Daily Skate: Shark questions, examining enforcers

By Brian Stubits

MAKEOVER CONCERNS: Not everybody is digging what the Sharks have done this offseason in making over the roster in an attempt to finally get over the hump. David Pollack at the San Jose Mercury News says it raises questions ... how often does an elite team undergo such change? That's just one.

ENFORCING CHANGE: In the ongoing discussion on fighting, Kukla's Korner says that it's not very realistic to expect fighting to be removed from the NHL anytime soon. Instead, the way to curb fighting is to change today's role of the enforcer, instead expecting them to be contributing players beyond using their fists.

THE HEX IS BACK: There is another Hextall in hockey (L.A. Times). Brett Hextall, the son of Ron, was drafted by the Coyotes in the sixth round of the 2008 draft and he hit the ice against his dad's team, the Kings (Ron is assistant GM in L.A. these days). Brett, a forward, was physical on the ice. Surprise, surprise.

OTTAWA OPTIMISM: Senators GM Bryan Murray recently did a Q&A with the Ottawa Sun in which he talked about the team this upcoming season and the transition from Cory Clouston (with some more veiled parting shots) to Paul MacLean and Murray's belief the Sens will push for the playoffs ... this season.

TURRIS TAKE: After the flurry of signings on Wednesday and Thursday, the list of remaining RFAs unsigned is short, but the Coyotes' Kyle Turris is still on the list. With his high asking price ($3 million- $4million?!), it has Matthew Sekeres at the Globe and Mail wondering if it isn't a trade request in disguise.

ISLAND DEVELOPMENT: A Baltimore development company is showing renewed interest (Newsday) in developing the area around the Islanders home, Nassau Coliseum, something it originally showed interest in back in 2005. It's still too early to know what the full plan would call for and what it would mean to the Isles.

HUDLER'S HOPE: Coming off a disappointing season with the Red Wings, Jiri Hudler returns to Detroit this fall knowing he has to make a much better impression (Detroit Free Press), putting a lot of pressure on himself to show more than he did a season ago after a summer of UFC training.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 11:36 am
 

Sabres' Myers gets 7-year, $38.5M extension

By Brian Stubits

Yesterday the news came down that an extension for Tyler Myers was close in Buffalo. Today the deal is done after Myers and the Sabres reached a seven-year deal.

"We had two sides that wanted to stay together," Myers' agent, J.P. Barry, told the Buffalo News on Wednesday. "Tyler wanted to remain a Sabre, and having this done at an early stage was something that he wanted. He's happy that the club approached him about wanting to do this early."

A short while after the team announced the seven-year deal, the numbers on the contract slipped out. From Darren Dreger at TSN: "Myers 7 years, $38.5. $10M signing bonus July 1, 2012, the first day of ext. That means over a quarter of the contract is paid on day one." The Associated Press confirmed the value of the contract.

That part about the signing bonus and so much being paid on the first day is bound to raise some eyebrows. The contract is incredibly front-loaded, somewhat similar to many of the contracts that have drawn criticism in recent years, most notably Marian Hossa's and Ilya Kovalchuk's. But moreover, many are viewing it as an indication of the labor situation in the NHL.

From TSN's Bob McKenzie:

"Myers' $10M SB amounts to lockout protection. IF there were, say, season-long lockout, he'd still get his $10M, only lose $2M in salary."

With the length of the contract, it will take Myers until he is 28 and if an extension isn't signed before then, he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency. Of course, with the way things are starting to go in Buffalo with new ownership, I'm not too sure why he would be interested in leaving if the future really is as bright as it seems.

Myers, one of the biggest players in NHL history at 6-feet-8, won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie two seasons when he scored 11 goals with 37 assists and a plus-13. A debut season like that had people envisioning the next Zdeno Chara, a mountain of a man with a massive shot on the blueline. But he regressed some last season, seeing his point total dip by 11.

I must admit, I'm leery of such a long contract. There are very few players that I'd be comfortable signing to such a long deal and they are of the Alex Ovechkin/Steven Stamkos mold. It's just a risky proposition, you never know what could happen.

But of course the other side of the coin is that it gives the Sabres long-term stability at an important position with a potential perennial all-star.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Tavares signs six-year extension with Islanders

Tavares1

By: Adam Gretz

After reports surfaced on Wednesday morning that the New York Islanders and their young star, John Tavares, were closing in on a new long-term contract extension, the two sides came to an agreement on a six-year deal. The team made the announcement with Tavares on Thursday.

The contract will pay the 20-year-old forward $33 million, according to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun and TSN's Darren Dreger.

"I believe in this organization and this hockey team," Tavares said.

Tavares was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, and over his first two years with the Islanders has scored 53 goals to go with 68 assists in 161 games. His 67 points this past season led the Islanders, and were 14 points more than the No. 2 scorer on the roster, forward Matt Moulson.

The $5.5 million cap hit will be the highest average salary on the Islanders roster, and will be about $2 million less than the deal 2008 No. 1 overall pick Steven Stamkos signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this summer (and for good reason). Still, if Tavares continues to develop as he has over the first two years of his career this deal could prove to be a bargain for the Islanders to get their franchise player secured for such a price. Part of it is paying for potential, but with a player like Tavares, who has already shown he can play at a high level at such a young age, there has to be confidence that he will continue to develop.

With Tavares signed for the long haul, the Islanders have managed to secure four of their top young forwards for what appear to be cap-friendly contracts.

Moulson, who is coming off his second consecutive 30-goal season, is signed through the 2013-14 season at an annual salary of $3.1 million, while 34-goal scorer Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo are both signed through the 2014-15 season for a combined cap hit of $5.8 million. Garth Snow and the Islanders take a lot of heat, but if these guys develop as they should he'll have managed to set his team up quite well in terms of his young talent and what they're counting against the salary cap.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Report: Hunter gets tryout with Kings

Hunter

By: Adam Gretz

After the New York Islanders traded him to the New Jersey Devils this summer in exchange for Brian Rolston, a move that had very different salary cap intentions for the two teams, Trent Hunter had his contract bought out, making him a free agent. As of Tuesday evening the veteran forward will reportedly be a part of his third organization in the past three months, agreeing to a tryout contract with the Los Angeles Kings according to Katie Strang of ESPN New York and Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.

Injuries have really limited Hunter in recent years, appearing in just 133 of a possible 246 games, scoring 26 goals over that stretch. For his career he's scored 99 goals, all of which have come with the Islanders after he was acquired by the team back in May of 2000 from the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick.

The July trade that sent Hunter to the Devils helped the Islanders reach the salary cap floor due to Rolston's sizable contract, while the deal, and eventual buyout of Hunter, helped New Jersey save a few million in cap space under the cap ceiling.

If Hunter earns a spot in training camp he'll likely be a bottom-six winger/penalty killer, as the the Kings top lines would seem to be set with players like Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner. Earlier in the offseason the Kings added some depth to their bottom lines when they signed Ethan Moreau to a one-year deal.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:51 am
 

Daily Skate: Charges for Byfuglien? Captain picks

By Brian Stubits

GETTING TOUGH ON BYFUGLIEN: Dustin Byfuglien is facing criminal charges for his foray on Lake Minnetonka over Labor Day weekend. The Winnipeg Free Press reports the district attorney has given the OK for the sheriff's office to formally charge Byfuglien with drunk boating.

CAPTAIN CAROUSEL: In the last week David Backes has been named the captain of the Blues and Ryan Callahan picked to lead the Rangers. But there are still six vacant positions across the NHL, so Pro Hockey Talk took the liberty of picking a captain for the remaining teams. Among the nominees is John Tavares for the Islanders.

CONCUSSION CRACKDOWN: With the attention on concussions growing every day in the NHL with each high-profile case, the concern is trickling down. Canadian youth leagues are planning to begin putting players as young as 10 through the same tests as NHL players this upcoming season (ESPN.com).

BICK IS BACK: After missing some of the seven-game series against the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell is recovered and ready for the season (Chicago Tribune). He had surgery in April to repair two lacerated tendons, an incident that happened in Game 2 against the Canucks. He did return in time for Chicago's wins in Games 4, 5 and 6 but wasn't the same.

MAKE THAT TWO: The Sabres are in the same position with Jason Pominville as the Blackhawks and Bickell. They weren't counting on having Pominville back in time for training camp (Buffalo News) after having a tendon severed in the playoff series against the Flyers, but his recovery has gone faster than expected and he "[doesn't] think there will be any issue."

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The Dallas Stars don't have high expectations this season, and that's great for the team, Brendan Morrow says. He told Kevin Allen of USA Today that the Stars have plenty of young talent to surprise as underdogs, and it starts with Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski.

SEEKERS OF THE CUP: As the release of EA Sports' NHL 12 told us on Tuesday, hockey season is right around the corner. Here's a great promo video from the MSG Network in New York for the metro area's three teams, the Rangers, Devils and Islanders.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Sykora, Bernier to tryout with Devils

SykoraBy: Adam Gretz

The New Jersey Devils announced on Monday that they will be bringing in three free agents on tryout contracts for training camp, including an old friend that was a part of their top line during their Stanley Cup winning season back in 2000.

Petr Sykora, Steve Bernier and Anton Stralman are the players that will be getting a look with the Devils, with Sykora's name being the one that will stand out given his history with the club. Not only was he the Devils' first-round draft pick in 1995, he ended up scoring 145 of his 302 career goals as a member of the Devils over parts of seven seasons, and also helped to form their top-scoring line, along with Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias, during their Stanley Cup victory over the Dallas Stars at the start of the decade.

The 35-year-old Sykora did not play in the NHL last season, having spent the year in Russia playing for Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, scoring eight goals in 28 games. He also spent some time playing in the Czech Republic. His last NHL appearance was with the Minnesota Wild during the 2009-10 campaign where he scored two goals in 14 games before being sidelined with a concussion. He was eventually released.

Bernier, a former first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, has been a member of four different teams (San Jose, Buffalo, Vancouver and Florida) since entering the NHL during the 2005-06 season, and has scored 76 goals in 385 games. He was traded to Florida from Vancouver prior to last season, along with Michael Grabner and a first-round pick, in exchange for defenseman Keith Ballard.

In what has turned out to be a rather dubious decision in hindsight, the Panthers kept Bernier and ended up placing Grabner on waivers before the start of the regular season in an effort to demote him to the minor leagues. The result: Bernier scored five goals for Florida in 68 games while Grabner went on to blossom after being claimed by the New York Islanders, scoring 34 goals in what proved to be a breakout season for the speedy forward.

Stralman, a defenseman with a bit of an offensive game, spent the past two years with the Columbus Blue Jackets and managed to produce some respectable offensive numbers from the blue line, scoring seven goals to go with 45 assists in 124 games. The Devils are definitely in need of some offensive punch from their defense. During the 2010-11 season, for example, Andy Greene led all of their rearguards in scoring with just 23 points, while no other defenseman on the roster managed to tally more than the 18 points Stralman put up with the Blue Jackets.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Hockey world mourns KHL team plane crash



(Pavol Demitra/Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

For the fourth time this summer, tragedy has struck the hockey world. This time it comes in the form of a plane crash in Russia carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL, a team that includes many former NHL faces.

Among those who were on the roster are former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek. The coaching staff was led by former Bruins, Whalers, Flyers and Red Wings defenseman Brad McCrimmon and also contained former NHL players Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev.

Plus, there were numerous others who were prospects for NHL teams. Among those was Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov, who played in 18 games for the Devils last season.

"Words cannot express what has transpired," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "I knew a lot of players that were on that team. Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news ... [This] has left all of us beyond words.

More on KHL crash

"[Vasyunov] wanted to go over and play a lot and come back here. He was so proud to be a Devil. I can't say enough about him."

Riley Armstrong, brother of Colby Armstrong, is part of the team but was not on the plane. He tweeted after the ordeal that he was OK.

"I'm safe, but thanks for the kind words but pray and think of the players and their families on that flight."

As you can imagine, in a league that now contains many Russian players and has its ties grow every year with Russia's top league, the responses have been numerous and distraught. Alex Ovechkin simply said "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P ...."

Panthers defenseman and former Lokomotiv player Dmitry Kulikov was left stunned. "It's just an empty feeling. Words can't express how I feel."

Then there was Lightning defenseman Nate Thompson. "A tragic loss for the hockey world. Plane crash with an entire KHL team on board. Thoughts and prayers go out to there families and friends."

Perhaps Demitra is perhaps the best known former NHL player among the bunch. He spent most of his NHL career with the Blues, where he had his best seasons as a player. His best year was 2002-03 when he scored 36 goals and had 57 assists. He was named to three All-Star teams; 1999, 2000 and 2002. He most recently played for the Canucks in 2009-10 before moving on to the KHL.

Moreover, he developed some tremendous friendships in the NHL. The bond he created with Keith Tkachuk in St. Louis was tremendous and Tkachuk was predictably hurt.

"I am beyond devastated by the tragic news involving my good friends Brad and Pavol and the rest of their teammates in Russia. Brad was my teammate in Phoenix and later coached me in Atlanta and was truly a wonderful man who will be greatly missed. Pav was like a brother to me and I cannot believe that he is no longer with us. This is a terrible day for the hockey fraternity. My family’s thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star- Tribune penned this story back in 2007 (at the bottom of the entry) about the strong bond Demitra developed with Marion Gaborik when the two were playing together for the Wild.

Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins also had lengthy stints in the NHL, even being traded for one another at one point. In the 2007-08 season, the Avalanche sent Skrastins to the Panthers in exchange for Salei. In his one full season in Florida, Skrastins had his most productive offensive year, scoring four goals and 14 assists. The tough-nosed defenseman then played his final two NHL seasons with the Stars. Terry Frei of the Denver Post chronicaled Skrastins' trip to the NHL from Latvia.

"The Dallas Stars are saddened by the loss of former defenseman Karlis Skrastins in today's tragic plane crash in Russia," the team released in a statement.

Salei spent nearly a decade playing for the Ducks in Anaheim before he was signed by the Panthers. Like Skrastins, he had his best offensive season playing with Florida, scoring six goals with 26 assists in 2006-07 before being traded the next season to Colorado.

He was playing with the Red Wings just last season, playing 75 games with Detroit.

Vasicek played parts of seven seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Carolina Hurricanes. Team captain Eric Staal had this to say about Vasicek: "Joe was an awesome guy, always in good spirits, always smiling. It's just a tragedy."

Chad LaRose echoed those sentiments. "It's a shocker, a tragedy. Joe was a great guy. A life ended too early."

Vasicek's final season in North America was with the Islanders where he played alongside Radek Martinek.

"He was one of my best buddies. He was in my wedding. I can't believe this," Martinek said.

Among the confirmed dead is former Red Wings and Flyers defenseman McCrimmon, Lokomotiv's coach. The news was just as somber in Detroit with Wings coach Mike Babcock.

McCrimmon had been an assistant with the Red Wings the past three seasons, having spent time wit the Thrashers, Flames and Islanders as an assistant as well. He left Detroit to lead the KHL team in hopes of becoming a head coach in the NHL some day.

As a defenseman, he put up some absolutely unbelievable numbers in his career. In only two of his 18 seasons did he ever record a negative plus-minus mark and he posted a career-high plus-83 in 1985-86 with the Flyers. He ended his career with a plus-444, the 10th best mark in NHL history. Each of the nine players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

This will go down as one of the biggest, if not the biggest sports tragedies we've ever seen. About the only things I can think that compare are the plane crashes that affected the Marshall football team and Oklahoma State basketball teams. Hopefully, and we hope with every bone in our body, this is the end of what will be known as the Summer of Sorrow in hockey. This has truly been an offseason from hell and hopefully one that we never see again.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com