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Tag:Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: September 6, 2011 4:52 pm
 

What to expect for Brad Marchand, remaining RFAs

By Brian Stubits

Remember back a few months, when they were actually playing hockey. The breakout star of the playoffs was Brad Marchand for the Bruins. He was second in goals scored for the entire playoffs despite playing in his first postseason, a run that included two goals in the Game 7 win in Vancouver.

But success isn't cheap. That's why Marchand still doesn't have a contract to talk about at this point. Clearly Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Marchand's camp can't agree on what kind of money he should receive. There is no doubt both sides want to stay together. The B's have a promising player coming out of his rookie season while Marchand found himself on a championship team and fitting in with Boston.

Therein lies the dilemma. Is Marchand worth big bucks after showing all that he's capable of in the playoffs? That's what his agent has to be saying. Or could it be that he played just a little over his head in the playoffs. He wouldn't be the first to have done that. That has to be the concern for Chiarelli.

Now you have to give the Bruins GM this: he's being very prudent. Boston has the room to sign Marchand to a relatively big contract. Per Cap Geek, the B's still have more than $7 million in cap space available. So you could understand if he conceded to get Marchand back in the fold ASAP. But the goal is to set up a longtime winner and that could be damaged by bad contracts. Not to say signing Marchand to a big deal would be a bad contract, but it could be.

In cases like this, you are always on the lookout for precedents. Thankfully, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren gave a pretty good one last week when he signed James van Riemsdyk to an extension. Philly gave him a six-year deal that carries a $4.25 million annual cap hit.

Comparing the two, JVR has two full NHL seasons under his belt as opposed to one-plus for Marchand. But last season, the players had strikingly similar numbers. In 75 games, Van Riemsdyk had 21 goals and 19 assists. In 77 games, Marchand had 21 goals and 20 assists. They both also stepped up their scoring pace in the playoffs as Van Riemsdyk had seven goals in 11 games while Marchand had 11 tallies and eight assists in 25 games.

So at this point, the two could pass for career twins. So if Chiarelli was looking to keep the figure low, this didn't help. When the sides finally get this worked out, I'd expect to see a deal very similar to Van Riemsdyk's, just for a shorter length.

In the meantime, Marchand can continue to work on the promising rapping career.

Now a look at the other high-profile restricted free agents still sans deals.

Drew Doughty, Kings: This one has been discussed at incredible length this offseason, but we can't ignore it here. The assumption was that the deal coming from Shea Weber's arbitration hearing would lead to a resolution in Los Angeles. Now it wasn't expected that Doughty would receive the same money that Weber would, but something close. It's hard to imagine this getting resolved without Doughty getting north of $5.5 million-plus, and that's on the conservative side.

Luke Schenn, Maple Leafs: The Leafs continue to try and bring Schenn into the fold long-term, hoping he can be a significant piece to their future. The good news for fans in Toronto is that GM Brian Burke remains confident Schenn will be signed before training camp begins, indicating that the sides might not be that far apart. Judging by the fact that Burke has been unwilling to trade Schenn and the Leafs seem to believe he will develop into an elite shutdown defenseman, you are left to assume Schenn will get a decent amount of scratch, probably somewhere around $3 million-$3.5 million annually, along the likes of the Rangers' Marc Staal. But with Burke it's almost impossible to accurately guess.

Zach Bogosian, Jets: Bogosian was billed as a very solid two-way defenseman coming out of the 2008 draft, but so far he hasn't matched that billing. Five goals and 12 assists like a season ago don't exactly scream two-way star. Realistically, he shouldn't expect to get a pay day similar to Schenn, perhaps a comparable player. The only problem in their numbers from last season being very similar, Schenn isn't expected to give a lot on the offensive side while Bogosian is. Of course there's still plenty of time from Bogosian to grow and perhaps become the player scouts envisioned once upon a time. But considering he's still a second-pairing defenseman for Winnipeg, the best guess would be a modest money amount over a shorter length to give more time to evaluate Bogosian's NHL value.

The rest of the RFAs:

Kyle Turris, Coyotes: The third overall draft pick in 2007, he doesn't appear to be near a deal with Phoenix at this point, asking for about $4 million annually over three years per ESPN.com. As you would guess, the Coyotes aren't willing to go near that mark. This one will take some serious concessions, likely on Turris' behalf.

Shawn Matthias, Panthers: The former prized prospect is going to have to swallow the fact the Panthers won't give him a guaranteed, one-way contract. That seems to the hold up in the negotiations here, but the Panthers feel there is too much competition for roster spots to guarantee a guy who hasn't proven he deserves a spot yet.

Josh Bailey, Islanders: He has shown some promise for becoming a decent scorer in the NHL, finding the net 16 times as a 20-year-old two seasons ago. Lighthouse Hockey did a good job of comparing Bailey to Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker and his recent $1.1 million annual contract a few weeks back, concluding Bailey has shown he deserves more than that.

Kyle Cumiskey, Avalanche: The Avs did give him a qualifying offer on the heels of an 18-game season, but that's as far as negotiations have gone. But Adrian Dater at the Denver Post expects the hurdles will be overcome in the next week and Cumiskey will be back for camp.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 6, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 1:02 pm
 

Jets finally unveil new home and road jerseys

By Brian Stubits

After many months and countless leaks, the Jets finally let their new jerseys fly, unveiling them to the public on Tuesday.

In a dramatic unveiling, four Jets players stood in the back of a military transport plane which was slowly opened. Think Close Enounters of the Third Kind when the UFO opens.

In the end, the jersey comes out pretty similar to what you would have expected. Both of the sweaters simply have the team's emblem in the middle with a couple of stripes around the elbows and at the bottom of the sweater. Sticking with the design, the home jersey is a navy blue to complement the white road uniforms.

Putting this into perspective, they jammed a very lengthy process into a very accelerated time frame to have this done. Considering the team name wasn't even decided until a few months back, the sweaters came out pretty quickly, but still long enough to drum up intense excitement to see what the rebirth of the Jets will look like. In most situations, jersey designs can take well over a year before being released.

Photo courtesy of @NHLJets twitpic

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

Posted on: September 5, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Burmistrov feels at home in Winnipeg

By: Adam Gretz

BURMISTROV FEELS AT HOME There have been rumblings in recent months that some players aren't looking forward to playing in Winnipeg. One player that is seems to be excited about it is 19-year-old winger Alexander Burmistrov, the team's first-round draft pick last year. Burmistrov told the Winnipeg Sun how much he's looking forward to playing in Winnipeg because "people love hockey here and it's cold here, and that's what I know." In 74 games last season he scored six goals to go with 14 assists while playing just over 13 minutes of ice-time per game.

CONCERNS FOR MONTREAL DEFENSE The biggest question mark for the Montreal Canadiens this season: injuries to their defense. Andrei Markov played in just seven games last season and is coming off his second major surgery in as many years. His health, as well as the health of Josh Gorges, will play a huge factor in what success the Canadiens are able to have in 2011.

THOMAS' DAY WITH THE CUP Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas had his deal with the Stanley Cup on Saturday morning and took it back to Vermont where he spent his college days stopping pucks.

PANDOLFO GETS TRYOUT WITH Islanders The New York Islanders announced over the weekend that veteran forward Jay Pandolfo will attend their training camp on a tryout basis. He last played in the NHL during the 2009-10 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils (the only NHL team he's ever played for) scoring four goals in 52 games. In 819 career games he's scored 99 goals. He spent last season making a brief appearance in the American Hockey League with the Springfield Falcons, recording six points (two goals, four assists) in 12 games.

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

Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:13 pm
 

Byfuglien arrested on suspicion of BWI

By: Adam Gretz

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien spent some time in a Minnesota jail on Wednesday night after being arrested on the suspicion of Boating While Intoxicated, according to the Star Tribune. He reportedly spent around three hours in jail before being released pending formal charges.

From the Tribune:
Byfuglien rents a home on Lake Minnetonka in the off-season, said Dale Smedsmo, his stepfather.

"He's got to grow up," Smedsmo said, when told of the allegation.

Smedsmo, who lives in northern Minnesota and regularly enters Canada, added that a conviction on an alcohol-related charge could complicate Byfuglien's ability to cross into Canada when the time comes for him to report to Winnipeg.

According to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500, via Twitter, Byfuglien refused a BWI test.

There's pretty much nothing good that can come from driving (or boating) while intoxicated, so it's obviously not a good situation. What's also concerning is that Wolfson also reports that Byfuglien weighed in at 286 pounds, which is 41 pounds over his playing weight of 245 from last season.

Byfuglien was acquired by the Atlanta Thrashers prior to the 2010-11 season after spending parts of five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Thrashers immediately moved him from forward to defense (the position he played prior to being drafted by the Blackhawks in 2003). He went on to have the best season of his career offensively, scoring 20 goals and adding 33 assists. His performance earned him a large contract extension, signing a five-year, $26 million deal.

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


Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 9:25 am
 

Daily Skate: More Belak reactions

By: Adam Gretz

A WRETCHED SUMMER Bruce Arthur of the National Post has an excellent column on an unbelieavably sad summer that has seen three player deaths in a span of just four months. Writers Arthur: "This shouldn’t be a political issue in the sport; it should be a human one. And at some point, some deadly serious questions have to be asked about the role of enforcers in hockey, if only to understand why these men are gone too soon. This has been an unspeakable summer, which is exactly why it needs to be talked about." The entire column is worth a read.

POST-NHL CONCERNS In the wake of Belak's death more than one player has taken to Twitter to talk about how difficult the transition is from playing to retirement. Said Brent Sopel, "It's true when you're gone from the NHL it's like you never played. We're all just pieces of meat." Former Phoenix Coyotes forward Tyson Nash shared this: "Ur entire life is dedicated to hockey and then one day it's all over and ur kicked to the curb! And the NHLPA does nothing to prepare u."

STALBERG AIMS FOR TOP-SIX ROLE Viktor Stalberg is looking to take one of the available spots on Chicago's top-two lines this season, saying he's going to do everything he can to earn more playing time. The speedy forward scored 12 goals in 77 games last season in his first season with Chicago.

HNIDY GOES TO THE RADIO BOOTH Former NHL defenseman Shane Hnidy announced his retirement on Wednesday and that he will also be taking over as a radio analyst for the Winnipeg Jets. He appeared in three regular season and three postseason games last year with the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. In 550 career games he scored 16 goals to go with 55 assists as a member of the Ottawa Senators, Nashville Predators, Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Bruins.

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


Posted on: August 31, 2011 9:45 am
 

Dail Skate: Vancouver keeps searching for rioters

By Brian Stubits

STILL SEARCHING: I guess the Vancouver police were serious about wanting to bring all of the people responsible for the post-Stanley Cup riot to justice. Some of the offenders already came forward and admitted to their deeds after the Canucks lost Game 7 and the Cup. But plenty more have gone thus far unpunished. That's why the Vancouver police have set up this website with photos of some offenders asking the public for help identifying the people so they can face their punishment.

LENGTHY NEGOTIATIONS: The Kings are still trying to find common ground with defenseman Drew Doughty, so to do so, they are reportedly giving Doughty more options concerning the length of the prospective deal. Helene Elliott at the L.A. Times has the full story, including this take from Kings G.M. Dean Lombardi: "Everything's been amicable. We're waiting to hear back from them. They said they'd get back to us in a day or two." Maybe there's an end in sight after all?

FORMAL FILING: Also from Elliott at the L.A. Times in the same Doughty story, the Kings have filed their grievance with the with the NHL over the deal with the Oilers that had Colin Fraser going to L.A. in exchange for Ryan Smyth. “The Edmonton Oilers have a few days to respond. Commissioner Gary Bettman will then decide whether to hold a hearing, though Lombardi said the Kings can request one.” So it continues.

SPREAD THE LOVE: Yesterday's Daily Skate touched on the Devils considering retiring Scott Niedermayer's number. Now the O.C. Register is wondering if the Ducks shouldn't do the same thing? Niedermayer only played five seasons with the Ducks, but he was a big reason why Anaheim brought home the Stanley Cup.

PROSPECT WATCH: Wondering how the advancement of Rangers prospects is coming along? The New York Rangers blog has an update on defensemen Tim Erixon, who insists he has a true two-way game as he makes a push for the roster. Then there's a little nugget about Dylan McIlrath as well.

A LITTLE LOVE: Bryan Little isn't seeming to have any problems getting acclimated to life in Winnipeg. He is enjoying the passion and support the hyped-up Jets fan base is showing, with Go Jets Go! chants at every turn. From the Winnipeg Sun: “The province is so pumped about having a team back, and that just gets all of us, the players, just more excited to play,” Little said.

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

Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Eastern Conference spots seem set for some time

By Brian Stubits

Sometimes simple and obvious things just hit you. Things you had realized before but for some reason they jump to your attention again. It tends to happen a lot more often during the lazy hockey days of summer.

That's exactly what happened when I began to think about the makeup of hockey markets/organizations, particularly in the Eastern Conference. What popped into my head was the fact that the contenders this season are likely to be the same as they were last season, and for the most part the same they were the season before that. And it's likely they will remain the contenders for the season after next, too.

At that moment I realized the NHL is starting to resemble the NBA in a way. And that's not good. One of the biggest reasons the NBA is in a lockout that seems to have no end in sight (Ken Berger and the Eye on Basketball guys have that covered) is the very issue that only a handful of teams enter every season with a chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Everybody's favorite stat about the (lack of) parity in the NBA is the simple fact that since 1984, only eight different organizations have won the championship. That's eight teams in 28 seasons.

Now look at the Eastern Conference in hockey. The Capitals have been atop their division for four straight seasons. The Penguins and Flyers are perennial contenders. Same goes for the Bruins while the Rangers, Canadiens and Sabres are regulars in the 5-8 range in the standings.

Of course that leaves teams like the Islanders (four-year playoff drought), Maple Leafs (six-year drought), Jets/Thrashers (one appearance in franchise history), Hurricanes (perennial contender for first runnerup these days) and the Panthers (10-year drought) to fend at the bottom.

So where do these teams fit? When you have a team like the Islanders seeming ready to step up and compete for the playoffs, who are they going to surpass? The Eastern Conference is full of traditional hockey markets in the American northeast and Canada, big markets either in hockey-crazy cities and ones with rich histories. The West has a few of those as well -- namely Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago -- but not as many as the East.

But have a look at the chart below detailing the past four seasons. Five teams have made the playoffs in each of those seasons and four teams have failed to advance beyond the regular season even once.

Last four seasons
Team Average finish (Eastern Conference) Playoff appearances 2011-12 payroll (capgeek.com)
Capitals 1.75 4 $65,190,128
Penguins 3.5 4 $62,737,500
Bruins 4.5 4 $56,682,976
Flyers 5 4 $64,124,761
Devils 5 3 $58,429,167
Canadiens 5.75 4 $59,770,510
Rangers 7.25 3 $62,935,334
Sabres 7.5 2 $67,895,357
Hurricanes 8.75 1 $49,775,000
Senators 9 2 $51,845,834
Lightning 11.5 1 $59,326,083
Maple Leafs 12.25 0 $59,115,000
Jets/Thrashers 12.25 0 $48,284,166
Panthers 12.25 0 $49,882,042
Islanders 13.75 0 $45,970,166

You get the feeling that at least five spots are locks in the East this year with two more almost assuredly the same. In the lock category you start with four of the five teams that have been staples: The Capitals, Penguins, Flyers and Bruins. Add in the up-and-coming Lightning for good measure. Hard to imagine any of those five not making it this season. In the next two spots I think you can add the Rangers and Sabres. With new owner Terry Pegula, the Sabres seem destined to become another playoff regular. These are teams that all improved (or in the case of Boston, didn't have to improve, but more or less stay in tact after winning the Stanley Cup) and were already playoff caliber.

By my stellar mathematical abilities, that leaves one spot essentially up for grabs. Among the group fighting for it will be the Canadiens (the other team to make it each of the past four seasons), Devils and, well, the rest of the conference. Outside of the Senators who are building for a few years from now and maybe the Jets, every team in the conference looks to be better now then they were at the end of last season.

And here's the thing: I don't see how it will be easy to unseat these teams at the top of the conference. Sure, you will have the occasional team slipping through like the Lightning. To extend the analogy back to the NBA, that's like the Oklahoma City Thunder building after years of struggle to a competitive level. But they still have to fight through the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs, all of which are almost guaranteed to be in the hunt. It's hard to imagine a time when the Lakers won't be contenders, and when they have been (post-Shaquille O'Neal) they rebuilt in a hurry and won the title shortly thereafter.

That's what I'm seeing for the Eastern Conference, that kind of perennial favorite similarity. It makes sense, obviously. The best free agents will want to go to the best teams in the best hockey cities and the biggest pay checks. That's to be expected. And that's a huge reason why these teams are able to stay above the equator. It doesn't hurt to have the infrastructures they all have at their disposal, too. From fan support to smart organizational minds and moves, they win more often than not. Success begets success. It's no coincidence that these are also the teams most heavily featured on national TV.

Let's look at the Capitals. Owner Ted Leonsis has been mentioned his 10-to-15-year plan ... not a plan that calls for 10-to-15 years to win the Cup (although it's starting to look that way) but instead to keep the Caps a Cup contender for that time. And because Washington D.C. has shown itself to be a strong hockey market and is appealing to free agents, it's easy to see how the Caps can sustain that. You have a young Alexander Ovechkin on your roster? Lock him up! Just throw a 13-year contract in front of one of the sport's best players and he's aboard for the long haul. Try and do the same when you're in Tampa Bay and you have a situation where you are only able to secure Steven Stamkos for five seasons.

The reasons are obvious, much the same as the Yankees in baseball (and now the Red Sox). You can pen each of those teams into the playoffs before the season even starts and you are most likely going to be right. But this isn't supposed to happen in hockey, not with a supposedly game-evening hard salary cap. It's just the inherent advantages are too tough for a lot of teams to compete with. Essentially, the margin for error is razor thin for the lesser markets/organizations.

Toronto is the exception (sorry Leafs fans) to the big-market success model. It is probably the best hockey market in the NHL, has an incredibly devoted fan base and has not been afraid to spend. But even the Leafs are struggling these days to break that glass ceiling and butt their way into the playoffs. They couldn't beat out the Rangers for Brad Richards' services in free agency.

Now this is why they play the game. You can't lock in these teams to the playoffs. After all, who saw that Devils season coming last year? You still have to earn your way into the postseason. But if you are a fan of one of the bottom-feeders in the East, I'd suggest you cool your jets. The East's upper echelon is pretty well full of NHL aristocrats. The competition will be better and the spots will likely be more fiercely fought for, but it will be hard to break through.

In the West you can hear the mid-level teams saying "welcome to our world."

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:03 am
 

Daily Skate: Should Sid retire? Blues tough sell

By Brian Stubits

ADVICE TO SID: Yesterday brought about another round of Penguins star Sidney Crosby retirement banter with a station in Halifax reporting he won't be ready for the season only to have it denied by his agent. The uncertainty of the report didn't stop Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star from writing a column on why Crosby should retire. The man has already left an indelible mark on the NHL and won a Stanley Cup, so why risk it? Here's the crux: "There are no goals left for him in the game. At best, all he achieves from now on is more of the same. He still has an entire life to lead after hockey, whether it ends tomorrow or in a decade. What’s in the balance is how capable he will be of leading it fully."

TOUGH SELL: The St. Louis Blues are still on the market and have been a while. Owner Dave Checketts had asked for proposals to be submitted to buy the organization and only one bid came through, that of current minority owner Tom Stillman. The problem is the offer is the same as his previous one (via Andy Strickland), below even the team's current debt, so there's hope another offer can come up. That could still come from Matthew Hulsizer, who didn't submit an offer but that doesn't mean he's done. Either way, the hockey market is hardly favorable (via Globe and Mail).

MIKITA'S BATTLE: It was in May that Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita announced he had Stage 1 oral cancer. Well, the good news is that Mikita says he is "coming along real well" (via Daily Herald) and he'll have a better idea next week when he visits his doctor.

HAWAII HOCKEY: You've heard the relocation cities -- Quebec City, Hamilton, Ont., Seattle, Houston, Las Vegas -- but here's a new one: Honolulu. Seriously. The On Goal Analysis blog makes the argument why Hawaii should be considered for a hockey franchise down the line. If you don't believe me, you can read it for yourself here.

JERSEY TALK: The Winnipeg Jets still haven't revealed their new jersey, but that's not stopping "leaks" from coming out. Check out the latest one down below. Of course, True North Sports and Entertainment has denied it, saying the leaked look is "not even close" (via Slam Sports). Considering that was the case with the logo, I'll imagine he's telling the truth. But time will tell.

Photo: Slam Sports

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