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Tag:Phoenix Coyotes
Posted on: June 27, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 11:20 am
 

Daily Skate: Jackets need Carter, Pens power

PUT ON YOUR JACKET:: Since Columbus went out and landed Jeff Carter from Philadelphia to finally get itself a top-line center, the All-Star has been quiet and seemingly avoiding his new home. At this point, he is yet to speak to GM Scott Howson, team officials or the media. Because of all that, fans are starting to worry that it could be another situation of a prized player coming to town and wanting out before he ever gets in. Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch stresses the importance for the franchise and its fans that Carter get on board the C-bus.

Penguins POWER: One of the factors that brought down the Pittsburgh Penguins last season -- besides the injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- was an abysmal power play. In the first-round playoff exit to Tampa Bay, for example, the Pens were just 1 of 35 with the man advantage. You don't need me to tell you that's beyond dreadful. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Dejan Kovacevic says Dan Bylsma knows as much, too, and he is already planning on multiple looks to find success. Kovacevic offers some of his own ideas, including a four-forward umbrella look.

WHO WANTS THE Coyotes?: The Coyotes, the city of Glendale, Ariz., and the NHL are still looking for a buyer to keep the team in the desert, but they have had more problems selling than Wile E. had chasing the Roadrunner. Matthew Hulsizer was close to acquiring the team in the past, and he's still in the mix. And, according to the Phoenix Business Journal so are Jerry Reinsdorf (who had seemingly withdrawn from the process) and an unknown third party. The two-year sales saga is far from over.

TWO FOR ONE: Hot on the heels of the NHL returning to Winnipeg, there is already talk of another team coming to town. The Calgary Sun suggests the idea of adding a Western Hockey League team to Winnipeg makes a lot of sense, noting that the WHL has long wanted to get back into the 'Peg and the two-team look has worked very well in Calgary and Edmonton.

WELCOME BACK: Ryan Smyth is now officially back with the Oilers and while he doesn't have his position on the team defined yet -- second or third line? right wing or left? -- GM Steve Tambellini knows what role Smyth will fill. Edmonton is expecting Smyth to come in and play the mentor role, teaching and leading by example, something Tambellini wanted to find for his young team. "I can't see any reason why Ryan won’t be a huge part of that. He's experienced. He understands this community. He understands where we are as an organization right now," Tambellini said.

SAND STAR: Tim Thomas has reached icon status in New England to the point people are making sculptures out of the guy ... in sand, that is. Check out this photo from the Master Sand Sculpting Competition of Thomas protecting the cage. It's no wonder he was almost unbeatable all year, look how big he is in the net.

-- Brian Stubits

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 12:33 am
Edited on: June 25, 2011 5:55 pm
 

NHL Draft: First round winners & losers

NHL Draft night in Minnesota turned into Hockey Night in Canada.

It all started with the Winnipeg franchise announcing its nickname would be the one all the fans back in Manitoba hoped for, the Jets. Then Edmonton had the first selection again and picked up a superstar in the making in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Between the seven teams that now call Canada home, there were 11 selections made in Friday night's first round. That included two for Edmonton, three from Ottawa and two from Toronto. Those are some quick ways to rebuilding in a top-heavy draft.

Then among the teams with only one pick, Montreal had to be pretty pleased with its outcome. Waiting patiently at No. 17, talented two-way defenseman Nathan Beaulieu -- expected by many to go in the top 10 of the draft -- fell all the way to them. Taking the podium to a chorus of boos -- the only low moment on a night of great moments -- the Habs snatched up the defenseman who plays his junior hockey in Quebec.

We even had a bit of an old-fashioned Alberta battle between Calgary and Edmonton, who were apparently both fighting to get Ryan Smyth from the Kings. While the trade wasn't ever made official on the night, it looks like the Oilers won, getting back a player who spent much of his career in the orange and blue.

Yes, it was a good night north of the border.

Winners

Ottawa Senators: Sens GM Bryan Murray was very busy, entering the night with two first-round picks and making it three without sacrificing anybody on his current roster. In their three picks, he selected an entire line, going center then two wings. It's a good start to a rare rebuilding process in Ottawa, something that we haven't really seen since the organization was born.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Burke was his old usual self, dealing on draft day. He got it started before the draft by acquiring defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Avalanche in exchange for a second-round selection. Then he improved his draft position in a draft-pick swap with Anaheim to grab a very physical power forward in Tyler Biggs. But the best move of the night was getting Liles, a good puck-moving defenseman.

Chicago Blackhawks: If for no other reason than finally unloading the albatross of a contract that is Brian Campbell. Wouldn't you know it, they found a willing partner in the man that originally signed Campbell to the massive deal, Dale Tallon in Florida. The Panthers have a ridiculous amount of cap space, so the burden isn't heavy and the Blackhawks don't get much in return (Rostislav Olesz, who makes more than $3 million per year despite a career high of 14 goals in one season). Then they picked up two forward prospects with high character. Not a bad day's work.

Minnesota Wild: I wasn't in love with their first selection in Jonas Brodin, a good defenseman from Sweden, but that's because I felt they needed to add more offense. Then they made a deal with San Jose and brought in immediate help with Devin Setoguchi and a first-round talent in Charlie Coyle as well as another pick in this year's first round, which they used on center Zack Phillips from Saint John in the QMJHL with great passing ability. And they were the host. So, kudos Minnesota.

Losers

San Jose Sharks: So they not only traded out of the first round, but sent Setoguchi packing along with their first-round pick from last season? Sure, they got an excellent defenseman in return, but they essentially traded three first-round picks for Brent Burns and a second-round selection. They obviously saw a need to bolster the blue line, but the move seems a bit excessive.

Phoenix Coyotes: This is a team for which you have to wonder how much longer the window can stay open -- perhaps it closes a bit with Ilya Bryzgalov gone -- so then they drafted a player with some injury questions who projects as a long-term prospect? The selection leaves something to be desired for me.

Pittsburgh Penguins: They had the chance at a few very solid forward prospects when they came to the podium at pick No. 23, but instead elected to take a defenseman who isn't necessarily a guy who figures to be able to command the power play, something the Penguins were lacking last season. It wasn't the worst of nights, but I thought an offensive guy would have been the better fit.

-- 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 21, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Stars, Coyotes to play preseason game in Reliant

Preseason schedules are coming out and there are the usual spate of neutral-site games such as Kings-Penguins in Kansas City, contests over in Europe, etc., only interesting to the fans of those teams.

But then came the Coyotes schedule on Tuesday and there was one that really stuck out. Phoenix will play the Dallas Stars on Sept. 23 in Houston ... at Reliant Stadium.

That's right, we'll have a "Summer Classic" in hockey. If they can pull this off in the heat of Houston, what's next, playoffs in paradise? Hockey in South Florida? Wait. Forget that last one.

This will be the most intriguing game of the preseason in my book. How they handle the game in the football stadium and with the challenges the weather will present will get a lot of interest and it could lead to doors opening to the Winter Classic in warmer climates, where fan bases feel excluded from the NHL's showcase game.

Reliant Stadium is home to the Houston Texans and hosted the Super Bowl in 2004 between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers and the 2011 NCAA Final Four.

Now it won't truly be an outdoor game, with a retractable roof on the stadium, making the challenge much easier. But still...

The next question will be how many fans show up? It could be quite embarrassing to have this game in a football stadium and a regular preseason crowd in attendance. I'm guessing the novelty of a game in a football stadium and NHL hockey in Houston will bring in some people, but I wouldn't expect a packed house or anything like that. After all, there are more than 70,000 seats for the football layout.

-- Brian Stubits

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

Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:44 pm
 

NHL approves sale, relocation of Thrashers

Winnipeg cleared the final hurdle to reclaim an NHL franchise on Tuesday as the NHL's board of governors approved the sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers.

North Sports & Entertainment was the only serious bidder for the Thrashers, who had been on the block for a couple years. After the ownership group sold 13,000 season seats in a matter of a few days, the approval by the NHL at a meeting in New York appeared to be just a formality.

“We deeply regret that Atlanta’s ownership was unable to secure local partners after exhausting every option and alternative,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “At the same time, we are delighted that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg and to a fan-base that already is showing so much support for its team. We congratulate Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North on their patience, their preparation and their professionalism, and we look forward to the start of a new era for the franchise.”

As The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports, the meeting took place not far from where Atlanta --- which had lost already lost the Flames to Calgary --- was awarded the expension franchise a dozen years ago. 

The official end of the Thrashers came in a hotel conference room at the Westin at Times Square – almost 1,000 miles from the city where the team spent 11 seasons. The vote of the league’s governing body came four days shy of the 14th anniversary of a similar meeting in New York, just 12 blocks away, when Atlanta was awarded an expansion franchise. Atlanta was a shoe-in for one of four new teams, along with Columbus, Minnesota and Nashville, because its bid included solid ownership in Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner, the nation’s largest television market without an NHL team and a new arena. The Atlanta Spirit began looking to sell the Thrashers soon after buying the franchise, part of a purchase from Turner that included the NBA’s Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Reported losses of $130 million over six years, dwindling attendance and the failure to make the playoffs in 10 of its 11 seasons were major issues. As the search for an owner willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta failed, the Atlanta Spirit opened negotiations with True North. The deal was completed in less than a month after the NHL approved the start of talks.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Thrashers president Don Waddell said. “You know it’s coming and you try to prepare for it but this is the final straw that broke the camel’s back. We have to find the positives and move forward but it’s difficult.”

Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division ---  along with Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington -- next season. The NHL will undergo realignment before the 2012-13 season.

The Winnipeg franchise next must pick a team name and tap a new coach.

The NHL holds the rights to the Jets --- which adorned Winnipeg’s previous NHL franchise before it moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 --- and there’s been a major push in Manitoba to bring back that name back. new Winnipeg GM Kevin Chevelday is currently in the process of hiring a new coach since Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay will not be retained.

-- A.J. Perez

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Report: Talks continue between Hulsizer, Coyotes

When True North gave up its chase of the Coyotes and bought the Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix’s ownership situation was put in the background. But there’s still no guarantee the team is staying in the desert beyond next season.

But Matthew Hulsizer is still trying to change that. The Arizona Republic reports that negotiations are still going on between the city of Glendale and the prospective buyer from Chicago with offers going back and forth all the time.

Brad Goldberg, the spokesman for the Hulsizer group, told the paper “The goal is still to find a way to keep the Coyotes in Arizona forever."

You might remember that Hulsizer and Glendale apparently had a deal for him to buy the organization, but a local watchdog group threatened to sue the city for its role in the sale, which would have called for Glendale to help Hulsizer cover the NHL’s asking price. That put things back in limbo.

The city did buy another season in the desert for negotiations when it agreed to pay $25 million in the Coyotes’ operating costs (read: losses) for next season. But beyond that, there are no guarantees and relocation would be back open for discussion if no deal is reached in that timeframe.

"There's not a day that goes by that this isn't worked on by all parties involved in an effort to come to a resolution," Glendale spokeswoman Julie Frisoni said.

-- Brian Stubits

Category: NHL
Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Flyers recognize (again) net situation not ideal


The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to a would-be free agent goalie for the second consecutive year, although this time it’s for one in his prime.

The Flyers have the exclusive rights through July 1 to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in exchange for forward Matt Clackson plus, third-round pick in 2012 and a conditional draft pick. Bryzgalov, a runner-up for the Vezina Trophy a season ago, went 36-20-10 this season as he recorded seven shutouts.

Bryzgalov, 30, is just the type of goalie the Flyers need to solve the Flyers’ biggest hindrance to playoff success this season.

“We’re going to give it our best shot,” Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told CSN Philadelphia. “You give up an asset to get in early so we have every intention of trying to get a deal done.”

Holmgren acquired the rights to Evgeni Nabokov from the San Jose Sharks before free agency last year. At the time, the Flyers were coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final where they leaned on journeymen goalies Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher. Nabokov, 35, and the Flyers could not come to terms and he eventually left for the KHL.

This postseason, which ended in a second-round defeat to the Boston Bruins, those two goalies were in the mix as was rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. None were impressive and the goalie carousel whirled constantly before the Bruins prevailed in four games.

As Bryzgalov’s agent Rich Winter tells CSN Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio, it won’t come cheap as Winter seeks a four-year deal:

“If you study his performance the last couple of years, the only Flyer goaltender to have a statistical performance like that was Bernie Parent,” Winter said of his newest client.

“Look at the best two seasons a Flyer goaltender ever had and the only one who ever had a performance like that was Parent in back-to-back seasons when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup.”
-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
 
 
 
 
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