Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:29 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 12:37 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Dallas Stars locked up what they consider to be one of their franchise players on Monday morning by signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a four-year contract extension that will pay him $18.4 million, which comes down to an annual salary cap hit of $4.6 million.
Said general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, “Alex Goligoski is one of our core players and we are very pleased to get him under contract during the prime of his career. Alex is a character person and one of the anchors of our blue-line. He’s a big part of our hockey club.”
The 26-year-old defenseman was acquired by the Stars last season in the deal that sent forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh. Neal has since turned into one of the NHL's top goal-scorers for the Penguins, while it was a trade that saw both teams deal from a position of strength to fill a position of weakness. Since arriving in Dallas Goligoski has been one of the Stars' top defenseman.
He's missed some time this season due to injury, but has been their power play quarterback and logs more minutes per game than any other player on the team. It's certaily not a cheap contract for the Stars, but that seems to be the going rate for defensemen that can skate, produce offensively and play a ton of minutes every night, as Goligoski can.
In 59 games since the trade he's scored 10 goals to go with 20 assists for Dallas.
Had he and the team not come to an agreement on a new deal before July 1 he would have been eligible to become a restricted free agent. Now that he's signed for the next four years, the Stars have three of their top defenseman -- Goligoski, Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley -- all signed for at least the next three seasons and taking up just a little more than $11 million in salary cap space.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 12:28 am
By: Adam Gretz
The protection of goalies has been a hot topic in the NHL this season and it all started when Boston's Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller in a game back in November. During Tuesday's New York Rangers-Dallas Stars game, which the Stars won by a 1-0 margin thanks to a late third period goal from Trevor Daley and the first career shutout for rookie goalie Richard Bachman, Bachman left his crease in an effort to knock a loose puck away from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin.
There was a collision that resulted in Bachman losing his mask and being knocked to the ice, while Hagelin was assessed a two-minute minor for charging. It again needs to be pointed out that goalies, whether they're in the crease or out of the crease, are not fair game to be hit, and if the opposing team's skater doesn't make an effort to avoid the contact, the proper penalty is to be assessed.
That's not necessarily what happened with this incident, as evey replay angle shows that not only did Hagelin make an effort to avoid making contact with the Stars goalie, he's not even the player that made the actual contact with him -- it was Bachman's own teammate, defenseman Alex Goligoski, that hit him.
No penalty should have been called, and Rangers coach John Tortorella had a bit of an eruption on the bench, and rightfully so.
It's a good bet that shouting match is going to make an appearance on an episode of HBO's 24/7.
After the game, Tortorella said "The goalie came out 20 feet. Sometimes they feel they have to call something. It should've been a non-call."
He's absolutely right.
(H/T PHT for video)
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: November 12, 2011 2:36 pm
By: Adam Gretz
A pair of Pacific Division teams suffered a some rather large injuries on Friday night that will certainly test their depth on the blue line. The Dallas Stars will be without Alex Goligoski for a month due to a broken thumb, while Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky will be sidelined for a similar length of time due to a busted finger.
Goligoski suffered his injury on Friday night during his return trip to Pittsburgh, against the team that traded him last season in exchange for James Neal and Matt Niskanen, after playing just six minutes during a 3-1 loss. Following the game Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he expected Goligoski to be out for an extended period of time, while the defenseman's hand was heavily taped.
In 15 games this season Goligoski has scored two goals to go with four assists, and it's a big loss for a Dallas team that allows a significant number of shots on a nightly basis. His 21 minutes per game is the fourth highest average on the team, trailing only Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Sheldon Souray.
Meanwhile, the Ducks announced on Saturday that Visnovsky is expected to miss four weeks after he was struck by a puck late in the third period of their 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Visnovsky had a career year for Anaheim last season, leading all NHL defensemen in scoring with 68 points. So far this season he's scored just one goal to go with three assists in 16 games.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle recently told Eric Stephens of the OC Register that he thinks Visnovsky is taking too many chances and needs to let the game come to him. Unfortunately, he's going to have to wait a few weeks before he has a chance to do that.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:31 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 11:04 am
The refurbished Madison Square Garden finally hosted a Rangers game on Thursday night, and it wasn't enough like old times for the fans. And I'm not talking about the $9.50 domestic beers.
No, the fans in attendance were longing for the old MSG, where Sean Avery delighted them on the ice. OK, maybe they were just longing for Avery.
There was also a banner hanging from the upper level earlier in the game in support of Avery. Mysteriously, it was gone later in the game. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the fan didn't have a change of heart midway through the game and took it down him/herself.
The case of Avery is an odd one. He is a player that all the teams in the NHL apparently don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole, including the Rangers, who sent him to the AHL's Connecticut Whale. If you ask 100 people to describe Avery the player in one word, the most flattering response you would receive is "agitator."
He's like a member of the Rangers family. Johnny Ranger fan can insult him all day long, just like I can call my brother a jerk (hypothetically, of course). But don't you even dare to call my brother a jerk. It's in the same vain. Avery might just be an ineffective player whose only role it seems is to piss opponents off, but he's THEIR ineffective player whose only role it seems is to piss opponents off. He's a fan favorite. His antics have gone over well in New York, clearly.
But honestly, this wouldn't be that big of a deal if the Rangers were playing better, specifically Avery's replacement, Kris Newbury. Sure, they are 3-3-2, but it has been less-than inspiring. This is a team that had a lot of hype after an offseason that saw them catch the biggest fish swimming in the free-agent lake. The combination of Brad Richards with Marian Gaborik would be gold, I tell you, gold. The Blueshirts would finally be able to give Henrik Lundqvist the kind of scoring support to show he is a Vezina-quality goaltender.
Well, it hasn't happened yet -- the scoring, not Lundqvist showing he is Vezina-quality. The Rangers offense has scored 16 goals in eight games. Even the mathematically challenged should easily recognize that as two goals per game, not very impressive.
“I’ve known [Gaborik] for a month now,” Richards said. “It would be great if we’d come in here and click perfectly. Realistically, we have some work to do, and we’ve got to get to know each other on the ice. We’re both used to having the puck. That’s a work in progress, for sure.”
This has coach John Tortorella tweaking the lines, trying to find the right combinations. The pairing of Gaborik and Richards just hasn't produced yet the way they hoped. Gaborik was practicing on Friday with Wotjek Wolski and Erik Christensen on one line while Richards was with Brandon Dubinsky and Callahan on another.
It's under that backdrop that the Rangers welcome the Ottawa Senators to new-look MSG on Saturday. You know the Senators, the team most everybody saw as being the worst in the Eastern Conference this year but has surprised the masses by winning four games in a row? The plus side is that the Senators could be the team to jumpstart the typically sluggish Rangers offense. Ottawa has surrendered a league-high 39 goals in 10 games.
Let's look at that game as a second chance to make a first impression at home.
Speaking of that Rangers season debut at MSG, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs who spoiled the party with a 4-2 win in New York. With the victory they remained one of the surprising starters of the season, improving to 6-2-1.
But I pose this question: What's more surprising, Toronto starting so well thanks to Phil Kessel's nine goals, or Penguins forward James Neal being tied with Kessel for the league lead in goals scored? We'll have a chance to see them at the same time on Saturday when the Penguins visit the Leafs.
Normally, hearing that a Pittsburgh Penguins player leads the league in scoring doesn't come as a surprise. Rather, it is expected. But that's expected from guys named Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, not James Neal.
Which brings me to that trade from last February when the Penguins acquired Neal. Talk about one of those trades where both sides win. Well, let me rephrase; a trade where it looks like both sides came out well. I caution against calling winner and losers in a trade so soon. But Neal has obviously been producing for Pittsburgh as he seems capable of not only reaching his career-high 27 goals he had in 2009-10, but surpassing it. On the other end, Matt Niskanen and Alex Goligoski, while having very cool surnames, have both been good fits in Pittsburgh and Dallas.
As for the Leafs' sharpshooter Kessel? Well this is what they hoped for when Brian Burke made that trade a couple of years ago. Just for fun, I'd like to point out that Kessel is on pace for an 81-goal, 144-point season and a plus-45 at this time.
Big Z, Max meet ... again
Chara has already been back to Habs Town since his hit on Max Pacioretty late last season, the Bruins had to go through the Habs on their way to the Stanley Cup. But it will mark the first time Chara has faced Pacioretty in Montreal. OK, OK, we're stretching a bit. The Canadiens just beat the B's Thursday in Boston, so let's just say this one is about the game, shall we?
These are two struggling teams. Montreal got off to such a bad start, it was their worst in 70 years! It led to the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn and since then, the Habs have reeled off two in a row, including one over the Bruins. Not that that had much if anything to do with Pearn's dismissal, but at least the Habs are showing signs of getting out of the early season doldrums.
For Boston, they have struggled too, although much more quietly. Interesting considering they are the defending champs and all. In a way this might have been expected. You hear all the time about the dreaded hangover, and that might be in play here. Either way, the Bruins are struggling to score.
The game is just like any other in an 82-game season, but this will quietly be an important one. These teams both want to get on track and in the Boston's case, a home-and-home sweep at the hands of the hated Habs wouldn't help in that regard. But for Montreal, it could help forgive much of the early struggles.
Best games, on paper
Entering the season, these two games appeared to be monster October showdowns: The Sharks visiting the Red Wings on Friday then the Capitals taking on the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday. If you had to pick five preseason favorites to win the Stanley Cup, there's a good chance three or maybe all four of these teams would make that list.
The Sharks have been somewhat slow to start themselves, but seem to have flipped the switch and won three games in a row, all on the road. The Red Wings, on the other hand, began like gangbusters, but have since lost two games to the Caps and previously winless Blue Jackets. However these two are still titans and will be in the Western hunt all year and just might have another playoff battle lined up. (You might remember they played a great seven-game series last season.)
As for Capitals-Canucks? Well one team has played like a Cup contender and the other, well, the Cup contention seems like a long time ago now. Washington finally took its first loss in Edmonton on Thursday night after getting off to a franchise-record 7-0-0 start. Tomas Vokoun has been spectacular. If there has been anything to complain about up to this point, it's nitpicking.
Vancouver meanwhile has a hot mess of a goaltending situation at the moment. Starter Roberto Luongo is more than a hot topic in the city, a lot of the fans want him gone and would like to see Cory Schneider play. A victory over the Capitals, while not incredibly symbolic at this time of the season, would perhaps satisfy the fan base with the notion that things will be OK. Serenity now!
Somebody get him a compass
Ilya Bryzgalov, who is admittedly "lost in the woods" right now and appears to be a broken goalie, is slated to start Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. He better find his way out of the woods in a hurry.
Since his first two starts of the season when he was stellar, Bryzgalov has been a mess, never worse than Thursday's five-goals-on-10-shots showing in "reprieve" of Sergei Bobrovsky. His best showing since those first two was when he gave up three goals to the Kings in an overtime loss. His numbers right now? Ugggly. Try an .870 save percentage and 3.45 GAA. Ouch.
So Peter Laviolette might have decided that what better way to get a goalie's broken confidence going once again than start him the next time out?
Either that or Lavy didn't want to put Bobrovsky back out there either.
Pregame trash talk
One of the great things about Twitter is the ability for players to interact with fans and other players for thousands to see. Ever wonder what players talk about before the puck is dropped in the faceoff circle? Twitter has helped give fans an idea.
Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) got it started with this: Goin 2 Carolina to throw a beat down on the Hurricanes and on@EhStew13 Just like in bantam when I'd drop u in buckets b4 pracy #indafaaace
Here was the response from Stewart (@EhStew13): You remembered u got Tko'd, keep the Bus in the Windy City, these 2 points aren't for sale #meh.
The short back-and-forth concluded with Carcillo: @EhStew13 we aren't lookin to buy #5fingerdiscount and I recall me havin to double shift in practice bc some1 had post concussion syndromes.
Good stuff. Guys having some playful smack (I'm assuming its playful) for all to see is good fun.
As to the game itself between the 'Hawks and 'Canes in Carolina? Well Chicago is looking for its first win in Raleigh since 1998. Granted there is unbalanced scheduling, but still, that's a long time. Also, Eric Staal needs to improve and that league-worst minus-9 he's sporting at the moment. Ouch.
Back to Vancouver ...
There will be no Green Men sitting by the opponent's box to torment Alex Ovechkin and crew. Vancouver's most famous fans will instead be ... in Bakersfield, Calif.?
Well look at that, the Green Men have turned their antics into appearances at hockey arenas. The Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL (originally from the WCHL) will have the spandex-wearing fans at their game on Friday night. Then Saturday will be Star Wars night.
I don't know about you all, but I'd rather see Star Wars night. Either way, these promotions are two big reasons why minor-league hockey is so awesome.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Alex Goligoski, Anthony Stewart, Bakersfield Condors, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Burke, Brian Stubits, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Daniel Carcillo, Detroit Red Wings, ECHL, Eric Staal, Erik Christensen, Evgeni Malkin, Green Men, Henrik Lundqvist, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jacques Martin, James Neal, John Tortorella, Kris Newbury, Madison Square Garden, Marian Gaborik, Matt Niskanen, Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Perry Pearn, Peter Laviolette, Phil Kessel, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Callahan, San Jose Sharks, Sean Avery, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview, Wotjek Wolski, Zdeno Chara
Posted on: September 26, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 9:54 am
By: Adam Gretz
The San Jose Sharks have comfortably controlled the Pacific Division the past four seasons, winning it each year by an average margin of about 11 points.
Regular season success hasn't been much of an issue for the Sharks, reaching the 100-point mark six of the past seven seasons. The issue has always been whether or not they can avoid what seemed to be an annual early exit from the playoffs. They've done some work to help break their negative postseason reputation the past two years, reaching the conference finals each year before ultimately losing to Chicago and Vancouver respectively.
Will this be the year they finally break through and win the Conference? Will they be able to continue their dominance within the division, or did their four divisional rivals do enough to catch up this summer?
The Pacific was the only division in the NHL last season to produce four playoff teams, as Anaheim, Phoenix and Los Angeles joined the Sharks in the postseason. The Ducks boast the NHL's reigning MVP in Corey Perry, while the Los Angeles Kings made what was perhaps the biggest addition in the Western Conference by acquiring Mike Richards in an offseason blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Pacific Division (In order of predicted finish)
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks avoided disaster in the second round of the playoffs last season by escaping with a Game 7 win over the Detroit Red Wings after watching a 3-0 series lead slip away, advancing to the Conference Finals for the second year in a row where they lost to the Canucks in five games. General manager Doug Wilson made a few significant changes to his roster this summer by sacrificing a bit of offense (Devin Setoguchi) to get a defensive upgrade in Brent Burns, while also sending Dany Heatley, a player that is coming his worst goal-scoring season since his rookie year, to Minnesota for Martin Havlat.
Strengths: Even after trading Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi the Sharks still have two outstanding lines with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. Boyle, Burns, Marc Eduard Vlasic and Douglas Murray is a strong top-four on the blue line that combines offensive ability (Boyle and Burns) and strong defensive play (Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray, who also happens to be one of the biggest hitters in the league). They have an outstanding power play that should still be a force even with the loss of Heatley and his 11 power play goals from a year ago. Burns (eight power play goals a year ago) gives them another weapon on the point to go along with Boyle.
Weaknesses: The third and fourth lines aren't great, and the injury questions surrounding goaltenders Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki should be a concern early in the season, but should go away once Niemi returns to the lineup, and may be as early as the season opener. Penalty kill was a major problem last season -- can the addition of Michal Handzus make a difference?
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings haven't advanced beyond the first round of the Western Conference playoffs in over a decade, and have only won one playoff series since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals all the way back in 1993. This roster, on paper, looks to be their best chance for postseason success -- assuming they finally work out something with unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty. For years we've been waiting for the Kings to make a big move given their tradable assets and cap space, and they finally pulled off the blockbuster trade this summer by acquiring Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Strengths: If you believe championship teams are built down the middle, then the Los Angeles Kings should have a great foundation. Already having Anze Kopitar on the roster, the Kings added Richards, one of the best two-way centers in the NHL, back in June in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a draft pick. Combine those two with Jarret Stoll, and the Kings top-three centers should be able to match up with just about any team in the Western Conference. Thanks to steady stay-at-home defensemen like Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell the Kings had one of the top penalty killing units in the league last season.
On the wings Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne help create what should be an improved offense over the one that finished 25th in goals scored last season.
Weaknesses: As of this moment the biggest weakness for the Kings might be the fact that their best defenseman, Drew Doughty, remains unsigned as a restricted free agent, and with each passing day we're one day closer to him missing games that actually count in the standings. The power play needs to improve, finishing just 21st in the NHL last season.
Anaheim Ducks: Without looking it up, do you know which player led all NHL defensemen in scoring last season? Nicklas Lidstrom? Shea Weber? Maybe Dan Boyle? Try again. It was Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky, giving the Ducks the NHL's top-scoring defenseman as well as the leading goal-scorer (Corey Perry, the only player to hit the 50-goal mark).
Strengths: Corey Perry. Ryan Getzlaf. Bobby Ryan. Teemu Selanne. Those four players combined for nearly 60 percent of Anaheim's goals in 2010-11, and that was with one of them, Getzlaf, missing 15 games. Perry, who finished as the NHL's leading goal-scorer and won his first MVP award, probably isn't going to score 50 goals again, and Selanne is a year older (but still productive) but this is still an excellent quartet of forwards.
Weaknesses: Which forwards after the four mentioned above can provide offense?
Jonas Hiller is an excellent goaltender when he's in the lineup, but how much will his battle with vertigo impact him this season? If he has to miss any extended time the options behind him (Dan Ellis is currently the backup) aren't really all that promising.
The defense can certainly provide some offense with Lubomir Visnovsky, who is coming off a career year with 68 points, and Cam Fowler having a very promising rookie season -- from an offensive perspective -- with 10 goals and 30 assists, but questions remain as to how good they can be in their own zone.
Dallas Stars: There are disappointing ways to finish a season, and then there's what the Dallas Stars did to close out the 2010-11 season, losing nine of their final 14 games to miss the playoffs -- the only team in the division to do so -- by just one point. All they had to do on the final day of the regular season was beat the Minnesota Wild, a team that had completely gone in the tank and won just seven of its final 22 games. The Stars lost, 5-3, allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to clinch the No. 8 spot.
Strengths: Some very good forwards with players like Louii Eriksson and Jamie Benn leading the way, and Mike Ribiero still gives them a No. 1 center in the absence of Brad Richards who signed a huge deal with the New York Rangers in free agency. Based on his play after coming over in a mid-season trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Goligoski looks like he could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Weaknesses: Losing Brad Richards to free agency is a big blow, even with Mike Ribiero -- who trailed Richards by just six points last season -- still on the roster. No disrespect to Steve Ott, who is a fine all-around player, but a 1-2 punch of Richards and Ribiero down the middle is more dangerous than Ribiero-Ott from an offensive perspective.
Mediocre special teams a year ago with the Power Play finishing middle of the pack and the penalty kill in the bottom seven.
Phoenix Coyotes: Yes, the Coyotes are still here, and yes, they're looking to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season after having been eliminated by Detroit in each of the past two seasons. They locked up one of their most important players to a long-term contract extension by signing Keith Yandle to a five-year deal this summer, but also said goodbye to another key player in goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Strengths: Dave Tippett has done a masterful job the past two seasons with the Coyotes taking a team in a financial mess with little star power to speak of and helping to get them to the playoffs each year with a disciplined, defensive style that the players have bought in to. Keith Yandle is one of the best up-and-coming defenseman in the NHL,
Weaknesses:Replacing Bryzgalov with Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera seems like a significant drop in talent. The one thing Phoenix does have going for it here is that it has a tight defensive system and some excellent two-way players, while Smith has past experience playing in Tippett's system. Still, will that be enough to overcome the loss of Bryzgalov? The Coyotes don't have a true big-time goal-scorer on the roster, but did manage to have 11 different players score at least 10 goals last season. Three of those players (Lee Stempniak, Eric Belanger and Scottie Upshall) are gone, and another, Kyle Turris, is holding out with some absurd contract demands.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 1, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2012 10:10 am
Under the RadarDark Horses
Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards won’t play a role in tonight’s game as he’s expected to miss his seventh consecutive contest with concussion-like symptoms. But the fact that the Stars will be able to lean on the veteran center -- possibly as early as Friday -- should be reassuring for Dallas fans and maybe even the players who will skate against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena. This 9 p.m. ET tilt is yet another game that will sway the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. (The Blackhawks did just that by moving from ninth to fifth with a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.) Both teams enter with 33 wins. Dallas is in eighth place with a game in hand on the Wild and the Nashville Predators, who all have 72 points. Phoenix, who has been atop of the Pacific Division a good portion of the season, is in fourth in the conference with 76 points and two points behind the division-leading San Jose Sharks.At the end of the day, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk apparently wasn’t offered enough in return for Richards, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Richards told reporters he was willing to waive his no-trade clause, but added that he’s curious to see how the Stars' ownership situation shakes out this summer. That took a little bit of a twist on Tuesday when The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell reported Dallas oil tycoon Douglas Miller offered about $110 million to purchase the franchise. Campbell reported that the purchase price would be announced closer to $225 million since debt and losses written into the deal for the first four seasons would be included in the larger figure. (Forbes ranked the Starsas the 10th most valuable NHL franchise at $227 million in December.) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, is seen by many as the frontrunner to acquire Stars, who also play at American Airlines Center. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will make his Coyotes debut tonight -- in the team's alternate black jerseys no less. He was acquired before the deadline along with minor league winger Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who the Stars acquired Feb. 21 from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger James Neal defenseman Matt Niskanen, has a goal and two assists and is plus-2 in his first three games on the Stars. The Coyotes have won the last three meetings and are 3-1 overall against the Stars this season.