Tag:Brent Sopel
Posted on: July 29, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Veterans Sopel, Kovalev heading to KHL

By Brian Stubits

The NHL lost two free agents to the KHL on Friday as Brent Sopel and Alexei Kovalav are headed to the Russian league to continue their careers.

Sopel made the announcement himself on his Twitter account, saying "Two years in the KHL! So excited for this new opportunity!" More specifically, he inked the deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk.

Sopel will be 35 next season and the defenseman hasn't put up more than 10 points in a season since 2007-08 with the Blackhawks. His best season came with the Canucks in 2003-04 when he scored 10 goals and had 32 assists. He split last season between the Thrashers and Canadiens.

He has seen his offensive numbers dip and his ice time has gone down, too, but it isn't as if he is a player that wouldn't interest any team at this point. Playing for the Thrashers last year he had a plus-7 in 59 games. Not bad considering the team he was on. Him going to the KHL is more a surprise than Kovalev.

Kovalev, meanwhile, will sign with Atlant Mytishchi according to Sport-Express.

Now 38, the Soviet Russian native played for the Senators and Penguins last season, scoring 17 goals with 19 assists. He has never had much of a problem scoring goals, tallying 428 over his career in the NHL that spanned 18 seasons.

For him it's a move you would expect. He's up there in age and gets a chance to finish out his playing career much closer to home, something that is becoming more and more common among the Russian veterans.

The moves, though, should put no fear in anybody that the KHL is creeping in on the free agents. The two leagues recently signed an agreement for signing players, but this appears to be a situation of veterans not finding interest from NHL squads.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 4, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Kaberle heads list of free agents still unsigned

NHL free agency is unilke any other sport's. Within the first few hours -- first day at the latest -- the majority of the free agents, let alone impact players, are off the market. But not all of them.

Atop the list of players still looking for work is Tomas Kaberle. A bit maligned in Boston for the team's power-play struggles, it's not as if Kaberle isn't still good at what he does. Last season for the he had four goals and 43 assists.

It is still no foregone conclusion that he won't be back in Beantown next year. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said before free agency opened that Kaberle would test the waters, but that they would continue negotiations.

Or perhaps he could be on the radar of the Rangers down the coast. New York still needs a little bit of help on the back end and Kaberle could be a nice fit. If he doesn't make sense cap wise (the Rangers have $15 million but multiple restricted free agents left to sign) then they could stick with Bryan McCabe at a cheaper rate.

Regardless, there is still some useful talent to be had. Here's a look at the best available.

Forwards

Jason Arnott: He's a bit long in the tooth, but Arnott can be a solid veteran center for any team in the market. Scored 17 goals with 14 assists last season between New Jersey and Washington.

Jamie Langenbrunner: It will be interesting to see what role teams think Langenbrunner can fill at this point. Saw a drop of 19 points between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Antti Miettinen: He has a little bit more youth than most of the players still up for grabs and he can provide some decent scoring. Last season with the Wild he had 16 goals, the season before he had a career-high 20. However, he could be KHL-bound.

Vaclav Prospal: Prospal played only 29 games last season due to injury, but was pretty darn productive in that time for the Rangers when the 36-year-old had nine goals and 14 assists.

Sergei Samsonov: Samsonov found a little spark after being traded to Florida at the end of last season, tallying three goals and 11 assists in 20 games for the Panthers. There is probably a home on a third line somewhere for him.

Teemu Selanne: The suspense here isn't where he will play, it is if he will play. Selanne will sign with the Ducks if he decides he'll play another season, if not it's off to the world of retirement. Still very productive with 31 goals and 49 assists last season.

Cory Stillman: Like many of the guys on the list, he is a veteran with plenty of experience but can still wield the stick a little. Stillman had 12 goals with 27 assists last season between Carolina and Florida.

Nikolai Zherdev: Zherdev has youth on his side compared to the rest here at just 26 years of age. Didn't have an incredibly productive year (and played just 56 games) with Philly last season, but with an increased role he could show more of the form that saw him score 23 and 26 goals the previous two seasons.

Defensemen

Scott Hannan: Hannan is a solid own-end defenseman who will find a home somewhere for teams looking to lock down in the back end. Because of his lack of offense (one goal, 10 assists last season) he should come at a pretty cheap price for whoever signs him.

Tomas Kaberle: After spending 11 seasons in Toronto, Kaberle could be joining his third team in three years if he doesn't return to Boston. He is still young enough (32) that he can get a pretty nice contract from some team.

Bryan McCabe: One of the better power-play captains a few years ago, McCabe still does a good job commanding the special teams. He won't command anywhere near the same contract he's coming off of and should be an affordable offensive option. Still very possible he could return to the Rangers.

Brent Sopel: Like Hannan, he's more of a defenseman's defenseman, a guy that will block shots and do his best to keep the puck out of the net. Teams interested in him won't be in the market for a top-four defenseman, but that doesn't mean he has no value, his plus-6 last season in 71 games for the Habs evidence.

Goaltenders

Ray Emery: I thought Emery might be one of the goalies teams would target, but now he and the rest of the guys on this list are left in a tough spot as the goaltender market dried up pretty quickly and the need isn't big. But Emery should find a home.

Pascal Leclaire: Leclaire could be out of luck for NHL jobs, perhaps waiting until the middle of the year when some team is looking for depth. The concern with him is the injury history as he has struggled to stay healthy for his whole career.

Marty Turco: After years as the starter in Dallas, Turco has now been pretty much relegated to a backup, playing last season behind Corey Crawford in Chicago. Could be a midseason acquisition for teams searching for some depth and experience.

By Brian Stubits

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


Posted on: June 29, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Free agency: Ehrhoff atop veteran defenseman list

It wasn't long ago that we had a free-agent defensive class that was shaping up with names like Kevin Bieksa, Andrei Markov, Joni Pitkanen and Christian Ehrhoff.

NHL Free Agency

Now all of them are off the market before it even begins. Capped off by the Sabres signing Ehrhoff to a long-term deal, each has signed contracts to stay with their teams (except in Ehrhoff's case since his rights were traded).

As a result we're left with an overall veteran group with mixed-in youngsters.

The hard part is naming a defensive headliner. Is it Ed Jovanovski, the veteran who played most recently in Phoenix? Could it be Roman Hamrlik, a 17-year veteran that still has a few miles left on the tires?

Here are this year's best defensemen (in alphabetical order).

Jonathan Ericsson -- Red Wings: The 6-foot-5 Swede is just 27 and skates well, so he's an intriguing prospect, even if he has been playing mostly as a third-pairing defenseman. At this point there is no deal in place to keep him in Detroit, but that can still be done. If not, though, there will be some suitors intrigued by the big man with very modest offensive numbers (six goals, 15 assists last season). (June 30: Re-signed with Red Wings)


Ehrhoff -- Canucks/Islanders/Sabres: He rejected an offer from the Canucks that was reportedly the exact same as Kevin Bieksa's five-year, $23 million deal and has since been sent to Long Island -- for a few days, at least. Ehrhoff has plenty of offense, scoring 14 goals with 36 assists last season in Vancouver. It's likely the Red Wings will be hot and heavy to sign Ehrhoff to fill Brian Rafalski's void now that talks have broken off with the Islanders. (June 30: Signed with Sabres)

Hamrlik -- Canadiens: At 37, Hamrlik has already declined a one-year offer from the Habs, looking to get something for two or three years. He has taken a lot of heat from the fans in Montreal, but he's still a solid player on the blue line who helped cover for an injured Markov this season. A return to Montreal is still possible, but other teams will a shot, too.


Jovanovski -- Coyotes: He's 34 but can still be a nice addition as a top-two pairing defenseman. The big question is if he can stay healthy. He will surely have a pretty hefty pay cut coming his way after the five-year, $32.5 million contract he signed with the Coyotes, but could be a target for teams like Colorado or Florida looking for experience on the back end.


Tomas Kaberle -- Bruins: He wasn't a great fit in Boston this year, as his time diminished during the playoffs. The big bug-a-boo was not giving much life to the power play, which was a year-long struggle for Boston despite the team's success. The Bruins are still trying to figure out if they want him back, but it looks like the answer will be no. He still can be an offensive contributor, though; he had four goals with 43 assists last season.

Bryan McCabe -- Rangers: Acquired by New York midseason, McCabe's greatest attraction is the offense he provides on power plays. He is coming off a big contract that was big in his falling out with Toronto when the fans didn't feel he was living up to the money. That shouldn't be a problem this time around as he won't get the big bucks.


Wisniewski -- Canadiens/Blue Jackets: He is in the 20-something crowd at 27 and has plenty of offensive potential. After coming over to Montreal from the Islanders, Wisniewski actually put up the most points of any player on this list last season with 51 (10 goals, 41 assists). There are plenty of concerns about him as a defensive player and it looks like the Blue Jackets are going to try and lock him up after acquiring him Wednesday afternoon.

Others of interest: Andy Greene (NJ), Scott Hannan (WAS), Sami Salo (VAN), Brent Sopel (MTL), Steve Montador (BUF)

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: March 28, 2011 2:46 am
 

Morning Skate: Chicago makes push minus depth

At some point, the personnel departures had to catch up with the Chicago Blackhawks

Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Antti Niemi , John Madden, Brent Sopel and Dustin Byfuglien were either dealt or let go after the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup last season, mostly for salary cap reasons. Still, Chicago rallied midseason and were all the way up to fourth place in the Western Conference as recently as March 14.

The Blackhawks have played .500 hockey in the four games since -- including a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday -- and enter tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. 

The slip coincides with recent injuries to Patrick Sharp (knee) and Dave Bolland (concussion). 

Line Changes
  • Eye on Hockey: Vancouver's Hamhuis concussed
  • Pens extend shootout win streak
  • Detroit's Howard day-to-day
  • CBSSports.com playoff tracker

  • Minus the depth of a season ago, the Blackhawks could very well join the 2007 Carolina Hurricanes as the only teams in the last 72 years to miss the playoffs a season after hoisting the Stanley Cup. 

    The Blackhawks, however, are hardly focusing on who they don’t have in the lineup and are looking toward what they have to do to make it into the postseason, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports
    “Maybe we go .500 and maybe that's not good enough," winger Patrick Kane said. "That puts us at 96 and we don't get in. Hopefully, we'll be better than .500."

    So somewhere between four and eight victories would appear to get the Hawks a postseason berth. They have three games remaining against the Wings, and one each against the Bruins, Blue Jackets, Lightning, Canadiens and Blues.

    "It would be nice to win a lot of them," Kane said. "You don't want to put a number on it because you don't want to set any expectations for yourself that are too low. We have to worry about Detroit right now and try to get two points there. It's a tough schedule remaining. You can't look past anyone." 

    The Blackhawks have 88 points, a point ahead of the Calgary Flames and two points up on the Dallas Stars.  Chicago has the second-toughest strength of schedule (.597) -- calculated by points percentage of future opponents --  for the remainder of the season, according to the NHL. 

    Chicago coach Joel Quennville appears to be shuffling around the players he has at his disposal, Jess Rogers of ESPN Chicago reports

    Kane and Jonathan Toews were put with Troy Brouwer at practice on Sunday. Marcus Kruger centered a line with Bryan Bicklel and Marian Hossa. Michael Frolik centered the third line with Jack Dowell and Thomas Kopecky at the wings. Viktor Stalberg, who had been playing with the first line in place of Sharp, moved to the fourth line with Ryan Johnson and Fernando Pisani

    The changes come a day after the forward Corey Perry – part of the Ducks’ top line -- scored twice with Blackhawks’ No. 1 line on the ice. 

    The ‘Hawks could get Sharp, injured March 20 against the Phoenix Coyotes, fairly soon. Quennville said this weekend that Sharp was making “rapid progress.” But the same can’t said for Bolland, who took a hit to the head March 9 that led to a two-game suspension for Tampa’s Pavel Kubina, is apparently still suffering concussion-like symptoms and Quennville said there was no change in his status. 

    SUNDAY’S RESULTS
    Pittsburgh 2, Florida 1 (SO)
    Atlanta 5, Ottawa 4 (SO)
    Vancouver 4, Columbus 1
    Boston 2, Philadelphia 1

    -- A.J. Perez   

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