Tag:Pittsburgh Penguins
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 11:53 am
 

Daily Skate: Top showings at junior tryouts

By Brian Stubits

HAPPY CAMPERS: In preparation for the hockey World Juniors at the end of this year, Team Canada held some scrimmages this weekend Alberta and a few prospects came away with very impressive weekends. Leading the way is Ottawa Senators prospect Mark Stone, who had two goals and three assists in the final game of the weekend, giving him a total of four goals in the camp, the highest total. Florida Panthers top pick in this past draft, Jonathan Huberdeau, also excelled with two goals in the final game, giving him three for the camp. As always, Team Canada will have quite a stock of players to pick from for its final roster that is set to open the Worlds on Dec. 26 in Edmonton. TSN had a wrapup of the scrimmages.

AMERICAN UPDATE: While the camp continues in Canada for the World Juniors roster, the same is going on in the good ol' U.S. of A. America's roster for the Juniors needs to be set, too, and so the 44 players in camp just finished a pair of intrasquad games before taking on Sweden and Finland for a few friendlies. The top performances in the scrimmages go to Kenny Agostino (drafted in 2010 by the Penguins), who tallied a goal and three assists. Austin Watson (2010 selection of the Predators) checked in with two goals and an assist. Rangers top pick in this year's draft J.T. Miller was among those who racked up two points on two goals.

RETURN TO GLORY? You might remember that the St. Louis Blues signed former Sharks star Jonathan Cheechoo to a two-way contract earlier this offseason, hoping he could find the magic that helped lead him to a 56-goal season with San Jose. Cheechoo talked with Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News about what he's been up to, the continued support he receives in the Bay Area and how he (and the Blues) are hoping a new workout regimen will help him regain his old speed and, hopefully, old game.

DISCOVERING THE PACIFIC: For a fun -- and informative! -- link, check out this submission by flyersgoalscoredby.com on the defunct Pacific Hockey League. Did you know that more than 20 years after he became the first African American to play in the NHL, Willie O'Ree played for the San Diego Hawks at 42? And how about the names Tucson Rustlers, San Francisco Shamrocks and Phoenix Roadrunners? Small-time hockey is awesome. This coming from a guy who grew up watching a league with teams named the Sabercats, Gila Monsters, Rage and Fog.

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



Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:24 am
 

Daily Skate: Latvia picks Nolan; Zherdev to KHL

By Brian Stubits

NOT KEEN ON KEENAN: Last week we told you that former NHL coach Mike Keenan was one of two finalists for head coach of Team Latvia. Turns out he was No. 2. Latvia announced Wednesday that it is hiring another Canadian and former NHL coach, tabbing ex-Sabres and Islanders boss Ted Nolan to lead the team.

NIKKI SKIPS: Earlier this week, colleague Adam Gretz addressed the issue of where would Nikolay Zherdev play next season, speculating it could be Winnipeg or possibly a jump to the KHL. Turns out it's the latter. The former Flyers forward will play next season with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL, joining Alexei Kovalev on the team.

TOUGH WEEK: It hasn't been a kind few days to the Islanders. The future of the franchise was made cloudy with the resounding no vote on a new arena for the team. So when the team announced very early Wednesday morning they had re-signed forward Jon Sim, it shouldn't be bad, right? Not until the Isles tweet this a short while later: "Jon Sim has not been resigned. A glitch in Bridgeport's email sent a press release from last summer. We apologize for any confusion." Oops.

PERRON STILL OUT: From the department of news you never want to see, Blues forward David Perron isn't going to start training camp with his teammates as he is still dealing with concussion symptoms. He is expected to play at some point next season, Andy Strickland says the two sides just agreed Perron needs more time.

NUMBERS GAME: It's a very awkward situation with the Jets as far as the history of the franchise ... is the team playing under Thrashers history or Jets, who are now the Coyotes? Evander Kane already asked Bobby Hull about wearing his retired No. 9 Jets jersey and Bryan Little has run into the same issue with Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10. But instead of asking to wear it (Hawerchuk said it was no big deal) Little is just going to change numbers himself. (Via Puck Daddy)

BUFFALO ADDS TO STAFF: The Sabres added a coach to Lindy Ruff's bench, announcing the hire of Kevyn Adams as an assistant coach. He joined the staff in 2009 in a player development role.

PITTSBURGH SIGNS TOP PICK: The Penguins took care of some house cleaning by getting their top pick in this year's draft in the fold, signing defenseman Joseph Morrow to a three-year entry-level contract.

Avalanche OF CONFIDENCE: Erik Johnson is expecting a big season in Colorado (Via Denver Post). The defenseman is changing up his workout, trying to prepare for a great year. And he's talking the talk about it too, sending a message to Capitals fans. "It's not going to be a [high] pick [to the Caps in exchange for Semyon Varlamov]. It's going to end up being a great trade for us. People are saying we got the short end of the trade and they're happy because they think we're going to finish at the bottom of the league -- and we're not going to do that this year."

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

Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Higher salary cap means larger core for teams

Kane

By: Adam Gretz


If the NHL salary cap has done anything during its existence it's forced teams to identify a core of players to build around. With a limit on spending teams aren't going to be able to keep every single player they want, or build a completely well-rounded team without flaws. Eventually tough decisions will have to be made on who to keep and who to let go.

In the cap era teams that make deep runs into the postseason have been pretty consistent with the structure of having nearly 50 percent of their league-allotted cap space tied up in a core of just five players. But in recent years, specifically the past two, the salary cap has increased rather significantly, all the way to the point where the salary floor for the 2011-12 season is higher than the actual cap was back in 2005-06.

Will that change the structure of teams from having a core of just five players, to perhaps a core of six or seven?

Let's take a look at last year's 16 playoff teams and how their top-five salaries fit under the 2011-12 cap of $64.3 million…

Playoff Teams Top-Five Salary Cap Commitments For 2011-12
Team Top-Five Salary Cap Hits Percentage of Salary Cap
Washington Capitals $32.6 million 51%
Pittsburgh Penguins $31.4 million 49%
San Jose Sharks $29.5 million 46%
Chicago Blackhawks $29.4 million 46%
New York Rangers $29.3 million 46%
Tampa Bay Lightning $29.1 million 45%
Montreal Canadiens $29 million 45%
Philadelphia Flyers $27.5 million 43%
Buffalo Sabres $27.1 million 42%
Vancouver Canucks $27.1 million 42%
Detroit Red Wings $26.5 million 41%
Anaheim Ducks $25.2 million 39%
Boston Bruins $24.9 million 39%
Los Angeles Kings* $24.6 million 38%
Phoenix Coyotes $20.7 million 32%
Nashville Predators* $20.1 million 31%

*Nashville's number will surely increase once Shea Weber's contract is settled this week, and the same thing goes for Los Angeles whenever Drew Doughty signs a new contract.

I spoke with one NHL executive a couple of weeks ago on the subject and he agreed that most teams, if not every team, see the current NHL structure as having to invest a significant portion of their resources into a core group of players, but that there are still several key factors that go into the roster construction.

For one, you have to have the players worthy of that sort of investment. Throwing large money at mediocrity isn't going to win anything.

The other factor at work is that some of these teams, like Phoenix and Nashville for example, aren't concerned with the league-wide cap and are instead working against their own financial restrictions, which can put them at a sizable disadvantage, not all that different from the ones these teams faced prior to the salary caps existence. The Predators, who are set to go to arbitration with one of their best players, Shea Weber, on Tuesday, have an easily identifiable core of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. There's already been concern about their ability to keep them together for the long haul. So even with the cap there's still teams that struggle to keep their home-grown Stars.

But for the teams that have the funds at their disposal, the latest cap increase has made it easier to not only keep their best, core players under contract, but to also increase that "core" (at least until -- or if -- the cap goes down at some point) and potentially keep even more players that they may have otherwise had to part ways with in recent years due to cap restrictions.

Look at it this way: Last season the top-four playoff seeds in each conference (including both Stanley Cup final teams) had at least 50 percent of the $59.4 million cap invested in just five players, while four of them had as much as 55 percent invested in their top-five cap hits. As you can see in the table above, only one team at this point in the offseason -- Washington -- hits that mark, which is an example as to how much the cap has increased, and how much additional room the deep pocketed teams with talent have to work with.

All salary cap figures via CapGeek

Photo: Getty Images

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

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 28, 2011 10:35 am
 

Daily Skate: Preds, Weber prepare for arbitration

By Brian Stubits

ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Even though all other arbitration hearings haven't come to fruition so far (not counting Chris Campoli, who the Blackhawks decided to walk away from well before), Shea Weber and the Predators are both preparing for their battle (the Tennesseean). The chances still are good that a deal will be reached in time, but the sides maintain they aren't close right now. The arbitration meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 2, so expect things to stay at a stalemate until Monday. If they still go to arbitration, then Nashville has to take whatever award Weber gets since it filed for arbitration and it will only be a one- or two-year deal. You can see why the Preds would love to handle this on their own.

PITTSBURGH IS ON THE CLOCK? No site has been selected for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft yet, but Pittsburgh has stepped to the front of the table as the leader (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). The city's main foe appears to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last year the draft was held in Minnesota. But that's not all the Penguins are up to in the middle of the summer. The team is also going to unveil a Mario Lemieux statue outside of the arena at some point before then. Certainly a worthy gesture.

GETTING WITH THE TIMES FORUM: Steven Stamkos got the most money from Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, but a close second is the St. Pete Times Forum. The team's new owner Jeff Vinik is serious about rebuilding the franchise, and one of those steps is rebuilding the arena. The Forum is in the process of receiving a $35 million facelift (St. Petersburg Times) to the arena which will feature a whole bunch of new and interesting aspects. You know the pirate ship at Tampa's football stadium? Well the Lightning are looking for something similar as far as a recognizable destination goes. The way team CEO Tod Leiweke put it: "we felt the building in some ways needed a soul."

BACKUP BLUE: When free agency began, the Blues got in the action by signing former Senators goaltender Brian Elliott. It wasn't long after that they re-signed massive (literally) prospect Ben Bishop to the same exact two-way contract as Elliott. Now the two are primed for a camp battle for the same spot. Pro Hockey Talk takes a look at the backup battle and notes its importance considering Jaroslav Halak played a career high in games last season and it was just 57. The backup will certainly be relied upon.

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

Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 5:52 pm
 

Can Jason Williams find a role with Penguins?

WilliamsBy: Adam Gretz

The Penguins signed Jason Williams to a one-year, two-way contract on Tuesday afternoon worth $600,000 if he makes the NHL roster. It's not exactly a move that's going to send shockwaves through the NHL, but it could prove to be a good fit for the 10-year veteran as well as the Penguins.

Throughout his career -- which he's spent bouncing between Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Columbus and Dallas -- Williams has been a solid power play specialist that can chip in some points on the man-advantage. Of the 93 goals he's scored in his career, 32 have come on the power play, while nearly 40 percent of his total points over the past six seasons have come while playing playing with the man-advantage.

And that has to make him at least somewhat attractive to the Penguins, assuming he can earn a spot on the NHL roster.

Despite an impressive talent level, and what should be a strong power play unit on paper, the Penguins have been a below average team on the power play for about three years now. Going back to the 2008-09 season their power play has finished 20th ('08-09), 19th ('09-10) and 25th ('10-11) in the NHL, and is coming off of a disastrous performance in last season's opening round playoff loss to Tampa Bay, where the Penguins converted on just one of their 35 power play opportunities.

Because the Penguins have so much invested in their core players, particularly their top-three centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, they don't have the luxury of adding high-profile wingers in free agency or through trades. Instead, they're forced to search for veterans that can come at a bargain price to fill in around their big three. Perhaps Williams can be one of those players that gives them the potential for a small boost in one area -- like the power play -- even if his game has other flaws.

Earlier this offseason the Penguins signed Steve Sullivan to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. He's also been a productive player on the power play during his career, even though he's been limited by injuries in recent years.

Photo: Getty Images

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


Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Patrick Lalime to retire, become analyst

Lalime

By: Adam Gretz

If you're still searching for a backup goaltender on the free agent market, your list of options has taken a solid hit over the past two days. The latest name to be removed is Patrick Lalime. The veteran announced his retirement on Wednesday, and according to RDS in Canada, will become an analyst for the french-speaking station.

Lalime spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and, most recently, the Buffalo Sabres, serving as a backup to Ryan Miller. He finished his career with exactly 200 wins and a .905 save percentage.

Originally a sixth-round draft pick by the Penguins in 1993, Lalime started his career with Pittsburgh during the 1996-97 season and set an NHL record with 16 consecutive starts to his career without losing a game (his record was 14-0-2). After that season, however, he was involved in a lengthy contract dispute with Pittsburgh and was ultimately traded to Anaheim for Sean Pronger in March of 1998. After never appearing in a game with the Ducks, he was later sent to Ottawa -- in exhange for Ted Donato and Antti-Jussi Niemi -- where he spent five seasons, collecting 146 wins, and helping the club advance to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2002-03 season.

During the 2001-02 playoffs Lalime recorded four shutouts, including three in a row against the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round.

Now that Lalime has retired, the only goaltenders of note that remain on the free agent market are Marty Turco and Ray Emery. Chris Osgood announced his retirement on Tuesday, while the Red Wings followed that up on Wednesday by signing Ty Conklin to serve as Jimmy Howard's backup.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 20, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Orpik undergoes abdominal/hernia surgery

By: Adam Gretz

Injuries helped define the 2010-11 season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. At various times throughout the year the Penguins were forced to play without some of their best players, including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz, just to name a few. With the start of training camp inching closer and closer, the injury news started early for the upcoming season.

The club announced Wednesday that Orpik, a 30-year-old defenseman, underwent successful lower abdominal/hernia surgery on his right side. His rehab is expected to be be somewhere between six and eight weeks, according to a team release.

Orpik, who turns 31 in September, has spent his entire career with the Penguins and is one of the more physical -- and tougher -- shutdown defenseman in the NHL. He's also one of the anchors of Pittsburgh's defense to go along with Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek.

He was limited to just 63 games last season because of injury (he had surgery in 2010 for sports hernia surgery on his left side).

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz 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