Tag:Chris Campoli
Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Northeast Division Preview: Champ B's still tops

By Brian Stubits

For the first time since the 1993-94 season began, the reigning champion resides in the Northeast Division after the Bruins ended their Cup drought with a thrilling run through the postseason. The even better news for Boston (but not so awesome for the rest of the division) is that the Bruins are back almost completely intact.

No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 98. Only two other teams have made it back to the Finals a year after winning in that time, the Stars in 1999 then 2000 and once again the Red Wings (2008, 09). There's a reason for it, the fabled championship hangover.

But in hockey, I think it plays a bigger part than any other sport. The offseason is as short as it gets, the playoffs as long and grueling as any of the major sports. The Bruins lifted the Cup in the middle of June and reported back to camp in early September. All the while they were enjoying a whirlwind of a summer that included plenty of partying and celebrating a title. The Blackhawks admittedly struggled with it last season (although the roster being ripped apart didn't help matters). If only getting rid of it were as easy as taking a couple Tylenol and drinking Vitamin Water.

If they do look sluggish and lethargic to start the season then the Buffalo Sabres will be ready to pounce on the opportunity. They are hockey hungry in Buffalo these days with hope their Sabres can become power players in the East. As for the other three in the division, the East's Canadian coalition? Well they will all be hoping to resurrect their glory days.

You can't exactly count out the Canadiens and Maple Leafs from the division crown, but this likely is a two-horse race in the Northeast.

Now we'll just have to wait and see how the Bruins respondin their quest for another Cup.

Northeast Division (predicted order of finish)

Boston Bruins: Why mess with a good thing? That's an easy philosphy to live by when you are coming off of claiming the Stanley Cup. Really, the only new additions they have to work into the fold are Benoit Pouliot as a bottom-six forward and Joe Corvo on the blue line. With the solid support all around them of a close-knit group, they should be able to seamlessly slide in and fill the voids left by Tomas Kaberle, Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, the only pieces to the championship puzzle missing.

One thing I'm not sure many people realize, but this team is very young in addition to being super talented. There are still five players just among the forwards who will be restricted free agents when their contracts run out. The defense is a bit more grizzled, however, and that's where a good chunk of the leadership comes from, of course including captain Zdeno Chara.

There might be a slight sense of urgency for the B's to repeat as champs as they will have a lot of work to do to keep the team together as 10 of their regulars don't have contracts beyond next season. But GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be preparing for that well, saving the B's cap space to maneuver.

Strengths: What's not to like? They are very balanced as 10 players had more than 40 points a season ago, although two of them have departed (Kaberle and Ryder). Defensively they have plenty of veteran presence and have been a very good unit under Claude Julien. Plus, you know, they have that fella named Chara.

Oh, and how can we make it this far without discussing the team's best player, Tim Thomas? He was simply superb last season and through the playoffs, posting the highest single-season save percentage in league history. It's not as if his backup is chopped liver, either, as Tuukka Rask will be expected to shoulder more of the load for the 38-year-old Thomas this year.

Weaknesses: Despite all of their success when five-on-five, Boston's special teams weren't up to snuff. Without much change in personnel, they are going to have to find a way from within to improve the 20th-ranked power play and 18th-best penalty kill units. The power play was a growing concern in the playoffs, which included an 0-for-21 streak in the opening round win over the Canadiens. They tried all sorts of remedies to fix it, including parking Chara in front of the net, but they found their groove late in the playoffs when Chara and his booming shot returned to the point. Their hope is that success will roll over.

After that, we're just getting picky here. There just aren't too many holes from a team that ranked in the top five both offensively and defensively last season and was the NHL's top plus/minus team. They will have the talk of a championship hangover looming over them for much of the season and they will have the proverbial target on their backs as the champs. Those are hurdles that will be new.

Buffalo Sabres: I'm not sure what fans in Buffalo are more excited about right now: the Bills' 3-0 start or the first full season under Terry Pegula? The Sabres' biggest (and richest) fan ushers in a new era that the fans are still trying to get used to, in a good way: Buffalo is a big spender now. Pegula will make sure of that as he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. And his mouth has expressed some awfully high expectations ... multiple championships.

On that note, the Sabres were active in the offseason, most notably signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino to augment the core group that Buffalo has built. But possibly the biggest acquisition they made was the less-heralded of them all, and that was bringing in Robyn Regehr. The stout defenseman should prove to be a great addition as he brings a lot of toughness and all-around defense. Not to mention he will serve as a good influence for assumed partner Tyler Myers, who is in line for a nice bounceback season with more talent with him on defense.

It almost feels like an acquisition, but the return of Derek Roy will be a big boost, too. The front-line center missed the second half of last season due to a quad injury.

Welcome to Pegulaville. Buffalo still can hardly believe it.

Strengths: There is obviously a strong leader, for one. That's a very nice asset to have an owner so willing to win. But beyond him, there's a reason why Buffalo has moved into the conversation to crack the home-ice equation in the East, the new faces likely will make a very good group even better. In particular, the addition of Ehrhoff to the league's ninth-ranked power-play unit will make the special-teams unit a real asset for the Sabres.

Like their division rivals in Boston, as talented as they are all over the ice, their best player probably sits in the blue paint all game long. Ryan Miller didn't have the greatest of seasons last year for Buffalo, but that tends to happen when you come off a Vezina-winning season ... there's only one direction to go. He's still one of the absolute best in the game.

Oh, and the slug logo is gone, wiped away for good. That's positive for everybody.

Weaknesses: The cap situation is a bit troubling. With Pegula's desire to spend, the Sabres actually exceeded the salary cap over the summer, so they will have to be extra diligent with how they manage the roster. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave them much room to try and make any improvements midseason if need be.

Overall, it's not a roster with many holes in it whatsoever. It will just come down to how talented the team proves to be as there are multiple players capable of 50-plus point seasons.

Montreal Canadiens: Last season, without Max Pacioretty or Andrei Markov, the Canadiens captured the six seed in the East and took the eventual champions to the brink. I'm sure this team, almost al of it remains in town, is still stewing over blowing a 2-game lead to its bitter rival in Boston.

I definitely like the signing of Erik Cole in July, he is a solid (and physical) forward who could prove to be one of the bigger acquisitions of the summer for any team. He adds to a good, but not great group of forwards. They are capable, but need to be better than 23rd-best in the league like a season ago.

Where the success of this team will likely hinge is on the blue line. They have a couple of excellent young talents in P.K. Subban and Markov and some solid players behind them like Josh Gorges and Hal Gill.

A few steps toward a return to form for Scott Gomez (just seven goals last season) wouldn't hurt eiher.

Strenghts: Special teams. Under Jacques Martin, the Habs have been good in both departments of special teams, ranking seventh in both phases a season ago. If Markov remains healthy, the power play remains lethal as Subban and him both are excellent with the man up.

It's pretty Wild the goaltending this division features. Like both teams above them here, the Habs have an oustanding man living in the crease. It took fans a while in Montreal, but they finally warmed up to Carey Price, who finally lived up to his expectations last season. Playing a 72-game work load, Price posted a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage. The trick will be doing it again, but the safe bet is that he turned a corner and an encore shouldn't be a problem.

Weaknesses: Let's be honest, having to rely on Gomez to anchor a top-six line after a 37-point season doesn't have overwhelming talent. It showed in their scoring totals from last season when they averaged 2.60 goals per game. Cole will help as he not only brings a power game (among the league leaders in hits for forwards) but he can score. They would love to see him at least match his 26 goals from a season ago, that would have been good for second on the team.

A major concern all season will rest on the blue line and the depth there. Adding Chris Campoli after camp began was a nice addition to help with the concern, but they still can't really afford for injuries to set in, particularly for Markov. They just invested in him with a rich contract this offseason, so they are counting on him returning at full strength from the ACL tear and remaining that way.

Toronto Maple Leafs: How much longer will the fans in Toronto put up with a team that can't make the playoffs? The postseason drought stretches back to the lockout as the Leafs have been on the outside each season since. The only other team in the same boat is Florida, and let's just say the fans in Toronto take their hockey a touch more seriously than those in the Sunshine State. There's hope that this could be the season where they break through and return to playoff hockey, but that's a tall order for this group still.

Over the summer, GM Brian Burke really coveted center Brad Richards, but his staff was unable to convince the top free agent to head to Toronto. So as a backup plan he signed Tim Connolly from Buffalo to anchor the team's top line. If healthy, a very big if, Connolly can prove to be a good addition, the Leafs had to get deeper at center. Also, I really liked the quiet addition of John-Michael Liles to the defense.

But not much else will matter if the goaltending situation isn't solved. That has been the achilles heel for years in Toronto, but they think -- or hope -- the answer lies in James Reimer in his first full season in the NHL.

Strengths: As you'd expect for a team built by Burke, they have become a physical bunch in Toronto. The team captain, Dion Phaneuf, is one of the toughest hitters in the league. But there is obviously a danger of that being a weakness if the team is getting sent to the sin bin (or being Shanabanned with the new emphasis on safety) too often.

The second line is probably good enough to be Toronto's No. 1 group. The combination of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin placed second, third and fourth in the team scoring, respectively. Each had at least 21 goals.

Weaknesses: The problem is, the skill on the team doesn't go much deeper. Only six players on the team last year reached double digits in scoring. The fact is the Leafs have two lines that can hold up with most in the league, but the third and fourth lines are where they feel the drop.

The center position remains a concern. Sure, Connolly was brought in to help that and same with Matthew Lombardi, but you can't be sure what you are getting from either guy from a health standpoint. As mentioned, Connolly has a history of injury issues. He has only played more than 70 games once (2009-10) since the 2002-03 season. With Lombardi, he's coming off a concussion that cost him all but two games last season. If either or both goes down, then Toronto is right back to being razor thin down the middle.

Ottawa Senators: This is odd territory for the folks in Ottawa. Never in the franchise's history have they had to actually rebuild. Since originally building the team in the early 90s, the team had a long, successful run that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07. A couple of the members from the old guard are still around -- Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, but the majority of the team is in place to win in the future, not necessarily now.

Expect to see a lot of the kids getting burn this season. It appears as though the team's top draft pick this summer, Sweedish center Mika Zibanejad, is going to make the team out of camp. Another coveted prospect, Jared Cowen, is also making a bid for the roster and join David Rundblad among the defensive corps. Nikita Filatov, who hadn't lived up to his perceived potential in Columbus, will also be given a shot to show what he can do. If he fits in and focuses on his game, his addition could prove to be a steal for Ottawa.

While new coach Paul MacLean and GM Bryan Murray are saying all the rights things about this team being competitive this season, it will serve as a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the future.

Strenghts: They didn't score much at all or play defense particularly well, but they were alright on special teams, particularly on the penalty kill, which ranked ninth in the league. Sergei Gonchar can help keep that ball rolling. That will qualify as a positive here.

We'll also throw goaltender Craig Anderson into the category. He wasn't spectacular last season split between Colorado and Ottawa, but he's shown before what he is capable of when he starred for the Avalanche two seasons ago. And his stint with the Sens was encouraging as he was 11-5-1 with his new team.

It speaks well for what is in the system that the team's AHL affiliate in Binghamton won the Calder Cup.

Weaknesses: This says a lot: No player that participated in more than 30 games for the Senators had a plus-rating last season. Chris Phillips was the lowest of them all at minus-35.

This team struggled mightily to score last season and that is unlikely to get easier this time around. Right now there just isn't a heck of a lot of talent to talk about. Spezza was the only player to top the 20-goal mark last year and he barely did so with 21.

The youth is a weakness for now as it will be error prone and show it is green, but the hope is that it turns into a strength down the line.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 26, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Canadiens add Chris Campoli

By: Adam Gretz

Less than two weeks away from the start of the regular season you probably aren't going to find many players still sitting around in free agency that can make a positive impact on your roster for the upcoming season. One of the few exceptions still out there this year was defenseman Chris Campoli, and according to TSN's Bob McKenzie he signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday afternoon, presumably as some added insurance for Andrei Markov if he's not ready for the start of the season.

Campoli spent the 2010-11 season split between the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks, recording 21 points in 77 games. The Blackhawks, who acquired him in a mid-season trade in exchange for Ryan Potulny and a second-round draft pick, walked away from him as a restricted free agent this summer (he was awarded just over $2 million in arbitration), allowing him to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.

With Markov having a setback in his recovery from a knee injury, putting his status for the start of the season in doubt, combined with the loss of James Wisniewski and Roman Hamrlik this summer, the Canadiens can certainly use some insurance and depth on their blue line, and Campoli can definitely help. Now that Campoli is added to the mix Montreal's defense consists of P.K. Subban, Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Yannick Weber and Campoli, as well as Markov whenever he's ready to return to the lineup.

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

Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:04 pm
 

Daily Skate: National TV partners; remaining FAs

By Brian Stubits

MADE FOR TV GAMES: If you had one guess as to the most nationally televised matchup in the NHL since 1994, what would you pick? If you said Rangers-Flyers, you got it, and it's not even close. Puck The Media has compiled a list of the national broadcasts going back to 1994 and Rangers-Flyers takes the cake by eight games over Penguins-Flyers. Take a look at the whole list here. Notice a lot more mixtures containing the Rangers, Flyers and Red Wings. Earth shattering there, we know.

FREE AGENTS STILL FREE: Don't forget there are still some free agents floating out there looking for work. Guys like Bryan McCabe, Cory Stillman, Teemu Selanne and Chris Campoli haven't found contract offers as of yet. So Down Goes Brown helps the teams still shopping by providing a buyer's guide to the remaining players that is full of gems like this: Chris Campoli, the good: Is known as a puck-moving defenceman, which presumably makes him more valuable than a defenceman who insists on keeping the puck stationary at all times.

TOMAS THE TANK: The Panthers' rebuilding efforts were hardly met with universal praise across the hockey world. The majority of people outside of South Florida saw a bunch of overpriced, mediocre signings instead of impact spending. But Dale Tallon doesn't feel that way (of course not), especially about his most expensive forward addition, Tomas Fleischmann. Tallon told the Miami Herald that "[Fleischmann] hasn't reached his peak yet and numbers are just going to go up."

STILL LOOKING TO STRIKE OIL: The Oilers are still trying to work their way back up the Western Conference standings, and the best way to do that will be to get better in the defensive end. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal isn't exactly optimistic that will happen this season. Where he's holding out his hope is that the young defensemen will be better with another season because there isn't much else to inspire a feeling of blue line growth. He also has an injury update on the "lanky Yankee" Ryan Whitney.

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

Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:45 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 11:25 am
 

Daily Skate: Campoli becomes free agent

By Adam Gretz

CAMPOLI BECOMES UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT: Defenseman Chris Campoli was originally scheduled for an arbitration hearing Aug. 3, but the Chicago Blackhawks decided to walk away from him Wednesday and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent. According to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, because the two sides had already agreed to part ways his arbitration hearing was moved up and he was "awarded" $2.5 million, which Chicago then walked away from. The Blackhawks had recently signed defenseman Sami Lepisto.

CAN 'PREDATOR HOCKEY' WIN THE CUP? Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck takes an interesting look at whether or not "Predator Hockey" (defensive, low-scoring, not a lot of offense) can win the Stanley Cup, and whether or not it's a recipe that's worked for teams recently in the NHL.

CAPS WAIVE FORMER FIRST-ROUND PICK: The Washington Capitals reportedly placed former first-round pick Anton Gustafsson, the 21st overall selection in 2008, on waivers Wednesday. His career to this point has been filled with injuries, and included him taking a brief break from hockey. According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, if he goes unclaimed on waivers, it would allow the Capitals to terminate his contract.

Islanders WORKING ON A MOVE? In recent weeks we've talked about how much work remains for the Islanders to reach the salary-cap floor, and Katie Strang of Newsday argues that right now is the perfect time for general manager Garth Snow to make a move, and perhaps a big move.

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

Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Arbitration anticipation: Let the pain begin

By Brian Stubits

Nobody wants to go to arbitration. The next time you hear any involved party is excited for arbitration battles will be the first.

It can be dangerous. It can certainly be ugly. It is always contentious.

The nature of the best resembles part of Festivus with the Airing of Grievances. At least there are no Feats of Strength as an arbiter lays down the decision instead of the sides fighting it out. The involved parties are forced to justify their stance in the negotiations, resulting in teams putting down their own player. Not a desirable stance to have to take.

Because of the combative nature, the process has been known to cause strains in relationships between teams and players. It's exactly why teams try to avoid the process more fervently than someone looks to evade root canals.

For that reason arbitration meetings often times don't happen. It's amazing how much easier it is to strike a deal with a deadline speeding up the negotiations. Always worked that way for me to get book reports done in school; nothing like a deadline of two days away to read the first page.

So it is highly likely only a few of the names headed to arbitration will actually have their hearing. That goes for the two biggest names on the list, Shea Weber and Zach Parise. The Predators and Devils respectively will try and hammer out contracts before an arbiter gets to set the reward. This has happened to three players in the last day as the Jets avoided a hearing with Blake Wheeler, the Ducks with Andrew Cogliano and the Sabres with Andrej Sekera, all reaching new deals.

But there will still be hearings. Teddy Purcell and the Lightning will have their case heard tomorrow, the first day, along with Lauri Korpikovski and the Coyotes. The next case will be Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers. All of those hearings should happen with the potential for the Rangers/Dubinsky battle to be a tough one seeing as the sides still seem to be pretty far apart.

Or you will have the cases where teams just walk away from the award. It happened last year with Clarke MacArthur in Atlanta and more notably with Antti Niemi in Chicago, the teams electing to let the player find another team than pay them the determined amount. It will happen again this year to a Blackhawks player as the team has already said it cannot afford to bring Chris Campoli back.

Last year in total five players got as far as the arbitration hearing. Three of those players' awards were not matched. Teams are only allowed to walk away in a situation where the player filed for arbitration and the reward is $1.7 million or more. Anything less than that and the player stays put, regardless.

Obviously the most interesting cases are those of Parise and Weber. They are both franchise players and are due for substantial raises. The case of Weber is particularly appealing since the signing of Drew Doughty in Los Angeles seems to be waiting for the precedent set by the future Weber contract.

With all of that as the background, here's a list of all the players who, as of now, are scheduled for their turns in the ol' testy tango of arbitration. Expect names to disappear from this list faster than Michael J. Fox in family photos.

Arbitration schedule
Date Player Team
July 20 Lauri Korpikoski Coyotes
July 20 Teddy Purcell Lightning
July 21 Brandon Dubinsky Rangers
July 28 Josh Gorges Canadiens
July 28 Ryan Callahan Rangers
July 29 Jannik Hansen Canucks
August 2 Shea Weber Predators
August 3 Chris Campoli Blackhawks
August 3 Zach Parise Devils
August 4 Mark Fraser Devils
August 4 Blake Comeau Islanders

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: March 2, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Game of the night 3-2-11

Calgary Flames (33-23-9) at Chicago Blackhawks (34-23-6)

Alex Tanguay, Getty Images United Center, 9 pm ET
Calgary: 5th in West, 75 points (6-2-2 in last 10 games)
Chicago: 7th in West, 74 points (7-1-2 in last 10 games.)

BREAKDOWN: The game features two of the hottest teams going and they just happen to be jockeying for position in the Western Conference, where the bottom half of the standings shuffle around from night to night. (Idle Chicago dropped two slots last night alone.) Neither team has the best shot at catching the leaders in their respective divisions, making these games all so vital.

The Flames are coming off a 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The ‘Hawks are winners of five in a row and this will be the first game for defenseman Chris Campoli, acquired at the deadline from the Ottawa Senators. He will likely be paired with Brian Campbell tonight, according to Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has netted 11 points over the last six games. Flames winger Alex Tanguay is coming off a three-point night (one goal, two assists) and enters on a five-game points streak. 


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