Tag:Joffrey Lupul
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:17 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:29 pm
 

What to look for in tonight's All-Star draft

Kessel was the last one left last year. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

I only speak for myself -- obviously -- but the draft has already become my favorite part about the All-Star weekend. It's entertaining, fun and even has some suspense. The game itself that finishes the weekend might not have any of those three features working for it.

Last year's inaugural draft in Carolina was clearly a success, that's why it's coming back this year. It's just like sitting at home plate waiting for the kickball on the mound to call your name in elementary school recess. Who doesn't look back at those days fondly (don't answer that)?

Unfortunately, some of the suspense of the event is taken away though as there are some predictable elements to the draft. You already know that captains will stick to their real-life teammates. For example, Daniel Alfredsson has already made it very clear that his first pick will no doubt be his defensive teammate with the Senators, Erik Karlsson.

The draft will take part on Thursday night at 8 ET on NBC Sports Network (here's a guide to the whole weekend courtesy of Puck the Media). It was moved up one day this year to take place on Thursday instead of Friday. Don't forget that.

With all that said, here's a guide of what to look for in the draft.

Sens will go fast: This one is a guarantee. One of them is a captain. Another one will go to Team Alfredsson likely on his first pick. The others (Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek) could very well be headed to Team Alfredsson early too. It's the hometown team with a hometown captain, he's not going to let those guys sit in the pool for very long.

Same goes for the Bruins: I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say Tim Thomas will be the first goaltender picked, and he'll go to Team Chara. That's especially the case when you consider Team Alfredsson already has a goaltender in assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist. Tyler Seguin isn't going to last long with Chara picking either. You have to take care of your own, you know?

Kessel won't go last: There was a chance when the captains were named that you thought Phil Kessel could possibly fall to the bottom of the draft again and be Mr. Irrelevant even with the solid season he's having. But then Maple Leafs teammate Joffrey Lupul was named the assistant to Zdeno Chara and he'll likely lobby for Chara to forget some old feud and select Kessel for their team.

But one of these guys will: The pool for guys going last is pretty easy to narrow down. It's going to be a forward (rules require goalies and defensemen to go by a certain round) who is the lone representative from his team and is on the lower-profile side. That knocks out big scorers (Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry) and veterans (Jarome Iginla). That leaves five guys (not burgers and fries) to choose from -- placed in my order of least likely to go last to most likely.

John Tavares -- I think he's easiest to cross off seeing that he plays center. He's safe.

Logan Couture -- A couple weeks ago he was my pick when the teams were announced but some later additions make him safe in my mind.

Jason Pominville -- Some think he wasn't even the right Sabres player to pick, instead it should have been Thomas Vanek. Certainly good odds of going last.

Jamie Benn -- The only Stars player, the All-Star Game will actually be his first game in a couple of weeks after an appendectomy. That could actually garner him some sympathy. But he's a quiet guy, so we'll see.

Jordan Eberle -- The Oilers forward was one of the late additions because of injury. He's only 21 and in just his second season. There are ingredients for him to be the last one sitting. But as last year showed with Kessel, that can result in a nice parting package.

For the record, the oddsmakers at Bovada (formerly Bodog) have Scott Hartnell the favorite to go last at 6/1, but I think he's safer than the guys above.

Disinterested players: Of course there will be guys who look like this is one of the worst things they've had to do as a professional hockey player. That's pretty much inevitable. It's a distinct possibility the captains could look that way. Sorry, but Alfie and Chara don't exactly scream exuberance.

Boo birds: The battle of Ontario is regaining steam this season, so no doubt Lupul and Kessel will hear some boo birds (and cheers from those Leafs fans who snuck in). Poor Kessel, guy can't catch a break at this thing.

Sedin twins: Will Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin be split up again? Is it possible that Brian Burke was able to keep them together against 29 other teams but the captains can't do it against one other team? This is as good of a chance as any year ... would Chara actually pick a Canucks player?

Hazing: I'm not talking about anything serious here, but remember the things like Alex Ovechkin taking a picture of a lonely Kessel in the seats? Yea, there will be some fun being had among the players. I'm putting money down on Hartnell pulling a prank on somebody in some fashion.

Better yet, it would be better if Hartnell tripped himself after he is picked, like at least one kid does at every graduation ceremony ever hosted. It would add to the legend that is Hartnell Down.

Enjoy the show everyone. It only goes downhill from there this weekend.

More from Eye on Hockey

Full All-Star Game coverage
NHL.com: Full All-Star list

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

Posted on: January 20, 2012 5:08 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Ducks re-sign Beauchemin for three seasons

Beauchemin salutes his new three-year deal. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

It wasn't long ago that Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray declared that everybody on his roster save for Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu could be had in trade conversation.

You can add defenseman Francois Beauchemin to that do not move list.

The Ducks announced they re-signed the 31-year-old defenseman to a three-year contract on Friday. The Ducks didn't release the salary numbers, but multiple outlets did, including Eric Stephen of the Orange County Register. The contract calls for $10.5 million spread evenly across the three seasons.

“Francois is a dedicated, versatile and hard-working defenseman who is committed to our organization,” Murray said. “We are extremely pleased to have him under contract for the next three years.”

Beauchemin came to Anaheim a little less than a year ago in a trade that is looking more and more lopsided by the day for the Ducks. Not to say that Beauchemin has been a bust in Anaheim -- clearly he hasn't if they are extending him -- but the return package of Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner.

This season for the Ducks Beauchemin has six goals and 12 assists while carrying a plus-1 for a team that has struggled for virtually the entire season.

What's interesting is that this is Beauchemin's second stint in Anaheim and he left to Toronto via free agency. This time he was willing to ink a deal to remain with the Ducks.

It's all in all a pretty good contract for the Ducks, not a terrible cap hit to pay for Beauchemin. But more importantly it says a lot about the Ducks and what management thinks about them.

It gives you the impression that Murray is willing to chalk this one up to a fluky bad season and that the team's recent 6-0-1 record is indicative of how good they can be. Remember, most every saw them as a playoff team this season.

Still, it doesn't mean they are all out of the woods yet. Looking at the defense, Beauchemin might be under a new deal but Lubomir Visnovsky could still be available, if they can find any takers. He has seen his production take a major dive this year as he turned 35 while still under a $5.6 million per year contract through next season. Visnovsky has just 15 points this season after totalling 68 just last season.

Previously at Eye on Hockey

GM: All but Koivu, Selanne available
Remaining cap hits for Ducks in trades

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

Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Ron Wilson's contract and Toronto's fast start

By: Adam Gretz

Over the past month-and-a-half it's been the season for firing coaches in the NHL.

While we've already seen changes in Washington, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Carolina and Montreal, not to mention St. Louis earlier in the year, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson went to his own personal Twitter account as the NHL went to its holiday break and asked for a certain piece of paper (a contract extension) in his stocking for Christmas.

And that's exactly what he received over the holiday weekend.

It's kind of a bold move for the Maple Leafs organization given that Wilson has been behind the bench for three full seasons and failed to make the playoffs in all of them, while compiling a 101-107-38 record entering this season. Through 35 games in 2011 Toronto owns an 18-13-4 mark and occupies the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference entering Monday's slate of games, three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, the team that occupies the No. 9 spot (and first non-playoff spot).

The reaction from Toronto seems to be that the Maple Leafs haven't shown enough under Wilson's watch to justify any sort of a contract extension, and that general manager Brian Burke has put his own neck on the line by once again committing to Wilson.

Even if all of that is true (and it very well might be) something had to be done (and probably soon) as Wilson was in the final year of his current contract. Having a lame duck coach isn't really an ideal situation for anybody, and the Leafs certainly weren't going to dismiss Wilson at this point given Toronto's start.

And speaking of that start, it's been Toronto's best one in years, and has been driven almost entirely by the team's power play unit, currently clicking at a 21 percent rate, third best in the league, and the scoring of forwards Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, both of whom are in the top-10 in the NHL's scoring race. And that's about it. Scoring depth isn't great once you get beyond Kessel and Lupul, and the goaltending, whether it's been James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson or Ben Scrivens, has struggled.

Unless you believe the Maple Leafs power play is going to continue to be one of the best in the NHL all season, after being one of the worst over the past two years with largely the same cast of characters, and that Kessel and Lupul are going to remain near the top of the points leader board, this has the chance of being a fourth-straight non-playoff season under Wilson if those two areas see any sort of a regression the rest of the way. And I'm not convinced either of those two positive developments will continue all season. They have the look of early season hot streaks and fast starts that aren't going to be sustainable over the long haul of the season.

The Maple Leafs power play, which generates one of the lowest shot rates in the NHL per 60 minutes of power play time, currently owns a shooting percentage in the 18-percent range, by far the best mark in the NHL and significantly higher than what it's managed to shoot at in recent seasons (over the past three years Toronto, as a team, has owned 5-on-4 shooting percentages of 13 percent, 9 percent and 12 percent). The only team to finish a season with a higher power play shooting percentage was the 2008-09 Flyers. The number of shots a team generates on the power play is usually the best indicator of future success, which could be bad news for the Leafs over the remainder of the season.

The playoffs are far from a lock at this point, and even though Wilson has his contract extension right now that's still not a guarantee that he'll be behind the bench next season if his team fails to qualify for the postseason for a fourth straight year with him behind the bench.

More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 5:19 pm
 

Lupul helping lift Leafs in early season run

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Francois Beauchemin to the Anaheim Ducks for Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner, there was sort of a sense that the Leafs were getting the worse end of the deal. While it wouldn't be fair to call Lupul and Gardiner the equivalent of a bag of pucks and a zamboni, it didn't seem like the greatest return in the history of trades. Sure, the potential was there, but you never know.

Lupul 's time in Anaheim was anything but spectacular. After a couple of very solid seasons in Philadelphia, he wasn't finding the grass greener on the West Coast. Over a season and a half with the Ducks, Lupul played in only 49 games and had 15 goals with 12 assists. Injuries were as much a concern as anything.

As for Gardiner, well, he hadn't played a single minute in the NHL, so he was pretty much an unknown commodity.

But now, not even a year later, it's looking like one sweet deal for the Leafs and GM Brian Burke. That's because Lupul is scoring at a rate he never has before and has formed one dynamic duo alongside Phil Kessel, the sniper the Leafs have long been looking for.

As of this point, Lupul already has 33 points in just 29 games. That's good enough for the fourth-most points in the league, tied with Henrik Sedin and one ahead of Jonathan Toews. His 13 goals are almost halfway to his career high of 28, which he posted in his first go-round with the Ducks. More impressively, his 20 assists are just six behind his career high he set with the Flyers in 2007-08.

It's been partly a matter of fitting in, partly a matter of health. Despite having made two stops in his career in Anaheim, Lupul said that his comfort level playing with the Leafs this season is at an all-time high.

"Oh definitely. I feel probably the best I've ever felt," Lupul said. "Partially health wise and partially just because when you're getting results and things are going your way you get some confidence. Right now I feel like every game I can be a difference-maker whereas in the past sometimes your confidence is going back and forth. It's definitely a good situation for me, playing first-line minutes."

That's like the old idea some women try to use on men. Treat him the way you want him to act and watch him become that guy. Or something like that. The point is now that Lupul is getting first-line time, he's giving first-line production.

A lot of that has to do with the psyche, too. Confidence can go a long way for a player, not only confidence in himself, but also confidence from the coaches. It can be like a security blanket, a reassurance that allows a player to play looser. Lupul has that going on, too.

"When you make mistakes, which we've made lots of this year, it's good to know the coach trusts you and you're going to be back and you're going to be given a chance to make amends for it," Lupul said.

It becomes a chicken or the egg argument. Lupul is playing better because the coach trusts him while coach Ron Wilson trusts Lupul because he is playing better. Whichever came first, the result is one quality chicken.

Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention more about the pairing with Kessel. Even including the NHL's superstar twin brothers of Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, there has been no better two-person tandem this season than Lupul and Kessel.

We all knew what Kessel was capable of, but this season he is taking things to a higher level.

"Phil's taking the next step in his development as a player," Lupul said. "I think you can see that game in, game out he's better this year than he was last year. I mean last year he'd have the big games where he would be really dominant. Now it seems they are happening more often."

At 24, Kessel is really taking his game to new heights. With his league-best 18 goals, he's well on his way to smashing his career best of 36, which he set in 2008-09, his final season with the Bruins.

But Lupul knows they won't continue to enjoy this kind of success without more hard work.

"We realize things are going to get tougher on us as the season goes, especially on the road, matching up against other teams' best D and checkers," Lupul said. "That's a challenge we both have to be up to."

As for Gardiner, he is blossoming into a very good defenseman for a rather full corps in Toronto. The rookie has worked his way into the rotation in a big way, logging more than 20 minutes in a game on 16 occasions this season. The former first-round pick by the Ducks is finding his own niche in Toronto.

It's not like Francois Beauchemin has been bad for the Ducks. He hasn't. But this is sure looking like one hell of a deal for Burke.

Now if he could only figure out how to fix that atrocious penalty kill, they'd really be on to something in Toronto.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Report: Ducks are shopping Bobby Ryan

By Brian Stubits

Two nights ago, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet said he was hearing rumblings out of Washington that Bruce Boudreau would be fired in 24-48 hours. Fast forward 12 hours and the deed was done.

On Monday night, Kypreos said he was hearing rumblings out of Anaheim that the Ducks are shopping young forward Bobby Ryan. Might be time to pack your bags, Bobby.

There is no team struggling worse than the Ducks right now, and that includes the New York Islanders. They have lost seven consecutive games, 13 of 14 and 16 of their last 18 games. The word atrocious comes to mind.

From the news conference of Capitals GM George McPhee on the firing of Boudreau on Monday, there was a line he used to describe that situation which applies equally, if not more so to the Ducks.

"This wasn’t a slump," McPhee said. "You can ride out slumps."

At this point, it looks like a lot more than a slump in Anaheim too. That's why something has to be done, something big. Trading Ryan would qualify as something big.

In Ryan, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne, the Ducks have about as powerful of a top four scoring set as you can name in hockey, truly. But what they don't have is a lot of depth. Or a shutdown defenseman. In order to get those holes filled, especially the defenseman part, they need a pretty big bargaining chip.

It makes Ryan even more of a target when his slow start to this season is considered. Through 23 games, the 24-year-old American has seven goals and four assists. That puts him on pace for just about 40 points and we're a quarter of the way through the season. His lowest point-total (excluding his 23-game rookie season) was 57 ... and he did that in just 64 games. In each of his three "full" seasons, Ryan has had at least 31 goals. He's already a proven scorer who would be attractive to every single team in the NHL.

For some evidence, here's a trade proposal from Nashville Predators blog Section 303, suggesting the Preds offer Colin Wilson, Ryan Ellis, Teemu Laakso and a first-round draft pick. I like the offer, it's at least much more realistic than most fan proposals that normally look like "Sean Avery and a conditional pick ... come on, why wouldn't they take that?"

One person that you can almost guarantee is salivating at the idea and has likely already put a call in to Ducks GM Bob Murray, is former Ducks GM and current Maple Leafs boss Brian Burke. He obviously knows Ryan since he drafted him, he has already worked some deals with the Ducks, snagging Joffrey Lupul, and it appears he has a strong affinity for American players.

The moral of the story? Whether the rumor that Ryan is being actively shopped is true or not, it's about time the Ducks do something to shake things up.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Video: Joffrey Lupul vs. Predators fan

By: Adam Gretz

For as long as hockey rinks have been surrounded by glass, fans have been banging on said glass in an effort to make as much noise, and bring as much attention to themselves, as humanly possible. (Loud noises!)

Early in the third period of Toronto's 4-1 loss in Nashville on Thursday night, Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul found himself standing next to the glass following a stoppage in play when a Predators fan in the front row used that opportunity to give the glass a swift kick right next to Lupul's head, surprising the Toronto forward.



That's definitely a new one, and it appeared that Lupul had something to say to the fan.

On Friday, Lupul took to his Twitter account and asked his followers if they wanted to venture a guess as to what he said in response, before following it up with this:

"I can't remember exactly but I feel that the word "toothless" was my initial reaction. He only had 4 of em."

(H/T HockeyWebCast for the Video)

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

Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Martin Brodeur robs Phil Kessel (Video)

By: Adam Gretz

Martin Brodeur returned to the New Jersey Devils lineup on Wednesday night after missing the past six games due to injury, and it was not one of the best nights of his Hall of Fame career. Through two periods Brodeur had surrendered five goals on just 11 shots to the Toronto Maple Leafs, including a hat trick for Joffrey Lupul. Obviously, there was some rust to shake off.

For as much as he struggled over the first 40 minutes, the Devils stuck with Brodeur to open the third and he ended up making an outstanding stick save on Phil Kessel, robbing him of what would have been his league-leading 11th goal of the season.



That's probably one of the first breaks that didn't go Kessel's way this season. And while he was held off the scoresheet on that particular play, he did add to his league-leading point total with an assist on two of Lupul's goals. 

For Brodeur, it was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable game. It's hard not to be a prisoner of the moment and make a kneejerk reaction based on the first game back from an injury, but given his struggles last season, as well as the strong play of Johan Hedberg in his absence, you have to wonder if Hedberg shouldn't continue to get more starts even with the return of Brodeur.

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

Posted on: October 19, 2011 8:35 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 8:47 pm
 

Watch this Joffrey Lupul shot smash a net camera

By: Adam Gretz

If you haven't been paying attention to the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, Phil Kessel has been playing some pretty outstanding hockey.

He entered play on Wednesday tied for the league lead in goals, and during the first period of Toronto's game against the Winnipeg Jets, he made a fantastic play to set up his linemate, Joffrey Lupul, for his third goal of the season. There was a bit of a delayed reaction on the celebration because nobody seemed to know the puck went in. Lupul's shot hit the in-net camera with such force that it smashed into pieces, while the puck bounced out of the net -- and off of the camera -- as quickly as it entered.

The beauty of the camera, of course, is that it perfectly captured the shot before it shattered.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey 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