Tag:Brad Richards
Posted on: September 26, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 9:54 am
 

Pacific Division Preview: San Jose still on top

Sharks1

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)

SharksSan 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?

KingsLos 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.

DucksAnaheim 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.

StarsDallas 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.

CoyotesPhoenix 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.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 11:58 am
 

Rangers name Ryan Callahan new captain

By Brian Stubits

The New York Rangers have made their selection to replace Chris Drury as the team's next captain, giving Ryan Callahan the honor of wearing the C. Marc Staal and newcomer Brad Richards were selected as the alternates.

"Ryan Callahan embodies all the leadership qualities we seek from our Captain," Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather said. "He leads by example with courage and tireless work ethic on and off the ice, which is why he is so deserving of this honor."

Callahan was the odds-on favorite to take over the lead role. He has been wearing the A since October of 2009. There was some wondering if Richards would be considered, but based on the fact he hasn't dressed in a Rangers sweater on the ice yet, his shot seemed long.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Callahan is the second straight American-born captain for the Blueshirts after Drury, who hails from Connecticut, held the title. Callahan is only the third American to be named captain of the Rangers.

"It's a privilege & an honor ... I'll approach it the same as wearing the A ... it's a bit of a surreal feeling," Callahan said.

Callahan had his best point total last season despite playing in only 60 games for New York. He scored 23 goals and had 25 assists all while suffering through a broken hand mid-season and a broken ankle that ended his season in Game 79.

At just 26 years old, Callahan has the chance to wear the C for a long time to come, starting with the next three years after signing an extension with the Rangers this offseason.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 9, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 9:34 pm
 

Could Richards be the next Rangers captain?

RichardsBy: Adam Gretz

It wasn't a surprise that one the biggest names on the free agent market this summer -- Brad Richards -- landed with the New York Rangers. By now we should pretty much expect it to play out that way. It's not the first time it's happened, and it certainly won't be the last. Some of their recent dips into the deep end of free agency pool, including Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Marian Gaborik, has produced some mixed results (to put it kindly), and not the type of return a team generally likes to see on its largest investment (and I think Richards will prove to be, by far, the best of these signings).

Richards, one of the NHL's best playmaking pivots, signed a nine-year, $60 million deal in early July, and brings with him a $6.6 million cap hit through the end of the 2019-20 season. He's a No. 1 center that's managed to produce like one over his career with Tampa Bay and Dallas. He also has a positive history with current Rangers coach John Tortorella, who he played under for most of his tenure with the Lighting, including the Stanley Cup season of 2003-04 where Richards took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

That history, along with Richards' track record, has sparked some discussion in Ranger-land that the 31-year-old Richards could take over as the teams next captain before the puck drops on the upcoming season. Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record (via Crash The Crease) wrote on Tuesday that the Rangers have three potential options to wear the "C" this season: returning players Ryan Callahan and Marc Staal, and the incoming Richards.

Writes Gross:
Tortorella was asked June 30 – two days before the team signed Richards – about his selection process for the new captain. "I think those decisions will come about come camp," Tortorella said. "We’ll have our talks, we’ll see. Maybe our team changes even more this summer, along the way." That last sentence could be interpreted as a vote in Richards’ favor. Or perhaps not, as Tortorella has no inclination to discuss exactly what his selection process entailed. Callahan said when he agreed to his new contract that, regardless of who wore the captain’s "C," there was strong leadership in the room. And he may be the fan’s choice. But Richards could be the coach’s choice.
The Rangers are in need of a new captain because their most recent captain, Drury, was bought out earlier this summer after a 2010-11 season that saw him score one goal in a 24-game, injury-shortened season.

Tortorella took over behind Tampa Bay's bench midway through Richards' rookie season in 2000-01, and coached him up until the trade that sent him to Dallas in the middle of the 2007-08 season. There's a great deal of familiarity here (on and off the ice) and plenty of success, both on an individual and a team level, between the two men to make the potential captaincy a logical fit.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Rangers reach three-year deal with RFA Callahan

By Brian Stubits

The New York Rangers have reached a deal with alternate captain Ryan Callahan, avoiding an arbitration date for the second time in as many weeks with one of their young players.

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet says the deal is for three years, $12.825 million. That would be a cap hit of $4.275 million.

"We were both working out three, four and five year deals and I think we agreed the numbers worked for a three-year deal," Callahan told the Record. "We couldn’t come to a conclusion on a longer deal."

Just last week the Rangers gave Brandon Dubinsky a four-year deal worth $16.8 million, avoiding arbitration there.

The deal comes just when pessimism was starting to seep in that a deal would be done before tomorrow's meeting. Just yesterday it was being reported that no progress had been made in the negotiations. Again, nothing like a date with an arbiter to serve as a nice kick in the rear.

After chasing (and ultimately landing) Brad Richards on the free-agent market, getting their four restricted free agents back in the fold was priority No. 2 for the Blueshirts. Mission accomplished. They also re-upped Artem Anisimov and Brian Boyle, helping them keep intact a very nice young core.

Callahan was in the middle of a very nice season for the Rangers when he broke his ankle and had to sit out the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. Before that, however, he had 23 goals and 25 assists in 60 games, his highest point total in five NHL seasons.

"I'm thrilled to be back for three years," Callahan added. "I love playing for the Rangers. I'm excited to be back and to have this behind me and concentrate on the season. I was hoping it would get done but you never really know how it's going to go in these negotiations. I definitely didn't want to go to arbitration and only go on a one-year deal. I'm really happy it didn't have to come to that."

If he comes back fully healthy -- and there is no reason to believe he won't -- he will likely remain on the second line where he will probably be joined by Dubinsky at center after Richards' arrival. With that, New York has the makings of a solid pair of lines to try and give Henrik Lundqvist a little more scoring support to play with.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:40 pm
 

Richards' Twitter 'hacked' by drummer Tommy Lee

By Brian Stubits

For a little while Thursday, it appeared new Rangers center Brad Richards' Twitter account (@brichards_1991) had been hacked. That seemed to be the case even more when the "hacker" said he was Tommy Lee. Just take a look at the tweet on Richards' account above.

Turns out it actually was Tommy Lee, the Motley Crue drummer. But the account wasn't hacked. Lee just had a little fun with Richards' account after the Rangers center forgot to log out while in a New York hotel that Motley Crue happened to be in, too.

So I suppose you could say it was Motley Crue to the rescue of Richards. There's a good amount of people who would have had some of their own fun with his account.

It's a great story that makes for a pretty memorable visit for Richards to his new home. And the Rangers might have just gained a new fan in Lee, who Richards invited to a game this season.

In the end, it's a Dr. Feelgood story.

For more Rangers news, click here.

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

Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Daily Skate: Hanson joins Capitals

By: Adam Gretz

HANSON SIGNS WITH WASHINGTON: Christian Hanson, the son of Slap Shot's Dave Hanson, signed with the Washington Capitals over the weekend and is expected to compete for a roster spot with their minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post. The 25-year-old Hanson spent parts of the last three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and scored three goals in 42 career games. He appeared in six games last season and did not record a single point. He played most of the season with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and scored 12 goals.

STALBERG RE-SIGNS WITH CHICAGO: The Chicago Blackhawks and restricted free agent Viktor Stalberg reached a two-year agreement over the weekend for a reported salary of $875,000 per year, according to the Chicago Sun Times. He has great speed and recorded 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) with the Blackhawks a year ago.

MORE ON RICHARDS DEAL: Larry Brooks of the New York Post has some thoughts on the Brad Richards signing with the Rangers (Brooks likes it) and also believes the NHL anticipated more deals like this (a front-loaded, nine-year contract) even after last year's saga with Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.

HOWSON TALKS JACKETS: It's been an exciting offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets as they've added a top goal-scorer, Jeff Carter, to go with Rick Nash, and they made a huge investment in defenseman James Wisniewski. General manager Scott Howson spoke with Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch about the team's record payroll and what, if any, additional moves could be made.

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

Posted on: July 7, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Daily Skate: Islanders arena vote splits groups

By Brian Stubits

ON AN ISLAND: Aug. 1 will be a monumental day in Islanders history. That's the day residents vote on an arena proposal that will essentially decide the fate of the team on Long Island. Owner Charles Wang has previously said if he doesn't have a new arena for his team to play in by 2015, the Isles will relocate (and rename, I'd hope -- nobody wants another Lakers). But two local and influential groups can't agree on the plan that calls for Nassau County to borrow nearly $400 million, which ends up being about double that after interest. Newsday has the whole story.

WHAT A RIOT: After the Game 7 riots in Vancouver, the police said they were determined to detain and punish the hooligans who took part in the vandalism. Well, they are getting some help. The Vancouver Sun reports that 10 rioters turned themselves in to police this week, bringing the post-riot total to 34 people. Although as of now, none of them has been charged.

RICHER WITH RICHARDS: Previously in the Daily Skate, we shared with you a breakdown of how Brad Richards was a bad fit for the New York Rangers. In the interest of fairness, we now share Blueshirt Banter's opposing view and why Richards fits like a glove on Broadway. It starts with the obvious (past relationship with coach John Tortorella) and goes well beyond.

TAMBEL ON: Jeff Tambellini, who grew up in Vancouver, had a chance to play with the Canucks last season and came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup with the hometown team. But now he has to find a new home ... at least in the hockey sense. Not welcomed back by the Canucks, Tambellini has instead signed a contract with Zurich of the Swiss League.

INTO THE Wild BLUE YONDER: The Colorado Avalanche will return to something they did from 2007-09, playing their annual Burgundy-White game at the Air Force Academy this September (from the Denver Post. It's a great move by the Avs to their local Air Force members (the academy is located in Colorado Springs) as ticket sales benefit military families as well as Colorado youth hockey.

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

Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Burke: Richards deal designed to circumvent cap

By Brian Stubits

Brian Burke is a neverending bowl of fun. The guy is seemingly always doing something to get people talking, whether it's trading two first-round draft picks for Phil Kessel to the recent saga of visiting troops in Afghanistan on Canada Day -- which was also the first day of free agency.

Well he's at it again.

Speaking for the first time about his the Maple Leafs' unsuccessful pursuit of prized free agent Brad Richards, the Toronto GM cried salary cap-circumvention foul. From the Globe and Mail:

“I’ll make it clear, we made a very substantial offer to Brad Richards,” Burke said, referencing what was believed to be a six-year, $42-million offer the Leafs made on July 1.

“We lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes for two reasons. One, we didn’t offer as much money as other teams and more importantly we didn’t structure the contract like other teams did.

“These deals that are front-loaded and have small amounts at the back end in my opinion are designed to circumvent the salary cap. I won’t do them, I never had, I’m not going to. And that’s why we were unable to sign Brad Richards.

“I wish him well. He’s a good guy. But that’s not a contract structure we’re interested in.”

Uh, Mr. Burke, contracts like Richards' are allowed by the CBA. The NHL will determind their legality, not you. So while you might not agree with them or like the rule, it's one the league -- and you -- are free to play by. Taking moral stands on free agents isn't the best way to endear yourself to a rabid fan base that is beyond frustrated with the team's playoff drought.

Since Marian Hossa's contract with Chicago raised eyebrows and Ilya Kovalchuk's contract in New Jersey led to the team's forfeiture of a draft pick, there has been a much closer watch on such contracts. The deal Max Talbot signed with the Flyers has been questioned, but it would just require a very minor fix.

But as long as the deals are allowed, Burke has no reason to handicap himself and his team with his own stubbornness.

Photo: Getty Images

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