Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 4:44 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When the Philadelphia Flyers traded Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings earlier this summer they not only traded their best two-way forward, they also said goodbye to the player that was their captain over the past three seasons.
That void was filled on Friday afternoon when it was announced that defenseman Chris Pronger has been named the 18th captain in franchise history, and their eighth since the 2000-01 season. Forward Danny Briere and defenseman Kimmo Timonen will serve as the alternate captains.
The Flyers acquired Pronger before the 2009-10 season from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and a first-round draft pick, and it seemed to be a perfect match from the beginning.
Shortly after the trade the Flyers signed Pronger to a massive seven-year, $34.4 million contract extension that carries a $4.9 million cap hit that will continue to count against the cap even if Pronger retires since it was signed after he turned 35. He will turn 37 in October and still has six years remaining on his current deal.
Pronger made an immediate impact for the Flyers during the '09-10 season and recorded 55 points in 82 regular season games, and was also a workhorse during the playoffs when the Flyers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, where they would ultimately lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
He was limited to just 50 games last season and appeared in just three of the Flyers playoff games while going through four different surgeries over the course of the season. His availability for the start of the regular season is still uncertain at this point, even though general manager Paul Holmgren recently said that he expects him to be ready when Philadelphia opens its season on Oct. 6 against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
After an offseason overhaul of the roster that saw the team trade Richards and Jeff Carter, while also losing players like Ville Leino in free agency, their offense has taken a hit in the short-term. That of course means the defense, led by Pronger and Timmonen, as well as newly acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will need to not only be healthy and in the lineup, but also be on top of their game if the Flyers have any hope of being a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: September 13, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 11:59 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After the New York Islanders traded him to the New Jersey Devils this summer in exchange for Brian Rolston, a move that had very different salary cap intentions for the two teams, Trent Hunter had his contract bought out, making him a free agent. As of Tuesday evening the veteran forward will reportedly be a part of his third organization in the past three months, agreeing to a tryout contract with the Los Angeles Kings according to Katie Strang of ESPN New York and Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.
Injuries have really limited Hunter in recent years, appearing in just 133 of a possible 246 games, scoring 26 goals over that stretch. For his career he's scored 99 goals, all of which have come with the Islanders after he was acquired by the team back in May of 2000 from the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick.
The July trade that sent Hunter to the Devils helped the Islanders reach the salary cap floor due to Rolston's sizable contract, while the deal, and eventual buyout of Hunter, helped New Jersey save a few million in cap space under the cap ceiling.
If Hunter earns a spot in training camp he'll likely be a bottom-six winger/penalty killer, as the the Kings top lines would seem to be set with players like Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner. Earlier in the offseason the Kings added some depth to their bottom lines when they signed Ethan Moreau to a one-year deal.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 25, 2011 10:28 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:19 pm
By: Adam Gretz
After a series of trades and some re-tooling of the roster earlier this summer, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has pretty much become the face of the Philadelphia Flyers. He's the highest paid player on the team and the third highest-paid player in the NHL this season, a contract he signed shortly after forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were sent packing to Los Angeles and Columbus.
With that comes plenty of expectation, especially at a position that has been viewed as the only weak link for a perennial Stanley Cup contender. It's a bold shift in organizational structure for the Flyers, a team that over the past several years went through each season and playoff run with a revolving door of goaltenders with relatively small salary cap commitments.
Over the past three seasons alone the Flyers used eight different goaltenders for at least one game. Those days appear to be over, as Bryzgalov will obviously be counted on to solidify the position for the next several years. Whether he will be enough to overcome the loss of offensive players like Richards, Carter and Ville Leino remains to be seen, but the 31-year-old has become one of the most important players -- if not the most important player -- in the organization for the foreseeable future.
The Flyers introduced Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia media on Thursday, and he's not only ready to play as many games as the Flyers need him to play, he's expecting to win a lot of them, too (then again, what else is he going to say?).
Said Bryzgalov, "When you play a lot, you feel confident about your game. If they need me to play 70 games, I'll play 70. If they need me to play 50, I'll play 50. So it all depends on the coach and management, whatever they need."
He's also looking to win at least 40 games this season, something he did two years ago as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. Playing 50 games, or even 60 games, hasn't been an issue in recent years as he was a workhorse for the Coyotes, appearing in at least 64 games in each of the past four seasons.
The 40 wins, however, could be tougher goal to reach.
Of course, regular seasons wins aren't going to be what the majority of Flyers fans care about. It's all going to come down to what happens in the playoffs, an area that remains somewhat of a question for Bryzgalov after some struggles the past two seasons with the Coyotes, a team that simply wasn't as talented from top-to-bottom as the Detroit Red Wings teams that eliminated them (he had more postseason success with Anaheim back in 2005 and 2006).
The Flyers lost a lot of offense this summer and are replacing it with some unproven -- though talented -- youngsters up front, while their top two defenseman (Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen) are both a year older, which means more responsibility for the man in goal. He's an improvement over what they've been running out there in past years for sure, but it's not out of the question for the Flyers to take a bit of a step back this year as a team, even with the upgrade Bryzgalov will bring.
You can see Bryzgalov's introductory press conference in its entirety at the Flyers website.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 13, 2011 9:17 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:56 pm
By: Adam Gretz
KHABIBULIN TO START HOUSE ARREST Edmonton Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who has been serviving a jail sentence from last February's DUI arrest in Arizona, is scheduled to start serving the house arrest portion of his sentence on Sunday according to Dan Tencer of CHED 630 AM on Twitter. Khabibulin's agent says he's handled the situation "fine" and is looking forward to camp.
HARTNELL LOOKING TO BE MORE OF A LEADER The Philadelphia Flyers re-tooled their lineup this summer, and with absence of veterans and top-scorers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino, veteran forward Scott Hartnell is looking to be more of a leader for the young roster and all of its new players.
SWEATT RETIRES FROM HOCKEY Free agent defenseman Lee Sweat signed a two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators this offseason, and on Friday surprisingly announced his retirement from hockey before the start of training camp. According to his agent he's looking to pursue outside business interests. The 25-year-old defenseman appeared in three games with the Vancouver Canucks last season and scored one goal to go with one assist, and scored five goals in 41 games with the Manitoba Moose at the AHL level.
GRETZKY SERVES AS AGENT The Chicago Cubs finalized a contract with Trevor Gretzky on Friday, their seventh round draft pick from this year and the son of NHL legend Wayne Gretzy. The interesting part of the story here, because the signing had been reported as likely to happen several weeks ago, is that Gretzky (Wayne) served as the agent for his son and negotiated the contract that will pay a signing bonus of $375,000.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 12:43 pm
That's the inclination I have after seeing what Philadelphia Daily News' Dan Gross reported on Monday.
It's not as if this comes out of left field. There had long been plenty of talk about Carter (shipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets) and Richards (traded to the Los Angeles Kings) being fans of having fun. So for those who believed the scuttlebutt, this will add more fuel to their fire.
But Holmgren and Carter's agent say the partying is a moot point; the moves were all about the game.
This could be a situation where both are telling the truth. Perhaps the two former Flyers did have a penchant for partying and that could have had nothing to do with their exits. Anything is possible. But none of it is helping the perception of either player, especially in Richards' case as he did wear the C in Philly.
Personally, I thought Richards and Carter got bum raps on their way out of town, taking some parting shots about the organization not going any farther with them. Seems to me they did all right for themselves, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals with, to put it nicely, subpar goaltending on one occasion and helping the Flyers into annual contenders.
Photo: Getty Images
Hat tip to Puck Daddy
Posted on: July 14, 2011 5:41 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 5:56 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The last time Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid had his name in the news he was taking part in a dragon boat race with Kate Middleton, which came just weeks after he lifted the Stanley Cup. Not a bad start to the summer, and it ended up getting a little better on Thursday when he signed a three-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the 24-year-old defenseman made $550,000 last season and is set to make $600,000 this upcoming season.
Originally a second-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, McQuaid has spent the past two seasons with Boston, appearing in 86 games and scoring four goals. He played in 23 of Boston's 25 postseason games on its way to the Stanley Cup, only sitting out when he was injured after flying head first into the boards when attempting to take a run at Philadelphia's Mike Richards.
At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds he can be an intimidating figure on the blue line and is more than willing to drop the gloves. According to hockeyfights.com he was involved in 12 fights last season, and usually ended up getting the better of his opponent.
With McQuaid signed for another four years (next season, plus the three years on the contract extension) Boston now has four members of its blueline under contract for at least the next two seasons: McQuaid, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:28 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:10 am
By: Adam Gretz
On Monday we looked at the seven NHL teams that are still sitting below the NHL's salary floor and the work they need to do to reach it. But what about the teams that are closing in on the $64.3 million cap? Here's a quick look at the five teams that are closest to it, the amount of cap space they have remaining, the number of players they currently have under contract and the number of restricted free agents they have unsigned.
All salary figures come via CapGeek.
After picking up Regehr in a trade with the Calgary Flames, Ehrhoff's negotiating rights were acquired just before the start of the free agent signing period and he was quickly locked up with a 10-year, $40 million deal. On July 1, Leino signed a six-year, $27 million deal. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap during the summer, so the Sabres still have plenty of time to jettison some salary to fill out the remainder of the roster. But who do you sacrifice if you're the Sabres? Perhaps a player like Shaone Morrisonn? Ales Kotalik? Jochen Hecht? If the Sabres want to carry a 23-man roster this season, somebody is going to have to go.
The Washington Capitals have made a series of moves themselves, bringing in Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Vokoun, as well as re-signing Brooks Laich. Last week, the club shipped Eric Fehr and his $2.2 million cap hit to the Winnipeg Jets to clear some much-needed cap space as the club still needs to sign its remaining restricted free agent, defenseman Karl Alzner.
No team has had a bigger change to the makeup of its roster this summer than the Philadelphia Flyers, and while they traded two lengthy contracts (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards ... arguably their best players) they still have some potential long-term problems, none of which could be bigger in the future than the one belonging to defenseman Chris Pronger. He is still signed for another six years, and at the age of 36, isn't getting any younger on the blue line.
After they traded Carter and Richards and allowed Leino to hit the free agent market, the Flyers replaced them with Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot and the players acquired in the two trades (Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn). They have no remaining restricted free agents.
The Penguins, it seems, have become the greatest example for teams with salary cap constraints due to the amount of money they have invested in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. (Both players have average annual salaries of $8.7 million.) As I've written in the past, this isn't quite as big a concern as it's often made out to be because their money is invested in elite, All-Star level players. Many of the top teams (Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago, Washington, San Jose ... pretty much any of the Stanley Cup contenders) that are pressed against the cap every year have close to (or more than) 50 percent of their cap space tied up in just five players. The Penguins are no different.
On Tuesday the team signed Dustin Jeffrey, their only remaining restricted free agent, to a two-year contract.
Finaly, we have the Flames. In late June they completed the previously mentioned trade with Buffalo involving Regehr to shed some salary. They followed that up by bringing back veteran forward Alex Tanguay, signing him to a five-year contract. Their remaining restricted free agent is defenseman Brendan Mikkelson. With 22 players under contract and still over $3 million in cap space, they should be in solid shape regarding the cap.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:06 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Wayne Simmonds was one of the key pieces acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers during their massive -- and surprising -- roster overhaul last month. He joined the team as part of the trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles and landed the Flyers Simmonds, top prospect Brayden Schenn and a 2012 second-round draft pick.
Eligible for restricted free agency, the Flyers still needed to work out a deal with the 22-year-old forward. They managed to do just that on Thursday afternoon by signing him to a two-year contract that carries an average annual salary of $1.75 million, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia.
In 80 games with Los Angeles last season, Simmonds scored 14 goals to go with 16 assists. He's scored 39 goals in 240 career games.
Simmonds is a nice young player, but he, along with Schenn and Jakub Voracek (acquired as part of the Jeff Carter trade), has some large skates to fill this season. The Flyers offseason has essentially seen them lose Richards, Carter and Ville Leino (three of their top-five scorers from a year ago and their best two-way player), as well as role players like Darroll Powe, Daniel Carcillo and Sean O'Donnell. The club is replacing them with nine years of Ilya Bryzgalov, a 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr, Max Talbot, Andreas Lilja and a collection of young players with talent and upside, but it's far from a guarantee that these players will ever reach the level of the players they're replacing.
That's a sizable risk both in the short-term and the long-term.