Tag:Jeff Carter
Posted on: October 18, 2011 1:55 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:54 pm
 

Blue Jackets put Jeff Carter (broken foot) on IR

By Brian Stubits

This is not how Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson envisioned this season starting out.

The team is one of only two who are winless (along with the Rangers) and one of his two star pickups -- James Wisniewski -- in the offseason still hasn't played because of a suspension. So just when they begin to think things can't get any worse ...

Jeff Carter, who was already doubtful for Tuesday's game against the Dallas Stars, is undoubtedly out. He'll also miss the next couple of games after the Blue Jackets placed him on injured reserve with a hairline fracture in his foot, an injury he sustained by blocking a shot.

“He’s got a broken bone,” coach Scott Arniel said. “Now it’s all about pain tolerance. ... It’s stabilized, but it’s still pretty tender.

“Until he can get a boot on that foot and be able to push with it, we’re in wait-and-see mode.”

Carter was brought in to give the top line in Columbus some serious juice, figuring a combination of Carter and Rich Nash would be lethal. But so far, Carter, who had at least 33 goals in each of the last three seasons, has been held scoreless. He leads the league in a not-so flattering statistic, most shots on goal (20) without scoring. But he does have three assists and a plus-1 rating.

The fracture occurred on a bone that was already bruised from training camp and where he had a steel plate inserted to fix a broken bone while with the Flyers.

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch points out that Carter continuing on despite pain hasn't helped matters in the past.

But Carter’s willingness to play through pain might be part of the problem. He missed only a couple of days of training camp -- and one exhibition game -- after suffering the injury last month.

“If you can play with pain, you play,” said Rick Curran, Carter’s agent. “Jeff has proven in the past that he’s quite willing to do that, possibly to the detriment of the injury itself.

“At some point, when you have the same injury recurring, it’s necessary to sit back and let it heal properly. At this point, I think it’s premature to say what should happen.”

By putting him on the IR and thus sidelining him out at least a week, there will be no temptation to gut it out here. Columbus will need Carter around for the rest of the season if they want to rebound from the sluggish start.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 15, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 7:55 pm
 

Richards hears cheers, boos in return to Philly



By: Adam Gretz


Mike Richards made his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia on Saturday night for the first time since being traded by the Flyers back in June, and he had a rather interesting -- and busy -- night during the Kings' 3-2 overtime win.

Along with winning 13 of his 19 faceoffs  and logging over 20 minutes of ice-time, Richards also assisted on Jack Johnson's game-winning goal and was also guilty of the penalty that resulted in Matt Carle's third period power play goal that tied the game at two, forcing overtime. His play on the ice, however, wasn't necessarily the only thing we were watching for. Almost as intriguing was the question of how he would be received by the Flyers faithful in the stands, a notoriously tough crowd.

Richards, one of the team's two first-round picks in 2003 (the other was Jeff Carter, also traded this past summer), served as the Flyers captain for three seasons and scored over 130 goals before being traded to the Kings in exchange for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round draft pick. He had his share of run-ins with the Philadelphia media, but he was also arguably the best player on the team for the past four years.

The Flyers took the time to thank him for his contributions with a message on the video board, which was accompanied by a standing ovation from the sellout crowd. The hugs and kisses, of course, stopped there, and when play resumed Richards spent the remainder of the evening hearing a chorus of boos every time the puck touched his stick, the type of treatment that is usually reserved for Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby within the confines of the Wells Fargo Center. And there's nothing wrong with that. Richards, for whatever contributions he made to the Flyers over the years, is no longer a member of the team, whether it was a result of his actions or not (and it wasn't, he was traded), and fans are well within their right to cheer or boo whomever or whatever they choose during a game.

They acknoweldged his contributions during a stoppage, and then it was back to business as usual: supporting the players that still play for their team.

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

Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 2:28 pm
 

NHL prop bets: Sidney Crosby's games played, more

By Brian Stubits

I'm not a betting man. Seriously, I've never made anything more than a friendly wager in my life. But I still enjoy looking at the odds, especially Vegas prop odds.

I think the most interesting of all the ones released by bodog.com this week are the ones pertaining to Sidney Crosby. The over/under on the amount of games he plays has been set at 60.5. That is starting to seem very attainable, too, as it seems Crosby is close to being cleared for contact. Interestingly enough, Crosby is also third down the list of Hart Trophy candidates at 13/2, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

Speaking of Stamkos and Ovechkin, t's also interesting to note that according to the oddsmakers, nobody is a lock to score 50 goals this season. Stamkos has the highest over/under followed by Ovechkin. Here are the top 5.

Steven Stamkos -- 47.5
Alexander Ovechkin -- 43.5
Corey Perry -- 41.5
Ilya Kovalchuk -- 38.5
Daniel Sedin -- 36.5

A couple other names of note are Zach Parise at 35.5, trendy Hart Trophy pick Evgeni Malkin at 31.5 and Jeff Carter at 34.5.

Here are some of the oddball prop bets for this season. If the preseason is any indication I'm taking the over, WAY OVER on 40 1/2 suspensions.

How many NHL head coaches will be fired during the 2011-2012 regular season?
Over/Under: 1 ½

Total Player suspensions during the 2011-12 NHL season?
Over/Under: 40 ½

Total fines during the 2011-12 NHL season?
Over/Under: 16 ½

Lastly, here are the over/under point totals for the top four or five scorers for every team in the league. There are a few enticing numbers on there, but again, interesting nobody has an over/under in the triple digits.

Point Total Over/Unders
Anaheim
Corey Perry 87.5
Ryan Getzlaf 78.5
Bobby Ryan 71.5
Teemu Selanne 52.5
Boston
David Krejci 67.5
Milan Lucic 58.5
Nathan Horton 58.5
Patrice Bergeron 56.5
Buffalo
Derek Roy 69.5
Thomas Vanek 64.5
Brad Boyes 57.5
Drew Stafford 52.5
Calgary
Jarome Iginla 80.5
Alex Tanguay 62.5
Olli Jokinen 52.5
Rene Bourque 47.5
Carolina
Eric Staal 74.5
Jeff Skinner 66.5
Jussi Jokinen 51.5
Tomas Kaberle 44.5
Chicago
Patrick Kane 75.5
Jonathan Toews 74.5
Patrick Sharp 65.5
Marian Hossa 60.5
Colorado
Matt Duchene 70.5
Paul Stastny 66.5
Peter Mueller 50.5
Milan Hejduk 48.5
Columbus
Rick Nash 71.5
Jeff Carter 66.5
A. Vermette 54.5
R.J. Umberger 52.5
Dallas
Loui Eriksson 65.5
Mike Ribeiro 65.5
Jamie Benn 64.5
Brenden Morrow 48.5
Detroit
Pavel Datsyuk 83.5
Henrik Zetterberg 76.5
Johan Franzen 54.5
Nicklas Lidstrom 53.5
Edmonton
Taylor Hall 55.5
Jordan Eberle 53.5
Ales Hemsky 46.5
Linus Omark 45.5
Ryan Whitney 44.5
Florida
Stephen Weiss 56.5
Kris Versteeg 45.5
T. Fleischmann 45.5
David Booth 44.5
Los Angeles
Anze Kopitar 76.5
Mike Richards 66.5
Dustin Brown 55.5
Justin Williams 47.5
Minnesota
Dany Heatley 69.5
Mikko Koivu 68.5
Devin Setoguchi 40.5
G. Latendresse 37.5
Montreal
Tomas Plekanec 57.5
Mike Cammalleri 51.5
Brian Gionta 47.5
Max Pacioretty 45.5
Scott Gomez 45.5
Nashville
Patric Hornqvist 50.5
Martin Erat 50.5
Shea Weber 47.5
Ryan Suter 40.5
New Jersey
Zach Parise 77.5
Ilya Kovalchuk 74.5
Patrik Elias 59.5
Mattias Tedenby 37.5
New York Islanders
John Tavares 71.5
Michael Grabner 52.5
Matt Moulson 49.5
Frans Nielsen 46.5
New York Rangers
Brad Richards 77.5
Marian Gaborik 61.5
B. Dubinsky 56.5
Ryan Callahan 52.5
Ottawa
Jason Spezza 64.5
D. Alfredsson 54.5
Erik Karlsson 43.5
Bobby Butler 39.5
Milan Michalek 36.5
Philadelphia
Claude Giroux 75.5
Jaromir Jagr 63.5
Danny Briere 62.5
J. van Riemsdyk 50.5
Phoenix
Shane Doan 56.5
Keith Yandle 55.5
Radim Vrbata 49.5
Daymond Langkow 34.5
Pittsburgh
Evgeni Malkin 82.5
Sidney Crosby 79.5
Jordan Staal 48.5
Kris Letang 46.5
San Jose
Joe Thornton 75.5
Joe Pavelski 68.5
Patrick Marleau 66.5
Martin Havlat 63.5
St. Louis
David Backes 55.5
Chris Stewart 53.5
Andy McDonald 52.5
Patrik Berglund 50.5
Tampa Bay
Steven Stamkos 95.5
Martin St. Louis 93.5
Vincent Lecavalier 64.5
Teddy Purcell 52.5
Toronto
Phil Kessel 67.5
C. MacArthur 54.5
Nikolai Kulemin 51.5
M. Grabovski 49.5
Tim Connolly 47.5
Vancouver
Daniel Sedin 93.5
Henrik Sedin 92.5
Ryan Kesler 57.5
Alex Burrows 52.5
M. Samuelsson 47.5
Washington
Alex Ovechkin 98.5
Nicklas Backstrom 78.5
Alexander Semin 63.5
Mike Green 49.5
Winnipeg
Andrew Ladd 56.5
Evander Kane 52.5
Blake Wheeler 51.5
Tobias Enstrom 50.5
Bryan Little 47.5
   

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 12:43 pm
 

50 things to know, ask and watch for this season

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By: Adam Gretz


The biggest thing we're watching as the NHL gets ready to drop the puck on the 2011-12 season is when will Penguins captain Sidney Crosby be able return to the lineup?

The only answer to that question, of course, is simply "when he's ready," and not a moment sooner.

But when will that be? That's the question we've been asking since January, and even though it appears to be getting closer, and optimism about his return is higher than it's ever been since he was knocked out of the lineup on Jan. 6, he's not going to be on the ice when the Penguins open up in Vancouver on Thursday night, and he isn't likely to be cleared for contact until Pittsburgh returns from its season-opening trek through western Canada.

Perhaps just as important as when he returns, is whether or not he'll be the same player he was before he left. Prior to the injury Crosby's game had evolved over the previous two seasons to the point where he went from being a great set-up man to the Penguins' go-to goal-scorer, as well as their No. 1 option in the face-off circle. When he left the Penguins' lineup last season he was in the middle of the best year of his career and was on a pace to shatter just about all of his previous career highs.

Not only due to the length of his absence from the game and from contact, but also because of the nature of the injury, there has to be a question of how quickly he'll be able to be that player again.

So that's the big story we're watching this year, and here the other 49 of our 50 things to know, ask and watch for during the 2010-11 season…

2. CBA Talks: This likely won't be settled during the season, but it's still going to loom large and is the giant elephant sitting in the living room ready to make a huge stinking mess all over the couch and floor if you don't feed him on time. The NFL had its lockout come and go, missing only a couple of weeks of training camp and a meaningless preseason game, and the NBA lockout continues to roll on. And soon it will be the NHL's turn. The last time the league was in this situation we lost an entire season, so there's that to keep in mind. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball continues to have labor peace. What a strange world we live in.

3. Brendan Shanahan: The first question we have is whether or not Brendan Shanahan will get tired of making those videos? (We hope the answer is no; because they're great). The second question is whether or not the suspensions will continue at the same torrid pace we saw in the preseason, or if that was simply the "message sending" phase? And if so, will the players get the message?

4. Player safety debates: After a disturbingly dreadful summer that saw the untimely deaths of three young players, all of whom were fighters, the fighting debate reached an entirely new level, even though we don't know how -- or if -- the two were connected. Should all hits to the head be banned? Is no-touch icing long overdue? Crosby's concussion is the one everybody is talking about, but there's also Matthew Lombardi in Toronto and his recovery. Marc Staal, the top defenseman for the New York Rangers, is still having problems following the concussion he suffered late last season, and there's concern as to whether or not Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins will ever play in an NHL game again.

5. Winter Classic: The highlight of the NHL's regular season schedule takes place in Philadelphia between two bitter rivals, the Flyers and Rangers, on Jan. 2. It's the first time a New York team has appeared in the game, and the Flyers host it for the first time after losing to Boston in overtime back in 2010. Last year's game in Pittsburgh featured unseasonable warmth and rain, forcing a delay and some miserable ice conditions. Here's hoping Eastern Pennsylvania gives us better weather.

6. Winnipeg Jets return: The playoffs would be great for no other reason than to see a return of the Winnipeg Whiteout, but even though that seems like a long shot at this point their first taste of the NHL since 1996 should make every game at the MTS Centre have the feel of a Stanley Cup Final game.



7. Bruins repeat attempt: Over the past 20 years we've only seen two teams repeat as Stanley Cup Champions -- the 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 1996 and 1997 Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins seem to have what it takes to return to the top of the NHL mountain.

8. Realignment decision: The NHL hasnt gone through a divisional realignment in over a decade but it appears to be coming. Detroit wants to go to the East and claims that it's been promised that it will happen, and Winnipeg should be headed to the west.  What other changes -- if any -- will we see?

9. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The No. 1 overall pick in the June draft is starting the season with the Edmonton Oilers after a strong preseason effort. Is it simply a nine-game look before he gets sent back to his Junior team, or does he make it through the entire season with the big club? Recent history is on his side for making a full-season stay with the Oilers.

10. The NBA lockout: No, this isn't specifically an NHL issue, but if the NBA lockout rolls into the regular season will the NHL gain more exposure because of it, and, perhaps more importantly, will the league be able to take advantage of that opportunity?

11. Life in Philly without Richards and Carter and with Bryzgalov: After a revolving door of mediocre goaltending and an endless list of questions about the position over the years, the Philadelphia Flyers went all in on Ilya Bryzgalov. And now there are some questions about how they'll be able to score after trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

12. Capitals' offensive/defensive balance: Last season the Washington Capitals went from a run-and-gun offensive juggernaut to a defensive-minded team that went from 15th in goals allowed per game the previous season all the way up to fourth. Can they find the happy medium this season and finally get over the playoff hump?

SW313. Nashville negotiations: It took the arbitration process to get Shea Weber signed to a one-year deal, and he's up for restricted free agency again this offseason. Even worse for the Predators is the upcoming unrestricted free agency of Ryan Suter. And don't forget starting goaltender, and last year's runner-up in the Vezina voting, Pekka Rinne. Two big-time defensemen, a top goalie and three massive contract questions for one of the NHL's most efficient franchises.

14. Doughty's new dough: Drew Doughty is now the third highest paid defensemen in the NHL on a yearly basis, and that means he's going to be expected to play like one of the top defensemen in the NHL. He's shown he's capable of it in the past, but his production regressed a bit last season. When you're making over $7 million a year that can no longer happen.

15. Sales of Dallas, Phoenix and St. Louis: We're still waiting for some sort of resolution to the three ownership sales that have dragged on for quite a while.

16. Year two of Boucher in Tampa Bay: In his debut season Guy Boucher took the Tampa Bay Lightning to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals, and that surely has expectations high for his second year on the job.

17. New-look Sharks: Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi are gone. Martin Havlat and Brent Burns are in. Either San Jose and Minnesota are swapping rosters one trade at a time, or the Sharks feel these are the moves that can finally get them to kick through the door that has been the Western Conference Finals.

18. Perry's encore: OK, let's be honest, nobody had Corey Perry scoring 50 goals and leading the NHL last season, right? He's always been an excellent player -- and a frustrating one to play against, and an easy player to, let's say ... dislike, when he's not on your team-- but prior to last year he only topped the 30-goal mark once in his career. Logic says he returns closer to the 30-goal player he's always been. But logic also said he wouldn't score 50 goals last year.

19. Thomas, the Vezina and the Hart Trophy: Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has won the Vezina Trophy two of the past three years, and would have to be the early season favorite to win it again. He's also set his sights on another major NHL award: The Hart Trophy. That one is going to be tough simply because goalies don't typically win that award. It's only happened seven times in the history of the league, and only three times since the league expanded beyond six teams -- Jose Theodore in 2002, and back-to-back wins for Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998.  

20. First-year coaches: Is there a Guy Boucher rookie success story among the NHL's new head coaches, including first-year guys like Minnesota's Mike Yeo, Florida's Kevin Dineen, Winnipeg's Claude Noel and Ottawa's Paul MacLean?

21. Pegula-ville: Buffalo has always been a great hockey town, but these people are absolutely stoked about their new owner, and he went on a summer spending spree that topped just about every other team in the league. But will it pay off?

22. NHL starts in Europe: The Ducks, Sabres, Rangers and Kings are all opening their season in Europe. Will one of these teams lift Lord Stanley's Cup at the end of the season? Fun fact: In each of the past three seasons a team that started its season overseas ended up winning the Stanley Cup -- Pittsburgh in 2008, Chicago in 2009 and Boston in 2010.

23. Brodeur's last hurrah? Martin Brodeur has accomplished just about everything a goaltender can accomplish as a hockey player, but will this be his final year in the NHL? Back in April he hinted that it could be.

BR124. Rangers have a new star: Hello, Brad Richards. You're the latest free agent savior of the New York Rangers! Actually, after so many free agency failures over the years this might be one signing that really does pay off for blue shirts in a big way.

25. Islanders arena situation: What will come of the Islanders quest for a new -- and needed -- home? Is Brooklyn the answer?

26. Sophomore slumps: Do you believe in the Sophomore jinx? Personally, I don't, but I am curious to see what Carolina's Jeff Skinner and San Jose's Logan Couture have to offer in year two.

27. New Panthers ... new results? No team was busier this summer than the Florida Panthers, completely overhauling their roster, in part because they had to spend an obscene amount of money just to reach the NHL's salary cap floor. It's definitely a new team, but is it a better team? I guess that depends on how much faith you have in Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Scott Upshall.

28. How bad are the Senators? On paper, it looks like it's going to be a long season for Ottawa as it celebrates its 20th year in the NHL, but how bad are we talking here? Simply on the outside of the playoff picture, or are we looking at a team that's competing for the worst mark in the NHL?

29. Breakthrough year for Kings: After acquiring Mike Richards the Kings went from being a playoff team in the Western Conference to a legitimate Stanley Cup contender with the type of depth down the middle (Richards, Anze Kopitar and Jarett Stoll) a team needs to win it all.

30. Hiller's recovery from vertigo: Jonas Hiller says the vertigo symptoms that robbed him of a good portion of his season -- and the playoffs -- a year ago are gone, and the Ducks need that to be the case if they're going to make a push in the Western Conference. Hiller is one of the best goalies in the league and if he's 100 percent healthy can be a difference maker for Anaheim.

31. Heatley back on a top line: Coming off one of the worst goal-scoring seasons of his career Dany Heatley gets a fresh start in Minnesota, and he's going to be relied on to be a top goal-scoring option for the Wild. Was last year the start of a decline in Heatley's career, or does he return to the 40-goal form we're used to seeing?

32. Will Detroit's defense be good enough? The Red Wings defense has declined a bit in recent years, and this year they're looking to replace Brian Rafalski following his retirement. Nicklas Lidstrom still scores like a champ, but he's not getting any younger back there.

33. Is Matt Cooke a changed man? Penguins agitator Matt Cooke claims he's a changed man following a season that saw him earn two suspensions, including a 17-game ban following a hit on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. It's one thing to say it, but we have to see it.

34. Varlamov gets another shot: The Avalanche need the Semyon Varlamov gamble to work out, not just because they desperately need an upgrade in net, owning the worst save percentage in the league last season, but also because their first-round pick in 2012 -- perhaps a very, very high selection -- now belongs to the Washington Capitals as a result of the trade that brought him to Colorado.  

35. Benn will star for the Stars: The Dallas Stars have done a nice job developing forwards in recent years, and Jamie Benn looks like he's ready to become a 30-goal scorer.

36. Bryzgalov will be missed in Phoenix: The Coyotes will struggle to return to the playoffs for a third consecutive year as they try to replace Ilya Bryzgalov with Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera. Smith is familiar with coach Dave Tippett, but Bryzgalov was a big part of their success the past two years and he won't be easy to replace.

37. The Blue Jackets will be more entertaining: Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski fill huge needs and Ryan Johansen can be a contender for the Calder Trophy. The playoffs are a real possibility in Columbus, and even if the Jackets fail to qualify, they will at least be a more interesting team to watch this year.

38. Patrick Kane at center: Simply put, how long will this experiment last?

39. Vokoun/Neuvirth/Holtby trio of goaltenders in Washington: An experienced veteran signed for way below his market value and two extremely talented youngsters. Michal Neuvirth still thinks the job is his, and when combined with his talent that level of determination has to be an exciting prospect for the Capitals. Vokoun, though, is no slouch and has been one of the best goaltenders in the league the past few years playing on one of the league's worst teams.

40. Malkin's return to the top of the scoring race: For most players, simply averaging a point-per-game is a success. For a player with Malkin's ability it's considered a disappointment. This season he looks poised to return to the top of the NHL's scoring race and contend for the Art Ross Trophy. Speaking of which...

Sedins

41. Will somebody other than the Sedin's win the scoring title? The past two years two different players from the same family have won the NHL's scoring title. Is it a three-peat for the Sedin twins?

42. Jaromir Jagr: Does he have anything left? The summer of Jagr was certainly interesting, especially if you were following the #jagrwatch on Twitter, but how much does the 39-year-old forward have left in the tank? Philadelphia might need a lot.

43. How big of an issue is Markov's knee? Andrei Markov is still Montreal's best defenseman and he's still fighting through some problems with the knee injuries that have plagued him over the past two years. After losing Wisniewski and Roman Hamrlik the Canadiens need him to be healthy.

44. Will Detroit need an upgrade on Jimmy Howard? The Red Wings say they're happy with their goaltending situation, but twice in the past seven months they've tried to add a veteran goaltender, signing Evgeni Nabokov last season only to lose him on waivers before he could report to the team, and making a run at Tomas Vokoun this summer. That's not a coincidence.

45. Center of attention in Toronto: The Maple Leafs have been searching for a true No. 1 center for quite some time, and after missing out on Brad Richards over the summer went with Tim Connolly on a two-year deal. The good news is he's not a bad player, but the bad news is he's constantly injured. Matthew Lombardi is in the mix if he can overcome his concussion problem, but after that it's a relatively thin group. Heck, even with them it's a thin group.

46. Edmonton's defense: The Oilers have loads of potential at the forward positions but their defense is a mess after Ryan Whitney. Who will step up on their blue line?

47. How many games for DiPietro? Like the Oilers the Islanders hope rests with their collection of forwards while serious questions about their defense and goaltending will haunt them all year. For the Islanders the yearly question (as it will be through 2020) is how many games will the oft-injured Rick DiPietro be in the lineup?

48. Bouwmeester: big money, little offense in Calgary: When the Flames gave Jay Bouwmeester over $6 million per year three years ago they were probably expecting way more offense than this. He's averaged just around 27 points per season since signing with Calgary after averaging over 40 during his finals three seasons with Florida, primarily because his goal-scoring ability has suddenly disappeared. Sixty-eight defenseman recorded more points than his 24 last season.

49. Parise's return: Not only his return to the lineup for the full-season, but also his return to being one of the top left wings in the NHL, will go a long way toward helping the Devils in their effort return to the playoffs after a disappointing season a year ago. In a contract year, Parise needs a big season on a personal level to strike it rich next summer.

50. How many 50-goal scorers will we see? During the 2010-11 season we saw one 50-goal scorer (Perry), down from the three we had the previous season. The preseason favorites have to be Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos, and Crosby might be able to get into that mix if he returns to action early enough.

Photos: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 12:04 am
 

Jagr scores again in Flyers win

JagrBy: Adam Gretz

Jaromir Jagr hasn't appeared in a regular season NHL game in three years, and based on the way he's played so far in the preseason it's almost as if he never left.

He scored the game-winning goal in Philadelphia's 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night when he finished a perfect pass from Claude Giroux (the player Jagr referred to as a "mini-Mario" -- as in Mario Lemieux -- earlier this week) as the 39-year-old forward was left wide open just to the left of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

(Video by clicking here: And look how open Jagr is ... it's almost as if everybody on the ice forgot about him.)

For Jagr, it's his fourth goal of the preseason, and they've all come over the past three games while he's also recorded a pair of assists. Along with his goal on Thursday, Jagr had another outstanding scoring chance late in the first period during a two-on-one rush with Braydon Coburn only to have Brodeur make a fantastic stop while sliding across the crease to his left to get his pad on the puck after Jagr snapped off a quick one-timer.

We've talked quite a bit this offseason about how much offense the Flyers have to replace after losing Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Ville Leino, and Jagr is going to have to be one of the focal points of the new-look Flyers. So far, in games that don't count, he looks like he's still capable of being a top offensive player. How he's able to hold up over the course of an 82-game regular season (and the playoffs) will be a big factor in how much success the Flyers have (or don't have).

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 4:15 pm
 

Central Division Preview: 'Hawks, Wings battle on

By Brian Stubits

Enjoy this while you can, there's no telling what the Central will look like next season.

One of the premier rivalries in the sport is the Blackhawks vs. the Red Wings. The only two Original Six teams in the West, they have long been fierce combatants. In recent years the Blackhawks have awoken from the doldrums, making this a great series once again.

But this could be it, especially if Detroit has its way. Realignment is coming to the NHL, that much is guaranteed after Atlanta moved to Winnipeg. The Red Wings organization has made it no secret it wants to move East, rivalry with Chicago be damned. Columbus and Nashville would both welcome a move East as well. Something's gotta give, and it will be the Central Division.

It's too bad. Because this year the division is set up to be about more than just these two powers.

Nashville is always sneaky good. People seem to sleep on the Predators every season, but you know they will be there. They are looking to build off the first postseason series win in franchise history with their three Stars in contract seasons. St. Louis seems to think its Blues are ready to make a leap, so long as they can stay healthy. That was a challenge last season. And Columbus? Well there is at least optimism for the first time in a while and some buzz around the team after the addition of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski to join Rick Nash.

But as many strides as those teams have and are taking, in the end it will likely still be about the two powerhouses. That's because the Blackhawks are back. They suffered a little last year after winning the Stanley Cup as they had to shed a lot of salary. That meant jettisoning a good chunk of the team that won the Cup. But the core remained together and the team found its groove in the end, pushing the Canucks to the brink in the first round. But after an offseason of reinforcing the roster, Chicago figures to be in the thick until the end.

And Detroit? The Red Wings are ... well they're just the Wings. It's hard to imagine them not being good. Although this year they don't seem to be as loaded as usual, those are some pretty lofty standards. They will still be a threat not only for the division title but in the Western Conference, they can flat out score. That much we know.

So if this is it as division rivals, it should be fun.

Central Division (in predicted order of finish)

PenguinsChicago Blackhawks: Ah, it's nice to be out of salary cap hell, isn't it Chicago? After having to do major salary shedding, the Blackhawks still come out with a cast of characters that includes the names Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and newcomer Andrew Brunette. Throw in Dan Carcillo and Jamal Mayers to give the team some nastiness power and the forwards are well-rounded.

On defense they will miss Brian Campbell, just not his salary. Sure, he is overpaid, but that doesn't mean he didn't bring anything to the table for the 'Hawks. But the defensive corps is still solid, led by Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Expectations are very high in Chicago once again.

Strenghts: It's tough to find a better pair of linemates than Toews and Kane. They are both still stepping into their primes, so they have a lot more to show. Those two are also part of the reason why the power play should once again be successful. Last season the unit ranked fourth in the NHL with the man up, led by Sharp's 12 goals on the power play.

They figure to be better at killing penalties thanks to the additions of Mayers, Steve Montador and Sean O'Donnell, an area where Chicago struggled last season.

Weaknesses: Depth at center is a major concern at this point. The team has been experimenting during camp with Patrick Kane, of all players, manning the center position. Maybe it's an indictment on the centers on the roster. Perhaps it's an indication of Patrick Sharp's health (or lack thereof). Whatever the reason, it's slightly concerning.

I would also be a little worried about the backup goaltender situation behind Corey Crawford. Alexander Salak is going to have the job and he might be more than adequate in the role, we just don't know much about him at the NHL level where he has little experience.

PenguinsDetroit Red Wings: The Wings are remarkably consistent as they have made the playoffs in each of the past 20 seasons. They also stay consistent in their roster, retaining a lot of their players over time. Case in point, this year's forward group. The Wings will trot out mostly all the same forwards as a year ago for when they finished second in the NHL in scoring.

But the defensive corps received quite a shakeup after last season's 2.89 goals against average, the retirement of Brian Rafalski and loss of Ruslan Salei.

In net they have Jimmy Howard with Ty Conklin backing him up. You have to wonder how much confidence Ken Holland and Mike Babcock have in their starter Howard, though, after the team had a failed pursuit of Tomas Vokoun.

Strengths: As mentioned, the Red Wings can score, almost all of them. Last season there were 13 players that recorded double digits in goals scored, led by Johan Franzen's 28. There is certainly loads of experience in Detroit, too. These guys aren't in their first rodeos. That especially includes defensive stalwart Nicklas Lidstrom, who put of retirement for another year on the ice.

Having the leadership that players like Lidstrom can provide certainly doesn't hurt. Also, you might have heard this Babcock fellow on their bench isn't so bad.

Weaknesses: Defense, defense, defense. That is the major concern/question mark here. They revamped the D, bringing in Mike Commodore and Ian White through free agency. Young defenseman Jonathan Ericsson received a pretty lucrative new deal, so he will be expected to improve.

In the defensive vein, the goaltending will also need to get better. Of course, that goes hand in hand with the defense, but Howard has room to improve. Playing for the Wings, his record was solid -- a nice 37-17-5 mark -- but the goals against average of 2.79 (36th out of 47 eligible goalies) and save percentage of .908 (33rd best) aren't worth writing home about.

PenguinsNashville Predators: Hope is high in Smashville coming off the best showing in franchise history, making it to conference semifinals. The Predators have more or less become the NHL's version of a Moneyball team, continuing to cultivate home-grown talent and win on the cheap.

The team is led by the high-profile trio of goalie Pekka Rinne (Vezina finalist) and defensemen Shea Weber (Norris finalist) and Ryan Suter, who are all going into contract seasons. It will be interesting to see how that plays out for each of them. For some players, it's a major distraction, for others it brings out the best playing for a new deal.

If there's anything we've learned about the Predators in recent years it's not to count them out, at least as long as Barry Trotz is on the bench. Maybe this will be the year he finally wins the Jack Adams as the best coach?

Strengths: The Preds have one of the best defenses in all of hockey. That's due to a multitude of reasons stretching from Trotz's system and philosophy to the outstanding personnel on the blue line -- which might get stronger with the addition of heralded prospect Ryan Ellis -- and the elite goaltending of Rinne. All in all, it led to the team posting the third-lowest GAA a season ago.

The farm system is also a strength, it usually is for Nashville. In addition to Ellis, they have forward Craig Smith, who drew rave reviews by scoring six goals in two games in the team's rookie tournament games.

Weaknesses: You would love to have somebody who is the clear-cut scorer on the team. Unfortunately, the Preds just don't score a lot, period, forget about one player. Only two players (Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist) topped the 20-goal mark with Kostitsyn pacing the team with 23. Perhaps a healthy Mike Fisher can help with that, at least that's the hope.

As you'd expect with low offensive numbers, the power play placed in the bottom five of the entire league a season ago. The leading power-play scorer was Martin Erat last season with seven.

PenguinsSt. Louis Blues: After coming out of the gate firing 9-1-2 last season, the Blues slowed down as the season wore along, eventually missing the playoffs by 10 points partly because the team dealt with a rash of injuries. Despite that finish, there is positive momentum going in St. Louis and the ownership sees it. That's why they left the young core of the team pretty much untouched this offseason, just electing to bring in a couple of savvy veterans in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to make an impact.

You can see the potential here, especially with another year under their belts. It will be interesting to see how they fare over a full season with Chris Stewert, who they acquired midseason from Colorado last year. After getting the forward, the Blues' offense saw a big uptick in scoring, eventually finishing 10th in the league.

Defensively they came in just below the median at 18th in the league. The Blues should be in the playoff picture all season long.

Strengths: There is a good amount of individual talent here, starting with Stewart and new captain David Backes. In all, they had six players last season score 20 goals or more and one of them, Andy McDonald, reached that plateau in just 58 games. With the abundance of talented and skilled skaters this is a team with plenty of speed up and down the lineup.

You also have to like the young defensive corps that has two stars in the making with Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, who each had 43 points from the back end a season ago.

Weaknesses: We weren't entirely sure where to put goaltending in this equation since Jaroslav Halak had some struggles in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender. However he showed what he's capable of when he was with the Canadiens. But based on his just average numbers of a season ago and the unsure situation behind him (Ben Bishop vs. Brian Elliott), we'll put this as our best guess.

Another area where the Blues are lacking is in the physicality department. You wonder where exactly the toughness will come from.

PenguinsColumbus Blue Jackets: What is that coming from Columbus? Is that hope? Why yes, I think it is. GM Scott Howson was active this summer by bringing in Wisniewski and Carter along with Vinny Prospal and Radek Martinek on the blue line. In addition to signing new players, Howson was also busy in signing his current players to long-term deals, specifically R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin.

Yes, the Jackets are spending money, that's not the problem. What is is the matter of how bang for the buck they are getting. To put it in perspective, the Jackets currently have a higher payroll than the Boston Bruins. The hope is that it translates into success, and a few more fans at the turnstiles as Columbus was 27th in the league in attendance last season.

Strenghts: They have struggled to score recently, but that should be done with, or at least minimized. They have a true No. 1 center now in Carter, which should only further help Nash show he is one of the best players people don't talk about in the NHL. The power play, perhaps Columbus' biggest bug-a-boo in recent seasons, should be significantly better now that they have a quarterback for the unit in Wisniewski (when he's back from suspension) and two very capable scorers up front. It had to get better from last year's 29th-ranked unit.

Weaknesses: Did somebody say goaltending? This is one area where the Blue Jackets didn't do a whole lot of upgrading. Instead, they elected to give the starting reins back to Steve Mason and signing the inexperienced Mark Dekanich to be his backup. Since winning the Calder as the league's top rookie, Mason has struggled. Last season he had a 3.01 goals against average and .901 save percentage. That's a big reason why the Jackets were 26th in scoring in the league.

And while Wisniewski helps, there still isn't much scoring threat from the blue line. Tyutin led Columbus in scoring among defensemen with just 27 points.

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 @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 16, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Chris Pronger named Flyers captain

ProngerBy: 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

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

Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:13 am
 

Blue Jackets re-sign D Tyutin for six seasons

By Brian Stubits

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Fedor Tyutin to a six-year extension on Wednesday morning, giving him $27 million in the deal. As is often the case with the Blue Jackets, GM Scott Howson broke the news on Twitter.

"Pleased to announce 6 year extension for Fedor Tyutin. Fedor has been our top dman since we traded for him. He signed the deal this morning."

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch had a little more information on the contract, dishing out the financial numbers.

"Tyutin's deal begins in 2012-'13: 4.0, 4.5, 4.75, 5.0, 4.75, 4.0. It includes a no-trade clause in first 3 years, a modified NTC in final 3."

With Tyutin locked in for some time, the Jackets have a pair of top defensemen who have plenty of time to get acquainted and become a cohesive unit. The other, of course, is James Wisniewski, the high-priced free agent they landed first thing right away in the free-agency period. His contract was also a six-year deal. That gives the Blue Jackets four players with deals that extend six years or longer, joining Rick Nash and Jeff Carter in the forward corps. Clearly Howson believes all of these players are the building blocks to get competitive in the West.

Tyutin has provided a solid game for the Jackets since coming over from the Rangers in a trade that netted New York Nikolai Zherdev among others. In his seven seasons split between the two teams, he has logged plenty of ice time, holding a career average of 21:46 per game. He provides decent offensive numbers (7 goals, 20 assists last season), but when he's with Wisniewski, you have to figure the majority of the puck moving will be the Wiz's responsibility.

Photo: Getty Images

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