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Tag:Adam Gretz
Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:27 pm
 

Can Jagr be top scoring Czech player in NHL?

JagrBy: Adam Gretz

It's been over 10 years since the Czech Republic was one of the top hockey powers on the planet, winning Gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics and boasting an impressive list of NHL players. Over the years their numbers across the NHL have dropped significantly. Last season there were just 42 players from the Czech Republic to appear in the NHL, down from their peak of 78 during the 2001-02 season.

Perhaps the best Czech player ever, Jaromir Jagr, (I say perhaps because you can make an argument for Dominik Hasek in that discussion) will be returning to the NHL this season as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers after spending the past three seasons playing in Russia. And also after what was a highly entertaining and, at the same time, maddening free agency courtship earlier this summer.

Between 1997 and 2008, which was Jagr's last year in the NHL, he was the top scoring player from the Czech Republic in the NHL in eight of those seasons, and the two years he wasn't (2002-03 and 2003-04, also two of the worst seasons of his career) he finished third and fourth respectively.

Can he return to the top of the list in 2011 after a three-year stop in the KHL?

The top-scoring Czech player last season was a three-way tie between Martin Havlat, David Krejci and Patrik Elias with 62 points, and 2009-10 it was Tomas Plekanec with 70. In Jagr's last NHL appearance three years ago he scored 71 with the Rangers, which led the team .

I guess the question becomes whether or not Jagr can still be a 60-70 point player at the age of 39. During his stay in the KHL he was nearly a point-per-game player over the three-year stretch, and finished in the top-10 in scoring twice, including this past season. It's obviously a different style of play on a different playing surface and in what seems to be lower-scoring league, so it's not exactly easy to see how the production would translate.

We've seen elite players like Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom continue to put up huge numbers in the NHL at the age of 39 and beyond (Selanne, for example, recorded 80 points last season as a 40-year-old), and Jagr was certainly an elite player during his time in the NHL. And even though he wasn't in the league the past three years, he was still playing hockey in what is probably the second-best league in the world. He also showed he can still play against a high level of competition during the 2010 Olympics, as well as the most recent World Championships.

This season he's going to have a chance to be one of the top offensive weapons (along with Claude Giroux and youngsters like James vanRiemsdyk) on a retooled Flyers team that should still score its share of goals, even if they don't look anywhere near as dangerous -- on paper, anyway -- as they did before trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

It's a bit of a mystery for sure, and it's hard to figure out what to expect. He's certainly not as explosive or fast as he was during his prime, but it's hard to believe his hands and offensive skill have deteriorated to the point that he won't still able to put in between 50 and 60 points, and perhaps more, assuming he stays injury free.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Ukraine goalie loses mind during fight

By: Adam Gretz

I enjoy a good goalie fight as much as anybody, but what Evgeny Tsaregorodtsev, a goaltender for Donbass Donestsk, a team from the Ukraine, did in an exhibition game on Tuesday night against Slovakia's HK Nitra, doesn't really fit in the "fight" category. After using his stick to crack an opponent over the head during a scramble in front of the crease, helping to spark a line brawl, Tsaregorodtsev completely lost his mind for a couple of minutes as seen in the video below.

He managed to take out his frustrations on the net, the fans, the glass and, well, pretty much anybody or anything that happened to get in his way between the ice and the locker room.



The important news? Donestsk went on to win the game 3-1. Exciting.

Even though this doesn't really count as a "goalie fight," seeing as how the other netminder didn't seem to get involved (whether that was due to his own common sense, or simply out of fear), it's worth pointing out that we did see a stretch of goalie fights in the NHL last season, including two involving Pittsburgh's Brent Johnson, as well as a playful bout between Boston's Tim Thomas and Montreal's Carey Price, neither of whom seemed all that interested in doing any damage to the other.

None of them featured the Wild and zany antics of this goalie from the Ukraiine.

H/T Eastern Conferences, via Puck Daddy

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 7:05 pm
 

Rob Schremp heads to Europe

By: Adam Gretz

Rob Schremp, perhaps best known around hockey for his trick shots in practices and shootouts throughout the minor leagues and his various NHL stops, has reportedly signed with Modo of the Swedish Elite League according to Risto Puckarinen and Newsday's Katie Strang.

His raw skill and puckhandling abilities are incredible, but it's never really translated to success at the NHL level due to other shortcomings in his game (like his play when he doesn't have the puck). He's scored 20 goals in 114 NHL games with the Oilers, Islanders and Thrashers, including a career-high 13 this past season.

He's been claimed on waivers twice in his career, and was a free agent this summer, seemingly unable to find an NHL team willing to take another shot on his offensive abilities.

If nothing else, he's fun to watch, and seems to be, for lack of a better analogy, hockey's answer to an AND1 basketball player: entertaining, but not necessarily destined to be a star in the big leagues. Still, we enjoy watching him do what he does best.



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

Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 1:40 pm
 

A look at what's being tested at RDO Camp

rdoBy: Adam Gretz

The NHL will be holding its Research, Development and Orientation camp in Ontario next week, an event that helps the league test potential rule changes. They will be using 30 prospects, as well as head coaches Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh) and Dave Tippett (Phoenix) to test the potential changes, ranging from no-touch icing, hybrid icing and no line changes for a team guilty of being offside, among many, many others.

Dan Rosen at NHL.com has a complete rundown of everything that will be tested (and there's a ton of stuff going on), as well as a schedule for each day.

A couple of the proposals that will be tested that stand out to me:

1) REMOVAL OF THE TRAPEZOID Yes. A thousand times yes. Implemented after the lockout as part of the effort to increase goal scoring across the league, it put a restriction on goaltenders leaving their crease and going into the corners to play the puck, limiting players that had spent years improving their puckhandling ability (guys like Martin Brodeur, Marty Turco, etc.). When I spoke with Phoenix's Mike Smith a couple of weeks ago, a goaltender that's regarded to be a strong puckhandler, we talked about this briefly and you can probably count him as somebody else that's probaby in favor of giving goaltenders more freedom. Limiting the movement of players on the ice (which this rule does) just seems to go against what the game is all about. And if your goaltender can't handle the puck effectively, well, he either needs to improve that aspect of his game or your team needs to find a goaltender that's capable of doing it.

2) NO ICING PERMITTED WHILE SHORTHANDED Now here's a way to potentially increase scoring, at least as far as the power play is concerned. By calling icing in shorthanded situations (you're currently allowed to ice the puck while on the penalty kill, which is the only advantage the shorthanded team has) you're going to increase the number of offensive zone faceoffs for teams on the power play, which is bad news for teams that are down a man. The dangers of defensive zone faceoffs are obvious -- the closer a team starts to the net it's trying to score on, the better chance it has of getting a shot on goal and scoring if it can win the faceoff (you can read more about the dangers of Defensive Zone Faceoffs by clicking here). And this is true in even-strength situations, let alone power play/penalty kill situations. Not a huge fan of this one as it gives teams on the power play yet another sizable advantange. Playing a man up (or two) is enough. A couple of years the NHL made it so every power play starts in the offensive zone, regardless of where the offending team gained control the puck to draw the whistle on a delayed penalty call.

3) OVERTIME VARIATIONS The current tiebreaking procedure in the NHL consists of five minutes of four-on-four sudden death overtime, followed by a shootout if the tie is not broken. The shootout has been a polarizing addition to the league, and last year the NHL took a small step toward reducing its impact by not including shootout wins as part of the tiebreaking procedure in the standings.

Another way to help reduce its impact (and the number of shootouts) is to give teams more overtime to play with, including several minutes with fewer players on the ice.

One idea that will be tested will be to switch ends, play four minutes of four-on-four hockey and then, if the tie is still not broken, switch ends again and play three minutes of three-on-three hockey. After seven minutes of four-on-four and three-on-three hockey it stands to reason that, given the amount of talent that will be on the ice and the additional room that will be out there, somebody will manage to get a goal and break the tie before a shootout is required. I like this idea quite a bit and would like to see it get some serious consideration, if for no other reason than the potential to see some of the three-on-three lineups teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington, Vancouver or Chicago could throw out there, and the type of back-and-forth hockey that would follow.

Just because these are being tested doesn't mean the rules will be changed or added to the league, it's simply a way to see them in action and take a test drive.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz 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: August 8, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Daniel Carcillo is ready to play Vancouver

CarcilloBy: Adam Gretz

You may know Daniel Carcillo as one of the NHL's agitators and on-ice rabble rousers that is never shy about getting under the skin of an opposing player, and unless he plays for your team, you probably don't like him all that much because of it. Sometimes he takes it a bit too far, and sometimes he chooses the wrong time and place (like this, for example). But plenty of teams have found value in what he brings to the table, including the club that signed him this summer - the Chicago Blackhawks.

On Monday he had an opportunity to speak to the media for the first time -- along with fellow offseason addition Andrew Brunnette -- and was asked his opinion on the Blackhawks top playoff rival from the past couple of seasons, the Vancouver Canucks, and whether or not he's done any research on them in an effort to, basically, annoy the crap out of them

"I watched that series," said Carcillo. "I'm actually pretty excited to play them because there's a few guys there that I think played a little bit outside of their shoes, and I think I can keep most of those guys in check when we play them this year. I'm pretty excited to play them."

When asked specifically which players he was looking forward to playing he mentioned Maxim Lapierre (he placed him at the top of the list), Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres, with the only potential problem being that Glass and Torres no longer play for the Canucks, having signed with Winnipeg and Phoenix this summer. But Lapierre is still there, and between the two of them, there may be no two players that are disliked more across the league. So that certainly adds a bit of intrigue to a matcup that needed no additional hype. And, hey, with a preemptive strike to Glass and Torres, perhaps it makes their games with Phoenix and Winnipeg a little more interesting as well, and that can't hurt.

The Blackhawks and Canucks have met in the postsesaon three years in a row, with Chicago taking the series in 2009 and 2010, while Vancouver managed to hold on for a Game 7 win in the opening round this past season after letting a 3-0 series lead slip away.

The two teams meet for the first time on November 16 in Vancouver.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 8, 2011 5:53 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 6:53 pm
 

More shootout fun with Linus Omark

By: Adam Gretz

When it comes to shootout creativity few players are better than Edmonton's Linus Omark. In his NHL debut last season he infuriated several members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, including Martin St. Louis, when he did a spin-o-rama at the blue line before netting the deciding goal in a 4-3 win.

His exploits in Europe and the Minor Leagues are the stuff of YouTube legend, and here's another recent one that's surfaced from his native Sweden that comes via the HFBoards. It's not one of his better efforts, but it's another example of the sort of flare Omark has when he steps on the ice and takes on goalies one-on-one.



It's not hard to understand why some people frown upon it and view him as some sort of hot dog, because let's face it, moves like that aren't really a necessity for him to score (like the blue line spin move last season, it's mainly done to throw off the goaltenders timing ... or perhaps because he just enjoys showing off), but it works. And as long as there's nothing in the rules that prevents it, why not keep doing it?

I like it, and think the NHL could use a few more guys like him. It's all about entertainment, people.

In his NHL debut last season he scored five goals to go with 22 assists in 51 games.

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


Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Recent No. 1 picks going straight to NHL

By: Adam Gretz

Fans in Edmonton were able to get an up close look at their most recent No. 1 overall pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, at team Canada's prospect development camp this past week, and the early returns are very promising. He helped cap off a come-from-behind win for the White team during their Red-White scrimmage on Saturday, tying the game in the third period and then winning it with 20 seconds to play.

Donna Spencer of the Canadian Press wrote about the skills he displayed on Friday, while Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, and potentially a teammate of Nugent-Hopkins this upcoming season, called him a "nifty little player" after sitting behind the bench for the Red team during the scrimmage.

It's still not known whether or not he's going to play in the NHL this season, but if recent history is any indicator, it would seem to be a mild upset if he didn't. Going back to 1997 there have been 11 forwards taken with the top pick in the NHL draft, and 10 of them made their debut the same year they were drafted. The only player that didn't, technically speaking, was Washington's Alex Ovechkin, and that was due to circumstances beyond his and his team's control: the NHL lockout. Had it not been for the work stoppage he would have been a lock to make his debut.

What can be reasonably expected of Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this upcoming season? Here's a look at what the recent straight-to-the-NHL top picks have done during their rookie seasons:

Top Picks NHL Draft Rookie Season
Player Games Goals Assists Points Avg. Mins. Per Game
Taylor Hall (2010) 65 22 20 42 18:12
John Tavares (2009) 82 24 30 54 18:00
Steven Stamkos (2008) 79 23 23 46 14:56
Patrick Kane (2007) 82 21 51 72 18:21
Sidney Crosby (2005) 81 39 63 102 20:07
Alex Ovechkin (2005)* 81 52 54 106 21:37
Rick Nash (2002) 74 17 22 39 13:06
Ilya Kovalchuk (2001) 65 29 22 61 18:34
Patrik Stefan (1999) 72 5 20 25 14:48
Vincent Lecavalier (1998) 82 13 15 28 13:39
Joe Thornton (1997) 55 3 4 7 8:05

*Ovechkin's first season came after the lockout, which was a year after his draft year.

With the exception of Patrik Stefan, every one of these players has gone on to be a productive player or a star player in the NHL (the jury is still out on Taylor Hall at this point after just one season, but we like his chances).

What's a reasonable expectation for Nugent-Hopkins should he play for the Oilers this season? Well, nobody should expect Crosby/Ovechkin levels because those guys are from a different planet. But 20 goals seems like it would be a solid goal based on recent performances by other top picks, assuming he's able to withstand the physical toll of the NHL. And that seems to be the chief concern for Nugent-Hopkins; it's not his skill or ability, but simply whether or not he has the strength to do it at this point. He currently weighs in at 175 pounds according to Spencer's Canadian Press report from over the weekend. That would make him one of the smallest players in the league

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