Tag:Adam Gretz
Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 12:20 pm

Brent Burns signs 5-year extension with Sharks


By: Adam Gretz

The San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild made two huge trades over the summer. Most recently, the clubs swapped big-money forwards Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat. Before that blockbuster was completed, the Sharks acquired offensive-defenseman Brent Burns in a deal that sent Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota at the NHL draft, giving San Jose another scoring threat from the blue line to go along with veteran Dan Boyle.

On Monday, the Sharks announced that they signed Burns, who is still only 26 years old, to a five-year contract extension. According to David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News, the deal is worth a total of $28.5 million, which comes out to a cap hit of $5.75 million per season.

Said general manager Doug Wilson in a statement released by the team, "We are thrilled that Brent has stepped forward and made long-term commitment to the San Jose Sharks, his new teammates and our fans. When we acquired Brent, it was our intention to make sure that he remained an important piece of our organization moving forward and we are very pleased that we have been able to do that. As an elite-level defenseman who is just entering his prime, we are looking forward to meshing Brent’s skills with our existing core group.”

Burns is coming off the best season of his career offensively having scored 17 goals to go with 29 assists in 82 games. A former first-round pick by the Wild back in 2003, Burns spent the first seven years of his career in Minnesota and has flashed the elite-level ability Wilson talked about many times throughout his career. The biggest concern the Sharks and their fans should have with Burns is the fact he's had a history of injuries in recent years, including a concussion during the 2009 season.

He's played fewer than 60 games twice in the past four years.

When he's on the ice, however, he's a true goal-scoring threat having scored at least 15 goals during the 2010-11 and 2007-08 seasons. He maintained a similar pace during his injury-shortened 2008-09 season.

The only defensemen to score more goals last season were Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien (20) and Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky (18).

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 1, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 1:21 pm

Higher salary cap means larger core for teams


By: Adam Gretz

If the NHL salary cap has done anything during its existence it's forced teams to identify a core of players to build around. With a limit on spending teams aren't going to be able to keep every single player they want, or build a completely well-rounded team without flaws. Eventually tough decisions will have to be made on who to keep and who to let go.

In the cap era teams that make deep runs into the postseason have been pretty consistent with the structure of having nearly 50 percent of their league-allotted cap space tied up in a core of just five players. But in recent years, specifically the past two, the salary cap has increased rather significantly, all the way to the point where the salary floor for the 2011-12 season is higher than the actual cap was back in 2005-06.

Will that change the structure of teams from having a core of just five players, to perhaps a core of six or seven?

Let's take a look at last year's 16 playoff teams and how their top-five salaries fit under the 2011-12 cap of $64.3 million…

Playoff Teams Top-Five Salary Cap Commitments For 2011-12
Team Top-Five Salary Cap Hits Percentage of Salary Cap
Washington Capitals $32.6 million 51%
Pittsburgh Penguins $31.4 million 49%
San Jose Sharks $29.5 million 46%
Chicago Blackhawks $29.4 million 46%
New York Rangers $29.3 million 46%
Tampa Bay Lightning $29.1 million 45%
Montreal Canadiens $29 million 45%
Philadelphia Flyers $27.5 million 43%
Buffalo Sabres $27.1 million 42%
Vancouver Canucks $27.1 million 42%
Detroit Red Wings $26.5 million 41%
Anaheim Ducks $25.2 million 39%
Boston Bruins $24.9 million 39%
Los Angeles Kings* $24.6 million 38%
Phoenix Coyotes $20.7 million 32%
Nashville Predators* $20.1 million 31%

*Nashville's number will surely increase once Shea Weber's contract is settled this week, and the same thing goes for Los Angeles whenever Drew Doughty signs a new contract.

I spoke with one NHL executive a couple of weeks ago on the subject and he agreed that most teams, if not every team, see the current NHL structure as having to invest a significant portion of their resources into a core group of players, but that there are still several key factors that go into the roster construction.

For one, you have to have the players worthy of that sort of investment. Throwing large money at mediocrity isn't going to win anything.

The other factor at work is that some of these teams, like Phoenix and Nashville for example, aren't concerned with the league-wide cap and are instead working against their own financial restrictions, which can put them at a sizable disadvantage, not all that different from the ones these teams faced prior to the salary caps existence. The Predators, who are set to go to arbitration with one of their best players, Shea Weber, on Tuesday, have an easily identifiable core of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne. There's already been concern about their ability to keep them together for the long haul. So even with the cap there's still teams that struggle to keep their home-grown Stars.

But for the teams that have the funds at their disposal, the latest cap increase has made it easier to not only keep their best, core players under contract, but to also increase that "core" (at least until -- or if -- the cap goes down at some point) and potentially keep even more players that they may have otherwise had to part ways with in recent years due to cap restrictions.

Look at it this way: Last season the top-four playoff seeds in each conference (including both Stanley Cup final teams) had at least 50 percent of the $59.4 million cap invested in just five players, while four of them had as much as 55 percent invested in their top-five cap hits. As you can see in the table above, only one team at this point in the offseason -- Washington -- hits that mark, which is an example as to how much the cap has increased, and how much additional room the deep pocketed teams with talent have to work with.

All salary cap figures via CapGeek

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 1, 2011 8:43 am

Daily Skate: Islanders big day

By: Adam Gretz

IT'S VOTE DAY FOR THE Islanders It's August 1 and that means it's a huge day for the future of the New York Islanders franchise. Today is the day Nassau County residents will vote on whether or not to pass a referendum that would fund a new arena for the storied franchise. Their two closest rivals, the Rangers and Devils, have already spoken out in favor of the deal, and the Islanders PR blitz has been on for quite a while. Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank reviews the all of the pluses and minuses of everything that's gone on, and offers a prediction on what will happen when the polls close at 9 PM.

TAMPA BAY'S 'BE THE TICKET' PROMOTION The Tampa Bay Lightning are running a Facebook promotion that will give their fans an opportunity to have their face on a ticket stub for a game during the 2010-11 season. The folks at Raw Charge have some thoughts on the promotion, and if you're a Lightning fan that wants to have the opportunity to have your mug on a ticket stub, here's where to go.

MORE ON WEBER'S ARBITRATION So far this summer every potential arbitration case has been avoided due to the team and player coming to an agreement. In the case of Shea Weber, that doesn't appear as if it's going to happen, so both sides are preparing for Tuesday's hearing. Is Weber, the Predators' All-Star level defenseman, only looking for a one-year deal instead of two? That's what Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck looks at after a since-deleted Tweet from TSN's Ryan Rishaug suggested Weber was only looking for a one-year deal.

WINNIPEG: THE HOCKEY SONG And now for something completely random, and perhaps even a little ridiciulous, here's a gentlemen that goes by the name of Sugar Free Leonard welcoming the return of the Winnipeg Jets through song. We give him credit for putting himself out there. Video via Puck Daddy:

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

Posted on: July 31, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 7:23 pm

Where will Nikolay Zherdev land?

ZherdevBy: Adam Gretz

Whenever Nikolay Zherdev is the subject of discussion it's inevitable that the word enigma is going to get thrown around. The 26-year-old winger oozes talent and seemingly untapped potential, but has been frustrating teams and coaches since his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season. He remains unsigned as the calender is set to flip over to August, and is easily the biggest boom-or-bust player still waiting for a chance.

It's not yet known whether that chance will come with an NHL team or somewhere in Russia.

The folks over at Broad Street Hockey translated a Russian interview with Zherdev late last week where he talked about his potential landing spots (he also shared his critical feelings for his former general manager and coach), including his interest in playing for the Winnipeg Jets, as well as a possible jump to the KHL (which is something that, for some reason, seems like it would have already happened by now).

Somebody is going to take a chance on the talented winger because there's still too much offensive ability and upside to ingnore, and at 26, he's not exactly over-the-hill or on what would be the downside of his career. It can be too tempting to pass up, even if he can be frustrating in the defensive end of the ice and maddeningly inconsistent.

At this point Zherdev is what he is -- a talented, one-dimensional offensive threat that can score goals when put into the right situations. And that can be a useful asset to a team like Winnipeg that was 20th in goals per game last season, and has added nothing more than depth players this summer, while also buying low on Eric Fehr.

Zherdev scored more goals (16) with the Flyers last season than any remaining free agent on the open market (that's excluding Anaheim-or-bust Teemu Selanne), and did so by playing in just 56 games, which is a 23-goal pace over an 82 game season. That's nearly identical to what he did over the prior two seasons as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.

When asking whether or not the Jets should be the team to pursue Zherdev, Drew Mindell at Illegal Curve concluded the answer should be a rather easy yes, provided it's only a low-risk one-year deal. And that seems fair. No NHL team should be willing to hand out a multi-year contract at this point because there's just too much uncertainty as to what you're going to get, and a team like the Jets seems to be a match in terms of having a need for some sort of additional offensive firepower. Even if it does carry some risk.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 1:57 pm

Kings file grievance over Colin Fraser injury

FraserBy: Adam Gretz

The Los Angeles Kings are still arguing that the Edmonton Oilers misrepresented the health status of forward Colin Fraser prior to last month's trade that sent Ryan Smyth back to Alberta. As a result, the Kings reportedly filed a grievance with the NHL on Friday night, according to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times.

Frasher was acquired by the Kings around the time of the NHL draft in a deal that sent the veteran Smyth back to the team that originally drafted him, after he had a requested a trade that would return him closer to his home province of Alberta. The original deal was supposed to involve forward Gilbert Brule, but because the Kings had conerns over Brule's health, the deal was re-worked to include Fraser and a draft pick.

After the Kings received Fraser, the club realized he hadn't fully healed from a foot injury that sidelined him during the 2010-11 season which has been the center of controversy regarding the deal. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi claimed that the Oilers front office told him Fraser was just days away from being able to return to hockey activities, only to have the Kings learn that the veteran forward still had an unhealed fracture in his foot, among other complications related to the injury, and would require additional surgery.

He underwent surgery earlier this week to repair the fracture, while his agent, Jerry Johansen, told Elliott that his client will eventually be 100 percent, even if there is no immediate timetable for his return.

The grievance will be heard by commissioner Gary Bettman who will decide if the Oilers did, in fact, misrepresent Fraser's injury.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 29, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 9:10 pm

Devils also support Islanders arena vote

By: Adam Gretz

On Thursday the New York Rangers organization urged their fans to support the New York Islanders and vote yes to the Nassau County referendum on Monday that would help finance a new arena for their long-time rivals.

The third team that occupies the New York/New Jersey market -- the Devils -- released a similar statement on Friday and urged Nassau County residents to approve the referendum.

The statement, which is posted below, was made by general manager Lou Lamoriello and also appeared on the Devils website:
"The New York Islanders are a proud organization with a championship history. Monday’s referendum vote on a new Nassau Coliseum is vital to ensuring that tradition lives on.

Since opening Prudential Center in 2007, we have seen first-hand the tremendous impact that a new facility can have for our fans and the surrounding community. A world-class facility is fundamental to success in the modern sports landscape, and a necessity for both the fans and the players.

Owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow have assembled a core of talented young players whose future depends on a new home on Long Island. We look forward to continuing our Atlantic Division rivalry for years to come.

The Devils support the Islanders in their quest for a new arena, and urge Nassau County residents to vote yes this Monday."
Along with what I can only imagine is a large portion of their own fan base the Islanders have the support of their two closest NHL neighbors, which is certainly good news. The isssue remains whether or not they have the support of the Nassau County voters that aren't hockey fans ... or at least the support of enough to approve the referendum.

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

Posted on: July 29, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2011 6:49 pm

Devils reach 1-year agreement with Parise


By: Adam Gretz

On Friday evening New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise became the latest player to avoid arbitration (which has been a common theme this summer). 

It was announced by the club that the Devils and their star forward had reached an agreement on a one-year contract, and would continue to work toward a long-term deal. Parise's hearing was scheduled for August 3. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie the deal is worth $6 million, which is an increase from the $5 million he made last season in the final year of a four-year contract that carried a cap hit of $3.1 million.

Pairse, who just turned 27 this week, missed most of last season due to a knee injury and appeared in just 13 games for a disappointing New Jersey team that stumbled out of the gate, before finally hitting its stride in the second half. He scored three goals before suffering a torn meniscus in a game against the Los Angeles Kings on October 30.

A first-round pick by the Devils in 2003, Parise has developed into one of the best left wingers in the NHL and had scored at least 30 goals in four consecutive seasons before his injury-shortened campaign in 2010-11. His best performance came during the 2008-09 season when he scored 45 goals, good enough for third best in the league, to go with 49 assists.

If the two sides can't agree to a long-term deal Parise will be eligible for unrestricted free agency following this season.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: July 28, 2011 10:38 pm

Marc Savard still experiencing headaches

By: Adam Gretz

Boston Bruins center Marc Savard hasn't played in an NHL game since Jan. 22 -- and has appeared in just 32 games since March of 2010 -- due to a pair of concussions he's suffered over the past two seasons. According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, the 34-year-old forward is still experiencing headaches as a result of the head injuries, and barring a sudden change in his condition is unlikely to participate in training camp for this upcoming season.

Given the severity of the injuries and the fact he's now in his mid-30's, you at least have to entertain the possibility that this could cut his career short, or at the very least limit his ability and production when he does finally return to the ice.  And just as a point of reference, Pat LaFontaine was only 32 when his career came to a premature end due to concussions, while Eric Lindros was just 33. That's not to say the situations are identical, or that Savard's problems are as severe as the ones LaFontaine and Lindros faced, but it's at least worth considering at this point.

Prior to the injuries he was one of the best playmaking centers in the NHL, finishing in the top-six in assists four times (including three times in the top-three) between 2005 and 2009. During a game against Pittsburgh late in the 2009-10 season, Savard was blindsided by Penguins forward Matt Cooke on a devastating hit to the head that ultimately helped lead to Rule 48, which made similar blindside hits to the head illegal. He didn't play another game during the regular season but was able to return for the playoffs where he tallied one goal -- an overtime game winner -- and two assists in seven games.

After appearing in just 25 games this past season, where his production had plummeted from his career norms, all the way down to just two goals and eight assists, Savard was on the receiving end of another brutal hit, this time into the glass, from Colorado's Matt Hunwick, resulting in his second concussion in less than nine months.

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