As of when I posted this the only link I’d received is from Chris at Two In The Box the all things Buffalo Sports blog. It’s not to late to join in, look here and then tweet me and I’ll update the post when I can. The roster Chris put up is interesting, there’s a lot of similarities between ours, but the differences are fascinating.

 

Part 1 First Domino:

Forward, Jiri Hudler, Defenseman Sheldon Souray, Goalie Scott Clemmensen

 

Part 2 Team UFA:

LW: Zach Parise $7,1m C: Olli Jokinen $3m RW: Teemu Selanne $5m

LW: Ray Whitney $3.3m C: Paul Gaustad $2.85M RW: Shane Doan $5m

LW; Jiri Hudler $3.2m  C: Kyle Wellwood $1.3, RW: P.A. Parenteau $2.8m

LW: Daniel Winnik $1.m C: Jay McClement $1.5m RW: Jordin Tootoo $1.5m

Extra Forward: Brandon Prust $900,000

I’m not quite in love with spending this much on some players, but given the market, I think there’s a really good mix of talent, hunger, grit, and professionalism. McClement, Parise, Gaustad are all effective penalty killers as well. Tootoo, Winnik and Prust make the team based largely on penalty killing time and cost, but attitude is good. Winnik warmed up to San Jose at the end of the the season, and Prust and Tootoo can both throw the body at will.

 

Defense:

Ryan Suter $7.5m  Carlo Colaiacovo $4.2m

Jason Garrison $4m Matt Carle $4.3m

Sami Salo $2.5m Adrian Aucoin $2.25

Extra Defenseman

Milan Jurchina $1.95

If they can stay healthy this is a better defense than more than half the NHL. Even including Salo and Aucoin it’s a bit younger than the forward group and  good for a lot of blocked shots and hits. Also notable is the offensive contribution this crew could bring. Suter, Colaicovo, Garrison were all no brainers and adding some right handed defensemen meant Salo and Aucoin. Jurchin would get more press if he ever remembered he was allowed to shoo the puck. Carle was obvious once I saw the name and realized what he’s good for.

Goaltenders:

Curtis Sanford $1.3m

Brent Johnson $1m

Sanford was pretty damn good in Columbus all year. The defense in front of him not so much. I think with being occasionally rested for Johnson and an organized defensive system, he couldn’t be any worse in a season than the goaltenders who won the cup three, four and five years back.

 

Forward Total: $38,450,000

Defense Total $26,700,000

Goaltender Total: $2,300,000

Total:

$67,450,000

Cap Space: $2,750,000

Overall not a lot of wiggle room, but known qualities on the ice, and a few guys with something to prove.

Part 3 Worst Contract

Before this became part of the blog, my default answer was always Glen Sather. Montreal has cleared out the former general managers meaning they might not kill their depth with a bad contract this year. And the Canes general mangers seems to have recovered from the cramp that got him to hand Kaberle a huge deal last year. The Flames are too close to the cap to do anything too stupid. I’m going with the Ottawa Senators attempting to make a big splash.

Part 4 Where’s Zach

On July first he’s unsigned. Eventually, he reups with the Devils.

Day two’s action some some quicker skating and more intricate drills. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said that Khoklachev is most likely to play in Russia next season, but that he is required to be at Bruins training camp this fall. On Tuukka Rask he said the contract was reasonably easy to to put together and that Rask wants to be Bruin for a long time. The contract length was mostly informed by Rask’s desire to prove himself as a number one goaltender.

Ryan Spooner was a 2010 draft pick, Cody Payne was picked this year.

More pictures and tweets as the day goes on.

One of the keys to winning or even going deep in the playoffs in the current NHL is often overlooked. The media is guilty of it. The fans are frequently guilty of it, and the last decade has shown that teams are guilty too.

Depth is so frequently neglected half of knowing who will make the post season is simply looking at how time is split up. Every team has guys who can play sixteen to twenty minutes on their top line or two. Those guys lik Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk and Anze Kopitar arree easy to identify. But the guys behind them? Is that third line really a quality third NHL line or simply active retirement for players who should have been put out to pasture? Are the guys on your second line going to give up more goals and chances than they generate?

At the other end of the ice depth is even more telling. One defenseman going down can mean anything from eight or nine minutes that need to be filled to twenty-nine or thirty. The biggest difference year over year between the cup winning Chicago Blackhawks and the next edition was how many minutes the third and four lines and second and third defensive pairings were worth. Parise, Suter, and company will get the headlines. But watch the depth players. They will push the best teams over the top.

Two of the more interesting players to hit the news in the last couple days are Derek Roy and Mike Santorelli. The Buffalo Sabres Roy has one year left on a contract that will pay him five and a half with a cap hit of four. Santorelli of the Florida Panthers is likely a less prohibitive gamble. His salary is one point six this year and like Roy he’s a center.

In his first full year in the NHL Mike Santorelli put up 20 goals and 21 assists good for second in points and third in goals on a not very good Panthers team. That was two seasons ago where he played just over sixteen minutes a night and potted a short handed goal and powerplay goals. He was also above 50% in faceoffs. This year under the new head coach, and with an influx of new players he saw drastically less time. Kevin Dineen did a remarkable job with the talent, and injuries his team had. Between Santorelli’s shoulder injury to start the season, and the new system of Dineen he found himself marginalized and has since been waived.

Derek Roy has been a member of the Buffalo Sabres since he drafted 32nd overall in 2001. He’s only had one NHL head coach in that time. During Lindy Ruff’s tenure, the longest in the NHL, the Sabres have been up, down and largely a low spending team. Terry Pegula taking over the team recently has led to a change in the tableau and not only is the teams attitude toward spending different, expectations are much higher. Roy was not alone in having a sub-standard season, but he seems to be one of the scapegoats for it. During this season Ruff was injured and ended up loaning head coaching duties to one of the assistants. This may or may not have played a role in Roy’s slide to his worst NHL full season point total.

Do we blame the coaches? Did Dineen dismiss a player who had had success the previous season because of an injury? Is not getting the best out of an experienced player a failure on Ruff’s part? Or did Santorelli go have as much trouble learning the new playbook as Ochocinco? Is Roy tuning out Ruff, giving into the teams malaise?

Either way, both players present intriguing options for teams looking for help at center. Roy has a potential claim to a top line in some cities. Santorelli is more likely a second or third line center. Puck possession being a priority, especially for teams like the Flames, Ducks, or Lightning both players offer a chance to make starting play with the puck

Two of the NHL’s best known goalies signed new deals today. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. and Tuukka Rask of  Boston Bruins.

The reigning Stanley Cup and Conn-Smyth winner arguably took a home town discount. His deal is reported right at $58 million for ten years. The deal will put his cap hit as the seventh highest for goaltenders in the NHL. Ahead of him from top to bottom are Rinne, Lundqvist, Ward, Miller, Backstrom, and Kiprusoff. Of all these men only Rinne has appeared in the top 7 in sv% for each of the last two seasons.

Tuukka Rask’s deal is a curious one. One year at $3.5million. Under the current CBA that would leave him an RFA after next season. With the pending boardroom show down between the NHLPA and the NHL owners the landscape just over the event horizon could be completely different. Rask has spent his NHL career sharing the crease with Tim Thomas. This year he is in many eyes the rightful heir. With the limited to non-existent NHL experience of those behind him like Khudobin, Hutchinson, and Svedberg. With the number and quality of goaltenders in the system Rask should not be resting easy.

While I’m not going to predict any career trajectories based off of a bit more than an hours on ice observation. Some players did stand out for one reason or another. Here’s the quick hits.

  • Ryan Spooner, has filled out and looks stronger and larger but hasn’t lost even a hint of speed or agility. When I spoke to him after practice he was extremely focused on playing in the NHL this fall.
  • Colton Hargrove who is headed to Western Michigan showed off some high end hand eye coordination. He’s a big, solid guy who grew up a Mike Modano fan in his native Texas. Said he sees similarities in his game to Milan Lucic.
  • Adam Morrison is more concerned with focusing on refining his game this year than where he plays. He said he was in Boston during the spring for the playoffs but slightly surprised by the atmosphere at development camp.
  • Malcolm Subban drew a lot of attention and is a more active goaltender than many, the OHL stud goaltender and first round pick is wearing his Bellville Bulls pads.
  • Hamilton has put on some muscle, his wrist shot looked smooth and quick.

When Don Sweeney spoke after practice he mentioned that while no one will make the team out of development camp they expect some of these campers to come in and push for a job. The chance to push aside a veteran does exist. From his comments other, I would guess there are three forwards and one defenseman at camp who can be expected to supply the most pressure.  I think any of the veterans who show up this fall out of shape or try and sleep walk through camp might find themselves in a different uniform before the season starts.

There are some differences this camp to previous ones. First off six goaltenders makes for not a great deal of crease time. The total roster on the other hand is smaller than in past years. Part of this reflects the depth of the Boston team and the fairly young players already on it. Another part may well be the pending lockout. A player in the locker room did mention the pending labor dispute and that it might affect the season. With the turnover in some other NHL teams management offices I can imagine young players going to where they expect a better change to play in the NHL next season, whenever it may be, than to a deep perennial playoff team.

One of the things that I hope both sides of the NHL/NHLPA showdown over how the next decades money will be split is that the current discipline system is utterly inadequate. As mentioned previously diving is an issue that needs to be shot dead. With fines that might as well not exist despite their being cheating as unfair as performance enhancing drugs (and far more common) nothing has been done to curb it.

But the diving is just one small part. There needs to be power for oversight of officiating given to the NHLPA. Some officials clearly are incompetent to hand towels to the officials who do take the ice. Some mechanism for forceful correction of the egregiously bad officiating needs to come into being, immediately. It could even be a joint General Mangers/Governors NHLPA work group to address the worst of the mess.

The third level is bringing in a person or persons to be the basis for appeals. Currently the disciplinarian is installed by Gary Bettman, who also get’s to in his own sweet time decide on appeals. As we’ve seen with the Raffi Torres debacle, without a strict deadline Bettman is able to effectively pocket veto any suspensions he doesn’t wish to address. Him doing so is unfair to the team owners, the players and the fans. Is Raffi Torres going to be the reason a team wins or loses a playoff series? Unlikely, but what if the next person appealing is Alex Ovechkin who is now a “repeat offender” if Bettman answers in any less time than elapsed in the Torres case he’ll clearly be showing favoritism. He’s doubly undermined the system and it makes the NHL look bad.

There are other problems that need to be dealt with sure, but these issues can affect teams bottom line by millions of dollars a year and should not be ignored.

Former St Louis Blue, Boston Bruin, Florida Panther, and Washington Capital Dennis Wideman is now and likely for the next five years a member of the Calgary Flames. On Wednesday he signed a five year deal contract worth $26.25million. Jay Feaster clearly felt that a mediocre skater who has never been on a team that made it past the second round, has been jettisoned by four teams, is a career -39, and who boasts just one goal in 44 playoff appearances is worth five and a quarter million in cap space each year. My opinion is that Seth Jones should get familiar with the Calgary real estate market.

Mathieu Darche has rejected a Habs offer of a a two way contract. The well traveled thirty six year old is also a member of the NHLPA negotiating team. The three time 30 goal scorer at the AHL level has never hit even 15 in the NHL topping out at twelve. Presumably he’ll be looking for a deal roughly equal to his most recent and potentially even a two year deal. No word on if he’ll attempt to sign in Boston as several past recovering Candiens have.

Boston Bruins development camp is starting on Thurday, prospects have been trickling including 6’2 Florida born forward Brian Ferlin:

Ferlin was taken in the fourth round in 2011 and attends Cornell University. The Indiana Ice alumni will find himself sharing a locker room with former and current Boston College Eagles, OHL champions, Texan Colton Hargrove, Brit Cody Payne and the rest of the hopefuls.