Saturday, February 28, 2009

Week 20 Predictions

1) WE go into the final weekend before the trade deadline. Teams will probably use the games today and tomorrow as a final gauge as to whether they are going to be buyers or sellers. Today/night there are 11 games. We bring our 130-96 season record into today hoping to improve upon last week's showing.

Washington at Boston: Bruins

Florida at New Jersey: Devils

Anaheim at Dallas: Stars

San Jose at Montreal: Shark (Lock of the Week)

Colorado at NY Rangers: Rangers

Toronto at Ottawa: Senator

Carolina at Atlanta: Hurricane

Detroit at Nashville: Predators

St. Louis at Phoenix: Coyote

Friday, February 27, 2009

Staal Brothers: Coach Killers?

1) Of course our "Coach Killer" label is tongue-in cheek, we found it amusing that all 3 Staal brothers have had their coaches fired since the start of the season.

  • Eric Staal of the Hurricanes (Peter Laviolette), Replaced by former coach Paul Maurice

  • Jordan Staal of the Penguins (Michel Therrien), Replaced by Dan Bylsma

  • Marc Staal of the Rangers (Tom Renney), Replaced by John Tortorella

2) Another irony that others have written about; All 4 of the teams that went to Europe to start the season have new coaches as well. We wonder if Detroit's Mike Babcock will be a bit worried about going to Sweden to start the 09-10 season? ; )

  • Tampa Bay- Barry Melrose

  • Ottawa- Craig Hartsburg

  • NY- Tom Renney

  • Pittsburgh- Michel Therrian

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sean To "Rot" in the Minors?

1) Despite the media generated rumors to the contrary, we have learned at FAUXRUMORS that its MORE likely than not that Sean Avery will play out the season in the AHL. Of course we had to ask, why? Our sources tell us that there are several reasons, but the most likely is the salary cap in Dallas. They went on to explain how its actually disadvantageous for the Stars to bring back Sean on 're-entry waivers' this season. He said that if the Stars were to do that, they would be on the hook for 1/2 of Avery's remaining salary, or about 1.6 million in cap space for the remainder of this season and 3 more seasons to follow. He went on that owner Tom Hicks is not enamoured in paying another team to have one of his former players assist them in winning. Another source also stated that Hicks also is so pissed at Avery that he might even consider having him remain in the AHL until his contract expires in 2012!

2) The most likely scenario we have been told is that Dallas will wait until the buy out period(June) when they can buy out Avery at 2/3 of his contract. They would still suffer a salary cap hit, but it would be about 1.3 mil spread out over 6 years. That source also indicated that Dallas might shop Avery at or before the draft after teams see how he performs in the minors. Hoping to unload all of his contract, but they understand its a long shot at best, but not impossible. WE at Fauxrumors like the Hicks idea of keeping him in the AHL. Sure Avery gets his full salary, but Dallas doesn't lose any cap space and they could perhaps revisit the buy out option next year when the cap hit would be reduced by a 1/3. What is certain is that its not a done deal that Avery will be wearing a Ranger jersey this season.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trade Bait?

1) With the deadline less than a week away we felt it time to put our cards on the table and discuss what we have been hearing with regard to potential deadline deals. As we mentioned last week, we don't see a huge mega deal involving multiple big names, but instead will see the usual flurry of adding impending UFA's from non-playoff clubs and shifting of draft picks.

2) As of now discussions are on going. Until a deal is official no GM is bound to pull the trigger no matter how far along negotiations have progressed. Many we are told will wait till the last possible moment to extract as much as possible for their players, hoping to get into a bidding war. It is possible that might happen with some of the better available assets being that there might only be 6-7 legitimate 'sellers by next week. With that in mind we will go through each potentially available player and the teams with the most interest. In no particular order. We'll also rate the chances each player will be on the move

  • Marian Gaborik- The 27 year old (that's all?) Slovakian sniper is a UFA after this season. As we have chronicled before he/his agent were greedy and lost out on millions with not signing earlier with Minny. As he's on injured reserve its unlikely the Wild will get much interest. Chance of a deal: 20%

  • Jay Bouwmeester- As we exclusively reported earlier this month we hear that j-bow-staying-put Sure the Panthers are listening, and if given a 'blow away' package of forwards and picks they'd consider a move, but do NOT expect a simple draft pick for a player type trade here. As we were told, "its 80-20 against a deal right now". The team most likely to get him would be the Blue Jackets. Chance of a deal: 35%

  • Ilya Kovalchuk- Although still only 25, he can become a UFA after next season so he could be had for the right price, but it would be steep. We're told that its more likely that Ilya would be a draft day deal than a deadline deal as the Thrashers are trying to get him extended. It remains to be seen if Kovalchuk wants to stay in Atlanta (assuming they even have a franchise there next season). The Habs have interest. Chance of a deal: 20%

  • Nik Antropov- The big hulking Kazakhstan native is all but assured of being dealt. He is one of the Russian enigma players; Lots of talent, but inconsistent in its application. Still a team needing size/2nd line scoring might benefit. The Canucks have shown interest. Chance of a deal: 80%

  • Keith Tkachuk- What else can we say that we haven't about Keith? If we were a GM we'd pass on him, but you can bet that Tkachuk will again garner plenty of interest. (Buyers-beware!)-ask Don Waddell how much Keith adds to your playoff runs! That said, we're told that although Keith covets going to the Bruins that coveting isn't mutual. He may have to go to his second choice, NY. Keith does have a NTC so he will decide to stay of go. Chance of a deal: 90%

  • Brian Gionta- Having an underwhelming season (for his salary-4 million) and is a UFA after this season so if Lou can improve his club the Rochester NY native could be on the move. LA has called recently, Chance of a deal: 40%

  • Erik Cole- The Oswego, NY native has been part of numerous trade rumours this season. The 29 year old will be a UFA after this year and makes 4 million, and is hardly earning it in Edmonton. That said, we hear several teams have shown interest, with the Bruins, Penguins and Devils on the top of the list. Chance of a Deal: 60%

  • Brendan Witt- The gritty Islander defensive defensemen signed a 2 year 6 million dollar extension earlier this season, but his falling out with new coach Gordon and the team's rebuilding has suddenly made Brendan a hot commodity. Even his contract hasn't dissuaded GM's from inquiring. Several teams, including Witt's drafting team, the Capitals have shown interest. Chance of a deal: 70%

  • Bill Guerin- The NY Islanders captain has a no trade clause and we're told he would allow a deal to a limited number of teams that include his former team in NJ and Boston. He would refuse any deal to the west coast. It also would be interesting if GM Garth Snow would deal with his cross town counterpart Glen Sather as the Ranger's boss wouldn't mind adding Guerin. Chance of a deal 50%

  • John Madden- Even more so that fellow Devil Gionta, Madden's offense has evaporated, making his salary of 3 million seem steep. Like Gionta, Lamarello would deal the smallish center if it helped his current team (not for just a pick). The Flames have shown mild interest Chance of a Deal: 30%

  • Jere Lehtinen: About a month ago it appeared that the 35 year old Finn was destined to be dealt. With the recent surge back into the top 8 its now very unlikely he will be moved even though he will be a UFA after this season. Chance of a Deal: 10%

  • Martin Havlat- The oft injured Czech is having a nice season in the Windy city, but at 6 mil/year its not quite what you'd want. Still, the hawks we're told would like to retain the 27 year old wing, but he'll have to not expect a raise. If offered he'd get quite a bit of interest, but we're told he's not being shopped. Montreal has made overtures. Chances of a deal 25%

  • Olie Jokkinen- Is he the problem? The Panthers unloaded the talented Finn when he failed to lead them into a post season berth. Now the Yotes have apparently blown their chance at the post season making Oliie available. His 5.25 mil cap for next season will make him a tougher sell, but "he is being shopped", we're told. Columbus, Calgary and nashville have inquired. Chance of a Deal: 50%

  • Brandon Dubinsky: The 22 year old center for the BlueShirts showed all kinds of promise last spring playing with Jagr, but has had a very disappointing season in NY this year. He has fallen out of favour with management and he is one of the more attractive assets Sather could deal to improve his team down the stretch. The Oilers have shown interest. Chances of a deal: 40%

  • Alex Kovalev- With his recent benching for 2 games the rumours have been fast and furious concerning the 36 year old. Still possesses lots of skill that any offensively starved team would like to add down the stretch. Its possible for less than market value(2nd rounder). There will be several interested teams. Most notably the Rangers where Alex won a Cup in 94'. Also the pens and Jackets have expressed interest. Chance of a deal: 90%

  • Derek Morris- With the 'Yotes implosion suddenly their UFA's including Morris are up for grabs. The 29 year old is hardly setting the league on fire, but the 'Yotes could probably get a 3rd round pick for the soon to be UFA defensemen. The Flyers and Rangers have expressed interest. Chance of a deal: 80%

  • Greg deVries- The 36 year old is starting to show his age, but a team wanting to add defensive depth at the deadline may add the 36 year old vet, but the preds shouldn't expect much more than a mid round pick for him. Chance of a deal: 30%

  • Petr Prucha. The oft mentioned/maligned Czech forward has been part of numerous trade scenarios for the rangers the past 2 seasons. Has been in Renney's dog house almost all season. still, could provide some needed PP depth for a contender. Sather at most cold expect to get a 3rd round pick for him. The Av's have expressed interest in the soon to be RFA. Chance of a Deal: 60%

  • Alexandre Radulov- Remember him? The star Predator forward who defected back to play in the KHL despite having a valid NHL contract. Well the Preds are receiving offers for his rights. Now, if he's dealt we're told its much more likely to take place in June, but his rights could be part of an overall bigger deal. Several teams in the east have show interest. Among them the Maple Leafs and senators. Chance of a deal: 20%

  • Nikolai Khabibulin- Currently nursing a minor injury, but some speculate that he may be traded by the Hawks to an Eastern Team so as to not lose him for nothing and add to their roster for a serious playoff run. He has had the numbers to garner considerable interest. The Flyers have been trying to work out their cap issues to acquire the Russian goalie. A dark horse could be the Washington capitals who privately have been concerned with the ability of Theodore to carry the playoff load. Chance of a deal: 60%

  • Kari Lehtonen- The Thrashers have some big decisions to make other than Kovolchuk. Do they try to resign their impending RFA goalie, or try to deal him. Most folks we talk to say that Wadell is not shopping Kari, but would deal him if he was blown away.(God knows what that idiot Wadell considers a good deal) He has yet to prove anything, but a GM with goalie needs(Flyers) might decide to trade some assets to acquire the 24 year old Finn. Chance of a deal: 20%

  • Mark Recchi- Seems to be a perennial playoff rental. The 41 year old Lightning forward is having a decent season if you look past the -18. As always, he would be a nice addition as a PP specialist/2nd line forward. The 'wrecking ball' is possibly going back to his original team in Pittsburgh. The Bruins remain the dark horse. Chance of a deal: 80%

  • Chris Pronger- The big tough former Norris/hart trophy winner is 'very available' we're told. The problem is his contract which will pay another 6.25 NEXT season, making him a very tough move. As with many marquis players still under contract this kind of deal is more likely to take place in June. Still, several teams have expressed interest including the Rangers and Flyers. In either case considerable salary would have to go the other way. Chance of a deal: 10%

  • Max Afinogenov- The poster child of the word enigma(since Oleg Kvasha left the NHL) Max's career has gone steadily down hill never quite living up to expectations. His groin injury issues will probably prevent any possible deal and Max's days in the NHL are numbered. Chance of a deal: 10%

  • Brendan Morrison- The 33 year old is having a very disappointing season in Anaheim. The Ducks were counting on Brendan to contribute more offensively and hasn't come through. certainly not earning his 2.75 price tag. The Ducks would gladly unload him for anything at the deadline. Even to a rival West team. We are hearing that the Oilers or Stars are interested. Chance of a deal: 80%

  • Doug Weight- Unfortunately for the NY Islanders one of their most tradeable assets suffered a hip injury earlier this month making a trade doubtful, but not impossible. Certainly if a team wanted to add Doug the return would be minimal to NY. Chance of a Deal: 20%

  • Colby Armstrong- The Thrasher forward is having a solid season playing in Atlanta. Part of the Hossa deal to Pittsburgh last season the Pens could use him back and Shero has inquired what it might take to have him reunited back in The Steel City. Chance of a Deal: 50%

  • Steve Eminger- The Woodbridge, Ont native is having a solid season in Tampa after an early star with the Flyers. He is set to be a RFA after the season and if the Bolts get a decent offer Steve might be off to his 4th team in a year. Kind of perplexing considering he has never been a locker room problem(that we have heard) and plays well for a young defensemen. The Flames have shown interest. Chance of a Deal: 40%

  • Chris Neil- The Senator is an agitator extraordinaire, and as a UFA on the Sens, the team has been accepting offers. We have heard that the Sens are askig way too much and might have to accpt less than the 2nd round pick they are requiring. The Flames, Caps and San Jose have expressed interest. Chance of a deal: 90%

3) So that's our list as of the current time. It appears that teams are going to wait until the weekend at the earliest to pull the trigger on a deal. HERE is when Eklund;s silly domino comparison might be apt. once one team pulls a deal a rival GM is going to feel compelled to react. Things are sure to get interesting folks. As always, keep it here for all the latest

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finally.. Renney gets The Axe!

1) In a move that many Ranger fans we have talked to wanted to take place months ago head coach Tom Renney was fired today in what at this point looks like a desperate attempt to save their freefalling season. No replacement has been named, but the Rangers have a conference call planned for later Monday. As we speculated only a week ago when Therrian was let go, we feel the elevation of Jim Schoefeld is the logical choice.

2) Renney was 164-121-42 in parts of five seasons behind the Ranger bench, but that record was 2-7-3 in his last 11 games, including a 3-2 overtime loss to lowly Toronto at the Garden on Sunday night. And with the team unable to top two goals in all 10 of those losses, and with the frustration mounting in the room, team president/GM Glen Sather decided to pull the plug Monday.
3) As for a successor along with Schoenfeld the other option is former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella who once was an asst coach in NY so he is familiar with the organization and the NY media. However, Tortorella is still under contract to the Lightning, so the Rangers would have to ask permission to speak to him. The Stanley Cup-winning coach had a short stint behind the Rangers bench in the 1999-2000 season, when he spent four games as head coach after working the rest of the year as an assistant. He went 0-3-1 to close out the season. He briefly assumed the head coaching role after John Muckler was fired. Tortorella left for Tampa the next season when Neil Smith was fired as general manager in New York and Glen Sather was brought in to replace him.
4) One knock on our favourite, Jim Schoenfeld is that the current asst GM of the Rangers and GM of the Ranger's AHL affiliate Wolfpack hasn't coached in the NHL recently. He has extensive head coaching experience, but hasn't in the NHL since 1999 when he guided the Phoenix Coyotes
As an NHL head coach, Schoenfeld has compiled a record of 256-246-78 (.509) We should know who Glen Sather(who's job should also hang in the balance) picks later this afternoon. Meanwhile folks around hockey are praying Tortorella is hired and Sean Avery is transferred to the Rangers. Talk about pouring gasoline over a smoldering fire!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week 19 Results

1) Another sub par performance for Faux this past week. Going a dreadful 5-8. We have to say though we lost all 3 games that went to a shoot out, so we easily could have been 8-5 if the silly skills competition went the other way. Our season total is now 130-96 or a .575 winning %. We did manage to pick up our Lock of The Week to extend that record to an impressive 15-4 on the season.
2) Look for week 20, next Saturday (the last weekend before the trade deadline) when 11 games will be contested. In between now and then there will be plenty to discuss as the rumour mills are churning out some interesting stories. As always keep it here for the latest!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Week 19 Picks

1) Its week 19 in the NHL. A very active day/night with 13 games scheduled. We remind our regular readers that we bring an overall 125-88 record into this week.

Chicago at Dallas: Black Hawks

Ottawa at Montreal: Senators

Atlanta at San Jose: Shark (Lock of The Week)

NY Rangers at Buffalo: Sabres

Vancouver at Toronto: Maple Leaf (Return of Mats)

Boston at Florida: Panthers

Anaheim at Columbus: Blue Jackets

Calgary at Edmonton:Oiler

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dead Line Day: A Snooze-Fest?

1) The trade deadline will be a DUD! Several folks we at FAUXRUMORS talked with over the past several days have said words to that effect. That this years trade deadline will be one of the quietest in recent memory. Few if any major deals will go down. Of course we wanted to know why. There seemed to be a consensus of several reasons that March 4th, and the days preceding it will be a let down for those of us who love reading about player movement/trades, etc.

2) Will will list the reasons and explain from what we've been told why:

  • The salary cap. With it appearing that the cap will stagnate next season and very likely contract the following season, GM's have to be very wary about adding future salary at the deadline. As we will mention later, it will make the addition of non UFA to be players with significant salary left on their deals almost impossible to move until the off season, if then. (See Danielle Briere, Michael Nylander, Vincent Lecavalier, Chris Pronger) Therefore most potential deadline deals will revolve around soon to be UFA's

  • Too few teams are sellers. As of today a mere 12 days removed from the deadline only 5 teams can truly be said to be 'out of it' All are from the East. NY Islanders, Atlanta, Ottawa, Toronto,and Tampa Bay. No team out West is more than 7 points from 8th. Amazingly only 9 points separate the bottom 11 teams! Its so fluid that in 12 days the last place Coyotes, winners of one game in their last 10, could be back within a point of 8th if they get their crap together. What GM is going to throw away the season if they are so close. The playoffs is where teams make money so few owners of those teams will take kindly to a sell off. Do the Panthers trade Jay Bouwmeester, possibly hurting their chances of making the playoffs for the first time in 9 years? No! Therefore this will reduce the number of sellers to a bare minimum.

  • Few Blue chip UFA's available: If a team makes a deadline deal, more often than not its for an impending UFA. A rental if you will. As mentioned earlier with the salary cap few GM's wish to add payroll for upcoming seasons this far in advance so its far more attractive to add someone who they can get relatively cheaply then discard after the playoffs if they choose. Right now there don't seem to be many players that fall into this category like Marion Hossa was last season, IE: A blue chip UFA to be on a team that is out of the playoff picture.

3) With this confluence of negative issues it appears that the trade deadline may in fact be a dud. Sure there will be a multitude of 'minor deals' A player for a 2nd 3rd or later round pick. The exchange of RFA's with similar contracts, etc. However we have been warned not to expect any of the block buster deals that rumour sites have been predicting were imminent since the season began. Hey Ekund, wasn't the Sundin signing suppose to break the grid lock ( The first domino?) LOL Many of the same hockey people did say that they believe we will see an uptick in the number of deals leading up to and during the 09 draft. As one told us, "There simply are too many big names that are on the block and that is where I think it will go down". Sorry folks, looks like we will have to wait another 4 months for the big deals. In the mean time, lets enjoy the stretch run. The real season is upon us!

As always keep it here for al the latest!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Missing Link?

1) With the trade deadline a mere 2 weeks away we decided it would be a helpful exercise to list the teams that (at this time) feel have the most chance at competing for Lord Stanley's Chalice in June. What we'll do is list what the team may have to do between now and the playoffs to improve their chances. We won't necessarily be too worried about the salary cap with our analysis, but of course that always has to be taken into account when analyzing any player movement. Of course it should be noted that by March 4th 3/4 of the season will be completed so even a player making 5 mil would only really cost a new team 1 mil in cap space (which is why there are few trades PRIOR to the deadline!)

2) With that in mind here is our list. Keep in mind this is only our interpretation of who has the best shot at the Cup. Anything can happen, and we wouldn't be shocked if ANY of the top 8 teams in the East were in the Finals.

First the East:

  • Boston- Not much to do here other than to Get/stay healthy. They currently have all the ingredients to win: Solid scoring from multiple lines. Solid defense and good goaltending. In addition they have enough 'muscle' to withstand any possible intimidation. In fact they might intimidate some of their opposition. If they are healthy going into the deadline we see no need for any meaningful moves here

  • New Jersey- The Devils are an enigma to many, including us. If ever there was a team greater than the sum of its parts, its NJ. That said, we'd feel more comfortable if they could possibly add another forward. Sure Shanahan may have made that somewhat less necessary, but another sniper could put them over the edge. Also, and more obvious get Marty ready. One good thing/silver lining of his injury is He's rested! In the past few seasons he's looked tired come playoff time. With a month to get sharp Marty might be ready to propel the Newark boys to another Cup run

  • Washington- No team with the Hart and Norris favourites can be discounted, but the Caps need to make a couple of changes to become serious Cup contenders. For one, they rely entirely too much on Ovechkin. A playoff opponent would wisely do all they could do agitate/key on he and the rest of their players, as beyond Brashear they aren't a team known to be abrasive. Therefore we believe that they would be wise to bring in another agitating forward like a Chris Neal and perhaps a like defender like former Cap Brendan Witt. With both, we would say the Caps could go against and beat any East team, and make a run of it in the Finals, else they will win a round then go home.

  • Philadelphia- Have been an up and down team thus far. Looking unbeatable for a few weeks, then ordinary the next. The elephant in the room (one which is NOT new in Philly) is that they need A new goalie! Neither Marty Biron or Antero Niittymaki are good enough to win it all. They have all the other pieces in our opinion other than that. Perhaps they can get Chicago to give up Nikolai Khabibulin for Danielle Briere or a package of picks/Biron? If they got a legit #1 goalie, the Flyers would have to be one of the favourites in the East. Never mind the silly Bouwmeester rumours. He wouldn't be the answer there!

  • Rangers- Lots of issues here, but we have to start with, Fire Renney! Is he the sole reason for their malaise? No, but nothing is easier/costs less/ gets results faster than bringing in a new coach. (Ask Lou Lamarello) We don't understand why its taking Glen Sather so long to pull the trigger and put Renney out of his misery. In addition to that they BADLY need a reliable Scoring forward. It will be tough to find with their cap issues, but if they can somehow change coaches and improve themselves up front they have the goalie who can steal a round or two.

  • Pittsburgh- When we first made the outline for this blog entry our Penguin line started with "Fire Therrian". Obviously Ray Shero made the move that Glen Sather up to now, has avoided. It was necessary. This will not be enough however. Pitt needs to add a scoring wing. Everyone knew that was their weakness before the season, and its hurt even more than many thought. Despite excellent seasons from co-#1 centers Crosby/Malkin the Pens are still out of the playoffs. We also are NOT sold on Fleury in net, but doubt that Shero will make a change here. With Gonchar's return, a new coach and a new forward we could see the Pens doing some damage if they can sneak into the playoffs.

Next The West

  • San Jose- Much like Boston the Sharks seem to possess all that a team would seem to need to excel in the post season. Their number one priority therefore would be to get/stay healthy. That said, and we know we will get grilled for saying so, we think they would do better letting Claude Lemieux go and see if they could somehow get Sean Avery. We feel the Sharks are missing some team toughness/abrasion that we like to see, and although Avery isn't a fighter, he does bring that X factor that previous Sharks teams have been missing. Certainly another quick playoff exit would not be good for SJ. Expectations are sky high!

  • Detroit- The Wings are having another excellent season. Albeit not quite as good a their previous seasons, but still good enough to be considered one of the top Cup contenders(again). This team has no holes other than in goal. Last season they were able to get by with a pair of aging vets (Hasek/Osgood) and were good enough to win despite them. This time they have put their repeat hopes on Osgood and Conklin. Conklin has been the better of the two, but has only played 1 NHL playoff game in his life! Clearly an upgrade here would be a very nice trade deadline coup for the astute Holland.

  • Calgary- A bit of an enigma in reverse. Despite a first place position they are not as good as they should be. They give up way too many goals to be team seriously for a Cup chance. They have a +12 goal differential. (SJ has a +55, Detroit +47, and Chicago a +46) Pheneuf (Dion) is a horrendous -11! With little to no cap space any deal that Sutter makes will have to involve significant salary going the other way. They need to shake things up in our opinion if they want a chance to compete with the tough West

  • Chicago- Are having quite a nice rebound season. As we expected they are one of the more exciting NHL teams. That said they might want to add another defensemen to round things out. Perhaps also a veteran forward who has playoff experience. They have Khabibulin who they could dangle, or retain as goalie insurance. If they make the right deadline deal they could surprise a few teams. Speed kills!

  • Anaheim- Some may ask why did we place them on this list? Any team that has most of the components that won only 2 years ago can't be discounted. Sure, they don't seem to have any consistency and currently don't even have a playoff spot, but never count out a championship team until they are dead. Rumours thus far have centered around who they might trade (Pronger?, etc). It will be interesting to see if new GM Bob Murray decides to be a seller despite being in playoff contention. If he decides to take another run they will have to add some offense!

  • Dallas- What seemed to be a lost season has seemingly been salvaged. The Stars have clawed themselves back into the playoff picture and would seem to have the edge on gaining one of the final 3 spots out West. However the recent wrist injury to Brad Richards could damper those hopes and/or spur GM Brett Hull to make a deal for a forward. Regardless, they DO need a puck moving defensemen with Sergei Zubov lost. If Hull/the Stars are serious about making a statement this spring. (Note Captain Brendan Morrow may be ready for games by late April!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Michel Therrien Fired! Tom Renney....Next?

1) The Pittsburgh Penguins FINALLY made a big shakeup behind the bench, firing head coach Michel Therrien yesterday. The move comes less than a year after Therrien guided the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup final since 1992. Dan Bylsma previously the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, will take over as interim head coach. The Penguins have a 27-25-5 record this season and are struggling to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, sitting five points out.

2) We can't say we're shocked by this move. It probably is LONG overdue. From what we've been told it probably would have come MUCH sooner had the Pens not advanced within 2 games of the Cup last summer. Shero would have probably relieved Therrian last summer had they lost in the first two rounds. There had been rumblings of discontent and the team appeared rudderless from almost the opening game. While key injuries were early on a possible factor, other teams with equally bad injury issues were able to muddle through.(Like the Pens were able to do last season) Shero, fearing a possible non-playoff season, despite another great season from Geno Malkin felt it was either now or wait till after the season. Enough time remains for a new face/approach could significantly turn things around.

3) Some might recall that new coach Dan Bylsma played nine NHL seasons with Los Angeles and Anaheim from 1995-2004. He played 429 NHL regular season games and also played in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final with the runner-up Ducks. This season under Bylsma, the Baby Penguins are 35-16-1-2. He takes a similar path of the fired Therrien. We feel that this might be the key to getting things on the right track in Steel town. What appeared to be a lost season might now be saved. We'd wager that we see the Penguins in the playoffs, and if we were one of the other 7 teams, we wouldn't want to face them(assuming they are healthy)

4) Meanwhile on Broadway the Rangers, although still technically still in a playoff position, appear to not want to play beyond mid April. Going a putrid 1-5-2 in their last 8 the team appears to be totally lost. Last week they were thoroughly embarrassed by the Stars, 10-2. Many, including us, felt that Sather would use that game as a reason/exclamation point, of why Renney needs to be replaced. Perhaps Sather figures that IF he replaces Renney the pressure will then be deservedly on him. After all he is the one responsible for the awful contracts of Gomez, Redden. Rozival, Drury, etc that have handcuffed their salary cap number so that changes would be/are going to be difficult if not impossible to make.

5) As of today the Rangers find themselves generally safe in playoff position (6 points ahead of Carolina Hurricane, thanks in large part to a fast start, and a very good extra frame/shootout record. If not for those, the Blue Shirts would probably find themselves in the Penguins' precarious playoff position. Despite their playoff position anyone who has watched this team play the past 2-3 months can tell you they are not a tough team to play against. Not a team that we'd consider a real threat to win in the post season. At this point even the possible addition of Sean Avery would be enough to stem this tide. It may take the more drastic step of bringing in new blood behind the bench. Jim Schoenfeld anyone?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Week 18- Results

1) Week 18 in the books. Quite a few upsets didn't help our day/evening. We improved from last week's debacle, but 5-4 is not a good record for us. It brings our overall/season total to 125-88 or a .587 wining %. We dropped only our 4th Lock of the Week as the Wild decided to not show up against the Senators and got blown out on home ice! We are now 14-4 in Locks, for a still very solid .778 %
2) Look for our next edition next Saturday when a full docket of games will be decided. Also look very soon for our analysis of what teams that are contenders need to do in the upcoming weeks to solidify themselves for the post season. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Week 18 Picks

1) A smaller schedule on the NHL docket than usual for a Saturday. Only 9 contests are being played. We take our 120-84 record and try to improve upon that .588 winning percentage.


NY Islanders at Philadelphia: Flyers

Edmonton at Los Angeles: Kings

Columbus at Carolina: Hurricane

Pittsburgh at Toronto: Maple Leaf

Washington at Tampa Bay: Capital

Boston at Nashville: Bruin

Ottawa at Minnesota: Wild (Lock of The Week)

Dallas at Chicago: Black Hawk

Calgary at Phoenix: Flame

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jagr Back To The NHL?

1) With all due deference to the Edmonton Journal and their faux story that JJ is returning to the NHL, it was FAUXRUMORS who broke this story MONTHS ago. That original story done by Faux is definitely worth a second look now that additional reports are starting to arrive here in North America. We asked Faux if we could do a little checking to determine if there if anything to these 'new' rumours. So we did. Here is what we have been told.

2) The rumour to Edmonton was "pure fiction", as a well known agent told us yesterday. "Jagr is definitely going to return to the NHL", he went on, "but you can bet you bottom dollar that he is not going to go to Edmonton". Total wishful thinking combined with a journalist in need of a story to sell papers. Nothing more. So we decided to dig deeper to see if/when Jagr might be returning. We also have to note (and this is vital) IF/when JJ returns THIS season, he FIRST has to clear waivers! Why? Because he was playing in another league, NHL rules prohibit a team from signing a player without first clearing waivers. This differs from Sundin earlier this year who simply was sitting on his ass until December.

3) So it isn't a situation where 'Team A' simply makes an offer for Jagr to come here to play and that's that. Its not nearly that simple. Once he decided to return every team starting from the bottom up could lay claim to him. At the very least that ploy could be used to block a rival from obtaining Jagr. This is why we are hearing that a return THIS season is more remote. Jagr of course wants to decide his own fate/destination. With that seriously in doubt because of the waiver issue, its doubtful we'll see Jagr in the NHL until next fall. (This won't stop Eklund and his ilk from throwing out silly stories.
As always keep it here where we clean up the mess other sites leave!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mats Sundin: Subtraction by Addition?

1) After all the talk around the NHL for over 6 months pertaining to the reemergence of Mats Sundin, it seems it was all for nothing. All summer and fall we were hearing countless rumours of where the big Swede would end up (For our part we stuck with Vancouver almost from the start). Many thought that his signing would cause an instant shift in the balance of power where ever he ended up. Be it the Canucks, Habs, or Rangers. Many thought he could be the missing piece in their teams' puzzle toward sipping champagne out of the Cup this June.

2) A funny thing happened along the way to that late spring parade. Mats has sucked! Despite a 3 point game this past Saturday, Sundin has a mere 8 points in 11 games thus far. More alarmingly is the Canucks record since his arrival. They have won only twice (the 2nd this past Saturday) since they signed Mats to a pro-rated 5 million dollar deal. Right now the Canucks are on playoff life support. Having fallen from a top the NW division and the 3rd seed, to a perilous virtual tie with Edmonton for 8th, with another 4 teams 3 points or less behind them.

3) Many thought the addition of Sundin along with a return of super star goalie Roberto Luongo would propel the Canucks back up the standings. It seems to have had the opposite effect. Not only is Mats not scoring at the pace that he was expected, he's looked old and slow in doing it. As is the case with many an aging vet, he has a poor +/- (a -5 through 11 games projects to a -36) and he has taken more than a few restraining minors (8) already! Now we will attribute some of this 'start' to being 37 and not having played at all in 8 months, but why so bad and why have the Canucks been losing since he got there?

4) For one its one thing to add a player at the bottom of the roster which has almost no effect even if the player contributes nothing. But if you add a marquis player, the identity of the team changes. This can be good or bad. In this case it is turning out very badly thus far. The Canucks had an identity before Sundin signed. However, they don’t seem to have one now. Many thought that the signing Sundin was a no risk proposition. The team didn't have to give up an asset to get a top 6 forward. At worst, they would be wasting some of the owner’s money. Wrong!! So far its been subtraction by addition!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week 17 Results

1) The day started off poor (losing the 2 afternoon games) and ended with 2 huge losses on the left coast. In between we did satisfactory. Overall it was far from what we were accustomed to. Going 5-7 on the day which brings our season long total to 120-84. We did manage to easily win our LOCK of the week to extend that record to 14-3.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Week 17 Picks

1) Its Weekly 17 of our weekly excursion into trying to predict the winners in each Saturday night NHL game. Thus far this season we are 115-77 for a .599 winning percentage. Additionally as we like to do we make a "Lock of The Week" On the season we are a very impressive 13-3 in that one shot category. So here are our picks for today/night's dozen contests:

Philadelphia at Boston: Bruins

Anaheim at Calgary: Flame

Edmonton at Detroit : Red Wing ( Lock Of The Week)

Toronto at Montreal : Habitants

Los Angeles at New Jersey: Devils

Buffalo at Ottawa : Senators

Florida at Washington : Capitals

San Jose at Columbus : Shark

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay : Lightning

Colorado at St. Louis : Blues

Carolina at Phoenix : Coyote

Chicago at Vancouver : Black Hawks

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sean About To Re-Surface?

1) Reports we are hearing is that super-pest/dysfunctional, NHL Über-moron Sean Avery is set to be reinstated by the NHL. Apparently his banishment under the guise of The NHL's Behavioral Modification Program is about to end. To review. The NHL suspended Avery for making inappropriate comments about his former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, and her relationship with current her squeeze Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames. Those comments came in early December. For making these statements the NHL suspended him six games, and the Stars subsequently using the inane behavioral modification program as cover banished him . For their part Dallas has recovered quite nicely, going from last place in the Western Conference into the playoff hunt with a 15-7-3 record since Avery's departure.

2)Now comes the hard part for Dallas. What do they do now? Coach Tippett after the incident came out to say he didn't want Avery back. Stars owner, Hicks has blasted him publicly. Past sources have told us its a 100% chance that Avery won't don a Dallas sweater ever again! So now what?

  • To unload Avery's $3.875 salary this season, the Stars could place Avery on waivers and if he clears, send him to the American Hockey League. The Stars have a partial affiliation with the Manitoba Moose and currently have five Dallas players on their AHL roster; however the Moose have made it clear they are not interested in providing a place for Avery to play. Moose owner Mark Chipman has stated, ''We wouldn't take him under any circumstance.'' We wonder if a team struggling at the gate (the Moose aren't) might take on Sean for a "conditioning stint" knowing they are guaranteed of quite a few extra fannies in the seats with Avery i the lineup?

  • The trade option is available, but who would take him? A rumour floating around at the time of the suspension said the New York Rangers, were interested in dealing defenseman Michal Rozsival and his four-year, $20-million deal to Dallas in exchange for Avery. The source suggested Avery would then be sent to the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford. More on this in a moment.

  • The Stars could try to find a loophole in the contract that could make Avery's contract void. A 'morals clause' or something to that effect. If that happens, expect the NHLPA to cause a huge stink about it, and that could get very ugly. A source within the NHLPA tells us that they would have to take this issue on despite the possible PR ramifications. They tell us that the team would have trouble proving the case nonetheless. Its not like Avery was arrested for molestation (yet) or something that could be misconstrued as deviant.

  • They could try to place Avery on LTIR with his 'emotional issues" being the reason. The Stars still have to pay Avery the rest of this season, have him continue to go to 'counseling' with the probable intent of buying him out (at 2/3) the remaining money after the season. Sean would then be free to sign wherever he wanted. Of course Avery would have to agree on that option, and from his public persona, we doubt he'd go for that.

3) So what of the trade possibilities? Well, for one do NOT expect the Stars to get much if anything in return. A team would be doing them a huge favour to get his head ache of a contract(3 more years AFTER this one) off their hands. We asked around to see if there is any real interest in Avery. We were surprised to hear that several teams have shown at least tacit interest in adding Sean THIS season before the March 4th deadline. Most resided in the Eastern Conference. However the place where we are hearing most is in NY where Avery had his greatest success. We hear that despite the public denials by Sather and Ranger management there is definite interest.

4) Interestingly, adding to the fuel here is the fact that the NHL actually wants this to go down. We have been told by reliable sources that they (The NHL) want the Avery issue to go away and if he is dealt they can move on and not have to worry about a possible suit by Avery's agent over how the league handled the suspension/after care of his client. Insiders say that the Rangers miss the edge that Avery's presence gave the team the last couple of seasons. After missing on the Sundin sweepstakes (They should thank the Lord they did!) they have been looking to do a bit of a roster shuffle before the post season.

5) Other interested teams include the Panthers. Looking to get relatively cheaply acquired help to make the post season, Jacques martin has shown tepid interest. Chicago has also contacted the Stars in the past 2 weeks to see what it would take to get Avery. The ladder two teams have also asked for draft picks to be part of the swap as taking on Avery and his contract is "an additional negative" that would need to be compensated for. What is almost certain, we have NOT seen the last of Sean, and we very well might see him as part of a pre-trade deadline deal for a playoff bound team. The next question that will be asked: Will he help or hurt? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

J-Bow Staying Put?

1) Firstly for the uninitiated, J-Bow is Florida star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester who has been the center of numerous trade rumours the past two seasons. Many have been writing/speculating about where he might be off to. In the fall most thought he was going to Ottawa, Toronto or the Rangers, but neither team apparently stepped up with the right price. What is for certain is that many teams are desperately in need of a puck-moving defenseman, so a Bouwmeester trade should theoretically get the Panthers a nice return.

2) However the fly in the ointment for interested teams in the fact that the Panthers have clawed themselves out of the Eastern Conference cellar to back into the playoff picture (currently in the 8th spot). Jay is having a very solid season with 11 goals and 27 points to go along with playing an average 27:20 minutes/night. Easily leading the team. So why all the rumors if Jay is so valuable? Easy, he's an UFA following this season. So the Panthers would have to decide if they gamble and retain Bouwmeester, hoping he leads them to the playoffs (for the first time in 8 years) and subsequently resigns with them this summer, or trade him before losing him for nothing after July 1st

3) So we decided to ask our south Florida sources what they think is going to go down. What we heard surprised us. We were told that a trade is far from likely. That the Panthers and Bouwmeester have in fact resumed negotiations and it wouldn't surprise them to hear about a long term deal (5+ years) announced even before the March 4th deadline. We're told that Jay is having as much fun playing as he has had in several seasons in Florida. He gets along well with rookie head coach Pete DeBoer and we're told is excited to see the team finally break through and make the playoffs.

4) Another factor we're told is that Boumeester saw what a circus other teams' media can be when he was at the All Star game in Montreal last month. Jay is not the most outgoing type, and can be described as shy/reserved, so the situation in South Florida where he can go almost anywhere without media/fans hounding him is to his liking. One agent told us that he thinks that the attention he received from the media asking about trade possibilities/contract talks, etc really opened his eyes as to how good he has it where he is. While its not a done deal our source(s) now believe its far more likely that Boumeester will finish out the season in Miami. Whatever happens there will be loads of pressure on GM Jacques Martin to either get Jay signed or get equal value back, especially after the lack of return in the Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen trades. Many including us believe this issue will decide Martin's future in South Florida

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Case For Clemmensen?

1) A month or so ago when we first mentioned on other blogs whimsically that New Jersey goaltender Scott Clemmensen should get Vezina consideration we were met with laughs, derision and basically dismissed that that was a totally silly/absurd notion. However, a month later and Scott has in our opinion played well enough, and has the stats to back up that consideration.

2) His meteoric/amazing rise this season comes after not even being on the opening night roster. In fact playing goal in the Devil organization behind Marty Brodeur is not the place one would want to be if you wanted to get much playing time at the NHL level. In the previous 12 seasons Brodeur has played in excess of 70 games. With NHL vet Kevin Weekes set to again be Brodeurs back up, it didn't look like Clemmensen was going to be anything more than an AHL starter this season.

3) That changed when Brodeur went down this fall with an arm injury that required surgery and several months on the IR. With that Scott was summoned up from Lowell in the AHL, ostensibly to back up Kevin Weekes or until another NHL calibre goalie could be attained by GM Lamarello to bridge the injury period. Even we at FAUXRUMORS felt that the Brodeur injury was Jersey's death knell. However this has not been the case and Scott's performance to a large degree has been a reason. After starting Weekes in the first 4 games after the Brodeur injury, Clemmensen stole the starters role and quickly silenced the folks who were clamoring for Jersey to make a deal for a goalie.

4)So how does Clemmensen stack up against the other goalies? Most are touting Boston's Tim Thomas as their Vezina front runner.

  • As of today Thomas has played 32 games with a 22-5-5 record, a 2.11 GAA and a dazzling 933 save percentage. Definitely Vezina worthy stats for sure.

  • On the other hand Clemmensen has played 33 games with a 22-9-1 record, a 2.29 GAA and an impressive 920 save percentage.

  • Also, as important in our opinion Clemmensen does NOT have Dennis Wideman and the current Norris favourite, Zdeno Chara in front of him. Additionally, Thomas team mate Manny Fernandez prior to getting injured had similarly impressive stats (he is 14-3, 2.07, .928)

5) We maintain that IF Brodeur had Clemmensen's stats he would be among the Vezina candidates everyone would be discussing right now. Because the 31 year old Des Moines, IA native does not have the past credentials, and most expect Brodeur to regain his starters role when he is recovered, few are giving Clemmensen the respect/due he has earned this season. Minimally he is the Tyler Conklin of this season. A journeyman American goalie who rises to help his team (last year Conklin with Pittsburgh) We at FAUXRUMORS are not going to overlook Scott. If he maintains this level of play he deserves consideration regardless of his past/future!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week 16 Results

1) Week 16 is in the books. We went a decent, yet unspectacular 7-5 to bring our season-long total to 115-77 or a .599 winning percentage. We also nailed our Lock of The Week(not an easy week for that) to go 13-3 on the season in that category.

2) Look for another 12 games next week and for all enjoy The Big Game(Super Bowl) later today. Our prediction for the game (We don't have a care who wins): Steelers- 36 Cardinals- 20
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