Sunday, June 30, 2013

Shut Up Luongo!

1) With the recent and shocking Corey Schneider trade to New Jersey it appeared to all that the on going goalie soap opera in Vancouver had finally come to an end. Albeit not the conclusion most anticipated. Most analysts figured that the Canucks would either trade him out right or failing that would use one of their 'compliance buy-outs on the oft maligned Whop-Frog goalie.  The 34 year old is under contract until the 2021-2022 season concludes! Yes you read that correctly. Mr Luongo will be the ripe old age of 42 when this onerous deal concludes. Any wonder why the Canucks couldn't find a taker? 

2) Now to his credit Luongo annually puts up decent, if not very good numbers. His cap hit of 5.3 million is in line with a starting NHL goalie. Its the length of the deal that had fellow GM's cringing. If it had 4 or less years remaining, there is NO doubt that he would NOT be a Caunuck today. In essence he was the boobie prize. Neither party wants the current situation, but neither party can do much about it. Which brings me to the very reason why I'm writing this post. Post Schneider trade Luongo tweeted (no he wasn't hacked!) that he was "considering his options". To that we screamed WTF does that mean?? Your options Roberto are to either play another 8 years and collect your approximately 50 million left on your deal or retire. That's it, end of sentence/story. No other "options" exist sir. Believe me, if there were "Options" they would have been exercised LONG ago by Vancouver!  So shut up and stop a few pucks and enjoy the money!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Draft/Trade/Buy-out Preview Issue

1) Just days ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were hoisting the Stanley Cup following a rousing final round with the Boston Bruins. But there's no living in the past in the NHL, especially this season. It's already onto the 2013-14 season with the NHL draft. The lockout forced the league to conduct all seven rounds in one day.  Additionally we will discuss possible trades, and other maneuvers that might take place now that the NHL is in "off season mode".

2) The draft we are being told by countless NHL scouts/execs is one of the best in many years. From talking with some insiders we are told the likely top 5 selections, most likely to have an immediate impact in the NHL in 2013-2014 are as follows.

1- Colorado Avalanche Will likely select Nathan MacKinnon. The Halifax Center who they believe will be another player added to their burgeoning core of youngsters

2-Florida Panthers in a stunner I'm told will NOT select Seth Jones, but in need of offensive star power will grab Finn(Russian?) Center Aleksander Barkov.  We don't like that and perhaps GM Tallon will come to his senses and take the better Jones?  Stay tuned

3- Tampa Bay- Not surprisingly they also will forgo Jones having previously grabbed a defender early in the draft in Vic Hedman Instead Yzerman we're told will grab McKinnon's linemate at Halifax, Jon Drouin.  He could be the player with the biggest initial impact, but again Jones will have the better career.

4- Nashville-   David Poile, barring a team changing their selection (unlikely) will 'step in shit' when the see Seth Jones still available to them at #4. The wily old GM will NOT make the same mistake his younger counterparts made in front of him and will add the son of former NBA star Popeye Jones to their already solid defense corps

5- Carolina- Barring a trade which is still very possible. Canes GM Rutherford has been shopping this pick for weeks now. The Canes would likely pick the safest player left, and that is Swede Elias Lindholm.

3) Now we're hearing lots of trade rumours and I'm sure you will read tonnes of them on that rag of a site known as Eklund, etc. However we are old that few block busters wil take place and instead a majority will be trading up or down for picks and lesser NHLplayers for a pick here and there. that said we are hearing that a BIG deal has already been consummated but is being held back until it can be formally announced to the folks in attendance at the draft in Newark NJ. Specifically that NJ has traded it 1st pick (9th overall) to Vancouver for Corey Schneider!!  Yes, take that to the bank folks the Luongo-Schneider soap opera is about to end with the most astounding result- Luongo STAYS a Canuck!

4) The next rumor to discuss and it dove tails well with the above story; is the 'complience buyout" period has commenced.  Teams can buyout up to 2 contracts without any cap hit.  Many felt that Luongo would be an obvious candidate but with the upcoming trade of Schneider its extremely unlikely that the Canucks would dispose of BOTH of their goalies. especially with a paucity of decent UFA goalies available (more on that later)  With that in mind here are the players we are hearing will be getting an early present of guaranteed money AND UFA status. Some have already been announced.

 Danny Briere- No shocker as the Flyers need cap space
Ilya Bryzgalov- Again no shocker as Ilya has been a HUDGE disappointment in Philly, while the guy they jettisoned, Sergei Bobrovsky won a Vezina!
Vincent Lecavalier- This was a shocker, but makes cap sense. Vinny wins-wins here. In a bad UFA class he suddenly looks like a good option for teams. If all goes as planned the Flyers will use that Brierre/Bryzgalov savings to land Vinny with (another) dumb long term contract.
Mike Komisarek- Although not yet announced, it won't be a shock that the Long Island native will be bought out. He wasn't even on the NHL team this year.
Mikhail Gabovsky- This IS a shocker of sorts. The Leafs have yet to confirm this, but well paced sources tell fauxrumors that the Russian will be given his walking papers shortly.  Oddly he had a very solid playoffs and appeared to be turning the corner on his career.
Rick DiPietro- Another NON-shocker. The goalie for life's career is all but over and he had another 8 years left on his bloated 15 year contract
Johan Hedberg- With the upcoming Schneider trade the devs will need to clear their crease of the 48 year old Swede
Tomas Kaberle- The habs will very shortly announce they are parting ways with the Czech defender to clear up cap space.
Jeff Schultz- The Caps no longer feel the need to retain his services and his play didn't reflect his pay, so bye bye Jeff.

4) Post draft/free agency etc we will be compiling our annual off season report cards for all 30 teams based upon how they drafted/retained/signed free agents,etc and how they stack up now compared to when they last played. Since the free agency period is elongated we will probably not have that post out until mid/late July. Ofcourse as other issues/stories break we will have it here, as always first and Faux!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Black Hawks Champs of the NHL!!

1) Two goals. Seventeen seconds apart. A second Stanley Cup victory in four seasons for the Chicago Black Hawks! An amazing turn of events that had the Hawks a mere 76 seconds from having to go home to play a Game 7. In that short span the Hawks turned defeat into eternal glory!  Stunning the Boston players and their fans and starting their premature celebration.  The team that set an NHL record with a 24-game unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season won three straight games after falling behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven finals, rallying from a deficit in the series and in its finale.

2) The Blackhawks opened the season on a 21-0-3 streak and coasted to the Presidents' Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record. But regular-season excellence has not translated into playoff success: Chicago is the first team with the best record to win the Cup since the 2008 Red Wings.   The Blackhawks went through Minnesota in five games and Detroit in seven, rallying in the Western Conference semifinals from a 3-1 deficit and winning Game 7 in overtime. They got through the defending NHL champion LA Kings  in five games to return to the Cup finals, where Boston was waiting.  The Blackhawks won the first game at home in three overtimes but dropped Game 2 in  another overtime,  and fell behind 2-1 in the series when it returned to Boston. But since then, it's been all Chicago.  It seemed Boston had to play almost perfect hockey to win those 2 games, and there was no way they could continue to hold back the clearly superioir team. You 2013 Stanley Cup champions---- The Chicago Black Hawks!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 NHL Awards

1) With the Hawks and Bruins vying on who will win the Cup and the NHL regular season now in the books, and the NHL awards are set to be announced tonight/tomorrow.  Because the the shortened season there won't be the usual Las vegas gala but instead this inane decision to announce some of the "lesser" awards during what they are calling the NHL awards show tonight, and the REAL awards will be announced tomorrow?Who the hell cares who wins that Messier Trophy!?!  The real awards will be given out tomorrow.  It also will be bizzare that with the season still on-going many of the players will NOT be in attendance. We forsee most winners recieving it with an either recorded or streamed acceptance speach. It really takes away from the excitement of the moment. Oh well, another victem of Bettman's 3rd lockout.

  2) With all of the above in mind, we still figured we'd review who SHOULD win the various awards, and who will probably win.

Hart Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player to his team)Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), John TavaresNew York Islanders.  Alex Ovechkin both SHOULD and will win this.  His team doesn't break .500, elet alone make the post season without his surge in February/March.  Crosby had an injury shortned season and probably would have won had he stayed healthy, BUT would his team won many more games with him?  Probably not. As for Johnny T; great season and one could argue he was invaluable getting the Isles in, but just slightly less valuable than 8.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (Top Defenseman): Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens), Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild)  Ryan Suter SHOULD win but since he doesn't have the eye popping ofensive stats we believe that PK Subban will probably edge him out.  With the Karlsson win last year it was quite clear the award should be renamed the Paul Coffey award as best offensive defensemen.  Suter had the better all around season on the backline.  As an example Montreal doesn't  have Subban on the ice in the waning minute of games it has the lead. If he isn't the most valuable defensemen on his won team how can he be the best in the NHL?

Calder Memorial Trophy (Top Rookie): Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers), Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks)  I have little interest in this award because no one rookie had a break through/eye popping season. Albeit it was a short one. Overall Huberdeau had the best stats and will probably come away with the hardware

Vezina Tophy (Top Goaltender): Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets), Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers), Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks)  This will be a tough one to predict. Lundqvist is the favourite but I have a funny feeling that we might see 'Bob" Sergei Bobrovsky come away with the hardware much to the shagrin of Paul Holmgren!  LOL   King Henry had (another) outstanding season, but you can't compare his defense to that of the Bluejackets who made a valient attempt to make the post season.  Witout Bob, Columbus would have been a lottery pick team

Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player): Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)  This used to be called the Lester Pearson Award, and usually was a rubber stamp on the Hart winner but since this is selected by NHLPA Members I think that we will see a split in that award this time around.  I think Sid The Kid gets the nod with his amazing, albeit, injury shortened season. His points/game was on pace to be one of the most productive in many years.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

East -VS- West: 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Prediction!

1) Finally, we're down to the Final 2 teams to vie for Lord Stanley's Cup!  Neither are cinderella stories, having both won a Cup in the past couple of years. Both have expirenced, veteren lineups with plenty of talent. These two Original Six teams haven't met in the playoffs since the 1978 quarterfinals. There are loads of similarities between these two teams, starting with the depth up front, along the blue line, terrific goaltending and a veteran coaching staff. Interesting to note that while the Blackhawks and Bruins are returning to the finals after recent Cup wins, they both boast different starting goaltenders.   Rask and Crawford have both been big reasons their teams are here today.  With Crawford there were more than a few questions about his playoff worthiness after a disappointing turn against Phoenix last spring, but he has rarely wobbled this spring and boasts a 1.74 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.  As for Rask, he's turned in an eye-popping .943 save percentage. He shut out the NHL's top offense twice in four games and since the start of the second round has allowed more than two goals in just one game.

2)  Some would say the Blackhawks would have an edge in the skill department with Towes, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith, etc, but the Bruins have been a deceptively dangerous team on offense, led by playoff points leader David Kreji.  He and fellow 1st line mates Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton have combined for 51 points, including 19 goals and five game winners, this spring. Bergeron has found great chemistry with longtime linemate Marchand and a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr. The good news for the Blackhawks is that they are starting to click at the best possible moment. Kane now has four goals in his past two games. And while Toews might not be scoring goals at his usual pace, he remains a pivotal fixture on both sides of the puck for the Blackhawks, and that will only be magnified in the finals.

3) Of course special teams will play a HUGE role in who wins. The fact these two teams are dominant when killing penalties isn't all that surprising, given that they were ranked third and fourth during the regular season. Needless to say, the team that is able to crack the penalty-killing armor in this series is going to have a significant advantage.  The Blackhawks scored just one power-play goal in five games against Los Angeles, while the Bruins somehow managed their sweep of the Penguins without scoring a power-play goal.  Since this is a series that's almost certainly going to be won at even strength, the importance of both teams' depth will be crucial.  Players like Bryan Bickel for the hawks and Torey Krug for the B's exemplify players who have emerged this spring.  Bickell has been a force physically, and his eight goals are tied for the team lead and have him tied for second in the postseason. Two of those goals have been game winners.

4) So who wins you ask? This might be the most difficult series to predict of the playoffs. Both teams boast similar attributes, including patience and experience, and have great depth. In the end, you have to give a slight edge to the Bruins in physicality, and that might be enough to wear down the Blackhawks' defense enough for the series victory.  However we believe the Hawks do posses enough of an edge in the overall talent that they should be able to edge the Brins out in 4 of 7 but there for sure will be a couple of crucial OT games in here along the way that could tilt that either way. For sure will be an entertaining/close playoff series
Black Hawks in 7
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