Monday, June 30, 2014

Draft 'Winners and Losers"???

1) Its an annual annoyance to us at Fauxrumors reading about draft day winners and losers.  I suppose bloggers/hockey columnists have little to write about in the off season, but to proclaim ANY team a winner or loser based upon their selections in the entry draft is well beyond dumb.  Even though we're also not fans of labeling teams involved in a trade a 'winner or loser' at least in that instance we have some basis for making that assessment. Those players have an actual NHL resume to base the findings upon. In the case of the entry draft, outside of the top 5 players, anyone other the Pierre McGuire/Bob McKenzie types have never even heard of the other 200+ 17-18 year olds picked!

2) It usually takes a minimum of 5 years to really assess a teams success/failure in a particular draft. However, we rarely read about "2009 draft winners and losers" other than a day or so after the 2009 draft!  This weekend would have been that time, no?  Five years after a draft we at least should have so insight of who picked wisely and who picked crappily.  So with that in mind here are Fauxrumors draft day winners and losers (2009).  First the 'winners/losers' of Round 1
  • Islanders- Tavares
  • Colorado-Duchesne
  • Atlanta(Winnipeg) Kane
  • TB- Hedman
  • Toronto- Kadri
  • Minnesota- Leddy
  • Rangers- Kreider
  • Washington- Johansson
  • LA- Schenn
  • Ottawa- Cowan
  • Dallas- Glennie
  • Montreal- LeBlanc
  • Vancouver- Schroeder
  • Carolina- Paradis
  • Pittsburgh- Depress
3) Next the 'winners/losers from the other 6 rounds based upon players who are in the NHL/contributing:
  • Colorado- O'Reilly
  • Ottawa- Silferberg
  • Washington- Orlov, Eakin
  • Detroit- Tatar
  • Islanders- Cizikas, Lee
  • Anaheim- Vatanen
No losers would be fair here, as picking after the first round is pretty much a dart throw. Any team that gets 1 decent NHL-er from the later rounds has done its job well scouting the amateur ranks.   Overall it appears the biggest winners from that draft would be the Islanders, Colorado, Washington. Not surprising since the first 2 of those teams were picking in the top 3.  There is NO way that any blogger/hockey writer could have been able to make this assessment June 28, 2009 after the draft was completed. Sure, it looked like the Isles and Avs got better but who knew that there later selections would be keepers as well? The bottom line , it takes literally years to determine the success/failure of any particular draft and to assign a winner/loser the day after its completion is simply stupid!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pittsburgh Implosion Continues

1) We have written extensively the past couple of months of the apparent downward spiral we believe the Pittsburgh organization has been on since their early departure from the Stanley Cup playoffs.  It began with the inexplicable firing of Ray Shero. The man who helped assemble the team that won a Cup in 2009 and brought them to the Final 4 last season. Who like all GM's didn't have a blemishless record, but was certainly looked upon  throughout the NHL as a top 5 GM. Then after having it leaked that Dan Bylsma was to be fired simultaneously as Shero, they retained him for 4 additional weeks. Twisting in the wind, seemingly to prevent him from being re-hired by a conference rival (DC?), then firing him anyway after several jobs were gone.

2) This certainly tainted the team image.  All the while the face of the franchise, Mario Lemieux was not to be see/heard from.  Then things got worse (in my opinion) when the team hired recently fired( retired-?) Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Ruthrford.  While he's no Don Waddell, he certainly was NOT an upgrade from Shero, and many including Fauxrmors feel he was a few steps down.  To make matters worse it was clear that Rutherford was brought in to bridge the time between Shero and asst GM Jason Botterill taking full control in 2-3 years.  From there the coaching search, which should have started much earlier but had to wait because of the aforementioned Bylsma fiasco, made the organization look even more Mickey Mouse. The team coveted Calder Cup-winning coach Willie Desjardins of the American Hockey League's Texas Stars.  Rutherford and the Pens looked immensely foolish when he first  announced that he had found his coach, before he had signed him to a contract.Evidently, Desjardins believes the Vancouver Canucks job was a  better one. Who could blame him, as he would be working for/hired by a lame duck GM

3) The Pens finally had few options left so they ended up hiring little regarded. Mike Johnston of the Portland Winterhawks to take over. Johnston was not on the Penguins' initial candidate list, or at least wasn't reported to be. After admitting the Penguins had lost out on their first attempt to hire a coach  the Penguins re-opened the search and Rutherford said some new candidates would emerge. Johnston appears to be one of those and clearly it was close to love at first sight? While Johnston has a decent resume, he does NOT have any name recegnition and will the vets respond to him?

4) Then this weekend the latest salvos against the team. Rutherford trades one of the teams only wingers who can score, James Neal.  Aside from the fact that Neal is one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL, it doesn't really solve any of the Penguins' problems. Pittsburgh has been crushed by a lack of depth because it pays 2-3 players near max money.  In return the Pens got Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.  No salary cap relief as the two players picked up will exceed Neal's salary and likely neither will combine to match his scoring, so in essence its a net negative. 

5) Then the final nail in the Penguin coffin was the hiring of previously disgraced former Penguin player, Rick Tocchet. To review for some:  Tocchet was suspended by the NHL for gambling allegations. Tocchet partnered with a New Jersey state trooper and another man, became public in February 2006. He was sentenced to two years' probation in August 2007 after pleading guilty in the investigation into the sports betting ring. Tocchet said he never bet on NHL games. (Didn't Pete Rose say something similar?) Tocchet rejoined Phoenix's coaching staff in February 2008 after a two-year absence that included a suspension by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. We believe you know someone based upon the company they keep. In that case Tocchet was mixed up with some very bad people who had ties to the Tony Soprano types in Jersey. We are told that Tocchet wasn't clean with respect to gambling LONG before this incident. One source told us then: "How do you think Rick met those 2 troopers?" WE hope for the sake of the game that Rick's proclivity to put a few bucks (and take the bets of others) are done. 

6) Tocchets past aside the real issue we have with this move is that Rick and team owner Mario Lemieux are ass-tight buddies. Seen playing golf together, and frequently they and their families are seen socially together.  How will this make the new coach feel?  Add to this that the new coach Mike Johnston wasn't part of the process of picking his assts makes for a less than ideal situation for a new to the NHL coach.  Is his replacement already here?  How much can he trust Tocchet?  Will he go behind his back to tell the owner stuff that should stay in 'the room'?   Which leads us to ask why is Mario getting a pass on this from the hockey media?

7) All in all the spring/early summer have to be really troubling to Pens fans. To see what seemed to be the model franchise along with Chicago, Boston and LA to become a laughing stock in the league almost over night.  There certainly still is enough talent to keep the team competing/in the playoff hunt, but we will go out on a limb here and say the team's days of competing for/being mentioned as a Cup favourited team are history.  An implosion indeed!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kane/Towes To Blow Up Hawks?

1) That is exactly the result IF the rumours are correct that BOTH Patrick Kane and Jon Towes are planning on  asking for max contracts now (after July 1) that they are free to sign extensions.  According to the CBA no player can make in excess of 20% of the team's cap and sign for 8 years with their existing team or 7 with any other.  Few max deals have been signed by players since the new CBA has been signed but with the cap expected to escalate in excess of 75 mil by the 15-16 season when the new contracts would kick in, that would equate to 7 figures. Some published reports have their agent Pat Brisson asking for 12 million for the full 8 years or a whopping 96 million EACH!!

2) Now, putting aside for a moment if either deserve the money, one has only look at what that would do to the teams ability to retain/sign talent with regard the hand cuffing of the roster to 2 players.  Assuming the Hawks sign both for (only) 10 million each, if no other roster moves are made between now and next summer, and assuming the cap goes up to 75 mil. The team would have (including Kane and Toews) 12 players under contract with a payroll of 70 million. meaning GM Stan Bowman would have 5 million remaining to fill out his roster. For a 19 man roster that's 700 K/player. Meaning the Hawks would be forced to trade a current roster player(s) and sign cheaper, likely less talented players to replace them.  If this sounds familiar, see how the combo of Malkin and Crosby hand cuffed former Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero not allowing him to surround those stars with  enough talent to compete for/win another Cup.  No doubt the Hawks GM, Bowman can see the same scenario setting up if the reports are accurate.

3) For the record, while we could see Patrick Kane being a selfish, me first kinda jerk, we don't see Jon Towes in this way.  They are not the Sedin twins so linked contracts despite their common agent shouldn't be a necessity. Also for the record we never thought the way teams bent over backwards with the Sedins made sense either. Once the reality of the situation hits, we believe that Towes will accept a more realistic, albeit lucrative, contract.  A 8 year 64 mil deal is still dam nice, but allows a bit more wiggle room for the team to remain on an elite level. We doubt Kane would accept such a deal. Even if he did it would still mean that Chicago would 9 mil to sign those 6 players or slightly better 1.3 mil/player.  It may force the Hawks to have to reassess their future and attempt to deal one of the players, more likely Kane

4) Now are either/both worth the money? Interesting, this is more a difficult question than it would appear. Usually we'd say its a clear no, but here both players are in  their career prime years. 25 and 26 years old respectively. Since both entered the NHL as 18 year old they will achieve UFA status unusually early.  No doubt if either were to hit the open UFA market next summer there would be double digit teams lined up to give them a max deal.  Could Bowman afford (literally) to watch one of his teams super stars not just leave but waltz over to a rival Western Conference team?  Anyone else see the Sharks running at the chance to sign Towes?  Or the the Blues openign their vault to get Kane from their hated rivals up north?  Both players have won 2 Cups and play their best when the big money is on the line.  Some players put up big regular season numbers, but fade away in April/May. They may not put up gaudy regular season numbers but both of these guys are money in the spring and don't shrink away from the pressure.  If the Hawks are smart they'll appeal to the players desire to win and try to get them both signed ASAP to more reasonable cap friendly deals else the Hawks may be done as an elite team.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Draft No One Cares About?

1) From what we are hearing from various sources throughout the league the upcoming draft this Friday and Saturday in Philly is almost a necessary evil.  Few if any teams are looking forward to attending. Unlike other drafts where there is a buzz going in, this one appears to be more of a thud.  Almost every team seems willing to deal its 1st round, or any pick for that matter for an actual player that can play now!

2) Usually the top 3-4 draft positions are so coveted that they are rarely traded.  This year it is possible, no probable that at least 2 or more of the teams in the top 5 slots will move their pick for a return of a player or picks.  One source who is well connected tells Fauxrumors that teams in those slots are NOT going to get back what they may have traditionally expected.  Simply this draft is so poor in over all quality and has no super stars ready to step in that teams are already looking forward to 2015.  When the Connor McDavid draft will be held in Miami

3) We were also told that many teams are going to attempt to move this years pick for something next June. (If they can)  While that may happen in the latter rounds we don't believe any team will be able to flip a 1st rounder this season for one next year.  As most already know, next years draft is being looked upon as a 'generational' draft. One that may produce multiple superstars/future Hall of Famers. The antithesis of this years draft when it is believed that even the top 4 players available may not even turn out to be stars.     From what we are hearing the 2014 draft will probably be remembered for the multitude of trades of existing NHL-ers and NOT the players drafted.  Which leads us to ask; If the NHL holds a draft and no one cares, does it count?  LOL

Friday, June 20, 2014

Eklund Lays (another) Egg!

1) We had to share with our readers an amusing demonstration of the reason folks should avoid like the plague the best known rumour peddler, known as Eklund. Of course everyone knows his real name is  Dwayne Keith Klessel a gay, part time musician from Philly who rose to 'fame during the second Bettman lock out in 2004 when blogging was still in its relative infancy and before twitter took off. He was fed some limited info from the league and used as a tool by many to further their league agendas. Many then flocked to his blog to see what news he had about the lockout. (99% was WRONG!)  To his credit he parlayed that into a semi-lucrative rumour business/web site where he (still) spouts what he relays as actual contacts he has and potential trades. WE recall one site back in 08 tracked his various/voluminous rumours and found out his accuracy rate was an amazing 3.5%!  As we remarked back then, we could have an UN-trained chimp do better.

2) Fast forward to yesterday. We, as we were going through our twitter feed, found that the moron puts out a regular 'pod cast' and since I had 3 minutes to kill before a business meeting I put it on. I saw exactly what you'd expect to see. Three pudgy schlubs in their latter 30/early 40's who probably were living with their elderly parents' home and hadn't gotten laid, well, ever. Of course Eklund being gay, probably is more 'active' in tht regard. Anyway, we were amused to listen to the idiots tell us that their 'phones were going crazy' with all these various rumours. The rumour that they were discussing was the coaching carousel. Here one of the 'guests' had it on good authority that Rangers asst. coach Ulf Sammulsen was in Carolina and was about to be announced as the Hurricanes new coach.  LOL  Not more than   30 minutes later it was announced (on legit sites) that not only was Ulf NOT in Carolina at all, but they hired former Detroit Red Wings asst coach, Bill Peters! See the entire nonsense here if you dare!----->

3) Ooops!  The guy was so sure of himself. They even cut away from him a couple of times so he could 'take a call'. Ostensibly to talk with his sources. Most likely it was the guy's mother asking him to get out of bed and find a fucking job! It just is yet another example that this guy (Eklund (Dwayne Klessel) is a total fraud and anyone who give him money is a fool. Yes, we at FAUXrumors put out sourced rumours and share them with our loyal readers BUT we NEVER accept or ask for money or even advertise.  We feel that distracts/retracts from our readers enjoyment. After all this is an entertainment site. I never call myself a journalist. Eklund is an actual real Faux journalist!  LOL 
Look for our trade/free agent rumour updates upcoming. Its draft day in a week and also NHL awards coming up too. Expect posts to cover all those soon.
As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Buy-Out Season

1) The 2003-2014 NHL season is completed, thus opens the off season and the first order of business is who if any players teams will 'buy-out' of their existing contracts to free up needed cap space to add other players who teams feel would give them 'better bang' for their cap-bucks.  Some will use the traditional buy-out where teams can pay 66 cents on the dollar on the remaining terms of the contract with the resulting cap penalty spread out at twice the length of the remaining contract. The other option, available this year ONLY, is the 'complience buy-outs' (CBO) where teams still pay the usual 2/3 of the players' contract BUT there is NO cap penalty. It is the latter that we expect many teams to use, although some have already used both (Flyers) and wish they hadn't (Lecavilier).

2)   We will go through each team and discuss the player(s) who we believe would be in their best interest to use a compliance buy out on. WE will go in teams' salary cap usage from most to least:

  • Philadelphia- Already used their 2 on Bryzgalov and Danielle Briere so they are done BUT may still use the standard 'buy-out' to get out from the Lecavilier contract they signed just last summer. Vinny has 4 more years at 4.5 mil left  Undoubtedly another dumb GM will sign him to a multi year multi million dollar deal once he is free. (do some teams NEVER learn?)
  • Chicago- Also already used both their freebie buy outs on Steve Montador and Rostislav Olesz. Can't see any obvious buy-out candidates at this time. We're not happy with the Crawford contract, but we never like long term deals for goalies
  • Boston- Have both their potential buy-outs available. Some believe they will use it to buy out Brad Marchand and his 3 years at 4.5 mil remaining. This was mostly a post playoff loss emotional response. We believe they would have a hard time getting back for that 4.5 mil what they give up in Marchand.  
  • San Jose- Retain both available buyouts.  Likely they will use one of them on Mart Hvlat. They could probably trade either Thornton or Marleau if they want to unload their contracts
  • Vancouver- Have both potential buyouts available. David Booth who has 1 year remaining at 4.25 mil is a likely buy out candidate
  • Los Angeles-  The Cup champs have both potential buyouts and its been long rumoured that they will exercise one on Mike Richards who has 6 more years at 5.75 mil left on his enormous deal signed in Philly
  • New Jersey- Used their first CBO on Johan Hedberg. This time around its likely the oft injured Anton Volchenkov and his 2 years left at 4.25 mil will be jettisoned
  • Washington- Used one CBO on Stanley Cup champ, 'Tower of Power' Jeff Schultz.  Although they are denying it, it would behoove them to buy out Brooks Laich and his 3 year 4.5 mil left.  His injuries and non productivity should make it a no-brainer, but sometimes emotion wins out over intelligence
  • Pittsburgh- Retain both their CBO options. No player who jumps out at us that new GM Rutherford will excise from their roster
  • Phoenix- Have both their CBO's remaining. Although its not going to happen, we'd buy out goalie Mike Smith and his 5 years 5.7 mil dollar deal. He is NOT an elite goalie!
  • Tampa Bay- Used one smartly on Vinny Lecavilier. Are rumoured to be cutting bait with Ryan Malone and his 4.5 mil year remaining. With his poor play and off ice issues its a near guarantee the Pittsburgh native will be leaving TB
  • NY Rangers- As we outlined a few times recently. They used CBO #1 on Wade Redden and are poised to eliminate Brad Richard's 6.7 for another 6 seasons contract tomorrow.  Would Nash have been removed as well if they had 2 CBO's?  A source tells Fauxrumors 'definitly'!
  • Carolina- Have 2 CBO to use if they want. The obvious one is goalie Cam Ward who is set to make 6.3 mil for another 2 seasons. A less obvious one is perennial underachiever Alex Semin who has a staggering 4 more years at 7 mil remaining!
  • Detroit-  Possess one remaining CBO after using one last summer to buy out Carlo Colaiacovo. This time around its almost a 100% guarantee they'll use their last CBO on  Jordan Tootoo to free up a bit less than 1 mil
  • Ottawa- Have both CBO yet to be used. Unlikely they will use one. 
  • Dallas- Still have both compliance buyouts available. Its very possible Oswego, NY native  Eric Cole who has 4.5 mil left for next season will be a CBO victim in Big D
  • Winnipeg- Have both CBO's left. It would make sense to cut bait with mediocre Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec who has 3 more years at 3.9 mil. Any available UFA couldn't do any worse for 1/2 the money!
  • Nashville- Haven't yet used a CBO. Unlikely the cash-starved Preds will be using one this summer either
  • Toronto- Have already used BOTH CBO's on Mike Komarsarek, and inexplicably on Mikhail Grabovski. David Clarkson wouldn't be allowed to be CBO'ed since his dumb contract was signed AFTER the new CBA, but with 6 more seasons at 5.25 would the deep pocketed Leafs rid themselves of that mistake using the conventional buyout?
  • Anaheim- Have both CBO's left. Can they buy out Sheldon Souray and gain 3.6 mil in cap space? Stay tuned
  • St. Louis- Have their 2 CBO's if they want to use them Our sources tell us not to expect any moves from the Blues
  • Columbus- The Jackets have both CBO's.  The most likely candidate is RJ Umberger who's 4.6 mil for 3 more seasons appears to be immovable via trade, and with his diminishing role, appears to be a goner
  • Minnesota- Have 1 compliance buy out remaining after using their first one to buy out Tom Gilbert. The names that would be potentially in play are super pest/jerk Matt Cooke or back up goalie Niklas Backstrom. With the health of Harding uncertain Niklas is probably staying put
  • Colorado- Possess both CBO's.  The name we are hearing is PA Parenteau who after a very solid first season in Denver fell out of favour last season. With 2 additional seasons left at 4 mil, its likely he will be available for the Islanders to pick up cheap this summer
  • Edmonton- Have chosen to not use a CBO so far. Unlikely to use one but if they do Boyd Gorden with 3 mil for 2 more seasons might be a candidate
  • Montreal- Have already used their 2 freebies on Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle. Some have surmised they may use the regular by out on Rene Bourque who has 2 years and 3.3 mil/per left, but his playoffs and ability to speak French will probably save him
  • Islanders- Used one of their CBO on 'goalie for Life' Rick DiPetro.  ( BTW, they are STILL paying Alex Yashin!) Its very unlikely the Isles, who are about to be sold will buy out any existing contract
  • Florida- Have both available CBO's left.  Would they dare use one on Robeto Luongo?  Probably not, but sources tell Fauxrumors that Ed Jovanvoski who has 1 year remaining could be soon bought out
  • Calgary- The Flames still have 2 CBO's left. Unlikely, but outside chance either defensemen  Wideman or Giordano who have big contracts and multi years left will be bought out or moved
  • Buffalo-  Can use 2 CBO's this week if they choose. The rebuilding Sabres who will almost certainly buy out underachieving, but expensive forward Ville Leinno who  has 3 additional seasons at 4.5 mil left. Less likely would be  Tyler Myers who has 5 more seasons at 5.5 mil.  Buffalo wil try hard in the next 24 hours to deal the towering defensemen who has not lived up to his rookie campaign

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kings: Kings Once Again!

1) Firstly congrats to the Kings on winning their 2nd Cup in 3 seasons. From early in the year we felt that had that special intangible that helps good teams win the big trophy.  Their grit and determination and playing their best hockey when against the wall showed their true mettle.  We won't get too deeply into the game, there are hundreds of blogs to do that, but suffice to say winning a Cup at home in over time is one of the most special moments in team sports.

2) As we wrote 2 years ago when the Kings won their first Cup,   we fully expected they would be back here once again, and they haven't let anyone down. While they may not be a dynasty in the true sense of the word (The Isles of 80-84, and Oilers 85-90 were probably the real last NHL dynasties) there high level of play, winning 2 Cups in 3 seasons and getting to the Final 4 in the other (like Chicago) certainly makes them as close to one as the salary capped NHL will probably allow.

3) WE, and the NHL are now fully into off season mode. First off 'complience buy-outs' which can commence Monday at midnight and go for 48 hours there afterwards.   There could be some interesting names on that list,(some we have recently discussed). Following that will be the NHL entry draft from Philadelphia on June 27th and 28th. While we're told its a "weak draft" not possessing any generational talent(s) (unlike next year) it could be a fascinating draft for the many potential deals rumoured and consummated.  Following a fun draft weekend we're on to free agency on July 1. Unlike previous years, teams can negotiate (legally) with an UFA BEFORE July 1.  While its not an impressive UFA class, teams will have added cap space dollars to spend, so we're undoubtedly going to see several mediocre players get very rich!.
As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Brad Richards/Rick Nash Dilemma?!

1) There are several layers to that title question. In the short term coach Vigneault has to decide how much and when to play the teams most highly paid/underachieving forwards. In the long term does management buy one (if not both) out this summer?  The first question is playing itself out clearly in these Cup Finals.  Rick Nash, whom the team traded for 2 years ago to be that 'final piece' to the puzzle has never seemed to be able to once again be the player that he was, well, 5-6 years ago?  Yes, we said it. Nash has NOT really been a great performer for a LONG time now. (His last 40 goal season was 2009- and he has only done that one other time, never coming close to the magical 50 goal plateau). In our opinion he has been one of the most over rated forwards since Keith Tkachuk (who actually DID score 50) We don't know why folks are shocked to see him struggle.

2) That said, IF the team is going to rely on him, why isn't he a mainstay on the power play?  At least on the 2nd team PP unit?  Until the ladder stages of last night's game he wasn't used at all on the PP in the Finals. The PP was 0-6, and of the 12 minutes with the extra man, Nash saw the ice for 2 of them. You would think he would be a player you'd want down low scoring dirty PP goals, disrupting the defense/goalie, no? As for Richards, his struggles go back further. Some believed he'd be bought out last summer, but to his credit had a decent regular season.  Another player like Nash who has been vastly over rated/over paid. Brad has neither EVER eclipsed the 40 goal or 100 point plateaus! far less than a point/game career, yet he has signed 2 very lucrative contracts.  Oddly last night Vigneault played Richards more on the PP than even strength. Playing over 8 minutes on NY's 6 PP's, and a mere 7 mins. even strength. By far the least of any NY forward.

3) The writing would appear to be on the wall for Richards who has an astounding 6 more seasons left after this one on his contract that pays him a cap hit of 6.7 million.  The Rangers would be fools to not use their last remaining 'complience buy out' (no cap penalty) Freeing up the cap space to attain/retain a more valuable player(s).  Keep in mind the Rangers used their first buy out on Wade Redden so they can not buy out both Richards and Nash free of penalty.  Nash has 'a mere 4' more seasons at a cap anchoring number of 7.8 million. We believe that Sather will retain Nash for at least one more season. (unlikely they could find a sucker to trade him to).  As we wrote a few weeks back, if the Rangers fail to win a Cup either this season or next, the team is going to be line for a significant fall back to Earth and a possible dreaded 'rebuild'.  Unfortunately, their prospect pool is thin and they have already traded away this and next years 1st round picks (for St. Louis)  I hope you enjoyed this springs ride Ranger fans, it may be the last for the foreseeable future.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Are Ovechkin/Phaneuf Tradble?

1) While it appears that there are certainly going to be many more than usual big names thrown about as trade bait this month and into the summer (we will have our annual pre-draft post naming those) two of the biggest and intriguing names we are hearing are none other than Dion Phaneuf and Alex Ovechkin.  In the case of the former he just recently (before the season concluded) signed a 7 year 49 million dollar extension. While Ovechkin is in the middle of his deal that has 7 more years with an annual cap hit to Washington of 9.5+ million. 

2) The important aspect with respect to Ovechkin is his "No trade clause" kicks in July 1. meaning up until then the Capitals would theoretically be free to deal the Russian super star without his consent. After that date we believe he would have limited veto power over his possible destination. As we saw a couple of seasons ago with the Dany Heatly fiasco in Ottawa, or the Nash trade more recently, having flexibility when dealing a player is key to getting a good return.  Therefore we believe it this along with Ovechkin coming off an impressive 50 goal season would make him a potentially desirable commodity for a goal starved team or one looking to add star power to attract/excite its fan base.

3) With respect to Phaneuf, he signed his deal BEFORE the epic Leafs collapsee that cost them a playoff berth.  The team was still riding high when he inked his massive deal.  Many at the time criticised the team for it, but others said they had little choice, as they had no one to filll his shoes if they let him go for nothing. Now, he is signed  and  like Ovechkin after 7/1/14, has some veto power over his possible destinations. Phaneuf, like Ovechkin has been a lightning rod of sorts through out his career. Both on and off the ice.  He plays with an edge, and at a high level, but never quite a Norris calibre defensemen as his salary would seem to indicate.  Ovechkin on the other hand has won almost every individual award but his team has failed to get past the 2nd round in the playoffs since his arrival in DC.

4) Which brings us the the question: Are either of these players tradable? In theory any player who doesn't have a iron clad No trade clause is tradable. We of course did our usual research to see if there is any interest and sure enough there was. We then attempted to inquire if either of these players are 'on the block'.  That answer is always a bit more tricky to determine. Teams don't necessarily want it known they are dangling a player as this could potentially drive his value downward.  From what we could find out (through 3rd parties-agents, etc) that Phanuef has certainly been discussed and Ovechkin's name has been broached but not initiated by the Capitals. We will tell you that the interested team was not rebuffed entirely possibly leaving that admittedly 'heavy door' open.

5) Of the two Dion would seem to be the most likely candidate to be dealt.  The biggest reason one scout told us is "the absolute dearth of quality defensemen available in this summer's" (UFA class).  While his cap hit (7 mil) might deter some, it won't prevent a few decent offers coming the Leafs way. Our sources tell us the most likely destinations would be 'North of the Border  with an outside chance of a west coast team'.  Might a return to Calgary be in the offing?  "Dont' be shocked to see it", is what one asst GM told us this morning.  As for Ovechkin, its a little bit trickier. Ted Leonsis, the Capitals owner, loves his captain's star power.  In a fickle fan base like Washington its vital to have a star attraction to keep the arena filled. Therefore while it appears that Leonsis would consent to Ovechkin's being traded he would want a player(s) with some star power in the return.  The other fly in that ointment is the fear of Alex pulling a Kovolchuk and "retiring"  to the KHL if he is dealt to a team he may not approve of.

6)  Ironically a deal or a one for one, Ovechkin for Phanef isn't totally implausible.  Would fit both teams needs. One source tells us 'if the Leafs approached the Caps and those players were part of a larger 4-5 player swap something could get done.'  The more likely stop for 8 could be Montreal where his buddy Ander Markov is a mainstay, but at the moment an UFA. They may an impasse with impending RFA PK Subban, but would they be willing to part with him for Ovechkin?  Our sources say it isn't likely, but not impossible.  The Canucks might throw an offer for the star winger, but it would have to include Kesler for the Caps to listen. Again, not likely, but far from impossible. So to sum up we'd say based upon our league-wide discussions the odds of Phaneuf being traded is 40:60 against and for Ovechkin its 25:75 against. Both will be in play, but we wouldn't bet the ole farm on a deal, but as they say, ya never know! ; )

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hurricanes "Trade" Rutherford to Penguins

1) Perhaps to complete the Staal trade?  Seriously though we can't fathom how anyone who has been watching either team the past 7-8 seasons can say that this is an improvement for the Penguins.  There is no doubt that that Jim Rutherford is a well respected NHL executive, but in the past 5- 10 years it would have appeared that his time may have passed.  The 65 year old former NHL goalie had spent the previous 20 seasons as the Hartford Whalers then Carolina Hurricanes General Manager. His reign's top point was when the Hurricanes won the Stanley cup in 2006. However, since winning the Stanley Cup, the Hurricanes reached the playoffs just once (in 2009), being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.

2)  With the team floundering,  the anchor contract for goalie Cam Ward, and ironically his trade to get team captain Eric Staal's brother Jordan taking its toll on the teams ability to improve it appeared that Rutherford would step aside and likely stay on as team president (He already was a part owner). However, once he resigned, apparently the fires within wouldn't allow him to simply retire and he let it known he would be willing to be a GM in a new location. Although that seemed a long shot, it wasn't long after the Pens fired Shero that Rutherford was contacted to interview for the vacant position.  It is still mind boggling to us at Fauxrumors that the Penguins had he and Pierre McGuire as the top 2 finalists for the GM's job. 

3) As we tweeted earlier today, "So Rutherford is an upgrade over Shero?" Most folks we have talked to are in almost as much disbelief, and were almost in total agreement that this is NOT a good move. We do have to say that the choice of Rutherford is light years better than McGuire. So what was Rutherford's first move? Firing Dan Bylsma!! Why couldn't the Penguins have done that when they fired Shero? Terrible way to treat Dan; allowing him to twist in the wind for 4 weeks. It would complete the trade IF Bylsma were to be hired as the Hurricanes new head coach! 
In summery we believe the Penguin organization is now in a weaker position than it was 2 months ago

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Stanley Cup Finals Preview/Predictions

1) Here we are, right where the NHL and Gary Bettman want the NHL annually. With two big market teams about to fight it out for Lord Stanley's Cup. We went in to the benefits of the exposure Monday so we won't rehash that part of the equation but suffice to say this IS going to be a BIG series exposure-wise for the league. Expect A and B-list celebrities to attend games in NY and LA. That all said there is the matter of some games to be played as well. So here is our break down of the series.

2) First off the folks (mainly in NY) who are bemoaning the Kings being favourited are forgetting that they had to beat 3 dam good teams to get here. Yes, it took 7 games each time (Amazingly winning a Game 7 on the road each time) but they had to beat cross state rivals San Jose, Anaheim (both who had well in excess of 100 point seasons) and the defending Cup champs in Chicago. None of those are small feats.  On the other hand the Rangers beat the Flyers. (The 3rd worst team point-wise in the playoffs) who didn't even have their #1 goalie all series.  They to their credit did beat the Penguins and no one should diminish the feat of coming back 3-1. However beating the Habs who were without their starting goalie was NOT a great accomplishment.  Ranger fans, think you'd be here if Talbot was your starter last series?   

3) Starting in net we believe its a toss up. In fact if you exchanged the jersey from each teams' goalie it would be difficult to tell them apart. They play the exact same deep in your crease style.  While Quick hasn't been as good as he was 2 years ago when the Kings won their Cup, he has been good/great when the team needed him most. As we started above, none of the 3 teams the Kings beat were pushovers and no one would have been shocked to see any of them in the Finals. Lundqvist has been sharp throughout the post season especially playing amazing in the Penguin series come back.  Quick does have a ring, but we'd say overall no edge to either team here.

4) On the back line there is no Ranger who can match Drew Doughty's star power. He's a monster at both ends of the rink, but especially adept at being the team's PP QB.  However after Doughty there is a considerable drop off. Not that any of the other defenders are slouches, but none of Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov and Willie Mitchell are all star callibre. Meanwhile the Rangers can put Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman out there and combined are a slightly better unit. Edge Rangers.

5) On offense the Kings have a clear advantage. Unless Nash awakens significantly,  and St. Louis continues to score big goals they will have trouble keeping up with the Kings 'O'. They can boast multiple dynamic offense units, led by the Kopitar- Gaborik duo. The Rangers simply don't have a player in the likes of Dustin Brown and Justin Williams who seem to score big goals every time they are needed.  Add a young hot shot like Toffoli and Pearson and you can see the ranger defense and Lundqvist will have their hands full. Advantage Kings

6) Intangibles:   Both teams are riding high. Any team that can survive 3 series, whatever the competition, have to feel a sense of confidence. However, the Kings have the edge that they have been here before and won't feel any sense of awe on the big stage. They also have come back so often that they don't get down/worried if they are behind in a game or series. That 'swagger' as some are calling it can't be underestimated.  Advantage Kings

7) Overall, the only way the Rangers will have a shot to beat the Kings 4 times is if they play a very simple, tight checking game, are opportunistic,  have great special teams and get stellar goaltending from Lundqvist. They may be able to pull that of once or twice, but don't believe they have the overall team to be able to win 4 games. 
Prediction: Kings in 6

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Can They Be That Stupid?

1) The first time we read/heard that the Pittsburgh Penguins were considering hiring current NBC sports/CBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire as their next General Manager we chocked it up to typical hype journalism/nonsense.  How could the Pens consider bringing in a novice to be the architect of their franchise? Well, it seems where there was smoke, there is fire as we're told McGuire's 1st interview 2 weeks ago went so well he was asked back yesterday for a follow up meetings with Penguin brass.  No one in the Pens organization is talking, so its any one's guess as to who else is getting strong consideration as well, but to us at Fauxrumors that's immaterial. In our humble opinion it would be utterly INSANE to hand over the reigns to the organization to McGuire!

2) To those who aren't familiar with his past, its really not all that impressive with respect to NHL pedigree. He has never once held an upper management post as either a GM, asst GM, VP, head scout or any other positions within the front office. Has has been a 'special assistant scout' with the Penguins during their Cup run days of 91-92. Following that he had a disastrous run as asst and then head coach of the Hartford Whalers where he was mocked, disliked and generally made fun of by his players.  he even got into trouble with the NHL for giving Edmonton secret scouting reports after he had been fired!  From there he was a scout for Ottawa, was promoted to asst coach then promptly fired along with the rest of the inept coaching staff.  Anyone see anything in that NHL resume that speaks of a GM in waiting?

3) To his credit he didn't let his failure to catch on as in the  NHL as a front office person deter him from making a living in the hockey world. He admittedly worked very hard to perfect his ability to broadcast games. First as a Montreal Canadiens colour analyst then to the big time in Canada with TSN. However, a good/entertaining studio/in game analyst does NOT make for a good coach or GM. Ask Mike Milbury or Eddie (Edzo) Olcyk about that! We find it amazing that Pitt would even consider him for this extremely important position.  WE believe the firing of Shero was inane, but to then compound what we believe was an error by hiring this colossal ego maniac dunce would be the death knell of the Penguins being able to continue to compete at the level at which they have the past 6 years.  Can they really be that Stupid?

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