Posts Tagged ‘Martin Havlat’

Dany Heatley’s Decline Reminds Us We’re All Human

July 4th, 2011

Michael Russo from the Star Tribune wrote a terrific article earlier concerning Dany Heatley, his trade to the Minnesota Wild, and his time with the San Jose Sharks.

As fans it’s easy to get caught up in liking/disliking athletes. Dany Heatley’s “heal turn” in the summer of 2009 represents that better than virtually any other example I can think of.  His departure from Ottawa was well documented here, and by pretty much every other blog and sports outlet in North America.

As Russo points out, Heatley’s time in San Jose will largely be viewed as failure. The Sharks didn’t win any Stanley Cups and twice lost in the Western Conference finals (both times fairly convincingly too). Heatley’s playoff numbers aren’t amazing either. In fact, the former 50-goal scorer managed just 22 points in 32 games over his two post-seasons with the Sharks. Frankly, those stats are somewhat flattering too. Only five of Heatley’s 22 points were goals.

Disappointing stats? Absolutely, but it’s not that simple. While it’s clear the new NHL – the way the game is played, the younger and faster players, and the new rules – don’t bode well for Heatley and his style, he’s still an elite goal scorer at this level. Consecutive injury plagued seasons have certainly played a significant role in Heatley’s decline. From torn groins to broken hands, Heatley has probably seen more trainers and medical rooms in the last two years than most nurses.

» Read more: Dany Heatley’s Decline Reminds Us We’re All Human

Ottawa Senators game day predictions (Wild/Sens)

December 19th, 2009

The Minnesota Wild are coming off a win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. They won, but were outplayed in one of the sloppiest games of hockey I’ve seen in awhile (not Sean Avery sloppy, sicko). Having said that, the Wild are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have done a terrific job getting themselves back into playoff contention (they are out by 4 points) after a 3-9 start to the season.

Tonight is a bit of a special night, as former Senator Martin Havlat returns to Ottawa. I’m not sure what the reaction from Sens fans will be, but hopefully its a good one. Havlat’s a terrific player.

The Senators injury list includes Nick Foligno, Jason Spezza, Pascal Leclaire, Chris Neil and Shean Donovan. But don’t worry, Leclaire and Neil could be back as soon as mid-next week. Please note there will be no game review for this game either. Game reviews will resume for Ottawa’s next tilt against the Boston Bruins

Here’s our predictions - do you agree? Let us know below.

Minnesota Wild vs Ottawa Senators – 7:00pm EST, CBC, FS-N, FS-WI

Burgundy: Ottawa- 4, Minnesota- 2; Despite playing a second game in as many nights (with travel from the night previous in New Jersey), the Senators will come out with an aggressive forecheck to counter an upbeat Minnesota team. Ottawa will need to execute a similar strategy to the one they did on Tuesday against the Sabres in order to beat the Wild. Look for Havlat to have a great game, as well as Daniel Alfredsson.

Fantana: Ottawa- 4, Minnesota- 3; In order to win, Ottawa will need to do a good job of getting traffic in front of Nikolas Backstrom. They’ll also need to utilize their speed in order to beat a Wild team that have won 4 of their last 5 games. Having said that, I’m looking for Ottawa to come out hard and to play well on home ice. Look for another strong game from Fisher.

Mantooth: Ottawa- 3, Minnesota- 2 (OT/SO); These 2 teams statistically are a fairly close match. Now the Wild have been strong in the last little bit. Plus they have a favorite player of mine, Martin Havlat. Much respect to the former Senator. Goaltending and defensive play will decide if this game is a close one or not. Watch for the Sens to score late in the 3rd to take this to extra minutes. Daniel Alfredsson will have the decider, either in OT or the Shootout.

Stay classy, New Jersey Devils.

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Did you know…

November 10th, 2009

We are nearly one-quarter through the NHL’s 2009-2010 season with no shortage of interesting story lines and revelations. Who predicted the Colorado Avalanche and Phoenix Coyotes would be at the top of the Western Conference? Or that the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings would barely contend for the playoffs?

As with any season, some players have gotten off to terrific starts while others don’t appear to have their season under way. Did you know…

  • Florida Panthers forward Steven Reinprecht has 9 goals in 15 games this season. He scored 14 goals last season… in 73 games.
  • Zack Stortini and Vincent Lecavalier have both scored two goals this season, however, Stortini still has more goals than Jason Spezza, Ryan Clowe and Martin Havlat, among others.
  • Interesting stat of the night….Price is 10W, 32L in last 42 stars. Hmm.
  • Vancouver Canucks goalie Andrew Raycroft has twice as many wins this season as he did in the entire 2007-2008 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Some of the season’s top performing players could have been claimed off waviers in recent years (Rich Peverley, Andrew Raycroft, Rene Bourque, Ilya Bryzgalov and Craig Anderson to name a few). Perhaps waiver wires should be looked at a little closer?
  • The Boston Bruins lost two of their 13 games in November during the 2008-2009 season. The Bruins have lost three of four games this November.
  • New York Rangers star Marian Gaborik is one game away from matching his games played total from last season. Amazingly, he has virtually identical stats as last year with a brand new team and coach.
  • The Dallas Stars were reportedly interested in signing Craig Anderson this summer but placed a higher priority on signing Jonas Gustavsson. Having Anderson as the ‘backup plan’ was probably a bit foolish (hindsight is always 20/20).
  • Chris Neil (1st), Matt Carkner (7th) and Jarrko Ruutu (8th) each rank among the league’s top 10 in penalty minutes this season. Out of shear coincidence, the Ottawa Senators are the most penalized team in the league (they average 20.1 minutes per game).

Stay classy, surprising NHL storylines.

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Top ten players the Senators want back

October 3rd, 2009

You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone. Crappy song, but truer words were never spoken.

Ottawa, like many other teams in this league, is beginning to build a rolodex of players that I’m sure they would love to have back. While there’s been a number of players we were glad to see go (I’m looking at you Alexei…. Kaigorodov, not Yashin), Ray Emery’s shutout on Friday was a classic example of a player that maybe we should have held onto.

So in celebration of Ray Emery’s shutout and return to the NHL, it’s time to countdown the Top Ten Players that the Ottawa Senators maybe should have reconsidered letting go.

10.  Dany Heatley

- I may take some flack for this one, but Dany Heatley will probably be a guy down the road that Ottawa would still love to have. As much as I’d like to think he’s going to be a minus – 246 over the rest of the season, it’s really not likely. Heatley should continue to put up dominating goal totals, and be the natural goal scorer we already knew he was. Even though we don’t want to believe it anymore.

9.  Patrick Eaves

- Patrick Eaves will probably be a player that Ottawa looks at in a couple years, and wonder what they were thinking when they let him walk. And you can’t blame Murray entirely for the deal he made. On paper, it was an oft-injured Eaves for a healthy Cory Stillman, in a year that Ottawa was trying to prove that they had to magic to make it to the Cup Finals again. While Eaves never put up huge numbers in Ottawa, he always reflected the “potential” that Ottawa wanted. It will be interesting to see what he does in Detroit now.

8.  Dean McAmmond

- Poor Deaner really got run out of this town with very little fanfare. The problem with that, I find, is that Dean McAmmond was a hugely important player in Ottawa’s run to the Finals. His fourth line, and Peter over at Silver Seven Sens does a fantastic job highlighting this, was the best fourth line in the playoffs that year. Dean was the key component in that lineup, and he even went as far as to drop the gloves in the first round. I still maintain that losing him to that Chris Pronger elbow was a huge blow to the Sens. In fact, if you look at the series, they never really recovered.

7.  Pavol Demitra

- Ottawa may have never given Pavol Demitra the chance he deserved. After being drafted by the Senators, Demitra only played a few games with the Senators. And considering the quality of that team, that’s not saying much. The guy only recorded 24 points with the Senators before holding out and moving on. Across the league, he’s now recorded 752 points in about 819 games played. Not sure if he ever would have put up the same points here in Ottawa, but certainly he’s a player that Ottawa could have used to put them over the top.

6.  Alexandre Daigle

- I know it seems like a weird thing to be putting here, but I think that Alex always gets the rough treatment because he never lived up to his billing as a 1st overall draft pick. He did bring some conceit, and had very little to follow it up with, but he certainly settled into a positive role in his later years as an NHL player. I think he could have provided the depth that Ottawa would have really appreciated. After those years with the Senators, and some ups and downs with the Philadelphia Flyers, Daigle settled into a very positive role with the Minnesota Wild as a third line, two-way player. With the Wild, he recorded 79 points in 124 games. Not bad, as long as you don’t think of him as that 1st round pick.

5.  Ray Emery

- It’s not entirely conclusive that Ray Emery is a player that the Senators might want back, but many people who actually follow hockey, rather than rumours, know that Ray Emery was a good goalie. He was put into two (that’s right, two) awful situations as a Senator. The first was when John Muckler saw fit to sign Martin Gerber, despite Emery showing his ability to carry the team. And the second was when Paddock handed the reigns to Gerber during Emery’s off-season surgery, just to pad the stats of a hot team. Emery had every right to be a bit perturbed about the latter, and it was reflected in his play. He should have a solid season in Philadelphia this year, and give them the best goaltending they’ve had since Ron Hextall.

4.  Tom Preissing

- Since he left Ottawa, Preissing really hasn’t had a chance to thrive. But this is a player that Ottawa probably regrets letting walk. Yes his contract was too steep for Ottawa, but Preissing represented a great puck moving defencemen that the Senators could have used last season. He did fold a bit in the Finals in 2007, and was a small guy, but this will probably be the first season since he left that Ottawa will have that mobility on the back end. Preissing, who can’t be faulted for taking that big contract with LA, is a guy that could have thrived in Ottawa under the right monetary situation.

3.  Martin Havlat

- It might be hard to believe that Martin Havlat is missed here in Ottawa, but this was the secondary scoring that Ottawa has been talking about ever since he left. He could, even before taking a stupid penalty or suspension, single handidly steal a game for the Sens. Remember that playoff series against the Tamba Bay Lightning when he posted 10 points against Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards and Co.? Havlat represented the speedy second line forward that Ottawa has continually tried to find since Muckler saw fit to bring in Hennessy and Barinka.

2.  Marian Hossa

- You know, this time last year, he probably wouldn’t have made this list. But Marian Hossa, much like Havlat, has represented a player that Ottawa could have tipped the balance in favour of Ottawa. All that said, Ottawa would never had added the scoring depth of Heatley, without getting rid of Hossa, but in his time away from the Senators, he has had a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals twice. And while we’ve taken every opportunity to make fun of Hossa on this blog, he still is a player that Ottawa Senators fans would love to still have wearing the SENS on his chest.

1.  Zdeno Chara

- What more can you say. Chara, after a lack lustre start in Boston, has become the player that we remember him as, and more. And Muckler let him walk. There’s plenty of speculation as to why Chara left, Chara is one player that Ottawa will always be able to look at and regret losing. He’s still a monster in this league, has a huge shot, is willing to step up for his teammates, and he probably kept Baton Rouge in business because of his love of ribs. All this to say, Chara should remain number one of this list for years to come.

Stay classy, departed Senators.

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2009 off-season a PR dream for the NHL?

September 12th, 2009

For a league that hasn’t had a meaningful game played in nearly 3 months, there’s been no shortage of off-season news and drama. Some good of the news was good and some was bad. But like the old saying goes, no press is bad press. Especially for hockey in non-traditional American markets. And in traditional markets, well, we’re just happy to have something hockey related to talk about.

Dany Heatley, always keeping classy

Dany Heatley, always keeping classy

It’s like my good buddy Baxter says, “you can’t make this stuff up”. I’m sure Gary Bettman and thr NHL are loving it. While Bettman will never admit it publically, I’m sure he’s Kessel-out-of-Boston happy about how this summer has churned out far more drama than any other summer in recent memory. For a league still trying to grow its audience, the NHL should take all the publicity they can get. Looks like they have done just that! Let’s take a look at some of the bigger summer headlines and how they may help the NHL.

Dany Heatley
Let’s get Heatley out of the way first. It’s believed most of the teams Heatley will accept a trade to are American based. Having an elite goal scorer demand a trade to mid/major Amiercan market teams such as New York, San Jose or Los Angeles isn’t a bad thing for the NHL. It drums up excitement, additional interest and if  a deal ever gets done, could result in more ticket sales (especially in Los Angeles).

Unrestricted Free Agency
The NHL is still questioning the Marian Hossa contract he signed with the Blackhawks on July 1st.  And between Montreal (which is a good thing for Habs fans considering how less than thrilled they were about last season’s roster) and Toronto, I think they scooped up most of the free agents. Except Mats Sundin… who may have it in him to keep everyone waiting and guessing, all Fall. Either way, UFA Day has generated a lot of buzz over the last few years and does a good job at making headlines for hockey in July.

Olympic Orientation Camps
Releasing camp rosters was neat – most of the names on the Canadian, Russian and American teams were what everyone expected. Unless your name is Marc Savard. Even Jason Spezza ended up going… For most, the American camp was the more interesting of the three. Everyone wanted to see Patrick Kane (first public appearence since a his cab driver incident) and hear what Brian Burke would say regarding the matter. This story will blow over before the end of October, more press for the NHL and Blackhawks.

Unexpected Drama
This summer had a ton of it!

Patrick Kane, always classy.

Patrick Kane, always classy.

From Patrick Kane and his cousin beating up a Buffalo cab driver who did or didn’t deserve it to Jiri Hudler controversially signing with the KHL and then waiting for the IIHF to figure it out.  Recently, Mike Comrie signed in Edmonton, which is interesting given how he left the city a few years ago. But by far the most drama this summer goes to the Blackhawks organization (not just Kane). The big flame out that saw Martin Havlat replaced by Marian Hossa, Dale Tallon getting an ‘oganizational shuffle’ for Stan Bowman to take the GM job and of course, the Hawks head office screwing up qualifying offers to pending RFA’s (Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker and others). Nice one, Chicago.

Jim Balsillie vs Gary Bettman
Let’s face it, this whole Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton storyline is the most hockey news in Phoenix since well, ever. Although the legal drama doesn’t appear to make any sense to the average hockey fan, it’s generated bigger headlines in Phoenix than any hockey game.  Hopefully that bankrupcy judge Redfield T. Baum reaches a decision out sooner than later.  One question that’s been running through my mind this whole time is if Hamilton does get a team, will they be a part of the Western Conference? And if not, who moves over from the East?

Ultimately, there are more stories than these and they’ve served well in keeping hockey somewhat relevant between mid June and when the 2009-2010 season (finally) starts up. And don’t believe for one moment the NHL isn’t greatful for how much additional press they’ve received as a result of these storylines and others. This has been a dream summer for the NHL and the PR team; they love it.

Stay classy, NHL.

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If Dany Heatley goes to Minnesota, who’s his center?

August 17th, 2009

First of all, that’s a big if.  We don’t know if Dany Heatley will ever waive his No-Trade-Clause.  I thought the odds of Heatley waiving the NTC were comparable to Tiger Woods actually losing a golf championship when leading by 2 strokes entering Sunday’s final round.  Given Tiger’s collapse yesterday, is that a sign of things to come for Heatley?

That may be pushing it… but if you haven’t heard the rumors, some notable reports suggest the Minnesota Wild are very interested in Heatley and have even tabled an offer to Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators for the sniper.

Is Dany Heatley on his way to Minnesota?

Is Dany Heatley on his way to Minnesota?

Who’s reporting the rumor? and, among others.  And they are pretty damn good, too.

There’s a few interesting things to this rumor.  Firstly, of all the teams ever rumored to have interest in Heatley, I believe this is the first one who could legitimately afford his contract without massive and sudden roster changes (or changes that don’t make sense!).  Secondly, this would make for a pretty good offensive combination with the newly acquired Martin Havlat, also an ex-Senator.  Thirdly, Brent Flahr was a part of the Senators upper management until earlier this summer – he is now an Assistant General Manager of the Wild.  Perhaps this rumor has wings afterall…

I may be getting ahead of myself here, but if Heatley did become a Wild … or became Wild …  or joined the Wild (wow that was difficult!), I’m assuming he would play left wing and Havlat would play right wing.  That’s a pretty leathal attack.  But who’d play center?  Havlat’s not the pure sniper Heatley is, but he’s also a legitimate 30-goal scorer.  Right now, Wild center’s include Mikko Koivu and James Sheppard (nevermind the fact they’ve both been mentioned in these trade rumors with Ottawa).  I don’t really think either are true NHL 1st line centers.

No disrespect intended, but looking at Koivu, his career point high is 67 points.  And James Sheppard, although only 21 with two NHL seasons under his belt had a career high of 24 points last year.  Granted, both were in defense-first Jacques Lemaire systems, but can either of these players truly be the piece that plays between Heatley and Havlat?

I’m not sure how that would work.  But maybe Havlat and Heatley would be playing on different lines?  Note to Wild head coach Todd Richards: Don’t put Heatley on the 2nd line. Apparently he doesn’t like that and could ask for a trade as a result.  On the other hand, Havlat may kick you with skates on …  Catch 22.  Or Catch 24.  Or Catch 15.  Wow, bad joke.

Beyond the fact the Wild don’t legitimately have a first line player for Heatley or Havlat, they don’t have a set-up guy for either.  Koivu had 47 assists last year… but to put things into perspective, Ottawa’s Filip Kuba had 37.  And the Minnesota Wild did have more goals for last season than the Senators did.

I’m not saying I don’t want the trade to happen – I do – I just want a resolution.  And the rumored pieces coming back to Ottawa are nice.  But I’m not sure how Minnesota makes Heatley fit with their club.  The weird thing about this one, unlike any other team ever interested in Heatley: it’s not a salary cap problem.

Stay classy, Minnesota Wild.

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Is Jiri Hudler really worth $5 Million per season?

July 30th, 2009

Is it official?  Is former Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler officially done with the NHL?

Looks that way, after the KHL officially registered Hudler’s 2 year $10 Million deal with HC Dynamo Moscow on Thursday afternoon.  Who knows what the IIHF and the NHL will do, or any future impact this may or may  not have.

Jiri Hudler: KHLs newest $5 Million player

Jiri Hudler: KHL's newest $5 Million player (image courtesy of

But back up for a second.  Jiri Hudler got a contract offer of $5 Million per season?  Holy crap.  Is he really worth that?  TSN reported Hudler received an offer of $15 Million over 5 years and that’s a bit more in line with what he brings to an organization.

Actually, hold that thought.  Am I the only one who isn’t terribly sure how good Jiri Hudler is?  I know the name, I know his face, but seriously, can you recall a highlight reel goal he’s scored?  I can’t.  What I can tell you is he registered a career high in points last year with the Red Wings – 57 points in 82 games.  Yeah – that’s $87,719 per point (yes, I rounded down).

When I think of $5 Million per year players, I think of stars like Martin Havlat, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Alex Kovalev, and Alexander Semin to name a few.  If I’m building a team as a GM, I’d pick all these guys far before Hudler.

Is he really that good?  Mike Babcock had  a great quote in last season’s Stanley Cup players saying “the beauty of playing in Detroit is guys like Hudler get to play against other teams 3rd lines…”.  Very true – Hudler has benefit from Detroit’s depth in playing against weaker checking lines.  Also, from playing with other quality forwards.

For what it’s worth, I see Hudler more comparable to another forward the Red Wings just lost, Mikael Samuelsson, now of the Vancouver Canucks.  Their career stats are similar but paychecks aren’t – Samuelsson signed a 3 year $7.5 Million contract earlier this summer ($2.5 Million average).

Hudler – 255 games played, 127 points.
Samuelsson – 466 games played, 208 points.

According to salaries, Hudler is twice as good as Samuelsson.  That line might belong in the “Things that make you go hmmmm” category.  Whatever we may think about this, given the kind of money Hudler signed on for, he’ll be relied on as a top producing forward.  I’m not convinced he can be the best player on the ice, consistently.  Not after 255 regular season NHL games played.

Stay classy, Jiri Hudler.

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Martin Havlat's fine line

July 16th, 2009

I’ve been having an interesting conversation with on their facebook page regarding Minnesota Wild forward, Martin Havlat and his not-so-kind words about the Chicago Blackhawks (namely team President John McDonough) and the treatment of former Hawks GM Dale Tallon.

For anyone who’s unaware of the comments Havlat’s comments, here’s the basic jist:

- Havlat really wanted to stay in Chicago and was hopeful about resigning with the Blackhawks.
- Chicago goes out and signs Marian Hossa to a big time 12 year deal, while Havlat remains unsigned.
- Havlat strikes a 6 year deal with the Minnesota Wild and tells fans via twitter “The real story about what happened in Chicago to come out”.
- Approximately 9 minutes later, Havlat tweets the following “There’s something to be said for loyalty and honor”.  Hmmm, interesting.
- On Tuesday July 14th, Dale Tallon is moved from Blackhawks GM to Senior Hockey Operations Advisor and replace with Stan Bowman (son of the great Scottie Bowman).
- This prompts Havlat to tweet “I guess everyone saw what happened to Dale….yes, the story is starting to come out but it’s just the tip of the iceberg”.
- Havlat goes on to say Tallon is like a 2nd father to him and his contract negotiations stalled with Chicago largely because McDonough wanted ‘his’ guys, not Tallon’s guys.

There’s a bit more, but that’s the highlights.  So it leads me to ask the question, should Martin Havlat really be telling the whole world about this?

As a fan of the NHL and the Hawks, I appreciate the insight Havlat is bringing.  But I have to wonder what his motives are with his twittering/TSN interviews with Darren Dreger.  I get he’s angry, but he’s not the only NHL player to get caught up in organizational politics.  He is, however, one of few to come out this candidly about the situation.

I question the ethics here.  I mean, is he breaking hockey player code by leaking out this info – regardless of its truth?  Again, he’s not the first player something like this has happened to.  If I was a member of the Minnesota Wild and their organization, I think I’d be wondering what kind of baggage Havlat might be bringing, why his focus isn’t on the Wild and if he’s going to say the same things when his 6 year $30 Million contract expires.

I like Martin Havlat, but is he crossing the line here?

Stay classy, Martin Havlat.

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2009's top unrestricted free agents in the NHL

June 22nd, 2009

Daniel & Henrik Sedin – The Sedin twins will be a hot commodity this summer and they present NHL teams with an interesting dilemma. Most teams are too cash-strapped to enter the bidding war for one top-line player in the $7M per year range. The Sedins are a package deal and will likely cost $13-15M per year. I can’t think of too many teams that have the available cap space for both of them. Since replacing these guys will prove to be just as difficult, look for Vancouver to resign them to long-term deals, likely before July 1st. On second thought, wouldn’t it be hilarious if Vancouver only retained one of the Sedin twins?

Marian Gaborik – Marian Gaborik is by far the flashiest UFA available this summer. The big question with him is will be his injury history, notably with his groin. I’m still very interested to see what Gaborik could do in a healthy season on an offensive-minded team – that could be scary! While I’ve heard the L.A. Kings are interested, my sense is the Wild might keep him on a short-term deal (one or two years). After all, Minnesota overhauled their front office and firing their GM and head coach… if this wasn’t to show Gaborik they’re serious about keeping him, why else would they make all these changes?

Marian Hossa – In a cruel twist of fate, Hossa picked the wrong team and lost in the Stanely Cup Finals for the second straight year… tough break! Hossa is also a UFA for the second straight year. Up until a week ago, I figured he’d resign a long-term deal with Detroit and the Wings would cut Samuelsson and Hudler loose. Now, according to the somewhat trashy New York Post, Hossa is the one that Detroit wants to cut loose… go figure! I still think Hossa will take a discount and stay in Detroit.

Jay Bouwmeester – Meet this year’s Brian Campbell! I’m expecting Bouwmeester to sign a contract similar to Campbell’s 8 year, $57M+ deal. I’m not convinced Bouwmeester’s worth all that money, but I’m sure there’s an NHL GM out there who is. I keep hearing Philadelphia as the team that’s most interested, but I won’t believe it until they free up some cap space. Look for Joffrey Lupul or Scott Hartnell to get traded first, not Daniel Briere. And I think Florida will probably trade Bouwmeester’s rights at some point during the Entry Draft.

Mattias Ohlund – I’m not sure where Ohlund will end up next season but it’s safe to say it won’t be in Vancouver. Maybe Florida will make a pitch for him when they lose Jay-Bo!

Mike Cammalleri – Mike Cammalleri had a career year with Calgary last season, scoring 39 goals and 82 points. If the rumours are true, he’s seeking $6.5 per season on a new contract. While that seems to be a little high, look for the Richmond Hill-native to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Saku Koivu – Saku, if you’re reading this, please don’t resign with Montreal! The team doesn’t deserve you and neither does the city. The media in Montreal seem to consistently find a way to say more stupid things in a day than Megan Fox has recently. Go play in a city that appreciates your skill… ahem… Chuck Fletcher, go get a second Koivu jersey for Minnesota.

Alex Kovalev – I’d be shocked if Montreal let Koivu and Kovalev depart via UFA this summer. Besides, Kovalev is 36 years old, I doubt he’ll want to play for another team at this point in his career. I say he sticks with Montreal, becomes the team’s new captain and gets all the free Molson beer he wants. Let the love/hate relationship continue in Montreal!

Other Notable UFA’s:

Martin Havlat, Brian Gionta, Nikolai Khabibulin, Dwayne Roloson, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Steve Sullivan, Alex Tanguay, Rob Scuderi.

Notable UFA’s Who May/May Not Play Next Year:

Mats Sundin, Scott Neidermayer, Joe Sakic, Sergei Fedorov, Sergei Zubov and Rob Blake.

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Victims from NHL salary caps: Chicago Blackhawks

May 25th, 2009

This weekend featured games from both conference final and I don’t have much to say for either series, other than told you so!

It’s not like I could talk about Ryan Bayda’s crosscheck to Kris Letang at the end of game 2 being the same as Milan Lucic’s on Max Lapierre with vastly different consequences. Or that the NHL refs are starting to call games like IIHF refs do (impact of the hit equals a penalty, regardless of if the hit was clean or not).

Instead, let’s talk about salary caps and their subsequent victims. I know, salary caps are a major yawn for everyone who doesn’t apsire to be a chartered accountant, but it’s about to seriously affect today’s up-and-coming teams. Namely the Chicago Blackhawks.

I should preface this article by stating my support of salary caps in pro sports – the NHL especially.  Clearly there are more pro’s than con’s with regards to salary caps, however, often overlooked is the impact caps will have on teams from a talent development, drafting and player value perspective.
Salary caps are a little bit of a catch-22: you work hard (or suck hard) for your top draft picks to rebuild after terrible seasons and will end up being defined by the talent you were eventually unable to retain.  And unfortunately, I believe the Chicago Blackhawks will be one of the cap’s biggest victims.
Finally, after years of misery, the Hawks are back and stronger than ever.  The team’s success on and off the ice has been well documented and is probably the best story of the last 15 months.  Here’s where it get’s interesting: after the 2009-2010 season, the Hawks must resign Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, Cam Barker, Duncan Keith and others.

I should preface this article by stating my support of salary caps in pro sports – the NHL especially. Clearly there are more pros than cons, however, often overlooked is the impact salary caps will have on teams from a talent development, drafting and player value perspective.

Salary caps are quite the catch-22: you work hard (or suck hard) for your top draft picks to rebuild after terrible seasons and will end up being defined by the talent you weren’t able to retain. Unfortunately, I believe the Chicago Blackhawks will be one of the cap’s biggest victims in the years to come.

After years of misery, the Hawks are back and stronger than ever. The team’s success on and off the ice has been well documented and is probably hockey’s best story over the last 15 months. Here’s where it get’s interesting: after the 2009-2010 season, the Hawks must resign Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, Cam Barker, Duncan Keith and others.  Given the levels of talent and recent successes, all these players are due for significant raises, too. Early reports are suggestion Kane and Toews alone could seek between $5 Million-$6 Million per season each.

After this season, Kris Versteeg is a restricted free agent and Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat will be unrestricted free agents.  And so the problem begins.  I’ve long stated the salary cap shortens team’s window to win a Stanley Cup to 2-3 seasons at max and we’re about to see this with Chicago. Next year has to be their year!
It might shock you to say between now and the 2010-2011 season, the Hawks already have approximately $23 Million committed to the following players: Patrick Sharp, Dustin Bufyglien, Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet and Brent Seabrook.  Assuming the salary cap sits around the $50 Million mark (and it might not; it could be lower), you have $25 Million (give or take) to resign Toews, Kane, Barker, Keith and if you so choose, Havlat, Versteeg and Khabibulin.

While the Hawks have a few blue chip prospects in their development pipeline, you can see their diligence in developing talent and excellent scouting will end up hurting them in years to come.  Kane and Toews are the cornerstone pieces here, but the Hawks have a number of unhearlded and underrated role players who’ve thrived under the Joel Quenneville’s system and the Hawks simply won’t be able to keep everyone.  Some tough decisions are coming up for the Hawks.

Of course, similar arguments could be made with the Washington Capitals, too.  We’ve seen something similar in Ottawa with the depth the Senators have lost over the year’s.  Hopefully the talent pool in your respective systems doesn’t dry up too badly or rebuilding could come sooner than desired.
Stay classy, Chicago Blackhawks.

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