Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hossa Left HIs First Game

Breaking news... Marian Hossa (Dale C.) left his first game with the Penguins against Boston with a grade 1 sprain of his MCL and didn't return. This should be a couple weeks worth of waiting for his return to the ice.

More in the morning...

The Return of Boucher

Trade Deadine Day not only marked the last day of deals for this season, it also marked the return of goaltender Brian Boucher (non-pool) to the NHL fraternity. Boucher signed a deal to play out the rest of the season with the San Jose Sharks as Evgeni Nabokov's (Wes) back-up. You could only imagine the shock when I first saw his name in the Sharks' line-up last night against Columbus.

Boucher has played in 220 NHL games (with Philadelphia, Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago and Columbus), registering a record of 77-96-33 with 13 shutouts.

Expect to see Boucher on the Playoff Pool Sheet, if back-up goalies are indeed included for selection.

Bourdon Sent Back

The blueline is getting healthier by the week in Vancouver and it was time to start cleaning up the roster a bit. Luc Bourdon (Box 11) was thought to be available in a deal for Brad Richards (Dale C.), but since that deal wasn't pushed through, it was time for Bourdon to be sent back down to Winnipeg to re-join the Moose.

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Kuba Out With Knee Injury

The new-look Lightning were without defenseman Filip Kuba (Dieter) last night against the Wild. Kuba sat out with a knee injury and is considered to be out day-to-day. In his place, the newly-acquired Alexandre Picard (Box 22) was called up from the minors.

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Leg Hinders Allen in Florida

In Wednesday's loss to the Maple Leafs, the Panthers were missing blueliner, Bryan Allen (Box 17), because of a leg injury sustained in Sunday's game against the Rangers. There hasn't been any indication that this will be a long-term injury, but with the Panthers 7 points away from the playoffs and not gaining much ground (3-4-3 in their last 10), there won't be much of a rush for any of their injured players to return.

The Panthers currently sit in the 26th position in the league, the last spot that could claim the number one spot in the Entry Draft, thanks to the lottery. With a wink, wink and a nudge, nudge... you may see the Panthers drop off a little bit more to possibly increase their chances for the number one spot.

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A Cold Wolski Will Sit

With all the injuries and players coming out of the woodwork, it's a bad time for a player to slow down his production, because he becomes an easy target for the coach to put him in the press box. This is what's happening with Avalanche forward, Wojtek Wolski (Dale C.). He's only managed 2 assists in his last 7 games with a -2 rating. Last night versus Vancouver was his second time in the press box in the last four games.

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Penguins Not Through the Injury Woods Yet

The Penguins have lost a couple more players to injuries this week, both of which involve surgery. Defensive defenseman, Rob Scuderi (Box 23), will undergo surgery to repair a broken finger, which will keep him out of the line-up for up to 4 weeks. The installation of Hal Gill (Box 23) came just in time to take his spot.

The other injury involves forward Adam Hall (non-pool). Hall already underwent surgery to repair a hernia and he is now expected to miss the rest of the regular season and very likely, the playoffs as well.

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Injuries Hit the Blackhawks

Bad news for the Blackhawks again this week. On Wednesday night against the Coyotes, forward Martin Havlat (Marcus) left the game after re-injuring his shoulder and didn't return.

The loss of Havlat was only piling on the troubles for the Blackhawks, who were already missing Nikolai Khabibulin (John P.) to back spasms and Robert Lang (Stuart) to a sore back. Both players are listed as out day-to-day with Khabibulin hoping to get back on the ice on the weekend and Lang taking it on a day-to-day basis.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Morrison Update

Amongst all the news of the Canucks lack of impact action on the trade deadline front, GM Dave Nonis did comment on the status of centre, Brendan Morrison (Box 7).

Morrison is apparently is on schedule to return, but the team is not going to rush him. Nonis did make the comment that he would like to see him in the line-up by March 10th, but that will be up to the team doctors and Morrison himself.

It's all very good news for the Canucks, who need a little more of a spark on offense. Morrison has already missed 31 games with his wrist injury and should start practicing in the next week to 10 days.

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Ponikarovsky To Miss a Couple More

Going into tonight's action against Florida, the Maple Leafs will still be without winger Alexei Ponikarovsky (Box 19) due to a rib injury he suffered on the weekend. He has already missed Monday's game against the Senators and is likely to miss the remaining games of the week through their Southeast Division swing.

Ponikarovsky has already missed 13 games with the club, but wasn't a popular pick on the Selection Sheet this season. His 25 points in 51 games thus far is diminishing the likelihood that he'll be seen on the Sheet next season.

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Pronger Had Facial Surgery

The Ducks may have Chris Pronger (Marcus) in the line-up versus the Flames on Friday night despite undergoing jaw surgery to repair a small fracture.

Pronger suffered the injury on Sunday after being on the wrong end of a shot follow-through from Chicago's Patrick Sharp (Dale B.), which resulted in a goal.

The general feeling from the Ducks camp is that Pronger will likely miss a game or two with this injury, but they didn't want to rule out the possibility that he could play on Friday. I don't suppose coming to a comprimise would be out of the question and saying that Friday's game is unlikely and he'd be rested up for next week.

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Wild and Caps Suffered a Bit of the Flu

In last night's Minnesota/Washington match-up, both teams were missing key players due to the rampant flu bug that has been terrorizing the league this season. Both Mark Parrish (Box 9) of the Wild and Viktor Kozlov (John B.) sat out the contest with the bug.

It has been pretty surprising how wide spread the flu bug had made it this season. So much so, I had to draw up it's own icon for the blog page. It wasn't just a once and a while thing through the season, it had touched every team and several players on each team. We are still in the midst of winter, so it may still be a while before it all settles down, but it has been worth noting.

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Been Missin' Smid

If all the current long-term injuries haven't been enough, Tuesday night versus Detroit marked the third game that Ladislav Smid (Box 11) wasn't in the line-up due to an ankle injury. The injury isn't considered to be serious and will remain in the press box on a day-to-day basis.

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No Tanguay Against Avalanche

The Flames were without former Avalanche player, Alex Tanguay (John B.), on Tuesday night with a reported neck injury. The only indications of how bad the injury is surrounds his listing in the injury column as being out day-to-day. There wasn't any comments in the post-game of the Flames/Avalanche game last night, so it's still up in the air. But as promised, Tanguay was not traded yesterday and will remain a Flame for the rest of the season, if not more.

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Pittsburgh Wins Hossa Sweepstakes

The headline deal of the day came minutes before the trade deadline was to pass and the Eastern Conference talent pool was disrupted like a fat man doing a cannonball.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the huge splash acquiring Marian Hossa (Dale C.) and Pascal Dupuis (non-pool) from the Atlanta Thrashers for Colby Armstrong (non-pool), Erik Christensen (non-pool), Angelo Esposito (non-pool) and a 1st round pick in this summer's draft.

To PittsburghAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Marian Hossa, F296056UFA
Pascal Dupuis, F286215UFA
To Atlanta
Colby Armstrong, F2554241-year, $1.2 million
Erik Christensen, F2449201-year, $750,000
Angelo Esposito, F1900RFA
2008 1st Round Pick

The Penguins have now made conscious decision to win now and with this deal, plus the return of Sidney Crosby (Benson) and Marc-Andre Fleury (Dennis) only days away, the Penguins should be quite potent when it comes to winning games. In doing so, however, they did give up a lot of character in Armstrong and Christensen, but both were highly coveted by a lot of teams (as the rumours go), but for the scoring touch of Hossa, the gamble of character seemed to make sense for GM Ray Shero. They also had to give up, in essence, two first rounders, since Esposito was the Penguin's 2007 first round pick and then this summer's, which is a very deep draft. With Pittsburgh starting to win now, they won't be receiving the same draft positions that saw them draft the likes of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (Dale B.).

The big question will be, "can the Penguins sign Hossa to a long-term deal before July 1st?" Currently, the Penguins have 13 players on their current 23-man roster that are signed on for next season, at a rate of $34.1 million (approx.). That should leave close to $20 million (depending on what the cap raises to next season) for 10 players. Also to be signed for next season includes, Fleury (approx. market cap hit: $4.5 million), Malone (approx. market cap hit: $3 million) and Laraque (approx. market cap hit: $1.3 million). That would only leave over $11 million for 7 more players, which doesn't look promising for Hossa. Especially since Malkin's deal ends at the end of next season and Hossa is looking for something long-term. This should only be a rental deal for a Cup run, by the looks of things.

For this deal to be a steal for the Thrashers, which it could be... the key will have to be Esposito and his transformation into a clutch NHL performer. Remember, for this deal to be a "steal," this would have to happen. In all honesty, it seems to me that it's a longshot possibility, but we'll see.

This is already a pretty good deal for the Thrashers, since adding Armstrong and Christensen to their team isn't going to hurt them on the checking side of the equation. Both players have been regarded as "great to excellent" third line players, who could also score on occasion. I'm sure in some circumstances, either (or both) player(s) will see special teams ice-time, which is always considered handy among hockey circles. And since they still each have a season left on their contract, they don't have to hastily make another deal with them to extend their contracts and then get the deals that are better suited to the team and their budget.

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Red Wings Add to Blueline

The Red Wings added Brad Stuart (Box 11) from the Los Angeles Kings for a second round pick in 2008 and fourth round pick in 2009.

To DetroitAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Brad Stuart, D286321UFA
To Los Angeles
2008 2nd Round Pick
2009 4th Round Pick

Since the Kings were not able to peddle Rob Blake (Jeff), due to his no-trade clause, the Kings wanted to make sure they had some more draft picks in the bank and the next best rental player available to them to deal was Stuart.

In Stuart, he will immediately fill in some gaps left behind by the injuries to Nicklas Lidstrom (Benson), Brian Rafalski (Stuart) and Niklas Kronwall (Dennis) and be that veteran presence until all three return. Stuart has moved around in recent years and has been one of the more used up rental players, probably best compared to a really good movie on a DVD that is scratched from Blockbuster. You still want to see it, but since it's been around, you don't know if it's gonna work in your player. How's that for a metaphor?

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Coyotes and Rangers Swap

The Phoenix Coyotes send forwards Fredrik Sjostrom (Box 8) & Josh Gratton (non-pool) with goalie David Leneveu (non-pool) to the New York Rangers for forward Marcel Hossa (non-pool) and goalie Al Montoya (non-pool).

To RangersAgeGames/MINPointsContract (July 1st)
Fredrik Sjostrom, F245119RFA
Josh Gratton, F2510RFA
David Leneveu, G2400RFA
To Coyotes
Marcel Hossa, F26368RFA
Al Montoya, G2300RFA

This is a very convenient deal for both teams, as they both have players that are a little impatient with their now former clubs. Hossa was not seeing as much ice-time for the Rangers as he possibly would have liked, while Montoya was getting really impatient, but didn't have a leg to stand on being lower on the depth chart to Henrik Lundqvist (John P.). For Phoenix, Sjostrom's inconsistent play saw him sit in the press box for a few games at a time, but when he got back into the line-up, he didn't excel the way the Great One would have wanted him to. Leneveu was starting to become a dependable goalie in the minors, but hadn't received the billing to be the guy in Phoenix just yet.

On the outside, the real gem of this deal was Montoya going to the Coyotes. He should get a shot to challenge Ilya Bryzgalov (Peter) in the desert in training camp and likely get the back-up role that should suit the young American keeper until he can usurp the starter's job during a cold spell.

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A New Goalie in Anaheim

The Ducks also made a move in the crease adding J-S Aubin (non-pool) from the Kings for a seventh round pick in 2008.

To AnaheimAgeMINPointsContract (July 1st)
J-S Aubin, G3082710UFA
To Los Angeles
2008 7th Round Pick

It wasn't a terrible secret that no one knew who Anaheim's back-up goalie was before the trade deadline on Tuesday. It was Jonas Hiller (non-pool), for those who didn't know. After moving Ilya Bryzgalov (Peter) to Phoenix, the Ducks thought they had someone solid enought to sit behind J-S Giguere (Dale C.) through the rest of the season and the playoffs. Well, a seventh round pick solved their apparent fears as they acquired J-S Aubin from the back-up goalie-rich Los Angeles Kings. Aubin had already seen the revolving door out of Tinseltown a couple weeks earlier, so as a tested NHL keeper, it made some sense for Anaheim to pick him up. As an Unrestricted Free Agent in the summer, Aubin will likely move yet again, but not before a good shot at watching the Cup Finals on the bench.

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Capitals Add Prospect

The Washington Capitals added Alexandre Giroux (non-pool) for minor leaguer Joe Motzko (non-pool).

To WashingtonAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Alexandre Giroux, F26001-year, $475,000
To Atlanta
Joe Motzko, F28841-year, $513,000

This deal was certainly more of a minor-league swap from the outset. Motzko couldn't quite make the Capitals line-up on a full-time basis, while Giroux couldn't really impress the Thrashers coaching staff in training camp enough to get the call-ups during the season to make an impression.

Both players will be Unrestricted Free Agents after next season, so if they fail to impress this coming fall, they'll just be back in the minors for another season before they are finally set free for some younger talent.

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Lightning Deal Hlavac

The Lightning dealt veteran winger Jan Hlavac (non-pool) to the Nashville Predators for a 7th round pick in 2008.

To NashvilleAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Jan Hlavac, F316222UFA
To Tampa Bay
2008 7th Round Pick

The Lightning were more than likely pretty happy to be through with Hlavac. The Czech winger had a very frosty relationship with head coach John Tortorella, but who didn't, really? For a seventh round pick, the Predators add some veteran talent to go with some of their other Czech talent, which may be a quick fit. If he isn't a fit at all with the team, they only have 18 games left to deal with him, so it isn't a terrible loss.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ducks Add More Defense

The Ducks acquired yet another defenseman in Marc-Andre Bergeron (Box 16) from the Islanders for a third round pick in a late deal.

To AnaheimAgeGamesPointsContract (July 1st)
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D2746181-year, $1.65 million
To Islanders
2008 3rd Round Pick

The oft-scratched defenseman might find a little bit more of a comfortable home in Anaheim where there are many offensive defensemen already there, but the scratches are also quite likely, as they already have a solid six-man rotation. He couldn't quite make the cut, except when injuries reared their ugly head on Long Island, so he was certainly available to a high bidder.

Anaheim has plenty of better picks available to them in the Draft, so the loss of a third rounder shouldn't faze the West Coast team.

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