Friday, August 31, 2007

SuperSeries Scoring Through Three

I thought I would highlight the scoring for both the Russian and Canadian teams. I doubt there are many pools in regards to the SuperSeries, but I thought it would be interesting to highlight who's done what in this series so far in the first three games. I have also highlighted which NHL club or year a player is eligible to be drafted in the stats. A lot of Russian players haven't been drafted or had missed out on their draft year, thanks to the lack of the transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Federation.

The Canadians hold a 3-0 series lead over the Russians after winning Game 3, 6-2. The Canadians have now outscored the Russians 13-4 in the three games. That's just been the way things have gone for the Canadians... big offensive output along with some great defensive work.

First of all, we'll look over the Russian team. They're probably the easiest team to comb over. With only four goals in the tournament, the stats are a tad small.

NHL TeamNamePosGA
N/AA. RyabevF20
N/AV. SolodukhinF11
N/AP. DoroninD10
A. VasyunovF01
I. KablukovF01

NHL TeamNamePosWSO
S. VarlamovG00

Between all the goals and assists for the Russian team, there are only 2 assists that belong to NHL drafted talent. It does give a weird idea of what we should expect from Russian talent coming into the league for pools and such... not having many show up. No, that probably isn't true exactly, as there is a lot of Russian talent still to come... four Russians are eligible for the Draft in the coming years, so don't count them out just yet.

The Rangers didn't have Cherepanov through the third game and then lost Artem Anisimov in the third game to a possible knee injury. There probably won't be any indication of how long Anisimov will be out until the fourth game, but this is not a good sign for the Rangers picks. To the Russian team's credit, their offensive play had gotten a whole lot better when the two "superstars" fell.

NHL TeamNamePosGA
S. GagnerF22
D. PerronF13
K. TurrisF30
S. LegeinF30
B. MarchandF11
2008 DraftZ. BoychukF11
B. SutterF02
2009 DraftJ. TavaresF02
C. GillesF10
J. GodfreyD01
K. EllerbyD01
T. HickeyD01
M. LucicF01

NHL TeamNamePosWSO
J. BernierG11
S. MasonG10
L. IrvingG10

For the Canadians, it's kind of tough to find a place to begin. From goaltending to scoring, the Canadians have been solid through all three games. Gagner and Perron have led the way with some great play, not just their scoring prowess. With the early game tomorrow, it should be the legs of the Canadian team and their depth that should make them look even better in Game 4.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Berard Gets an Invite

Now, of course, this is not a signing. Unrestricted Free Agent, Bryan Berard, received an invite to training camp by one of his former teams, the New York Islanders. Berard isn't necessarily a pool worthy defenseman for the coming season. Playing only 11 games last season between his back injury and being waived by the Columbus Blue Jackets. In those 11 games, he only managed 3 points. If Berard is healthy, he could be considered as a decent defenseman pick-up.

A healthy Berard is usually good for 30-40 points, which would put him in around the 7th or 8th round as a defenseman. That's not a bad bet... or a good bargain if you get him really late and he performs. Watch for the signing announcement... that might mean he's healthy.

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Jokinen Signs... Big Surprise!

Well, no more than 8 hours after I post the Stars team update does Jussi Jokinen sign a deal with the Stars. That just seems to be my luck here. Jokinen signed a 2-year deal worth $3.625 million, right in the marketplace ballpark. So, what you can do is take what I said about him in the last article, copy it, paste it here... and this posting will look a little bit longer. Sounds good to me!! Oh yeah... and just disregard that asterisk beside Jokinen's name. Awesome!

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Looking Into the Flame

Other than the jersey unveiling for the Flames that will happen on Tuesday, there doesn't seem to be much more potential news coming out of Calgary in the next few weeks. Saying that, I haven't given an update on the Flames since the beginning of July, so I thought I would chime in on them again, just so you don't forget what has gone on.

Alex TanguayCraig ConroyJarome Iginla
Kristian HuseliusDaymond LangkowOwen Nolan
Wayne PrimeauMatthew LombardiDavid Moss
Marcus NilsonStephane YelleDustin Boyd
Dion PhaneufAnders Eriksson
Robyn RegehrAdrian Aucoin
Cory SarichRhett Warrener
Miikka Kiprusoff
Brent Krahn

The team itself looks to be a pretty solid bunch going into camp. There really isn't a hole that needs filling and the loss of Mark Giordano really isn't going to affect the bottom line of this team, especially since David Hale is a qualified number seven defenseman.

Now that Craig Conroy will have a full season back with Iginla, you may see those sparks return from seasons past. 75 points isn't out of the question for Conroy and in my draft here in Calgary, I expect Conroy to go in the low part of the second round. These crazy Flames fans. In my mock draft, with his 36 points last season, had him in the 8th round.

It's hard to say what Owen Nolan will decide to do this season. He sits in the line-up as a bit of a wildcard. Also only scoring 36 points last season (on a Phoenix team, mind you), you wonder what he has left in the tank. Yes, he'll probably end up playing with a good centre like Conroy or Langkow to start the season... or even mix it all up and have Nolan down with Yelle... it should be interesting what he brings to the table offensively, because there was still a little bit of that scoring touch missing last season, which Nolan will be relied upon to fill.

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More D in Dallas

The Dallas Stars lured one of their bluechip prospects over from Russia on Wednesday and made a little bit more of a logjam at the blueline for training camp. 25 year-old, Vadim Khomitski signed on the dotted line to a 1-year, 1-way deal worth $525,000 and will join the team in a couple weeks for camp. Khomitski apparently wasn't going to come over unless he had a full-time contract, because the money is just as good over in Russia and would have stayed if there was any chance of reporting to the minors. Now Khomitski's contract will definitely count against the cap, but that really isn't the biggest concern for the Stars.

The group of defensemen who are going into camp look strong, something I'm sure Marty Turco is quite happy to see. With Zubov and Boucher able to work the puck in the offensive zone, the Stars have guys like Robidas and Norstrom who are more compelled to look after their own end. This should all be a good fit for this team. You'll probably take a good long look at some of the defensemen in your pool draft.

In my mock draft, which is unpublished (in case you were wondering), only three Stars d-men were selected... Zubov, Boucher and Robidas. Khomitski did get to play in 9 games for Iowa in the AHL, registering 7 points, so he could possibly be a bit of a sleeper pick in the later rounds, if you're looking for someone a little different in rounds 13 & 14.

Jere LehtinenMike RibeiroJussi Jokinen *
Brendan MorrowMike ModanoNiklas Hagman
Antti MiettinenStu BarnesLoui Eriksson
Todd FedorukJeff HalpernJoel Lundqvist
Sergei ZubovPhillipe Boucher
Stephane RobidasTrevor Daley
Mattias NorstromNolan Baumgartner
Vadim Khomitski
Marty Turco
Mike Smith

Jussi Jokinen still remains the lone Restricted Free Agent on the Stars' list as he had rejected the Stars' qualifying offer that they gave him before the market opened. Jokinen, 24, will probably be looking for the range of $2 million per season, but will end up with a little less with some good negotiating.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ballard Re-Signs

Since a team update was done not too long ago, I won't bother. If you want to see it, however, just click on Coyotes in the label section of the sidebar or below this post. Anyways... Keith Ballard re-signed with the Desert Dogs today, thus eliminating the asterisk from the team update (hence, it wasn't worth re-posting). He signed a 2-year deal with the Coyotes and financial terms were not disclosed right away. Not to worry Coyote fans, even if he made the market price of roughly $2 million, it wouldn't break the bank.

This signing was the last necessity on GM Don Maloney's list of things to accomplish in the off-season and it fills their optimal 20 guys going into camp. Of course, the Coyotes still have some more room for improvement with space left against the cap.

Ballard's overall point numbers should improve over last season, as he only played in 69 games in total and managed a mere 29 points. He's good enough to be bumped up a couple rounds, possibly into the Top 10. That's if you're feelin' somewhat courageous... ya never know about injuries.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Aubin Joins the Kings' Crease

The goaltending situation got a little bit more competitive in Los Angeles with the signing of Jean-Sebastien Aubin from the Free Agent Market. Aubin played in 20 games last season, winning only 3 of them. The Kings have a bit of a mess on their hands when it comes to goaltending and the lack of games the combined three goalies below have played last season. Cloutier managed 24, Aubin had 20 and Labarbera didn't appear at all. They will also have Jonathan Bernier, who's playing for Canada in the SuperSeries, coming into camp after at least two games in the series.

If you're sitting down at the draft and you've waited a while to pick your back-up goaltender, you may be left with the Los Angeles Kings' decision of a back-up. Hell, you might even be wondering who they might name as their number one going into London. It's quite the conundrum, even from this stand point. You have to think Cloutier has the inside track here, but a great couple games from Bernier, who'll be in game shape, might take a good run at it.

Alexander FrolovAnze KopitarMike Cammalleri
Ladislav NagyMichal HandzusDustin Brown
Scott ThorntonDerek ArmstrongKyle Calder
Raitis IvanansPatrick O'SullivanBrian Willsie

Alyn McCauley
Lubomir VisnovskyTom Preissing
Rob BlakeBrad Stuart
Jaroslav ModryJack Johnson
Dan Cloutier
J-S Aubin
Jason Labarbera

It's unclear what Aubin will make with this new 1-year deal, but you can't imagine it would be much. Labarbera is making $850,000 this season... so it should be somewhere around there. It'll be a great fight for those goaltending jobs, so keep yourself posted.

You may also want to note that the coaching staff was improved when the Kings added former Wings and Bruins head coach, Dave Lewis. A little extra hockey sense on the bench might be a great thing for the bunch of guys they've added this season. New ideas and philosophies should help the Kings be a bit more competitive.

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News and Notes

With training camp only 2 weeks away (give or take a couple days), the Carolina Hurricanes might be in a bit of a hole when it comes to their blueline. Both Frantisek Kaberle and Bret Hedican are question marks coming towards the new season. Reports are saying that Kaberle has injured his knee in the Czech Republic and will undergo surgery to repair it, putting him out of the line-up for six weeks. Last season, Kaberle missed 55 games due to various injuries, which kept him from being a good pool pick. Bret Hedican on the other hand, has been considering retirement due to some chronic hip and back injuries, which caused him to miss 32 games last season. This could greatly harm the Hurricanes this season, not having two of their better defensemen, since they are lacking some depth at that position.

The Hurricanes may find themselves on the marketplace floor looking to give deals to Brent Sopel, David Tanabe and/or Danny Markov in the coming weeks. I'm sure GM Jim Rutherford hasn't hit the panic button just yet... but he might have his eye on it.

The Flames could be missing out on one of my pool worthy Restricted Free Agents as reports out this morning are suggesting that Mark Giordano has signed a 1-year deal in Russsia. Now, just because they have missed out on signing him for the year, it doesn't mean they're actually going to miss him... much. The acquistion of Cory Sarich and Adrian Aucoin should see the Flames deep enough in the Top 6 positions and with David Hale still in the mix, they do have a solid seven to keep them above water.

On Monday, Chris Kunitz signed a 4-year extension to his contract, that was to run out at the end of the coming season. Kunitz, with his new contract, probably thinks less of Penner moving to Edmonton, as it probably freed up all this new cash for him in the long run... especially if Penner becomes the guy that the Oilers think he will be. With some big money in his back pocket in the coming years, Kunitz will be relied upon to be that guy who puts some the numbers on a consistent basis and not the surprise breakout guy who is only making a young player maximum.

Also getting an extension on Monday, defenseman Brett Clark added two more seasons to his current deal, which was also to run out at the end of the season. Clark played in all 82 games last season, racked up 10 goals and 39 points and was a very popular selection on last season's pool sheet. It won't be any secret that the Avalanche will lean on him just a bit more this season as he's solidified the number two job on the Avs blueline. He should be another solid pick in this season's pool, probably both on the sheet and for the lucky team who picks him in the draft.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Eagle Flies to Europe

Well, the writing was on the wall last week, but it was made official this morning. The NHL will be without Ed Belfour as he signed in Sweden finally. That isn't to say that any NHL would sign him this season, but it's pretty much guaranteed now. Between stops in Toronto and Florida, he was really starting to lose both his lustre and his sanity. A nightclub incident in the summer was a black mark against his name. Since most teams have moved to a younger crease (except for Detroit), goalies like Belfour and Curtis Joseph are becoming names of the not-so-distant past that are not going to revive a career at their ages. This the end of an era in the NHL, which was bound to happen one of these years. It's hard to tell who's actually gonna miss these names, especially when there are such great goalies coming up the ranks.

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The Canada/Russia SuperSeries

Well, I'm not going to lie to ya. I am eagerly anticipating this series. Sure, I wasn't around in 1972... but I love junior hockey and of course, the Canada/Russia rivalry is synonymous with excellent hockey.

There are lot of players going into this tournament who are going to be big deals when it comes to future hockey pools and if some NHL teams continue their streak of giving young talent an early start in the league, we may see some names kickin' about in the coming season.

Between the two teams, the rosters will comprise of players between three draft classes... 2006, this past summer's 2007 and next summer's 2008 class. The 2006 class look to be full of names who may find an impact on their NHL team sooner rather than later.

Monday's starter for Canada, Steve Mason, will shine for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the coming years. Mason has a great chance to show off his OHL record-breaking skills on an international stage. In Columbus, the goaltending situation could have an open spot for a kid like Mason. With only Norrena and Leclaire to really tend the nets, Columbus could use a guy who can take on a steady job.

Jonathan Bernier will probably get a shot in net for the Canadians at a point or two and he should also get some serious consideration to step into the Los Angeles Kings starting rotation through camp as well. Bernier, who was amazing in net for Lewiston in the Memorial Cup tournament, has a contract to play for the Kings for the next few seasons.

Calgary is going to need a backup to Kiprusoff this season and although there are a couple good candidates coming to camp, Leland Irving might get a good look after this tournament. Darryl might have his brother give Irving a good test for scouting his ability, which he is expected to do well in. It's pretty exciting to see the goaltending situation for Team Canada.

There's only one Russian prospect drafted by an NHL team, Semen Varlamov. The Washington Capitals made him a 2nd round selection in 2006 and he has signed a deal with the Caps this summer. He'll get a great look as he'll probably take the reigns for most of the games. With Kolzig still in the hot seat in Washington, at least management knows they have a ringer in Varlamov.

The next place you want to look for your future pool talent is up front. The Canadians have a boatload of drafted talent, moreso than the Russians, because of the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. That isn't to say the Russians don't have drafted talent, because they do.

The Boston Bruins dominate the numbers of Canadian forwards with three players taking part. Zach Hamill, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand are all Bruin draft picks and all have their own individual talents that will make them useful in the series. Hamill and Lucic will probably be your best bets for pool-worthy kids in the future, but they probably won't jump right away.

For the Russians, the Rangers have the two most offensive forwards signed on to their system. Alexei Cherepanov and Artem Anisimov could be the most gifted Russians on the ice through this series and the Rangers drafted them quite high in their respective years. Cherepanov is quite possibly the highest touted player for the Russians and it will be interesting to see if he does the business against Canada.

On the blueline, both teams have lots of talent, but it's Canada again have more talent drafted than the Russians, but that isn't to say that the Russians won't be under-manned in this series.

The Capitals have a pair of blueliners on the Canadian team, including the only returning defenseman from the last World Junior tourney, Karl Alzner. Alzer is joined by Josh Godfrey, both will bring great elements to the Caps, who are in need of some help on the back end, since they're already stacking up in the offensive end.

The two drafted Russian defensemen were both apart of the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL last season and both New Jersey and Dallas have them signed on. Kiril Tulupov and Ivan Vishnevsky are both big talents and they should both be in the running for a number six spot for their teams.

This series and the World Junior tourney is usually a great indicator of up and coming talent, which is why the Opiated Sherpa is always a big fan. It gives ya a leg up on a few names if you'd care to remember.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pool Worthy Restricted Free Agents

In a mock draft conducted (30 teams, 14 players, points from last season), There were only three Restricted Free Agents left on the list of the 420 players chosen. Now, that isn't to say that they'd actually be taken in the real draft, especially with all the young names popping up, but have a look for yourself. Going into the final weeks before training camp, you might see someone you'd have a little higher on your list than some other people. A little bit of "Buyer Beware" from the Opiated Sherpa.

Jussi Jokinen, F
Jokinen remains unsigned with only a couple weeks left to go before camp opens. Opting not to go to arbitration surely helps his standing with the club. He finished last season with 48 points in all 82 games and that ranked him 159th in pool rankings. His pay range should be in the $1.2 - $1.9 million range. The Stars have plenty of room to move, which also gives some hope to Jokinen, who was a marvel in the shootouts in his first two seasons with the team. In a mock draft, he was taken in the 6th round and I would imagine he'd finish around there come September 20th.

Keith Ballard, D
Taken in the 11th round of the mock draft, Keith Ballard is still without a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. Every indication is that he is working out a long-term deal with the club. With a couple of immediate comparisons to last season's numbers, Barret Jackman, who is making $2.2 million, should be in the ballpark for when Ballard talks numbers. Of course, the Coyotes have all sorts of cap room, so no one should really panic.

Mark Giordano, D
The Flames are still in need of signing one more defenseman. Mark Giordano was a final round pick, who wouldn't necessarily be picked in the pool if we weren't in Calgary. Giordano only managed 15 points last season, but when you get that deep into defensemen, you might want to gamble on a young defenseman. The Flames already have six solid defensemen signed to deals, so there isn't much of a rush for the team to sign the young defender.

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Lightning Strikes Anew

There's a new look to the Tampa Bay Lightning and it was unveiled on Saturday. Another team who makes the change concurrent to the new RBK Edge jerseys that were also unveiled with the new logo. The Lightning's new look should fit well with the new talent that joins the big names already present.

Vaclav ProspalVincent LecavalierMartin St. Louis
Ryan Craig
Brad RichardsMichel Ouellet
Andreas KarlssonChris GrattonJason Ward
Andre RoyTim TaylorNick Tarnasky
Dan BoyleFilip Kuba
Paul RangerShane O'Brien
Brad LukowichDoug Janik
Johan Holmqvist
Marc Denis

The only real difference between this team update and the last one is that Ryan Craig settled his arbitration hearing back at the beginning of the month. The Lightning are still only sitting under $44 million for the coming season... much more relieved than the salary crunch when both Lecavalier and St. Louis signed.

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Sullivan Out Until December

In what could be the best pick-up in a mid-season waiver draft, Steve Sullivan will now be on the shelf until December after undergoing a second back surgery over the summer. Sullivan only played 57 games last season for the Predators, scoring 60 points. His betther-than a point a game average may come in handy for a team mired in the basement.

This move will also give some lucky forward a little bit more ice-time down the stretch and give the Predators almost half of Sullivan's salary to play with in this off-season, not that they actually needed it. The Predators will actually still have to sign some talent, as they still sit below the cap minimum of $34 million.

J-P DumontDavid Legwand
Martin Erat
Jason ArnottRadek Bonk
Alexander Radulov
Jared SmithsonJed Ortmeyer
Martin Gelinas
Darcy HordichukVern Fiddler
Scott Nichol

Steve SullivanJordan Tootoo
Shea WeberMarek Zidlicky
Ryan SuterDan Hamhuis
Greg de Vries
Cody Franson
Chris Mason
Pekka Rinne

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Draft Day Date Announced

September 20, 2007
6pm @ Limerick's Pub

I have made reservations at the pub for Thursday, September 20th, in the closed function room at Limerick's. There we will choose our teams of 14 players (8 forwards, 4 defensemen and 2 goalies). Hopefully, we'll have 30 teams ready to make their choices at $50 a head... which will have a prize pot at around $1,500.

The season gets started on September 29th with the Ducks and Kings in London, England, participating in the NHL Premiere. These will be the first two regular season games played outside of North America and the first opportunity for teams to pick up points.

And then on October 3rd, the rest of the regular season begins with four games. It should be an excellent start to the season.

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