Sens camp should be interesting

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 · 3 comments

Even though training camp is still two months away, you really get the sense there will be some great competition for jobs at Sens training camp. Let's look at the roster including just the one way contracts(including the RFA's who when they sign will be on one ways):

Regin Spezza Alfredsson
Michalek Fisher Kovalev
Foligno Kelly Neil
Ruutu Winchester Shannon

Gonchar Kuba
Phillips Karlsson(still on entry level...but...c'mon)
Campoli Carkner
Lee

Leclaire
Elliott

(Note: Don't read into the combos. I don't know and neither does Clouston yet)

If the Sens don't make any moves regarding their one way contracts (which I doubt...move(s) have to be coming) they will have 21 NHL players in camp. Now, let's look at the kids knocking on the door:

Forward - one foot already in the door

Zack Smith: The trickle down effect of injuries to Kovalev and Michalek helped Smith get a regular role down the stretch and into the playoffs. Not too many guys in that position would insist on coming to development camp. He did. It will be tough to keep his toughness and determined play off the 4th line.

Bobby Butler: After winning the bidding war the Sens worked the Hobey Baker finalist into a couple of games towards the end of the regular season. He didn't look out of place. He will be given every opportunity to prove he belongs in the NHL right away. It's up to him.

Roman Wick: The forgotten prospect, drafted by a previous regime. Has honed his skills well in his native Switzerland the last numbers of years and earned his one year entry level contract by shining against the world's best at the Olympics in Vancouver. Bryan Murray thinks he can play in the NHL this season, we'll see if that means in early October.

Forward - Looking to make impression for call up potential

Corey Locke: Including 3 years in junior and 6 years as a pro, the former 67's superstar has led his team in scoring in 6 of the last 9 years. Including each of the last 3 on 3 different AHL teams. Will earn big money by AHL standards but wants to prove he can produce points at the next level.

Jim O'Brien: Former first round pick struggled in his first year as a pro as some are questioning his potential. With 2 years left on his entry level deal he needs make strides and at least prove he can excel in the AHL before anyone starts talking about an NHL career.

Ryan Keller: After excelling in the Finnish league the diminutive forward was one the lone bright spots in Bingo last season and saw some time with the big club. The organization thought enough of him to bring him back for a reason.

Cody Bass: Once higher on the depth chart the gritty centre seemed to fall out of favour last season (ugly +/- in Bingo). The team qualified him last month. After seeing some playoff games in 2008, Bass has to prove himself all over again in camp.

Kaspars Daugavins: Entering last year of entry level. Saw a bit of time with Ottawa but needs to show continued improvement as the prospect cupboard isn't as bare as it once was.

Erik Condra: Former Notre Dame star had his ups and downs as most do in first AHL season. Year 2 should be telling.

Colin Greening: Cornell co-captain just cutting his teeth as a pro. Like Condra last year, this season should be all about adjusting the pro game and pro sked.

David Dziurzynski: Signed as a 20 year old free agent out of the BCHL. It's a huge leap from tier 2 to the AHL, but he at least wants to show why the club went out and found him.

Defense - One foot already in the door

Jared Cowen: Came to development camp with snarl on, and did not go unnoticed. Last week G-M Bryan Murray said the club is looking for another physical d-man to fill out the blueline and opined that could very well be Cowen.

Patrick Wiercioch: After 2 years at the University Of Denver the slick puck mover is confident he can make the big club in the first camp. If his game matches his confidence, camp could be interesting.

Eric Gryba: I'll label the B.U. Captain as the "the other blueline prospect". Hasn't received as much attention as the Karlsson's, Cowen's Wiercioch's and now Rundblad's..but this big physical d-man has the potential to become a mean hard hitting S.O.B to play against. It's a stretch to say he's ready now, but he could see some NHL games later in the season.

Defense - Looking to get noticed

Derek Smith: Made his NHL debut just before the Olympics. With the aforementioned blue chippers coming into the organization, he needs to continue to develop.

Craig Schira: Looking to make strides in the AHL after getting his 1st year of pro experience under his belt.

Geoff Kinrade: Qualified by the team last week. Had a cup of coffee with the Lightning 2 years ago. Right now is seen as depth guy.

Goal:

Robin Lehner: Just turning 19, just turning pro. A rarity for a goaltender, but that's how good the 2009 2nd rounder already is. A year of playing an OHL sked in the Soo was enough. The Sens brass expect him to share time with Brodeur in Binghamton, but Bryan Murray hasn't ruled out anything happening at training camp. Will certainly generate a lot of buzz in September.

Mike Brodeur: What if he didn't come down with the flu on Martin Luther King day? Would he have continued a roll that was part of that 11 game winning streak? He proved he can excel in a pinch. Along with Lehner, Brodeur provides plenty of push for Leclaire and Elliott.

Sens arbitration hearing dates

Monday, July 12, 2010 · 0 comments

Peter Regin - Friday July 30th

Chris Campoli - Wednesday August 4th (last day of Arb hearings)

NBA vs NHL

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 · 1 comments

I took the liberty of inserting NHL players, teams, writers, broadcasters, owners, G.M.'s etc... to really illustrate how absurd NBA free agency is. I don't think anyone could even fathom the same thing going down in the NHL even if the rules of free agency were similar.

The original story can be found here:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5359255

Sidney Crosby is planning to announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on TSN Thursday night, TSN's Darren Dreger has learned through independent sources.

TSN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Dreger that representatives for Crosby contacted the network, proposing that Crosby makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.

Those sources said that Crosby's representatives requested they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the one-hour special, with the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and that TSN agreed to the proposal but had not been told what Crosby has decided.

It only makes sense that Sidney Crosby would create a show to tell his choice, that he would drag teams and fans along until the camera's red light comes on, writes TSN.ca's Bob McKenzie.

The NHL's most prized free agent opened a Twitter account on Tuesday and posted his first message on the social networking site. While he provided no information about his future plans, at least he offered something as the NHL awaits the decision on where he'll play next.

"Hello World, the Real Sid the Kid is in the Building," said the tweet on the Sidthekid feed, which by 9 p.m. ET had more than 167,000 followers.

Crosby's publicist confirmed the superstar's entrance to Twitter, a place where fellow prized free agents Jonathan Toews and Ilya Kovulchuk often post details about their public lives off the ice.

Crosby's plans still are a closely guarded secret. He visited with six teams -- the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks -- last week at his business offices in downtown Pittsburgh.

Early Wednesday, it appeared that if Crosby were to play next season with Toews and Kovulchuk, he'd do it in Chicago: Kovulchuk has decided to join Toews with the Hawks, a source with knowledge of the situation told Dreger. An announcement was expected later in the day.

TSN's Pierre Maguire also reported that Kovulchuk would join Toews in Chicago.

It was not immediately clear whether Kovulchuk would sign with Chicago outright or join the Hawks through a sign-and-trade deal. Kovulchuk could earn $125 million over six years via sign-and-trade, but only $96 million over five without it.

If Kovulchuk joins a team without doing a sign-and-trade, he will be able to sign only a five-year deal worth $96 million. He is determined not to leave that $29 million on the table, sources told Dreger.

"Either way, he's definitely going to Chicago," the source said.

There had been various reports that the New Jersey Devils were working on a sign-and-trade deal with Pittsburgh for Kovulchuk, and that Crosby tried to convince him to join the Penguins. Both Crosby and Kovulchuk were aware that such a trade was possible, and Crosby tried to recruit Kovulchuk to the Penguins several times in the past few weeks, sources told Dreger.

But Kovulchuk wanted to play with Crosby in Pittsbugh, Chicago or Florida(Miami), and told the Devils he'd accept sign-and-trades to those cities, sources told Dreger.

Unsure of Crosby's decision, The Blue Jackets have a Plan B in case he rejects their offer.

The agent for Rangers forward Marian Gaborik says the Jackets have talked to him several times since free agency began on Thursday.

An official within the league who is very close to the Jackets management team said the team would also consider going after Kings forward Anze Kopitar if Crosby rejected the offer that was presented by the ownership group(JMAC Hockey LCC) and a team that included teen mogul Justin Bieber.

Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said in a text message on Tuesday that there was nothing to report on the free-agency front.

Asked about the Jackets'options if The Kid nixes their overtures, Howson wrote:

"We will look at other options if we don't get one of the top guys."

While Crosby is the star attraction in this summer's stacked class of free agents, other players have either stayed home or found a new one. On Monday, Brad Richards agreed to a five-year deal with the Rangers and said he would continue to recruit Crosby to join him.

Regin and Campoli headed for arbitration

Monday, July 5, 2010 · 4 comments

Peter Regin has 3 more years before he can become an unrestricted free agent while Chris Campoli has 2. The Sens have the option of insisting that a 2 year contract be awarded by the arbitrator.

Regin is coming off a decent rookie season followed by a short but impressive playoff where he saw increased minutes due to the injuries to Michalek and Kovalev.

Campoli played his best hockey of the season after the Olympic break but has yet to become the player Bryan Murray thought he was getting when he traded a late first round pick to the Islanders during the 2008-09 season.

Courtesy of http://proicehockey.about.com, here is a list of what is allowed to be used during arbitration:

# The player's "overall performance" including statistics in all previous seasons.
# Injuries, illnesses and the number of games played.
# The player's length of service with the team and in the NHL.
# The player's "overall contribution" to the team's success or failure.
# The player's "special qualities of leadership or public appeal."
# The performance and salary of any player alleged to be "comparable" to the player in the dispute.

What is not allowed to be used:
# The salary and performance of a "comparable" player who signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent.
# Testimonials, video and media reports.
# The financial state of the team.
# The salary cap and the state of the team's payroll.

Based on points here are few recent com-parables for Regin:

Benoit Pouliot - 1.375m
Jay McClement - 1.450m
Dustin Boyd - .650m

Also just based on points and ice time here are a couple com-parables for Campoli:

Johnny Boychuk - 1.875m
Roman Polak - 1.1m

Happy Gonchar Day

Thursday, July 1, 2010 · 0 comments

Having just turned 36 in April, Sergei Gonchar has played 15 seasons in the NHL. Let's list the defensemen ahead of him in scoring during that time period. Nick Lidstrom, 889 points. That is all.

Gonchar's 684 points are 31 more than the recently retired Scott Niedermayer. Throw in 80 points in 118 playoff games and a Stanley Cup, and slick power play specialist will be the most accomplished defenseman to ever have the centurion emblazoned on his chest. Sens fans know all too well what he can do first hand, having gone 3-1 vs Ottawa in the playoffs in his career(you forgot the '98 Caps didn't you).

As you can tell by now, I think Sens fans should love this signing. A 5.5 million dollar cap hit for 3 seasons is a good chunk of change for a 36 year old player, but this guy's worth it. He wants to play for Russia in Sochi in 4 years, so you know he's motivated to keep his game at a high level. If you are worried about not having enough money to re-sign Chris Phillips, don't. Kovalev's 5 million comes off the books after this season, as does Ruutu's 1.3 million.

Beyond the obvious tangible impact Gonchar will have on the ice, the intangible impact of having a skilled defenseman with his experience onboard for a few years can only be positive for the likes of Karlsson, Rundblad, Cowen and Wiercioch. The 3 year term on Gonchar fits nicely as in 3 years you'd have to figure that young group has a good chance of being a large part of the core.

So with that, it was a very successful Canada Day for Bryan Murray. But, he's not done. The money says he can't be. With Winchester re-signing today the club has in the neighbourhood of 3-4 million left under the cap with Regin, Foligno and Campoli left to sign. That's gonna be tight, too tight. Moves have to be coming. Two things to consider:

1. This team potentially has too many forwards. 10 on one way deals, 2 RFA's(Regin and Foligno), and at least 3 more on 2 ways in Smith, Butler and Wick(not official yet) that you would have to say are decent threats to make the team.

2. This team has 5 defensemen on one way contracts, 1 established two way(Karlsson) plus 1 RFA (Campoli). With the likes of Cowen, Wiercioch and maybe Gryba knocking at the door come training camp, the club might want to make some room in case one of them proves to be ready for prime time.

About this blog

Welcome to my Healthy Scratches blog. You can hear Jason York and myself weekdays from 3-6 on Team 1200. I use this blog to expand upon some of the things we talk about on the show, and anything else that really pops into my ample head.
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