August 24 2016 10:00AM
The single most common question we're hearing in regards to the Calgary Flames is "When's Johnny Gaudreau going to sign?" The second-most common question is "And for how long?"
The challenge in forecasting Gaudreau's deal is that there are a lot of different variables in play. What does the team want? What does the player want? Will their wants and needs change over the course of a long deal? What are the risks involved to each side?
After weighing as many variables as I could drum up, I'm beginning to believe that a shorter-term deal, something in the vicinity of three years, may be the best bet for everybody involved.
August 24 2016 09:18AM
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
That sound you heard this week wasn't exactly thunderous in terms of a celebratory UFA signing by the Toronto Maple Leafs -- but it did make many breathe easier, in that Jhonas Enroth stabilizes the backup goaltender position going into this transitional 2016-17 season, behind Fredrik Andersen, signing a rather perfunctory one-year, $750k contract.
This move does a lot of things for the Leafs -- they get a veteran backup, and one that looked quite good in just 13 starts last year in Los Angeles. Yes, the Kings are a pretty damn fine team to play in net for -- and last season, Jonathan Quick led all NHL goalies in starts with a whopping 68. Hey, he didn't even TOUCH Andrew Raycroft's 72 from the ill-fated 2006-07 season, so we'll always have that!
But it's the most intriguing year in a long time to watch the Maple Leafs' goaltenders -- and yet intrigue, not to mention chaos and disorder have really ruled the crease for the Leafs, really ever since the lockout.
August 23 2016 09:52PM
We all have our favorites—and some of them play for different teams. An example: Vladimir Sabotka. The former Boston Bruins forward—whose rights currently belong to the St. Louis Blues—may or may not return to North America this fall. Some Blues observers are growing tired of the dance, and suggesting the team trade the veteran. If that does come to pass, the Edmonton Oilers should be very aggressive in attempts to acquire him.
August 23 2016 02:00PM
Darryl Sutter was simultaneously one of the best and worst general managers of the Calgary Flames. During his tenure, he took the team out of the Young Guns era and into their most successful spell since the 1980s. On the other hand, he also ignored the looming spectre of old age and unsustainability and sent the team crashing into rebuild mode.
The latter is mostly due to his drafting. If he wasn't trading draft picks away ("fun" fact! Sutter only drafted in the second round twice during his eight years), he was wasting them. There's the infamous 2005 and 2006 drafts, where the best selection he made was his own son (who played all of 60 NHL games). Of the 59 players he selected, only ten have player more than 100 games, and most of those ten are depth players. TJ Brodie, Dion Phaneuf, and Mikael Backlund are pretty much his only impact picks through his whole career.
It's absolutely stunning that a man who pretty much excelled at every other aspect of his job could fail so completely at drafting. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, we can look back and say he should've picked this player and this other player instead of this guy or Matt Pelech. That criticism can apply to every GM though. If given the chance to repick, everyone would grab certain NHLers.
The more interesting, and more fun, way to judge the quality of Darryl Sutter's picks is to put someone else in the exact same spot, but without any hockey knowledge, previous experience, scouting reports, statistical data, or what have you. Someone who is equally likely to take a seventh rounder in the first round as they would take a first rounder. Someone who could use all their picks on goalies. That someone is a hat.
August 22 2016 04:48PM
People like yours truly tend to complain whenever there’s a weak spot on an NHL team’s depth chart. For actual NHL players with their eyes on moving up the lineup, though, any weak spot represents a golden opportunity.
This fall, the opportunity at right wing is one that Nail Yakupov and Jesse Puljujarvi will seek to exploit, but they won’t be the only ones. Zack Kassian’s major-league career cannot have gone the way he had planned, but he can change the narrative in a substantial way if he starts off well this season.