Written on July 22nd, 2013 by Niles Pender NHL Comments
By Niles Pender: Common wisdom suggests that you cannot build a championship team by signing free agents each year. While that may be true, it never hurts to bolster your depth or find that missing piece through free agency. If you happen to re-sign your own player, that is a bonus for the franchise.
1) Danny Briere, Montreal Canadiens (Two years, $8 million)
Briere signed a two-year deal with Montreal for a total of $8 million. This is a good deal for both sides. Montreal gets arguably one of the best players when healthy. Briere gets a chance to prove that he still has something left at the age of 35. If he avoids the injury bug, he could be the player that helps them the most come playoff time.
2) Nathan Horton, Columbus Blue Jackets (Seven years, $31.7 million)
The Blue Jackets are a franchise that has taken a sudden leap toward respectability. Throughout its existence, Columbus has been mostly a losing team that lacked an identity or any talented players. This past season, they rode Sergei Bobrovski to a hot finish that almost saw the Blue Jackets make the playoffs for only the second time in team history. Adding Horton makes sense because he is a big guy who knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.
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Written on July 7th, 2013 by Rick LaFitte NHL Comments
Chicago Blackhawks beat Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup 2013
By Rick LaFitte: Well, it’s certainly been interesting. What was that lockout for again? The NHL followed a lockout shortened 48 game regular season campaign with an exciting post-season that featured a standout Original 6 Stanley Cup final where the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Boston Bruins in 6 games. Since then there’s been the draft, which produced some surprises, including Cory Schneider and NOT Roberto Luongo being the goaltender traded out of Vancouver, followed by multi-million dollar team compliance buyouts for bad contracts (see the New York Islanders Rick DiPietro!), and multi-million dollar free agent signings.
In a free agent crop that wasn’t seen as terribly deep this time around, the big winners financially were power forwards. Teams, after seeing how players like Chicago’s Bryan Bickell and Boston’s Milan Lucic performed in the playoffs; decided this was the direction to go. Hence, we witnessed David Clarkson signing with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs for 7 years, 36.25 million dollars.
While his transformation from a rugged 4th liner to a 30 goal man in New Jersey has been impressive, his rugged style of play may have the Leafs regretting the length of the deal down the road.
Clarkson, fresh off a 15 goal campaign with the Devils, drew plenty of interest and reportedly had a more lucrative offer on the table. In the end though his heart was in Toronto and with former Leaf Wendel Clark as his favorite player as a youngster, who can blame him for that?
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Written on June 8th, 2013 by Steve Cheeseman NHL Comments
By Steve Cheesman: In 2005, when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Sidney Crosby first overall in the NHL entry draft, anyone connected to the hockey world, fan, writer, or whoever assumed that the Penguins were on the verge of becoming a dynasty. Pittsburgh was comparable to Mike Bossy and the New York Islanders who won 4 straight Stanley Cups (1979-83), or the Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier led Edmonton Oilers,with 5 Stanley Cup’s in 6 years (1984-90). These were teams built on strong drafting.
Pittsburgh surrounded themselves with some of the most promising prospects seen in recent memory. The likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang. Fast forward to 2008, Pittsburgh lost to the Detroit Red Wings losing in 6 games. The following season, the start of what was supposed to be something great, as the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games.
However, over the next 3 seasons, they would find themselves an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens (2nd round), Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd round), and Philadelphia Flyers (1st round) respectively. This led management baffled and searching for a solution.
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Written on April 29th, 2013 by Niles Pender NHL Comments
As the NHL playoffs approach, the fans of the 16 participating teams will be anxiously watching every game and analyzing every play. For casual fans, playoff hockey is a great way to spend a Tuesday evening. Which teams and players should all fans be keeping an eye on as the playoffs get set to begin?
The Canadiens are the second seed in the east just a year after finishing near the bottom of the conference. However, it seems as if Montreal may have overachieved just a bit. As the season closed, they had to pull their goaltender in three straight games. That hadn’t been done in over a decade. Although they are a high seed, it will be hard to see them going far.
Toronto Maple Leafs-
The Leafs haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004. Will they be able to get over the playoff jitters to advance past the first round? Not only is all of Toronto expecting them to do well, the Boston Bruins are a tough opponent.
Washington started the season rather slowly. However, their fortunes turned when Alex Ovechkin started playing better. The only problem is that he is streaky in the playoffs. If he doesn’t continue his dominant play, it could be lights out for the Capitals after one round.
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