NHL Players in the Olympics

01/07/2010
2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic - Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

The title says it all.  This article will be no more than a comprehensive list of NHL (and some other players owned by NHL teams) players set to participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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Hopefully an End to the Kovalchuck Speculation.

01/05/2010
Atlanta Thrashers v New York Islanders

If you’ve read past work on this situation, where I’ve sited points from Canadian radio or other articles around the blogosphere, you would know that the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes keeps going.

Late last night, via twitter, conversations came up that Kovalchuck and the Thrashers have hit a point in contract talks with most speculating the drama will conclude by week’s end. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN stated in an article on Saturday that the new year would have some critical news in the Kovalchuck endeavors. Well, all signs are pointing to LeBrun’s speculation as accurate.

Supposedly Kovalchuk will sign a deal with the Thrashers worth between 8 million and 11 million per year in the range of a 10-12 years.  This signing would be great news for the  Thrashers organization and bad news for 29 other teams that hoping to acquire the Russian sniper with a tempting package.

Kovalchuck’s agent Jay Grossman and Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell met this weekend during the World Junior Hockey Championships and with the team presenting a deal to Grossman.  Now the decision rests on Kovalchuk’s shoulders.  Does he want to stay in Atlanta, a place he publicly stated he loves?  Do his his fears of relocation trump this supposed love affair?

There are still other scenarios however.

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Daily Fantasy 3 Stars 01/02/2010

01/03/2010
Washington Capitals v Atlanta Thrashers

In this section, I break down the top three fantasy hockey performers every night and cite why I chose them in particular. In addition, I will track the amount of times the players have received this honor and tally them at the end of the season. For the sake of clarity, I will be using Yahoo! standard categories (Forwards – G,A,+/-, PP, PIM, SOG; Goalies – W, GAA, SV%, SHO) and thus exclude player’s salaries.

Big night with most teams back in action following a New Years layoff.  Twelve games and 24 teams in action total.  Here are our standout fantasy stars for the evening:

THIRD STAR: Maxim Afinogenov, Atlanta Thrashers (0-0-1) –  Afinogenov contributed in a large way, helping the Thrashers stay in the game until overtime, where they eventually fell to the Islanders 6-5.  The 30-year-old and first-year Thrasher scored two and assisted on two more, including a 3rd period powerplay tally from captain Kovalchuk to tie the game at five.  In addition, Afinogenov fired three shots on net and sat two minutes in the box good enough to earn third star honors.

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December Fantasy 3 Stars

01/02/2010
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders

In this section, I break down the top three fantasy hockey performers for the month and cite why I chose them in particular. In addition, I will track the amount of times the players have received this honor and tally them at the end of the season. For the sake of clarity, I will be using Yahoo! standard categories (Forwards – G,A,+/-, PP, PIM, SOG; Goalies – W, GAA, SV%, SHO) which also excludes player salaries.

THIRD STAR: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (0-0-1) –  The 21-year-old right wing turned in an impressive and dominating month, finishing with 19 points, eight of which were goals.  The Buffalo, New York native fired a whopping 57 shots on goal over the month, tied with Ovechkin, an equally impressive feat.  His six powerplay points helped his owners as did a plus seven rating over that span.  Not know for his physical play, 20 cent even contributed four penalty minutes.  Throughout the year the former first overall stabilized his efforts becoming much more of a consistent scoring threat.  He will try to continue his scoring prowess when he represents Team USA in the Olympics this February.

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Caps, Jackets Play Lets Make a Deal

12/28/2009
Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers

The Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets officially make a deal in which Columbus sends solid left wing Jason Chimera in exchange for depth defenseman Milan Jurcina and surprisingly team captain Chris Clark

The Capitals receive probably the best player of the bunch in Chimera, who last year would have posted career highs had he stayed healthy.  The 30-year-old veteran carries a reasonable 1.875 cap hit, a fair price for a grinding wing who shows the ability to put up points.

Clark, now the former captain of the Caps, admits to being shocked he was traded.  This trade may mark the first time a first-place team traded away their captain, however it was the smart move.  The 33-year-old sported a hefty 2.633 million cap hit this year and next, something a contending team simply should not pay for considering he posted two less points than Chimera.

In Jurcina the Jackets get a warm body on the blue line, something they needed since Rostislav Klesla went down at the beginning of the month.  More importantly the Blue Jackets shake the team up, as they promised they would do.  Used mainly as a depth defenseman, Jurcina posted four helpers in 27 games while carrying a 1.375 cap hit.

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Alexander Semin Signs One Year Extension

12/27/2009
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh

As Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reports left wing turned right wing Alexander Semin signed a one year extension worth six million dollars.  Definitely a smart move to lock up a player the caliber of this young man.

Semin receives a slight raise from his reasonable five million dollar salary while avoiding either an arbitration hearing or offer sheet temptation.  The 25-year-old certainly put the production up to deserve a raise, arguably even into the 7 million dollar range.  In his last 91 games the native of Krasjonarsk posted 111 points, well over a PPG range.

What does this mean for Semin?

Earlier in the week there was speculation on Semin, amongst others, moving to Atlanta in a swap for Ilya Kovalchuk.  Although this deal seems incredibly far-fetched and unlikely, signing Semin to an extension would make him more attractive to a team receiving him.

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The Seven Million Dollar Man

12/26/2009
Rangers Sign Chris Drury And Scott Gomez

How does a team know their investment will pay off?  Better yet, What would inspire a team to devote a large percentage of their cap space to one single player? This article plans on analyzing the production from “top-tier” forwards based on a seven million dollar cap hit or higher.

As of this writing there are 14 forwards making this salary or higher, with most of these players filling the scorecard adequately.  These 14 forwards discussed are Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Alexander Ovechkin, Scott Gomez, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Lecavalier, Thomas Vanek, Dany Heatley, Chris Drury and Eric Staal.

A quick glance at this list screams Drury and Gomez as the noticeable busts.  Coming into a weak free agent year for centers the two cashed in on GM Glen Sather’s ludacris spending.  However, a deeper look into their 2009-2010 season makes other players current production look similarly as bad.

In addition, this article will identify the best of the bunch showing exactly if and why the top salaries are actually worth it.  Impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk believes his worth to be 20 percent of the current cap, an enormous 11 plus million cap hit. With his current production, not to mention countless intangibles would you consider the 27-year-old worth it?

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Kovalchuk and Ovechkin Together?

12/23/2009
Russia v Canada - Gold Medal Game

If you listened to the Team 1040 AM stream like I did, you would know new rumors around Ilya Kovalchuk continue to spread like wildfire.

The newest and latest rumors discussed are the Washington Capitals as front runners in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes.  Interestingly enough, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period says as much as Kovalchuk loves Atlanta, there are bigger issues there in hindsight.

Going back to the 1040 AM discussion, Washington as an organization boasts numerous movable assets.  Since the permanent Michael Nylander demotion, a fair amount of open cap space opened up for the club so perhaps they have both the room and assets necessary to acquire the services of Kovalchuk.

Naturally the centerpeice would have to be either Alexander Semin or Nicklas Backstrom along with another player like Eric Fehr.   Kovalchuk should claim a bounty larger than that of former teammate Marian Hossa, so there would need to be work on both sides.

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Add Marty Turco to the Trade Market?

12/22/2009
Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars

The latest live chat by Mike Heika’s Stars Blog reveals interest in Marty Turco by one team that desperately needs help between the pipes: the Philadelphia Flyers.  Turco, an impending free-agent and life-long Star, certainly would seem different outside a Dallas uniform.

As rumors swirl around a possible Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux for Ilya Kovalchuk swap, this reporter feels the Flyers really need to address their goaltending situation.  As successful as the team has been over the years, their one downfall has always been a weak goalie.  Forcing a star player, and most likely rental, to adapt in a couple of months while gutting part of the core to do so.

This year the Flyers play between the pipes struggled mightily.  Between Brian Boucher, Ray Emery and now Michael Leighton the team sports a hefty2.85 GAA and .897 SV%, certainly not statistics you would see on a Stanley Cup contender.

With rumors in Dallas leading to both Turco and Mike Ribeiro exiting the greater state of Texas, the cash strapped Stars may by default go into a full rebuild.  Beleaguered defenseman Braydon Coburn may show some interest as well as other young trade chips Mika Pyorala, David Laliberte or Darroll Powe.

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Avalanche Looking to Move a Defenseman?

12/21/2009
Edmonton Oilers v Colorado Avalanche

With Avs rumors swirling around the internet, beat writer Adrian Dater of The Denver Post puts pretty much every current rumor involving youngsters Matt Duchene or Ryan O’Reilly to shame.

So the answer to the talented twosome leaving Colorado is no.  These rumors are false. No move will be made for Ilya Kovalchuk.  No need to swap veteran underachievers with the Flyers.  Nothing.

Dater, however, does hypothesize as to what till happen once Kyle Cumiskey returns from his foot injury.  Cumiskey, a young defenseman known for his offensive prowess very well could be the odd man out.  However, a 23-year-old d-man with limited NHL experience and a lengthy injury history provides limited value in the current trade market.

That leaves two players likely on the block: Jean-Michael Liles and Ryan Wilson.  The latter an undrafted free agent who at the ripe age of 22 actually is producing at the NHL level.

Turning a free-agent signing into a need would be excellent asset management as long as the team feels the current player they see is his ceiling. His reasonable capt hit of $ 551, 667 through 2011 certainly adds remarkable value should he be shopped.

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