Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Minutes

It's August, which notoriously is the slowest month in hockey news. But on the 21st anniversary of the biggest trade in hockey history, there is still much to be discussed. The daily internet Kaberle rumors, the many remaining free agents, and oh yeah, there was news about that Kovalchuk guy this evening. Hockeysureshot discusses the latest NHL rumblings:

In our opinion Lee Stempniak, Willie Mitchell, and Antti Niemi are the best available free agents at their positions not named Kovalchuk. One internet report surfaced this morning that Stempniak is mulling over an offer from the NY Islanders, but is waiting to hear from another team. Sounds really anxious to be on Long Island doesn't he? If he decides on the Islanders, it gives them a very strong group of forwards led by John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.

Willie Mitchell is still trying to prove to the league that he is healthy, and all indications are is that he is ready to play. Whoever gets his services is making a smart move. Mitchell is the type of player that will play on one leg or block a shot with his face. He would look great in a Kings jersey since they lost Matt Greene for a few months.

Unfortunately for Niemi, the goalie market is really dry right now. The logical NHL destination seems to be the San Jose Sharks. Does San Jose really think Antero Nittymaki or Tomas Greiss will take them to the promised land? I hear lot's about AHL goalie Alex Stalock, but it's still not certain the 23-year old is ready for the NHL. It wouldn't be a surprise if he lands in Russia or in his native Finland next season.

So far this offseason I love what the St.Louis Blues have done. By acquiring Jaroslav Halak in goal, and in addition to all the young talent the Blues have, pencil them in for a playoff spot. Give kudos to Tampa Bay this summer for nabbing Simon Gagne for nearly nothing and dumping the huge contract of Andrej Meszaros on the Flyers. Believe it or not, Glen Sather and the Rangers did not have a terrible summer. Sather didn't overspend as he usually does on July 1st. He somehow found a suitor for Donald Brashear, and signed Alex Frolov for a reasonable deal. Next up is resigning Marc Staal.

I hate to say it but once again the Buffalo Sabres inactivity may cost them. The northeast division suddenly got much better and the Sabres as usual stood pat. Even with Ryan Miller, it will be difficult for the Sabres to crack the top eight in a much more competitive Eastern Conference.

It's very quiet on the Toronto Maple Leafs front, which makes me think the offers for Tomas Kaberle are not nearly what Brian Burke is looking for. My guess is he stays in TO this season. We will still be hearing about him on a daily basis and Leaf fans will be uttering trade proposals that do not make sense at all for the other team.

Are the Ducks trying to win the 2007 Stanley Cup again? After re-signing the 40-year old Teemu Selanne, the Ducks are rumored to be close to signing former Duck, Paul Kariya, who is 35.

Finally, with the news that arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld Ilya Kovalchuk's recent contract with the Devils, agreeing with the NHL that it circumvented the salary cap is a big victory for Gary Bettman. The league needed to step in and avoid teams from front loading the salary cap structure and having players signed when they are in their forties. Hopefully, Kovalchuk will get a contract signed soon so we will not have to hear more false rumors. It appears that the Devils and the Kovalchuk camp have begun negotiating once again. However, this saga has been bizarre from day one, and would it surprise anyone if a new team came to the forefront or if he signed a deal with the KHL? Stay tuned.