Sunday, September 03, 2006

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Friday, August 11, 2006

The YoungBlood

This week the Hurricanes held their annual strength and conditioning camp for prospects. The following attended:

Newly signed:
Brett Carson
J.D. Forrest
Mike Angelidis
Justin Peters

Recently Drafted:
Joe Barnes
Nicolas Blanchard
Stefan Chaput
Bobby Hughes
Justin Krueger
Harrison Reed

None of these guys has much a chance to make the big club this year, but at least they have a chance to get their feet wet and learn conditioning techniques from the zen Master himself, Pete Friesen. We'll see who makes it back to training camp next month.

Last night I was reading an interesting article posted by the Prince of Pucks, Spector from Fox Sports about some of the remaining unsigned free agents. Let's take a look at the list and my opinions about them:

Jason Allison: Good powerplay guy who averages about a point a game played. Still has injury issues which limits his earnings potential. Too many question marks about speed and defensive liabilities during 5 on 5 play. My guess, he gets a 1 year contract somewhere in the west at 1 to 1.5 million.

Peter Bondra: I just can't see this guy ending up anywhere but Washington, but I thought the same thing last year. I predict he gets a 1 year deal at 1 million with the Caps.

Anson Carter: This guy thinks he's worth 3 million per year over multiple years. Obviously that is not the case since he hasn't signed anywhere yet. I look for him to sign for 1 year at 2.5 million or 2 years for 4-4.5 million. My guess would be Detroit or the Leafs. (same as Spector noted)

Radek Dvorak: Who knows and who cares?

Mike Dunham: Many qustion his health and if he doesn't pass a physical clearing him to play, his NHL days are over. If he does pass I guess he will end up on the Island at minimal pay.

Sean Hill: This ex-Cane had a very good year 3 years ago, his last with us. As expected though he bombed in Florida and was bought out earlier this year. I'd like to see him play again and wouldn't cry about it if the Canes picked him up at the league minimum. (At least I could get my Hill sweater out of the closet again). Can he keep up in the new NHL? It looks as though there are more doubters than believers out there.

Greg Johnson: Not sure why no one has signed him yet. Decent 2 way player. Will fill in a roster somewhere.

Viktor Kozlov: The Prince thinks his days in the NHL are over and I won't disagree.

Brian Leetch: Obviously Brian wanted more money than the market dictated for the past month. He'll have to make a decision, play for less than he originally wanted, or retire. Would be cool if he finished his career with the Rangers. Do they want him?

Owen Nolan: This guy is a mystery. Is he healthy yet? Is he allowed to play during this dispute he has going on with the Leafs? I don't think anyone knows what's happening with this dude.

Yanic Perreault: Anyone need a good faceoff guy? Other than that you might be asking too much although he did have 22 goals last year. Maybe he's asking for too much money?

Dick Tarnstrom: I'm surprised he didn't resign with the Oil.

In my opinion, the longer these guys wait to sign, the more their value drops. By time September rolls around, they better have a home or chances are they will end up homeless.

Bad Company

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Progressive Blues Experiment

Earlier tonight it was announced that the St Louis Blues signed outcast goalie Manny Legace to a one year deal for a little over a million and change. Yes, this is the same goalie who just last year had a record of 37 wins 8 losses and 3 ties. The same goalie who has a lifetime GAA of 2.21 and save percentage of .920. Not too shabby! The Red Wings tossed him away like trash after his disappointing playoffs performance and no other team appeared to show serious interest. The Blues certainly got him at good value and this is an excellent choice for Manny. Now he gets to face his old teammates 8 times and has a great chance for some payback. And you know what they say about payback!! Kudos to Manny for not shying away from facing the Central Division and his old team.

Speaking of the Blues, is this an interesting team or what? The first line shapes up to be the old team USA back from the grave! Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, and Bill Guerin have all seen better days, but Weight can still pass and make plays, Tkachuk can still plant that big ass in front of the net, and Guerin has always had a great shot, period. These guys might be the slowest line in hockey, but I guarantee you they will score points. They have a bunch of youngsters who were just starting to gell at the end of last year. With Brewer and McKee playing serious minutes on D and Manny in goal, this team should be much improved from last year. So much improved, it might be worth taking a look at their odds of winning the Cup next year.

Let's take a look at the updated odds for everyone as of tonight.

Detroit 6-1
Ottawa 7-1
Carolina 10-1
Anaheim 12-1

Buffalo 12-1
Calgary 12-1
New Jersey 12-1
Philadelphia 12-1
Dallas 15-1
San Jose 15-1
Colorado 20-1
Nashville 20-1
NY Rangers 18-1
Vancouver 20-1
Tampa Bay 25-1
Atlanta 30-1
Edmonton 28-1
Florida 30-1
Montreal 30-1
Toronto 38-1
Columbus 40-1
Boston 45-1
Los Angeles 50-1
Minnesota 45-1
NY Islanders 50-1
Phoenix 50-1
Pittsburgh 85-1
St Louis 85-1
Chicago 100-1
Washington 100-1

The Blues odds have dropped from 100-1 to 85-1 already. I bet those odds drop even more fairly soon. Out of the big longshots, I like the Pens and the Blues more than I like the Hawks and Caps. A 10 dollar bet isn't a bad bet on either team at 85-1, just for the heck of it. I'm not saying I expect either of those teams to win, but I wasn't expecting that the Canes would win last year at this time when they were 100-1 to win the Cup.

Notice the Canes are at 10-1, more of a favorite than the 12-1 last month. Funny how times
have changed in one year! Detroit is still the overall favorite at 6-1. I don't get that one.

Johnny Winter

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vacation, (all I ever wanted)

I'm back from vacation and my regular visit to the great white north. Only problem was that the north was just as hot and muggy as the south! It's always nice to visit back home, but I much prefer living here in North Carolina.

While I was gone, Hurricanes bandwagon jumper Kid Rock tied the knot recently with on again, off again lover Pamela Anderson. Sometimes I wonder about these Hollywood types. Could Pam be looking for some publicity since her ex, Tommy Lee is on TV twice a week with his hit show, Rockstar-Supernova? (love that show). I wouldn't exactly call theirs a "white wedding" like Cam's and Cody's, but I do wish them the best of luck. They will probably need it. We see the lovely couple above. Maybe we will see Pam join Kid in the owner's box this coming year? As long as he wears his Carolina Redneck Hockey tshirt, Kid Rock is always welcome!

It doesn't seem I missed much activity from the Hurricanes. We made a couple more 2-way signings most likely for Albany, ex-Canes Jesse Boulerice and Ryan Bayda. There were interesting signings around the league, especially by the Wings as they signed another ex-Cane Danny Markov and Mr Groin himself, the aging Dom Hasek. The Wings could be in serious trouble in net this year since they are depending upon 2 guys who are on the other side of being in the prime of their careers. (to put it nicely) Although I guess they can always make a trade once the season starts if necessary. But I will bet right now they will have to make a serious upgrade in goal in order to keep up with Nashville. The Preds look to take charge of the weak Central Division, in my opinion.

Speaking of goalies and the Red Wings, what's the story about Manny Legace? Doesn't anyone in the league want this guy? Personally he's not a favorite of mine, I don't like his attitude, but the guy can play. I'm really surprised a team hasn't grabbed him by now.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

White Wedding...

Congratulations to Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward and his lovely bride, Cody Campbell who tied the knot this weekend on July 22nd. Cam is living the dream this summer, no doubt about that! On top of all the public appearances, planning his wedding, and attending award ceremonies, he still made the time to coach a goalie camp in Red Deer that he had committed to earlier in the year. Best of luck to the happy couple and we are all looking forward to seeing you back in Raleigh real soon! Here is a picture of the couple taken during the Cup parade last month.

Billy Idol

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Hurricanes acquired several depth players this past week. A few of them will be called upon to help out during the injury bug which all teams fall prey to and could be somewhat significant signings. Shane Willis and Derrick Walser will be borderline type players who will probably make the shuffle from Albany to Raleigh and back a few times. They undoubtedly will be asking Coach Laviolette at some point in the season, should I stay or should I go now? Both were signed 2-way contracts which mean they make the big bucks while they stay in the NHL, (NHL minimum) but will make AHL salary while they aren't in Raleigh. The good news for them is that their designated AHL salary is significant for that standard, over 100K per year. Both will get 150K guaranteed, also somewhat high and unusual for that type of player.

Tim Conboy, Mike Angelidis, and Scott Kelman were also signed. These three also signed 2 way deals, but much lower on the back end. Finally, JD Forrest from Finland was signed. He's another high scoring defenseman, as is Walser.

The most interesting signing here is that of Willis. Shane is making a home coming and was one of the Canes most popular players back when he was a rookie here in 2000-01. After suffering a couple of nasty concussions, his game dropped off and he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2002 and last year was released by them. He's back again for a 2nd try and it would be great to see him regain his old scoring form.

Albany fans should be thrilled, the Canes seem to be building the farm team from the ground up and these guys looks good on paper. Go River Rats!!


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hey Joe...

Yesterday Joe Vasicek, the Czech Condor was traded for long time Predator Scott Walker. Joe was originally drafted by the Canes in 1998 and had been with the team for 5 years. Scott is one of the original Predators acquired from Vancouver in the expansion draft and has played in the league 10 years. Both players contracts expire after this season, although Joe will be an RFA while Scott will be a UFA.

Vasicek had many good moments for the Canes and looked especially promising during the 2002 playoffs and the 2003-04 season when he led the team in scoring. This year was extremely disappointing though as he tore up his knee and only played about 20 games. The disappointment culminated during the playoffs when he understandably looked out of synch with the rest of the team and went scoreless. In my opinion, Joe will be a fine 3rd line center someday and should be good for about 20 goals and 20 assists per season. I doubt he will ever be a superstar, but he should fit in nicely with the other Czech players as a role player in Nashville if he can stay healthy.

Scott Walker is noted as being Nashville's alltime leading scorer! He's also had his fair share of injuries though. The Canes are hoping he can turn into another Matt Cullen, someone who had the injury bug and had low production in recent years, but someone who could regain their scoring touch and be a difference maker. Walker is a fast skating, hard hitter who plays a much more aggressive style than does Vasicek. He's likely to be a bit more productive for the Canes than Vasicek would have been this year because he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove and with every intention to cash in on a new contract next year.

As different as their playing styles are, the players have strikingly similar career stats. Walker has played 596 games in 10 seasons, averaging 59.6 games per year. Vasicek has played 316 in 5 years, averaging 63.2 . Walker has scored 106 goals those 10 years along with 184 assists which averages to be 10 goals and 18 assists a year. Vasicek scored 55 goals and 71 assists in his 5 years which averages 11 goals and 14 assists per year. Both score goals in 17% of the games they play in. This is one of those trades in which both teams should benefit, at least for the coming year.

Bye Joe, we wish you well!

Jimi Hendrix