Another lovely week of summer has passed. Ah, sorry, I keep forgetting that many of you live in Calgary, where you’re merely on your 4th or 5th iteration of spring before fall shows up in a few weeks. Apologies. At any rate, there was actual news of sorts this week, so we’ll look at the Kovy shenanigans, Simon Gagne’s move to the Gulf Coast, and the Preds’ attempt to put Boots in the rear view mirror.
Matt Pelech signed on for another season, with the big D inking for one year at 600k. My sense as I tried to follow him last year was that he was playing very well when he got hurt, and to his credit came back for the playoffs at a high level. If the choice comes down to Staios or Pelech, the better choice might be the younger man, and not just because he’s cheaper. The Flames also signed Brett Sutter and J.D. Watt, leaving exactly one RFA without a deal. Admittedly, that one player might be a bit tougher to finalize a deal with.
Jay Feaster’s media availability has been highlighted elsewhere, but I did, like Kent, shake my head at his conception of what makes a team go. Forwards drive the bus, and you might think that a guy who won a Cup with quality forward depth covering for some pretty average defenders and goalies might get that premise. Oh, well. He did note to the Herald that he saw part of his job as interpreter for the club’s decision making process, and in that role I certainly wish him good luck. He’ll need it.
Oh, Kovy. Well, the league finally decided to draw its line in the sand, nixing the 17 year deal that the Devils offered Ilya Kovalchuk. It would probably behoove the NHLPA to go to the mattresses on this, because acting as if this deal is somehow more in violation than the Luongo or Hossa deals is really about differences in degree only. All of them, including Kipper’s deal, frankly, have one purpose in mind, but that purpose isn’t explicitly excluded in the CBA. An arbitration would be pretty damned interesting, although the absence of a system arbitrator might delay proceedings to the point that the PA will pass in order to afford Kovalchuk another chance at a deal before the summer ends.
What has also been really interesting to me in all this has been the reaction by Loophole Lou to the failure of the deal to pass muster. This is dime-store long-distance psychoanalysis at its crappiest, but the phrase "passive-aggressive" just keeps running through my mind when I consider Lamoriello’s public statements in regards to all the aspects of the deal, including the desire of the Devils’ ownership to push on in the face of almost certain NHL rejection.
Kovalchuk’s status being in limbo has also lead to one of the jilted suitors hinting that they might like to get back in on a deal if the New Jersey contract is officially scuppered. Dean Lombardi made his interest public on Tuesday, and I don’t doubt that if the NJ contract finally takes a bullet, the Kings would try to resume negotiations.
In deals that the league didn’t kill, Simon Gagne was sent away to Tampa as Philadelphia moved the forward to clear enough space so that they might ice a roster in legal fashion this fall. The price for his services was pretty low, and that just reinforces my view that remaking your team is really only feasible in the off-season. Most teams have financial flexibility, and more importantly, aren’t in the middle of a playoff chase. This deal certainly would never have occurred in March. Steve Yzerman’s had a decent summer thus far. It has come mostly at Paul Holmgren’s expense, of course, but it’s still been good for an alleged novice.
Kent Wilson has a look at Anton Stralman’s upcoming arbitration over at his other place, or one of his other places, if you will. If Columbus were to walk from a 2 million dollar award, I’m not certain what sort of deal he could find on the open market. Dollars seem tight right now, and the Jackets are a team that has lost a pile of money over the last few seasons. He’s a pretty decent player, though, and right-shooting PP guys are a commodity not unlike lefty pitchers in baseball.
In semi-related news, the Thrashers bailed on Clarke MacArthur’s 2.4 million dollar award, leaving the 25 year old winger unrestricted. I think Atlanta actually did exactly the right thing. MacArthur’s underlying numbers are pretty blah, and to be quite honest (and not in the Darryl Sutter sense), I have a hard time seeing how he was as good as Nigel Dawes last year, or Joel Ward, or Curtis Glencross, just to name a few examples. None of those guys are getting that sort of cheese. His skills can be replaced for cheaper, IMO.
Off-ice, the Oilers had a couple of items of interest this week. The Khabibulin trial has been delayed until late September, which might well put the goaltender’s attendance in training camp in question. I’d wager that even another winter in Edmonton is better than hanging out with Sheriff Joe. Actually, having lived in both Edmonton and Winnipeg, I’m certain that winter in either place beats green bologna at the tent city.
Darryl Katz spent a bit of time yesterday in front of Edmonton City Council charming the assorted pols. I’ll just ask again; if Winnipeg got Mark Chipman and David Thomson, the primary movers behind True North, to ante up 70 percent of the cost for a building here, why can’t Edmonton manage at least the same concessions from Katz? Winnipeg’s supposedly some sort of socialist hovel compared to Alberta, and yet here, private enterprise took the lead. True North has also made a nice pile in the process, so I’m not really buying "risk" as a good reason for the city being expected to carry most of the debt. Andy Grabia, a long time arena dissenter, has started a cheekily named new website to track the process, and don’t think for one second that whatever happens in Edmonton won’t be replayed 180 miles down Highway 2. I have no problem at all with public works, but my world-view is that those works should also be of primarily public benefit if they’re to be funded primarily via public funding and not merely a cash cow for private enterprise. Preposterous, I know.
Finally, the Preds’ ownership has scraped the bottom of the coin jars to assemble the cash required to buy Boots Del Biaggio’s ill-gotten piece of the franchise. 15 million for 27% seems like a good deal, even for a franchise that’s worth a lot less in Tennessee than it would be in Hamilton or Winnipeg. That price, plus the cheap-ish price Jeff Vinik paid for the Lightning suggests to me that franchise valuations are starting to slide in a few U.S. markets. Given that one of the primary, if often muted, reasons for the lock-out in ’04 was to protect the owners’ investments via cost certainty, I’d be a lot more worried about a lock-out in 2012 if that trend continues than anything that Don Fehr might cook up.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy your weekend.