Summer is nearly done, and the doldrums around the NHL that come with August are almost at an end. Almost, of course, being the operative phrase, so the round-up is mostly bereft of serious news, but we can muddle on anyway. This week, a Flame prospect opens up regarding his season of uncertainty, a few vets sign for peanuts, and the league looks at potential rule adjustments.
Nothing to see here, as the club’s playing personnel is in stasis, although they did make a move in the front office, adding Michel Goulet to the staff. The former Nord great has moved from the Avalanche to a scouting position with the Flames, so we’ll see if that club’s ability to find incredibly lucky players transfers north.
The one must-read of the weekend is Vicki Hall’s piece in the Herald. She chronicles Matt Pelech’s battle with a blood clot, including his decision to shun going under the knife to have a rib removed.
Fernando Pisani’s career as a local hero in Stinktown ended quietly this week, with the winger taking a 500k deal that will see him move to Chicago this season. Lain Babcook’s appreciation of the Oiler mainstay is here, and as cheap forwards go, the Hawks could have done worse. If he’s healthy for 60 games, it’s a good signing.
The Penguins made an odd sort of move in adding Aaron Asham to their lineup on a one way, 700k deal. He’s certainly not the worst semi-tough guy out there, and it’s highly likely that he’s a better bet for the extra 100k than Raitis Ivanins, but it’s just a slightly unusual move given the team’s perceived needs. Then again, their whole summer’s been a bit strange from my perspective. They were short a winger or two last year, and chose to spend virtually every worthwhile dollar they had to spare on two very nice defencemen. I’m as big a booster of Zbynek Michalek as there is, and Paul Martin’s a good player, but I have the sense that the 9M could have been rationed more efficiently. Maybe they really do plan on playing Geno as a winger?
Vinny Lecavalier will head to the chop shop later this week, with the pivot expected to be hale in time for camp. He’ll be joined in Tampa by another of Steve Yzerman’s cheap finds, as the Lightning signed Sean Bergenheim earlier in the week. Tampa’s bottom six wasn’t very good last year, and inking Bergenheim isn’t a bad move for the price.
The league held its R and D summit this week in Toronto, with experimental rules covering faceoffs, overtime, and icing at the forefront. The long change in overtime is an interesting idea to me, because the clear intent is to increase scoring chances via a bad line change. When it comes down to cases, I don’t really care how many total goals are scored in a game, as long as the action is continuous and the Flames have one more at the end. I’m also of the age that I spent perfectly good money watching hockey in the 80’s, and more goals ≠ better hockey. There were more than a few defencemen in that era that had the turning radius of a battleship, so skilled forwards had their way more nights than not. That sort of stuff’s been done for at least a decade and a half, and goalies are dramatically better as well, so the league is in a spot where thinks it needs a few tricks to spice up the game. Tricks never last, IMO, but as I mentioned, the OT idea is intriguing.
Over at PPP, when they weren’t having a bunfight with Sun Media over ethics, ’67 Sound examined the make-up of Brian Burke’s Cup champion Duck team in a search for clues as to how the Leafs might be built. "Draft Ryan Getzlaf and have Chris Pronger beg out of his current home town" doesn’t really seem like a strategy easily replicated, but the idea that a team needs 10 forwards that can handle top-nine minutes is one that I’ve advocated for a while now, and the cheapness of depth players could make this easier if a team had a bit of cap space. If Langkow is healthy, the Flames might already be at the "10 for 9" level, but if there was ever a summer where teams could find a fully functional bottom six for pennies on the dollar, it’s this summer.
That’s all for this time. Have a good week.