The round-up is back for another week, and there will only be one more edition before training camp begins, thank Jeebus. I’m as tired of writing about off-season stuff as you are of reading about it, I’m certain, so let’s get through this time around and move on, shall we? In this installment, various Flames return to the ice, the interminable Kovy nonsense ends with a few new rules in its wake, and next year’s escrow number is mooted.
The boys of winter have started semi-formal work over the last week, and among the participants was one Daymond Langkow. I think it’s fair to say that Kent, Pat, and myself have expended a fair bit of energy in our attempts to explain why he’s a useful guy to have around, but irrespective of your feelings about his value, I suspect everyone would be happy to see him skating. 22 noted that he was likely a couple of weeks away from being cleared for contact drills, which would be just in time for the main camp, but priority one is insuring he’s fully healed. Even if DL missed a week or two to start, it would beat the hell out of what the scenario looked like in early July. If he’s good by the opener, that’s just a bonus.
We’ve begun to see more season previews, and Wysh’s review of the Flames dropped yesterday. Giant Gonzalez, huh. Better than Puppy Dog Peloquin, I guess. I’m not quite as pessimistic about the club as others, and I suspect that at least one playoff squad from last year will have a slight return to earth, so I’d be inclined to make a small wager that the Flames will outdo Puck Daddy’s projection, if I were a wagering sort.
Finally, the summer’s lamest story has staggered over the finish line. The interesting part about the aftermath of Kovy, part deux is the change in rules governing future long term deals under this CBA. Those standards are likely to be the starting point for the league’s position come the next round of bargaining, so the deals that were given the all-clear this week might be the last ones of their ilk. Now all Lou needs to do is move a few million in payroll to get the Devils in compliance. Bryce Salvador might want to explore the Albany rental market, if you catch my drift.
In Montreal, the Habs’ former goalie decided to have a last visit amongst the faithful, drawing 5,000
escaped mental patients Canadiens’ fans to a charity meet and greet at an area shopping mall. His erstwhile competitor will, as a few folks have pointed out, have to make do with drawing a crowd of 20,000 people calling for his head soon enough. Oh, and 5.5 million fish over the next two years. Lions in Winter has more on the deal here.
Carey Price might have a deal, but a few of his RFA brethren are still waiting to come to terms. Dallas still has a couple of players unsecured, with James Neal the primary man of interest for Stars’ fans. Brad Gardner offers his examination of the 23 year old forward, and surprise, he’s found wanting defensively, just like most young players. ‘Twas ever thus, as Gabe Desjardins’ former roomy so wisely noted. Matt Niskanen is also unaccounted for at the moment, but Jonathan Cheechoo will get a chance of sorts to revive his career in Dallas, as the Stars have given him a tryout offer. If his skating is still off from his peak seasons, he might end up mentoring the Stars’ prospects down in Austin. There are worse places to spend a winter, believe me.
Neal’s contemporary in Anaheim, Bobby Ryan, is attempting to get his own negotiations untracked, as the winger resumed talks with Duck management this week. He operates on a higher plane than Neal, and his asking price (allegedly 5M a season or more) certainly is higher. I’m not sure he’s worth that much this quickly, though. He was an out-shooter against pretty good comp, but his ZS was third easiest among regular Duck forwards last year. 30-plus goal scorers like Ryan don’t just fall out of trees, but Getzlaf is getting just over 5M a year on a deal that was signed at a similar point in his career, and Bobby Ryan isn’t quite at that level yet.
One youngster who has a deal done is Colorado’s Chris Stewart, who agreed to a two year contract at just under 3M per last week. He certainly benefited from a dose of good fortune at EV last year, with the ‘Lanche shooting 12.3% when he was on the ice. If he scored 20 goals and was a minus player next season, well, Blaine Rutland theory, etc, etc. Again, we’re seeing a situation where a guy gets paid for one nice year that rode the percentages to an extent.
A couple of older gents got their tickets punched this week as well. Mike Comrie took time from his busy schedule of being a very lucky man to ink a one year deal at the league minimum in Pittsburgh. Hopefully Hilary doesn’t end up feeling the same way about the Iron City as Sienna Miller. It’s likely a good move for Comrie, though I can’t see him playing that well against top-six comp, even with Sid as his center.
Fredrik Modin also has a home as of Sunday, signing an 800k deal with the Thrashers. He had a pretty decent playoff with the Kings, but he hasn’t been the healthiest guy the last few years, so there is a small risk in taking him on. Atlanta still hasn’t got Nik Bergfors under contract as of yet, so Modin’s presence might act as insurance as much as anything else.
Finally this week, near the end of his Sunday notes, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe informs us that players have been advised that the initial escrow hold on their salaries for this year might be in the range of 18%. No surprise, I guess. There are still more teams near the cap than the floor, so unless the league can gin up a lot more revenue, the players are in the same fix as they have been for a couple of seasons.
That’s all for this week. As always, if you see anything of note, feel free to add a link in comments.