1. Things are about to get crazy
Now that the playoffs are over, it’s about to be the most hectic week in hockey in quite some time. Buyouts, signings, trades, the draft, and whatever front office moves get made in the next seven-plus days ahead of the July 5 free agency day are going to be insane. And then there’s free agency!
It’s been interesting to see how teams are preparing for the new, lower cap environment, because lots will have some very difficult decisions to make. In general, I think you might see a little more distribution of good-ish (if overpaid) UFAs and perhaps even difficult-to-sign RFAs throughout the league as teams scramble to get under the cap and get value at the same time. Smaller market teams might necessarily become their "choice" destinations simply because more competitive teams likely won’t have the wiggle room, and I think that’ll be interesting. It probably lends itself to the "parity" Gary Bettman is always going on about.
From talking to a couple people about it, you’re probably going to see things go absolutely bonkers a day or two before the draft as picks are more likely to be sought-after as a means of getting value on cap-clearing deals. Case in point: Elliotte Friedman reporting that Tampa is offering up a draft pick to anyone dumb enough to take on Ryan Malone’s contract, which has two years left at a $4.5M cap hit (but just $2.5M per year in terms of actual salary). No word on exactly how high, but you’d think "fairly" is the category into which it would fall. Something for the Flames – who have tons of cap space – to keep in mind.
Speaking of which…
2. A Carolina jubilee
The pick that everyone seems to be talking about most is Carolina’s at No. 5. It’s available for the right price, but only if the guy they want there — Nichushkin or Barkov, you’d think — is gone. In return they’d like another first-round pick and a top-4 defenseman. That D would also probably have to be relatively cheap and, preferably, pretty young. (Say, how does Chris Butler sound?)
Of course, there are teams that would probably give the right arms of at least two goaltenders in their systems to get into that spot, so you’d also have to imagine there would be a considerable bidding war among those teams, which kind of sucks for Calgary (although the Flames are the only club who can offer two first rounders).
Do you really want to give up a potentially good piece and the No. 6 to move up one spot? You have to imagine they wouldn’t go for even a combination of the two later picks and a Butler type, but then I guess that’s The Romance Of The Draft for you. One never knows what will happen, particularly where Calgary is concerned. I remember vividly the "WHAT" reaction I felt when they moved for Alex Tanguay, and it would take the same level maneuver to elicit that from me again. Getting the No. 5 without giving up the No. 6 certainly fits that theoretical bill, not that I’m holding my breath.
3. Here’s what I don’t get about the Kiprusoff hullabaloo
So Miikka Kiprusoff "announced" he was retiring through the backest of back channels earlier this week and kicked up a whole big controversy about Doesn’t He Owe The People Of This Town Something? This was most notably heard from Eric Francis, who is obviously one to write something this dumb and bad, but echoed from others around town as well.
But here’s the thing, right? Didn’t we all know he was retiring? There was that thing Mike Keenan said about the understanding he wouldn’t play the final year of his contract (still waiting for the NHL sanctions on that one, by the way). There was the little farewell game he got. There was the stuff Jay Feaster said about him at the deadline and then after the regular season. There was the fact that he got on a plane to Finland so fast after the season that there was a Kiprusoff-shaped hole in a cloud above Calgary. There was the fact that the Flames signed 14 goalies for next season.
If you didn’t know Kiprusoff wasn’t coming back, you don’t deserve the good bye because you don’t understand anything. And what would be the point? "Hey Miikka, get on a plane and fly across an ocean and half a continent to go to a 20-minute press conference and answer boring questions for no reason and oh by the way the whole city’s underwater." It would serve no purpose, really.
Calgary fans got to say good bye in that final Saddledome game. That’s plenty. Leave the guy alone.
4. Harvey the Hound
I’ve obviously watched with horror from afar at all the devastation Calgary has gone through since the flooding started and honestly, if there was going to be one indelible image from the whole tragic event, it’s the idea of Harvey the Hound’s head bobbing around sadly in a flooded, pitch-black Saddledome. Man, I’m never going to be able to look at that dumb dog the same again, remembering only his creep eyes peering out filthily from that mask of grime. Just horrible stuff.
I am, however, glad to see the city, and indeed the entire country, come together as it apparently has to support those affected by the floods. It reminded me a lot of what happened immediately after the marathon bombing here in Boston; everyone was so supportive, giving what they could in any way, and I’m glad to see it. I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot.
5. I know you probably don’t need the reminder, but…
As always, if you have the ability to make a financial donation to the Canadian Red Cross’s Alberta flood relief efforts, it would be really great if you would. Click here to do that. Thank you.