Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stepan saga over, after one post.. It's magic!

And with that ladies and gentlemen the Derek Stepan saga is over. Its being reported that the 23 year old winger has signed a 2 year deal worth 3 million dollars a piece. Atta boy Step.  Must have read the article this morning.. what a stud. The Rangers now have the missing piece to their center puzzle, as well as a much needed offensive performer. Stepan was the Rangers #1 center last year, and top point scorer with 18 goals, and 26 assists with 44 points. Stepan was reportedly looking for a $7million dollar deal, while the Rangers were looking in the neighborhood of 6, because of their cap issues. None of that is of any relevance, because they finally found an asking price. It does seem as though Stepan did have to settle a bit, but honestly.. he's going to be a Ranger for a long time, the next contract they settle on will have him grinning ear to ear. For more information on the Derek Stepan contract, visit the website below. Later freaks. 

                     Steps to victory

The Derek Stepan saga

The Derek Stepan update, is that there is no update. Fans have to realize that we're not going to hear about the status of a contract until it's done. I used to be one of those pissed off fans saying, "well I pay good money for merchandise and tickets and blah blah, so I technically am paying his salary, why can't I know?" I than realized it's still a business, and I'm not part of that business. I was just being an obsessed fan who truly cares about the direction of the team. We're lucky to know as much as we do about the contract. 

In any event, Stepan's camp was originally looking for a long term deal, but that was quickly snuffed by Glen Satyer. Stepan than settled for the bridge deal, but is standing pat at his asking price of 7 million for 2 years, as he should. The man deserves to get paid, and has proved that he should since his debut game, and first ever hattie in Buffalo. On the other hand, Sather is right for not giving out a huge contract to a forward coming off of an entry level deal. A franchise forward gets that. Stamkos, Crosby, Kane.. Those are franchise tags. Stepan needs to realize he's not going to get the exact amount that he wants, and needs to compromise.

 I'm a firm believer of two things in this situation. Stepan's agent is soley trying to make a name for himself and forcing some of Steps stubbornness. And if he continues his holdout, he'll lose his number one spot and his chance at the Team USA roster.  I'm sure Stepan's camp is using recent signings to persuade him to continue his hold out. He should be compare Stepan's contract to Nazem Kadri, cause that's he smartest thing the Leafs have done in some time. Obviously, he has a longer, better track record than Kadri, but the principal still remains. You don't give out a big contract to a forward coming off of an entry level deal. Look at Jordan Staal, he's a very similar situation to Stepan, they even play a similar game. With that in mind, Staal swallowed his pride and signed. The dude was rewarded with a cup and another big pay day afterwards. 

His holdout is also hurting his game form. Lets not forget what happened to the last guy that held out for the Rangers. In regards to Sather calling Stepan a fool, he was simply saying that he is handling the situation poorly. Obviously Sather has big plans for the kid, or he wouldn't be desperately calling him out to sign a contract. I wouldn't be surprised if Step did sign, played the way heroes, and signs an extension kid season when the cap goes up.Stepan has to realize that Sather can't stretch it anymore than he has. He's met most of Stepan's demands, and from a guy who can "see himself playing his career in NY", he needs to give in a little.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Season Previews: Eastern Conference top 5

Happy trails west coast. We're making tracks back east. The cold weather is rolling in, and its just about that time up here in NY to get your mind ready for some good old fashioned pond hockey. There's a lot of people that dislike the amount of outdoor games, but to that I say screw you. That's where the game should be played, how could you have too much of it. There's been a big shift in the east, as Detroit and Columbus make their way to the Eastern Conference, and honestly, it only makes the east better. Columbus is a team on the rise, and Detroit is well.. Detroit. So without any further ado, lets go to work.

1. Boston- Boston fell short of its second Stanley Cup in almost as many years, in our latest bought for lord Stanley's mug. They also left the finals in the same fashion that they beat Toronto, to cling to life in the post season.  Although they lost Tyler Seguin in a trade to Dallas, they picked up a TOP notch winger in Loui Eriksson, as well as some nice prospects, so the deal shouldn't rattle Boston fans too much. Although, I'm sure a lot of them are scratching their heads in bean town. Why trade for the pick to get Seguin, if you're eventually just going to trade him away? Either way, the B's are probably hoping that Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith can make an impact. Matt Fraser is no joke by the way. Thats one tough kid, he'll hit with the best of them, and he'll get in your face right after too. Reilly Smith could add depth, if he is able to crack the roster. Awkwardly bringing in Jarome Iginla will help also, who will replace Jagr. The departure of Nathan Horton should hurt the B's, but their biggest question isn't scoring. It's who is going to step up on the defensive end, because the mighty Chara isn't getting any younger. I'm expecting, and I'm sure the Bruins brass is as well, that Dougie Hamilton is going to have a serious coming out party this year. I mean.. Marchand needs a new buddy to go out with now. 

Can you imagine him out in Los Angles with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? I'm annoyed just thinking about it. This is pretty much the same team as last year, they're strong throughout their line up, so they're going to hit you. They have skill up front, so they can score, And they're anchored by one of the best defenses and goaltenders in the NHL. 

2. Pittsburgh- This team has one of the best top six forward lines in the NHL. How could you not with Crosby and Malkin on your team? No matter what, every year they lose a key role player, and another guy is brought in and fills that role perfectly. Beau Bennett will be the man this year, as he'll likely get top six minutes to replace Iginla.  Throughout the year he made the most of his ice time only averaging around 10 minutes a game. There's no reason he shouldn't play well with Malkin, and veteran Pascal Dupuis, or James Neal. The Pens also lost Douglas Murray, and Brendan Morrow.  Rob Scuderi made his return to the Penguins this offseason and he should have no problem coming into the season, in stride with this team.  Don't forget this was one of the Pens best defensemen during their cup run, and played the same role for the Kings in their run. Scuderi knows his role, and will play the same solid D he always does, as well as coach some of the younger guys making the jump to the NHL. Smart move by Pittsburgh to bring him back.  Although they will also miss Tyler Kennedy's penalty killing, the inevitable emergence of Brandon Sutter will cover that no problem, and the Pens will eventually have the best 1-2-3 centers in the NHL. Another loss was agitator Matt Cooke, who I think the team is personally better off without. Who is going to replace that edge though?  There's a lot of guys that like to complain on this team, and captain Penguin himself is one of them. Who's gonna be the guy that puts foot-to-ass to govern the ice, instead of these guys complaining. Another glaring hole is Marc-Andre Fleury. Maybe glaring isn't the best word, but since this guy had that incredible post season to win the cup, he has been incredibly soft. That's being nice also. This team posts a pretty solid defense, as well as one of the most prolific offenses. There's no reason Fleury can't steal them a game or two when these guys have an off night.  If the pens want to book another flight to canyon of heroes, its strictly contingent on their keeper, and if he can return to form.

3. N.Y. Rangers- lol where do I even start with this team.  It's so frustrating knowing how good this team could be, and how they actually play. I mean lets be real, a lot of teams would love to have Stepan, and Brassard as their top two centers. But this team is ran by the STUPIDEST smart person on the east coast, possibly a product of the man in the article below this. Now that, that's on the table the Rangers have three things to worry about:

  1. Derek Stepan
  2. Chris Kreider
  3. Marc Staal
The Rangers moronic decision not to buy out Brad Richards, is now keeping them from signing their #1 center, and overall best player last year, Derek Stepan. It was stupid not to buy out Richards, but I condemn Sather for sticking to his guns on this one, and not over paying Stepan. Forwards in the NHL are a dime a dozen, you can be hot one year, and cold the next, but the same goes with any position. Its just tougher to find franchise D-men, and goaltenders. Anyone remember Petr Prucha? He was gonna be huge for the blueshirts.. Stepan also needs to realize he's losing his #1 center position by holding out, and a potential shot at the team USA roster for the upcoming Olympics.
Another interesting case is Chris Kreider. The kid was a stud in Broadway's playoff run two years ago, but has since fallen short of expectations. He was mediocre in his  first season with New York's minor league team, and has had trouble cracking the roster. The kid has potential, but I can honestly see him as trade bait later in the season if he doesn't prove himself. There's no reason you shouldn't be preforming if you're playing on a line with Nash and Richards.
Marc Staal had an unbelievably terrible injury to his eye last season. A lot of people didn't think he would be back to %100 percent, but has been taking huge strides since training camp.  He's had an unbelievable pre-season so far, and has found himself shooting the puck a lot more which has to have Ulf Sammuelson grinning on the bench. I think it's gonna be a big year for him, The only problem is whether he stays after his contract is up..
The blue-line, and goaltending for the Rangers will be the same, really good.  I personally would really enjoy if Dylan McIlrath made the roster this year, that'll really have Ulfy grinning. Side note: stop freaking out about Lundqvist, he's going to resign. Oh yeah, and they have this guy..

4. Detroit- The Red Wings are now back east. A lot of you peeps forgot that they made the jump back to the Eastern Conference and thats why I have them up here. They're going to bring that West Coast style of hockey that so many Eastern teams have trouble playing against. Headed by one of the best coaches in the league, Mike Babcock, I have a feeling the Red Wings are going to have their way with a lot of teams out here. They just slid into the playoffs last year, but had one of their best runs since their second cup run with Marian Hossa and Chris Osgood. Although they finished lower than expected in the standings, their team took a different rout and infused some young players like Brandon Smith, Joakim Andersson, and Michigan native, big boy Danny DeKeyser.  A lot of these guys should bring in a new era for the Red Wings, who never seem to get older.  They will however miss Ian White, Vlatteri Fillpula, and Damien Brunner. I can understand not bringing back Brunner because of his age, and the year that he entered the league, but he was a great fit for Babcock and his system. They'll miss Ian White for sure because the Wings don't have a shutdown pair. Kronwall played nicely with more responsibility, but you can't overwork him, as he exceeded 25 minutes a game during the playoffs.  They have legitimate NHL calibre defensemen, but no one to fill that roll. They'll need to upgrade that position to return to their defensive status they used to hold. This whole team is backstopped by a very talented Jimmy Howard, who has a legitimate shot at starting for Team USA this Olympics.

5. Ottawa- There's a lottttttttt of people sleeping on this team, and they're going to be really good.  A lot of people saying, will Craig Anderson return to form? He does every year. Are they really that deep? Go look at their top 9, as well as their top line, and don't forget that they gave up Jacob Silfverberg to bring in Bobby Ryan. This team is loaded with young talent up front. Kyle Turris, Corey Conacher, Colin Greening, Mika Zabinejad.. on top of that all of those guys are FAST. Lets not also forget about Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who had 4 points in 9 games for the Sens, and added another 6 in 10 during the playoffs. They'll miss the leadership of former captain Daniel Alfredson who moved to the team above, but this team is so loaded with talent up front that losing Alfredson was really just a sentimental loss. The biggest glaring problem is the Sens defense. Although they're anchored by Erik Karlsson, they're next best defensemen is Chris Phillips, and it drops off. They have good, young defensmen, but they still need some time to be seasoned in the NHL, and we all know that a young defensemen takes a little more time to develop than other positions. This year will really be a test to see which young defenemen are going to step up to the plate.


Hate to say it but the Islanders are going to be a really good team next year. Their biggest problem are holes on the defense, and their aging goaltender Evgeni Nabakov.  The Isles need another legitimate defensemen, and an heir to Nabby so they can continue the progress that they've made. Making John Tavares Captain was inevitable, and he's stood up in the spotlight every time he's been asked. Lets see what happens to the Isles when they're ran by the guy of the future. I can tell you something though.. they're going to need to set out a couple of these to get some fans, since they're moving into Ranger territory. Its perfect though, the Islanders are good, and under the radar, way hipster.

Another team I hate to include on this list is New Jersey.  There's a lot of people sleeping on them because of the departure of Kovalchuck, but lets not forget that Lou is no slouch at putting a solid team together. Although they may be running a retirement home in New Jersey, they have young standouts like John Merill that will make the roster, and a really good "1A" goalie in Corey Schneider.  Even when they give Marty a Job in the front office, Uncle-daddy will still be at prudential saying, "well.. I'm here, I might as well play."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Peter Pocklington headed to the slammer

I bet All of you Gretzky Era, Edmonton Oiler fans are happy to hear that. Reports today from CBC Canada indicate that Peter Pocklington, is in fact, going to jail for breaching his probation. Pocklington, who was linked to a previous brankruptsy fraud case, failed to submit paper work for "hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees." 

Lets put things in perspective though, with all the controversy surrounding the guy, something was bound to happen sooner or later.  Who knew it would all start with Pocklington trying to weasel his fathers name onto the '84 cup.  Seriously though, we're talking about the guy who TRADED Gretzky. The guy who made the un-tradeable player, tradeable. To speak on my behalf, this is what Edmonton businessman Ed Moroz has to say about pocklington:
"Six months is a long time," said Edmonton Businessman Ed Moroz, who for years was owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by Pocklington...
"...I would just simply say, 'Peter, you are going to have a long time to think about whether this was worth it, for your whole life screwing people over." 

If thats how people in the business world felt about him, one can only imagine how he was able to run one of the greatest sports dynasty's to date. Pocklington will serve six months in prison, follwed by six months of house arrest. For more info check out the link below. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Season Previews: Western Conference top 5

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, It's that time of year again.  I think we can all agree, that everyone is a little more excited for this season, than they were for last.. Either way, with the lockout shortened season, and the Olympics this year, we're going to have so much Hockey shoved down our throats in such a short amount of time that, Debbie does Dallas would ask for a cut scene. We've gone through a lot as a sports community over the last year. We were locked out of our favorite sport, some of our favorite players have come and gone, some of the most entertaining players are still entertaining off ice.  So what better way to get this season kicked off? Team previews. For those of you who don't know, this is strictly a hypothetical guess as to where these teams will end up at the end of the season. All strictly based on my pre-season analysis, for those who don't understand that, or just plain disagree, you're entitled to your opinion, but I say this; Start writing.


1. Chicago- Psh... How could you not put the defending Stanley Cup champions as number one? They lost some key guys, but were they expendable? Yeah. Especially with the new cap situation. Dave Bolland, and Michal Frolik were both great players, but they were never going to get to where they wanted to be playing 3rd and 4th line minutes. They also lost sensation Viktor Stalberg, but the risk was more than capable of turning the puck over. Compared to their last roster dump, after a cup win, I think this one went a little better. Nikolai Khabibulin will be taking over the back up goal keeping duties, which in my opinion is an upgrade from Ray Emery (although he was lights out last year). Nikolai knows what its like to be a starting goalie, and has been there, so he should have no problem picking up back up minutes. They resigned Bickell, and youngster Jeremy Morin should compete for a roster spot. Their off season strategy was perfect; they kept their team together, and got rid of expendable players. Oh and we can't forget about this..

2. Los Angeles-
Another team that has been doing the same thing for years now. They have most of their money locked up on their core guys, but this is another team that didn't go out and make a big splash, because they didn't have to. The two biggest loses are Jonathan Bernier and Rob Scuderi. They lost their star backup Bernier in a trade to Toronto, but maintained a capable backup in Ben Scrivens. They also obtained promising prospect Mark Fratton, who acquired 10 points in 10 games before a season ending injury. Scuderi on the other hand, who was their anchor defensemen since the rebuild and cup run, decided to move back to Pittsburgh. These were really their two biggest losses, but boasting the best defense in the Western conference, and backstopped by all-star goalie Jonathan Quick, they should have no problem maintaining pace in the west. Lets not forget about how potent their offense can be..With the likes of Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, and Anze Kopitar, the Kings shouldn't have much trouble keeping their distance.

3. Vancouver-
The Canucks are an interesting story. They decided to trade what could have been their goalie of the future, in Corey Schneider, to New Jersey for the 10th overall pick in this years draft. It was an interesting call to say the least, considering Luongo's bitterness towards the organization and his contract. On top of that 'Jet like' media circus they hired the medias favorite post game interviewee, in John Tortarella, to spice things up. Acquiring Bo Horvat at the draft was a lackadaisical decision, because a team desperate for a goalie would have given up more than a #1 pick. They have kept the majority of their offense intact, and have a promising forward in Jordan Schroeder making his way through the system. Their defense is still as soft as ever though, and until they get a hard nosed, stay at home defensemen, they aren't going to improve. Cue Johnny boy; you know he's not going to stand for any BS in his defensive zone, and you can believe some of those guys are going to sit a few games. This could be a really good team, but it all depends on how they react to Tortarella's coaching. Side Note: Alex Burrows will be Tortarella's new favorite weapon (Chris Macri approved.)

4. St. Louis-
The past two playoff years have been a bit of a disappointment for the Blues. Upgrading their defense, and boasting some of the best defenders in the league, as well as the best defensive coach in the league had the Blues thinking a longer playoff run than they expected. We have been waiting for them to take that next step, but they haven't really improved their offense much. You can play the best defense in the world, and play one goal games, but you're eventually going to start losing some of those one goal games. Their goal scoring is always middle of the pack, but what do you expect when your top scorer is Chris Stewart? Until they start putting more focus on their offensive players they're scoring is going to stay where it is. That being said, there is still a lot of potential up front for the blues. With the breakout year of Vladimir Tarasenko, and newly acquired Magnus Paajarvi, the Blues have two solid NHL ready prospects to start turning heads. Paajarvi I particularly like because a change of scenery is exactly what he needs. Much like Bolland and Frolik in Chicago, Paajarvi was never going to get the minutes he wants (and should) play when he's competing with the likes of Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The goaltending tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot has proved to be dominant, but you have to ask yourself; When is Halak going to come around and really take a hold of the #1 spot?

5. Minnesota-
The first smart move that Minnesota made was getting rid of those god awful road sweaters. Here's the new one:

What a stud. Get used to that face Canada. Just for the record, this pick is solely contingent on how Dany Heatly plays next year. If he returns to all-star form, this team could have one of the most potent power plays in the league. Losing Cal Clutterbuck to the Islanders in a trade, and Devon Setoguchi were big losses, but they have a few prospects (some of the best actually), that could eventually take his spot. The Hype behind Mikael Granlund was short-lived last year, but the Wild brass are %100 confident he will bounce back. Another prospect giving Granlund a run for his money is former BU standout, Charlie Coyle. Coyle, who clearly had the better season of the two, is poised for a breakout year with the Wild. There's not a lot of big name guys up front, but a lot of consistent guys, and a lot of young solid prospects. Their defense is much of the same, and they'll look to Suter and Ballard to coach these youngsters on the back end. A lot of people forget about Nicklas Backstrom in Minnesota, but that's mainly because he can't escape the injury bug. Don't forget that this is the same guy that competed with Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi for the most wins in the NHL last year.

Dark Horses..
Winnipeg - Everyone is waiting for them to take the next step, and the team above provided them with an offensive player that is going to compliment Evander Kane nicely. Definitely a playoff team this year.

Edmonton- Just too much offense to forget about. The question is will it be mature enough to come around. Their goaltending is decent at best, but Devan Dubnyk is definitely capable of holding down a #1 job.

There you have it folks. For all intensive purposes, Vancouver is on this list just because of the talent on their team, sorry guys. The west is always a crap shoot, and any of these teams could be in any position, the competition is that tight. Hell, Edmonton could make a run for their division!.. lets not get ahead of ourselves.. Don't forget to check in later this week for the East preview, and our debut show on, The Coffey Break. Join in this Saturday at 6 PM Eastern, 3 Pacific.