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Todd Varga


blog-0120705001339648732.jpgFive Pucks- 6/13/2012

~Puck One- The Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup Champions

On Monday, the LA Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. The powerhouse Kings finished the playoffs with a 16-4 record, becoming the first 8th seed in history to lay claim to the cup. Jonathan Quick was unbelievable during the playoffs and was awarded the Con Smythe award. Game six turned on a boarding call on the Devil’s Steve Bernier that resulted in a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The Kings would score three power play goals on the penalty, and that was pretty much the end of the Devils’ season. I’ve seen a lot of opinions on the boarding call and whether Bernier deserved the penalty he got, or whether Scuderi turned at the last second. Either way you see it, Bernier can’t make that hit. That is the kind of hit that has been punished and penalized all year. Bernier should have just played the puck. It will be very interesting to see if the Devils bring him back next season. He had a good playoffs, and was part of the Devil’s great fourth line that was so pivotal in the playoffs, but it may be a tough sell sfter game six.

~Puck Two- Zack Parise will NOT play for the New York Rangers

There is only two and a half more weeks Zack. That’s how much more time Zack Parise has left until he is an unrestricted free agent. And you can bet that until then, Parise is going to be asked about it constantly. Parise may have cooled down that fire a little bit however, saying that he was open to returning to the devils next season, and hopes they can work out a deal. He also stated he would absolutely not be playing for the arch rival Rangers next year, which will certainly go a long way with Devils fans. So Lou Lamoriello has 17 more days to either negotiate a new contract with Parise, or trade his right to another team should their negotiations fall apart. They certainly haven’t given any indication that they are looking to deal his rights, but the closer we get to July 1st, the more teams may get desperate. This especially holds true for teams that may miss out on Rick Nash should he be traded at the NHL Draft on June 22nd.

~Puck Three- So it’s time to pay Sidney Crosby…

This is a tough one for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby is going into the last season of his current contract, and he needs a new deal. The dilemma for the Penguins, and intrigue for the rest of us, comes with the question of how the Penguins are going to pay Sidney Crosby. The man is without question one of, if not the best hockey player in the world. The man has also not played a full season in the last two seasons and has a serious concussion history. The numbers that are being thrown around are 90 million over 10 years. That is a huge contract, a huge cap hit, and if you are going to give him that contract he has to be on the ice for the entire season. When healthy, Crosby is without question worth every cent of that contract, but you can’t have that cap hit and get no production. This is a big dilemma for the Penguins. Add to that the fact that Jordan Staal is also in the final year of his deal, and Evgeni Malkin will be going into the last year of his deal next year. The smart move, and the move I would certainly expect the Penguins to make, is to wait for the new CBA to go through, and adjust according to any new rules that go into effect, before they back the truck up for Sid.

~Puck Four- The Edmonton Oilers may be open to trading the first overall pick

There is zero doubt in most people’s minds that Nail Yakupov is going to be the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Whether the sweater he pulls on is the Orange and Blue of the Oilers is still up for debate. The Oilers are picking number 1 overall for the third consecutive year, and Yakupov is a lot like the two men they have drafted the previous two years. The Oilers more pressing need is on the Blue Line, so it is conceivable that they could trade down and pick one of the great defensive prospects available at the top end of the draft. You have to think that teams like the Blue Jackets, Islanders, Maple Leafs, and maybe even the Wild would have interest in trading up to draft the young offensive star. Of the teams mentioned, I would think the Maple Leafs and the Wild would be the best matches for a trade. Both of these teams have NHL ready Defensemen that could be dealt, and would be able to include good prospects and draft picks. But who knows what may happen on draft day. Draft day is always unpredictable, and especially this year with factors like Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo, and Tim Thomas possibly in play for trades. My guess is that Edmonton keeps the pick and drafts Yakupov, and adds him to their ridiculous bounty of young offensive talent.

~Puck Five- Tim Thomas is taking a year off from hockey

Tim Thomas released a statement on his Facebook page last week, stating that he was taking a year off from hockey to focus on Family, Friends, and Faith (He referred to them as the three Fs). That sounds great, and if he means that and those are really his intentions, more power to him. But it is very, shall we say, coincidental that Thomas’ NTC ends on July 1st, and Boston has young Tukka Rask waiting in the wings to take Thomas’ job. Add to that the fact that Boston needs to clear cap space, and Tim Thomas suddenly becomes expendable for trade. A lot of people feel this is a ruse by Thomas, and that he is just trying to pick the place Boston deals him to. Either way, it’s Tukka Time in Boston because Tim Thomas is not coming back in black and gold. The Bruins can still trade Thomas if they can find a team that will take him given his situation, and a team that is not spending up to the Cap Floor may be the perfect fit for Timmy Thomas.

Thanks for reading,

Todd Varga

@Wild_Halo on Twitter

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I agree that Bernier should have tried to play the puck, but then Stoll should have been called for a boarding call on Gionta prior to that hit. The call on Bernier could have been called a 2min minor but they chose not to. That sequence of events seemed one sided imo. The league wanted the KIngs to win the cup, and they may have won that game without any extra pp help, but we will never know.

I've stated all year long Parise will sign a huge contract with the Wild this summer. The Devils have too many financial issues to sign another player with Kovalchuk type money. Parise is getting married this summer and has a new home in Orono. It would be a dream come true for J. P. Koivo to Parise will make one sweet duo on the NHL next year.

I have no doubt in my mind that the Penguins will sign Crosby next season as you said after the new CBA in settled. Staal on the other hand will sign elsewhere once a FA where he can be given the opportunity to play on the number one line. It would probably be in the best interest of the Penguins to trade him for the most value coming back.

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