Five Pucks: Around the NHL 8/2/2012
Puck One: Shea Weber is a Predator, forever and ever
Last week the Nashville Predators matched the offer sheet the Philadelphia Flyers extended to Defenseman Shea Weber, locking up the face of the franchise for the next 14 seasons. The offer sheet was a bold move by the Flyers, and it was not a huge shock to see the Predators match and retain. This was really the only move the Predators could make. They lost Weber’s star defense partner Ryan Suter to free agency, and after a year of going all in to try and win a cup, the Predators couldn’t afford to lose Weber as well. The message to the fans would have been terrible. It would have make Nashville look incredibly “Small Market” after they spent the entire season selling themselves as one of the big boys. This is a franchise that was definitely on the upswing last season, and though it has kind of leveled off with a couple of losses (Most notably Suter, but also Jordin Tootoo and some others) the Predators should still be a solid team that should be in the playoffs this season. They race between the Predators, Red Wings, Blues, and Blackhawks for the Central Division crown should be fantastic to watch.
Puck Two: The Rangers acquire Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets
The New York Rangers, who lost in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, may have solved some of the offense problems that found them during the playoffs. Rick Nash is a great two way winger with amazing offensive skills. Alongside a Center like Brad Richards, Nash should be able to score 30+ goals easily. In return for Nash, the Blue Jackets got back Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixson, and the Ranger’s First round pick in the 2013 entry draft. The buzz around this trade after it happened was how Scott Howson got hosed in this deal. Did he get fair market value for Nash? No, he didn’t, but he wasn’t going to. There was no way he was going to get back pieces that could replace the face of that franchise for the last decade and the team’s Captain. With that said, Howson shouldn’t have talked about the trade afterwords like he made a killing either. Even though they gave up the most talented player, I like how this deal ended up for the Jackets. From his comments, Dubinsky seems to be on board with being in Columbus, Anisimov is a good winger who can put up points, and Erixson should be part of a solid Defense core in the near future. The Jackets need to keep adding guys like Dubinsky, and Jack Johnson who want to be there, and can create a good culture for that franchise moving forward.
Puck Three: Shane Doan and The Ever Popular Tortured Free Agent Syndrome
The best free agent still available by far is Coyotes Forward Shane Doan. Doan has been waiting on the Coyotes’ ownership situation to resolve itself before making a decision. The word being passed around is that potential owner Greg Jamison is around $20 million short of the price to buy the team. Knowing that, Shane Doan has been “shopping” his services to other teams around the NHL. He has visited New York (Rangers), Philadelphia, Montreal, and most recently Vancouver. The loyalty Doan has shown to the Coyotes is nothing short of remarkable, and is something we rarely see in professional sports nowadays. Having said and admired that, Shane Doan has every right to move on if that’s what he wants. This is going to be Doan’s last good opportunity to sign a sizeable contract and maximize his earning power. If he wants to sign with the Rangers or the Canucks, and make money chasing a cup without the constant worry of relocation of the franchise, he should do it. But even with all that, I don’t expect Doan to sign before the Coyotes’ issues are settled…. and I expect him to stay in Phoenix (I’m just sighting precedent).
Puck Four: The Curious Case of Bobby Ryan
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan is a bit disgruntled and may be available for trade. Philadelphia and Buffalo have been rumored destinations, but the talk has really died off recently when I would think it would be picking up after the Nash trade. This leads me to believe that Ryan isn’t going anywhere, which is smart if you’re the Ducks. Next season, the two best UFAs are Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who along with Ryan make up the Duck’s top line. With the possibility that both could end up on another team after next season, it would be foolish to trade away a vital piece of the offense that is under contract until 2015. The Ducks are not terribly deep offensively. Cogliano had a good year last year, Devante Smith-Pelly could develop into a good scorer, and Emerson Etem looks good but is still a ways away. Trading Bobby Ryan makes no sense for the Ducks, unless they get another all star winger in the deal, but then what would be the point?
Puck Five: As the CBA Turns…
Negotiations between the Owners and the NHLPA are ongoing. The NHLPA has requested and received financial records from all the teams, and will now examine them before coming back to the table. I still get the idea that the general perception amongst most people is that the start of the season will undoubtedly be delayed in some way. Personally, my hope is that they extend the current CBA for a year, and continue to negotiate into next summer, but that sounds like it is getting less likely. The last thing the NHL needs right now is a work stoppage. There is a good buzz going on for the upcoming season, there are some big names in new places, and delaying the season would just kill any buzz/momentum that the league has going for it (and to add to that- I’ve talked my wife into going to see the first Wild pre season game which is being played in Boise, Idaho, and if it doesn’t happen because of a work stoppage I’m going to be pretty sad). Hopefully we hear some positive news come from this in the coming week. The sides still seem to be “negotiating in good faith,” so let’s hope they continue to make progress and keep the season on schedule (Yes, I’m an optimist).
Thank you all for reading. I’ll be back with more next week.
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