Monthly Archives: October 2013

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Canadiens Re-sign Emelin.

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The Montreal Canadiens announced the re-signing of defenseman Alexei Emelin to a four-year, $16.4 million contract extension.

Habs re-sign Alexei Emelin to a 4-year extension.

Habs re-sign Alexei Emelin to a 4-year extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Emelin, 27, is in the final year of his current deal and was slated for unrestricted free agency next summer. His new deal is worth an average cap hit of $4.1 million, over double the $2 million per season of his current deal. He’s presently on injured reserve recovering from knee surgery.

While the Canadiens like his mobile physical style, they’re taking a gamble investing that much for that long without first evaluating his recovery from his knee injury over the remainder of this season. For their sake and Emelin’s, hopefully he makes a full recovery.

Tales of NHL Halloween Horror (Player Edition).

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 As the first month of the NHL season ends, here’s a look at several notable stars off to horrifying starts.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils. Nothing will tarnish Brodeur’s legacy among the all-time great goalies in NHL history, but it’s painfully apparent he’s hung on one season too many. The only reason he’s getting playing time right now is starter Cory Schneider (whom Brodeur acknowledged earlier in October as having taken over the role) is sidelined with a lower-body injury. At 41, the great Brodeur can no longer carry the Devils.

Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers. Lundqvist’s poor performance in October left many observers scrambling for answers. Was he distracted over his contract talks with the Rangers? Was the use of smaller pads adversely affecting his play? Turns out Lundqvist was hampered by a nagging (though undisclosed) injury. The Rangers and their fans hope he regains his form soon. Their season could depend on it.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux is off to a lousy start this season.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux is off to a lousy start this season.

 Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers. The former EA Sports NHL cover boy had only six points (all assists) in his first eleven games. Some believe Giroux’s lousy stats are due to his trying too hard to overcome the shortcomings of his teammates. Some also wonder if the burden of the captaincy is hampering his play. Whatever the reason, Giroux hasn’t looked anything like the superstar he was only a year ago.

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings. Brown has only five points in 13 games plus he’s not hitting as much as he used to. One reason could be lingering after-effects of last season’s knee injury. Another could be the Kings have changed to a puck-possession style of game. It’s expected Brown should regain his form as the season progresses. If the Kings hope for another lengthy Cup run this season, they’ll need their captain at his peak of his powers.

Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild. Heatley used to be a scoring machine but those days are long gone. Over the past three years his production has been in steady decline, and with only three points in twelve games he’s off to the worst start of his career. At only 32, Heatley could be washed up as a scorer.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres. Miller hasn’t played badly, but the team in front of him sure has. Eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, it’s widely assumed the Sabres will shop Miller, but it could take until the March 5 trade deadline to find a suitable trade partner. He could be facing the longest season of his NHL career.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets. The good news is Byfuglien has pretty good offensive numbers (9 points in 14 games) for a defenseman. The bad news is he’s yet to score a goal and made too many costly defensive errors. That won’t silence the trade rumors which have dogged “Big Buf” for the past two years.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. The once-energetic pest with the nifty scoring touch has been a shadow of himself so far this season. Indeed, he hasn’t been the same since his best friend Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas last summer. Marchand has plenty of time to regain his form this season, but until he does, his lack of production will remain an issue for the Bruins.

Mike Green, Washington Capitals. Seven points in 12 games are good numbers for most defensemen, but not for Green, who looks nothing like his once high-flying self this season. His sloppy defensive play remains a concern, and there’s been talk of turning him into a winger. Though only 28, injuries may be taking its toll upon Green’s effectiveness as a puck-moving defenseman.

Stephen Weiss, Detroit Red Wings. Injuries and playing for the Florida Panthers were blamed for Weiss’ poor performance last season. Now healthy and playing for a much better team in Detroit, he’s shown no sign of improvement, managing only two points in 12 games. That’s not what the Wings expected when they inked Weiss to a five-year contract last summer.

Avalanche Ship Downie To Flyers For Talbot.

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The Colorado Avalanche have traded right wing Steve Downie to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for forward Max Talbot.

Steve Downie is headed to the Flyers.

Steve Downie is headed to the Flyers.

 SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Downie (26) is younger than Talbot (29) and also has more points this season (7 compared to Talbot’s 2). Downie, however, has a reputation for reckless play which also leads to injuries. Talbot’s energetic style has given him his share of injuries, but he’s more controlled and a better penalty-killer. The Avs could also be looking toward him for leadership.  

Dollars and free agency might also factor into this move. Talbot has a more affordable cap hit ($1.75 million through 2015-16), while Downie carries a $2.65 million cap hit and is slated to become a UFA next summer.  

It’s also a homecoming for Downie, as he was drafted by the Flyers and began his NHL career with them, so they know what they’re getting. The Flyers are in need of more offense so Downie could help in that department.

NHL Blog Beat – October 31, 2013.

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The importance of a hot start to an NHL season, rejecting the notion of the Predators trading Shea Weber, analysis of the Oilers season so far, Tyler Bozak’s performance as a top-six center, Kimmo Timonen’s decline and much more.

GRANTLAND: Sean McIndoe examines the importance of an NHL team having a strong start to the season.

BACKHAND SHELF: Justin Bourne on the player perspective regarding the value of “zone entries” as a hockey stat.

PUCK DADDY: Ryan Lambert’s kinda-sorta NHL power rankings.

THE HOCKEY WRITERS: Will Eldridge punches holes in the reasoning behind those calls for the Predators to trade Shea Weber, while Michael Gwizdala tours the “haunted house of hockey”.

THE COPPER & BLUE: Derek Zona with a template for the remainder of the Edmonton Oilers season.

Is Tyler Bozak a lousy top-six center?

Is Tyler Bozak a lousy top-six center?

MC79HOCKEY: Tyler Dellow looks at previous bad runs by some NHL teams since 2005-06 and how they still made the playoffs.

PENSION PLAN PUPPETS: Steve Burtch explains why Tyler Bozak is an awful top-six center.

THE CHECKING LINE: Alicia Sprenkle on the decline of Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen.

SILVER SEVEN SENS: Analysis of Chris Neil’s slow start.

DOBBER HOCKEY: Eric Daoust lists the most productive salary cap bargain players.

THE PEERLESS PROGNOSTICATOR: Finally, those fancy hockey stats are explained!