Saturday, September 6, 2014

Babcock regrets statements that fueled speculation about his future


In the interest of preventing the Detroit Red Wings’ negotiations with coach Mike Babcock from becoming a distraction, GM Ken Holland doesn’t want to deal with them during the season. The two sides will try to come to an agreement before the start of the 2014-15 campaign and if they can’t, then the plan is for them to resume their talks after its conclusion.


Babcock isn’t too worried either way. He’d be happy to get something done this month, but he’ll remain optimistic even if they can’t. However, he’s made some statements over the summer that has fed into the speculation about his future.


“Probably I fueled it a little bit when I shouldn’t have said anything at all,” Babcock admitted, per the Detroit Free Press. “I’m going into my 10th year this year. Our record speaks for itself. I’m real proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m about getting better as a coach, and ideally that’s all going to get looked after.”


Arguably one of the most charged statements he’s made on the matter came in July amid speculation that free agents were actively avoiding Detroit because they didn’t want to work under the tough bench boss.


“If you want to be pushed to be the best that you can be, that’s what we do here,” Babcock said at the time. “You know what? The proof is in the pudding.


“If (the Wings) are concerned about (free agents not liking him), then I should coach somewhere else.”


He’s widely regarded as one of the best active coaches and is among the most accomplished too after winning the Stanley Cup and earning two Olympic gold medals with Canada.


Related:


Babcock ambivalent on if he’ll sign extension in Detroit



Neal betting on Roy having a big season


The Nashville Predators quest to bolster their offense led to the acquisition of James Neal, but they weren’t able to sign or trade for a top-tier center to play alongside him. Instead, the Predators tried to nab a diamond in the rough by inking Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy.


When it comes to Roy, Neal has already gotten very familiar with him. Although the two have never played on the same team, Roy joined Neal during his training sessions with Gary Roberts over the summer.


“[Derek] came in and trained with us; he looks great,” Neal said, per NHL.com. “He had a great summer training. I worked out with him every day; he was good in the gym and he looked great on the ice, so we expect a big year out of him.”


At his height, Roy had 32 goals and 81 points in 78 games with Buffalo in 2007-08. He’s had endured some rough seasons more recently, but at 31 he’s still young enough to bounce back.


Meanwhile, Neal is looking forward to starting the next chapter of his career with Nashville. He excelled with Pittsburgh, averaging close to a point-per-game during his tenure with them and recorded 40 goals in 2011-12. He gelled with Evgeni Malkin, but now he’ll have to prove that he’s capable of performing at that level without one of the league’s top centers playing alongside him.



Kontiola embraces ‘do or die’ opportunity with Leafs


Petri Kontiola was a dominated player in Finland’s top league and excelled in the AHL, but he played in only 12 games with the Chicago Blackhawks before he put his aspirations of making it in North America behind him by shifting to the KHL in 2009-10.


He’s been a productive player in the Russian league over the last five seasons, but hasn’t been able to completely move on from his failed NHL bid. At the age of 29 (30 on Oct. 4), he’s decided to try to make the leap one more time by signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.


“It’s kind of like, people have been asking me how did it go over here,” he told the National Post. “And I said I’m done with that. I’m going to play somewhere else. But still, in the back of my head, I was thinking that I’m not done over here. So that’s why I’m back.”


He inked a one-year, $1.1 million contract in July, but he needed to spend 20 million rubbles (over $500,000) to terminate his existing contract with Chelyabinsk Traktor.


Kontiola feels this is a “do or die” opportunity for him and this could certainly be his last chance to prove that he can contribute in the NHL. He’ll have to hit the ground running given that the Leafs have 18 forwards signed to one-way contracts.



Dave Nonis on Team Depth – Toronto Maple Leafs


Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".



SportsVu on the Way to the NHL

























September 6, 2014, 3:02 PM ET [14 Comments]








Eklund

RSSArchiveCONTACT



This summer of NHL team hiring hockey analytics gurus is coming to this: The Washington Post's Neil Greenberg revealed today that SportsVu tracking technology is very close to being ready for implementation in the NHL.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this.


It's really cool from a technological point of view as there will be microchip emitter technology used. It won't be just video tracking, although that is part of the puzzle. I also think innovation is a good thing and the introduction of SportsVu will open up a whole array of new ways of tracking the game that go far beyond today's rather primitive (and, in my view, somewhat deceptive) "advanced" stats.


On the flip side, I am not really a huge "new-age stats" guy when it comes to hockey (apart from a love of playing some good old fashioned Strat-o-Matic). I agree totally with Flyers general manager Ron Hextall's view that, while analytics properly has a role in today's game and can be useful, they should NOT be the basis of decision making from a roster standpoint.


Hextall said that analytics are about five to seven percent of the puzzle. I think that's about right. The traditional methods used by hockey people should still remain the foundation of decision making.


But there is always a temptation to fall in love with the shiny new toy. I DO think that some teams might go overboard with it in the next few years, and then there will be a correction the other way until high-tech analytics finds its proper balance. Ultimately, though, there is no turning back the clock because the analytics age is here to stay.



Join the Discussion: » 14 Comments » Post New Comment


POLL: Which Rangers prospects have the best chance to make the opening night roster?




rangers report logo



Just following up on Sioux’s guest blog last week, and with the Traverse City tournament to begin at the end of the week, and with training camp the following week … thought we’d do a poll to see which prospects you think will make the team.


Of course, there probably aren’t going to be a lot of spots open, and there are a couple of guys (I won’t mention their names because I don’t want to influence your vote, but you know who they are) who certainly have an inside track. There are also some prospects in whom the Rangers have a lot of confidence but who are probably a year or so away.


So cast your votes. We’ll leave the poll open until mid-week. Hump day or thereabouts.






Rick Carpiniello, 26, was born and raised in Harrison and began working in The Journal News' sports department (back when it was The Reporter Dispatch and eight other newspapers) in October of 1977 after a year of covering high school sports as a stringer. For more than 20 years he covered the New York Rangers and the National Hockey League. Carpiniello has been writing columns on everything from local sports to the big leagues since 2002.




LoHud.com Copyright 2014 | Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, updated September 2010.



Ovechkin rules Top 14 power-play specialists


Who are the best 14 players in the NHL at each position as teams prepare for the start of the 2014-15 season? Arpon Basu, Brian Compton, Corey Masisak and Dan Rosen have cast their votes and the result is NHL.com's "Top 14 for '14-15" project. Each first-place vote is worth 14 points, each second-place vote is worth 13, continuing in descending order to each 14th-place vote being worth one. There are two tiebreakers. First, which player appeared on more ballots? Second, which player had the highest individual ranking? If the voting was exactly the same for each player, it was declared a tie. Does NHL.com's list match your rankings for the best players in the League entering the 2014-15 campaign?


A good power play typically has the same characteristics, including a clean zone entry and setup, a quarterback, a go-between option from the half-wall, a triggerman and someone in front to do the dirty work.


The players who make up a good power play either perform one of those tasks at an elite level or are simply really good at a bunch of them.


For example, nobody shoots the puck from the point on the power play with the combination of accuracy and power like Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. But they also bring the puck into the zone to serve as the quarterback.


Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos can score on hard one-timers even when they're off balance. They have such quick releases and heavy shots that it can be impossible for a goaltender to get over in time to make the save.


Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and New York Islanders captain John Tavares work the half-wall like magicians, but they can move up to the point or down to the goal line and be just as effective.


Defensemen Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Keith Yandle of the Arizona Coyotes usually bring the puck up the ice and work as the quarterback, but they're not afraid to pinch in deep to make a play. All of them have heavy shots.


Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Swiss Army-knife forward Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks are versatile enough to excel from just about anywhere on the power play. Pavelski can seemingly play any position on the ice save for goaltender.


Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has become a load to handle in front of the net by creating room for himself with his aggressive arms and lanky but strong frame.


The aforementioned players were voted by NHL.com writers as the top-14 power-play specialists in the League today because they are elite performers in that regard. The list, featuring some history about the players, is below:









Alex Ovechkin

1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals , 56 points (4 first-place votes)

2013-14: 24 power-play goals, 39 power-play points


Ovechkin was a unanimous selection for first place. He has led the NHL in power-play goals for two straight seasons, and his 24 power-play goals last season were two more than anybody else's two-season total from 2012-14 (Chris Kunitz is second with 22). His 53 power-play goals in the past three seasons are 15 more than anybody else (James Neal is second with 38). More than 35 percent of Ovechkin's career goals have come on the power play (151 of 422).










Erik Karlsson

2. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, 45 points

2013-14: 5 PPGs, 31 PPPs


Karlsson is one of the most electrifying players on the power play because of his ability to carry the puck out of his own zone and go end-to-end in a flash. He was tied for first among defensemen and sixth in the League in power-play points last season. Karlsson was second among defensemen and seventh overall in power-play points in 2011-12, when he won the Norris Trophy and finished the season with 78 points, 25 more than any other defenseman.










Steven Stamkos

3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, 44 points

2013-14: 9 PPGs, 13 PPPs


Stamkos is one of the most effective power-play scorers because of his one-timer from the left circle. He doesn't always shoot it, but he is always dangerous from that spot. The Lightning were 20.4 percent (28-for-137) on the power play with Stamkos in the lineup last season; they were 16.5 percent (22-for-133) without him. Had Stamkos played in 82 games last season he would have been on pace for 20 power-play goals.










Sidney Crosby

4. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 43 points

2013-14: 11 PPGs, 38 PPPs


Crosby is best on the strong-side half-wall, where he can play quarterback by surveying the scene and distributing the puck. The Penguins' power play under former coach Dan Bylsma ran through Crosby and was one of the most effective power plays during the past two seasons, clicking at 23.9 percent. Only the Capitals have had a better power play in that same span (24.6 percent).










Nicklas Backstrom

5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals, 41 points

2013-14: 6 PPGs, 44 PPPs


Backstrom is very much like Crosby, the eyes of the Capitals' power play. He typically plays on the half-wall and usually looks for Ovechkin with a seam pass. He can also find Troy Brouwer in front or Mike Green on the point. Backstrom led the League with 44 power-play points last season and he's second behind Ovechkin with 62 in the past two seasons.










Claude Giroux

6. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers, 35 points

2013-14: 7 PPGs, 37 PPPs


Giroux is the engine for the Flyers' first power-play unit. He is the reason the Flyers were one of only three teams to have five of the top-50 power-play scorers last season (Pittsburgh and Washington were the other two). Giroux was fourth in power-play points last season, but he has the most power-play points (96) in the NHL over the past three seasons.










P.K. Subban

7. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens, 28 points

2013-14: 4 PPGs, 23 PPPs


Subban was second behind Ovechkin in power-play minutes last season (382:16) and was seventh among defensemen with 23 power-play points. He was relatively unlucky with a 4.3 shooting percentage in 5-on-4 power plays (4-for-93), according to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com. Subban leads all defensemen with 49 power-play points in the past two seasons.










Shea Weber

8. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators, 22 points

2013-14: 12 PPGs, 26 PPPs


Weber was first among defensemen with a career-best 12 power-play goals last season, and he leads all defensemen with 25 power-play goals in the past three seasons. His best weapon is his blistering shot, but he can bring the puck up the ice and set up plays for teammates. He's an all-around effective player on the power play who possesses an elite skill (his shot).










Joe Pavelski

9. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks, 20 points

2013-14: 16 PPGs, 31 PPPs


Pavelski broke out as a scorer last season; his 41 goals topped his previous career-best by 10, and his 16 power-play goals were five more than he had ever scored in an NHL season. A big reason he was so effective on the power play was he converted on 25 percent of his shots in 5-on-4 situations (15-for-60), according to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com. He was also effective passing the puck; he had the first assist on 11 other 5-on-4 power play goals.










Keith Yandle

10. Keith Yandle, Arizona Coyotes, 16 points

2013-14: 3 PPGs, 31 PPPs


Yandle has quietly become one of the most effective players on the power play in Arizona. It finally showed up in a strong team power play last season as the Coyotes were fourth in the NHL at 19.9 percent thanks in large part to Yandle. He led all defensemen and was third overall with 28 power-play assists last season.










John Tavares

11. John Tavares, New York Islanders, 15 points

2013-14: 8 PPGs, 25 PPPs


Tavares was 17th in the NHL last season with 25 power-play points despite missing the final 22 games of the season with a knee injury. He was on pace for almost 35 power-play points, which would have been good for fifth behind Backstrom, Ovechkin, Crosby and Giroux.










Evgeni Malkin

12. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins, 14 points

2013-14: 7 PPGs, 30 PPPs


Malkin was tied for second with Ovechkin in power-play points per game last season (0.50). He finished eighth in power-play points despite playing in only 60 games. He was seventh in assists with 23, including 15 first assists, third in the League behind Backstrom and Yandle (16 each). He is averaging 0.47 points per game on the power play in his career (245 points in 518 games). He had 121 points in 242 games in his first three seasons (2006-08).










Drew Doughty

13. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings, 10 points

2013-14: 6 PPGs, 16 PPPs


Doughty's power-play production spiked in his second season (31 points), but has since been steady at around 15 points per season (10 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season). Doughty, though, is more about possession on the power play. He carries the puck into the zone and serves as the quarterback. He has a heavy shot to go along with excellent passing skills and vision.










Wayne Simmonds

14. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers, 6 points

2013-14: 15 PPGs, 24 PPPs


Simmonds has become one of the best net-front players on the power play in the NHL. He does the dirty work on the Flyers' power play, and has cashed in for 32 goals in the past three seasons, including a career-best 15 last season. He scores the majority of his goals from the slot, mostly off rebounds and deflections.



Others receiving votes: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings (5 points); Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (4 points); Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings (3 points); Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (3 points); Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild (3 points); Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins (2 points); Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks (2 points); James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets (2 points); Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets (1 point)




































































































TOP 14 POWER-PLAY SPECIALISTS (VOTING BREAKDOWN)
Arpon Basu Brian Compton Corey Masisak Dan Rosen
1. Ovechkin1. Ovechkin1. Ovechkin1. Ovechkin
2. Stamkos2. Karlsson2. Stamkos2. Backstrom
3. Karlsson3. Crosby3. Crosby3. Crosby
4. Subban4. Backstrom4. Backstrom4. Giroux
5. Doughty5. Stamkos5. Karlsson5. Karlsson
6. Weber6. Pavelski6. Giroux6. Subban
7. Giroux7. Yandle7. Tavares7. Stamkos
8. Crosby8. Giroux8. Subban8. Tavares
9. Backstrom9. Malkin9. Pavelski9. Weber
10. Malkin10. Weber10. Datsyuk10. Pavelski
11. Yandle11. Simmonds11. Chara11. Yandle
12. Giordano12. Parise12. Carter12. Malkin
13. Wisniewski13. Kunitz13. Weber13. Thornton
14. Simmonds14. Subban14. Byfuglien14. Simmonds

---



Friday, September 5, 2014

Flames sign Potter to one-year, two-way deal


The Calgary Flames found some defensive reinforcements for the upcoming season.


The Flames signed former Oilers and Bruins defenseman Corey Potter to a one-year, two-way deal. Last season, he spent time with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins playing in a total of 19 games with both teams.


Potter, 30, joins a Flames team in need of solid defensive help. With Mark Giordano leading the way, the rest of the blue line corps is a bit dicey. Ladislav Smid, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland round out what would appear to be Calgary’s top-six on defense.


While that crew could use more help, the thing they need most is depth and Potter will help out there especially with the rest of the depth hopefuls being young like Tyler Wotherspoon and Patrick Sieloff.


Potter’s best season came with the Oilers in 2011-12 when he had four goals and 21 points in 62 games. He’s played in 52 total games in the two seasons since then.



Ray Whitney is just kind of waiting for a team to call


Ray Whitney is one of a handful of veteran players that has yet to sign on with a new team. At 42 years old and having been in the NHL since 1992, it might be a little tricky for him to score a deal with a team.


If that sounds like the kind of situation that would bother a player that’s been around as long as he has, think again. Pierre LeBrun at ESPN.com caught up with Whitney to find out he’s not exactly stressing out about not having a new contract.


“I’m in shape, I’m skating, but I’m not too worried,” Whitney said. “There’s obviously limitations to where I would go, but I’m not out there searching for anything, either.”


Whitney said he won’t keep skating for much longer as the clock ticks down towards the start of training camp – now two weeks away – and his interest in playing wanes more as time rolls on.


Last season with the Dallas Stars, Whitney had nine goals and 23 assists in 69 games – his lowest full-season point output since 2003-04 with the Detroit Red Wings.


If this is the end of the road, it’s been a heck of a run that’s taken him into parts of three decades and netted him a Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes.



Blues sign Colin Fraser — one-year, two-way deal


If the St. Louis Blues are looking for Stanley Cup-winning experience, they just found a guy to help provide that.


The Blues announced they’ve signed forward Colin Fraser to a one-year two-way contract. He spent the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings and was an important player in their Stanley Cup win in 2012.


Fraser, 29, was a favorite of Kings coach Darryl Sutter and played well on the fourth line for Los Angeles. Last season, he struggled a bit and spent some time in the AHL before being recalled for the Kings playoff run. He did not participate in the playoffs, however, as the Kings four steady lines rolled strong throughout the postseason.


In his career, Fraser has been part of three Cup-winning teams also playing on the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks team that knocked off Philly in the Final. His brand of physical, defensive play should have Blues coach Ken Hitchcock over the moon to have him potentially help in the bottom six.



Reinhart brothers hoping for memorable season


There's a rule in the Reinhart household: don't hit your brother too hard playing hockey.


Paul Reinhart, who spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, may have helped institute the rule. But the job of enforcing it typically falls on his wife, Theresa.


"I don't think our mom would let us back in the house," middle brother Griffin Reinhart told NHL.com. "She's definitely let us know she wouldn't like [us hitting each other]."


With three siblings following in their father's NHL footsteps, enforcing that rule is about to become difficult.


The fourth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Griffin is used to playing against his two brothers. Max Reinhart is two years older than Griffin and was the Calgary Flames' third-round pick (No. 64) in the 2010 draft. Sam Reinhart is two years younger than Griffin and was selected second by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2014 draft.


Griffin, who spent the past four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, played a number of games against his brothers, who were linemates for a full season with the Kootenay Ice.


In fact, Sam's first WHL game, as a 15-year-old in 2010, was alongside Max and against Griffin, who at the time was 12 games into his junior career. All three brothers were in the starting lineup that night and their parents were in the stands. Setting the stage for a decorated junior career, Sam scored the winning goal on a shift against Griffin.


"It was a pretty special night. It was even more special for Sam. Not a lot of families get an opportunity like that," Max Reinhart said. "Sam played his 16-year-old year and we were on a line together for most of that year. So we got a lot of time to play with each other. Obviously [it was] one of the better years of my hockey career."


Playing together with Kootenay in 2011-12 didn't just help Max and Sam excel on the ice. It bridged a four-year age gap that sometimes can seem like an eternity between teenaged brothers.


"I think we had a lot of fun with it. We got a lot closer that year just because we lived in the same house with the same billet family and played on the same line," Max said. "Just had a lot of fun for my last year of junior and his first year. I tried to teach him some things."


Along with the lessons, Sam gained an appreciation for how hard it is to get to the NHL. That especially was the case after Max made his American Hockey League debut that summer with Calgary's affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.


"He's been great for Griffin and myself. He probably had a tougher path and made it a lot easier on us," Sam said. "We have so much to give to him for that. It's been pretty nice to watch him develop from a young age to now and really learn."


It was Griffin who got the last laugh that season, when Edmonton swept Kootenay in the first round of the 2012 WHL playoffs. With Max playing in the AHL the following season, Edmonton eliminated Kootenay in five games in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.


Griffin's impressive WHL career came to a close when he captained Edmonton to the 2014 Memorial Cup championship. It was another milestone in a remarkable season for the Reinharts. Max enjoyed his most productive NHL stint, with two assists in four games with Calgary in March, and he led Abbotsford in scoring and earned the team's Fan Favorite Award.


Then came Sam's big night in June, when the Sabres picked him second, a spot that could help earn the youngest brother an opening-night spot on a rebuilding roster.


"I hope he's not going to have that same kind of path [I had]. He's shown a lot of people that he's pretty close to making the jump if not ready this year," Max said. "I know he can and will have a much different path to the NHL than the path that me and Griffin have taken so far."


With Sam a top prospect, Griffin done with his junior eligibility and Max coming off his most successful AHL season, all three brothers hope to crack an NHL roster this fall. It's a far cry from the neighborhood shinny games near their North Vancouver home.


"It would be great. I've never played against Max," Sam Reinhart said. "It would be exciting on a different stage at the NHL level. I think we'd handle it pretty well."


The topic of those potential matchups didn't come up when the brothers spent this summer together at the family home. Other than development camps and Sam's assorted post-draft travel obligations, all three lived, worked and trained together, preparing for a potential milestone season.


"We don't get to see each other a whole lot during the year while everyone is out in different cities playing on different teams, so it's nice to get in and catch up. [We were] training together and skating together all summer, had some good family time," Max said. "It's obviously becoming harder and harder with more responsibilities as we get older. I can't imagine us having too many summers together under the same roof like we've been fortunate enough to have the past couple of years. We're a pretty tight family and it's a nice time of year all to be together."


If each brother sticks with his respective NHL team, it could make for an eventful couple of months. The Sabres host the Flames on Dec. 11 and host the Islanders on Dec. 27. New York visits Calgary on Jan. 2, six days before Paul Reinhart celebrates his 55th birthday. The Sabres visit Calgary on Jan. 27, three days after Griffin turns 21. Four days after Max turns 23, the Islanders visit Buffalo on Feb. 8.


"As soon as Sam was drafted we hoped we could all make it. That would be pretty cool, to make the League at the same time," Griffin said. "Everyone in my family is trying to make the lineup. It's comforting having everyone around me trying to do the same thing."


So long as they remember the family rule.


"As soon as you hit another [brother], you start hearing mom's voice right away," Max said. "It's not a nice voice."



Krejci contract ensures Bruins' depth at center


WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Strength down the middle is a philosophy a lot of general managers preach.


That mantra is one Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli lives by, and he's willing to devote a great deal of salary-cap space to prove it.



David Krejci



Center - BOS


GOALS: 19 | ASST: 50 | PTS: 69

SOG: 169 | +/-: 39



Chiarelli's efforts to make sure the Bruins will be among the League's elite at center for the remainder of this decade was finalized Thursday when it was announced that center David Krejci signed a six-year contract extension that begins with the 2015-16 season. Krejci, whose salary-cap charge for this season will be $5.25 million, will count for $7.25 million against the cap each season of the new contract, which runs through the 2020-21 season.

Krejci, fellow center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Zdeno Chara and goaltender Tuukka Rask all are signed at least through 2019.


Although his 69 points were four shy of his career high, Krejci had his most consistent season in 2013-14, with 19 goals and a League-best plus-39 rating.


"He's been a real valuable player for us," Chiarelli said during a press conference at Ristuccia Arena, where several Bruins and other players took part in an informal skate Friday. "You've seen his performance during the season, you've seen his performances during the [Stanley Cup] playoffs. He's come up through the ranks for us. I consider him one of the pillars of this franchise, so to get him locked up, I think for a fairly reasonable term and value, I think it speaks to a couple things; one, to him wanting to stay and be part of us continuing to win, and two, obviously our commitment to try to keep this successful core together."


Krejci didn't live up to his advanced billing in the 2014 postseason, when he finished the Bruins' 12-game run with no goals and four assists. However, he forged his reputation as a clutch performer by leading the League in playoff scoring during the Bruins' marches to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship (23 points) and 2013 Eastern Conference title (26 points). Krejci also added an extra dose of leadership to his contributions last season when he was an alternate captain for part of the season.


Now 28, Krejci has developed into the player the Bruins expected they'd someday have when they drafted him in the second round (No. 63) in 2004. Chiarelli also has few concerns about Krejci maintaining his level of play into his mid-30s.


"He's in terrific shape. He's been getting stronger actually each year, and obviously at some point that's going to stop," Chiarelli said. "He keeps himself in good shape. He plays a smart game. Players that play to that point now, with those things being in place, I feel comfortable giving him that term."


Although Chiarelli still has work to do finalizing a roster for this season (re-signing restricted free agents forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug), it shouldn't be a surprise that Chiarelli made the Krejci negotiations a priority. Chiarelli consistently has made sure he's kept his core players from hitting the open market. In October 2010 he signed Chara to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract right as he started the final season of his previous contract. Chiarelli acted similarly with Bergeron, now a two-time Selke Trophy winner, by signing the center to an eight-year, $52 million contract in July 2013. That same month Rask re-signed with the Bruins for eight years and $56 million after playing on a one-year contract the season prior. Rask won the Vezina Trophy last season, the first of that new contract.


The Bruins' philosophy under Chiarelli not only makes players rich and keeps the team in the championship hunt, it inspires the players to want to get better. Bergeron, the only player remaining from before Chiarelli took over, has been impressed with Chiarelli's work.


"You feel the trust from the management standpoint, and I think for us as players, that tells us a lot," Bergeron said. "I think you want to get better, you want to win for the team and definitely it helps. I think it changed over the years also, with the new [collective bargaining agreement] and stuff, and I think it's a little different with the younger players getting longer extensions. But that being said, I think Peter's done a great job and it's a lot of tough decisions and a lot of cap situations, cap issues you have to manage, and I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. But definitely as players we're definitely happy to have the core intact for quite a few years ahead of us."


There are no questions about who the Bruins' top two centers, No. 1 defenseman or starting goaltender will be this season. But plenty of questions remain to be answered, including where Smith and Krug fit in and how the Bruins will become cap-compliant. According to CapGeek.com, the Bruins would have a little less than $4 million in cap space after placing injured center Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve.


Chiarelli, who doesn't comment on ongoing contract negotiations, admitted there are some trade possibilities he's looking at. As for getting Smith and Krug, who were important offensive performers for the team that won the Presidents' Trophy last season, signed, Chiarelli sounded cautiously optimistic about having them both in training camp on time.


"I want them to be part of this team and I want them obviously to have a full camp," he said. "In my tenure here we've never had anyone not attend. But that doesn't mean that they won't."


Arguably the most important part of Chiarelli's job is deciding if players like Krejci, Smith and Krug fit with the organization based on their abilities and compensation. The task gets more difficult the better the players perform, and in turn how well the team fares. When his team loses in the second round of the playoffs like it did last season, Chiarelli still has to deal with the salary-cap consequences of attempting to win the Stanley Cup.


"We pushed it last year, we made a bet that the end of the day [it] didn't work out," said Chiarelli, who also has to work around performance bonuses earned by departed forward Jarome Iginla and others. "But we wanted to win last year so we pushed it and we'll continue to push it. To push it like we do, we know we have to make the right decisions. But if you look at all the teams that win, they're in the same boat. You want to maximize your resources. We've got the commitment from ownership to do it and we'll continue do it, but you have to make these decisions. You have to be proactive and you have to make the decisions. And sometimes they're not always popular, but we feel that when we do we're making the right decision."



Stars goalie Jack Campbell honors ‘Lone Survivor’, fallen Navy SEALs on new mask


Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Jack Campbell is not one to shy away from patriotism. The young netminder is a proud American, and he uses his mask as one way to celebrate his country.


In his latest creation, Campbell, along with helmet-designer-to-the-stars, David Gunnarsson, honored the memory of the Navy SEALs lost during Operation: Red Wing in 2005. The mask also pays tribute to the lone survivor of the military operation, Marcus Littrell.




Daveart.com

Daveart.com





DaveArt.com

DaveArt.com




Like all of the masks Gunnarsson designs, it was a collaborative effort between the artist and the goalie from day one. From Gunnarsson's Facebook page:

"Jack Campbell of the Dallas Stars had such an awesome idea for his new mask. He contacted me early and we started to discuss and brainstorm how to make his ideas into a reality. Jack wanted ... a design that is a tribute to the American hero Marcus Luttrell. Marcus Luttrell is a former United States Navy SEAL, who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for ... facing Taliban fighters ... Marcus is born and raised in Texas ..."



This isn't the first time Campbell and Gunnarsson have collaborated to mark a moment in United States history. His previous mask commemorated the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, which happened in Dallas. Also, how could we forget about Captain America?




Rangers’ Moore ‘really optimistic’ contract will be ‘done by training camp’


From Newsday:


Defenseman John Moore, the last remaining Rangers restricted free agent, said Friday that he believed an agreement on a new contract was close and Moore expects to be in training camp “on Day 1.”


“I’m really optimistic,” said Moore, 23, who has been training in Chicago, his hometown, and spent the morning skating here in his first informal workout with about a dozen teammates.


While the Rangers neither confirmed nor denied the player’s optimistic take on the negotiations, Moore was confident enough to say, “Unless something really goes wrong, I’d be surprised if it’s not done by training camp.”


Training camp starts on Sept. 18.



After trade talk, Hurricanes' Ward looks to regain form


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is not the player he once was. He knows it, and he's not afraid to talk about it. Bluntly.


"I know I've been inconsistent," Ward said. "Inconsistency at the goaltending position is something you can't afford. These last couple years, dealing with injuries and other issues ..."


Ward rethinks his point and continues.


"But excuses are for losers, so those don't do you any favors."


Ward is opting for straight talk these days. Often reticent about his shaky play in recent seasons, the Hurricanes goalie now speaks with nothing-left-to-lose candor. One reason: early in the summer, Ward learned that the Hurricanes were looking at trade options. In his first days on the job, general manager Ron Francis phoned Ward to let him know.



FANTASY RANKINGS



Top 275 overall fantasy rankings


By NHL.com Fantasy Staff
The 2014-15 NHL season is drawing closer by the day, so NHL.com has you covered with a full positional breakdown of all the players around the League worth owning in fantasy hockey. READ MORE ›



"To be honest, at the start of the summer I didn't think I was coming back," Ward said. "I respect Ron for being honest with me all summer long and telling me how it is. It was going in the direction that I wasn't going to be here."


Francis felt he owed it to Ward to be up front.


"We did have that conversation, absolutely," Francis said. "We talked that that was a possibility going into the start of the summer."


One obstacle Francis faced was receiving value for Ward, who has two years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract.


"Quite frankly you look at what you will get back in return," Francis said. "If you make a trade and you don't get something back that makes you better, it isn't good to make that deal. We looked at a lot of different things."


Ward was a tremendous success story early in his career, leading the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006 and capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy. In the seasons that followed he carried a heavy load, but then came a sharp turn in the goaltender's fortunes. Injuries and subpar play prompted Carolina to sign free agent Anton Khudobin last summer to challenge Ward for playing time. Both goaltenders sustained early-season injuries, but Khudobin seized the starting job in early January. Ward missed two long stretches of action with groin injuries and never was able to find his form. He finished the season with 10 wins, a 3.06 goals-against average and .898 save percentage in 30 games.


"Because of the injuries, I have played out of fear that I was going to get hurt again," Ward said. "It's a very difficult position to play when you don't have confidence. I have battled that the last couple years."


It won't get much easier heading into training camp. Khudobin likely has a leg up on the starting job after finishing the 2013-14 season fifth in the League with a .926 save percentage. Plus, Ward will have to come to terms with the realization that he was deemed expendable.


He isn't hiding from any of this heavy freight. He tried to sort through it this summer.


"I spent a lot of time with my family," he said. "I spent a lot of time going to church and getting involved in my faith and getting clear-minded that way."


Ward believes he can recapture his old form. He is 30 now, heading into his 10th season in Carolina. He always has expressed support for the goaltenders who served as his backups, and he equally is respectful of Khudobin, the first player to take the starting job away from him. This season, the challenge will be greater.


"I want to be that guy," he says. "I'm a big fan of Anton's too. I think he's a great goaltender and we're going to be able to push one another. We're both competitive guys, but I want to be in the net showcasing what I can do. I feel like I'm going to get that opportunity and I want to take care of that opportunity."


New Hurricanes coach Bill Peters has assured Ward that he will have the chance.



Cam Ward



Goalie - CAR


RECORD: 10-12-6

GAA: 3.06 | SVP: .898



"Let them compete in seven exhibition games," Peters said. "Everyone's going to play. Everyone's going to have an equal opportunity to show how good they are and how ready they are to start the year on time."

There is a different tone in Carolina this year. Peters, a former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, has taken over a team that has made few roster changes despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs five straight seasons. Ward, like many other veteran players, needs to contribute to a turnaround. Francis didn't sugarcoat his message when he spoke about the former Conn Smythe winner.


"Has he been at that [high] level the past few years? No. But he has been there before and we hope he can get back there again," Francis said. "I think he's put himself in a position with how hard he's worked over the summer to have that opportunity. He will come into camp fighting for that job."


It won't be an easy autumn for Ward. Before he can compete with Khudobin, he must replenish his supply of confidence. It starts with optimism.


"I still have time to grow and get better," he said. "I'm only 30 years old. I feel I'm as fresh as I've ever been. That's got to translate over to the ice. There's no reason not to believe I can get better at this game."


The circumstances are not ideal for Ward or the Hurricanes. It is never easy for a player to learn he may no longer be the right fit. But there is a long season ahead, and so much that can happen.


"We had numerous conversations over the summer, and the way it worked out is he's here," Francis said. "We think he can help us and he's worked hard to put himself in a position to have that opportunity. Hopefully that happens."