Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday Wrap Up: It's Christmas Eve! (Sort of)

Atlanta; you will never get this, you will never get it (again), la la la la la la.
Jim McIsaac/AFP

  • The NHL wants you to know that it is not poor: Interestingly enough, the cap has jumped about $6 million for next season. TSN reports that the limit will be $50.3 million dollars. Not that all teams will spend up to it, but it should give a lot of wiggle room to teams like New Jersey, Buffalo and San Jose who were right up against it... I think it's safe to say no one really thought it would go this high. We knew there would probably be an increase, but $6 million is a big figure and can play a serious role in how much teams are going to spend on free agents... And now those free agents may be asking for a bit more.
  • I don't like to say 'I told you so', but... Keith Tkachuk has re-signed with St. Louis. I am > the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • You can't fire everyone: As it turns out, Boston isn't going to fire everyone in the organization after all. It turns out that they need someone to play between the pipes, and that person is going to be Manny Fernandez. In return, Minnesota gets Petr Kalus and a fourth round pick. While Kalus is a prospect with a great upside, couldn't Minnesota have gotten more for a pretty good starting goaltender?
  • It's like Christmas in July: The free agent market opens tomorrow at noon, and I can't wait! It's hands down the best day of the off season.

Free Agency Matchmaker: the Rest of the Field

Well, time is quickly running out before the free agent market opens tomorrow. Due to some pretty poor planning, I won't be able to chronicle all of the remaining top tier free agents in their own posts. For the sake of making sure they are all given their due before July 1st, I've got a big, huge, monster post for you today, which dissects the rest of the top tier players.

Teemu Selanne - RW - Anaheim Ducks
Fresh off a Stanley Cup victory, Selanne is one of the biggest names on the market this July, and rightfully so. He scored 98 points during the regular season, his highest total in almost a decade, and the Finnish Flash's 15 post season points were a career high. What's most interesting to note is that Selanne picked up some of the Ducks' style of play, notching 82 PIM. That's a total that almost doubles high previous career high. Apparently, the Ducks' physical play was emphasized up and down the lineup.

Prediction: Selanne has said himself that he would love to retire on top. After winning the Stanley Cup this season, I believe he has two options. He turns 37 on July third, and can either try and cash in one last time (both in $ and championship terms) with the Ducks, or pull a Bourque and call it a career. My guess is that he'll hang up the skates... All that being said, there will be a long list of suitors for Selanne's services, but few, if any, offering a long term lease.

Paul Kariya - LW - Nashville Predators

Kariya played alongside Selanne for many years in Anaheim, but unlike the Finn, has the potential to suit up for many more years in the NHL. At 32 years of age, Kariya scored 76 points this season, leading the Predators to a 110 point season. All signs point to Kariya leaving the Predators, and the firesale/potential move of the team are the main catalysts on that front. There's almost no way Kariya, and fellow UFA/teammate Peter Forsberg re-sign in Nashville. Or in Hamilton. Or in Kansas City.

Prediction: It's tough to say where Kariya will end up. There are a number of teams who would love to have his services, but the rumor from has been eerily quiet. One thing is for sure, Kariya won't be back in Music City.

Keith Tkachuk - C/LW - Atlanta Thrashers/St. Louis Blues

Tkachuk is one of the premier power forwards in the game today, and that was again the case for Tkachuk during the 2006-07 season. The winger has seen his numbers decline in recent years, but he is still a serious asset to any team that needs a big body up front. Prior to the trade deadline, Tkachuk was traded from St. Louis to Atlanta, to help with the Thrasher's playoff push. They were ousted in the first round by the Rangers, but he managed to put up 18 points in 22 games during his short stay in Atlanta (including playoffs). Earlier this week, his rights were traded back to St. Louis... The Blues are reportedly offering 2 years in the neighborhood of $3.5 mil.

Prediction: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks that by trading Tkachuk back to Missouri, the chances of him re-signing in Atlanta have been increased. While I believe there are only two front runners for his services (St. Louis and Atlanta), I also think that this trade is an indicator that he will re-sign with, and may finish his career in St. Louis.

Jason Blake - LW - New York Islanders
Oh, Jason Blake. How you pull at my heart strings. You've had your best seasons on Long Island, and were continually given a shot by a last place team that decided to keep you around after you put up 18 points in 82 games during the 2001-02 season on the basis of your work ethic. All that hard work has paid off, and now you're a top free agent looking for a big pay day. After the Islanders decided to hold onto you at the trade deadline, you gushed about how much you always wanted to be on Long Island. Rumors say that the Islanders offered you $10 mil over three years, and you declined to test the open waters. Good luck on the high seas Jason, as all signs point to the Islanders shifting their sights to Ryan Smyth.

Prediction: Minnesota and Detroit have been reported to make a push at Blake, and my feelings are that Blake would love to return home to Minnesota... Assuming the price is right.

Sheldon Souray - D - Montreal Canadiens
Souray is by far the #1 blue liner on the market this off season. It seems as if he's been rumored to go to every NHL city, and there's no reason to think half of those rumors don't have a slice of truth in them. He would fit nicely in almost any lineup and is a sure fire way for a team to bolster it's defensive corps, while providing a boost to the power play. Souray had a whopping 64 points last season, huge numbers for a defenseman, but they come at the price of a -28 +/- rating. To his credit, Souray's prior career low plus-minus was -11.

Prediction: Spector suggests that Souray will sign with a Californian team, and I tend to agree. While I find it hard to believe Souray would like to play for the Kings, if either San Jose or Anaheim can find the money for him, it would be a great fit. I'm going with San Jose on this one, but it's a pure guess.

Dominik Hasek - G - Detroit Red Wings
If you're looking for a bad group of free agents this season, which is really pretty hard to find, then you've come to the right place. J.S. Giguere has already re-signed in Anaheim, and unless you think Ed Belfour is the answer to your team's goaltending woes, the only serious starting net minder on the market is The Dominator. He made less than one million last season in Detroit, while proving he is still a stellar #1 net minder... While his resume does include a .913 save percentage in 06-07, there are other, more impressive numbers. Hasek turned 42 (yes, forty fucking two) in January and notched 38 wins (T-6th NHL), 8 shutouts (2nd NHL), a 2.05 GAA (2nd NHL) this past season. In the playoffs, his GAA was a minuscule 1.79 over an 18 game span, which trailed only Roberto Luongo (1.75 in 12 games) and Marty Turco (1.30 in 7 games).

Prediction: The Wings are certainly interested in re-signing Hasek, and I think that the interest is mutual. Hasek would probably love nothing more than to stay in Detroit, get a nice pay day and have a shot at winning another Cup.

Friday, June 29, 2007

This Guy is in the Hall of Fame?

There are so many things I could say about this picture, but they all are offensive to the mentally handicapped. To call Mark Messier one of them, would be all too degrading. To them.

If you haven't heard, Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis and Al MacInnis were elected to the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Free Agency Matchmaker: Ryan Smyth

The start of free agency (July 1) is almost upon us, and to help shed some light on the subject, BMR brings you the fifth in a series of profiles chronicling this summer's free agent class. Next up is Edmonton's Long Island's Ryan Smyth.

One of the most talked about free agents this off season has been none other than Captain Canada, Ryan Smyth. If you're sober enough to remember February, you'll remember that Smyth was shipped from Edmonton to the New York Islanders in a trade deadline day blockbuster. Since he left town, the Oilers enjoyed a free fall ending to their season, all the while hoping to lure Smyth back home. There has been no end to the speculation regarding where Smyth will sign, and the further we get from February 26th, the more likely it seems that Smyth will sign elsewhere. Only time will tell. What we do know for sure is that Smyth will make a huge impact with whichever team can ink him.

It's hard to imagine Smyth playing in anything other than blue and orange -- whether it's in Edmonton or on Long Island.

Smyth is a leader, as he wore an 'A' for Edmonton this past season and plays with a serious passion for the game. There's absolutely no denying that he comes to play on a nightly basis.

This summer, he is hitting the free agent market for the first time at the age of 31. Without a doubt, he is the filet mignon of this year's free agent class, right up there with Scott Gomez, Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg and a host of others.

Much like Gomez, Smyth is a steady performer on the ice. He has scored between 61 and 68 points each of the past four seasons, with the highest total (68) coming this past season. Smyth's style of play is probably best described by TSN's scouting report; "Goes to the net with ample vigor and scores the majority of his goals due to supreme determination."

Of course, no profile of Smyth is complete without mentioning his love for the Oilers. He grew up in Banff, Alberta, which happens to be closer to Calgary than Edmonton, but he nonetheless bleeds blue and orange (the Oiler kind). Need proof? Look no further than Smyth's farewell press conference after being traded in February.

And of course who can forget Knob Hockey's hidden camera in the Oiler's dressing room during their 2006 playoff run...

Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match...
(in no particular order)
  • New York Islanders: The Islanders like Ryan Smyth. A lot. Everything coming out of Long Island these days gives the indication that the Islanders are doing everything they can to keep Smyth on the Island, even if that means parting ways with Jason Blake. The team seems to be willing to shell out the big bucks to keep him there, but if money doesn't tempt Smyth, then he will be looking elsewhere. If there's one player that might not be swayed by an American Dollar, it's this guy. Nonetheless, the Islanders will probably be able to put together something very tempting to Smyth, whether that means a large sum or a long term deal. They did it with Yashin and DiPietro, and there's no reason to believe owner Charles Wang will stop now... All that being said, the Islanders would make Smyth the face of the franchise if he re-signs, which is exactly what he was for the Oilers.
  • Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers are the hometown team, and are trying to regain a player that played with them for 12 seasons and was originally drafted by the organization back in 1994. Sending Smyth to Long Island at the deadline was completely unexpected, and gave him a pretty good shock. It'll be interesting to see how much that hurts their chances of signing him. Do they get a hometown advantage and/or discount, or are they paying full price? One thing is for sure, they are not going to go down without a fight. Smyth was the face of the team, not to mention provided a whole lot of other intangibles, and is a mighty big figure in the city of Edmonton. Even if they burned a bridge or two by sending Smyth across the continent, they still have a hell of a chance to sign him.
  • Calgary Flames: There have been rumors around the internets that the Islanders and Flames were on the verge of a deal that would send Smyth to Calgary, similar to the Timonen/Hartnell trade. Let's just put this one to bed right now. If Smyth is as much of an Oiler as he seems to be, he would never sign with Calgary. I'm sure the Flames know this, and there's no way they would trade for the guy prior to July 1 if they felt they would not be able to sign him. Doing that would be silly. The numbers aren't right for the deal, either. The Flames have already committed about $35 million to next season, and have a good amount of free agents left to re-sign. They have got the room to sign a big name, but it would probably cost them a pretty penny to make Smyth a part of the team. Even if money isn't a huge factor for Smyth, there's no doubt it would take a little extra to get him to play for Edmonton's rival.
  • Everyone else: There are a number of teams out there that can offer Smyth some serious cash. Off the top of my head, Colorado, San Jose, the Rangers, Philadelphia and St. Louis all come to mind. They are all the teams that are going to be trying to make a splash this July, and there are probably others out there that I didn't mention. The reason that I lump them all together is that there is no one team from the aforementioned group that, I think, would appeal to Smyth more than any of the others. All of these teams are hoping that Smyth goes to the highest better, or that the location/talent level of their team sets them apart from the crowd.
If you put a gun to my head and made me choose a destination for Smyth: This decision is a tough nut to crack. In my mind, there are two teams that stand head and shoulders above the rest. I hope I'm wrong about this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Smyth will sign back in Edmonton. All we keep hearing from Edmonton is how badly Kevin Lowe wants to make a splash, in any capacity, and how much the team means to Smyth. The two parties have had some problems with contracts in the past (in the latest instance, it's rumored that the team traded him in February, since no contract could be agreed upon prior to the trade deadline), but I think they'll find a way to work things out.

For fuck's sake and all that is Bobby Nystrom, I hope I'm wrong. I'm starting the campaign right here and now; Please Ryan, stay on Long Island.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday Wrap Up: Scotty Bowman Turns Down Toronto

Toronto; you will never get this, you will never get it, la la la la la la.

  • Scotty Bowman does not want to be a part of your Cup drought: Today, the Toronto Sun is reporting that Bowman has turned down an offer to join Toronto in an executive role. The Sun names former Sens GM John Muckler as the leading candidate for the job... and I'm sure hiring Muckler would go over really well with the fans.
  • Here's a list of all the available free agents, thanks to SI.
  • The turnover continues in Boston: TSN is reporting that the Bruins have fired assistant GM Jeff Gorton and scout Daniel Dore. (Edit: And by the way, I'm calling it right now. Mike Milbury will be back in Boston before opening night.)
  • Keith Tkachuk is back in St. Louis: The Blues received Tkachuk from Atlanta along with a conditional fourth round pick next year for a conditional first round pick yesterday. If you remember, he was traded to Atlanta for Glen Metropolit, first and third round picks in 2007 and a second round pick in 2008 back on February 25th. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks the trade was a good move for the Thrashers, who would have had to give up a first rounder if they re-signed Tkachuk before July 1st. The article goes on to say that the Thrashers are the leading candidate to re-sign Tkachuk and increased their chances with the move. While that may be true, I highly doubt St. Louis would have made this deal if they thought that they would not be able to ink the 35-year old.
  • Maybe it's time to quit your day job: Pittsburgh's Maxime Talbot has won a seat in the World Series of Poker, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting. For those of you not familiar with poker, that's pretty damn impressive. Anyone can buy a seat for $10,000, but to actually win a seat, is quite a feat. I would say that a comparable accomplishment would be getting drafted by an NHL team in the first or second round... Something Talbot has not accomplished.
  • SI FanNation still doesn't care: It sure seems to me that the NHL folks at SI FanNation don't give a rats ass about hockey. A while back, I told you that FanNation seems to have a problem with getting things right in regards to their hockey coverage. Apparently, that is still the case. Could someone please tell them what Ryan Smyth looks like!?
  • Where are they now? The Hanson brothers.
  • Bill Simmons and hockey is a deadly combination: You've probably seen it by now, the Sports Guy did a blog of the draft last Friday. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's pretty entertaining. There was one point that got me thinking;
    "6:03: Hmmmm ... the Rangers already had a sweater ready with Cherepanov's name on the back. That's a little fishy. How did they know a top-five guy would slip to No. 17? If Esposito "drops" to the Penguins at No. 20 [BMR: which he did], we'll have moved right into the Fishy Zone -- two marquee teams "fortunately" getting two marquee prospects? Even David Stern wouldn't have been this blatant. Then again, this would mean Bettman is working to make the league better and more interesting. Scratch that thought."
    It's a funny point, but it really got me thinking. Could Bettman have purposely put Cherepanov in the NHL's biggest American market, and Esposito along side the league's best young players in Pittsburgh? It makes all too much sense, but it's completely improbable. There is no way you can get so many teams to pass on these guys, unless they simply have no interest in drafting them. It would cost too much to pay off that many teams, and if Bettman really wanted this scenario to play out, he would have just rigged the lottery. Oh wait, didn't the NBA already do that?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

So Much for Remembering to Post Weekly Features

Here at BMR, we hate Mondays. So, to try and ease everyone back into the work week, we present to you a weekly installment of nonsense and (hopefully) laughter. Without further ado, here is your Monday morning ice breaker... On Tuesday... Night...

Yea, I guess I kinda forgot about this ol' boy. I'm not really sure if any of you actually like this weekly video feature, but it does serve a purpose -- it certainly fills some space.

This video makes me cringe a bit, but that's only because it features a bit about a certain Stanley Cup winning team. But that's OK. I can block off the feelings that come from being bred to hate the Rangers. I'm an equal opportunity blogger.

Anyway, the guys over at the 2 Man Advantage have filmed a gem this week. They've got a hilarious interview with Neil Smith, ex-Rangers GM (among other things). Not only that, Neil is half naked for part of the video and it takes place in a locker room. Who doesn't want to see that? Oh... right. Everyone.

...and what's the deal with the army gear?

Free Agency Matchmaker: Scott Gomez

The start of free agency (July 1) is almost upon us, and to help shed some light on the subject, BMR brings you the fourth in a series of profiles chronicling this summer's free agent class. Next up is New Jersey's Scott Gomez.

In this year's free agent class, Scott Gomez is probably the safest bet. He has steadily performed at a high level for the Devils ever since he set foot on the Meadowlands' ice. Over the last seven seasons, he's helped lead the Devils to two Stanley Cups, while missing only 26 games over that span.

Mmm... Stanley Cup...
Devils Weapon

Every year, you know exactly what you're going to get out of Gomez on the ice. He has scored 60 or more points five times in his career, but only once has he scored more than 70 (83 in 05-06). He had never missed more than 6 games in a season, until this past year when he missed a grand total of 10. We might as well call him hockey's version of 'Mr. Consistency'.

It hasn't been all peaches and cream for Gomez in New Jersey. Two summers ago, the Devils were not able to lock him up long term. Gomez signed for only one year, as the Devils failed to lock up their home grown star long term. Last summer, New Jersey's cap woes created an even more difficult situation. The two sides ended up going to arbitration, where Gomez was awarded a one-year deal valued at $5 million. There was a lost of speculation as to whether or not the Devils would even accept the deal due to cap constraints, but in the end they were able to hold onto him.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match...
(in no particular order)
  • New Jersey Devils: This one seems to be a sure bet; the Devils won't re-sign Scott Gomez. After last year's arbitration issues, and the continuing crunch of the salary cap in New Jersey, it's going to be tough for them to hold onto their star. The Devils have already used $30 million of next season's cap space committed to only 11 players. It's going to be a real tight squeeze again this year in New Jersey. As the Star Ledger reports, it just doesn't look good.
  • Philadelphia Flyers: Well, it seems that I name the Flyers in each one of these articles as a possible suitor. It's not without reason, though. The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Flyers have contacted the Devils about acquiring Gomez's rights prior to July 1st. For New Jersey's sake, they should do it. There's no reason not to take a first or second round pick for a guy whom you most likely won't re-sign anyway.
  • Edmonton Oilers: What's also interesting is that the Sun went on to say that Kevin Lowe has also called the Devils about the pre-July 1st rights to Gomez. We all know that the Oilers are looking to improve fast this off season, and Gomez would certainly fill the gap left by Ryan Smyth. To add to that, Gomez would probably come a bit cheaper. He is also from Alaska, which is a heck of a lot closer to Edmonton than New Jersey.
  • Calgary Flames/Ottawa Senators: Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of these two teams signings Gomez, but Fox Sport's Spector has tried to put it all to rest. As it stands right now, neither team has the cap room.
If you put a gun to my head and made me choose a destination for Gomez: I'm going to go out on a limb and say Edmonton. All we keep hearing from Edmonton is how badly Kevin Lowe wants to make a splash, in any capacity, and I think he's going to get his chance in Gomez. Gomez would fit the team very nicely, and might feel better about the location, since he is from that side of the continent. That being said, there are going to be some serious shots taken at him by other northeastern teams, such as the Rangers, Islanders and Flyers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Free Agency Matchmaker: Daniel Briere

The start of free agency (July 1) is almost upon us, and to help shed some light on the subject, BMR brings you the third in a series of profiles chronicling this summer's free agent class. Next up is Buffalo's Daniel Briere.

In sports, many times we see teams give huge contracts to players coming off one whale of a season during the final year of a contract. It happens time and time again, as GMs make short sighted deals with hot free agents that may or may not pan out in the long run. Buffalo's Daniel Briere might be the next beneficiary of this type of spending. That's not to say Briere wasn't a good player prior to this season, but his game took a monster leap in the final year of his contract with Buffalo.

It's awkward fan photo time!

Briere had a career year in 06-07, going 32-63-95 in 81 games. The Sabres had the league's best offense, and Briere was the biggest reason for it, leading the team in points and power play points. This guy was friggin' dynamite on the ice.

A year ago, Briere was on pace to put up similar numbers, but was sidelined with abdominal surgery for 24 games. Nonetheless, he still managed to put up 58 points in 48 games, and was on pace for a 100 point season.

Prior to the lockout, his career high in points was 65, and at only 5'10" Briere got pushed around a lot in the 'old' NHL. That's not the case anymore. His speed and size have helped make Briere successful in the 'new' NHL, and he is a prime example for the type of player that the rule changes have benefited the most.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match...
(in no particular order)
  • Buffalo Sabres: If you've been following the Briere/Drury situation up in Buffalo at all, you know that the Sabres will more than likely not be able to afford both of them. While Drury is the heart and soul of the team, Briere is a dynamic offensive player in his prime. The Sabres have a very tough decision ahead of them, pertaining to which player they intend to keep, if not both. They've got $28 million locked up for next season and a host of other free agents including Thomas Vanek, Teppo Numminen and Dainius Zubrus. Briere's price tag looks to be somewhere between $6.5 and $7.5 million, a hefty sum for the Sabres to try and come up with. The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Sabres still have yet to make an offer to both Drury and Briere. Yikes.
  • Philadelphia Flyers: The word around the league is that the Flyers are looking to make a big splash this off season via free agency, and Briere is one of the players that they have their sights set on. Money is going to be awfully tight in Philly, but if they cap goes high enough, they should have enough money to sign a big name free agent. Outside of that, the main drawback that Philly faces is the stigma of having the league's worst record this past season. They're going to have their work cut out for them in convincing players that they are going to be competitive next season. To their credit, acquiring Timonen, Hartnell and Biron has gone a long way towards accomplishing that.
  • Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are a team that has come up in each of these Matchmaker articles, and that's because I'm convinced that they're going to make a big splash in July. The team is keeping quiet, but don't let that fool you. As I've said before, they have the young talent, the money and a half decent 06/07 record to sell to free agents. Watch out.
  • Montreal Canadiens: Briere grew up near Montreal, and the hometown team always has a shot at signing the hometown guy. The Habs are expected to make an offer to Briere, but it might not be the biggest one on the table. They have $30 mil committed to next season, and a bunch of free agents that they need to re-sign. The biggest name of the bunch is defense man Sheldon Souray, who is one of the top defenders on the market this July.
If you put a gun to my head and made me choose a destination for Briere: This is probably the toughest decision that I've had to make yet. I think the Sabres and Flyers are the two leading candidates in this race.

From all indications, Philly wants nothing more than to make a splash in the free agent market, even if that only means signing one big name. On the other side of things, it would be a disaster for Buffalo if they lost both Drury and Briere to free agency. That's what decides it for me. Darcy Regier is a smart man, and realizes that he needs to re-sign one of them. My guess is, if he had to choose only one of them, it would certainly be the offensive magician, Briere.

That's my final answer. I think Briere will stay in Buffalo. Take it for what it's worth.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday Wrap Up: New Jerseys, Possibly the Most Interesting Part of the Weekend

  • Awkward jersey designs: Feedback is still coming in about the new jerseys the league is using for next season. The Blue Jackets have put a really awkward looking collar on theirs... Oh and, I don't know about getting Malhotra on the back of it. It's about that time again.
  • More jersey madness: The Capitals went old school in their jersey design, and it looks pretty neat to me.
  • A complete listing of all the draft picks:
  • You know, we could have sexual intercourse right now. Yes, yes we could. But lets not: Apparently, Manny Fernandez was a few minutes away from going to Boston, but the Wild didn't want to take on Glen Murray's $4 million dollar deal.
  • The newspaper that puts the iladelp in Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the Oilers are trying to obtain the rights to Scott Gomez from the Devils. They would then trade those right to Philly for Joni Pitkanen. That makes my head hurt.
  • From the mouth of Larry Brooks: The New York Post's Larry Brooks always has a lot of information to convey, but take it for what it's worth. Today's highlights; Mark Messier is being controversial (wow, really?)... Alexei Yashin may opt to play overseas if he doesn't see a nice enough NHL contract (good riddance)... And Brett Hull may have been let go by NBC because the NHL doesn't like his commentary...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Derek Zoolander Draft Recap For People Who Can't Read Good

...or just like looking at pictures better.

#1 Patrick Kane (RW) - Chicago Blackhawks

Ryan Remiorz/CP

#2 James Van Riemsdyk (LW) - Phildelphia Flyers

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

#3 Kyle Turris (C) - Phoenix Coyotes

Marc Serota/Getty Images

#4 Thomas Hickey (D) - Los Angeles Kings

Marc Serota/Getty Images

#5 Karl Alzner (D) - Washington Capitals

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

#6 Sam Gagner (C) - Edmonton Oilers

Dave Sandford/Getty Images

#7 Jakob Voracek (C) - Columbus Blue Jackets

Marc Serota/Getty Images

#8 Zach Hamill (C) - Boston Bruins

Jay LaPrete/AP

#9 Logan Couture (C) - San Jose Sharks

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

#10 Keaton Ellerby (D) - Florida Panthers

Marc Serota/Getty Images

#11 Brandon Sutter (C) - Carolina Hurricanes

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

#12 Ryan McDonagh (D) - Montreal Canadiens

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

#13 Lars Eller (LW) - St. Louis Blues

Jay LaPrete/AP

#14 Kevin Shattenkirk (D) - Colorado Avalanche

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

#15 Alex Plante (D) - Edmonton Oilers

Marc Serota/Getty Images

more cleaning up of the wreckage that the draft left behind to come...

Let's Make Ethnocentric Comments on National Television!

Things even Brett Hull wouldn't say...

What if we replaced all on-air talent with monkeys? Would the monkeys make off color comments?

Maybe it's because I'm not Canadian. Maybe I'm just too sensitive to oddly phrased questions. Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Any of those reasons could easily explain my distress.

TSN's James Duthie took journalists everywhere down a peg or two tonight. During TSN's draft coverage, he had the cojones to ask Coyotes GM and living legend Wayne Gretzky if he drafted Kyle Turris for the sheer reason that Turris is Canadian.

Yeah. He went there.

(Check it out by forwarding to the 4:25 mark of this video.)

It just makes me cringe; the mere suggestion that any NHL GM would select a player in the draft based on the player's national origin. Even the Great One laughed at the question; Would he 'Canadianize' his team due to the Ducks successes with a large number of Canadians on their squad? Forget about Anaheim's unique style of play and their checking line that doubles as a scoring line. No, it's obvious the reason for their success is all those Canadians on the ice. After all, no other NHL team has Canadians on it, much less a whole bunch of them!

I guess Duthie may have thought he was asking a pretty good question. A 'unique' attempt at 'serious' journalism. That is, if 'talking heads' can be considered serious journalism, and as high on the totem pole as polished MSM print writers (my apologies to those who dabble in both practices).

Maybe the reason for such an offbeat question could be that Duthie was a little bit perturbed that Americans had gone #1 and #2 in the draft for the first time ever, following up Yankee-blooded Erik Johnson's #1 selection in 2006. Maybe he thought to himself, 'Good ol' Wayne, he's making sure we get a Canadian high up on that draft board!'

Whatever the case, it's over the line in my mind.

Think about it. What if Chris Berman had asked an NFL GM if his selection of an African American player was based on race? What if Peter Gammons asked an MLB GM if he selected a player because he was Dominican? The San Antonio Spurs just won the NBA title with a boat load of international players on their roster. Obviously, the smart thing for other teams to do is suddenly load their rosters with internationals. Personally, I don't think there is that much of a difference between these examples and what Duthie said.

But that's me. I could just be crazy. I do have a history of making big deals out of small things. Very. Small. Things.

To clear one thing up; Yes, Alexei Cherepanov dropped in the draft partially because he's Russian. The difference is that the reasoning behind that had a lot more to do with the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia and questions about his personal characteristics. It wasn't because he is Russian. It's because he is in Russia.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Pre-Draft Wrap Up: It's Draft Day Dealing Time!

Toronto, meet your newest Maple Leaf.
Paul Connors/AP

There's already a lot of news breaking leading up to the start of the draft on this beautiful Friday afternoon (if you're in the NYC area, anyway). Let's recap...

  • Your first draft day trade: The Sharks have sent Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell to the Maple Leafs for a conditional (are there's a lot of conditions) 2007 first round pick, a 2007 second rounder and a 2008 fourth rounder. If the 'player San Jose wants isn't available,' then the first round pick will move to 2008. If the Leafs get a top 10 pick next year, the pick will move to 2009. If Mats Sundin's head explodes randomly during a home game, the pick moves to 2010. Ok, I made that last one up... This is a pretty swift no confidence vote in Andrew Raycroft. Toskala is a bargain, making only 1.375 this season, but will hit the free agent market next summer. Raycroft still has two years left, valued at a total of $4.2 mil. Let the media frenzy begin, there's going to be some serious competition in the Toronto net this September... Alan Muir's throws down the people's elbow. I mean, he's got some analysis.
  • Your second draft day trade; the dismantling of the Predators marches slowly along: Nasvhille has sent Tomas Vokoun to the Panthers for a first rounder and two second rounders. This is a great trade for both teams. Florida no longer has to deal with Ed Belfour, and has a serious #1 goaltender in Vokoun. From a Nashville standpoint, three high draft picks is a great return... This makes me wonder; even if a local group buys the Preds and keeps them in Nashville, will there be anything left? This is going to be a really ugly team next season... The situation regarding Forsberg and Kariya staying in Nashville is no longer a matter of if they will re-sign with Nashville. After this trade, it has turned into a matter of when they will sign elsewhere.
  • Adrian Aucoin wants nothing to do with Bill Wurtz: And who can blame him? After signing as a free agent with the Hawks in 2005, the Hawks captain has waved his no trade clause and is moving to Calgary. Aucoin's years in Chicago were two of the worst season's of his career (statistically speaking), both plagued by injuries. A 2007 seventh round pick accompanies Aucoin to Calgary. In return, the Hawks gain Andrei Zyuzin and Steve Marr.
  • Cows are people, too: Some Wisconsin hockey players are getting fined for tipping over a cow. Actually, it wasn't even a cow. It was a sculpture of a cow. Let it be known that the state of Wisconsin does not want you messing with their cows. This marks the first step of the bovine take over of the United States. You've had fair warning, cows will soon rule the day!
  • Your daily Predators update: The Tennesseean is reporting that Jim Ballsillie's exclusive negotiation period with Preds' owner Craig Leopold has expired. This paves the way for a local ownership group to make a serious bid, if they can find the finances to do it. The way Balsillie was acting by taking deposits for a team in Hamilton suggests things were close to finalized. I'm not too sure what to make of this, but if Balsillie is the smart businessman that he seems to be, it will only be a minor bump on his path to Hamilton.
  • Blatant marketing ploy, or far fetched theory to try and increase scoring? You decide: As you might have heard, the NHL is going to change over to some fancy schmansy futuristic looking uniforums next season, and they'll be unveiled tonight. Apparently, this is what the Caps will be wearing.
  • Let's have one more go around, ol' boy: Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts have re-signed in Pittsburgh for one year. Recchi will make $2 mil, including bonuses, and Roberts will snag $2.5 mil.
  • Anaheim will have 86% more Giguere: Giggy has re-signed with Anaheim for four years, a deal totaling $24 million. The contract is pretty backloaded. He will make $5.5 mil each of the next two years, a figure which escalates to $6 mil and $7 mil in the final two years of the contract. That being said, Ilya Bryzgalov will probably be on the move.

Your Obligatory Mock Draft

This could get pretty ugly…

As you all know, I don’t have much talent as a prognosticator. I’m still hurting from the whooping I took thanks to my SC Finals prediction. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t even make predictions if it wasn’t for the spectacle and the laughs that you probably get out of it. That being said, what good is a blog if the author doesn’t randomly spout off opinions?

I feel almost obligated to follow the lead of the general populous, and write about those topics that everyone feels the need to chime in on with their two cents. You know, everyone’s got their preseason predictions and playoff projections. This time of year, the favorite topic around the internets is the mock draft. It seems as if everyone and their uncle’s neighbor’s cat has made and talked to no end about their mock draft. So, I present to you BMR’s mock draft. Take its opinions at your own risk. While you’re at it, take a shot, too. It makes everything that much more fun!

Of course, there are all sorts of trades that will happen between now and draft time. I’m going to ignore those possibilities to keep from going in way over my head.

Pick #


Projected Pick


Chicago Blackhawks

Patrick Kane – Kane is #1 on a lot of draft boards, but it’s not a lock. Let’s face it, Chicago needs a lot of help, but offense is probably their biggest need. If they keep the pick, they should go with the guy who has the biggest offensive upside. He’s also a player who can (and should) make the jump right now.


Philadelphia Flyers

James Van Riemsdyk – It’s a tough call for Philly between Turris and Reemer, but the latter is probably the better fit. Both have tremendous upsides, but Reemer probably won’t impact the league this season. The Flyers can afford to wait, even if their fans may say otherwise. They have added Hartnell, Timonen and Biron already, and who knows what tricks they have up their sleeve for July 1st. They’re already improving and should continue to do so throughout the off season.


Phoenix Coyotes

Kyle Turris – This is essentially a three man draft, if you count the fact that teams might be scared to take Cherepanov, thanks to the lack of a transfer agreement (and reports about his effort level). At this point, there’s no doubt Turris is the best player left. It’s a no brainer for Phoenix, if he’s still around.


Los Angeles Kings

Alexei Cherepanov – The Kings have taken a European in the first round three out of the last five years, and somehow I think they wouldn’t be afraid to take Cherepanov. He’s got tremendous upside, including the highlight of breaking Pavel Bure’s Russian rookie scoring record. Los Angeles also needs a RW, and he fits the bill.


Washington Capitals

Sam Gagner – Another one that should be a no brainer. Gagner is a playmaker who may be able to step into the NHL soon. Who better to put alongside Ovechkin and Semin?


Edmonton Oilers

Karl AznerWashington and Los Angeles need a blue liner too, but Azner could drop given the lack of top tier defensemen available (to be specific, none). Edmonton needs help defensively, and they’ll get it with Azner. He’s no Pronger, but he should be solid for years to come. Yikes, I just said the P word to Oiler fans. Sorry!


Columbus Blue Jackets

Keaton Ellerby – At 6’4” Ellerby would be a great addition to the Columbus blue line. They could use a big body to go along with Rusty Klesla. Hopefully Ellerby can bulk up.


Boston Bruins

Jakub Voracek – The word is that Voracek is a real “good guy.” He’s also a big guy who can make plays and should be able to jump in right away. I think the Bruins have their man.


St. Louis Blues

Logan Couture - The Blues need offense. Plain and simple. This guy should help bolster their corps of forwards, and they should be getting great value. If it wasn’t for Couture’s bout with mononucleosis, he might have been a top five pick.


Florida Panthers

Brandon Sutter – The word is that Sutter could easily move over and become a winger. If that’s possible, then he fits in nicely in Florida. They’re lacking any real size on the wing, and the Todd Bertuzzi experiment didn’t go as planned, so Sutter should be a nice addition.


Carolina Hurricanes

Kevin Shattenkirk - Carolina’s biggest need, as with a lot of teams in this draft, is a defenseman. Shattenkirk is captain of the US U-18 team, and how can you pass up a guy with the skills and the ability to lead?


Montreal Canadiens

Angelo Esposito – If he falls this far – and there’s a good chance – the Habs have to take the home town boy with a famous bloodline.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Mikael Backlund – Mats Sundin is on the outs in Toronto. Not next year, and probably not the one after that, but his time is coming. Potentially, they could replace him with another Swedish center in Backlund. Just had to point out an interesting storyline there. Anyway, Backlund is probably the best available at this point. The Leafs are pretty deep all around, and would probably rather have a defenseman, but I think any blue liners worthy of the #13 pick are gone at this point .


Colorado Avalanche

Maxim Mayorov – If you’re not afraid of that transfer agreement, you’d probably want to take this guy. I might be overvaluing him a bit, but he’s #8 overall on ISS and is still available. I think a risk could pay off here, and the Avs have a ton of young talent as it is. They can afford it. But who am I kidding, no one’s going to have the cajones to take him this high.


Edmonton Oilers

Lars Eller - If I hadn’t already picked the Oilers to take Azner, I would of pegged them on Petrecki here (look for that if they don’t get a d-man at the #6 spot). That being said, Eller is another talented European and may be better than Mayorov. He’s the safer pick, and if Colorado doesn’t take him, Edmonton will.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The NHL Draft Keg Party: Alexei Cherepanov

Here at BMR we try to provide you, the reader, with as educational and entertaining a look at the NHL as possible. In preparation for the NHL Draft, today we continue with a feature entitled 'The NHL Draft Keg Party'. The goal of this feature is to provide you with information about the prospects that you haven't heard already. Hopefully, this will be a fun and entertaining endeavor. (Disclaimer)

Alexei Cherepanov

Prospect Profile: Alexei Cherepanov

Birth date: January 15, 1989

Birthplace: Barnaul, Russia

Position: Right Wing

Height/Weight: 6'0" / 183lb

Shoots: Left

Current Team: Avangard Omsk (RSL)

ISS Ranking: #4 overall

CSB Ranking: #1 Europe

[McKeen's Profile]

BMR Scouting Report

Alexei Cherepanov will break you. At least that's what I half expected the scouting report to say.

Well, I'm going to digress from dumb jokes about Russian people. Life isn't like those Rocky movies. The point is that there is the serious possibility that Cherepanov could be a one man wrecking crew in the NHL, and potentially one of the best players to ever come out of the former USSR. It's far from certain, but it's a possibility after Cherepanov set the rookie scoring record in the Russian Super League. He broke Pavel Bure's record, a total that was never matched by Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin, and many others.

As it turns out Cherepanov doesn't have a MySpace, Facebook or place to find out fun information about him (as far as I know). Not cool Alexei, not cool. To try and make it up to you, please enjoy these YouTube highlights of Cherepanov.