Friday, June 30, 2006

Pronger to explain trade request on Tuesday -- Chris Pronger and his family are fed up with the ongoing rumours and speculation over his decision to ask for a trade from the Edmonton Oilers.Sources have confirmed to Sportsnet that Pronger has tentatively scheduled a conference call for Tuesday in order to put an end to the wild accusations.News of Pronger wanting out of Edmonton broke on last Friday, and since that time every scenario imaginable has been cooked up, or reported by various media outlets as to what forced the star defenceman to request a trade.Pronger was instrumental in the Oilers playoff run, leading them all the way to a Game 7 loss against Carolina in the Stanley Cup Final.The star defenceman finished the regular season with 12 goals, 44 assists in 80 games and added 21 points in the playoffs.

Sedin Twins stay in Vancouver, Lidstrom re-ups with Detroit

VANCOUVER (CP) -- It's been an off-season full of changes for the Vancouver Canucks, but they found out Friday that at least two more familiar faces will be back.The Canucks re-signed twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin to $10.725-million US, three-year contracts -- keeping the forwards with the only NHL team they've every played for.

DETROIT (CP) -- Defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom is staying put.A source tells the Canadian Press that the Detroit Red Wings have signed Lidstrom to a two-year deal that will pay him $7.6 million dollars US each season.Lidstrom also earned $7.6 million last season and won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman for the fourth time. He scored 16 goals and led all blue-liners with 80 points.The 36-year-old has spent his entire 14-year career with the Red Wings, winning three Stanley Cups and earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2002.Lidstrom would have become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday.

Roberts return to the Leafs on hold! -- Sources tell Sportsnet that the Florida Panthers intend on shopping the free agent market before honouring Gary Roberts request for a trade back to Toronto.Both teams are in a bind. Florida will use Roberts as insurance in the event they can't find the right player to replace the veteran forward for the right money. Meanwhile, Toronto is dealing with a time crunch as well and won't wait for the Panthers much longer before investing the $2.25 million Roberts is owed in another player.The Toronto Star reported Friday that the teams had all but agreed to make the trade in exchange for a third or fourth-rounder.

Domi, Belfour no longer Leafs

It's the end of an era for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tie Domi, one of the NHL club's most popular players for a decade, has been bought out, and the Leafs have also opted not to exercise the option year on the contract of Ed Belfour, the No. 1 goalie for the last four years. Read full article
TORONTO (CP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs continued to drastically change the face of the NHL franchise by letting popular veterans Tie Domi and Ed Belfour go Friday.Coach Pat Quinn was fired after the team missed the playoffs, and new bench boss Paul Maurice will have a younger and faster team to work with next season."We're going to be able to start out in camp with a new direction, a new position direction with a lot of energy on the club," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said Friday at the Air Canada Centre.Domi, one of the most popular Leafs for a decade for his knack of standing up for his teammates, was bought out, and Belfour, the No. 1 goaltender the last four years, didn't have the option year of his contract picked up.To avoid paying enforcer Domi the $1.25-million US he would have earned in 2006-2007, the Leafs gave him two-thirds of that salary, which amounts to $833,000 spread over the next two years.The 36-year-old right-winger is fourth all-time in NHL penalty minutes. He scored only five goals last season. With fighting down and offence favoured in the new NHL, the Leafs decided it was time to close the book on the lengthy Domi chapter."The change in the game, the rules and the way it was going to be called, the transition game, speed -- those things didn't play to his strengths," said Ferguson. "It's become more of a special teams game, which is not an area where he excelled or was relied upon."Also, having acquired Andrew Raycroft from Boston last Saturday, the Leafs opted not to exercise their option on Belfour's contract for 2006-2007 that would have paid him $4.48-million US. He'll be paid $1.5 million to go away.Belfour, 41, missed the last portion of the regular season with a recurring back problem. He won 22 of the 49 games in which he appeared and had a 3.29 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.He passed the late Terry Sawchuk for second place in all-time NHL wins with a victory last Dec. 19."I know Eddie still wants to play," said Ferguson. "I've heard good things about his recovery and how he feels."Still, the Leafs wanted a younger goalie not as prone to physical breakdowns and Raycroft fits the bill.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dave Lewis new coach of Boston Bruins

Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Bruins have apparently already found recently fired Mike Sullivan's successor, as the Bruins are reportedly going to name Dave Lewis their new head coach.
Lewis, the former head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, will be officially named Boston's new head coach in a media conference at 1pm et on Thursday.
Citing a source with knowledge of Boston's front office negotiations, the Boston Globe said that the Bruins came to terms with a new head coach Tuesday, while a separate source cited Lewis by name.

JR in Canada?

It was a nightmare season from hell last year," Roenick said Wednesday from Los Angeles. "The embarrassment of the season I had last year is enormous. So I've totally re-arranged my summer and re-dedicated myself to the game of hockey.
"I'm working out and getting into the best shape possible that my body can get to. I want to make amends for a season lost. It was totally embarrassing."
The re-energized and re-focused Roenick will be an unrestricted free agent as of Saturday. And he knows where he wants to sign.
"I've always said I would like to play in Canada before my career is over," said the 36-year-old Boston native. "And it's one thing that I'm really anxious in doing. Don't be surprised if I end up on a Canadian team next week.

The waiting is over for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Sources say defenceman Bryan McCabe, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, has informed the NHL club he is accepting the five-year deal worh $5.75 million a year that was essentially negotiated a few weeks ago.
McCabe had told the Leafs he needed some more time to settle some personal matters before making the commitment. The Leafs gave McCabe a deadline of Thursday to let them know whether he would accept the offer or not and sources says the Leafs received that commitment today.
A formal announcement is expected in the next day or two.
McCabe earned $3.458 million US last season when he was third among all NHL defencemen in goals (19) and points (68). Both were career highs.
McCabe has 95 goals and 243 assists in 781 NHL games. He previously played for the New York Islanders, who drafted him 40th overall in 1993, the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago traded him to Toronto in October 2000 for Alexander Karpovtsev and Toronto's fourth-round choice (Vladimir Gusev) in the 2001 entry draft.

What if? ...

General managers around the NHL say they don't like dealing in hypotheticals, but there we were, dealing in the biggest plethora of "what-ifs" I've ever heard in 37 years covering hockey.
The first "what-if" came well before the draft when we were talking about the huge trade that sent Vancouver Canucks power forward Todd Bertuzzi, a 46-goal scorer just three seasons back, defenseman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld to the Florida Panthers for rising goaltender Roberto Luongo, defenseman Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round draft pick.
"It's a home run for the Canucks ... if they can get Luongo to sign a long-term contract," said one GM.
"There's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening," said another GM. "Why would he sign now when one year from now he can deal with 20 to 25 teams who will bid up the dollars he makes ... well past what Florida was offering him."
Enter one of the new phenomenons of hockey, one that will become an even bigger story to watch, when free agency begins on July 1.
Based on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Luongo and several other young stars like Minnesota winger Marian Gaborik and Ottawa winger Martin Havlat have one more year left before they can become unrestricted free agents. Those three names have already been in headlines and there are certainly other starry prospects who will have seven years vested in the NHL, which now triggers unrestricted free agency. Under the old CBA, a player had to wait until he was 30 or 31.
That scenario became the point of contention in recent ill feelings between Luongo and the Panthers. Those feelings forced his trade to Vancouver after the Panthers initially offered Roberto a five-year, $25 million contract in training camp and revised their proposal to $25 million over four years as recently as last week. The Luongo side maintained it would sign a one-year contract for next season and then become unrestricted the next year.
This is where the Luongo story gets dicey. Reportedly, Luongo was ready to accept the four-year, $25 million deal last Friday ... pending three requests:
* The Panthers announce they would not trade Luongo in the next season, before he would have become unrestricted.
* The team sign Luongo's goaltending mentor Francois Allaire as goaltending coach.
* Florida would bring back Jamie McLennan as Luongo's backup next season.
Panthers GM Mike Keenan acknowledged receiving the three requests, but he argued there was more to the story at the midnight hour before the draft last Saturday.
"They came back wanting significantly more than $25 million," Keenan said. "And we weren't going to be held up at gunpoint."
After the trade, however, both Gilles Lupien, who represents Luongo, and Canucks GM David Nonis said they seemed to be headed in the right direction for a new long-term contract -- presumably without having to adhere to all of those last-minute requests the Luongo group wanted from the Panthers.
But maybe some others will take their place. Stay tuned.
Regarding Gaborik, the "what-if" game started in late May after the Tampa Bay Lightning signed center Brad Richards to a new five-year, $39 million contract. Gaborik's side argued that the five-year, $27.5 million offer the Wild were making to Marian was too low. The Richards comparable became a case study for agent Ron Salcer because the Tampa Bay center was the player the Minnesota team used back in 2003-04, when Gaborik was holding out.
Dollars aside, Richards has helped the Lightning win a Stanley Cup in 2004 while being named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs that year. Gaborik doesn't have that kind of accomplishment on his resume.

The real what-if we saw at Vancouver in this case study came when the Wild obtained Gaborik's best friend, Pavol Demitra, from the Los Angeles Kings for prospect Patrick O'Sullivan and a first-round pick, 17th overall, in the draft. Don't think for a moment that aside from Demitra's 25 goals and 37 assists in just 58 games this past season, plus the fact that he has averaged 27 goals and 65 points over 11 NHL seasons, getting Pavol to pal with his buddy Marian to help in negotiations didn't figure into the mix.
"I think they both are a good fit and they'll feed off each other," Wild GM Doug Risebrough said. "Marian's the best player on the team. We know that. We're trying to find ways to make him better and this is one of those opportunities."
Both Demitra and Gaborik are from Trenchin in Slovakia. They combined with Atlanta winger Marian Hossa to be one of the most productive lines at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. But Demitra and Gaborik go back in other ways.
"Hockey was always my first love. But I still play soccer a little to keep in shape in the summer, although I play more tennis," Demitra told me a couple years ago.
"He doesn't just dabble at tennis," Gaborik told me. "I think I'm pretty good at it, but I have never beaten Pavol, and that drives me crazy."
Now they are teammates ... in hockey. And the Wild hopes that is the first step toward signing Gaborik to a new long-term contract.
Those Martin Havlat trade rumors presumably won't end any time soon.
The 25-year-old winger, who had seasons of 22, 24 and 31 goals for the Ottawa Senators, was off to a flying start this season before he suffered a shoulder injury that limited him to just 18 games. Still he scored nine goals and seven assists in those 18 games, showing off his immense offensive skills.
Havlat's name was reportedly in a blockbuster offer Ottawa made to Florida to try to get Luongo -- the deal was reportedly, Havlat, defenseman Chris Phillips, goaltender Ray Emery and the Senator's first-round draft choice. Rebuffed in that deal, Ottawa GM John Muckler reportedly offered Havlat to San Jose for goalie Vesa Toskala.
The what-if? Sharks GM Doug Wilson, who is listening to offers for either Toskala or veteran goalie Evgeny Nabokov, reportedly refused an offer from division rival Los Angeles in which San Jose would have gotten wingers Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown, plus goalie Mathieu Garon, because he didn't want another of his goalies coming back to haunt the Sharks like Miikka Kiprusoff did in the 2004 Western Conference finals. Can you blame him?
Second part of this what-if -- the Sharks would have to convince Havlat to sign more than a one-year qualifying offer. The club would want something long-term, just like the Canucks with Luongo and the Wild with Gaborik.
It will be interesting to watch all of these scenarios and other restricted free agents who could gain their unrestricted freedom after next season.
While we are talking about dollars and sense ... one GM told me he could have had Colorado winger Alex Tanguay for a draft choice -- and not a first-rounder.
The Calgary Flames acquired Tanguay, who had 29 goals and 49 assists in 71 games last season for the Avalanche, for defenseman Jordan Leopold and two second-round draft choices -- one this year and a provisional second second-rounder in either 2007 or '08 ... if the Flames are able to re-sign Tanguay.
The first GM told me he was very interested in Tanguay based on the fact that he was made just $3.23 million last season, he's just 26 and has already accumulated 400 career points, four 20-goal seasons, three 70-point seasons and won a Stanley Cup ring. But Tanguay is a restricted free agent who is arbitration-eligible. When the GM went to his cap guy, he was told based on Alex's numbers the dollars in arbitration would be at least $5 million ... and that was toooooooooo much.
Unless, apparently, you are the Calgary Flames looking for a way to make life easier for star right winger Jarome Iginla, who had to work too hard to get his 36 goals and 32 assists.
To prove that dollars and sense hasn't always been an equal partner in trades and free-agent signings in the past, but will be looked on with more scrutiny in the new salary cap, economic world, we have been hearing about teams like the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs wondering what they might be able to do with the contracts they have in right winger Bill Guerin and goaltender Ed Belfour.
One of our GM predictors said on draft day: "Maybe you have Guerin traded to Toronto for Belfour. One contract for the other. Or at least some deal like that, where one team agrees to take some of the veteran player's contract in turn for another team's perceived problem that might not seem so unbearable to the next team. It's a catch-22."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dave Lewis next Bruins coach? - Sources tell Sportsnet that the Boston Bruins are expected to announce Dave Lewis as the team's next head coach. Last year's coach Mike Sullivan was fired by the team on Tuesday.It is also believed that Team Canada's Marc Habscheid is close to joining the team as an assistant.Throughout the NHL Entry Draft weekend it was widely speculated that ex-Leafs coach Pat Quinn was the likely hire.However, Lewis is said to have interviewed strongly and will replace Mike Sullivan who has been forced to endure this process while still employed by Boston.The Bruins management has resembled a juggling act with newly appointed general manager Peter Chiarelli unable to assume full control of the organization until July 15th.Chiarelli is believed to have considered at least 5 candidates for the coaching job, specifically Dave Lewis, Pat Quinn, Marc Habscheid, Mike Johnston and Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan let go from Bruins post, Quinn rumored to be next in line

BOSTON (CP) - The Boston Bruins relieved Mike Sullivan of his coaching duties Tuesday in an announcement that was hardly surprising given the team has been interviewing candidates to replace him.

New Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has interviewed former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn and former Detroit Red Wings coach Dave Lewis and planned to speak to other candidates as well.

The announcement Tuesday was made by Bruins interim GM Jeff Gorton as Chiarelli remains under contract with Ottawa until July 15.

''Peter had not met Mike prior to coming to Boston and he felt that it was incumbent upon him to get to know Mike before making a decision on the coaching situation,'' Gorton said in a statement. ''Mike went to Ottawa a couple of weeks ago and they had a good discussion about the game and how it needed to be played in order to have success. Peter advised Mike that he would be talking to other candidates. He went through that process and his decision was that at this time we are better served to have a clean slate.

''Peter communicated to us that he has talked to candidates and expects to give us his decision on a new head coach in the near future,'' added Gorton.

Sullivan, 38, became the 26th coach in Bruins history in June 2003. He went 70-56-15-23 for a .543 win percentage over his two seasons behind the Boston bench, including a 41-19-15-7 record during his first season in 2003-04, the top record in the Northeast Division and the second-best record in the Eastern Conference that season.
But the Bruins were upset by Montreal in 2004 playoffs and last season missed the post-season after going 29-37-16.
Speculation is former Leaf coach Pat Quinn is the front-runner to be offered the job, but if Quinn, for any reason, is unable to finalize a deal, former Detroit coach Dave Lewis appears to be next in line.

MacTavish working on a deal...

The Edmonton Oilers are negotiating to sign head coach Craig MacTavish to a long-term deal. MacTavish will be a free agent come Saturday after the Oilers declined to pick up his contract option following the regular season. "Both Craig and I knew it was important for the team to have success this year. So we wanted to wait for the season to end before we made any decisions," Oilers GM Kevin Lowe told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

Lots of quality defencemen to hit the Free Agent Market come July 1st

With so much media attention paid to Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Rob Blake and Ed Jovanovski, it's easy to forget there are other talented NHL defencemen slated for unrestricted free agency when the market opens Saturday.
"For free agency, this is the year of the defenceman," Nashville Predators GM David Poile said Tuesday.
"We don't know what's going to happen between now and July 1, but if there's not too many signings this week, there's going to be a lot of quality defencemen available."
Lidstrom, Redden and Blake are expected to stay put with their respective teams, leaving Chara and Jovanovski as the free-agent headliners. But don't forget the likes of Pavel Kubina, Willie Mitchell, Brendan Witt or Jay McKee.
"There's quantity and quality and there's some value out there," said Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke, whose team is on the lookout for defensive help.

If a team strikes out on the headliners, there's much more available: Hal Gill, Danny Markov, Kim Johnsson, Teppo Numminen, Francis Bouillon, Jaroslav Spacek, Niclas Wallin, Aaron Ward, Ruslan Salei, Brian Leetch, Brett Clark, Karlis Skrastins, Jason Woolley, Dick Tarnstrom, Joe Corvo, Filip Kuba, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Andrei Zyuzin, Ken Klee, Kenny Jonsson, Tom Poti, Jason Strudwick, Brian Pothier, Aki Berg, Alexander Khavanov, Mark Eaton, Luke Richardson, Nolan Baumgartner, Sean Brown, Keith Carney, Eric Weinrich.
"Yes, there's some good ones," Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon said from Chicago.
"We're pretty deep with our young defencemen and we expect Adrian Aucoin to come back from surgery and be strong but we're probably going to be looking for a power-play type player on defence," added Tallon.
The best defenceman available right now isn't even a free agent. Former Hart Trophy winner Chris Pronger has asked for a trade out of Edmonton and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe is sifting through offers.
St. Louis, Anaheim, Toronto, Florida and the N.Y. Rangers are among the teams believed to be after Pronger, who has four more years on his deal paying him $6.25 million per.
But one GM, who requested anonymity, said the immense interest in Pronger will take a hit come Saturday because of all the defencemen available on the free-agent market.
"Lowe has to make the deal before July 1," said the GM.
On the other hand, Pronger stands above the free-agent class, so maybe Lowe doesn't have to worry.
The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, made a splash over the weekend when they traded for star forward Pavol Demitra and now they're focused on adding defensive help as well. They'll keep an eye on what transpires in free agency.
"I think there are a lot of people out there," Wild GM Doug Risebrough said. "But who knows how it's going to go?"
Risebrough has three of his own defencemen slated to hit the market Saturday: Kuba, Tjarnqvist and Zyuzin.
"We've inquired, we had some discussions with them but we'll have to wait and see," Risebrough said.
The Predators, like the Wild, may lose three defencemen to unrestricted free agency in Witt, Eaton and Markov but continue to talk to them.
"We've still got three or four days to see if we can do anything there," said Poile.
The New Jersey Devils should be another team looking for a free-agent help on defence but cagey veteran GM Lou Lamoriello wouldn't tip his hand Tuesday.
"We'll look at everything," he said from his New Jersey office. "I'll leave it at that."
Lidstrom's agent Don Meehan, meanwhile, is scheduled to talk again with Red Wings GM Ken Holland on Wednesday as the two sides attempt to close out a deal before Saturday.
Ottawa GM John Muckler also continues to talk to Meehan about Redden (where it's close) and agent Matt Keator about Chara (not so close). Blake, who wants to stay in Denver, was expected to renew talks with the Avalanche before the end of the week.
Jovanovski is almost surely headed for the open market and may soon re-join former Canucks teammate Todd Bertuzzi in Florida after the winger was dealt there by Vancouver in the Roberto Luongo deal last Friday night.
Jovanovski has an off-season home in South Florida and met his wife there during his first go-around with the Panthers.
It's a great fit but other clubs will also come calling Saturday.
"I've talked to Bertuzzi every day since the trade," Jovanovski told the Palm Beach Post. "He's a good friend of mine, and we've had some good years together. At the end of the day, if there's an opportunity to come back and play (for Florida), great.
"It's what suits my family the best. I just want to be treated fairly."

Cuban, Marino part of Pittsburgh Ownership group?

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mark Cuban is known for baiting NBA officials, and Dan Marino is the most prolific passer in NFL history. But the Pittsburgh natives now want to expand into a different sport in their hometown - hockey.
The two have joined with a New York City financier in trying to buy the NHL's Penguins from Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux's group, which is selling the two-time Stanley Cup champions even as the team seeks a new arena deal.
The group of prospective Penguins owners is headed by Andrew Murstein, the president of Medallion Financial Corp., a company that finances New York City taxicab medallions and originates consumer loans for recreational vehicles. Also included are principals in Pittsburgh-based Walnut Capital, a real estate management and development company.
Walnut Capital CEO Gregg Perelman recently teamed with Cuban to buy a nine-story downtown Pittsburgh office building. Cuban, who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, is the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner whose holdings include a movie production firm and high-definition TV channel.
Adding Cuban and Marino is expected to strengthen the group's estimated $150 million US bid not only financially but perception-wise. Neither Cuban nor Marino have any interest in moving the Penguins from Pittsburgh - Cuban has made it a condition of his participation - even though the team has yet to land a deal to build an arena to replace 45-year-old Mellon Arena.
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Murstein was in Dallas on Tuesday, presumably to meet with Cuban about his involvement in the group. In the past, Murstein expressed interest in buying two NHL franchises, the Blues and Ducks, and the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer.
Todd Reidbord, Walnut Capital's president, said recently his group was the only one interested in buying the Penguins that has fully committed to staying in Pittsburgh. At least four other groups have expressed interest in the team, which is expected to be sold before the start of the NHL season in October.
Lemieux's ownership group, which also includes California businessman Ron Burkle, bought the team in federal bankruptcy court in 1999 - partly to protect the nearly $30 million in deferred money owed Lemieux on his contract. Lemieux's group has since paid back all money owed by the club before its bankruptcy filing, a rarity during such procedures.
The uncertainty over the Penguins' arena status has clouded their future in Pittsburgh. Lemieux's group has partnered with Isle of Capri Casinos, which has agreed to build a $290 million arena if it wins the solitary license that will be awarded for a slot machine casino in the city.
However, Isle of Capri is not seen as the favourite, and two other groups seeking the slots license - Harrah's and Majestic Star Casino - have not pledged full arena funding.
Gov. Ed Rendall has asked those two bidders to give $7.5 million a year toward an arena, with the Penguins contributing $8.5 million from the start and an additional $4 million per year, including $1.1 million in naming rights. The Penguins have declined to sign off on the deal, as the Isle of Capri bid would not require the team to make a financial contribution toward replacing the NHL's oldest and smallest arena.
Murstein revealed the addition of Cuban and Marino in his group in an interview Tuesday with Pittsburgh radio station WEAE, an ESPN affiliate. Cuban did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press, but confirmed his involvement in an e-mail to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Cuban was interested in buying into Lemieux's group in 1999, but declined to accept a role that would not include input in the team's day-to-day operation. Marino, the former University of Pittsburgh and Miami Dolphins star quarterback, expressed interest in buying into the Pittsburgh Pirates in the mid 1990s but never did so. Cuban also is interested in buying the Pirates at some point, but the current ownership has given no sign of wanting to sell.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Leafs land Andrew Raycroft from Boston for Prospect Tuuka Rask

(TSN.CA) - Looking for a new starting goaltender with the expected buyout of veteran Ed Belfour on the horizon, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft from the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
''He's a proven No. 1 goaltender, former rookie of the year, he's going to look great in our uniform,'' Leafs GM John Ferguson told TSN.
The Leafs sent goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask to the Bruins.
"We had an opportunity, with three good, solid goaltenders who are all No. 1 goalies in the NHL, and they couldn't all play for us," Bruins interim general manager Jeff Gorton said. "Andrew had some value and we were able to move him for a player we really like, who is along the lines of Hannu Toivonen."
Raycroft won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 2004 after posting a 29-18-9 record for the Bruins. He also had a stellar 2.05 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.

Last season, however, Raycroft struggled and lost his starting job. He finished 8-19-2 with a 3.70 goals against average and an .879 save percentage.
Raycroft signed a $1.35-million qualifying offer from the Bruins but Ferguson will try to get his signature on a long-term contract.
"We don't anticipate any hurdles getting him done for the right number and whatever the right term is," Ferguson said.
Rask was the Leafs first round pick in 2005. He was 12-8-7 with a 2.09 goals against average and a .926 save percentage for Ilves Tampere in the Finnish Elite League last season.
Rask was named the best goaltender at the 2006 world junior hockey championship, but the Leafs were able to trade him away because they have another blue-chip goaltending prospect in Canadian Justin Pogge

2006 Draft Selections

First Round Recap:

Round by Round:

Leafs draft Jiri Tlusty with 1st pick, 13th overall

(TSN.CA) - The Toronto Maple Leafs picked Czech centre Jiri Tlusty with the 13th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.
Tlusty was captain of the Czech squad at the 2006 World Under-18 Championship. He had 46 points in 99 career games with Kladno Jr.
Though skilled, Tlusty does not shy away from the physical game.
He was excited to go to Toronto.
"It's one of the best organizations and I'd love to play for the Maple Leafs," Tlusty said through interpreter Peter Ihnacak, a former Leaf who's now one of the team's European scouts.

The International Scouting Service says, "Tlusty had an impressive second half this season. He is a well-rounded player who hits, makes plays and scores goals. He sees the ice well and contributes defensively. Tlusty gained a ton of valuable experience playing senior hockey with Kladno in the Czech league."
Bob McKenzie's take: "His temperment is that of a guy from Flin Flon, he's resilient, plays a very consistent game and skates well."

Draft Day Deals

Flames find offence in Tanguay In a draft checkered with so-called project players, Darryl Sutter opted to make an immediate impact on his team by way of a trade. Minutes prior to the No. 1 overall selection at Saturday's NHL Entry Draft, the Calgary Flames landed left winger Alex Tanguay in a deal with Colorado.

VANCOUVER (CP) -- The Los Angeles Kings dealt star winger Pavol Demitra to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for minor league forward Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th-overall pick in Saturday's NHL entry draft.NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement right before Minnesota's turn to pick in the draft Saturday. The Kings chose American centre Trevor Lewis with the No. 17 pick.The Kings signed Demitra as a free agent last summer. The 31-year-old Slovak had 25 goals and 37 assists in 58 regular-season games for the Kings and will join star winger and countryman Marian Gaborik in Minnesota.Demitra has two years remaining on his contract at $4.5 million US each of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.O'Sullivan was a second-round draft pick of the Wild in 2003. The six-foot, 180-pound forward from Salem, N.C., had 47 goals and 46 assists in 78 games for the AHL's Houston Aeros last season.

In the wake of Friday night's blockbuster deal between Vancouver and Florida, the Atlanta Thrashers and Dallas Stars made a deal just before the start of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Atlanta sent former number one overall pick Patrik Stefan and defenceman Jaroslav Modry to the Stars for Niko Kapanen and a 7th round pick.
Stefan, taken first overall in 1999, was the first pick in the Thrashers' history. He never lived up to his potential, mostly due to various injuries.
Last season, Stefan scored 10 goals and 24 points in 64 games after struggling through a sports hernia problem. Concussion issues have also hampered his progress at the pro level.
In 414 NHL games, Stefan has 59 goals, 118 assists and 177 points.

Canes make off-season moves

The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed captain Rod Brind'Amour to a five year deal.
The deal will pay the veteran centre $4 million in each of the first three years, and $3 million in each of the last two years, and is in lieu of the 2006-07 option on his prior contract.
"There is no substitute for having a player as dedicated and determined as Rod to lead the team," said Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford. "His leadership and play on the ice were key components to winning the Stanley Cup, and his commitment to the Hurricanes organization and the community off the ice makes him a great ambassador for our team and the Triangle area."
The Professional Hockey Writers' Association selected Brind'Amour, 35, as the 2005-06 recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the Best Defensive Forward at Thursday's NHL Awards.
During the regular season, the Campbell River, BC native played in 78 of 82 regular-season games and scored 31 goals and 39 assists (70 points) to rank tied for second on the team in goals and fourth on the team in points. Brind'Amour's 19 power-play goals ranked tied for first on the team and eighth in the NHL.

RALEIGH, N.C. (CP) - Peter Laviolette helped give the Carolina Hurricanes their first ever Stanley Cup so the NHL team is giving its coach some job security.
Laviolette agreed to a new five-year contract with the Hurricanes on Sunday, keeping him in Carolina until 2011.
''Peter's coaching helped bring our team together to win hockey's ultimate prize last season,'' Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in a release. ''His aggressive, up-tempo style of play allows for success under the league's new rules, and his leadership has yielded great results for his teams throughout his career.''
The Hurricanes also re-signed assistant coaches Kevin McCarthy and Jeff Daniels to new five-year contracts and promoted McCarthy to the role of associate head coach.
Laviolette was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2005-06. He guided the Hurricanes to a 52-22-8 record last season, setting new franchise records for wins (52), home wins (31) and points (112) in the regular season.
Carolina then beat Edmonton in the seven-game Stanley Cup final, giving the franchise its first ever NHL championship.

Pronger requests trade!

The Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of what could be a severe shakeup to their roster just days after their Game 7 Stanley Cup Final loss.
NHL sources indicate that Oilers' defenceman Chris Pronger has requested a trade from the club based on "personal, family considerations."
"I think they're more rumblings than anything," Oilers GM Kevin Lowe responded Friday evening. "I'm pretty focused on the draft right now I don't want to get too much into player personnel stuff."
When asked if Pronger had asked to be traded, Lowe responded: "He hasn't' asked me. I'll just leave it at that."

"We just got over a seven-game series in the Stanley Cup finals and there seems to be a lot of discussion about this and I'm not sure where it's coming from," added Lowe. "Let's put it this way. Why would we want to trade Chris Pronger?"

"One thing I've learned in my five or six years as a manager is that stuff tends to out of right field for whatever reasons. It can be agendas, hidden agendas, certain motivations, so nothing surprises me."
However, agent Pat Morris told TSN a trade request has now been made on behalf of his client.
In 80 games with the Oilers this season, Pronger scored 12 goals and 56 points and was a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate through Edmonton's postseason run.
Pronger finished third in postseason scoring with five goals and 16 assists in 24 games.
The St. Louis Blues traded Pronger to Edmonton last August for defencemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. The veteran defenceman is entering the second year of a five-year contract worth $6.25 million US per year.
Pronger, 31, has played in four NHL all-star games and is a three-time Olympian. The six-foot-six native of Dryden, Ont., has 456 points including 106 goals in 802 NHL games. He won the Hart and Norris trophies in 2000, and was the first player to do so since Bobby Orr in 1972.
He was the No. 2 pick by Hartford in the 1993 NHL Draft and played two seasons with the Whalers before being dealt to the St. Louis Blues for forward Brendan Shanahan.

Luongo to Canuks, Big Bert to Florida

The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have completed a multi-player trade involving some big names on the eve of the NHL Draft.
The Panthers have confirmed that they acquired Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alexander Auld from the Canucks in exchange for Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek and a 2006 sixth round pick.
Luongo is a restricted free agent, and the Panthers had been unable to work out a long-term deal with the star netminder. The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Panthers general manager Mike Keenan said that the team would explore all options when it came to Luongo.
On Friday night, Keenan pulled the trigger on a mega-deal with the Canucks.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ron Hextall Assisstant GM of Kings

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings have named Ron Hextall as assistant general manager and general manager for their AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs.

"I am honored and extremely excited to be a part of the Los Angeles Kings organization," said Hextall. "I look forward to working closely with Dean Lombardi and the entire Kings staff toward the ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Los Angeles. It was a difficult decision considering my history with the Flyers organization, but moving forward with my career I thought it was the best move for myself and my family."

He spent the last four seasons as director of pro hockey personnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hextall, 42, was a goaltender for the Flyers, New York Islanders and Quebec Nordiques in his 13-year career. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best netminder and the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Stanley Cup MVP, despite losing to Edmonton in seven games, in his rookie season of 1986-87.

He played in 608 regular season contests, compiling a 296-214-69 record with 23 shutouts, a 2.97 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage. In the playoffs, Hextall went 47-43 with a pair of shutouts in 93 games.

Claude Julien named new coach of the Devils

The New Jersey Devils on Tuesday hired Claude Julien as their head coach.
''Claude Julien brings experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, and discipline that will complement the players here in the New Jersey Devils organization,'' said Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Julien was fired as the Montreal Canadiens head coach in January of this year after three years behind the bench. In the 2003-04 season he led the Canadiens to a 41-30-7-4 record and into the second round of the playoffs.
Julien replaces Lamoriello, who coached the Devils for much of the season after Larry Robinson stepped down in December. The Devils were 32-18 under Lamoriello and won the Atlantic Division title thanks to an 11-game winning streak to end the regular season.
''It was easy for me to feel comfortable here,'' Julien said. ''No doubt he's (Lamoriello) left some big shoes behind that bench for me to fill.''

Selanne re-signs with Ducks

Selanne re-signs with Ducks
The Finnish Flash won't be hitting the open market this summer.

Stillman for COnn Smythe?

Now there are few doubts anywhere about Rod Brind'Amour as Carolina's best choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy. But you could also make a very strong case for forward Cory Stillman. TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie has more.FULL STORY...
McGuire: Winning Hab-its in New Jersey

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Roloson out for the series?

Oilers: Roloson lost for playoffs
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish announced after Game 1 that goalie Dwayne Roloson was out for the playoffs with a knee injury. Is all hope now lost for Edmonton? Barry Melrose says no.• Hradek: Oilers in danger

Notes from ESPN - June 6, 2006

This offseason, teams will live the salary cap, and the Maple Leafs, Bruins and Devils face the biggest free-agency hurdles.
Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Phil Kessel ... oh my! Check out the rankings of the top prospects for the 2006 NHL entry draft.

Hurricanes comeback to take Game 1....more from the league

Justin Williams led the way for Carolina with a goal and two assists. (AP)
The Edmonton Oilers suffered a double blow Monday, dropping Game One of the Stanley Cup final and losing Dwayne Roloson for the remainder of the series. Read full article

Canucks, Devils interested in Habscheid?: Sources tell Sportsnet that Hockey Canada Head Coach Marc Habscheid will be in Vancouver this week to meet with Canucks general manager Dave Nonis about his team's vacancy....

Markov likely to test market: Ex-Leafs and current Predators Danny Markov and Yanic Perreault will likely be available to the highest bidder this summer.... NHL is great, except nobody watches: When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the 2004 season he promised to return with a competitve, profitable league. He delivered on the promises, but the reality remains that nobody is watching....

Coyotes name Ulf assistant coach
Cup combatants recall coaches
NHL hockey returns to Winnipeg
League working on Russian agreement
Canucks' candidate Dineen arrested
Stillman: 'Canes hidden gem
No Stanley Cup rivalry to be found
McKee expects a full recovery
Wesley hopes to follow Bourque's lead
Future uncertain for some Sabres

TSN's 2006 Entry Draft Coverage

Read up on the final NHL rankings for skaters and goaltenders from across the continent and around the world. TSN has live coverage of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, June 24 at 6pm et/3pm pt from GM Place in Vancouver. at the NHL Combine
2006 NHL Draft Lottery
2006 NHL Draft Combine Invitees
2006 CSB Preliminary Rankings
2006 CSB Mid-Term Rankings
2006 CSB Final Rankings
ISS 2006 Draft Rankings
ISS 2006 Draft - Rising and Falling
ISS 2007 Draft Rankings
ISS Draft Watch for 2008 and 2009

Offseason Previews

Off-Season Game Plan: Red Wings
Despite compiling a league-best 124 points during the regular season, disappointment reigns in Detroit due to an early playoff exit. More...
Off-Season Game Plan: Flames
The 2004 Stanley Cup finalists were bounced from the playoffs in the first round in 2006 and, in part, it's because the Calgary Flames remain a very similar team. More...
Off-Season Game Plan: Capitals
Despite managing just 70 points in 2005-2006, the Washington Capitals were definitely overachievers. More...
NHL Off-Season Game Plan Archive

News and Notes from the NHL

Bettman holds state-of-the-union address
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended his TV deals in the United States despite ratings that plunged this season in the face of a much better product on the ice.

NHL returns to Winnipeg for one game
The NHL is coming back to Winnipeg - for one game anyway. The Edmonton Oilers, hot on the heels of their Stanley Cup final appearance, will play Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes in a pre-season game on Sept. 17 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

Ulf Samuelsson new assistant coach on Phoenix

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CP) - Phoenix Coyotes general manager Michael Barnett announced Monday that the club hired former NHL defenceman Ulf Samuelsson to serve as an assistant coach for head coach Wayne Gretzky.
Terms of the multi-year contract were not disclosed.
''We have a strong group of good young defencemen and felt it would be very beneficial to have them learn the game and be coached by a former NHL blueliner,'' said Barnett in a statement released by the club.
Samuelsson, 42, spent the 2005-06 season as an assistant coach with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers' top minor league affiliate, helping the club to a 48-24-2-6 record.
''Ulf was a top defenceman in the NHL for 17 years, and won two Stanley Cups,'' said Gretzky in the statement.
''He was a punishing hitter and a fierce competitor. As a former teammate, I know firsthand how he played the game with intelligence and passion. We look forward to him working with our young defencemen and helping them develop into better players. He will be a valuable addition to our coaching staff.''
Samuelsson, regarded as one of the hardest hitting defencemen ever, played 1,080 career NHL games over 17 seasons with the Hartford Whalers (now Carolina Hurricanes), Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
The native of Fagersta, Sweden registered 57 goals and 275 assists for 332 points, along with 2,453 penalty minutes and was a member of the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Championship teams in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Leafs Off-Season Preview

GM/COACHJohn Ferguson Jr./Paul Maurice
FORWARDSReturning: Mats Sundin, Alexander Steen, Darcy Tucker, Jeff O'Neill, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Chad Kilger, Tie Domi
Free Agents: Kyle Wellwood (RFA), Matt Stajan (RFA), Nikolai Antropov (RFA), Jason Allison (UFA), Eric Lindros (UFA), Clarke Wilm (UFA)
Top Prospects: Jeremy Williams, Robbie Earl, Alexander Suglobov
DEFENCEReturning: Tomas Kaberle, Staffan Kronwall, Wade Belak, Bryan McCabe
Free Agents: Carlo Colaiacovo (RFA), Jay Harrison (RFA), Ian White (RFA), Brendan Bell (RFA), Alexander Khavanov (UFA), Luke Richardson (UFA)
Top Prospect: Andy Wozniewski
GOALTENDINGReturning: Jean-Sebastien Aubin,
Free Agents: Mikael Tellqvist (RFA), Ed Belfour (TO)
Top Prospects: Tuukka Rask, Justin Pogge
DRAFT13th - Jiri Tlusty, Bob Sanguinetti, Bryan Little, Chris Stewart
FREE AGENCYtwo top six forwards, two-three top four defencemen, starting goaltender
TRADE MARKETDarcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Nikolai Antropov, Mikael Tellqvist

Gretzky signs 5 year deal to stay on as coach of the Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- After signing a five-year deal Wednesday to remain the Phoenix Coyotes' coach, Wayne Gretzky was asked if it would take that long to build a championship team."It better not, or I won't be here in five years," Gretzky said with a laugh.Gretzky wouldn't say how long it could take to deliver a Stanley Cup to the desert. But the announcement that he'll remain behind the bench is seen as critical to the club's efforts to become a contender for its first NHL title."It is an important, important event for the Phoenix Coyotes," chief executive officer Jeff Shumway said. "This completes our management group. We are very, very happy to get this done."Financial terms weren't announced. Gretzky, 44, is also the Coyotes' part owner and managing partner. He joined the franchise on Feb. 15, 2001, when Jerry Moyes' ownership group completed its purchase of the club.The Coyotes went 38-39-5 in Gretzky's debut season, winning 16 more games than in the previous season. The team was 36-36-5 with Gretzky on the bench; he missed five games for family reasons.It was, at times, a trying year for the NHL's all-time leading scorer.The first setback came when Brett Hull, a likely future Hall of Famer brought in to provide veteran leadership, retired five games into the season. Injuries to goalie Brian Boucher in the exhibition season and Ladislav Nagy in February also hurt the team.Gretzky dealt with the death of his mother, Phyllis, in December. His grandmother, Betty Hockin, died three weeks later.Assistant coach and friend Rick Tocchet was arrested for allegedly running an illegal sports gambling ring in February. The scandal touched Gretzky when it was revealed that his wife, Janet, had placed bets."Obviously, you live and learn," Gretzky said. "I'm a big boy. Fortunately, I have a lot of good friends and a lot of people who were very supportive. There's no question it was a tough year."Despite all the turmoil, Gretzky said he enjoyed coaching, which filled a void that opened up when he retired as a player in 1999."Competition: The chance to compete to get your name on the Stanley Cup," said Gretzky, who led the Edmonton Oilers to four such titles.Still, Gretzky said he wouldn't have returned if his family hadn't agreed to move to the Phoenix area. Last season, son Ty lived with Gretzky in Phoenix while Janet and the couple's other four children remained at their home in Southern California."Oh, that was non-negotiable," Gretzky said. "I wasn't going to do that again."Janet Gretzky attended the news conference."I'm sure there will be some realtor calls to our office," general manager Michael Barnett said.Barnett, a close friend who served as Gretzky's agent for 21 years, said he sensed the family issues were the only sticking point for Gretzky as he mulled his future."He made it clear to me at the end of the year that we had unfinished business, and he thoroughly enjoyed the competitive aspect of coaching," Barnett said..Gretzky's next move is to begin preparing for the June 24 draft in Vancouver.Tocchet is on an indefinite leave of absence from the NHL, but Gretzky didn't rule out his return."As far as Rick Tocchet goes, right now it's in the hands of the league, and until the league makes a decision there's nothing that we can really do about it," Gretzky said.Though training camp is more than three months away, Gretzky seemed anxious to go to work. And he had a message for anyone who doubted his commitment to coaching."I spent my whole career, my whole life as a youngster playing hockey, being told I was too slow and I was too small and I wasn't good enough," Gretzky said. "Then when I decided to become a coach, I was told that I can't be a good coach because I was too good of a player. So I kind of went full circle."I think that, had I walked away this year, I would not have been happy with what I'd accomplished as far as wins and losses went last year," Gretzky said. "The only way that you're remembered as an athlete and a coach is winning championships. As well as I did as a player, I never went to another level until we won our first championship. And to me, that's the way it is coaching, too."

McCabe to Re-sign

The Leafs and defenceman Bryan McCabe are closing in on a new multi-year deal that will make McCabe the highest-paid defenceman on the team, Sportsnet has learned.McCabe was reportedly after a five-year, $25 million contract, but sources told Sportsnet that the proposed deal is worth $28.75 million -- exceeding the expected $5 million per season McCabe was rumoured to be seeking.It also believed McCabe will get a no movement clause that won't allow the team to trade him or put him on waivers.The deal will keep McCabe from becoming an unrestricted free-agent on July 1, 2006.

The Nordiques Coming Back?

Businessman aims to revive Nordiques A little-known local businessman says he wants to bring NHL hockey back to Quebec City.Mark Charest, who said he works in event promotions, told a news conference Wednesday at the Pepsi Colisee that a committee has been formed to work on landing a franchise. templatedata/content/archive/data/HOCKEY/EAST_LINEUP_ARCHIVE