***** Illegal Curve is no longer posting at this address. Visit us at our new location http://www.illegalcurve.com

Monday, July 28, 2008


Thank you to everyone who has supported us at the blogspot address. Illegal Curve has moved to to a new address. Please update your bookmarks and rss feeds accordingly.

Our new address is

We have a redesigned our site to better serve all of our readers.

Thank you again for your support and we hope to see all of you at our new location.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Having technical difficulties

Hi everyone,

We are currently having some server issues with our new site that we hope to have ironed out within the next hour or so. Once we fix this problem, the new site will be up and runnning.

Sorry for the delay.

We appreciate your patience,


Update: Our new site is now up and running.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lack of posts

Just wanted to let everyone know that the reason for the lack of posts is because we are working feverishly to have the new site ready for Monday morning.



Ballhype: hype it up!

Regier happy for Cunneyworth

From John Vogl of the Buffalo News:

Cunneyworth, who has coached the Sabres’ AHL team in Rochester for the past eight seasons, was hired as an assistant coach by the Atlanta Thrashers. Cunneyworth joins the staff of new Thrashers head man John Anderson.

“I’m very happy for him,” Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said Friday. “It’s well-deserved, and he’ll do a terrific job.”

Read the entire article here.

Cunneyworth paid his dues in the AHL and will be a good addition to the Thrashers bench. Eventually, the former NHL forward should become a solid NHL head coach.

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Pierre-Marc Bouchard signs five-year deal

From Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and the Wild avoided a Monday arbitration hearing when
Bouchard agreed to a five-year, $20.4 million contract minutes before midnight
tonight. Thank goodness my hangout of choice is right across the street from my home. Although, I think I did re-break my foot hobbling back to write a frantic story.

The $20.4 million is $600,000 smaller than Nick Schultz’s six-year package, which was the largest sum of money in one contract. Of course, next up is Marian Gaborik, and if the Wild can get him inked, that $21 million with be shattered.

Read the entire post from Russo's Rants here.

Nice work by the Wild. There were rumors that Bouchard would sign a one-year deal and be shopped by the club, but in the end, both sides came to a reasonable agreement. Bouchard has to be happy he has a long-term deal at fair dollars and the Wild has to be happy that it has maintained arguably its second most talented offensive player for the next half-decade.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

A couple small signings

From TSN:

The Nashville Predators signed center Rich Peverley to a two-year contract and goaltender Pekka Rinne to a one-year contract extension, the team announced Friday.

Read the entire article here.

From TSN:
The New York Islanders have added to their defence corp by signing defenceman Bruno Gervais to a three-year, US$2.2225-million contract on Friday.

Read the entire article here.

From TSN:
The Montreal Canadiens have announced the signing of centreman Yanick Lehoux to a one-year contract.

Read the entire article here.

Just some smaller signings to pass along.

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Brylin has agreed to terms with KHL team

From Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger:

Sergei Brylin, the classy three-time Stanley Cup champion, returned to New Jersey today to pick up his personal effects before heading to Russia to sign a three-year contract with St. Petersburg of the Continental League.

"I haven't technically signed," Brylin told me, "but we've agreed to terms. I've heard good things about the team. Igor Larionov will be involved with the team. Maybe it's a change I needed. Being here for so long, I wouldn't say it puts you to sleep, but I got used to things. This will shake things up."

Read the entire article here.

Brylin was an important part of all three Stanley Cup championship teams and was really one of the more underrated players in the NHL during his entire career.

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Alexei Zhitnik Signs with Moscow Dynamo

A Russian source is reporting that former Atlanta Thrasher Alexei Zhitnik has signed with Moscow Dynamo of the KHL.

On Friday, leaders of HK "Dinamo" (Moscow) signed a "trial" contract with the famous defender Alexei Zhitnikom, speaking for many years in NHL.

Check the article out, even just to see the hilarious translation.

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Svatos re-signs with Avalanche

From TSN:

The Colorado Avalanche announced the signing of forward Marek Svatos to a two-year contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.

Marek Svatos has been a key ingredient to our success the last few years," said
Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager Francois Giguere in a statement. "He's scored many big goals for this club and we expect him to be a strong force for us again this season."

Read the entire article here.

Svatos, when healthy, is a very effective scoring winger. He will be an integral part of the Avalanche's youth movement moving forward and it was a good decision for the Avs to avoid going to arbitration with him.

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TSN looking to replace Mibury

From William Houston of the Globe & Mail:

TSN may be looking at Ray Ferraro, formerly of NBC and Sportsnet, as well as former NHL coach Marc Crawford and retired defenceman Larry Murphy as potential hockey analysts.

Read more from Houston here.

All solid replacements, however, I'd give the nod to chicken-parm Ray Ferraro.

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Oilers defense pairing for next season

From Dave Staples of the Cult of Hockey:

Charlie Huddy told Dan Tencer of 630 CHED that the Oilers plan to go with Smid
paired up with Denis Grebeshkov to start, also Lubomir Visnovsky and Tom
Gilbert, as well as Steve Staios and Sheldon Souray.

Read the entire post here.

Looks like a pretty solid top six to me.

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Michel Therrien's contract extension is a nice change

From Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

That's why it was so refreshing to see Therrien get a big new contract last week. A year ago, after he had led the Penguins to a 47-point improvement and their first playoff spot in six years, general manager Ray Shero gave him just a one-year extension. This time, after the team made it to the Cup final, Shero tore up the one year remaining on Therrien's contract and gave him three years at around $1 million per season.

Now, finally, the odds are on Therrien's side. He's still not a lock to get through the next two seasons; there will be extraordinary pressure on him and the team considering the expectations the run to the Cup final generated. But at least he has a shot because of the commitment from management.

Read the entire article here.

I agree with Cook. With NHL coaches having such a short shelf-life, it was nice to see Therrien get rewarded for two great seasons as the Penguins' head coach.

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Tortorella to interview with Islanders on Sunday

From Greg Logan of Newsday:

The big ticket on the carousel of coaching candidates that Garth Snow is running this summer belongs to former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, who is scheduled to meet with the Islanders' general manager on Sunday.

Because he stands to collect $1.3 million for the remaining year of his Lightning contract, Tortorella can well afford to be choosy about his next job. That salary is slightly more than twice as much as former Isles coach
Ted Nolan was believed to be making, but that's what a 2004 Stanley Cup victory will get you. The Lightning's obligation to Tortorella would be offset by whatever salary he makes in a new job this season.

Read the entire article here.

Tortorella is certainly a qualified candidate to take over for the Islanders. He is an in-your-face coach who prefers to play an up-tempo, aggressive forechecking game, that makes watching the game exciting for fans. His passion and demand for accountability may be just what the organization needs as it tries to turn around its fortunes and rebuild for the future.

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Blue Jackets sign Mike York

From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:

The Blue Jackets have signed veteran NHL center Mike York to a one-year contract, The Dispatch has learned.

It's a two-way contract that will pay York $750,000 with the Blue Jackets and $100,000 with the minor-league Syracuse Crunch.

Read the entire article here.

York used to be a useful player early in the 2000's but over the past few seasons he has been extremely ineffective. Columbus GM Scott Howson knows him from his days in Edmonton and probably figures he is worth the low risk two-way contract.

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Regina Pats Name Dale Derkatch New Head Coach

The Regina Pats have replaced the departed Curtis Hunt with former player Dale Derkatch.

As the Pats' head coach, Derkatch hopes to employ a formula similar to the one that worked so well in Wilcox.

"I want to be the highest-scoring team, I want to be the lowest goals-against, and we want to be third or fourth in the league in penalty minutes,'' Derkatch, 43, said during a media conference at the Brandt Centre.

"Now, people are thinking I'm crazy, saying, 'Why do you want to be third or fourth in the league (in penalty minutes)?' Because I want guys to play hard and I don't want them to be scared when they play hard that if they take a penalty, I'm going to be upset with them. I'm not upset with them. They're going to take penalties for playing hard.''

Any coach that wants to lead the league in goals and be near the top in penalty minutes is alright with me.

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Erik Cole Arrives in Edmonton

Winger Erik Cole, recently acquired from Carolina, arrived in Edmonton yesterday with his wife, and is saying the right things.

It's a brief trip, but a busy one as Erik Cole hits Edmonton for the first time since becoming a member of the Oilers. He has been here before, of course, as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final; he most vividly remembers the atmosphere around Game 6, a game that he says "wasn't all that memorable" for the Canes (4-0 win for the Oilers). First and foremost Cole and his wife are here to buy a house. The Cole's will be making the move together with their 2 young children sometime in late August. They're looking to find a house fast because they need to get back to New York for their son's 4th birthday party this weekend.

Chatting with Cole this morning at Servus Credit Union Place in St. Albert, where he made a stop to sign autographs for the young participants in the Oilers Hockey School, it didn't take long to realize that he and his family are truly eager to start their new life in Edmonton. "There's a big buzz and everyone that I've talked to within the organization is really excited about the upcoming season," Cole said. "The way they finished last year, it's an exciting time to be an Oiler. My wife and I are really excited to be here."

Hopefully Cole puts up a few points and finds some chemistry in the Top 9. Having another offensive option certainly won't hurt the Oilers.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Illegal Curve's new site will debut on Monday morning

We at Illegal Curve are excited to announce the unveiling of our new look website on Monday morning. As part of the process for unveiling the new site, www.illegalcurve.com will be down from Thursday evening through Monday morning. However, during that time, readers can still access all of our daily postings at www.illegalcurve.blogspot.com.

Once the site debuts early on Monday, the blogspot URL will be obsolete and we will strictly be using www.illegalcurve.com.

Thanks to all of our readers for supporting us on blogspot; without you, we'd be nothing. Additionally, I'd like to thank all of you who emailed us with your suggestions for the new look site.


Richard Pollock

Ballhype: hype it up!

Murray clears waivers

From Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe:

Glen Murray, placed on unconditional waivers yesterday, was not claimed by any team prior to today's 12 p.m. deadline.

Read the short entry from Bruins Blog here.

No shock here. The only surprise would have been if Murray had gotten claimed. The team will buy him out tomorrow and he will be free to sign wherever he chooses.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Tampering charges still under review

From Dan Wood of the Orange County Register:

It’s probably not at the top of the NHL’s to-do list, but the league hasn’t shelved the tampering charge filed by Ducks General Manager Brian Burke (right) against Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed in an E-mail this morning that the league has received a formal request to investigate but has not concluded its probe.

“It is being processed internally,” Daly wrote. “No further update at this time.”

Read the entire post here.

I can't foresee there being any discipline being handed down by the NHL for this tampering charge.

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Paul Kelly wants more Canadian franchises

From TSN:

NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly weighed in on the side of NHL expansion into Canada and increased revenue sharing on Team 1040 radio in Vancouver on Thursday.

"We're very supportive of the Canadian franchises, not only because of the history and tradition, but also because of the results," Kelly explained on the TEAM 1040.

"I mean the Canadian fans are like no others," he continued. "They're passionate, they come out and support it, they buy the merchandise, and they're knowledgeable about the sport. And it seems to us a no-brainer that if you're going to expand or you're going to relocate, that you first and foremost have to consider some of the major hubs here in Canada. You know, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Quebec City, perhaps Halifax if they had an arena that could sustain an NHL team. But I think there are locations in Canada that would strongly support the NHL game."

Read the entire article here.

I couldn't agree more with Kelly. The game needs to move back to its roots and where it matters most. There are many successful American NHL franchises, but the ones in the south that have been struggling for some time are the most likely candidates for any franchise relocation.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Happy Birthday Ezra!

From all the contributors at Illegal Curve, we'd like to wish our own Ezra Ginsburg a Happy 26th Birthday!!! Have a great day big guy!!!

From The Boys at Illegal Curve.

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Dallas Stars Ice-Girls Auditions

In case you have been dying to see how the Stars' Ice-Girls are going to look next year, click here.

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Do the Canucks have a plan B?

From Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province:

- The Issue: If Mats Sundin opts to retire or play elsewhere.

- The Question: What is Plan B?

- The Quote: "We have secondary layers of planning that we went through before July 1 and we're comfortable that those secondary layers of planning will be sufficient one way or the other. We'll see where it (pursuit of Sundin) goes. We're going to look at every possibility. Part of our secondary planning is that a couple of guys are ready to play or close to being ready to play on this team and making a contribution."

Read the entire article here.

You would have to think the team's plan B would be to just keep on given'er.

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Auld brings a good attitude to Senators

From Hugh Adami of the Ottawa Citizen:

Martin Gerber can probably breathe a little easier with Alex Auld and not Ray Emery waiting in the wings to be the Ottawa Senators' No. 1 goalie.

Auld, signed to a two-year, $2-million U.S. contract on July 1, didn't hide his desire yesterday to become the starting goalie for the Senators, but he made it pretty clear he'll accept the backup role, too. So fans shouldn't expect him to throw any temper tantrums or show up late for practice if Gerber can hold onto to the No. 1 job.

Read the entire article here.

The Senators have certainly added some good character players this off-season, which was a goal of Bryan Murray's at the start of the season.

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Mariusz Czerkawski retires

From Lowetide:

At 36 years old, Marius Czerkawski has decided to retire. The former Oiler (who is also connected to two teams Edmonton has often dealt with over the years, NYI and Boston) had been playing in Switzerland the last couple of seasons.

Read the entire post from Lowetide here.

Just thought I'd pass this along.

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Will Niclas Wallin go home to Sweden?

From Luke Decock of the News Observer:

Is a team from the Swedish Elite League negotiating to buy Niclas Wallin's
contract from the Hurricanes?

A reader passed along this
tidbit from a Swedish newspaper that would indicate Lulea of the SEL is trying to do just that, translated here via google:

It has long been silent about the combination klassvärvningar and Lulea Hockey. Jättetalangen Kristofer Berglund (Björklöven) is the only catch in the category so far. A credible source tells PT-sport club is trying to negotiate loss Stanley Cup-winner Niclas Wallin from the Carolina Hurricanes-the contract.

Wallin was almost ready for Luleå for a couple years ago, but then
succeeded his Carolina win the Stanley Cup whereupon Haradspojken offered a
drömkontrakt. Now, Wallin played by two of those three years and Luleå is said
to work hard and quietly to buy off him. In this case, the new government's
first major chapter.

Read the entire post from Lord Stanley's Blog here.

Wallin is a solid NHL defenseman, and the Hurricanes would certainly be better off with him on the team's roster or with the assets they'd receive in a trade. I just can't see the team allowing him to go back to Sweden with two years remaining on his deal.

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Ryan Parent leading the Flyers' young players

From Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The defenseman, who is still on an entry-level contract, is participating in this week's prospect camp at the Skate Zone in Voorhees simply because general manager Paul Holmgren could bring him in.

"It's certainly not a punishment that he's here," Holmgren said. "We view him as one of our top young players. Right now, more than anything, we're relying on his leadership with some of these other young players who are just getting started."

Read the entire article here.

Parent is expected to crack the Flyers' top-six defense this season and should be an integral part of the team's future.

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Marc Staal happy about Rangers summer

From Steve Zipay of Newsday:

"I'm excited about the guys we got," he said. "Redden's an All-Star, a great player, he'll really be good. I know Naslund from watching him when I was growing up [in Thunder Bay, Ontario]. He's got experience, he's been on the power play." Asked about the critics who believe Naslund, at 35, is no longer the force he once was, Staal said, "Maybe a change of scenery will be good for him."

Staal also was pleased with the return of defenseman
Michal Rozsival. "I got pretty comfortable playing with him last year," Staal said, noting that he had no preference for a pairing with either Redden or Rozsival. "It's not up to me, but I want to play as much as I can, so I can probably get the minutes with either of those guys."

Read the entire article here.

We should set up a back and forth between Larry Brooks and Marc Staal debating the merits of each NYR off-season move. You can't tell me that wouldn't be a hoot!

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Report: Darche signs one-year deal with Sabres

From John Vogl of the Buffalo News:

In other news, veteran forward Mathieu Darche reportedly has agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Sabres.

The 31-year-old played 73 games for Tampa Bay last season, scoring seven times and adding 15 assists. Darche has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, recording 352 points in 440 games. The Sabres need to add players to fill out their roster in Portland, but Darche is hopeful of playing in Buffalo.

“I figured that’s where I’ll have a good chance,” Darche told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “Lindy Ruff is a lot like [former Tampa Bay coach] John Tortorella. You get what you deserve. I decided the fit was good in Buffalo, and I liked the talk I had with Darcy Regier.”

Read the entire article here.

The Sabres are trying to fill out their depth lines and Darche isn't a bad addition. The veteran forward played well under John Tortorella last season and has earned the chance to play on a one-way contract.

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Chiarelli on waiving Glen Murray

From Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe:

"It was really, really difficult," said general manager Peter Chiarelli. "Muzz is a very good person. He meant a lot to the room. It's something where you have to make hard decisions in this new system. Being put on waivers, it means that if you get taken by somebody else, we're prepared to accept that, and that's not a very good thing to hear, especially for someone who's served the time he has with us. It was a hard decision.

"It's not written in stone that he'll be bought out, but it is a step toward that. It's unfortunate but it's part of the game."

Read the entire article here.

Chiarelli is a classy GM and obviously feels bad about having to somewhat embarrass a player that is so well-liked by the organization and its fans. Even though this was a tough decision for Chiarelli to make, it was the right one.

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Wild and Bouchard are gearing up for arbitration

From Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Lynn flew to Toronto tonight to get situated, and right now, I’m getting the feeling there’s a large gap between what the Wild is seeking from the arbitrator and what Bouchard’s camp is seeking. Usually, both sides have a good idea what number an arbitrator will decide upon, so they can avoid arbitration and come to an agreement (like last year when the Wild and Bouchard agreed on a one-year, $2.6 million deal before arb or like last week when Stephane Veilleux and the Wild agreed to a one-year, $862,500 contract, including a 125K signing bonus).

In this case, the gap appears to be large enough that the Wild and Bouchard may not come to a compromise. So, there’s a shot it’ll get there.

Read the entire story here.

This could end up being one of the more heated arbitration hearings in some time. It appears both sides have extremely different views on Bouchard's worth to the Wild. To be honest, If Bouchard is a member of the Wild after 2008/09, I'd be surprised.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vermette to Canucks rumors continue

From Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun:

Buzz is the Vancouver Canucks are interested in acquiring Antoine Vermette, the fleet-footed Senators forward who awaits a scheduled, July 31 arbitration hearing. Original speculation had Ottawa hoping to land rugged defenceman Kevin Bieksa in return, but the Canucks laughed off talk of a one-for-one deal. Most recently, the word coming from out west has Vermette heading to Vancouver for former Senators blueliner Sami Salo.

Read the entire entry from Off the Posts here.

The Senators are NOT making a Antoine Vermette straight up for Sami Salo deal.

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Sharks finalize coaching staff

From David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News:

The Sharks made it official today, naming Trent Yawney, Todd Richards and Jay Woodcroft as assistant coaches for the coming season.

Those names have all been circulating here and elsewhere, but the one real bit of real news in the series of announcements being made today is that Corey Schwab has been hired as the team’s goalie development coach. Assistant General Manager Wayne Thomas will continue to work with Sharks goalies at the NHL level, with Schwab — most recently a scout and assistant goalie coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning — working with prospects at Worcester and elsewhere.

Read the entire post from Working the Corners here.

The above coaching staff had been rumored to have been all but hired as recently as Monday, so no real surprises here.

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Carlyle receives two-year extension from Ducks

From the Orange County Register:

The Ducks announced Wednesday morning that Coach Randy Carlyle has been given a two-year contract extension, which keeps him behind the bench through the 2010-2011 season.

Carlyle had one season left on his contract. He is entering his fourth season as Ducks coach in which he is 138-74-34, a franchise record for victories and winning percentage (63 percent).

Read the entire post here.

Carlyle deserves this extension. The former Norris Trophy winner has become one of the NHL's best coaches and led the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup championship. His team had an off year in 2007/08 but much of that can probably be attributed to the uncertainty surrounding Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. With a 63% career winning percentage, Carlyle has proven his worth as an NHL coach.

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Glen Murray waived

From Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe:

The Bruins have placed Glen Murray on unconditional waivers, the first step of the buyout process.

If Murray goes unclaimed and the Bruins complete the buyout, they will trim $2,766,667 from their 2008-09 cap hit, bringing their current number down to $55,469,999. They will carry Murray's remaining money of $1,383,333 on their 2009-10 payroll.

Read more about the Bruins here.

No chance that Murray gets claimed on waivers. Considering his production, Murray's contract is far too expensive for anyone to take on. The veteran winger will be bought out by the Bruins then free to shop his services wherever he wants. I wonder if the Sharks will try and buy low on Joe Thornton's former linemate...

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Martin Rucinsky signs in Czech Republic

From Steve Zipay of Newsday:

Martin Rucinsky, the Czech winger who played 136 games with the Rangers in three separate stints, has decided to return to play for Prague in the Extraliga, his new team reported.

Rucinsky, 37, was injured much of last season when he played for the Blues, scoring five goals and 11 assists.

Read the entire post from Blue Notes here.

Rucinsky is not the player he once was, and has chosen to finish his hockey career back home.

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Why is Stephane Yelle still available?

From Adrian Dater of the Denver Post:

Maybe I’m being too sentimental here. Maybe Yeller doesn’t have much left in the tank. Maybe the league’s 30 GMs know something I don’t. He is 34 now, and had only three goals in 74 games - a career low.

But Yelle’s teams have a funny way of always being winners, and nobody disputes his PK credentials. The fact is, the Avs have been distinctly unimpressive of addressing this woeful area so far this offseason. They seem hellbent on adding every Hanson Brother-type player they can find, but not interested in finding a guy who can, you know, win a faceoff or get the puck and clear it when one of the Hansons are in the box. And the Avs, with their off-season signings so far, figure to be in the box plenty this coming year.

Read the entire post from All Things Avs here.

Yelle is certainly a capable face-off guy and penalty killer but he is clearly on the downside of his career. Additionally, scoring was never his strength but now he has become basically a non-factor in the offensive zone. That said, I'm sure he'll catch on with a veteran club, as he is a solid leader and always plays hard.

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Commodore doesn't think he's is that overpaid

From Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch:

Some critics, however, say the Jackets overpaid for a defenseman with 14 career goals and 49 assists in seven seasons spanning 296 games. The Hockey News labeled it the fourth-worst signing of the summer.

"I'll be the first to admit I got a very good contract for myself," Commodore said. "I know (NBC and TSN analyst) Pierre McGuire ran his mouth up there, which is no shocker. I don't set the market. If you take what I've done in the last three years and take my comparables ... I don't think by any stretch of the imagination it was an unfair contract."

Read the entire story here.

Say what you want about this contract, but Commodore will bring strong leadership skills, a willingness to compete and playoff experience to a young squad.

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Wesley to have number retired by Hurricanes

From Luke Decock of the News & Observer:

Glen Wesley spent all but a few months of his 20 NHL seasons with two franchises, the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes.

When they meet on Feb. 17 at the RBC Center, the recently retired defenseman will be honored and his No. 2 jersey retired, the Hurricanes announced Tuesday.

"It makes it pretty special, starting my career out there," Wesley said Tuesday. "Finding that out today, it was pretty exciting to hear that."

Read the entire article here.

Wesley was the Hurricanes. He was a extremely solid defenseman for the organization and was always a solid citizen off the ice. When thinking of the Whalers/Hurricanes, Wesley is arguably the first or second name that a fan would think of. He is certainly deserving of this honor.

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Larry Robinson scaling back

From Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger:

Larry Robinson, who spent last season next to head coach Brent Sutter, won't be behind the Devils' bench again this season. He'll serve as a special assignment coach between the organization's prospects in Lowell, Mass., and the Devils.

Tommy Albelin, as assistant coach who served as the club's eye in the sky in the press box, will join John MacLean behind the bench.

Read the entire article here.

Robinson is a great coach, and he brings a lot of life to a team's bench. I'm sure he will be missed behind the Devils' bench.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Viktor Tikhonov has a blog

Phoenix Coyotes draft pick Viktor Tikhonov is the latest in a long line of players, coaches and other personnel to get their own blog at the Hockey News.

My agent told me there was a chance I would be drafted in the first round, so I went into Friday hoping for the best and Phoenix took me 28th overall. A lot went through my head when I heard my name called: happiness, adrenaline – so many things.

After you put the jersey on and go up on stage, it’s just the beginning. There’s an interview with your new team (for me it was with Darren Pang), then you pose for 20-30 pictures and get your own media scrum.

Once that was finished, I headed off to the Phoenix Coyotes’ team suite. The room was packed. All the scouts, GM Don Maloney, fellow first-rounder Mikkel Boedker; everyone was in there.

When the first round was finished, I stuck around a bit longer and went back on stage to take pictures with family and friends. I even have a shot of me pointing to my name on the big board. It was pretty cool.

On the heels of the draft, I flew back to my home in California for about half a day before jetting to Phoenix for the team’s prospect camp.
I eagerly await my turn at blogging for the Hockey News about my season with the UND Law Hockey Team.

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Duvie Westcott Signs with Dinamo Riga

Former Blue Jackets defenseman Duvie Westcott, bought out this summer by Columbus, has signed with Dinamo Riga in the KHL.

Westcott was bought out of the final two years of his contract by the Blue Jackets this summer, meaning he'll earn $600,000 plus from the Jackets over the next four years. He tried to get a one-way contract in the NHL, but found no takers.

Don't know how much he's making in Latvia, but he's probably well compensated. He's also surrounded with friends.

Former Blue Jackets forward Mark Hartigan, who won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in June, is off to Latvia, too. Westcott and Hartigan are best buddies from their St. Cloud State days. In fact, their summer homes are right next door in Minnesota.

Other players you may recognize on the team: Marcel Hossa, Ronald Petrovicky, Filip Novak.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Fedorov looking to stick with Devils

From Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger:

Fedor Fedorov might not possess some of his older brother's Hall of Fame-caliber skills, but he has Sergei's unmistakable confidence.

Signed as a free agent by the Devils after playing the past two seasons in his native Russia, Fedorov is taking part in this week's developmental camp for prospects at the Prudential Center.

The catch is, unlike most of the players involved, Fedorov, 27, is extremely confident he'll earn a spot with the Devils in training camp.

"That's the only reason I'm here," Fedorov said Tuesday. "No other reason. There is no (other) point in me being here."

Read the entire story here.

Fedorov has confidence, arguably too much, but if he can exhibit determination and a willingness to compete that matches his skill level, he'll be in good shape.

Ballhype: hype it up!

CBC Still Finalizing On-Air Talent for HNIC

Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette writes that the CBC, in an effort to re-brand its flagship franchise, is still working out the details of who will appear on the show.

Milbury's addition raises the question of what the future holds for another HNIC regular with Boston connections - P. J. Stock. There won't be much room on the Hotstove with ring master Ron MacLean, Milbury and Scott Morrison taking up three of the four spots. HNIC likes to throw in Eric Duhatschek, Pierre LeBrun or Al Strachan in the fourth spot, and that leaves little or no room for Stock.

I like the addition of Milbury, especially to the Satellite Hot Stove.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Oilers Sign Former Fighting Sioux Robbie Bina

As per the Grand Forks Herald, the Edmonton Oilers signed the defenseman to a 2-way deal. He is expected to split time between Springfield and Stockton.

Bina, an all-Western Collegiate Hockey Association defenseman at UND, recently signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Edmonton Oilers organization, which also holds the rights to Geoff Paukovich.

Bina’s contract is with Springfield (Mass.) Falcons of the American Hockey League and the Stockton (Calif.) Thunder of the East Coast Hockey League.

Good signing by the Oilers. Despite some other higher profile names getting all the press for the Sioux, its quite often Bina who runs the power-play and makes things happen. He is small, but his skills with the puck are undeniable.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wild will open training camp in Grand Forks

From Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Minnesota Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough today announced the National Hockey League (NHL)club will open its 2008 training camp presented by Wells Fargo at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. on Saturday, Sept. 20.

“The Wild has had a great relationship with the hockey fans of the greater Grand Forks area for many years and has enjoyed great success in NHL preseason games there,” said Tom Lynn, Assistant General Manager/Hockey Operations. “Ralph Engelstad Arena is one of the finest hockey facilities in the world, and outside of our home in the Twin Cities, we could not imagine a better venue for starting our training camp in 2008.”

Read the entire post from Russo's Rants here.

Good choice by the Wild. Aside from its name (Engelstad was a Nazi supporter) the Ralph Engelstad Arena is one of the nicest hockey complexes in North America. Additionally, North Dakotans really appreciate good hockey, so this is a smart decision by the organization.

Side note: I was actually at the Wild/Sabres exhibition game in Grand Forks last year and it was there where I was asked this hilarious questions by Brian Campbell, "Brisket? Do you know what Brisket is?"

Ballhype: hype it up!

Bruins sign Wideman for four years

From Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe:

An NHL source confirmed Sportsnet's report that Dennis Wideman has signed a new deal with the Bruins, avoiding the arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 1.

Wideman has signed a four-year extension, although the source couldn't confirm the amount of the defenseman's contract. GM Peter Chiarelli said there is no update on Wideman's contract.

Read more from Bruins Blog here.

See, there was no reason to be concerned about Peter Chiarelli's fishing trip.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Leafs to honour Gilmour and Clark

From the Toronto Sun:

Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour soon will take their place among the Toronto Maple Leafs' all-time greats.

The popular former Leafs captains will have banners raised at the Air Canada Centre in separate pre-game ceremonies this season to honour their achievements with the NHL club. Clark's No. 17 banner will go up on Nov. 22 before a game against the Chicago Blackhawks while Gilmour's No. 93 will be raised Jan. 31 when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit.

The Leafs only have two retired jersey numbers -- Ace Bailey's No. 6 and Bill Barilko's No. 5.

Clark and Gilmour's will be added to 12 others whose numbers are "honoured" with banners, but still available for current players to wear. The others are Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy, Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, Tim Horton, George Armstrong, Charlie Conacher, Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Hap Day, Red Kelly and Borje Salming.

Read the entire story here.

Classy move by the Leafs organization.

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Canucks jack ticket prices

From Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:

The Canucks, who have 4,000 people representing 8,000 seats on their season-ticket wait list, are increasing season-ticket rates by an average of about 7.5 per cent this season. "Our costs are rising," de Bonis said.

"We are forecasting player salaries to go up 15 per cent from where they were last year. Our price increase is about half the increase in the player salaries, so it's about seven and a half percent. We went out the year before with a 12-per-cent increase. We are trying to be sensitive to not having these prices go up and up and up while recognizing we want the resources to put the best team we can on the ice."

Read the entire article here.

Who the hell can afford to attend NHL games anymore? Seriously. There are 41 home games per season and the Canucks justify 7.5%-10% hikes in ticket costs? Whatever happened to the lockout is going to benefit the fan and keep ticket prices reasonable? I'd love to know.

Ballhype: hype it up!

After a season away, Ryder happy to be back with Flames organization

From Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun:

The Flames, he said, didn't exert any pressure.

"They were great with it. They helped me a lot. It's good to have people around like that," he said. "They just let me take the time I needed and be ready for the next year."

How ready he'll be remains to be seen.

A season away is going to have an impact, but he said he doesn't feel too rusty.

"Ever since I've been on skates again, it felt fine. No games, nothing competitive. Probably lost a little bit of development, but I wouldn't say too much," said Ryder, who skates a few times over the winter. "Getting back on the ice, it's good. I'm looking forward to a good camp and getting it going."

Read the entire article here.

Ryder certainly has the skill level to help the Flames in the future. Letting the youngster have some time to himself may actually have been best for the franchise long-term.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Joe Thornton sold Curtis Brown on playing in Switzerland

From David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News:

I had a chance the other day to talk with Curtis Brown and he sounded as if he’s ready for the next phase of his hockey career to continue in Switzerland.

That may be because Brown talked with Joe Thornton — who played there during the 2004-05 lockout — before signing a two-year contract with the Kloten Flyers.

“That was key,” Brown said. “I talked to Joe and he said it was unbelievable.”

Read the entire entry from Working the Corners here.

Brown should get more ice-time overseas and seems genuinely excited about experiencing a new culture.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Should the Canucks give Sundin a deadline?

From Brad Zeimer of the Vancouver Sun:

All this puts Canuck GM Mike Gillis in a tough spot. How long does he give Sundin to make up his mind? At some point Gillis may have to turn to Plan B, which would likely involve trading away one of his defencemen -- maybe Kevin Bieksa -- for some offence from a team that is up against the salary cap. If he hasn't already, Gillis needs to tell Sundin and his agent J.P. Barry that the Canucks' very generous offer of $20 million over two years has a deadline. Give him until the end of the month. If Sundin still hasn't decided by then, the Canucks need to turn the page and move on.

Read the entire post from One-Timers here.

If the Canucks give Sundin a deadline, I'm not so sure how well that would go over. He has already stated his intention to decide which team he wants to play for within the next two weeks. Imposing a team deadline on Sundin would probably eliminate any chance the team has of bringing Sundin to British Columbia.

Ballhype: hype it up!

More information on the small Stars/Kings trade

From Rich Hammond of the L.A. Daily News:

Clune, 21, was selected by Dallas in the third round (71st overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 38 games with the Iowa Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season and recorded eight points (3-5=8) while finishing second on the club with 137 penalty minutes. Clune, a 6-0, 195-pound native of Toronto, also skated in 19 games with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads this past season and registered 10 points (1-9=10) and 41 penalty minutes.

Clune finished third on his team in goals (32), assists (46) and points (78) and led his club in penalty minutes (151) while skating with the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) Barrie Colts during the 2006-07 season. He also led the Colts in postseason scoring with seven points (3-4=7) and eight penalty minutes in eight playoff games that year. In addition, Clune appeared in one game with the Iowa Stars that same season, recording two penalty minutes.

Read more about Clune from Inside the Kings here.

Clune seems to have some potential. When two teams trade prospects like the Kings and Stars did last night, it always take a couple years to see who came out ahead.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Stars acquire Lauri Tukonen

From Todd Davis of the Dallas Morning News:

The Stars traded left wing Richard Clune to the Los Angeles Kings for right wing Lauri Tukonen, a 2004 first-round draft pick and yet another Fin.

Clune, a third-round pick in 2005, didn't make it to the big club in Dallas, bouncing between Iowa and Idaho last season.

Update from Mike Heika: This move seems to have Dave Taylor's fingerprints on it. The Stars' director of player personnel was with the Kings when they drafted Tukonen, and would obviously have the most information on the Finnish winger.

Read the short post here.

Tukonen put up 35 points in the AHL last season, so I guess the Kings didn't see him cracking their fairly deep forward lines. He is only 21 years old, so the Stars must figure they can crack some of that untapped potential.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Oren Koules on the Dan Boyle trade

From Jerome Stockfisch of the Tampa Tribune:

"Like anything in life, there's two sides to the story," he told fans after one inquired about the circumstances. "I'm certainly not going to debate that Dan Boyle won a Stanley Cup here. He's a great hockey player, the best puck-moving defenseman in the league.

"To make our team better, to make it better tomorrow, to make it better in the future, to make it better now, we felt this was a move we had to do. We got four great assets back for him and Brad Lukowich. It makes us a better hockey club."

Read Stockfisch's entire profile of Koules here.

Trading Boyle sure doesn't make the Lightning better now. In the future, it may be a beneficial move; however, if the Lightning is so concerned about the future, why sign Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts and Olaf Kolzig?

Ballhype: hype it up!

Hockey News names John Stevens coach of the year

From Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News:

But Stevens stood behind his team and his staff, and yesterday, Stevens was honored by The Hockey News, which named him coach of the year for leading the Flyers from the bottom of the league to the Eastern Conference finals in one season.

"[Stevens] is the coach that we deemed did the best job in the regular season and postseason," Hockey News editor Jason Kay said yesterday. "John did a great job in leading a great turnaround, but also the style that he employs, such a calm demeanor behind the bench, is an example of his leadership.

Read the entire article here.

Stevens did a tremendous job behind the Flyers' bench this season and Stevens was definitely a deserving recipient of this award.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Lupul extension is official

From Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Flyers did just that yesterday by signing the 24-year-old Lupul to a four-year extension, worth $17 million through the 2012-13 season.

Lupul will make $2.3 million this coming season. The extension has no effect on this year's cap, which the Flyers have nearly reached.

"The Flyers have put a big commitment in me and a lot of other young guys who have been locked up for years to come," Lupul said in a statement. "The way that we can kind of all continue to play and develop these relationships on and off the ice, it is pretty exciting."

Read the entire article here.

Lupul's average salary over the course of the extension will $4.25 million per season. The Edmonton native should become a consistent 30 goal scorer in Philly, so this contract seems like a pretty reasonable one for both sides.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Niedermayer gets his money back

From Larry Brooks of the NY Post:

Scott Niedermayer is getting his money back ... all of it ... every single cent of the $490,909.08 he was improperly fined by the NHL for missing Anaheim's training camp last season, The Post has learned.

As originally reported by The Post on April 20, the former Devil had been fined under Article 15.3 (f) of the collective-bargaining agreement even though he had been granted permission by GM Brian Burke to take an unpaid leave of absence in the wake of Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup victory, the fourth championship of the defenseman's career.

Read the entire article here.

Considering the team gave Niedermayer permission to take his time, he should never have been docked the money in the first place.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Wings in negotiations to bring back Brad McCrimmon

From John Niyo of the Detroit News:

Former Red Wings defenseman Brad McCrimmon likely will be back on the bench at Joe Louis Arena next season. General manager Ken Holland confirmed he's in negotiations with McCrimmon to fill the vacant assistant coaching position on Mike Babcock's staff.

Read the entire article here.

McCrimmon is a well-respected coach around the NHL and should serve as a suitable replacement for the departed Todd McLellan.

Ballhype: hype it up!

CBC brings Milbury aboard

From William Houston of the Globe & Mail:

Signing analyst Mike Milbury to a multiyear contract rates as Hockey Night in Canada's most important acquisition in years.

The deal — two years plus an option — was announced yesterday after Milbury failed to reach a contract extension with TSN.

In just one NHL season with TSN (and also NBC), Milbury has developed into a top studio analyst, largely by mixing humour with hard-hitting commentary.

"I think it's a huge acquisition," Scott Moore, the head of CBC Sports, said. "If he's not the best, he's one of the top two or three [studio analysts] in the business."

Read the entire article here.

I can't say I agree with Milbury very often, but he is certainly an entertaining television personality. He always brings a passionate opinion and should infuse even more life into the CBC broadcasts.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Devils sign Fedor Fedorov

From the Newark Star-Ledger:

Russian center Fedor Fedorov was signed by the New Jersey Devils on Monday after he spent the last two seasons playing in Europe.

Fedorov, 27, had 12 goals and 14 assists in 49 games last season with Dynamo in Russia. His previous stint in the NHL came during the 2005-06 season when he played three games with the Rangers.

Read the entire article here.

All recent reports had speculated that this deal has been basically done for a while now; so, this signing comes as no surprise. Now that he's officially signed, I have to say that I'm not really sure what Fedorov can bring to the Devils. He has a high skill level, but his attitude has been a problem in the past. Considering the team is coached by hard-nose Brent Sutter, the Devils must think Fedorov has matured/changed.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Penguins re-sign Jeff Taffe

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The Penguins re-signed forward Jeff Taffe to a one-year contract, general manager Ray Shero announced today.

Taffe, 27, played 45 games for the Penguins during the 2007-08 season, scoring 12 points (five goals, seven assists) along with eight penalty minutes. He registered had a four-game point streak from February 23rd to February 28th, scoring five points (two goals, three assists).

Read the entire article here.

Taffe will probably bounce back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre next season, so this signing should not have much impact on the Penguins' success next season.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Blackhawks re-sign Corey Crawford

From Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune:

The Blackhawks re-signed goaltender Corey Crawford to a one-year contract Monday.Crawford, 23, appeared in five games with the Hawks last season and had a 1-2 record with a 2.14 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. The victory was a 3-0 shutout of the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks on March 5.

Read the entire entry from Icing here.

If the Hawks thought Crawford was capable of playing big NHL minutes in the near future, they definitely wouldn't have signed Cristobal Huet to a massive contract.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Wings re-sign Jimmy Howard

From the Detroit News:

Goaltender Jimmy Howard has signed a three-year contract with the Red Wings. Howard will earn $600,000 next season, according to the NHL players' union.

Read the short report here.

Many people thought this would be the year that Jimmy Howard would make the jump to the NHL, but with the Wings' signing of Ty Conklin, it looks like Howard will probably have to wait another season to play on the big club. I, for one, am not going to question the Wings' decision making when it comes to personnel moves.

Ballhype: hype it up!

If Balsillie were allowed to buy the Predators...

From the Globe & Mail:

If the National Hockey League had played its cards right, one of its most troubled franchises would soon have a new home in a stable hockey market, with stable ownership and a stable future. Instead, having outsmarted itself in blocking the move of a U.S.-based team to Canada, the league has an unholy mess.

Little more than a year ago, Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie was set to buy the foundering Nashville Predators and move them to Hamilton. It was a marriage made in heaven. Mr. Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research In Motion, is a dynamic and deep-pocketed owner of a kind the NHL needs more of. And a team in Hamilton would have thrived; more than 12,000 fans quickly put down deposits for season tickets in expectation of the Predators' arrival.

Read the entire editorial here. (Hat tip to Puck Daddy)

I tend to agree with this editorial. If the NHL was not going to give Balsillie the option of moving the team, why did it essentially give that option to Del Biaggio? Would NHL hockey be more profitable in Kansas City than Hamilton? C'mon.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Giving thumbs up to the Jason Williams signing

From Do Thrashers Have Talons?:

So what do we have here? A player still in the peak section of his career. A guy who has demonstrated above averaging scoring ability, but is not really an elite 1st line scoring threat. A guy who probably will see more even strength ice time here in Atlanta and if he stays healthy could put up new career highs in points.

Overall I give this signing a thumbs up. Every player comes with upside and downside risks. In the case of Williams there appears to be more upside potential than risk of collapse. On the other hand, Williams is not an elite/impact sort of guy, he's more of a 2nd line NHL forward on a playoff team and you can't expect him to push the Thrashers into playoff contention by himself. If expectations are kept in check, he will likely end the season in the "pleasant surprise" category for many fans.

Read more about why The Falconer thinks Williams was a good signing here.

Williams is a solid addition to a terrible hockey team. He should see lots of ice-time and have a chance to improve on his previous season-highs if he stays healthy. If only the Thrashers entire team had as much upside...

Ballhype: hype it up!

Some information on Islanders coaching candidate Scott Gordon

From Fluto Shinwaza of the Boston Globe:

While Gordon doesn't have any NHL coaching experience, he is considered an up-and-comer because of his success in Providence. Gordon runs high-tempo practices, uses video extensively, and is well-respected by current and former players.

In 2007-08, Providence won both matches against Bridgeport, New York's AHL affiliate. Islanders GM Garth Snow has said he wants a coach who will emphasize player development.

Read the entire post from Bruins Blog here.

I think getting some new blood in the NHL coaching ranks, and an innovative coach on the Island would be good for the team and the league.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Rangers sign Greg Moore

From Steve Zipay of Newsday:

Greg Moore, the 24-year-old right wing who scored 26 goals and added 40 assists for Hartford last season and was a restricted free agent, has signed with the Rangers. Moore, who was selected as an AHL All-Star, appeared in six games with the Rangers last season.

Read the short report here.

Moore is the 115th forward the Rangers have signed to compete for a fourth line role this off-season.

Ballhype: hype it up!

The Hot List from the Hockey News

The Hockey News publishes a weekly list of top prospects. This week's entry can be found here.

1. Louis Leblanc, C – Lac St. Louis Lions (QMAAA): Leblanc is a sought-after commodity these days. The only non-major junior player invited to Canada’s Under-18 camp for the Ivan Hlinka tourney, Leblanc has also chosen Harvard over Val d’Or for the final step in his amateur career. In the meantime, the USHL and Omaha could be the next destination for the high-scoring pivot. Leblanc was the Quebec Midget AAA leading scorer and MVP this season, while passing Daniel Briere’s mark with 85 goals over two years. Draft eligible in 2009.

2. Patrick Wiercioch, D – Denver Pioneers (WCHA): Yup, Wiercioch is no longer headed to the Wisconsin Badgers. With a backlog of bodacious blueliners in Madison and David Carle’s situation in Denver, the Pios managed to pluck the highly touted defenseman from their conference rival.

Wiercioch, a second-round selection of the Senators in June, comes from the sturdy Omaha Lancers of the USHL, where, despite injuries, he was pleased with his environment.

“I was surrounded by one of the best teams in junior hockey,” he said. “We had 19 Division I scholarship players on the roster.”

The B.C. native was also happy to be selected by a Canadian franchise, especially one he sees himself playing for in the future.

“I think Ottawa is a good fit,” he said. “I’m an offensive defenseman, much like the first pick (Erik Karlsson).”

While Wiercioch had planned to spend the next few years in Wisconsin, the timeline likely doesn’t change for Denver, where he expects to grow his game at the proper pace and go pro when the time is right.

“Making the NHL is the No. 1 goal,” he noted. “If I feel I’m ready to make the jump, then I’ll be confident in that decision.”

In the meantime, Wiercioch brings a good deal of buzz and even more playmaking ability to the Mile High City. Drafted 42nd overall by Ottawa in 2008.

3. Stepan Novotny, RW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): The fact Denver landed Wiercioch took the sting out of losing Novotny to the Dub. The Czech national started off his North American career as a star with prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s before hopping over to the USHL to play tougher competition with the Indiana Ice. Those enemies will get meaner and nastier in the Western League, so Novotny will have a chance to really show what he’s made of. Draft eligible in 2009.

4. Steven Anthony, C – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): The prized rookie didn’t blow the hinges off the door as a 16-year-old, but the Sea Dogs were a deep squad and he was only 16. With some attrition in the Saint John ranks, look for Anthony to get back to the offensively dominant player he was with Sidney Crosby’s old squad, the Dartmouth Subways. Draft eligible in 2009.

5. Jared Cowan, D – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): The upcoming season was supposed to be the Memorial Cup run for the Chiefs, but wouldn’t you know it, those darned kids caught fire too soon. The run for a repeat is now on and Cowan, all 6-foot-5 and 207 pounds of him, will be there for the defense. Draft eligible in 2009.

6. Patrik Berglund, C – Vasteras IK (Swe): The early buzz coming out of St. Louis is that the 6-foot-4 Berglund is coming to town and he plans on staying a while. With 45 points in 36 games this year, the young Swede brings a scoring dimension the Blues could use. Drafted 25th overall by St. Louis in 2006.

7. Josef Pontasch, LW – Detroit Belle Tire (MAHA): USA Hockey’s Select 17 festival wrapped up on the weekend and the leading scorer was Pontasch, who tied Beau Bennett of the L.A. Jr. Kings with 11 points, but scored five goals to Bennett’s four. Nonetheless, they’re two names to watch out for. Draft eligible in 2009.

8. Michael Frolik, C – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): With a sagging offense and a pivot spot available, look for Frolik to make a serious challenge for a roster spot in Florida this fall. The Czech center was dynamite alongside Jakub Voracek at the world juniors, but missed significant time with injury as well. Drafted 10th overall by Florida in 2006.

9. Riku Helenius, G – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL): At 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, Helenius covers a lot of net, which he’ll do once again for Seattle next season. The Finn’s first North American campaign was a success, if not one overshadowed by fellow Dub net stars Chet Pickard and Dustin Tokarski. Drafted 15th overall by Tampa Bay in 2006.

10. Brian Salcido, D – Portland Pirates (AHL): Technically, Salcido isn’t a Pirate anymore; when the season begins, he’ll either be with the new AHL affiliate Iowa Chops or the Anaheim Ducks. It goes without saying the offensively savvy defenseman would prefer to be a Duck. Drafted 141st overall by Anaheim in 2005.

Ballhype: hype it up!