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NHL Salaries Accelerating Way Faster Than the Salary Cap

Every since the lockout ended NHL Teams and General Managers have been spending, spending and spending some more on players. The result is NHL salaries are escalating at a much faster rate than the salary cap. This means a lot of teams are running out of cap space to just keep their current team. Many NHL GM’s who had a team last season near the salary cap ceiling were beyond disappointed to learn that the cap ceiling only went up to 69 Million for next season. It was estimated the cap ceiling would go to 71 Million but that estimate was slightly off.

The 5 Million Dollar Player
In essence we have seen with players who are good to very good when they either become an unrestricted free agent or about to become a UFA the base line salary per year is 5 Million dollars. We look at last summer and Mark Streit at age 36 got 5.25 Million a year (4 year deal), Sergei Gonchar in his late 30′s got 5 Million a year (2 year deal) and right before the playoffs started Andrew MacDonald got 5 Million a year (6 year deal). This trend continued this free agency with players like Moulson, Cammalleri, Orpik and Grabovski to name a few.

5 Million Dollar Base Line
This base line is starting to also greatly effect the top young players in the NHL who are entering Restricted Free Agency as well as the superstars in the league who are closing in on their own unrestricted free agency. So what do the NY Rangers do this summer when they try to sign restricted free agents Zuccarello, Brassard and Kreider and all 3 point to these 5 Million dollar deals? Continue reading

NY Islanders

NY Islanders Off-Season Gaining Momentum

After July 1st the first day of NHL free agency ended you could hear the cries from all over Long Island, NY from Islander fans. For full disclosure I am a New York Islander fan have been since I was a kid and trust me I feel all the Islander fans pain. I don’t know if NHL fans of the other 29 teams can truly feel the pain endured by Islander fans on what’s gone on the last 20+ years. Consider this, the Islanders have not won a playoff series since the 92-93 series when they beat the Penguins in overtime in Game 7 to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. In the last 20 years or so the Islanders have only made the playoffs 6 times losing in the first round in each series (have won 8 playoff games during this time). Throw in the fact that Islanders fans for many years had to worry they would lose their team to another city as well. Think about that, is their any greater pain then losing your team? Finally it looked like the Islanders were over the hump after years of rebuilding with a very encouraging 2012-13 year where they made the playoffs and gave the Penguins all they could handle. But yet Islander fans had to endure again last season as the team took a step back and missed the playoffs. Hopefully for Islander fans it was one step back two steps forward and with how this off-season is going so far positive vibes are being felt.

Gaining Momentum:
After the July 2nd signings to Free Agents Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to 4 year deals, suddenly the Islander off-season is looking very good. Grabovski and Kulemin two very good players who join a group of really good forwards. Cory Conacher was signed on a 1 year deal on July 1st as well. Continue reading

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Panthers Could Surprise

Seemingly every year, there is one team that defies the odds and leaves the NHL and its fans collectively surprised. One team that, on paper, isn’t the most talented but seems to have the right mix of skill, grit, age and youth.

In 2014/15, that team could very well be one that no one ever considers. That team could be the Florida Panthers.

Since Pavel Bure left town way back around the Y2K era, the Panthers have struggled. Actually, they’ve been a laughing-stock; struggling would be a nice upgrade for them. They’ve made the playoffs exactly one time since the 2000 postseason, with an incredible eight sub-.500 seasons in that span. The only blip on the radar is when they won the Southeast Division in 2011/12, only to bow out in the first round to the eventual Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils.

Other than bad hockey, the Panthers have become known over the last decade for swinging and missing in the draft, signing aging free agents to big money deals in an effort to simply meet the cap floor and just generally being awful. Oh, they’re also known for their *ahem* attendance issues, but that’s another story for another time. Continue reading

BCHL Hockey Insight 1

BCHL Hockey Insight : Canada’s Hyper-Competitive Jr. A League

It can be debated, but no intelligent hockey observer would argue that the BCHL is among the top junior hockey leagues on the planet. Based in Western Canada, the BCHL has produced some great NHL’ers throughout the years.

The best player in the history of the league is probably Brett Hull, who scored a record 105 goals in the 83′-84′ season. More recently the league has produced the likes of Paul Karyia , Jamie Benn, Willie Mitchell, Duncan Keith, Brandon Yip, David Jones, Beau Bennett, Justin Schultz, Tanner Glass and Kyle Turris.

BCHL Hockey Insight 2

Cornell’s Mitch Gallam – Source : HockeyNow.Ca

Some teams in the league average about 2,000 fans a night (Chilliwack & Pentiction) and others about a quarter of that (Powell River & Merritt). The organizations are serious, there are GM’s, advertising rights, team signage at the arenas, season ticket packages, the works. These teams represent their geographic areas and fans flock to see high-level Jr. A hockey at its best.

Today, there are 15 teams in 3 conferences in the BCHL. Continue reading

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Pens Draft Grades

Busy weekend and you couldn’t keep up with what the Pittsburgh Penguins were up to at the NHL draft? No problem. Here’s a breakdown of all the weekend’s important events, complete with some semi-arbitrary grading scale that I developed to save you some time on the details.

The James Neal Trade: B-

Make no mistake, the single most talented player to move in the deal is James Neal. He’s probably one of the top-10 pure snipers, and I would rank his release even higher: probably top-5 in the whole NHL. He’s also been a point per game player in 2 of his 3 complete seasons with the Penguins, thanks to his completely underrated passing ability. And he’s done all of that before even entering the historic “prime years” of his NHL career. He won’t have Evgeni Malkin feeding him with the Nashville Predators, but I still have to think that Neal projects as a guy capable of 35 goals and 70 points in a complete 82 game season. Further, you have to believe that a coach like Peter Laviolette is an almost perfect match for Neal: he’s tough enough to not put up with Neal’s behavioral crap, but offensively-minded, and capable of getting a lot from the existing pieces in Nashville.

Despite that, the players the Penguins got in return have a lot to offer their new team too. Honestly, the only reason why I assigned this trade a somewhat lower grade is that you just get the sense that the Penguins left something on the table in order to make this move: they needed to get at least one extra pick out of the Nashville Predators, even if not the 11th overall. Continue reading