Thursday, July 9, 2009

NHL News and Notes...Un-signed UFA surprises

- One of the all-time greats, Joe Sakic is finally calling it quits. Sakic turned 40 in July but he could still play another a couple years if he wanted to. He was a class act, a great leader, a long-time captain and the face of the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were originally the Quebec Nordiques, where Sakic played as well. Sakic won 2 stanley cups, a Conn Smythe trophy, league MVP, was part of 13 NHL All-Star games, and was the MVP for team Canada during the 2002 Olympics (when they won).

Sakic finished his career with 625 goals, 1016 assists and 1641 points. A snow-blower accident earlier in the year broke his hernia disc (in his fingers) and allowed him to only play 15 games. There were few players that showed as much class and leadership as Sakic, he will easily be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

- Earlier in the week the Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Francois Beauchemin to a 3 yr/$11 mil deal. Beauchemin is a premier 2-way defenseman who really honed his skills with the Ducks organization the last 4 seasons. He won a cup under GM Brian Burke (now GM in Toronto) in Anaheim and he's showed great leadership qualities which will be important for a young group of Maple Leaf defenseman. The Leafs also came to terms with da Monster aka goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a 1 yr/$900k. The Monster was coveted by several teams including the Stars and Avs.

-The Ottawa Senators signed winger Alexei Kovalev to a 2yr/$10 mil deal. Ridiculous to think that Kovy, at the age of 36 and coming off a down year, would get $5 mil the next two seasons. The Sens need depth in their top 6, especially with a Heatley trade on the horizon. Mike Comrie, another guy in their top 6 last year, has not been approached about a new contract so he's still a UFA. Nevertheless it could be interesting to watch Kovy alongside Alfredssonn and Spezza next year, but the Sens need more scoring depth.

- Former Habs Captain Saku Koivu will be joining his good friend and fellow Fin, Teemu Selanne in Anaheim next season. Talk about two good scoring lines: Getzlaff Perry Ryan, Lupul Selanne Koivu, that's really scary. The best of Team Canada and the best of Team Finland. The Ducks will miss Pronger and Beauchemin no doubt, but Luca Sbisa will be a stud and maybe Ryan Whitney will actually learn how to hit.

- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Kurtis Foster to a 1 yr deal and added winger Stephane Veillux. Both former Wild players are solid defensively, especially Veillux who constantly plays on the penalty kill and in important defensive situations. Foster is more of an offensive threat, and although he was injured for most of last year, he's got great wheels and could be a power play quartback later down the line. Impressive job by GM Brian Lawton this off-season, instead of overpaying for scrubs (Vrbata/Rechhi/Roberts/Malone(not a scrub but overpayed)) he went out and solidified the Lightning defense which was one of many problems for them. Ohlund is very solid even at 33 and Walker is underrated and plays a mean/consistent game from the backend.

Surprising Un-signed UFAs: wingers-defense-goalies

Dennis Seidenberg, Mike Comrie, Jason Williams, Ales Kotalik, Maxim Afinogenov, Alex Tanguay, Travis Moen, Derek Morris, Mathieu Schneider, Paul Mara, Andrew Alberts, Manny Fernandez, Marty Biron.

I'm very surprised Seidenberg hasn't been signed yet. Maybe he's looking for too much money but still he's only 27 and had a breakout year with Carolina. Comrie was overpayed last year by the Islanders for $3.75 mil on a 1 yr deal, and now no one wants him LOL. A good, skilled, and gritty little player. His success has been in Ottawa, i'm surprised he hasn't re-signed there yet. Kotalik is a sniper but he's soft, Afinogenov has attitude problems but has high potential, Tanguay is asking for too much money and it's risky after several average seasons. Moen is one of my favorite players, great middle-weight and PKer. The Rangers traded some good players for Morris at the trade deadline and now no one wants him. Fernandez split duties with Tim Thomas in Boston last year and he was a terrific backup. Any team looking to use two goalies: Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Atlanta, Chicago? Should consider this guy.

Here's a clip of Letang and Kennedy doing the Weather on Channel 11:

Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm on vacation.

Stay tuned later for more rumors on PensBuzz...

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