Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hedman vs. Tavares

Yahoo Sports man-about-town and New Jersey's favorite son Greg Wyshynski has a post up about John Tavares not being the "Next One", but one thing stood out to me is that Gregy-Pooh said that Tavares was the consensus #1 pick in the '09 Draft. I find that surprising considering the buzz that big Swedish defenseman Viktor Hedman has gotten, with many at the end of last year questioning if Hedman had overtaken Tavares.

However, the debate begins, a mere 11 months before the draft, who will be the first pick of the 2009 Entry Draft: John Tavares or Victor Hedman.

Granted, this is very dependant on who claims the #1 pick in the draft. If you have a team like Tampa Bay, who is very loaded upfront, but could use a young defenseman like Hedman to anchor the corp of defenseman for years to come. Of course, that's just speculation because knowing the Bolts-- they'll go with Tavares to keep with their "Who needs defense" war-cry.

Even with Tavares' buzz factor continuously going, it's hard to discount Hedman and it's quite the decision to have at #1. Even with Tavares' offensive still, Hedman's size at 6'5 and 220 makes him more than ready to step into a NHL uniform in '09-'10. Not only that, but Hedman is a very strong skater with or without the puck with a top-notch hockey sense. Hedman played with the MoDo senior team last season and has shown that he has the ability to play with the big-boys. While comparisons to Chris Pronger may or may not be warranted, Hedman will be sure to formulate his own game when he steps onto the ice. As good as Hedman appears to be, the fact that he could be in Sweden for a few more seasons could turn him off as the #1 pick.

This should take nothing away from Tavares. Tavares has the skills to be a force in the NHL, but many see last season as a dropping off point. Who can blame him, as Tavares played a lot of hockey last season, which caused concern for some people who think it's a little too much for a player his age and may create an early burnout. That said, Tavares will definitely be considered top pick material unless a very drastic drop-off or horrific injury happens to him, then Hedman would be the consensus #1 pick, if he stays healthy and productive.

The debates begin with Hedman vs. Tavares and it should be a hot debate for the upcoming season and will put a lot of focus on both Hedman and Tavares in the upcoming season.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Going Retro: In Design and Progress

It was brought about by Howard Berger of the Fan 590, but I read it from my good buddy (so I say to get better street cred) Greg Wyshynski from Yahoo, but some leaks have come out concerning the new third jerseys in the NHL this season. As you can see from the post, the lay out has happened for those teams.

First off, touching on the retro designs-- for me, it's a toss up. There are some that are really, really nice to hang onto and bust out on occasions, then there are some really bad one that become cool out of spite, with another section being very dull and the Leafs one is; because be honest, there isn't much of a change between that and their current unis.

However, the retros better not too out of control. It seems that the MLB has been having a constant retro night for most of the teams. In fact, the Blue Jays have instilled a retro Friday, where every Friday home game, the Jays wear their powder blue uniforms. That's a little much for me, though some of the old MLB uniform are so delightfully horrible, they're classic.

Point is, the retro duds really should be used for special ocassions, while a new third jersey should be produced to make some kind of fresh look to it. It's not hard to make a "modern-retro" jersey-- just ask the Penguins and the Capitals. Both teams took an old design and updated it to make it a little more sleeker and with the times, as it were. All being said, I'd take the original Sabres logo over the Buffa-slug and Goathead anyday of the week.

Aside from the black alternate jersey trend that's happening again, it seems that teams are getting a tad lazy. With the Senators and Thrashers just using a wordmark as their alternate, it almost seems that the creativity has gone down the crapper. Especially considering both teams could have come up with uniform gold ("Gold, Jerry!! Gold!!"). Granted, the thought is that the new RBK Edge fabric really limits the ability to have anything elaborate on the uniforms themselves.

When all is said and done, at this point-- it's a wait and see. Much like the Edge uniform, all of these designs are speculation and may be able to change at a moments notice. Fun times in hockeyland when the uniforms are the hot-button issue.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Attention Tampa Bay Lightning-- Here's Your New GM

Mr. Koules and Mr. Barrie,

With the untimely departure of one Jay Feaster from the General Manager position, it seems like you're in the market for a suitable replacement. With things as they are in the headline-grabbing history that OK Hockey Enterprises has had in the last few months, I believe that I fit the bill of getting even more headlines by naming me your new General Manager. I mean, let's be honest, a 25-year-old Podcast personality with no front office experience, but the willingness to sell the product and keep the team in the headlines is just exactly what you need to keep the buzz going in "Hockey Bay, USA", as the city of Tampa has been called.

Now, as I mentioned, I'll be upfront and say I don't have any front office experience at the NHL, AHL, ECHL, or even SPHL level, but fantasy hockey-- forget about it. On the fantasy level, I have three championships to my name out of the 18 teams I've GM'd in six seasons. Plus, as I've said in the past-- fantasy hockey owners may know as much, if not a little more, than NHL GMs. Plus, what a story that would be-- a fantasy hockey geek turned NHL GM at a matter of chance, it would be followed thorough the season, if even in the littlest of segments. In addition, if I were to make the playoffs with the team-- not only will it help show naysayers that you were doing the right thing in ways of trades and free agency, but it will show that a winning team is not only won on the ice, but in the front office as well, with the people that makes up the top brass in the organization.

As it seems, it's a GM by committee in the Lightning organization; but I'm more than happy to be a figure head for the organization and take the brunt of the criticism if things go wrong. With my attitude that we make the moves we do for a reason and having the guts to not back down from any second-guessers, I think it's the best decision to let me go ahead and be the GM for this team.

Sure, this could be a tongue-in-cheek on the surface; but in the end-- it could be worse. With your willingness to try things out and my ability to promote and sell anything that is put in front of me, I'm ready to take over the position of General Manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I hope to hear from either of you soon concerning this job opening....or to set-up an interview for Face Off Hockey Show....either way.


Scott Wasilewski
aka: Scotty Wazz

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Winter Classic Locale Wishlist

It has been announced that the 2009 Winter Classic will be held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, with rumors abound that the 2010 game will be played in new Yankee Stadium. Since this is the new fad of having a once-a-year outdoor game, here's a list of places where I'd love to see the Winter Classic played, in no particular order, of course-- and as a bonus; the possible match-up.

-Molson Stadium, McGill University (Montreal, PQ): Holding true with tradition, McGill University students wrote the first rules of hockey during the first organized game back in 1875. Though the 2010 game seems to be a lock, it would have been nice to have this for the Canadiens' 100th season festivities. Match-Up: Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

-Homewood Field, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD): It's an odd choice, especially considering cold temperatures in Maryland at New Year's is hit and miss...mostly miss. That said, it does have historical value to it. Not only was Baltimore the place were the first artificial ice surface was made (no truth to the rumor that it is still used at First Mariner Arena), but Baltimore was the setting for the first ice hockey game in the US, as JHU took on Yale University in 1896, which ended in a 2-2 tie. Match-Up: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

-Michigan Stadium, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI): Michigan State got their chance in Lansing to show their stuff, but now UofM has their chance. Of course, the UofM would have a bigger scale with the NHL being the prime locale, but all the same-- it would be good for hockey in the Michigan region. Plus, add the Columbus Blue Jackets-- another UofM vs. Ohio State....well, not really-- but still. Match-Up: Detroit Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

-Fenway Park (Boston MA): If Wrigley and the new Yankee Stadiums can hold it, why not the Green Monster at Fenway?? Granted, plans for Boston College and Boston University to host teams from the Midwest were scrapped, any success in Chicago and New York could put pressure for Boston to get with the times and host an outdoor NHL game. Match-Up: Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes (get the Hartford

-Rideau Canal (Ottawa, ON): It's far fetched, but the Canal in winter time is a great place to be around. Plus, when it freezes, the Canal is the world's 2nd largest skating rink, next to the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg. The Senators have already explored options of using the Canal with temporary bleachers for spectators. Match-Up: Ottawa Senators vs. Minnesota Wild

-Canmore, AB: Why not have a game at this place?? It was the setting for the fine film Mystery, Alaska starring Russell Crowe. Plus, in January in the Rocky Mountains-- you're sure to have decent ice and frozen spectators. The only downside is no true stadium to have the game at. Match-Up: Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers

Of course this is just a short list, but I'm sure as time goes on-- I'll expand on it.

As you can see, all of these are above the Mason-Dixon line, and that's just common sense. Sadly, no Southern fans will be able to see it live, unless they travel all over to see it happen. That, or global cooling happens.......or they come up with some sort of super ice compresser for hotter states. Time will tell.

And before I get some emails concerning why there isn't a game in Minnesota-- tell the state to build an outdoor stadium with more than a 25,000 capacity and then I'll add it to the list. Trust me, I tried to fit Minnesota in, but all their stadiums are domed. Though, I did work the Wild into the Ottawa game.

What do you think?? Drop me a line and tell me why my picks stink.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ted's Bogus Journey

See, you can do a headline about the Islanders without using a hack "Survivor" reference. It's not that hard folks.

Anyway, that's right Ted Nolan is on his way out as coach of the Islanders as he was fired today. For some it's a shock, for others-- not so much. The clashing between Nolan and GM Garth Snow has been bubbling for some time and finally reached it's boiling point during the draft and free agency.

You see, Nolan was not consulted in any way, shape, or form when it came to the recent round of draft picks or free agent signings made by the Islanders. This was compounded on the feud between Nolan and Snow when it came to not re-signing Wade Dubielewicz, as well as going with a youth movement rather than signing veterans like Nolan would have liked.

When all is said and done, I hope you kids got a good look at Ted Nolan behind a NHL bench because it could be a while before you see him behind one again. It seems that Nolan possibly being a GM killer is being revisited with this latest tiff with Snow and the previous difference of opinion when he was in Buffalo with Darcy Regier. Though Nolan does have the ability to coach, his development of players and ability to get a team chemistry going is suspect. Yet, it seems that his shelf life is very short, as both his NHL head coaching tenures have been two seasons in duration. Now you have to wonder who will take a flyer on Nolan, most likely a junior team, but even that's not for certain.

If Nolan is able to get another NHL job, he better hope it comes with a GM tag because that could be the only way he keeps a job for more than two seasons. It's almost as if Ted Nolan is becoming the Ray Emery of the coaching ranks, a person who's too headstrong for his own good. One has to wonder if Nolan will change his ways in order to get another coaching job, but odds are he won't do such a thing-- it's not in his persona. While it's a valiant fight he's trying to put up being the way he is, odds are that's hindering his employability rather than helping him.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Feaster and Famine or The Bay Bunch At It Again

To the surprise of virtually no one, Jay Feaster and the Tampa Bay Lightning have parted ways. The writing was on the wall for Feaster first when the ownership change came to fruition and second when he really had no voice when hiring a new coach or making moves that have made the Lightning roster what it is presently. And with the new ownership pretty much playing by their own rules, I'm surprised this move didn't happen with John Tortorella's departure.

However, they discount Feaster's ability to build a great club. Once he came into the GM position in 2002, he built the team that went on to win 2004 Stanley Cup. It seemed the the Bolts club today is almost like the club that Feaster took over from Rick Dudley. That said, you have to wonder about the contracts he gave to the big three in Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Brad Richards, which resulted in Richards being dealt to Dallas, as well as not leaving enough money to put towards a goalie and solid stay-at-home defenseman. Yet, could you really blame him for doing such a thing, especially considering that Richards would have gotten that much from someone else if the Bolts weren't going to give it to him.

Notwithstanding, Feaster could have made some better decisions, but that could be said for a lot of former GMs. Feaster did what he thought was good for the team for the future, though he didn't think of other aspect of the future enough to save his job. Of course, the ownership group that came into place didn't help his cause either.

Which begs the question-- who are Len and Oren going to bring into the "sideshow", as some would say. Brian Lawton is in the fold as VP of Hockey Ops, and it could be a value to him being a former agent to bring in some of his old guys into the fold. If they're going old school with coaching, why not bring in Bobby Clarke as the GM or even Mike Milbury?? Sure, the last two are very absurd....but look at what this club has done with it's head coach and tell me it's not possible.

Whatever the future brings, like I've said before-- the one thing you can't accuse the OK Hockey group of doing is not trying. They've made headway in terms of creating attention for a last place club and pulling out all the stops to keep their team in the headlines.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Meet Jason Missiaen

There's a very good chance you have never heard about Jason Missiaen unless you're the hardest of the core who follow the OHL. It's nothing to be ashamed of, though-- as in his two seasons in the OHL, the Peterborough Petes' goalie has compiled a record of 9-15-1 with only one shutout. Yet, at the same time, he has already created a buzz in Montreal Canadiens' prospect camp.

And why not, Missiaen seems to be a dark horse prospect, he has been impressing scouts and coaches alike, he has been fooling shooters left and right, even drawing comparisons to Ken Dryden, which seems to be cliche for any Habs goalie in this day-in-age.

Oh, and Missiaen is 6'8 as well, that's.....that's something that could be getting attention too.

TSN profiled the Petes' back-up keeper recently, revealing that Missiaen only is a golie due to his mother wanting him to wear the most padding out there on the ice. At the same time, his size hasn't hindered his ability be a smooth moving butterfly goalie. Even though he's only listed at 200 pounds, Missiaen hasn't had the awkwardness most big players have had when it comes to adjusting to size.

Granted, it's not as if the Habs are counting on Missiaen to be the savior like Carey Price is or the franchise like Ken Dryden was. No, the Dryden example was only thrown out in a comparison to Dryden's size in relation to other goalies of that era. I think a better example would almost be Olaf Kolzig in that Missiaen could be a goalie who is able to dominate the net with all-around size rather than all-around skill.

TSN also mentioned if the NHL does go to bigger nets, then Missiaen could be at a big advantage, no pun intended. There's really not another reason behind me using that other than the fact I'm a big proponent of bigger nets.

However, in recent years, it seems that the taller goalie has gone by the wayside. Ben Bishop (6'7, St. Louis), Scott Darling (6'6, Phoenix), Sergei Gayduchenko (6'5, Florida) and Antonie Lafleur (6'5, NY Rangers) are all goalies of reasonable size who have been drafted in the past years. With the exception of Bishop, all of them have come past the fourth round. They all could be diamonds in the rough, but they could also all be guys who never even see the light of the NHL.

With Missiaen making the waves he has had at prospect camp, you have to wonder not only if he'll get the chance (especially being in Montreal where there's two big prospects in the starting line-up all the time in net) or if he'll be able to garner enough attention for himself to get dealt and make his own headway with another club.

Plus, Missiaen (or the others mentioned), if successful, could show another wave of bigger keepers getting a hard look. Depending on what the NHL and PA decide on how to create more scoring chances, the bigger nets or smaller pads issue could make or break a lot of these taller guys. If they decide to go with smaller pads, you'll see a lot of goalies under 6'3 getting a shot, whereas if the bigger nets come in-- the bigger guys will get their time to shine.

Hell, if nothing else, this small coverage of Missiaen could get himself some more time in net for the Petes'-- which could get him more exposure if he does well enough in his appearances.

The above photo comes from a fellow named Chris C. and seems to be the only picture of Missiaen available through Google images. Get this kid more PT, please.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Frenzy Day Two and Three

So hectic that we needed to combine the two....well, not really, but you get the point. After the first day, how can you really justify posting about anything less than superstardom or recognizable names, right??

-Marian Hossa heading to Detroit proves there are some people out there willing to take less money to try and win a Cup. Granted, being on Detroit never guarantees a Cup Finals visit, but they do have the parts to get there. Also, there's a chance he didn't want to go to Edmonton at all-- which seems to be the case in many free agent instances-- but it happens. Edmonton has the young core, but is still a few years away from being a Finals contender again.

-After signing Wade Redden to a somewhat inflated deal, the Rangers went ahead and played sensible with the signing of Markus Naslund and Dmitri Kalinin. Naslund will provide another veteran voice to the room, especially if Jaromir Jagr doesn't come back. With Kalinin, a solid defender, though he has had some injury problem in the past.

-So the Lightning want Dan Boyle to waive his no-trade clause and ship him off. This really goes to show that the Bolts are focusing on scoring more than the other team rather than focus on defense and goaltending. Well, if offensive is the new thing...why the hell not, right?? Right??

-To fill the void Brian Campbell left behind, the Sharks picked up Rob Blake.....yeah. It's quite the contrast of styles, for sure with Campbell being a solid offensive defenseman, while Blake has become a veteran pile-on with his past two seasons in LA totaling a minus-45. Here's hoping for Sharks fans that Blake can reclaim his defensive glory with a better team in front of him.

-The Canadiens are heading back to gaining more francophones than one can imagine with the signings of Georges Laraque and Marc Denis. Now, Laraque will add toughness and in the last few years, he has gained some hands-- adding a new dimension to his game. The good thing about Denis' contract is that it's a two-way deal, that way they can ship him to Hamilton when they do want to deal with his sieveness and let Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak play.

-Mats Sundin and Jaromir Jagr still haven't decided on their playing futures yet. Translation: the right deal in the right place hasn't come along. Odds are both are going to favor staying in the Eastern Conference-- which was shown by Sundin not biting on the two-year, $20M contract offered by Vancouver. Plus, since both are ex-captains-- they will want to go to a place where their leadership will be appreciated and not pushed by the way side. Now, as much as they would want to stay in the East, I think Columbus may want to pick up the phone and throw some cash at them. You want fans to come out and your team to score some goals-- these are the guys. The Jackets have the cash and the spots-- why the hell not??

-Is it me, or is the Pacific Division going to be a war of attrition?? The Coyotes have picked up Brian McGrattan and Todd Fedoruk, the Stars added Sean Avery to their pest line-up of Steve Ott and Brendan Morrow, the Ducks still have George Parros, Chris Pronger, and Brad May, the Sharks re-upped with Jody Shelley, and the Kings have Raitis Ivanans and Denis Gauthier. Keep an eye out for this division for fight-nights all over.

So, we keep an eye out for other big names signing and other craziness to happen in the New York area...for sure.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Frenzy Day One

And what a frenzy it was. Here's some highlights to the whole event from Day One.

-Kevin Lowe was busy, but it wasn't with offer sheets. He acquired Lubomir Visnovsky, Gilbert Brule, and Erik Cole through trades while dumping salary in Jarret Stoll, Matt, Greene, Raffi Torres, and Joni Pitkanen. Brule could be a throw-away in Springfield, but the added depth in Visnovsky and Cole will help the Oilers get back to the playoffs.

-The Bolts' craziness continues. Not only did they get Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts before the frenzy, the also re-sign Vinny Prospal, signed Radim Vrbata to a 3-year/$9M deal, and got Olaf Kolzig. It seems they aren't done with rumors saying they are shopping Mike Smith, which could make room for a starter in the fold. I don't know about you, but the Bolts seem to be overpaying guys. I mean, Vrbata had a career-year at 56 points last year....not $3M a year material if you ask me. Plus, the deal they game to Malone could be a little high. It could pay off if they can sure up their defense and goaltending in the end.

-One team that could be in trouble is the Blackhawks. Right now, with the signing of Cristobal Huet and Brian Campbell, the Hawks are at about $59M bucks, which is $3M over the cap ceiling. Add to that, they have two goalies, along with Nikolai Khabibulin, who total to make about $11M. Needless to say, even though GM Dale Tallon said they're keeping Khabby-- they need to shop him.

-The Caps signed Jose Theodore to a two-year deal before Huet signed, which means that Huet was looking for too long a deal. Theodore was decent last season, but to be honest-- he seems more like the transitional guy the Caps are going after while Michal Neuvirth and Semen Varlamov get in NHL shape. That said, GM George McPhee and owner Ted Leonsis made a great move signing Mike Green to a four-year deal. Good thing about that is that Green will still be a RFA once this contract is up, which means the Caps will have his rights for a long term deal at the end of it.

-Ottawa have a decent back-up for Martin Gerber by signing Alex Auld. It may not seem like much, but Auld will allow the likes of Jeff Glass and Brian Elliott time to grow in Binghamton. Plus, Auld could push Gerber and take over the #1 spot if he can play well enough.

-In with the old was the New Jersey as they brought back Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik. Holik could be a throwaway deal only to get a grinder and veteran in the line-up, but Rolston can bulk up the power play for the Devils. Plus, Rolston is very versatile, which helps him mold into wherever he is needed to be.

-Across the river, the Rangers have gone insane, paying $6.5M a year for six years to Wade Redden. No disrespect to Redden's skills, but he has gone downhill for the past two seasons. For a team that has plenty of puck-moving defensemen, you have to wonder why they needed another one. The money may be right, but the length is what makes it insane.

-Is anyone surprised that the big names like Sundin, Hossa, and Jagr haven't been picked up yet?? Sundin got a supposed offer from Vancouver, Hossa is being courted by Edmonton, and Jagr....who knows. It's a good thing though, it's not like the GM shot their load all on the first day (well, depending the GM-- right Dale Tallon??) and it creates more buzz later in the week ahead.

Other moves saw Curtis Joseph go to Toronto, Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker heading to Colorado, Mike Commodore shipping to Columbus, and Michael Ryder moving to Boston.

Still some out there to tackle, like Ray Emery, in addition to the three mentioned above. We should have an interesting look at things tomorrow.