Caps Development Camp info; Lowe lets Burke have it; NHL FA news

July 05, 2008 | Ed Frankovic

Caps Development CampInformation

Twenty-five Washington Capitals prospects will participate in the team’s annual development camp from July 7-12 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. The camp, which features recent Capitals draft picks, select rookie players, and other prospects, includes on- and off-ice workouts led by head coach Bruce Boudreau and his staff. All development camp on-ice workouts, which will include multiple scrimmages, are open to the public.

Here is a link for all of the info on the development camp:

http://capitals.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=367602

More NHL News

The NHL free agency and trade activity continues with several big name players signing contracts or getting traded in recent days. One of the larger stories is that Jaromir Jagr is going to play in Russia next season. I’m sure this news doesn’t upset a lot of Caps or Penguins fans. Jaromir has always been about the money and despite all of his talent he only plays hard when he feels like it. He came to play nearly every night early in his career with Pittsburgh before tailing off there, then he became even more inconsistent in DC as he seemed more focused on the NFL, and finally he played fairly hard in New York for the Rangers. However, because of the salary cap the Rangers couldn’t make him an offer he felt was worth staying for so he will be out of the league next year.

The biggest story lately, however, was the remarks Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe made on the radio about all of the heat he has taken over the last 12 months from Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke since Lowe signed former Ducks forward Dustin Penner to a five year, $21.5M offer sheet last summer (Burke and the Ducks did not match it and Penner became an Oiler). Lowe basically laid into Burke and you can read all about it via this link:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242532&lid=headline&lpos=topStory_nhl

While I agree that salaries seem out of control, especially when you see what a guy like Mike Commodore received from Columbus, Lowe is not the person to blame for the escalation. The blame can be shared by many GM’s and owners (as well as players agents). One thing is certain though, with a salary cap there is only so much money to go around so the contract madness has to eventually stop to some degree. However, it doesn’t appear that will be the case this summer.

Here is a rundown on the rest of the teams that have been active in the last few days that were not mentioned in my last blog. This is based on input from further discussions later this week with a Western Conference scout and my own opinions:

San Jose Sharks: Winners; Lost puck moving defensemen Brian Campbell to Chicago and then traded for 32 year-old defensemen Dan Boyle plus defensemen Brad Lukowich from Tampa Bay for Matt Carle (who makes $4M a season), Ty Wishart (a 2006 first round draft pick), a first round draft pick in 2009, and a 2010 fourth round draft pick. Boyle still has six years and $40M left on the contract he just recently signed with the Lightning but he is a huge upgrade over Carle and is cheaper than Campbell. They also signed former Kings defensemen Rob Blake (38 years-old) to a one year $5M contract. Craig Rivet was shipped off to Buffalo for second round draft picks in 2009 and 2010 so that saved the Sharks $3.5M a year through the 2010-11 season and allows them to continue to stockpile young players. Grade: B+

Buffalo Sabres: Losers; If you are going to trade forward Steve Bernier for draft choices, who you just acquired at the last trade deadline for Campbell, at least get a first round pick. Instead Buffalo got a 3rd round pick in 2009 and a 2nd round pick 2010??!! The Sabres have now lost Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, and Brian Campbell to free agency and traded Bernier in the last two off-seasons. If I were a Sabres season ticket holder or fan I’d be irate. This franchise is going nowhere with its current ownership. Grade: F

New York Rangers: Semi-Losers; Jaromir Jagr was the team’s leading scorer last year and wanted to play in the Big Apple but the team could not come to a contract agreement with #68. They will lose forward Martin Straka to free agency and already lost pesky Sean Avery, who actually played well as a Ranger. They signed unrestricted free agent 31 year-old defensemen Wade Redden to a six year deal at $6.5M a year and also former Canuck forward Marcus Naslund to a two year deal at $4M per season. Naslund is 35 years old and on the downside of his career. They also resigned defensemen Michal Rozsival to a four year contract at an expensive $5M per season. They got the better end of the Columbus trade giving up defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman for the talented Nikolai Zherdev and grinder Dan Fritsche (both players are forwards). Grade: C

Minnesota Wild: Losers; Lost Brian Rolston to the Devils. Added 34 year-old slow-skating forward Andrew Brunette from Colorado and 31 year-old defensemen Marek Zidlicky from Nashville. They were players in the Marian Hossa sweepstakes but couldn’t close him. Signed forward Antii Miettinen for three years at $7M. Forward Marian Gaborik is an unrestricted free agent after next season so GM Doug Risebrough needs to make a decision on him soon. Grade: D

Dallas Stars: Semi-Losers; I like the make-up of this hockey club and the way they have brought along their young players and let them develop, especially on defense. Then they go and waste money on Sean Avery for four years at $15.5M total and push themselves up against the cap. Avery played well in New York for the Rangers because that team needed someone like him to protect all of the Europeans, however, the Stars have forward Steve Ott who takes care of business and captain Brendan Morrow, who eats rocks for breakfast, so why do they need a possible major locker room distraction like Avery? The answer: Brett Hull is now the co-GM in Dallas and thinks Avery is like him but that is without the great shot and offensive skills (i.e, Avery can only rival Hull in the mouthing off category). If I was a Stars fan I’d have more faith in Les Jackson’s GM’ing capabilities over his partner, Hull. Grade: C-

Montreal Canadiens: Winners; Re-signed forward Andrei Kostitsyin, who scored 26 goals last season, to a three contract at $3.25M per season and signed tough guy George Laraque (played in Pittsburgh last season) to a three year, $4.5M contract. GM Bob Gainey felt he needed some toughness after the Flyers pushed the smaller Habs around in the playoffs. A Western Conference scout told me that with Laraque the Canadiens are likely to have the best home record in the league next season. They also traded for Flames forward Alex Tanguay at the NHL draft but Tanguay, Alexei Kovalev, and Saku Koivu are all unrestricted free agents after next season. Grade: B

Vancouver Canucks: Losers; They lost unrestricted free agent forward Markus Naslund to the Rangers and Mats Sundin turned down $20M over two years. The Canucks have salary cap space but not many players seem to want to go there. They did get forward Steve Bernier from Buffalo for two non-first round draft picks so that was their best move but it won’t matter much overall. The Sedin brothers are under contract one more year so GM Mike Gillis needs to decide what to do with them. I don’t see this team, as it is configured right now, as having a prayer of making the playoffs next season. Grade: F

Anaheim Ducks: Winners; 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer agreed to play a full season and honor the last year of his contract. Burke also re-signed restricted free agent Chris Perry for five years at $26.625M. The problem for the Ducks is they are out of cap space for the upcoming season and after next year they have four of their top five defensemen becoming unrestricted free agents (only Chris Pronger is signed through 2009-10). It is also time for the second overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft, Bobby Ryan, to start contributing as top six forward. Grade: B

Boston Bruins: Semi-Losers; They haven’t done much but they did overpay for former Canadiens forward Micheal Ryder at three years for $4M a season. Ryder should play better now that he is re-united with coach Claude Julien for the third time (played for him at Hull in the Quebec League and with the Canadiens). If Ryder scores 30 goals next season then they become winners. Grade: C

Philadelphia Flyers: Semi-Losers; They were forced to trade forward R.J. Umberger because of salary cap problems but did lock up forward Jeff Carter for three years at $5M per season so now the Flyers have Mike Richards and Carter locked up for several years each. Traded  a draft pick to the Caps to acquire defensemen Steve Eminger. Vinnie Prospal was sent back to Tampa for two draft picks. Can Martin Biron be more consistent next season? That is the biggest question on Broad Street for the upcoming season. Grade: C

Phoenix Coyotes: Winners; Traded defensemen Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard and a second round pick for forward Olli Jokinen. Added David Hale and Matt Jones as fringe defensemen. This team was young last year and is adding 2007 first round pick forward Kyle Turris to the mix this season. They still have lots of cap space so it will be interesting to see what Wayne Gretzky and company do next. This is an up and coming team. Grade: A

Los Angeles Kings: Winners; Unlike the Leafs the Kings are re-building the correct way by dumping their high paid players and acquiring draft picks so that they can finish poorly this upcoming season and have more high draft picks. They unloaded their power play leader defensemen in Lubomir Visnovsky to Edmonton in exchange for restricted free agent forward Jarret Stoll and defensemen Matt Greene. Defensemen Blake bolted to San Jose via free agency but as I mentioned above, he is 38 and not a part of this team’s future. Caps fans should still thank GM Dean Lombardi for taking defensemen Thomas Hickey over Karl Alzner in the 2007 draft (I can’t wait to see Alzner play next week at Caps development camp). Grade: B

St. Louis Blues: Semi-Losers; Re-signed restricted free agent defensemen David Backes at $2.5M a season for three years after the Canucks presented Backes with an offer sheet. They traded for goalie Chris Mason from Nashville and will pay him $3M this season so he better play well. If Mason and Backes play well then they become winners. Grade: C

There isn’t a whole lot left on the market with the biggest unsigned names being Sundin, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Pavel Demitra, Straka, and Sergei Fedorov. The Ottawa Senators need to do something so look for GM Bryan Murray to make a signing soon. Right now they look like big losers by failing to re-sign Redden, especially after #5 said he wanted to win a Stanley Cup in Canada’s capital, and not signing anyone else of note. The 2007 Stanley Cup finalists are likely to miss the playoffs next season.

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