Behind Bars: Summer of the Goaltender

March’s Note: Kavan Young is a new contributor to the blog. Stationed out of Vancouver, British Columbia and a die hard Habs fan, Kavan will give us his fresh take on all things hockey! Welcome bud!

Welcome, and thank you for checking out my post! This is my first attempt at starting a blog and can’t wait to see what kind of reaction I will get. I have an extreme passion for hockey; perhaps an obsession. Regardless, I love this game and all the discussions and debates that come with it. So without further ado, let’s get started! Growing up playing goal, I thought, “What better way to start a blog than to talk about my favourite position.”

Last offseason in the NHL saw little action in regards to goaltender movement, with only Al Montoya, Sergei Bobrovsky, Anders Lindback, Jonas Gustavsson and Chris Mason re-painting their masks.

Teams were looking more for top line forwards and top 6 defensemen, with players like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Rick Nash, Jordan Staal, James van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn bringing in the highest demand.

This season, however, is a much different monster; there are a number of goalies who will be shipped out, bought out and paid handsomely, as many teams, such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, have been exposed at the position.

This article will take a look at available goaltenders and their potential destinations.

Roberto Luongo:

Roberto-Luongo-1024x777Gotta start with Bobby Lu. Living in Vancouver, I hear a lot about this guy, and for good reason. The man is a true professional, an elite goaltender and still has lots left in the tank. He has dealt with rumors and potential trades for nearly 3 years now and GM Mike Gillis and the Canucks owe it to him to have him moved by the time next season starts. Whether it be via buyout or trade, look for Luongo to end up somewhere southern. He resides in South Florida so the Panthers seem to be a likely destination, but don’t rule out Tampa Bay either. Anders Lindback has the potential to be a stellar number one goaltender, but dropped the ball last season and could really benefit from a proven veteran and leader like Luongo.

Ryan Miller

8399972885_db7bf03c76What oh what do we do with Ryan Miller? The current Sabres starter has been in the Buffalo system since being drafted in 1999 and has suck with them through thick and thin. Nowadays, however, the Sabres seem to be unable to decide whether to rebuild or try to add pieces for another push. I think it makes sense for GM Darcy Regier to shop Miller actively.

At only 32 years of age, Miller is still in his prime, but doesn’t have a lot of time left, so a cup contender with plenty of firepower makes sense as a destination for Miller.

With the Philadelphia Flyers recent buyout of the sometimes eccentric Ilya Bryzgalov, its not a stretch to visualize miller in orange and black next season. Knowing that Philly is the NHL’s graveyard for goalies would normally be a deterrent, but with only a year left on his contract, it is a low-risk, high-reward deal for all parties involved. Philly gets a proven starter with experience on his resume, Miller can re-establish himself in a new city while giving the Flyers a chance to win and Buffalo gets assets and/or picks to help build the future of the team.

Ilya Bryzgalov:

Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)
Ilya Bryzgalov. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr)

Speaking of the Flyers, how good of a move was it to buyout possibly the biggest headache in the NHL. Besides Roberto Luongo, I can’t see any other team with as much drama surrounding them as Philadelphia had with Bryz, besides Phoenix, but that’s a whole other story.

Realizing that his client is somewhat of a headcase, Ilya’s agent Ritch Winter has gone public stating that Philadelphia’s goaltending system is awful and that their goalie coach has no authority. Whether these words are fact or an opinion is somewhat irrelevant, as this seems like a marketing ploy to let interested teams know that Bryzgalov can still stop a puck or two and that it’s actually the team’s fault that Bryz sucked it up for 2 years. Right.

Either way, after names like Luongo and Miller are dealt with, teams who missed out may take a chance on the former Vezina finalist since there won’t be much left afterwards.

Edmonton is a team that Bryzgalov has expressed interest in playing for, but i can’t see that interest being mutual. Devan Dubnyk seems to be the future between the pipes in oil country, so they may look closer at a proven backup such as Ray Emery or Dan Ellis to help mentor him and shape him into a guy who can steal a few games.

Sitting on the cusp of being a playoff team, the Winnipeg Jets may want to give Ritch Winter a call to inquire about his client’s services. Ondrej Pavelec is supposed to be the clear-cut number 1 in Winnipeg, but his career numbers are mediocre at best (2.98 GAA, .907 SV%). If GM Kevin Chevaldayoff can talk Bryzgalov into dealing with Winnipeg’s weather, he could be exactly what the team needs to get Pavelec going. Bringing in Bryz on a one-year deal as a 1B shows Pavelec that the organization is less than pleased with his performances and creates a healthy competition for the starting job.

Marc-Andre Fleury:

3621604412_57016e5b18The Flower is an interesting name to have on this list, as he has backstopped Pittsburgh to the playoffs in each of his 7 full seasons with the team, posting career numbers of 249-151-2-39, 2.66 GAA and 0.910 over 467 games.

It is his efforts in the postseason that have left Penguins brass scratching their heads. After winning it all in 2009-2009, Fleury has choked in the postseason to the point of being pulled and benched.

The question mark is whether Fleury is a legitimate elite goaltender or if he can’t handle the pressure come playoffs. This, surely, has made GM Ray Shero consider the option of moving his long-time starting goaltender who has 2 years left at $5 million per season on his current contract.

One team who may shoot Mr. Shero a text message is the St. Louis Blues. With Jaroslav Halak apparently displeased with his playing time, he could use a change of scenery to get back on track. With a record of 109-67-21(1.23 winning percentage compared to Fleury’s 1.31), GAA of 2.43 and SV% of .918 during the regular season, his numbers are not all that different when put up against Fleury’s.

It’s the playoffs that tip the scales in Halak’s favor. Fleury’s playoff numbers are average at best (2.73 GAA, .903 SV%). Halak’s numbers, meanwhile, are definitely not Conn Smythe-worthy; they are, however, substantially better than Fleury’s at 2.48 GAA and .923 SV% over his career.

Both goaltenders are in need of a change and could excel on opposite teams. Halak plays well and can carry his team (as he put on display during Montreal’s magical 2010 run) should defence be lacking (see: Pittsburgh Penguins) and Fleury could benefit from a team with any type of defensive structure (see: St. Louis Blues).

Although I believe Halak to be the better goalie, Fleury’s cup ring and All-Star nomination may increase his market value; therefore, St. Louis may have to toss in a defensive prospect or draft pick. Let’s try this:

PIT gets:Jaroslav Halak, Kris Russell or Ian Cole

STL gets:Marc-Andre Fleury, 3rd round pick

This deal gives both goalies a fresh start while benefiting both teams with Russell/Cole and the Pens 3rd rounder being swapped.

Other goalies who may be on the move:

Jonas Hiller – With the emergence of Victor Fasth and one of John Gibson or Igor Bobkov making the jump to the show, the crease in Anaheim seems to be a little crowded nowadays. Phoenix needs a starting goalie and has the young defensive help that Anaheim needs. Oliver Ekman-Larsson may be untouchable, but the Coyotes have secretly been fielding questions about Keith Yandle for some time now and he may be a great fit in SoCal.

Mike Smith – With the confusion surrounding the Coyotes’ ownership, expect Smith to test the market and take his talents elsewhere come July 5th.

James Reimer – Some may be surprised to see this name up here and, I admit, it is a bit of a longshot, but with the recent acquisition of Jonathan Bernier and many quality backup tenders available, Reimer may finally grow tired of the lack of confidence the Leafs have put in him and it may be best for both teams to split. I don’t foresee this happening in the offseason, but if Bernier has a strong start to the season, don’t be surprised to see Reimer’s name come up in trade rumors.

Moving Parts – Players to watch over the next few days

A short summary of some of the names rumoured to be hitting the trade/free agency block the next few days. There of plenty of names hitting free agency on July 1st, but here are a few names already hitting the headlines recently.

Big Vinny

Vincent LecavalierLecavalier WILL be picked up. The Dallas Stars seem to be going after him pretty hard but i’ts early days right now. But a guy like this will a huge aid to any hockey club he chooses to join. It’s a no brainer for those GMs out there!

Tanger 

(Photo: Dan4th. flickr)
(Photo: Dan4th. flickr)

Kris Letang is also someone who seems to be heading for the trading block right now. After rejecting a Pittsburgh Penguin offer, and the Penguins then rejecting his more costly counter offer, Letang may well be made available to teams in the coming days. After his questionable play this year it will be interesting to see what teams will take an interest, he still has a heck of a lot to contribute.

Nate

Nathan Horton has decided to move on from the B’s. He will also aid plenty of clubs out there wanting to add size to their bench.

Danny Briere 

Danny Briere. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr.)
Danny Briere. (Photo: Jai Agnish. Flickr.)

After disappointing Philadelphia again, Briere was bought out by the Flyers recently. Although I dont see many teams going hard for him – he deserves a mention.. he is a stand up guy, March and all Flyer fans will be cheering for this guy wherever he goes.

 

Seguin 

Another one hitting the rumour mill this week on a possible trade. He is a young skilled player with a Stanley Cup in his rookie year, and deep playoffs experience. He is also a no brainer for many clubs looking to add some depth.

Ranger Brad

The Rangers are currently denying any movement on Brad Richards as of now..will keep an eye on that.

 

The Current State Of Officiating

I have read a lot of talk on the inter webs this year from fans the league about poor officiating.  Many point out unfair or just flat out stupid penalties being called. I’m not sure if I’m inclined to support that statement entirely..

I do think officiating has slipped in recent seasons. My argument has been more the fact that games are not allowed to flow as they should at times. Every game before a face off, players are kicked out for arbitrary infraction reasons, sometimes two or three guys are thrown out in a row.

troy

DROP THE FREAKIN’ PUCK ALREADY !

I have heard the hockey media say things like ‘Well referees have a way of evening things out..’ I do not like these statements at all. It’s something soccer commentators talk about. Being someone who has watched soccer my whole life, I know how flat out appalling refereeing can be. My hope is that it will never slip to that degree . These guys aren’t machines, mistakes will be made. Apart from a few big games such as Dallas’s Brett Hull 1999 goal, (which was more because of a poor rule than poor officiating), the NHL still fairs as being some of the best in sports. In my opinion anyway.

One can also argue that views on officiating are often where your allegiances lie. Which I can honestly say is true. I mean if referees call an awful penalty on the Penguins for example are Philidelphia fans really going to care? Then again Flyers/Pens games are like a bar brawl down in southwest Philly. So what do you expect?!

I sense myself starting to ramble here so I’m going to cut this short.

In closing, if people have issues with officiating. Easy solution. Bring this man back.

bill

Nuff Said.

x

WInnipeg Jets’ Tobias Enstrom Attacked And Robbed

enstrom-620-thumb-620xauto-168701It was supposed to a nice summer and offseason for Tobias Enstrom in his hometown of Ornskjoldsvik, Sweden. Last night however, somebody had other plans.

According to Reuters, Enstrom was taking out money from an ATM machine when he was assaulted and left laying on the ground. Enstrom needed medical attention and Swedish police were quick to apprehend 3 suspects.

Enstrom will return to Winnipeg next season to play for the Jets.

EA Sports Announce Martin Brodeur As New Cover Man For NHL14

(Photo: sports.msn.ca)
(Photo: sports.msn.ca)

It was down to two. EASports had narrowed it’s candidates to two goaltenders, Martin Brodeur and Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. The fans had their say and Brodeur came out on top.

NHL14 is slated to come out this September for the Xbox360 and PS3 consoles.

Here’s the fancy schmancy video cover reveal:

 

Seattle Coyotes? Looks More And More Like It

Gary Bettman released a statement today that said the ownership is up to the City of Glendale now and not the NHL.

498There has been talk that the NHL has various 2013/2014 schedules made up that has Phoenix and Seattle games listed. They also have no problem with the “Coyotes” playing out of Seattle’s Key Arena.

I can see Seattle being a hockey city. With their proximity to Vancouver, it could easily start up a rivalry for the ages. That being said, I wish they would move them back to Quebec. I miss those Nordiques.

For fun, let’s think of what the team would be called. Seattle Sonics? Already done. Seattle Reign? Nice ring to it but I think it was already done. Seattle Storm? Also nice but too generic. Got any of your own?? Comment or drop me a line on Twitter! @MissAMarch

Calgary Flames Miikka Kiprusoff Announces Retirement

As if things in Calgary couldn’t get any worse, their star goaltender has officially announced his retirement from the game. Or has he…

“#BlueJackets asking 4 permission speak to #Flames Kiprusoff in hopes of talking him out of retire’mt. Doesn’t app’ he will change his mind

— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 25, 2013″

Why the hell would the Blue Jackets want Kiprusoff when they own this year’s Vezina Trophy winner?!

No, Kyp, this Kip is done.

Kiprusoff was selected in the 5th round of the 1995 NHL entry draft and started his career with the San  Jose Sharks. He made his debut in Calgary in the 2005-2006 where he has played ever since. It hasn’t been an easy road with the Flames. Rumors were constant every year of if he would stay or ask to be traded. With the team he’s had in front of him the past few years, I can’t blame him.

Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)
Kipper. (Photo: Scotmandu. flickr)

A native of Finland I could see Kiprusoff heading back over there and landing a spot with the national team. Maybe not playing but goalie coach or otherwise. This won’t be the last you’ll hear of him that’s for sure. Watch out Sochi.

His NHL Career saw him play in 599 games with 311 wins and 44 shutouts. Not too shabby if I don’t say so myself.

Being An Away Fan In The Opposing Team’s Arena

Unless you’re the Ottawa Senators (cause banning Toronto fans into the Crappy Tire Centre can’t be too far behind.), fans from the opposing team in that evening’s game might be scarce. Sure there might be a couple of fans who live in town or a few might make a road trip down but there a few things to consider if you decide to head down this road.

321318_465788223513132_179915127_n

1. Don’t Be A Drunken Loud Mouth Idiot
mad_hockey_fanThis is just asking for it. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen away fans lose their mind and get into people’s faces when their team scores only to be heckled even worse by the home fans surrounding them. Being a loud mouth in general is stupid but in certain arenas, this isn’t taken too lightly. Sit down, shut up, fist pump and scream a couple “Woohoo!” if you must but relax. You’re a visitor. (Toronto fans in Ottawa disregard this as I actually think it’s funny.)

2. Do Not Flaunt Your Jersey

Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.
Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.

I’m not saying don’t wear it. In fact, I recommended every fan in every sport to wear their jerseys with pride. Just don’t flaunt it. You’ve already been spotted with it on and mentally noted  as the enemy. For some reason, this is worse in places like Montreal and I hate to it, Boston. Personal story time: A few years ago my cousin, a Leafs fan, took in a regular season game in Montreal. He got up and did the occasional high fives and woohoo’s after every Leaf goal but was very tame. The Leafs ended up winning and on the way out, with him flaunting around his jersey got stabbed in the leg. Yes, it was stupidity on both parts but for future reference, just don’t do this. Granted, some people are just complete morons, hence this video:

3. Do Not Get Into The Home Town Fans Faces

This ties in with statement number 1 and it should be a given. There is nothing worse than know it all idiots who do nothing but rub the score in all game. News flash for you buddy, you’re outnumbered. If you’re gonna debate hockey stats, make sure you know your stuff buddy. Make one wrong move and it’s lights out for you.

4. Respect The Home Town Team

I don’t care how much you hate them. I don’t care how intense this “hatred” is. Respect the home team. You’re in their arena; their home. You’d want to be shown the same respect from visiting fans in your rink wouldn’t you? Furthermore, the players on your team are under just as much scrutiny as you are.

Oh…..and don’t be this guy. Goes for both home and away fans.

weareallcanucks02

Vancouver Canucks To Hire Tortorella Today

The exchange of coaches is now complete.

(Photo: Robert Kowal. flckr.)
(Photo: Robert Kowal. flckr.)

John Tortorella is expected to be sworn in as coach today in a Vancouver press conference at 4pm. Lots of speculation had been swimming the past couple weeks on who would be head manning the team since Vigneault was let go.

This could be fun my friends. Can you imagine fiery Tortorella lashing out at the Canadian media? Luongo might even want to continue to play there! Torts is a take no nosense, old school style coach who I think will strive with a veteran team in Vancouver.

Torts does indeed have a championship ring which he earned with Tampa Bay in 2004. Maybe this is what Vancouver needs to keep their winning ways in the post season. Well, that obviously remains to be seen but it will be damn fun to watch in the meantime.

Foot In The Crease: Brett Hull And The Dallas Stars Cup

Thought I’d take a minute to direct you guys to an article I did for Blackout Dallas. BD is an entirely fan written site associated with Sports Illustrated.

In honour of the Stanley Cup Finals, I took a look back at one of the most controversial games in NHL history. Go take a read for yourself, just click the logo.

Dallas-Stars-New-Logo-2014-590x325a