If leaked reports are to be believed the NHLPA is preparing to file a grievance pertaining to the NHLâ€™s rejection of the unprecedented 17 year, $102 million contract filed last week by the New Jersey Devils for Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk. The report suggests that even if the Devils and Kovalchuk can agree on a restructured deal, the NHLPA may still decide to file a grievance in a preventative effort for future contracts.
The latter part is particularly significant for those who have been viewing the leagues rejection of the initial contract as an act of political posturing in the face of the PAâ€™s on-going power struggle and an attempt at drawing a line in the sand.
Weâ€™ve partnered up withPension Plan Puppetsto bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we featureDion Phaneuf, profiled by Nikhil Daljeet:
The arrival of Dion Phaneuf in Toronto this year will undoubtedly be remembered as a significant moment in the annals of Maple Leafs history, for better or for worse.Â The trade that Brian Burke engineered for the newest Leafs captain has been generally heralded as a wise maneuver for his Toronto club.Â However, this transaction occurred after a full 2008-2009 season that saw a noticeable decrease in offensive output from Phaneuf (Flames management insisted it was due to injury).Â Moreover, the 2009-2010 season gave way to a floundering Calgary team that was in severe need of a major shakeup and Flames GM Sutter did exactly that on January 31st.
Boy the playoffs have been pretty good this year huh? News is slow in Leafland nowadays so let’s talk some hockey.
On Tuesday night, I witnessed Sidney Crosby light up the Senators to the tune of a 4 point night, bringing his series totals up to 11 points in 4 games played. And that Malkin kid who also scored, ain’t too shabby either. Last night, I was privy to a a pair of lasers launched by Ovechkin which basically choked the life out of the Bell Centre. To cap off the evening, I was wowed by a 20 year old Drew Doughty, who has 6 points through his first 4 career playoff games, and thought to myself that this kid might already be the best defenseman in the NHL. So then I started thinking: If you could pluck a single player off any roster to build a franchise around who would it be?
Do you go with the second year co-winner of the Rocket Richard trophy in Steven Stamkos? Do you go with the Golden boy Sidney Crosby? Maybe one of the Russian snipers in Malkin or Ovechkin? Honestly, I’d have a helluva time turning down Doughty… the kid is a fricking monster… and defense wins championships. So there you go.
During the Pre-Game Ceremonies of Canadiens and Capitals Game 4, Alexander Ovechkin chose the perfect time to skate up to his bench, snow a kid (breaking and sending ice chunks), including his flag, and sit down. Some say he did it on purpose, others feel he was just heading to the bench, you be the judge.
- The Toronto Marlies took a thrilling 5-4 shootout decision against the Chicago Wolves, with each of the College Frat Pack making an impact. Tyler Bozak recorded a goal and an assist, Stalberg scored once, while Hanson chipped in an assist. Defenseman Juraj Mikus added an assist and tallied the shootout winner.
- Nazem Kadri continued his chippy play so far this season, receiving an abuse of the official misconduct in addition to a pair of assists in a 5-4 victory over his former club, the Kitchener Rangers. Elsewhere around the OHL, Jesse Blacker recorded a powerplay assist. Over in the QMJHL, Philliipe Paradis and Joel Champagne were both held off the scoresheet, while Mikhail Stefanovich managed an assist. There were rumors of a possible trade involving Stefanovich going to another junior team earlier today, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case.
- Lastly, I’ve got a pair of Greens to Saturday night’s game (tomorrow) against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals that I’m looking to move at cost. Drop me an email if interested.
By now, I’m sure many of you have seen ESPN’s report of a significant offer by the Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel: two 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick. The general reflex reaction that we’ve been conditioned to by the Toronto media the last few seasons is to avoid moving 1st round selections by any means necessary. The thought of moving two such commodities is beyond horrifying. I’ve seen the name Taylor Hall used as the backbone of many an argument over the last few days, often associated with the “chance” of landing said player. If we’re gonna turn this into a game of chance, let’s at least get all the cards on the table.
Looks like we can get ready to cross off another free agent target off the list. A few weeks after Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash agreed to an 8 year, $62.5M contract to stay in Columbus, a Russian source is reporting that the Atlanta Thrashers are expected to ink star winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a record-setting contract worth $11.36M a season, which is 20% of the team’s total cap ($58.6M) and the maximum salary a player can receive under the current CBA. The two-time 50 goal scorer will now shatter Ovechkin’s previous record annual salary of $9M a year.
What? You were expecting Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin to top the leading scorers in March? Well then. You’d be wrong … sort of. AO actually was tied at the top with another player.
Yes, Sid the Kid (11-6-12-18) ranked near the top of the list, tied with Ottawa’s Jason Spezza (14-8-10-18). Meanwhile, the Great 8, (12-8-11-19) scored two more than Sid, and two more than the NHL scoring leader for the month of March.
Ron Wilson will stick with the struggling Vesa Toskala as his slumping Maple Leafs, fresh off two consecutive losses by a collective score of 12-3, look to get off the schneid against Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot Washington Capitals.
I’m sure you are all aware by now that the fan voting for the All-Star game has begun over at the official website of the NHL. As such, I’m also sure that you’ve seen the landslide-lead that six Canadiens players have over their competitors that go by names such as “Ovechkin” and “Crosby”. If you are at all an earnest fan of the NHL as a whole, you’ve come to realize how flawed their voting system is for this glorified game of shinny. Regardless of the decreasing importance and excitement of the game, we have seen incidents like the Fitzpatrick-campaign of a few years ago make a laughingstock of the online balloting system. This year gives rise to a new fiasco as all six Canadiens players that were placed on the ballot have taken a runaway lead and do not appear to be in any trouble of relinquishing it.
With the imposition of the salary cap taking some clout away from the financial Super Powers (or so they say), the “new” NHL focuses upon the importance of successful drafting and a constant flow of young players on cheap, entry-level contracts. With scouts now being dispatched to all corners of the globe, it’s getting to be quite a small world. The boundaries of the Hockey Community are ever-growing, and we’re starting to find ourselves with a neat little global village forming in the NHL.