Tag:Shea Weber
Posted on: September 20, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:08 pm

Daily Skate: Second Stars suitor; Sid's bodyguard

By Brian Stubits

INTEREST IN BIG D: The Stars sale is actually moving along, with the team agreeing last week to sell the team to Vancouver businessman Tom Gagliardi. Now, enter former Texas Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg and we might actually have a bidding war for the debt-ridden franchise on our hands. (Biz Journal)

SID'S BODYGUARD: There is a new enforcer in Pittsburgh, and he knows exactly what he is supposed to do. Steve MacIntyre, one of the game's most feared, says "My job is to make sure [Sidney Crosby's] transition back to hockey goes smoothly." (Pittsburgh Tribune- Review)

BROTHERLY LOVE: Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is struggling with post-concussion symptoms and is sitting out the first three preseason games for precautionary reasons. He seems to be OK, but that isn't helping the man who caused the concussion, his own brother Eric Staal with the Hurricanes, to feel better. (News Observer)

PLAYING THE GOAT: Todd Bertuzzi has a new role this season with the Red Wings, dropping down to the more defensive-minded third line. There he joins Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, resulting in one of the better line names: the Two Kids and a Goat line. For Bertuzzi, it's a whole new world. (Detroit Free Press)

SOPHOMORE STEP UP: In the playoffs, the Bruins had to turn to rookie Tyler Seguin in the playoffs after Nathan Horton's injury sidelined him. The former No. 2 pick responded immediately but then went quiet. After an offseason of heavy work, the B's might be ready to count on Seguin more. (Boston Herald)

SUPER HUBER: The Florida Panthers' No. 3 pick in this summer's draft isn't likely to make the team as a rookie. But he's doing all he can to make the roster instead of going back to the junior level, scoring a goal and an assist in the Panthers' doubleheader game against the Predators on Monday. (Sun- Sentinel)

READY FOR MORE: Shea Weber took the role of captain last season and the Predators went further than they ever have before in the postseason. Now, armed with a huge new contract for this season, he's excited about Year 2 wearing the C having learned a lot already. (Hockey Night in Nashville)

HOCKEY CRAZE: Throw this under less-than surprising tid-bits: sports fans in Toronto chose the Maple Leafs' first preseason game over one of the Blue Jays' final home games of the season. More than 18,000 showed up to see the Leafs while just over 11,000 were on hand to see the Jays. (The Canadian Press)

CAPS GM DEFENDS SEMIN: Washington Capitals general manager took his chance to defend forward Alexander Semin after he took heat this summer from former teammate Matt Bradley, saying Semin is just a quiet kid and Bradley regrets having said it. You can watch the whole interview on NHL Live! below.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 8:21 pm

Craig Smith and other prospect tournament news

By: Adam Gretz

By now you probably already know the story of the Nashville Predators and the way they have to construct their roster.

They don't have the funds at their disposal to acquire many big-name players in free agency or the trade market, and they may even struggle to keep the star players they draft and develop themselves (like defenseman Shea Weber, for example). The key to maintaining a competitive team on the ice is to have a steady pipeline of young, low-cost, homegrown talent flowing through the farm system.

In recent years they've done an admirable job putting together a playoff caliber team while playing in what is one of the toughest divisions in the NHL -- the Central Division -- going up against two Original Six power houses in Chicago and Detroit. They've qualified for the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons, and this past season advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

One of the prospects that has been gaining plenty of attention over the past year is their fourth-round pick from 2009, forward Craig Smith, who has spent the past two seasons playing at the University of Wisconsin. During the Predators prospects game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, Smith managed to score four goals (highlight video shown above; Smith is wearing No. 15) in a 7-3 win, before adding two more goals against the Florida Panthers prospects on Tuesday.

That's six goals in two games, and perhaps the most impressive performance of any player in any of the ongoing prospect tournaments.

Earlier this summer Smith represented the United States at the World Hockey Championships in Slovakia, and despite being the only collegiate player on the roster, finished as one of the leading scorers on the team, scoring three goals to go with three assists in seven games. Prior to that, he was the second-leading scorer for Wisconsin with 19 goals and 24 assists in 41 games.

The step from rookie tournaments in early September to the NHL during the regular season is, obviously, a massive one, but Smith's performance at all levels over the past year is an encouraging sign for the Predators organization. He's taken advantage of every chance he's been given and established himself as a player that may have some sort of NHL future.

Here are a few other notable performances from the many tournaments that are currently taking place.

Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks: A year ago Brandon Saad was projected to be one of the first North American players off the board during the 2011 draft. His stock dropped a little during the season and he was eventually selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the middle of the second round. Saad was also left off the 2011 World Junior roster earlier this year, and is using that as a motivational tool as he described in an interview with Erin Nicks of NHL.com. The Blackhawks rookies are taking part in the Oshawa Rookie Tournament, and Saad, a power forward from the Pittsburgh area, has five points in his first two games. He has great size (already listed at 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds) and plenty of upside, and looked to be a nice find in the second-round right from the start. His early performance here has only reinforced that.

Here's what Ted Dent, the head coach of the Rockford Ice Dogs who is also coaching the Blackhawks rookies at the tournament, had to say about Saad's early performance, via NHL.com:
"I didn't know much about Brandon coming into the tournament this weekend, but I've been very impressed. He puts the puck hard to the net; he has good hockey sense, as well. He's been very good the past few games. I know a situation like missing out on the World Junior Championship would be a huge disappointment, but this is another chance for him to make an impression on those who see him. I think he'll continue to take advantage of that fact."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers: For the second year in a row the Edmonton Oilers had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and used it on playmaking center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He's making his Oilers debut at the Young Stars Tournament, and while his first appearance on Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks didn't result in the type of goal-scoring clinic that we saw from Smith or Saad, observers, including Ian Walker of the Vancouver Sun, came away extremely impressed with his playmaking ability, on-ice vision and awareness. He's still a little on the small side (not as big of an issue as it used to be in the NHL), and the debate as to whether or not he should open the season in the NHL continues to rage on in Edmonton and across the league. But the early returns, for what they are based on one game against other rookies, are promising.

The Winnipeg Jets: Finally, fans of the Winnipeg Jets have been able to get their first look at players wearing the new uniforms, the surest sign of all that hockey is officially back in Winnipeg. It may not be the NHL roster playing a real game, but it's a start. Their rookies made their debut on Monday night against the San Jose Sharks prospects and picked up a 4-0 win, with the first goal going to Levko Koper. Mark Scheifele, the Jets first-round pick this past season (No. 7 overall) added a shorthanded goal in the win. You can check out the highlights in this video from the Jets website.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 7:04 pm

More on Drew Doughty and the Kings

Doughty1By: Adam Gretz

There are still a small number of restricted free agents yet to sign a new deal with their respective clubs, and perhaps none are bigger than Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Training camp is just around the corner, and with each passing day it's looking more and more likely that the young standout may not be signed on time, a situation that was discussed back in early August.

Earlier on Thursday Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times tweeted that Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, have agreed that they won't publicly comment on the negotiations (with no deal appearing imminent), while it's also expected that the 21-year-old defenseman will not attend the team's hockey fanfest this upcoming weekend.

That news was eventually followed by Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos asking where the Kings go now that Doughty has reportedly turned down multiple offers, including a potential nine-year, $61.2 million contract.

Assuming that offer was on the table, it would have matched Anze Kopitar for the largest average annual salary ($6.8 million) on the team. It also would have put him in the top-20 among all NHL salary cap hits, and fourth among defensemen for the 2010-11 season, trailing only Nashville's Shea Weber, Florida's Brian Campbell and Boston's Zdeno Chara

Doughty, who turns 22 in December, is coming off a season that saw him score 11 goals and 29 assists in 76 games, a decent drop from the previous season when he recorded 59 points from the blue line.

When you're talking about a contract, especially with a player as young as Doughty, you're not just paying for what the player has done (and when you're looking at a player like Doughty you're dealing with a player that's already a bright young star in the NHL) but also what the player will do in the future. There's projection involved, and for as good as Doughty already is, he's likely to get better for at least a couple of more years.

Is that worth making him one of the five-highest paid defensemen in the NHL at this point?

The Kings were willing to go to nearly $7 million on a contract for Kopitar after three seasons (the same point in his career that Doughty is) when Kopitar probably wasn't held in as high a regard among other forwards across the league as Doughty currently is among other defensemen. So it shouldn't seem that outrageous that numbers like this are being kicked around.

In the end, I still think something that falls somewhere between the cap hit Keith Yandle received earlier this summer, and the $7 million mark that has been topped by a small handful of defensemen is a more than fair average annual salary for what Doughty has already accomplished, and what he should accomplish in the near future.

There is still time to work something out and get Doughty signed before any of training camp (or worse, actual regular season games) is missed, but it does appeare to be running out.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: August 27, 2011 10:17 am

Daily Skate: Islanders getting closer to playoffs

By Brian Stubits

CLOSING IN: The New York Islanders continue to rebuild, seemingly getting closer to the playoffs with each passing season. Now they are at a point of at least being competitive for the playoffs. That's what four different NHL pro scouts told Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank. "They'll be in the playoff race in the East until the end." It isn't exactly a large sample size, but four scouts all recognizing the growth of the franchise is a sign that things are getting better for fans on the island.

THINKING LONG TERM: Just because the Predators and Shea Weber couldn't work out a deal before arbitration and the player won the biggest award ever in a hearing, doesn't mean the two sides are ready to sever ties after next year. Nashville will have the daunting task of re-signing all three of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne with conventional wisdom being they can't bring all three of them back. The assumption was that it could be Weber because of the cost of keeping him this offseason, but that's not necessarily the case (The Sports Xchange). Weber recognizes the negotiations for what they were when asked if things are OK with the club: "Yeah, for sure. I think that was just part of the business.

OUT OF TOUCH: The troubles of staying on the cutting edge of modern communication is brought to light by Adrian Dater of sportsillustrated.com. He points out that as players are never seen without their headphones or iPod when they travel any more, the classic team bonding of yesteryear isn't happening as often. It's a very interesting and salient point made that coaches and team executives are more than vexed by.

A-MAZE-ING: When Tim Thomas took the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Davison, Mich., he was met with many a dedication, one of which being a corn maze of him lifting up the Stanley Cup (from Puck Daddy). Well, not to be outdone are the non-Thomas fans in Michigan, mostly the Red Wings fans. Check out this corn maze of a Winged Wheel and a "Go Wings" scribbled in it in the Casco Township. Time for a battle of the corn! (Photo courtesy of Twitpic.)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:25 am

Daily Skate: Next Islanders plan; Erat improving

By Brian Stubits

TAKING THE Islanders TASK: Since the arena vote was shot down, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has asked for privately funded proposals for the land to be submitted by Labor Day. Thanks to Randi F. Marshall at Newsday we know of at least one group that is putting together a plan to submit that will include an idea for the coliseum and the Islanders. Interestingly, former Isles star Bob Nystrom is on the task force with the plan, although Nystrom says he doesn't speak with the team. "My goal here is to figure out a way that we keep the Islanders here and to improve that building if we possibly can, but I agree we need development there, too," Nystrom said.

GETTING BACK TO IT: Martin Erat finished tied with Sergei Kostitsyn as the Predators' leading scorer last season despite missing 18 games with a nagging back problem. But now Erat is feeling better (The Tennesseean) after taking it easy over the summer and is expecting to be 100 percent when the season begins in October. The Preds certainly hope so as Erat's presence is key as Nashville would love to convince the trio of Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to stick around beyond next year.

CAPITAL VOICE: The Washington Capitals are welcoming a new play-by-play voice for their radio coverage, saying goodbye to former announcer Steve Kolbe and, just like they would on the ice, bringing up a replacement from the Hershey Bears, the team's AHL affiliate. Capcentre.net has a fond farewell to Kolbe.

DRINK UP: The Bruins' Patrice Bergeron recently had his turn with the Stanley Cup, and he took it to breakfast with him. Naturally, you can see where this is going. Bergeron and his guests were thirsty, so they found the biggest cup they could find ... Lord Stanley. I'm not a germophobe by any stretch of the imagination and I know it's common practice to drink out of the Cup, but I'd have to say I'd rather just have a glass.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 5, 2011 8:22 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 9:06 pm

Latest on Doughty contract situation


By: Adam Gretz

The Los Angeles Kings and their young standout defenseman, Drew Doughty, have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract. Doughty, 21, is currently a restricted free agent, and because NHL teams are seemingly terrified of restricted free agents, there's almost no danger of him entertaining an offer sheet from another club. So it's not a matter of if the two sides come to an agreement, but simply a matter of when.

We're already into August, and with no new contract on the horizon it has to be getting at least a little frustrating for Kings fans to see their young franchise player remain unsigned. Especially now that there's some minor -- very minor -- rumblings of a possible holdout.

Deep in a profile about Jack Ferreira, the Kings special assistant to to the general manager, that appears in the Press-Enterprise is a quote from the long-time executive that brings up his previous experiences with Paul Kariya during his holdout with the Anaheim Ducks back in 1997, and how it relates to the current stalemate between the Kings and Dougty.

From Jim Alexander of the P-E:
And this is part of what veteran hockey men bring to the table: There is little that can happen that they haven't already seen. Today's Kings are still at a negotiating stalemate with defenseman Drew Doughty , a restricted free agent. That situation got no easier Wednesday when an arbitrator awarded Nashville's Shea Weber, a more experienced defenseman, $7.5 million for one year. "This year we were up in Toronto for the scouting combine and Dean had some meetings with Newport Sports (Doughty's agents)," Ferreira said. "He came back and they were discussing what went on, and I just looked at him and said, 'Dean, they don't want to make a deal. They're not ready to make a deal.' "That's gonna be a tough one. I would not be surprised if he was a holdout. I went through it with Paul Kariya, and Dean's been through it."
At this point we're still a long way from a holdout, as training camps are still over a month away, and the start of the regular season is still a month after that. No matter how far apart the gap may be right now, it can only take one phone call to change that and get the two sides on the path toward a deal. It's also worth pointing out that story -- Ferreira suggesting a holdout -- occurred during the NHL scouting combine -- which was over two months ago -- so it's also possible that something has changed since then.

Still, it's an intriguing quote and floats a possibility that hadn't really been discussed all that much. And it is more likely to happen than another team stepping up and throwing a huge offer sheet on the table, so it's probably the only way Doughty doesn't open the season in the starting lineup for the Kings, and even then it's a stretch.

Naturally, this week's arbitration ruling for Nashville's Shea Weber -- $7.5 million -- has sparked discussion as to what it means for Doughty and the Kings, and frankly, it shouldn't mean all that much. Weber is a better player and has been in the league for six years, compared to Doughty who is coming off just his third NHL season (and a season that saw his offensive numbers, which tend to be a big deal for a puck-moving defenseman, decrease from the previous year).

Earlier this summer Phoenix's Keith Yandle, who just completed his fourth full season in the NHL, signed a five-year deal worth over $5 million per season. Prior to last season Rangers defenseman Marc Staal signed a five-year deal coming off of his entry level contract that pays him $3.97 million per season.

It stands to reason that Doughty's inevitable contract will fall somewhere between the annual cap hit for Yandle and the one-year award that Weber received in arbitration. In other words: somewhere in the $6 million neighborhood seems fair. It's going to get done, it's just a matter of when.

H/T Surly & Scribe, via Puck Daddy

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:23 pm

Should the Predators consider trading Weber?


By: Adam Gretz

Now that the Nashville Predators know the salary Shea Weber will be making during the 2011-12 season the question of where they go from here has been the hot topic of the day. They can't officially sign him to a long-term extension until after Jan. 1, and he still has one more year of restricted free agency (and potentially arbitration) before he would be free to test the open market.

Dirk Hoag at On The Forecheck thinks the Predators and their captain need to have a frank discussion about whether or not he wants to stay in Nashville for the long haul, and if the answer to that question is no, general manager David Poile should spread the word that he's available in order to maximize the return.

Josh Cooper, beat writer for the Tennessean, brings up the potential issues for next offseason when Weber, barring a contract extension after Jan. 1, will be up for arbitration again, while fellow defenseman Ryan Suter and No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne will be unrestricted free agents. He also asks if the Predators can invest similar long-term deals into Suter and Weber and have such a large portion of their payroll going to just two players.

Now, for teams that have the ability to spend close to the salary cap (or all the way to the cap) that shouldn't be much of a concern (actually, I'd encourage teams to do it). But Nashville doesn't appear to be that type of team with the funds to play with, currently sitting closer to the cap floor than the ceiling.

That definitely changes the game, and could bring up an interesting (if not frustrating) dilemma for the Predators front office. After all, these three guys are home-grown Stars, drafted and developed by the Nashville organization. Those are the type of players you want to keep.

You win with impact players, and the more of them you have, the better chance you have to win. That's obvious. Also because it's almost impossible to get fair value back in a trade for a player like Weber, especially when you're talking about a 25-year-old franchise defenseman that can score. (Or in the case of Suter, a steadier hand in the defensive end of the ice with a little less offense.)

If it should get to that point and the Predators decide to move in that direction, they would be better off being proactive and do it sooner rather than later in order to maximize the value coming back. Weber still has another year after this season before he's eligible for unrestricted free agency and he'll bring a larger return now than he will, say, at the trade deadline in March of 2013.

If it were me, (and it's most certainly not), I would make every effort to keep Weber and Suter as my foundation and, if needed, part ways with Rinne for this reason: it's easier to find a solid goaltender at an affordable price than it is to find a No. 1 defenseman at an affordable price.

That plan, of course, assumes Weber is committed to staying in Nashville, which may not be the case. And if it's not, you're pretty much out of options and are forced to make a difficult decision: part ways with a homegrown star in the prime of his career.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 3:31 pm

Predators' Weber awarded $7.5M in arbitration

By Brian Stubits

The ruling in the Shea Weber arbitration case has come down, and you can chalk it up as a win for Weber.

Per Tim Wharnsby of CBC Sports, the Norris Trophy nominee was awarded a $7.5 million deal through the arbitration process, a pretty substantial ruling in his favor. Entering the process, the numbers being floated around for the asking prices were $8.5 million for one season by Weber with the Predators holding an offer of $4.75 million.

With the massive number going to Weber, he takes home the biggest award ever given in arbitration.

It's pretty easy to see why. Weber has established himself as one of the elite defensemen in hockey. After scoring 16 goals with 32 assists last season while racking up more than 25 minutes of ice time per game and Norris nomination, he was due for a nice raise from his $4.5 million salary. How the Predators were going to argue Weber didn't deserve more than they were offering was a tough case to make. It must have been hard for the team to keep a straight face when trying to discredit Weber.

Obviously they came into the negotiations low as a starting point, but can't imagine they wanted to go this high. Whatever they said didn't seem to convince the arbiter much. Now, according to CapGeek.com, Weber becomes only the second defenseman in the NHL with a cap hit of more than $7 million, joining just Brian Campbell in that department.

The $7.5 million makes him the highest salary cap hit among defensemen in the NHL and it matches the hits of Steven Stamkos, Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik for the seventh highest in the league.

But hey, the big award does sneak the Predators over the salary cap floor. So there's some good news for the team.

Not many ever thought the case would make it this far, figuring a last-minute deal would be struck like we saw in every other arbitration case this offseason. Especially when you consider how important locking up Weber is for the long-term outlook of the Predators, it seemed like only a matter of time before a long extension was announced.

Instead, you are left to wonder if this isn't the beginning of the end for the Predators/Weber union. There will be plenty of time to try and come to terms with Weber between now and next year, but arbitration has been known to cause fractures in relationships in the past. Fans in Nashville will be keeping their fingers crossed that isn't going to happen here.

As a result of this, you can probably hear Drew Doughty in Los Angeles jumping for joy. The Kings had been waiting to make their next move in the negotiations with their young defenseman, presumably to see what kind of money Weber would be taking. Not that the two will have concurrent deals, but it helps give the Kings an idea of the market value.

The fun part? The two might have to go through this all over again next season as Weber will have one more go around as a restricted free agent.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com