Apologies, for the cheesy title. But I couldn’t resist!

Carey Price at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected fifth overall.

The Monteral Canadiens as expected finally came to an agreement with RFA goaltender Carey Price. They agreed on a two year deal worth 5.5M. When fellow RFA goaltender Jaroslav Halak was moved to the St. Louis Blues, it was unofficially reported that Price would be the starter. Then the Canadiens acquired the rights to upcoming UFA Dan Ellis, but they couldn’t get a deal done so Ellis went to free agency.

Price, recently took part in the Smithers rodeo. Although you may think that it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, he assured everyone that the event he took part in wasn’t very dangerous. It’s safe to say that it hasn’t gone as well as Price has hoped, and I’m talking about his performance on the ice. The crowd in Montreal have expressed their feelings with him more than once, just ask any other goaltender that played for the Canadiens. They expect you to stop the puck, and if you don’t you are going to hear about it. Read the rest of this entry »

It has been a very eventful past few days! The verdict on the latest Ilya Kovalchuk contract was near, and so was the future of Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard and Marian Hossa’s deals. Marc Savard’s agent was ready to tale legal action with the league if they declined his clients deal. He like the other players would have missed pretty much the whole free agency period. Very unlikely they could receive a contract similar to the ones they received from their current clubs due teams confirming their budgets and such. Unless they wanted to sign with a bottom feeder, but they all got good deals with contenders!


Kovalchuk and Ovechkin in a Moscow rink today.

Now back to Ilya Kovalchuk, it finally looks like his deal will be accepted. The NHL and NHLPA are about to sign a new deal, when they get the paper work done they will accept the new Kovalchuk contract. The Russian winger was practicing with fellow Russian winger Alex Ovechkin today, they are set to suit up for a charity game in Russia in a few days. A picture was taken of him and Ovechkin, it gave the Devil fans a sigh of relief when they saw what jersey he was wearing. Incase you’re wonder what Ovechkin was wearing, he had a Sochi 2014 jersey.

I have really enjoyed Ilya’s agents tactics, like him giving the NHL a 48 hour deadline. Then last night he said that his client was talking to SKA about a long term deal!

The NHL keeps delaying the official announcement of this deal, the first extension was until today at 5PM EST, and now they have extended the deadline again as they are working on the paperwork still. But the Kovalchuk deal has been approved! I’m thinking the league might miss Ilya, so they are trying to savour every last minute.

Here are the details of the new contract:

As Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos first reported, the approved deal increases the average salary over the final three years to $2.6 million from the $550,000 average under the original deal that was rejected by the league in July. The breakdown of the accepted contract is: 2010-11: $6 million; 2011-12: $6 million; 2012-13: $11 million; 2013-14: $11.3 million; 2014-15: $11.3 million; 2015-16: $11.6 million; 2016-17: $11.8 million; 2017-18: $10 million; 2018-19: $7 million; 2019-20: $4 million; 2020-21: $1 million; 2021-22: $1 million; 2022-23: $1 million; 2023-24: $3 million; 2024-25: $4 million.


I find it rather fitting that the cap hit will be 6.67M a year. The New Jersey Devils will have to clear some cap space (around 5M), as they are now over the 59.4 limit . It will be interesting to see what Devil’s management has in store, will they bury F Brian Rolston in the minors if they can’t find a trading partner? I’d rather try and solve the issues with him, instead of trying to move a Elias, Langenbrunner etc.

Now even though the league might be happy with their adjustments to the CBA, Bruce Garrioch managed to find another loophole.

On the contrary: Agreement is somehow spectacular victory for PA. 19-yr contracts for 21yo’s ending with $1M per last 5 years are legal.

I think the Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning have a new idea for two young stars that need new contracts pretty soon..

The Willie Mitchell ‘sweepstakes’ finally came to an end yesterday. The 33 year old defender, who Vancouver let go to free agency signed a 2 year deal worth 7 million dollars. It was expected that Willie Mitchell would have to take a pay cut due to his concussion he suffered from Evgeni Malkin’s shoulder.

After, former Flames coach Mike Keenan using an illegal stick length. Willie put two sticks together, just for Keenan.

This signing made the Los Angeles Kings look a sort of desperate, in my honest opinion. I could understand the Washington Capitals giving this money, since they could use a defender like Willie Mitchell. But even though Los Angeles gave him the salary, that the Canucks have paid him for the past four seasons. This may work out in Los Angeles favour, he can teach young defenders like Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson about his speciality, which is the defensive zone. But this also means that they can excel in their offensive game, and not have to worry since Willie Mitchell will be back there to cover for them. Of course you don’t want your defenseman forgetting about the defensive side. Willie is a very good defensive defenseman, he saved a ton of goals during his tenure in Vancouver. One more thing, he is an absolute warrior.

Now on Vancouver not re-signing Mitchell, I can truely say that there was no way on this planet that Mike Gillis would have paid 3.5M a year to keep Willie. Even if Vancouver had the cap space, I don’t think Mike Gillis wanted to give that due to the concussion issues which is the only risk of this signing. The Canucks have strengthened their defense quite a bit this off-season. They brought in forward Manny Malhotra, defenseman Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis. Those acquisitions made Willie Mitchell less valuable to them, since Ballard and Hamhuis are younger alternatives, and play a better two way game.

I have came across some comments about people saying Willie could have taken a pay cut to stay on a serious cup contender, but it is business. Most of the time, the player is going to take the big money over the opportunity. But at the time of the injury, Willie Mitchell was arguely playing some of his best hockey. I’m sure if he didn’t suffer that concussion, he would have been looking for a raise.  But the Kings have a good young upcoming team, they made the playoffs last season. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it again, and you never know what could happen. So best of luck with your new team Willie!

Some people wonder how Canuck’ fans fell in love with Willie Mitchell, that is a really easy question. I have the answer for you, in a video response.

That moment could have only been better for Vancouver, if that was Patrick Kane or Dustin Byfuglien.

Just incase you didn’t know, the Canucks season opener will be against the Los Angeles Kings on October 9th.

The KHL recently rejected HC Lev Poprad from playing this year. Here are the events that took place from the beginning to the end which is the rejection from the KHL. They will be able to apply again next year.

HC Lev went to the Czech Federation to get permission to play in the KHL. The Czech Federation says no, then Lev offers to pay the Federation 4M in order to play. The Federation declined that as well.

HC Lev decides to move to Poprad, Slovakia. They then asked the Slovakian Federation if they could play, and the Slovakian Federation apparently approves. Then the KHL officials go to Poprad, to check out the arena and the facilities. It met their requirements so they allowed them to play. The IIHF also approved, which can be sort of interesting due to the past conflicts between the IIHF and the KHL.

Now this is where it gets interesting, now the Slovakian Federation says that they gave HC Lev Poprad permission to play in the KHL. But the clubs from the Slovak Extraliga permitted HC Lev Poprad to play in the KHL. They Slovakian Federation now wants to look into HC Lev Poprad and their arena and facilities, but here is the catch they want until August 18th to make their decision.

The KHL says that they can’t wait that long, it is way to close to the start of the pre-season. They needed to know then, in order to make sure they have the schedules and other things like that set. If they were to be rejected on August 18th, they would have to redo the schedules, and imagine the possible ticket mess?

They will be allowed to re-apply next year, hopefully they have their things in order so this process can be much faster.

Here is what rattles peoples cages, Medvedev is more than willing to spend money on clubs like this. But not towards saving historic clubs like Dynamo Moscow, and Khimik Voskreskensk. That seems a tad odd to me. I would rather spend the money saving clubs like that, and using it to try and improve facilities in the KHL and MHL. Although you do have to give him some credit for saving MHC Krylya Sovetov and PHC Krylya Sovetov by merging them.

This morning SovSport.ru reported that SKA Saint Petersburg will sign forward Maxim Afinogenov to a 5 year contract with an option for another year. It is rumored that he will make 2.5 million a season.

Maxim's patented fist pump.

Maxim, spent the last season with the Atlanta Thrashers after playing nine years in Buffalo. Last off-season a lot of clubs just didn’t want to give him big money, so he signed a 800,000 deal with Atlanta to try and prove himself. He put up 61 points in 82 games for the Thrashers, but unfortunately could find a suitor in the NHL thisoff-season.

So with this deal, he will be 35 when it’s complete. It’s a very good chance that we won’t see Maxim in the NHL anymore, unless he tries to return after this contract. He should be able to succeed in SKA, not only because they have a good team but he will be able to use his speed on the bigger ice surface. He makes SKA a bigger contender for the Gagarin Cup, they really don’t have any excuses to not win it.

It will be eight years since Canada hosted its first outdoor game when this upcoming Heritage Classic is played.

It’s returning to Alberta, but this time around it will take place in Calgary with one returning opponent. Which are the Montreal Canadiens, the Canadiens played the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s first outdoor game. The 2011 Heritage Classic will be played in McMahon Stadium, which is the home to Calgary’s CFL franchise, the Calgary Stampeders.

Canadiens Josh Georges and Flames Steve Staios showing off the jerseys that will be worn in the 2011 Heritage Classic.

There has been 3 outdoor games, since the Edmonton and Montreal game. All three have been in America, and the teams that were involved were all from American cities as well. NHL Commissioner said that they are returning to hockeys roots, and are doing what the fans have asked. Whether he is trying to get back on Canada’s good side, is another story for another day. This won’t be the only outdoor game this year though, the Penguins will be taking on the Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. But Bettman thinks that having two outdoor games will not be an issue, but will be an “absolute right balance and is responding for what we’re hearing our fans telling us they want”.

The stadium currently has a capacity of 35,650, but Ken King the Flames President believes that they will be able to make room for at least 40,000 people. They will most likely drop down the bleachers and have them closer to the rink since a football field is quite larger than an NHL sheet of ice. If you can’t get your hands onto a ticket, you shouldn’t be worried as King said they will make sure there is some more activities that the fans can take part in. Sure, it will not be the same as watching the game in the stadium, but at least you can take part in this rare event. Or you can just catch the first WHL outdoor game between the Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats which will take place the next Monday.

Now onto the jerseys, the Calgary Flames have not striked up a new partnership with McDonalds. They are actually paying tribute to their past, Reebok helped them design this jersey. The Montreal Canadiens will wear their away jersey with a few minor tweaks, which are some details from the jerseys they wore from 1986-1989 (TSN is saying that the lettering and numbers will be the major change). Also note they are doing that because those are the jerseys they used in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Calgary Flames.

There will be a few players in this game, who suited up for the game in 2003. These players are Curtis Glencross, Josh Gorges, Corey Sarich and Steve Staios. I will try my best to my hands to get two tickets to this game, if not I’ll have to catch it at home in High Definition. Maybe, I’ll leave a few windows open to try and make the experience as real as possible.😛

Update: After reading the feedback, we have to admit that we did make a mistake in placing the Philadelphia Flyers ahead of a few deserving clubs. We have re-written #5.

Here is a list of the five teams that we [International Hockey Talk] think are the winners off the off-season so far.

5. Atlanta Thrashers

Stanley Cup Champion; Dustin Byfuglien.

The Atlanta Blac Thrashers took advantage of the Chicago Blackhawks cap troubles asthey made a few notable trades this off-season with them. In total the Thrashers traded Joey Crabb, Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin, Ivan Vishnevskiy, 1st round pick, and two 2nd round picks for Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Dustin Byfuglien, BrettSopel, Akim Aliu. A lot of people have said that they acquired the wrong half of the Chicago Blackhawks, but I tend to not agree with that. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and all of them were big contributors. But Atlanta acquired most of Chicago’s sandpaper. They got a big power forward in Dustin Byfuglien who made the Hawks 2nd round opponents lives hell for the second year in a row. Andrew Ladd, is a physical and verbal player who can score, and hit and be that valuable player to the teams bottom six. Ben Eager is a fighter, but he can hit and contribute offensively sometimes. Brent Sopel knows his limits, which mades him a solid defensive defenseman and a good shot blocker. He should be able to teach Bogosian and Enstrom a few things, due to his experience.

Joey Crabb, and Marty Reasoner are expendable, but Jeremy Morin and Ivan Vishnevskiy are great prospects. Atlanta gets some guys that can help them now and hopefully get them closer to finishing their quest to get back into the playoffs. The Thrashers have also signed veteran goaltender Chris Mason, who I expect to split time with Pavelec. He also should be able to teach the young goaltender a few tricks. They also traded aging center Todd White, who wasn’t going to get any top six minutes, to the New York Rangers for Patric Rissmiller and Donald Brashear. This was solely for the Rangers to get rid of Brashear and the Thrashers will buy him out since they have more cap space.

Thankfully, the Thrashers walked away from Clarke MacArthur after he received a pretty high contract from arbitraition. The Thrashers just need to re-sign two young skilled players, Bryan Little and Niclas Bergfors and if they do, they have a pretty good crop of forwards, reliable defense and pretty solid goaltending.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Zbynek Michalek Zbynek Michalek #4 of the Phoenix Coyotes breaks his stick on a slap shot against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at the Staples Center on February 18, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

Zbynek Michalek: 1 Warrior Dolomite: 0

A lot of people including myself had Zbynek Michalek going to Ottawa to play with Milan. All day during July 1st, there wastalksthat Paul Martin was close to signing. Then out of no where the Penguins have signed Michalek, then a little while later they signed Martin. Ray Shero knew he had to try and replace Sergei Gonchar, Jordan Leopold and Mark Eaton. But Sergei Gonchar left the biggest hole, he ran their powerplay. Both Paul and Zbynek are two way defenseman, which is just want every team wants. It’s a win-win situation, you have two guys that play well in their own zone, and make that breakout pass and are a threat to put in your net. But in our opinions, this is a better move in the long run. Gonchar was 36, and wasn’t getting any younger. Was prone to injuries every year. Martin and Michalek are in their prime, at affordable rates. With around 3 million cap space, if Pittsburgh can find someone to replace Guerin, or re-sign him, then that would seal the deal for them this off-season.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

Goaltender Mike Smith stacking the pads.

Steve Yzerman has done a fantastic job, he is an early favorite for the GM of the year. He has re-signed Martin St. Louis, he also got someone to take underacheiving Andrej Meszaros, who was massively overpaid, on a long contract. They have replaced Alex Tanguay, with Simon Gagne. They are going to have a lethal top six, with Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St.Louis, and Simon Gagne. They have also brought in veteran defenseman Brett Clark who will be a stable piece to their defense. Even though they brought in Dan Ellis, it wouldn’t hurt to kick the tires on Antti Niemi. They finally have obtained a legit 3rd line center in Dominic Moore, who will help form a checking line, and be a part of the PK. I’m really uncertain with Mike Smith, goaltending could be their only worry.

2. Vancouver Canucks

Dan Hamhuis preparing for an upcoming collision with Cam Janssen.

For the second straight year the Blackhawks decapitated the Canucks already decapitated defenseman. Vancouver special teams was just brutal in the playoffs. So they have re-modelled their bottom six and defenseman this off-season, they sent under-achieving forward Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and a 1st round pick to Florida for Keith Ballard. They also signed UFA defenseman Dan Hamhuis, and brought in Manny Maholtra. All of these players should help out in both sides of the rink. They also re-signed speedy forward Mason Raymond to a 2 year deal. The reason Canucks are second, is because nothing significant was lost. Underacheivers Kyle Wellwood, and Pavol Demitra walked, and only loss to the Vancouver Canucks is probably Willie Mitchell, who could re-sign if Bieksa is moved. With Salo on the IR, Bieksa could possibily stay, and with Bieksa, Canucks are a stronger team. With most top tier teams in the West getting worse, and Vancouver getting better, look for them to battle for a top 3 spot once again.

1. New Jersey Devils

Anton Volchenkov preparing to block Sidney Crosby's shot.

Their biggest splash of the off-season has been signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year deal only to have it be declined. If they end up signing Kovalchuk, then it just backs up our decision to place them as 1st even more. Regardless, they also have brought in Anton Volchenkov – top notch physical shot-blocking defenseman from the Ottawa Senators, Jason Arnott, big, strong, two-wayveteran forward, Henrik Tallinder, mobile, big-minute logging Swedish defenseman and reliable back-up goaltender Johan Hedberg to relieve some playing time for Martin Brodeur so he can be fresh for the playoffs. They signed two of their Swedish prospects, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby. Tedenby turned a lot of heads at the World Juniors, both players will be a big part of the club in the future. They also had to waive forward Jay Pandolfo due to cap reasons and eventually bought him out, and may have to move more bodies such as Danius Zubrus and Brian Rolston, if Ilya Kovalchuk is eventually signed.

That is our list ladies, and gentlemen. I would like to say thanks to Roho Nagi, for helping me out and sharing his knowledge for this post, and Gurinder (@Kovalchuk17) as well for helping out with the rankings.