Saturday, September 11, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- Time to Sign


Hello Pens Nation! I'm an official Pens Nation writer as of today! Try to keep your enthusiasm to a dull roar.

Every Sunday morning I'll be posting a piece called "NHL in a Nutshell". (Thank you fellow Pens Nation writer Dan Clayton for the name.) "NHL in a Nutshell" will feature weekly news from around the league. Most of it will be on-ice news; signings, injury reports, etc, but because of my Twitter addiction interest in social media, I will be throwing in some off-ice info.

Training camp is right around the corner and many players are scrambling to find jobs for the 2010-11 season. As a result, there were a number of players who signed deals this week and others invited to training camps. There were also some unexpected injuries and a Twitter scandal. Without further ado, here is your NHL news from this past week:

On-Ice:
-Penguins prospects took part in the 2010 rookie tournament yesterday, posting a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Dustin Jeffery and Zach Sill each scored twice in the victory, with the fifth goal coming from the stick of Kevin Veilleux. Goalie Brad Thiessen contributed 23 saves to the win. Unfortunately, Penguins defenseman Alex Grant had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit from behind by David Dziurzynski. Grant was taken to a local hospital by paramedics. He suffered from a broken wrist and whiplash but escaped serious injury. Grant was released from the hospital earlier this morning and will be re-evaluated by the Penguins after the team's return to Pittsburgh.

-Bill Guerin is still skating with the Flyers, but has yet to be offered a tryout. Guerin won't turn a tryout down if it's offered to him. However, it can't be ignored that the Flyers have little cap room to work with, which decreases Guerin's chances of signing with them, especially if he isn't willing to take a paycut. I also heard a completely unfounded rumor via Twitter that the Carolina Hurricanes are interested. No, I am not in denial about the possibility of Guerin finishing his career in Philly. Okay, maybe I am.

-The New York Rangers invited former Penguin winger Ruslan Fedotenko to attend training camp and it's been confirmed that he accepted the invite. Apparently Fedotenko has secretly harbored a burning desire to be reunited with head coach John Tortorella. Either that or he's trying to cross "Play for every single team in the Atlantic Division before Arron Asham" off his bucket list. The Rangers also extended a camp invite to defenseman Garnet Exelby. Why the Blueshirts feel they need another d-man when they already have the outstanding services of Wade Redden is beyond me.

-The Phoenix Coyotes invited Kyle Wellwood to training camp and he will attend on a PTO (professional tryout) basis. In unrelated news, local Glendale news outlets are predicting the biggest guacamole shortage in city history.

-Jonathan Cheechoo will attend Dallas Stars camp for a tryout. The Stars must be confident that he can return to Rocket Richard form this season.

-Cody Franson will likely see his first full season in a Nashville Predators uniform. The defenseman signed a two-year, $1.6 million deal with the team. It looks as if the Preds are banking on him serving as the replacement for the departed Dan Hamhuis. It'll be interesting to see if Franson is able to play the same number of minutes that Hamhuis always did for Nashville.

-Kirk Maltby resigned with the Detroit Red Wings for one year, $525,000. It was also a two-way deal so don't be surprised to see him in a Grand Rapids Griffins jersey at point(s) during the season.

-Nigel Dawes is now an Atlanta Thrasher, signing a two-way deal for one year, $600,000. He may be the first player the Thrashers signed this offseason who wasn't unloaded by the Blackhawks in a desperate attempt to get under the salary cap.

-The Colorado Avalanche resigned Peter Mueller for $4 million over two years. Keep an eye on Mueller during his first full year with the Avs; he managed to score 20 points in the 15 games he played for Colorado last season after being obtained from the Coyotes. He missed the last four regular season games and their playoff series against the Sharks because of a concussion.

-The Oilers resigned center Andrew Cogliano for one year, $1 million. Cogliano doesn't put up gaudy numbers (46 goals and 65 assists in 246 NHL games) but he is a reliable player for the Oilers. He hasn't missed a single game since his NHL debut in 2005.

-Former Islander Richard Park signed on to play in Switzerland for the next three years, with the Geneva-Servette squad. Park previously played for Langnau in Switzerland during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

-Even though training camps haven't kicked off yet, there are a few surprise injuries to report. (Most surprising is that none of them involve Rick DiPietro.) Minnesota Wild center James Sheppard was in an unfortunate ATV accident in Vali, Colorado that resulted in a fractured left knee cap. It will require surgery and Sheppard will likely be out for 3-4 months. Kings prospect Brayden Schenn also injured his knee while training in Canada. He underwent an MRI, which revealed no structural damage. For now he is listed as day-to-day.

Off-Ice:
-Penguins regular season tickets are now on sale! I was in class at 10 a.m. so I missed all the fun of trying to get on Ticketmaster to try and buy tickets. I heard that some people had to virtually wait in line, only to be kicked out and had to get back in line again.

-NHL 11 came out this week! Woohoo! Pens Nation already dedicated a post to NHL 11, but it's a pretty big deal to hockey fans so I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. Jonathan Toews is this year's cover boy. No disrespect to Toews, who is among my favorite non-Penguins, but I prefer Andy's custom made cover.

-Canucks GM Mike Gillis is getting a Twitter account! Dreams really do come true!

-In other Twitter related news, Lightning goalie Dan Ellis found out exactly how cruel the Twitterverse can be, if you can believe that something called the "Twitterverse" is capable of being cruel. Ellis complained via Twitter about the NHL demanding 18% escrow payments, saying that he's more stressed about money now than he was back in college. (As a current college student, I laughed at that statement, took a bite out of an apple that had been snuck out of the dining hall and tossed a plastic water bottle into a bin to be returned later for 5¢.) Ellis's statement led to a lot of backlash. There was even a trending topic on Twitter called #DanEllisProblems where hockey fans made some admittedly pretty nasty jokes about Ellis's so-called money problems. As a result, the goalie decided to stop tweeting and his account is now deactivated. Don't get me wrong, anyone would be upset to lose 18% of their income but if you're making $3 million to play backup goalie in an offseason where there was a scarce market for goaltenders, you can't complain without looking like a spoiled millionaire. Dan Ellis was one of the more frequent tweeters among NHLers so it remains to be seen if that'll have some kind of impact on the NHL's presence on Twitter. I doubt it will, but you never know. At least we now have Mike Gillis to fill the void.

-Former Oilers' captain Jason Smith was formally charged for domestic assault of his wife and daughter, and for the confinement of his wife. Smith was released on $1,000 bail but he is forbidden from contacting his wife, daughters, or in-laws. He was allowed to send one of his daughters a birthday card but that was the only exception. Smith is also banned from consuming alcohol/intoxicating substances and is not permitted to return to his home in Ontario. He is also not allowed to possess any weapons.

-I saved the best for last. The NHLPA accepted the search committee's recommendation and its membership will vote on whether Donald Fehr will get to screw over NHL fans become the next executive director of the NHLPA. Fehr, former director of the MLBPA, has already been working as an unpaid NHLPA consultant. Players will vote to elect or reject Fehr after their clubs hold individual team meetings over training camp and into the beginning of the season. This means there won't be any official news until about mid-October, at the very earliest. Many NHL fans are worried about potential for another lockout. This is a reasonable fear since Fehr was MLBPA executive director during the 1994-95 MLB strike, but he has publicly stated that a work stoppage is a last resort only. It'll be at least another month before anything is made official, but Fehr is a little bit closer to becoming NHLPA executive director.

Only 25 days until the season starts! Let's Go Pens!

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