Sunday, June 5, 2016

Off the top of my head--thoughts on various headlines

Reprinted with permission from

Central Scouting has taken a liking to Buffalo as a home for the Combine

Word on the street is that the NHL and the Buffalo Sabres are in talks for the city to hold next year's NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo for the third straight year. Buffalo showcased its wares to the league in 2015 and 2016 featuring HARBORCENTER, a two ring practice facility complete with seating capacity for 1,800+ at the main rink. Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, told the gathered media yesterday, "Right now we're talking with Buffalo for 2017. A couple other NHL cities have expressed interest, but the facilities here all under one roof, it's a very nice fit."

--It's not a very nice fit. It's a great fit. In addition to the space, training facilities and ample locker room space, there are three NHL-size rinks right there if the NHL wishes to start on-ice testing. Which they should do. Equally as important is hotel rooms in the area as two recently opened Marriott hotels are right on HARBORCENTER's doorstep offering over 300 rooms.


TSN's Frank Seravalli serves up some juicy names as "Trade Bait"

The NHL recently announced that the 2016-17 salary cap will more than likely be right around last seasons $71.4M area. Teams walking that cap-tightrope were hoping that it would go up and now will be faced with some tough decisions. Add to that an unwillingness by some teams on an internal salary cap to pay top-dollar for free agents and a probable expansion draft coming next season with no-movement contracts being automatically protected, and Seravalli believes we should "Buckle up for a busy month of trade activity." Seravalli gave us his top-20 trade-bait list which includes four Edmonton Oilers mentions (including the No. 4 overall pick in the draft this month) and players ranging from Montreal's PK Subban to the NY Ranger's Rick Nash.

-- Of particular notice to us Sabres fans is the name of Edmonton's Jordan Ebele--who's been in the rumor mill for months with Buffalo being mentioned along with him--Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie--a crazy name to be thrown out considering what he brings to the Avalanche offense--and 22 yr. old Hampus Lindholm--a big, left-handed Swede who'd look pretty good next to Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen on the top-pair. Personally, I'm in no rush to overpay for anyone this year as it could be even crazier next year with the expansion draft is actually upon us and a much deeper free agent class from which to chose from.


The NY Islanders re-sign fourth-line agitator Casey Cizikas to a 5yr./$16.75M extension

Jared Clinton of The Hockey News covered the signing calling Cizikas "one-third of one of the most beloved fourth lines in hockey last season alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin."  Co-GM Garth Snow said in a press release that “Casey has developed into a highly dependable two-way center and we’re pleased to sign him through 2021. His energy and passion both on the ice and in the community, make him an invaluable piece of our lineup.”

--Rumors emanating from our own Hockeybuzz threads has Buffalo RFA Zemgus Girgensons starting the negotiations at $4M and fellow RFA Marcus Foligno starting at around $3M. Thanks to Snow and his Cizikas contract, I'd plan on both contracts ending up in that $3m/season range, whether we think they're worth it or not.


Was Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby cheating on the faceoff dot?

San Jose center Logan Couture said this after their 2-1 OT loss to the Penguins, "Crosby cheats," Couture said. "He gets away with it. He's Sidney Crosby. He times them, and yet they don’t kick him out for some reason; probably because of who he is.”

--To which the only reply is, "Yes, Logan. He's Sidney Crosby--generational talent and long-time face of the NHL And he'll get away with a lot more because of it."

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "So it goes."


NHL Stanley Cup Ratings are "ugly"

That's how The Sporting News termed it. And ESPN noted last month that the playoff ratings in Canada are down over 60% as no Canadian team made the playoffs. The ratings are even down in Buffalo, a rating stronghold for the NHL.

--To wit, a simple shrug of the shoulders is the only appropriate reply. Hockey's still a regional sport and it will take decades of a slow build to get from ugly to respectability. A 60% drop in the Birthplace Of Hockey is really surprising, especially when many fans are quick to berate "non-traditional markets" and "fair weather U.S. fans." Apparently our Canadian friends aren't as hockey mad as they would lead us to believe. Or maybe they just can't get enough Beachcomber reruns.


Dan Bylsma lost two assistant coaches this off season.

First, Assistant coach Dan Lambert was moved to Rochester to take over the head coaching duties, now Dan Barr is taking his assistant coaching talents to Florida. Bylsma was quoted as saying those two were responsible for a powerplay that finished 11th in the NHL.

--The Sabres did have a pretty good powerplay but it did take a two-percentage point dive from it's peak in January to finish at 18.9%. That was with the likes of Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, and Sam Reinhart. The league seemed to figure them out. Not a good thing headed down the stretch.

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