One of the best players in Dallas Stars history has called it a career.
Former Stars forward Jere Lehtinen announced his retirement today after 14 seasons all spent with Dallas.
In 875 regular season games Letinen scored 243 goals and 514 points, and in 108 post-season games tallied 27 goals and 49 points. He would net 40 or more points eight times, including two seasons with 52 points, and would crack the 20-plus goal mark seven times, including 31 goals in 2002-03 and a career-best 33 in 2005-06.
Lehtinen was renowned as one of the best two-way forwards of his era, winning the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward three times (1998, 1999, 2003) and was a key member of the Stars Stanley Cup championship in 1999. He finished his career with a career plus-minus of +176.
His physical defensive play took a toll upon his body as he never played a full NHL season. He would play two 80 games seasons in 2002-03 and 2005-06 plus four seasons of 70-plus games (but less than 80).
Injuries began to catch up with him in his final three seasons, limiting him to 48, 48 and 58 games.
You can find out more about Lehtinen's career achievements here.
Various reports emerged from the recent NHL Board of Governors meeting which indicated the salary cap for the 2011-12 season could rise by between $2-$3 million.
It's believed the main reason for the potential increase is the strength of the Canadian dollar and the popularity of the six Canadian franchises.
The cap increase depends upon the NHL Players Association invoking a five percent inflator which is their right under the current collective bargaining agreement.
Currently the salary cap is at $59.4 million with the cap minimum at $43.4 million. An increase of $2 million would set the ceiling for next season at $61.4 million and the cap "floor" at $45.4 million. At $3 million, $62.4 million and $46.4 million.
While that's potentially good news for free-spending clubs which have kept pace with the steadily increasing ceiling since the implementation of the cap in 2005-06 it's bad news for money-losing franchises which have kept payrolls as close to the cap floor as possible.
Check out CapGeek.com for the listing of each team's current payroll to get an idea of which teams will benefit and which teams won't.
The final number for the increase will be determined by mid-late June 2011.
After 18 NHL seasons forward Bill Guerin is calling it a career.
He announced his retirement today and will "symbolically" retire as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the last NHL teams he played for.
Guerin was part of the notable group of American-born players to rise to prominence in the 1990s and at the turn of this century.
Selected fifth overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1989, Guerin joined the Devils in 1991-92 and would play for them until mid-way through 1997-98. He was part of the Devils first Stanley Cup championship team in 1995.
He would go on to play nearly four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers until dealt to the Boston Bruins late in 2000-01. That season would also be his best, scoring 40 goals and 85 points split between the Oilers and Bruins.
Guerin spent 2 1/2 season with the Bruins, scoring a career-high 41 goals with them in 2001-02, then signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent in 2002. After three seasons with Dallas he moved on to the St. Louis Blues in 2006-07 as a free agent and was dealt at the February trade deadline to the San Jose Sharks.
After that he spent nearly two seasons with the NY Islanders until dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins late in 2008-09, where he played on Sidney Crosby's line and played an important leadership role in helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup that year.
When the Penguins opted not to re-sign him this past summer Guerin joined the Philadelphia Flyers on a tryout basis but was released prior to the start of this season.
Guerin's career stats as a power forward are impressive, with 429 goals and 856 points in 1,263 regular season games, and 39 goals and 74 points in 140 playoff games.
Twelve times Guerin netted 20 or more goals, including 40-plus goal seasons and 3 thirty-goal campaigns. He was also known for his physical play, and rang up more than 100 penalty minutes in a season 8 times.
He played on two Stanley Cup championships, made the NHL's second all-star team in 2002 and was the NHL All-Star game MVP in 2001.
Guerin has also earned his place amongst the very best American-born players in NHL history.
When the New Jersey Devils signed winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a fifteen-year, $102 million contract it was expected he would become the foundation upon which the Devils would rebuild itself into a more offensive-minded club.
While the contract was indeed hefty - $6.66 million per season, proving Devils GM Lou Lamoriello had a sense of humor after all – it was considered worthwhile by some observers, including myself.
Since 2005-06 only Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin had scored more goals. Kovalchuk had two seasons of fifty-plus goals and three of forty-plus, and since 2007-08 when the Thrashers dealt away Marian Hossa he was often the Thrashers best player, averaging over a point per game over four of the last five seasons. At 27, Kovalchuk was now considered in his playing prime.
Over a quarter of the way through his first full season with the Devils however Kovalchuk has been thus far an expensive bust.
In 23 games Kovalchuk has four goals and 10 points, putting him on pace for a 14-goal, 35 point performance, which would be the worst numbers of his NHL career to date.
What’s puzzling is why Kovalchuk is struggling as he is. Sure, the Devils are plagued by injuries to key forwards like Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner but Kovalchuk was struggling before those players were sidelined.
Let’s not forget he put up strong numbers during his final two seasons with the Thrashers, where he had no Dany Heatley, Marc Savard or Marian Hossa as linemates.
Perhaps he’s feeling the weight of heightened expectations or maybe he’s trying too hard to do too much. Kovalchuk is capable of much more than those pathetic numbers so far this season.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains his once-lethal scoring touch appears to have abandoned him so far this season, and if he doesn’t recover it soon, the Devils can forget about making the playoffs in 2011.
Earlier today it was reported the Boston Bruins had dealt forward Marco Sturm to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
It was believed Sturm, who is recovering from off-season knee surgery, would need to pass a physical prior to an official announcement of the deal.
Following Thursday's Bruins-Tampa Bay Lightning game Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli released a statement saying Sturm had not been traded after all.
Chiarelli admitted speaking to Sturm about waiving his "no-trade" clause and had discussions with other teams about the winger, though he didn't identify them. He went on to say there was no trade in place for Sturm, who would continue to train with the team.
Speculation suggests the two clubs might revisit this deal in future once Sturm has been cleared to return to action but there's hasn't been confirmation from either club on this.
For now at least Sturm remains a Bruin. For how much longer remains to be seen.
Today the Bruins dealt the veteran forward to the Los Angeles Kings for what is believed a conditional draft pick in 2011.
Sturm, 32, has missed all of this season to date recovering from a knee injury suffered in last spring's Stanley Cup playoffs but is expected to return to action within the next two-three weeks.
It's believed he'll remain on long-term injury reserve with the Kings until he's fit to return to action.
Sturm is in the final year of a contract paying him $3.5 million and had a "no-trade" clause but agreed to waive it to join the Kings.
Dean Lombardi, general manager of the Kings, knows Sturm well, having drafted him 21st overall in the 1996 entry draft for the San Jose Sharks. Sturm also played for the Sharks during Lombardi's final years as their GM from 1997 to 2003.
When healthy Sturm is an effective two-way forward, with eight seasons scoring over 20 goals and 40 points. Concussion and knee injuries however have taken their toll in recent years.
For the Kings the risk could be worth it should Sturm make a strong return. They needed more depth on left wing and he should certainly help in that regard, plus the price - a conditional pick - made this an affordable move without having to part with a quality player in return.
The Bruins clear cap space without having to part with other roster players and the Kings gain depth on the left side. Both teams got what they wanted.
**UPDATE** Various sources reported Sturm's knee injury and the timeline for his return has complicated things, with speculation the deal might not occur after all. More to follow on this in the coming days.
In a recent Soapbox article on my website I reviewed the November 30, 2005 trade which sent superstar Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins to the San Jose Sharks and concluded that five years later Thornton and the Sharks were the clear winners of that deal.
A few Bruins fans however contacted me to defend their club’s actions, stating that moving Thornton ultimately cleared the necessary salary cap space to sign superstar defenseman Zdeno Chara and play-making center Marc Savard, making the Bruins a better team than it would’ve been with Thornton.
Undoubtedly the Bruins couldn’t have signed Chara to a five-year, $7.5 million per season contact or Savard to a four –year, $20 million deal had they retained Thornton, who at the time was earning $6.67 million per season.
The trade also created a need for the Bruins to land a first line center thus the signing of Savard.
Since Chara joined the Bruins in 2006 he’s had a positive impact upon their roster. He won a Norris trophy (his first and so far only one) in 2009, has been their captain since his arrival in Boston and is considered amongst the game’s elite defensemen.
Savard meanwhile was the Bruins leading scorer in his first three seasons with the club, netting 96, 78, and 88 points respectively. Injuries (foot, knee, concussion) limited him to only 33 games last season and post-concussion symptoms have kept him sidelined this season.
The pair helped the Bruins make the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2010, which included topping the Eastern Conference standings in 2009.
Their post-season record however hasn’t been that great, winning only two playoff series over that time, including last spring’s humiliating collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers, becoming only the third team in NHL playoff history to blow a 3-0 series lead and lose 4 games to 3.
Thornton meanwhile had a more positive impact on the Sharks – five straight playoff appearances, four consecutive 100-plus point seasons, topping the Western Conference standings twice, winning the President’s trophy as the best regular season team in 2009 and advancing to the 2010 Western Conference Final.
It’s been suggested the Sharks already had a much better roster when Thornton joined them than the one he left in Boston but when they acquired him they were near the bottom of the Western Conference standings and desperate for a season-saving move.
Thornton did more than save the Sharks season. He elevated his game to a level rarely seen during his years in Boston. The Sharks went from a good club with playoff aspirations to a terrific team which over the past five years finished each regular season amongst the best teams.
His presence also made the Sharks a destination of choice for notables like Dany Heatley, Rob Blake, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Bill Guerin and Jeremy Roenick via free agency or trades.
Chara and Savard made the Bruins a better team but their accomplishments pale in comparison to Thornton’s impact on the Sharks.
After weeks of speculation the Washington Capitals today finally traded forward Tomas Fleischmann, but not to any of the rumored destinations.
Rather than going to Vancouver or Los Angeles, Fleischmann is headed to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan.
It's a move involving players who'll be eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Fleischmann, 26, is in the final year of a one-year deal paying him $2.6 million while the 31-year-old Hannan is in the last year of a four-year, $4.5 million per season contract.
Hannan has a no-movement clause but obviously had no qualms waiving it to go to a potential Stanley Cup contender like Washington.
Fleischmann was coming off a career-best 23-goal, 51-point performance in 69 games last season but in 2010-11 his numbers and playing time were reduced as he's currently on pace for a 33-point performance.
This is more than just a move of two players who had no future beyond this season with their former teams, it's also of necessity to address specific needs.
With high-scoring Avalanche winger Chris Stewart out four to six weeks with a broken hand Fleischmann could be seen as a short-term replacement. He'll get plenty of opportunities to regain his offensive form with the rebuilding young Avalanche and if he plays well enough could merit a contract extension.
The Capitals have lacked a veteran shut-down defenseman for some time so Hannan will be expected to fill that role. In 23 games this season with Colorado he had six points and a plus-minus of +1.
Now in his 12th NHL season, Hannan will also likely play a leadership role for young Capitals defensemen like John Carlson and Karl Alzner.
This could be a move which benefits both teams in the short term but with all trades time will tell which club got the better of the deal.
For weeks there's been speculation over which players the Boston Bruins might trade or demote to free up salary cap space for the eventual return of forwards Marc Savard and Marco Sturm from long-term injury reserve.
With Savard apparently ready to return by early December and Sturm expected back about two-three weeks later Bruins management made their first cost-cutting move today, shipping defenseman Matt Hunwick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for prospect defenseman Colby Cohen.
Hunwick, 25, had three points in 22 games with the Bruins this season with a plus-minus of +4. His best season to date was 2008-09 when he had 27 points and a plus-minus of +15 in 53 games.
He's also currently earning $1.45 million this season. Cohen, 21, played three games with the Avalanche this season and is in the first season of a three-year, two-way entry level deal paying him $875K per season. He is expected to be sent to the Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence
To sum up, the Avalanche add more experienced depth to their defense while the Bruins free up some cap space in anticipation of the return of Marc Savard, though they will probably have to make another move to become cap compliant when Savard comes off LTIR.
**Update: Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said this move frees up sufficient cap space for Savard's return. Undoubtedly however another move will need to be made when Sturm is ready to return.