June 19 2013 11:34AM
The next three weeks will be extremely exciting for hockey fans. Compliance buyouts could start as early as Monday, June 24th, or as last as Friday, June 28th, the 2013 NHL entry draft happens Sunday, June 30th and the free agent signings occur July 5th.
Between now and then we will hear some juicy rumours, witness some interesting trades, debatable draft selections and some horrendous UFA signings.
I can't wait, and thankfully we won't have to with copious speculation already circulating around the hockey world.
Here's some of the big stories already floating around.
Beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Josh Yohe, had a strong piece on why the Penguins will trade Kris Letang.
Shero is fairly confident Letang has become a must-move player.
That is true because Letang is not the consensus best defenseman on the Penguins, at least in the eyes of management and coaches.
That is true because the Penguins are deepest on defense among top prospects, including a couple of first-round picks from last summer (Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta).
That is true even though terms of Malkin's new contract will provide the Penguins with more cap room to keep good players around him and Crosby — if the cap increases annually under this labor contract, as it did during the last one.
The Penguins are set up for Letang to count around $6 million against the cap and to continue paying Crosby ($8.7 million), Malkin ($9.5 million), right winger James Neal, Martin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ($5 million apiece). Evidence of that was their offer to Staal, who would have counted about $5.75 million annually against the cap had he stayed — and that was with Letang taking up $3.5 million in space.
Letang, 26, a first-time Norris Trophy (top defenseman) finalist, aims to at least double his current salary on any new deal. He was the only NHL defenseman to average a point per game during the regular season. He is in his prime.
According to Yohe the Pens are prepared to pay Letang $6 mill/year, but nothing more. Letang is very good offensively, more physical than some think, but some question his defensive zone play. The Penguins have the luxury of having the best offensive one-two punch (Crosby and Malkin) in the NHL, so they can risk moving a proven puck moving D-man.
I suspect playing with Crosby and Malkin might hurt Letang, because some wonder if they make his stats (points and advanced) look better than he is. I'd guess they do to an extent, but I still believe many teams would be interested, and I'd put the San Jose Sharks near the top of that list. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle have one year remaining on their contracts, ( a combined $20.56 million), and Doug Wilson loves puck movers and he isn't afraid to make major trades.
Before you scream Letang doesn't deserve to be paid like Shea Weber, keep in mind Brian Campbell makes $7.14 million.
LETANG IN EDMONTON
Letang would be the #1 pairing D-man the Oilers desperately need, but what is the asking price?
Would the #7 pick in this year's draft, Jeff Petry (#4 D-man) and a young forward get it done?
The Canes gave up the #8 and Brandon Sutter (3rd line C) to get Jordan Staal last year. Letang is worth more, but how much? Pens might ask for Paajarvi, but would they settle for something less? I don't know, but I'm curious to see if the Pens and Letang can't reach a new deal what is asking price would be.
AVS PASSING ON JONES?
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said in Adrian Dater's article yesterday.
Is this a bluff by Joe Sakic, or is Colorado seriously looking at one of Nathan Mackinnon, Jonathon Drouin or Alexander Barkov? In 2009 there was talk the Islanders might take Matt Duchene instead of John Tavares, in 2010 it was Taylor vs. Tyler, in 2011 there were rumours the Oilers would trade down and last year it was Nail Yakupov or Ryan Murray.
In every case the projected #1 pick went first overall, but I don't recall Garth Snow or Steve Tambellini/Kevin Lowe suggesting they wouldn't pick the consensus #1. Seems like an odd approach from the team holding the #1 selection.
While Sakic isn't the GM, in title, it is clear he is the main decision maker. His comments just made the final 10 days leading up to the draft more interesting.
Do you think the Avs will pass on Jones and take a forward, trade down or that this is a bluff and they will stick with Jones?
THE HOCKEY NEWS...SAY WHAT?
Dater tweeted this yesterday:
@adater The Hockey News will name Detroit-Colorado biggest rivalry of all time in NHL history.
You could make an argument that the Wings/Avs was the best rivalry of the past 20 years, but to suggest it was the best of all-time tells me the Hockey News is trying to appeal to the younger demographic, or an All-American one.
Between 1996 and 2002 the Avs/Wings combined to win five Stanley Cups, met five times in the playoffs and in three of those meetings the winner went on to win the Cup. It was a great rivalry but it isn't the best of all-time.
The Oilers and Flames combined to make eight consecutive Stanley Cup appearances between 1983-1990, winning six of them. It was an epic battle during the playoff and the regular season.
The Leafs and Habs have met 15 times in the playoffs, but none since 1979, and only twice since the 1967 expansion. You can say it was easier to meet in the playoffs during the original six era, but these two combined for 10 straight Cup appearances from 1951-1960, and they won 7 championships.
The greatest rivalry is the Habs/Bruins. They've met 33 times in the playoffs, and while the Habs dominated the series for a 45 year stretch, the Bruins have won 7 of the last 11 series. No rivalry has lasted longer, and while Detroit/Colorado was good for seven years, it isn't even in the top-three of all-time.
Took this pic in Vegas. I'm guessing most of you feel this way, yet you still eat there. Convenience store owner must have a good sense of humour.