I have to start this today with a tribute to Ray Emery. A lot of times when celebrities or athletes pass away, especially like this scenario where its so tragic and FAR too soon, we tend to glorify the person maybe a bit too much. So I try not to do that. But I can honestly say that Ray Emery was one of my absolute favourites. He had a style all his own. He was known as one of the best fighters in all of hockey…as a goaltender. I Always LOVED the masks with the different boxers on them, especially his one in Philly with Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins on each side, and then Rocky on the back. Initially, I recall Emery being nicknamed “Sugar Ray” which I just thought was AWESOME!! But then “hockey guys” started calling him “Razor”. Well that’s boring, what guy named Ray DOESN’T get that nickname?!? Sugar Ray though? That was beautiful! Couldn’t have fit any better, and I never understood why that went away other than other players and the media being lame for lack of a better term. Sugar Ray wasn’t lame though, the nickname or the person. Dude was the coolest player in the league for a significant stretch. I nearly bought a suit one time specifically because I seen Emery rocking it pre-game one night and just thought it was so cool that I had to have it (then found out the price and all of a sudden I didn’t have to have it). There are two things in his career that don’t get the love they deserve. One is his amazing comeback from the hip injury. His career was done, I’m not over blowing that. It was the same hip injury that ended Bo Jackson’s football career, and while Jackson returned to baseball, he was never anything close to what he was again. And that kind of leads me into the second thing that deserved more love. Because not only did Emery comeback from the injury, but people forget how incredible he was for the Hawks during the 2013 season. 17-1 with a 1.94 G.A.A. and a .922 Sv%. He never saw action in the playoffs that spring (although I’m sure he was damn close to entering game four of the Stanley Cup final with Corey Crawford struggling mightily), but he was a big part of that Cup win for the Hawks. They went 11-2 at home in the playoffs that season, only 5-5 on the road. If they don’t get the goaltending Emery gave them that season, they might not end up with home ice throughout the playoffs and there for might not win that Cup. RIP Ray, from every account you were an absolute gem, one of the coolest players in league history (of which there aren’t many) and will be sorely missed.
Not easy to transition after that, so I’ll just simply have to do it very clumsily like this.
So, its now mid July, and the Montreal Canadiens still have Max Pacioretty on the roster. Everyone was quick to call for Marc Bergevin’s head after the Subban deal and I was likely one of the very few exceptions. I don’t know if the problem is with Bergevin or with the Moulson family. One thing I’ve started to look at lately is how much more say ownership has in certain organizations than we believe. Fans and media will hear when a new GM is brought in that “he has full control to do what is needed to get this organization to the next level” or something to that effect. But it really isn’t the case in so many scenarios and I wonder who is calling which shots with the Habs? Nevertheless, they’re a complete mess and desperately need to rebuild. For me, it was this off-season. This was their last chance to salvage it. And they’ve done next to nothing. Now is the time to blow it up. Trade Carey Price. Trade Brendan Gallagher. Trade Shea Weber once he returns. Why? You have an incredible draft class in 2019. Then in 2020, you have the local boy who looks to already be a lock to go number one in Alexis Lafrenière. So if you’re ever going to rebuild, what a terrific time to do it! Its not as though they have NOTHING right now, but they don’t have anywhere near enough to make them much better than they currently are. Granted, teams won’t be as willing to part with their 2019 first round picks as in other years, but for a goaltender like Price I bet they’d pay up. Could you get both one’s from the Avs in a deal? I bet you could, as they have a boat load of cap space and even though they just got Philipp Grubauer, we’re talking about an elite goaltender. It just couldn’t be a better time to blow it all up for them, yet you get the sense that its not even on the table for them.
I have a LOT of Oilers I wanted to hit on today, namely two trade ideas I want to lay out (neither of which I’m expecting to happen). But before that, I’m going to start with Mikko Koskinen.
Now, this should have been wrote right after the signing. I’m sure it was by someone, but I haven’t seen it. But it started to bother me that the signing was and still is getting as crushed as much as it was by so many fans and Ryan Rishaug….mainly Rishaug. Normally, I’m with anyone ripping on Peter Chiarelli, and I’m not necessarily singing his praises here or even defending him. But what I do believe is that people are looking at the signing all wrong. The reaction is “2.5 mil for a BACKUP?!? Look at what other backups went for!!! What an awful signing!” I completely understand where you’re coming from on that. But what if you change the POV on that? What if he just signed a STARTER for 2.5 mil? That’s a low salary for a starting goaltender, isn’t it? And they were quite clear on the fact that they weren’t looking for just a normal backup, they wanted someone who could play 30-35 games next season. 35 games is only six short of half the season! And Chiarelli should be given credit for is his track record finding goaltenders. He didn’t really find Tim Thomas, but he stuck with him in Boston and made sure that Thomas got a legitimate chance. In 07, which was Chiarelli’s first season as Bruins GM, there were a lot of reasons to get rid of him or trade for an upgrade and Chiarelli simply stuck with him. When he got here he did the deal for Cam Talbot which despite some rough stretches we all believe is a legitimate starting goaltender in this league and capable of carrying a team deep into the playoffs. He brought Anders Nilsson back to the NHL and he’s become a solid backup who has produced some real hot stretches the last three seasons including one where it looked as though he’d established himself as the number one goaltender here. Look at the talent the Oilers now have in the system between the pipes. Chiarelli or someone on his staff has a great eye for goaltenders. The other end of this is that while they paid that price, that was the rumoured rate for Koskinen and a lot of teams were seemingly willing to pay it. Look at his numbers, its not just in the regular season, its not just in the KHL in general. In three of his last four seasons, his playoff numbers have been better than his regular season numbers. His numbers for Finland internationally have been stellar the last four seasons. Now, I fully understand those numbers don’t tell a lot of the story as they can be padded facing greatly inferior competition at times, but we’re not talking about someone who has come out of nowhere like a Jonas Gustavsson was once upon a time (which admittedly is a dumb example for me to bring up because while I’m referencing when the Leafs signed him, one of the oddest and worst signings Chiarelli has made was Gustavsson to be Talbot’s backup). Koskinen was the 31st pick of the 2009 draft. I really believe that their thinking here is he’s got the ability to be a legitimate number one goaltender, and so should Talbot struggle again like he did last season, Koskinen can step in, carry them, and possibly even end up being the guy they go with heading into next season should things go bad for Talbot again.
So I’ve mentioned Brett Connolly a lot over the last two years, but I’m going to yet again. What a signing by the Caps, and it pisses me off from the standpoint of them not needing what he does best. The Oilers badly need that RH shot on the off wing for the top pp unit, Connolly can be that guy, and he hardly sees the ice during Caps man advantages as long as Ovechkin and Oshie are healthy. They’re only paying him 1.5 mil for next season, so they have no need to move him. The Oilers would have to pony up and make it worth their while. And you don’t want to overpay, I get that. But I can’t get over the need for a sniper to play opposite McDavid on the top pp unit, not to mention the chemistry I believe he could have with McDavid and RNH five on five (not that I have ANY issue with Ty Rattie, but I do believe Connolly could be better), and he’s only a 1.5 mil cap hit IF they could get him. But again, what’s the price? Would Slepyshev and a pick get it done? The Caps could perhaps sign Slepyshev to a two year deal at the same ticket while adding a pick? The Oil own an extra 3rd rounder in this next draft, though they pissed away their 5th on a goaltender they haven’t signed going into his final season of college hockey not that I’m panicking that they made yet another absolutely horse shit/beyond moronic/completely fucking careless personal move or anything…
Here’s another possible move that I’ve been wondering about that’ll without a doubt be much sexier to Oilers fans than Brett Connolly.
Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek ran down all 31 teams on the last 31 Thoughts podcast. When they got to Edmonton, Friedman made it sound as if there is a bridge which is either currently or about to be lit on fire between the Oilers and Oscar Klefbom. Maybe the gasoline is poured and one side is trying to get the lighter going but its a new lighter and they’re having issues knowing where you old it down so the lighter will light not that I’ve ever had that happen a billion times to me before. Seriously though, he kind of compared it to the Dougie Hamilton situation in Calgary and I believe said something to the effect of “its the same deal, best to move on from the problem now before things get bad”. Not an exact quote, but something to that effect. Later on, they got to the Blues and Marek asked him if the Parayko trade talk was real, and Friedman believes it was or is. His thinking on that is perhaps the Blues don’t want too much money tied up on the right side of the D, and they’re going to have to extend Alex Pietrangelo soon. Add to that, the Blues left side all of a sudden looks relatively weak with Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson, both impending UFA’s, and both coming off disastrous seasons. They have Vince Dunn, but probably don’t want to throw him to the wolves just yet. So it made me wonder, especially with how talked about the Oilers always seem to be with Parayko (especially leading up to the draft) if there is a deal to be made there? I believe the initial thought is “they’d need to pay a lot more than Klefbom”. Would they?! Go look at their career numbers, they’re VERY similar, and combined with their cap hits to me it would make them almost identical in value depending on what you’re looking for. Parayko has more points in less games, but we’re talking 13 less games, and 9 more points. By the way, Klefbom has 5 more goals than Parayko in his career. And I honestly wonder if the Blues aren’t worrying that he already is what he’s going to be? SO many defenceman step into the league, will look great early on, but never can really grow their games to the levels expected. Think of Dion Phaneuf. 10 years ago, if you told somebody he’d never be considered a top 10 defenceman in the league they would have told you that you’re insane. So with that being said, why would the Oilers want him? Well, obviously they’d be banking on that not being the case, along with the obvious balancing out of the blueline and the big RH shot bomb for the pp. Would the Blues do the deal? If Friedman’s theory is correct then it does make a lot of sense for them. Klefbom is 1.3 mil cheaper, has an extra year on his deal compared to Parayko, and they’re very similar defencemen who are the same age (in fact, Klefbom is actual a couple months younger despite being drafted a year earlier). Just thinking out loud, but would Klefbom and Matt Benning for Parayko and maybe a prospect like Jake Walman make sense? I really don’t know, and I’m really just putting two and two together here and spit-balling. But to me, it does feel like a deal could be made that makes sense for both sides and improves both clubs.
Before I finish this today, its not hockey, but hockey is how I know and am buddies with the guy even though I haven’t got to see him in a long time. Congrats Kurt!! You’re really going to make me do this another nine times (at least) aren’t you? I’ll do it, but just don’t expect me to come up with anything real original. Seriously though, the guy is at an all-time great level right now. I watched every run at the Stampede, and out of all his runs where he blew everyone away, the most impressive one was (I believe) Thursday night where he gets off to a slow start on the barrels, is fourth over half way through the race, damn near takes the heat, and ends up with the third best time of the night. Its honestly like watching Tiger Woods in 2000 where you pretty much knew he was going to win every tournament. Awesome to see!
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