One honor that was conspicuous by its absence from Thursday's NHL awards extravaganza was recognition of the league's top executive. That needs to change. The salary cap has leveled the playing field and created a situation that demands true excellence from the GM position, and while the work of general managers is best measured over a long term perspective, there's still an opportunity to reward excellence on a yearly basis.
In my book, the 2007-08 winner would have been Anaheim's
The man who familiarized us all with the term "tagging space" did a masterful job juggling all manner of challenges with the defending Stanley Cup champs. He avoided the urge to match Edmonton's overpayment for
You can certainly argue that Burke's inability to get an asset in exchange for goalie
Burke now faces another challenging summer, awaiting career decisions from Niedermayer and Selanne (again) and having to come up with more of that tagging space to sign RFA winger
Burke went to work creating some of that space by dishing defenseman
"All the picks are in play," Burke has said, meaning the team could be looking to add a proven NHLer, preferably a second line center, in exchange for some of those draft choices...and that means more room must be created.
Just another day at the office for Burke.
If the NHL gets its act together and commissions another trophy for 2008-09 -- named after legendary Canadiens GM
The Bergeron deal makes for an intriguing addition to a Minnesota blueline that's shedding veterans
Bergeron's 38 goals over the past three seasons may not sound like a lofty total, but they rank him ninth among NHL defensemen during that time frame. That's an element clearly missing from the Wild, which averaged just three goals per defenseman other than the rapidly improving
Of course, there's a reason three teams have deemed Bergeron expendable over the past 18 months. Though he can obviously bring some offense to the table, it'll be interesting to see how well his propensity for defensive blunders sits with
The Wild also re-signed
If the Ducks won't allow Selanne to play another short season, would another team extend him the courtesy? There's been buzz before linking the Finnish Flash to the Canadiens, primarily because of his relationship with
Word out of Atlanta suggests the Thrashers have re-signed, or are very close to re-signing, goalie
At first glance, it's a smart move. The 35-year-old didn't dazzle statistically (14-15-0 with a 3.46 GAA and .892 save percentage), but he's regarded as an excellent backup and an ideal teammate for a young and learning netminder.
But the question left hanging is: Which young teammate will he tutor? In other words, get ready for a whole mess of
The 24-year-old Lehtonen has been earmarked for long-term job security ever since he was taken second overall in 2002, but recurring groin injuries have reduced both his effectiveness and his reliability. Pavelec, who just led the AHL's Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup, also has the look of a potential No. 1 after finishing the regular season 33-16-3 with a 2.77 GAA and .911 save percentage before improving dramatically on those numbers in the postseason. And he's already had a taste of action in the NHL. When Lehtonen hit a six-week stretch on the IR early last season, the 21-year-old Pavelec flashed considerable potential in relief, going 3-3 with a 3.11 GAA and .905 save percentage.
Given his age, and the presence of Hedberg, there's no reason for the Thrashers to rush the decision. Even though he seems to have proven all he can in the minors, Pavelec certainly won't wither away if he's forced to spend another year in the AHL. But the time to fish or cut bait is coming, and the Thrashers may be thinking that moving Lehtonen while healthy -- perhaps to goalie-starved Ottawa? -- is the best use of these considerable assets.