My top 5 free agent bargains and other mailbag topics
The mailbag is groanng with your questions, epistles and billets doux, so let's grab a handful and sling some trenchant opinions.
Martin and Michalek rank as two of my favorite signings of the summer. The duo add a completely different dimension to a Pittsburgh defense that could be better than the group that won the Stanley Cup two years ago.
Outside of them, here are my top five:
Probably right after the Flyers sign me to solve their decade-long goaltending woes.
Ryan's not going anywhere. There isn't an offer the Ducks won't match, and opposing GMs understand. Even the Hawks, a team battling to stay under the cap, managed to match an over-value deal for a player they wanted to keep (
Look, when the adjective most commonly associated with a player is "enigmatic," it's probably best to put your head between your knees and prepare for a rough landing. No one denies that Kostitsyn has the talent to be a productive second-line forward in the NHL. He has the skill set to chip in 20 goals and 60 points if he puts his mind to it. But what evidence is there that he will?
Some will point to his no-risk contract (one year, $550,000). If he was in it for the fat stacks, he could have piled up a lot more rubles in the KHL, so maybe he's serious about getting his head right. And I've learned never to underestimate what
Hey, I like the signing. A team that needed an offensive injection at a bargain price took a chance and slapped a sweater on a player who fits the bill. But the best predictor of future behavior is past action...and we've all seen plenty of Kostitsyn's selfish, mercurial play. If I had to bet, I'd put money on him wearing a different jersey after the end of this deal.
The jury's still out on Turris, but it's a little goofy to think about giving up on a player taken in the first round just three years ago. If there was a mistake made here it was probably in encouraging Turris to leave the University of Wisconsin after just one mediocre season more than drafting him third overall.
Back then, Turris was coveted for his world-class vision and hockey sense, but he was built like one of the Olsen twins. He was rushed because the financially struggling Coyotes needed their marquee prospect to help sell tickets, but it quickly became apparent that Turris lacked the physical maturity to play in the NHL. His confidence suffered, and he needed all of last season to retrench in the minors. He's "bulked up" over that time to 6-1, 185 -- far from a bruiser, but not far off the playing weight of skill centers like
The timing couldn't be better for the Yotes. After
The scouts I spoke with were mixed on his readiness ("He needs to prove something at the next level," said one; "He could use another year to develop," said another), but the chance is there. I expect him to stick.
I think we're more likely to see the shootout implemented in the postseason than have it become a relic of the regular season...and no, I don't expect any playoff games to go to the skills contest any time soon.
Fair to say that anti-shootout sentiment is getting a lot of press lately. It's hard not to notice when high-profile types like Hitchcock or his former boss in Columbus,
But here's the reality that will end the debate for the foreseeable future: the shootout is one of the most compelling marketing elements the game has working in its favor. It may not represent the best that hockey has to offer, but it's a tremendous hook for the casual fan with its display of skill and it creates tremendous highlights for the late-night sports shows that cater to the generic sports fan. And like it or not, the league is reaching out to that group.
Look, I consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to most aspects of the game, but I'll count myself among the strongest supporters of the shootout. If it were up to me, I'd bump it up to five shooters and adopt the international policy that allows players to take multiple attempts (the better to showcase the superstars that fans want to see). So if you're looking for support as a shootout abolitionist, you're barking to the wrong writer.
Now, if you want to talk about getting rid of the loser point, you've got my ear...