Rangers sign former Blackhawks’ first round pick Kevin Hayes

Kevin Hayes is the newest Blueshirt with the former Blackhawks' pick signing an entry level deal today.  committedindians.com

Kevin Hayes is the newest Blueshirt with the former Blackhawks’ pick signing an entry level deal today.
committedindians.com

The Rangers agreed to terms with rookie free agent Kevin Hayes. The former Blackhawks’ 2010 first round pick opted not to sign with the club who took him. The deadline expired last Friday allowing Hayes to become unrestricted. Less than a week later, he chose New York over rumored suitors Boston, Calgary and Colorado.

At 22, the younger brother of current Panther Jimmy Hayes is coming off a breakout year with Boston College. After putting up decent numbers his sophomore and junior seasons, he erupted for 27 goals, 38 assists and 65 points, which ranked second best to linemate Johnny Gaudreau, who won the Hobey Baker. Listed at 6-3, 205 pounds, the left-handed shooting forward combines size and speed with the ability to finish. However, prior to his senior year he only totaled 17 goals. Is he a late bloomer or the beneficiary of being surrounded by great talent? Hayes played with Gaudreau and Bill Arnold, who like Johnny Hockey is a Flames prospect. A Calgary fourth round pick in 2010, Arnold was more consistent during his collegiate career hitting double digits in goals every year and posting at least 35 or more points his final three years at BC. That included his best output of 14 goals and 39 assists totaling 53 points in ’13-14.

It’s curious as to why Chicago didn’t sign Hayes prior to the Aug. 15 deadline. Editor’s Note: Correction. It was actually Hayes who refused to sign with a team that’s won two of the last 5 Stanley Cups. According to a post from Black & Blueshirts blogger Melissa Andus, Hayes had “character issues” which included a suspension during his junior year stemming from an incident at a BC dorm. The details are well known and cringe worthy. According to Andus’ sources, that wasn’t the only issue. Anytime a player of this nature becomes available, you have to think character comes into play. Especially with it involving one of the NHL’s premier franchises. Of course, the Hawks boast better prospects including highly rated Teuvo Teravainen and former 2013 first round pick Ryan Hartman.

None of this means Hayes won’t have a successful NHL career. It all depends on him. Like Ranger prospects Ryan Bourque, Jesper Fast, Ryan Haggerty, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg and J.T. Miller, he’ll get the chance to compete in training camp for a spot. Competition comes from Matt Lombardi and Chris Mueller. When it comes to young players, never assume anything. I’m excited for Hayes but at the same time guarded. That comes from understanding development. Don’t assume he just blows everyone away and jumps right into the NHL. Remember Chris Kreider as exhibit A. While he had a dream run in the 2012 playoffs, he didn’t become a full-time regular until after Alain Vigneault sent him down to Hartford following a disappointing preseason. It had zilch to do with John Tortorella. Only once Vigneault liked what he saw did Kreider stay and fully develop.

You can’t rush prospects. I prefer to see the Rangers do it the way Detroit does. They are patient and give kids a taste before sending them back down for more development. No wonder Gustav Nyqvist looks like the next sensation followed by Tomas Tatar. Everyone’s already projecting Anthony Mantha following a monster year in the QMJHL that saw him score 57 goals and 120 points in 57 games. But he’s only 19. Coincidentally the same age as Rangers’ 2013 third rounder Anthony Duclair, who had a similar breakout in the same league notching 50 goals and 99 points in 59 games. Duclair turns 19 on Aug. 26. Already you’re seeing other Rangers bloggers tout him. Be careful. Duclair should also be part of Traverse City and training camp. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. I’ll echo the same for Hayes.

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Islanders sold to Ledecky and Malkin

Yesterday, the Islanders sold a minority stake of the team to former Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and investor Scott Malkin. No terms were announced. Current owner Charles Wang retained a majority for the next two years. Once it’s up, the partnership of Ledecky and Malkin will take over ownership. The deal must still get approved by the NHL board of governors in September. They also meet again in December.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL,” Ledecky said in a statement Tuesday.

 

“I’m thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Wang said. “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

Wang became a part-owner of the franchise with partner Sanjay Kumar in 2000. The co-founder and CEO of Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA Technologies) bought out Kumar’s investment share in 2004 to become majority owner. Since the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the Islanders have struggled only qualifying for the playoffs twice. Their last appearance was during the abbreviated 2012-13 season when a John Tavares-led team pushed the Penguins to six games before getting eliminated in the first round. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to follow up that success finishing last in the Metropolitan Division with 79 points. 

Following the disappointment of his proposed Light House Project being voted down by Nassau County, Wang was able to keep the team in New York by reaching agreement for the franchise to move to Brooklyn and play at Barclays Center in 2015. The Islanders’ lease with Nassau Coliseum expires following the upcoming season. Amazingly, it will be the final one at the only arena they’ve known since entering the NHL in 1972. It promises to be an emotional year for Long Island.

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Del Zotto signs with Flyers

Mike Del Zotto and Carl Hagelin celebrate his first goal of the season. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Mike Del Zotto and Carl Hagelin celebrate his first goal of the season.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Michael Del Zotto finally found a job. The former Rangers defenseman signed with the Flyers for a year worth a reported $1.3 million. After learning the news that Kimmo Timonen is being treated for blood clots home in Finland, Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall acted quickly inking Del Zotto.

At 24, Del Zotto is coming off a terrible season. After falling out of favor with Alain Vigneault, he was traded to the Predators for Kevin Klein. In 25 games with Nashville, he posted a goal and four assists. Del Zotto went 2-9-11 in 42 with the Rangers. Instead of qualifying him, Nashville allowed him to become unrestricted. Two years removed from a career best 10-goals and 41 points, he found himself in limbo.

The mystifying part is he’s a good puck moving, skating defenseman capable offensively. However, his inconsistency along with at times being challenged defensively got him in trouble. It’s not a question of whether he can contribute. Rather if he’s strong enough mentally to succeed.  Once viewed as a top four blueliner and power play quarterback, his stock plummeted. Now, he gets another chance in a tough market. Hopefully, it works out. I’d hate to see him become Flyer fans frequent booing target. They’re brutal.

At the very least, Del Zotto’s addition should spice things up when the Rangers and Flyers meet. Wait till he returns to MSG. That should be a treat. Just by him playing for an enemy rival, it makes the games a must watch.  Mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 19. Fittingly, Del Zotto and the Flyers pay a visit on Rivalry Night on NBCSN at 8 PM. The first meeting between the teams is followed by a home-and-home following Thanksgiving including a special 1 PM Saturday matinee at The Garden. The clubs only meet one more time on February 28 in Philly.

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Canadiens give Subban 8 Years, $72 million

A joyous P.K. Subban thanks David Desharnais and Brian Gionta for bailing him out.  AP Photo/Julio Cortez

A joyous P.K. Subban thanks David Desharnais and Brian Gionta for bailing him out.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

In the biggest news of the offseason, the Canadiens and P.K. Subban finally agreed on a new contract that’ll keep him in Montreal thru 2021-22. They reached agreement on an eight-year deal worth a reported $72 million. A day after it looked like the two sides had reached a stalemate with salary arbitration looming, TSN’s Bob McKenzie broke the story on Twitter.

The news quickly spread like wildfire causing celebrations from Habs fans. Many were concerned that Subban would wind up with a one-year arbitration reward Friday. Montreal had come in at $5.25 million while Subban requested $8.5 million. He probably would’ve gotten somewhere in the middle and would’ve been restricted again the following summer. There was plenty of panic in Montreal.

Instead, the 25-year old former Norris winner will remain a Canadien the next eight seasons. He didn’t come cheap garnering an average of $9 million per year. While it’s a big payday, Subban is worth it. One of the best defensemen in the sport, he’s expected to become the next Montreal captain. In 2013-14, Subban played in all 82 games posting 10 goals with a career best 43 assists and 53 points while adding five goals and nine helpers in the postseason.

Astonishingly, he goes from being one of the biggest bargains to one of the highest paid players. Subban concluded a multi-year deal that paid him an average of $2.875 million. At $9 million per season, he gets nearly double Ryan McDonagh, who’s signed for five more years at a cap friendly hit of $4.7 million. McDonagh’s the same age and outperformed Subban in the Conference Final. He torched his former team for 10 points while the Rangers held Subban to two. By signing the next captain last summer, Rangers GM Glen Sather comes out smelling like roses. He has one of the best blueliners on a great contract.

Loosely translated, locking up your best players before they command what Subban did is best for business. It’s why I was in favor of giving Derek Stepan what he wanted last year. Instead, he’ll get in upwards of $6 million by next summer. With mediocre talent getting overpaid, long-term contracts are the way to go. They’re good investments.

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Devils sign Greene to five year, $25 million extension

Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene will be wearing the red and white for the next six years

It’s been quite a while since the Devils have had a drama-free offseason with no big question marks looming over the future of the franchise given our recent ownership issues, along with the Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise fiascoes that overshadowed our last two summers.  After improving our scoring with the addition of Mike Cammalleri and others, along with re-signing goaltender Cory Schnieder to a seven-year extension earlier this month, GM Lou Lamoriello completed a hat trick of neccesary moves by the team this summer after announcing a long-term extension for defenseman Andy Greene earlier this afternoon.  Terms weren’t immediately disclosed but eventually it was leaked that the extension was for five years at $5 million per, a relative bargain considering what other UFA’s and RFA’s have been going for this offseason!

Clearly re-signing Andy was important on a lot of fronts.  Not the least of which is the fact the Devils only had one other defenseman under contract for next year – sophomore Jon Merrill on the last year of his ELC.  Locking up a guy who’s shockingly gone from being an UDFA to this team’s undisputed #1 defenseman over at least the last three seasons is obviously important from a talent aspect.  And obviously the Devils didn’t want the FA questions looming around Greene (or Schnieder) all season the way they were a distraction with Parise three years ago and Clarkson two years ago.  Even to a degree Martin Brodeur last year, and his public divorce from the Devils.  Almost as an afterthought at today’s conference call Lou admitted there was a ‘mutual understanding’ between him and Brodeur vis-a-vis what Marty wants:

“Marty and I have come to an agreement that is best for both himself and the organization, and there’s nothing negative about that,” Lamoriello said. “Marty knows what it is to be a No. 1 goalie and to have that feeling, and that’s what he wants. Cory feels the same way.

“I think it’s time to move forward, but never negate what Marty has brought [to the Devils], nor was the door ever shut. It was a mutual understanding of what was best for both parties. Marty will always be a Devil and the communication with him is still there, even recently.”

Certainly that last bit is true, given the fact no fewer than three of Brodeur’s sons were at the Devils’ recent rookie camp.

However, today’s mostly about Andy and looking forward.  While it was important for the team to lock Greene up long-term, it was refreshingly important for Andy to remain a Devil as well.  After being burned by any number of FA’s over the years, this is the second time Andy’s taken less money to remain since he turned down bigger-money offers in 2011 when he did get to FA, and clearly could have gotten more money next offseason given the FA stupidity of this offseason and just about every other offseason in the NHL.

“Having one more year left on my current deal, Lou and I sat down in our normal at the end of the year meeting and he just mentioned it briefly that it was something we’d be interested in and, obviously, that’s exactly what I wanted,” Greene said. “Like I said the last time I re-signed here (July 1, 2011), I came in as a Devil and I’m very fortunate to continue my career as a Devil.

While Greene’s extension doesn’t affect the Devils’ cap this year, going forward the team currently has nearly $46 million committed to twelve players for next year, but just six players signed beyond 2015-16 – center Travis Zajac, wingers Adam Henrique and Ryane Clowe, recent FA signing Cammalleri, as well as Greene/Schnieder.  With all of the younger defensemen that will be given an opportunity this season as well as those still in the pipeline, clearly the idea is to have a bunch of cheaper contracts on D while we spend to lock up our key players and improve the forward core.

Despite there still being questions about next year’s team – the age/injury history of most of our key players being chief among them – you can’t really argue against anything Lou’s done this offseason.  Clearly he did what he had to do in both improving the offense (as well as adding to our general forward depth) and locking up both our top defenseman and the goaltender we have so much of our future invested in.  At the moment, the only players that remain unsigned are RFA Eric Gelinas and UFA Ryan Carter, seemingly still in limbo waiting for something to happen.  With over a month to go before camp though, all of the dark clouds have seemingly dissapeared from the skies for the moment.

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UPDATE: Andy Greene gets 5 for $25 million

Updating the previous story, Andy Greene gets five years for $25 million. At an average cap hit of $5 million, it’s fair market value for the Devils’ top defenseman. I’m sure Hasan will have more reaction to Greene’s new deal.

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Devils sign Andy Greene to extension

Whole Lot Of Greene: The Devils announced that they've signed defenseman Andy Greene to a long-term contract.  zimbio.com

Whole Lot Of Greene: The Devils announced that they’ve signed defenseman Andy Greene to a long-term contract.
zimbio.com

The Devils have signed Andy Greene to a long-term contract. At a 4 PM conference call, Lou Lamoriello made the announcement. Terms were disclosed. The 31-year old defenseman was entering the final year and will earn $3.5 million this season. He posted a career high eight goals and added 24 assists for 32 points while playing all 82 games in ’13-14. Three of his eight markers came on the power play.

A smart puck moving defenseman who can play any situation, Greene would’ve hit the market next summer. Easily their best overall blueliner, it was imperative that the Devils retained him. He anchors the D and can be relied on to play important minutes. Greene led all Devil skaters with an average ice-time of 24:34 which tied with Paul Martin for 19th among NHL defensemen. Martin is probably a good comparable. Ironically, the former Devil plays a similar style and is probably the Pens’ best overall.

From InsideHockey’s Michelle Kenneth, Lamoriello emphasized Greene’s ability and leadership. Perhaps he’ll become the Devils’ next captain following Bryce Salvador. The vet is entering his final year. With Greene locked up, it makes sense.

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