With free agency a day away, there were a couple of notable players placed on waivers for buyouts who will become free agents. There was also a trade made involving a goalie.
Topping the list is Alex Semin. The enigmatic Russian had three years remaining and $21 million. After a disastrous season that saw him score only six goals with 13 assists in 57 games, he’ll hit the market tomorrow. A skilled player who possesses a deadly right shot, he should draw interest from teams looking to catch lightning in a bottle. He’s 31 and in the right situation could still perform.
Do the Rangers have interest in a talented headcase for a year at say $3 million? I used to like Semin but wonder how serious he is about staying in the NHL. He could return home to the KHL. Some have suggested taking a flyer and trying him with Kevin Hayes and newly acquired Emerson Etem on the third line. A line weakened by Glen Sather dealing away reliable checking forward Carl Hagelin to Anaheim for Etem and pick 41 where they selected Ryan Gropp. They need a upgrade but I’d prefer Joel Ward. He might be out of their price range.
Semin would probably be a better fit for the Penguins. He can slot in with countryman Evgeni Malkin. The Islanders also could be an option. But would Garth Snow want to mess with team chemistry? He also could bring back Brad Boyes who also was waived and will be bought out by the Panthers. The 33-year old is owed $2.5 million for 2015-16. Unlike Semin, he was okay tallying 14 goals and 24 helpers in 78 games. Still a serviceable player, Boyes will wind up somewhere in a secondary role on the power play.
In other news, the Bruins dealt goalie Martin Jones to the Sharks for a 2016 first round pick and forward Sean Kuraly. A former San Jose 2011 fifth round pick who spent the last three seasons playing for Miami University of Ohio. Unlike the deals they made at the Draft in which they gave away Dougie Hamilton and moved Milan Lucic, this one makes sense. When they acquired Jones from the Kings as part of the Lucic deal, he wasn’t going to be retained with Tuukka Rask one of the league’s best netminders. And LA was never trading Jones to bitter rival San Jose. Boston got a first round pick. Good value for a unproven goalie. A lot better than what Sather got for Cam Talbot. You have to wonder what Sather was thinking.
It’s been a rough start for new Bruins GM Don Sweeney who left himself open to criticism for trading Hamilton to the Flames for three draft picks and went off the board for picks 13, 14 and 15. In another perplexing move, he acquired Flyers pest Zac Rinaldo Monday for a 2017 third round pick. How is a one-dimensional tough guy worth that? Rinaldo is signed thru 2016-17 earning $850,000 per year. Sweeney insists that they’re not rebuilding. This is the same franchise that gave up on Tyler Seguin and have declining winger Loui Eriksson entering his final year making $4.5 million. Reilly Smith is signed thru 2016-17. Joe Morrow has played in 15 NHL games scoring one goal. He better crack their blueline.
Lidstrom and Fedorov headline Class Of 2015: As expected yesterday, a pair of former Red Wings headlined the 2015 Hockey Hall Of Fame class. Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov will be inducted in Toronto along with Chris Pronger. Those three were easy selections even with Pronger becoming the first active NHL player to make it due to his salary on long-term injured reserve. The Coyotes acquired him from the Flyers to get to the cap floor.
Joining them is American Phil Housley. The former All-Star defenseman was a big scorer for the Sabres and Jets totaling 338 goals and 894 assists for 1,232 points with eight different teams including the Flames, Blues, Devils, Capitals, Blackhawks and Maple Leafs. He had two stints with Calgary. The 1,232 points rank second all-time among American born players trailing only Hall Of Famer Mike Modano. Housley was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2004.
The 51-year old from St. Paul Minnesota was drafted by the Sabres sixth overall in 1982. Playing as a 18-year old who turned 19 during the ’82-83 season, he registered 19 goals and 47 assists for 66 points making the All-Rookie Team. He spent eight seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Winnipeg in a blockbuster deal for Dale Hawerchuk. Also part of the deal were draft picks with the teams swapping first round picks in the 1990 Draft with the Jets winding up with Keith Tkachuk at number 19 while the Sabres took Brad May with number 14.
Housley holds the record for most games played (1,495) without winning a Stanley Cup. The closest he came was with the Caps in 1998 when they were swept by the Red Wings with Fedorov and Lidstrom starring for Detroit.
Angela Ruggiero, Peter Karmanos and Bill Hay also were elected. Ruggiero had a notable career with Team USA winning Olympic gold in 1998 along with two silver medals and a bronze. She represented American women’s hockey at four Olympics. She also was a big part of four world championship teams that won gold.
Karmanos is the owner of the former Whalers relocating them to Carolina. He makes it in the builder category for being involved in hockey for over four decades including the Compuware youth hockey program. He also brought junior hockey to the U.S. when he bought the Plymouth Whalers.
Hay also joins the Class of 2015. The first NCAA graduate to play in the NHL debuting with the Blackhawks in 1960, he served as president and chief operator of Hockey Canada while also being chairman. He had a similar role with Calgary.
Bob McKenzie finally gets recognized for excellence in hockey journalism with the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award. The radio voice of the Kings, Nick Nilson joins them as the winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in the broadcast category. The induction ceremony is November 9 in Toronto.
Omissions included Eric Lindros and Mark Recchi. For a sixth straight year, voters overlooked Lindros who was easily one of the most dominant power forwards in the 90’s. The controversial former center totaled 732 points in 558 games during his first eight seasons with the Flyers and Rangers averaging a whopping 1.31 points-per-game. The 1994-95 Hart and Lester B. Pearson winner will have to wait another year.
Lindros finished with 865 points (372-493-865) in 760 games. Concussions and injuries cut his career short. The Big E retired at age 34 after tallying 26 points in 49 games with the Stars. Of course, I wonder if his forcing a trade from Quebec after being selected number one overall in 1991 has anything to do with being left out. There’s no question he rubbed people the wrong way. Especially French Canadians.
His Flyers career was basically ran by parents Carl and Bonnie. Lindros’ divorce with former Flyers architect Bobby Clarke was ugly. He was traded with a conditional 2003 third round pick to the Rangers on August 20, 2001 for Pavel Brendl, Jan Hlavac, Kim Johnsson and a third round pick in 2003. When healthy, Lindros was very good for the Rangers posting 73 points (37-36-73) in 72 games in ’01-02. He went 19-34-53 in a career best 81 games in ’02-03. Injuries limited him to 39 games in Year 3 where he tallied 10 goals and 22 helpers. It’s a shame that he was never healthy. There’s no telling what he could’ve done.
Also working against Lindros is his postseason career. He’s over a point-per-game with 57 points (24-33-57) in 53 games. But didn’t play enough only playing in three full playoffs all with the Flyers. Everyone remembers his return from a concussion against the Devils in 2000 when he scored the Flyers’ only goal in a Game 6 loss and then got belted by Scott Stevens in Game 7 costing him the entire ’00-01 season. Given what medical staff now knows about head injuries, the Flyers mishandled his recovery. The unfair label of “soft” has been attached to Lindros by uneducated fans who have no clue what they’re talking about. There was nothing soft about his game. Hopefully, he’ll get recognized soon and join Cam Neely and the player (Peter Forsberg) he was traded for.
As for Recchi, his career totals are worthy of inclusion. He’s only been retired since 2011. A two-time Stanley Cup winner (Pittsburgh ’91, Carolina ’06), Recchi finished with 577 goals and 956 assists for 1,533 points with the Pens, Flyers, Canadiens, Canes, Thrashers, Lightning and Bruins. He spent a great portion of his career in Pennsylvania where he was a member of the Pens three different times and the Flyers twice. That included deep runs with Philly appearing in the Conference Finals in 2000 and 2004. At the beginning of his career, he had 34 points (10-24-34) in 1991 for the Cup champion Pens. He was traded for Rick Tocchet the following season in a deal that also netted Pittsburgh defenseman Kjell Samuelsson.
In another blockbuster, Recchi was dealt with a third round pick to the Canadiens in 1995 for John LeClair, Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne. One of the best trades the Flyers ever made. LeClair teamed up with Lindros and Mikael Renberg to form the Legion Of Doom while Desjardins became a fixture as the anchor of the Flyers blueline. Ironically, Philadelphia reacquired Recchi in 1999 for Dainius Zubrus and a second round pick (Matt Carkner).
Recchi had a distinguished postseason career registering 61 goals and 86 assists for 147 points in 189 games. Fifteen years after winning with the Pens, he won a second Cup in Carolina tallying seven goals and nine assists after coming over from Pittsburgh in a deadline deal that helped the Canes win their only championship.
I hope Recchi and Lindros get inducted in the same year. Their careers intertwined with each playing together and then Recchi netting LeClair before returning. It would be fitting. The question is when will Lindros’ name get called.