Playoff loss to Flyers has motivated Penguins
Losing in the first round to your most hated rival is enough to not only blow smoke through your nostrils, but revise your organizational blueprint.
One source close to Mario Lemieux told me the Penguins' owner was not only “embarrassed” by the Pens' antics in that series, but “furious” that his team was bounced in the first round for the second straight season and vowed there would be significant upgrades.
Credit general manager Ray Shero for taking an aggressive approach, trading a low draft pick for the rights to goalie Tomas Vokoun, who essentially gives the Penguins two No. 1 netminders and insurance in the event Marc-Andre Fleury is injured.
Shero then pulled the trigger on the biggest draft-day trade, sending Jordan Staal to Carolina and adding younger talent. The source also feels strongly the Pens will be looking to move defenseman Paul Martin to free up another $5 million in cap space. That would be enough to sign both Zach Parise and
Ryan Suter to long-term contracts.
As Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio pointed out last week, I’m also starting to believe Pittsburgh will sign one, if not both star players. It has been rumored the two American-born players would like to be teammates, and Pittsburgh appears to be the most attractive option.
Prior to joining the Penguins, Shero was an assistant to David Poile in Nashville and I wouldn’t be surprised if Shero acquired the rights and consequently signed Suter in the day or two leading up to July 1. If that domino falls, Parise could follow once free agency opens. Duck out of luck
A league source confirmed to me the Flyers felt they had a firm deal for Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan in place, but Ducks GM Bob Murray attempted to squeeze out just a little more in an effort to tip the scales, whether it was a player or a high draft pick.
You have to wonder what strategy and direction Murray is employing in Anaheim. He has upset one of his young stars by revealing his intentions of listening to offers -- again -- and in an even more puzzling move he traded away veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to the New York Islanders for nothing more than a third-round pick.
It’s not as if the Ducks needed to clear cap space (they’re currently $30 million under), and why would you trade a veteran blue line presence during the off-season? What message does that send to the core group? If the Ducks start off disastrously (like last season), then it makes sense to part with Visnovsky, who’s in the final year of his contract, in exchange for a first- and/or second-round pick that could have been easily attained at the deadline.
Looking ahead, if Anaheim fails to attract a free agent defenseman in the coming weeks, I wouldn’t rule out that Ryan trade where the revised offer won’t include Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier. But right now it doesn’t appear likely."State" your case
I realize nobody talks about this when it comes to free-agent destinations, but it can’t be dismissed: state income tax. At a rate of 10.3 percent, California has the highest income tax of any state with a NHL team. Pennsylvania is on the low end at 3.07 percent. The state of Minnesota comes in at 7.85 percent.
So if you’re Parise and you sign (for comparison sake) a $60 million contract, he actually could be saving a couple of million over the life of the deal by electing to reside in the Keystone State as opposed to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Not to mention, who would you want as your next center: Sidney Crosby or Mikko Koivu? Keep this tidbit in mind with Anaheim’s Corey Perry, who’s entering the final year of his contract. He’s another player who has the ideal Philadelphia Flyer makeup.
The Flyers have two significant potential UFAs entering the final year of their contracts: Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. Both guys signed six-year contracts in 2007 when their rights were acquired from Nashville.
My guess is the Flyers will wait with Timonen until 2013 and see where he is health-wise. I would hate to see Timonen finish out his career somewhere else considering how instrumental he was in the franchise’s turnaround from the disastrous 2006-07 campaign.
Hartnell will be interesting. He’ll be 31 when his contract expires and possibly coming off the two most productive seasons of his career. When you see how Hartnell brings that rare combination of scoring ability and grit, he could easily command a five-year contract in the neighborhood of $25 million.The Toc is ticking
Now that the Washington Capitals have officially hired Adam Oates, you have to think he might look to former Flyer and current CSN analyst Rick Tocchet as one of his assistants.
Since he was relieved of his duties in April of 2010, Tocchet has maintained an interest in coaching but only for the right opportunity. Tocchet actually helped kickstart Oates’ coaching career during their time in Tampa, and he would be perfect directing a Capitals' power play that ranked 18th in the NHL last season.
On a personal level, Tocchet doesn’t want to stray too far away from his son Trevor, who resides in Pittsburgh, and Washington is a shorter drive to the Steel City than Philadelphia. I think Tocchet would have to seriously consider it, not just for his career, but in support of his good friend and former teammate. E-mail John Boruk at firstname.lastname@example.org