Sunday, January 31, 2010

What A Day For Toronto...

If you are a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, you better haeve a smile on your face.

The Leafs traded spare parts, all of which can be easily replaced, for two players who could play a big role in the Leafs turn around. And no, I'm not talking about Sjostrom and Aulie.

In the first deal, the Leafs acquire a top-two defenseman for a #3 center (stajan), a 4th line grinder (Mayers), a 2nd line winger (Hagman) and a underrated d-man (White). Hagman is the hardest to lose, a potential 30 goal scorer with speed. Mayers had no value, while Stajan was always over valued by the Toronto media. Finally, Ian White is tough to lose, but you're getting a much better defenseman in return and remember, White is an RFA who apparently wants 3.5 - 4 million next season.

In the second deal, the Leafs basically robbed a bank. Whether you like Giguere or not (I do), the fact that the Leafs moved Blakes contract makes them the winners. Giguere still has a few good years left in him, and with one year left on his deal, he makes perfect sense for Toronto. This gives the Leafs one more year to determine just how good the Monster is, while if Giggy performs well, holding onto him may not be so bad either.

So here is how I'd guess the Leafs line up, assuming everyone is healthy (even though a few of these guys are not)

Kulemin - Bozak - Kessel
Stalberg - Grabovski - Ponikarovsky
Sjostrom - Mitchell - Stempniak
Rosehill - Primeau - Orr

Extra: Wallin

Kaberle - Phaneuf
Beauchemin - Komisarek
Schenn - Gunnarsson

Extras: Exelby, Finger


Looking at that lineup, I honestly believe the Leafs are much better today than they were yesterday. With that said, the makeover is not over. I expect a d-man, such as Kaberle or possibly Schenn (who may be available with Phaneuf being brought in) to be moved for some offense and a pick. Poni, Stempniak and Exelby are also still being shopped around the league.

It's an exciting time to be a Leafs fan, and I cannot wait until March 4 when we get to see exactly how the Leafs line up.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kovalchuk To Kings a real possibility

If you haven't read this yet, please do!

So Kovalchuk is officially in play, and I can confirm this first hand as I was at the Kings/Leafs game tonight as a member of the media. Ten NHL scouts were at this game, including Mr. Bob Gainey himself, as well as representitives from the Flames and Rangers, among others.

The Thrashers asking price is too high for the Kings at the moment, but what do you expect? The Thrashers are going to start out by asking for as much as possible, and will ask for a little less starting at about 2 pm on March 3rd. With that said, don't be surprised if a team pays the maximum price in order to insure they get Kovalchuk.

While prior to tonight I would have told you that the Kings would be crazy to bring in Kovalchuk, this team is for real and has enough depth where losing a few prospects for Kovy wouldn't hurt them that bad.

What were some of the other scouts looking at? Talking to people tonight, the rumours are that the Habs were scouting LA, most likely Frolov. The Flames were scouting Toronto, I'm hearing they have significant interest in Hagman. The Rangers, well not totally sure about that one.

Sticking with the Rangers, they are looking for a veteran goalie to back up Lundqvist, and may look to their neighbours in the New York Islanders. Lundqvist is their guy, but if he were to ever get hurt, the team would go nowhere with the rookie goaltenders they've been calling up and down as of late. Biron isn't playing on the Island, and wouldn't play much with the Rangers, but one or two games is better than nothing.

I'm also hearing the Leafs are hoping to make two moves before the Olympic freeze. Ponikarovsky is all but assured to be gone, while I'm hearing both Ian White and Matt Stajan have been asked how much it would cost to keep them. If either answer was too high, Burke planned to move them. A few weeks ago I would have told you Ian White was untouchable, but I'm not so sure now, especially with Gunnarsson playing as well as he has.

While Gainey was for sure looking at the Kings, he may have some interest in dealing with Toronto. Not only was he at tonight's game, but he was at the Marlies game this past weekend. With that said, the Marlies were playing Montreal's AHL affiliate, the Bulldogs.

The Bruins continue to have an eye on Ray Whitney, who I think makes a lot of sense for this team. He would be a great role model for a lot of their young guys. Also, I know for a fact that Bruins intend to keep Toronto's first pick, but have no problem dealing their own pick if the right deal came along.

The Oilers lost again tonight, only a matter of time before they start shipping bodies out. Souray's given his list of teams he'd accept a trade to. San Jose, LA, Anaheim, Vancouver and Colorado were on it, among a few unknown others.

Finally, if Thomas Kaberle is available, count the Vancouver Canucks in.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Mailbag - Jan. 25

I took some questions tonight from some of our lovely readers. Enjoy!


NYfan1610 asks: Do you see Calgary moving Phaneuf? and who do you think will shit the bed and trade for a rental Kovalchuk?

I do see Calgary moving Phaneuf, because simply put they need to spread their talent around more evenly. This team has a world class goaltender and a strong as hell defense, but their depth at forward just isn’t there, and Phaneuf is the best chip they have to play. The Flames D will be just fine with Jay-Bo and crew, and Phaneuf will benefit by playing on a new team. Expect the Flames to get a top centre in return.

As far as Kovalchuk goes, I’ve talked to some people in the know and they believe Kovalchuk wants to remain a thrasher. I’m told the amount is settled on, it’s all about term. If he does get moved, the Bruins and the Caps are the two teams with the most to offer at the moment. While you are hearing a lot from Eklund and other insiders about the Kings being the frontrunners, I don’t think the Kings are close enough to spend picks and prospects for a rental player.

chickenman92 asks: what do you see the canucks doing at the deadline? who might they get and what will they give up?

The Canucks are looking for two things: some grit, in the form of a third line winger, and a top pairing d-man. David Backes has been a guy whose name has floated around as far as Vancouver is concerned, but I really don’t see St. Louis trading this kid, especially to a Western foe. As for the top pairing d-man, Souray would fit if they could figure out how to fit him under the cap, while Toronto’s Kaberle would also work, if they could convince him to waive his NTC to come west.

sethmandel asks: Who do you see as the Leafs' goaltending tandem next season?

The Leafs didn’t work so hard to get Gustavsson for him to be a one-and-done player, so he’ll be part of Toronto’s duo next season. If the Leafs are not comfortable with him being #1 guy, I think Burke will turn his attention to Hiller, who will be a UFA on July 1st. If The Monster has a stellar final 20 games and proves he’s a #1 goalie, then he’ll look for a cheaper back up, Marty Biron may fit that roll.

Thor040 asks: you think the Islanders may be making a trade move next month???

They sure will. Biron will go to a contender to give them some insurance, but they won’t get a whole lot for him. With that said, a late draft pick always has potential, and they’ll take what they can for their third-string goalie. I think the Islanders will also look to add to their back-end, and will go for a young defenseman who can help them this season and beyond. Maybe they can trade one of their young forwards (which they seem to have tons of) to LA for Jack Johnson?

Sniper asks: Is Vinny being shopped and if so what teams do you think he would waive his NTC too?

Nobody seems to know for sure if Lecavalier is available or not. Some people swear he is, while others swear the opposite. I still think he’d look great beside Iggy in Calgary, but in the end, I think his contract is just too massive for Tampa Bay to trade away. I think there will be a few teams that inquire about him, the Islanders could be one, but so many things would have to go right (he’d have to waive, the team would have to have the cap space, and the offer would have to blow TB away) for any deal to happen. It’s just not likely.

latinoiler asks: who do you think the #oilers will trade at deadline? And what can we expect as a return?ar
The oilers are in quite the mess, and it wont be easy to get out of. I expect they’ll find someone to take Souray, but even that won’t be easy. The Oilers may have no choice but to trade one or two of their big RFAs, like Cogliano or Gagner, in order to move some of their more expensive veteran players. As for return, the Oilers are going full rebuild, so expect picks and prospects who still have one or two years term left on their entry deals.

4sprtsonly asks: what are the chances of the leafs trading kaberle and what kind of return do they get? Hearing any rumours?

The Leafs absolutely have to trade Kaberle, but at this point I’d say it’s only 50/50. Both Burke and Kaberle are saying that Kaberle is staying put, and unless one of the sides flinches, Kaberle could very well remain a Leaf past the deadline (though you have to think Burke would move him at the draft, like he tried to do last year). If Kaberle does get moved, the return would be significant. Pronger went for two firsts, a roster player and a prospect last year, though I doubt you’ll see Kaberle get as much. I said a few weeks ago that Jeff Carter and a 1st would never be offered for Kaberle again, but now I’m not so convinced. I think an established forward and a first rounder is probably the asking price, though I think Burke would settle for a top-line forward in exchange for his top-line d-man.

PhilipTolton asks: what do you think Ray Whitney will go for?
Logic tells me a 2nd round draft pick, but then I remember last year’s deadline where players that I thought were worth 2nds were getting traded for fourths. I’m going to go in the middle and say a third round pick, or maybe a third and a fifth. Unfortunatly for the Canes, there are a lot of similar players available who are better than Whitney, like Ponikarovksy in Toronto or possibly Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne. The second rounders or decent prospects will be saved for those guys.

Sniper asks: Are the ducks shoppping Bobby Ryan or are they going to keep on trying to sign him and if they still can't resign him wait till summer to trade him?

The Ducks are not likely to move Bobby Ryan at the deadline, but could move him at the draft. Contract talks with the young winger have gone nowhere, and it appears that Ryan has no interest in remaining with the Ducks long-term. With that said, the Ducks are hoping he’ll have a change of heart, as they want him to be part of their long-term plans. The money won’t be an issue, as Koivu, Nidermayer and Selanne could all be off the books by the trade deadline.

Team Canada Fan asks: What are the chances of Frolov being moved? Would the Stars trade a forward in a package with Turco?

Frolov is a UFA at the end of the season, which makes him a prime candidate to be traded. With that said, the Kings think they can do well in the playoffs and could hold on to him. I wonder if they don’t trade him to a contender in the east for a player that could help them now as well. Maybe a deal with Boston for one of their young forwards, just to shake things up?

As far as Dallas goes, Turco’s value isn’t that high, especially with him being a UFA at seasons end. Sources tell me the Stars have no interest in re-signing him, and are looking to pick up a young goalie. Target #1 – Halak. Could Turco be packaged with a player to up the return? Maybe, but when you start combining Turco with someone else, you are talking about a lot of salary, making that almost impossible to pull off. A lot of people are also speculating on the Stars trading Brad Richards. I can tell you right now, that’s not happening.

To have your questions answered anytime, send me a message on twitter ( or fire me an email at

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Site Launched!

Well the latest version of has launched, and while it may look the same sort of (new colours, links, features), it is much more user friendly and social-network inviting. Now right from you can access our twitter, the latest columns, news and rumours! Our columns have been very successful, with at least one new one being posted every day. Rumours are rolling in as well, so make sure to bookmark and make it your one stop shop for Hockey.

Today's rumours include a pair of leafs on the trading block, a possible deal that would send Kovalchuk to Washington, and the very latest on the New Jersey Devils.

Two new columns up today, here is one from Edgar Arce! Make sure to check for all the latest from the hockey world.

- Corey


The comeback
Edgar Arce
The rare 4 on 3

There is nothing in sports like a big comeback. How many times have you been watching a game and your home team fall behind, until there’s that point of no return? It’s that point where you say to yourself, “it’s over, they’re not going to win.” Ah, yes, that ugly taste of reality sets in, and then you even start picking apart your team. “If we only got rid of so and so, and picked up what’s his name at the deadline we would be winning right now.” I’ve been there many times; it’s the unenviable task of being a fan. If you are at home watching on television, you start channel surfing, when just a moment a go you’d yell at someone for merely walking in front of the television, ordering them to get out of the way. As soon as your team gets to that ugly point though, you now show your protest by declaring to anyone in the room, “go ahead and change it, it’s over.”

If you are sitting at the event live, you’re a bit more attached to what is happening because you paid good money to see the game. So walking out is not the first thing that happens. Usually, one starts looking around noticing other things that didn’t matter to you before like advertisements, or reading the game guide that is handed to you at the door. As the home team falls further behind, you start getting up and walking around, thinking in some odd ball sort of way, this action will change the tide of the game. It is as if, the less attention one pays to the game, the players are then able to concentrate more, and elevate their game. If it gets really bad though, then you make up your mind and pick a certain time on the clock to leave. Sometimes, it’s the 10 minute mark, other times it could be the 5 minute mark. It always depends on how badly the team is losing. Once you’ve picked the time and it arrives, you start the walk. While walking people will air their grievances, proclaiming “I can’t sit there and watch this any longer,” or “I’m not going to give this team my money unless they turn things around,” or sometimes it’s simply, “it’s not going to happen tonight.” All the while, as you start surfing the channels, or making your way to the car, there’s this little something in the back of a person’s brain called hope. As much as you’ve convinced yourself of the fact that the home team is not going to win, there is this belief, that one’s actions are somehow influencing the state of the universe.

And then it happens.

The familiar sound of a goal being scored, or the sound of fireworks shot, only when the home team scores, or the roar of the crowd cheering. You know what you’ve just heard, and know what it signifies, but still can’t believe it. This is when the phrase “they scored” enters your thought process and as you digest it for a moment, you try to reason with what just happened. You say to yourself, “It’s only one; they need one more if they want to go to overtime.” Now you begin to walk a little faster to your car to get to the radio, or grab the remote from person watching The Simpsons, and say out loud “why couldn’t they to this from the start!”

Then suddenly the team scores again! The score is tied and sent into overtime, and now the team has made it back into your good graces! And whether it’s a preseason, regular, or worse a playoff game, it’s huge. The home team scores once more to win the game, as the crowd cheers loudly, and the team falls all over each other, into a large pile of bodies. Finally at that point, you crack a smile, pump your fist into the air, or clap your hands once, as you say out loud, “I just knew they would come back!”

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Randys Rumblings - Jan. 23

The Woes of the Alberta Fans

The worst place in hockey has to be Alberta, Canada. The Oilers have so many injuries they have a party for every game that they don't have any injuries, but the problem is they have had not had any parties yet. Losing Khabby for the season is pretty much the last straw. Think about all the injuries; I mean, losing Hemsky was a killer. Of course, that is no consolation to the Edmonton Fans. When does the “start selling” mode kick in? I real feel bad for the Oilers fans, they deserve better and would of gotten better without the injuries.

There is word that Sheldon Souray is apparently asking to leave Edmonton and has waived his no trade clause to help the Oilers out. He should be able to really get a good package for the Oil with prospects and picks and maybe a good premium young player. Is he alone or could Staios, or Moreau be following with a trade? The Oilers have plenty of tools to rebuild. I can see a lot positives in Edmonton.

Life in Calgary is not good right now, but it became even more frustrating as they played the company line, which is really ugly. Sorry, but the last thing the Calgary fans wanted was to hear we are going to work through this after a 9-1 drubbing by the Sharks. Please, we're going to work with this – what the heck are the Flames fans supposed to do with that? The Flames need to figure out what system is and simply do it.

Speaking of Daryl Sutter, he has been in the East. First he was in NJ and then in Philly this week. Two very good teams, who could use Dion very much. Let the rumours begin again (like they ever stopped). You really cannot blame Sutter for going shopping; he really has no choice.

Players and media not playing nice with each other in Philly; Flayers playing much
better of late

In Philly, Mike Richards is not playing nice with the media. Or is the media not being nice. The Flyers sure are playing well lately, aren’t they? Maybe the change in coaching might be the answer. Are you listening, Calgary? The Flyers seem to have gotten their act together, simply by finding a goalie off waivers in. Leighton has to be one of the stories of the year. He has been playing great since coming to Philly from the Caines. He is a terrific young goalie playing a great story. Philly is a very good team who have had a good run if they continue to play like they have lately. I expect the Flyers to get a hired gun.

How about Alfie in Ottawa? The real true leader as Sens begin to make hay

How about the Sens being totally different with Alfie? You have to realize how important he is to the team. He is their heart and soul. The Sens are playing with a purpose, like they want to win. A great job by the Ott. It looks good on them. The key point with the Senators is that they are playing like a team. Everyone knows their role.

Poll question: Which is the better line?

In Vancouver they might very well have the best line in the NHL. The Sedin Twins lined with Burrows, getting two hat-tricks in a row. That is 6 goals in two games – more goals that the Flames have scored in a week. The line is on a roll, so today the poll question: Is this Vancouver line the best in the NHL?

Or is it the Line with Marleau, Thorton, and Heatley? Marleau is leading the League in goals. They are on fire! Heater seems to be working well, and Magic Man Thorton makes it all work. So which line is better? Do we go with SJ, or is it the line in Van?

The Sharks are playing like the best team in the League. They are hitting on all cylinders, and have a terrific coach leading them. The thing about the Sharks is that every player knows their role and they do it well. I like the way the Sharks are playing right now.

Until next week, take care.



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Friday, January 22, 2010

Two Minutes for Instigating - Jan. 22

Two Minutes for Instigating
CoreY Johnson
Jan. 22/2010

Road Warriors, Part Deux

I'll start by trying to help out the Dallas Stars. Last week I called out the Ottawa Senators for being terrible on the road, and boy have they really turned things around. Dallas goes into Edmonton tonight having lost their last eight on the road. Here's guessing they will end that streak, as they're playing the Oilers, whose only win in their last sixteen was against the Leafs.

Sticking with Dallas...

Sources tell me that Turco is as good as done in the lone star state. Auld isn't the answer, so look for the Stars to go out and snap up a goalie between now and the start of next season. If the Stars could grab a goalie in the meantime, likely from the East, they may be willing to move Turco before the deadline. Players they apparently have their eye on include Halak, Rask (who I'm told isn't going anywhere) and Theodore.

...and then back to Edmonton

Souray to the Kings is really picking up speed, though I really don't think he will make them that much better. I think Souray will be moved, but the Oilers may need some help from him, as moving him to a west-coast team is going to be very difficult. I am hearing the Oilers may try to package Souray with a guy like Brule or Cogliano to him an easier move.

Kovy staying put?

I've said all along that Kovalchuk would be gone from Atlanta by the deadline, and Bobby Mac at TSN is saying the same thing his blog today. However, one very good source tells me that Kovalchuk is happy in Atlanta, his family is happy in Atlanta, and with his third child on the way, he'd have no problem staying put in Atlanta. Apparently the money isn't the issue, it's the term. Atlanta isn't willing to go as long as he wants right now, but don't be surprised if the two teams come to an agreement before March 3.

More Phaneuf

If anyone out there believes that Phaneuf isn't on the market, they're an idiot. Phaneuf is being shopping and a couple of Eastern teams are watching him closely. New Jersey is one team who has really stepped up their game as far as Phaneuf is concerned, while it sounds like an unexpected team has joined the mix: Buffalo.

Carter on the block?

Jeff Carter is back on the trading block, something I would never have guessed after he exploded offensively last season. Calgary is a team that makes a lot of sense if they can move Phanuef (I've been told the Flyers dont have interest in the young d-man). Don't be surprised if the Kaberle for Carter from two seasons ago resumes.

The latest on Sykora

Sounds like Atlanta may acquire Sykora sometime in the next week, but if that falls through, don't be shocked to see the Penguins bring him back.

Running out of lives...

Ken Hitchcock may have survived being fired about eight times this season, but sources tell me he could be on his last life. Wouldn't be shocked to see John Stevens replace him.

Gainey's last chance

Finally, expect Bob Gainey to be very active as we head towards the trade deadline. His contract is up at the end of the season and unless he turns things around fast, he won't be back..

Two Minutes for Instigating appears every Friday at If you'd like to comment on the content of this column, or are interested in bringing the column to your site, please contact Corey at

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lecavalier for Phaneuf?

What a blockbuster that would be, right? I brought it up a few weeks ago, though I think it's too big of a deal to happen.

Phaneuf has been awful, and it's absolutely clear that he needs a change of scenery. There is no shortage of teams who would love to add Phaneuf to their roster, despite his recent struggles.

As for Lecavalier, he's harder to move due to his NTC, his close to $8 million per season salary, and the length of this current contract, which will be with him until he retires.

We've all seen the New York Rangers / Tampa rumour, that says the Rangers would send overpaid d-man Wade Redden, Matt Gilroy, who I believe has unlimited potential, and either Callahan or Dubinsky for Lecavalier. The Bolts would gain some much needed depth, while the Rangers would have their biggest name since they had Jagr a couple of years ago. Yes, they have Gaborik, but I'm still not convinced he can stay healthy for a full season.

I do like this deal for both sides, minus New York taking Redden, but with Lecavalier making so much, it'd be hard for any deal to happen without Tampa Bay taking considerable salary back.

So where could either of these big-name players end up?

I'll start with Phaneuf, and a couple of interesting scenarios. First, what about Kovalchuk to Calgary for Phaneuf. I'm not sure if either side would have to include more, it's really tough to call. Kovalchuk's the better player, but Phaneuf is signed long term.

What about Phaneuf to Toronto? Luke Schenn would fit much better as a fourth or fifth defenseman in Calgary, while Phaneuf would look pretty good in the top Toronto pairing. The question is, how much on top of Schenn would Calgary want from Toronto? The Leafs only have so much future to give up. Getting Phaneuf would make dealing Kaberle in the off-season a lot easier.

Finally, Phaneuf to Dallas would make a lot of sense. The Stars have no offensive presence on the blueline, and are shopping hard for a top-pairing d-man. The Stars have a ton of good, young forwards to shop, and giving one up wouldn't hurt them too much, especially with Brad Richards stepping up like he has.

Flip over to Lecavalier, who's inflated Salary makes him almost impossible to deal. The Montreal rumours are officially dead, as Montreal has no cap room to work with, and won't for a very long time.

The Islanders are another team I would keep an eye on, if Lecavalier didnt have a NTC. Him and Tavares would be a great 1-2, while the Islanders actually have the young forwards to fill out a proper top-two lines, something Tampa Bay currently doesn't.

One source mentioned to me a few days ago that he wouldn't be surprised if Columbus went after Vinny. While I don't think it would be a good fit, a Rick Nash - Vinny Lecavalier combination could be lethal. However, like the Islanders, I don't see Vinny waiving to spend the next ten years in Ohio.

So in closing, Phaneuf I feel will be on the move in the next six months, while Lecavalier will likely spend at least another year in Tampa Bay. However, is a Phaneuf - Lecavalier trade that far fetched? Iginla - Vinny has potential, while Phaneuf - Hedman could be one of the most feared defense combos for years to come.

One thing is for sure, heading into the 2010 Trade Deadline, more of this interesting scenarios are sure to pop up.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two Minutes For Instigating - Jan. 15

Quick note: while I am hopeful the new site will be up this weekend, I'm not yet pleased with it and it may be pushed back until sometime next week. Fingers still crossed for this weekend though.

Two Minutes for Instigating
Jan. 15
Corey Johnson

Road Warriors?

The Ottawa Senators have been anything but Road Warriors this season. 7-13-1 isn't good enough for a team looking to make the playoffs. Before anyone jumps on the Mike Brodeur (who is actually not related to Brodeur in any way, despite those who say otherwise) bandwagon, his performance last night was 99 percent a fluke. I expect the Habs to beat up on the Sens tomorrow night.

Migrating Ducks

It appears as though Scott Niedermayer is staying put, but that doesn't mean other Ducks won't be on the move. If healthy, and that could be a big if, it appears Selanne could be on his way out. I'm hearing he'll stay in the West, where Colorado, San Jose and Detroit are the three options. Bobby Ryan is still nowhere close to a new contract with the team, but he won't be moved until the offseason (draft or beyond), if at all (which is my prediction). The Ducks would love to move Saku Koivu and J.S. Giguere as well, but the market just isn't there at this point, especially for the french goalie.

No-No for BMO

While outside the Leafs dressing room last night, Toronto Sun reporter Mike Zeisberger had a nice discussion with Richard Peddie about the winter classic coming to Toronto. Peddie said that the Rogers Centre isn't an option because they can't open the roof in the winter, while basically admitting that the NHL has no interest in bringing the Classic to BMO field. Peddie said the team wasn't looking to do something "that big", but felt the NHL would one-day be open to BMO. I'm thinking it would take a pretty big expansion for that to ever happen.

Force the Waive

Staying with the Leafs, despite what Burke said yesterday, he has to force Kaberle to waive his no trade claus. Kaberle is having one of his best season's ever on possibly the worst team he's ever played on. The Leafs could easily get a first rounder + back for him, which would soften the blow of trading two for Kessel. With White, Beauchemin and Gunnarsson's improved play, losing Kaberle wouldn't hurt the team, while the return they got for him would certainly help, whether down the road if they kept the pick, or sooner if they flipped the pick for another young player to play with Kessel (though Bozak and Kulemin look at home right now beside him).

Kovy and Ovie to KHL?

The NHL cannot afford to lose either of these superstars to the KHL, but the rumours of each recieving $20 million offers to bolt to Russia next year cannot be ignored. As far as Kovalchuk goes, there's still a chance he stays in Atlanta, but I stick to my opinion that the Thrashers need to move him. He's too valuable as a trade asset to hold to, especially when it'll cost a cash-strapped franchise $10 mil a year to do so. Count the New York Islanders and LA Kings out of these talks, it simply isn't happening.

Ward next in line

For what it's worth, I spoke to someone in the NHL about Cam Ward and I was assured that if any of Canada's three Olympic goalie's go down to injury before Vancouver, Ward will be the first to get the call. Ward's a good goalie playing on a bad team, but he's been a big part of them turning their game around over the past five to eight games.

Oil Leak

The Edmonton Oilers are in the worst shape of any NHL far. Every d-man on this team is overpayed, while Shawn Horcoff is the most overpayed player in the league (as was learned in an informal poll I took of NHL media members this week). Both of their current goalies, who are their "goalies of the future" have looked terrible, while the only way they get out of Khabibulin's contract is if he suffers a career ending injury. Currently the Oilers have about $10 million to spend next season, but all of it will be spent on RFAs such as Gagner, Grebeshkov, Cogliano, Brule, Stone, etc. They'll get some cap relief when they move Souray at the deadline, who won't be nearly as hard to move as some think. Packaging him with a Brule or Cogliano will make him even easier to move. Oh, and the Halak to Edmonton rumours are garbage.

If the Price is Right...

Speaking of Halak, don't count him out for the stating job in Montreal in 2010-2011. Sources tell me that if Gainey were to get a big enough offer, he could opt to move price and hold on to Halak. At this point, both goalies seem to have the same potential and the Habs have a future #1 in whichever one they hold on to. Either way, expect the Habs to make a decision by the draft at the latest.

Falling Stars

The Dallas Stars are quickly falling out of the playoff picture, with just three wins in their last ten games. Rumblings around the league are that the Stars may be willing to let Turco go at the deadline if they can add another goalie to their roster. Halak to Dallas? Where would Turco end up? Something to keep an eye on.

Unfair Advantage

And finally, if I'm a team in the West, I want to be moved to the East. Last year the East's eighth place team had 93 points, but currently the eighth place team (Montreal) is on pace for just 85. In the west, the eighth place team (LA) is on pace for 95 points. Thats a five win difference...

Two Minutes for Instigating appears every Friday at If you'd like to comment on the content of this column, or are interested in bringing the column to your site, please contact Corey at

Monday, January 11, 2010

Introducing Josh Shephard

Press Box Hockey Talk
Josh Shephard
Jan. 11, 2010

Hello to all those die hard hockey fans out there!! Hopefully everyone had a safe and happy holiday. First off I'd like to thank Mr.Johnson and Hockey Leaks for the chance to provide my opinion and insight. Secondly, I'd like to thank all those fans who will take the time to read my columns. I watch the same games you do. I don't have any insider info, all the opinions you'll read are from me. I'll be talking about events in hockey, other opinions out there, as well as comments I read from other hockey fans from newspapers, websites and blogs.

For my first column I'll be touching on a few different topics, as coming out of the holiday season not much has happened, although, I'm sure (atleast hoping) that will change soon.

Mid Year Awards

Other than point awards, such as the Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies, there are 4 main trophies that are discussed on a regular basis as the season progresses. Those of course being the Hart, Vezina, Norris and Calder. Since we've just passed the midway mark of the season I'd like to give you my picks for the above mentioned.

Starting with the Calder. I know alot of people will say that they thought Tavares would win it with ease. I can honestly say that, although I think Tavares will be a very good pro, he is no Sidney Crosby, and isn't even on the same level, he was no lock for the calder. Up until about a month ago, my top 3 would have been Myers, Tavares and Duchene, but since then Howard has basically kept the Detroit Red Wings in the playoff race, which makes me have to include him in the top 3. In fact, my top 3 would now be Myers, Howard and Duchene. Tavares wouldn't even be a candidate for voting. If the season were to end today, my pick would be Myers. Good defense is hard to come by. Even harder to be a good defenseman at the age of 19. Plus, I don't know too many people who predicted the Sabres to be as high as they are now in the standings. I had them fighting for a playoff spot.

Secondly, the Norris, which I feel will be the tightest race. My three candidates will only include 1 returning candidate from last year. Doughty, Green, and Keith would be my top 3 candidates at the half way point this year. Although it's tough, I think the honour belongs to Keith. He is as well rounded a defenseman as you can ask for right now. I'm impressed with the improvement in Green's defensive game, and his offensive stats can't be ignored but I still don't think he is deserving. As for Doughty, he is improving at a ridiculous pace, and he could win this award as soon as next year. I used to think Shea Weber would be a constant Norris winner for years to come, however, that was before Doughty came along. Doughty is going to have a shelf full of these trophies before his career is over, the collection just won't start this year.

Lastly (because my Vezina and Hart winner are the same), this player has been solid for the past couple of years, however, this year is literally carrying his team on his back. Before stating the winner my nominees would be: For the Vezina, Brodeur, Miller, and Kiprusoff and for the Hart Brodeur, Miller, and Henrik Sedin. As you can see the odd men out for each of these awards are Kiprusoff and Sedin. Both players are keeping their teams in the playoff race, especially in the very tight Western Conference. Henrik, with both Luongo lost for a period as well as his brother, demonstrated that he can adapt his game and be the go to guy. With 2 of the 3 main pieces missing, Henrik did not lose a beat and is currently in the league lead for points. As for Kiprusoff, what can you say? I read everywhere, and to be honest I did buy into it to an extent, that Kipper's stats would continue to go south, especially unless a legitimate backup was found to take some of the workload; however, he is still playing as much as ever, his wins, goals against average and save percentage are all top 5 league wide.

It hurts to say, especially since he broke the shutout record, that Brodeur is not my choice to win his 5th Vezina and his 1st Hart trophy (shocking that he has never won one). Brodeur is having an incredible year, even though analysts everywhere said that this would finally be the year that New Jersey didn't make the playoffs (haven't they been saying this for the past 5 years?). If this was any other year, I can honestly say I don't think there would be any debate and Brodeur would have won both of these awards hands down with his stellar play, however, there is one team doing nearly as great and I don't remember reading anyone saying Buffalo would be as high or playing as good as they are this year. For years, the cash strapped Sabres would not open their wallet to keep marquee players, such as Briere and Drury, allowing them to walk for more money then they were willing to pay; however, the one time they opened their wallet to keep from losing an All-Star player was definitely a worthwhile investment as Miller has carried this team. Ryan Miller is my mid-season choice for both the Hart and Norris trophies.

A Couple Of Other Things

I'm reading all these rumours about Kovalchuk being traded. My argument here isn't that he won't be traded, although I hope for Atlantas sake they can find some way to keep him, but to point out how foolish I find some of the rumours and if by chance they are true, to wonder what those teams are thinking. First off, Boston. How are they going to fit him under the cap? Grab him as a rental player? No sense to me. When did players entering the prime of their career become rental players? I can't think of one. Those breaking this rumour are saying Boston has lots of prospects and draft picks, which they can trade, but if Kessel commanded two 1st rounders, a 2nd and a 3rd round draft pick, then what do they think Kovalchuk will command. Atlanta isn't going to ask for less even if it might just be a rental. Kovalchuks don't grow on trees. Quickly, speaking of Kessel, I really wish Toronto would have tried (harder if they actually did) on getting Kovalchuk instead. One other rumour, that doesn't make sense to me is Kovalchuk to Washington. It's not the fact they already have Semin because I'm aware he could be in a package to get him. It's the fact that Washingtons biggest concern should be hoping Varlamov is healthy for the playoffs and whether he can carry them as far as he did last year and secondly, their defense. If the Phaneuf rumours are true, Washington should definitely focus some attention there or even on a better defensive defenseman.

Talk of Carolina having a firesale. I would trade everyone on that team except for Staal and Ward. Two great building blocks. They look to be a lock to have that final spot in the league, giving themselves a great chance at getting a third franchise cornerstone in Hall or Seguin. I know if I were a Hurricanes fan I would be getting tired of watching a great team one year and a team that can't even make the playoffs the next. Rutherford, for future years, has to learn that while your team is winning you still have to be adding youth to the mix. He let the Hurricanes defense stay the same for too long letting the key components grow old and lose a step with no youthful replacements coming up through the ranks.

Thanks again for reading. And whatever became of Roman Turek?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Introducing: Edgar Arce

Here is the first of many columns to be written in this space by Edgar Arce. Edgar has been with us for awhile now, blogging on our Team Bloggers blog about the Anaheim Ducks. With Edgar's new column, which will appear every Sunday, he looks at the league as whole. Enjoy


Edgar Arce
Jan. 10, 2010

As we near the Olympic break, I realize this is the part of the season when most teams would be trading players left and right. This year seems a bit quieter maybe due to the upcoming Olympics, or maybe something else. In the post lock out era of hockey, teams can no longer juggle salaries like before due to the NHL cap. One of the main reasons the cap was imposed was to prevent one or two teams from becoming the New York Yankees of hockey. Because of the cap, teams just do not have room to make trades like before. What does this mean? Teams are going to have to rely on their minor league players to mature and make it in the NHL, rather than score a trade involving a veteran NHL player.

It has been proven in baseball that the big money teams are going to have to adjust and start looking for untapped talent, especially since the older stars are nearing the end of their careers. The NHL teams are going to have to do the same, since one cannot predict unexpected injuries. So is the salary cap working? I think it is. The cap forces GM's to get creative, and be resourceful with their minor league affiliates. The salary cap has provided the league with parity within the NHL which in turn makes it possible for any team to be cup champions.

I love when I look at the weekly rankings, because I'm seeing teams in the west like Colorado, Phoenix, and Los Angeles in the top eight positions rather than in the basement like previous years. The east continues to be just as competitive with teams like the Islanders, Philly, Atlanta and Florida all within reach of the top eight as well. It’s vital to the NHL that every team has their season in the top eight because if they succeed so do the remaining teams. I'm a huge fan of my home team and cheer for them to knock other teams out of the way in order to go up in the ranks, but in the long run, I want every team to win. The lock out may have given a black eye to the NHL at the time, but like all bruises do, they eventually heal. The salary cap, as well as the rules changes, all helped to guarantee the NHL's survival.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The latest on Phaneuf

As I talked about in my Two Minutes for Instigating column yesterday, the denials by both the Flames and Phaneuf in regards to him being traded mean absolutely nothing.

Nobody is going to come out and say "yes, I've asked to be traded" or "yes, Dion has asked us for a trade." Not mid-season, not when the Flames are challenging for home ice in the playoffs and a division/conference championship.

Something is up here, and it's pretty obvious. This rumour started so small, with Randy Workman leaking it about a month ago. From there, Eklund picked it up and spoke of how Phaneuf was causing problems in the Flames' room.

Now, the story has gotten much bigger, and continues to grow on a daily basis.

Yesterday, I reported that two teams to watch were Ottawa and New Jersey. Personally, while I hear Ottawa has interest, I don't see what they have to get this deal done. Jared Cowan has no value, while the Sens are too high on Karlsson to deal him. The Spezza-for-Phaneuf trade, which was a popular rumour last year, is too one sided for the Sens nowadays, and has little chance of happening, even with Ottawa adding to their deal.

As for Jersey, it only makes sense because New Jersey is the one system that could make Phaneuf a real star in this league. With that said, the Devils are rarely involved in the big trades, and are loyal to the kids they develop. This means the chances of them giving up homegrown talent like Bergfors or Clarkson are next to nothing, meaning this deal is unlikely to get done.

This morning, I was made aware of two more teams to keep an eye on. The first is Philly, which is being reported by ESPN's insider. It doesn't take a hockey insider to speculate about a Jeff Carter for Dion Phaneuf trade. Carter would look really good in red and white (oops, not Canada...), while a Phanuef-Pronger combo would just be scary. Carter has been on the outs, especially since the rumours involving him and another players wife popped up. This deal makes sense to me.

And while the other team doesn't make as much sense as Philly, it interested me none the less: Tampa Bay. Last year, the rumours were Lecavalier to Montreal, but what about Calgary? Vinny badly needs a change of scenery, while Tampa has been looking to solidify their backend since they won the cup. The Flames would struggle to fit big Vin under the cap, but moving Jokinen and Phaneuf would do the trick.

I've been in the rumour game for five years now, and when stories like this Dion one come out, some of the newer "insiders" come to me for advice. A lot of websites have taken a lot of flack for reporting that Dion wanted out, especially since yesterday's denials, but I am here to say that there is something to this story, and Dion is probably 60/40 in a new jersey (not to be confused with the New Jersey Devils, though it could happen) by March 4th.

For all the latest check out as well as our twitter at

Randy Workman's Column

We welcome Randy Workman as our Saturday columnist. Randy has written for many different sites and has such a love for the game of hockey. We are thrilled to have Randy's currently-untitled column as a weekly feature here. Randy's blogs will appear every Saturday. If you have an idea for a title of Randy's column, please throw me an email at


Randy Workman
January 9, 2010

Last week, I broke the story that Dion had asked for a trade. I really do trust my source, so that part is beside the point. What is interesting about this story is that I am a normal kind of passionate hockey fan, who pretty much has known every Calgary Flame player there is. The story was nothing against Dion. Yet I have been slammed and kicked all over the place over it and vilified as representing everything that is wrong with the internet. Poor little old 40 something me, all of a sudden I represent everything wrong with the world.

Where is the irony? I am a passionate hockey fan, who by the way, loves hockey. We fans are what brings hockey alive. Without us, where would hockey be? I represent the husbands yelling at the television sets when their team is messing up. I represent the population who cannot afford to go see a hockey game. I represent the heart of the true hockey fan, who is not afraid to tell his side of the story, who will say what most people won’t.

You see, what is really important about this game is the heart of its fans. Where would this League be without us fans? I know this League is built on its players; who most of the time have to answer to their coaches, but they ultimately should be answering to the fans. I have chatted with all sorts of players, ranging from Vinny, Zetterberg, and Draper, to Iggy, Kane, Campbell, Nabokov, and the twins in Vancouver -- they're supposed to be good or something.

After the fallout from this blog, I was ready to quit, and my wife asked me why would I do that? Ironically, the same community that led me to become a blogger was the exact reason I wanted to quit. The irony is that the League is trying to build their fan base; and yet they are trying squash the spirit of the fans at the same time. Yes, I really ruffled some feathers. And yes, I got some people laughing at me. And the irony is that I am not really sure I would go through it again, and that is really sad. Yeah right, who am I kidding? It was a rush. But in all honesty, I still can say in all good conscience that I did nothing wrong. I can promise you this – I will never allow myself to cross the line on moral principles. Is that even possible for a blogger? Well, I guess I am going to find out! Stay tuned next week!

Friday, January 08, 2010 introduces...


I have decided to write a weekly "column" for my site, which will also be posted on I plan on getting a few other columnists to do weekly articles here. TJ Hurst, who does a lot of the daily updates on the site, as well as polices the forums when possible, will debut his column on Wednesday. I have a few other people in mind, but if you are interested please email me at This will ensure at least one blog per day at, giving you all more to read and more insight into the world of the NHL.

Introducing my weekly column, which will appear on every Friday afternoon/evening:


Two Minutes for Instigating
Corey Johnson
January 8, 2010

NHL says NO to profanity

I'll start this weeks entry with some breaking news that the NHL is cracking down on profanity used by coaches and team personnel. Yes, kids are fans of the game as well, but is it really necessary to clean up the NHL any more? Compared to the NBA (whose players duel in the lockerroom with guns), the NFL (where Pacman Jones is in trouble weekly and Plaxico shoots himself in the leg) and Baseball (Steroids, A-Rod's affairs, and what have you...), the NHL is already the goody-two-shoes of professional sports. Suspending Sean Avery for as long as they did for his "Sloppy Seconds" comment was stupid, and so is this new crackdown. With such issues as headshots and the inability for teams to make trades due to the Salary Cap, this is the least of the NHL's worries.

On a related note, I wonder what the league thinks of this?


A good friend of and potential columnist, Randy Workman, first broke that Phaneuf could be leaving Calgary over a month ago. While the chatter has been ongoing, it took off in a bit way this past week. Sutter denies that Phaneuf, or any of his other d-men, are going anywhere, but I've been hearing different. Two teams to watch? How about New Jersey (Bergfors would have to be involved) and Ottawa.

Kovalchuk a tough sell

While the Thrashers would love to hold on to Kovalchuk, it looks likely that the team will be forced to trade him. If I was in charge of Atlanta's roster, I'd trade him as soon as possible to get maximum return. With that said, Kovalchuk is hard to trade because of his large contract, and the longer Atlanta waits, the more teams are interested. A reliable source tells me that Chicago isn't in this, and that the reporter who started this rumour simply did so off of speculation from another reporter. So if not Chicago, then where could Kovalchuk end up? I'm hearing Boston, where he would be reunited with Savard. It would be tricky to work Kovalchuk into the cap, but I'm hearing Ryder or Wheeler would be part of the deal (which would make Kovalchuk easier to absorb, Savard being hurt so much this years also helps), plus a couple of Boston's many draft picks. I've heard people speculate that Detroit may make a run at Kovalchuk, but trust me, the Wings have no interest in a rental player at the deadline.

Rutherford to blow up Carolina

It came out this week that the Hurricanes plan on overhauling 50 % of their roster by next season. Aaron Ward is likely on the "to be cut" list, as he's been terrible this season. Guys like Whitney and Brind'Amour are also expected to go. Expect the sell-off to start any day now.

Hitchcock on borrowed time

Kenny Hitchcock will be lucky to get out of January with his job as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Had the team lost last night, Hitch would have been let go, but they won, so he lives to see another day. No doubt about it though, Hitchcock is on borrowed time, especially after Filatov came out today and said that he won't return to Columbus unless Hitchcock is fired. No, Filatov doesn't have that kind of push, but Howson drafted this kid seventh overall, and if he never comes back to the NHL, while guys he passed over including Baily, Myers and Del Zotto continue to have NHL success, then he won't look too great. Hitchcock will be gone soon, and Filatov will be back next season. Bank on it.

Toronto Make-Me-Laughs

I'm a Leafs fan, I admit it, but to watch them lately has been awful. Ron Wilson has lost this team, and if things don't improve by the time the Olympics wrap up, you have to think he'll be shown the door. Anyone else see Hitchcock replacing him? You can't blame Wilson for everything, this team is much faster than it's been in a long time and they work harder than any other Leafs team in recent memory. However, Wilson has handled so many situations the wrong way, and it's clear his players (most of whom lack real NHL talent) have lost interest in listening to him. Any team that ices four centres named Stajan, Wallin, Mitchell, and Mayers for any period of time isn't going to go on any type of a winning streak. Sure, Grabs and Primeau are hurt, but are they really much better? The Leafs are fine on the back end, on the wings, and for the most part (Toskala excluded) in goal, but they need to replace all four of their middle men (Grabs can stay when he gets back, at least he still has some potential, and Mitchell can stay, if it's in a fourth line role where he belongs). For all you Leaf fans who email me daily asking for Leaf rumours, here's one: Toronto has shown some interest in San Jose centre Joe Pavelski. Burke named him to the U.S. Team, while he's only getting 2nd-3rd line minutes in San Jose. Not saying it will happen, but it's been discussed.

Rookie of the Year

Finally, my last point involves the Calder Trophy and who deserves it. Forget John Tavares, my vote is a toss up between Tyler Myers and Jimmy Howard. Myers has been a tank on the back-end for Buffalo, and he not only makes Ryan Miller's job easier but also has put up a nice amount of points. As for Howard, look no further than him stealing a game from the Kings last night in a 51-save, 2-1 victory.

Two Minutes for Instigating appears every Friday at and at If you'd like to comment on the content of this column, or are interested in bringing the column to your site, please contact Corey at