NHL News Catch-up: Phaneuf, Cogliano, Redden and more!

Image courtesy of thehockeywriters.com.

Thanks to other commitments, I haven’t been able to touch on this week’s busy news cycle until now, so our apologies for that.  There has of course been a lot going on the last couple of weeks, particularly with regard to the Olympic Rosters being finalised for all participating teams.  As I did with the Team USA Forwards, I will be analysing all 12 teams, so keep an eye out for that.  For now however, I will be concentrating briefly on the main stories out of the NHL.

Dion Phaneuf signs extension with Toronto Maple Leafs

Polarizing captain of the world’s most visible hockey team, Dion Phaneuf has opted to remain with the Toronto Maple Leafs for another seven years.  The contract carries an annual average of $7m, a raise of $500k over his last deal, and will run from 2014/15 until the end of the 2020/21 season, when he will be 36.

He has long been a divisive figure in hockey, starting out his career as a can’t-miss prospect for the Calgary Flames, growing into one of the top young puck-moving defenders in the league, followed by an apparent dip in performance that resulted in the now infamous trade to Toronto and his re-styling as an all-round top pairing defensive stalwart, though still not without controversy and large portions of the fanbase (and players) believing him to be overrated.

Here are his career stats, courtesy of HockeyDB:

Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  
2001-02  Red Deer Rebels             WHL    67    5   12   17  170  
2002-03  Red Deer Rebels             WHL    71   16   14   30  185  
2003-04  Red Deer Rebels             WHL    62   19   24   43  126  
2004-05  Red Deer Rebels             WHL    55   24   32   56   73  
2005-06  Calgary Flames              NHL    82   20   29   49   93  
2006-07  Calgary Flames              NHL    79   17   33   50   98  
2007-08  Calgary Flames              NHL    82   17   43   60  182  
2008-09  Calgary Flames              NHL    80   11   36   47  100  
2009-10  Calgary Flames              NHL    55   10   12   22   49  
2009-10  Toronto Maple Leafs         NHL    26    2    8   10   34  
2010-11  Toronto Maple Leafs         NHL    66    8   22   30   88  
2011-12  Toronto Maple Leafs         NHL    82   12   32   44   92  
2012-13  Toronto Maple Leafs         NHL    48    9   19   28   65  
2013-14  Toronto Maple Leafs         NHL    42    4   13   17   59
         NHL Totals                        642  110  247  357  860

This is how former Leafs’ GM, and in a twist of fate current Flames’ GM, Brian Burke described Phaneuf upon his acquisition:

“[Phaneuf] is a warrior. He’s got a cannon for a shot,” explained Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke on Sunday. “He plays the game hard and I want players who play the game hard because they’re hard to play against.”

Criticism had been leveled at the player previously for an apparent lack of commitment to defense, as well as questionable hits (including a concussion-inducing open-ice hit on Islanders forward Kyle Okposo), and for refusing on occasion to fight after throwing a big hit.  He has been branded as “dirty” by other players, and was branded the NHL’s “most overrated player” by fellow NHLers in 2010.

However, in his time as a Leaf he has, overall, been a highly effective bona-fide top pairing defender.  While I would stop short of calling his play elite, he is certainly more than capable of eating up top-pairing minutes with effective two-way play and a physical presence.

Anaheim Ducks sign Andrew Cogliano to 3 year extension

Image courtesy of ducks.nhl.com.

For a more in-depth look at Andrew Cogliano and his new deal, see my piece over at The Farm Club.  In short, Cogliano has recovered his career and even improved significantly as an all-round player since joining the Ducks in 2011.

He’s not quite Todd Marchant, particularly not in the face-off circle, but he’s becoming a very capable two-way player.  One has to wonder also if the tutelage of defensive-forward Daniel Winnik has enabled Cogliano to tap into that two-way potential that many always knew was there.

Since signing the deal on January 4th, Cogliano has 2 goals and 3 points in 5 games, and remains on pace for career highs of 25 goals and 47 points.

Wade Redden retires

Image courtesy of cbc.ca.

Veteran defenseman Wade Redden announced his retirement recently following an up-and-down career taking in 14 NHL seasons.

Selected 2nd overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, the 6’2″ 209lbs resident of Lloydminster, SK was a top junior player for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, making it to two Memorial Cups and also twice winning Gold for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

Less than a year after the Islanders drafted Redden, they traded him to Ottawa with Damian Rhodes for Don Beaupre, Martin Straka and the rights to Bryan Berard – the player drafted immediately ahead of him.  He made the team out of training camp for the 1996/97 season, and scored his first goal against Jocelyn Thibault of the Montreal Canadiens on October 5th 1996.  He scored an impressive 30 points in 82 games during his rookie season, and within four seasons was a mainstay on the Senators’ blueline, providing strong two-way play.

Winning the battle against Zdeno Chara to stay with Ottawa following the 2005/06 season, Redden helped lead the Senators all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in modern franchise history despite a difficult start to the season, himself recording 10 points in 20 playoff games.

After just over 800 games in a Senators uniform, Redden left following numerous aborted trade attempts by the team and signed a $39m contract over six years with the New York Rangers.  Unfortunately, by this point Redden was clearly on the decline, and within two seasons he was placed on waivers for re-assignment to the AHL.

Initially balking at the idea of playing in the minor leagues for the first time in his long career, Redden did eventually join the farm team, putting in one and a half very successful seasons for them and even serving as captain in 2011/12.

Image courtesy of vancouversun.com.

The amnesty-buyouts handed to teams following the conclusion of the 2012/13 NHL lockout enabled the Rangers to finally get out from under his heavy contract, and he became a free agent, eventually signing with the St Louis Blues on a 1-year, $800k deal.  With the Blues, Redden put in some solid performances, also playing his 1000th career NHL game whilst with the team.

He was traded to Boston at the 2013 trade deadline for a conditional 7th round pick (2014), but only played 6 games with 2 points, though he did play reasonably well in 5 playoff games for the team as they made it to the Cup Finals.  Unfortunately for Redden, they did not prevail, costing him one final chance at lifting Lord Stanley’s Chalice.

He retires having scored 109 goals and 457 points in 1023 NHL games, along with 13 goals and 49 points in 106 playoff games.

Redden also represented Team Canada at the 2005 World Championships, winning Silver, and at the 2004 World Cup, winning Gold, and overall tallying 13 points in 34 games for his country at the senior level.

On an individual level, he can boast the following awards and accolades:

  • WHL Rookie of the Year (1994)
  • WHL East 2nd All-Star Team (1995)
  • WHL East 1st All-Star Team (1996)
  • Memorial Cup All-Star Team (1996)
  • NHL Rookie of the Month (April 1997)
  • NHL All-Star in 2002 and 2004 (did not play the latter)
  • Named Best Defenceman at the IIHF 2005 World Championships
  • Joint winner of the 2006 NHL Plus/Minus Award

If you ask me, that’s a hell of a career.  Redden might not have ever been considered one of the very best in the game, but he was a top-level defender for a significant amount of time in the best league in the world.  Whatever happened later in his career, where more blame could be assigned to the Rangers than to Redden, it should diminish what the man accomplished.

Congratulations on a wonderful career, Wade Redden.

Tim Murray named new Buffalo GM

Image courtesy of ESPN.

Last year saw the dismissal of long-time Sabres coach Lindy Ruff (now with Dallas), and eventually the firing of his long-time boss, Darcy Regier, back in November.  Newly installed President of Hockey Operations – and Sabres legend – Pat LaFontaine took his time to make a decision on who should replace Regier, and eventually settled on Ottawa Senators’ GM Bryan Murray’s nephew, Tim Murray.

Murray, 50, isn’t a household name among hockey fans, but has been around the NHL management game for a long time.  His list of positions reads as follows:

  • 1993-94 – Detroit Red Wings scout
  • 1994-2002 – Florida Panthers scout
  • 2002-05 – Anaheim Ducks Director of Player Personnel
  • 2005-07 – New York Rangers scout
  • 2007-14 – Binghamton Senators General Manager

That’s a long time spent with some good teams (yes, even the Panthers had some success in the mid 90s) and some intelligent hockey minds, likely allowing him to soak up and learn as much as possible about the management game.  His history as a scout should also serve a retooling team such as Buffalo well.

An interesting, slightly off-the-wall choice, and not one that will be easy to make a judgement on for a number of years.  His task is a long one, and as Steve Tambellini found out with Edmonton, taking the reins of a failing franchise doesn’t always end well for the GM.

Best of luck, Tim – you’ll be needing it.

Winnipeg Jets relieve Noel & Pearn, hire Paul Maurice

Image courtesy of CBC.

The love-affair with the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets appears to be nearly over, at least in the sense of a “just happy they’re back” attitude.  Head coach Claude Noel was relieved of his duties by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff on January 12th, simultaneously announcing the hiring of former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.  They also announced that highly regarded assistant coach Perry Pearn would be fired.  This comes as the Jets sit at 12th in the Western Conference, with a 20-23-5 record for 45 points in 48 games (including the two points gained in Maurices’ first game as coach).

Noel was never gifted the greatest team during his time with the Jets, failing to make the playoffs in both of his full seasons and not looking likely to make it this year either.  He also reportedly clashed with some players, despite his reputation as a “players’ coach”, particularly young Russian forward Alex Burmistrov who returned to his homeland last year despite a promising NHL career still laying ahead of him.

Noel leaves Winnipeg with an 80-79-18 record, actually not too bad considering the horses he had to play with.

Image courtesy of Zimbio.

Paul Maurice arrives to take over the team, and boasts far more experience than Noel at the highest level.  A head coach of 1084 NHL games, with 461 wins, 457 losses, 99 ties and 68 OT losses, Maurice is perhaps best known as the former coach of the Carolina Hurricanes whom he helmed from 1997 to 2004, guiding them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002.

He spent two seasons as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2006 to 2008, but despite an OK-ish record failed to make the playoffs in either season, and he returned to Carolina in 2008 where he remained until 2012, taking the team to the playoffs in his first season back but failing to since then.  In 2012/13, he travelled to Russia to coach Metallurg Magnitorsk to a 27-13-12 record.

Interestingly, out of 13 full seasons as an NHL head coach, Maurices’ teams have failed to make the playoffs 9 times.  Of course, he is likely not completely to blame for those failures, he was in charge of some teams that were pretty devoid of talent at times.

Somewhat surprisingly, for the last two years he has been one of the more highly regarded free-agent coaches available.  Whether that says more about the talent-pool or Maurice I’ll leave up to you, but either way he is sure to bring a much tougher approach to the team than Noel did.

Will it work?  Unlikely, unless management decide to bring in a better goalie and some depth.

Dan Carcillo traded to New York Rangers

Image courtesy of fansided.com.

Lost in the shuffle was this minor trade, seeing 28 year old left winger Dan Carcillo shipped out from LA to New York for a 7th Round Pick in 2014.  Widely regarded as one of the dirtiest, cheapest players in the league, Carcillo had 2 points in 26 games for the Kings following two years with Chicago.

So far in four games for New York, Carcillo has 1 goal.  Interestingly enough, earlier in his career Carcillo actually looked like an OK hockey player in addition to his shit-disturbing ways, reach double digits in points in 4 out of 5 seasons from 2007 to 2012, and twice hitting double digit goals.

However, from looking at his usage via NHL.com, while his 5v5 playing time has remained fairly stable, his powerplay time is basically non-existent compared to his days in Phoenix.  This makes sense, as Chicago and LA are both far better teams, obviously not requiring him to be used in that manner.  I doubt his usage changes much in New York, but who knows.

Thanks to Wikipedia, NHL.com and HockeyDB for information used.

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