Wolski and Mueller fitting in with new teams

It’s always interesting when two players traded for each other face off against their former teams, but when it happens just days after that trade goes down I pay attention even more closely. Maybe it’s just the human drama behind trades that I’m fascinated with, the psyche behind going against ex-teammates you were just sitting next to on the bench. Do you hold up on the big hit, or do you put some extra oomph into it to show that you’ve moved on and this is your new team now? Does it feel good to score on your old team, almost like a jab at the team that that traded you away? Of course, some moves are made purely for business, while other can be a bit more personal so each situation is different. It’s still fascinating.

Which brings us to the Wojtek Wolski and Peter Mueller swap between the Avalanche and Coyotes. Both players were a bit of a headache on their respective teams, and new starts with a new team could be good for both the players and the teams themselves. The potential and talent level is comparable, so it will be interesting to see how each ultimately fares with their new team.


On Wednesday night, the same day he was traded for, Mueller scored a
goal for the Avalanche and impressed his teammates with his skill and
hard work. Thursday night, Colorado traveled to Phoenix to take on the
Coyotes in an arena where the fans are finally starting to come alive.
Mueller was booed everytime he touched the puck (I guess his
outspokenness didn’t sit well with fans), but it was Wolski who got big
welcome.

With 23 seconds remaining in regulation in a tie game, Wolski scored the
game winning goal with a nifty one-timer from the slot. I doubt Mueller
was given a big welcome by his former team, but Wolski made it a point
to stick around after the game to shake the hand of his former
teammates. But his immediate desire to become a leader on the Coyotes
that’s most impressive.

“I think we got a lot of chances, and I think it’s only gonna get
better each game,” Wolski said. “We’re all excited about playing with
each other.

“(Friday) we’re gonna address some (power play) stuff and try and
work on some plays, and I think that’s the biggest thing. When you know
where guys are going, it’s much easier.”

Comparing Wolski and Mueller for the rest of their careers with their
new teams isn’t very fair, but that’s just the nature of when two
similar players are exchanged. But for now, the two are already fitting
in with their new teams and have moved on from the trade that swapped
them.

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    Devils bolster defense, ink Quincey to one-year, $1.25M deal

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    New Jersey needed some blueline depth after this summer’s blockbuster Adam Larsson-for-Taylor Hall trade and now, they’ve addressed it.

    On Wednesday, GM Ray Shero announced the club signed veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

    Quincey, 31, spent the last four seasons in Detroit, emerging as a regular fixture on defense — but ’15-16 was hardly a positive campaign.

    He missed 35 games with a serious ankle injury and, upon his return, never seemed to find his way into head coach Jeff Blashill’s good graces.

    Blashill even scratched Quincey in Game 3 of Detroit’s opening-round playoff loss to Tampa, and didn’t provide a reason why — a pretty bold move for a player that, in ’13-14, appeared in all 82 games for the Red Wings, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night.

    Overall, this move seems like a pretty reasonable gamble from the Devils. Quincey has his flaws, but the term is short and the money is relatively low.

    (Especially considering Quincey’s coming off a two-year, $8.5 million deal that paid $4.25M annually.)

    Shero could end up getting a nice return on his investment. Quincey projects  to challenge for top-four minutes in New Jersey, looking to break into a group that features the likes of Andy Greene, Damon Severson, John Moore and Ben Lovejoy.

    Jon Merrill, Steve Santini and Brandon Gormley are also in that mix, though likely to be challenging for spots on the bottom pair.

    Boucher: Phaneuf was ‘terrific coup’ for Sens

    TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Dion Phaneuf #2 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Safe to say Guy Boucher is a big fan of the trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa last season.

    “Phaneuf has made a huge impact,” Boucher said of last season’s blockbuster swap with Toronto, per the Citizen. “It was a terrific coup by the organization being able to bring him in. We definitely, as a team, need that type of leadership — somebody who has been there, has a lot of character, with a voice that has impact.”

    Boucher then confirmed Phaneuf would serve as an alternate captain this season. The 30-year-old will wear it on the road, while Kyle Turris will wear it at home. Veteran winger Chris Neil will be a full-time alternate.

    So Phaneuf is taking on a bigger role, a story in itself considering he took on a pretty large one after joining the Sens last season. In 20 games, he averaged 23:10 TOI — up from the 22:02 he was playing in Toronto — and formed a consistent pairing with young Cody Ceci, the defenseman Ottawa took 15th overall at the 2012 draft.

    Of course, not everybody thought the move was a big win.

    Detractors pointed towards Phaneuf’s contract — a seven-year, $49 million pact that carries a $7 million AAV through 2021. It’s one of the most lucrative deals in the NHL, and gave Ottawa two of the 12 highest-paid blueliners in the league.

    Considering the Sens finished 26th in the NHL last season in goals allowed, that last sentence is a tad embarrassing.

    It was also clear Toronto wanted to make Phaneuf’s contract go away. He wasn’t going to be part of the rebuild and, while he’s still a useful and impactful player, he was a ghost of the team’s past. It was difficult to envision the new wave of Toronto’s young talent taking over, especially with Phaneuf (and Phaneuf’s presence) in the room.

    But that same presence is considered a big plus in Ottawa.

    The hope now, of course, is that Phaneuf will be more comfortable in the Canadian capital, having adjusted to the move and his new surroundings.

    The World Cup seems destined to end with a quiet thud

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Stamkos #91 of Team Canada blocks Nino Niederreiter #22 shot on net during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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    If Team Europe was ever going to make the World Cup final interesting, it was probably going to happen last night. The heavily favored Canadians were bound to come out a bit flat against a non-traditional opponent, and that’s exactly what happened in a less-than-electric Air Canada Centre.

    But despite carrying the play for much of the first period, the underdogs trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. They would go on to lose, 3-1.

    It could’ve gone a different way, but it didn’t.

    “In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times,” said Team Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock. “I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.”

    Team Europe’s coach, Ralph Krueger, was left to bemoan what could’ve been, while trying to build on the positives.

    “I thought we could have tested (Carey) Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks,” he said. “But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.”

    The problem for the Europeans is that they’re unlikely to catch their opponents on another off night. Expect a much more motivated, much less sloppy Canadian side in Game 2.

    “For whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better,” said Babcock. “You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.”

    Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto. A Canadian victory and that’s it for the tournament — one that started with a decent amount of positive buzz, thanks to a couple of spirited Canada-U.S. exhibition games and the high-flying exploits of Team North America, but seems destined to end with a quiet thud.

    Unless, of course, the Europeans can find a way to push it to Game 3, but that was always an unlikely scenario. They had a chance to make things interesting on Tuesday. They probably won’t get another.

    Related: Kesler was ‘really disappointed’ with World Cup atmosphere

    Report: Coyotes’ Rieder is considering KHL, among other options

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    Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder has a big decision to make. The 23-year-old restricted free agent has been embroiled in contentious contract negotiations for much of the offseason, and now he’s reportedly considering his options.

    According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, those options include taking the Coyotes offer, requesting a trade, signing in the KHL, or sitting out.

    Rieder had 14 goals and 23 assists in 82 games last season for Arizona. Born in Germany, he’s currently representing Team Europe in the World Cup final against Canada.

    Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, has said his client won’t attend Coyotes training camp after the World Cup is over — unless, of course, a deal is struck.

    “We’ve made them a fair offer at two years at $2.5 million a year, and they’re unwilling to do it,” Ferris recently told the Arizona Republic.

    The Coyotes have reportedly offered between $2 million and $2.3 million per season on a two-year deal, so it’s not exactly a huge gulf between the two sides.

    Of course, it wasn’t a huge gulf between Vladimir Sobotka and the St. Louis Blues, and look what happened there.