Tag: Randy Jones

Jim Slater

Jets players would rather talk playoffs than contracts


The Winnipeg Jets are fighting for a playoff spot. They’re well into the mix in the Southeast Division race and are threats for the eighth spot in the East as well. For this team, however, they could be looking at this season as a “last roundup” of sorts.

As Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press reports, the Jets have seven players that could be unrestricted free agents after this season. Jim Slater, Chris Mason, Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Tim Stapleton, Randy Jones and Mark Flood. While they could be seeking new contracts, they’d much rather try to get the franchise back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 in Atlanta as Slater tells Tait.

“I like that… less distraction is better,” said Slater. “Obviously we’ve got a job to do here and we’ve got to put our best foot forward day in and day out. That’s what the summers are for, those negotiations, and right now it’s about getting this team to a place where we want to be.”

The Jets have played well in their first season after relocation and while a lot of those players may not be attention grabbers on the free agent market, getting this team into the postseason will do nothing but help their case for a new deal.

New name, new location, same game plan? Winnipeg Jets staying quiet in free agency

Kevin Cheveldayoff, Craig Heisinger
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Last season when then Thrashers GM Rick Dudley helped pick apart the Chicago Blackhawks in their great salary sell-off, the additions made to the team helped turn things around in Atlanta for at least a little while. Character additions and talent like Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, and Dustin Byfuglien proved to be great ones as Ladd eventually became team captain and Byfuglien was an All-Star while scoring 21 goals as a defenseman.

With the Thrashers being sold and moved to Winnipeg and a new staff in charge of things in Manitoba with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and team VP Craig Heisinger, things are taking more of a quiet turn for the Jets. It’s the kind of turn that makes you think back on Thrashers offseasons of the past while Don Waddell was in charge of things.

Taking a look at who the Jets have signed this summer, there’s not a single name that jumps out at you for being a difference maker kind of player. Derek Meech, Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, and Randy Jones highlight the Jets offseason. Meanwhile, they’re still trying to get a deal worked out with Ladd and have seen improving talent Anthony Stewart bolt to Carolina.

If that sounds unimpressive, it makes us think back to the summer of 2009 that saw the Thrashers sign luminaries like Stewart, Noah Welch, Josh Gratton, and Mike Vernace while retaining Colby Armstrong and Kari Lehtonen. For one of this year’s Jets signings, Randy Jones thinks that his new team is going to have to be more blue collar than anything to win as he told the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen.

“Last year for a good part of the season they were only a point or two behind us and Washington,” Jones said on a media conference call from his home in New Brunswick, Monday. “They work extremely hard, and that’s the main thing you need in this league, is hard work and determination. That’s one thing that stood out, they never give up, they always battled and were always in your face. We’re going to give a good push this season.”

All the hard work in the world can get you only so far though and the Jets are going to need goals. With Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and Evander Kane already in the fold and young centerman Alexander Burmistrov growing up on the job, there’s a handful of point producers there. Overall, however, they’re going to need to find offense from somewhere. Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press highlights a few free agent targets Cheveldayoff could and should be looking at to help the Jets get on the board.

Tait points out guys like Antti Miettinen, Jason Arnott, Alex Kovalev, and Cory Stillman could be sought out to help produce goals. There’s also some major nostalgia available in Teemu Selanne. Of course, Selanne leaving Anaheim for one last run in Winnipeg is more of a pipe dream than a possibility. Regardless, unless the Jets start getting active they’re going to be fighting for goals and hoping that new head coach Claude Noel has the strategies to help the Jets win with minimal offense. Sure Ondrej Pavelec is a very solid goalie, but asking him to be Vezina-level night in and night out is asking a lot of him.

The Jets have been all about surprises since True North bought the team, but they’re going to need to do things differently from how the Thrashers did them in the past if they hope to conquer the Southeast Division and make the playoffs next season.

Saturday’s smaller signings: Anaheim, Carolina, St. Louis, and Winnipeg join the party

Kent Huskins
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It’s not always the big names that get their name on the Internet with free agency signings. There were a few other smaller signings today that might have an impact on their new teams next season.

Carolina signs forward Anthony Stewart; two years, $1.8 million

Anthony Stewart will stick around in the Southeast Division but also gets to stay in the U.S. south as well. The former Thrashers forward and brother to St. Louis’ Chris Stewart signs on for two years with the Hurricanes. Last season, Stewart added some goal scoring touch to his game along with a physical presence and had a career high 39 points last year (14 g, 25 a).

He’ll join a Hurricanes team that just lost Erik Cole to Montreal and will also likely lose Sergei Samsonov as well. Stewart’s $900,000 cap hit is well beyond friendly for Carolina who will have some more moves to make.

St. Louis signs defenseman Kent Huskins; One year, $1 million

Kent Huskins was a depth guy for the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks in recent years and now he’ll head to St. Louis to give them a hand along the blue line. Huskins is a physical guy and he’ll look to help out a defensive unit that’s teeming over with youth. Fresh faced players like Kevin Shattenkirk, Nikita Nikitin, Alex Pietrangelo, and Ian Cole could benefit having an experienced guy like Huskins around. Last season, Huskins played in 50 games for San Jose scoring two goals and adding eight assists along with a +8 rating and 12 penalty minutes. With the Blues he’ll provide them with a veteran body off the bench and insurance against injuries.

Winnipeg signs defenseman Randy Jones and forward Rick Rypien to one year deals

Randy Jones moves from one Southeast Division team to another, of sorts, signing a one year deal worth $1.15 million. He’ll give the Jets some solid veteran depth along the blue line but he’ll have to make sure to not get deked out of  his breezers by Tyler Seguin next season as he did in the playoffs with Tampa Bay last year. The playoffs did not treat Jones well but he’ll look for a fresh start in the freshest of locations in Manitoba.

Rick Rypien signing on with Winnipeg for $700,000 is a bit more of a surprise as his season was a bit more tumultuous last year with Vancouver. Rypien’s season came to an end when he was given a leave of absence that lasted him the entire season shortly after going after a fan in Minnesota that was taunting him. Rypien has only played for Vancouver in his career and perhaps getting a fresh start in Winnipeg where he spent plenty of time in the minor leagues is just the change he needs.

Anaheim signs forward Andrew Gordon; One year, two-way deal $525,000

Another former Capitals forward with the last name Gordon finding a new address. This time mostly minor league forward Andrew Gordon. Gordon spent most of last season in the AHL with the Caps farm team in Hershey. There in 50 games he scored 28 goals and had 29 assists. In nine games with the Caps, Gordon tallied a goal and an assist. He’s a supreme depth guy for the Ducks and someone a bit more trustworthy to call on from the AHL should he not earn a job in Anaheim out of camp.

Boston looks to lock up Stanley Cup finals berth while Tampa Bay looks for Game 7

Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game Five

It’s a do-or-die Game 6 for Tampa Bay at home against Boston. Tampa Bay can stave off elimination for a day and force a Game 7 on Friday night with a win tonight over the Bruins but the Bruins will be looking to put an end to things early and clinch their first spot in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990.

Boston @ Tampa Bay – 8 p.m. ET (Versus)Boston leads series 3-2

While the Bruins lineup will hold strong and play out the same way as it has the last few games, things in Tampa Bay are getting shuffled up a bit from Game 5. Dwayne Roloson will once again be back in goal to start for the Lightning after getting a day off in Game 5. In Game 5, Mike Smith played well in spite of losing giving up a pair of goals in a 3-1 Bruins win.

Some thought it might be the start of a goalie controversy but coach Guy Boucher put that talk to a stop quickly saying Roloson would get the start in Game 6 after “getting a rest” in Game 5. A curious decision nonetheless, but if Roloson slams the door shut tonight and helps Tampa Bay force a Game 7, the adulation for Boucher will grow stronger.

The other intrigue for Tampa Bay in their lineup is whether or not Sean Bergenheim will play tonight. Bergenheim left Game 5 with an injury and did not return and Boucher says it will be a game time decision whether or not he plays. If Bergenheim sits, it’ll be either forward Dana Tyrell or defenseman Randy Jones playing in his spot.

One matter to keep an eye on tonight is how the penalties shake out as referee Eric Furlatt gets to call tonight’s game and he hasn’t exactly been very Lightning-friendly through the playoffs calling 24 penalties against them and only nine against Tampa’s opponents. Guy Boucher says he’s “very aware” of the discrepancy and broke out some of his own gamesmanship this afternoon when asked about it.

For Boston, the key for them is to jump out on the Lightning early and get a goal to both put the Lightning back on their heels and to quiet down the crowd. Boston’s been great when grabbing leads early (Game 4 aside) and doing so again tonight would test the Lightning’s willingness to snap out of it and fight back yet again. The Lightning aren’t ones to show much quit but it demands that the Bruins play hard and stay aggressive for all 60 minutes. If they do that and get great play out of Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas yet again, they could be shaking hands at the end of tonight’s game.

For more analysis on tonight’s game, check out what Keith Jones and Mike Milbury had to say about things earlier today.

Playoff hero Sean Bergenheim questionable to play for Tampa Bay in Game 6

Sean Bergenheim
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One of the missing elements from Tampa Bay’s Game 5 loss to Boston was that of playoff hero Sean Bergenheim. Bergenheim leads everyone in the playoffs with nine goals and when he was knocked out of Game 5 with an injury, the loss of his production and depth on the Lightning’s third line was obvious.

With Game 6 coming up tonight and Bergenheim’s health still in question, you have to wonder if perhaps his potential loss from the lineup is the one that helps sway their Eastern Conference finals series with Boston. Will he play tonight though? Lightning coach Guy Boucher says it’s a game time decision tonight.

Q. Bergenheim was able to skate a little bit this morning. How optimistic are you that he’ll be available for Game 6?

COACH BOUCHER: We have to wait. The doctors are looking at him now, and we have to wait until tonight. And then make a game-time decision.

Q. If Sean can’t go, what are your plans? And what are the implications if he can’t go in terms of what you need from other players?

COACH BOUCHER: Well, obviously when you take somebody out that’s been a big part of our Playoffs, it does take some chemistry out. And I gotta find that. I had to struggle with that in the second period of the last game, and the third period I kind of found what I wanted.
So if he is not playing, we’ll go with the chemistry that we planned on, and we’ve got the choice between putting Tyrell in the lineup and to fill the forward spot or we put in a seventh defenseman with Randy Jones. So that’s still something that we’re oscillating between, yeah.

No offense to either Dana Tyrell or Randy Jones, but we’re not exactly overflowing with confidence that they’ll be able to help contribute the same way Bergenheim has in these playoffs for the Lightning.

If Bergenheim is out the Lightning are going to have to rely even harder upon their top players like Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Steve Stamkos, and Simon Gagne. While Gagne has had a great series, the other players are having a hard time handling the pressure the Bruins defense has put on them. The play of Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference has been outstanding in this series and then there’s the whole issue of trying to find ways to beat goalie Tim Thomas.

If Bergenheim plays tonight, don’t expect him to be at the top of his game. The question here is whether or not it’s worth it for the sacrifice and the possibility that Bergenheim injures himself further. Players will always want to push things more when their team is in need (see: Joe Thornton) but if he can’t go, that’s it. Either way, both Boston and Tampa Bay will need to be prepared for tonight’s elimination game.