Tag: Vinny Prospal

Lou Lamoriello,Ilya Kovalchuk,  Jeff Vanderbeek i

So, what’s next for the Devils without Kovalchuk?


However New Jersey Devils fans feel about Ilya Kovalchuk’s departure, the fact is that he’s gone. This means New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello must answer the question: “What happens now?”

As long-time Devils forward Patrik Elias told the Newark Star-Ledger, the “retired” 30-year-old leaves a crater in the roster thanks to his absence.

“It’s going to be interesting over the next couple of months to watch Lou figure out what to do. I’ve never seen anything like this in my 18 years here,” Elias said. “No question it’s going to affect the team. You can question his defensive play, but offensively Kovy was a key guy. He was putting up the numbers.”

This post takes an abbreviated look at the impact of this loss and a variety of factors for Lamoriello to consider.

What New Jersey loses

As Elias states, Kovalchuk is a rare scorer. He scored 417 goals and exactly a point-per-game in 816 career contests. Even the most optimistic Devils fan would admit that there isn’t a sniper on his level on the roster.

Kovalchuk logged substantial minutes, too. His 24:44 minutes per game ranked 17th overall in the NHL in 2013 and was the highest average of any forward. (No other forward ranked in the top 30.)

Also of note: the Devils forfeit their 2014 first-rounder because of the league punishments involving the team’s first attempted contract with Kovalchuk. That lost pick could sting quite a bit, especially since Hockey Prospectus ranks the team’s farm system as the third-worst in the NHL, with an especially “barren” forward group.

Potential gains

There are some bright sides, however. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore the money-saving elements that could make more of a difference off the ice.

Most obviously, the Devils clear Kovalchuk’s $6.667 million cap hit, which was set to expire in 2024-25. His age and an injury-plagued 2013 season imply that he might be passing his peak years.

Cap Geek estimates that New Jersey’s cap space is now around $10.6 million, and while they’re unlikely to spend to the ceiling, they can use that money to re-sign Adam Henrique and test the free agent market a bit.

With that in mind, here are a few guys Lamoriello might look at. (Note: restricted free agents could theoretically be an option, but there are enough complications that we’ll just direct you to this listing.)

Some UFA targets

Mikhail Grabovski
Jaromir Jagr
Vinny Prospal
Mason Raymond
Damien Brunner

There’s also the possibility of nabbing someone via a trade – the name Ales Hemsky sprouted up, for one – so at least the Devils gain options and flexibility.

Now, would any of these options completely replace Kovalchuk? That’s highly unlikely, but Lamoriello might just make the best of this tough situation.


Jackets ‘not sure’ about making offer to leading scorer Prospal


You’d think that, after a solid 2013 campaign, the Columbus Blue Jackets would want to bring Vinny Prospal back.

Well, think again.

The 38-year-old — who led the club in scoring last year — has stated his desire to return, but the Jackets seemingly don’t have as much of an interest.

“Are we going to extend him an offer? We’re not sure we want to do that yet,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch. “We want to give him the proper respect if we do — and he may not even want to do it.

“We always like to keep our options open, but I’d say right now we’ll stand pat unless we make an offer to Vinny.”

Prospal paced all Jackets scorers with 30 points last season, averaging over 16 minutes a game while tying for the team lead in power-play goals.

He played on a one-year, $2.5 million deal — just like he did the year prior, when he finished second in the team in scoring and led all skaters in assists, with 39.

In late June, he re-iterated his desire to stay in Ohio.

“I want the public and the fans to know I’m not shutting the door on anything,” Prospal told the Columbus Dispatch. “I want to come back. I want to be part of this team, especially after the way we played after the start. We’ve really turned a corner and I can see where this is going.

“It’s going to be good here.”

The issue, it would seem, is Columbus’ financial picture.

The Jackets are a spend-to-the-cap team, evident by last season’s acquisition of Marian Gaborik (and his $7.5 million price tag) and this summer’s signing of Nathan Horton (seven years, $37.1 million) and Sergei Bobrovsky (two years, $11.25 million).

As a result, the Jackets now have 23 players under contract and just over $2 million in available cap space.

Leading scorer Prospal wants to return to Columbus

Vinny Prospal

Vinny Prospal was one of the many nice stories out of Columbus last season, as the 38-year-old led the team in scoring and was an instrumental figure in the team’s improbable playoff push.

Thing is, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back for another year.

The pending UFA is currently sitting in limbo as Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen tries to navigate his club’s free agent and financial situations.

“I want the public and the fans to know I’m not shutting the door on anything,” Prospal told the Columbus Dispatch. “I want to come back. I want to be part of this team, especially after the way we played after the start. We’ve really turned a corner and I can see where this is going.

“It’s going to be good here.”

“Here” is Columbus, of course — but Prospal and his family aren’t “here.”

From the Dispatch:

Prospal wants badly to return to Columbus, and has made that abundantly clear.

Three weeks ago, Prospal, his wife and three kids moved out of the house they were renting in Upper Arlington, put their belongings in storage and moved back to Tampa.

On Friday, they’re flying back to Czech Republic — unsure when, or if, they’ll return.

Kekalainen has made it very clear the club respects what Prospal has done in Columbus — finished second in scoring last year, led this year — and that it would like to bring him back.

It’s just not that simple.

“It has nothing to do with him,” Kekalainen said. “We have a lot of respect for what he’s done for this club. He’s had a great career, been a great Blue Jacket. We just have to make sure we fit under the cap and the budget.

“That’s where we’re at. We realize we run the risk of losing him. He’s a good player; has been for a long time. But we just can’t see the pieces of the puzzle right now.”

Columbus, Bobrovsky gaining no traction in contract talks

Sergei Bobrovsky

The waiting game between the Blue Jackets and Sergei Bobrovsky continues.

And, if a recent article from the Columbus Dispatch is accurate, it could continue some more.

The Dispatch reports there’s been zero traction gained between Bobrovsky and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on contract talks, adding there may not be much more gained by July 5.

From the Dispatch’s Michael Arace:

Negotiations between Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and Bobrovsky’s agent, Paul Theofanous, have not gained traction. There is good reason for this: Theofanous wants to wait, and it behooves him to do so.

Bobrovsky will be worth more if he wins the Vezina and/or receives an offer sheet from another team and/or receives an offer from SKA St. Petersburg — which might be offering something in the range of $10 million annually.

Bobrovsky is just 24 years old and coming out of his first contract, but he is set up to get a third-contract payday. All he has to do is sit tight past July 5 and the market will do the rest.

Arace also notes that Kekalainen is on record saying he’ll match any offer sheet made to his goalie.

Translation: If Bobrovsky plays in North America next year, it’ll be in Columbus.

The real question is how much the Blue Jackets are willing to spend. They’re currently $19 million under next year’s $64.3 million cap with 16 players signed, but do have a few decisions to make (most notably with RFA forward Artem Anisimov and veteran UFAs Vinny Prospal and Adrian Aucoin).

In terms of comparables, Bobrovsky could be looking a deal similar to what Jaroslav Halak got in St. Louis in 2010.

Then a 25-year-old RFA, Halak signed a four-year, $15 million deal with the Blues — and it’s worth noting Bobrovsky’s current situation is a lot like Halak’s, in that both would cash in on a season of excellence.

Halak got his deal on the heels of a stellar 2009-10 campaign, when he went 26-13-5 with a .924 save percentage and 2.40 GAA during the regular season, then starred in the postseason by carrying the underdog Canadiens all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.


KHL club reportedly pursuing Bobrovsky

Columbus signs a goalie…but it’s not Bobrovsky

Pekka Rinne, once pepper-sprayed by Finnish pizzeria owner, highlights ’13 Masterton nominee list

Goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on during a break in the action against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.
(March 29, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

The official nominees list is in for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and, if voting is based purely on entertaining anecdotes, Pekka Rinne will be the runaway winner.

Nashville’s Masterton nominee for this season, Rinne had this story attached to his nomination bio:

In the summer of 2006, after Rinne’s first year in North America with the Milwaukee Admirals, he was at a bachelor party in Finland when he was a victim of an assault by a pizzeria owner.

The assailant fired pepper spray into Rinne’s eyes and tackled him. Rinne had to undergo shoulder surgery, which kept him out four months.

“I was still young and right away you’re thinking ‘this is it,’ ” Rinne said in a 2011 article about the incident. “It’s a scary feeling.”

Kudos to whoever wrote this for going into such detail, though now we’re left to wonder why a Finnish pizza joint owner was packing pepper spray. Is this, like, a thing?

Anyway, back to the Masterton…

The award is given annually to the National Hockey League player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to hockey.

Last year’s winner, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, captured the award after suffering a concussion and fractured vertebrae (on this hit from Zdeno Chara) to record career-highs in goals (33), assists (32) and points (65).

Each team was asked to submit one player for consideration for this year’s award.

They are:

Western Conference

Andrew Cogliano (Anaheim), Steve Begin (Calgary), Marian Hossa (Chicago), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Colorado), Vinny Prospal (Columbus), Ray Whitney (Dallas), Patrick Eaves (Detroit), Ryan Smyth (Edmonton), Jonathan Bernier (Los Angeles), Josh Harding (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), James Sheppard (San Jose), Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Shane Doan (Phoenix), Kevin Bieksa (Vancouver).

Eastern Conference

Adam McQuaid (Boston), Jochen Hecht (Buffalo), Dan Ellis (Carolina), Peter Mueller (Florida), Andrei Markov (Montreal), Stephen Gionta (New Jersey), Radek Martinek (New York Islanders), Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay), James Reimer (Toronto), Tom Poti (Washington), Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg).