Get to know a draft pick — Pavel Zacha

2 Comments

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Pavel Zacha (C)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 210 Shoots: Left

Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Country: Czech Republic

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 8 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

The numbers really tell the story. Zacha’s a big kid (as listed above), that has equal penchants for scoring (34 points in 37 games this year) and the rough stuff (56 PIM, and two suspensions). As far as playing experience goes, his is pretty diverse; in ’13-14, Zacha played for Liberec in the Czech Extraliga — working under the tutelage of longtime NHLer Petr Nedved — and this year, he jumped the pond to play Canadian junior hockey in Sarnia.

Seidel says:

“Zacha’s an interesting prospect — a Czech-born player that possesses a lot of North American traits. He willingly and routinely initiated contact in his rookie OHL campaign but occasionally crossed the line, which resulted in a couple of significant suspensions. Despite that, he showed a team-first mentality the Sting loved. Zacha’s biggest strengths are his skating and ability to beat defenders one-on-one; he has a skill set that’s hard to handle and will become an offensive force as he develops. Like most offensive stars, Zacha still needs to work on his defensive game, but the heady Czech will add that to his repertoire for whichever team selects him.”

NHL comparable: Eric Staal/David Backes

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.

Attention agents: Coyotes are at least $18M from cap floor

38 Comments

For many NHL teams, the most relevant salary cap news for 2015-16 is that the ceiling will be $71.4 million. In the case of the Arizona Coyotes, it may be a strenuous race to the floor.

The floor is set at $52.8 million, which means the Coyotes will need to spend more than $18 million to get there.

(General Fanager has their cap spending at a slightly lower level, but let’s stick with “more than $18 million” to keep things simple.)

Whatever the exact amount may be, this development generated a slew of jokes from those hoping their teams would shed unwanted salaries. Just looking at the replies to that Five for Howling tweet, here are some “friendly suggestions.”

Anyway, you get the point, but there are a few things to consider.

For one thing, the Coyotes have a ton of players they can re-sign.

Granted, some of them might not be worth retaining, like maybe Martin Erat. Still, the likes of Mikkel Boedker should eat up space, and the Coyotes may want to pay extra for a backup in case embattled starter Mike Smith isn’t a pretty good goalie after all.

On the other hand, Oliver Ekman-Larsson ranks among those who are concerned that the Coyotes’ latest off-the-ice saga may hurt their standing in the eyes of many free agents. That, along with a surplus of available draft picks, could indeed mean that Arizona GM Don Maloney may prefer to call up teams suffering from cap crunches.

Long story short: it may be silly too dream too big here, but go ahead and make your Cam Ward/Mike Richards/etc. jokes as needed. A long summer is coming, after all.

‘Canes re-sign Jordan to one-year, $625,000 contract

8 Comments

The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed defenseman Michal Jordan to a one-year contract worth $625,000.

“Michal took great strides last season, and continued that progress when he represented his home country (Czech Republic) as it hosted the World Championship,” said GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s still a young defenseman, and we expect him to continue to improve going forward.”

Jordan, 24, played 38 games for the ‘Canes in 2014-15, scoring twice with four assists while averaging 15:57 of ice time.

He was a pending restricted free agent.

Carolina ‘looking at all the options’ for Semin, says Francis

27 Comments

Buyout? Trade?

Keep him?

Those are the options Carolina GM Ron Francis is currently mulling regarding the future of forward Alex Semin. After a disappointing year in which he missed 25 games to injury and healthy scratches — finishing with a career-low six goals — Semin, who has three years and $21 million remaining on his contract, could be done with the ‘Canes in the not-too-distant future.

But as for now, his situation is up in the air.

“It’s too early to say,” Francis said this week, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “We’re looking at all the options. Is it best to keep him here or should we do something else?

“At the right time we’ll do what’s best for our organization.”

The right time could be next week, as GMs first descend on Las Vegas for the NHL Awards, then Florida for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. And with the league’s buyout window now open, this pretty much is the time for Francis and the ‘Canes to decide what to do with Semin.

A buyout would be expensive — $14 million over the next six years. It’s unclear if owner Peter Karmanos would green-light such a move but, if he did, Francis would have some salary freed up to make other moves.

A trade could also be explored, but it’s almost certain the ‘Canes would need to retain salary.

The third option, of course, is for head coach Bill Peters to continue trying to light a fire under Semin. And if Carolina is looking for something to build on, it can point to how the former 40-goal man played in February and March — 10 points in 24 games, hardly earth-shattering totals, but a potential glimmer of hope.

The reality, though, is that most signs point to him playing elsewhere next year. As the Observer noted, Francis’ remark about Semin “doesn’t sound like a general manager expecting to see a player back in his team’s lineup.”

The futures of four marquee Hurricanes players rest with one agent, one GM

8 Comments

There is an interesting dynamic brewing with the Carolina Hurricanes when it comes to four of their top players, including Eric and Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner and goalie Cam Ward.

All four are represented by the same agent in Rick Curran, and Carolina general manager Ron Francis will have some important decisions to make about the futures of all four players, most notably Eric Staal, who is entering the final year of his contract, which includes a no-trade clause.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Basically, every high-priced, popular, star player the Hurricanes might even consider trading as part of a rebuilding process has the same agent, and this summer brings a new kind of time pressure.

Both Eric Staal and Ward need to be either re-signed or traded, because their contracts are up after next season. Jordan Staal is signed to a long-term contract but came here to play with his brother and may not want to stay without him. Skinner has three years left on his contract but is one of the Hurricanes’ most marketable assets.

As the NHL Draft nears — it was only two weeks away, as of Friday — the speculation around the future of the elder Staal, the Hurricanes captain, could intensify. It’s worth noting that on Friday, it was reported that Francis is not seeking to trade Staal at this point.