Mr. Universe Heads to Vegas, Baby!

Show of hands, who had Ilya Bryzgalov heading to the ECHL after being cut loose by the Philadelphia Flyers? That’s what I thought. The $23 million man is taking his talents to the desert of Nevada on a tryout basis with the the Las Vegas Wranglers according to the club. Bryz released a statement claiming he plans to go to Vegas since he did not attend an NHL training camp and wants to be ready in case the NHL comes calling.
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Russian Rocket Soars Into Hockey Hall of Fame

(courtesy of © Reuters/ Mike Cassese)

One of hockey’s most exciting players to don a pair of skates will be forever be immortalized today in Toronto as Pavel Bure becomes a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Known around the NHL as the “Russian Rocket” Bure played 13 seasons in the NHL where he spent time with the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers.
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San Jose Feeds Nabokov to the Free Agency Sharks

evgeni-nabokov(ap)(Courtesy of the AP)

It appears Evgeni Nabokov’s tenure with the San Jose Sharks is over as the team announced today on their website that the cap prevents them from reaching an agreement. The 34-year-old keeper has been one of the top goalies in the league the past few years, winning an NHL-best 131 games over the past three seasons. He has a 293-215-29 record in 10 seasons with the Sharks, with a 2.39 goals against average.
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Kaspar to Coach, Gonchar to Stay, Volchenkov to Go?

darius_kasparaitis_px600

A relatively busy day in the realm of Russian hockey this Monday afternoon when it comes to defensemen as newsworthy headlines have appeared throughout today’s blogosphere. The biggest is of former NHL player Darius Kasparaitis retiring from his KHL club SKA St. Petersburg in order to become an assistant coach with the team he spent his last playing days with.
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The Ukraine Train Alexei Ponikarovsky Headed to Pittsburgh

poni

Another year, another busy trade deadline period for Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A day after trading a second round pick in the upcoming draft to Florida for defenseman Jordan Leopold, Shero was at it again, this time with offense in mind. After the conclusion of Tuesday night’s victory over the Ryan Miller-less Buffalo Sabres, the Penguins announced the addition of Toronto left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky.

But at what price?

Veteran defenseman Martin Skoula and 21-year-old prospect Luca Caputi will be packing their bags and heading north to Canada.

The initial thought was that Maple Leafs’ General Manager Brian Burke wanted at least a second round pick for the Ukraine Train but as the Penguins had already spend theirs on defense, Shero chose not to hand out a first rounder.

Caputi makes up the brunt of the deal, and Skoula was essentially the 8th man on the Pittsburgh blue line and needed to be moved to get under the salary cap.

But enough of the blabber.

The Penguins reeled in a mighty fine winger that will most likely be used on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing.

The Maple Leafs received a talented prospect that only further aids their youth movement.

For a moment, let’s think about how this now effects the Eastern Conference playoff race and the Penguins for the rest of the season. First, the negatives. What are the cons about the trade?

First, the Penguins are obviously giving up a very talented young player that surely had a future in the organization. Along with Eric Tangradi, Caputi was considered the best offensive prospect in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and played good hockey in his time with the senior club.

The Penguins have now added yet another soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, bringing the total up to eight players who will complete their contracts in July.

The loss of Skoula, while may not seem extremely large, does have implications on the playoff race. When they won the Cup last year, there were eight NHL-caliber defensemen on the roster. Now with the loss of Skoula, that number is cut to seven, with the odd man out currently being Jay McKee.

Of course, there’s interest in him as well and he may not even be around come 3pm on Wednesday.

The trade has little negative impact on the short term, as Caputi wasn’t likely to play again for the Penguins this year and Skoula was a healthy scratch nearly every night. But in the long run, the true deciding points will be if Shero can resign Ponikarovsky this offseason and how good of a player does Caputi eventually become?

But there are two sides to every story, so let’s look at the other side.

What are some pros? At 6’4″ and 220-some pounds, Ponikarovsky brings both immense size and skill that the Penguins have not had on the wings since Upper St. Clair native Ryan Malone left in the summer of 2008.

The big winger is superb and playing down low and getting to the front of the net. He also represents a finisher that will be a major asset to the success of Malkin over the last month. Truth be told, almost anyone would have served as an improvement to what the Ruslan Fedotenko has provided this season (yes, he had a good game against Buffalo). But Ponikarovsky is not only a guy that has scored 20-plus goals playing for bad teams but a player that can also dish the puck.

But put aside his scoring for a minute.

The biggest reason that Shero liked him enough to make a trade over several arguably more gifted wingers, example Ray Whitney, is the fact that Ponikarovsky also plays very solid two-way hockey, which is necessary for a team that attacks like the Penguins do.

That doesn’t mean we’ll see him on the penalty kill or on a checking line any time soon, but it always helps to have a guy who can back-check well if a turnover is committed.

In the salary cap era, numbers also have to be considered. For the remainder of the season, Ponikarovsky’s cap hit is at $447,000. For a player of his caliber, extremely reasonable.

In terms of losing Caputi, remember a guy by the name of Angelo Esposito?

A piece of the infamous Marian Hossa trade, Esposito had tons of promise as a young player, as many felt that he could have been a Top Five draft pick but fell to the Penguins. But in hindsight, Esposito has still never played an NHL game and while it’s still too early to call him a complete bust, he’s certainly closer to the bust than a boom.

Does Ponikarovsky have the ability to push the Penguins over the top? He absolutely adds another dimension to the team that wasn’t there earlier and his presence should be worth it’s weight in gold to Malkin.

Time will tell. The Ukraine Train should make his Black and Vegas Gold debut against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

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Varlamov’s New Mask/Malkin Visits White House(Updated)


(courtesy of The Washington Post)


(courtesy of The Washington Post)

Here the latest shots of Simeon Varlamov’s new mask for the upcoming season. Varly has taken the patriotic route combining Mt.Rushmore with the bald eagle and the Russian Coat of Arms. The chin combines the Capitals logo and both country’s flags. This is definitely one of the finer masks in the NHL. Below is a video of close up.

On Thursday, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins visited the White House and President Barrack Obama days after meeting Russian President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Obama congratulated Malkin for becoming the third youngest player to win the Conn Smyth but he was was too busy trying to take a picture of the President on his cellphone.

Malkin also made it a point to say hi to his mother and father via the television cameras in hopes this was broadcasted back home. Below is a video of the event courtesy as always of the NHL and NHL.com.

Obama(courtesy of AP)

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Obama Thanks Russia for Ovechkin

ovechkinpolitics(courtesy of ESPN)

Move over Alexander Pushkin here comes Alexander Ovechkin. With President Obama in Moscow sharing his list of Russian’s that have benefited society he was quick to recognize his adopted hometown’s biggest star.

Speaking in front of Moscow’s New Economic School on Wednesday Obama said “As a resident of Washington, D.C., I continue to benefit from the contributions of Russians — specifically, from Alexander Ovechkin. We’re very pleased to have him in Washington, D.C.”

After spending the last few hours speaking about Russia’s relationship to the US and the world, Obama took a quick break to possibly win over the country’s citizens who have shown signs of resentment towards America’s newest head of state.

By shouting out Ovechkin, who became a spokesmen for the Sochi winter games in 2014 days ago, it could be the president’s way of throwing his hat into the ring for trying to resolve the NHL’s dilemma on whether they will allow their players the right to participate in the tournament.

Below is the video of Obama’s shout out.

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Ovechkin death threat and aftermath

ovechkin

So apparently if you decide to run your mouth on the internet you should make sure where you post it. A 17-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins fan was arrested on Thursday for posting on the official team message board that he would kill Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin.

The police will not release the boy’s name since he is a minor but no charges have been filed yet. The posting on a hockey message board read: “I’m killing Ovechkin. I’ll go to jail. I don’t care anymore.”  Here you can find users on said forum discussing this exact situation which has grown 40 pages since 4 pm Thursday

This is similar to the Calgary Flames fan who actually phoned in a threat to the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding goalie Steve Mason earlier this season. That fan was also arrested and charged with inducing panic and menacing.

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Russia defeats Sweden in OT 6-5

10115_m15courtesy of CTVOlympics.ca

In Russia’s first game of the qualification/elimination stage of the 2009 IIHF World Championship the team of mostly KHL players defeated Sweden 6-5 in OT. After surrendering the lead with under 2 minutes to go Russia would get the winner from Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Dimitri Kalinin for his second of the game. Ilya Bryzgalov backstopped Russia to the win with 33 saves allowing his team to remain undefeated. Other goals came from Ilya Nikulin and Oleg Saprykin. They take on the US on Saturday.

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Pavel Datsyuk goes for fourpeat of Lady Byng

datsy

On Friday the NHL released the nomination for the Lady Byng Award. This years nominees are Zach Parise of New Jersey, Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay, and Pavel Datsyuk (above with Byng and Selke awards) of Detroit. Datsyuk will be going for his fourth straight Byng having won it since 2005-06.

The trophy is awarded to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The trophy winner will be announced on June 18, 2009 at the NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

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