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Rangers Do The Right Thing Hiring Vigneault

By at 17 June, 2013, 9:43 am

You knew the Rangers would do the right thing here. And with the hiring of Alain Vigneault, it seems like they have.

After the tough love and abrasive approach of John Tortorella, the Blueshirts needed a change and Vigneault’s soft but firm approach seems just right for the team right now, so much so that those who do sports betting on NHL may just pick the Rangers to win the Cup in 2014.

His former assistant with the Vancouver Canucks, Rick Bowness, who was recently hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning to be an that team’s top assistant, said in an interview with the New York Daily News, Vigneault was a special person.

“Ten minutes into the interview, I knew I was going to hire him, (because of) his honesty, straightforwardness, strength of character,” Bowness said to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. “You knew he was going to be very loyal, very committed and very hardworking. You could just tell.”

One of the biggest complaints of Tortorella’s regime was that he stifled offensive creativity in favor of a defensive blocking shots approach. That cost him this year with the Rangers power play going in the tank during the playoffs.

But defense wins championships and Vigneault was able to balance both offense and defense to allow the Canucks to become a powerhouse, winning two President’s Trophies and reaching the Finals once.

“You’ve got to let your players play, you’ve got to let them run, and at the same time you can command commitment to team defense, which we were able to do and then went to the Finals,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “We never lost our focus on team ‘D’, but we certainly loosened the reins up and let them run a little bit as time went on.”

Plus after coaching in hockey hotbeds like Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault should have no problem adjusting to New York. In fact, it may be easier because unlike the Canadian markets, the pressure can be a little less in the states.

“He’s been through a lot of pressure situations,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “He can handle a lot of pressure. All the heat that he’s had to put up with in Vancouver, he’s handled it extremely well, and it never seemed to bother him.”

And that includes working with the New York media, which was very hostile under Tortorella.

“The media will not intimidate him one bit,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “I never saw one thing that there was something in the media that rattled him. He has thick skin, and he doesn’t care. The media will not get to him one bit.”

It’s too early to tell if Bovada sportsbook for hockey has the Rangers as the 2014 favorite, but hiring Vigneault is definitely a good start for the Blueshirts.





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Puck Daddy’s NHL 2014-15 Emoji Preview: New York Islanders (Puck Daddy)

By at 13 September, 2014, 10:56 am

(The 2014-15 NHL season is nearly upon us, and attempting to handicap the winners and losers can sometimes leave us speechless. So we decided to break down all 30 teams with the next best thing to words: Emojis!)   Last Season In Emojis


Wild sign RW Nino Niederreiter to 3-year deal (The Associated Press)

By at 11 September, 2014, 8:56 pm

The clock was ticking for the Minnesota Wild and free agent right wing Nino Niederreiter with the opening of training camp a week away. Deadlines often spur action, and that’s exactly what happened Thursday when the Wild signed Niederreiter to a three…


Ducks extend Boudreau; Murray talks Ryan, Methot; Subban for Habs captain? (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

By at 11 September, 2014, 11:19 am

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.


Puck Daddy Power Rankings: NHL expansion, slagging Ovechkin and Canada’s worst contract (Puck Daddy)

By at 10 September, 2014, 7:06 am

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]   6. Setting odds   It’s been said in this space before that when it comes to setting odds, the big betting houses seem to really struggle with hockey. This year, it seems, has been no exception. You’ll remember that last season the Leafs’ over/under was somewhere in the neighborhood of 96 points, and any reasonable observer who had access to sufficient data and chose to put some money on it could have — and really should have — made a lot of money on what was essentially a suckers’ bet. There was no actual way the Toronto Maple Leafs of last season would ever get anywhere near 96 points, and let’s please also recall that the 84 they did get was buoyed by some of the most incredible goaltending in the league last season from Jonathan Bernier. On Tuesday morning Bovada released its annual over/under lines on NHL teams’ point totals for the coming season, and most seemed pretty reasonable, as you might expect. But there were a few outliers that savvy bettors could exploit. For instance, the New York Islanders began Tuesday with an over/under of 81.5 points, meaning that all the positive changes they’ve made from last season would basically amount to about one extra win. This is hogwash. It was also apparently obvious to gamblers, because that line was hiked to 83.5 within just a few hours. And it’s still a huge value, because this is a playoff team, just based on the addition of a goaltender who’s not going to stop just 89 percent of the shots he faces. Other teams that offered considerable initial value: Dallas at 89.5 (will be higher), New Jersey at 83.5 (will be much higher), and Colorado at 98.5 (will be lower). By the way, you shouldn’t gamble on sports. But if you’re going to anyway, don’t be a sucker. 5. Getting in line for an undervalued defenseman When you can’t even get guys to your training camp for an invite, you might be in a little bit of trouble. It seems that Raphael Diaz, a right-shot mobile defenseman who’s a legitimate NHL player, was invited to Detroit’s camp, but declined, instead choosing to go with a similar offer from the Calgary Flames. This left the Wings, still, with no right-shooting D on their roster. That’s obviously a problem. (And it should be obvious why Diaz chose Calgary over Detroit: the Wings have seven defensemen on one-way contracts, pending Danny DeKeyser’s new deal. Calgary, meanwhile, has six, and just about anyone should be able to beat out Ladislav Smid for a job these days.) Meanwhile, this is the second defenseman the Flames have pulled to their camp just on the prospect of making the team (Sheldon Brookbank is the other, and he accepted about two weeks ago). They also signed Corey Potter to a two-way deal that could land him with Calgary as well. Add in at least one young defenseman (Tyler Wotherspoon) looking for a job with the big club, and you have to say that Brad Treliving has done well to make sure the bottom pairing on his NHL club isn’t total garbage. You have to like Diaz’s chances to make the team, because he can push possession and score a little bit, even if he is teeny-tiny and not even close to the “Brian Burke” type you’d expect for a bottom-pairing guy. The guy is very useful, and Calgary needs more young-ish (Dias is 28), useful players who won’t actually help them win anything this season. He fits that mold perfectly. 4. The Darcy Kuemper situation Contract talks are ongoing in Minnesota to bring back the only goalie who might be able to provide them with stability for next season. Darcy Kuemper still doesn’t have a deal, and the sticking point is one that he shouldn’t have to deal with (it’s actually not dissimilar to what Diaz went through when not-choosing Detroit): The Wild currently have two goaltenders on one-way deals, and they consequently want him to take a two-way . That’s good business on the team’s part in theory. The reality is that Niklas Backstrom almost certainly will get hurt at some point this season, or Josh Harding will have his MS unfortunately flare up again and prevent him from playing. At that point, having the ability to recall someone who posted a .915 save percentage last season would probably be really helpful. But it is ridiculous to ask him to take that deal, given his performance last year when the team needed him in dire circumstances. Kuemper is 24, and posted solid enough stats in the NHL and AHL the last few seasons that a team should just say, “Yup, this is an NHL-ready player,” even if he has only gotten into 32 career games. But the Wild can’t, because they have to stick with two goalies who present major risks. So Kuemper is reportedly considering the KHL instead, and good on him for doing so. There’s no reason at all that he shouldn’t be making seven figures to play hockey somewhere. Even if it’s just leverage against Minnesota, you can’t really blame him. Why would he deny himself the ability to make money? 3. Expansion talk That got put to a rest pretty quickly. A week ago we were talking about the league adding as many as four teams, then Gary Bettman had to go out and say all those teams would cost like a billion dollars and ruin all our fun. It’s great to speculate about this kind of thing, and you have to think that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Reporters don’t hear “there could be four new expansion teams in the next three seasons” and publish it out of nowhere, for no reason. This isn’t a “Sidney Crosby is rotting in an Ottawa jail” rumor here. Multiple reports from independent sources at the same time? And then some pretty detailed comments on them from the commissioner himself? Come on. With that said, if the price tag for a new NHL franchise is indeed that high — and granted, this is Toronto we’re talking about here, and not, say Seattle or Las Vegas — then there probably aren’t too many people who can afford to buy. I think we can all accept the fact that it’s going to happen at some point, just not right now, and probably not how we expect. At all. So, I guess just hold your horses for a while? On the other hand: . @PKSubban1 wants Houston in the NHL expansion conversation: “Because that’s where Beyonce is from.” — Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) September 9, 2014 2. Continuing to slag Ovechkin I’m not quite sure when this space became a one-stop shop for defending Alex Ovechkin from idiotic criticisms, but here we are anyway. This time, the criticism comes from — who else? — Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, who says that Ovechkin, the two-time (two-time!) defending Rocket Richard winner is “ on the hot seat ” in Washington. (And it’s worth noting here that The Hockey News in particular seems to have a serious infatuation with bad-mouthing Ovechkin. Please recall Adam Proteau’s ludicrous “ The Caps would be better off without him ” drivel from earlier this summer.) “ How does a 50-goal scorer end up on the list of players on the hot seat?” A myopic fool puts him there to generate page views? By piling up points on the power play, being an uninspired player 5-on-5 and not leading his team to the playoffs, that’s how. Oh, see? I was right! As to this specific criticism: Did Ovechkin “pile up points on the power play? Yes. He had the second-most of anyone in the league, apart from teammate Nicklas Backstrom, at 39 in 78 games. This is, somehow, seen as a bad thing, I think? As for the “uninspired” even-strength play, let’s please not remember that Ovechkin scored the fifth-most goals in the league in such situations (27) en route to his second consecutive Rocket Richard, and would have probably had more even-strength assists than his paltry 12 if Adam Oates hadn’t put Jay Beagle on his line for a good portion of the season. As for not leading the team to the playoffs, I concede. It’s easy to forget Ovechkin is responsible for the .906 on-ice even-strength save percentage behind him. Ovechkin might be one of the least-feared 50-goal scorers in the history of the game… This is like being unimpressed with the coloring of a particular albino endangered rhino is. “I’ve seen whiter.” Okay, sure you have, but, like, how many do you see around? There are currently two guys in the league who are close to a sure thing to score 50 goals a season in the current iteration of the NHL: Ovechkin and, when healthy, Steven Stamkos. Ovechkin has an exceedingly rare talent, and even if he’s not the best player with that talent, he’s still one of two people alive. So seriously, grow up. 1. Actually having the worst contract in Canada Last Friday, the CBC put up a poll asking which contract given to an NHL player by a Canadian team is the worst of all of them. This is a fairly easy question, but we’re going to save the answer for the end. The choices presented included one option per team, with the exception of the Canucks. The poll posits that the following players have the worst deals on their teams:  Max Pacioretty (164 points in his last 196 games) Clarke MacArthur (guaranteed 20 goals and 45 points, plus big possession numbers) Dion Phaneuf (a captain, and as good a No. 2 defenseman as there is in the league, especially if Randy Carlyle weren’t his coach) Zach Bogosian (who’s not Ondrej Pavelec) Matt Stajan (a decent No. 2 center with no help who’s only making $3.625 million) Mark Fayne (a possession-driving defenseman on a team paying Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference) Daniel and Henrik Sedin (they’re the Sedins, for god’s sake!) Is even one of these deals the worst contract on their own teams? Obviously, most of them aren’t even bad. But how about Rene Bourque in Montreal? Chris Neil in Ottawa? The aforementioned Ondrej Pavelec in Winnipeg and Andrew Ference in Edmonton? Deryk Engelland in Calgary? Ryan Miller in Vancouver? Or how about, easily, the worst contract in the entire NHL, let alone just Canada? How about David Clarkson in Toronto? That’s one hell of an editorial oversight.  (Not ranked this week: NHL15. It really shouldn’t be possible to screw up this hard, but here we are. After years of effectively not doing much to change the gameplay or presentation of the NHL series, EA Sports had the opportunity to really wow players with the introduction of NHL15 for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 next-gen consoles. Instead, they offered a game so stripped to the bones that it’s laughable. The list of modes to which players have grown accustomed but were not included in the launch is available here , and boy is it lengthy. But good news, deeply disappointed gamers: In the first-post launch update, the NHL15 team will add all the features you’ve been craving, like the ability to get your coach’s useless feedback in Be A Pro mode (“You were out there for a goal against, that’s a minus.”), and also see who the Three Stars of the Game were after every game you play (very important stuff there). There are other modes that will get minor tweaks too, like the ability to see when a player is injured in Hockey Ultimate Team. Then, another month later, they’ll let you play the game online with six people on a team, like you’ve been able to do for years. What a great opportunity for you, the consumer. Meanwhile, most reviews of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of the game essentially call it a $60 roster update. Good job all around from EA Sports. They shouldn’t be embarrassed at all.)


US charges stem from drug sales in Boogaard death (The Associated Press)

By at 9 September, 2014, 6:07 pm

A former minor league hockey player was arrested Tuesday on charges he sold illegally obtained prescription painkillers to former hockey player Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers and the Minnesota Wild before Boogaard died in 2011 of an accidental …


NHL Fantasy Hockey: Crucial training camp battles in Eastern Conference (Puck Daddy)

By at 9 September, 2014, 12:24 pm

Dobber launched his fantasy hockey website DobberHockey back in 2005 and has been Puck Daddy’s resident fantasy hockey enthusiast since 2009. Boston Bruins – Ville Leino vs. Simon Gagne vs. Ryan Spooner The Bruins have a gaping space in the lineup with Jarome Iginla gone. Prospect Ryan Spooner, who is a natural center, is the most NHL-ready forward in the system and appeared to have a job sewn up. But the Bruins invited Simon Gagne and Ville Leino to camp, implying that Spooner won’t have a job handed to him. Gagne, who has been out of the league so long that I keep adding an “r” to his name when I type it, last played on April 27 of 2013. A year and a half off could be a good thing for him though, as he is just 34 years old and was battling injury after injury. This kind of time to fully heal may actually counteract the rust. None of the three players are draft-worthy, but the winner of this little battle could be waiver-wire-worthy by Week 2 (say that three times fast). Buffalo Sabres – Mikhail Grigorenko vs. Sam Reinhart Grigorenko has already had two kicks at the can when he actually should have been dominating junior hockey instead of rotting in a losing NHL environment. Now that he’s 20, he can play in the AHL where he is probably best suited. At least for the first half. But the Sabres are not deep down the middle and a job is there to be had. Did the organization learn any lessons from the treatment of Grigorenko? We’ll know soon enough, because Reinhart was the second overall pick of the recent NHL Draft and in most cases that means an NHL job right away. In an ideal world, both prospects would develop in another league for 2014-15 but I think you’ll see one of them make the Sabres. Carolina Hurricanes – None. For Now. Unless your fantasy team gives you a rooting interest on the question of whether or not Zach Boychuk can stave off the likes of Chris Terry and Brock McGinn (in which case – I’m sorry), the Hurricanes have a set group of 12 forwards and seven defensemen. In a somewhat related note, Boychuk’s fall from fantasy hockey grace has been steep and it would be really cool to see him somehow find his mojo and kick ass to start the season.  Columbus Blue Jackets – Secondary Power-Play Time Let’s assume that Scott Hartnell, Ryan Johansen, Nathan Horton, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson are locks for five of the six forward PP spots. That leaves one spot for Boone Jenner/Matt Calvert/Artem Anisimov and newcomer Simon Hjalmarsson to fight over.  The winner of this ‘battle’ won’t exactly make tidal waves in the fantasy hockey community, but it would mean the difference between 35 points and 45 points. Detroit Red Wings – Kids vs. Vets Now that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss are all healthy, what does that mean for Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco? And if Daniel Alfredsson gets signed, just think of how much murkier this scenario will get. Many teams would start riding the young guns. Given that the Wings are looking to bring Daniel Alfredsson back and for some reason re-signed Daniel Cleary…they are obviously not “many teams”. But think about the wide range of possibilities here – Nyquist could get anywhere from 40 points to 70 points, depending on how he is used, if Alfredsson signs, etc., etc. And Sheahan’s range could be 30 to 55. Tatar’s would be between 35 and 55. Jurco could have zero points…or 50. It’s teams like Detroit that make fantasy hockey so challenging. A perceived sixth-line winger could get 50 points, while a tentative first-line winger (i.e. a Justin Abdelkader) could end up with 25. Florida Panthers – Brandon Pirri vs. Vincent Trocheck vs. Jimmy Hayes Assuming that Quinton Howden and Drew Shore don’t make the team, the Panthers have 12 NHL forwards…plus Pirri, Trocheck and Hayes. Of the three, Trocheck is the only player on a two-way contract. So even though he was one of the best Panthers down the stretch last season and even if he has a dynamite training camp, the politics of his situation would see him sent to the AHL. So which former Blackhawk prospect gets into the lineup? That’s what training camp is for. Montreal Canadiens – Rene Bourque for a Scoring-Line Job After Bourque’s rebirth in the postseason (eight goals in 17 games) and given his $3.3 million ticket, you’d have to think that he gets top six minutes to start the year, no? But if so, who comes out? Fortunately, with the depth that the Habs have up the middle, Bourque will have a talented pivot to play with regardless. Which kind of makes this blurb pointless. But what else is there, Dustin Tokarski vs. Peter Budaj in the battle of “who gets to have eight wins this year”? New Jersey Devils – Which Reclamation Project Gets PP Time? Injury-prone (Ryane Clowe, Martin Havlat, Mike Cammalleri), aging (Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias), slumping (Tuomo Ruutu, Michael Ryder) or unproven (Damien Brunner). Count’em – that’s eight players with upside, but other than Elias there is quite a bit of downside. How the lines shake out (and PP units) in training camp will determine which of these players get off to a hot start and help your fantasy roster. This is not going to be resolved in a couple of practices (it takes a whole training camp to do that) – but at least we’ll see how and where some of the pieces will fit for Game 1. New York Islanders – Anders Lee vs. Brock Nelson Many poolies have Nelson penciled in on that big line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. But Lee boasts size, strength and the talent to keep up. He entered the NHL with a splash, scoring six goals in his first eight games last season. If he could win a job alongside JT it would quite literally mean a nomination for the Calder Trophy. Or he could go back to the AHL. Nelson, on the other hand, seems pegged for close to 40 points as a third/second line tweener… or if he snags that top line job then you can add 15 or 20. Long-shot candidate: Cory Conacher. New York Rangers – Kevin Hayes vs. Ryan Malone Hayes was a top prospect for the Blackhawks who elected not to sign with the team that drafted him, as was his right, and become an unrestricted free agent. He chose New York because it offered, in his mind, the best combination of opportunity to play immediately, plus an opportunity to win (which effectively rules out his brother’s team in Florida, and his buddy Johnny Gaudreau’s team in Calgary). And the Rangers had a depth chart that would have pretty easily allowed for Hayes to make the team out of camp provided he didn’t blow it. But now Malone is skating with the team and although there is no official contract as of yet, you have to figure that his arrival would spell ‘AHL’ for Hayes. Both men will be playing for an NHL job, though at different points in their careers.


How many points will your NHL team earn in 2014-15? (Puck Daddy)

By at 9 September, 2014, 11:27 am

One of the harbingers of the upcoming NHL season is the release of 2014-15 odds from ye olde oddsmakers, and seeing how quickly they change as wagerers do their wagering.  Bovada released its annual regular-season point total over/unders on Tuesday, and already some of the lines have moved. But here they are upon their initial release; keep in mind these are betting lines, meaning they’re set up to entice you to wager rather than being to-the-digit predictions of teams’ point totals. From Bovada: Over/Under Point Totals Anaheim Ducks – 105½ Arizona Coyotes – 80½ Boston Bruins – 112½ Buffalo Sabres – 65½ Calgary Flames – 71½ Carolina Hurricanes – 81½ Chicago Blackhawks – 111½ Colorado Avalanche – 98½ Columbus Blue Jackets – 90½ Dallas Stars – 89½ Detroit Red Wings – 91½ Edmonton Oilers – 80½ Florida Panthers – 70½ Los Angeles Kings – 106½ Minnesota Wild – 98½ Montreal Canadiens – 93½ Nashville Predators – 76½ New Jersey Devils – 83½ New York Islanders – 81½ New York Rangers – 95½ Ottawa Senators – 78½ Philadelphia Flyers – 90½ Pittsburgh Penguins – 105½ San Jose Sharks – 102½ St Louis Blues – 105½ Tampa Bay Lightning – 94½ Toronto Maple Leafs – 88½ Vancouver Canucks – 88½ Washington Capitals – 88½ Winnipeg Jets – 80½ ***  A few reactions: 1  The 112-point Colorado Avalanche getting their points set at 98.5 is interesting. Many are predicting a point regression for the Avs, but will it be steeper than that? 2. The Sabres’ 65 points are of course the lowest betting total in the league. And while we all assume they’re Dishonor For Connor, keep in mind that their 52-point season last year was the first time a team finished with less than 60 points in an 82-game season since the 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers. It doesn’t happen often. 3. Um, 93.5 points for the Montreal Canadiens? What’s the French phrase for “automatic over, collect profits in a few months”?  


What We Learned: Let’s not freak out about NHL camp tryout drama (Puck Daddy)

By at 8 September, 2014, 7:45 am

( Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) This is a thing that shouldn’t have to be said, but apparently still needs saying, so here goes: NHL teams that invite NHL veterans to training camp with no actual guarantee of a contract is just good business. Pretty simple concept, really. If a team does this, it potentially improves them in some tangible way — often providing little more than team depth, but that in itself is obviously worth something — with the only cost to them being money. And even then, that’s only if the invitee can beat out whatever other guys on the team might also be competing for a spot, usually at the bottom of a lineup. These facts are self-evident. If you invite a guy to camp without a contract, you are by definition guaranteeing him nothing but a chance to skate around in a few exhibition games and fill out the “NHL player” roster requirements for such without exposing your own players to a potential injury when some AHL goon geeked up on adrenaline and smelling salts decides to take a run at him from behind to “prove himself” to what he hopes will be his new NHL team. You are not offering him a job, you are not compromising anything. In fact, it’s a good insurance policy for your own players (though perhaps a bit disingenuous to your fans, who have to pay through the nose for exhibition games featuring Sheldon Brookbank as their home team’s No. 2 defenseman). And yet here were are, about a week and a half before training camps open, with people loudly complaining about two training camp invitations in particular. The first is the more controversial, with the Penguins having called up a former player for just about every half-decent team of the last five years or so, Dan Carcillo. From 2011 to today, Carcillo has had a remarkable journey, playing for four Stanley Cup finalists in the last four seasons: Philadelphia in 2010-11, Chicago in 2012-13, and both of them from last season thanks to a combined 57 games between Los Angeles and the Rangers. Has Carcillo been in any way responsible for these teams’ successes in that time? Of course not. He has, in point of fact, been detrimental to them. But NHL teams look at that resume and say, “He must be doing something right,” because NHL teams often value the ability to simply be on good teams over the ability to actually contribute to them (this is lately known as “The Bolland Corollary,” but proved true time and again over the years). Carcillo being invited to Pittsburgh, of all places, seems particularly odious to some observers, who left their takes on the matter to sit on an early September sidewalk still-scorching from the long, hot August. As is often the case with the Battle of Pennsylvania, being a former Flyer is a nigh-unforgivable crime, but if Carcillo were a decent player (alas, he is not) then perhaps his sin of having collected a paycheck in the same commonwealth three years ago could be overlooked. But because literally all he’s good for is boarding people and fighting — though less often than he once did; he has 12 over the past three seasons, after posting a combined 30 in 2009-10 and 2010-11 alone — this is seen as an affront to Penguindom, and all Mario Lemieux has ever stood for. It is, of course, not. Carcillo’s chance of making the Penguins this season is minuscule, and probably non-existent if we’re being honest. While third- and fourth-line depth has been an issue in Pittsburgh the last few years, the team took strides toward shoring that up this summer which were better than they should have reasonably expected. Carcillo might have pushed for a roster spot — very maybe — last season or the one before that, but now it would be truly shocking if he did so. And what’s more, if there’s a guy who gets beat for, say, the 13th forward spot by Dan Carcillo, of all the hockey players in the world, then that’s not a guy you want on your team to begin with. Further, no one is going to argue that guys like Carcillo are even replacement-level players. Because they are not. If the need strikes, you could call up a good AHLer and expect better hockey than what they’re going to provide, and assuredly that’s what the Penguins will do. All Carcillo provides is “jam” or whatever coaching pablum is applied to relatively talentless players, and guys like that are available by the bushel. The handwringing over “What does this mean for Pittsburgh’s philosophy?!” is silly. It means nothing. The other big invite that drew an unnecessary amount of fretting was Boston’s decision on Friday to allow Ville Leino to come to camp. You know, “the” Ville Leino: That guy who suuucks and whose contract suuuucked, and the two were both so bad that he had to be bought out by Buffalo, a team that suuuuuuuuuuucks. You can see where people got upset. These worriers, in effect, got all worked up about was the fact that Leino never lived up to his deal. He, of course, was never going to. He signed for $4.5 million a season in 2011-12, back when $4.5 million a season wasn’t a number reserved for borderline top-six wings and second-pairing defensemen. Back when saying, “$4.5 million,” actually meant what we still think it does today. What people forget is that when he signed that deal, it was only because Buffalo had just been bought by a billionaire, and they wanted to make a splash. Was it a sickening belly flop? You bet it was. Leino’s salary went from $800,000 per year to $4.5 million (an increase of well over 500 percent), despite the fact that he’d never shown he could be much more than a third-line contributor at the best of times during the regular seasons, which is all he’d ever see in Buffalo anyway. His contributions with the Sabres over three seasons (10-36-46 points in 137 games) puts him in a points-per-60 range with Gregory Campbell and Chad Larose, which is bad, and clearly not worth the money. But at the same time, there are worse third- and fourth-line options than that in the league, and some of them are straight-up getting paid (Brian Boyle, Rene Bourque, and Shawn Horcoff actually had points-per-60 lower than that over the same period, though all faced more adverse situations than Leino). Thus, if you can have a Ville Leino on your team for, say, $700,000, that has the potential to be valuable. Especially for a team like Boston that’s in a serious cap crunch, and frankly needs help on the wings. These, again, are nothing more than smart decisions from Rutherford and Peter Chiarelli, because both of their teams are right against the cap, and at worst these players will give them more options for a nominal fee. If the last few days have been any indication, both these guys could theoretically be signed to two-way deals (a la Corey Potter in Calgary or Steve Eminger in Boston) as well, giving the team flexibility to call up actual borderline NHL talent when the need arises, while not keeping them on the books until such time. These players, who have been around the league for years, can also help shepherd along both teams’ burgeoning prospects and so on, if you believe in that stuff. The thing is, neither of these tryouts are likely to result in an NHL deal, but seeing if they might hurts neither team nor player. The only people who might walk away upset about it are the people who bought preseason tickets. And if you’re doing that, you deserve to be disappointed in the first place. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : Still cool to remember that the Ducks basically fund a high school hockey league in their area. But maybe their Hockey Day in Southern California should take place a little later in the season than “a week before training camps open.” Arizona Coyotes : It really does boggle the mind that the Coyotes let Radim Vrbata walk (to a division rival no less) when he was one of three or maybe four guaranteed 20-plus goal guys on the team. Of course, he tried that whole “playing elsewhere” thing before and it didn’t work out for him, but where do those goals come from now? Boston Bruins : The Bruins have roughly a million NHL-ready defensemen on the roster, and will probably trade at least one of them. One who deserves to get a shot in the NHL — and it probably won’t be with Boston — is David Warsofsky, an ultra-mobile undersized puck-mover who can put up decent numbers in the AHL. Buffalo Sabres : The Sabres power play is awful . This isn’t news since it only went off at 14 percent last season, but this breakdown does not paint a pretty picture. They weren’t unlucky, they were just ungood. Calgary Flames : Spread the news: Sam Bennett was in Ottawa when Sidney Crosby was arrested insofar as he was also working out in Colorado , and not actually in Ottawa. Carolina Hurricanes : Whoever wins the starting goaltender job in Raleigh this season will be expected to play 60 games this year . That means 22 games of Cam Ward! That means like 16 losses! Chicago Blackhawks : If you were wondering whether people know what “elite” means in the NHL today: Nope . Colorado Avalanche : Hmm.. Nathan MacKinnon is impressive , you say? I don’t know guys. That might not be true. Columbus Blue Jackets : Not only do the Blue Jackets have a former Vezina winner in their crease for the foreseeable future, but they also have two very good prospects for the same position in the AHL. No fair. Dallas Stars : Jamie Benn says that the team getting Jim Nill basically made them make a total turnaround in a short period of time. Pretty hard to argue that any GM has done better over the last year and a half. Detroit Red Wings : Another tryout invitation : Raphael Diaz. That seems like a good fit, at least if Diaz accepts. Edmonton Oilers : Without playing a single game for Edmonton, Mark Fayne already has the team’s “ worst contract .” Tough bounce. Florida Panthers : Aaron Ekblad thinks he’ll make the Panthers next season , but what’s a better idea? Giving him bottom-pairing minutes and power play time in the bigs or letting him play 25 a night in the OHL for another year? Los Angeles Kings : NHL.com ranked Drew Doughty as the best defenseman in the league . Hard to argue with, unless you’re a PHWA voter; Doughty finished sixth in Norris voting this past season. Minnesota Wild : The Wild, for all the moving-in-the-right-direction they’ve done in the last year or so, still have a lot of problems . Even beyond the mess of a goaltending position, if you can believe that. Montreal Canadiens : C’mon Marty. Give it up . Nashville Predators, America’s Favorite Hockey Team : James Neal thinks Derek Roy will have a good season with Nashville this year. He might also want to worry about himself, given that he didn’t pack Evgeni Malkin when he moved. New Jersey Devils : It would take a little doing, I’d think, but Cory Schneider as a Vezina darkhorse is a very real proposition.