On Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes inked Alexander Semin to a five-year, $35 million contract extension. The deal features a cap cost of $7 million a season and Semin will be 34 years and 4 months old when the deal expires in July 2018. From the blogs and comment threads I've looked at, Hurricanes fans seem happy with the deal and they probably should be. Semin is an elite scorer. Among players that have played at least 1000 even strength minutes from 2009-2012, only Daniel Sedin has posted higher ES points per 60 numbers from the wing. Although he's exiting his prime, players like Semin generate such value that the risk on a five year term is worth bearing. Eight-year, $60+ million contracts, are another matter. Overall, I very much wanted to see Semin in a Habs uniform in 2013 and this dream has officially imploded. If you're sad about this like I am, or just sad in general, here is some quality writing from around the hockey world that will hopefully cheer you up:
Habs News and Analysis
- Notwithstanding the (fantastic) addition of Jeff Halpern via waivers, the roster situation remains relatively unchanged. Rene Bourque suffered a concussion-related setback on the weekend and is no longer close to returning to action. When asked about the situation at practice on Monday, Michel Therrien would not elaborate. Meanwhile,Brandon Prust skated individually at practice on Monday. Although Prust feels that he is progressing, he was not cleared to join the team on the Pittsburgh-Boston road trip.
- Speaking of Halpern, he seems happy to be in re-Hab (I stole that pun from Dave Stubbs, please direct your complaints at him). Both Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press and the aforementioned Stubbs have stories on the 36-year-old's triumphant return. As of writing, I can't find any confirmation that Halpern is in the lineup tonight. However, we do know that he practiced on Monday and made the trip to Pittsburgh with the team.
- Brian Gionta does a Q&A with NHL.com's Dan Rosen. Gio muses on Brendan Gallagher and praises the organization for the good "mix" of veteran savvy and youthful exuberance in the locker room.
- Jeff Bartl of the Associated Press has a preview of tonight's Habs-Pens game up on CBC Sports. He notes that Pittsburgh's twelve game winning streak started with an overtime win against the Habs on March 2nd.
Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Penguins Edition
- There's considerable roster news for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are still day-to-day with injuries. Malkin will not play tonight (*pumps fist*) while Letang is available. Meanwhile, recently acquired Brenden Morrow will make his Penguins' debut, skating on a line with Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal. The (also) recently acquired Douglas Murray will most likely not draw into the lineup. The always phenomenal Marc-André Fleury will start in goal.
- Speaking of Pittsburgh's recent acquisitions, here's reaction to the Brenden Morrow deal and the Douglas Murray deal from the folks over at Pensburgh. The Penguins are definitely in "win now" mode.
- If you're looking for the opposite perspective, "The Neutral" over at Fear the Fin is very happy with return the Sharks got for Douglas Murray. He celebrates the destruction of the "horrendous Murray/Brad Stuart pairing" and notes that two picks in the top sixty is fantastic value for "7th defenseman and pending free agent." Meanwhile, Defending Big D's Brad Gardner is sad to see captain Morrow go.
General News and Analysis
- Cam Charron over at NHL Numbers has the league PDO numbers through March 25. He notes that the Habs inability to solve Ryan Miller twice this past week has caused the team's PDO to drop about a percentage point compared to the last time he crunched the numbers. Buffalo did help Montreal from a possession perspective, though. By FenClose, the Habs are now a top five possession team in the league, while the Penguins rank twelfth.
- Travis Yost has the score-adjusted Fenwick standings through March 24. Again, special thanks must be given to the Buffalo Sabres whose awful performance against Montreal allowed the Habs to jump into the top five.
- With the help of writers from around the blogosphere, Kent Wilson over at Flames Nation builds potential trade packages for Jarome Iginla. Wilson uses the list of Ignila's preferred destinations, uncovered by Renaud Lavoie, to to set his parameters. Please don't accept a deal to Boston, Iggy. I like you too much.
- Using a passage from Laura's musing on sports-related suffering, Haley from Matchsticks and Gasoline talks about anger, sadness, and hope in the Calgary Flames context.
- Using six years of data and five "defensive" statistics: RelCorsi QoC, RelCorsi QoT, OZ%, On-Ice Corsi, and Penalty Differential per 60, Pension Plan Puppets' Steve Burtch has created an index to evaluate defensemen and their ability to outperform possession expectations. According to his data, PK Subban and Josh Gorges are two of only 43 defensemen that "have a reliable history over the past 6 years of outperforming expectations defensively." A critique of Burch's methodology is over my head and above my pay grade. If you have any questions about it, ask them in the comments section.
- After saying my final goodbyes on Friday, it turns out that Alexei Kovalev intends to play in Europe next season. Even in retirement he's awesome and frustrating!
- Viking, Alberta native and Stanley Cup winning head coach Darryl Sutter plans to endorse the Keystone XL Pipeline when Barack Obama hosts the L.A. Kings at the White House. At least he's willing to show up!
- The much beloved Alexei Yashin will make his return to Ottawa as the GM of Team Russia at the 2013 Women's World Championship. Lucas Aykroyd over at IIHF.com has an interview with the 3-time Olympian and former Sens' captain.
Archive Material and EOTP News
- Back in 2010, EOTP's own Bruce Peter called Jeff Halpern,"the definition of unsung." Read his article to see what all the fuss was about.