Souray, the Oilers' Young Guns, Kabanov and the Devilish Devils
The young guns of the Oilers got off to a good start in the Canucks Young Stars tournament over the weekend. I watched the game and it was clear the Oilers were the better team. Sure, the Canucks were missing Hodgson, but the Oilers were also missing guys like Omark and Lander. Regardless, its a rookie tournament and I think most people would agree that the Oilers have better prospects right now than the Canucks, in spite of Hodgson and Schroeder. One thing that got me irritated as the game went on was the continual reference to Eberle and Hall by the commentators. Principe wasn't as bad as the other guy, whose name escapes me, but if we're going to crown these two as the franchise saviours and go on and on and on about how great they are every time they touch the puck, I'm not the only one that is going to be annoyed. Its the same irritation when Crosby or Ovechkin make a bad play and the commentators still say what a great play they made. SHUT UP ALREADY!! There are some good, young prospects in the Oilers system, and while Hall and Eberle are certainly the cream, another guy just happened to outplay both of them - Magnus Paajarvi. Paajarvi was praised on occasion, but no where near the attention of Hall and Eberle, yet Paajarvi's 2 goals (and almost a hat trick a couple times) and dominance on the puck was clear throughout the game. Paajarvi just may be the Calder winner this year, with Hall and Eberle well in his rear view mirror.
The oft-maligned (or misunderstood depending on your perspective) Kirill Kabanov showed up late for the first day of Islanders training camp. The Islanders responded by not allowing him to participate in the first day's activities. While nobody doubts his talent, most doubt his attitude and ability to get his head on straight. The Islanders did the right thing, though we aren't given context of his tardiness (was he 5 minutes late, or 2 hours late?), nor his reason for being late (got lost, was busy signing autographs, slept in, etc.). In spite of all of this, the kid has brought the microscope on himself by his past actions and things like this will not help his cause in becoming an NHL player. The KHL doesn't even want him, and that's saying something. The Islanders need someone like Doug Weight or Dwayne Roloson to sit down and have a good, long chat with this kid about what he needs. I don't think the Islanders have anyone like Messier, but an even better approach would to have someone like Messier have a "talk" with him and set him straight. Speaking of Messier, he wasn't exactly a kid with a great track record in his early NHL career. Glen Sather had to be tough on Messier early and it clearly worked for him. If Kabanov can trust someone enough to guide him, this kid could be a big time player for the Islanders. If not, he'll fade into obscurity like so many before him.
The NHL fined the Devils $3 Million for circumventing the cap, plus stripped them of a pair of draft picks. While Devils fans cry foul, other teams, like Chicago, Detroit, Vancouver and Boston should be thanking their lucky stars. I don't think its right for the NHL to punish the Devils while letting these other teams off scot-free. In fact, Bettman should be kissing the shoes of Lamoriello for bringing these circumvented contracts to the fore so they could be dealt with once and for all without a strike or lockout. Lou was merely doing what the other named teams above were doing and got away with. How can you hand down a punishment when they allowed the last contract to stand and allowed the Luongo, Hossa, Savard, Zetterberg and Franzen contracts to stand also? It doesn't make sense and I think the Devils got screwed.