Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Top Earning NHL Players

(1/22/2021)

from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes, The NHL’s top-earning player for the 2020-2021 season is Auston Matthews. The Toronto Maple Leafs center was scheduled to make $15.9 million in playing salary and bonus, but will instead earn $13 million net of escrow and including deferrals (a bulk of the escrow payment will be deducted from his July 2021 bonus). Matthews’ off-ice income in 2021 from endorsements, memorabilia and licensing is an estimated $3 million, pushing his total income to $16 million. The athlete endorsement market has gone into a deep freeze during the coronavirus pandemic, but Matthews added new deals last year with Verizon and equipment giant CCM Hockey. They join ongoing partners Nike, Scotiabank and sleep aid Dream Water. Matthews offers a compelling package for marketers. He was on pace to break the Maple Leafs’ single-season goals record before the season was paused in March. He is a young, fashion-forward, Mexican American playing in the hockey capital of the world. Matthews spent part of his offseason training with fellow star center Connor McDavid, who ranks as the NHL’s second-highest-paid player with $15.2 million (both are clients of sports agency Wasserman). The 2017 NHL MVP has one of the sport’s top endorsement portfolios, generating an estimated $4.5 million from partners CCM, Adidas, CIBC, BioSteel and more. McDavid’s No. 97 Edmonton Oilers jersey was the NHL’s second best-seller behind Sidney Crosby’s sweater in 2020. Rounding out the top five are Mitch Marner ($15 million), Alexander Ovechkin ($13.2 million) and Crosby ($11.9 million). more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Top 16 Teams In The NHL

(1/21/2021)

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com, To create the Super 16, each of the 14 participating staff members put together his or her version of what they think it should look like. Those were submitted and a point total assigned to each. The team that was selected first was given 16 points, second got 15, third 14 and so on down to No. 16, who got one point. Here is the Super 16: 1. Tampa Bay Lightning (2-0-0) Total points: 221 Preseason rank: No. 1 The Lightning have eight players who've scored at least one goal and 13 at least one point. Forward Steven Stamkos leads them with five points (two goals, three assists). 2. Vegas Golden Knights (4-0-0) Total points: 207 Preseason rank: No. 3 Alex Pietrangelo appears to be a fit; the defenseman scored his first goal with Vegas in a 5-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday and entered averaging more than 26 minutes of ice time per game. The Golden Knights have shown resiliency by coming back to win games against the Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks after falling behind in each of them. 3. Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0) Total points: 180 Preseason rank: No. 2 The Avalanche responded to their season-opening 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues by scoring 11 straight goals across five periods before allowing two in the third period of a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Nathan MacKinnon scored his 500th NHL point against the Kings. The center has 191 goals and 309 assists in 528 games, all with the Avalanche. 13 more teams

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Off-Season Moves Paying Off For The Detroit Red Wings

(1/20/2021)

from Josh Berenter of DetroitRedWings.com, Eleven Stanley Cup championships. Original Six. The Winged Wheel. Hockeytown. That's the cache that comes with being a member of the Detroit Red Wings, and this season, the Wings welcomed seven new members to the exclusive fraternity as the clubs looks to jumpstart their rebuild. The Red Wings began their offseason by signing Swedish forward Mathias Brome on April 29 and traded for 13-year New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal on September 26 before attacking the free-agent market in October. On the first day of free agency on October 9, Detroit signed veteran forward Bobby Ryan and Michigan native defenseman Jon Merrill to one-year deals. The next day, the Red Wings added 11-year NHL goalie Thomas Greiss and 26-year-old defenseman Troy Stecher, and on October 11, Detroit capped off its new haul by signing center and Red Wings bloodline Vladislav Namestnikov. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said he was pleased with the offseason work of executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman. "I think all of them have the opportunity to make our team a better hockey team, without a shadow of a doubt," Blashill said during training camp. "They all have good hockey in them. I think they're a good group in their own different ways that can give us good, good minutes, which is what you need lots of times in the NHL." The Wings badly needed defensive depth after finishing last season near the bottom of the NHL in goals-against average. And with the help of Merrill, Staal and Stecher, along with the return of Danny DeKeyser from a back injury, Blashill said the back end has been stabilized. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Checking In On The Top 2 Draft Picks From Last Year

(1/20/2021)

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, It wasn’t so much hype as a sense of anticipation. A year ago, for the first time ever, the first two overall selections in the NHL draft were going to teams based approximately six miles apart, and weren’t we all going to be in for a treat watching the rivalry develop between the Devils’ No. 1, Jack Hughes, and the Rangers’ No. 2, Kaapo Kakko? Well, the future obviously all lies ahead of the two 19-year-olds, which is a pretty good thing considering their one season of NHL past added up to the biggest combined one-two statistical flop in more than two decades.... And let me tell you, Hughes was dancing all night long at the Garden on Thursday, racking up a pair of goals and an assist in an eye-opening performance to co-star with 47-save goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood in the Devils’ 4-3 victory. The young man added musculature to his frame with diligent offseason work that has allowed him to battle in those 50-50 areas, but Hughes just never stopped moving his feet. He was dynamic and quicksilver, on his toes throughout while thriving under head coach Lindy Ruff, who worked as an assistant the previous three years on the other side of the Hudson. “My confidence level is obviously high,” said Hughes, who has six points (2-4) through three contests. “I think it’s always been high, you know, but we’re building and I’m building personally. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Mike Babcock On Johan Franzen

(1/19/2021)

from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, It began with former Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios going on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and alleging that Babcock had verbally assaulted Franzen during a playoff series against Nashville. Franzen, in a subsequent interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen, called Babcock a “great coach,” but a “terrible person” and a “bully,” saying he suffered from verbal attacks from the coach. Former Red Wings GM Ken Holland was asked by the Detroit Free Press last December if a player had ever come to him and accused Babcock of verbal abuse. Holland said no.... “(Franzen) had unbelievable years in Detroit,’’ Babcock said. “He was a big man with great hands. When he first came here, we thought he was a checker and he turned himself into an unbelievable player. “When a player that you’ve coached says that about you, it stings you big time. But not only does it sting for that, if you’ve been involved with mental health like I have …'”... “Can you imagine having someone say that about you when you have been involved in mental health as much as I have? Now, I’ve reached out to (Franzen). That’s not going to make anything go away. “It doesn’t matter what I perceive. When you’re talking about this kind of thing, if the person — whether it’s a co-worker, your spouse, your student — if they think that’s the environment, that’s what they’re feeling. Now, I sure wish I would have known about that then. And I could have done something about that. Besides apologize, there’s not much I can do about that now. But does it sting? Does it hurt? Absolutely.’’ more ($$$) and Babcock addresses other topics too...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Family “Pod”

(1/18/2021)

from Emily Kaplan of ESPN, - After the complicated situation where players' families were mostly prevented from joining the NHL bubble this summer, I was curious how teams would handle family members attending games this season. According to the CBA, each team must make available two complimentary tickets per player per home game, and a minimum of two tickets for purchase for each home and visiting player. In negotiations for 2021, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to an updated policy for this season. Each home player's group of guests will be seated in their own "pod" while keeping distance from other player guest pods. Teams were also told to designate a separate visiting player guest section. If you've been watching broadcasts, you've probably noticed some family members in the seats, but not at all arenas just yet. Some markets still can't allow family members due to attendance restrictions from local public health authorities, though that could evolve as the season goes on. - A few observations from players on how this season feels different: "I don't do much outside the rink at all. I feel like I'm living in a bubble at home." "They're definitely pumping the sound loud at the arena, but it's a different energy without fans. Sometimes [fake] crowd reaction sounds one or two seconds delayed." And from a player on a road trip: "I think there's a team room we're allowed to hang out in, but there's not much to do just hanging at the hotel. Most guys will probably spend a lot of time in their rooms." many more topics, a good way to catch up on what you may have missed reently...