Nichols: Raymond’s deal; Krejci’s start

July 26, 2010, 4:51 PM

Need help deciding on keeper choices for ’10-11? Wondering about someone’s poolie potential after summer moves by the team? We’ll have a fantasy Q&A coming up before too long, so drop a line to chris.nichols@sportsnet.rogers.com and it may be included.

Mason Raymond and the Vancouver Canucks have agreed to terms on a two-year, $5.1M deal. The contract apparently avoided the arbitration hearing by a matter of minutes, so now it’ll be up to the 24-year old Alberta-born winger to build on last year’s breakout 25-28-53 campaign (he played all 82 GP) that saw him earn a second line role with the Canucks. He should be in a position to keep those L2 minutes next year alongside Ryan Kesler, as things stand today.

Raymond’s contract will pay him a total of $100K more than Mikael Samuelsson’s (30-23-53 in 74 GP) last two years on his deal ($2.5M exactly each season, whereas Raymond’s deal is $2.5M and then $2.6M). Alex Burrows, who posted 35-32-67 in a fairly regular role alongside the Sedins, makes $2M per season and is still one of the best deals out there in salary cap leagues of any format.

KREJCI LOOKING FOR STRONG OPENING
According to The Boston Globe, David Krejci’s surgically repaired right wrist seems to be recovering nicely. The cast has been gone for weeks, but a small scar remains. He’s scheduled to have the pins removed Friday.

“Everybody is saying we’re right on schedule, everything’s going the right way. I’m really excited for it, it’s been a long time,” said Krejci, who dislocated the wrist May 5 in a hard open-ice hit by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in the first period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. “I can’t wait to get back on the ice, get back into games and everything.”

He’ll be looking to rebound from an ’09-10 season that saw him post 17-35-52. While still decent stats, those totals represented a drop from the 22-51-73 tallied in his breakout ’08-9 campaign. The Globe notes that he went into last season recovering from hip surgery, which, he said, contributed to his slow start.

“My first half of last season was slow. I wasn’t producing,” said the 24-year-old native of the Czech Republic. “A few weeks before the Olympics I picked up my game and my second half of the year was very good.

“I need to start the way I finished last year. It’s not easy. I believe if I’ve done it two years ago all season, and if I’ve done it last year for the second half, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t start the same way.”

Krejci could represent a bargain opportunity for poolies in the fall if he’s able to carry through with that plan. His potential linemates are still to be determined and that’ll mostly depend on what happens with first line pivot Marc Savard, who has continually been rumoured to be on the move since the team drafted centre Tyler Seguin. That leaves the Bruins with four quality pivots, including Patrice Bergeron; which makes the recently-turned 33-year old Savard and his $4M cap hit (fairly affordable, but for seven years if he plays out the whole contract) a prime trade consideration.

A Savard move could mean Krejci will inherit newly-acquired Nathan Horton on the RW and maybe even Milan Lucic on the left side, which couldn’t hurt the Czech’s fantasy promise. If Savard is still on the Bruins roster to begin the season, then Krejci may have the talented Seguin on one wing.

Also from that article…

Krejci on Seguin: “I don’t like to take my teammates as my challenge. I like to be better than other guys on other teams, but I need my teammates to help me out,” Krejci said. “So this new kid, I believe, he’s going to help me out and I’m going to help him out. I’m not competing against anybody on my team, but I want to be the best player on the team and I want to become one of the best players in the league.”

On his Bruins losing to the Flyers, just short of the Cup Finals: “We were so close – all the good teams went out,” Krejci said. “I’m not saying we would beat Montreal if we beat Philly, but maybe. You never know. Those opportunities don’t come around that often.

“I’m looking forward to this year because we have a really good team and we can accomplish big things. I believe in this team. It’s still too soon and we don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not afraid to say that we could go all the way to the [Stanley Cup] finals. We have that team.”

QUOTABLE
“It was just awful, knowing that was it. But you want to be able to learn from it,” Chris Drury told Newsday about the season-ending shootout loss his New York Rangers suffered against the Philadelphia Flyers, which cost his team a playoff spot. Consistency issues dogged the team all season long. “You have to be able to know why we were there.

“When we had success, it was because we figured out how hard we had to play and how smart we had to play. When we only did one or the other, things didn’t go as well and the result of the season was what we got.”

He later added, “What’s the old saying — the only thing worse than a mistake is not learning from it? We have to take the crushing disappointment of being a shootout goal away from the playoffs and turn it into a positive, which is that we know what it takes and what we have to do to make it happen.”

BLUE JACKETS’ D OFFENSIVE
The Columbus Dispatch indicates that it sounds like a contingency plan in the event that defenceman Anton Stralman is set free following a potentially higher-than-wanted arbitration ruling, but Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said he’s always favoured using a forward at the point of at least one power play unit.

“I’ve always liked using a forward with skill back there because they typically read the play quicker and recognize gaps and spacing better than defencemen,” Arniel said. “That’s why they’re forwards, right? It comes naturally to them.

“The challenge is finding the right guy who can do that because that guy has to be at least capable of defending when you lose possession and the puck starts coming the other direction. He has to be capable of defending and some guys just aren’t.”

The article notes that if Stralman walks, don’t be surprised to see Derick Brassard or Jakub Voracek lining up next to Fedor Tyutin on PP1 when the Blue Jackets are up a skater.

Generally speaking though, Arniel has noted the way he’d like his blueliners to think as they adjust to his way of coaching a faster pace of hockey.

“Sometimes it’s just a mental change, a thought change,” Arniel said, “I would think all these players, whether it was in junior hockey or college or the AHL or in Europe, have had some level of offensive skill in their game at some point. They’ve played that way before.

“But they’ve taken the best of their skills and to help them play in the NHL, they had to be shut out. They come into the league wanting to be sound defensively before anything else and that’s a challenge. So they get into a mindset and maybe part of their game gets closed off for good.”

He expanded on that thought by saying, “I don’t want to change them. But I want them to just recognize that anybody can join the rush and be the next wave of the attack. And if they know that we’re behind them as a coaching staff, maybe they’ll be more willing to try that.”

EXTENDED QUOTABLE
“You see the older guys that have been playing in the league for so long and still haven’t made it and they’re working their tail off,” defenceman John Negrin, a third-round pick 2007, told The Calgary Herald of his eye-opening AHL rookie season last year. “I guess it really becomes a job. You realize that there are guys out there trying to make a living, trying to support their family.

“And this is my living — so you’ve got to go for it.”

Thanks to his challenge-filled winter in Abbotsford, he is better equipped to handle whatever.

“It’s a matter of growing up and maturing,” says Negrin. “For a lot of the young guys, you walk into it and you don’t know what to expect. In junior, you’re living with a billet family and they’re taking care of you. You’re a little more pampered. But here? It’s really up to you. You’re living on your own, so you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything right. There’s a lot more responsibility. You’re getting paid, you’re a professional. This is your job and you’ve got to take it very seriously.

“It’s a lifestyle change.”

Negrin and fellow freshman Keith Seabrook got a place together.

“A wake-up call for both of us,” says Negrin. “I remember when we first moved in, we really didn’t know what to do. We were trying to figure out where to start, setting up cable and our phone, paying the hydro bill. It’s something we weren’t used to, but we adjusted.”

Despite all of the changes though, hockey still mattered most.

“A big adjustment, going from junior and playing against 16-year-olds to coming to a new league and you’re the youngest player (on the Heat),” said Negrin. “You’re playing with grown men, some in their 30s. I think it’s a step up in everything. They’re stronger, faster, smarter.

“That’s what it comes down to — learning to be a professional and being ready every night. If you’re not, it’s going to cost you.”

POTI HEALED
The Washington Post writes that defenceman Tom Poti’s eye and face are healed following his gruesome injuries sustained in the Montreal series in these past playoffs.

“Everything is going good,” he said. “My vision is perfectly clear and there are no problems with it.”

The only lingering effect from Michael Cammalleri’s backhanded shot that caught him flush on the eye and cheek, he added, is numbness in his face.

Doctors “say that’s going to take three to six months for that to come back,” he said. “But it’s much better.”

Poti still chips in enough points to help in deeper leagues with expansive rosters (4-20-24 in 70 GP last season, including 2-4-6 on the PP), but his main value to the Caps comes in the form of eating up important minutes. He easily led the team in short-handed icetime last year (3:36 per game, which was 45 seconds more than Dave Steckel; while also logging 253 total minutes there, compared with Steckel’s 226:20) and he averaged more time on the ice per game (21:24) than any Caps aside from Mike Green (25:28, including 5:03 on the PP) and Alex Ovechkin (21:47).

’10-11 will be the final year of the 33-year old rearguard’s current contract.

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