February 14th, 2013 — Uncategorized
If you think Matt Cooke intentionally injured Erik Karlsson or not, is entirely immaterial. there are a couple possibilities as to where things go from here. Before this latest injury to an already depleted squad they were treading water. In sixth place, but with two more games played than seventh and eight place. also on the shelf are Latendresse, Regin, Spezza a lot of talent and money are out of reach of the head coach.
In such a short season, calling it in the rest of the way wouldn’t be hard, and with prizes Seth Jones this year, and McDavid in 2015, moving out some players in exchange for probably high picks, and in theory pushing the team closer to the lottery could be very, very favorable long term. If for example Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson are found new homes that’d clear up nine million in salary space this year, and four and a third next year. I can’t see trading them out for any package that doesn’t include at least one first round pick. Both players are the type that can push a middling team from bubble to firm playoff position.
If they decide to stock up, there are certainly teams that are in need of turning over their roster. They can look due south to the other capital city in the NHL. Mike Green has a six million dollar a year contract, and is very similar to Karlsson in playing style. The Capitals aren’t doing anything even with his returned health and 26 minutes a night. The Columbus Blue Jackets have a new sheriff in town and both Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski might find themselves redundant in the Jarmo world order, as might former Philadelphia Flyer R.J. Umberger, the highest paid forward on the Columbus roster.
Even without blowing up their roster, the Colorado Avalanche could happily unload Ryan O’Reilly for the right price to fill the Spezza roster spot for the nonce. There race for the playoffs is going to be rough and brutal between the compressed schedule and the arms war for complimentary parts as teams like the San Jose Sharks make what could be the last play for the current core at a Cup, the Dallas Stars vie for a return to the playoffs, and the Nashville Predators hope to woo fans turned off by the loss of Suter. And lest we forget, their plight, career right wing Jarome Iginla is probably the teams best faceoff man, meaning Zack Smith could return some nice assets if fired off before his next birthday, indeed a strong faceoff man for the top two lines for the Flames has more value now than later because more puck possession will give them time to climb back into the playoff picture.
February 13th, 2013 — player
The Avalanche are in the midst of yet another signing saga. At present they’ve spent the past eight months holding their leading faceoff man and leading scorer from last season by the choke chain known as “RFA status”. The other marks in O’Reilly’s favor are nothing to sneer at. He had two overtime tallies, led the team in assists, won 53% of his faceoffs, potted four powerplay goals, played in all situations and generally contributed to the teams success.
The level of the teams success sheds a different light on his accomplishments, so does the fact that it was his third season and one where he more than doubled his career assist and points totals on a team that finished 20th in the NHL. Anyone who doesn’t see the potential for steady growth for the 22 year old 200lb center is probably convinced we’ve seen the best from Taylor Hall and John Tavares. I don’t think anyone puts the ceiling for O’Reilly quite that high, but the chance for growth is coupled with one regression as well. He could just as easily turn into a half hundred other forwards like Peter Schaefer who got some ice time, got lucky and then fell apart when he had to repeat it.
If the Avalanche are determined not to give into his teams demands, where else he could land is a matter of finding a GM who sees O’Reilly continuing to get better, and has the assets and the inclination to go after him. Kent Wilson of FlamesNation thinks the Calgary brass must make a play for him. While it is unarguable that the Flames are a bit cool at the pivot position, what they have to offer up isn’t much. The Flames farm system is rated 23rd best in the entire league. Would a package of Jankowski, Seiloff and a 2nd round pick do the trick? And would that package actually be good for either team?
The Florida Panthers are currently underwater on faceoff win percentage, 23rd in the NHL in goals, and almost as poorly off in the east as the Avalanche are in the west. It’s highly unlikely any talks around the Panthers actually include Jonathan Huberdeau since the rookie is currently leading the team in goals, but perhaps Kris Versteeg is due for his sixth jersey since draft day and draft pick or two could accompany him back to the western conference. O’Reilly and Huberdeau could arguably be the best 1-2 punch at center in the Southeast division in a couple years.
Assuming Washington wants to make a shakeup, and they
probably should, Backstrom and O’Reilly as a the moving points of the offense for the Capitals could actually get the team out of the lottery even before the seasons end, like Backstrom who Ovechkin has played longest and best with, O’Reilly is a left handed shot. Going back could be any number of pieces, ideally Carlson, although that would prove what just about everyone should suspect about McPhee, but Yevgeni Kuznetsov is a very attractive piece, if they can woo him across the pond, in some combination with Tom Wilson, Filip Forsberg and or picks should seal the deal.
It’d be nice to include the Wild in this list but there problem isn’t talent on the ice. The system in Nashville prevents offensive stars, and I don’t see the new GM in Columbus looking to take on a big contract for someone who seems likely to want to wrangle over it ever time. There are other teams who might make a move to juice their line up, but the Panthers, Flames, and Washington top the list of teams O’Reilly, at the right price makes sense for.
February 6th, 2013 — Feature: If I told you in September
This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.
- that with almost a quarter of the season gone, Rick Dipietro would have played more games than Phil Kessel had goals…
- that Thomas Vanek would not only have a three point lead in the points of Steven Stamkos, but be in sole possession of first place in the points race…
- that Tobias Enstrom of the Winnipeg Jets would be the only defenseman in the top 30 points producers in the NHL
- that Teemu Selanne (age 42), Saku Koivu (38, discarded by the Habs back in ’09), and Daniel Winnik (9th round draft pick in 2004) would be three of the Ducks top five scorers and Anahiem would be in playoff position
- 26 year old Leo Komorov of the Toronto Maple Leafs would lead the league in hits at almost 4 per game, on just 13 minutes of ice time a night and still find time for 2 assists, 10 shots, and 7 blocked shots
- the Washington Capitals best player, Indiana Ice of the USHL alumni John Carlson would lead the league in blocked shots with 30 in ten games
- Ryan Clowe of the red hot San Jose Sharks would lead the entire league in penalty minutes with 56 minutes through 10 games
- Craig Anderson the American goaltender for the Ottawa Senators would be first or second in every goaltending category
- the San Jose Sharks would be the best goal differential in the west, and no one would be picking them for the Cup
- the phrase “Stanley Cup hangover” had yet to be run into the ground anew despite the Los Angeles Kings being a 500 hockey team in the bottom third of the league for goal scoring (again)
- the Edmonton Oilers would be tied for the 11th best defense in the NHL, in playoff position, and not have anyone notice
- the Avalanche would prove to be more stubborn than smart by failing to resign their leading scorer from last season even though at the quarter pole they were a bottom third scoring team but only -2 in goal differential overall
- with one fifth of the season gone, the Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning would all be in playoff position
- last years Cup winners the Los Angeles Kings, the New York Rangers an eastern finalist, the Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers would all be out of the playoffs if the season ended today
- the Tampa Bay Lightning would have an eye popping 4.44 goals for per game
- the Washington Capitals who finished the playoffs 5th in goals allowed would be 27th in goals allowed
- the NHL’s 5th best powerplay would belong to the leagues 29th place team, the Calgary Flames
January 28th, 2013 — Uncategorized
The short answer to all questions of player value is: What ever they can get someone to pay for them. In this case, Subban is what every team needs and wants: a highly talented, mobile, young defender with offensive skill, defensive savvy, and his best years ahead of him.
Q: So where does he rank in terms of both actual skill, and potential:A: In my book, top ten for NHL defensemen.
In whatever order you like, you can put Chara, Keith, Weber, Pietrangelo, Suter, Doughty ahead of him. The next tier of his true comparables is harder to gauge as that group has more and variability in strengths and weaknesses as well as age. That group includes the Capitals John Carlson, the Jets Dustin Byfugelien, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Canucks blueliner Kevin Bieksa, and when used properly, Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames.
Of his comparables:
- John Carlson is the closest in age and accomplishments, Carlson is better defensively, Subban is a little faster and better offensively. Carlson is also 23 and signed a team friendly pretty fair contract with a cap hit of four million a year in a town where he was at the time about the sixth or seventh biggest name.
- Kevin Bieksa is the oldest of his comparables, is the fifth or so biggest name behind Kesler, the Sedins and whichever goalies the press is hectoring between pillar and post out in Vancouver. No Cup for Bieksa, but one of the NHL’s more dependable blueliners and is not the type to give up even if a game is out of hand. He’s got a talent laden blueline around him and has for years, not a natively gifted offensively, but knows where he fits in on his offensive minded team. Cap hit of $4.6 million.
- Jay Bouwmeester was when he signed his current contract with the floundering Panthers about the most talented player and arguably the biggest name on the team. He plays huge minutes including more than two minutes a night on each special team. He blocks over 100 shot each year. His cap hit is $6.8m
- Brent Seabrook is often overlooked in Chicago even if a good look at the numbers doesn’t bear that out. Skilled going in both directions, Seabrook would be the cornerstone of a lot of franchises in the NHL. He has similar offensive numbers, on a more offensively gifted team, to Subban. Was a big part of the Cup run for Chicago a couple years back. 5.8million.
- Dustin Byfuglien is the Jets most sizeable defeneman, played his part in hoisting the cup for the windy city, and aside from some injury issues has been a dynamic player since landing in Atlanta-now-Winnipeg. Less defensive acuity than Subban, just as good a skater with a lot more size, and possibly the best known player on his team. His cap hit is 5.2million.
A couple of contracts his agent is sure to bring up:
- Erik Karlsson, who was mysteriously awarded the Norris, has almost negative defensive ability, and a contract for a $6.8 million cap hit, despite never making it out of the first round of the playoffs and playing a very soft game.
- Dennis Wideman, the wildly inconsistent 29 year old now on his fifth NHL team was an All Star last season, carries a 5.25m cap hit, and no team he’s played for has ever made it out of the second round of the playoffs.
- Dion Phaneuf who is one of those guys who was billed as the second coming of god in his early years, and is still picked for a Norris yearly buy some pundits has a large cap hit at 6.5million, but hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2009 and has been above average if not elite for the Toronto Maple Leafs since arriving.
If you crunch the numbers on his true comparables and leave out the laughably overpaid Karlsson, the Semin-level-enigma that is Wideman, and Phanuef, you’ve got an average cap hit of 5,280,000. That’s not really an unfair number for a short term contract, but realistically with only modest improvement in the next three years he should be in the running for legitimate Norris win, and a couple 50+ point seasons.
If your considering an offer sheet or trade for Subban, what does a roughly five point three million dollar contract offer sheet cost? That depends on where you expect to draft, and how well you’ve done drafting. For any amount in the price range of his comparables, assuming Montreal doesn’t match it, you’d be giving up selections in each of the first three rounds of the draft.
If you expect to draft in the top 10 this year, it might not be worth it.
If you expect to draft 11-20, you have to consider it very, very strongly.
If you expect to draft 21-30 this season you’re probably derelict in your duty if you don’t.
An immediate impact player, especially at a reasonable price and especially long term (four+ seasons) is better than potential that is years away. If as an organization you think Subban is the player that can put you over the top for a cup win, or even just generate enough buzz to sell 3000 more tickets a game you almost have to go for him via offer sheet or trade. If you’re in the division you can doubly impact the Habs by lowering their level of talent and improving yours. As poorly as the Habs have drafted in the last decade, them muffing on the draft is almost a given.
January 27th, 2013 — 2012-13 Season Stories
It’s that time of the season again when we need to take our first hard look at the NHL’s latest crop of wunderkids, studs, and future duds. Forwards, defensemen and goalies will be covered once more and compared to a well known NHL personality. This season the honor goes to the American Captain of last years Stanley Cup champions, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings. The perennial 20 goal man is different breed of player than past selections Eric Staal and Ilya Kovalchuk. Brown is known more for a physical style of play and two way play than either of the rookie watch alumni.
- Will play his 600th NHL game Monday night against conference rivals and playoff sparring partners the Vancouver Canucks.
- Has started off the season 0-1-1 and a -4 as the Kings remind everyone they partied like royalty all summer, and fall long and work through their Stanley Cup hangover 1-2-1.
- The Kings sit in 12th place.
- Brown has a team worst -4, trailing grinder Kyle Clifford by 10, and sophomore by 1 game Jordan Nolan by 8.
- Has 9 hits, 1 blocked shot and just 7 shots on goal through four games.
- No rookie goalies have played a game yet this season.
- Matt Irwin of the Sharks has been putting in work to the tune of 19:07 average TOI, and has picked up 2 points, including an even strength goal, half a minute of short handed time on ice, and an assist. On this his first tour of duty in the NHL, the 6’2 210 blueliner has handed out 6 hits and blocked 9 shots while doing his Hockey East and AHL experience proud. He’s second in rookie defensemen TOI and 3rd in scoring.
- Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins is showing no signs of the collective malaise that sank Team Canada’s World Junior Championship hopes. The offensive minded blueliner has already earned some penalty kill time under the very conservative Claude Julien. The 11 shots he’s dished out go nicely with the 8 hits and three blocked shots. The 19 year old has averaged just over 18 minutes a night and is currently second in blueliner scoring.
- Brendan Dillon of the Dallas Stars may not have scored any points yet, but the 16 hits through five games, make it quite certain the squads from Chicago, Detroit, Phoenix, Saint Louis and Minnesota know who he is. Two blocked shots add to the collection of bruises, and it shouldn’t be all that surprising that he leads his team in hits.
- Justin Schultz of the Oilers was the most talked about college player in the NHL as he wound down his Wisconsin career and spurning the Anaheim Ducks who drafted him. He’s now skating behind the Oilers plethora of young talents at forward and has rolled to the top of the rookie blueliner scoring. The 22 year old is sitting atop the TOI pile with an average of 24:02.
- Brendan Smith of the Detroit Red Wings is jumping back into the NHL this season. How well his recovery from last years derailing via a concussion. The soon to be 24 year old is not the only rookie on the blueline, and is middle of the pack in ice time on a blueline that has already skated nine defensemen and is one of just three to skate all four games.
- Cory Conacher is leading the NHL rookie scoring race as a center for Tampa Bay. The highly compact forward has about the best mentor for someone his size in the NHL playing with Martin St Louis. 2 goals 5 assists and a +4 through four games makes the former Canisius College player another undrafted player in the running to leave league GM’s scratching their heads for decades to come.
- Tye McGinn’s two points through 3 games for the struggling Philadelphia Flyers has got to be more than some expected from the 119th pick in the 2010 draft. The Fergus, Ontario native who spent last year in the AHL potted just 18 points in 63 game. The rookie is tied in team points with Sean Couterier, Ruslan Fedetenko, and Luke Schenn, and doing it in just over 11 minutes a night.
- Nail “I do a great Theo Impersonation” Yakupov has brought a great deal of larger than life personality to the Edmonton Oilers. He’s also managed to pack in two goals, one a powerplay tally. This years 1st overall selection has spent 3:19 a night on the man advantage for one half of the Battle Of Alberta.
- Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers much like his former Sea Dogs teammate Hamilton is off to a strong start. With 3 points in five games the former #3 pick is playing almost 16 minutes a night for the surprisingly struggling Sunrise squad.
- Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild is part of the avalanche of changes in this roster in the last year or two, and he’s popped in two points while earning more and more ice time. He started off at under 15 minutes and in his fourth game topped out at 18:30. The fancy Finn leads all rookies with an eye opening 56.4% faceoff win percentage.
- Vladimir Taresenko is holding down a top spot with the Saint Louis Blues and is tied with Conacher for points, but has played one more game. The 21 year old Russian has been a big part of the Blues 4-1 start being even or +1 in all five games so far.
- Forwards: Mark Scheifele, Stefan Matteau, Sven Baertschi, Jakob Silfverberg.
- Defensemen: Paul Potsma, Brian Lashoff, Mark Borowiecki, Korbinian Holzer, Patrick Weircioch
This feature will be run roughly every two weeks.
August 23rd, 2012 — 2012-13 Season Stories
This off-season, possibly the last in which the Flames fanbase can be reasonably certain Jarome Iginla will be coming to play in the fall, the Flames did not much to improve. They had an interesting draft, going with Mark Jankowski who some considered a reach for the first round. They brought in Dennis Wideman for a thiry or forty percent premium on his contract, and gave up assets to get him.
- They still have Jarome Iginla, and Jay Bouwmeester.
- They have over three and a half million in cap space as the Cap currently sits.
- Darryl Sutter is no longer the general manager.
- The Edmonton Oilers are still a much worse team.
- Mike Cammalleri has way more heart than Rene Bourque.
- The roster is still lacking anything that resembles a bona-fide first or second line center.
- The 11 NTC’s and NMC’s will make it really difficult to improve through trading, even if the bad contracts didn’t.
- Dennis Wideman.
- The Wild improved more than they did.
High: Bubble team 7-10 if the defense and goaltending can come together well enough to cover for an offense that will continue to struggle they can squeak into the post season. It would take converting about three of last years over time losses to regulation wins, and one of hte regulation losses to a win.
Low: Afterthought. Even if the defense is the same as it was last year (14th in goals against) if the offense doesn’t improve over last years 24th place finish, there isn’t going to be much joy in Calgary.
There are lots of them for this team. Jarome Iginla is rumored to be moved ef every season, and Jay Bouwmeester was the apparent target of at least two big market eastern conference powers trade talks. If one or both of these guys are moved, it rewrites the whole team. Iginla may be playing for a contract, or possibly planning to retire, either way he would want to go out on top. Then there is the infusion of players like Hudler, Cervenka, and Comeau who all have something to prove, one and all they could be upgrades or downgrades.
August 14th, 2012 — Uncategorized
There are possibly more than those on this list. Any players who miss the list; Work Harder. Anyone who’s on the list; don’t you dare prove me wrong.
Left wing is probably the shallowest position in the entire NHL. The Stanley Cup winning LA Kings didn’t have a career left winger anyone would tab as a “big game player” at any point last season. Some teams succeed without them, but here’s some of the better names people don’t talk about enough.
- Curtis Glencross: Solid mid twenties goal guy on reasonable minutes on a team that has Iginla, Bouwmeester and the Ice Girls as top shelf talent. With a good team he’s going to be in the hunt for 30 goals on a regular basis. He’s got respectable size, a small salary, and is willing to hit.
- Ryan Malone: More than willing physical player. solid points contributor, has played for both the Penguins and his current team the Lightning.
- Brad Marchand: Speed, skill, will and a able to play smart and aggressive in big games.
- Chris Kunitz: 18 powerplay points on a Crosby-less, and occasionally Malkin and Letang deprived Penguins team last year. 20+ goals is automatic.
- Matt Moulson: Should be a superstar by now, I mean he has played every game of the last three seasons, and has put up 97 goals in that time. Maybe someone would notice if he weren’t playing on Long Island.
- Jason Chimera: What a story last season. The man was finally given solid, and regular minutes and he tosses twenty goals in like he’s done it every year of his career. Great work ethic he might just be the hardest working forward the Capitals have.
- Ryan Clowe: Heart of a lion. Two years ago in the playoffs he had a shoulder so bad he couldn’t put his jersey on himself; he still put up 15 points in 17 games.
July 30th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Joe Thornton is the name of the day. For those who someone missed it, he’s still one of the best centers in the game. He’s got a 200 foot game, plays physically, and nearly as dirty as Sidney Crosby or Danny Briere at times. He skates well, is one of the three best passers of the last 30 years, and he’s never won a cup.
Some teams and how he’d fit in:
- Boston: a full circle story with him going back almost certainly means a trade package like Krejci, Spooner or Khoklachev, O’Gara, a 1st and likely another prospect or pick goes back. If the roster isn’t ripped up too much he’s likely the cure for what ails the teams powerplay. He’s done the major hockey market media before so the adjustment would be slight, and he likely still knows his way around the North end.
- Nashville: This is almost the perfect landing spot for him. Even if half the fanbase hated him yesterday, him landing their tomorrow in the wake of the defection of Suter and the Weber scare means they have not just a high end player to fill out the roster but a face for the forwards and a tutor for the young prospects in the system.
- Chicago: while their search has been for a second line center, this might just fill the whole. Kane, Hossa, Sharp and the other wingers probably wouldn’t complain too much about second line minutes next to him.
- Calgary: Jarome Iginla has never had a legit top line center to play with. Joe Thornton would be that. The Flames may not have what is needed to ship back in return, but career years for both as a duo aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
- Phoenix: The desert dogs are so far under the cap floor they’ve probably got mushrooms growing on their heads. Even if they added Thornton without sending back a single roster player they would still be almost two and a half million under the floor. Throwing Thornton down as an inducement to keeping Doan would probably help a tiny bit.
- Florida: If there’s one thing we know about Dale Tallon it is that he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big trade. The Panthers need a good center, they also have one of Thornton’s buddies, Bryan Campell who stayed at Thornton’s place after being traded out of Buffalo.
Obviously the pending CBA negotiations are going to be a big factor, especially for teams paying closer to the cap floor than the ceiling, but it should not be forgotten that Joe Thornton does have a NTC/NMC. If Jumbo Joe does get moved, it will likely be the biggest trade of the offseason. Yes, bigger than the possible Bobby Ryan or the just elapsed shuffling of Nash to the Rangers. Both are younger than Thornton, and talented, but neither has the potential to impact the game at the same level.
Whoever is going fishing in the shark tank should be dangling, forwards, draft picks, forwards and more forwards. The Sharks one strength in terms of prospects is on the backend. Their forward pool is nothing to brag about, and years of trading for established talent and playoff finishes have left them drafting in the bottom half of each round each year for about a decade.
July 4th, 2012 — Uncategorized
The easy assessment today is that the Wild are a vastly better team today than they were yesterday. Justin Falk will get a Norris worthy mentor, Steve Kampfer will get his second of that caliber. Dany Heatley will get to play without always being the most recognizable offensive threat on the team Backstrom will get a guy in front of him who is healthy, highly skilled and driven. Koivu not only will end up with less responsibility to carry each game, he can sit home and smile for a couple days that he’ll have to playoff experienced veterans of high skill to deepen the talent pool, and help shoulder the burden of success.
A big reason for both Suter and Parise to sign in Minnesota is that both are used to defensive systems that make use of all five players in all three zones. Together with Koivu, Backstrom, and Heatley, they make a compellingly deep team. For all the defensive prowess of the Predators that can’t be said about them. For all the wizardry of Kovalchuk and the promise of Henrique, they aren’t a top team now, with or without Parise.
For the Northwest division, it just got uglier. The Canucks are no longer assured of a playoff spot, division title, and potential Presidents Trophy simply for playing in the leagues worst division. The Calgary Flames should see this as a sign they need to finally set off the explosives while Iginla, Bouwmeester and one or two others will still fetch something. The Oilers are possibly the worst off since a division rival just got better offensively and defensively. Colorado will have to scrap even harder, and get everyone pulling together or just pull the plug but things can’t continue as they have.
Hardest hit is likely one of the teams that never had either, the Detroit Red Wings. With the end of the Lidstrom Era, and the decline and fall of their once dominant forward group, another Dead Wings era may be in the offing, The Predators while losing an enormous talent are likely better off than the Devils. Suter was not the name and face of the franchise. Ideally they will replace him with a quality forward or two who can provide timely offense. For the Devils, some will call this a death knell given their financial troubles, or see it as a betrayal. The truth is the Devils had a great deal of luck getting to the finals last year, and didn’t have the money to upgrade to win.
Next season, the Devils are still likely a playoff team, as are the Predators. What this means for the draft pick the Devils could have forfeited this year is unknown, but this years pick is likely to be higher. Also look for the trade market to spring wide open. This may even include some of the prospects drafted just a couple weeks ago.