Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Hockey - Rule Changes - YKOil Edition

Going to be on the road for work reasons for a week so I figured I would write up a quick post on some miscellaneous items:

A) don't miss this post by Vic over at IOF - absolute gold
B) great 'history was, history is' post over at Lowetide's
C) CIO discusses various rule changes he would like to see and in that spirit I include a few comments of mine own (below).

Immediate Rule Changes in the world of YKOil:

1) Player helmets have to be properly strapped on. Failure to do so is an automatic 2 minute penalty.

--- I have heard that the proper distance between the strap and the bottom of the chin is approximately a fingerwidth. If so, then that is what it should be.

Safety first. This is a no-brainer. Pun intended.

2) No touch icing at the plane of the goal line.

--- if the puck passes the plane of the goal line and there is no apparent pursuit of the puck** it is whistled down as automatic icing

--- if pursuit of the puck is apparent and the defenseman reaches the plane of the goal line first the whistle blows and it is automatic icing.

--- if pursuit of the puck is apparent and the forward reaches the plane of the goal line first then playcontinues on

Pursuit of the puck is a rule of thumb term best given in the form of two rhetorical questions:

a) Is there a player(s) chasing the puck?
b) Is the players(s) in question able to overtake the puck before it hits the boards?

If the answer to either question results in a 'no' response then there is no apparent pursuit of the puck. Should speed up the game and result in markedly fewer injuries while sltill allowing the odd foot-chase to occur.

3) Change the goal posts. Not the shape or size of the net - just the goal posts.

--- I have attached a crude drawing (above) to this post that shows what I am aiming at. Admittedly I am not the greatest student of physics and geometry but even I know that the half-post concept would result in fewer pucks deflecting away from the goal line.

--- in this age of high-tech metal composites I do not believe that shrinking the post would result in dramatically weaker net frames.

--- an important side benefit is that a 1 inch shave would result in an extra 168 inches of open net (just over 1 square foot)

More net to shoot at, more shots counting for goals and a committment to the traditional dimensions of the frame... what's not to love?

So there you have it - were I commish for a day those would be my changes.


Have a great evening everyone. See you in a week.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Risk Management & Hockey

Risk management is an old concept in management circles that has, as concepts in management circles are wont to do, come around again (last 5 years or so).

The basics are very simple:

Step 1: identify all risks to the company

Step 2: categorize them according to ability to control them

Step 3: ascertain liklihood of risk (LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH)

Step 4: ascertain impact of risk if it does occur (L, M, H)

Step 5: determine controls that can eliminate or manage risk

Step 6: institute those controls that are cost effective at eliminating or managing risk

Step 7: audit said controls AND solutions for economy, efficiency and effectiveness

Step 8: periodically examine, fresh, Steps 1 though 7 and note that this is an ongoing cycle

Done. Some common examples of the Steps in question are these:

Step 3: odds of a chocolate bar being stolen from a convenience store candy rack - HIGH
Step 4: impact of that loss - individually - LOW - collectively - HIGH
Step 5: putting security mirrors in place, and training staff to be alert to and discourage theft are more cost effective than, say, training a tiger to guard the chocolate bars
Step 6: install mirrors and train staff


Step 3: odds of Hoover Dam failing - LOW
Step 4: impact if fails - REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY HIGH


That is it kids. You just received thousands of dollars in management training. Wheeee.

Some other examples are these:

Step 1: poor goaltending is a risk to having a winning season and making the play-offs
Step 2: team management can control the risk by contracting or trading for a good goalie
Step 3: odds that current goaltending will fail - MEDIUM
Step 4: impact if fail - HIGH (no play-off revenues, etc.)
Step 5: control: monitor performance of goaltending vs. team: if team performs well and goaltending is the problem then trade for goalie
Step 6: monitor performance of team vs. goaltending
Step 7: control is good but original solution, while economic, is not efficient or effective - replace goaltender
Step 8: monitor anew


Step 1: poor depth AND experience level on defense is a risk to having a winning season and making the play-offs
Step 2: team management can control the risk by contracting or trading for defensemen
Step 3: odds that current defense will fail due to injury and/or capability deficiencies or both - HIGH
Step 4: impact if fail - HIGH (no play-off revenues, etc.)
Step 5: control: monitor performance of defense vs. team: if team performs well and defense is the problem then trade for better/more defensemen
Step 6: monitor performance of team vs. defense
Step 7: control is good but original solution, while economic, is not efficient or effective - goaltending is good but team offense is bad - replacement of enough defense to compensate is probably too expensive; do nothing in regards to defense
Step 8: wait for next season

Interesting eh? Oiler team management might just be using risk management analysis. Good on 'em.



Except for the fact that proper risk analysis in the second scenario would actually, probably, look like so:

Step 1: poor depth AND experience level on defense is a risk to having a winning season and making the play-offs
Step 2: team management can control the risk given budget and cap space
Step 3: odds that current defense will fail due to injury and/or capability deficiencies or both - HIGH in both cases indicates VERY HIGH
Step 4: impact if fail - HIGH (no play-off revenues, etc.)
Step 5: control: examine UFA market for a defenseman who can improve depth and/or experience level OR both of the defense / also examine teams for defensemen for trade
Step 6: monitor cost of adding said defenseman against cap and budget space
Step 7: control is good and given presence of UFA's that fit the parameter (Markov, Eaton, etc) and possible trade opportunities (Vishnevski, Matvichuk, etc) solution is economic, efficient and effective
Step 8: implement solution and begin cycle anew

Hrmmmm... different... I submit to you that the Oiler's management is either poor at risk management analysis or knew the risk going into the season and didn't really care.

i.e. they accepted the MUCH higher than average risk that the team wouldn't make the play-offs

Make your own conclusions accordingly. Mine is quite simple: they knew this season was apt to happen and were quite okay with it, which means that it isn't that they planned to have it - it is that they didn't plan to avoid it and by doing so committed that which is not easily forgivable of a professional sports team - they planned to fail.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Competitive Budgets - A Rough Guide

Figured I would actually chart out all of the budget stuff I did previously.

As before, 'best%' is roughly that which a competitive team (being a team that expects to make the post-season) should hold back in their budget to allow for injuries and deadline trades. At the bottom of the chart is the target Cap for said teams.

'Max' is maximum salary one player can make. '35%' and '50%' are percentages of that and the numbers below those are given a rounding-off effect (no one talks about players signing for $2.73 million - it's always 2.75 or 3.00, etc).

Cap .... 39.00 .. 44.00 .. 48.00 .. 52.00 .. 56.00

10% ..... 3.90 ... 4.40 ... 4.80 ... 5.20 ... 5.60

best% .... 8% ..... 6% ..... 5% ..... 5% ..... 5%

Cap space available at Day
_01 ..... 3.12 ... 2.64 ... 2.40 ... 2.60 ... 2.80
_42 ..... 4.02 ... 3.40 ... 3.10 ... 3.35 ... 3.61
_94 ..... 6.27 ... 5.31 ... 4.83 ... 5.23 ... 5.63
146 .... 14.23 .. 12.04 .. 10.95 .. 11.86 .. 12.77

max ..... 7.80 ... 8.80 ... 9.60 .. 10.40 .. 11.20
35% ..... 2.73 ... 3.08 ... 3.36 ... 3.64 ... 3.92
= ~ ..... 2.75 ... 3.25 ... 3.50 ... 3.75 ... 4.00
50% ..... 3.90 ... 4.40 ... 4.80 ... 5.20 ... 5.60
= ~ ..... 4.00 ... 4.50 ... 5.00 ... 5.50 ... 6.00

Cap space available given 35% signing mid-season
_01 ..... 3.12 ... 2.64 ... 2.40 ... 2.60 ... 2.80
_42 ..... 4.02 ... 3.40 ... 3.10 ... 3.35 ... 3.61
_94 ..... 3.52 ... 2.06 ... 1.33 ... 1.48 ... 1.63
146 ..... 7.94 ... 4.61 ... 2.97 ... 3.28 ... 3.65

Cap target at best%
target = 35.88 .. 41.36 .. 45.60 .. 49.40 .. 53.20


a) the 'best%' numbers leave more than enough Cap space in the bank; even with injury call-ups taken into effect (2% seems about right)

b) competitive teams may spend more or less than target but the reason for such should be readily apparent (veteran heavy roster if more or a 'Crosby' effect if less)

c) the 35% and 50% numbers represent decent salary approximations for competitive players at those Cap levels - note that inflation is built into this model

d) the 35% player signing depletes Cap reserve substantially but remember that we are NOT assuming any player salary is traded away in this model

Those are all my notes for now. I may add later. I hope this is a useful reference tool. Remember - if a team is NOT spending to target then they are, absent some damn good reason (i.e. Crosby) probably not competitive.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Are They Really THAT Stupid? (with better math!)

Being stupid, or mistaken, or even mistakenly stupid every now and then is perfectly fine. I, myself, am perfectly good at such things. Being permanently stupid however, especially when one should not be, is something I cannot abide very well at all.

Hence my thanks to kinger. He pointed out a flaw in my last post that, this being a blog, I can now correct.

When calculating the linear nature of the value of cap space as the year progresses I had, mistakenly, used 'games played' as my factor of measurement. The true factor however is 'days in the season'. In the NHL all things salary consider only the regular season so, stealing again from kinger, the number of days is 187.

The cap is, of course, $44 million. The proposed savings rates are 10% and then 5% respectively.

Where before I had this chart:

Game .. 10% ............... Game .. 5%

01 = _4.4 million .......... 01 = 2.2 million
20 = _5.8 million .......... 20 = 2.9 million
41 = _8.8 million .......... 41 = 4.4 million
60 = 16.4 million .......... 60 = 8.2 million

I now have this chart:

Days .. 10% ................ Days .. 5%

_01 = _4.4 million .......... _01 = _2.2 million

_47 = _5.9 million .......... _47 = _2.9 million
_94 = _8.8 million .......... _94 = _4.4 million
146 = 20.0 million .......... 146 = 10.0 million

Now. Bonus time. Simple budget exercise. Let's use the prudent 10%.

Our one assumption is this - we will assume that the team using prudent budgeting starts the season with a more than realistic chance they should make the play-offs. Not a borderline team and not an elite team but a team that should finish comfortably in the top-6 in their conference.

This is important because from this all logic flows. Think about it:

-- A team that isn't ready to compete should be (I won't go into the math - just trust me I am right on this):

---- saving far more than the 5% and
---- front-loading their important contracts and
---- spending dollars on mercenary UFA's they will trade later

-- A team that is elite is usually at or near the cap regardless because they have to spend all they can to compete for the Cup.

-- A team that is touch and go to make the play-offs has to decide if they will act like a team that isn't ready or a team that will make every effort to make the play-offs, thus spending to the cap.

-- Given that a team that is touch and go has no room for prudence it is only the teams in between those scenario's that have the ability to practice the arcane art of deliberately saving 10%.

Basic, simple logic. One who does not follow it is mistaken in their approach. One who does not follow it more than once approaches stupidity.

Our NEW chart follows this paragraph. Our intrepid, yet prudent manager, notices that 50% of the way through the season his team is not performing up to snuff. His team is now a touch-n-go team and that is simply not good enough. He makes a trade for a $3.5 million d-man. He could even be named Zhitnik for example (not a perfect example but it is pretty good and it does serve the point).

Days .. 10%

_01 = _4.4 million .......... _01 = _4.4 million
_47 = _5.9 million .......... _47 = _5.9 million
_94 = _8.8 million .......... _94 = _5.3 million (8.8 - 3.5 = 5.3)
146 = 20.0 million .......... 146 = 12.1 million

So. Still $12.1 million in cap space to spend at the deadline. How about 5%?

Days .. 5%

_01 = _2.2 million .......... _01 = _2.2 million
_47 = _2.9 million .......... _47 = _2.9 million
_94 = _4.4 million .......... _94 = _0.9 million (4.4 - 3.5 = 0.9)
146 = 10.0 million .......... 146 = _2.0 million

Interesting isn't it? 5% is quite serviceable all said and done. Not great because the manager would have to dump salary at the deadline to get a higher salaried player BUT it is still serviceable.

The perfect number is (for a cap of $44 million), believe it or not, ~ 6%.

Days .. 6%

_01 = _2.64 million .......... _01 = 2.64 million
_47 = _3.53 million .......... _47 = 3.53 million
_94 = _5.31 million .......... _94 = 1.81 million
146 = 12.04 million .......... 146 = 4.06 million

10% remains... stupid. 6% is more than enough to add significant salary and provide for injury replacements from the minors. With the cap going up to $48 million or so next year the 6% figure is probably still worthwhile.

Important to note - even for a team that figures it is a lock for the play-offs - the cap/payroll $ should have been no less than $41.36 million (using the 6% strategy).


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Are They Really THAT Stupid?

Recent commentary from Laforge casts aspersions on Smyth's character. mc79hockey covers it well. I cannot honestly say at what time the Edmonton hockey media gave away their integrity to the EIG but it is getting to be impossible to refute.

The hard part for me is that I used to really liked Matheson. Grew up with the guy.

HOF my ass.

Anyways. What REALLY caught my eye was the little gem regarding the teams salary budget salary - namely holding back 10% DELIBERATELY so as to spend it later if they felt they were close and needed to bring in some big salaries in order to make a real run at the Cup.

Seems prudent. Using the $44 million cap for 2006/07 the number is $4.4 million. Cool.

Thinking about it a little, and knowing that:

- the value of cap space rises in a linear fashion just as
- the cost of assuming a salary falls in a linear fashion

I figure the amount of salary that $4.4 million can buy at differing points in the season is:


01 = 4.4 million
20 = 5.8 million
41 = 8.8 million
60 = 16.4 million
80 = 180.4 million



I see the problem.


Un-freakin-believable that Laforge can spew a line like that and it is accepted at face value. Heck - he'll probably get credit for thinking 'smart'.

For a team that CAN spend to the salary cap, per the following chart, saving any more than 5% is just an exercise in saving money.


01 = 2.2 million
20 = 2.9 million
41 = 4.4 million
60 = 8.2 million

Being able to add $8.2 million of salary cap space is lots - even if there is no salary headed the other way. Being able to add $18.4 million is more than HALF of the level of the cap floor - a team that needs to add that kind of salary was never competitive to begin with.

Which brings us right to our Oilers.

The team had, even with prudence in mind, enough cash to bring in a guy like Markov or Eaton as an UFA or even make a trade for a guy like Matvichuk or Lukowich. For the team not to do so, knowing how weak they were on defense, is indefensible.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part One - Goalie's)

The first in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this upcoming off-season.

Foreword: a team without a good goaltender simply won't make the play-offs and since a couple of play-off dates is generally worth a million or more (a game) to the team's bottom line it is, quite simply, the only position that can pay for itself in the entire NHL. It is also the riskiest investment - your guy pulls a Salo and... well...


Goaltenders .. (salaries in $ million /yr)

Age . $.$$ .. Name

29 .. 3.33 .. JS Giguere
28 .. 2.13 .. Martin Biron
28 .. 1.22 .. Mathieu Garon
28 .. 1.90 .. David Aebischer

31 .. 0.85 .. Jussi Markkanen
29 .. 0.53 .. JS Aubin
28 .. 0.60 .. Johan Holmqvist
27 .. 0.75 .. Niklas Backstrom
27 .. 0.47 .. Curtis Sanford
25 .. 0.45 .. Dany Sabourin
24 .. 0.49 .. Mike Smith

34 .. 0.50 .. Mike Dunham
31 .. 2.00 .. Kevin Weekes
31 .. 1.50 .. Jocelyn Thibault
29 .. 0.48 .. Brian Boucher
28 .. 1.00 .. Robert Esche
41 .. Dominik Hasek
41 .. Eddie Belfour
39 .. Sean Burke
39 .. Curtis Joseph
35 .. Jamie McLennan
30 .. Ty Conklin

Group A: 'name' players - guys a team should be able to build around.
Group B: 'potential' players - high risk vs. reward.
Group C: 'come-back' players - once good can they find their mojo?
Group D: 'hanging on' players - may get a good year... or a good back-up out of them.

The Questions To Ask Yourself

There are three pertinent questions to ask yourself (imo) when hunting for goalie in the off-season:

1. How sure are you that he can do the job you ask him to do?
----- your surety he can be a capable #1 goalie (or back-up)

2. How sure are you that he will do the job you ask him to do?
----- deals with injury history, verifiable playing history, etc

3. How sure are you he will do a good job of it?
----- closely related to the 2nd question but more a measurement of comparative performance


Giguere as a starter (scores 274 out of a possible 300):
-- a capable #1 goalie in the NHL for some time (Q1 - score 99pts),
-- few lost years due to incompetence or injury (Q2 - score 85pts) and
-- ranks top-10 in sv% and has done so often (Q3 - score 90pts).

Biron as a starter (scores 250 out of a possible 300):
-- long-time back-up and #1A goalie in the NHL (Q1 - score 85pts),
-- few lost years due to incompetence or injury (Q2 - score 85pts) and
-- normally ranks top-20 in sv% (Q3 - score 80pts)

Markannen as a starter (scores 170 out of a possible 300):
-- has only ever shown success as a back-up and did not perform to expectation when given the opportunity to be a starter (Q1 - score 60pts),
-- has few lost years due to incompetence or injury but measured on 'back-up' status; i.e. fewer games than a starter (Q2 - score 60pts) and
-- low in sv% over a few # of games; is potentially devastating if games played increases (Q3 - score 50pts)

Markannen as a back-up (scores 255 out of a possible 270):
-- a capable back-up for some time (Q1 - score 90pts),
-- few lost years due to incompetence or injury (Q2 - score 90pts) and
-- not a great sv% but has that great play-off run (Q3 - score 75pts)

I added the scoring system to bring some contrast into the analysis and NOT to turn this into a number crunching exercise (precisely why I didn't score every player on the list).

So Giguere's scores higher than Biron. It makes sense. Giguere has been an undisputed #1 goalie in the past, has several high-performance seasons while doing so and almost always has a top-ranking sv%. Biron has played stints as a #1 but has never grabbed the title outright and doesn't have any GREAT seasons to his credit. But is Giguere the better goalie?

It all comes down to what you want them to do for you and what you are willing to pay for it.

For any team that thinks they are a contender right now but lacks a top netminder the bidding for Giguere will be fierce. The team that wants competent netminding at an affordable price will give Biron his shot. If you want to ditch your season you get, say, a guy like Markannen and a guy like Conklin and with a straight face you tell everyone you are competing for the Stanley Cup. If you want a top-notch back-up however then Markannen is as good a bet as any.

The Names to Watch

The ones to watch, imo, are (in order and grouped):





Of the group listed the best bet is, by far, Giguere. He may also be the best UFA to hit the market. Period. That said, without reading a word of print on it, I predict he will be back with Anaheim. And I predict that he may even be willing to do so for less than $6.0 mill /yr.


To answer a question with a question: on what other team does he have Neidermayer and Pronger out in front of him? Giguere stays with Anaheim and he has a decent shot, barring calamity,at competing for the Stanley Cup every year. Nowhere else, that needs a tender, has that strong a team.

Only way he hits FA is if a) he is bound and determined to or b) Burke undervalues him.

The next best option is Biron. His stats historically ride the line between good and very good and he has, as long as I have followed him, always been the guy who just 'needs' a real opportunity. He needs to be wanted. He needs a hug. The early returns say that he will get just that in Philly so look for the Flyers, a team that has always excelled at picking the second best goalie out there, to lock him up to a 3 year deal averaging ~ $3 mill /yr.

Aebischer and Garon are the do-overs. They got their shot and didn't impress. Teams that sign them are hoping they are making an educated guess and not an ignorant gamble. The bonus is that adequate goalies are generally cheap so a team will have exra Cap space. Think Chris Osgood with Detroit - a good enough team can win with okay, not great, goaltending. Look for short term contracts in the $1.5 - 2.0 mill /yr range. Detroit will need cheap goaltending.

Dunham is the guy a smart team gets to be their back-up. He is also the guy a stupid team loosk at and says 'hey, maybe this year his groin won't shred like the skirt of a japanese schoolgirl in tentacle anime!'. Good luck with that. I can't make a call on this one except to say that most NHL GM's make stupid look smart.

Backstrom and Smith are the wildcards. Both are having great seasons and as of this posting are at 29 gp and 17 gp respectively and both have a .922 sv%. They both play for good teams but the numbers are nothing to sneeze at. Backstrom is the kind of guy that a team like Phoenix should make a real play for. Other than Giguere there isn't anything out there that is going to do a lot for them so taking a gamble on a guy like Backstrom could pay off in spades.


So that is the goalies. One day I may even get to the LW's... but that would mean I would eventually have to finish off my set of Smyth Continuum posts now wouldn't it? One day. One day.
Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Is 15 Years So Bad (Part Two)

Okay. The Rick DiPietro contract. A Garth Snow boondoggle or did this tender finally score?

What we know:

-- contract is for $4.5 mill /yr for 15 years
-- he is, currently, a top-10 ranked goaltender in the NHL
-- he will be 40 years old when the contract concludes

We also know that, compared to his peers-by-performance, he will be underpaid by the end of the 2008-09 off-season (per my previous post). We can, in fact, deduce the extent to which he may or may not be underpaid or overpaid by making two assumptions:

1. What will be the typical pay of an established top-10 goalie? **
2. How long will Rick DiPietro rank as a top-10 goalie? **

Typical Pay

Note the secondary assumption made: that we assume the goalies are established performers (or that their performance level is established). Eliminating the outliers - a rookie 'phenom' a la Roberto Luongo or a veteran 'revelation' like Tim Thomas - is an important first step. Remember - our objective is to determine the probable.

Existing contracts at, or over, the $4.5 mill /yr mark include:

4.50 /yr .. Rick DiPietro
5.20 /yr .. Martin Brodeur
5.45 /yr .. Olaf Kolzig
5.70 /yr .. Tomas Vokoun (starting 2007-08)
6.75 /yr .. Nikolai Khabibulin
6.75 /yr .. Roberto Luongo

Probable additions to that list include: JS Giguere (UFA end of 2006/07), Mikka Kiprusoff (UFA end of 2007/08), MA Fleury (RFA end of 2007/08) and Ryan Miller (RFA end of 2008/09).

Of all the names listed (existing and future):

-- the only goalie who is not in the top-10 in sv% is Khabibulin.
-- the only goalie who signed a long-term deal BEFORE Cap inflation*** was established was Martin Brodeur

Given those factors it is quite reasonable to assume that the typical pay of an established top-10 goalie in the NHL will be ~ 6.00+ mill /yr.

Age & Playing Effectiveness

The expected career arc of a player signed to a 15 year deal is, one would think, a pretty big deal. If Rick DiPietro is just another way to spell Jim Carey then Snow just gave it to Wang pretty hard. That said, it looks like DiPietro is the real deal. He may never be Brodeur or Luongo good but he will be very good for quite a while.

That is good for me because it means I don't have to think about the front-end of the career arc. I can assume he is already pretty close to where he will always be until he starts an, inevitable, age-related decline.

Approximate current age, along with the age they will be when their contracts expire, of some of the 'older' goalies in the NHL:

34 .. 39 .. Martin Brodeur
36 .. 38 .. Dwayne Roloson
36 .. 37 .. Olaf Kolzig
39 .. 39 .. Sean Burke
39 .. 39 .. Curtis Joseph
41 .. 41 .. Dominik Hasek
41 .. 41 .. Ed Belfour

Other goalies of note: Thomas' contract takes him to age 34, Legace 35 and Khabibulin 35.

Given that most, if not all, of the goalies above are starters for their teams it is not unreasonable to assume that DiPietro will continue to remain effective for many years. The decline would probably start around age 34-35 and become more pronounced the closer to age 40 he gets.

Charting Timelines & Pay Together

Using age as our baseline to chart pay becomes fairly easy at this point. It would also be realistic to adjust for Cap inflation and the effects of age so we will do so. Note that the linear scales presented are nowhere near scientific however they do serve well for approximation purposes.

01 .. 26 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 4.50 .. 0.00
02 .. 27 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 5.00 .. 0.50
03 .. 28 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.00 .. 1.50
04 .. 29 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.00 .. 1.50
05 .. 30 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.00 .. 1.50
06 .. 31 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.00 .. 1.50
07 .. 32 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.25 .. 1.75
08 .. 33 .. 100% .. 4.50 .. 6.25 .. 1.75
09 .. 34 .. 095% .. 4.74 .. 6.25 .. 1.51
10 .. 35 .. 090% .. 5.00 .. 6.25 .. 1.25
11 .. 36 .. 085% .. 5.29 .. 6.50 .. 1.21
12 .. 37 .. 080% .. 5.63 .. 6.50 .. 0.87
13 .. 38 .. 075% .. 6.00 .. 6.50 .. 0.50
14 .. 39 .. 070% .. 6.43 .. 6.50 .. 0.07
15 .. 40 .. 065% .. 6.92 .. 6.75 ..-0.17 .. SUM = 15.24

This chart represents a decent approximation of the economic effects of deterioration due to age and savings due to inflation.

-- the % column indicates effectiveness comparative to his 'norm' at that age

-- the value of the contract over time regresses as his performance decreases
-- the typical salary of a top-10 goalie has had a slight inflation aspect added

In essence, over the life of the contract, I can confidently say that the Islanders should save some $15 million or more in Cap and budget space. I expect it will actually be far higher.

I should have one more post to offer on this subject but as of right now Garth Snow is looking pretty good.


** in the NHL of course
*** the Salary Cap underwent a rapid increase this past off-season and looks poised to increase in a similar fashion again - I expect it slow down after this though


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 5 March 2007


A looong time ago, after a post on the comparative value of Smitty**, I was asked to join the roster of writing staff over at Irreverent Oil Fans.

To this day I think of it as an incredible honor. I really do. Some very smart people over there. Some very funny people over there. Some are smart AND funny. All are pretty farkin' observant. It is what makes it one of the best blogs on the Oilers out there.

Never did respond. Didn't know what to say. By the time I did, I have to think it was 'probably' irrelevent so I stayed keyboard quiet. My answer was/is 'no'.

I will be posting about more than just the Oilers on this blog and there is no way I would have taken those observations over to IOF (not that they would have let me). Since I had no interest in having two blogs I settled for when I would be ready for this one.

'Ready' happened the moment the Oilers traded Ryan Smyth.

IOF just linked me. Thank you.

But this post isn't about just thanking them for that. It is about thanking them ('royal' them) for some great hockey posts read and hockey discussions joined over the years. Along with Lowetide and mudcrutch, some guy named dawgbone (HF shout-out) and MJ (Oilfans shout out) I consider them to be some of the most observant hockey fans anywhere.

One thing I know for sure - the Oilogosphere is a lot closer to
Billy Beane than Oiler team management is.


**Btw - I have posted in the past year on HF that Smyth did not appear to be an outperformer and I have also posted (same forum) that the 2006-07 year was the year to trade away some guys. Over the course of year I found that I was wrong (it happens) about Smyth - it came about in three ways:

1. I got to know the tough minutes and outscorer stats better
2. I watched a host of other players get big, big raises (meaning that I had severely misjudged salary inflation in the NHL)
3. I watched Smyth carry the team more than he had done so, imo, in any year prior

His ability to play at an extremely high level despite the fact that there was no defense worthy of providing offensive support behind him is/was, given NHL standards, a couple steps past heroic imo.

Ryan Smyth is a franchise standard kind of player. I did not know that earlier, much to my discredit.


Have a great evening everyone.

Inspired by a Julian inspired by a Smitty

There is a nice little post over at the Covered in Oil (March 5 posting) blog that has some Smyth inspired poetry on display (mostly haiku there is also at least one limerick). All of it fun, some of it is even quite good.

The one that caught my eye, created by a fellow named
Julian, was this one:

Our Smitty has left us
My favorite oil sweater
Stays hidden away

It made me think of a poem I wrote a long time ago that I used to have on my website**. I was pretty melancholy during/after my divorce. Luckily I stayed pretty.

Not very good really, it is about the putting away of things and while I am not done with the immediacy of losing Smitty just yet, I will be.***


Three Nice Suits

I have three nice suits I wear for business occasions,
the odd wedding
and even funerals.
One still fits me quite well
and though the others are a stretch,
I still try to dream.

The formality of the situation aside
I do love you.

I have eight nice shirts of which three are short sleeve
and five are of the longer variety.
There is another,
but it is straighter than most.
luckily it is quite large, once,
we shared.

You bought me most of what I wear so everything I am,
you are there.

I have two nice pairs of pants, I needed them for work
so I bought them
They do the job though;
I sit there.
I also have two pairs of denim jeans.

I don't mention them very often though they are easy
to take for granted.

I have lots of T-shirts. They offer a comfortable wear.
Habitually conforming
to me.
I don't like some of them though,
echoing logo's past
they are not me anymore.

Cartoon characters living chest high, imaginings
no longer mine.

I have lots of socks and underwear. What in the hell did I expect to get
for my birthdays and Christmas' anyway?


Here's hoping that didn't hurt your eyes too much.

** I took my website down because I am getting close to releasing a cd and didn't want any lyrics stolen (paranoid... perhaps.. but some of my lyrics are quite good)
*** Getting over the 'loss of Smitty' is not the same as 'accepting the trade as a sign the Oiler's management is any good' (two very, very different things)


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Is 15 Years So Bad? (Part One)

Thinking about Smyth has, obviously, caused me to think more about the New York Islanders. Generally speaking, doing so has always made me laugh. Milbury and Wang, as a duo, are hard not to chuckle at. Oddly enough though, one of the funniest things they have ever done is starting to look like it might just be kinda smart.

The Rick DiPietro contract is 67.5 million spread evenly over 15 years. Works out to 4.5 million /yr and he is currently in the first year of that deal. DiPietro is 24/25 yrs old - the deal takes him to age 40.


His last few years of stats:

2003-04 .. 50 gp .. 28-18-5 .. 2.36 gaa .. .911 sv%
2005-06 .. 63 gp .. 30-24-5 .. 3.02 gaa .. .900 sv%
2006-07 .. 54 gp .. 29-18-6 .. 2.66 gaa .. .915 sv% - season incomplete

Not bad at all really. The key stat is sv% and and anything over .910 with 50+ games played is pretty good. If his season continues as is he will rank between 8th and 10th in that category this year. It is important to note that most of the guys ranked ahead of him are older and on better teams.

Age, cap hit and names of some of the goalies statistically ahead of DiPietro at this point in time:

34 yrs old .. 5.20 /yr .. Brodeur (to 2001-12)
27 yrs old .. 6.75 /yr .. Luongo (to 2009-10)
25 yrs old .. 2.67 /yr .. Miller (to 2008-09)
34 yrs old .. 3.33 /yr .. Kiprusoff (to 2007-08)
35 yrs old .. 3.99 /yr .. Giguere (UFA is off-season)
23 yrs old .. 0.93 /yr .. Emery (RFA in off-season)
21 yrs old .. 1.23 /yr .. Fleury (to 2007-08)
29 yrs old .. 2.28 /yr .. Vokoun (next year starts 4 yrs at 5.7 /yr)

2007-08: factoring in Vokoun's raise and Giguere's next contract (should project to $5.5 - 6.5 million) there will be four goalies making substantially more than DiPietro next year.
2008-09: Kipper and Fleury both get their raises and that will make it six goalies getting premium dollars.
2010-11: Miller gets his cash.

Emery's contract is the wild-card - if Ottawa signs him long-term at 3.5 - 4.0 /yr then he is below the curve but if he goes two or three year terms and proves himself then somewhere in 2010 he gets the big money.

Think about all of that for a second. As of now DiPietro is underpaid compared to a few NHL goalies but is comfortably ensconced as one of the higher paid tenders. In a few short years he will be underpaid compared to many, or even all, of the goalies in his performance bracket.

At his age this will be the norm for over a decade.

I will write more on this in a future post however, as of now, the contract is looking more crazy like a fox than just out-right crazy.
Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

A Rebuttal (a Smyth Continuum posting)

At Always on the Road, a very good blog on the Oilers, there is a posting that uses several players as comparables to Smyth. He does so as an attempt to prove that the trade of Smyth is justified.

Make no mistake about it: his analysis is actually quite thorough - it is NOT a hatchet job. I will make points below however that show it to be incomplete.

Jason Arnott vs. Ryan Smyth

The first point made is a fair one - Arnott signed a 4.5 /yr for 5 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are actually a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: JA ~ 17 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: JA ~ 17 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: JA ranked #102 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: JA = 0.43 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: JA it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07

* using Desjardins
www.behindthenet.ca numbers

Now, to be fair, Arnott actually scores more ppm than Smyth given these metrics but head to head Smyth plays against top opposition far more, and far more effectively than Arnott. Using a stupid % calculation it shows that Smyth plays 17.6% more than Arnott - even if Smyth was only AS effective as Arnott, at that rate Smyth should earn no less than 5.29 mill /yr in comparison to Arnott.

Now factor in a full year of contract inflation and Smyth's leadership intangibles compared to Arnott's and there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth. Give Smyth the protected minutes Arnott gets and his scoring would jump dramatically (imo).

Steve Sullivan vs. Ryan Smyth

Sullivan signed a 3.2 /yr for 5 years deal in the 2004/05 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and their counting numbers are very close. Looking at the same numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: SS ~ 19 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: SS ~ 19.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: SS ranked #89 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: SS = 0.49 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: SS it was 2004-05 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07

The numbers are very close. Good comparison. Even in terms of straight-up play Smyth's advantage is narrowed. The big trick is to look at the year the deal is signed. Sullivan signed right after the lock-out and there were a lot of contracts signed then that made no sense given what we know now. If Pronger had only signed a two year deal he would be looking at an $8 mill /yr contract - easy.

Now factor in Smyth's leadership intangibles compared to Sullivan's and again - there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth.

Rod Brind'Amour vs. Ryan Smyth

Brind'Amour signed a $3.6 mill /yr deal for 5 years in the 2005-06 off-season.

I will not give a full answer to this comparison. Brindy is 5 years older than Smyth. The 5 year deal he signed will be paying him long after his effective playing days are over.

Take the last two years on that deal and spread it out over the first three and you have a better picture of the price involved ~ $6 mill /yr.

Saku Koivu vs. Ryan Smyth

Koivu signed a 4.75 /yr for 3 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are actually a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: SK ~ 18.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: SK ~ 18.5 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: SK ranked #299 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: SK = -1.41 / RS = 1.03

Average # games played a yr (last 11 years): SK = 58 / RS = 70

Time of deal negotiation: SK it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07

As with Arnott, Koivu actually scores a few more ppm than Smyth given these metrics but head to head Smyth plays against top opposition far more, and far more effectively than Koivu. IT ISN'T EVEN CLOSE. The numbers are striking.

Now factor in a full year of contract inflation and the fact that Smyth doesn't have legs made of glass and there is no question that 5.5 is a good number for the team that signs Smyth.

Daniel Alfredsson vs. Ryan Smyth

Alfredsson signed a $6.5 mill /yr deal for 5 years in the 2003-04 off-season.

I will not give a full answer to this comparison. Alfredsson is only affordable now because of the 24% rollback from the lock-out negotiations. While 31 at the time of the deal he is now 2+ years older than Smyth.

The analysis should be - is Alfredsson worth a million more a year than Smyth? That would be an interesting analysis. Alfredsson and Smyth are roughly the same level of player imo - better than very good and just on the edge of elite.

Martin St. Louis vs. Ryan Smyth

St. Louis signed a 5.25/yr for 6 years deal in the 2005/06 off-season. His age is comparable to Smyth's and his counting numbers are a bit better. Lets look at a few more numbers:

Playing Time per game for 2005-06: MSL ~ 21.0 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins
Playing Time per game for 2006-07: MSL ~ 24.0 mins / for RS ~ 20 mins

*Quality of Opponent faced 2006-07: MSL ranked #233 / RS ranked #56
*Advanced +/- at EV str. 2006-07: MSL = 0.20 / RS = 1.03

Time of deal negotiation: MSL it was 2005-06 and for RS it was effectively 2006-07

Best comparison of the lot.

St. Louis plays a LOT of time for the Lightning. His numbers are good except in terms of the quality of his opponents. Question becomes - does the extra TOI that St. Louis plays nullify the MUCH better head-to-head numbers that Smyth has and the extra year of inflation creep?

From where I sit - the fact that the question is even being asked is a feather in Smyth's cap.


Tyler Dellow at
mc79hockey is looking at writing a post (soon) that will take a full-on look at whether or not Smyth is an 'elite' talent. I suspect Smyth is far closer to elite level than Lowe gave him credit for. Even the work I just did above puts to rest the idea that Smyth was only as good as some of the 'star' level talent out there, fact is, he was usually better.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Contracts - Part 2 (a Smyth Continuum posting)

The best contract of the 2005-06 off-season was that of Colin White in New Jersey. A straight $3 million /yr for 6 years.

For those who don't know, White is a big guy with decent mobility who plays the game as if he is perpetually angry. What Lowe and MacT hope Green turns into one day. White plays 22 or so minutes a game and very little of it is on the power play. Plays best as a complement to a pairing and, if doing so, can even play top-line minutes. Good, solid d-man who is, as of now, 30 years old.

$3 million is pretty fair. White is worth that even if all he does is continue performing at his current level. For the next 6 years however New Jersey management won't have to worry about inflation (not in terms of salary and not in terms of the cap) and they won't have to worry about contract years.

Fantastic contract.

Contrast to the Pisani contract. Where inflation is neutralized in the White contract it is built into the Pisani contract from year #1. A decent, not great, deal on Pisani would have been $2 million /yr for 6 years. There would have been a bit of an overpay (as much as 250k) given how he normally performs in the regular season but at least the contract is inflation and career year protected.

This brings me to the real topic I want to discuss today: most people who discuss contract value in the NHL under the new CBA have it all wrong.

Or, to be more polite, most of them only have it partially right.

Where Conventional Wisdom Has it Right

The conventional wisdom has it that contracts should be short term. Any contract longer than 2 years is considered a long term deal. Avoiding the dead-weight of a bad contract (i.e. Yashin) allows you to have the flexibility needed to react to a changing market. This is, of course, exactly right.

The Sykora signing was a perfect example of this.

What Conventional Wisdom Needs to Learn

I am a big believer in a different type of budget paradigm. I believe in 5 and 6 year contracts as much, if not moreso, than short-term contracts. If you know the player is good then why mess around? Sign 'em. Before salary inflation kicks in and before they have a career year. The effective playing range of NHL players, in terms of age, seems to be between the ages of 25 and 36 so work with that.

When you have a guy like Moreau doing what he does, and you know he will do it again, you don't sign a $2 mill /yr deal for 4 years - you try to sign a $1.6 mill /yr deal for 6 years. If you end up at $1.75 mill /yr then you are still ahead of the game because it means you got the last two years at a substantial discount. Anything less than that is icing on the cake.

For a guy like Moreau, 30 years old and injuries are a fact of life, a 6 year deal is worthy of serious, serious consideration. And if he gets injured... well... that is what insurance is for.

Likewise you don't waste time with 2 year deals for players who are known quantities who are desirable to you. You are only asking for trouble. Not only do you pay inflation creep you also risk a young guy having a great season and blowing your budget out of the water.

Enter Mr. Pisani. Even at the end of 2003-04 season it was obvious he would be no worse than a solid 3rd line guy with some scoring punch. Guys like that earn somewhere in the $1.0 to $2.0 mill range. Offer it. His last contract, before the rollback, was for ~ 800k. Try to get him to sign a long-term extension that tops him out at $1.5 mill or so.

For a guy like Pisani, soon to be UFA but not having the stats he needs to get the big dollars, getting a 4 to 6 year extension that averages 1.2 to 1.4 would be very tempting.

Again: as a team you already know that Pisani's category of player gets those kind of dollars anyways - you are simply protecting yourself from inflation and career year'itis'.

Contrast Pisani with a guy like Torres. I love Torres. Too bad the guy has the confidence of wet toilet paper. He is not the sort of guy who you sign long term hoping he gets it together.

The keys to this way of thinking are simple: know your player and know your market. Any time you have a guy who makes far more than he should because of a one-year spike in performance you trade him (Pisani and Lupul come to mind) sooner rather than later.

My last example is Horcoff. The $3.6 is pretty good. The only problem with it - should be a 4 year deal. Not a 3 year deal. A prime example of where the dollars are in the right spot but the term is the problem.

Rare it is that a guy who projects out to 15-20 goals and 18-25 assists becomes a regular 24-30 goal and 28-40 assist scoring machine. Common however is the guy paid as such who has ever only done it once.


At the end of 2003-04 the Oilers knew exactly what they had in Ryan Smyth. 30+ goals, 30+ assists, some of the best EV strength play any LW in the league can give and the kind of intangibles that would make him the unquestioned captain of Team Canada. He is only 30 years old.

In my opinion they should have, and probably could have, pushed for a long-term deal that averaged around $4.2 mill /yr. Instead they played hard-ball and got him to agree to a two year deal at $3.5 mill /yr. - the proverbial home town discount.

Two years later, after handing out a whack of bad contracts (see my last post), the team asked him to sacrifice his position again. He asked, quite reasonably, "why?".

They had no reasonable answer. I do not believe they ever will.


Last thing. Lowe did not trade any of his other UFA's at the deadline. Not Tjarnqvist, not Peterson, not Markkanen and not Sykora. Not Sykora. Obstensibly we are to believe it is because Sykora wants to play here. Fine.

Sykora sat on the sidelines last UFA season for a reason. He just is NOT good enough to go early. Lots of guys in line ahead of him.

My prediction: not only did Lowe mess up by not trading him for a 2nd and a 4th (probable return) he will mess up again by signing him to a deal of ~ 3.25 mill /yr for 3 years.

No insult intended Sykora but he is a guy who should be signable at ~ $2.75 /yr over a 3 yr deal. And he is not the guy you point to as a replacement for Smyth. Do the math.


Have a great evening everyone.