Wednesday, 23 May 2007

NHL Entry Draft 2007 - More or Less

Oiler Draft Picks available for use or trade:

01 -- __6
01 -- _15
01 -- _30
02 -- _36
03 -- ___ Traded to Minnesota (Roloson)
04 -- _96
05 -- 126
06 -- 156
07 -- ___ Traded to Buffalo (Hejda)

Remember to make adjustments for compensation picks.

Team Order - 1st Round:

01. Chicago ....... via Lottery
02. Philadelphia
03. Phoenix
04. Los Angeles
05. Washington
06. Edmonton
07. Columbus
08. Boston
09. St. Louis
10. Florida
11. Carolina
12. Montreal
13. Toronto
14. Colorado
15. Edmonton ....... via ... NY Islanders
16. Anaheim ........ via ... Tampa Bay
17. NY Rangers
18. Calgary
19. Minnesota
20. Pittsburgh
21. Phoenix ........ via ... Dallas
22. Montreal ....... via ... San Jose
23. Nashville
24. St. Louis ...... via ... Atlanta
25. Vancouver
26. St. Louis ...... via ... New Jersey
27. Detroit
28. Washington ..... via ... Buffalo
29. Ottawa
30. Edmonton ....... via ... Anaheim


Edited for Anaheim to win the Stanley Cup (given Ottawa just sucked donkey balls in Game 4).

Off to Twillinggate for a wedding. See you in a couple of weeks.

Have a great evening everyone.

And yes - we now have Anaheim's two top picks in 2008. wheeee

Saturday, 19 May 2007

NHL Entry Draft - Winning Strategies

The Oilers picks in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft are at 6, 15 and 29 (probable).

Spilt milk being what it is I still cannot help but note that the last week-end of the season destroyed the team's draft position. Edmonton went from picking 4th to 6th (on their own merits) while the Islanders squeeked in(to the playoffs) and dropped a pick at 12th down to 15th.

Horrible positioning in this draft really. Just outside the sweet spot of each of the main groups of players. The difference is staggering:

-- at 6th, instead of picking out of the blue chip pool of Kane, Turris, vanReimsdyk and Voracek we get to gamble with Cherepanov or pick from the best of the rest in Alzner and Gagner.
-- at 12th, instead of an outside shot at a top-10 talent that drops pending other teams (miss)picks, we are solidly picking from the group considered NOT top-10 talent.



In terms of making the picks straight up:

I like Gagner at 6th and Lars 'The Great Dane' Eller at 15th (I like the nick-name as much as anything). McDonagh or Cole is also a nice pick at 15. After that I tend not to care too much. This draft WILL have some great/good players come out of it but damned if I know who they are.

Personally, of the favorites, vanReimsdyk scares me the most (Cherepanov being a given). He got a lot of hype from a great 'end-of-season' tournament performance and that sort of thing has always made me wary.


What to Do?? What to Do??

I believe that making the picks straight up is a huge mistake.

In a draft of few favorites, where no one feels too strongly about anyone the draftees in question, my belief is that a team should go big or go home. Be aggressive and make yourself a winner.

There are only three good strategies in this kind of draft:

-- get more picks, or
-- trade up, or
-- both

I already discussed one (very aggressive) approach to getting more picks
here. With more picks your chances of hitting the lottery go up and make no mistake about it - this kind of draft is VERY much a lottery.

Remember: rookies/prospects tend NOT to earn their paycheque until they have a few seasons under their belt - and now they turn UFA at age 27. Just when they are starting to get valuable.

GOOD for the 1st round draft pick that gets full rate while only playing 4th line minutes... BAD for the team that drafted him.

In regards to trading up, well, I believe that Voracek is all that. If Lowe thinks so too then don't be the wallflower - go get him. Every draft, it seems, Lowe is credited with trying to trade up...

Well Quit F*+king Trying.

Coming out of this draft with Alzner, Petrecki and a bunch of daisies is, as good as those draftees are, a miserable result imo. I would rather Lowe trade down and increase his chances to win big.
i.e. use the 6th and ? to get Montreal's 12th and 22nd

Let someone else take the 'safe' pick (Alzner). If Gagner is out of there then so am I. At 12 / 15 / 22 / 29 the chances of getting someone, who might just be an outstanding pro, go up. And that is all I can ask for from a draft like this.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

NHL Entry Draft - Top-15 Player Rankings (aggregated)

I started doing this sort of thing a few years ago. The scale of the differences in the draft lists generated by the scouting organizations, all of which are independent from the teams, was very interesting.

I wondered what a combined listing might look like and ended up creating a list that used the scouting bureau's rankings of the draftees (from 1 to 15) and then reversing that order for purposes of creating a points system (from 15 to 1).

Running that system through the different lists I came up with an aggregated ranking order (see below). I further refined my dataset by counting the number of time a draftee made the top-10 of a list. In this way I got perspective on both ranking order and overall preference.

i.e. Cherepanov may have more ranking points than Gagner but Gagner shows up on more top-10 lists than Cherepanov - this can allow me to infer that Gagner may be a safer bet than Cherepanov (yes, I know... Redline's opinion is noted below).

For the Oilers purposes, at pick #6, they:

-- will pick one of Alzner, Cherepanov and Gagner,
-- should know there is no top-end talent outside the top-4,
-- the wildcard is Cherepanov (given Redline),
-- should trade up,
-- can always hope other teams get stupid

So, without further ado:

The Scouts and Who They Recommend

.... McKeens ..... ISS ........ *Redline ..... Hockey News . CSB**

1 .. Kane ........ Kane ........ Kane ........ Kane ........ Turris
2 .. Turris ...... vanReimsdyk . Voracek ..... vanRiemsdyk . Kane
3 .. Voracek ..... Turris ...... Turris ...... Turris ...... Cherepanov
4 .. Alzner ...... Cherepanov .. Alzner ...... Voracek ..... vanReimsdyk
5 .. Cherepanov .. Voracek ..... vanReimsdyk . Cherepanov .. Ellerby
6 .. vanReimsdyk . Alzner ...... Gagner ...... Gagner ...... Backlund
7 .. Shattenkirk . Gagner ...... Couture ..... Couture ..... Alzner
8 .. Gagner ...... Mayorov ..... Hamill ...... Alzner ...... Gagner
9 .. McDonagh .... Ellerby ..... Cole ........ Esposito .... Eller
10 . Hamill ...... Backlund .... McDonagh .... Sutter ...... Voracek
11 . Esposito .... Esposito ... *Esposito .... Ellerby ..... Esposito
12 . Sweatt ...... Gillies .... *Katic ....... Hamill ...... Mayorov
13 . Couture ..... Couture .... *Petrecki .... Gillies ..... Hamill
14 . Ellerby ..... Petrecki ... *Ellerby ..... Mayorov ..... Perron
15 . MacLean ..... Perron ..... *Cherepanov .. Petrecki .... McDonagh

Kane ........ 5 _ 15 + 15 + 15 + 15 + 14 = 74
Turris ...... 5 _ 14 + 13 + 13 + 13 + 15 = 68
vanReimsdyk . 5 _ 10 + 14 + 11 + 14 + 12 = 61
Voracek ..... 4 _ 13 + 11 + 14 + 12 + 06 = 56
Alzner ...... 5 _ 11 + 10 + 12 + 08 + 09 = 50
Cherepanov .. 4 _ 11 + 12 + 01 + 11 + 13 = 48
Gagner ...... 5 _ 08 + 09 + 10 + 10 + 08 = 45
Ellerby ..... 4 _ 02 + 07 + 02 + 05 + 11 = 27
Esposito .... 0 _ 05 + 05 + 05 + 07 + 05 = 27
Couture ..... 2 _ 03 + 03 + 09 + 09 + 00 = 24
Hamill ...... 2 _ 06 + 00 + 08 + 04 + 03 = 21
Backlund .... 2 _ 00 + 06 + 00 + 00 + 10 = 16
Mayorov ..... 1 _ 00 + 08 + 00 + 02 + 04 = 14
McDonagh .... 2 _ 07 + 00 + 06 + 00 + 01 = 14
Shattenkirk . 1 _ 09 + 00 + 00 + 00 + 00 = 09
Gillies ..... 0 _ 00 + 04 + 00 + 03 + 00 = 07
Petrecki .... 0 _ 00 + 02 + 03 + 01 + 00 = 06
Cole ........ 1
Eller ....... 1
Sutter ...... 1
Sweatt ...... 0
Katic ....... 0
Perron ...... 0

The groupings are clear:

Kane, Turris and vanReimsdyk are ahead of everyone else in terms of regard (ranking) and safety. Every scouting service out there likes their skill set and, as a collective, consider them a safe pick at that ranking.

Voracek, Alzner, Cherepanov and Gagner run closely behind the top-three - either because one of the scouting groups had major reservations (CSS vs. Voracek and Redline vs. Cherepanov) or because, overall, they clearly ranked them lower (Alzner and Gagner).

Ellerby, Esposito, Couture and Hamill are a group that is considered, distinctly, second rate to the top 7 players. Esposito is an interesting case - everyone acknowledges his skill set but no one sees him as a top-10 guy.

After that it is all over the map.


When looking at the list I tend to apply an arbitrary rule of thumb: any draftee within 10 points of another draftee is at threat to be picked ahead or behind that draftee. This is to recognize, in part, the modestly random (to me) aspect of what teams prefer in their players.

It is also a measure of reasonableness. Sutter, if I had listed him, has 6 pts - it would not be a big surprise to see him preferred over Backlund by any number of teams. It would also, however, be a surprise to see him picked ahead of Hamill or Couture.

Using that rule of thumb I can expect that Turis could go #1 and Voracek could overtake vanReimsdyk but not Turris or Kane. Alzner and Cherepanov may overtake Voracek but Gagner will not.

If anyone ranked below Gagner is chosen in the top-7 it SHOULD be a major surprise. If anyone ranked below Hamill is taken in the top-9, the team making that call probably just made a big mistake.


* USAToday only publishes Redline's top-10 so I do not have an official top-15 list. Luckily for me they publish the Redline top-10 every month. The extra 5 players listed have shown up on more recent Redline listings at one point in time or another.

** CSS does not aggregate their European and North American lists. So I did it. Given the weakness of the Old World's offerings this year I started the highest CSS ranked Euro two spots behind and followed on from there.

Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Garth Snow and the DiPietro Contract (the Finale)


Is 15 Years So Bad (Part Three)

I will now, finally, finish up my series of posts on Garth Snow and the Rick DiPietro contract. The other posts in the series are here
(part one) and here (part two). Oh, in case you wondered - yes - I am not very good at photoshopping...

This post will be done in a Question & Answer format as most of what I have left to say is just miscellanea. Since I am only asking questions of myself please rest assured they will be easy.

Question: Doesn't the chance of injury make the length of the contract a stupid one?

Answer: When the injury happens matters a lot. While it is true that more years means there is a greater chance that a serious injury will occur the chance that a serious injury will occur in any given year is completely independent of the number of years in the deal. Also, the more years that pass the less the cost of said injury.

Given that young goalies rarely get injured in such a fashion it is probable that an such injury will not occur until much of the contract has already been paid out. That said, DiPietro suffered a concussion just this year so fate may not be favoring our new GM. No question about it - Garth Snow shaat his pants when DiPietro went down.

Finally, in regards to injury issues, any such injury would allow the Islanders to place DiPietro on the LTIR list and once done the team could seek to get another goalie to fill his skates - the Cap issues are almost irrelevant.

That leaves budget considerations. I believe most teams self-insure because of the premiums but on a contract like this the team may just have paid the money anyways. Wang has the money and has, historically, had the wilingness, to cover salary costs exceeding revenues.

So, after examination, I can safely say that a career ending inury would not be fatal to the team. The real danger is a chronic malady (a la Dunham's groin issues when with Nashville) that leaves DiPietro on the active roster drawing full salary and affecting the Cap.

Question: Straight-up - why such a long contract?

Answer: It is a hedge. Plain and simple. Hedging is the act of buying something at a price today in order to either protect yourself from, or make gains on, changes in future prices.

Snow has a MBA. No surprise then that he would see a contract in its financial sense as much as anything. He will make some substantial gains off this contract.

Question: What if he is less Martin Brodeur and more Jim Carey?

Answer: No big deal. The Cap would be well in excess of $50 million by the time it would be established that DiPietro sucked so bad. The deal is small enough, and Wang's wallet big enough, that it isn't crippling.

Also, Yashin's contract HAS to END sometime doesn't it (2010 actually)? DiPietro's would just be a nuisance compared to that.

Besides. DiPietro is a player. He will be around a long time.

Question: What is the upside of all of this?

Answer: Besides the NHL inflation protection, the player-contract inflation protection and career-year-itis protection all now inherent in the contract of a player who will probably be a top-10 goalie for the next 10+ years? Besides having the most important position on a team competently played by a guy underpaid?

You don't want much do you?

Okay, okay... you are the one asking the questions. But I think I just answered it anyways.

One thing can happen here. As the Cap goes up it will be increasingly hard for many teams to bring their budget up to match the Cap. Once the Yashin contract is gone the Islanders will have a lot more budget flex - hopefully they will spend it wisely this time. At the very least they won't have to worry about overpaying their goaltender.

Question: Any other downsides to the deal?

Answer: Yeah. One interesting one. Do the Islanders still draft goalies? I don't know if they will and if they do will they be the next team that trades a guy like Hasek away for peanuts because they already have a good goalie?

It happens.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Anaheim Hurricanes

I think the Oilers just secured that second 1st round pick. Anaheim is looking a lot like the Hurricanes did in terms of facing short-handed opponents every step of the way.

Detroit was lucky to pull it out over the San Jose Diaper Sharks but Hasek is due to fall apart against someone and w/out Schneider and Kronwall the Wings just won't have the defensive depth needed to take down the Ducks.

I hope I am wrong though. CFP doesn't deserve success imo.


Have a great evening everyone. But Pronger that is.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part Two - Defensemen) - A

Part 'A' of the second in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this coming off-season. The first post, goalie's, is here.

Foreword (no pun intended): defensemen take a lot longer to develop to full potential than any other position in the game (imo). I believe it is because experience plays such an important role in the effectiveness of said players.

Knowing how to angle players to the outside - regardless of the speed and/or strength of that forward, knowing when to pokecheck vs. actually stepping up and intercepting the pass - exactly because you know the speed and/or strength of the incoming forward, etc. ALL of those traits have to be, generally, relearned by defensemen at every level at which they play simply because the next level of opposition is faster, better, stronger than that before it. Watching a guy like Sakic destroy some young d-man by pulling him out of position and then dumping the pass is like watching a training video in progress - funny part is that the d-man in question will probably be watching the same training video the next day.

It is one of the reasons why prices for defensemen are so high. There really aren't THAT many who are THAT good at it. Most teams only have one or two key cogs in their system and if that guy goes down the ripple effect can destroy an entire season (witness: Frantisek Kaberle).


Age .. .$$ .. avg toi .. pp .. sh/gm

32 .. 4.20 .. 25.45 .. 4.50 .. 1.19 .. Brian Rafalski
32 .. 3.50 .. 25.07 .. 4.56 .. 2.53 .. Roman Hamrlik
31 .. 2.38 .. 22.04 .. 4.54 .. 3.16 .. Kimmo Timonen
29 .. 2.75 .. 25.23 .. 4.28 .. 4.36 .. Tom Poti
29 .. 2.43 .. 23.05 .. 4.51 .. 3.03 .. Sheldon Souray
27 .. 2.20 .. 22.54 .. 1.34 .. 3.18 .. Scott Hannan
27 .. 2.00 .. 24.13 .. 4.24 .. 3.33 .. Andrei Markov
26 .. 2.40 .. 22.58 .. 2.06 .. 3.55 .. Brad Stuart

35 .. 1.90 .. 18.12 .. 1.50 .. 1.50 .. Jaroslav Modry
29 .. 2.50 .. 18.34 .. _.07 .. 2.55 .. Danny Markov
29 .. 1.63 .. 22.41 .. 3.17 .. 3.50 .. Daniel Tjarnqvist
29 .. 1.00 .. 20.07 .. _.19 .. 2.57 .. Brad Lukowich
27 .. 1.90 .. 18.07 .. _.12 .. 3.13 .. Cory Sarich
26 .. 1.63 .. 20.19 .. _.42 .. 2.34 .. Martin Skoula
26 .. 1.55 .. 17.37 .. _.05 .. 2.34 .. Vitaly Vishnevski

37 .. 3.30 .. 23.21 .. 5.24 .. 1.42 .. Mathieu Schneider
37 .. 2.60 .. 21.03 .. 2.43 .. 3.27 .. Teppo Numminen
35 .. 3.00 .. 19.22 .. 2.58 .. 2.16 .. Patrice Brisebois
35 .. 0.70 .. 16.50 .. 2.43 .. 1.18 .. Jamie Heward
33 .. 2.75 .. 18.51 .. 2.21 .. 2.40 .. Sandis Ozolinsh
29 .. 2.40 .. 20.16 .. 3.20 .. 2.12 .. Brent Sopel
29 .. 2.50 .. 18.57 .. 3.58 .. _.46 .. Bryan Berard
28 .. 0.80 .. 13.41 .. 1.59 .. _.05 .. Ric Jackman
27 .. 0.60 .. 15.05 .. 3.21 .. _.07 .. Tom Preissing
26 .. 0.45 .. 17.08 .. 4.11 .. _.12 .. Greg Zanon
25 .. 0.90 .. 17.26 .. 3.03 .. 1.23 .. David Tanabe

31 .. 0.53 .. 14.00 .. _.19 .. 2.03 .. Rory Fitzpatrick
31 .. 0.53 .. 14.11 .. _.47 .. _.44 .. Jamie Rivers
30 .. 0.63 .. 15.38 .. _.02 .. 3.00 .. Nolan Pratt
30 .. 0.60 .. 15.36 .. _.20 .. 1.37 .. Shane Hnidy
29 .. 0.50 .. _9.48 .. _.55 .. _.15 .. Joel Kwiatkowski
29 .. 0.45 .. _8.38 .. _.__ .. 2.50 .. Alex Brooks
28 .. 0.94 .. 20.23 .. _.28 .. 3.19 .. Jan Hejda
28 .. 0.50 .. 14.30 .. _.12 .. 2.13 .. Mike Weaver
27 .. 0.75 .. 18.51 .. _.36 .. 3.41 .. Josef Melichar
27 .. 0.55 .. 18.58 .. _.35 .. 3.45 .. Rob Scuderi
27 .. 0.50 .. 12.11 .. _.01 .. 1.19 .. Joe DiPenta
27 .. 0.45 .. 13.01 .. _.13 .. _.30 .. Bobby Allen
27 .. 0.45 .. 14.03 .. _.26 .. 1.14 .. Kent Huskins
27 .. 0.45 .. 11.46 .. _.29 .. _.10 .. Brad Ference
26 .. 0.45 .. 14.35 .. _.29 .. _.44 .. Doug Janik
25 .. 1.00 .. 14.13 .. _.07 .. _.22 .. Ossi Vaananen

44 .. 0.85 .. 17.54 .. _.15 .. 4.54 .. Chris Chelios
37 .. 1.20 .. 15.42 .. _.17 .. 3.26 .. Glen Wesley
37 .. 0.50 .. _7.07 .. _.03 .. 1.19 .. Luke Richardson
36 .. 0.95 .. 12.55 .. _.04 .. 1.38 .. Jon Klemm
36 .. 0.60 .. 22.41 .. 3.04 .. 3.36 .. Sean Hill
36 .. 0.50 .. 13.14 .. _.15 .. 1.08 .. Jason York
35 .. 0.70 .. 20.27 .. 1.13 .. 3.04 .. Ken Klee
34 .. 2.28 .. 19.29 .. _.11 .. 4.23 .. Aaron Miller
34 .. 2.13 .. 20.12 .. 2.17 .. 3.01 .. Darryl Sydor
33 .. 2.05 .. 22.09 .. 2.02 .. 3.06 .. Greg deVries
33 .. 0.60 .. 14.01 .. 2.44 .. _.44 .. Bryan Muir
32 .. 0.50 .. __.__ .. _.__ .. _.__ .. Joel Bouchard (dnp)
31 .. 2.48 .. 21.23 .. 2.34 .. 3.10 .. Craig Rivet
31 .. 2.51 .. 15.19 .. _.30 .. 1.43 .. Janne Niinimaa
31 .. 2.00 .. 20.07 .. _.23 .. 3.50 .. Andy Sutton
31 .. 1.52 .. 19.56 .. _.08 .. 3.46 .. Sean O'Donnell
31 .. 0.60 .. 19.48 .. 2.45 .. 2.44 .. Anders Eriksson

Group A: the 'name' group

The big names are Rafalski, Souray and Timonen mainly because they all have good counting numbers from their PP time and because they are also pretty good at EV play. Markov is the guy everyone knows about but he is usually listed after the big three. Expect everyone of the those four to get some $5 mill+ /yr. Timonen and Rafalski could get past the $6 million mark.

Poti and Hamrlik comprise the 'unappreciated' part of this group. Both play well-rounded games and play a LOT of minutes doing it. Hamrlik may have trouble breaking the $4 million mark but probably wants a long-term deal retirement deal regardless. Poti has matured into a decent, all-around d-man so expect a big payday for him - $4.50 mill+ /yr.

Hannan and Stuart represent the guys who come next - solid, well regarded d-men who are nowhere near being true #1 defensemen. They play a lot of minutes each game and they don't get freebie counting points from their PP time. Expect each of these guys to get $4 mill+ /yr with an outside shot at $5 million if a bidding war erupts.

Group B: the 'lunchpail' group

Players best suited to playing in the #4 spot or playing support for a true #1 - and everyone knows it. Modry is slowing down while Tjarnqvist's numbers benefitted from playing with expansion teams. Both play a good all-around game. Expect Modry to take a retirement contract around $2 million while Tjarnqvist aims at a 3 yr deal averaging $1.75 mill /yr or so.

The rest of this group all play defense first.

Most of this group will end up in the $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr range with prices varying due to how long they are on the list given their strengths and weaknesses. i.e. where Markov plays against tough competition AND performs well, Skoula plays 2nd tier opposition and does okay.

Group C: the 'defense?' group

A long list of offense-first d-men. They tend to play a lot of protected minutes and get good counting numbers from their powerplay time.

Schneider and Numminen are the grizzled vets and I expect they will either retire or look for 2 year retirement contracts. Given that both play a solid veteran game they are probably worth said contract - I expect that if they want to keep playing someone will keep paying.

Brisebois, Ozolinsch, Berard & Jackman represent the worst of this grouping. None play a particularly sound defensive game. Some team will sign them but they will probably wait in UFA limbo the longest. Jackman is the cheapest of the group and may be lucky to break 750k while the others will hover in the $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brisebois and Ozo retire.

I hereby admit a softspot for Jamie Heward. I have always thought this guy was better than he ever got credit for being. ANY team that wants a solid 2nd unit PP unit guy would be well advised to look at Heward's numbers - especially the 700k or so a year it costs to get him. The guy is a LOT better than most think and the smart GM will pay the pittance to have him on the team.

Sopel is neither here nor there imo. Good counting numbers from his days in Vancouver playing with the likes of Jovo, Ohlund and Salo. Tough work if you can get it. Somebody will pay him the $2.0 - 2.5 mill /yr he will want. The same can be said of Preissing. Kid has good counting numbers in sheltered time so someone will pay him money he doesn't deserve (imo): $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr.

Zanon and Tanabe are the wildcards in the group. Tanabe has been high on hype before but the time to pick him up is now (other teams have paid the price for developing him). Numbers are pretty good and at age 25 will only get better. Zanon is a full on gamble. Nashville is a good team so his numbers are fine - question is - how much of it is due to him. Could be worth a flyer.

Group D: the 'it's a good-life' group

The guys who aren't the 'best-in-class' by any stretch of the imagination but they work hard and as long as they play appropriate minutes they don't hurt you. The numbers for Brooks make me laugh - the guy only plays 8 or so minutes a game yet almost 3 of them are on the PK? That's just wierd. He should remain happy just to be employed.

Rivers, Pratt and Hnidy are interesting in that they have all been around a good long time. Lots of games doesn't mean lots of game but they should, at the least, be decent veterans and make for a good rookie babysitter (i.e. a decent #6 or #7 guy). 900k would represent good money for Pratt or Hnidy while Rivers looks like he has been slotted down in the 550k range by the team GM's. Fair enough.

Fitzpatrick, Hejda, Melichar and Scuderi interest me a lot. Given his late season showing Hejda may be the real deal while Melichar and Scuderi have just had their development costs paid by the Penguins (crazy as that sounds). Fitzpatrick has good counting and PK numbers but is playing with a fairly deep defense on a team sporting Luongo; i.e. more of a gamble than many may think.

The bargain bin specials are Kwiatkowski, DiPenta (EVERYONE in Anaheim plays protected minutes given the presence of Pronger and Neids), Ference and Allen. Lucky to be employed. Weaver, Huskins, Janik and Vaananen may or may not become steady players but they are getting 'at-bats' (TM Lowetide) and that never hurts. Low, low prices here.

Group E: the 'you still play?' group

One of the benefits of being an established NHL vet is that you continue to be treated like you can still play like an established NHL vet. Richardson, Klemm and York are NHL caliber players in name only and should be retired sooner rather than later. Bouchard is prolly a goner (and no... I haven't looked up his status... ever I think).

Chelios and Wesley are going the 'mentor' route and are still, amazingly, not too bad on the ice. Their next contract should be their last so look for them to retire with their current teams. Hill, pre-steroids, could have been the comeback player of the year but now... who knows? Look for him to get a two-year, retirement style deal with the Islanders at ~ $1.2 to 1.5 mill /yr.

Where Niinimaa needs a headcheck because he has had a dreadful time adapting to the new NHL rules, Muir continues to do what he has always done - stick with some team for some of the season playing some version of mostly steady hockey and get paid accordingly. For older vets these two represent the bargain bin. Niinimaa being the gamble.

Klee, Miller, Sydor, deVries, Rivet, Sutton, O'Donnell and Eriksson are all steady as they go vets. They all have significant plusses and minuses (Klee is 35, Miller has injury issues, O'Donnell is slow, etc) but slotted in the right spot they will do okay. Prices will range all over the place - as low as 900k for some (Klee) and as high as $2.5 mill /yr for others (Sydor, deVries).


Next part of this post follows directly below.

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part Two - Defensemen) - B

Part 'B' of the second in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this coming off-season. Part 'A' is directly above this one.

Who to target?

For my money I like (from each group):

Markov, A.

Markov, D
Skoula / Vishnevski


Melichar / Scuderi
Weaver / Huskins


The first team to offer Andrei Markov $5 mill /yr for 9 yrs is the smartest team out there imo. He doesn't have the kind of game that deteriorates with age, he already plays at the $4.5 mill+ level and a 9 yr contract is inflation protected out the wazoo. Montreal would be insane to let him go so I don't expect they will - look for a 3 yr deal at $5.0 mill /yr.

Hannan and Poti are both nice plays in the $3.5 - 4.0 mill /yr range but I expect Poti to be gunning for $4.5 - 5.0 mill /yr; at that price take Hannan. Last thing a team should do is sign either player to a short-term deal. Both are nearing their primes and one really good season makes them sure-fire $5 mill+ players. Again, with these two, go long or go home. Poti will probably stay with the Islanders while Hannan will reach the silly season. Lowe will make a play for Hannan if available.

Lukowich has always been a favorite of mine and New Jersey would be insane to let him go given his price. Expect a 3 yr deal in the $1.5 - 1.8 mill /yr range. He is a steal at that rate. I like Tjarnqvist because he is better than most think and he is cheap like Lukowich. Expect him to go UFA and get signed short term in the $1.5 - 1.8 mill /yr range. I like Tampa Bay for him.

The 'tough' Markov may be tired of being a gypsy and his play in Detroit has been excellent so I expect him to get a 3 yr offer there in the $2.6 - 2.8 mill /yr range.

Skoula and Vishnevski are two players who are just entering their primes, have played a lot of games and have, hopefully, learned all they need to. I expect both to hit UFA status and both to get 2 yr deals at $1.8 - 2.0 mill /yr.

Tanabe has been around the block a few times and is only 25. He has learned how to play defense and still has some offensive potential in him. He represents, to me, one of the great value signings this entire UFA season. The team smart enough to sign him to a four or five year deal at a decent price (say $1.5 - 1.8 mill /yr) just signed a cornerstone #4 d-man for cheap. Expect Carolina to re-sign him to a shorter term deal however - especially if Wesley retires.

Preissing has great counting numbers but plays butter minutes. I expect some team to horribly overpay him and then horribly mis-use him. If I am a team that can afford that I pay him the $2.0 - 2.5 mill /yr he wants and play him on the PP and against the weakest competition I can. I also sign him really long term because it ain't worth it to have him leave AFTER he has a 50 pt season.

Zanon is the total wildcard out of this group. Played a whack of PP minutes but didn't score much. Does he have offensive skill? Averaging 4.11 min /gm on the PP I have to think he had some. I am intrigued to say the least. I expect him to re-sign with Nashville but if he goes UFA I think a lot of teams would be smart to take a flyer on the guy in the 900k /yr range.

Hejda is, to me, the real deal. The guy totally solidified the defensive pairing he played on. Being a veteran from Europe he simply didn't need the babysitting the rookies did. I fully expect Lowe to re-sign him for 2 yrs at $1.0 - 1.2 mill /yr.

Having followed his stats for years I like Pratt as an underpriced veteran (much like Lukowich). A smart team looking for solid depth will pick him up. I expect him to hit UFA status, given Tampa's budget issues, and I expect a 3 yr deal at $1.2 - 1.3 mill /yr. A steal at that price.

As mentioned, Melichar and Scuderi are two players that Pittsburgh has paid the training costs on. Scooping them from Pittsburgh is just smart player asset management. Much like Pratt I expect these two to get 3 yr deals in the $1.2 - 1.3 mill /yr range. Cheap, cheap price to pay.

Weaver and Huskins are depth player gambles. Short term deals at low dollars and then cross your fingers and hope it all works out. Expect less than 800k for each.

deVries and Rivet represent the grizzled veteran corps that was once overpaid and now returned to earth (part of the reason as to why there is a new CBA). No mistake though - solid veterans that play a lot of minutes in important roles. Expect they will want long-term deals in the $2.0 - 2.5 mill /yr range. They are worth that imo.

Niinimaa... not just because I am sentimental. Niinimaa is old-school hockey and he loves the game - he may very well sign for REALLY low dollars just to get a chance to prove himself. Anything less than 900k could be a bargain.


So that is the defensemen. Were I Lowe and I was going to play it conservatively ('make-the-play-offs') I make my plays for:

-- Markov (A.), Hannan, Tanabe, Hejda, Lukowich, deVries, Skoula, Pratt, Melichar, Scuderi, Tjarnqvist and Niinimaain in that order.

If I treat my team as a rebuild it moves deVries down to the bottom of the list.

Snagging Tanabe, Lukowich and Hejda would be a great UFA season imo (cheap adds that would be very effective) - beaten only be getting any one of Markov or Hannan.


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Katz and the Oilogosphere

What a difference a day makes.

Katz (pronounced 'Cates' per a fellow named Colby) has made an unofficial offer of $ 145 million on the Oilers. The Oilogosphere, as expected, has started following the story and the most up-to-date stuff is at the Battle of Alberta, Covered in Oil, Lowetide's and Mudcrutch's sites. All links listed to the side of this post.

From where I sit I don't think anything will happen. This team is an ego massage for Nicholl's on the order of the kind you only get from two Thai girls slicked up in body oils rubbing themselves up and down your nekkid body.

As I write this he is probably trying his best to circle the wagons. Given the value of the team AFTER it gets a new arena (and accompanying sweet lease deal from the City) odds are good those wagons will circle up tight.

Even if Katz does win the team it will be interesting to see if he is the type of owner who thinks shorting his team's budget 10% of the Cap is smart thinking...

Other stuff from around the Oilogosphere lately:

Grabia, at
Battle of Alberta, has been writing some phenomenal stuff in opposition to the new arena (or, more correctly:

- in opposition to the way the EIG is securing said arena,
- in opposition to the way the media has assumed the role of 'salesperson' rather than the role of 'journalist', and
- in opposition to the Mayor's maneuverings on all of it)

so scroll down and read it.

Pat McLean brings a tear to me eye and makes me believe in heroes again at his site (
Black Dog Hates Skunks). A must read is: "Dr. Smyth and His Merry Men Save Little Johnny Edmonton - An Allegorical Passion Play".

Vic calls the New Jersey / Ottawa series bang on at
Irreverent Oil Fans - post is titled "Lou and Big Bird: A Contrast in Styles".

Lowetide has added a very nice feature to his site: the
Oilers Salary Estimates calculator.


South Smythian Rolo-Gator has some sweet profiles on players expected to to early at the up-coming NHL draft.


Some great reads out there. Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back - OR -

One Step Back and Two Forward?

Columbus is horribly overpaying Fedorov NOT because he isn't as good as his paycheque (he isn't - but not as much as many think) but because the young guys on the team are nowhere near ready. Fedorov has one year left at $6.08 mill/yr.

Montreal is tired of Samsonov and is looking at buying him out. Samsonov has one year left at $3.525 mill/yr.

Columbus has the #7 overall pick.

Montreal has the #12 overall pick.

Do you make an offer to Gainey for Samsonov? Say... Samsonov and the 12th for the Anaheim pick?

Do you make an offer for Fedorov? Say... Fedorov, 7th overall and a 3rd rounder for Reasoner & the Anaheim pick?

Do you make both offers (substituting something else for the Anaheim picK - may JF Jacques) knowing that Fedorov can play defense and PP point?

Is Samsonov really that bad now or is he a rebound waiting to happen? Is Samsonov, at $3.525 and a 12th overall (Esposito) less a 26th-30th pick better than Sykora at $2.75?

Is hyper-aggressive team building the route to follow and is it really only money? What if you can squeeze an extra 4th rounder out of each deal?

I think it is / would be an amazing gamble to take. Brass balls needed. I also think it isn't half as bad a gamble as it looks on the face of it. Especially if a lot of the best UFA's never reach July 1st (Phillips, Salo and more to come).

Given what some are ready to give up for Redden I have to think that if he doesn't agree to sign an extension prior to trade the Fedorov deal represents better value. Maybe even 'much' better.


Have a great evening everyone.