Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Pouliot Scores! oh, and a note on Souray(s)


First of all - props to my buddy Kevin, here in Edmonton, who secured tickets to the game for tonite. I predicted a 4-2 win for the Oil and duly promise to only use my powers for the forces of good.

Big game for Pouliot. Possibly his best NHL game ever. Personally I thought he looked slow at times but I have to say that this is the first time I have watched him, as a player in the NHL, that he reminded me of what he was like so long ago when I watched him play with Crosby.

i.e. he is a smart player who complements his linemates: play him with quality and you get improved quality, play him with lesser quality players (insert name here) and... well... yeah...

Props to Stortini on his goal btw. Well deserved.

Also, second game in row (I believe) where Pouliot was all about the powerplay and Brodziak was all about the penalty kill.

What does that mean?

MacT is back my friends. He is playing to win now so expect to see player skill sets utilized efficiently and effectively. Look at the TOI numbers tonite: over 26 minutes for both Souray and Visnovsky and over 24 for Horcoff.

MacT wanted the win.

Too bad it may still be too late for anything but a run at the last couple play-off spots.

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I find it interesting, in Edmonton we have a powerplay mindset that is all about the point shot while in Montreal the powerplay mindset is all about the puck control and passing.

Take the puck control and passing game out of the Edmonton powerplay handbook and the powerplay suffers because everyone knows where the puck will go.

Take the big shot out of the Montreal powerplay handbook and the powerplay suffers because everyone knows to shut down the lanes and take away the shot.

What I find interesting is the role a guy like Souray (or Streit or Stoll) can have in determining the effectiveness of a powerplay. In both cases the powerplay is much LESS effective than it should be. And it is obviously so.

Yet teams still build powerplay units that lack, definitively, in certain areas.

Blows my mind that Montreal didn't think they needed a big league shooter on their powerplay. Blows my mind that Edmonton doesn't work the puck control and passing aspects of a powerplay more.

Souray, and the guys like him, deserve better imo.

So do us fans.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Franchise 101 - Part 05 - Objectivity


Part 5 of a series of posts regarding NHL (sports really) teams. The series will serve as a template by which a casual fan can better determine the present and future state of the team they love.

Each team enters each stage of the each annual cycle (a different post) in a certain competitive state or standing. The examination of this state, or standing, powers billion dollar industries (from bookies to sports writers to internet sports blogs... okay... maybe not billions) and those who win (read: bookies) are those who consistently exercise their ability to be objective about said state or standing.

A quick lesson on Objectivity and Subjectivity:

Objectivity

Yes. Halle Berry is better looking than my wife.

Subjectivity

My wife is every good thing for me. She rocks my world in every way. Absolutely gorgeous. Get lost Halle.

The Goal

There is the rub. As long as the topic, or goal, is simply that of 'who is most attractive' then my example stands, if however, the issue is that of lifemate and compatibility then my example is stood on its head (pointed as it may be).

Does luck play a role? Of course. Is some subjectivity a good thing? Of course. Too much of either however is, typically, a bad thing.

The lesson - as important as it is to objectively classify the competitive standing of a team it is even more important to understand the goal at hand. Ostensibly this is to win the Stanley Cup.

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In the NHL there are, really, only four categories needed to classify the competitive standing of each team: Play-off Longshot, Play-off Bubble Team, Play-off Probable and Cup Contender.

Play-off Longshot

The team, as currently constituted, won't be in the play-off chase. Too young, too injured, too dysfunctional, too short on talent in key spots and/or too much of any combination of the items already mentioned - it just isn't a play-off team.

Everything would have to break right for this team to make a run.

Play-off Bubble Team

The team, as currently constituted, has some issues but is strong enough in other areas to compensate. If the team can avoid the injury bug and/or long-term slumps from key players then they should be competitive most nights and right in the thick of it.

Throw in a career year from a key player and/or a rookie that blows the doors off and this team is in and may be making a run.

Play-off Probable

The team, as currently constituted, has few issues and a lot of strengths. Barring impairment caused by long-term injuries to, or unexplicable drops in performance from, key players or a total break-down in team chemistry this team will be 'in' the play-offs, not 'trying' to get in.

If a few things break right this team will be competing for a top-4 conference finish and can be considered a Cup contender.

Cup Contender

The team, as currently constituted, is a powerhouse that only total catastrophe can derail from a play-off berth. A solid team without any real weaknesses the roster will have players whose talent is undeniable, players whose performance is dependable, and players who know how to compete night after night. The team probably has a few players who have all three of those qualities.

These are strong teams that can survive the odd set-back quite easily and if players play like they should they will be in it to the end.

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A GM who has an accurate gauge of the competitive standing of their team should have an advantage over the GM's who do not. I said 'should' because other factors may be in play; the most common being, of course, interference from higher management.

So again. Think about your team. Is it operating in a way that is consistent with what it's competitive standing is? What is the goal, or purpose to which, the management team is working towards? Are standing, actions and goal in sync?

Really?

The first was a bit of a trick question folks. Worry not, we'll get to another another day.

Franchise 101 - Introduction and Chapter Listing

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Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Franchise 101 - Chapter Listing



This will serve as the prologue for my Franchise 101 series of posts. The series will, hopefully, serve as a template by which a casual fan can better determine the present and future state of the team they love.

This is all on a 'as-I-write-it' basis so don't go hoping I lay it all out for you in a timely manner; just check back from time to time and remain patient (I guess).

Also, it should be obvious that it isn't in a 'should-be-the-way-a-real-book-would-do-it' format. That would take a lot more work and, quite possibly, some talent. I do not claim to have the latter and given my posting history on this blog you should know better.

That said, here is what I have down so far:

Franchise 101

Ch. 1 - Markets

Ch. 2 - Owners

Ch. 3 - Money

Ch. 4 - Corporate Structure

Ch. 5 - Objectivity


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Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Gladiator


Anyone who has ever visited here knows that timeliness, at least in terms of writing, is not my strong suit.

The current trend in blogging - had that down cold over a year ago. Just not a word of it here (though to be fair I do have a draft version dating some time back saved here).

This time I am going to get my thoughts down now. Which is to say: the Edmonton Oilers suffer from serious group think. This is not a team that can think originally or independently anymore.

The Good Soldier

Craig MacTavish is, imo, an excellent coach who has only ever had three serious flaws (again, my opinion), in order:

1. Can't coach a powerplay to save his life

----- (every year) the personnel is never good enough?

2. Toes the company line too often

----- (2006-07) i.e. Smid's playing time versus that of Hejda's

3. Plays to his favorites and his whipping boys a bit too much

----- (prior to this year) it was always Pouliot's fault? Always?

The last item isn't that big of a deal as it is true of many coaches but the other two items can be killers. And this is the year they will kill MacT. Unlike Ted Nolan - who was fired because he wouldn't do what management asked - MacT will resign exactly because he has done what management asked.

There is no way Ted Nolan would have sacrificed a full 20+ games to Cole playing LW, Smid sitting in favor of Strudwick, Pisani playing at center and Gagner getting mouthfull after mouthfull of hard minutes. After 6 games (8 tops) he would have done what any reasonable coach would have done:

a. sat Strudwick
b. played Smid w/Staios (at least they knew each other)
c. reunited Horpensky
d. played Moreau and Pisani w/Brodziak or Pouliot
e. fed the kid line soft minutes
f. rolled 3 lines because the 4th line sucked
g. slotted Cole where he could
h. picked a two tender rotation

I do not say all of that to blow sunshine up Nolan's ass. (Nolan saw it as his job to win games. Period. Hence, when Snow and Wang wanted development and didn't get it guess who got fired?) I say it to make the point - MacT has blown a large chunk of the season doing exactly what the team asked him to do: try to spin gold from what, it turns out, may be only be pyrite.

We know that MacT is a good bench boss. His history proves it. Something is not right here.

Commodus

Every year this team has an obvious hole in the roster. Every year, except for late in 2005-06, it goes unfilled.

Every year this team has a sub-standard power play. Every year.

Every year this team sacrifices a smart contract; sometimes for a poor contract and sometimes for nothing at all, not even beans. Every year.

Every year, excepting 2005-06, smart roster moves are a negated by poor roster moves that are equal in the measure. Every year.

Those items are all items of management. And this year it is coming home to roost.

Why?

Because this team doesn't match the coach. Make no mistake folks. I am pinning the overall blame on Lowe. I don't think MacT has lost the room - he never had this one.

To change the metaphor a bit: He just doesn't have the tools and the ones he does have he has been asked to use in ways he would not normally do so.

Like trying to drill into concrete using a regular drill.

or maybe

Like trying to use Pisani, RW stalwart extraordinaire, as a center for the first quarter of a season.

But if all you are given is a regular drill, or in MacT's case, a bunch of overwhelmed younglings, then maybe you pick the best drill you have and pray for the miracle you know won't come.

Concrete being what it is anyways.

In The Colisseum

And so we have a team that looks good on paper, Cole and Visnovsky are great players and Souray is playing at an all-star level, but it all falls down when it is all put together.

Which brings me back to the first point.

A team which has forward thinking management would not be making these mistakes. For all the great potential Cole has he would not have been brought onto a team which has no where for him to play.

A team which has independent thinkers in management would not have watched Stoll, Reasoner and Glencross leave, without adequate replacement, without someone yelling to the highest heavens - "THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE".

A team which has results orientated managment in place would not rely on the same tacticians, every year, to run the same incompetent powerplay - at the very least new brains would have been brought in to work with the existing ones.

A team which has capable management in place would not watch its penalty killing units degrade to the point of uselessness without rectifying the situation long before it got chronic... or even fatal.

A team that says it's goal is to win would use its resources in that way. Win first. Experiment and babysit later.

A team that has too much groupthink on the otherhand... well that team had better hope for a miracle because this season will bleed MacT dry by the time it is over.

I'll miss MacT. I really like him and I think he is an excellent coach.

-----

Had a trade thought the other day:

Vermette, Kuba & a draft pick
FOR
Cole, Brodziak & Grebeshkov

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Have a great evening everyone.

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Introduction


Please leave your comments here.

Welcome to the 2008 edition of the Atlanta Thrashers Draft Review. It is a comprehensive study of the draft history of the Atlanta Thrashers NHL Hockey team. This is the first version of this study to be produced by myself.

Follow the links and you will see where I review the last 10 years of the Atlanta Thrashers draft history, grade every player on their performance as a hockey player, and then dissect that information into seven (7) key analysis groups so that I can measure the success of the organization in terms of: Draft Year, Draft Pick, Draft Round, Player Age When Drafted, Drafting by Position, Developmental League and Nationality.

"... grade every player on their performance as a hockey player... ". This is very important and I will devote an entire chapter (the 'Player Grading System') of this review to that goal. For now I will limit my comments to a single, pertinent point: This study is concerned with the organizations ability to draft talent - how that player played for the Thrashers or what 'value' that player had in relation to trades made (for example) is irrelevant.

While every page of this review will have some of my commentary on it, I am leaving much of the analysis open for discussion. Take from it what you will. The data set is, as of yet, small but there is ancillary work that could be done so feel free to go to town with it.

"... It is, after all, my work." Please keep that in mind, not just for purposes of copyright, but for purposes of simple etiquette as well. Feel free to critique - just don't be an ass about it.

Thanks.

Chapter links can be found below. The study is best read by following the links in order.

Without further ado, I invite you to read and enjoy, the Atlanta Thrashers Draft Review (2008) Edition.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Short Summary

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Short Recap / Summary


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.

The Atlanta Thrashers started out with a whole lot of nothing and it didn't get much better from there. From the work I have done I have to blame a lot of it on timing.

Think Expansion Draft lists for a second. The Thrashers Expansion Draft was held in 1999. Drafting one year AFTER the Thrashers one would think that the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild would be picking from the dregs of the pool yet the draft rules in place and the expiry of another year (in terms of player career timelines) meant that those teams actually did BETTER than Atlanta.

That meant that the Entry Draft had to be Atlanta's salvation.

Sadly, their first Entry Draft year was 1999. Quite possibly one of the weakest draft years of the modern (read: expansion) era. Atlanta took the best player they could and that player was Patrik Stefan.

Stefan was/is a good honest player. Just not that good. Exelby, the only other player of note to come out of that year had development timelines that reflected his draft pick; not a good thing.

Heatley and Kovalchuk were the obvious picks in their years but Lehtonen, as good as he was touted to be, was a serious mis-step. Coburn was a great pick but Atlanta management had performance issues and wasted the potential.

With a derth of quality coming out of their later round picks the team's staging years, from which the Thrashers could build a solid foundation for Stanley Cup contention, were wasted.

So, combine:

1. a poor starting point (the 1999 Expansion and Entry Drafts) with
2. a below par performance from the scouting staff** and
3. questionable trades with few pure 'winners' in the group

and it really didn't matter how good some subsequent 1st round picks were - they all had to be superstars for this team to succeed.

** note the fail marks per draft rounds 2 through 7

Despite the loss of Coburn, 2003 may actually mark the beginning of a new building program for the club as Enstrom has proven to be an effective driver of the powerplay, Valabik (2004) might actually have a career and Little (2006) is showing well in early results.

If Lehtonen can be the goalie he projected to be, albeit a few years later than needed, and the team can get a nice return on Kovalchuk then the future could be bright. If Pavelec is the goalie of the Thrashers future then all the better as that makes Lehtonen available for trade.

Could make for a nice next five.

In summary, from:

-- 1999 to 2003 (5 drafts) the team fared, at best, average but needed to do far better;

-- 2004 to 2008 (5 drafts) the team has a chance to start all over and maybe 2013 will be the magic year

Maybe.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Graded Players, Summary Of

Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.

Applying the Player Grading System to the draft pool of the Atlanta Thrashers I came up with this:


Hall of Fame level (grade A+ / score 600)

We know who these guys are, their accomplishments speak for themselves. While Hall of Fame players are often called 'superstars', this is actually quite limiting. A Hall of Fame player can also be a player who has been a 'star' long enough, and consistently enough, to earn the universal respect of the hockey world. Kevin Lowe only has one remarkable statistic on his Hall of Fame resume - the number 6 - which is the number of Stanley Cup rings he earned in his underrated, and brilliant, career.

-


Star level (grade A / score 300)

Star caliber players have excelled, literally excelled, at their position or role on the team. However, they have never done enough to be considered one of THE elite players at the position. Players that get this rating don't always have to have amazing point totals; Guy Carboneau never had great point totals but he did win a whack of Stanley Cups and trophy hardware, enough in fact that he could be Hall of Fame material - let alone a 'star'. Brendan Shanahan may be hard pressed to get in the Hall, as will Doug Weight, but they are both 'star' caliber players.

Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk


Solid level (grade B / score 150)

Never quite gaining 'star' status, a 'solid' NHL player is welcome on any NHL team. Their contribution(s) to their team’s - whether from talent (think Slava Kozlov) or desire (think McSorley – pre-hatchet work) - is generally not in question. They have produced enough, long enough, to be considered an asset of some worth. Note that there are two additional sub-classes of 'solid' players - high-level 'journeymen' who have incredible longevity (a Van Allen type) and those 'star' players who don't have the longevity (think Poddubny).

Kari Lehtonen


Journeyman level (grade C / score 90)

No NHL team can survive without the role-players on the team; someone has to do the dirty work. They are 'solid' players in their own right but never achieve the higher rating for one of two reasons: they never played enough games or they never really rose above the 4th line/#6 defenseman status they had. Where a player like Grier will probably attain a 'solid' player ranking (given a few more years), a player like Dowd will be hard pressed to ever be considered more than a 'journeyman' (even though playing with Gaborik may have obfuscated the issue).

Patrik Stefan, Garnet Exelby, Darcy Hordichuk, Jim Slater, Braydon Coburn, Tobias Enstrom


Borderline level (grade D / score 30)

Players who never fulfilled their potential, and ultimately, frittered away their NHL career. Some players in this category could have had one, or even two, remarkable seasons - they just never put it all together for any real length of time. 'Borderline' also describes players in the NHL right now who have careers in a state of flux - will they pan out, or not? Consider Jimmy Carson - a great rookie (L.A.), a decent sophomore (Edm.) and a lackluster career (everywhere). Too talented to be a 'journeyman', never a 'star' and not around long enough to be a 'solid' player.

Pasi Nurminen


Coffee level (grade E / score 00)

As in 'Cup of Coffee'. This is the guy who shows up for a few games as an injury fill-in but is sent right back down when expendable. No impact at all on the major leagues (as a player at least).

Luke Sellars, Zdenek Blatny, Derek MacKenzie, Tommi Santala, Simon Gamache, Michael Garnett, Colin Stuart


Unranked players and prospects (grade F or UNR / score - 30)

Didn't even make the show. Not a reflection of character (none of the categories are really). Just a fact. Note that this ranking applies somewhat differently to prospects. In the case of prospects, what matters is the 'buzz' surrounding that player. Unranked prospects, by definition, aren't expected to make the show. Most late round draft picks fall into this category by default while most early round draft picks have to play their way into it (not a good thing btw).

Too many to name - 35 players, 26 prospects... and counting.


Star level prospects (grade STP / score 120)

The next big thing. Will score goals by the bucketful or stop everything bigger than a pea from getting into the net. Every team wants to draft these players (or trade for them) and few teams have them. No one exactly what the new guy will do in the show but everyone KNOWS they will do something. Of course, 'will do' often turns into 'should have done' but we will leave that alone for now.

Zack Bogosian


Solid level prospects (grade SLP / score 60)

Sure this guy may not be the next Selanne, but everyone thinks that he MIGHT be able to do something at the pro-level. He might just end-up as a 'journeyman' that bounces from team to team and pots 20-40 points a year OR he might be the next Glenn Anderson, BUT at least he it hoped that he will do SOMETHING. Please note the distinction there - 'solid prospects' might while 'star prospects' should.

Brett Sterling, Ondrej Pavelec, Bryan Little


Borderline level prospects (grade BRD / score 00)

Will this guy even make it to the NHL? Who knows? They may be a surprise to everyone if they ever find the right situation with the right team. Question is: is Atlanta that team? Most '?' prospects will probably get a cup of coffee with the team, but anything more than that is a guess. Expansion figures large with this category as talent depth is so thin everyone sifts through waiver wire prospects for copper.

Boris Valabik, Grant Lewis, Alex Bourret, Jordan LaVallee, Riley Holzapfel, Spencer Machacek, Daultan Leveille

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Go Vote

It is as simple as that.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Year

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Draft Year


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


The first table takes the player-grading system (please check that section for more clarification if needed) and applies it to each draft-year. This results in a series of positive and negative scores that indicate the degree of success the organization had in each draft year.

A second table (see below) is then used to assign a grade those scores - i.e. 1999 and 2001 may both have a positive score but even the village idiot will tell you that 2001 was a much better draft year. Loosely based on the player-grading system it serves to organize and summarize our information:


A quick review of the Thrashers results by YEAR reveal two drafting issues that may not have been managed well by the team: a) no sustain and b) no clusters of talent.

Sustain

First, right off the top, the team deserves a pass for drafting Stefan. I remember that draft year and there was no question that, other than the Sedins, Stefan was the class of the field. 1999 is not a failed draft year for the Atlanta Thrashers. Just a case of really, really bad timing.

After 1999 there is a very very good player in Heatley (2000) and a carry-the-team guy in Kovalchuk (2001). One, or both, may make the Hall of Fame one day.

But that is it.

For reasons I should not have to explain (but may one day anyways), Lehtonen was the wrong pick at the wrong time and that - coupled with Stefan's inability to rise above journeyman caliber play - broke the team's momentum via the draft. No sustain is a killer.

Clusters

At the 2000 Entry Draft, of the 14 picks Atlanta made, only Heatley would have a noteworthy NHL career. Two journeymen in 1999 (Stefan started early at that), one in 2000 and another in 2002 do not a championship team make.

Simply put, too many players who attain the journeyman ranking take too long to get there (i.e. Exelby). Heatley and Kovalchuk had no one to help them out. Which is to say, if you don't have the sustain you gotta have the clusters.

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It isn't that the Atlanta Thashers have had a lot of bad draft years. Honest. As time passes we will see many of these scores increase (2003 may be the teams best overall draft year ever), but they - the draft years - did not happen the way Atlanta fans needed them to. Flip 2003 and 1999, or even 2002 and 1999, and we are talking two totally different teams (timewarp notwithstanding).

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Round

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Round when Player was Drafted


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


Two factors are important when evaluating a teams drafting history in terms of the Draft Round in which the draftee was picked. Those factors are: 1) the quality of player and 2) which round they were drafted in. Players drafted in the 1st round should become 'stars' while players drafted in the 9th round are true longshots.

i.e. a 'star' player drafted in the 5th round is worth more than if that same 'star' player was drafted in the 1st round.

This also affects the negative scores of unranked players drafted early; let's face it - screwing up a 2nd round pick, on which the organization has spent considerable scouting resources, is worse than screwing up a 12th round throw-away pick.

Ex: An additional modifier of -60 was added to all unranked players (total is -90 in the 1st round) and then added back at 10/round until the total modifier was +/- 0 (the 7th round).

The modifiers allowed for the actual results of each draft round to be measured against the reasonable expectation of each round. Thus, drafting Enstrom and Exelby in the 8th round results in that round generating a positive grade for the organization.

The following table assigns a grade to each draft round:


The analysis by ROUND serves to hi-light two other problems the Atlanta Thrashers have had: a) when only the 1st round picks are covering the bet then they ALL have to be star caliber players and b) expansion teams don't have the luxury of having years worth of slowly developing journeyman caliber prospect/players making their way onto the roster.

Think about those two points for a second.

On the first, it doesn't require a huge leap of faith to see where the pressure, for the 1st round picks to develop into 'star' players as quickly as possible, is one of the reasons why Coburn will spend the next 15 years in a Flyers uniform and not that of the Thrashers.

On the second, the lack of homegrown roleplayers is why players like Holik and White get contracts at all.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Pick

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Draft Pick Used


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


Two factors are important when evaluating a teams drafting history in terms of the Draft Pick used to secure the prospect. Those factors are: 1) the quality of player and 2) which pick was used. Players drafted 1st overall should become 'stars' (if not superstars) while players drafted, say, 209th are true longshots.

i.e. a 'star' player drafted 210th overall is worth more than if that same 'star' player was drafted 15th overall.

This also affects the negative scores of unranked players drafted early; let's face it - screwing up a top-10 pick, on which the organization has spent considerable scouting resources, is worse than screwing up a 244th throw-away pick.

Note that this chart is closely related to the study that looks at Results by Round when Player was Drafted. Very closely related. Given that the principle is roughly the same (don't screw up early draft picks) I even used the same wording for some sections.

Note: I have not yet come up with a decent formula to use for the purposes of handing out grading scores (as done elsewhere).

All this study really does it confirm what we should already know - if the Atlanta Thrashers are picking in the top 2 spots the odds are good that they will get a decent player. Yay team. Stefan is the lone 'miss' and even then, it is hard to blame the team given the dip in quality that draft year.

The study also confirms that between picks 30 through 211 (roughly rounds 2 through 7) the team has generated some god-awful results. If Darcy Hordichuk is the best you can get, out of some 61 draft picks over 10 years, you have issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Age

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Age of Player when Drafted


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


At issue here is the ability to isolate 'age' as a factor in evaluating the ability of an organization to draft players. To do that it is important to: 1) modify the player-grade scores such that a single 'Hall of Fame' player does not skew the results of a single age category entirely, and 2) modify the calculation to recognize that projecting the capability of an 18 year old player is harder than projecting the capability of a 22 year old player.

There is no issue with the fact that trying to gauge the long-term ability of an 18 year old kid is a difficult task. A 30 year old man, however, should be more of a known quantity and a player like that should only be drafted if the team has a reasonable assurance that the player in question can fill the role required. After all, anyone over the age of 24 that gets drafted by an NHL team is already playing pro-level hockey.

I will not go into detail on the math. Suffice to say that first the player-grade scores were flattened out and then, as a second step, a modifier was put in that added to the global score for each category of players younger than 23 and subtracted from the global score for each category of players older than 23. The modifier increases the further away from 23 you go. The grades are organized and summarized below:


Please note the percentile score in the second column on the left side of the main chart. It is derived from the sum of all players who have a player-grade D or higher AND all prospects that are ranked (star / solid / borderline).

Four things we can draw from this part of the study: a) drafting 18 year old kids is a crapshoot no matter the team, b) the team has had some success drafting 19 year olds, c) that success does not carry forward to the 20 year old category and d) the scouts seem to have an aversion to drafting overagers.

While the sample set is small, and the overall scoring value is a negative (-75), the team's results when drafting 19 year olds are pretty good. That percentile score of 34% is not a mirage. The future play of Enstrom and Little should serve to increase the scoring in this category and if any of Bourret, Lewis or Machacek turn out it only gets better.

Of interest is the lack of overage draftees. Given the team's drive to be competitive quickly** I would have expected to see far more players, age 22 or older, drafted with late round picks. Like the Lehtonen draft pick, this piece of information stands out as an indicator of a mistake having been made in the build of the team via the draft.

** Editor's premise: Heatley and Kovalchuk developed into impact players very, very quickly. The moment that happened the slow build should have been off the table as a viable team building strategy. The team did not draft a single overage player (and only four 20 year olds) after 2002 - that points to a disconnect between the team's draft build strategy and real time requirements.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Position

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Position Played when Drafted


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


At issue here is the ability to isolate 'position-played' as a factor in evaluating the ability of an organization to draft players. To do that it is important to modify the player-grade scores such that a single 'Hall of Fame' player does not skew the results of a single 'position' category entirely. Since all positions will be treated as equal, for purposes of drafting, no other modifications to the grading scores are required.

The grading scores are organized and summarized in the table below. Please note that some 5 players are listed as having no designated playing position. That is not entirely true. Those 5 players are actually identified as 'Forwards' on their player-profiles. Lacking better information I was forced to leave them as non-designated for purposes of this study.



Note the percentile scores in the second column on the left-hand side of the table. Those scores are generated in a fashion similar to that of the previous study on player-age. The 5 non-designated players could represent a signifigant variable IF all of them played the same position. I expect that is not the case and so I am not too worried about it.

I cannot see anything of real import in these results. I can tell you that the team doesn't seem to have much luck drafting defensemen but I cannot tell you why. Coburn and Enstrom will, after time has passed, juice the score a bit but not enough to turn it around. This is the kind of thing that you hope a management team takes notice of, focuses on... and then fixes. Good luck with that.

And yes, LW seems to be a legit competency.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by League

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Development League when Drafted


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


At issue here is the ability to isolate the players initial development league as a factor in evaluating the ability of an organization to draft players. To do that it is important to modify the player-grade scores such that a single 'Hall of Fame' player does not skew the results of a single 'league' category entirely. Since all leagues will be treated as equal, for purposes of drafting, no other modifications to the grading scores are required.

The grading scores are organized and summarized in the table below. Please remember that the league listed by the player is the league from which they were drafted. That player may have developed in several leagues over the course of their junior career but when they were drafted they belonged to a single team or league and that is what is listed (and therefore part of this study).


Two things to pull from this part of the study: a) the team seems to have a decent scouting system in place for both the European leagues and the U.S. college system, and b) the team has not enjoyed any overwhelming success OR failure out of any of the different development leagues.

Those are, actually, good results. They indicate that basic competencies are in place and that the scouting staff doesn't show undue favortism to any one league REGARDLESS of results.

This is important.

In an earlier work I completed on the Edmonton Oilers it was clear that, for over 20 years, the scouting staff of the Oilers had a) deficiencies in its scouting system in Europe (few Russians or Swedes) and b) a bias towards U.S. College players outside of the results delivered. Of all the issues the Thrashers have - unrewarded bias is not one of them.

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The abbreviations used above are as follows:

The USHS category also contains those players drafted out of the USHL program.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - by Country

Atlanta Thrashers

v. 2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Results by Birth/Origin Country of Draftee


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.


At issue here is the ability to isolate the players nation of origin as a factor in evaluating the ability of an organization to draft players. To do that it is important to modify the player-grade scores such that a single 'Hall of Fame' player does not skew the results of a single 'nation' category entirely. Since all nations will be treated as equal, for purposes of drafting, no other modifications to the grading scores are required.

The grading scores are organized and summarized in the table below. Please remember that the nation listed is the nation that they were born in and not the nation where they learned to play hockey (Danny Heatley from Germany for example). As most players did the majority of their development, as hockey players, in the country of their birth it is an issue to be aware of and not a fatal flaw in the study itself.


The Obvious: The Thrashers have not had great success out of Canada. This correlates to the previous study on results by LEAGUE where we find the team has not done well out of the junior leagues of Canada. This is both odd and unexpected. Given that the majority of players in the NHL come from Canada it does not bode well for a team's future if it struggles to identify and draft good Canadian talent.

The Possible?: The sample sizes are fairly small so Heatley and Kovalchuk obviously skew the results for Germany and Russia respectively. That said, the team does appear to have an active, and probably competent, scouting department in Europe (the Czech Republic and Finland are early hot spots).

The Opportunity: To this untrained eye it seems that the team should be looking hard at upgrading it's North American scouting program. The trick will be to make sure that they do NOT impair the European results while doing so.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers

v.2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Years 2004 - 2008


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.

2004

Valabik was chosen at a time where every team had to have their very own version of Zdeno Chara. Valabik has just started getting in some games with the Thrashers and it remains to be seen if he will have any lasting, positive effect on the roster. Lewis remains a work in progress as well. It is a little early to write everyone else off but, by the same token, it is a little late to have to be finding something worthwhile to write about.

2005

That Pavelec may be the goalie of the future, even while Lehtonen is the current #1 tender, is a little disconcerting given Pavelec was only drafted 3 years after Lehtonen. Bourret is on his last chances while LaVallee sounds like he may actually start getting chances. Truth is, there are a lot of borderline-but-not-quite-there prospects in the Thrashers system, so I gave LaVallee the nod given he is one of the best of that group.

2006

Little has a lot riding on his shoulders this year. A good young player he will be called upon to a) support Kovalchuk's 1st line play, b) solidify the 2nd line or c) anchor the 3rd line - no pressure. Holzpfel, like LaVallee before him, got the nod as the best of an average lot. There may be some surprises coming out of the rest of this group but I won't hold my breath.

2007

Atlanta paid a, phenomenally, high price for a run at the play-offs. Those costs are reflected here (and in Philadelphia). If that price had been paid for a solid run at the Stanley Cup maybe I would be understanding of it. But that is not the case. These kind of drafts kill the future performance of teams with as few NHL quality players as Atlanta has. They might have found a keeper in Machacek but if not - this will hurt.

2008

Bogosian is the real deal by all accounts and maybe, having had their run in the play-offs, Thrashers management will actually keep Cobu… errr… Bogosian for the long term. Leveille is an interesting prospect but he doesn't approach the 'probable' threshold that would make him a 'solid' prospect and everyone else still has that new baby smell so no other comments can be reasonably made.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003

Atlanta Thrashers

v.2008

Historical Review of Draft Results

Years 1999 - 2003


Please reserve comment for a future post wherein I will request commentary on the review as a whole.

1999

Stefan was a decent pick made in a poor draft year (one of the worst drafts of the last 20 years); in most other draft years he doesn't crack the top-4. Exelby made the show (almost 300 games) but hasn't made an impact in it and will probably top out as a bottom pairing defenseman. A whack of others got cups of coffee but, for an expansion team, that is exactly what we would expect to see. Passing grades don't cut it however when miracles are what's needed.

2000

Heatley has been everything advertised. Everything Stefan maybe should have been. Circumstance has Heatley in Ottawa now and he should continue to do well for many years to come. Hordichuk is a hard-working cruiser-weight who made the most of his chances while Gamache had enough speed to get a look-see. It is notable, that of 14 picks made, most didn't even get a cup of coffee - team depth took a step backwards this draft.

2001

Kovalchuk will be a dominant LW in the NHL for many, many years to come. Atlanta made the right pick again. Nurminen put in some yeoman type work while with the Thrashers but a knee injury would eventually end his career. Garnett has gotten in some call-up back-up duty while Stuart may have just stared his career in the NHL (2008-09 is a big year for him). Like in 2000 however, the team had trouble once the obvious pick was made.

2002

Lehtonen has had some fragile years and so it remains to be seen how much impact he will have on the team. He has skills and Atlanta needs him to start having career years. Every year. Slater was projected to be a safe 3rd line 'type' pick when made and that is exactly what he has turned out to be. The pattern continues - none of the other draftees has done anything of anything in the NHL.

2003

Coburn took a while to get going but seems to have hit his stride. In Philadelphia. Sterling looks to be ready to make the most of his shot and Enstrom has been one of the few bright spots the team has going forward. Given the lack of quality depth on this team's roster it would not be surprising to see some of the unranked prospects get a cup of coffee sometime in the next few years.

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Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Introduction
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results Summation

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 1999 to 2003
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Yrs 2004 to 2008

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Year
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Round
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Pick
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Age
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Position
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By League
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Draft Results By Country of Birth

Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Player Grading System
Atlanta Thrashers 2008 HRDR - Graded Players Summary

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Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Sweet Read

Very, very nice post on Admiral Pellew and Matt Greene over at Copper and Blue. Dreadnaught Foster and Metternich make an appearance in the comments and overall it was a hella a fun read. If Fozzy Bear had shown up I would have had to shut down my computer and go have a shot of El Patron Anejo just to clear my head.

My thanks to all contributing writers.

As a quick aside, and so this post has some hockey content, I see the Kings as being one of the favored teams in both the Kovalchuk and the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes.

That is all.


Now where is my tequila.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

NHL UFA Season - 2008


This post will serve as the portal to the rest of my posts on the 2008 UFA off-season. Specifically that part of the off-season which starts July 1st - the day players with expiring contracts are free to sign with any team they wish as they are newly classified as being an Unrestricted Free Agent.

The first two days were fast and furious. The next few... not so much. All par-for-the-course kind of stuff. Dollars went big, years went long, common sense went missing and one big market team gave everyone the finger.

The hi-light for me was the signing of Kurt Sauer by the Phoenix Coyotes. It warms my heart no end when I see a team make a signing that is as intelligent as that one was. Just a smart, smart move on the part of Maloney. He makes more of those and Phoenix is a contender sooner, not later.

The low-light? As of today, July 10, I see that guys like Vasicek, Tjarnqvist, Malik and Dallman remain unsigned. Given that:

-- the entire set could be signed for ~ $6 mill /yr (my number) and
-- they all handily outperformed their opposites

I continue to wonder why some GM's continue to draw paycheques. Smart signings are better than flashy signings.

Anyways.

Links to the different posts, in order, are here:

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - First Look

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - The List

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - The Cull

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - Snapshots

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - Worst & Best


Last Notes

1. Detroit Red Wings - they did phenomenally well. Everyone's Cup favorite. And they deserve the distinction.

2. New York Rangers - barring an amazing year from Lundqvist, or a phenomenal jump forward by Staal, the Rangers should be a mess this year. Their roster of defensemen is completely unbalanced and the player turnover was what one would expect from a team rebuilding; not a contender.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins - the team's future will be killed by a lack of depth. It just will. The only way this team wins a Cup is if Shero can pull a Patrick and pick up a Samuelsson/Francis combo. I nominate Orpik and Stall to go the other way.

4. Edmonton Oilers - quite happy we missed on Hossa. I am thrilled that when it comes to big name UFA's Lowe has a losing record. We do not need more salary anchors. Also - welcome to Jason Strudwick. Now THAT is a signing.

I hope you enjoy the reads.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A (Late) Introduction of Sorts

As some of you may know, even when I don't make a post for months I do still update this site. Typically this will come in the form of:

-- posts-still-in-production (drafts)
-- updates to an archive post
-- corrections (typically spelling) to older posts and
-- added links in the sidebars

The site is rarely, completely dead. Comatose perhaps, but rarely dead.

In such a way, over the last year, I added site links to
Copper & Blue, PunjabiOil, Coming Down The Pipe, Copper Blue Dreams, Oilers Nation, The Cult Of Hockey, Hockey Reference.com, NHLSCAP and now, The Real Deal Hockey. There will be more I am sure.

I also added the archive sections to the blog.

The Quick Reference Archive links will take you to where I have posted information that I either:

a) access frequently or
b) got tired of looking up the hard way.

They are updated or added to as needed.

The Posting Archive links will take you to, what I call, 'portal' posts. A 'portal' post is where I stitch together (via link) a series of articles (posts) revolving around a single theme.

Of all the posts made on this site the one you may not want to miss is the one titled:

Edmonton Oilers HRDR v.2007

It is accessed through the Portal Archive. The full title would be:

Edmonton oilers: A Historical Review of Draft Results v.2007

Hence the 'HRDR' in the link. If you are attentive to quirks and vanities you will find that I tend to shorten listings/bullets to a single line. Looks messy otherwise (imo) and my writing style is sloppy enough as it is.

Also, you may note that I tag each article with a 'Have a great evening everyone'. First post I wrote was on the cusp of the evening hours and so, well, it stuck. Being a grumpy old white man I can only cross my arms in front of my chest, scowl, harrumf and say "Change is bad".

In case you are wondering: why now? Simple, it is so I can link to this post in the Posting Archive and maybe, by doing so, I can help new readers navigate the site. Finally, YKOil, is from Yellowknife Oilers fan.

I hope your visit here is enjoyable, and if fortune would have it, maybe even productive.

Thanks for dropping by.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Friday, 4 July 2008

A Musing


As happened on The Team 1260, reported on by TSN, Brownlee and Staples, noted by Lowetide and blow-by-blow summarized by Copper & Blue - Kevin Lowe finally blasted back at Brian Burke.

Good on 'em.

I don't think he should have bystander'd the city of Anaheim and Bobby Ryan but those are just minor quibbles on my part. Overall it was a masterfull showing by a guy who finally decided to take his jacket off and fight back.

Forgive if I am wrong but I get the impression that Katz said something, as a friend might, along the lines of: "Kevin... why don't you just tell him to fuck-off?"

Burke forgot (imo), a long time ago, a rule of thumb that trends along this line:

When you guessed and got lucky, and everyone knows it, don't pretend otherwise.

(Of course, one of the hidden joys to that rule is the one nested within: If no one knows, bluff.)

Everyone knows Burkie. Everyone knows.

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That brings me to the topic I was actually going to write on tonight:

Alexei Zhitnik

Bounced out of Atlanta, Zhitnik is not (imo) a failed player and his Desjardins numbers are actually quite good given the team he played on. He is at the point in his career where he should be a complement to another player - not treated as if he should be anchoring a top defensive pairing.

Waddell made a bad trade regardless; Coburn taking a giant stride forward just made it obvious.

Some team should take a chance on Zhitnik. I say here they will do quite well if they pair him up properly and don't ask for miracles.

Well enough, perhaps... that the team that signs him could, perhaps... trade him at the deadline for, lets say... an elite, yet struggling, defensive prospect from, just maybe... a team that has a GM entering panic mode?

Everyone knows Waddell. Everyone knows.

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Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

A 2008 RFA Moment


As brought to you in a way that only the Vancouver Canucks can.

I think Backes is an okay player, and maybe making him an RFA offer is a workable idea, but what was Gillis thinking?

The Canucks are in for a world of hurt with this guy.

THE RULES

Look. If you are going to make an RFA offer there are several rules (admittedly mine) to follow:

1. Maximize your timing.

This means you don't make the offer when the other team:

.a. is flush with cash (the most important factor);
.b. has lots of time to think about it;
.c. is already committed to that player in their roster build

2. Maximize your opponents opportunity to make a mistake.

This means you offer an amount that minimizes your loss while maximizing their requirement to agonize over the decision. Please read my post on the Penner signing - for some it will be new and for others it will be a refresher.

This also involves waiting for the opposing team to pass certain deadlines... like the filing for arbitration deadline lets say. Just to say of course.

3. Maximize the value of your decision.

If the player you are targeting is a player you would trade 'x' draft picks for then your offer should be as close to that, in terms of RFA compensation, as you can get without crossing into a higher cost bracket.

If the player you are targeting is on a team that is vulnerable (see also #1 above) then pitch an underpriced bid, but don't kid yourself, once you do that you aren't looking to make an acquisition - you are looking to cause pain.

The difference in those two positions is important.

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NOT GOOD

Gillis broke all the rules. And not in the good way.

It was an ill-timed offer with just enough weight to piss off the target yet not enough to make them (St. Louis) think seriously about it. St. Louis was never put in a position to make a bad decision and so they didn't.

Finally, because the deal doesn't make sense it comes off as being opportunistic, or worse yet - a rookie mistake - rather than a business deal and leaves Gillis in the unenviable position of being a GM fewer GM's now think they can trust to do business with.

A lot of GM's won't care. Some will. That is bad.

If Gillis had been smart about it he would have let Backes know he was interested and then waited until St. Louis had started extending its bank account. Then, if St. Louis was vulnerable, make the 2.5 offer. Depending on how vulnerable they are you just may get your guy.

If serious about Backes as a player however, then offer $2.80 and go for 4 or 5 years. At this price point St. Louis has to decide if a 1st and a 3rd is worth it. Where a 2nd round pick isn't even worth thinking about a 1st rounder automatically garners attention.

Either way - Gillis wins. St. Louis is now a) paying a lot for a guy they can barely afford to pay the cash to now or b) Gillis gets his guy.

Here's the thing... is Backes even that good? Wth?

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SHOULDA, WOULDA, COULDA

Here is a decent RFA bid that teams just missed out on:

Riley Cote

You may think I am crazy but Cote is a decent fighter and lest no one was looking Philly just signed him for 3 years at 550k a year. Next time you hear of a team that says it needs a fighter... there was one there for the asking.

Philly is in tight and would have had to look for LTIR relief (Hatcher) or trade. An offer of 850k a year to Cote, and thus avoiding compensatory draft picks, would have been enough to make them sweat, blink or both.

Here is a better RFA bid that teams are missing out on:

Boyd Gordon

The guy has great underlying numbers and it shouldn't be a secret that Washington started to play better when he came back from injury (wasn't all Huet). Per Desjardins, the 06-07 numbers are great and 07-08 dipped, a bit, due to injury.

Washington will be tight to the Cap this year and would have to decide to match on Gordon, and so pass on UFA's, or use his dollars to fill roster spots. Gordon is worth the money and worth the draft picks ; an offer of ~ $3.00 a year would be strategic and smart.

Here are two more RFA's that might be cheap, worthwhile, signings:

Patrick Thoreson and Jaroslav Halak

If you are a GM who absolutely knows he/she needs a good 4th line player who can pick up 3rd line minutes then what is not to like about a guy like Thoreson?

Halak is inching towards 'elite back-up' status, if you need goaltending why would you ever let Montreal have him for cheap? Heck - as a competitor - why?

Make Philly and Montreal pay. And make yourself stronger at the same time.

Finally, I also really like Freddy Sjostrom, Nigel Dawes and Danny Fritsche. The latter two have great upside and Sjostrom is a decent steady eddie.

Come to think about it - the Rangers are ripe for plundering given their closeness to the Cap.

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Have a great evening everyone.