Saturday, October 17, 2009
DEFENSE! . . DEFENSE!!
I have always categorized defensemen into four broad categories:
1. Those who play best staying in defensive position
2. Those who contribute most leaving defensive position
3. Those who try to do both
4. Those who can do both
Simple enough. There may be a hundred descriptors I can graft onto to those categories but it all starts there. The trick, imo, is to always have a 2 or 3 playing with a 1 or 4. When teams screw these combo's up they generally get into trouble.
The 2nd group is the most varied of the four categories as it includes offensive defensemen (say, Ozolinsh) and 'hitters' (say, Ulanov). This is the chaos group because players in this category tend to leave position in order to make their play.
Chaos doesn't necessarily mean 'bad' btw. Gains made can be worth losses incurred. I would suppose the 3rd group is generally the 'most bad' group. Not sound enough defensively to hold the fort and not good enough in other areas to make up the losses. Lots of rookies in that group.
That said, Seidenberg has rounded into a decent defenseman by my eye.
As you can imagine, the 4th group is (by far) the most rare. And please note, except in the case of the 4th group, I have not made any indication of ability.
Thinking of all of that the other day I spared a thought for Phaneuf. Group 2 player who is a threat to leave position at any time as he is both a hitter and an offensive defenseman. That isn't going to help Kipper any.
LAFFS AND LAFFS
Following up on a David Staples post (Cult of Hockey) that echoed my own empty headed thoughts - that post is here - I am one of those who think Burke started his rebuild way too soon.
He didn't quite have the wonderful off-season I predicted for him (or, at least, that he should have had)**.
This isn't rocket science folks.
Valuable pieces available to unload? Check.
Bad goaltending? Check.
Patient fan base? Check.
Full budget and full Cap capability? Check.
A few good young prospects/players already in place? Check.
Damn. I cannot think of a higher profile team that had a better opportunity, in my lifetime, to enter a rebuild and come out of it pre-forgiven and shining like roses. Even Blake's contract was finally getting to the point where it was a value asset (next year the Cap hit is a cool mill higher than actual salary).
It's like Lowe and Burke got together in the little boys room, kissed and made up and somewhere in the spit they exchanged mojo's. The risk factors for the Leafs are all so high it beggars my imagination.
Kessel was the wrong the move to make THIS year. That 2010 1st rounder should be a top-8 marker and it will, of course, be paired with a 2nd rounder in the top-38. Barring a great off-season in the summer of 2010, the second (2011) 1st round pick should be in the top-10.
And that is WITH Kessel, Beauchemin, Komisarek, et al added to the team.
Think about that for a second. It isn't a matter of Kessel outperforming what Boston receives in the trade - it's about Kessel outperforming what Toronto would have gotten if they hadn't done the trade.
Burke's real mistake was that of putting too much value on the incoming defensmen. Niether Beauchemin nor Komisarek was a driver back there on defense - on those teams it was Neidermayer/Pronger and Markov - but Burke treated them as being such.
Then made all his bets accordingly.
If he had just stuck with a rebuild plan:
- stay with Toskala for 2009/10 (at least) and bring the new guy in slow;
- do NOT pick up Komisarek
- pimp Stempniak and Blake near the deadline
- if the price is right find a taker for Poni and Kaberle
Then two top-3 picks over the next two years aren't out of the question; good draft year or bad, top-3 is generally where you get your winners.
Given Toronto's ability to pay for trade deadline mercs, and pick up UFA's when ready, there is no reason why Toronto should not have been a major force as early as 2014/15. Maybe even earlier given the right UFA signings.
You think Kovalchuk's agent wouldn't have pointed a finger at Toronto's marketability, Cap space, ability to spend, Burke's track record and the fcat that the team would have more talent faster than Atlanta could ever hope to produce?
And now? With the rebuild ending with Kadri?
The Laffs never end. Hyuck Hyuck.
PROMISE AND PROMISES
One part of me says: 'homegames' and 'shooting percentages' and nothing changes.
Another part of me says: 'Penner is ready to play this year', 'Smid has graduated' and 'We just might have a scoring line featuring Gagner as center'.
Oh yeah: 'small sample sizes'
** Also feel free to read this post on rebuilding a team and this post on the Kings (Lombardi to be specific).
Have a great evening everyone.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It's how you finish that matters. Fair enough.
A season start is what it is and, given the laugh-a-thon that was the netminding in games 1 and 2, it can be said that the points were, at the least, earned. Well-earned being a label to save for another day.
An interesting thing, for me, is the play of Horcoff and Hemsky. Dudes are having some issues. Can't all be JFJ. Question becomes, if (and this is a 'just saying' moment) a package like, say, Weiss and Ballard came available for, say, Hemsky and Grebeshkov with draft picks to balance - do you?
I don't believe the Oilers are going to get any 'luck' - in terms of trades of spare pieces (teams really shouldn't waste gift-of-god trades like Hejda and Glencross, they just shouldn't) for usable pieces - to come their way anytime soon so a sideways swing may be needed.
So, do you? Swing that way? Do you at least start thinking about it?
Consider, at this pace Gagner will be a legit #2 center, able to score points and handle defensive duty, by the end of NEXT year.
Seems to me that when you take a legitimate shooter (Stoll, Souray, Streit, Phaneuf) and combine them with a legitimate puck-mover/passer/all-around smart-guy (Pronger, Markov, Bouwmeester) you have 2/3rds of a dominate powerplay ready to roll. All that is left to be decided, imo, is what approach the forward ranks will take.
Surprised we don't see more of it. Surprised at any who didn't think Calgary would be a top-4 team this year. They won't sustain their current pace but that powerplay will cause all the damage that team will need. The forward depth that Sutter built up is just the icing on the cake.
I have said to more than a few - Calgary 2009-10 reminds me a lot of Edmonton 2005-06.
Edmonton's is a freakin' monstrosity of hope-shattering soon-to-be-in-a-net-near-you disappointment. Only hope we have internal is a rising-from-the-grave performance by Pisani.
For the record - be nice to see him get his 400 games in.
Be nicer if those games are good ones.
For the second year in a row we know: no Markov equals death for this team.
You know, if a team could sneak Latendresse out of there, even if at the cost of picking up a Laraque and/or a Gill, the team that did so could do fairly well. His Desjardins EV numbers say I should like him and so maybe I do.
That would be a steal eh? JFJ, Nilsson, Strudwick and Staios for Latendresse, Gill and Laraque. You know. Because they need another defensemen.
I keed. I keed!
Who do we actually match up well with for a trade?
Hrmmm... therein some distress.
Have a great evening everyone.