Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Trade Deadline Musing - 2007-08 - Final Thoughts

Surprising number of trades that actually make sense this year. Getting right to it.

WINNERS (in order - most winnerest listed first)

New Jersey

A great depth defenseman for the price of a somewhat kind-of adequate depth forward? Wow. Typical of New Jersey to fly under the radar and snag one of the most undervalued players out there on a day like today. Great, great trade.


Getting Modano cloned for the cost of 3rd line talent is just smart asset management. Smith will have to be something special for Tampa to come out of this trade at evens imo.


Sure, they gave up talent that might actually be more than handmaidens for the great Crosbalkin... but then again... with Ottawa imploding only New Jersey stands as a credible barrier between Pittsburgh and a Cup final. Go for it.


Traded Mr. Glass for a guy who should top out as an impact player on the 2nd line. Way too much great young talent in Chicago. Sick. Smart trade. Getting the pick for Lapointe was just icing on the cake.


I may not be a big fan of the guys Atlanta got back in this trade but I can say they represent a huge upgrade in depth talent for that team. At least Atlanta got a 1st round pick back.


Added nice depth pieces at little cost. Just keeping the Oiler pick makes them a winner imo. Bergeron and Pronger have some playing history together and MAB will allow the Anaheim defense to mix it up a little.

Colorado & Detroit

Nice pick-ups. I don't like Stuart much at all but Detroit gave up less to get their guy than Colorado did so I see it as a saw-off. Fitting given the teams involved.


Losing Campbell hurts. Losing Briere and Drury for nothing is like getting kicked in the nads, repeatedly, during a street fight. Then, after you drag your pulp home, your girlfriend finally decides that this was night she was going in head first.

So getting Bernier and a 1st for Campbell does represent a win of sorts.

San Jose

Normally I would rank this team higher but I simply don't see any character or backbone in that team at all so unless Campbell upgrades their PP to 'score every time status' they won't make the Conference finals.


I still don't think that team has the depth it needs to get the job done but at least now they have goaltending. Not picking Bryzgalov off waivers has to rate as worst move of the year.

LOSERS (in order - biggest loser listed first)


The team needed a lot more than Lapointe. This is the team that should have gone after Salvador. Of course, if Emery or Gerber don't come through the question of, "Why didn't they get a goalie?" should get Murray canned.

Tampa Bay

Remember my my rants about Lowe putting all the risk on the Oilers? Well, Smith HAS to be a true #1 for this trade to work. No future upside otherwise. Not even a 2nd (Tampa's) for a 1st (Dallas) throw in in there. Yeesh.


Wow. Price had better be the next Dryden-Penny-Roy or this team just threw away what might have been a nice run at the Cup. Don't know what else to say. I didn't expect Ryder to stay and Huet to be gone.

Los Angeles

That is it? A team that was sitting pretty in terms of unloadable talent and all they get for it is 4 draft picks. Not one of which is a 1st rounder. Underwhelming is the exact right long word to use in this case.


For a team on the cusp I sure didn't expect to see the impact equivalent of 'nothing' happen. Only Buffalo got worse. A team doesn't have to go after 'Smyth' every year but... well... this was outright tepid.


I like Ladd much more than I like Ruutu. Everything points to Ladd starting to put it together while Ruutu is one trip out for ice-cream away from a career ending injury. This one will backfire on Rutherford.


Hey. I wanted this team to pick up some cheap talent and apparently it was out there in spades. Heck, Lapointe would have been a nice 3rd line pick up and for the cost of a 6th who cares?

SIDEWAYS (in order - most horizontal listed first)


Sure Howson got some nice assets but his team is deficient in leadership and skill again. Columbus still has long ways to go.

EDIT TO ADD: One thing to note - I do like the fact that Howson is fully cognizant of the shortcomings of his team so kudos to him - unlike Lowe he KNOWS a rebuild is all about bottoming out and retaining your picks while doing so.

St. Louis

Losing two defensemen, neither being an oldie, for peanuts won't help. Davidson has to be secretly hoping for a free-fall in the standings.


Another year of Luongo's career is now, probably, gone. All Vancouver fans can hope for here is that it is addition by subtraction.

New York Rangers

Slats and Gretz trade maybe's. Slats got more of them and Sjostrom is, already, a borderline NHL'er so I give Slats the benefit of the doubt here.

FORGETTABLE (in order)


Maybe Montoya will be a player? Meh. Hossa, however, has some nice underlying stats and they say this might yet be a winner. Always the possibly of a brothers act being in play as well so look for the conjecture to start yesterday.


Low budget team makes low budget trades. At least they didn't hurt themselves a la the Foppa trade of last year.


After being the marquee on the sportschannels all month the trades, for what they were, were completely 'meh'. Losing Gill should hurt. Good.


Better have a great off-season. Like an episode of Friends. Please, free JB already. What did he ever do to deserve that team?


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Trade Deadline Musing - 2007-08 - Impressive

Paul Holmgren, GM of the Philadelphia Flyers, is really starting to impress me.

I have previously posted on, what I thought, was the smartest trade of last year:

Meyer & conditional 3rd

To me this was a pure speculation play. Holmgren knew that, barring a miracle run by his team, he would be able to get more for Zhitnik, than for Meyer, at the trade deadline because of Zhitnik's 'veteran' status and previous play-off experience. Lo-and-behold this came true in a BIG BIG way at the deadline as Waddell (the Thrasher's GM) was dieing for just such a player. Thus Holmgren was able to secure:


What a trade. Amazing return.

Flash forward to this year and Holmgren does it again (imo). He trades a decent, but not great (certainly not a Coburn type), young defenseman and a conditional pick for a LW that may just help his team get into the post-season. The trade:

Picard & conditional pick (2nd or 3rd)

Now. I will grant that Prospal is having a great year getting fed sugar time with LeCavalier and St. Louis so maybe I am giving Holmgren too much credit BUT think about it - he gives his team an honest chance to make a play-off run WITHOUT giving up any key pieces from his roster.

Just look at the year prior: where Atlanta gave up a future cornerstone defenseman (at the very least Coburn will be a great #4 guy on defense) for a run at it all Holmgren gave up is a future okay defenseman (Picard might become a great #4 guy on defense).

The nature of the GM game is that you have to lose sometime but right now Holmgren is making moves that weigh the odds in his favor and he is doing so to such an extent that I have to think he is one of the top-5 GM's in the NHL.

Right now.

Note: For more Holmgren lovin' you can also visit PunjabiOil's site (link to the right).

Have a great evening and a great trade-deadline tomorrow everyone.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Trade Deadline Musing - 2007-08 - Brad Richards

Chances that Lowe will actually land Richards? Maybe 10%.

Don't hold your breath.

Question is - SHOULD he get Brad Richards?

Sure. Comes down to cost really.

Now, granted, I haven't cracked my copy of the NHL CBA open in a while but if it can happen a trade of:

Penner, Stoll & Roloson
Richards, Denis & ?

Works for me. And if it can't work that way then replace Penner's name with the words 'future considerations' and complete the trade in the off-season.

Why? Well, let consider:

1. Richards is, historically, an excellent EV outperformer. A rich man's Horcoff. So I do not expect that next season will see the same drop-off he had the start of this season.

Also, paired with Hemsky and ? (Nilsson maybe) on a scoring line you create a mis-match on the 2nd line with Horcoff. Put in a position to succeed Richards should mute the contract criticism he receives.

2. Horcoff, now on the 2nd line can still be given all the hard match-ups. This allow a dominance match to occur (as mentioned) and as a bonus it deflates Horcoff's numbers and allows for, possibly, a cheaper signing.

I really want Horcoff to be an Oiler for life and letting him have 80+ point seasons BEFORE his next contract is negotiated is NOT going to make that a reality easily attained.

3. Richards should provide a greater boost to overall team performance than Penner and Stoll can.

a) Penner may score 35+ goals in Edmonton one day but is the guy a dominant LW? No. Richards, at his worst, is still a VERY good center and at his best he is worth the dollars he earns.

b) Stoll is a situational player who is, at best, an okay 2nd line center and is best played as a 3rd line center with PP time. Stoll is a PP shooter and we already have Souray (sigh).

Look. As far as I can tell success in the NHL is about creating line and player match-up dominance. A Richards / Horcoff / Gagner / Brodziak group allows the Oilers to field a, potentially, dominating group of centermen with a favorable match-up on every line.

4. With the big 2006 numbers Stoll will be a hard signing to close. Even if his next contract is affordable it will be short-term in nature. Avoid the hassle and trade him now.

5. Penner has 4 years on his contract after this and Richards only has 3 years remaining. If the current rebuild stalls and everything goes to hell Richards will be trade deadline bait earlier.

6. Richards, at the end of his contract, will bring back more Penner or Stoll (or packaged) would at the trade deadline. This only changes if Penner scores 40+ and as currently constituted the Oilers won't be in a position to get him there.

7. Richards Cap number IS debilitating but Penner (4.25), Stoll (2.5 est) and Roloson (3.68) more than make up for that. Being younger than Roloson, Denis can be buried in the minors if need be.


Why would Tampa make a trade like this? Roloson is better than Denis and at the same cost next year. Stoll is a decent centerman for that team and Penner is the best LW they will have had there in a while. Tampa Bay needs depth in the worst way and getting two actual players for Richards, as well as some extra spending money, isn't a bad way to go at all.

The '?' is a bit of a wild card. I have no idea what Tampa would have to add to the mix to make this happen but I do know that the value in the trade is only there if Horcoff remains in Edmonton (which would make it an off-season trade given his injury status). Also, Edmonton needs to send significant salary over to make it work and if Tampa doesn't get a Penner or Horcoff there is no point for them to make the deal.


In summary, a Richards trade, given some reasonable assumptions could work and there IS upside if the parameters of the trade work for both teams.

Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Trade Deadline Musing - 2007-08

I will be out of town on the days leading up to, and on, the trade deadline so I figured I would get this post out of the way early. And yes, in case you were wondering, I am no good at finding pictures.

The Easy

Only things I know for sure are these:

-- IF the team is still battling come the 26th and
-- IF Garon is still healthy and
-- IF trading him won't damage the team's chemistry

THEN trading Roli is a must if possible. Also:

-- IF Glencross is still healthy come the 26th

THEN trading Sanderson is a must if possible.

Neither player is bring a lot to the on ice play of the team right now, and neither player has a any upside whatsoever, so trading them for assets is just smart management.


After that it is hard to say what the best strategy to follow is. If we had our 1st round pick this would have been a gimme but that isn't the case so it really becomes a matter of values. As in:

-- What, really, is the value a Staios type brings?
-- What, really, is the value of a guy like Vyborny?

The Purpose Of A Good Dump

Look, the purpose of trading away your expiring contracts, and Cap crippling veterans, at the deadline is so that you can maximize the value (by dropping down the standings) of your own pick, add some lotto tickets on the side and set yourself up for off-season signings of RFA's and UFA's.

Think about it - even IF Staios brought a 1st round pick in return what do you get?

-- a better draft pick on your own merits and
-- a pick in the 24+ range from Dallas (or another top team)
-- a pick in the 14+ range from Vancouver (or another bubble team)

Given that we don't gain on our own merits we are left with, at best, a bubble team pick. Big Freakin' Whoop.

Be serious here, IF the Capitals did want to trade Alzner for Staios then of course, you make the trade. But that isn't the case here. Any trade deadline deals the Oilers do make will most probably involve draft picks

So, for the 'dump' strategy to actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE for the Oilers, given where those picks would be, we would have to bring in a whole whack of lotto picks.

Pretty risky way to make a go of it imo. The only team the Oilers would TANGIBLY benefit would be the Ducks. Excepting some Cap manipulation to keep Pitkanen the only benefits the Oilers receive are all intangible.


Barring either an:

a) upgrade trade (Grebs and a 3rd next year for ?), or
b) a bet on stupid (Tampa's 1st for Staios - heehee)

I am left with one suggestion only - make a trade for someone who might come cheap. Say, even, a guy like Vyborny. With guys like Fedorov, Hossa, Campbell, etc out there a guy like Vyborny could come quite cheap. Throw Howson a hypothetical of McDonald and next year's 4th and see if he bites.

What can it hurt to try?

Finishing the year higher in the standings only, TANGIBLY, hurts Anaheim - since the Tom Gilberts of the world are few and far between it really does nothing to hurt the Oilers - the possible losses are thus INTANGIBLE.

I would advise that the Oilers sift through the rubble of the Toronto's of the world and go through the bargain bins making offers as they go. Vyborny, Fedotenko, MODRY, essentially anyone who won't cost a bundle to pick up but will help the team.

This isn't about hurting Anaheim - it's about realizing that there could be little harm, to the Oilers, in doing so.

Myself, I like Modry and Hunter. Let someone else target Blake and Boyle, from the defenseman pile Modry is where it is at. Hunter WOULD be more costly but I like the guy and getting exclusive bargaining rights until July is worth something I figure.


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Franchise 101 - Part 04 - Corporate

Part 4 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.

The basic setup of a team is pretty simple, outside of the odd Wang experiment the business model of a NHL team has been established for quite some time now. Outside of Model there are three key characteristics that come into play in regards to Corporate issues: Competence, Power and Resources.

Model / Framework / Org. Chart, etc.

Feel free to choose your own label for what is basically an organization chart. Special note: Minor League teams often have their own owners YET, regardless of interface, it is the General Manager who will be responsible for direction and/or interaction.

Without getting too crazy the basics start with an Owner, a Board, a President (CEO) and a General Manager. Corporate functions (Finance, Marketing) will be the responsibility of the President while the Team functions (Pro-team, Scouts and Minor League affiliates) will be the responsibility of the General Manager.

Budgeting and contracts are generally the domain of the GM and said budget must be approved by any of the three bodies higher up the ladder.


Competence is like money, the more competence an organization has the better. The problem is that competence is variable by individual, Ex: an organization that has great scouts is crippled if the GM trades those picked for the NHL equivalent of magic beans.


Position does not mean power. A powerful coach can emasculate a weak GM and sometimes the same guy wears all three 'operational' hats (CEO, GM and Coach) so, maybe, who cares about the Board? The variations are endless.

Finding the power figure can be a little like playing 'Where's Waldo' but the first step is to, always, consider the Owner. The power starts there so find out who they give it to (if they do actually give it away).


Resources is not a personal or personnel thing. It is about the organization itself and whether or not it is spending the dollars it needs to in the various divisions. A team lacking adequate resource coverage competes at a disadvantage to those who do.

Does it have a Minor league team or affiliate that focuses its time and effort on the prospects the team drafted? Does it have adequate scouting coverage of the different leagues (i.e. do they have a Euro scout)? etc.


It is important to remember that responsibility, power and accountability are three different things. An organization chart will tell you who is responsible for what but it won't tell you who in the chart actually wields the power and the number of coaches who have been held accountable for the faults of a horribly put together teams run into the triple digits.

So again. Think about your team. Does the way it is organized actually correspond to the way it is run, does it spend in all the ways it probably should and are the different persons involved actually competent at what they do?

Franchise 101 - Introduction and Chapter Listing


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Sometimes it is a matter of time.

Lowe concludes the 2006/07 off-season with one of the most monumental cock-ups that I can imagine (Penner) given the moves previously made. This move exacerbates all the worst aspects of a prior signing (Souray) and completely destroys any semblance of a recognizable rebuild plan that may or may not have been in place after the Pronger and Smyth trades.

And so I smoulder.

This has been THE single most trying year for me as a fan of the Edmonton Oilers and that is more than a little thing. I grew up with the Oilers and the Eskimos at a time in my life when heroes were the one thing I needed most because good HAD to triumph over evil. And they did. Make no mistake of meaning when I say that the knowing of heroes is a life saving thing.

Yet here I was watching my favorite player, ever, manage my favorite team, ever, into the grave. Then Horcoff goes down.

I explode.

I am a firm believer in luck AND I am a firm believer that when you set yourself up for bad things you get bad things - luck generally only serves to exacerbate or alleviate the underlying condition imo. Plainly said, this team was set-up to have a bad season. Not getting a veteran to fill in for Pisani was just... ... ... hard to describe just how stupid that is.

Yet, we destroy the Flames 5-0 and then beat the Blackhawks 4-1 and... well... management sucks donkey balls but my team, more often that not, makes me happy.

And so I am smiling.

The Oilers are my team. To them I say thank-you. It is only ever a matter a time.


Ladislav Smid

06-07 .. 77 gp .. 10 pts .. -16 .. 19:14 TOI
........ -0.04 EV +/- .. 0.05 QCOMP .. +0.08 QTEAM

07-08 .. 46 gp .. 04 pts .. -12 .. 18:56 TOI ..
........ -0.84 EV +/- .. 0.05 QCOMP .. -0.05 QTEAM

I am liking that Smid is playing with a physical edge he just did not have last year. He ain't mean or nasty or even dangerous but at least he is going in fist first (motn) when out goalie's get bumped and he is standing up for himself in the scrums.

However, is he getting any better? Hard to say. He is playing with Staios again and BOTH players are taking a beating at EV. Sure, if Staios is having a bad year then maybe one can say he is dragging Smid down BUT if Smid was getting any better shouldn't be making Staios' numbers better?

Next year is make or break imo.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Horcoff As Gone As The Season

This season was a done deal from day one. When one looked at every bad move made (Souray, Penner) and looked at every move not made (signing Hejda, veterans to sub for Moreau, Pisani) the writing was carved into the wall.

This team was dead like dinner.

Throw in some highly questionable coaching decisions (Tarnstrom sits, Roloson plays) and even the silver lining that was GaronGagner (shoot-out!) doesn't shine so bright. The light at the end of the tunnel... well... all it lit was Brian Burke and the draft pick he was gifted.

Yet there was one who could not be dimmed. There was Horcoff.

Till now. Now he is gone for the season and all the joy has left with him.


Let me put this simply, we are screwed.

- BEFORE the injury I was ready to say that the Oilers should NOT gut the roster as there was nothing worth gutting the roster for.
- AFTER the injury I can only think that this team SHOULD gut the roster as that is the only way we will be able to make being piss poor this year worthwhile.

This team is so bad, with so little quality depth and so little high-end skill that having a good year next year will NOT get us into the play-offs nor will it make us any better. The rebuild has to be brutal and this time it has to benefit us and not the Anaheim Ducks.


I can't believe that our rebuild year will give the Ducks a farkin' SUPERSTAR while we are left marvelling at how defensively farkin' responsible Cogliano is (no offense to Cogliano intended).

Yeah. That's it Lowe. Blame the injuries. Your shiite is so shiny with fool's gold that no one in Oiltown will realize it was your incompetence that made this team so vulnerable in the first place and that only a fool gives up a prime rebuild year for a 2nd line LW.



Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Franchise 101 - Part 03 - Money

Part 3 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.

The saying goes - a good big guy will beat a good small guy every time. Same principle works in regards to money. There are three characteristics that come into play in regards to money: Amount, Management and Source.


There are only 4 states of being a team can have in regards to money and the current CBA, they:

1. cannot spend to the current Salary Cap;
2. can spend up to the current Salary Cap;
3. can spend over the current Salary Cap;
4. can spend well in excess of the current Salary Cap

As mentioned before, having more money is, generally, better. Teams can get by without making structural investments (minor league teams, scouting, etc) and without fixing mistakes (buyouts, sending salary to the minors, etc) but the teams that can have an advantage.


The key word in the phrase 'a good big guy will beat a good small guy every time' is the qualifier 'good'. Remove 'good' and the phrase is no longer, intuitively at least, correct.

The small money team that manages its money more economically, effectively and efficiently than a big money team can compete, and sometimes even win.


Where the money is coming from is important as markets can be fickle and owners (or their circumstance) can change. Jerking a budget around because of wildly divergent fiscal results year-over-year can lead to many a mistake - having a stable source of income is important.


One might think that the valuation of a dollar is important and one might think that the willingness to spend a dollar is important; on both counts one would be correct. Please see my posts on 'markets' and on 'owners' for more comment.


With all things being even the team with money to burn SHOULD beat out the team that can't even spend to the Cap. But things are rarely, if ever, even.

So again. Think about your team. And then think about the money it has to spend and how it spends it. Now put it all together.

Franchise 101 - Introduction and Chapter Listing


Have a great evening everyone.