Saturday, 7 March 2009

Heh. So....

My bad.

When I referenced signing Strudwick to a 4 year deal (a couple or so posts ago) I must admit that I didn't look at his age. Given he is already 32 there is no way he gets a deal longer than 2 years. Maybe go 3 years if you can get him to agree to minimum (NHL) wage and you are willing to bury him in the minors for that 3rd year.

By the same token, depending on how one wants to maneuver with the first UFA year, there is no reason not to sign Brodziak, Reddox and Smid to deals as long as you can make them.

Why not sign Pouliot in the same fashion (next year)?

Because he is already at $900k+ and you don't even know what role he will play for you yet. As there is little chance he would want to sign for more than 3 years at low rate ($950k?) and because you don't know if he will progress beyond bubble status there is no point in making the kind of deal I propose.

i.e. replace with Nash or Eberle and try again.

The difference with Brodziak, et al is that you already know, beyond much doubt, that they will be able to fill their 3rd and 4th line roles just fine - so why risk a 20 goal season? Brodziak, especially, is a guy you want to lock-up at $950k or so as long as possible; he'll have a great year very soon (a la Stoll) and I would hate to pay for it earlier than I have to.


Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Trade Deadline Musing - 2008-09 - Final Thoughts

So, Tambellini or Lowe? This was some solid team building and asset management work so, as rare as it may be coming from me, for what it is worth, well done.

Getting right to it.

WINNERS (in order - most winnerest listed first)


Upshall is one of those under-rated leader types while Carcillo is one of those 'almost-more-trouble-than-he-is-worth' types; to get a 2nd rounder thrown in on the deal? Wow. If they can sign Upshall to a decently affordable contract... WOW.

Morris has been over-rated almost forever. Dawes alone would have been an adequate return so if Prucha or Kalinin turn out then this is a clear win. I don't have much faith in Kalinin but Prucha is an interesting roll of the dice.

Lombardi is, argueably, not far off Jokinen in terms of performance so the 1st round pick will help make up the difference. Prust, and the 4th for Tellqvist, are just the icing on the cake for the Coyotes.

Great work by Maloney.


Sutter, despite being a dick, completed some nice trades here. He had to. Leopold will fit in wherever they need him and it's put up or shut up time for Jokinen.


Boston gave up three, borderline at best, NHL'ers (so I'm not a big Lashoff fan - big whoop) and got back two Cup run veterans; fair enough I say. The kicker for me is the 2nd rounder from Tampa - that will be just like a late 1st rounder given how screwed up that franchise is. Well done Boston.


Two new options to try out on LW and, more importantly, they are both legit options (none of that "let's try Cole at LW" bullshiite this time). Kotalik is an enigma, so I can't put too much faith in him just yet, but O'Sullivan is a real 'upside' piece and for the Oilers to get that much for an UFA bound Cole... well... great, great trade imo.


Vermette can play center and Leclaire was making too much money so that alone makes this trade a win, however, even I will sometimes put immediate results in front of good player asset management and so the 2nd round pick is a small price to pay for ensuring a play-off run.

Howson and Hitchcock are proving a formidable team and they will get a lot out of Vermette.

San Jose and Chicago

A Cup contender just got better. That is one scary team.


Cole plays well on that team. For their sake I hope he sees that and, in remembering his excellent Edmonton adventure, notices that the grass is plenty green in Carolina. With any luck the economy drives his asking price down and they get him on a, relatively, cheap contract.


Guerin is a nice pick-up but all the heavy lifting was done for this team on the 26th of February. Wozwho?


Also a 'loser' at the deadline (see below), Toronto's last trade of the day shows that Burke 'gets' it. Toronto spent $600k to get a, very low, 4th round pick. There are far worse ways for a 'money' team to spend its money (see also: Redden).

LOSERS (in order - biggest loser listed first)

Tampa Bay

These guys are a joke. One of St. Louis or Lecavalier is gone at the draft, I swear it. Rebuilding teams do not give up draft picks. Barrie and Co. don't deserve a franchise. Not that it means anything but, and I say this with feeling, I am sorry Tampa Bay. I'm so sorry.

NY Rangers

Sather is far too arrogant a man. Morris and Antropov won't do much to fix the various mistakes made and losing Dawes will only aggravate the wounds. Avery will help but this team needed Antropov to fill time at the center spot like it needed a hole in the head.


Yeah. This team needed a guy like Carcillo on the team. A lack of discipline will kill this team come play-off time. Carcillo is the last thing they needed. AND they threw in a 2nd rounder? Holmgren? Is that you? WTH?


On a day when players like Pahlsson, Moore and even Christensen are being traded for some low rent assets (well, O'Dell hurts a bit I guess) it is borderline unexcusable for a team like Montreal to stand pat when their need for a center is so obvious and so great.

Lang isn't coming back in time Mr. Gainey. He just isn't.


Also a 'winner' at the deadline (see above), Toronto just didn't get much for a team that is looking to crash hard and fast. Good thing they have money.


That is it? All they do is unload Leopold for a 2nd rounder and meh? If you are going to rebuild then do so and to be brutally truthful the Avalanche had a lot of non-core assets they could have traded but didn't. Yeesh.

SIDEWAYS (in order - most horizontal listed first)


A lot of movement and while I would normally give them more credit than not for trying to have a rebuild without a crash I look at the trade of O'Dell and I think that IF you are going to try such a rebuild, you get a piece better than Christensen when you are unloading your younger assets.


O'Dell was a nice little pick-up but the Havelid trade needs to work out, big time, before I give Atlanta credit for doing anything more than tread water.

Los Angeles

Justin Williams has to get healthy just for this trade to remain 'sideways'. Unlike Buffalo and Florida - two teams who could 'win' their trades - this trade has the potential to be a loser.

NY Islanders

Did what they could. Good for them. Who cares? That pick better be ripped.


If the two draft picks are a wash then they traded Moore for Kotalik and picked up a back-up goaltender for a 4th rounder. If Moore finds a role in Buffalo then this can be upgraded to a win. No harm and no foul in that.


Much like with Buffalo this trade could become a win for the Panthers. Thing is, Eminger had several bad years before this 'rebound' year with Tampa so forgive me for not holding my breath.

FORGETTABLE (in order)

St. Louis

Richmond. wheeeeeee.


Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Trade Deadline Musing - 2008-09 (More)

[UPDATE: Burrows signed for 8 million over 4 years. Fantastic signing for Vancouver and it fits the theme of this post perfectly.]

After watching Dawes and Halak go uncontested (as in: no one made them an RFA offer sheet) last year I finally concluded that most NHL GM's really aren't all that smart. They can't be.

As much as I understand that they operate in an imprecise medium that doesn't excuse the number of misses that they accumulate.

Lucky Lou?

Of course, to refute my stance we have GM's like Lou Lamoriello. This guy is good. The Colin White contract has always been one of my favorites and when one works their way through the Devils contract structure they will find very few misses along the way.

Here is one of the things I truly respect about him: he knows how he wants the team to play. And then he works it from there. Rarely will you find on his teams a player who doesn't belong and if a signing doesn't work out he rectifies the mistake before it gets too ugly.

Think about that for a second. Now think about your favorite team the Oilers.

It is to cry.

That is part of what makes the trade for Havelid so smart. The guy he traded for him was, for all intents and purposes, a 'found' asset. Signed, pretty much unheralded, as a free agent out of Europe.

In return the Devils get a Lidstrom-lite type of player and, as with everything I have ever seen from that type of player, solid positional play has a pretty long shelf life.

Havelid's game is pretty low maintenance, he doesn't require big hits or a big shot or blazing speed to be effective, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Devils sign him to a two year deal in the $1.5 mill/yr neighborhood.

Somehow I don't expect that Lou would have let the disconnect (between coach and personnel) that has taken place on the Oilers under Lowe, happen.


I remember saying, once upon a time on Hockeysfuture, that long-term signings of role players who can play their position well was a good thing if you can get them to lock in cheaply enough.

I was looking at signing players for 5 to 6 years at a time and doing so in the $850k to 1.5 million range.

Someone disagreed (of course) and they threw out, in their rebuttal, the fact that few, most probably none, of the NHL teams out there currently practice that philosophy.

I now refer you back to my first few sentences.

A Grid

Start with a 23 man roster and a $56 million Cap/budget.

14 Forwards / 7 Defensemen / 2 Goalies

3x 1st line (F) at ~ $5.00 mill ea = $15.00 mill
3x 2nd line (F) at ~ $3.25 mill ea = $ 9.75 mill
2x 1st pair (D) at ~ $5.00 mill ea = $10.00 mill
2x 2nd pair (D) at ~ $3.00 mill ea = $ 6.00 mill
Goaltending (pair) = $5.00 mill
Bench players on minimum wage = 3x ~ $500k = $1.5 mill

That adds up to ~ $47.25 mill for 15 players.

Granted, those are the numbers for a well balanced team but I fail to see where I am out of line in the reasoning.

You now have $8.75 mill for 8 players. Average wage would be just over $1.09 mill a player. Dropping the pro-roster to 22 players, which seems a standard tactic nowadays brings that number up to just over $1.15 mill a player.

After all is said and done the average wage of the players that make up the bottom half of the playing roster (not including bench and back-up) shouldn't be any more than $1.00 to $1.25 million.

Back To Point

Now think about my original stance:

"long-term signings of role players who can play their position well was a good thing if you can get them to lock in cheaply enough"

The key words in there aren't: 'role player', nor are they: 'cheaply enough', they are: 'who can play their position well enough'.

i.e. if you have a roleplayers, on your team, who are good at what they do, then EVERY guy you can get to sign for long term at a rate LESS THAN $1.25 million a year is a probable win (if same player is a definite outscorer the you can probably go a little higher).

Risk vs. Impact

More importantly, at that price point a team can afford to make 3 or 4 mistakes of this kind comparative to that of making a mistake on a signing for the top line.

i.e. for every, theoretical, Nylander signing I can make 4 or more role-player signings of this type; the cost savings of a mistake are significant.

Pisani - Exhibit 'A'

In 2005/06 he was looking for a new deal paying in the range of $1.0 to $1.2 million a year (I always hear $1.1 million but I figured I would give a range).

He doesn't have a lot of NHL history but he is driving results on his line, he is 26/27 years old and he has a whack of AHL time in (where he excelled).

NOT jumping on this opportunity was a clear MISS for Lowe and Co. Coming right out of the AHL, and still in a place where just having an NHL paycheque is a huge plus, how hard would he have fought a 5 year offer in the $1.35 mill /yr range?

Granted, Pisani represents a bit of an outlier for the purposes of this arguement, but - even for when this arguement was first made (by myself) - for those who have followed this blog, player contract inflation is something I often talk about.

As it is, well, the 'miss' was even bigger than I thought it would be (even after the play-off run I figured he would only get 5 years at $10 million - oops) and it would be unfair to lay blame to the full extent of the 'oops'.


This brings me to Strudwick. I like Jason Strudwick as a player. He can play both defense and forward (I like him better at forward), he isn't a problem if he sits a game here or there, he is a positive in the dressing room, he can fight (well) when needed and he has the right attitude on the ice.

He isn't a pure bench player nor is he even a 3rd line guy.

No word of a lie though, signing him on a 4 yr deal (long-term for him) in the $650k range would be money well spent imo.

Stortini, Brodziak and Reddox need the same kind of treatment.

So Who Is Right?

It begs the question. Knowing the intrepid souls that you are I am sure that, by now, you have checked and found that the good GM's (Lamoriello, Holland, Holmgren) have precious few long-term contracts of the nature I propose.

Does that make me wrong?

I don't rightly know. One thing that you, dear reader, have to keep in mind is that those GM's (at least those with a fair number of years of service) have a number of constants on their roster. Pandolfo and Maltby have been with their respective teams forever. Each team has guys who sign multi-year deals again and again and again.

So what is it that those teams have?

Stability probably plays a factor. So does a tradition (post-Mickey Mouse) of excellence. They have, historically, been high payroll teams. Good scouting. Only their star players get the really big bucks. They always have a few outstanding role players. There are a lot of things they do right.

Yet I still don't think that I am wrong. On reflection, what I think I am talking about is simply another way of doing what they do - building excellence into my team one contract at a time. Retaining the best players I can, no matter the line they play on.

Funny thing. I find myself back to where I started actually. There aren't a lot of really good hockey GM's out there.

So how wrong can my approach be? Be nice to see it tried.


A quick note on Horcoff. My biggest issue on his $3.6 mill/ yr contract was that it was one year too short imo. Seems I was right.

Also on Horcoff, My biggest issue remains length of deal **, take him to age 38 and lower that Cap hit by a million or so while you are at it.

(7.00 / 6.50 / 6.50 / 6.00 / 4.00 / 3.00 / 1.50 / 1.50) = 4.50

** if you are going to give a guy a retirement contract then the Zetterberg model is the one you follow and if you have the money then use it.

Also, I would trade my first round pick in a package for Hunter without even blinking. But that's just me.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Trade Deadline Musing - 2008-09

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Oilers are, heading into the trade deadline, in a very interesting 'spot' so to speak. Not bad enough to require a full on rebuild and not good enough to make a run with a couple of add-ons the team is some 23 shades of grey.

The upside of this is that the team is in a position to make a whack of incremental changes and not really get challenged on the making of any of them. The idea being that sometimes a bunch of small changes all add up to having the same impact as a few big ones.

Most of what I will write here is predicated on MacT as coach throughout the rest of this year and that next year either: a) he returns or b) the way management wants the team to play doesn't change.

The Coach Factor

MacT favors players who play hard. Neither skill level (Nilsson) nor results (Penner) matter as much to MacT as effort. Normally I don't think there is too much wrong with that approach as most players get the message and the truly lazy you don't want on the team regardless.

Problems will arise however when the approach stops making sense.

If the goal of the game is to win, then sitting on Penner and kicking him the nads every chance one gets - when it is clear he is the best 1st line LW option on the team - doesn't make a lot of sense.

It makes even less sense when a player like Moreau, who is getting hammered out there on a head to head basis shift after shift AND is taking bad penalties again and again and again, gets prime minutes game after game and never gets called on it.

Despite what some fans think, players aren't stupid. The players see what is happening and, understandably, the credibility gap makes it hard for them to listen to the coach.

From what I have seen over the years a coach can get away with some or a little of one (leaning on a guy not totally deserving of the hate) and some or a little of the other (favoritism for a guy not totally earning the love) but not the extremes of both.

Veteran Cheese

For better or for worse, Moreau and Staios have become crutches for MacT and it is probably better for the team over-all if they get moved. Let Souray, Horcoff and Hemsky provide a new leadership core.

Moreau's injury aside, both Staios and Moreau are seen as 'warrior' types. This makes them desirable trade chips. Moreau and Staios also have contracts outsized to their contributions and those contracts have time yet to run. Not so desirable.

These are take what you can get trades. The Oilers are better off keeping Grebeshkov, Smid, Strudwick, Brodziak and Cole (with luck) than they are Moreau and Staios so clearing that salary is important.

Young Meat

With MacT's crutches taken away the risk becomes sending the wrong signal to the rest of the team. Time to get rid of the clutter on the roster.

If Penner were the only problem MacT had with this roster it would be workable; but he isn't. From where I sit the players MacT has trouble with, on a regular basis, comprise a list of Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot and Cogliano. Schremp is an unneeded distraction and he should go too.

Penner and Schremp have to go regardless. One of Nilsson or Pouliot needs a change of address post haste. Cogliano has to learn to play wing, take face-offs or go play center poorly somewhere else - and he needs to be told that straight up.

Some of these players have real value (Penner, Cogliano) while others are add-ons (Pouliot, Nilsson) and others are throw-ins (Schremp); if combined with Moreau and Staios there is some opportunity there to make some big deals.

The Goalie and Cole

I wrestle with the idea of trading Roloson. If I am thinking I am okay with missing the play-offs then he has to go and if I am thinking that I would rather make the play-offs than not then he should stay.

Cole probably has to go. Regardless of how bad I want to make the play-offs. He just isn't the difference maker Roli is.

That was hard to type btw - I have wanted Cole on this team a long, long time and nothing makes the overpriced contracts of Moreau, Staios and Pisani pop into the consciousness more than knowing because of those contracts there isn't a remote chance we could keep Cole on the roster.


Since I am both seller (selling the Vets to Cup contender teams) and buyer (the younger players) I have a lot of targets to pick from. Since I have a range of items available I should be involved in all kinds of deals.

And since none of what I am giving up, outside of Cogliano, is a core asset I'm not going to hurt my team going forward. In fact, if I can get in on the right deals maybe I secure some assets I can add to my core build.

Lowebellini has a lot of assets to work with right now and the future is wide open, my hope is that this team is radically different come the evening of March 4th.

I have always been a big fan of Dawes from the Rangers. If I am trading Roloson then Washington is the team I call and Gordon, despite the horrible year, could be a target. Ponikarovsky is still a favorite so hopefully Burke returns calls from Tambellini. If Cole is heading back to Carolina then Ruutu is a decent pick-up. I wanted Letang from Pittsburgh but that ship has sailed. Just how desperate is Montreal?

This is the kind of trade deadline where cash can make a real difference so if Katz wants to get some prime assets back then maybe opening the wallet and swallowing hard while he pays some hack to be in the minors is just what he has to do.

Think outside the box. What about Penner and something for Ryan Malone? The length of the contract is horrible but at least he plays MacT's style of game and Tampa chops a whack of years off of their committment ledger.

If you are going to overpay someone it might as well be someone you actually like.

More than anything I would want to a) fix my locker-room chemistry and b) add a core player to the mix - preferably a left winger.

Here's hoping.


Have a great evening everyone.