Monday, 27 April 2009


The Three Best

The three best players in the NHL, in my opinion, the three guys I would never trade, are simply these (in order):


I cannot think of anyone else who makes the difference they do. And I would probably take Gonchar and Zetterberg over Crosby or Malkin, but that's just me.

Quick Note (Horcoff)

Tyler Dellow has a great post up on Horcoff and the relative value of his contract. To grossly oversimplify the arguement (mine - not his) I'll throw some extra pennies on the table:

Year ...... Cap (m$) .... Inflation .... Sal (m$)

2005-06 ...... 39.0 ....................... 3.60
2006-07 ...... 44.0 ....... 12.8 % ........ 4.06
2007-08 ...... 50.3 ....... 14.3 % ........ 4.64
2008-09 ...... 56.7 ....... 12.7 % ........ 5.23

2009-10 ...... 56.7 ........ 0.0 % ........ 5.23 SQ
2009-10 ...... 62.0 ........ 9.3 % ........ 5.72 UP
2009-10 ...... 54.7 ....... -3.5 % ........ 5.05 DN

So... don't really see where Horcoff's contract is an overpay.

If one accepts the fact that he was a $ 3.60 mill /yr player in 2005-06 then, just using simple Cap inflation, he is underpaid by 200k+ (the UP) starting next year. While the numbers aren't up there (too lazy), the simple math says that Cap inflation is required to be less than 5% to make him an overpaid player.

Can you imagine if the comp was against UFA salary inflation (an approach that would have been more appropriate) instead of overall Cap inflation? Gets even worse for all of you Horcoff haters if one looks at UFA salary inflation for players in the 27 - 32 years old category (most appropriate).

A long time ago, speaking of his last contract, I said that the only issue I had with it was that it should have been for one more year (4 years instead of 3) - a position that looks pds right about now...


... that isn't something I could hold against Lowe then (and I didn't) so it certainly isn't anything I can hold against him now. It is what it is - a pretty fair contract.

And do you really think Horcoff would negotiate his next contract after a year like the past one? Give your head a shake.

Channel that anger elsewhere people - Horcoff doesn't deserve it.

About That Cap

It's pretty obvious that declines in NHL team revenues will dramatically impact player payrolls. The trick is to see whether or not this then impacts the Salary Cap. This can go one of three ways:

1. Excessively large drop in Cap (as much as $10 million?)
2. Small drop in the Cap and let escrow handle it
3. Moderate mix of the above

I tend to believe, that for 2009-10, we will get #2. The Cap will dip slightly, no more than $2 million, and the escrow account will be HUGE.

In this way:

- small market teams get a bit of relief as they see a drop in Cap Floor;
- large market teams (still) get to exploit their payroll budget advantage; and
- player contract rewards will remain stable (just sans inflation)

For the purposes of future, and even this, post(s) that takes the Cap to ~ $54.7 million.

For max Cap teams that lack in expiring/deadweight salary, like Edmonton, this will hurt a little bit. Not only will the team be lacking in the space it needs to sign all of it's players, other teams will have less space available to absorb the salary Edmonton wants to trade.

No question, as noted a few days ago, Brian Burke is sitting in the catbird's seat this off-season.

Prendergast Update

The Prendergast post of a few weeks ago has been updated to link new items:

1. Guy's third post in the series and
2. Tyler Dellow's rebuttal **

** Tyler rebuts (quite rightly) the impression, as left in Guy's first two posts at least, that MacT was sabotaging the development of prospects into players.

To his credit Guy responds as well as anyone could.


Bonus points to anyone who sees the key weakness in my Horcoff arguement. Hint: it has nothing to do with the new contract.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Timing. And Luck.

(please, dear Lord, let them be wearing skates)

Luck O'the Irish

Brian Burke is about to have a wonderful off-season. Rarely have I seen circumstance so benefit a NHL General Manager.

Everything should be working to his advantage. EVERYTHING.

A. The team operates in a large market with a rabid fan base and can spend full Cap without blinking an eye.

B. The dollar resources of the team, and the force of Burke's personality/control of the team, are such that the budget should be able to exceed Cap.

C. His is one of (very) few teams entering this contract season with lots of Cap space, lots of budget space and few RFA committments to consider.

D. Individual NHL teams will be facing serious fiscal obstacles and will be eager to deal with someone who has cash and knows how to use it.

E. The NHL, as a whole, has entered a period of time where salary inflation should be almost non-existent due to the economy.

F. The NHL, as an operating league, has already approved deals which work to the dollar strengths of the team (see: Detroit).

i.e. the heavy lifting has been done.

G. The upcoming UFA and Entry Draft classes are stocked with talent (as opposed to the 2008 UFA list or the 1999 Entry Draft lets say).

H. The upcoming Entry Draft has two distinct classes of teams in the top-7 picks and this will provide opportunity. **

I. He will have carte-blanche in all his dealings and can remake the team as he sees fit.

THAT is some pretty sweet timing. Los Angeles should be in this position as well but I don't see those owners as being as willing to spend the dough.


About That #1 Pick

Being contrarian I do not see a deal for Tavares as being impossible, or even 'really' hard for Burke to achieve. In fact I also see Los Angeles as being a contender for that (the #1) pick.

** That is because of the two classes of teams that I mentioned above.

1 ... New York Islanders
2 ... Tampa Bay Lightning
3 ... Colorado Avalanche
4 ... Atlanta Thrashers
5 ... Los Angeles Kings
6 ... Phoenix Coyotes
7 ... Toronto Maple Leafs

On that list Toronto, Colorado and LA stick out like sore thumbs. The financial capabilities of those three teams, compared to their brethren, is staggering - and of the three, financially, Toronto is way, way ahead.

Two things further differentiate Toronto from Colorado and LA:

a. roster and payroll flexibility (Toronto only really cares about Schenn) and
b. compete level

Because of where their rosters are (in terms of build and compete) both Colorado and LA are teams that should be/want to be serious play-off spot contenders next year. Colorado's picture is litle muddied in that the team will be subject to two, mutually exclusive but same sourced, motivations:

a. possibly dumping some salary if Sakic re-signs or
b. probably adding a replacement player if Sakic retires

Regardless of the Sakic decision fall-out however, the point to be made is that neither Colorado nor LA is in the same strategic space as the Leafs - namely, being quite willing, able and happy to trade picks, players and money for a big move in the draft.

In fact, because of their compete factor it is quite plausible that either one of LA or Colorado would be willing to trade their pick for quality players coming back the other way.


Enter Brian Burke

The trick here is for Burke to trade for one of the 3rd or 5th picks and package THAT with the 7th.

I think people underestimate how many quality trade chips Burke actually has. Kaberle, alone, represents a serious upgrade to either Colorado's or LA's defense corps (Kaberle, Doughty, Johnson and Hickey make for a quality defense corps).

Think about it: Stajan, Ponikarovsky, a bevy of 2nd round picks, Kubina, Hagman, White, a (albeit) small pool of prospects and even Stempniak or Finger... yeah, Toronto has tradeable assets.

My Take? A package in the form of Kaberle, Stajan and a pick gets LA's 3rd or Colorado's 5th.

And don't forget - Toronto can afford any bad contract any team wants to dump.

Snow is a fairly smart GM. He knows that, as valuable as Tavares or Hedman is, a package of high quality assets can make all the difference in the world (see also: Quebec/Lindros).

My belief is that Burke gets the 1st if he gets Snow any two of Duchene, Cowen, Kane and Schenn in a package. I suspect the package would look a lot like this:



x2 1st rounders (as mentioned);
x2 2nd rounders (only one needs be current year);
a prospect (or still a 1st year player);
one of Ponikarovsky/White (probably White).

The only question for me is this: if Burke gets the #3 and has a legit shot at two of Duchene, Cowan, Kane and Schenn, why would he trade that away?

I gotta give this to Burke: his timing is impeccable. Or maybe he should just pull that leprechaun out o'his ass... though it does explain the temperament.


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

(MacT) Thanks and Good-bye(s?)

Craig MacTavish

Joining the show late (as it is my wont to do) I will add my voice to those that:

a. thank Craig MacTavish him for his efforts as coach of the team;
b. wish him well in the future;
c. believe he was a far better coach than given credit for (by many);
d. appreciate his ability to develop talent;

and, perhaps most importantly imo,

e. do not believe he deserved to walk the plank alone

Yes, MacT took a whack of misteps this year (I have a summary somewhere here and
BDHS has a more recent, and better, one) and when those mistakes are combined with:

a. a historic(al) inability to develop a decent powerplay system, and
b. players whose committment he had lost**

it was time for him to go.

BUT, this was Lowe's roster all the way and it was his player procurement that set the team up to fail.

Pronger for beans, Smyth for less than that, Torres for a question mark, Hedja, Reasoner and Glencross discarded, and more - the series of moves made is as mindboggling as it is questionable. Rebuild style moves made when a reload was possible and reload style moves made when a rebuild was the obvious strategy.

It really is batshit crazy kind of stuff.

Yet, when other head office retirements are mentioned it isn't Lowe's name that comes up - it is that of Kevin Prendergast.

That is asinine.

Kevin Prendergast

look at draft results all the time and I am absolutely certain that in the fullness of time the Oiler drafts from 2001 through 2008 will show positive results.

I have a couple of years of updates to do to my data and on the quick I can honestly say the trend is way up; the only clear miss being Niinimaki in 2002.

But you want to point a finger of blame per the Pouliot/Parise trade?

Good. Point it then at the substandard return Lowe secured and not at Pouliot nor Prendergast (as neither deserves the heat simply for being). While I cannot be mad at Lowe for making the pick I can be mad at how he prices his draft assets - compare what he got for the 17th (2003) versus what he paid for the 21st (2007) and then take a look at all of Lowe's like trades - he is a classic sell low and buy high kind of guy.

Want to be mad - be mad about THAT. Good GM's don't sell their assets cheap.

Guy Flaming has an absolutely must-read post at
Coming Down The Pipe that lays out a defense of KP. It doesn't get much better than that.

(The second in the series is here and the third is here)

Now, Flaming might be tight with KP. Guy has been following the Oilers propects for quite a while now and developing contacts/friendships with the scouts would be a natural thing to have happen. But nothing in his post(s) ring false.

[Edit to add: seems I spoke too soon about the 'nothing in his post(s) ring false' as Tyler Dellow speaks to the issue - as far as MacT is concerned anyways]

Kevin Prendergast should not be shown the door. Not this year at least. We'll see how Springfield does next year.


One of the best things about Guy's post is that it basically states, in no uncertain terms, that Best Player Available is a joke. No team out there takes best player available - they all take Best Player Available According To Criteria.

[Edit to add: a belief I have, well... always, had]

So whether it was Barry Fraser loving size (and US colleges - see my work) or Lowe not really wanting another small skilled guy in 2003 (buh-bye Parise) NONE of it had anything to do with taking the best player available.

Fact is, reading Guy's post it sounds an awful lot like the Oilers made the cardinal sin of drafting for need. BPA be damned.


** Despite other assertions I am one of those who believes that MacT lost the room.

'Losing the room' does not have to exhibit itself in the form of a general player revolt (dressing room) or unofficial player surrender (on the ice) - if one sees a team that either lacks confidence or shows a condition of malaise, when it should not, then odds are good that the leadership of the team (the leadership is comprised of the coaches and the letters) has lost the room.

The disconnect was noted by MacT himself. For a guy who preaches team grit and sacrifice NOT to be able to get that out of his team, despite the fact that most of his players were/are cut from that mold, well... that is 'lost the room'.


To be clear. MacT should have, and did, get shown the door. But the other guy going, if any, should be Kevin Lowe. Not Kevin Prendergast.


Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

2009 Playoff Predictions

Round One

Boston (1) in 5 over Montreal (8)
Rangers (7) in 7 over Washington (2)
New Jersey (3) in 6 over Carolina (6)
Philadelphia (5) in 7 over Pittsburgh (4)

San Jose (1) in 6 over Anaheim (8)
Columbus (7) in 7 over Detroit (2)
Vancouver (3) in 5 over St. Louis (6)
Chicago (5) in 6 over Calgary (4)

Round Two

Boston (1) in 5 over the Rangers (7)
New Jersey (3) in 7 over Philadelphia (5)

San Jose (1) in 6 over Columbus (7)
Vancouver (3) in 7 over Chicago (5)


New Jersey (3) in 7 over Boston (1)
San Jose (1) in 7 over Vancouver (3)


San Jose over New Jersey in 6.


Quick note - be interesting to see where the Oilers go from here but I have to think that one of the MAIN reasons Omark wasn't signed was that which both Tambellini and MacT singled out as one of the reasons why this was a failed season.

Too much small (and skilled) is bad.

If this team was huge and lacking skill there is no doubt in my mind Omark (and even his pal skippy) gets signed.


Have a great evening everyone.