Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Using the Cap and Budget to Advantage

(IF he had ended up on the westcoast... marketing doesn't get any easier than that)

The NYI are, supposedly, in the hunt for Kovalchuk. They also, factually, have to meet the Cap floor of (59.4 - 16.0 =) $43.4 million.

Current team salary stands at ~ $36 million and when role players are factored in that number should settle in at ~ $39 million. That leaves some $4.4 million to make up.

Why are they after Kovalchuk again?

Edmonton desperately wants to dump Souray ($5.4m Cap / $4.5m Sal), Chicago wants to dump Huet ($5.6m Cap / $5.6m Sal), Anaheim would love to dump Blake ($4.0m Cap / $3.0m Sal), etc.

The Isles are desperately in need of young, cheap, high-end talent. Kovalchuk ain't that. 1st round draft picks tend to be.

If I were Garth Snow I am spending a great deal of time talking to Anaheim and letting them know that Blake is a guy they can send my way at the cost of a draft pick(s) upgrade. Something like this:

Blake, ANA 1st round pick 2011 and ANA 4th round pick 2012
.. OR (Anaheim's choice prior to 2011 draft)..
Blake, ANA 2nd round pick 2011 and ANA 1st round pick 2012
NYI 3rd round pick 2011, NYI 5th round pick 2011

Anaheim dumps the Blake contract - allowing them to use the money for Ryan - has protection in case they fall apart in 2010/11 and the option to dump their pick in 2011 regardless (being a weaker draft class).

Islanders get a guy who won't help them much regardless - thereby not affecting their own draft pick standings - get much closer to the Cap floor (relatively painlessly) and stock up on higher quality draft picks.

The Isles don't have any, real, short-cut options on their rebuild. Using the Kovalchuk money to snag good picks and prospects from teams that need to dump salary is the best option. Full stop.


Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

NHL Entry Draft (2010) - Burnin' Nash Bridges

Before I finish up my full 1st round draft review I wanted to remark on the Nash trade.



Oilers trade the #17 (Parise) to New Jersey for the #22 (Pouliot) and the #68 (JF Jaques)

In one of the deepest drafts in recent memory the Oilers drop 5 spots in exchange for a pick at the very end (another 46 spots later) of the 2nd round.


Oilers trade the #30 and #36 to Phoenix for the #21 (where they take Riley Nash)

In an average draft year (2007 had good front-end and petered out after that) the Oilers move up 9 spots in the draft in exchange for an early 2nd rounder.


St. Louis trades the 2009 #17 overall pick (David Rundblad) to Ottawa for the 2010 #16 overall pick (Vladimir Tarasenko); in the next round Edmonton trades the 2007 #21 overall pick (Riley Nash) to Carolina for the 2010 #46 overall pick (Martin Marincin)

As much as I know some bloggers don't like Nash (lookin' at Ben) I find it hard to believe that he was worth THAT MUCH less than Rundblad.


While it looks like the Oilers team management has finally learned how to draft properly (more or less consistently) it does not appear true that the Oilers team management has learned a thing about how to:

a. value, as assets, their players and prospects;
b. maximize said player/prospect values; and
c. trade said players/prospects when value is high

Yay! for us.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 21 June 2010

NHL Entry Draft (2010) - Rockin' the BMc

A new item I am adding to the draft preview/review - how the aggregated list matches up against the best there is this time of year: Bob McKenzie.

His list is found at TSN and it comprises information gleaned from, primarily I believe, team scouts. Since the aggregated list is comprised of information gleaned from, primarily, non-team scouts I figured this would be an interesting exercise.

Note that the aggregated list is only takes into account the top-15 listings, so the number of players aggregated from those lists - 'in total' - in any given draft year can vary. For 2010 the number is 22.

So I will only look at McKenzie's top-22.


Number of slots it would take to get a player to have a matching rank on both lists; i.e. Gudbranson is ranked 2 slots earlier on McKenzie's list as opposed to where he ranks on the aggregated list.


Per my original post I grouped the players by their aggregated point scores, acknowledging that in that bracket they were almost interchangable. I then replicated copied the process I used above (per Rank).

The Comparison

Aggregated .... Bob McKenzie .. Rank .. Group

Hall .......... Hall ............ 0 ..... 0
Seguin ........ Seguin .......... 0 ..... 0
Fowler ........ Gudbranson ...... 2 ..... 0
Gormley ....... Gormley ......... 0 ..... 0
Gudbranson .... Fowler .......... 2 ..... 0
Granlund ...... Johansen ........ 4 ..... 0
Connolly ...... Niederreiter .... 2 ..... 0
Tarasenko ..... Connolly ........ 1 ..... 0
Niederreiter .. Campbell ........ 2 ..... 1
Johansen ...... Skinner ......... 2 ..... 0
Campbell ...... Forbort ......... 3 ..... 0
Skinner ....... Burmistrov ...... 1 ..... 0
Burmistrov .... Granlund ........ 7 ..... 1
Forbort ....... Watson .......... 4 ..... 1
Kuznetsov ..... McIlrath ........ 7 ..... 0
Bjugstad ...... Tarasenko ....... 8 ..... 2
Pysyk ......... Etem ............ 2 ..... 0
Watson ........ Bennett ......... z ..... z
Etem .......... Bjugstad ........ 3 ..... 0
Merrill ....... Pysyk ........... 3 ..... 0
Faulk ......... Sheahan ......... z ..... z
McIlrath ...... Merrill ......... 2 ..... 1

Notable drops by Rank:

-- Tarasenko (8 spots)
-- Granlund (7 spots)
-- McIlrath (7 spots)

I think we see where the 'Russian' factor impacts Tarasenko, the 'Size' factor impacts Granlund and the 'Toughness/Size' factor impacts McIlrath. Except at the very high end I consider 4 spots or less to be irrelevant.

Notable drops by Group:

-- Tarasenko (2 spots)

Tough being a Russkie nowadays. He drops two full brackets on McKenzie's list. Should be noted that Bennett and Sheahan don't show on the aggregated lists while Faulk and Kuznetsov don't show on McKenzie's.

Some Thoughts

Pretty damn close imo. Props to the independent scouts... and the aggregation process I guess :-)... group think maybe?

Quick note - the 'Rule of Thumb' I use explains away more than a few of these discrepancies (almost everything top-15 oddly enough).

All things being equal... remember that McKenzie is talking to 'team' scouts. His list should always be better (I know I think it is) but, as with anything, don't be surprised if sometimes the aggregated list gets it right.

After all, teams are, generally, run by strong independent minded thinkers aren't they? Right?


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

NHL Entry Draft (2010)

For archive purposes I am compiling my NHL Entry Draft (2010) stuff here. As with last year's NHL Entry Draft (2009) archive, this first post acts as a primer that contains the set-up info of interest going into the draft.

Links to the other two articles in this series:

NHL Entry Draft 2010 - Rockin' the BMc

NHL Entry Draft 2010 - First Round Review (to come)

NHL Entry Draft 2010 - Oiler Picks (to come)


Personal Thoughts

Kind of fond of this draft group. Deep in numbers but shallow in terms of true top-end talent (both Hall and Seguin will probably require long, long careers for either to get any HOF buzz). That said, LOTS of team building talent here, some of them will surprise (Niederreiter and Tarasenko) and one of them (Campbell) might even be swimming upstream of the conventional wisdom of the sphere.

-- Hall or Seguin - can't go wrong either way
-- Fowler, Gormley, Gudbranson - shades of 2008, 2002 and 1998; who is who?
-- Granlund - how important are smrts?
-- Niederreiter - if CSB gives him top-10 status he ranks just behind Granlund; top-5 talent imo
-- Connolly - on points the injuries aren't an issue, except he only made 3 top-10 lists so I guess they do matter
-- Campbell - goalies get no love here but I think, contrary to my own beliefs, he will be the steal of the draft
-- CSB - amalgamate your NA and Euro listings; just no good excuse for not doing it

After the top-2 a lot of these guys are one thing away from being viewed as sure-thing all-stars (Connolly/injury and Granlund/size and Tarasenko/Russian) so, normally, I wouldn't anticipate ANY team trading out of the top-12 (i.e. an honest shot at Skinner or Burmistrov? Sign me up!) and would expect all the action to start with St. Louis at pick #14 (just got their goalie and they KNOW how to play a draft)...

except that...


This is a VERY motivated draft year. Aside from the usual suspects (Islanders, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Ducks, Blues and Sharks) there are a bunch of teams that will have something going on:

1. Several teams have new management and one of them will want to make a splash
2. It's a deep draft with loads of desirable talent that will be available late
3. Chicago - their assets are good enough to entice competitive bids
4. Toronto - Kaberle should be moved this time around
5. Phoenix - Maloney is a player AND he has TWO mid-round picks
6. Florida - has declared they are open for business


Don't see all of that come up every year.

Why don't I have Edmonton listed above? They don't have a lot of chips that would bring back a 1st rounder in this draft. Simple as that. Heck, they don't have the assets to bring back 2nd round picks. Unless they are willing to trade Gagner, Penner or Hemsky this team is stuck to staying where it is.

Best, realistic, bet?

Cogliano and Nash are used to bring back something in the 16-20 range.

Best, fantasy, bet?

Penner, Brule and a pick (or Nash I guess) for Boston's #2 overall.

Here's a wierd thing I guess: don't like any of Fowler, Gormley or Gudbranson well enough to expend major assets to get them - regardless of how badly the Oilers need defensemen - rather try to get later round picks and select from McIrath, Tinordi, Pysyk, et al. If I'm Florida I'm trying to stepladder my way down this draft.

Somehow, knowing the Islanders have the #5, I'm a little scared.

Miracles would include coming out of this draft with two of Hall, Seguin, Niederreiter or Tarasenko. Happiness means adding one of McIlrath, Burmistrov to the haul. I like Seguin but expect Hall and I figure that one of the bad contracts will be unloaded, but only one. Nilsson.

Without further ado...


Oiler Draft Picks (for use or trade)

01 -- __1
02 -- _31
02 -- _48 ... Trade with Nashville
03 -- _61
04 -- _91
05 -- 121
06 -- 151
06 -- 162 ... Trade with Anaheim
06 -- 166 ... Trade with Ottawa
07 -- 181

Remember to adjust for compensation picks.

Team Order - 1st Round

01.. Edmonton
02.. Boston ........ via ... Toronto
03.. Florida
04.. Columbus
05.. NY Islanders
06.. Tampa Bay
07.. Carolina
08.. Atlanta
09.. Minnesota
10.. NY Rangers
11.. Dallas
12.. Anaheim
13.. Phoenix ....... via ... Calgary
14.. St. Louis
15.. Boston
16.. Ottawa
17.. Colorado
18.. Nashville
19.. Los Angeles
20.. Pittsburgh
21.. Detroit
22.. Phoenix
23.. Buffalo
24.. Atlanta ....... via ... New Jersey
25.. Vancouver
26.. Washington
27.. Montreal
28.. San Jose
29.. Anaheim ....... via ... Philadelphia
30.. Chicago

Top-15 Player Rankings (aggregated)

Below are the listings of the top-15 picks of each of the different, and independent, scouting bureau's. They are: McKeen's, ISS (International Scouting Service), Redline (Woodlief), The Hockey News and the CSB (Central Scouting Bureau).

Below that is an aggregated listing of those datasets after they have been fed through a scoring system. The scoring system simply reverses the order on the list (i.e. a player ranked #1 on the list scores 15 points while a player ranked #15 scores 1 point) and then adds ALL the points that player generates from the different lists.

Note that I counted the number of times a draftee made the top-10 of a list. This is to help add perspective. Prospect 'A' may have fewer points than prospect 'B' but if prospect 'A' shows as top-10 on all 5 lists then prospect 'A' may be seen as a safer pick to make.

The Scouts Recommend (Final Lists)

... McKeens* .... ISS ......... Redline* .... Hockey News . CSB**

1.. Hall ........ Hall ........ Hall ........ Hall ........ Seguin
2.. Seguin ...... Seguin ...... Seguin ...... Seguin ...... Hall
3.. Campbell .... Gormley ..... Granlund .... Fowler ...... Granlund
4.. Gudbranson .. Tarasenko ... Tarasenko ... Connolly .... Connolly
5.. Gormley ..... Fowler ...... Gormley ..... Gudbranson .. Gudbranson
6.. Fowler ...... Niederreiter. Fowler ...... Burmistrov .. Tarasenko
7.. Connolly .... Gudbranson .. Skinner ..... Gormley ..... Fowler
8.. Johansen .... Johansen .... Niederreiter. Niederreiter. Gormley
9.. Granlund .... Skinner ..... Johansen .... Bjugstad .... Kuznetsov
10. Niederreiter. Forbort ..... Campbell .... Granlund .... Pysyk
11. Kuznetsov ... Merrill ..... Forbort ..... Forbort ..... Etem
12. Skinner ..... Watson ...... Gudbranson .. Johansen .... Forbort
13. Burmistrov .. Connolly .... Burmistrov... Campbell .... Johansen
14. Bjugstad .... Burmistrov .. Connolly .... Tarasenko ... Burmistrov
15. McIlrath .... Granlund .... Faulk ....... Watson ...... Niederreiter

Graded Rankings

.................... Top-10 . Scoring

Hall .................. 5 ___ 15 + 15 + 15 + 15 + 14 = 74
Seguin ................ 5 ___ 14 + 14 + 14 + 14 + 15 = 71
Fowler ................ 5 ___ 10 + 11 + 10 + 13 + 09 = 53
Gormley ............... 5 ___ 11 + 13 + 11 + 09 + 08 = 52
Gudbranson ............ 4 ___ 12 + 09 + 04 + 11 + 11 = 47
Granlund .............. 4 ___ 07 + 01 + 13 + 06 + 13 = 40
Connolly .............. 3 ___ 09 + 03 + 02 + 12 + 12 = 38
Tarasenko ............. 3 ___ 00 + 12 + 12 + 02 + 10 = 36
Niederreiter .......... 4 ___ 06 + 10 + 08 + 08 + 01 = 33
Johansen .............. 3 ___ 08 + 08 + 07 + 04 + 03 = 30
Campbell .............. 2 ___ 13 + 00 + 06 + 03 + 00 = 22
Skinner ............... 2 ___ 04 + 07 + 09 + 00 + 00 = 20
Burmistrov ............ 1 ___ 03 + 02 + 03 + 10 + 02 = 20
Forbort ............... 1 ___ 00 + 06 + 05 + 05 + 04 = 20
Kuznetsov ............. 1 ___ 05 + 00 + 00 + 00 + 07 = 12
Bjugstad .............. 1 ___ 02 + 00 + 00 + 07 + 00 = 09
Pysyk ................. 0 ___ 00 + 00 + 00 + 00 + 06 = 06
Watson ................ 0 ___ 00 + 04 + 00 + 01 + 00 = 05
Etem .................. 0 ___ 00 + 00 + 00 + 00 + 05 = 05
Merrill ............... 0 ___ 00 + 05 + 00 + 00 + 00 = 05
Faulk, McIlrath (2 pts or less).

The big two: Hall, Seguin
Next best thing: Fowler, Gormley, Gudbranson
Should be Good: Granlund, Connolly, Tarasenko, Niederreiter, Johansen
Consolation Prizes: Campbell, Skinner, Burmistrov, Forbort
Afterthoughts: Kuznetsov and everyone else

A Rule Of Thumb

When looking at the list I tend to apply an arbitrary rule of thumb: any draftee within 10 points of another draftee is at threat to be picked ahead or behind that draftee. This is to recognize, in part, the modestly random (to me) aspect of what teams prefer in their players. It is also a measure of reasonableness.

Connolly has 38 pts - it would not be a big surprise to see him preferred over Gudbranson by any number of teams. It would also, however, be a surprise to see him picked ahead of Fowler or Gormley.

Using that rule of thumb I can expect that:

-- Hall and Seguin will take the top 2 spots
-- Tarasenko could overtake Connolly and Granlund but not Gudbranson
-- If anyone ranked below Johansen is chosen in the top-8 it SHOULD be a surprise
-- If anyone ranked below Forbort is taken in the top-9, the team making that call probably just made a big mistake


* McKeen's and Redline only release, for free, their top-10. I found the other 5 names, using various other websites, but cannot completely verify for accuracy. If you have the goods please feel free to self-correct while you read.

I will update as the information becomes public.

** CSB does not aggregate their European and North American lists. So I did it. Given the weakness of the Old World's offerings this year I started the highest CSS ranked Euro two spots behind and followed on from there.


Have a great evening everyone, and enjoy the draft. I will as I will be there :-)

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Never Evers

Some things I thought would never, ever...

... and have (or not as the case may be):


One of the great, great people I know goes by the name of Bruce. To my knowledge it is also his real name (then again... there was that time a bunch of us were headed to a wedding in Regina and stopped in Edmonton for a night and a game - where they raised #31 to the rafters - and he wouldn't let us drive all the way to his "aunt's" place and had us drop him off a block or two away so as to reduce the chance we would 'wake her up'... heh).


Bruce is a Canucks fan. As far back as he can remember.

He is also one of the best sports fans I know and, I suspect, will ever know.

Hence I have resolved that IF:

-- the Canucks make the make the play-offs AND
-- there are, literally, no other teams I like better than the Canucks still in the play-offs THEN

I will cheer for the Canucks.

In the meantime I will pray that such an event never, ever happens.

Entry Draft(s)

Last time I went to an NHL Entry Draft it was 1995. I still remember the chants of the crowd for Doan! Doan! DOAN! Doan! Doan! KELLY?!? WTF?

I still have the booklet from that draft.

Anyways, I am now - officially - headed to the 2010 NHL Entry Draft being held in Los Angeles this June 25.

Never, ever thought I would get two of those in.

The Arena

Just to clarify, my true preferences in regards to the arena are these (in order):

1. That Northlands is renovated and all that money being thrown at a development downtown actually goes into the community surrounding Northlands. History, tradition and heritage mean a lot to me and, for what it's worth, I think that area could become something truly spectacular were equivalent energies expended.

2. That IF a new arena must be built then it be built where in the same area as where the Stadium is. Move the Linen plant et al (gotta be cheaper than downtown land), one eyesore is better than two and parking can be shared. Move the entire Northlands complex and pass the old one to the developers (part and parcel).

Never, ever happen.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Some Simple Thoughts

(picture via Steve Russell, Toronto Star)


If the Oilers can get Boston to throw in their two 2nd round picks (the 2010 Toronto 2nd and their own) - or something equivalent/better - they should, happily, accept the compensation and take Seguin at 2nd overall.

If not, then they should probably take Hall.

Barring a trade for the actual 2nd pick, in a best worlds scenario Boston flips their own 1st and 2nd (not Toronto's 2nd) for a 3rd and 5th and the privilege of taking Hall 1st overall. Don't see it.

I say that only because I am fairly ambivalent as to the difference in value of Hall and Seguin. However, if the Oilers are similarly ambivalent they shouldn't be as obvious about it as I am.


If the cost to renovate/expand the Colisseum is around $250 million then, and if their bargaining position matches mine, then that is what the City of Edmonton should expect to pony up for a new Arena.

My bargaining position is simple:

1. Maximum contribution, to arena, is $250 million; this money would be borrowed

2. The arena remains the property of the City of Edmonton

3. Other area infrastructure upgrades are estimated and tallied and paid and exactly one-half of those costs would be borrowed and tied to the same instrument used to fund the arena (the other half being considered a cost of doing business to revitalize an area)

4. Debt servicing and repayment for all amounts borrowed is paid for:

..... a. first, by any super-increases* in the targeted area's tax collection over and beyond the last established tax collection for that area, and

..... b. secondly, by ancillary revenues** generated by the new arena

5. Once the debt is paid off the ancillary revenues, as established and referenced, are then paid to the team

* increases over and above standard increases city-wide - this is for the sake of tax payer transparency (i.e. pre-arena the area was worth 'x' and paid 'x' in taxes and now it is worth 'y' and pays 'y' in taxes; y - x is what is gained by taking part in the exercise)
** parking and the like; pretty much anything that will result in an increase in revenues for the Oilers via the new arena is up for negotiation imo - though I expect that only those revenue streams currently gifted the Oilers would end up being hassled over

The upshot being that the City will allow the developers to leverage city dollars into making the development a go AND, once the debts are paid off, gift the Oilers with much larger revenue streams (with the issue being the payment of the debts incurred).


Very proud of him.

Update to add a nice G&M story (per Michael Grange):


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hypothermetically Speaking

So... question...

Given that you, as the GM of an NHL team are SERIOUS about rebuilding your club - from the ground up no less - do you make this trade:

Souray, O'Sullivan, Nilsson and Moreau
Redden, 2010 1st, 2011 2nd and 2012 1st


The Salary Grid* looks like so:

2010-11: EDM = -4.6 = 4.5 + 2.4 + 2.5 + 1.7 - 6.5
2010-11: NYR = +4.6

2011-12: EDM = +2.0 = 4.5 - 6.5
2011-12: NYR = -2.0

2012-13: EDM = +5.0
2012-13: NYR = -5.0

2013-14: EDM = +5.0
2013-14: NYR = -5.0

* With buy-outs the absolute cost to the Rangers goes down substantially while the relative value of benefits received by the Oilers go down


The Cap Grid looks like so:

2010-11: EDM = -5.8 = 5.4 + 2.9 + 2.0 + 2.0 - 6.5
2010-11: NYR = +5.8

2011-12: EDM = +1.1 = 5.4 - 6.5
2011-12: NYR = -1.1

2012-13: EDM = +6.5
2012-13: NYR = -6.5

2013-14: EDM = +6.5
2013-14: NYR = -6.5

Surprisingly, the big hit to the Oilers - in regards to the Cap - don't really occur until the 2012-13 season as the two year stretch per the Nilsson and O'Sullivan buy-outs is avoided.


This is, basically a cash for picks deal with the variables being value received by the Rangers from Souray's play (fight! fight! fight!) and the value received from by the Oilers from Redden's play (doh!).


- is it worth it to you to dump all of your problem contracts/players at once AND get some nice draft picks in exchange for a player on the downslope with a nut-crushing contract?

- is it worth it to the Rangers to get a player(s) they might want AND save their future Cap and cash positions in exchange for being able to dump a Cap and cash killing contract?


So what do you imagine/mean/believe when you say the words 'rebuild'?


Have a great evening everyone.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

It's A Bird, It's a Plane... It's a Draft Pick?

Photo is picked up from Faceoff.com, an Edmonton Journal blog

So. Let's say that this team really IS in for the long rebuild. Cool.

Hey! Look! Ottawa is thinking of buying out Cheechoo's contract! I guess that looks kinda like so (feel free to check my math):


Salary: $3.5 million
Cap hit: $3.0 million
Buyout: $1,155,000 or $577,500 per year in budget costs
2010-2011: $ 77,500
2011-2012: $577,500

Hrmmm... ain't that a coincidence... the Oilers are looking/rumored to be buying out Nilsson and/or O'Sullivan...


2010-2011: $-83,333 ($416,667 in budget costs)
2011-2012: $416,667 ($416,667 in budget costs)


2010-2011: $935,417 ($397,917 in budget costs)
2011-2012: $397,917 ($397,917 in budget costs)

Gee, what kind of draft pick would Ottawa give up to save approximately $323,000 in budget costs and somewhere from to $238,000 to $321,000 in Cap hits (think Nilsson)?

Guess we'll never know.


Edit to add: If Tambellini really did have a Penner & Gilbert for the TO 1st on the table (per Dupont at the Boston Globe)... and Chiarelli couldn't get that to go... then they are both idiots. Tambs for offering and Chiarelli for not closing. Just a stupid, stupid deal to even offer!


Have a great evening everyone.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild - Rebuild It Is Then

Well, THAT was underwhelming.

The Trades

Did like the Staois trade straight up. Johnson is gone end of the year so this is purely about trimming next years Cap hit and getting a 3rd round pick.

Did not like the Grebeshkov trade before and it makes even less sense now. If Visnovsky was a trade target then keeping Grebs makes a lot of sense - pump his value with powerplay and butter minutes and trade him NEXT year.

Did not like the Visnovsky trade. I haven't liked Whitney since his full-on regression in Pittsburgh and I liked him less once he signed an inflated deal based on best before dated play (which makes him an Oiler by default I guess). No draft pick? Dear god.

The Waiver

Ryan Jones will be a better NHL player than JF Jacques. whoop-de-freaking-do

The Trades Not Made

How many smallish, duplicate skill-set forwards do we have on this team? How many were traded today. Reason enough to fire Tambellini right there. Moreau still with the team? And Pisani and Comrie are still with the team?

Epic failure. Epic. No excuse good enough for that.

One (Possible) Saving Grace

Of 3 trades made, only 1 makes any sense IF Tambellini is actually planning on the buy-outs (Nilsson, POS) and the reloading of the roster (Jagr) for next year - which I believe to be true btw. If, however, this is the start of a full on rebuild (which I will believe when seen) then the trades make some sort of sense.

Look, the total possible Cap dump here is around $7.5 million less a few replacements (I would probably keep Johnson just so that I can retain a veneer of respectability - he is a 'veteran' defenseman after all). Drop Pisani and Comrie and the savings are now in excess of $10 million - even factoring in some replacements.

Tambellini now has a chance to dump/trade any/all of the remaining forwards that have to go. I figure that one, maybe two, can be legitimately traded.

Using a ratio of 1/2 (half of what goes out comes back in; i.e. Moreau for a 4th and some scrub with a guaranteed one-way contract) the resulting Cap savings could be as much as another $2 million.

With any luck Khabby doesn't come back (another $3+ million) and Souray becomes another off-season casualty/trade (using the 1/2 ratio that is another $2.7 million).

So here's the trick - use what you have. And what you have is a team as bad as it will ever get (I hope), a few decent veteran pieces, some good prospects and a whack of Cap space and budget play.

THAT first part (the bad team bit) is the one, possible, saving grace that comes out of a day like today.

Given that Visnovsky, Grebeshkov and, even, Staois aren't easy pieces to replace on this team (mostly because they comprised some of the few quality pieces on it), don't try to replace them.

At least not yet. Make signing, or trading for, ONE decent player the goal of the off-season (Seidenburg maybe?) - it worked for Phoenix (Sauer) and go from there.

Keep Eberle and co. off the roster for now and let Nilsson/POS/Brule et al play out their contracts or become trade deadline tradebait. The in-season goal is to collect ONE more decent player and collect another top-3 pick in 2011.

Hemsky is the only real question mark in this whole process and I have to hope that even Tambellini can't screw that trade up.

A decent management team could make lemonade out of this fiasco.

Hence my hopes aren't all that high.

F&*k me.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 1 March 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild


This team isn't that good. Hasn't been for a long, long time. Makes it hard to write about. Even harder when I can't see where it will get any better any time sooner, or later.

So I will keep this short.


IF this is my goal - to build a team that should make the playoffs and then hope for some quality time with my Fairy Godmother at a Shnapp's Shooter party come said playoffs - then:

Step 1: Moreau goes, Souray goes, Pisani goes, etc.
Step 2: Dump any four of the munchkins
Step 3: Do everything I can, short of giving up the 1st, for Weiss

If Step 2 and Step 3 aren't mutually exclusive then all the better.


Brule, Cogliano & Plante

Works just fine for me.

Given that goaltending may be plentiful yet again, I wait for the off-season to fix that problem.

Given that my team isn't deep enough to overcome mediocrity I wouldn't hold my breath as to 'fixing' the problem.

Given the state of the team's goaltending right now... maybe mediocrity isn't so bad after all.



IF this is my goal - to build a team that will make the playoffs and should be a year-to-year contender for the Stanley Cup then:

Step 1: Moreau goes, Souray goes, Pisani goes, etc.
Step 2: Dump any three of the munchkins
Step 3: Do everything I can, short of giving up the 1st, for Toronto's 1st

If Step 2 and Step 3 aren't mutually exclusive then all the better.


Penner/Visnovsky/Gilbert (one of), Brule/Cogliano & 2nd
Ryder (or equivalent salary) & TO 1st

Works just fine for me. Hell, Penner and Gilbert could work if the salaries match up.

If I can follow that up with a trade of Souray and assets to Dallas for Turco, their 1st and assets then all the better.

Given that 'bad' goaltending is a key, positive, factor in any successful rebuilding I am already set with current assets. No chance I keep Turco.

Given that I am committing to a full rebuild then all I have to worry about is getting assets with a good work ethic - so that is my major worry.

That and Hemsky. Would hate to lose him.... and with this I probably would.

UPDATE (from when written):


Grebs for a Nashville 2nd. Tambs is in for the long haul.

Unless Nashville collapses, not a great trade.

Edit to add:

I am reading in numerous comments (made elsewhere of course :-) ) that this trade makes sense:

1. as a salary dump and

2. as a value trade because he was set to earn too much if qualified

Utter f&*king hogwash.

1. Katz has the cash to stash so if this was about the salary dump then it puts to lie every claim made that he was/is willing to spend to build a winner*

2. As an RFA every team that wanted him to stay could qualify to stay and every team that wanted him to go could just not qualify - just like a UFA**

* and sometimes that means spending on a loser so as not to get less than fair value
** which means the team that trades for him has the advantage of being to keep him - regardless of all other factors not involving not playing in the NHL - which is BETTER than UFA

I repeat: not a great trade.

More to come.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild - NBA Edition

As mentioned before I have started to follow the NBA. The ability to reshape a team, almost overnight, is pretty interesting stuff.

However, I also follow it, in part, because I believe that the NBA's management know-how, when it comes to Cap managing a team at least, is far ahead of that of most NHL general managers. There are lessons there to be learned.

What Matters in the NBA

What matters are these four things (in order):

1. Acquiring superior talent;
2. Having money and spending it wisely;
3. Well rounded roster; and
4. Coaching well-matched to the talent

Not much different from any sport really (shoulda known!).

The Salary Cap and Luxury Tax issues only matter on the way to, and at the close of, the accomplishment of those four things.

One area where the two sports differ, markedly, is the extent to which the possession of superior talent affects the record of a team. Because the NBA game is only 48 minutes long and most starters play 30+ mins a night a top-tier player will affect as much as (and sometimes more) two-thirds of a teams 'game'.

In the NHL, other than the goalie (who plays the entire game), only a handful of players will log more than 25 minutes a game over the course of a season. Given an NHL game is 60 minutes long the math says that no matter how good a player like Ovechkin is he will put less time in on the ice than a Kobe or Lebron.

Which means that in the NBA there are few things more important than acquiring superior talent. #1 with a bullet.

Now We Talk Money

Much like in the NHL superior talent will only show up in one of three ways:

1. Top-end draft picks
2. Lucky draft picks
3. Smart, aggressive management with money

As the first two options are pretty standard I will spare a few more moments to discuss the last - smart, aggressive management WITH money.

The NBA Salary Cap sits around $57.3 million while the Luxury Tax kicks in (dollar for dollar) at roughly $69.9 million. The Luxury Tax threshold comes with an extra kick however - teams under the Tax get as much as $4.5 million as part of a share of the taxes paid by those over the Tax.

i.e. Salaries totalling $69.9 million have an effective cost of $65.4 million while Salaries totalling $70 million have an effective cost of $70.1 million.

That last $100k is a killer.

However. The correlation between paying the Tax and being a play-off bound team is pretty strong (I use hoopshype). Check the link.

Excepting the Knicks and the Wizards almost all the teams listed (15 in all) as paying the Tax are either IN the play-offs or probable for it.

Excepting the Raptors, Bobcats, Hawks, Blazers and Grizzlies most teams listed (15 in all) as not paying the Tax are out of the play-offs.

To be fair, that Western Conference is nuts.


Go back to what I said about smart, aggressive management with money.

Sooner or later one of the teams that doesn't like to, or cannot, pay the Tax will HAVE to dump a good player. And that is where a team WITH money can come in and get said player.

That isn't always easy however. The NBA has a trade kicker (actually, there are several) wherein salaries have to, more or less, match up. So the trick is being able to match up.

Much easier to do that if you are already spending more than you need to. The key is having expiring contracts available.

Expiring contracts - contracts that end in the current year - can have a lot of value in the NBA. Houston, a team that is paying Tracy McGrady $23 million NOT to play may be able to improve their team by trading him to Philadelphia or Chicago - teams that want to dump NEXT year's salary.

Want to build a winner in the NBA - spend the cash.

Reload or Rebuild?

Okay, granted, while the margin for error is much higher in the NHL (larger rosters, well paid middle class and no skater plays 60%+ of the available ice-time), the NHL isn't all that different from the NBA.

Next post will be the final one of this series.


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild - The Revisits - #1

As mentioned just previous, and as alluded to in the title, I am now re-visiting the topic of what I would (if it mattered and if you cared and even if you cared that it mattered I guess) do: reload or rebuild?

First, however, a quick post on luck and why it matters, to me, in this case.

If any of you recall there was a time when I was doing a series of Franchise 101 posts. For the purpose of this post the relevant post to reference is this one:

Franchise 101 - Part 05 - Objectivity


For those of you who don't want to take the link elsewhere (Too late for some. I know. Sorry) I will quote the relevant portion below:

A quick lesson on Objectivity and Subjectivity:


Yes. Halle Berry is better looking than my wife.


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.


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.


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.


You will find this kind of talk in other posts of mine, in the recent past the most notable would be this one:

A Plan

So. That gives you a sense of my starting frame of reference as far as these sorts of things go.

What About 'Luck' Then?


1. Luck exists;

2. Luck exists on a micro level;

3. Luck exists on a macro level; and

4. Regardless of any mitigations undertaken, see also #1

So I think there is such a thing as luck. 'kay.

In terms of 'micro-level' I am talking about certain individual things that can be done, on a person by person basis, to mitigate the chance that bad things happen or increase the chance that good things happen.

i.e. an NHL-level shooter should be able to, fairly reliably, hit the net with a certain level of accuracy at a certain level of speed. Practicing a type of shot (wrist shot, slap shot, one timer, point shot, etc) should improve a players ability to maintain, and maybe even improve, their level of proficiency with that shot to an extent the 'un'lucky effects are minimized or eliminated in some cases.

In terms of 'macro-level' I am talking about all, or at least a large combination of all, the individual things that can be done, on a person by person basis, to mitigate the chance that bad things happen or good things happen.

i.e. not just practicing a shot but practicing many types of shots, practicing stick-handling and pass reception, studying goalie tendencies and increasing ice awareness, maintaining physical fitness levels and optimizing the mental and emotional approach to the game, etc.

And lest I haven't made the point clear enough before - sometimes 'luck' just 'happens'.

What Direction The Wind?

I also look at things in a reference or direction mode. Which is to say, when I add everything up do I (or 'you', or 'whomever' for that matter) need:

-- luck to work with me for me to succeed or
-- luck to work against for me NOT to succeed

Think about that for a second. If I am a NHL level shooter and I have:

-- maximized, to the best of my ability, every talent and skill I have; and
-- allowed for the talent of the opposing team to alter or block my shot

Then I know that I should be scoring some goals. If I am scoring less than I should then odds are good I am not getting lucky or I should review my mitigation efforts and if I am scoring more than I should then luck is with me.


If I am a NHL level shooter and I'm not practicing and doing all sorts of other good things then there comes a point in time where - just to maintain status quo - luck HAS to be working in my favor. Over time my ability to successfully do things, at a certain level of predictability, will decrease.

The Oilers

I would propose to you that the problem with the Oilers the last few years is that team management has, serially, constructed rosters that required luck to be working in their favor in order for the team to succeed:

- certain players HAD to stay healthy
- certain players could NOT have off years
- certain players HAD to improve their productivity a great deal (not just a bit)

And all that, obviously, hasn't happened.

Start To Put It Together

So, put it all together and you should, now, have an idea of what I think about the question of reload vs. rebuild.

It's all about competitive level and requirements for luck. Until the next post in this series, take care.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

2010 Reload or Rebuild - To Be Revisited

I will post more on this on a later date but for the record my decision on whether or not to try for a 1 year reload versus a 3 to 5 year rebuild rests on three unknowns:

1. If Boston wants Penner;

2. If they would give up the Toronto 1st rounder for him and be willing to wait to the last hour of trade deadline day to do it; and

3. Where Toronto is in the standings

My reasoning revolves around the concept of 'luck' and whether or not your success or lack of success depends on it working for you or against you, respectively.

The dots aren't hard to connect.

Not that it matters.


Have a great evening everyone.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Trades (and a little NBA stuff)

(just to prove I have it)


Has indicated he's okay if he sees a plane ticket he likes. West coast kind of guy.

- be shocked if Phoenix makes the move (too smart there)
- be surprised if Anaheim makes a move (team fit is poor - may be a replacement for Nieds?)
- be surprised if San Jose makes a move (team fit is poor and Blake is playing well)
- be expecting to see a low-ball bid from Los Angeles (Lombardi is pretty smart)
- be expecting to see a deal made with Dallas (best combo of need, talent to offer, Cap space and budget flex)

As I mentioned elsewhere I like the idea of:

Benn, Skrastins and 1st
Souray and ??


That NBA Stuff

Word is that Houston wants to make a big push for Bosh.

Okay. Fine.

Bosh (PF), Turkoglu (SF) and Calderon (PG)
McGrady (SG), Ariza (SF) and Scola (PF)

Salaries work per the trade machine but a trade like this never happens - trading Bosh means a rethink of the entire team and such a rethink means a restart. Hence the expiring contracts of McGrady and the now, not needed, contracts of Turkoglu and Calderon.

Next year the rotation is: Jack, DeRozan, Ariza, Scola (if re-signed) and Bargnani

Lottery - but not a bad place to start from. Drop in salary would be amazing.


Don't mind the talk on trading Calderon. Two best trades I see there:

Calderon and DeRozan (or Wright, if god blows sunshine up BC's ass)

Calderon and Wright
Morrison, Vujacic, Farmar, $3 million cash and a pick

This trade has been out there for a while and many serious pundits say LA wouldn't do it Vujacic was involved. Fair enough. Morrison is an expiring contract in 2010 while Vujacic's expires in 2011.

Vujacic's contract is costly, no way around it, but in 2011 the Raptors would have 3 expiring contracts (Vujacic, Evans and Banks) cumulatively worth just over $15 million - nice set of trade chips to have.

NBA... a pretty wild place to GM, even when stuck in the armchair.


Have a great evening everyone.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Yay! 2010!

(can't get the pic of my MAP jersey to load so I went this direction)

Next verse! Same as the first! A little bit louder and a little bit worse!

A few things with which to start the New Year:

Don't Second Guess

Look. IF Moreau, Staios, Nilsson or POS get traded (heck, include Brule and Cogliano in there if you want) DO NOT be surprised or, worse, second guess yourself IF they happen to do well in their new home.

Performance if a function of three things (I had four in my head when I started typing this section but I'll be damned as to where the fourth one went, so three is what you get):

1. Skills and ability (inherent or learned)
2. Use
3. Luck
4. ... heh ...

Where-ever those players go you can rest assured that #2 will most probably change and #3 may as well. Right here, right now, these guys (Brule excepted) aren't having any luck and their usage is debateable.

That is just the way it is.

Ad Nauseum

For the first time in a long time I was lost as to what to do with this team - either to improve it from what we have now or to rebuild it. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what can be done (sans actual inside knowledge) but now, right now, not so much.

In a macro sense the issue is that too many of the team contracts are too big and too long (hah!) to be easily tradeable in a Cap system where most of the other teams are maxed out or almost maxed out. Dealing in the smaller contracts won't yield much and the few value contracts that are there are tied to players you don't want to deal.

A reasonable man looks at the roster and sees that:

-- there are players that you keep (almost regardless): Gagner and .... Gagner

-- those you trade only if there is a clear upgrade possibility or you want to change the direction the team is headed: Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner and Gilbert;

-- a couple that you keep if they stay cheap enough: Potulny, Stone, Stortini and Smid;

-- and a few pick 'ems (keep one): Pouliot or Brule, Souray or Visnovsky and Deslauriers or Dubnyk.

That leaves:

-- Grebeshkov (RFA / 3.15 / 0 yr)
-- O'Sullivan (RFA / 2.95 / 1 yr)
-- Nilsson (RFA / 2.00 / 1 yr)
-- Cogliano (RFA / 1.13 / 0 yr)
-- Khabibulin (UFA / 3.75 / 3 yr)
-- Staios (UFA / 2.70 / 1 yr)
-- Moreau (UFA / 2.00 / 1 yr)
-- Comrie (UFA / 1.25 / 0 yr)
-- Strudwick (UFA / 0.70 / 0 yr)
-- one of Pouliot (RFA / 0.83 / 0 yr) or Brule (RFA / 0.80 / 0 yr)
-- one of Visnovsky (UFA / 5.60 / 3 yr) or Souray (UFA / 5.40 / 2 yr)
-- one of Deslauriers (RFA) or Dubnyk (RFA)

Myself, being less than reasonable, would trade four of the six pick 'ems but that's just me.

FTR: I keep Pouliot because a) Brule is a prime pump and dump candidate so I get more out of him and b) if I can't squeeze Pouliot into a supercheap contract after YET ONE MORE shyte year (his fault or not) then I just let him go (i.e. trade in the off-season).

Having been on the Pouliot bandwagon from the start you have to believe me when I say - that last bit hurt to say it.

Looking at a lot of roster turn-over there, but that's okay. As being good right now isn't an option, and neither is being good right away, we are left with being good one day much sooner than never but much later than now.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am absolutely certain that many of those names are moveable THIS year.

Goaltender Interference

I wrote this pre-injury but the idea remains the same - there is always a way.

Khabibulin's contract will be almost impossible to move this... err... next year... err... ever. The term and the amount are just too long and too large (I flatter) to be easily absorbed. This leaves just two possibilities:

1. Send him to Russia for a year or so and hope he likes it

2. Find a GM that is either a) desperate b) stupid or c) both

Option 1 will probably be the easier solution to implement. Outlets for that contract are very few (in no particular order):

a. Chicago makes some sense, depending on whether or not they actually want Khabibulin back, as $2 million in Cap relief is significant;

b. Philadelphia isn't a bad bet if Emery/Boucher continue to struggle but the lack of salary fill, from Philly, makes this a hard trade to complete;

c. Ottawa isn't getting much from Leclaire or Elliot but, as managment isn't under the gun to 'win-now', only an 'outta-here' trade makes sense;

d. Los Angeles, as with Ottawa, isn't getting much out its goalies but the team does have a winning record and has played a lot of raod games early; and

e. Washington has the pressure to win so they might throw a look at him (using Theodore and Nylander) but Varlamov is just playing too well right now

For the record I think the Washington deal may have been the easiest (though it would have required Katz eat some salary).

For The Record: Boston

I have seen some suggestions about trading Visnovsky to the Bruins for the Leafs #1 pick. Trading to get that pick IS freaking brilliant if it can be pulled off.

Visnovsky won't make that happen. The Bruins have few REALLY bad contracts and the one they have they like (Lucic). Morris and Ference are both done after this year so that leaves Wideman, Krejci, Ryder and Sturm as the only decent sized contracts the Bruins would have to trade in order to take on a contract the size of Visnovsky's.

(Yes. They could trade Morris. But odds are good that space is already spoken for. Ference, I will admit, is a maybe/probable.)

Taking a look at boxcars and details I am thinking that if Visnovsky (if healthy) is going to Boston for that pick the trade looks a lot like:

Visnovsky & Brule/Cogliano
Wideman, Krejci & TO 1st?

Think about that for a second. A lot of noise in Boston. Krejci isn't having a great year but his boxcars are okay while Wideman is a fair bit younger than Visnovsky and was signed as one of that teams d-men of the future.

Which means that Visnovsky to Boston just isn't an easy trade to visualize happening. Visnovsky only works if Boston really wants to make a Cup run, wants to dump salary and can't find a cheaper offer elsewhere.

Hence my point - you want to talk the Toronto pick out of Boston... talk Penner. That'll make 'em cream their pants.

Krejci and the TO 1st

Would probably work. And I don't even like Krejci that much.

For The Record: Pittsburgh

Want to trade Visnovsky? Send a glance Pittsburgh's way. Gonchar is making noise about his payday and he will be 36 next year. Me? I say pay the man (and I do think he will stay). But if Pittsburgh is thinking different then they may take a look at Vis. Regardless of the play of Letang

The guy you want is, of course, Staal. If not Staal then target the best selection of Goligoski, Tangradi, Depres and picks you can get. I wanted Letang last year but... well... good luck with that now.

Full disclosure: Tangradi and Depres are listed only by virtue of the listing at HF, and I haven't spent any time scouting or watching Goligoski. I don't know any of their games at all. Sorry.

Of course... that means that none of the guys you actually WANT to trade are traded yet.


Be an interesting trade deadline to be sure.


Have a great evening everyone.