Archive for December, 2007

Vermette and Trading

December 20, 2007

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No, I’m not suggesting that Vermette is going to be traded.  I’m suggesting that you should consider adding him in your fantasy league.  He’s been promoted to second line duty and playing with Alfredsson.  He’s responded with 4 points in the last 2 games. 

 The Skin Trade

Brian Burke is at it again.  Now he’s complaining that clubs are not able to trade salary along with players.  With so many teams up against the cap, it makes trading players very difficult because you have to have dollar for dollar deals.  The general idea would be that teams would be allowed to pay some of the salary of a player they are trading in order to facilitate more activitiy.   I’m not going to come out and say that I’m against trading in the NHL, but I think I’m against this idea.  I am going to suggest that it is up to GMs and the teams to decide the best way to structure their teams given the constraints of the cap and then live with their decisions.  If a team wants to have flexibility to make moves throughout the season, they should plan for that.  There are teams out there that have left themselves with cap room to make moves, if necessary.  Brian Burke did not and is now crying fowl  (misspelling intentional). 

Many people are lamenting that there is less trading in the NHL, but I personally have no problem with it.  It’s always struck me odd that teams, essentially, go through 60 games of the season with a set of players, amassing points or not, and then add a big superstar at the trade deadline and they’re a completely different team.  Sometimes it turns out badly for the team acquiring the superstar (see: the Nashville Predators and Peter Forsberg) and that to me is almost as tragic as when it works.  If I’m a GM, I think I would be very careful in messing with team chemistry that appears to be working.  That’s easy for me to say, since I’m not a GM and I don’t face the pressures from media and fans to make a deal.  Seemingly any deal will do just so it seems that the GM “cares”.  At least, until the deal doesn’t work and then he’s taken to the wood shop for a good verbal thrashing or maybe loses his job over it.   It’s understood that not making the deadline deal can also cost a GM his job (see: John Muckler and Gary Roberts, supposedly).

The trade deadline phenomena in the NHL is a time-honored tradition and I’m not one to trample on tradition, but I’m not going to cry over inactivity when teams haven’t adequately prepared themselves for it either. 

I Like My Blades X-tra HOT

December 15, 2007

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 The NHL is experimenting with heated skate blades.  The theory (and apparently, the reality according to quotes of people who’ve tried them) is that the heated blades create a layer of water that allows players to skate faster; kind of like skating on a freshly zambonied (he he) sheet of ice.  Four NHLers are currently using the skates and there are articles suggesting they’re using them in games. 

If it’s true that they’re letting only four players use them in games, I have some issues with the integrity of that practice.  If they are an advantage, then it is possible that a playoff spot is being decided RIGHT NOW by one of these players who has that advantage.  Take a look at the standings; there are going to be more than a few teams 1 or 2 points out of a spot come April.  The advantage may be small, but sometimes that’s all it takes; just a split second faster to the puck or down the wing.

More than the integrity issue though is what’s freakin next?  Are they going to start putting mini-jet packs on the skates to make these guys supersonic?  How about hydraulic sticks for more power on the shots? (I just flingin’ poo here, people)  How about Steve Austin plays goal?  (If you’re 40, you know what I’m talking about)

They are fundamentally changing the function of a skate; or at least, adding a function.  Come to think of it, they’ve already changed the function of goalie pads, so who cares?  I give up. 

Richards

12 years is a long long long contract and that’s what Flyer, Mike Richards has received.  I know it’s not unprecedented, but this is the first time a sane person has offered a contract that long.  Then again, the Flyers gave a 30 year old Briere an 8 year contract so the Holmgren sanity is in question.  I am looking forward to the day when one of these contracts blows up on a team.  (please don’t be Spezza or Heatley, please don’t be Spezza or Heatley, please don’t be Spezza or Heatley) 

Sure, it (the blow up) has happened with Yashin, but that was not in the salary cap era.  Teams who are stuck with an underperformer at $5, 6, 7 or 9 million dollars/season are going to be completely screwed.  Is Briere going to be an effective player at age 38 for $6.5 million?  I don’t know.  It’s not out of the question, but I would bet against it (if I tended to gamble).  I know teams get a cap exemption for a player if he’s injured long term, but my guess is that some owners out there are going to be none too happy when their $8 million man is out for 4 years with a case of stickupmynosis and he’s on the hook for it, regardless of how his team’s cap is affected.

Sens’ Stuff

Many media outlets continue to refer to Spezza, Heatley and Alfie as the big line for Ottawa.  Well, they’re not currently a line and haven’t been for a while; they’ve been split up for at least the last 3 games.  This may well be a case of Paddock splitting them up on the road where the opponent has the last change.  But, Alfie has been skating with Fisher and Foglino while Robitaille has been on the Spezza line. 

Boo Boos and Owies

Volchenkov is still a month away.  Eaves is still a month away.  McGratton fell on his shoulder after given a ride to Lightsoutville by Georges Laraque.  Here’s an idea, Brian….hit him with your purse.  (please don’t tell him I said that) No timetable is set for his return.

Hiatus

December 11, 2007

A month seems like enough time for me to re-charge my batteries.  While I was away, I attended a Hurricanes/Thrashers game in Raleigh.   A highlight was watching my favorite non-Senator (Marian Hossa) score the only two goals of the game.  A lowlight was that the only people I talked to at the game, who knew anything about hockey, weren’t from North Carolina.  Out of 5 people I sat next to in various spots in the arena, the one who was from North Carolina originally, referred to Marian Hossa as that number 18 guy.  A highlight was that the arena is a bit smaller and felt a bit more quaint than the Xcel Energy Center, United Center, Scotiabank Place or any of the other larger outfits.  A lowlight was losing $50 on the game.  A highlight was some very nice options for beer.  A lowlight was getting jobbed by the cabbie on the ride back to the hotel.

Trade Winds

Are not blowing.  All the hand-wringers out there clammoring for a Gerber move, probably need a high-colonic.  As evidenced by there not being a trade market for Ilya Bryzgalov, moving a goalie is not going to happen right now unless you’re prepared to give him away.  The Senators are not in a position to be giving anything away.   Apparently, there’s some interest in Joe Corvo, but if you’ve been paying attention, he’s been one of the better Dmen for the Sens since the A-Train went on the injury choo choo.   If there’s any better evidence that plus/minus is not a good measure of the defensive value of a player, it’s Joe Corvo who is currently 10th in the league when measured by that category.  He’s still pillowy soft, but he’s been a great puck-mover and an even better puck-carrier.   Which leads us to the power play:

There’s talk of moving Jason Spezza off the number one unit and replacing him with Mike Fisher.   One of the biggest issue with the power play has been getting set up in the zone.  Spezza has been trying to skate the puck in and failing miserably.  Teams have simply been lining up at the blue line and poking it out of the zone when he attempts to dangle around them.  With Fisher in the lineup, the Sens will be able to dump the puck with Fisher going in on retrieval duty not to mention that he’s a pretty good presence in front of the net. 

Let’s see….what else is interesting?  Oh, Scotty Neidermayer is back.  While I have nothing against Neids personally, it does make the Ducks even that much more hate-able…..and dangerous.  Funny, last night the Columbus announcers mentioned that there was quite a nice rivalry brewing between the Ducks and Blue Jackets.  The Ducks seem to bring that out of other teams with their….shall we say, questionable tactics.  The Ducks are the most penalized team by a long shot with more than a hundred PIMs more than the next team.  The team is chippy, right from their GM on down.  That’s the way they like it.  With Neidermayer in the lineup, their penalty kill is sure to be better than 24th or whatever awful number it is right now.  They can now better get away with their chippy play. 

It will be interesting to see what deal Burkie ends up with in clearing the requisite cap space for Neidermayer.  Cap space for this year is not the issue for the Ducks; it’s their cap space for next year.  They have to remain below this year’s cap on next year’s committments and that means shedding a minimum of $900,000 by way of trading a player under contract for next year.  It’s rumoured that Burke has a few different deals worked out already but is trying to make a trade that will address their lack of secondary scoring.  I suspect we’ll know very soon if he’s accomplished that.

The Sens are in Carolina tomorrow night and Emery will be back in net.  This is not an indication that Paddock is thrilled with Emery’s play, but he’s been winning games and that is what matters to Paddock.   Gerber will most certainly get a start as the Senators play 3 games in 4 nights.