Archive for the Hockey Category

Time Magazine – Jackass Editor

Posted in Hockey, News with tags , , on May 15, 2009 by FEGNS

This morning I stumbled across a column written by Joel Stein for Time Magazine.com that made me vomit in my mouth.  Apparently, Mr. Stein’s douche-bag of an editor thinks that hockey (more specifically NHL hockey) is not relevant enough to appear as part of a Time Magazine publication.

This editor gave Stein one last chance to prove that hockey was worth writing about.  You can see Stein’s final(?) article here.  There is also a place on the page where readers can vote on the issue (“yes” to ban him from writing about hockey, “no” to keep him writing about the NHL and hockey).

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2009 NHL Awards – Selke Trophy

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by FEGNS

frank j selke trophy-top defensive forwardThe Frank J. Selke Trophy is given out every year to the forward who is voted as “most proficient in the defensive aspects of hockey.”

In my opinion, this award is one of the more underrated awards, and it doesn’t receive enough attention.  All of the finalists and winners of this award are every bit as important to their teams (and sometimes more important) than a great goal scorer or passer.

Finalists for this year’s Selke Award include: Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Richards, and Ryan Kesler.

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2009 NHL Awards – Lady Byng

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2009 by FEGNS

lady byng trophy-gentlemanly conductThe Lady Byng Trophy is given each year to the NHL player “who has exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Simply put, usually it goes to the player who has the combination of high point totals and low penalty minute totals.  Pavel Datsyuk has won the award three years in a row, and is one of the finalists for the award again this year.

Joining Datsyuk on the list of finalists are: New Jersey LW, Zach Parise and Tampa Bay RW, Martin St. Louis.

Obviously, all three candidates are stellar options… but let’s briefly take a look at each player (as we have done with the other awards).

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2009 NHL Awards – Norris Trophy

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2009 by FEGNS

james norris trophy-top defensemenThe three finalists for 2009’s award for the “best defender in the NHL,” The James Norris Trophy have been revealed.

All three finalists are on teams that finished at the top of their divisions, and all three are quite deserving of the award and title as best defender of the year.

The Finalists are: Mike Green (Washington Capitals), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings), and Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins).

I can by no means argue with these three finalists as they were all absolutely stellar this season, and I can not realistically remove any of the three in favor for any other defender that isn’t a finalist.

Let’s take a closer look at their seasons, what each of them brings to the table, and possible reasons that they should win this prestigious award.

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2009 NHL Awards – Rookie of the Year Finalists

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by FEGNS

calder trophy-rookie of the yearToday the NHL revealled the 3 finalists for the “Rookie of the Year award,” The Calder Memorial Trophy.

As expected, standout Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason was on the list of young stars… as was Anaheim Ducks breakout forward, Bobby Ryan and Chicago Blackhawks power forward, Kris Versteeg.

Notable exceptions to the list include the minute-muching, defensive anchor from the Los Angeles Kings, Drew Doughty; and the lanky goalie with a quick glove from the Nashville Preditors, Pekka Rinne.

Let’s break down the incredible seasons that these five young players had.

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2009 NHL Awards – The Givens

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2009 by FEGNS

nhl-awards

As of April 12th, 2009… the recipients for three of the many yearly NHL awards were decided: The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (which is awarded to the most proficient goal scorer each season), the Art Ross Trophy (which is awarded to the most proficient point getter each season), and the Presidents Trophy (which is awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the regular season). 

These awards are not determined by votes and as of the end of the last regular season game this past Sunday night, their winners have been determined.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 1 (West) Predictions

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by FEGNS

 stanleycup2009-west (1st Round Predictions)

As a continuation of yesterday’s playoff predictions, here I’ll jot down some thoughts and theories regarding the Western Conference round one Stanley Cup Playoff match-ups.  To see the first post with Eastern Conference predictions, Click Here.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 1 (East) Predictions

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by FEGNS

 

stanleycup2009-east (1st Round Predictions)

Every year as the NHL regular season wraps up, I find myself attempting to make predictions as to which teams will advance through the playoffs. 

This year is no different… so I’ve decided to break down my thoughts regarding the upcoming playoff series’ of the Eastern Conference.  The Western Conference predictions will be posted tomorrow.

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Avery “Accidently” Hits Boston Goalie Tim Thomas

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , on April 6, 2009 by FEGNS

Over the weekend, New York Ranger Sean Avery somewhat reverted to his old ways, when he “tapped” Boston Goalie Tim Thomas in the head with his stick during a break in play

Needless to say the event caused a huge ruckus, and it ultimately resulted in a 4 on 4 situation between the two teams (which were at that point in the game tied 0-0).  To see the clip of the incident, view the bottom of this post…

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not one of those people that thinks that Sean Avery should be hung from the rafters by his toe nails (these people are out there though).  I actually think this was pretty funny, and pretty typical Sean Avery.  He riled Tim Thomas up something major, and there was every bit the possibility that Thomas would be enough off of his game because of the incident, that the Rangers could have won the game.

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Canucks and Blackhawks… Ding Ding!

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2009 by FEGNS

March 29th.  The Vancouver Canucks played the Chicago Blackhawks in an important western conference matchup that would possibly dictate playoff seeding and home ice advantage for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Vancouver ended up winning the game soundly, but that wasn’t what drew the most attention that evening.  Moments after Dustin Byfuglien punched Roberto Luongo in the head while driving the net, Alexandre Burrows and Duncan Keith mixed it up near center ice.  During the scrap, Burrows pull Keith’s hair and scratched his face with his finger nails.

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NHL Final Standings Predictions – WEST

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by FEGNS

A couple of days ago, I decided that I’d take a crack at figuring out what the final standings (and therefore the first round of the playoffs) would look like in for the Eastern Conference.

This is the second post (of two) on this topic… here we’ll discuss the Western  Conference and what might end up happening in the closing weeks of the regular season.

Pictured to the right is the current playoff picture in the western conference (as of the morning of 3.28.2009)…

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NHL Final Standings Predictions – EAST

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2009 by FEGNS

nhl east standings -(3.26.2009)

UPDATE: Check out my Western Conference Predictions Here.

With just under 10 games left (give or take a couple of games) for most teams in the NHL, I decided that I’d take a crack at figuring out what the final standings (and therefore the first round of the playoffs) will look like in a couple of weeks.

This is the first post (of two) on this topic… here we’ll discuss the Eastern Conference and what might end up happening in the closing weeks of the regular season.  The Western Conference analysis will be up in a day or two, so check back for it.

Pictured to the right is the current playoff picture in the eastern conference (as of the morning of 3.26.2009)…

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Should Pittsburgh Trade Crosby or Malkin?

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2009 by FEGNS

About a month ago, Adam Gretz of NHL.Fanhouse.com wrote a well thought out reaction to recent talk that the Pittsburgh Penguins should trade either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to attain depth. 

Since his article was written on February 24th, Pittsburgh has made a head coaching change, traded Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz, and acquired Billy Guerin at the trade deadline from the NY Islanders.  These combined changes seem to have spurred a turn around in Pittsburgh, as the Penguins now sit comfortably in a playoff spot with many of the teams around them in the standings slumping and moving backwards.

This recent success, while wonderful for the Penguins and their current season hopes for a Stanley Cup, have not (at least in my opinion) changed anything in the grand scheme of things… and have certainly not rendered Mr. Gretz’s article moot.

It’s my opinion that the thought of trading one of Crosby or Malkin is not as outlandish and destructive of a thing as he makes it seem, so let’s look at things from a slightly different (but entirely appropriate) economic perspective.

In economic theory, when you determine the value of something… you must consider not only what it is currently worth, but what the assets committed to such a quantity could be worth if allocated elsewhere.  This theory is likely front and center in most NHL general manager’s heads as they assess the “value” of not only their players, but other players in the league, and other players not in the league (draftees, prospects, and European players).  Mr. Gretz did not consider this subject when writing his article, and consequently many of his examples of “failed trades” do not actually support his argument.

Let’s look at a few of these examples to see the basic theories of economics at work…

August 2, 2005 — Chris Pronger: The St. Louis Blues send Chris Pronger to the Edmonton Oilers for Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch, and Jeff Woywitka.

Chris Pronger was reportedly unhappy with a 7+ million dollar qualifying offer that the Blues gave him as an RFA the summer that they traded him.  This was the same summer that the salary cap andthe collective bargaining agreement went into effect.  St. Louis decided that with a salary cap maximum of just under $40 million, that their money could be spent better elsewhere.  Moving Pronger not only avoided a situation of an unhappy player becoming a cancer in the locker room, but also allowed the Blues more monetary flexibility.

July 11, 2001: Pittsburgh trades Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera to the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech, Michel Sivek, and Ross Lupaschuk.

Pittsburgh had not been to the Stanley Cup finals since the 1991-92 season.  Trading away Jaromir Jagr allowed the aging Penguins team (that consisted of not much more than Alexei Kovalev and Mario Lemieux at the time of the deal), to focus on rebuilding and becoming a contender again.  With the loss of Jagr, the team drafted in the top five years in a row… selecting Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal with these respective top 5 overall draft picks.

By trading away Jagr, the Penguins have rebuilt their team into one of the most skilled young teams in the league.  Oh yeah… and all five of the above listed players were an integral part to getting the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since the early 90s.  So was the Jagr deal really that bad?  When you think of everything that has directly come from it?  Jagr and Lemieux are long gone from the NHL, so if the Penguins had kept Jagr… where would they be now?

November 30, 2005: Boston Bruins trade Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, and Wayne Primeau.

During the time that “Jumbo Joe” was in Boston, they never made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs.  Since Thorton has been traded to San Jose, the Sharks have never made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs (despite making it to the western conference finals the season before acquiring Thornton).  Trading Thornton allowed Boston to sign Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard via free agency, and they have been a large part of Boston’s success in the eastern conference this season.  Boston also has a number of young players contributing to their very good 2008-09 season, that they likely would have never had the chance to draft had they not traded Thornton.

June 23, 2006: Florida Panthers trade Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek to Vancouver for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen, and Alex Auld.

Florida is on pace to finish the 2008-09 season with their highest point totals in the standings since before they acquired Luongo from NYI.  They acquired Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson via free agency to adequately address their needs in goal, and Bryan Allen has been very solid defensively since joining their team.  Florida traded Todd Bertuzzi to Detriot for blue chip prospect Shawn Matthias, and a conditional draft pick.  So had Florida not moved Luongo, they wouldn’t likely have the contributions of Vokoun, Anderson, Allen, or Matthias. 

—–

You can list nearly all the “bad” superstar trades in NHL history, and if you follow the cookie crumbs that are left in the wake of the actual deal itself, you can see that close to 100% of the time, things pan out the way they should.  While many trades seem like bad ideas at the time sometimes they are necessary to ultimately achieve success.

This happens, because the “value” of the player/superstar that you are trading can almost always be transferred into new or different players.  If Crosby or Malkin were dealt in a trade, there’s not a doubt in my mind, that the “value” of the returning package would at the end of the day make the deal worth while. 

The bottom line is that the Penguins have close to 22 million dollars committed to 3 natural centers.  You can not win a Stanley Cup without a supporting cast for these pivots.  With the contracting economy, the salary cap pinch will likely be felt in the next couple of seasons, and if I were a betting man… I’d suggest that one of two things happen in the coming years:

1) The Penguins continue from struggle from a lack of depth have trouble finding secondary scoring outside of Crosby and Malkin.  Their consistency suffers, and they fail to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup (without blowing their draft picks and prospects on a talented rental winger like they did last year with Marian Hossa).

2) They trade one of Crosby or Malkin and they receivenot only depth, but salary cap room to modify their team chemistry and create a balanced attack and a perennial contender. 

—–

Any betting man knows that you don’t help your chances of winning big if you put all your eggs in one basket.  The Penguins would do well to at least entertain offers for their franchise centermen… though I’d imagine that there wouldn’t be as many takers as some seem to suggest.  With teams dying to shed heavy salaries this past trade deadline, there will be more andmore teams that are stuck withlarge contracts… Pittsburgh being one of them.  Not only have they put themselves in a bad position withthe salary cap with their big contracts, but they’ve put themselves in a bad trading position as well. 

As Mr. Gretz mentions there are many teams with large amounts of money committed to players for next season… but how many teams can claim that they have approximately $21.4 million in cap space committed to three players that play the SAME POSITION

Say what you want about Detriot, Washington, NY Rangers, etc… and their cap positions… but at least they’ve diversified their cap allowance throughout their roster.

If you still don’t think the Penguins should move either Malkin or Crosby, take a moment and consider how many superstars that play the same position have remained on a team together for their entire careers… it doesn’t happen… it didn’t happen before the salary cap, and now that there is a salary cap, it CERTAINLY won’t happen.  The penguins would be wise to consider trading one of these players while they are young, marketable, and still have some years left on their contracts (this will guarantee the maximum immediate value in return)…

As final note: both players are unrestricted free agents at the termination of their current contracts… and BOTH have no-trade clauses in the final year of their current deals.  Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero should be at least considering trading one now… so that he doesn’t get caught with his pants down losing one for nothing a few years.

Tuukka Rask Meltdown

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by FEGNS

Tuukka Rask is a highly touted, 22 year old NHL goalie prospect in the Boston Bruins pipeline.  He was drafted 21st overall back in the 2005 entry draft, and is currently leading Boston’s AHL affiliate, The Providence Bruins with a 2.51 30-19-3 record.  He has a 2.51 GAA, 91.5 save%, and 4 shutouts on the year for the baby Bruins.

This past friday, Rask had a noteworthy preformance against the Albany River Rats.  First, he posted a shutout through regulation to give his team (which was also shutout), a chance to secure a victory in the shootout competition.  It was during this shootout however, that things really got interesting

With the P-Bruins leading the shootout, 1-0, Albany’s Jakub Petruzalek skated in on Rask, lost the puck, recovered and then hesitated before he fired a shot from the bottom of the left circle past a sprawled-out Rask. Much to everyone’s surprise, the goal was counted.

Harrison Reed followed with a goal of his own tucked right under the crossbar for the game-winner to lift the Rats to a 1-0 victory. After the Reed goal, Rask chased referee Frederick L’Ecuyer toward the penalty box and then let his emotions out by slamming and tossing his stick and then chucking a milk crate.

“He went backwards and stopped the play and waited three seconds and then shot it,” said Rask after the game. “I guess the guy didn’t believe it either because he stopped and then took the shot.  As long as the ref doesn’t blow the whistle, it’s game on I guess.”

While Rask’s meltdown is probably one of the more interesting and/or comical moments in goaltending history, this incident could possibly raise concerns about the prospect (who is widely consider Boston’s future goaltender) and his mental game.  Any goaltender, or NHL scout can tell you that the mental game of a goalie is every bit as crucial to success at the NHL level as physical skill/capability is.  While some goalies do very well playing on the edge of their emotions… for others, a lack of focus due to emotions can lead to a game changing goal at an inopportune moment.  

I suspect that it is a distinct possibility that when the time came for the second Albany player to attempt the shootout, Rask was still thinking about the previous goal.  This slight distraction could have lead to the second & game-clinching goal against the P-Bruins net-minder. 

While it’s completely possible that Rask may have a tremendous NHL career in spite of his outbursts and flagrant signs of emotion… my money is on his emotions being a negative for his future as a professional goalie, and not a positive.  He needs to learn to avoid getting upset, while focusing his disgust for bad calls on keeping the rubber out of his net. 

See below for a clip of the incident:

Ovechkin Celebrates 50th Goal

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2009 by FEGNS

Last night, Alexander Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  To commemorate the event, he laid his stick down on the ice and treated it as “too hot to handle.”  For several seconds before skating off of the ice.

A few weeks ago, color commentator, Don Cherry expressed a certain level of disgust with Ovechkin’s celebrations following goals… but this latest example of premeditated celebration will really burn Cherry’s britches I’m sure.  I’d imagine that Cherry will have more viewers than he’s had in years the next time he’s on t.v. as people tune in just to hear what he’s got to say now. 

In case you missed it here’s (what will become I’m sure) the notorious celebration:

As far as the celebration goes: I’ve made it very clear to everyone I talk to that I love Ovechkin’s passion for the game.  I typically have no problem with him pumping his fist and being excited about goals.  I actually don’t have much of a problem with him planning a celebration for milestone goals… but what I do have a problem with, is the star player of a team seemingly focusing more on his own personal achievements and goal scoring than the teams success as a whole. 

The Washington Capitals are a team that is 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.   That’s the 8th best “last-10” record in the Eastern Conference right now.  This team needs to focus on winning games; not celebrating goals or personal achievements.  If Ovechkin is ever to be a captain of this squad (he’s currently an alternate), he needs to learn that lesson. 

I’ve got no problem with celebrating… and I really don’t care one way or another about planned celebrations in hockey… but I do think that any celebrating that is done, should come only after the success of the team as a whole. 

If the Capitals were on a tear, mopping the ice with their competition of late, it’d be a completely different story, and I’d have a very different opinion as to whether or not this celebration should have occurred… as things are right now, Ovechkin and his teammates need to be more focused on how they can advance their position in the standings, and how they can prepare themselves best for a long playoff run. 

At the end of the day, you can scored 50+ times in numerous regular seasons… but if you don’t win a Stanley Cup, you will retire unsatisfied.  Ovechkin and the Capitals as a whole need to take a second and refocus on what is (or at least should be) their most important goal: Lord Stanley’s Cup.  After that goal is achieved, then you celebrate… and you celebrate as a team.

Brodeur Breaks All-Time NHL Wins Record

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , on March 18, 2009 by FEGNS
Martin Brodeur - Win 552

Martin Brodeur - Win 552

Last night, Martin Brodeur broke Patrick Roy’s all-time NHL wins record with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.  The win was Brodeur’s 552nd, and while arguments as to who the best goalie of all time is will likely continue… one thing is certain:  Martin Brodeur is the one with the most wins. 

Brodeur is 36 years old this year and looking capable and energetic enough to play at least the remaining 3 seasons left on his contract with the New Jersey Devils.  There is no doubt in my mind that he will have smashed this record to bits by the time he hangs up the skates and the mask for good.

See below for a clip of the waining seconds of the game:

Congratulations Marty.

Capitals/Penguins Budding Rivalry

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2009 by FEGNS

This weekend, the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins played each other for the fourth and final time this season.  These games carry with them the inherent sub-plot of Crosby & Malkin vs. Ovechkin & Semin, but it’s evolving into more than that lately… The fans are really getting into the mix.

As Puckdaddy posts in “Today in Sidney Crosby bashing: Caps fans offer crib notes,” Capitals fans are really developing a healthy hate for Crosby and the Penguins as a whole… and I’d be willing to bet that the same is happening in Pittsburgh in regards to Ovechkin and Semin.

Now, there are a lot of hockey fans the Baltimore area (which is roughly 20 miles from D.C. and about an hour from Philadelphia), so with a budding rivalry between the Capitals and the Penguins, and a continuing rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins, it’s not reaching to say that Maryland hockey fans will be against central Pennsylvania hockey fans for years (or possibly generations) to come.

Rivalries are great for sports, and if these teams stay great, this one could evolve into something really special.

2009 NHL Trade Deadline – Conclusions

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2009 by FEGNS

With the 2009 NHL Trade Deadline still very close in the rear-view mirror… let’s take a second and make some closing thoughts regarding some of the significant trades that teams made leading up to the deadline.

I already discussed a couple of moves that had occurred early in the day March 4th, but with a flurry of deals made right before the deadline… we’ll revisit the issue a bit.

PHOENIX

Leaving: G Mikael Tellqvist (to Buffalo) – C Olli Jokinen, 2009 third-round pick (to Calgary) – LW Daniel Carcillo (to Philidelphia)D Derek Morris (to NY Rangers)

Incoming: 2010 fourth-round pick (from Buffalo) – C Matthew Lombardi (pictured right), RW Brandon Prust, 2009 or 2010 first-round pick (from Calgary)– LW Scottie Upshall, 2011 second-round pick (from Philadelphia) – D Dmitri Kalinin, LW Petr Prucha, LW Nigel Dawes (from NY Rangers)

Analysis: This is a great example of a team that is rebuilding and makes trades to develop their team for the future.  Phoenix did very well to get pretty good returns for veterans that they were running out of use for.  Jokinen is expendable because C Peter Mueller and C Kyle Turris are ready for more playing time.  Morris is an unrestricted free agent this summer and would likely be leaving Phoenix at that time anyways.  The acquisition of Prust from Calgary made Carcillo expendable.  Finally, G Josh Tordjman has been stellar in the AHL this year and is ready to become Ilya Bryzgalov’s full time backup next season… this made Mikael Tellqvist somewhat expendable (especially since he – like Morris – is an unrestricted free agent this summer).  So basically, Phoenix lost very few pieces of their ideal puzzle, but they gained a ton of really good picks and really fast forwards to make them one of the quicker, and potentially more dynamic teams in the league.

Rating:  A … The Coyotes did exactly what they needed/wanted to do in their position.

NY RANGERS

Leaving: D Dmitri Kalinin, LW Petr Prucha, LW Nigel Dawes (to Phoenix) – 2009 second-round pick, 2009 conditional draft pick (to Toronto)

Incoming: D Derek Morris (from Phoenix) – RW Nik Antropov (from Toronto).

Analysis: In addition to bringing back W Sean Avery via waivers, the Rangers have added two decent rental players (both Antropov and Morris are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season).  These moves will not put them over the top in my opinion though, as they didn’t get a physical defender or a crashing forward.  Antropov (pictured above) is a big guy, but he plays most effectively on the fringe by the boards.  The Rangers already have players who play by the boards.  They needed a net presence.  Morris is also a good defender, but he isn’t as physical as some of the other (probably cheaper) defensemen available, like Steve Montador for instance.  A physical presence on the back end is another thing the Rangers desperately needed.  Mark my words, it will quickly become very evident in the rough/physical Eastern Conference playoff race that the Rangers just aren’t physical enough. 

In the process, they’ve given up three decent prospects (Dawes will probably be missed the most because of his speed and work ethic) and two draft picks in this year’s draft.  The Rangers are somewhat moving backwards in my opinion.  It’s understandable that they felt they had to do something at the trade deadline (they are slipping in the standings as we speak), but sometimes making no moves is the best thing you can do for your team.

Rating:  C- … The Rangers didn’t really help themselves for this year’s playoffs, and they traded young depth, and draft picks that they’ll need to flesh out their team in the future (with all the massive contracts they have eating up cap space).

PITTSBURGH

Leaving: 2009 conditional fifth-round pick (to NY Islanders), W Miroslav Satan (to Waivers)

Incoming: RW Bill Guerin (from NY Islanders) (pictured right)

Analysis: A few days prior to the trade deadline, the Penguins brought in W Chris Kunitz and traded away D Ryan Whitney.  At the trade deadline, they pick up a gritty veteran forward in Guerin for fairly cheap.  Guerin is a UFA at the end of this season, so he is likely just a rental… but he’s a good acquisition to a forward core that heavily lacks a physical presence and veteran leadership.  Miroslav Satan made it through waivers and per NHL rules will not be able to participate in the NHL playoffs this year (players must be listed on the team’s roster as the trade deadline passes in order for them to participate in the playoffs).  Waiving Satan was a necessary move to free up cap space to bring in Billy Guerin.  Satan was an experiment that didn’t seem to work out as Pittsburgh would have hoped, and being an unrestricted free agent this summer.  Making it through waivers suggests that not many teams will be kicking down doors to acquire him this off-season, so Satan could very well head back to play in Europe.

Rating: B+ … Gaining grit and leadership up front is crucial to this still-young team’s chances of making it past the first round of the playoffs (or making it into the playoffs to start with).  I still don’t agree with trading away Ryan Whitney, but at least they didn’t repeat last year’s mistake of paying to much for a rental player.  A conditional fifth-round pick is a very reasonable price for a forward that still has enough skill to play in the top six of the majority of NHL teams.

EDMONTON/LOS ANGELES/CAROLINA

Three-Way Deal: Los Angeles trades W/C Patrick O’Sullivan, 2009 second-round pick to Carolina for W Justin Williams.  Carolina then trades W/C Patrick O’Sullivan, a different 2009 second-round pick, and a 2009 fifth-round pick to Edmonton for W Erik Cole (pictured left).

Analysis: In addition to acquiring Ales Kotalik from Buffalo in another trade, Edmonton did well to add young players oozing with potential, by only giving up a wing that didn’t work out like they thought he would (Cole).  Carolina gets their power forward back that they realize now (hindsight is 20-20) was an integral part of their past successes.  LA sheds some youth and adds a great (albeit injury prone) winger that’s pretty much done progressing and ready to help their team right away (when healthy). 

Rating(s): Edmonton… C+ … This team seems to be in a perpetual rebuild… the deal isn’t bad (especially considering that Cole was fairly expensive and didn’t ever really fit in with the Oil).  Edmonton’s forward core is possibly the youngest in the league.  Adding O’Sullivan is a good move for their future, but how much longer are they going to “develop players?”  At some point, the young players they continue to bring in (via trade and via draft) have to start winning games consistently.

Los Angeles… B+ … LA gets a really good player that fans and teammates will love.  They give up O’Sullivan who (while young and very good skill-wise) seemed to develop some attitude problems recently.  O’Sullivan was costing the Kings nearly as much as Williams will.  LA also has a great core of young players, but they needed to bring in an older forward to help guide the younger players.  Good move by the Kings.  Especially if Williams can stay healthy.

Carolina… B … They get their guy back.  They do in turn lose another forward that was integral to their Stanley Cup run.  It remains to be seen if Carolina is better with Cole and without Williams than they were with Williams and without Cole.  Cole nearly had a career ending neck/back injury a couple years back, so he is by no means a sure thing when it comes to injuries… but the fact remains that Williams hasn’t played much the past couple of seasons, so any player that’s on the ice is an upgrade from that situation I suppose.

NHL 2009 Trade Deadline

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2009 by FEGNS

With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching at 3:00 pm eastern time today (which as I write this, is roughly 3 hours from now), I thought I’d take a second out from hitting the refresh button on my web browser over and over to write up an analysis of some of the significant things that have happened in the last day or two.

NY RANGERS

The Rangers acquired “bad boy” W Sean Avery (pictured right) via waivers yesterday afternoon, and are now committed to him for the next three seasons.  Three seasons may seem like a like a long time for any team to commit to this guy, but NY seems to be the perfect fit for his extracurricular passions, and his loud mouth persona.  

The wild card in this situation is that Avery has a conditional no trade clause in his contract from the Dallas Stars… If the Rangers do get tired of him before his 3 years are up, it will be that much more difficult for them to move him.  That said, Avery’s antics have rendered him pretty much unwanted by the majority of NHL teams at this point, so trading partners would probably be limited to start with.

No trade clauses aside, this deal was just too good for the Rangers to pass up.  Consider that the juiciest part of this deal is the fact that Avery’s cap hit for the Rangers is only $1.938 million (as the Dallas Stars are charged with half of Avery’s salary and cap hit).  Avery left NY this past off-season solely because he wanted more money than the Rangers wanted to give him.  Well now he’s getting the money that he wanted, and the Rangers get their guy for the price that they wanted.  WIN-WIN.  Great pickup by the Rangers.  He should fit in nicely with a core group of guys that has already accepted him for who he is.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS & OTTAWA SENATORS

The Ottawa Senators traded W/C Antoine Vermette (pictured right) to Columbus for G Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round draft pick.

This is potentially a good deal for both teams involved.  Vermette gives the Blue Jackets more offensive depth, and Leclaire gives the Senators a decent goalie (when healthy). 

I actually think that this deal could have been done without the draft pick, but kudos to Ottawa for getting that extra icing on their cake.

Vermette can play pretty much any forward position, and gives the Jackets a reliable face-off man (something teams need come playoff time), and a guy with great offensive skills and potential.  The Senators get a quality goalie with injury concerns but who can be a franchise goaltender when healthy.

While Leclaire (pictured left) will still likely miss the rest of this season, time will tell how well he does in Ottawa.  The last quality goalie that Ottawa acquired was Martin Gerber, and we’ve seen how that has worked out for the Senators.  The top 60 overall draft choice that they got in the deal will help lessen the blow if Leclaire does turn out to be a bust or injury case in the coming years for the Senators.

Good hockey deal by both sides.  The goaltending load in Columbus (now and in the future) is now squarely on rookie Steve Mason’s shoulders.

Don Cherry vs. Ovechkin – Part II

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , on March 3, 2009 by FEGNS

Ok… Following my initial post on this subject, I was going to let that be that… but this morning, a large write-up on the topic appeared on puckdaddy (yahoo’s hockey blog), and I feel the need to address this news further and along a different tangent.

The Puckdaddy post quotes part of Cherry’s ridiculous rant and then writes the following reaction/agreement:

Don Cherry:He’s got a free ride. He runs at guys …”

Puckdaddy:  In fairness, Ovechkin is second on the Capitals in PIM (66). But Cherry’s point is a fair one: Ovechkin leaves his feet on hits and there are times when a charge for another player is a highlight-reel check for Ovechkin. He gets superstar treatment. It’s not wrong, it’s not right … but Cherry’s on the mark here.

So lets analyze these statements and see if we agree… 

Ovechkin:

While Ovechkin does have 66 penalty minutes this season, only 28 of those penalty minutes have come from infractions that are commonly associated with body checks and taking “runs at guys.”  These 28 minutes include all of Ovechkin’s time served for roughing, interference, cross checking, kneeing, charging, and boarding.  The majority of these infractions were roughing, interference, and cross checking though; with only 8 penalty minutes coming from kneeing, charging, and boarding.  Now if Ovechkin really “runs at guys” wouldn’t he have more than just 8 penalty minutes for kneeing, charging, and boarding through 62 games?

Also, consider the following clip of Ovechkin injuring Jamie Heward on January 1st of this year:

Now people may disagree with me on this, but if you really watch closely at Ovechkin’s body language preceding the hit, you can see that he tried to pull up.

Unlike a lot of guys that see people turn into a vulnerable position as they’re going for a hit, Ovechkin really does seem to try and pull up.

It was just an unfortunate coincidence that he even came into contact with Heward’s head, as ovechkin twisted his body to avoid finishing the check strong. By twisting, he transfered the majority of the force of the hit to his left shoulder (which impacts the glass) and away from his right side (which comes into contact with Heward’s head). This hit would have been WAY worse if he had just finished the hit.

I know that Heward was injured by the hit, but the restraint that A.O. showed (as far as I’m concerned) when he saw Heward turn and put himself into a vulnerable position is quite admirable to me, and not typical of the type of player Cherry and Puckdaddy seem to describe.

I encourage you all to analyze the clip above and make your own conclusions. Look at the force at which Ovechkin’s left shoulder impacts the glass, and you realize just what Heward’s head missed out on.

Crosby (and Canadian Players):

Ok… so these are the guys that youth hockey players should strive to emulate (according to Don Cherry).  All of the below clips are that of Canadian players.

Chris Pronger

Chris Pronger 2 (compare this hit to the Ovechkin clip posted further up the page) 

Sidney Crosby

These above videos of Canadian born players are FAR AND ABOVE more worthy of critique then any of Ovechkin’s hits.  A.O. is a hard-working, clean player who likes to hit people, celebrate his success, and have fun playing the game.  If he were Canadian, Cherry would praise him for his work ethic and hard-nosed play, yet because he’s Russian, he takes “runs at guys.”  It’s despicable that this blatant racist is even a public figure in Canada.