Archive for Sidney Crosby

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 – 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 (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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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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.

Penguins Trade Whitney to Ducks for Kunitz

Posted in Hockey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by FEGNS

Yesterday (Februaray 26th, 2009) the Pittsburgh Penguins traded 26 year old defender Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for 29 year old wing Chris Kunitz and 20 year old forward prospect Eric Tangradi.

 The Penguins have been looking for a star wing to put on a line with Sidney Crosby for quite some time now, and now that they have Kunitz… they’ll find themselves still looking for a star wing to put on a line with Sidney Crosby.

The bottom line is that this trade makes little sense from the point of view of the Penguins.  They trade arguably one of the best young defenders in the game with a very reasonable cap hit of $4 million for 4 more years, for an overpriced, underachieving winger who makes approximately the same amount of money as Whitney over the course of the next 3 years.

Furthermore, consider that Penguins star defender, Sergei Gonchar only has one more year left on his current contract…  Which defenders will the Penguins lean on for offensive production if Gonchar decides to leave in a year now that they’ve traded Whitney?  Kristopher LetangAlex Goligoski?  While very promising, both are still young and cannot be relied upon consistantly without some veteran guidance. 

The penguins are on a slippery slope following this trade.  They are (for all intents and purposes) one defender away from becoming the same debacle that is the Ottawa Senators this season.  No team can be successful without quality puck moving defensemen on their team… regardless of how good their forwards may be.

The one bit of good news is that they managed to snag a pretty decent forward prospect from the Ducks in Tangradi.  Tangradi is currently second in OHL scoring and could be a very good winger in the NHL right about the time Kunitz’s current contract is expiring in 3 years.  The Pittsburgh farm system is pretty bare, so the addition of Tangradi definitely helps them in the longer term.  Tangradi is the “silver lining” of this trade for the Penguins.  Hopefully he progresses into the NHL as successfully as his talent and size suggest he will.

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As for Anaheim… What can I say?  This is just a brilliant move by new GM Bob Murray.  He really hit his this one out of the park…  Anaheim management knew better than anyone what Chris Kunitz is and what Chris Kunitz isn’t.  Kunitz isn’t a franchise piece or a “game breaker.”  He is a serviceable wing of the same mold as 50-100 other guys in the league.  Truth be told, the Ducks probably overpaid a little bit when they resigned him, but following this trade… that is a mistake they no longer have to live with.

Their defensive core is looking like it could be very depleted as soon as this summer, with Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin both slated to become unrestricted free agents.  Niedermayer may just retire, but should Anaheim lose one or both of these guys, the addition of Whitney grants them plenty of defensive depth for years to come.

In addition to proactively addressing a possible off-season dilemma on the back end, Anaheim has also opened up more room in the depth chart for breakout young star, Bobby Ryan to slip into.  Ryan will now see increased responsibilities and ice time that he has proven to be ready for.

All around great move by the Anaheim Ducks in my opinion.  The Pittsburgh Penguins on the other hand… probably should have been patient and fielded a few more offers.