Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Little Something to Cheer Us All Up

Things have been rough today, what with Lubo getting traded and Dan Cloutier being the worst person in the entire world and all. So, to cheer us up, I present to you a delicious and completely plausible rumor from Boston.com:

Mathieu Schneider



wait for it....

Glen Murray!!!!

Because why wouldn't the Ducks want to trade their talented offensive defenseman (39 points last year) for a broken-down forward (30 points last year) with little-to-no value outside of his shot? Because, dumbshit, the Ducks would get salary relief! To the tune of $1.51 million dollars! How could you pass this up?!? I need to stop yelling!

My favorite part of the article is when he claims that obtaining Murray would help replace the hole left by Todd Bertuzzi. Because it's true, Glen Murray would do an excellent job replacing Todd Bertuzzi because he's old, slow, and overpaid.

I would literally rather trade Mathieu Schneider for air than for Glen Murray. If were Brian Burke, I'd rather shoot Mathieu Schneider into the Sun and break Jonas Hiller's fingers with a claw hammer than trade for Glen Murray. Glen Murray has negative value. He is more damaging to a team's playoff chances than this blog is to my chances of getting laid. If any team is trading for Glen Murray, there better be a pretty low draft pick coming along with him. To paraphrase Jeffrey Ross, I wouldn't trade for Glen Murray with Anaheim's dick.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Lubo

RK: Okay, Lubo, here we are. Go on, get out of the car.
Lubo: Voite for Lubo!
RK: Alright, now go.
Lubo: L-Lubo?
RK: This is your home now, Lubo, you'll be free here. There's lots of forwards to play with and you won't be tied down like you were in LA. It's for the best.
*Lubo takes step towards the car
RK: (teary-eyed) Please, Lubo, this isn't easy for me. Just go and be happy.
Lubo: Lubo!
RK: Go on, git! I never liked you anyway! You're too small and you always have a whimsical look on your face!
*Lubo whimpers and runs off
RK: (whispers) I love you.

Like most Dean Lombardi trades, this one left me extremely confused. With most Lombardi trades, though, I'll usually feel better about them an hour or so later; that didn't happen with this one. You know how a kid feels when his best friend moves away? That's how I feel right now. Rationally I'm pissed because Lubo was one of the best players on the team and emotionally I'm pissed because he was the sweetest guy ever.* Lombardi always talks about raising kids to be Kings, and then he turns around and trades the one veteran brought up through the Kings' system? Not to mention that he traded him to Siberia 48 hours before his no-trade clause kicked in. That's harsh.

*Plus, I was going to write a fake interview with Lubo this summer wherein he would claim he runs the Kings and stabbed Sean Avery in the spleen. It needed work but it would have been good stuff. Now you're going to get some half-assed routine about Drew Doughty being fat. Thanks a lot, Dean.

I loved all the little things about Lubo: the way he snuck in the back door to rocket a one-timer on the power play, the surprised look on his face when his teammates congratulated him after a goal, everything. There's an awesome scene in Luc Robitaille's FSN show (the one that features his last game) where Luc's on the team plane and comes upon Pavol Demitra and Lubo playing cards with Craig Conroy and Jeremy Roenick. They talk for a bit and then Lubo says something to Pavol in Slovakian and they both burst out laughing. Nobody knows what they're laughing about though, so Robitaille looks uncomfortable and then just kind of moves on. It cracked me up.

Oh man, he's sticking his little tongue out!

The Kings got two fairly good players back in the deal: Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. Stoll is a typical Lombardi pick-up, a character guy with a lot of skill that has been sidetracked by injuries (in his case, a concussion). He's got a good shot and can play both power play and penalty kill. He will center either the 2nd or 3rd line, depending on how they decide to use Handzus. Best case scenario: Stoll gets his game back and pots thirty goals while playing with Frolov. Worst case scenario, or what will happen because it's the Kings: he continues to suck and he and Handzus team up to form the worst 2nd center combo in NHL history. Also, Stoll is dating Rachel Hunter, so I guess my dad will have someone to look at during the game. At the very least this means Tom Preissing will have a shot with Tawny Kitean.

Also picked up was Matt Greene, who is a monster. Greene is a big defenseman and offers absolutely no offense. Basically, think Aaron Miller. He takes too many penalties and his lack of offensive skill kills a lot of his worth, but he's what the Kings needed. I don't know who he'll play with because the Kings aren't done with their defense, but he should anchor our penalty kill for a few years to come.

I would still rather have Lubo over those two players, although they do fill a big need for our team. The only way I'll be happy with this is if the Kings turn around and trade for Jay Buowmeester. It's unlikely, but the Kings have been trading for a lot of guys in that 23-25 range and they did draft a number of 20 year-olds this last draft that would replace any prospects we trade. If their plan is to sign Brad Stuart again, I'll flip. A defense consisting of Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Rob Blake, Brad Stuart, Tom Preissing and Drew Doughty does not fill me with excitement. And it could never replace Lubo.

Poor Lu- whoa, holy shit.

If I could have a quick word with Edmonton fans: look, I don't like you and you have a grudging respect for me, but go easy on Lubo. Don't put a lot of pressure on him just because you're paying him $7 million dollars next year. I know you'll get frustrated because he's small and he'll never work the puck out of the corner, but he means well. He tries hard and he's very sneaky and he and Souray will give you a fantastic power play. Treat him well and make sure he gets plenty of vitamins because if you don't watch him he'll just eat candy and get a tummy ache. Oh, and here's his ear medicine; make sure you give it to him before he goes to bed.

Well, I guess that's it then. I guess I'll leave you with this:

Godspeed you lovable imp.


Kings trade Lubomir Visnovsky for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene.

I'll have more tomorrow, but right now I'll just say: fuck.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is the writing on the wall for Schneider-man?

I'll refrain from tossing any Stan Lee Cup jokes here.

Well, likely in the next week or so we should get a better handle on what's in store for next year's Anaheim squad, but if my salary cap math is right, the prospect of the Ducks keeping Schneider-man this year looks shaky at best.

Still, I think it's worth writing a post to point out that aside from timing, the Schneider and Bertuzzi situations are completely different. Mathieu Schneider had a great year on Anaheim's blueline last year, whereas Bertuzzi's year was a flop, and here's some Behind the Net stats to help show Schneider-man's side of the story.
  • Even-Strength: BTN has Schneider posted as Anaheim's 2nd-best even-strength performer, though he did have fairly easy competition (3rd-easiest) and teammates (6th-easiest) in the process. His 1.27 GAON/60 was the 2nd-best defensive rate on the team. Basically, Schneider was killing easy opposition at even-strength -- after Scott returned from retirement Schneider had a stretch of nearly three months without any minus-rating games.

  • Power Play: BTN is harsher here; Schneider is 9th-best on the team for PP ratings, though there's a lot of good scoring rates for the players in front of him. Things were a bit awkward for Schneider adapting to the Anaheim power play, which for years had been accustomed to a non-shooting point man in Scott Niedermayer, who for all his talent is still a pretty weak shooting option. While Schneider brought a much better shot to the unit, the PP didn't click as envisioned without the sniping of Selanne and the roaming of Niedermayer. Still, Schneider's numbers were fine, and he certainly brings talent and experience that could boost a lot of PP units around the league.

  • Penalty Kill: Schneider didn't play a huge role in the Ducks' PK, but he did rank 4th-best on the team in his limited minutes. He was helped by usually facing other teams' 2nd units, but he didn't buckle when called upon.
So in summary, I think the main message I want to emphasize is that unlike Big Bert, Schneider-man did earn his money last year. He dazzled well enough in the easy minutes he was given, but even so it seems like the "best blueline evah" experiment may come to an end. Even with the cap escalating, Schneidermayer doesn't seem like an affordable option to keep as the team's third-highest-paid defenseman, especially considering the timing of the Getzlaf and Perry raises.

Even though I tend to speak fatally as to Schneider's Duck future, I should stress that I'm playing GM from an internet's distance -- who knows what silliness Brian Burke has in store? Perhaps he's pursuing a different angle to hit the budget another way -- a solution that I don't have enough imagination for. As the numbers show, keeping Schneider is a fine option if it's affordable, so I'll let Burkie do his business and see what emerges. Now at least we have a salary framework to think about; let's see some Burke magic.

Go Ducks.

Hitting the Floor

The salary cap floor for next season is $40.7 million dollars. The Kings, as of right now, have a total of about $29 million in salaries so far. I'm not the mathematical genius/geek that Earl is, but I think the Kings are going to be okay. They need to sign Patrick O'Sullivan to a deal, which hopefully will be not nearly as retarded as that Jeff Carter contract. They also need to sign Erik Ersberg, Brad Richardson, Matt Moulson, and Gabe Gauthier. O'Sullivan should get around $2-3 million over a couple of years, while the rest should get a million each. Say that's around $7 million, which puts the Kings at $36 million. If they then sign Mike Commodore (please?) and Rob Blake, the Kings should be sitting right at the floor. Some Kings fans will bitch and moan about the fact that the Kings aren't spending up to the cap, but when you consider the fact that Jack Johnson, Anze Kopitar, Ted Purcell and Brian Boyle are all going to be restricted free agents next year, it seems like a good idea to leave some space.

The Kings' situation puts them in a rather enviable position in the coming season. Take Philadelphia, for example. They're right up against the the cap and have yet to sign 5 restricted free agents. If the Kings wanted, they could offer just enough to keep Philly from matching but not enough to lose a 1st-round pick. Or, if they were so inclined, they could take on salary from another team that's near the cap in exchange for draft picks. The salary would have to be for only one year, obviously, but it could be done. Should be fun to watch.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Help me understand the Ducks' cap situation

(click image to enlarge)

OK, here's the things to know about this chart:
1. I've taken all salary numbers from NHLSCAP.com, except Sutherby's salary comes from the OC Register blog. I have completely made up Perry's salary (I gave him Getzlaf's contract) and Selanne's non-retirement plus salary (I gave him $2M). Those assumptions are shaded in yellow, and certainly worth discussing. I've mostly made them up as placeholders, not as thought-out expectations.

2. I have been very careful to separate actual dollar spending from salary cap calculation, because when Burke talks about spending $50 million, he's talking about money, not averaged salary. In cases where spending is less than cap value, I've colored the dollars-spent in blue font. When spending exceeds cap value, they are colored in red. Contracts over time are generally level or ascending, and blue values usually indicate the start of a new contract.

3. I don't really know the rules about Bertuzzi's waiver status, but I've entered it in as best I know. In fact, the reason I'm posting this is so the BoC readership can correct where I've fucked shit up. I'm too lazy to even find out if buy-outs (like Michael Leighton) are possible in this waiver situation, but that's where informed readership pays off, right? Cleared up thanks to Mike!

4. My totals reflect all the players in boxes (includes Parros and one version of Bertuzzi, but not Salcido). To the right, I also show calculations for Salcido instead of Schneider, and then on top of that to replace Marchant with an anonymous $1-M replacement player. This second step isn't necessarily my recommendation, but Marchant is probably the next option who is getting paid more this year than his salary cap figure. Ironically, his salary is more reasonable this year than any previous year of his contract, considering the context of a fast-increasing salary cap.

5. As I indicate at the bottom of the chart, I've included $1.1M in bonuses for Bobby Ryan, but I have no idea how he does or doesn't earn them. That's one question I'd love to ask Brian Burke; it's probably better if the Anaheim fanbase knew of any constraints around Ryan's playing time.

So anyone who's inclined and knows their cap-math, please take a look at this chart and let me know if I got anything wrong; if you're compelling enough in the comments, I will alter the numbers and this post. I'm hoping to get this cap situation squared up for a follow-up "suggestions" post, but I'd like to get my facts straight first.

For now, I'll say this: keeping Schneider likely presents a salary cap issue, otherwise it's not important. Also, it's probably imperative that Corey Perry get an ascending, Getzlaf-like contract. If the target is to spend $50M this season, then his actual dollar salary needs to be lower than the averaged-amount it will take to sign him.

Anyways, fire away. Let's figure out this goddamn cap math.

Anaheim Ducks Waive Convicted Criminal

"Big Bert" as he is know, mostly to add the cute cuddly image to the reformed Vancouver Canucks goon, has been dropped by the Anaheim Ducks. By waiving the underachieving forward the Ducks hope to buyout his contract and use his $4 million on re-signing valuable forwards such as Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry.

The Ducks will probably look to add grit in Bertuzzi's place if he is replaced by free agency, luckily Sean Avery is too expensive, thank god we don't need more goons on our team.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The salary cap: $56.7 million

In other words, the cap increased by Brian Campbell's expected annual salary.

More on free agents over the weekend...(In fact, I might make this a running thread)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kings Free-Agent Wish List: Mike Commodore

The Kings are probably going to be pretty quiet this off-season. They have claimed that they're going to make a commitment to youth (thank God), so it's likely that the forward spots are going to be taken up by guys from Manchester. Goaltender is also pretty well sewn up, what with Labarbera healthy (for now) and Ersberg soon to be locked up. Bernier, Zatkoff, and Quick are all there as well, ready to step up and give the Kings an actual third option in case one of the top two guys get hurt. These two areas are pretty set, for better or worse.

Defense, on the other hand, needs a little work. The Kings have Lubomir Visnovsky, Jack Johnson, Tom Preissing and Peter Harrold under contract for the upcoming season. That's 4 spots, spread out like this:

( )-Johnson
Visnovsky- ( )

It's common knowledge that the Kings are going to sign Rob Blake this season, hopefully for about $2.5 million dollars. Here's what I don't know: where the hell is he going to play? The Kings put him with Jack Johnson at the end of the year but they probably won't want to do that again because they want Johnson playing on the right side. He could play with Lubo, but that leaves a pretty big hole on that left-hand side next to Jack. What the Kings need is a defensively responsible left-side defenseman, who can play with Johnson in a shutdown role and also play on the penalty kill. There's only one guy I know who fits that description: Mike Commodore.

Mike is 28 year old and played most of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes before getting traded last year to the Ottawa Senators. He didn't play that well with the Senators, though, so he's going to be available on the free agent market. Commodore is big (6'4"), not afraid to get dirty, and is unique. A team like LA could use a giant red-haired defenseman. He gets caught out of position sometimes (like every defenseman not named Lidstrom) and he doesn't provide any offense, but the Kings don't really need him to. Signing Mike Commodore would make the Kings defense a lot better because he would fit perfectly.

These are the main obstacles to signing Mike Commodore:

He would require a longer deal. The Kings already have Lubo and Tom Preissing signed to multi-year deals and might be handcuffed in the future when guys like Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert start moving up. The solution to that? Well, I don't really have one, other than to say, "Who cares?" If we have a young defenseman ready to move up, well then we just trade Tom Preissing. He's a Puck-Moving Defenseman® and has a good contract, it'd be easy to let him go.

He might cost too much money. The Kings need to be very careful about how they spend their money in the coming years; if guys like Jeff Carter can make $5 million dollars a year, how much can Patrick O'Sullivan get? Dean Lombardi may choose to not sign anyone because it puts the future of the team at risk, and I guess that might be the right thing to do. I don't know how much Commodore would cost, but I'd say about $3 million a year could do it. That's about double what he made this year and before you scream that it's too much, bear in mind that Brad Stuart got $3.5 last year.

Pictured: Commodore, Stanley Cup, a dinosaur

He probably wouldn't want to play here. And there's the rub. Los Angeles has never really held much cache for free agents (or at least the right kinds) and Commodore may spurn the Kings in favor of a team that, you know, might actually make the playoffs. However, the Kings are a team on the way up (because they can't really go down) and maybe that can lure Commodore. Plus, Commodore is a showman and Los Angeles is quite the stage. Being a fan favorite in Los Angeles is better than anywhere else; hell, watch how much money Ronny Turiaf is going to make this off-season. I hope Commodore looks deeper than last year's standings when making his decision.

So, there you have it. The Kings should sign one free agent this off-season (well, two if you include Blake) and that free agent should be Mike Commodore. He fits the Kings' needs perfectly and he gives the team some personality. He's young enough to be a part of the team when they make the playoffs and he'll provide some size and edge to a defense that sorely needs it. Hopefully he'll want to sign here and we can welcome "The Ballroom" to Los Angeles.

(If you're wondering why I didn't mention Drew Doughty, who will probably make the team next year, it's because I doubt the Kings will put him into a major role next season. He's 18 and I think having him play with Rob Blake would be a little too much. I see him rotating with Peter Harrold and Tom Preissing on that third line. Despite what some people have said, Teubert won't make the team and will play in Juniors for another season. Hickey probably will too, which sucks for him.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't miss this wildly probable train wreck.

After reading all about the loose cannon, Mark Cuban/Dan Snyder-like possibilities for Len Barrie and the other new Tampa Bay owners, this thing is starting to smell like Washington Redskins.

  • Obviously, there’s the celebrity coach.

It’s hard to judge Barry Melrose with anything but suspicion. He made it as far as the NHL Finals as a coach, but he did have old 9-9 to thank for that. Eventually, he drifted off into ESPN anchorland, without a suitor for more than a decade.
Even if he was a good coach, what are the chances he’ll catch up immediately? Sure, he’s around the game, but now he has to command respect from Michael Jordan, of Hockey.

Here’s the “great” situation Barry is headed into:

  • They already have the eccentric celebrity – new money owner, one of the first of its kind in the NHL. The Lightning feature neo Cuban.

  • Vincent Lecavalier isn’t the Michael Jordan of hockey, but he could be the Lebron James. He’s a young phenom drafted to a semi-embarrassing team (Cavaliers/Lightning) who will always be rumored to leave for their league’s Mecca (New York/Toronto).

  • Second painful Lecavalier fact: lifetime contracts are doomed. Just look at the always-credible WWF. Bret Hart signs a lifetime contract.A year later he’s screwed out of his championship in front of his country which somehow convinces him to break televisions and give a multi-millionaire a black eye.

Every lifetime contract is a disaster. Right, Hitman?

This could very well happen again, only this time it would be real. But the Lightning will probably ruin the fun by locking him up to some outlandish (but only 5-year) contract. Fun killers.

  • Steve Stamkos might be joining a dysfunctional hockey family. Sure, he’s going to be rich in four years. And he’s in Florida, which isn’t a bad place for a 19-year-old to be.

So I guess I can’t feel sorry for him. Still, I wouldn’t blame the kid for pulling a Lindros/Eli Manning.

  • Rick Tocchet. Seriously? If he can get another job, then Marc Crawford shouldn’t sweat it too much.

For these reasons, the Lightning will be one of the teams I’ll be following closely when I get NHL Center Ice.

Honest or Polite?

There was a brief blurb in the Canadian Press from Larry Kelly, agent for Brian Campbell:

Campbell, a talented puck-mover and swift skater, will likely fetch the most on the open market if he doesn't re-sign with the San Jose Sharks before July 1. There are family reasons that may dictate Campbell moving back East but nothing is written in stone at this point.

"It's a very difficult decision because he's been treated so well in San Jose," his agent Larry Kelly said Tuesday.

"We stay in contact and we continue to communicate," Sharks GM Doug Wilson said Tuesday.

Some Sharks fans have already figured Campbell is a goner, but I'm going to take this one at face value. Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, and a few others have publicly stated their intention to go UFA. If Campbell were to do so, I'm pretty sure Doug Wilson would put out a public statement about it if Campbell's agent didn't do so himself.

If it's family reasons, well, you can't really argue that. If he's just being polite with Sharks fans but has a hidden agenda, well, he wouldn't be the first player to do that (see: Ed Belfour). Somehow, Soupy seems to be of a little better moral fiber than Mr. One Billion Dollars, so I'm guessing he's probably legitimately weighing the Sharks' Cup chances and quality front office versus wanting to stay on the east coast.

Anaheim Ducks Owner Samueli Suspended by NHL, Club Governor Announced

For background information on this story, by this writer click here.

After it was announced by the NHL that Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli had been suspended for recent legal issues, today the organization announced Chief Executive Officer Michael Schulman has been named Club Governor. Henry Samueli’s wife, Susan, a co-owner of the Ducks said she would abide by the terms of her husbands suspension from the NHL.

“I respect the decision made by Commissioner Bettman and will abide by the terms of the suspension,” said Henry Samueli. “I’m confident the team will be in great hands in my absence.”

“In support of my husband and to avoid any improper appearance, I’ve notified the league of my intention to abide by the terms of Henry’s suspension,” said Susan Samueli.

The regular operations of the franchise will not be changed, as both Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke and Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Tim Ryan both will be reporting to Schulman.

Henry and Susan Samueli purchased the organization in June, 2005. They immediately revamped the team with a new image replacing the old Disney ties with a new more Orange County feel. The new ownership and team changes were the beginning to a fantastic 2007 season which saw the Ducks become the first California-based hockey club to win the Stanley Cup. With the Samueli’s ownership, the club has also created several new charitable initiatives benefiting Orange County, including educational programs, fundraisers and monetary donations.

“Although we will not be involved in decision-making, we will be cheering on our Ducks as loudly as ever.” said Susan Samueli.

Article Source: Ducks, Anaheim. "Ducks Name Schulman Club Governor." Anaheim Ducks online 24 Jun 2008 24 Jun 2008.

Image Source

I Don't Know What These Mean

Ducks owner Henry Samueli pled guilty to doing rich white guy things and will have to pay a $12.2 million dollar fine. No prison, of course, because he's a rich white guy and this is Southern California. Anyway, does this mean the Ducks are going to move to Hamilton and Earl is going to have to become my butler? Probably!

In other news, Luc Robitaille is apparently not "lucky" in his friends, as he has been connected to William "Boots" Del Baggio III (there are 3 "Boots'" running around?) in some sort of loan investment thing. Who am I, Donald Trump, leave me alone. I guess you could say he was "knocking boots" with Boots. Luc'll be fine, it just kinda makes him look bad. The article also implies that AEG loaned Boots money in exchange for a possible move of the Predators to Kansas City some day. Does this mean the Predators are going to move to Nashville and Earl is going to have to become my butler? Probably!

Edit: And now Samueli has been suspended indefinitely by the league. Wow?

Trade Possibilities to Keep the Anaheim Ducks Under the Salary Cap

It is already official that the Ducks will have to trade someone this offseason if veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer and forward Teemu Selanne decide to come back to the team after contemplating retirement.

Although the jury is still out, the rumored players to be on the chopping block are:

Todd Bertuzzi – a power forward that did not live up to expectations after his first year in Anaheim. He is currently expected to make $4 million this up-coming season which at 32 and production down makes him an easy trade for Anaheim to a team looking for help. He could draw interest from teams such as Florida, Columbus and who knows where else.

Ken’s take: I was really disappointed with Bertuzzi, he had a hard adjustment to Orange County, but I don’t think he will be Burke’s first option to trade. I look for him to remain in Anaheim.

Todd Marchant – a grinding forward making $2.66 million in 08/09. He was a huge help to the Ducks in winning the Stanley Cup, but is not a huge producer, even for a 33 year old. Not as notable a trade target as Bertuzzi but still would be good for a team.

Ken’s take: Marchant is the third most likely in this list to be traded. He is a good player and doesn’t make much of a dip into the cap. His age is a slight issue, but nothing too serious

Mathieu Schneider – a great offensive defenseman, and was brought in last season to replace Scott Niedermayer during his retirement phase, instead when Niedermayer returned Schneider added great depth on the blue line. His offensive talent saw him light the lamp often in one of final regular season game against the Kings. At 38, Schneider is the oldest player on the Ducks team, and will be collecting $5.75 million in 08/09. Schneider seems likely to be the player the Ducks most want to get rid of. The $5.75million would be nice to have back in the bank.

Ken’s take: If Schneider is the one subtracted from the team, the Ducks could trade for a defenseman worth half as much, and spend the remaining money on Teemu Selanne, and signing another forward or defenseman. The Ducks know they need to improve some small issues over last season such as goal scoring, and with that $5.75 million back, it seems best. Schneider’s age has me wondering why he isn’t one contemplating retirement, as he is older than Niedermayer (33) and Selanne (37).

All three of these players would be good choices, and Brian Burke will certainly get the best deal possible for his team. Before any decisions are made though the Ducks need to know the return status of Teemu and Scott, which is the only way the trade will truly matter.

For example: If both leave the team, then Burke only needs to worry about obtaining enough money for Corey Perry and getting that money should be fairly easily done with a small trade.

Source: Salary figures came from nhlnumber.com

Leaguewide scoring trends raise a few questions

Well, last August and last January I put together a graph showing post-lockout scoring trends, and seeing as we’ve got another full season under our belts I figured it was due for an update. This graph separates each regular season into 27 weeks, each representing something like 45 games played. For each week, I’ve captured the average number of goals, power play goals, and power play opportunities (multiplied by a 1/6 conversion factor, which approximates PP efficiency).

(click image to enlarge)

Really, there’s nothing new to report: goal-scoring continues to decline on a fairly linear path as power play goals decline, following the steady decline in power play opportunities (I'm not going to explain the decline in whistles in this post -- call it "player adjustment" or "relaxed refereeing" -- it doesn't matter to me).

For reference, in 2003-04, the year before the lockout, the NHL averaged 5.14 goals per game, 1.40 power play goals per game, and 8.48 power play opportunities per game. In March and April 2008 (the most recent 253 regular season games), the NHL averaged 5.27 goals per game, 1.44 power play goals per game, and 8.46 power play opportunities per game.

So with that in mind, here's a couple of questions I've been mulling:

1. Why hasn't even-strength scoring noticeably increased as power play opportunities have noticeably decreased over the three-year stretch?

If you look at the graph, the distance between the blue and red lines stays remarkably consistent over the 3-year period. One thing that hasn't been changing a great deal has been non-PP goals scored per game. Still, context matters here. From one end of the timeline to the other represents a difference of about six power play opportunities per game. That's some nine minutes (or so?) of extra even-strength time per game, with hardly any extra even-strength scoring to show for it.

Two explanations to point to for the declining rate: a) Coaching mechanics. Obviously with the new rules, there was an adjustment in 5-on-5 defense, and though it took some trial and error, generally teams know how to play a consistent even-strength game these days. For the most part, it involves keeping plenty of people back. b) Coaching focus. This is probably slight, but with more games being decided on the power play, the importance of 5-on-5 production lessened. Goal prevention was certainly still important, but a system that produced goals wasn't so critical.

2. How far can this trend continue? Could the "New NHL" with its hyped-up offense-friendly rules end up lower-scoring than before the lockout?

This question is interesting to me on a lot of levels. I had been considering the '03-'04 season as the lowpoint benchmark in scoring rates, and was curious how improved the "new rules" scoring would be once coaches and players had adjusted. It hadn't really occurred to me until today that the lowpoint may still lie ahead.

But why not, really? I mean, I don't really expect referee whistles to slow down any more, but can coaches tighten up even more 5-on-5? They've been improving on that for three years now, who's to say it comes to a stop now?

3. Is the NHL product more (watchable / exciting / dramatic) than it was two years ago? Five years ago?

Here's really where my questions have been leading, and I think it's an important question to answer honestly. Stats and numbers are nice for setting a framework, but really they can't capture why we watch hockey. And they really have no business telling us how "exciting" hockey is or isn't -- that judgment is up to our eyeballs and heart.

I'm not entirely sure where I stand on answering this question, but I think it provides a good lesson in the tradeoff aspect of new rules. Create a rule that is designed to make defending more difficult and there may be a short-term boost in scoring, but unless goal-prevention is made less important coaches will find a way to adjust. In this case, I think the new rules have taken a gamble aspect away from hockey -- in defending against a possible two-line pass and concentrating on defensive body position, teams have held back probably more safely than I'd prefer. Take caution, NHL, in widening the nets as the next scoring solution -- we may see teams pull further back to try to block even more shots, and the result might not be that exciting at all.

Anyway, I don't have a ton of hard answers or solutions, but I did want to show the updated graph and slap a bunch of scrambled thoughts together. Reaction is welcome in the comments, even if it's advice to stop worrying about scoring rates in the summer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Raitis Ivanans is Big

Ivanans is listed at 6'3", 263 lbs. on LAKings.com.

Do you know how big Titan, the big gay guy from American Gladiators, is listed at? (No, not the big gay black guy, that's Justice, Titan's the white guy. No, that's Wolf, Titan's the blonde one. Yeah, him.) Anyway, do you know how big he's listed at? 6'3", 263 lbs.

This is your daily reminder that yes, Raitis Ivanans is big.

Hey, Guess Who Sucks?

The Kings have set about to buy out Dan Cloutier, because this wasn't the right situation for him... no wait, it was because he sucked and then tried to blacken the franchise's reputation. Anyway, the Kings put him on waivers and tried to buy him out, but Cloutier is now claiming he is still injured and can thus has to remain with the team. I'm not quite sure why he's making this an issue; if he doesn't get bought out, the Kings will likely put him on long-term IR and he'll get $3 million but he won't get to sign with anyone else. If he's bought out he gets $2 million over 2 years, meaning he'd get more money in the long run. I don't know, I'm confused, but basically Dan Cloutier is a plague.

Being Awesome is Difficult Work

It's not easy being George Parros. You have to fight people, for one thing, and that's never easy. There's the moustache upkeep and the long hair that you have to cut every year for charity, plus all the tax services he undoubtedly does for his teammates. Finally, he has to constantly work so that his act doesn't get stale. So what do you do to keep your name (and legend) from fading into obscurity? Well, you do stuff like go to a Newport Beach tattoo parlor in a tiny girl's shirt.

It's the little things that make George Parros so great.

Also, what does you think Perry got tattooed on his side? I'm thinking one of three things:

1) Wild Wing
2) Ryan Getzlaf's face
3) Half-completed dick (had to stop because it hurt too much)

Puck Daddy has more.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kings Draft Pick Review

Drew Doughty, D- My favorite part of Doughty's game is the fact that he doesn't just control the puck well; he controls the flow of the game. The best part about the Detroit Red Wings is their ability to dictate the way the game goes, to slow it down or speed it up at their will. I haven't seen Doughty nearly enough to make any kind of judgment on his ability but what I hear gives me a very tight feeling in my shorts.

Colton Teubert, D- The guy writes the word "Punish" on his grip. Yep.

Vjateslav Voinov, D- Fuck yes, I love Russians. Voinov is a little on the small side (he's listed at 6'0" but is more likely 5'10" or so), but he's a mean mother fucker and is known as one of the best agitators in the draft. Yeah, he's Russian, but he's expected to come over and play next year in either Juniors or the AHL. Hopefully he can make it up to the big club and give Alexander Frolov someone to talk to. The only downside:

As my brother pointed out, he looks like Roseanne's sister. Kinda like Jordin Tootoo too... wait, fuck, there has to a better way to write that.

Brad Richardson, C/RW- Yeah, I know, he's 23 and we got him in a trade, but I figure he counts. Richardson is a smaller winger with poor speed and a great shot... wait, hold on, he reminds me someone. Anyway, Richardson can play on the penalty kill and will probably find a spot alongside Michal Handzus, who desperately needs someone with a shot on his line. I see a Moulson-Handzus-Richardson line working quite well in the future.

Andrew Campbell, D- Campbell is 20 years old and its already pretty filled out (205 lbs.). Lombardi traded up to get this guy, so it seems there's something in him that he likes. Should be a guy to watch.

Richard Czarnik, C/RW- American kid, pretty big but needs to add about 30 pounds. Should be a good player to forget about for a few years and then check on. Plus, his last name sounds like Rodney Dangerfield's in Caddyshack and that's... well, it's something. You try to write something about every player, it's hard.

Geordie Wudrck, LW- Geordie?

Andrei Loktionov, C- Woohoo, another Russian! I think Lombardi was thinking that Russians would be undervalued this draft because of the uncertainty surrounding the transfer agreement, so he went ahead and took them. One thing that's funny? Every Russian prospect is just kind of assumed to be an asshole. I would seriously consider a lawsuit if I were a Russian player. "Oh, here's Igor Olskinsov, he's a good player but he will probably just stay in Russia and drink Vodka. They used to be commies, you know."

Justin Azevedo, C- There's 2 things you need to know about Justin Azevedo: he was the OHL Player of the Year, and he's 5'7". I always feel bad for guys that are great in Juniors or in college but never really get a shot to prove it in the pros, so hopefully Azevedo can make it. He'll probably move to the wing and play in either the ECHL or the AHL next year.

Garret Roe, LW- Another 20 year-old (that's 3 on the day). He got straight A's in school. You know, just in case you were curious.

So that does it. There was a lot of trading for picks in next year's draft that I'm not going to get into because it's boring and nobody cares. Drew Doughty will probably play in the NHL next season, while the rest of the guys will go back to Juniors or college or whatever the fuck. Next up: free agency. Oh, and we need a coach, I guess. I forget, are those important?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why the Kings are less popular than the rival Ducks

Besides the obvious winning aspect the Ducks have over the cross town Los Angles Kings, i feel that its more of advertising. The Kings have great young talent and once they solve a few minor issues in the line-up the team could be very dangerous in the Pacific division. So why are the celebrities going to Ducks games? It's not just the Ducks winning, its not that Orange County is more hockey friendly, if anything its not. The issue is poor Kings marketing, which even for a Ducks fan like me makes me sad.

Heres my evidence of poor Kings advertising:

Its a great thought, but i feel like the Kings organization hired the guys from South Park to do this. If the Kings chose to make a more flashy appeal to fans, maybe they would be able to build a great fan base for all the young talent they have.

I would even go as far as using the previous Kings video posted on here by another writer as a female advertisement to gain Kings fans. Call it Kings All access!

*Disclaimer*- This is purely a joke, and in no way do I mean any disrespect to Kings fans. I am in no way a Kings fan but would like to see them do well and I am excited for the future of Kings hockey with all the young talent. Anyway, enjoy the video. Its a little more G rated than some I've seen on here.

Oh Hey, Look What Came Out

"A whole new vocabulary seems to be required. To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious. The word unfunny surely applies to Mr. Myers’s obnoxious attempts to find mirth in physical and cultural differences but does not quite capture the strenuous unpleasantness of his performance. No, The Love Guru is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again."


I was going to go see this and write a review saying how it sucks, but I think the New York Times did my work for me.

Anaheim Ducks See Busy Day One Turn Into Exciting Day Two At NHL Draft

The Ducks saw just as much exciting action take place on day two as day one. The Ducks added six selections in the second and third rounds. With the 35th overall pick the Ducks took Nicolas Deschamps of Chicoutimi of the QMJHL.

Deschamps, a 6-0, 173-pound center had 24 goals and 43 assists in 70 games last year. His 67 points led all league rookies in scoring and he was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team. He was ranked as the No. 21 North American Skater by the Central Scouting Service.

“I’m very happy to be going to the Ducks,” said Deschamps (pronounced Day-SHAW). “It’s a good organization with good fans. They’re always good and they always compete every year. It’s going to be great to go to camp with those guys.”

Just four picks later, at 39th overall, the Ducks drafted center Eric O’Dell from Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League. The 5-11, 174-pound O’Dell had 14 goals and 18 assists in 28 games for Sudbury last year.

“This is a huge day,” O’Dell said. “This is my hometown, so I have a lot of people cheering for me. It’s great. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

With the 43rd overall pick, the Ducks took another future UW Badger, when they drafted Justin Schultz from Westside of the British Columbia Hockey League. The 6-0, 163-pound center had nine goals and 31 assists in 57 games the past year.

At 71st overall with the tenth pick in the third round the Ducks drafted left winger Josh Brittain. At 6-4, 210-pounds Brittain played for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League and was fourth in team scoring in 2007-08 with 51 points (28-23-51) in 68 games.

With their two more picks in the third round the Ducks at 83rd overall took goalie Marco Cousineau of Baie-Comeau in the QMJHL. Cousineau had a 2.18 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 58 games last season. At 85th, the Ducks drafted Brandon McMillan of Kelowna of the WHL. McMillan had 15 goals and 26 assists in 71 games.

With the team’s only selection in the fourth round, the Ducks drafted defenseman Ryan Hegarty of the U.S. Development Program. Hegarty had seven goals and 12 assists in 47 games for the USA U-18 team.

The Ducks closed the day taking defenseman Stefan Warg in the fifth round. The 6-2, 187-pounder from Stockholm, Sweden played for Vasteras of the Swedish Junior League last season.

As a writer, and a sports fan, this draft went very well for the Ducks. they filled some future gaps in the team, added a ton of talent and look strong heading into the future. With the way the draft went for Los Angeles and Anaheim, Southern California will definitely be a hockey hot bed soon.

Sources and Image: Staff, Anahaim Ducks. "Ducks Add Eight in Day 2 of the Draft." Anaheim Ducks online 21 Jun 2008 21 Jun 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Anaheim Ducks Draft Jake Gardiner After Busy First Day at The Draft

To begin the draft for Anaheim, they made a trade for the 17th and 28th overall picks with Los Angeles after the Kings made a trade with Calgary sending Mike Cammalleri to Calgary for two picks for the Kings.

At 17th overall, the Ducks drafted Jake Gardiner, a defenseman from Minnesota. He played forward for three of his high school seasons and switched to defense during his senior year. Due to the position change Gardiner is a very offensively strong blue liner.

He finished fifth in goals (20) and assists (28) in the Classic Lake Division, leading all other Minnetonka players. His 48 points placed him third overall among Minnesota high school defensemen in scoring. Next season Gardiner will be playing for the University of Wisconsin.

Audio Interview with Jake Gardiner: http://ducks.nhl.com/ext//R09_0054.MP3

Personally, i never paid any attention to this kid, but he seems to be a good fit for the Ducks. I'm not sure why the Ducks felt the need to get involved with the Kings/Flames deal but whatever. The Ducks got a defenseman which they could use, especially once this kid finishes at the University of Wisconsin. All in all, not a bad draft choice or day for the Ducks

The Ducks finish the day in a deal with Phoenix. The Ducks give up the 28th overall pick for the 35th and 38th. With this deal the Coyotes draft a Russian and the Ducks are done for the day.

Mike Camalleri Gets Traded, Rudy Kelly Does a Live Blog

Calgary gets Cammalleri, the Kings gets the 12th overall pick from Anaheim, Anaheim gets 2 selections later in the 1st round. Holy shit. Good luck in Calgary, Mike.

Who do the Kings draft? Colton Teubert, maybe. This shit is crazy.

Live-blog Edit:

Fuck it, I'm going to watch this anyway, might as well write about it.

-I forgot that the Kings interviewed the 2nd tier forward prospects, so Lombardi might be focusing on one of them.

-Len Barrie owns the Lightning now? How the fuck does this guy have any money? I remember when he was on the Kings and he almost killed my poor brother. He'll probably end up trading Vinny Lecavalier and eating Stamkos or something.

-Doughty! Great right-hand shot, incredibly smart, should line up next to Jack Johnson in the future. Woohoo!

-If Doughty goes straight to the NHL, does that mean Hickey is ticketed for Juniors again? I can't imagine the Kings breaking in Doughty, Hickey and Johnson next season.

-I don't understand why people keep bringing up Doughty being fat. The best hockey player I ever played with looked fat with his shirt off, but he was a Goddamn dynamo on skates. The muscles you use for hockey aren't the ones that show up when you're at the beach. Besides, I'd rather have a guy who is smart and needs to get in shape than a guy who's cut but still needs to develop hockey sense.

-I'm still not sure what to think of that Olli Jokinen trade. I like Jokinen even though he looks like a giant baby because he used to be a King, but I guess I'll have to start hating him. That's an awful lot of defense for Phoenix to give up though, isn't it? Oh well, I guess I'll just assume it's retarded. That's called professionalism, friends.

-Jesus, couldn't they put the 1st rounders a little closer to the stage? Poor Pierre McGuire is going to have an aneurysm coming up with facts while the players stumble down to the platform.

-Can we send some A/V guys up to Canada? I haven't watched a single NHL event that isn't stilted and awkward as hell.

-Oh hey, you know who the GM of the New York Islanders is? Garth Snow. That never fails to crack me up.

-Does it creep anyone else out how much Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire know about these kids? I would get a restraining order if I were a potential draftee. Do they have Dateline in Canada?

-Ah, the smooth baritone of John Davidson. Hey, what the hell? No one wants to hear some guy named Jarmo, put Davidson back on.

-God, Canadians make me so mad because they're so unassuming. I mean, Alex Pietrangelo said he's never owned a car! Where the hell are all the assholes? I get the feeling I could rob a bank up there just by walking in and saying, "Hey, I'm American, give me your money." It's an entire country of Ned Flanders'.

-My brother pointed out another person that looks like Nikita Filatov:

-That was sad. They showed Cliff Fletcher, the GM for Toronto until Brian Burke jumps ship in Anaheim, on the jumbotron in Ottawa and the entire crowd booed him. He looked around confused, either because he didn't know why people were booing or because he didn't know where he was. Either way, don't boo an old man, Ottawa. That's just rude.

-Someone needs to get Pierre McGuire a towel; I think he just got a little too excited over Luke Schenn.

-I guess I was a little too hard on Pierre McGuire; Schenn was named Best Defenseman of this last year's World Junior Championships... no, wait, that was Drew Doughty. Maybe it's because Luke Schenn played all by himself in a shutdown role... no wait, he played with Thomas Hickey. Well, Luke Schenn did get picked for Toronto, and that's something.

-Holy shit, RJ Umberger was worth a 1st round draft pick? How the fuck does that happen? Columbus better hope Brian Campbell signs with an Eastern Conference team.

-There we go, now there's an asshole. Nikita Filatov doesn't take any of your stupid Canadian questions, TSN. They asked him who he modeled his game after and he said Sidney Crosby. Really, Nikita? You model your game after a guy 2 years older than you? You're not Nikolai Gogol, you're supposed to make sense.

-Colin Wilson gets drafted by Nashville and Pierre McGuire takes a second to mention that although Wilson was born in the United States and wants to play for the US, he should really be considered Canadian because he learned how to play in Canada. This is awesome. I guess McGuire's technically correct, although I can't blame Wilson for wanting to be American; who wouldn't?

-I think it would be awesome if Wayne Gretzky just snapped one time and shouted, "Shut the fuck up! I know I'm fucking amazing, stop cheering for me! I always hated you people anyway!" Of course, you know he loves it because he always announces the draft picks. Give Rick Tocchett a shot, will ya?

-Aaaand we have our first mullet of the night. Who had a Dane in their pool? Congratulations, Michael Boedker; you truly are a "Great Dane." *Gun shot

-Wait... did Wayne Gretzky just call his goaltender "Evgeni Brzygalov?" What the fuck? You're the COACH OF THE TEAM, who do you fuck that up? Also, it was kind of sad that he mentioned that they traded for Jokinen to match up with other top centers in the Pacific and then mentioned Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, Mike Modano... and that's it. C'mon, man, Modano's not better than Kopitar!

-Wait, hold on, Luc Bourdon died? When the fuck did that happen? Was I in Europe? That sucks. Also, I think you can guarantee you're going to hell when you hear a prospect died and the first thing you think is, "Wow... thank God the Kings didn't trade for him." I'm sorry.

-Huh. They were talking to Cody Hodgson, a forward picked by Vancouver, and they casually dropped that he was probably the best player at the World Juniors. I think that's news to Viktor Tikhonov, the MVP of that tournament. Jesus, Canada, you won the fucking thing, let it go.

-You know what's funny? Kyle Beach was widely assumed to be ticketed for Anaheim, not because he was skilled or because he fit a need; it was purely because he was an asshole. He ended up going to Chicago, but that's quite the rep they've got going in Anaheim.

-Okay, Kings are up. Weee!

-Looks like the Kings are trading their #12 pick. Aaaand.... it's the #12 for the 13th pick and a 3rd rounder in '09. Is Dean Lombardi some sort of evil genius? Sometimes I think he's smarter than everyone else, other times I think he's John Nash.

-I'm calling Zach Boychuk right here at #13.

-I'm calling myself as an idiot. Colton Teubert goes instead. Let's see what we have now:




I'm aroused. Can I just get in a time machine and hop forward 3 years?

-No "Brian Murray lisps" joke, no "Brian Murray lisps" joke...

-Oh hey, the Ducks are up. Haha, Brian Burke started off by saying, "It's great to be back in Ottawa." I don't care what anyone says, I like the guy; he's funny and he's an asshole. Anyway, the Ducks draft some douche bag and he'll be a bust. Next!

-This is confusing: why would a guy named "Chet Pickard" be a perfect name for Nashville to draft? Chet is a name associated with New England, not the South. I don't get Canada.

-Paul Holmgren looks like a cross between Kirk Douglas and Bret Hull.

-Michael Del Zotto gets drafted by the Rangers and proceeds to take 9,000 minutes to get to the podium. "Hey, Adrian Brody+Sydney Crosby, hurry the fuck up, I got some drinkin' to do!" That was Chet the Squirrel; I kinda wish I hadn't invited him.

-Alright, Chet and Squirrely both overruled me, so I'm going to have to bow out. Just to recap: the Kings are going to win the Stanley Cup in the next 5 years. You guys think I'm an asshole now? Wait 'til the Kings are actually good.


Good: Cloutier is being bought out. I'll have a full retrospective tomorrow sometime (a career as illustrious as his needs something special), but I'll just say that I'm very happy with that.

Bad: Sean Avery wants to come back to LA. Fuck nope. Let's see, we traded him because we didn't want his influence affecting our young players, so let's bring him back when we're going to be one of the youngest teams in the league. And he wanted $4 million dollars earlier this year. I don't think that's going to happen.

Draft day, bitches! Me and my my new buddies Chet and Squirrely (Chet's a squirrel I met up in the forest; Squirrely's a heroin addict) are all ready for the draft. Who has two thumbs and loves the draft? Pierre McGuire. Oh, and me too. Go Kings.

Edit: Steve Stamkos sounds like WWE's Chyna. Maybe it's just sour grapes, but I'd rather draft a guy with descended testicles anyway.

Among the things you’ll never be able to “un-see”

Rudy’s away on his “get pissed at nature” outing, so I guess it’s up to me to pass along this rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of some of the Kings’, uh, equipment.

Isn't Battle of California above this sort of junior-high-level immaturity? Not on Fridays!

Find more videos like this on !! omg blog !!

Way to go, Dustin.

A silly thanks to Alanah at Canucks and Beyond for sending over the link. Take it away, commenters!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Like He's Trying to Kill Me

Inside the Kings passes along an AP story wherein Dean Lombardi states that he's "50/50" on whether to trade the 2nd pick. I would link to the AP story directly but they've decided that they want to go bankrupt and are now trying to charge money for quoting their stories if the quote is over 5 words long. Well, I didn't quote you, I just passed a link along. What now, bitches?* Anyway, saying you're 50/50 on something is bullshit. I'm going to get angina and I'm sending that fucking bill right to Lombardi's office because it's all his fault. You know that feeling you get when you fart and for a split-second you think with horror that a little something might have squeezed out? That's how I've felt this entire day.

Anyway, today has been full of craziness. Nobody knows what the fuck is going on (I don't think Dean even knows), so I suggest that you just spend tomorrow ignoring everything until the big show kicks off at 4 on Versus. I'm going up to the mountains to frolic for half the day and my phone probably won't work, so if something does go down I won't know about it. I'll be in the fresh air, surrounded by awe-inspiring trees that are over 2,000 years old... frantically trying to fashion a computer out of wood so I can hit the "refresh" button on TSN.ca 20 times a minute. Riddle me this, nature: if you're so great why do I not care about you at all? Fern Gully sucked, by the way.

*Please oh please don't sue me.

More Number-Crunching with Scott

I'm in a bit of a rush today, but I did want to throw down a few more numbers around Scott Niedermayer's return to the lineup last year, even though he apparently doesn't need to give Brian Burke a retirement decision until July 1st now. I also made Burke's deadline the topic of this week's PuckToon, although I certainly could have drawn Scott a bit better -- in my cartoon he is being played by Adrien Brody.

Here's a table that shows the main five non-Niedermayer defensemen, and their even-strength performance before and after Scott's December debut:

Even-Strength Plus-Minus Before & After Scott Niedermayer

(click on image to enlarge)
You'll note that in terms of even-strength play, inserting Scott at the top of the Anaheim blueline had a huge impact on the outscoring success of three players in particular -- Frenchie Beauchemin, Chris Pronger, and Sean O'Donnell.

For Pronger and O'Donnell, I think the improvement mostly stems from the sharing of tough minutes, no longer being the only shutdown option on the blueline. Really Scott's return enabled the team structure to go back to what worked so well for them in their 2007 cup run: a Norris defenseman covering most of the critical minutes, while a third pairing cleaned up on easy minutes.

It's a bit odd that Schneider and Huskins saw their outscoring productivity drop post-Niedermayer, but it wasn't a huge difference, and with Huskins in particular it could be attributed to additional even-strength minutes, freeing the superstar d-men to also manage the special teams minutes. While their numbers are very solid, it's important to remember that this system used to work with Huskins and Dipenta, who is roughly $5M cheaper than Schneidermayer.

I did want to focus a bit on Francois Beauchemin's play, however, who has spent nearly his entire career letting Scott cover his ass. You can see that Frenchie in particular struggled without Scott (and was redeemed upon Scott's return), and I think a lot of that stems from the bad habits that developed under Scott's tutelage. I've drawn a little schematic to the right to demonstrate this.

Normally, when a puck gets dumped behind two defensemen, it's likely a 50-50 split which defenseman will go retrieve the puck, depending on what side of the net the puck is directed. For Scott and Frenchie, though, they've developed something like a 80-20 split, where Beauchemin gets only the very close dump-ins and expects his fleet-footed partner to gather the rest. I remember watching a Scott-less Beauchemin very carefully in the opening 34 games, and to my eyes I could spot this happening to poor spoiled Frenchie -- he was so used to not retrieving pucks that he'd often leave his defensive partner with silly responsibilities that only a guy like Niedermayer could make look effortless.

I'm not blaming Beauchemin for anything, really -- if my back was always covered I'm sure I'd develop bad habits also, but that's another reason I really want Scott to return; he not only helps other defensive pairs manage their minutes better but also carries bad-habit Beauchemin into respectable results. Someday Frenchie is going to have to re-learn his puck responsibilities when paired with an average partner, but I don't want it to happen this year.

So that's a bit more on Scott's roster impact, at least at even strength. I'll close with a lame analogy, mainly designed to incorporate a crazy e-mail image that my dad forwarded to me. Scott's so valuable on the ice that putting him at the top of a lineup makes an ugly dude like Albert Einstein look like a beautiful blonde like Marilyn Monroe:

Step away from your screen to see some crazy-ass magic eye effect.

Insanity. Go Ducks.

It's Not Going to Happen

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy blog passes along the rumor that the Pittsburgh Penguins offered the Kings Evgeni Malkin for the #2 pick and Mike Cammalleri. There's no way that happens, right? I mean, it's from Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun, who I guess is retarded, and plus where do the Penguins benefit from that trade? If the Kings were going to trade for Malkin, I would have thought have thought they would have to add a few more picks or Oscar Moller or something. And the Kings... well, the Kings would have Frolov-Malkin and Kopitar-Brown as their top 2 lines... no, it's not going to happen.

You know why I would love this trade though? Because the Pensblog would blow the fuck up and it would be awesome. Too bad this trade isn't happening.

But still, it'd be pretty cool... no, dammit, not happening. But I mean...

And now Helene Elliot has an article with Lombardi where he says he's probably not going to trade the pick. I haven't been this confused since Mulholland Drive.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What a difference a pick makes...

Trevor Linden could have ended up being the captain of the Dallas PrettyDamnGoods...

Once people get past the fact that hockey is being played in a state dominated by fantastic steak houses, BBQ, country music and oil money (oh, don’t forget the Dallas Cowboys), they actually realize that the Stars have been a fairly successful little hockey franchise.

And if you had to point to one moment that made (or conversely, could have broken) the Stars in Dallas, just look at what the then-North Stars did with their No.1 pick in 1988. After some debate, the Stars rolled the dice with little Mikey Modano instead of the safer pick of Trevor Linden.

This great article inspired such a chilling thought. You at least need to check out the second photo of Modano, who looks like an '80s teen comedy villain (I can almost hear him screaming "Daaarsh!")

Trevor Linden isn’t chopped liver either – he’s more like barbecued chicken to Mike Modano’s Texas T-Bone (boy, that sentence makes me look gay, but damn it I’m sticking by my steak analogy!!).

It’s impossible to imagine the Stars without Mike Modano.

Would they still even be in Texas if the meat-and-potatoes Linden would have been their pick?

Who would be shagging Willa Ford right now?

Could the Vancouver Canucks have been a dynasty riding high on the unfair abilities of a Modano-Bure-Mogilny line while Mark Messier and the New York Rangers still would be left hunting for that elusive Stanley Cup??

Modano is on the short list of the best American hockey players to ever lace up skates alongside Chris Chelios, Mike Richter, Jeremy Roenick and others. And the Stars are easily one of the most successful American hockey teams outside of Canada and the Northeast. There's more to the Stars success than just that draft pick, but I'd argue that only the Penguins would have been more lost without their superstar Mario Lemieux.

I shudder to think of what I would be writing about right now if not for that draft pick. (Current events…Tim RussertPaul Pierce... ugh)


So, what are the most important draft picks the other (or perhaps I should say, real) Battle of California teams have made?

I’d love to hear some stories of the good times and the regrettable, not-so-good times.

If I had to venture a guess it would be:

Paul Kariya (Anaheim)

Patrick Marleau (San Jose)

Luc Robitaille (LA).

But I’m all ears... Maybe we can even come to a consensus on the biggest draft-day bust of all the Battle of Californ-ee.

Brian Burke Happy with Corey Perry Situation & Draft Day Deals

By Ken Armer

On NHL Live on Tuesday, Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke discussed a lot of current situations. Burke covered everything from Toronto GM rumors to the Draft and free agency. Two priorities for the Ducks fans that Burke discusses were Corey Perry, and the Draft.

Regarding the Draft:

Ducks fans look for a draft day deal or two for the Ducks, “We’re looking at all different scenarios” Burke said “We like this draft”. Burke spoke like he is hoping to move from 12th overall and feels confident he could make a great draft day deal. The only other hint Burke tossed out is he is looking at North Americans. Burke, when asked if he would take Nikita Filatov if he is available at #12 said no, that he didn’t feel Filatov would be a good fit in the Ducks system.

Regarding free agent Corey Perry:

Burke made two important things clear for Corey Perry fans, Perry wants to stay in Anaheim and the Ducks are confident in signing him but the waiting game is on. Yes, a Dustin Penner situation could happen with the Ducks having other issues to handle before signing Perry, but Burke is very confident Perry will remain in a Ducks uniform. Burke was asked about arbitration and explained that was not an option. So rest assured Perry fans, Burke is doing all he can to keep Corey Perry. Even I feel slightly better now.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

You can sometimes forget that the Kings don't have the first pick in the draft, that Tampa Bay is actually getting Steve Stamkos and the Kings are picking 2nd. Tampa's pick has been such a certainty for so long that no one really acknowledges them and instead focuses on what the Kings are going to do. And for as certain as we are about what Tampa is going to do, we are completely baffled as to what the Kings are planning. First Drew Doughty is coming to the Kings because he's the next Ray Bourque and he grew up with a Kings telephone in his room; then they're drafting Zach Bogosian because he's the next Chris Pronger and has the edge the Kings need. They're in love with Nikita Filatov, then they're interviewing forwards projected to go in the 7-15 range. Dean Lombardi has laid the ground very well, and now Rich Hammond is saying that something will go down before the draft.

I personally think that it's all a smokescreen and the Kings are going to take Drew Doughty (it just makes sense), but I'm not sure. Is this usual in the days leading up to the draft? I feel like we usually have a pretty good idea of how the first few picks are going to go, but people genuinely seem confused about the Kings. I don't know, maybe I'm too close to the situation and I'm thinking too much about it. I hate not knowing. All I do know is that I want Friday to get here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Oh Captain My Captain" Time For Change In the Ducks Locker Room

By Ken Armer,

Hey readers of BoC, yep, I'm the new Duck in town, and happy to be here. I just flew in from Texas and man are my arms tired. Ok, now i know how letterman feels...anyway. Yes, I reside in Texas, and yes, I'm a reformed Stars fan. I grew up watching the Stars. But as i grew older i stopped following them, and hockey. Once i got back into hockey, the Ducks became my team. Some may say I'm a Stars fan in Duck feathers, but ill show you your wrong by fall. Although, it may hurt my argument about proving some wrong to make my first post a complaint about the Ducks, i feel many will agree...even Earl and my California writing counterparts. So here goes nothing...

As a highly educated hockey fan, writer and former player, I think I have the right once in a while on certain issues to complain.

My past complaints have been about the trade of Andy McDonald for Doug Weight and a draft pick, and the Ducks early exit from the 2008 playoffs. Now I feel compelled to make it somewhat more personal.

Some may hate me for my opinion, but I feel hockey fans who are for improvement in the Ducks will agree with me. Anyway, on to the point at hand...

Chris Pronger is nowhere near new to being a leader in the Ducks organization, or any other for that matter. He is a fantastic blue liner and a pivotal D-man for the Ducks. His behavior of late though has risen my, along with some others, eyebrows—including the NHL’s.

The latest was a stomp on Canucks Center Ryan Kesler. I watched the video, and having played the game there is no way that was an accident. I would like to believe it was, but come on.

More than just this minor misstep, literally. Chris Pronger has been suspended seven times in his 14-year career. That’s a lot for the captain of a hockey team. Too many if you ask me.

When the Ducks won the Cup in 2007, Pronger found himself suspended twice during that playoff run. Sure, he was not the captain then, but is a guy who makes this many poor choices in two seasons worth being your influential leader and voice between the bench and the zebra (ref)?

Pronger is a leader when he is using the entirety of his brain and not flying off the handle making poor choices. In the last two seasons though, things have gotten out of hand. By this point, some readers are thinking “Well, since he’s so bad who should be captain?”

My pick would be for Rob Niedermayer, the grinding forward who, even with his age, experience, and his placement in the lineup, is a constant force in all aspects of the game.

If the Ducks need someone on the defense in a leadership role, why not give an “A” to Sean O'Donnell or Mathieu Schneider. Pronger can be a leader without a letter on his sweater and he shouldn’t have one until he can better control his behavior.

I don’t honestly expect a change to be made, but I truly think Rob deserves a chance, more than just an “A” on his sweater. He deserves the promotion and even more he fills the role like it is supposed to be filled.

Look at Patrick Marleau. He hardly ever does something stupid and he’s a positive influence for the Sharks.

Brenden Morrow for the Stars is the same deal, an emotional force that leads his team by example, both in the physical game and scoring game, winning goals to lead his team to the Conference Finals. While Pronger’s example is to stomp on guys and elbow them to gain a suspension from the NHL.

As some will have noticed, I skipped over Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne, who although are leaders, need to let someone with a longer future with the Ducks take the role.

Selanne or Scotty would be fantastic captains, but until they decide on their futures in hockey, they need to focus on other things rather than being the emotional leaders. They fill those roles without the sweater designation.

If Pronger does keep the “C,” I hope his behavior will improve so he will be a leader and not a distraction.

Emotion on the ice is a powerful thing, but Pronger is like a tea kettle—he boils over too often. If his teammates truly feel he is the captain they need then so be it, but maybe they should really think about a change for the 2008-2009 season.

Sleek's 2nd Annual Anti-Retirement Plea

Well, it's time I got down to business: Just like last summer, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne stand undecided as to whether they will retire or not. Just like last summer, Scott is under contract while Teemu is an unrestricted free agent. Unlike last summer, though, Brian Burke has given them a draft-day deadline to make their commitments.

Let's open this discussion with a statsy look at the 2007-08 Ducks season, broken down into four segments, with explanations below:


GPRecordWin%GF - GA = GDPP - PK





2.4 - 2.8 = -0.4

15.5% - 78.8%





2.3 - 2.0 = +0.3

17.2% - 87.4%





2.7 - 1.6 = +1.1

17.3% - 86.4%





2.2 - 2.5 = -0.3

20.3% - 79.5%

Segment 1 is the first 34 games of the season played without Niedermayer or Selanne. It is a bit skewed by travel, however, as it opens with a six games in five cities in twelve nights stretch where the Ducks flew 11,667 miles, which is pretty far even for an actual duck. It is also skewed because it featured 17 games of Mark Mowers in a scoring role, which was predictably awful (and frankly, contributed to the trading of Andy Mac). The Segment 1 team was fairly mediocre, with some obvious excuses. The penalty kill was atrocious, with no real excuses.

Segment 2 marks the return of Scott Niedermayer, which sparked a phenomenal turnaround for the Ducks. This segment is a bit skewed because it ends with the infamous "Six Games of Suck", when the Ducks scored only five goals in six straight losses after starting the new Niedermayer era 12-2-2. Still, for the most part the team stats were vastly improved, especially the defense and the penalty-killing.

Segment 3 marks the return of Teemu Selanne, who at least saw an end to that offensive drought. This is the stretch that I really turn to when I want to defend against naysayers who think that the moves Brian Burke made last year were shit. If you look at Segments 2 and 3, it's a top-notch team, and Scott and Teemu were probably the two best players over that stretch. Burke certainly had to jump through hoops to enable their returns, but it’s tough to argue with these results, at least.

Segment 4 begins with the first game of Chris Pronger's suspension, and includes the short postseason. This is a sort of sloppy cut, because the Ducks were able to go 7-2 to end the regular season, but Pronger's absence did I think sort of derail the team in preparing for its cup defense. This segment also signifies the injury to Corey Perry, which was also a huge factor and occurred just a few games before. I probably shouldn't have included the playoff games, but they did feature both Niedermayer and Selanne.

I apologize if I've over-explained these segments, but it was a complicated year. Last season's Ducks had lots of lineup variations and strange storylines, which is a far cry from the cup-winning year. That year, stability was the norm: eight of the top ten Ducks forwards played in all 103 games. Still, I did want to break out these segments to make a few quick points regarding Scott, Teemu, their importance to the Ducks, and the ugly monster known as retirement.

1. Scott and Teemu certainly can still play, contribute, and win. They were probably the two most impressive Ducks to me last year, both in sheer talent and in their ability to fix a bleeding lineup. I think I’m going to do a separate post about the contributions of each of them, but here’s the gist: by inserting talent at the top of the lineup, defensemen and forwards were able to fall into more logical roles, and the Ducks’ performance improved dramatically.

Even more so, I'd add that their delayed seasons weren't the problem at all with the Ducks’ early exit last year. It certainly hurt when Andy Mac and Breezy were squeezed out, but I'd argue that the delayed seasons by Niedermayer and Selanne helped the Ducks' chances of repeating. It enabled a roster to be assembled by the postseason that probably wasn't affordable for a full 82-game schedule.

Of the two, I’d argue that just like last summer, the retirement decision of Niedermayer means more to the success of next year’s team. You can read through my Mr. Incredible post to see some of the statistical impact of his return, but the difference between a one-Norris team and a two-Norris team is incredible; two years ago Pronger vastly improved a Niedermayer-led blueline, and last year Scott returned the favor. I don’t mean to undersell the importance of Teemu, a master in the offensive end and on the power play, but if I had to pick one player to return, it’d be Scott.

2. I don’t think either player retires this week, but I’m an optimist. I have no insider information, and I know a lot of Ducks fans have different theories, but I just keep coming back to this fact: here are two guys who had something like six months to get off the retirement fence last year, and neither one could make the call to end their careers early. Why should I expect that their inability to retire has changed, especially given their excellent play last season?

I know that squeezing them into this year’s budget will be a hurdle, but I think both players have a strong sense of their on-ice importance to the Ducks, and I suspect we’ll see both re-assume their roles for training camp.

3. If Scott does not retire, it’s time to move Schneider. He was my first choice to be shipped out when Scott unretired last year, as it didn’t really make sense to keep both Scott and his apparent replacement, especially at their salary levels. I don’t want to overly knock “Schneidermayer”, who even took home some wayward Norris Trophy votes for his easy-minute dominance, but here’s the reality:

Giguere is making $6M, and Pronger and Niedermayer combine for another $13M, and assuming they’re all willing to play, none of them are going anywhere. Schneider’s additional $5.625M salary commitment becomes excessive at that point, because frankly, there’s not that many more minutes available for him to earn or exceed his dollar value. Instead, that money is needed to shore up the forward ranks, both in paying Getzlaf and Perry’s raises, as well as finding some scratch to pay UFA Selanne.

In a lot of ways, the Ducks are painted into a corner in what they can do this offseason—if Niedermayer and Selanne are in next year’s plans, there are more salary commitments than the Ducks can afford, and we may see Brian Burke get trade-active on draft day (“I’ll trade you the rest of that sandwich for Todd Bertuzzi.”). Still, I’m pretty excited for what next year’s squad can do, in what might be the swan song for the Niedermayer-and-Pronger Ducks. I still can’t believe how fortunate we’ve been to see these two different-style all-stars patrol the blue line the last couple of years, and if there’s one more shot at seeing it, I’m fully aboard.

More stats-crunching and salary-talking to come as these retirement decisions become known, but for now, Go Ducks.