Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Too Long for Twitter- September 4th

  1. Prior to this season Niklas Kronwall had 17 points in the 19 career games he had played in without Niklas Lidstrom. In his first full season without Lidstrom Kronwall threw up 29 points in 48 games which prorates to roughly 50 points (a point below his career high). No Lidstrom has translated into over a minute more of power play ice time per game than Kronwall is used to and that caused him to have his second highest power play point season behind that 51 point career year. Amazing what opportunity can do.
  2. Went under the radar but it’s neat that days before the draft Preds GM David Poile said that if Seth Jones dropped to four he would take him, and that he’s the best player available in the draft. Lots of times after the fact we hear teams pump up their picks and say “we had him rated higher than where we got him,” but there was Poile saying it beforehand. The Preds have seven D under contract and don’t appear interested in signing any of the remaining UFA D-men so it will be interesting to see first round picks Ryan Ellis and Jones battle for ice time with fourth rounder Mattias Ekholm and undrafted Viktor Bartley. 
  3. Was going through my twitter favourites and found this little gem courtesy dobber hockey: Over last 3 yrs when Nathan Horton was out of lineup, Krejci had 29 points in 47 gmes (0.62).Otherwise he had 128 in 154 (0.83).” That doesn’t include playoffs. David Johnson also wrote a bit on Horton increasing his linemates shooting percentages.  Iginla figures to replace Horton and he’s been really effective as a scorer the last two years (100 points in 126 games), but how will Krejci, and Lucic, do without him?
  4. After 48 games in the 2011-2012 season, Malkin led the league in scoring with 67 points. During the 48 game 2013 season Marty St. Louis won the scoring title with 60 points (which was what the 2011-2012 number two scorer, Giroux, had after 48 games). Stamkos had 32 goals at the 48 game threshold which was what Ovechkin won the Rocket with this season. Phoenix was the only team not to be in a playoff spot after 48 games and make it (then they went on a run to the conference finals). I don’t know how much stock to put into last year’s 48 game season, but it’s funny how it’s all pretty relative.
  5. Found two tweets about 10th overall pick Valerie Nichushkin from earlier in the year that I think are interesting. The first is "Talked to an NHL Euro scout today: "If Nichushkin isn't selected either first or second overall, it's only because of the Russian factor." The second is “I asked top Euro #nhldraft prospect Valeri Nichushkin how confident he is that he'll be playing in the NHL next yr- "100 percent sure." Those are two eyebrow raising things to say. If Nichushkin is what some from across the pond think he is, Dallas could have a formidable top six forward group with he, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole and one of Rich Peverley or Cody Eakin. If he struggles this is the kind of thing scouts and management teams will remember that drop Russian’s stocks.
  6. In 2007-2008 the Tampa Bay Lightning had 40% of their cap space tied into Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis. If it weren’t for the Bobby Ryan trade the Ducks would have had 34% tied into Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan in 2013-2014. After this season the Penguins will have over $25 million committed to Crosby, Malkin and Letang. How long is that going to last? The Lightning and Ducks were both adamant that they weren’t going to break up their big three’s either, and each team had won Cups with pretty well all those guys (save for Ryan really) as key components to those Cups.
  7. Of all things Leafs fans have complained about when it comes to Franson and Kadri being unsigned, I’m surprised not much has been made about the general thought process of the Leafs originally giving Franson a one year deal to begin with. Obviously hindsight is 20-20, but the Leafs gave Franson a one year, one million dollar deal right after the lockout and really made things tough on them more than anything. Even if you give Franson a little more money to make it a two year deal, he’s still moveable if he struggles again. Someone would take a chance on a 6’5, right handed D-man if he had a year remaining on even a $2M cap hit because he still oozes potential. Instead, a quick 48 games on a shortened season later Franson lit up the league and now wants to be paid. The only way the Leafs would have been smart to sign Franson to that deal was if he struggled so that they could have easily cut ties afterwards. Just always seemed like a weird deal to me, and now it’s come back to bite them. The lesson is that you don’t handout one year bridge contracts.
  8. Corey Crawford has a career .913sv% in 152 games on what’s been a very good Blackhawks team, is that worth $6M a season for a guy turning 30 when it kicks in? I don’t think so. The crazy thing, though, is looking around at the goalie market and seeing who else makes over $5M- Carey Price (career .915), Cam Ward (consistently hurt), Sergei Bobrovsky (one great year), Mike Smith (up and down career with one amazing season), along with some truly established goalies such as Jonathon Quick, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist. Goaltending has to be the hardest position to pay for because it’s so up and down and there really are only a handful of consistently elite goalies. When it comes to Crawford specifically I guess my main thought is that I think there are at least 15 other goalies they could have won the Cup with this year, and I don’t think it was a coincidence Ray Emery looked amazing in Chicago, so to me you don’t pay high end money for that. In Chicago’s defense, they don’t have any major players that need contracts until Toews and Kane are both UFAs two years from now.
  9. The longer the Derek Stepan contract holdout goes, the more it hurts the Rangers. Considering Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin are both out to start the year as they recover from surgeries, the Rangers can’t really afford to not have Stepan either as that’s literally half of their top six gone. Sather’s notoriously a tough negotiator with his own players, but if things really hit the fan Stepan can easily sit back and watch the Rangers struggle without him, Callahan, and Hagelin for at least a month. This seems like the remaining RFA negotiation that could get the ugliest.
  10. I didn't think Florida would make the playoffs last year but most people note it as a lack of possession regression and I think that’s a little too simplistic. Weiss and Versteeg, 2/3rds of their top line, were basically out/useless for the year and they lost their second best defenseman Jason Garrison. They also lost their seventh leading scorer Mikael Samuelsson and key grinder Sean Bergenheim didn’t play a game this year, and Theodore was dreadful compared to the playoff season. That's a lot to lose. Who did they replace those key guys with? Filip Kuba, Peter Mueller, Alex Kovalev and Jonathan Huberdeau to start, and other than Huberdeau everyone was pretty bad. 48 games later, Florida looks like they are back to rebuilding. Funny how quickly things change.
  11. The second point to Florida’s reversal is that they did nothing to build on their playoff season. Tallon couldn’t have predicted Weiss and Versteeg would be no-shows on the year, but replacing Garrison with Kuba was always going to be a disaster plus he never added quality depth. This is one reason I’ll be interested to see how the Leafs do this year in comparison to the Habs. You can say what you want about the Leafs offseason, but Clarkson is better than MacArthur, Bolland is a more appropriate shutdown center than Grabovski and some youth should stick full-time now in Colborne and Gardiner which will make them better. They should also get good goaltending. The point is that they’ve generated some momentum with their moves and made them to fill their holes and play their style. Conversely, the Habs added an aging Briere, George Parros and an extremely limited Douglas Murray. Montreal still has a good team, but they didn’t really add much to it so I’m curious to see how the contrast in off seasons plays out.
  12. Also, the news of Emelin being out until at least Christmas is massive. He was a force on the Habs defense last year and when he was out they looked noticeably softer and their defense really missed his presence. Douglas Murray does nothing to replace him, either. For Montreal’s sake Tinordi better be ready for full-time duty.
  13. Last year Carolina had a lot of hype then obviously struggled as a lot of things went wrong. Their defense is still weak, but Sekera helps them as he joins Faulk and Gleason as legit top four defensemen on the team. Ward obviously needs to stay healthy but a healthy Tuomo Ruutu makes a difference and if they sign Brendan Morrow as rumoured, they might even have some depth at forward. I think they will start living up to their promise a bit this year.
  14. I remember when the Isles were mocked for promoting Jack Capuano (who the hell is that?!?! Was the general consensus) but man what a job he’s done. Besides the actual team success, how about getting veterans Nabokov and Visnovsky to not only buy into the program but sign extensions, when both vehemently tried to fight going there? He might be the most underrated coach in the league right now.
  15. On the note of underrated, I was trying to think of some under the radar media members or bloggers worth reading regularly and kind of blanked. Would appreciate some names or links that are worth checking out beyond the obvious ones. 

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