Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Too Long for Twitter

  1. With this Vancouver mess unraveling right before our eyes I can't help but not feel sorry for Mike GIllis. I wrote about this when he traded Hodgson for Kassian --a move that looks pretty bad right about now-- and stood before reporters stating how he pulled one over Regier's eyes by starting him more in the offensive zone and artificially inflating his numbers. He later proceeded to corner himself with the Schneider-Luongo fiasco, trades Schneider, tells everyone that was the plan all along, then trades Luongo not even a year later. Now they are left with two question marks in net, a third/fourth line center (who I admittedly like but honestly isn't that great) and a good prospect in Horvat who should be an NHLer, but I wouldn't exactly call a star in the making. Gillis was once hailed as an analytical guy and praised for thinking about things like how to maximize his players sleep due to their long travels. In reality though, he was gifted an elite core with all star goaltending, the Sedins, Kesler, Edler, and Bieska with nice secondary guys in Burrows, Hansen, and so on. He made a few nice moves acquiring Ehrhoff for nothing, taking advantage of Hamhuis being from BC, and signing Manny Malholtra among a few others, but by and large he inherited a great core. The cake was finished. He put some icing on it. Factors such as getting players more sleep were I'm sure nice and beneficial at times, but I look at that the way I look at how moving to the East was supposed to help Detroit and moving to the West was supposed to Winnipeg due to less travel time. It really hasn't. Teams are what they are at the end of the day. Gillis has always been a mediocre GM who was really given the keys to the car and added some nice features to it. This was argued with me for awhile, but I think that's clear now. 
  2. Furthermore on GIllis- He has always been described as a guy who thinks he's the smartest guy in the room type and I think he should serve as a lesson to all. When I read Behind the Moves, one thing really stood out to me and it was what Stan Bowman said about his dad- he said that he's always trying to learn. He never says no to anything (appeared to be geared towards advanced stats). That guy has been in hockey for decades and has won championship after championship, and he doesn't think he knows it all. He is always trying to learn more and get better, and that's how you have to approach this game. As soon as you think you know it all in hockey, you've failed. This is a complicated sport with a lot of moving parts and one thing I always try to tell people is that unlike a football or basketball, there is no clear defense and offense. Yes, there are offensive and defensive situations, but in the flow of play there is no just "offense only" or "defense only," save for special teams. That makes this an incredibly tough sport to gauge and really, that's why people talk about being "students of the game." Sure, have general ideas of what you want, but always be open minded and trying to learn. I think Gillis got content, believed he knew it all, was arrogant, nobody wanted to deal with him, and it bit him in the ass. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what it appears to be from the outside. 
  3. One final thing on this- while Vancouver pretty well sat on their laurels and basically sat back on their core through the good times, I'd urge everyone to take a look at Chicago and what they have been doing. They've cycled out bottom productive players to consistently keep the cupboard full, and have made little moves here and there that will hopefully pay off. Just yesterday they moved a 2nd for David Rundblad, who is still only 23, was once the most promising young defenseman in hockey, and has lit up the AHL. They've also traded for Versteeg this year, locked in good bottom players such as Shaw and Bollig, and have cycled out players and brought in enough assets that they could probably trade for a top player still if they really wanted to. They've won two Cups in the last four years and are still trying to get better. 
  4. Also wonder if Nonis might take a note from the Lu debacle and look into trading Clarkson. I'm not one for knee jerk reactions but Clarkson wont ever live up to the contract that he signed and right now clearly can't play with Kadri or Lupul (meaning he can't play with the Leafs skilled guys). I'm not a huge Lupul fan, but I'd still take him over Clarkson any day because he can score, and paying a guy like Clarkson $5.25M for the next six years to play on your third line is nuts. It would be tough to admit mistake so early into a massive signing but it would be for the good of the team. Nonis might get kicked around by the MSM in Toronto for it, but egos need to be put aside. What I learned from the Lu debacle is that if you have a really bad contract on your hands and can simply get rid of it, do it. Don't hold onto your ego. If Vancouver traded Lu for a first and Scrivens like they could have, they'd still have Schneider and would be better off right this second and the foreseeable future (Horvat will take years to develop still). A lot of teams wanted Clarkson in the summer and probably just think he's having a bad year, but if you wait another year everyone will find out what the Leafs now know- he's not a true top six forward. 
  5. Yesterday's flurry of moves reminded me of Jussi Jokinen last year. Guys like Robidas and Penner were traded for basically nothing, and they are good, productive, NHL players. Top 6 forward, top 4 D types. As if every team is full in those spots. Last year Jussi Jokinen went through waivers, was unclaimed, and then traded for a conditional pick in which Carolina retained salary. He now counts for a little more than $2M on the Pens cap, already has 16 goals and 43 points, and is on pace for almost 60 points if this keeps up. And they got him for nothing. Crazy. 
  6. On the note of underrated players and move, the contract and general acquisition of Anton Khudobin is right up there in that category. I guess teams have stayed away from him because he's a 5'11 goalie (I've heard some teams automatically cross goalies off their list if they are not at least 6 foot), but all he's ever done is stop pucks. He has a .912sv% in 158 career AHL games, and a .930sv% in 44 NHL games. At 28 he's still young for a goalie, and he'll be making only over $2M for the next two season. That's a bargain. Good on Rutherford. 
  7. As for the bad on Rutherford- When he traded for Jordan Staal that was supposed to be the signal for this team to launch back into contention as contenders again, yet they are quickly heading into a second straight playoff-less season with Staal who has been bad (on pace for 36 points this year which I know isn't his game but he counts for $6M against the cap. Six!). The Canes have some good players in the Staals, Skinner, Faulk, Sekera's having a huge year, and yes Semin is still a good player, but he hasn't brought any depth in while guys like Penner and Robidas are moving for fourth rounders. Instead they play a bunch of guys like Bowman, Dwyer, Nash, to go along with a bad Tuomo Ruutu, back to reality Jiri Tlusty and back to the NHL Manny Malholtra. It's just a waste of good top players to supplement them with that. 
  8. Reminder that Washington just traded Erat after 62 games as a Capital for Rotislav Klesla (who nobody wanted on waivers), Chris Brown (who I like but will struggle to be an everyday NHLer and was sent straight to the AHL) and a fourth. This is after giving up Filip Forsberg for him. I don't think Forsberg has superstar written on him or anything, but he's well on his way to being a good NHLer and will be cheap for years, all for a guy that played 62 pretty terrible games for Washington. That might be one of the worst trades in recent memory. For Nashville, it almost makes up for Poile trading a first for Gaustad. 
  9. I think Edmonton is doing a better job than people think and will turn the corner soon. Getting Perron was a great move, as was Boyd Gordon. Even Hendricks is pretty solid as a fourth liner. In net they are not proven, but Scrivens and Fasth can be a good duo and both have shown they can play at a high level in the NHL for extended periods of time.  They obviously still have a ton of work to do (I'd trade Gagner and Eberle, but that's just me) but these smaller good moves will pay off. Nurse still looks like a beast in the making and Klefbom is promising too.  If they can trade some of their talented forwards for top four defensemen and make a few solid additions at forward (don't have to be top six guys, but good third liner types) I think they will be in the hunt next season, finally.
  10. I think Conacher is a good young player that teams should want to acquire. He's an RFA this summer so he's still controlled and he has 49 points in 107 games. Sometimes players get off to hot starts and when it's not sustainable people seem to sour on the guy because he "wasn't what we thought he was" but Conacher is still a productive player that ripped up the AHL and has shown he can play a regular shift. For teams like the Islanders and Sabres that are simply trying to get better and get NHL players on their team, he seems like a no-brainer add for free.
  11. I think a few players that can be had that appear to be available for cheap will be Lee Stempniak, Ales Hemsky, possibly Tom Gilbert and Thomas Fleischmann, along with Jamie McGinn. Should be a fun day. 

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