Tuesday, June 30, 2009
To New York - Chris Higgins, Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko
To Montreal - Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, Mike Busto
Chris Higgins is a restricted free agent so New York has managed to deal Gomez and his 7.3M contract while taking back no money in return. Even if Higgings is given a contract of 3.5M per season (a high estimate) they are making significant savings. Considering their weak cap position before the trade, I would think that Montreal would be able to extact a hefty price for providing New York with these savings. I would be wrong. In fact, Montreal included one of their top prospects in the deal in Ryan McDonagh, a defenceman drafted 12th overall in 2007. The second prospect that Montreal included, Valentenko, is probably about equivalent to Tom Pyatt. Mike Busto is exactly what his name implies.
This is a confusing deal to me from Montreal's perspective. Montreal must think that they wouldn't be able to get a player as good as Scott Gomez for less than 7.3M per season on the unrestricted free agent market and that the difference between Gomez and the best UFA option is worth giving up on McDonagh and Higgins. That seems utterly foolish even if New York wasn't in a terrible negotiating position with respect to the cap. That they were, and still managed to make this trade, suggests to me that virtually any top-end contract is moveable for reasonable value. Congratulations to Glen Sather on a move I didn't think he'd be able to make. As for Gainey... he should perhaps consider changing his last name to Busto.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Kyle Brodziak wasn't exactly an outstanding player. He played on the penalty kill, but the penalty kill was terrible and he was not a light shining through that darkness. His scoring chance numbers are poor at even strength (+190-244 = 43.8% efficiency) and his Corsi of -187 doesn't scream success. He made up for the poor shooting numbers with a high PDO number of 101.6 (much like the Oilers as a team who had a -359 Corsi but 101.3 PDO number). None of this makes Brodziak sound all that good. In fact, he looks a bit like a part of the problem. However, Brodziak also started 149 more times in the defensive zone than he did in the offensive zone, second on the team to Shawn Horcoff (156). The percentage for Brodziak is even more difficult than for Horcoff. Brodziak started 44.9% of the time in the defensive zone (as opposed to the neutral or offensive zone), compared to only 38.5% for Horcoff (still very high). Kyle Brodziak may have been playing lesser opposition, but he was most definitely not getting the cherry time. The fact that he did in fact manage to put up a -2 playing 5v5 is, to me, pretty impressive. Further, the fact is, other players in a similar situation to Brodziak weren't doing any better. Kyle Brodziak was helping this team last year.
Some will say that they're going to go out and replace him. To me, this isn't a good excuse. This doesn't mean that they don't need to replace him, just that, when people say that they're usually referring to a "third line" center. But they needed to "replace" that when #51 still wore Oiler silks. If there's one thing I learned from Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll it's that if Stortini is on your line you should not be considered a shut-down line. From what I recall Zorg was on Brodziak's line. So, even if they go out and get a veteran center, who is going to take Brodziak's spot on the fourth line? As a fourth line or press box option, Brodziak provides reasonable cover in case of injury to one of your top two defensive centers and he plays for under a million dollars. In other words, helpful.
So why wouldn't they want him? As far as I can tell the possible correct answers include (1) a personality or attitude problem or (2) he was asking for too much money. I grant that (1) is possible but I find it pretty unlikely. It's especially unlikely since part of the reason the Wild wanted Brodziak is because the manager and coach are familiar with him from their time together in Wilkes-Barre. That would seem to speak highly of his character. Then again, maybe Tom Gilbert had finally had enough of Brodziak's harsh language. As far as (2)is concerned they could have just let him know that they weren't going to be paying him more than $850,000 per season and that he should go and look for offer sheets and take the highest one he can find. If, by chance, someone gave him more than $850,000 (or so, this is an approximation) and the compensation in return would have been a third round pick which is better than what they received in the trade (Brodziak + 6th for 4th + 5th). I fail to see how letting him go via offer sheet isn't superior to this trade.
The other possibility is that they just really liked both Kyle Bigos and Toni Rajala. Possible. However, if this is the case then this all could have been remedied by not taking Gene Snitsky in the third round. If the reason we traded Kyle Brodziak is so that we could make sure that we took some goon in the third round. Well, that's unbelievably stupid. Thankfully, Steve Tambellini's comments don't really make that point. Here's what Tambellini had to say about the trade:
"I'm not sure that's exactly what's going to happen to that position... We do need to change our lineup a little bit, we have too many bodies at forward. It's going to have a little bit different look. We're willing to give some people a chance that maybe they haven't had before, but we also had a chance to pick up a goaltender in the fifth that our guys were very focused on and when we found a partner in Minnesota to get both picks it made sense."
Unfortunately, Tambellini's comments also don't make a lot of sense. They made the trade to pick up the extra fifth to get the goalie? You made the trade at #99 and didn't take the goalie until #133. Ridiculous. It sounds from this quote like Tambellini isn't too sure what the center position will eventually look like. Maybe he'll give Pouliot or Brule a shot. The problem is that neither of those guys are as qualified as Brodziak. Count me unimpressed that he sent away a useful piece for less than fair value before he was sure about what he wanted the position to look like. A small trade, no doubt, but these kinds of transactions are what suck your NHL depth dry. Good teams don't make them.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Pick #10 - Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson
I expected Svensson to be gone by the time the Oilers made their selection as did most more authoritative observers. He was, at the very least, a consensus top ten pick and the Oilers took him at #10. It's hard not to be happy. His age, at 18 years and 2 months, is in the middle of the pack for players in their first year of eligibility, but on the right side of the halfway mark and I find that somewhat encouraging (along with size, age is probably one of the things that saw Jordan Schroeder fall all the way to #22, although I still think Schroeder was an excellent pick by Vancouver). In Robin Brownlee's pre-draft column he had Svensson on the Oilers "wish list," which is usually reserved for players they don't expect to have a chance at drafting. From Brownlee:
"The Oilers like his skill and compete-level. He’s also got some flair, having suggested Canadian players at the World Junior Championship would 'shit their pants' if Sweden scored a couple quick goals."
This is a player that the Oilers wanted. Plus, how can anyone not like that quote from Svensson. It's awesome. Better still, the quote was only one good thing about Svensson's tournament. The part where he actually played hockey was pretty good too (2-5-7 +6 in 6 games). His performance in the Swedish Elite League is a bit less inspiring (7-10-17 -6 (21-27) in 50 GP in 11:13 per night) but it is a very difficult league. I'll assume that he didn't get much time at all on the PP which makes his numbers a bit more respectable still. Svensson has a contract for another year in Sweden so he won't be playing in Edmonton next season and may not spend much time at Oilers camp. From a cap management perspective, this is great news as Svensson's contract saves the Oilers from themselves. Unlike with Gagner, the Oilers won't burn two years to unrestricted free agency on Svensson. Hopefully he's ready to start his NHL career after two years of education in the Swedish Elite League and he becomes a star.
Pick #40 - Anton Lander
The Oilers next took Svensson's teammate with Timra of the Swedish Elite League (the two players are also about the same age, 18 years and 2 months; Lander is twelve days older). TSN had Lander ranked at #50, ISS at #47 and Red Line Report at #64, so at first glance this pick does look like a bit of a reach. ISS described Lander as a "checking forward" but I think that description arises more from his role on Timra's club than his skill set (then again, the scouts actually seen the kid play). Lander's boxcar numbers (4-6-10 in 47 GP in 7:39 per night) are less impressive than Svensson's but if we take ice time into account Lander scored 1.67 pts/60 compared to Svensson's 1.82 pts/60 so the gap in offence really isn't all that large. At the U18 championships, Lander was the captain of the Swedish entry and scored well (2-7-9 in 6 GP). At the very least, Lander isn't a total slouch when it comes to putting up points. I think the description of "checking forward" was mostly a polite way of saying "doesn't play much." Still, in order for Lander to develop, the Oilers will need to make sure he's more than a "checking forward" with Timra where, like Svensson, he's under contract for one more year.
Lander's profile at HF describes him as being "as much of a jokester as Swedes can be." I'll assume the report was (a) written by a Finn, (b) written by someone that didn't hear Svensson talk about Canada shitting their pants or (c) written by Marty Reasoner. Although the pick looks like a bit of a reach, there's nothing about Lander that screams bust and I do like that they took a forward at this point in the draft. Overall, a good selection by the Oilers.
Pick #71 - Troy Hesketh
If Lander was a bit of a reach, Hesketh is a big one. Hesketh is a defenceman who just finished his junior year for Minnetonka high school and has verbally committed to playing college at the University of Wisconsin, which is a good hockey school. Unfortunately, he still has his senior year of high school left to play so he won't be seeing real competition for at least one more year. Frankly, the most important numbers on his stats sheet are his age, weight and height since those are probably the biggest reasons he was drafted - 17 years, 11 months, 6'2 and 180 lbs (it's clear that the Oilers think he has some room to fill out). It's relevant that the boxcar numbers are good of course, but it's hard to glean much from them since the league he's playing in isn't very comparable to any of the Canadian junior leagues, the USHL, the NCAA or anything in Europe as far as difficulty. Gabriel Desjardins puts the NHL equivalency at somewhere between 0.073 and 0.052 for Minnesota high school which would give Hesketh numbers along the lines of 2-3-5 in an 82 game NHL season using the higher figure. His actual numbers do include some extensive PP time which means he's being used in all situations, so at least he'll have that experience.
To be honest, I was underwhelmed by this pick, especially because he'll be in high school for another year. I was hoping that they would draft one of the forwards that was left that may still have been able to make a high level impact. The guys that immediately came to mind here are Toni Rajala (more to come on this one), Alex Hutchings, Benjamin Casavant or Ryan Howse. Still, I can see the argument for drafting a big, young defender that you feel has been overlooked because of the league he plays in.
Pick #82 - Cameron Abney
This pick is beyond terrible. Toni Rajala and Alex Hutchings were both available and good at hockey. Benjamin Casavant would still have been a Coke machine, but at least he knows how to play hockey. Cameron Abney knows how to fight. Cameron Abney scored 1-3-4 in the WHL. Cameron Abney played in 48 of Everett's 72 games this year and, to my knowledge, didn't miss any because of injury. Cameron Abney is 6'4 and fights. In the best case scenario the Edmonton Oilers just traded a third round pick for Steve MacIntyre. What a terrible, terrible pick. Terrible.
Pick #99 - Kyle Bigos
Kyle Bigos is one very big defenceman. He's 6'5 and 230 lbs. and he sailed through his first two NHL entry drafts unpicked. That means, he's pretty old (20 years, 1 month) but would have been young in his first year of eligibility. In my post on where successful picks come late in the draft I found that it's best to draft young defencemen or defencemen that have already passed through the draft in previous years. This second group was especially well-represented. Usually they only make it through one draft, but that's not really here nor there since far fewer players get drafted after getting passed over twice (though I should really look into that to make sure). The point is, I like the fact that he's an older player.
As far as scoring, Bigos put up 8-25-33 in 58 regular season games for the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL. His team won the RBC Cup and he was named the tournament MVP. He also led his team with 126 PIMs, so I'm going to assume that he doesn't mind fighting. I think this is a pretty good pick at #99 and I wouldn't be at all upset except for the fact that the Oilers
Traded Kyle Brodziak
in order to draft him. Brodziak was officially traded to Minnesota along with pick #161 for picks #99 and #133. Brodziak was essentially taking tough minutes all year and although he didn't exactly pass with flying colours, he was doing about as well as anyone else that was in a similar situation. The fact that we wasted a pick on Abney at #82 makes this look all the more foolish since they could have just taken Bigos at #82 or traded down from #82 for Bigos or whatever other plan they thought necessary. Regardless, they didn't do that, they traded Brodziak. I can only assume that Brodziak was asking for too much money (something over a million per) and that he needed to be moved because of it. If Brodziak managed to find a team willing to give him an offer sheet for 1.5 to 2M per season, the Oilers would be in a terrible position and would receive only a third round pick. In the trade they managed to get a fourth and a fifth but had to throw in a sixth, so that seems like a wash at best. I'll make a final decision on this trade once I see Brodziak's contract with the Wild. If it's anything less than a million, this was a really dumb thing to do.
Pick #101 - Toni Rajala
I think that this was an excellent pick. Rajala was ranked #50 by TSN, #31 by ISS and #34 by Red Line Report. This is a case of the Oilers taking, quite literally, the highest rated player left in the draft. Even though an old grandmother who's never seen a hockey game could make this pick (without screwing the pooch on the third round), the Oilers should get some credit for actually doing it.
While with his junior team in Finland Rajala put up 31 points in 31 games. Playing in the SM-LIIGA he had more trouble scoring (only 5 points in 21 games) but, like Svensson, he was playing against men at an early age. At the World Junior Championship, Rajala wasn't particularly impressive, scoring only 2-1-3 in 6 games for the Finns. Given the weight put on that tournament, it's probably one of the reasons that Rajala fell as far as he did. The other reason for Rajala's fall is undoubtedly his small stature. At 5'10 and 160 lbs. Rajala isn't going to be a power forward anywhere but an U14 tournament (non-contact). Despite this, he can still score. And that's a skill with some value. At the U18 tournament Rajala scored 19 points in 6 games. His age is right in the middle of the pack at 18 years and 3 months. This will be a player to follow for the next couple of years and it should be fun to watch him kick ass over Christmas (or bust... but that wouldn't be fun).
Pick #133 - Olivier Roy
Well, he's a goalie and they didn't take him early, so I'm happy. He was ranked second among North American goaltenders by Cental Scouting so I guess that's encouraging. At the end of his 17 year old season he was named QMJHL rookie of the year. Still encouraging. At 17 years and 11 months he's certainly young for his draft year. Okay, okay. His save percentage was only .906 but his backup with the Cape Breton Eagles was only at .892. Well, I think he can be pretty confident that Christopher Holden is not an NHL goalie (and even here I'm a little iffy). Beyond that, we'll see.
Pick #191 Traded to Ottawa for 2010 6th Rounder
I suppose if there's no one you like left, deferring your pick to next year isn't a bad plan at all. It should even be a slightly higher pick so there's that too.
Well, that's how the Oilers did. Some good early and some good late but I think Umlauts (origin) and I would agree that the Oilers "shit their pants" in the middle.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Moreau's leadership in the community of Edmonton is evidenced most clearly by his work with the Stollery Children's hospital but he also helps with several other charities in and around Edmonton. This includes the Gags Cogs And Gilby Bachelor Pad Foundation (I noticed Pouliot was left out here too... man, Moreau HATES that guy). So what I'm trying to say is that even when Moreau is injured or struggling on the ice he has never wavered as a wonderful contributor to Edmonton as a city. From a salary cap perspective it's probably best that Moreau be sent to play hockey in another city but from the perspective of wanting to have Oilers that live in Edmonton and care about the community, Ethan Moreau is a star. Thanks Ethan, for all you've done to help make Edmonton a better place.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The first thing that immediately came to mind was size. Were a large proportion of the late round success stories smaller players? I suspect this is true but as I don't know of a reliable resource for the size of players in their draft year I decided to let this one go for now. The second thing i looked at was the leagues that the players were drafted from. Unfortunately I'm only looking at a small sample of players and so unless I saw a big tip-off, I didn't think the results would be too significant. There was no big tip-off. Europeans did slightly better than I expected, but it didn't seem like enough to run with though I might come back to this issue later.
The trends are obvious. Most of the best picks were either young players, players who had already passed through one draft or older players who, in the current CBA, would now just be signed as free agents (players like Jonas Hiller, Fabian Brunnstrom and Ville Leino). Incidentally, none of the success stories are re-drafts. All of the players taken late were also taken in their third year of eligibility (like Pavel Datsyuk) were also taken there for the first time. Here is the same information broken down by position:
So, generally, young forwards and defenders or goalies that everyone passed on in their first year of eligibility are the most successful picks. I think that a smart team should recognize these trends and roll with them if they have two players ranked closely. Also, I know that on draft day, I'll be checking the ages of players the Oilers have taken with their late round picks. Incidentally, both Philippe Cornet (18y3m) and Teemu Hartikainen (18y1m) qualified a year ago while Jordan Bendfeld (20y4m, re-draft) was probaly a waste of a 7th round pick. The year before that, Milan Kytnar (18y1m) and William Quist (17y11m) were both young forwards. On the one hand, this is heartening, on the other, I now feel like I may need to check whether or not the birthdates of these (or any) players is actually signficant. If far more young players get drafted, it wouldn't be surprising to see more succeed... but that will need to be a question for another day.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Half of the goalies taken in the first round end up not contributing at a level higher than a backup goaltender. Furthermore, many of the goalies that do go on to have success do so on other teams (Luongo, Giguere). Even the goalies that "work out" are often not the best goalies drafted. Of the goalies that received more than 15 points only 5 out of 14 were drafted in the first round (the others not already mentioned are Turco, Nabokov, Theodore, Potvin, Carey, Osgood, Salo, Khabibulin and Turek) and that doesn't include goalies who came into the league without being drafted (like Curtis Joseph).
As Kent so eloquently stated in his article on this subject, the goaltending position is unique. Either you're one of the most important contributors on the ice or you're not playing at all. Far too often, goaltenders taken early in the draft aren't playing at all and teams are using a valuable asset (a first round pick) on what looks to be a coin flip where the most common payoff (a short term starting goaltender) is something that's readily available on the cheap during the summer. And it's not as though the situation is getting better. Marek Schwarz (17th overall) has yet to have an impressive AHL season. Devan Dubnyk (14th overall) hasn't been much better. Neither has Al Montoya (6th overall) and he's already on his second organization. Hannu Toivonen (29th overall) has burnt through two organizations and is now playing in Finland. In short, don't use your first round pick on a goaltender.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
As I noted with the Oilers, there are several acquisitions who hadn't played in a single game against the Flames in the two years prior to coming to Calgary. These players were David Hale, Mike LeClerc, Cale Hulse, Peter Vandermeer, Kyle Greentree and Lawrence Nycholat. In other words, filler. Still, in addition to these six, another twelve players had three or fewer games against the Flames leading up to their acquisition and these twelve had a much bigger role on the Flames. This means that 18 out of 33 players did not have a significant track record against the Flames before being acquired. This number is consistent with that put up by Kevin Lowe and (to a much smaller degree) Steve Tambellini in Edmonton. I think this is good evidence that this isn't a main factor in the player evaluation of most players.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I'm one of those guys that hoped Detorit would win the Cup. I predicted them to win (and I like being right) so that was certainly part of it. I also like the fact that for Marian Hossa his main goal was to win the Stanley Cup. More than money, more than living in a nice city, more than being "the guy" he wanted a chance to win the Cup. Now he's not the only that isn't getting what he wants in this life, but I still feel badly for him. If Max Talbot actually looked him in the eye and said "You chose the wrong team" then he is one heartless Quebecor. If not, maybe Hossa goes back to Pittsburgh next year?
Anyway, some fond Oiler memories of the Cup winners:
Bill Guerin - May 4, 1998 - The Oilers come back from a 3-1 series deficit to take the series. Bill Guerin scores one of four goals in a 4-0 walk for the Oilers in Colorado. Guerin ended up with seven goals in two rounds that year, his first with the Oilers. I was in grade nine this year and it was this era (1997-2006) that shaped me as an Oiler fan. Thanks for the memories Bill. It was great to see you lift the Cup.
Miroslav Satan - March 18, 1997 - On this day the Oilers traded Satan to Buffalo for Craig Millar and Drew Bannister. The two defencemen (if you didn't know they were both defencemen you have a great idea about the value the Oilers got in this trade) played a combined 71 games for the Oilers over the next three seasons. As someone that was constantly bombarded with the image of Glen Sather as a hockey genius Miroslav Satan always stood out as the counter-example of all counter-examples. Miroslav, for taking your lumps and going to the minors without complaint, for blocking shots last night, and for helping me to learn critical thinking skills as a young man, I salute you. Keep on partying Miro.
Petr Sykora - October 5, 2006 - Two goals and an assist in a 3-1 win over Calgary on the first day of the 2006-07 season. Oiler fans had no idea the disaster that was to come and on this night we gathered to celebrate. Thanks for the good memories Petr, that season didn't have many. Apparently Sykora even considered staying in Edmonton after the gong show stretch run. Eventually he decided on a much better option. A bit player on the Pens this year but he felt the joy of lifting the Cup again.
Mathieu Garon - March 2, 2008 - This was the last of his shoot-out wins in the hilarious 2007-08 season. Garon stopped all three Columbus shots, which was pretty much par for the course. I know the idea of a "closer" hasn't really taken a foothold but I'd be tempted to try it with Garon. This year must have been awful. At the end of last year he looked like he was in line for a starting job with the Edmonton Oilers over the long term. That's gone now and that kind of sucks. But hey, at least he won himself a Stanley. Sorry the coaches here didn't trust you Mathieu. Maybe you're 100% save percentage in the playoffs will reestablish your value! Seriously though, I'm happy for him. A great end to a tough season.
Oh, and the reason the Red Wings lost this year was bad karma, or, conkma, as the case may be. Ohmygoodness. Oh. My. Goodness.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
1. At the start of the game the puck is considered in the defensive zone of the road team.
2. The puck is considered as entering the other team's zone when it has been there for five seconds or if a faceoff causes the puck to changes zones (icing call, penalty call) or if a goal is scored.
3. The puck is always considered in the zone of one team or another.
This was supposed to offer a mix of puck position and puck possession and give an indication of which team was carrying the play. I do think it does that, but I also think we lose something but not having any "neutral zone" time and not giving the opposing team credit for clearing it out of their zone. Anyway, I'll put up the results so that we can at least have a preliminary look:
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 9:01
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 8:38
Time in zone before Detroit Goal - 0:03
Pittsburgh on Power Play
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 0:50
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 1:10
Detroit on Power Play
Puck in "Detroit D Zone" - 0:16
Puck in "Pittsburgh D Zone" - 0:05
I think there's real potential for the data. We could potentially answer questions like, "Is Corsi a good proxy for zone time?" or "How many goals scored off the rush?" The main reason for this post is to ask the community (and mostly Vic... the link to time on ice is to make sure he reads it... heh...) some questions. Is this something people would like tracked (either in this simpler version or actual zone time)? In that I actually have all of the precise times noted would it be possible for me to submit those into a shift chart so we could see how individual players are doing (Vic?)? Anyway, feedback is most welcome.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Firstly, he can bring something to the power play. Surely this list will have had some changes to it after this year and Ouellet might not even make the ice time requirement, but Tyler has shown in the past that Ouellet can perform at a very high level on the PP, i.e. better than any Oiler not named Hemsky.
Secondly, his even strength performance at the NHL level has been very good. Again, Tyler mentioned this at the start of the season when Ouellet was traded from Tampa Bay to Vancouver. The up-shot? In 2007-08 Ouellet played for the Lightning and managed to post 2.88 GFON/60 and 1.92 GAON/60 at 5v5. He scored 2.00 P/60 and was a +12 5v5 which led the team by 9. He was 6th in 5v5 ice time and 7th in QC among Lightning forwards so he did all this in a somewhat sheltered role. In 2006-07 Ouellet played a very similar role on the Penguins but with middling results, namely 2.77 GFON/60 and 2.77 GAON/60.
I am convinced that this is a pretty good NHL player. He's certainly shown more than a guy like Marc Pouliot and, given his likely price, will be a better bet to outperform a contract than Robert Nilsson. I don't know what his price point is going to be but I imagine he's probably expecting a pay cut since he cleared waivers twice and even cleared re-entry waivers once. If I were managing the Oilers I would try to get this guy to sign on for a long term deal at small money. Normally, that's a pipe dream but how bad does 5 or 6 years at $900,000 on a one-way deal sound if you've been riding the buses, unwanted by anyone in The Show for the last year?