August 03 2012 11:41AM
Will Pavelec earn his new contract?
photo by Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
The Winnipeg Jets enter 2012-13 in a good place for an organization born from the Atlanta Thrashers' scrapheap. Still one of the youngest teams in the league, the Jets have a number of their best young players already contributing at a major-league level (Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Alexander Burmistrov). Bolstered by the eager reception of Winnipeg crowds in their first season, now the team should be able to get a better sense of the market abilities of the organization this year...there have already been whispers of an internal cap, no surprise in a location like the 'Peg. It already seems pretty clear that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is focused on making the signings he needs to make (resigning Tobias Enstrom and very likely Evander Kane) rather than the ones he might dream of making (a la the Minnesota Wild).
The fact of the matter is that the 2012-13 Jets are very similar to last year's Jets, with at least one big addition and a few more fresh faces. This should be great news for Jets fans, as the 2011-12 Jets were a solid team (11th in the NHL in Fenwick Close, AKA their percentage of shots, explained here) and, as a young team, only stand to improve. Let's have a look at a few of the more important aspects of the team.
August 02 2012 04:04PM
Does Staal have another celebration in his future?
photo by Andy, via Wikimedia Commons
By the end of September 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes had committed $14.55M in cap space to Eric Staal and Cam Ward through the 2015-16 season. For a team that doesn't generally spend to the cap, that's a lot of coin for just two players, but the Hurricanes had already won one Stanley Cup with those two players and had just made an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the three seasons since, the Hurricanes have yet to make the playoffs.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that the Hurricanes have missed the playoffs because they just haven't been very good. In 2009-10, the team's Fenwick score (their percentage of shots, explained here) with the score close (definition for close can be found here) was just 47.5%; in 2010-11, it worsened to 46.3%; and in 2011-12 it climbed back to 48.0%. So in terms of territorial advantage, the team has been very poor to awful for the last three years. Worse still, Eric Staal has been in the red in all three seasons (again, with the score close), and Cam Ward has only been slightly better than average over that time (.923 save percentage on 4,835 shots).
With both Staal and Ward having back-loaded contracts (Staal's average salary over the next four seasons is $9.125M, while Ward's is $6.625M), the Hurricanes were facing an important decision at the 2012 trade deadline. Was it time to divest themselves of these expensive assets in order to build around a young core that would include Jeff Skinner, Brandon Sutter, Justin Falk, Ryan Murphy, and a top ten selection in the 2012 entry draft? Or was it time to build around those two expensive players in an effort to win now? The Hurricanes have left no doubt that they chose option number two.
August 01 2012 02:19PM
August is a great time for hockey. Last year's losers are sure to be next year's winners thanks to the draft and free agency. Every borderline prospect is just on the verge, every perennial power is set to take a step back and every rebuilding team is set to move to the next level. While most hockey journalists decry August as the "dog days of summer", the "lazy hazy days of summer", or the "dog days of summer", the writers at NHL Numbers are going to use August as additional time to explore, experiment, test and learn.
August 01 2012 08:42AM
Over the last couple of days, I've looked at all of the forwards chosen in the 2012 and 2011 entry drafts. Today, we're moving on to the great Taylor v. Tyler debate of 2010. Two years out, those two players are still at the top of the pile, but many of the others in the top ten aren't yet playing in the NHL. If you've read the methodological explanations already, feel free to skip down to the results.
In the chart below, I've taken each player's goals, assists and points, converted them to a "per game" rate, multiplied them by the league equivalency number, and then expressed them as an "NHL equivalency" assuming an 82-game NHL season. As you may have guessed, each league has a different equivalency number. I've used this article for the translations from the KHL (multiply offense by 0.83), SEL (0.78), CZE (0.74), FNL (0.54), NCAA (0.41), WHL (0.30), OHL (0.30) and QMJHL (0.28),and this article for the translations from the USHL (0.27), AJHL (0.16), and BCHL (0.14). With these players getting older, there are now only a few leagues that have drafted players but no translations, and if you're playing there (ECHL, minor European league), that's probably a bad sign.
July 31 2012 09:15AM
By 5of7 (Antoine Vermette) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Over the last seven months, no general manager has been flogged more than Scott Howson of the Columbus Blue Jackets. His team came into last season with some promise only to finish dead last in points and a skeleton of what they were a year ago. Some of the things that went wrong for the Blue Jackets were beyond Howson’s control but he reacted in the worst way possible and Columbus is going to pay the price for it for years to come. The Blue Jackets and Howson’s reputation might be in shambles but something that gets overlooked is that Howson did a decent job in at least trying to build a contending team in Columbus.