October 15 2012 03:51PM
Photo by Bri Weldon, via Wikimedia Commons
Lockout talk dominates every level of the hockey world, so we're doing our best to avoid it at all costs. My focus this week is on the NHL draft, specifically the last 10 years. I'll poke and prod the data in search of interesting conclusions and trends. After the break, I'll lay out the raw data.
October 12 2012 11:45AM
...begat Kovalev who begat...
Photo by Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
This is the first installment of Trade Chains, a series which will take look at the legacy of trades throughout NHL history, but unlike Matthew 1:2, we'll spare you the begat. This is a numbers site, so we'll go with charts instead.
In 1984-85, the Pittsburgh Penguins were made up of Mario Lemieux and a series of players Mario Lemieux used as bumpers to deflect shots into the net. While Lemieux's rookie season was brilliant, it wasn't nearly enough to get the Pens out of the Patrick Division basement. They were the second-worst team in the league, and unlike the previous year, they didn't purposefully tank to get there.
The Penguins had the second overall pick in the 1985 draft and while they wanted the top-ranked player and ideal #2 center Craig Simpson, an 18-year old with two seasons of NCAA hockey under his belt, the Toronto Maple Leafs held the top pick. With the Leafs intent on taking Simpson, the Pens were likely to get a defenseman, either 2nd-ranked Dana Murzyn or 3rd-ranked Wendel Clark. But as luck would have it, Maple Leafs General Manager Gerry McNamara alienated Simpson's parents, leading Simpson to tell the Leafs to look elsewhere at #1. When the Leafs went for the truculent Clark, the Pens leapt at the chance to take Simpson, or as Pens' GM Eddie Johnston called him, the "impressive kid."
But Simpson wasn't the NHL scorer he was projected to be as he scored just 105 points in his first 169 games, leading the Penguins to trade him to him on November 24th 1987, along with Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph to Edmonton for all-world defenseman Paul Coffey and Dave Hunter. That trade would spawn eleven more trades and that trade lives on in Pittsburgh today.
September 21 2012 02:38PM
Photo by Ryan Meier, all rights reserved.
The 2013 NHL Draft order might have some excitement to it, excitement that's been stripped away of the last three drafts by the Edmonton Oilers and their grip on the worst. But with a possible season cancellation in the works, this draft might come down to the luck of a ping pong ball.
August 05 2012 02:43PM
Hunter is out, and with him goes half-effective Alex.
photo by Ivan Makarov, via Wikimedia Commons
As a group, NHL General Managers generally know what they're doing. Individual GMs fail, and fail mightily, and torch franchises in the process. But even the very good GMs make mistakes from time-to-time and last year Washington Capitals GM George McPhee made an enormous blunder.
The 2011-12 Capitals were an expensive team filled with superstars, but those stars weren't winning and that money was burning. In Bruce Boudreau, McPhee had a lightning rod of a head coach (thanks mainly to HBO) and chose Boudreau to take the fall for the wins. Stories surfaced about locker room discord and pouting superstars and in the end, even Boudreau agreed the dismissal was the right move. McPhee said that "the message wasn't getting through," and it was time for a change.
In reality, however, the Caps weren't suffering under Boudreau. When Boudreau was fired, the Capitals were a top five team in Fenwick Close, the sign of a dominant possession team. The difference in the team, at least on the ice, was the lack of plentiful goals, something management could count on in years past. At fault particularly was the power play, oft-cited in articles about Boudreau's firing, and Alex Ovechkin was blamed for the team's lack of success.
Thus began the Dale Hunter era.
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.