Washington Capitals 2012-13 Preview - Freed From Their Shackles

Derek Zona
August 05 2012 02:43PM

Alex Ovechkin
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.

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The NHL Numbers Annual - Our Summer Project

Derek Zona
August 01 2012 02:19PM

NHL Alternate Logo

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.

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2012 NHL Draft Top 100 - June Update: Yakupov is Unanimous

Derek Zona
June 12 2012 11:39AM


Photo by Bri Weldon, via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from Mathew Dumba's leapfrog of Mikhail Grigorenko, the top 12 in our consensus list remained the same.  Nail Yakupov has gone from the strong consensus #1 to the unanimous #1 and Filip Forsberg has lengthened his lead on Alex Galchenyuk, but the list has held steady.

The big movers in June jumped into the back half of the first round.  Rogle's Hamphus Lindholm moved five spots to #16, Oshawa's Scott Laughton moved 19 spots to #23 and Henrik Samuelsson moved thirteen spots to #30.

Future Considerations describes Lindholm as "...a very aggressive puck rushing defenseman with a high offensive upside. He starts rushes quickly with his high-end skating ability and vision."  But with a significant downside, namely, his defensive game:  "He makes bad decisions and is not hard enough on the puck. Inconsistent play is the biggest detraction from Lindholm’s game. He can force things and tries to make low percentage passes that turn into odd-man rushes or scoring chances against."

Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman thinks Laughton is "...a quick, smart effective player with an average skill level who is a "does all the little things" type of guy in the lineup and seems to always be around the play." but doesn't think he projects into the top six in the NHL.

The Scouting Report thinks Samuelsson is a grinder, noting he's "...a strong complementary player that does the dirty work, but has enough skill to finish off plays as well."  But he isn't going to be an offensive dynamo, "Skating is pretty average, and his offensive puck skills aren’t going to blow you away..."

The sources for the consensus list are Bob McKenzie, Redline Report, Future Considerations, ISS, Craig Button, Hockey Prospectus, The Scouting Report, and Win Shares via Nick, A.K.A. Mathletic.  Their prior records are used to establish a weighting so that the opinions of the more accurate (McKenzie and Button) have more value than the opinions of the less accurate.

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2012 NHL Draft - Top 80 Forwards

Derek Zona
May 22 2012 10:23AM


Sebastian Collberg might be a top 10 pick
Photo by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons

The May version of the Consensus Top 100 is in and the top of the draft continues to be dominated by European forwards and Canadian defensemen. 

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2012 NHL Draft Top 100 - May Update

Derek Zona
May 16 2012 12:47PM

Photo by Bri Weldon via Wikimedia Commons

Nail Yakupov is the goods, or so says the Consensus Top 100.  The largest gap between any two players in the top 20 is between #1 Yakupov and #2 Forsberg - a ringing endorsement of Yakupov's incredible abilities.  I reconstructed this list for 2010 and 2011 using the final rankings of the draft guides, watchers and gurus over the last two years to compare to this year's list and found that not only is the gap between #1 and #2 much larger this year than in the previous two, the gap between Yakupov and Forsberg is the largest gap between any two back-to-back players ranked in the top ten from 2010-2012. 

Nail Yakupov is the clear cut #1 pick and with good reason. 

Yakupov has the goal-scoring prowess and passing ability that all high-end picks possess, but what separates him from the rest of the bunch, says Corey Pronman, is his speed and agility:

He has the ability to push the tempo up the ice and keep defenders on their heels, but he's probably even more dangerous at a standstill with high-end agility, first step acceleration, and a real slippery aspect to his game. He has such a powerful stride that he can take a handful of strides and already have travelled half the distance of the ice. Yakupov is the kind of player who consistently keeps his feet moving and has a very desirable motor to his game that shines through on a regular basis either when he's jetting through open ice or when he's engaging along the physical areas.

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