October 05 2012 09:52AM
After the 2003-04 season, the owners decided to use a protracted lockout to curb player salaries. They insisted on getting concessions from the players so that a salary cap could be instituted. This would, in theory, prevent the rich teams like Toronto, New York, Detroit, and Colorado from spending big money on players and driving up costs for everyone else in the process.
October 04 2012 08:45AM
Nino Niederreiter (Photo: Andrew430/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)
When it comes to saying which players are the very best of the best, and which are the very worst of the worst, there's often little disagreement between those who follow the game closely and place tremendous value on statistics, those who follow the game closely but aren't interested in statistics, and even casual observers. But when we start talking about more philisophical questions, there's frequently a great chasm between those groups.
One of the great defining issues in this regard is shot quality. If you believe that it's a highly important, repeatable skill, you're probably not a stathead; if you believe that it exists but that its impact over a long period of time is small, you probably are.
September 11 2012 09:53AM
The New York Islanders have been one of the worst teams in the NHL over the past five seasons, finishing with less than 80 points and dead last in their division each and every time. This is, at least in part, intentional, but it's not hard to see why fans might be frustrated after five years of losing. Just look at these comments from Garth Snow in November of 2009:
I don't use that word rebuild. We're trying to make the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup like every other team. We don't go in with the mindset that losing is acceptable, and when that word is used, sometimes winning doesn't matter. I don't think I've used that word too much and if I have, it's been very limited. We're trying to win every hockey game we play in. The group that we have in that locker room, it may be young, but that doesn't mean it can't have success.
Three losing seasons later, Garth Snow remains at the helm, and he's quite a bit less leery about using the word rebuild to describe the 2009-10 season:
If we can move prospects to get a player that is going to come in and going to help us and get us where we want to be, we’re going to make that move. It’s a situation where we’ve gone through a rebuild, we have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, so now it’s an easier decision for me to make moves to get us help immediately.
That comment was made in June of 2012, just before the draft and the opening of unrestricted free agency. So have the Islanders made the necessary moves to compete for a playoff spot, or are we going to hear more about how deep the prospect pool is this time next year?
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 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.