August 06 2012 01:28PM
Weiss wants to stay on top.
By Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
One year ago, Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers were the laughing stock of the Internet after he splurged to get his team to the cap floor. Tallon acquired eight multi-year contracts last season and while some of them may have appeared reasonable, many of them were just flat out terrible. Not only that but they were raising the market value by overpaying for mediocre players. Despite all of this, Florida managed to win the Southeast Division, make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and take the eventual Eastern Conference champions to seven games in the first round. So the joke is on us now, right? Not quite.
Florida did have a good season and were actually a pretty decent team at even strength, but luck played a role in them winning the Southeast Division last year. They had a worse goal differential than both Washington and Winnipeg, had the same amount of regulation and overtime wins as the Avalanche, Sabres and Hurricanes and acquired 52 of their 94 points from one-goal games, 18 of them coming in shootout/overtime losses. They also played in arguably the weakest division in the NHL, which was left wide open thanks to disappointing seasons from the Capitals and Lightning.
Tallon’s shopping spree last off-season could come back to haunt the team, as well since they are now saddled with a lot of long-term deals and could run into problems when it comes time to give Stephen Weiss a new contract after this season. The good news is that they have a lot of quality forward prospects in their system and one of them could replace Weiss eventually, but having a little under $30 mil. committed to seven players in 2014-15 could make it difficult for the Panthers to build around that group of talent, especially for a small market team.
That being said, the Southeast title is still up for grabs and the Panthers are the defending champs, so they are going to look to defend their throne coming into the year. The only problem is that their team didn’t improve much coming into this off-season while other teams in the division got better. How does Florida stack up compare to them?
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 05 2012 12:39PM
It's the August long weekend! Hockey may be on the back-burner for many, but that doesn't mean that Nation Radio is hurting for things to discuss. Host Allan Mitchell talks about the Oilers with Jason Gregor, the Canucks with Thomas Drance, the NHL in general with Eric T., the AHL with Jim Byers and the WHL with Guy Flaming, with a little soccer talk with Scott Francis Winder in acknowledgement of the fact that when the thermometer is pushing 30 degrees all the talk can't be about hockey.
August 04 2012 01:05PM
Does Martin St. Louis have a last hurrah in him?
By Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
When Steve Yzerman took over as the Lightning’s GM in 2010, most hockey minds thought that he would help make this team competitive again and during the first year of his tenure, he was able to do just that. Tampa Bay made the playoffs and were able to knock off both Pittsburgh and Washington in the first two rounds before being eliminated by Boston. Their success that year appeared to be legitimate as they had the third best Fenwick close percentage in the NHL and a decent young corps to build around in Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Unfortunately for Yzerman, things fell apart last year.
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.