August 08 2012 06:13AM
Bet on Benn to be even better in 2012-13
Photo by Resolute via Wikimedia Commons
The 2012 season saw Jamie Benn start to get national recognition for the type of player he has been developing into over the course of the prior two seasons. He was the Dallas Stars best player on most nights into 2011-12 despite being one of their youngest. The Stars offseason activities are going to further thrust Benn into the spotlight in 2013.
The question is "Can Jamie Benn actually be better?".
The answer is a resounding yes. Benn, despite already being an elite player, is primed for a significant breakout season next year.
August 07 2012 07:24PM
Once again, it's up to Getzlaf to carry the Ducks offense
Photo by Arnold C, via Wikimedia Commons
I'm not going to lie to you: the Anaheim Ducks were a bad team last year. And they're probably a year or two away from getting substantially better. That's the kind of stuff that happens when you swap out Lubomir Visnovsky for Sheldon Souray, your best players have mostly peaked or are past their prime, you have to fire your Stanley Cup-winning coach mid-season, and the youngsters are not quite ready.
Yet, at the same time, this is an exciting team for me. I love watching Jonas Hiller and Teemu Selanne play; ditto Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf. I have a great appreciation for how Toni Lydman and Saku Koivu play the game, and Cam Fowler and Devante Smith-Pelly can be fun guys to watch on the ice.
But what makes up these 2012-13 Ducks, coming off a dismal 22nd-place finish in Fenwick Close? And why could they be slightly optimistic?
August 07 2012 06:19AM
The universe - it's not so static.
Photo by NASA, Public Domain
It was one of those moments that you live for in research. A shocking result popped out of the analysis. "Holy crap, this is going to change the game," I thought.
But that's not the story here. The real story is what happened next.
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.