I've gone on about this in the past on a few occasions, but I just thought I'd throw some more thoughts up on the same subject, taking a bit of a different angle.
NHL general managers are people too, with biases just like the rest of us. And it often seems to me that GMs go after players who have played well in the games that they have watched, which are usually the games that their team is playing. And most GMs listen to their coaches, who have an intimate knowledge of who played vs whom, and who played well, in the games that they coached.
In the case of Lowe, I know that those stints over in Europe for the WHCs weigh in. Isbister had a terrific tourney over there a year or so before he traded for him. He followed the Oilers AHL team around one year that the Oilers missed the playoffs (or maybe just an early exit) in any case I remember him commenting on a player named Torres who played for an opponent, a dominant player in the series. Surely that's Raffi.
When Atlanta traded Heatley for Hossa et al, I looked back at the shift charts for the year previous and Hossa had the Kovalchuk assignment in the OTT-ATL games. Rare, because that sort of thing is usually Alfredsson's gig. So if Waddell asks Hartley what he thinks of Hossa, well Bob and his staff have scrutinized every inch of Thrashers game tape. He's going to think that Hossa is even better than he is, because he's going to assume that he put up those great scoring numbers playing a big chunk against the Modano, Kovalchuk and Thornton types all season.
Kim Johnsson, he of the concussion problem. Minnesota took a gamble with his health when they signed him this summer. Kim also played the second most minutes against Gaborik in their one head to head game last season in Philly, 6.3 minutes. Just a bit behind Hatcher (7.1 minutes) and well clear of 3rd place Forsberg (4.9 minutes), there must have been a lot of penalties in that one. The year previous that sort of responsibility was commonplace for Johnsson, but this was a bit of a rare night for that in 05/06.
Philly played Chicago once. The game was in the windy city. Guess who Yawney played the most against Forsberg at 5on5 on the night? That's right, new Flyer Kyle Calder, a whopping 12.2 minutes H2H. Edging out Duncan Keith and Marty LaPointe. (btw: Mark Bell, who played some tough opp usually, only 2.7 on this night. Spacek, who didn't, with a typical 5.0)
San Jose played Chicago twice after Thornton arrived. That poor Duncan Keith bastard ate up most of those minutes again with 22 (does anyone even know what this guy looks like?).
Then Mark Bell and LaPointe cleanly leading the march for the forwards with 16 minutes of H2H apiece.
Tjarnqvist is usually third in the march of D tough minutes against the other teams top talent. Against the Oilers he managed to edge out both Kuba and Mitchell. He played more against the Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky trio than any other Dman for Lemaire. Now he's an Oiler.
Which L.A King played the most minutes against Markus Naslund last season? Sean Avery of all people, and it looks like he fared well. Crawford is in L.A now. And Avery, the guy that everyone loves to hate, he was brought back to the Kings.
For the most part there is consistency in this sort of thing. The guys that teams are most willing to move are usually the guys that weren't getting a lot of trust from their coach. And the guys that they covet are often the guys who were getting a lot of responsibility from their own coaches in the games that they went head to head.
There are a couple of inconsistencies. Notably PHX and CHI. There seems to be some peculiarity there, a disconnect between the coaching staff and management. In CHI you almost have to expect this sort of thing, but PHX? Damn. Is Gretzky really making the game plans and running the bench for the Coyotes or has he delegated that? Has he just stepped completely away from the hockey opps side, does he even talk to Barnet? Is he schizophrenic?
Only Michalek and Doan saw more responisbility than Johnson and Mara ... and the latter two are gone. And Derek F. Morris signed to a whopping contract? Just doesn't mesh with the actions of the coaching staff last season.
I actually do have a point to all this, for those still reading:
I hope that Lowe targets young defencemen Duncan Keith and Zbynek Michalek. On the surface they look untouchable ... but with the Yotes and Hawks you just never know. I mean I'm sure that any GM would perform due diligence; download the PHX and CHI gametapes from NHL.com and make sure they weren't just flukes, review with coaches and pro scouts, etc.
But damn, I don't know if anyone is that lucky. Keith's EV+/- -7 is a lot more impressive than Spacek's +11 given the context. And Duncan Keith is just a boy by NHL defencemen standards, turned 23 this summer. Z.Michalek I blathered on about in a couple of other posts ('tough minutes' and 'big 8 minutes'), but to add to it, dude also played a staggering amount when the other team had pulled their goalie to try and tie it up. The Coyotes really leaned on the guy in Ohlundian fashion. And he's just 6 months or so older than Keith.
Just a thought.