Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Collection of Thoughts

1) I am a big fan of Sam Gagner. Whether or not he becomes a better NHL player than Voracek, I will be happy with the pick as every quote I can find on the guy implies a positive attitude and good hockey sense. I know that a person's disposition isn't measured in goals and assists but I am of the opinion that character matters, especially in NHL prospects. In fairness, you don't get many quotes from Voracek (language issues?) but the devil we know in this situation is saying and doing all of the right things.

2) From what I've read, I like the Plante, Nash, Omark, and Kytnar picks. Plante and Nash seem like safe enough bets while Omark and Kytnar seem like exactly the types of gamble you'd want to take in later rounds. Who the crap is William Quist?

3) Cherepanov, IMO, even with all of the question marks, should have been taken at #15. When you have (at that time) 4 picks inside the top 36 you can afford to swing for the fences, especially when the talent is so clearly there. I realize there may have been any number of behind-the-scenes reasons not to take him from attitude to fitness to willingness to play in the NHL to who knows what - I'm not saying I know what's what but I AM saying the gamble at 15 seems more than worth it.

4) Two schools of thought:
a - picks 15, 30, and 36 are supposed to be an ultimate crapshoot in this draft. The draft is, as we all know, often a crapshoot anyway. Therefore, probability says that it is best to throw as many darts as possible at the board.

b - picks 15, 30, and 36 are supposed to be an ultimate crapshoot in this draft. The draft is, as we all know, often a crapshoot anyway. Therefore, if there's a player you like, then who cares about the extra pick. It's low percentage anyway.

5) Ryan Smyth is going to become a Toronto Maple Leaf (S5). TSN has decided for some reason to hype Smyth along with Briere and Drury ahead of comparably marketable options such as Gomez, Kariya, and Rafalski. Toronto needs a #1 LW very badly. Toronto is a Canadian city and they like to throw money around. I couldn't care less if the Maple Leafs and Smyth even know the other exists but the puzzle piece can be made to fit with only a reasonable amount of edge-mashing. As such, it warrants an S5. Only time will tell if I'm more accurate than Eklund.

6) Curtis Sanford and Alex Auld will become unrestricted free agents this Sunday. Either one would make suitable replacements for Jussi Markannen if he does indeed want to leave town for a bigger role. If you don't know who Curtis Sanford is then you don't remember him absolutely stonewalling the Oilers for bottom feeder St. Louis in "back-to-back" games before and after the Olympic break in 2006... and you especially don't remember how those games were pretty much "must win" at the time. Given that we still had Conkannen in net at the time those two games were perhaps the most frustrating few hours I have ever spent watching Sportsnet.

7) Two defensemen that will now be UFAs are Karel Rachunek and Alexei Semenov. The last I remember of Rachunek is that he helped me win a couple weekly pools back when he was an Ottawa Senator. At 27 he might be reaching the age when other teams have paid him to suck and actual NHL success might reasonably be in his future considering that his resume isn't actually that bad thus far for a guy being given up on. Alex Semenov on the other hand may soon be the poster boy for exactly who we don't want Alex Plante(-nov?) to become.

8) Finally, Dallas Drake is available on waivers and will be a UFA should he clear. Does he have enough left in the tank to be useful in the Dvorak/Johnson role? My bet is no but it's entirely possible Kevin Lowe is cheaper than I am.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Pre Draft Thoughts

I'll probably update this as the draft proceeds (or afterwards), and EDM makes their selections, but here are some pre-draft thoughts:

(1)I'm pretty excited to see exactly what might go down tonight. I would be kind of surprised if the Oilers don't make a trade tonight, but I would also rather they not "overpay" via trade just to make a splash, as my free agent piece below attests.

(2) Sure hope Voracek drops. I have him #1 in my 2007 draft rankings.

(3) I would be kind of disappointed if EDM ends up with Alzner, but not near as disappointed as I would have been 2 months ago. Having read more about Alzner, I certainly like him more than I once did. My disappointment would come more from not getting a top 4 guy (from my list) than it would with anything specifically to do with Alzner.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Before things start up, UFA's I'd target were I the GM

Pondering trade possibilities is interesting, but with no real information to know whether they have potential it's a pretty fruitless exercise (as is this whole post, but it's kinda fun).

This is pretty quickly drawn together, but I wanted to get something down before deals start to happen. Nonetheless, here's a rough guide of what I'd try to do on the UFA market to start preparing the roster for next season:

Sign:

D Hejda - looked pretty good to me, I'll guess he'd cost something like 3.2 over 2, or 5 over 3? I could well be low here, but I'm sure that will apply to everyone I suggest. It'll be interesting to see if CLB snaps Hejda up if EDM doesn't re-sign him before the deadline, maybe Howson was a fan?

D Tarnstrom - I don't know if I'd actually do this, but it sounds like the Oilers are going to and frankly I like the idea (depending on money). I'd rather sign Tarnstrom and Hannan than sign Souray, if the money is even close to the same, for example. Though if you signed Hannan you probably wouldn't be signing Hejda, unless you were also trading Smith, and on and on. I'll estimate Tarnstrom at 4.5 mil over 2 years. If Tjarnqvist looks like he'll be healthy going forward, I'd probably snag him instead, largely because I think a team will be able to get him at a cheap price.

F Nagy - Nagy could be that skill guy Lowe is talking about to play with Hemsky, though maybe that leaves that line too soft? In any case, he would seemingly be a good fit for Hemsky on the PP. I'd guess he'll cost 4.5 a year to sign for 3 years? Too much/little?

F Zubrus/Dvorak/Johnson/Bulis/Fedotenko - I would probably want to find the cheapest guy out of this group to help fill in the forward spots, though you can make the case that these are more to 6/9 forwards. Depending on the guy I would imagine one of these guys would cost you 2-3.5 mil a year, depending on which guy and how the market goes.

Dvorak seemed to like EDM, maybe they could bring him back without too much trouble? He had a nice year in STL though, maybe he's gonna stay there with a good thing going on? In any case I would imagine he'll get something like

These moves would leave EDM with a lineup something like:

Nagy-Horcoff-Hemsky
Moreau-Stoll-Pisani
Torres-Pouliot-Lupul
Thoresen-Reasoner-Dvorak

Nilsson
Schremp
Cogliano
Jacques
Petersen (if re-signed)

Smith-Hejda
Staios-Smid
Greene-Tarnstrom
Gilbert
Grebeshkov
Roy

The cap value on this team would be ~ 45 mil, so actually that leaves them room to spend more via UFA if they so desire. Perhaps they include Lupul in a trade for a D with picks and prospects and fill the forward void with another guy from the group of 5 I listed above, which might bring the salary up to ~47 mil or so? Or maybe you sign Smyth instead of the player from the Dvorak group? Or maybe you sign Smyth instead of Nagy, and spend more on one of the two UFA D than before? Lots of ways to tinker with that basic plan if you have an extra 2 or 3 mil to spend.

This would give EDM a halfway decent lineup, with still a ton of chips to play with in trades and upgrading certain positions. It's not the 87 Oilers though, and this is going to be, again, a pretty tough division...

Some Mock Drafts for those interested

Here are some mock drafts, for those interested in this sort of thing:

TSN: 1-15
16-30
McKenzie's analysis

Sportsnet

ESPN

SI

Redline

ISS

HF mock

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Crazy question

When Bob MacKenzie says this:

"But we also believe the league is not generally in favor of adding a team in southern Ontario."

Why would the league not be in favour of putting a team in a massive market that is a certainty to be a success? Anyone know the background here? Sure, I understand the Leafs' concerns and even Buffalo's, but why would "the league" see this as an issue?

I can't think of a good reason.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Buyer's Fallacy

I know that free agency is still a ways away but I have been thinking a little bit about a term I picked up from an economics course this past year. One of my textbooks presented the idea of a buyer's fallacy in respect to sealed-bid auctions. The basic premise of the idea is that in a sealed auction the good for sale will always be sold for a higher price that it's actually worth.

Why? If you take ten bidders for the same good, you will have ten different estimations of what the buyer is willing to pay - ten different statemens of worth. While the textbook surmised that you could count on the average of the bids to be a reasonable estimate of value, some bids would be below it and some above it with only the single maximum bid taking home the good in question.

The analogy is obvious - here is a simple reason why salaries in the NHL are inflationary. By having an unrestricted free agency system you are in effect creating an auction destined to raise salaries, first for the UFAs and then for anyone at all who can justify a comparison to one of these players in contract negotiations. I'm not sure if RFAs can use UFA prices in arbitration this would only hinder but not stop the inflationary process.

As far as I can see it, there really is no problem here as long as NHL revenue increases. The cap will go up, teams will have money, and teams will spend it on their players of choice. What happens when the league stops showing revenue growth? When the cap levels off or drops? There is a 20% of the cap maximum for any individual player but what if contracts as a whole start drifting closer to that maximum?

I raise those questions but here is the open-ended one I'm most interested in reading opinions on from the many writers and visitors of this site: should the NHL have a method built into its CBA to directly stop or reverse inflation?

edit: as an update to Speeds' post below, the Oilers have let today's deadline pass without signing any of the players on his list.