Archive for August, 2009

Re-Draft Self-Analysis: Matt Niskanen is Kris Letang’s evil twin

August 31, 2009

Every now and then, I’ll provide some self-analysis (particularly when it doesn’t give away SUPER TOP SECRET INFORMATION). Now, naturally, I’m talking about my own team so there will be some natural bias. One person’s steal is another person’s ridiculous bust. So feel free to point out how mediocre Niskanen is/how incorrect this comparison might be in the comments.

When the Pho-icanes picked Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, it made me a sad panda. No doubt about it, the young offensive defenseman wasn’t perfect last season but he handled big minutes about as well as you could expect from a 22-year old D.
In the framework of this draft, Letang brings a lot of nice things to the table. He’s a right handed defenseman who can be a capable top-pairing powerplay guy. At this point in his career, he’s already hit the 30-point mark and could flirt with 40-plus as he matures on the PP alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And better yet, he’s in a contract year with a cap hit under $1 million.
You don’t get much better than that.
But, apparently, you can find a guy who’s almost exactly the same. He’s Matt Niskanen. Just look at the way the two guys compare according to stats taken from

The similarites are almost unreal.
Again, they both shoot right-handed. They’re both 22 years old, in a contract year and constitute less than a $1 million cap hit. Niskanen scored 35 points (or .44 points per game) while Letang scored 33 points (.45 points per game).
But even the seemingly random stats are surpisingly close. They both had 5 multi-point games and about the same amount of “zero point” games. The one area in which there’s a significant difference is PP time but that may be explained by the fact that the Penguins dispersed PP time in an extremely lopsided fashion.
On the other hand

There haven’t been terribly glowing reviews of Niskanen, particularly when looking at the 2008-09 season.

The tones of both Defending Big D and Mike Heika‘s profiles on Niskanen seemed more than negative, experessing hope that he’ll bounce back from last year. No doubt about it, seeing all of these accounts are a bit discouraging (even for a second pairing D).
Ultimately, the choice came down to Niskanen and Stephane Robidas, a guy known for making the All-Star team after a few injuries and also for getting his nose broken approximately 5 million times.
While Niksanen might have a higher offensive ceiling, Robidas can play the PK and PP at a reasonably high level. He’s more experienced and logged some huge minutes last year.
Nonetheless, Niskanen was a nice find.
Here’s how the three defensemen were drafted. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

6-12 (162) – Carolina Hurricanes – Kris Letang

8-24 (234) – Toronto Maple Leafs – Matt Niskanen

9-30 (270) – Florida Panthers – Stephane Robidas

That’s more like it!

August 29, 2009
You gonna draft him, brah?
We made a good bit of progress today, knocking out something like 15 picks. Let’s keep it up!
In other news, I guess its really up to James, but I’m thinking these draft update posts can pretty much be stretched to one per round, right?

10-10 (#280) – Adrian Aucoin to the New Jersey Devils

Cap hit: 2.250000M
10-11 (#281) – Trevor Daley to the New York Rangers
Cap hit: 2.300000M
10-12 (#282) – Pascal Dupuis to the Carolina Hurricanes
Cap hit: 1.400000M
10-13 (#283) – Fabian Brunnstrom to the Minnesota North Stars
Cap hit: 2.225000M
10-14 (#284) – Dave Bolland to the Los Angeles Kings
Cap hit: 3.375000M

10-15 (#285) – James Wisniewski to the Colorado Avalanche

Cap hit: 2.750000
10-16 (#286) – Jarret Stoll to the Edmonton Oilers
Cap hit: 3.600000M
10-17 (#287) – David Steckel to the Washington Capitals
Cap hit: 0.725000M
10-18 (#288) – Colton Orr to the Pittsburgh Penguins
Cap hit: 1.000000M
10-19 (#289) – Martin Hanzal to the Phoenix Coyotes
Cap hit: 0.980000M

10-20 (#290) – Mike Mottau to the St. Louis Blues

Cap hit: 0.762500M
10-21 (#291) – Patrick O’Sullivan to the Atlanta Thrashers
Cap hit: 2.925000M
10-22 (#292) – Maxim Afinogenov to the Nashville Predators
Cap hit: ?????? (maybe its in rubles!)
10-23 (#293) – Dennis Seidenberg to the Los Angeles Kings
Cap hit: 1.200000M
10-24 (#294) – Andrew Ebbett to the Columbus Blue Jackets
Cap hit: 0.487500M

10-25 (#295) – Denis Grebeshkov to the New York Islanders

Cap hit: 3.150000M
10-26 (#296) – Mike Smith to the Chicago Blackhawks
Cap hit: 2.200000M
10-27 (#297) – Kevin Klein to the Dallas Stars
Cap hit: 0.650000M
10-28 (#298) – Maxime Talbot to the Tampa Bay Lightning
Cap hit: 1.200000
10-29 (#299) – Jonas Gustavsson to the Vancouver Canucks
Cap hit: 2.500000M

10-30 (#300) – David Moss to the Calgary Flames

Cap hit: 1.300000M

Clare from All Hawks Hockey shares one of her Earliest Hockey Memories

August 27, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

(At this point, you are probably aware of Clare’s work at All Hawks Hockey. She’s been a big help during the big unruly League Re-Draft process and a friend of the blog for quite some time. Make sure to follow her as the Blackhawks approach one of their most important seasons in ages.)

Clare: “I love the Sabres so much I would wear my t-shirt when I practiced my violin.”

My father works as an usher for the Sabres, has for years and knew one of the guys in the ticket office. He worked in the same section every night, so some nights in an attempt to get me to love hockey close to as much as he did, he called the ticket guy and would see if there was a seat available in his section. Most nights there was because they had 13 seats in one of the rows and 12 of them were held by season ticket holders. Seat nine was never sold.

One night, I was about seven and at the Sabres game, soon to my surprise the seat to my right was filled by someone very familiar.

I believe he was injured or it was the first year that the Sabres had three goalies. He and his then-girlfriend, now wife were sitting in the stands. Let me tell you that the rumor that he talks a lot is actually complete fact. He talked through the whole game, we talked mostly about hockey, I think although I can’t really remember.

When I got home I proudly told my mother:

“I sat next to someone very important today at the game!”

She responded: “Really? Did you?”

In my funny little seven year old voice, I said “I sat next to “Maa-rten Bee-ron” and he thought I was adorable!”

It is one of my earliest hockey memories and has since always made me a Marty Biron fan.

Martin Brodeur should pass the Olympic torch in 2010

August 27, 2009

When Martin Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the all-time record in goaltending wins, the NHL Network began running a gushing special feature about Brodeur’s illustrious career. One of the special’s primary focuses was Roy’s refusal to share goaltending starts with Brodeur in ’98, a frustrating experience for the then-budding superstar.

Canada fell short of a gold medal that year, but then came back in 2002 to take the top prize with Brodeur in net. Yet, in 2006, Team Canada was unable to even threaten for a medal.

Now, obviously, Brodeur wasn’t the #1 problem for a team that couldn’t score to save its life.

Still, it makes you wonder if Canada – the only country with enough elite goalies that they will inevitably be forced to leave potential Hall of Famers behind – would benefit more from starting a guy who’s never been given the opportunity to win a gold medal.

Besides, Brodeur’s unreal workhorse streak is now in danger of becoming a thing of the past after his bicep injury last season. Does he need to risk one of his final prime years for a second gold medal? No, not in my opinion.

If I were Steve Yzerman, I would go with Roberto Luongo. Imagine the kind of backing Bobby Lou would receive, not only representing Canada but also the hometown Vancouver Canucks? It’s almost a cosmic occurrence. (Of course, it would be an unreal amount of pressure, but this is what he’s always wanted … right?)

Luongo’s gone all these years playing for terrible teams in Long Island and Florida plus a good-but-not-elite club in Vancouver. This could be his chance to cement his legacy as one of the truly great goalies of his generation.

He’s younger, in his prime and hungrier than Brodeur.*

Even if Luongo is unavailable, Syrupland would have oh-so-many great options. They could go with the money goaltending of J.S. Giguere. Get a puck mover like Marty Turco. Maybe go with a young phenom such as Steve Mason, Cam Ward or even Marc Andre Fleury. Just about every other nation would kill for guys who won’t even be reserves for Canada.

Then again, if the Canadians decide to make the same lazy types of decisions that they made in 2002, that would be absolutely fine with me. My country needs all the help it can get.

* – Go ahead, make a token fat joke. Shame on you.

Picks Update: Glengarry Glencross

August 26, 2009

[Sorry, Jumbo Joe. Stanley Cup Coffee is for closers.]

9-23 (263) – San Jose Sharks – Curtis Glencross

Cap Hit: $1,200,000

9-24 (264) – Ottawa Senators – Jakub Voracek

Cap Hit: $1,270,833

9-25 (265) – Boston Bruins – Byron “Ritz” Bitz

Cap Hit: $687,500

9-26 (266) – Buffalo Sabres – John Michael Liles

Cap Hit: $4,200,000

9-27 (267) – Anaheim Ducks – Valtteri Filppula

Cap Hit: $3,000,000

9-28 (268) – Montreal Canadiens – Andrew Cogliano

Cap Hit: $1,133,333

9-29 (269) – Detroit Red Wings – Antoine Vermette

Cap Hit: $2,762,500

9-30 (270) – Florida Panthers – Stephane Robidas

Cap Hit: $1,500,000


10-1 (271) – Florida Panthers – Scottie Upshall

Cap Hit: $1,500,000

10-2 (272) – Edmonton Oilers – Jay McKee

Cap Hit: $800,000

10-3 (273) – Montreal Canadiens – Paul Ranger

Cap Hit: $933,333

10-4 (274) – Anaheim Ducks – Jason Williams

Cap Hit: $1,500,000

10-5 (275) – Buffalo Sabres – Eric Brewer

Cap Hit: $4,250,000

10-6 (276) – Boston Bruins – Cory Stillman

Cap Hit: $3,533,333

10-7 (277) – Ottawa Senators – Tim Gleason

Cap Hit: $2,750,000

10-8 (278) – San Jose Sharks – Matt “Hot Carle”

Cap Hit: $3,437,500

10-9 (279) – Toronto Maple Leafs – Bill Guerin

Cap Hit: $2,000,000

Re-Draft Steals and Regrets: J.S. Giguere

August 23, 2009

Since the ninth round of the draft devolved into a dispiriting mess, it seems like a good time to roll out some Re-Draft self-analysis. Other GMs are encouraged to share their perspective on their draft choices, too, on their blogs or in this space.

Note: most of these posts won’t be as ruthlessly verbose as this one.

Why J.S. Giguere was a steal

His contract is huge at $6 million. With Jonas Hiller stealing his #1 job (at least during the playoffs and to an extent toward the end of last season), it’s not a certainty that Giguere will receive the lion share of Anaheim’s starts.

No doubt about it, there are some drawbacks to picking up Giguere. That being said, let’s look at some of the reasons why we think that he was a big steal.

1. Giguere is awesome in video games

No denying it, Giguere’s digi-prowess was a strong consideration. He was rated 89 last year, which puts him in the class of the Ryan Millers of the world. Even though he’ll probably see his polygonal stock drop a bit, he should still be a nicely rated goalie.

Hiller stole Giguere’s job, but it’s unclear if he’ll be superior over the long haul.

2. The pickup game question

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: if I want to win a game and could choose ONE goalie to make it happen, who would it be? Giguere might not come out on top of that list, but he’s up there.

You’d probably get responses of Luongo and Brodeur first, but it’s reasonable to say that Giguere makes the second tier. He’s won a Stanley Cup and carried a drastically understaffed Ducks team to game 7 of the SCF, earning him a rare Conn Smythe in defeat.

How many goalies can say that?

3. Elite Numbers

Watching a bunch of young and/or cheap goalies drop like flies, the original strategy was to simply snatch up quality players and hope for the best when it came to a goalie. Yet, in the third round, people picked apple of my eye types such as Bobby Ryan and Ales Hemsky. As these guys kept going, it occurred to me that Giguere was just sitting there like a Hollywood starlet who only made one bad movie.

Mia Sara: the Giguere of actresses?

It didn’t hurt that some of the great hockey analytical minds were placing him high on objective, elite goalie lists.

Giguere ranked #6 in Copper and Blue’s best goalies since the Lockout post.

#5 (and #3 among active goalies) in Brodeur is a Fraud’s best goalies of the 00’s

#6 (and #3 among NHL/active goalies) in Brodeur is a Fraud’s Even-Strength Save Percentage Leaders since 1998-99.

To balance that out, though, he didn’t even appear in BiaF’s Penalty Kill Save Percentage study. Could that be a matter of poor lateral movement or what?

Either way, though, to see Giguere topping many of those lists made me think that he’s possibly a top-10 goalie even though 24 goalies went before him.

4. Value

Take a look at when and where the goalies have been taken so far:

1-3 (3) – Tampa Bay Lightning – Henrik Lundquist
1-11 (11) – St. Louis Blues – Roberto Luongo
1-19 (19) – Carolina Hurricanes – Martin Brodeur
1-20 (20) – New York Rangers – Miika Kiprusoff
1-21 (21) – New Jersey Devils – Niklas Backstrom (G)
2-3 (33) – Anaheim Ducks – Tim Thomas
2-4 (34) – Florida Panthers – Steve Mason
2-6 (36) – Boston Bruins – Evgeni Nabokov
2-7 (37) – Ottawa Senators – Cam Ward
2-13 (43) – Minnesota North Stars – Ryan Miller
2-14 (44) – Los Angeles Kings – Marc Andre Fleury
2-19 (49) – Phoenix Coyotes – Chris Mason
2-23 (53) – Detroit Red Wings – Pekka Rinne
2-25 (55) – New York Islanders – Tomas Vokoun
2-26 (56) – Chicago Blackhawks – Jonas Hiller
2-29 (59) – Vancouver Canucks – Jonathan Quick
3-1 (61) – Calgary Flames – Martin Biron
3-4 (64) – Dallas Stars – Scott Clemmensen
3-9 (69) – Nashville Predators – Simeon Varlamov
3-10 (70) – Atlanta Thrashers – Marty Turco
3-13 (73) – Pittsburgh Penguins – Craig Anderson
3-14 (74) – Washington Capitals – Cristobal Huet
3-15 (75) – Columbus Blue Jackets – Nikolai Khabibulin
3-29 (89) – Colorado Avalanche – Carey Price
4-9 (99) – Toronto Maple Leafs – Jean-Sebastian Giguere
6-5 (155) – Buffalo Sabres – Chris Osgood
6-8 (158) – San Jose Sharks – Kari Lehtonen
7-7 (187) – Philadelphia Flyers – Ilya Bryzgalov

Closing Thoughts

Even if Hiller is considered the 1A, the Ducks have every reason to give Giguere starts. He has plenty of trade value and could conceivably start for most of the league’s teams.

He might not be the best goalie in the league, but he’s certainly comparable (or even better) than early goalie picks like Backstrom, Kipper and Miller and far more seasoned than Price, Anderson, Clemmensen, Quick or Varlamov.

But what are your thoughts? Was Giguere a nice steal or a crazy, expensive gamble?

Picks Update

August 22, 2009
Muuuueller? Muuuueller?

9-12 (252) – Phoenix Coyotes – Peter Mueller
Cap Hit: $1,700,000

9-13 (253) – Pittsburgh Penguins – Georges Laraque
Cap Hit: $1,500,000

9-14 (254) – Washington Capitals – Tomas Fleischmann
Cap Hit: $725,000

9-15 (255) – Columbus Blue Jackets – Sergei Samsonov
Cap Hit: $2,533,333

9-16 (256) – Detroit Red Wings – Darren Helm
Cap Hit: $599,444

9-17 (257) – Los Angeles Kings – Mike Modano
Cap Hit: $3,450,000

9-18 (258) – Minnesota North Stars – Matt Greene
Cap Hit: $2,950,000

9-19 (259) – Carolina Hurricanes – Rob Scuderi
Cap Hit: $3,400,000

9-20 (260) – New York Rangers – Ville Leino
Cap Hit: $800,000

9-21 (261) – New Jersey Devils – Andrei Kostitsyn
Cap Hit: $3,250,000

9-22 (262) – Philadelphia Flyers – Joni Pitkanen
Cap Hit: $4,000,000

i love you james

August 22, 2009

you are the man

you rock bro

A rare foray into fanboyism

August 19, 2009

Just thought I’d pass along the little questionnaire I did for A View From the Cheap Seats. It’s a rare moment in which my Penguins fan roots show loudly and regularly. There’s also a joke about foot fetishes and Alex Ovechkin‘s less-than-stellar back checking tendencies. Enjoy and make sure you read the other questionnaires, even if they’re not as awesome. Naturally.

Cycle Like Sedins NHL re-draft – August 19

August 19, 2009
Me and James have discussed it, and we both agree that at this point, the best thing to do when picks get messed up by the taking of players that have already been taken, is to let the draft keep going. Tools have been provided and updated on a semi-regular basis that should make it easy to follow who has been picked. Beyond that, its not unreasonable to ask that you check the last several picks before your own, if the draft boards or spreadsheets have not been updated yet.

With that in mind, we’ve decided that the new policy for an invalid pick shall be that the team making the invalid pick will be notified that their pick is invalid, but in the meantime, picks will continue in the order as if the original pick was made correctly. The team who has made the original invalid pick can jump in at any time to make a valid pick, but we’re not going to pause the draft to let them fix it, and the players taken in the interrim, between the invalid pick and the corrected pick will not be available to the team that made the invalid pick. Basically, if you follow the NFL, its the same process the NFL uses in the draft when the Minnesota Vikings screw up and don’t make their pick on time. Here’s an example:

Team A picks player 1
Team B picks player 2
Team C picks player 1 (the invalid pick)
Team D picks player 3
Team E picks player 4
Team C picks player 5 (corrected pick, players 3 and 4 are unavailable, as they’ve already been taken)

So what can you use to keep from making an invalid pick? You can go to any of these and try using CTRL + F to search for the player’s name. It’d be a good idea to check how up to date it is too, to see how far back you might need to check the actual picks thread as well.

The Big Draft Board here on the CLS Message Board….splay&thread=39

Double Edged Sabres’ Draft Board

Alternatively, you can catch Cassie via email and she can shoot you the spreadsheet that she is keeping.

Why are we doing this? Because there is no reason for the draft to be held up when people are given multiple sources of information for tracking players taken through this draft. I understand we’re all doing this for fun, but it only takes a minute to do a couple quick CTRL + F’s to keep things running smoothly. On the organizational end of this, James, and to a lesser extent, myself and several others, are doing what is needed to make this go smoothly. The other part of making this go smoothly is on your end, and we’d like everyone to make sure they’re holding up that end of the deal.

With that business out of the way, here’s today’s picks:

9-5 (#245) – Adam Burish to the Chicago Blackhawks

Cap hit: 0.713M

9-6 (#246) – Rich Peverley to the New York Islanders
Cap hit: 0.488M

9-7 (#247) – Bryan McCabe to the Philadelphia Flyers
Cap hit: 5.750M

9-8 (#248) – Kim Johnsson to the Colorado Avalanche
Cap hit: 4.850M

9-9 (#249) – Vaclav Prospal to the Nashville Predators
Cap hit: 1.100M

9-10 (#250) – Tomas Holmstrom to the Atlanta Thrashers
Cap hit: 2.250M

9-11 (#251) – Martin Erat to the St. Louis Blues
Cap hit: 4.500M