Archive for the ‘Jay Bouwmeester’ Category

Five Hole Fanatics/Matchsticks & Gasolines’ Kent shares (pre-Bouwmeester signing) Flames FA thoughts

July 1, 2009
H/T to Vance from Bangin Panger for another great PhotoShop

Please keep in mind Kent sent me this post before it was announced that Jay Boumweester signed a big contract with the Calgary Flames. Congrats to Kent and Calgary fans for that; good luck to Sutter as he tries to make some kind of sense of the team’s cap situation.

Anyway, as always, we thank Kent for his considerable loyalty and generosity to CLS. Make sure to follow both Five Hole Fanatics (for the number cruncher in you) and Matchsticks & Gasoline (for the Flames information). Thanks, Kent!

1.) Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Todd Bertuzzi. And it’s not because he’s a violent criminal (this time). It’s because he’s an ineffective hockey player. His stats line may look alright from last year, but he was, for very long stretches, the worst player in the Flames top 9 forwards. Lazy and penalty-prone, Bertuzzi also favored the excessively fancy play to the right one. I dubbed him “sore thumb” for the manner in which he stuck out during amongst the Flames top 6 forwards. His inappropriate use of back-hand passes became a punchline in Flame circles. He’s big, but he plays like a man who’s had numerous back surgeries. He’s also injury prone. His offensive totals from this past season are almost totally based on Keenan feeding him lots of ice time and good line mates.

If the Flames re-sign Bertuzzi, I may have to turn in my fan card.

2.) Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

I would hate to see Marian Hossa land in Edmonton or Vancouver. He’s easily one of the best two-way forwards in the league and he instantly makes any team he’s on better.

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Litter Box Cats provides perspective on the Florida Panthers’ upcoming draft

June 21, 2009

Litter Box Cats has been a blog buddy of ours for a while now. As the Florida Panthers representative at Sports Blog Nation, Whale4Ever is an excellent blogger providing information on a largely under-represented NHL team. In fact, the blog’s been so strong that Hockey Barn deemed them their “rookie of the year.” Congratulations all around.

Make sure to follow Litter Box Cats as the team tries to sort out a possible Bouwmeester-less future.

1. What direction do you expect the Panthers to go in with their first round draft pick? Could it possibly be reactionary, based on the possible loss of Jay Bouwmeester?

Absolutely the Bouwmeester situation will affect the first Florida pick; no question it’s reactionary. If there’s a pick taken by the team in the first round at all. Assistant General Manager-to-Nobody Randy Sexton has been quite verbal about the draft, in a very modest sense; few hints about the direction it will take have been established, but he has * BIIG MOMENT COMING * at least met with the media and is opening a line of communication before unheard of during the Martin days. Bouwmeester’s status – and the naturally expected “Stealth Mode” of the scouting staff – has everything to do with Sexton’s vanilla responses. Can’t blame ’em for clamming. Move up? Move down? Trade the rights exclusively? Can’t fault their approach. Gonna be a Texas-sized steel-caged auction until the very last moment on Friday. How better to razz our friends in Philly? A lot is on the line for the organization …

2. Is there any chance the Panthers might gain another pick by trading the “negotiating rights” for Jay-Bo?

Yes, and then some, hopefully. But my guess is the club is no longer “rebuilding” in the traditional sense. They could most certainly gain another pick – or three. I don’t believe that’s the strategy. They need players for the big club now. We’re not staring at one of the finer free agent summers, but on the same note the Cats aren’t going to have to suffer through obscenely inflated prices for non-game-busting B-listers like Gomez, Drury, Smyth, and the like. It’s pretty cut-and-dried: the Sedin brothers – not your garden-variety pair – have set the market. Going back to the original question, my answer is thus: the Panthers will trade Bouw’s rights to the highest bidder before July 1st. We (the fans) are hoping to get a “name” roster player out of it, but only a sign-and-trade will accomplish that. My guess? It’ll be a big-time deal involving several players, probably goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

3. Looking back, tell us about some of your favorite Panthers drafting memories/moments. What were some of the franchises biggest moves and greatest “steals”?

The Pavel Bure thing was okay..but surrounded by no one, his consistent 50-goal seasons were fruitless.

Can’t honestly answer that question without going back to what was one of the greatest steals in league history, that of Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen coming to Sunrise from Long Island for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish during the 2000 offseason. Ironically enough, Luongo was involved six years later in what many consider the most lopsided deal in NHL annals (forgetting Francis, Samuelsson, Jennings for Cullen, Zalapski, Parker some years earlier. Pens fans remember it well. So do a select few in Hartford). As for “steals”? Almost everyone acquired by Bill Torrey/Bobby Clarke when the team was formulated in 1993. With a few exceptions, they melded into a tough group to play, culminating in the Stanley Cup Final runners-up for 1996. An otherwise forgettable roster, built on character and uncommon effort, which exceeded any sane hockey observer’s expectations. Until you looked at the individuals involved, and it became clear why success was so quick in coming. Whether by default or design, a lot of Panthers fans are very comfortable knowing Bill Torrey is back at the helm following the loss of Jacques Martin.

4. On the other hand, take us back to some of the team’s worst draft day decisions. Are there any specific moves or missed opportunities that really make Panthers ask themselves “What if?” type questions?

Leaving out what we’ve already covered, as far as draft picks have gone, no player has taken – or earned – the local wrath that Denis Shvidki or Petr Taticek has absorbed. We’re not on a Patrik Stefan level here, but only because Florida wasn’t picking overall first in those drafts. Given the remarkably paranoid and psychotic Florida “management” of those years (read: Keenan et al), it’s quite probable Stefan may still be playing in Sunrise. Or for the organization after it had been relocated to Sarnia on the back of a Taticek or Shvidki. Anyone can look up the details; the Panthers had a ridiculous number of busts in the early 2000s. Have at it.

The Litter Box’s Prediction for the 2009 Entry Draft: 14th pick is traded along with G Tomas Vokoun and contractual rights of Jay Bouwmeester to Philadelphia for Danny Briere, Joffrey Lupul, and 1st round pick in 2010. REALLY don’t like it, but that’s me guess. If it’s the best out there, take it.

Blogger GM vs. Real-life GM: Southeast Division

March 7, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look with the Southeast leading off:

Real Life: Jay Bouwmeester
stays put.

What our Florida correspondent, Whale4ever from Litterbox Cats said:

“If I were running the show, Jay Bouwmeester would be a Panther until July 1st. I understand the potential lunacy of allowing the guy to walk for nothing, but I’m firmly in the camp that demands keeping the team intact through the end of the season.”

You are correct, sir.

Real Life: Ilya Kovalchuk stays put, the Thrashers trade Niclas Havelid to the New Jersey Devils.

Here’s what on of our Atlanta correspondents, Mortimer Peacock from Blueland Chronicle said:

“Niclas Havelid and Marty Reasoner to playoff contenders for draft picks. One of the goalies needs to be moved; what we get depends on whether we move Lehtonen, Hedberg, or Pavelec.”

Half-right. The Thrashers did, indeed, move Havelid but did not trade their goalies.

Real Life (or was it … seriously was this trade an acid dream or something?): the Lightning trade Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward, Andy Rogers, and a 4th round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Richard Petiot.

We’re not going to count that one. Brian Burke, you dirty dog.

Real life: Washington Capitals do nothing.

CAPS chick from DC Cheap Seats wanted the Capitals to find a way to get rid of Michael Nylander. If not, she felt the team could use a vocal veteran presence, a puck moving D or a solid backup goalie.

Wrong, but time will tell if CAPS chick’s instinct was better.

Real life: Carolina Hurricanes trade Justin Williams for Erik Cole in a three-team trade that also involved Patrick O’Sullivan.

Cory from Canes Country said:

“If the Hurricanes were going to win, it would be riding the waves of Cam Ward and Eric Staal, not on some mid-level rental player. With the farm system improving, it wouldn’t be prudent to sacrifice a prospect or draft pick for a player like that.”

Actually, my post might have been the closest in that I perceived GM Jim Rutherford‘s taste for nostalgia:

“Maybe go after Doug Weight, Cory Stillman or Mark Recchi just for old times sake?”

Nonetheless, we were wrong. The Hurricanes went after a young rental player. Wow.

If you were the GM (Southeast Division edition)

March 3, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?”

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Then don’t buy it! Now get outta here you kids!!! This isn’t a library!!!)

Florida Panthers

(MAR 2)

Whale4ever from Litterbox Cats

If I were running the show, Jay Bouwmeester would be a Panther until July 1st. I understand the potential lunacy of allowing the guy to walk for nothing, but I’m firmly in the camp that demands keeping the team intact through the end of the season.

The Panthers desperately need playoff action, no secret there. The revenue, the local media focus, blah blah blah…all the usual tired reasons. Might make a depth move, but the club is pretty solid from top to bottom. Could really use a number one center (insert Olli Jokinen joke here), but again, I don’t blow it up.

If the Cats somehow don’t make the post-season, as Jacques Martin, I’m out of work.

Chris Kontos: This is the eternal debate… at least for the 2009 NHL Trading Deadline. Should Bow stay or should he go? Yes, the Panthers very well could make the playoffs this season and experience the revenue, money and local media windfalls. But when he signs with another team July 1st… will the Panthers make the playoffs next year? Ask the Atlanta Thrashers how that one year in the playoffs has paid off for them.

James O’Brien: It all depends on what they can get for Jay Bouwmeester. Honestly, they MUST receive at least one suitable roster player plus prospects. Is anyone willing to give that up? Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow. The Panthers are on fire right now – way, way WAY more than the Thrashers ever were – and perhaps a playoff run on the team that drafted him would melt some of the ice off of Bow’s heart. Very thin ice for the Panthers.

***

Atlanta Thrashers

Totally awesome Photoshop from Aaron Brown of Blueland Outsider:

***

The Falconer from Bird Watchers Anonymous
(2/25)

The Thrashers have several pending Unrestricted Free Agents (Reasoner, Perrin, Havelid) all of whom are likely to be dealt. If I were GM I’d offer both Reasoner and Havelid one year deals for next season and if they decline trade them for draft picks or prospects.

As far as the non-UFA Thrashers, there has been some trade chatter about Colby Armstrong but the Thrashers have made clear they value what he brings and a team would have to overpay to get him in a trade. On the other hand, Erik Christensen who was obtained from Pittsburgh one
year ago has been mostly invisible all year, he’s probably available if anyone wants him. Others who could be available if the offer was right include Todd White (C), Jim Slater (S), Eric Boulton (W), Brett Sterling (LW), Garnet Exelby (D), Nathan Oystrick (D) and perhaps Johan
Hedberg (G). Note: Slava Kozlov has a no trade clause and from what I hear is not inclined to waive it.

(2/25)

Mortimer Peacock from Blueland Chronicle

Niclas Havelid and Marty Reasoner to playoff contenders for draft picks. One of the goalies needs to be moved; what we get depends on whether we move Lehtonen, Hedberg, or Pavelec.

Chris Kontos: Just trade Kovalchuk and get on with it. Yikes, when Marty Reasoner is your most tradeable asset things are either really good… or really bad. In this case… really, really bad.

James O’Brien:
Don’t, under any circumstances, trade Ilya Kovalchuk. Kidnap him from Russia to extend his contract next summer if you have to. Without Kovie the Thrashers might as well move to Kansas City. Seriously.

***

Tampa Bay Lightning

Cassie from Boltsblog
(3/01)

If I were GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning in time for the trade deadline….

The first thing I’d do is put the ownership on waivers, but not really expecting anyone to pick them up. I’d send them down to the minors after they’d cleared waivers so they can screw up an AHL team instead while they’re trying to get the hang of this ownership/management thing. Then maybe I’d give them another go here in the next couple of years – see how they mature in the minors and all of that, you know.

Okay, here are some trades that I think could benefit the Lightning:

LW Pettinger & C Craig (TB) for D Weber (Nash.)

Saw I and Saw II (TB) for D Skoula (Minn.)

RW Hall, a draft pick, and all of ESPN’s Lightning bashing this season (TB) for D Hutchinson (Dal.)

C Lecavalier for all of the Montreal Canadiens – as well as all 24 of their Cup wins, Beliveau, Richard, Blake, Robinson, & Geoffrion (all that history is just weighing them down, and who needs that?)

All of the constant Canadian hockey press bashing of the Lightning & the Southeast Division for an automatic 8th seed in the East

The entire Edmonton Oilers team (players only) for all of the Tampa Bay Lightning – except for Lecavalier and St. Louis, of course

Owner Len Barrie & GM Lawton to Canada for some poutine & beer

Fort Lauderdale should trade the entire Florida Panthers organization to Portland, Oregon, for some environmental know-how – the Lightning need a larger fan base in the state of Florida

Chris Kontos: I love the idea of creating an automatic 8th seed for the team that comes in 2nd in the Southeast Division. Also, the first 2 Saw films for Skoula would be an excellent pick up.

James O’Brien: Wow, what a brutal year for Tampa Bay. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis both have pretty solid contracts. So, keep Lecavalier and St. Louis along with Mike Smith and Steve Stamkos. Everyone else is fair game.

***

Washington Capitals
CAPS chick from DC Cheap Seats
(2/28)

“If there was a way to get rid of Nylander, that would be my first move – there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that he just doesn’t fit into the Caps lineup anymore. Sadly short of driving him out into the middle of nowhere and leaving him there, that doesn’t seem like a possibility. He’d probably just find his way back anyways, the little scamp.

Top of the list would be a vocal veteran presence and/or a puck-moving defenseman – someone like Kaberle or Pronger might be nice if they don’t ask too much in return. Package a prospect like Chris Bourque, maybe a pick or two or even one of the Caps’ current young defensemen for either one. And if a backup goaltender surfaced for the right price it might be worth exploring; Neuvirth and Varlamov have four games of NHL experience between them and that’s a little scary with the playoffs looming.

Of course, there’s always the old standby…more Russians!!”

Chris Kontos: Senator, I’ve seen Jose Theodore. I’ve known Jose Theodore. Jose Theodore is the goalie for the Washington Capitals. Jose Theodore… you are no playoff goaltender.

James O’Brien: This Capitals team is scary. It would be pretty cool if they made a Marian Hossa-type splashy signing only for a big name D guy or a UFA goalie. But it’s probably not going to happen.

 ***

Carolina Hurricanes
Cory from Canes Country
(2/27)

A rational person who watches a team all season knows whether or not the team has “a shot.” This incarnation of the Hurricanes, in my mind, has little chance to win the Cup. That being said, a hot goalie can go a long way toward strengthening a cause — as people who watched the Hurricanes in 2006 know. But given the play of the team this season, I’d stand pat.

If the Hurricanes were going to win, it would be riding the waves of Cam Ward and Eric Staal, not on some mid-level rental player. With the farm system improving, it wouldn’t be prudent to sacrifice a prospect or draft pick for a player like that.

The team’s trade-able assets (Dennis Seidenberg, Chad LaRose) probably wouldn’t fetch enough return to justify removing them from a team that wants to make the playoffs. Anton Babchuk and Tuomo Ruutu are RFAs at season’s end, but the team will definitely want to make an effort to keep Ruutu and will likely do the same for Babchuk, which means it would take an impressive offer to pry either out of Raleigh. Now, if some former Plymouth Whaler becomes available, Jim Rutherford might possess me and make me do the deal. I wouldn’t be responsible for any move like that.

Chris Kontos: Excellent analysis from the deep south. Carolina is a decent team that would serve no benefit from a playoff rental.

James O’Brien: Could the Hurricanes benefit from a cheap trade for one of their old Stanley Cup run rentals? Maybe go after Doug Weight, Cory Stillman or Mark Recchi just for old times sake? Overall this team is pretty bland and should probably just hope for some kind of random lucky break.

Bow Flex

February 27, 2009
Really? This is the guy that GM’s are going to be battling over this weekend?

James has already chimed in on the fate of the Florida Panthers this season. But I have a bigger question… who the heck is Jay Bouwmeester anyway? I spend the majority of my time watching Western Conference hockey, and since the Kings have only played the Florida Panthers 5 times in the last 5 years… I really don’t feel like I have a clear sense of how good or how mediocre a defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is. I’ve never had him on a fantasy team, never traded for him in NHL 07, 08 or 09 and never heard a friend say “oh man, that Bouwmeester is a BEAST on the blueline.” Although, if any friend said that about a NHL player I probably would hit him. Or at least smile at him gently.

Here’s what I do know about Jay Bouwmeester… he is the current NHL leader in consecutive games played, not missing a game in 4+ seasons. His career high in points is 46. Career high in penalty minutes is 79. And he averages about 27 minutes a game. He’s 25 years old and is a 6 year NHL veteran. So we are looking at a reliable, top 30 NHL defenseman without much of a mean streak. And man, does he know how to look non-threatening in a photo.

So if you are an NHL GM… do you make a play for this UFA? What do you give up for someone who seems to have no intention of signing with a NHL team before this summer? Remember, the NHL Trading Deadline causes strange things to happen… witness Mike Comrie being swapped for a low #1 draft pick. But for a NHL All-Star defenseman? Lubomir Visnovsky cost the Oilers Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. What would you trade for Kyle Quincey? What would you pay to get Keith Duncan or Ryan Suter? Could Ron Hainsey be the one to put you over the 8th seed bubble? Because all those guys are in and around JBo.

Now I’m sure that Bouwmeester has some amazing intangibles that I’m just not aware of because I haven’t seen him play as much as I’ve seen Pronger, Phaneuf, Souray or Jovanovski. And I realize that is my fault. But can you really blame me for not catching a lot of Florida Panther games over the past few years? I mean look at this monstrosity of a jersey.


I’m not paying money to watch this on tv.

Florida wants the return you get for a #1 defenseman because Florida actually thinks Bouwmeester is a #1 defenseman. In reality, he’s a strong 2nd on a good NHL team. He is only getting so much hype because he is a UFA. But here’s the fun part about the Trading Deadline. Someone will probably will give up what Florida wants. And then Brian Burke will get double that for any of his Toronto fire-sales.

I’m in the camp that believes 100% Florida should trade Bouwmeester. Sure the Panthers are 6th in the Eastern Conference, but they are only 4 points out of 10th place too. And are the Panthers really going to put together the kind of run to challenge Boston, Washington, New Jersey or Philly? There is a great future coming together in South Florida and McCabe, Boynton and Ballard should be able to hold down the team for the remainder of the season. So get rid of Jay Bouwmeester and be done with it… before he turns into this guy:

What say you Florida Panther fans? I know that you come to this blog in force. Is Bouwmeester really that good and he’s never gotten the chance to play in a meaningful game? (well, he did play in 18 AHL playoff games with Chicago in 2005… and had 0 points.) Or has he just been the best defenseman on an awful team the last 5 years? Believe the hype or not?

The Rat Pack is Back

February 24, 2009
No, not that Rat Pack, you silly.

(Was going to go with … “Year of the Rat?” but that seems too obvious)

With the Pittsburgh Penguins showing the consistency of Robert Downey Jr. in the 90s, the Montreal Canadiens partying like mob stars, the New York Rangers somehow not firing Glen “yeah he got Gretzky but he also gave Bobby Holik $8 million per year” Sather, the Hurricanes mired in mediocrity and the Sabres facing the grim reality of it no longer being (Ryan) Miller time … the Florida Panthers might just be the safest bet to burst through the East’s modest playoff bubble.

But that masks a shocking observation: the Panthers are probably the second hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now.

As Florida tries to generate an encore performance in Boston after Tomas Vokoun‘s masterful 41-save shutout of the Bruins, it seems to be as good a time as ever to take a peak at these under-the-radar Panthers.

Goaltending

In a post focusing on Jay Bouwmeester‘s future (or lack thereof) in Florida, Five Hole Fanatics took a look at the Panthers’ outstanding goaltending this season:

“The lone factor holding the Panthers in the race is that unsustainable .933
E[ven]S[trength] SV%.”

Hopefully after shutting out the East-leading Boston Bruins, Vokoun will begin to develop some Vezina chatter. He’s been absolutely outstanding since the start of 2009:

February numbers: 6-3 with a 1.66 GAA, 95.4(!) save percentage and three shutouts

January numbers: 6-2-2 with a 2.16 GAA, 92.4 save percentage (no SOs)

Really, the only off month for Vokoun the vaccum came in where he went 2-6 with a 3.29 GAA and a 90.4 save percentage. His numbers are especially impressive because he really has to earn those shutouts. The shot totals he’s faced in his six total shutouts: 41, 42, 36, 27, 23 and 31.

And although Vokoun is the cleary No. 1, Craig Anderson proves to be a high quality backup (when he’s not getting caught drooling over ice girls).


Heh heh. Anderson’s managed a save percentage just under 93, with a 2.49 GAA and 3 shutouts in 23 games played.

Florida is in a three-way tie for first with the Islanders and Coyotes for the league’s most “stolen games” while they only have one “blown game.” Those stats might be the simplest – if most atypical – way to explain how much of a difference Florida’s goalies make.

Of course, we cannot ignore the 6.5 million-dollar question: what to do with J-Bo?

There was a healthy, interesting debate on what to do with Bouwmeester on Five Hole Fanatics. And I’ll admit that it sounded like a no-win situation after hearing that Jay Bouwmeester allegedly turned down a $6.5 million per year offer from the Panthers.

It sounded like the biggest bone of contention for Quoteless Bow was Florida’s hapless playoff-less streak and without an impressive playoff run, he would probably be out of there. Up until the trade deadline, that’s still the question: keep Bouwmeester for a crucial playoff run and risk losing him in the summer for nothing OR trade him for a potentially lucrative package and risk alienating your fanbase?

That’s the kind of question that would cause a lot of GMs to develop a whisky habit.

Jacques Martin didn’t give a definitive answer to Kevin Allen of USA Today while The Star’s Paul Hunter took a look at the situation through the prism of Tomas Kaberle‘s trade value. Neither really provided anything new, though.

Martin’s right in saying that the Panthers making the playoffs is the top priority, so accepting draft picks and mediocre rental players isn’t going to cut it. You hate to say “it depends” but it does. If a team can provide a solid top-6 forward and some other goodies, the Panthers might just have to take it.

But if they go on a tailspin out of the playoffs, it will be yet another nail in Florida’s coffin.

On offense

If the playoffs started today, the Panthers’ 166 Goals for would only be higher than three other playoff teams: the Rangers (151), the Wild (151) and the Blue Jackets (165).

Stephen Weiss is Florida’s leading scorer with 41 points (10 G, 31 A). There aren’t many playoff teams whose top scorer has less than 50 points, but to the Panthers’ credit they have 10 players who’ve scored at least 10 goals.

***

Much like their long-ago Cinderella run under John Vanbiesbrouck, the Panthers will need timely scoring and elite goaltending to go anywhere in the playoffs. Any other the top four teams would be heavy favorites against Florida, as even the somewhat shaky Philadelphia Flyers might just be too potent for the low scoring Panthers.

In its current form, the Panthers are a scrappy little playoff team but not much more. Is a rare playoff run worth letting Bouwmeester leave for nothing? Stay tuned.

Trade fakery: putting the Penner to paper

February 6, 2009

With the trade deadline about a month away, the crazies are coming out of the woodwork. Not to be out-crazied for one moment, Cycle like the Sedins will periodically try to dig up completely fictional (and sometimes farcical) trade rumors for giggles.

The sky might begin to fall if any of these come true.

Every now and again in sports, a player signs a contract that dwarfs their actual talent to the point of near-paralysis and franchise malaise. For example, in the NBA, the $100 million contract Juwan Howard signed years ago comes to mind. Howard seemed like a decent human being (and not a bad basketball player) but his albatross contract absolutely became a sad punchline. Allan Houston’s contract with the Knicks is another example: when the NBA allowed buyouts without salary cap penalties some people referred to it as The Allan Houston Rule.

For years, the NHL’s blunt answer to Howard and Houston was Alexei Yashin. His deal saddled the New York Islanders and was perhaps the worst move in an Stoogey Murder’s Row of transcations made by Mike “The Pansifier” Milbury. In fact, that buyout still negatively affects the cap for the floundering franchise in Long Island.

Still, Yashin is gone to bask in his ludicrous riches and supermodel wife. To take his place is power forward in the making turned sour forward Dustin Penner.

Penner took advantage of a Stanley Cup run with the Anaheim Ducks and was offered an excessive offer sheet from Kevin Lowe in Edmonton, a move that would live on in infamy. Signing Penner destroyed Lowe’s friendship with noted scholar and hothead Brian Burke, but worse yet: it’s been pretty much a disaster for the Oilers.

Outspoken Oilers coach Craig MacTavish bashed Penner in November and criticized his play this month as well. It’s been a pretty miserable stay in Edmonton for Penner (who makes $4.25 million per season on average), even though it seems a little unfair. His statistics actually have been pretty much the same as he was as a Duck.

Sometimes, you are what you are. Which pisses off the Oilers to no end.

So, it pretty much goes without saying that the Oilers would like to ship Penner out of town. But the problem has been: who would take him? Perhaps it would be fun to take a look at some deals that while admittedly Bruce Garrioch-like, could probably work in some bizarro world in which Mike Milbury still had a job:

Semi-ludicrous Penner deals that maybe aren’t that crazy after all
Stars trade Sean Avery for Penner (similar cap values … Penner makes about a half million more)

Trading a cancer for a floater; this trade would do what many have before it: reshuffling the chairs on the Titanic. Really, the main thing this would accomplish is to make both teams more interesting in NHL ’10. Plus it would give us something to laugh about.

Penguins trade Ryan Whitney for Penner (nearly identical cap values)
Another laugh riot. From one of the Puck Daddy chats, it sounds like the Penguins aren’t interested in moving Whitney which is marginally surprising. Still, this could work on some level: the Penguins need a big guy to play the Ryan Malone role and the Oilers could need an offensive D since Lubomir Visnovsky might be out for the season.

It scares me that this scenario almost makes sense, even though Penner lacks Malone’s testicular fortitude and Whitney might not have any toes on that injured foot for all we know …

Avalanche trade Ryan Smyth for Penner (Smyth makes about $2 million more per year)

The Avs need to get rid of Smyth’s ugly contract. There probably wouldn’t be too many takers, but the Oilers obviously have some pretty mushy feelings for a certain garbage goal specialist with that throwback mullet. The Avs would shed a few million, get younger and … worse. Quite a bit worse. The Oilers would reclaim their former heart and soul.

Panthers trade Jay Bouwmeester for Penner and draft picks (J-Bo gets about a half million more on this, the last year of his contract)

This is where these faux trade rumors go from highly unlikely/dumb to flat-out cruel. It shouldn’t be funny to imagine the downfall of a franchise, but that would be darkly comical. Going to stop now before the guy from The Litter Box murders me.

Thrashers trade Mathieu Schneider for Penner (Schneider’s expiring deal is $5.75 million, about $1.5 million more than Penner’s average cap hit)

A lot like the Whitney idiot-deal, but probably a) dumber and b) paradoxically, more realistic. Since just about no one wants to play in Atlanta, Penner could wallow in 40-50 point mediocrity with limited abuse. Schneider would fit that offensive D mold as the Oilers shoot for a playoff berth (and then he conveniently comes off the books).

Ugh, I could see that happening. No offense, hopefully, to HOTlanta fans (offense intended only for Don Waddell).

***

Again, keep in mind these trade rumors are willfully unfounded. I shudder to think how close this is to the process a beleaguered hockey beat writer goes through. Hopefully, my blind “throwing at pictures on a dartboard” method is just comic relief.

It’s odd how easy it is to talk yourself into some bad deals, though, isn’t it?

News Cycle: Do any NHL players fit Sports Guy’s "underrated" criteria?

January 28, 2009
Tim Thomas provides a rare flair for the dramatic in net

  • Last night, I posted a stream of consciousness about an exciting Washington Capitals – Boston Bruins game. One of the lines was, “Marc Savard is still underrated.” After reading a new column by Bill Simmons, it got me wondering: are there any NHL players who are truly underrated?

It’s tough to say. Savard does indeed meet some of the requirements since he has been producing at an impressive level for quite a few years without being mentioned in the upper ranks of NHL forwards. That said, he did make the All-Star team and there is a question of if he “matters” much in the grand scheme of things on a deep, talented Boston Bruins team.

Tim Thomas might actually be a more appropriate case, because he’s putting up one of the better cases for the Vezina trophy this year – and has a knack for producing highlight reel saves.

Can you think of any NHL player who would fit the Sports Guy’s standards of underrated?

  • One player who absolutely is not underrated is Montreal’s Carey Price (or “Jesus Price”). There’s a pretty interesting little feature on Price in ESPN the Magazine which focuses on the pressures that come with being the Montreal Canadiens’ netminder.
  • Big news out of Detroit: the Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg to a massive 12 year, $72 million contract. As with most contracts that feature big money and long terms, it’s a mixed bag of a deal.

On one hand, the Red Wings will keep Zetterberg around for a cap hit of only $6 million per year, which is only one million more than Mike Ribeiro. That’s a very nice deal for a player who produces nicely and plays a solid two-way game.

That being said, Zetterberg is a little bit on the fragile side. He’s not quite as delicate as, say, Patrice Bergeron but he tends to miss about 5-15 games per year (career high GP: 79; career low GP: 61). At 29, Zetterberg might already have his peak years behind him.

It’s not an awful contract overall, but it’s possible the last six years could cause the Red Wings some issues.

Now the hot topic changes to: can the Red Wings find a way to keep Marian Hossa or Johan Franzen? It would be impossible for most teams, but you never know with Detroit.

“Does he LOOK … LIKE … A … Bouwmeester?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

The photo of Bowmeester in glasses brings back memories of Pulp Fiction, when Quentin Tarantino says that Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta look like “a bunch of dorks.” Bowmeester is a pocket proctector short of getting an atomic wedgie, right?

Hypothetical hope for the Islanders part II

January 8, 2009
The Sedins bringing their cycling circus act to Coney Island? Could be worse …

Even if the Islanders lose the Tavares lottery, their $20 million-plus cap space and their rapidly improving stable of prospects puts them in a great position to rebuild. How about we rank some of the guys who would best fit the Islanders?

1. Kovalchuk – This is only based on heavy trade rumors. Honestly, the Thrashers shouldn’t trade him (the reason, beyond his bodacious skills, will be revealed sooen enough).

2. Hossa – The common thread of wisdom for Hossa is that he’s the hockey version of a smoking hot bridesmaid. Even if he’s not the type of player who can carry a team on his back, Hossa is the most talented free agent and may go into Show Me the Money mode after taking a one-year Cup run contract.

3/4. The Sedin twins – Why break up the Sedin twins when they are so effective together? The Islanders might be a really nice destination for the efficient dopplegangers. Even if they sign matching $6 million contracts the Islanders could still improve the team around them.

5. Jay Bouwmeester – He’s not flashy (except in video games) but he’s the kind of player who can be a cornerstone. With the big minutes he plays and well rounded game he brings the table, he could be a nice fit for the Islanders.

But they’d probably need to add an offensive stud because Bouwmeester isn’t really a ticket seller.

6. Johan Franzen – The Mule is here and Henrik Zetterberg is not for a simple reason. It’s almost unthinkable that Detroit would allow Zetterberg to walk. Not when they very well might lose Hossa. Not when Franzen, despite his undeniable goal scoring skills, cannot stay on the ice.

Franzen could be a good fit in Long Island if he could stay relatively healthy. Hell, a Franzen + Sedins line would be a hell of a consolation prize if bigger things fall through.

Keep dreaming.

7. Marian Gaborik – Honestly, it feels like the team who signs Gaborik is like a newlywed couple who unwittingly adopts that creepy little girl from “The Ring.” But let’s face it, the Islanders are one of those teams that might need to pay up big just for the PR boost.

Even though it’s a thrill to watch Gabby on a breakaway, his signing would be a Shakespearian tragedy for a team that’s had plenty of helpings of bad luck.

8. Alex Kovalev – There’s a buyer beware to Kovalev. Either his drive does not match his blinding talent or his talent is better suited for stunning Youtube videos. Whatever way you slice it, Kovalev’s not the guy you want with that Ayn Rand-ian weight of the world on his shoulders.

Still, if the Islanders try a quantity over quality approach Kovalev could be an asset.

9. Brian Gionta – It’s hard to say if a guy like Gionta would flounder outside of NJ or if he would flourish without the spoused shackles of the NJ system. Judging from the lackluster post-NJ careers of guys like Scott Gomez, expectations should be “less than or equal to.” Then again, adding Gionta certainly would add a little spice to the Devils – Islanders rivalry (whatever you may think of that rivalry).

10. Erik Cole – Call me an Erik Cole apologist, but I’ve been a fan since the Hurricanes Cup year. Then again, he’s clearly never been the same after that dirty Brooks Orpik hit that almost ended his career. Would he take a pay cut or just stay at $4 million? At a lower price Cole could be quite the pickup but at $4 million you better take him to a damn thorough doctor.

***

Tavares-less suggestion: Go hard for Hossa or Kovalchuk or even Zetterberg. If that doesn’t work, settle for the Sedins and a low risk, high reward guy like un-listed, under the radar Michael Cammalleri.