Winners and Losers of NHL's D-Day

A day after everyone has had time to let the trade deadline sink in I figured I would do a version of the winners and losers of D-Day.


Washington Capitals

Upgraded their backup goaltender albeit probably only until the end of the year. Then went out and picked up a vet that has been to the dance before (Federov) and got feistier (Cooke). Only minus is that everyone they picked up are UFAs at the end of the year.

Colorado Avalanche

With the signing of Forsberg and the pick up of Foote and Salei the Avalanche have loaded up for a run at the playoffs. Adding veteran players and losing very little in return.

Atlanta Thrashers

After getting fleeced in the Tkachuk deal last year, they are able to be the fleecers this year and take some good younger prospects off of the Penguins. For Hossa who will probably not play longer than 20 games in Pittsburg


Montreal Canadiens

There must have been more that Bob Gainey was working on, it seems to make little sense to trade away your only experienced goaltender a month and a half away from the playoffs. They are putting a lot of responsibility on such a younger netminder. Not to mention that they struck out landing any big name help.

Vancouver Canucks

Rumored to be after basically any big name with a heart beat come up basically empty trading away a gritty forward for Matt Pettinger. However, as an Oiler fan I am happy to see Cooke go.

On the Fence:

Pittsburg Penguins

They do have a surplus of young talent, but was giving up 4 first rounders the right thing to do for a guy that could easily be gone as of July 1. As well, if they do resign Hossa, what money would be left over for Malkin?


Eat It Marchant

P.S. Moreau's hurt AGAIN by reinjuring his ankle. I'll guess he's gone for the year as well.

On the Move

With the trade deadline fast approaching on Tuesday we all have to wonder what Oilers will be on the move and which will be staying put. Now we all have to realize that Lowe should/will not make a move for a rental player (ie Hossa) as this season is basically a write off and all we can hope is that our pick can not turn into the #1. That means that the deal Lowe make should be a “hockey move” as this would make our team better for next season. Here is a list of Oilers that could be moved at the deadline:

Marty Reasoner – not a star by any means, however, he is a player that a cup contender can pick up for reasonably cheap (3rd or 4th round pick / lesser prospect) and his salary is of no consequence (.950 million) and is a UFA at the end of the year.

Fernando Pisani – here is a guy that I would like to see moved as his salary is a killer (2.5 million for a 3rd line winger). The Oilers could hopefully sell teams on his 06 playoff performance. Again he would likely come cheap (3rd or 4th rounder) but, teams might be scared off by the amount that he would take up against the cap in the next 2 years.

Jarret Stoll – could easily be thrown in as part of a package for an upgrade as even though this season was rather mediocre this former captain candidate has huge potential. Plus then the Oiler would not have to deal with his pending RFA status and the 3 million plus that he might command.

Steve Staios – Steady Steve again could be shuffled to a team that needs help on the blue line due to injuries (Detroit with Lidstrom, Kronwall, and Rafalski are all hurt or Dallas with Zubov having surgery) or a team that is looking to sure up for a cup run (San Jose). The Oilers would lose his leadership on the back end. But, again he could be part of an upgrade trade or a bit of a salary dump. Teams might be scared off however by his cap hit (2.63 million over the next 3 years).

Dwayne Roloson – Rollie’s days in Edmonton seem numbered after moving his children and wife to Ontario and having openly stated "Hey, I want to play - if not here, somewhere else." Reading around I have seen that Tampa Bay and Washington are the front runners. Washington would be looking for a backup goalie for a run this year and with Kolzig’s contract up at the end of the year Rollie would replace him for a cheaper salary. Whereas Tampa Bay has been looking for a goalie to replace Khabibulin since he left in the summer of 2005. The Oilers may have a tough time unloading Rollie as his contract seems to be a stumbling point. However, you might be able to sell a team on the fact that if he can regain the playoff form of 2006 3.3 million a year for a starting goalie may not be all that bad. However, on his own I see him being traded for another salary dump or maybe a 2nd round pick.

Joni Pitkanen – I personally hope that he stays an Oiler at the deadline. I know that he is a RFA at the end of the year and as such can be signed to an offer sheet. However, for teams to offer enough so that the Oilers can not re-sign Joni (5 million plus) they have to: 1. Have there own 3 draft picks. 2. Have the cap space to be able to do it. These two things will take 90% of the teams out of the running and if they are the 10% that qualify then maybe the Oilers should take the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder and hope that we are in the position that Anaheim is in this year with our pick. However, again if the move makes hockey sense, such as bringing in a bonafide top liner scorer (Marleau or Jokinen) I think that the Oilers have to make the trade.

Honourable Mention would go to Robbie Schremp as he might go in a part of a package deal but probably not by himself. As well, if Raffi Torres was not currently out for the season I would not mind him being moved for something useful. But, his injury will keep him here for another year.

So I guess that we will have to wait and see what KLowe can come up with this year.

Would You?

48 hours before the trade deadline and this guy is getting a lot of heat. Tampa Bay is a bad team, probably because they have 40% of their payroll invested in 3 players. Brad Richards being the more prolific criminal, taking home 7.8 mil annually. That is money that Tampa needs to spend on resigning Dan Boyle, shoring up their defence, and paying for a #1 goalie. Even though Brad Richards is the highest paid he is often considered the worst of the "big three". I have a tough time arguing against the idea he is the most overpaid player in hockey. He is another guy who took one amazing season and cup run to the bank, though he did have previous good seasons to back it up. Here is a look at his stats since entering the NHL:

2007-08 Tampa Bay NHL 62 18 33 51 -25
2006-07 Tampa Bay NHL 82 25 45 70 -19
2005-06 Tampa Bay NHL 82 23 68 91 0
2003-04 Tampa Bay NHL 82 26 53 79 +14
2002-03 Tampa Bay NHL 80 17 57 74 +3
2001-02 Tampa Bay NHL 82 20 42 62 -18
2000-01 Tampa Bay NHL 82 21 41 62 -10

His 91 point season was his contract year and also Tampa's cup year. Now I'll try to defend the reasons for having him on our team.

His point production has fallen off the last couple years but there is one thing that has remained constant; his playoff performance. In each of the last three years Tampa has made the playoffs and Richards has 42 points in 34 games. That is an amazing number considering you don't often find point per game players in the playoffs at all.

As for this season, which appears to be the worst of his career, I can find issues that put his number in context specifically to Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. The previous two players mentioned play on the top line with Vaclav Prospal as well as getting first unit power play time. Richards plays on a line with Michel Ouellett and Jan Hlavac. It is easy to see that Richards plays on a line with much lesser players. Behind The Net backs this up with his Quality of Teammates statistics:

1. Prospal - 0.35
2. Lecavalier 0.23
4.. St. Louis 0.16
6. Richards 0.07

He does play a lot of PP time including time on the point, but his performance can be compared to the others. Here is a list of PP points leaders on the team:

Brad Richards - 25 pts
Martin St. Louis - 23 pts
Vinny Lecavalier - 22 pts

And now a list of PP TOI:

Brad Richards - 310 mins
Martin St. Louis - 261 mins
Vinny Lecavalier - 262 mins

Which works out to PPP/60 min:
Brad Richards - 4.84
Martin St. Louis - 5.29
Vinny Lecavalier - 5.04

St. louis clearly dominates this category but Richards still performs at a high level in this category. For context I'll put the two most prolific Oilers down:

Hemsky - 5.69
Horcoff - 4.34

Horcoff is clearly in a lesser league but that Hemsky stat is ridiculous. For those who question his abilities, hes PPP/60 number is insane. Richards clearly brings an upgrade on Horcoff on the power play which has been brutal for a couple years.

But you can only defend Richards for so long. Though he does have a history of doing good things he does have shortfalls, specifically defensively. He has never been known to be a great two way player and his -25 just add to that. Also there is the idea of "Soft minutes" which Richards receives in comparison to the top line. According to Behind the Net he is ninth on Tampa in quality of competition where as the top line holds the top three spots on this list. He bleeds goals against as they say.

And finally the biggest problem with Richards; His Cap hit. 7.8 million is a lot for any team, and the Oilers have one of the highest payrolls in the league. We would have to send salary back to Tampa Bay and that is not what they want unless that player fills their need. The only player we have that might meet that requirement is Sheldon Souray, but that creates a lot of other issues. He would have to waive his NMC and trading a player less than a year after you sign him (which is a public problem for your team in the first place) just doesn't look good. Also he is out for the year so his health hinders this trade. Richards also has a NMC and he likely won't enjoy the confines of Edmonton too much.

Looks like this trade just can't happen.


Chest Hair

I meant to do a write up awhile ago about how one of the major things this team was missing was a player everyone hated. Someone who was tough, nasty, and a little dirty. A lot of statements were going around in the media or blogging community about how this team isn't tough to play against. We are young, talented, and soft.

Then Ethan Moreau came back and showed some of what I was talking about. He was throwing hits on other teams skill players, he was going into corners with his elbows chest high, and he made 'Celine' Dion Phaneuf have a very uncomfortable and forgettable game on Monday. But as a team captain, and a player relied upon for veteran leadership on the ice he can not be getting into penalty trouble or spending five minutes of the period in the box.

Which is where a player like Zack Stortini comes in.

He has been looked at to be the replacement to Big Georges, the man that is going to open up space for Hemsky through fear and intimidation, but that has not been the case. "Huggy Bear" has not followed this role at all. His fights have been described as one giant hug with few punches thrown and that he never really makes people pay. Lets remove Stortini from Laraque's shadow and discuss who he is and the role he has now defined for himself.

Today the Journal did up an article on him and used the word "pest" as a descriptor. I have to say I like the idea and I'm going to use Monday's game against Calgary as an example. Stortini had the entire Calgary Flame team focused on him and their play was affected by it. Both of his fights were engaged by Flames (Regher even moved positions on the faceoff draw to line up against him) and he held his own against two strong guys. The idea that Stortini is a heavyweight is wrong. He was a third round draft pick in 2003 out of the OHL as a player who would hit, play tough, put up some points, and fight to stick up for his teammates. He was the team captain in his last couple years on the team.

The Stortini of today is the same way only with a more heavy reliance on fighting. He has done whatever his team needs and it shows. I can remember reading a story on Rob Schremp that talked about Stortini and him going to summer skate camps in Saskatchewan together after they were drafted. Schremp went one year then quit half way through the next, while Stortini stayed on. Which one is in the NHL? He has improved his game so that he is not a liability on the ice and that allows him to stay in the line up while he works on other facets of his game. He is only a -5 in 40 games this year as well as chipping in 4 pts in basically his first full NHL season. If it wasn't for a string of 4 games in a row where he went -5 he would be an even player.

As for the fighting has answered the bell whenever called upon. Edmonton is 19th in the NHL with 26 fights, 15 of which are from Stortini tying him for fifth in the NHL. If Stortini can mold himself into a player that can get under opponents skin like Avery or Cooke, provide a willingness to fight for his teammates, and not be a defensive liability on the ice then we have a player that every team covets. Yet hates.

Zack Stortini is growing on me.


Mamma Always did Cook it Best

If you have not read the previous post I recommend you do so. Not only is it insightful, it might help you understand my train of thought leading into this little gem. So why is watching Oiler hockey so disinteresting this year? I think I've found a clue. I can remember telling myself several times that its ok if we suck, I'd rather be 13th in the conference than 9th, June is more fun that way. This thought is then quickly corrected by cold reality. The Ducks have our draft picks, so we don't even get to use them. So now I'm thinking I don't want to give the Ducks good picks so lets win. Except we aren't. Insert disinterested frustration.

I keep hearing everyone talk about how deep this years draft is (as deep or deeper than the 2003 gala, and we fucked that one up to), but we have Anaheim's pick in the first so it shouldn't be that bad should it? Who's to say, draft picks are kind of a crap shoot. How many players are playing for the same team that drafted them? Do teams with a lot have more success than those that don't? Lets look at the list, as per Scott Cullen (with players on IR included as the '+'):

San Jose - 17 + 1
Ottawa - 15
Buffalo - 14 + 1
Dallas - 14 + 1
Detroit - 14
Colorado - 13 + 2
Montreal - 13 + 1
New Jersey - 13 + 1
Nashville - 12 + 2
Pittsburgh - 12 + 2
Columbus - 13
Edmonton - 13
Chicago - 11 + 2
Minnesota - 12
St. Louis - 12
Toronto - 10 + 2
Washington - 11
Boston - 8 + 3
N.Y. Rangers - 10
Florida - 9 + 1
Phoenix - 9
Vancouver - 8 + 1
L.A. - 8 + 1
N.Y. Islanders - 7 + 2
Anaheim - 7
Philadelphia - 7
Carolina - 7
Tampa Bay - 6 + 1
Atlanta - 6
Calgary - 5

I've bolded all the teams currently in playoff positions. Shows an interesting pattern. Clearly the teams with higher numbers seem to be having better seasons. You could even argue that Buffalo is still a good team just in a transition so the top 10 teams in this list are in the playoffs. There are a lot of flaws to this list, for instance a team could have a lot of bottom tier players who were drafted by them versus a team with less drafted players but those players are more top flight impact guys. Which is better? Some teams have traded away all their picks/prospects to beef up such as Anaheim and Philadelphia which pushes them down the list.

But this should serve as to some indication that buying a team is not always a sound decision and the procurement department of your organization should get fat checks. As for the Oilers? One of the highest on this list with out being in the playoffs. My take is that this team is young, and if we can keep our "homegrown" talent we might one day make it to bolded glory once again. We just need Kevin Lowe to tone down on the RFA offer sheets.


Any Room on the Train? I Just Bought my Ticket

I'm finding myself becoming more and more apathetic towards this season and I don't really know why. I'm not overly a wins and losses guy, I will watch a game we are winning 5-1 or even losing 5-1 because I'm watching for more than an outcome, I'm watching the plays and the players making them.

But this hockey of recent is different; its disinterested and lacklustre play, there is no fire, no flare, and no finish. Its boring in every aspect. I guess this is where you can mark me down as joining the "MacTavish has to go" bandwagon. I'm upset I have to do this, he's a good coach and I enjoy being a fan of the team he coaches. He's demanding, intelligent, and very upfront. I have heard quotes from him that were so critically true that I almost choked. He has had times where he publicly calls out players (Torres for example in recent years), but lately has kept it at a good balance of not hiding a players faults but not embarassing him either. He's a good coach and more people should recognize that. Anytime you take an 8th seeded team to the finals, you know something. He out coached Carlyle in the west finals straight up, working match ups to his advantage (Torres destroying Michalek didn't hurt) and finding ways to win. He has helped this team.

So why have I joined the darkside? Simple: NHL coaches (as in most sports) have a shelf life with one team. Craig MacTavish's has expired, and the play is showing it. They have something like 10 regulation wins in 54 games this season, an atrocious statistic. In the last two years this team has won maybe a handful of games by more than a goal (and by handful I'm guessing under 10, someone look it up) (Edit to add: 11 regulation wins in the last 74 games). The kids are being kids with inconsistent play, but its the veterans who are showing up on MacT's tarot cards. Pisani and Moreau have disappeared after strong returns, Reasoner is getting nothing done, Staios is Staios, only worse. I don't know if MacTavish has lost the room, given up, or run out of tricks but this team needs a shot in the arm. A new philosophy if you will. Not that it will be any better than MacT's but it will be different.

I also want to specify no hiring from within bullshit this team has been infatuated with since inception. If I see Buchburger's name even come up in rumours as our next coach I'm going to lose it. We need someone with ingenuity and a proven track record for success. Someone who looks at the team we have and creates a plan for that, instead of trying to make the team fit their plan.

"I'm buying in because he has the resume to prove that it works."
- Rick Nash, on playing for Ken Hitchcock