Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
1) There are clearly 2 coaches in the NHL whom this refrain applies at the moment. LA's Marc Crawford, and Tampa bay's John Tortorella. Both teams are mired in a month+ long slumps that has both teams at or near the bottom of their respective conferences.
2) For LA, they have had that distinction for most of the season. Crawford has been on our radar as vulnerable even before the season began as one can read here: http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/10/who-gets-axe-first.html#links They got off to a slow start and other than a brief spurt in early November, have been either bad or down right awful all season. Right now they are mired in a 1-9 string that SHOULD be the last straw for Dean Lombardi. The Kings and Lombardi admittedly screwed up this off season by not improving their goaltending situation, but with their roster they should be better than they are. Therefore we believe a change is needed!
3) As for Tampa Bay, they have been plagued all season long by inept goaltending. As one broadcaster bemusedly asked last night, "How long until 'Mount Tortorella' erupts?" His in reference to yet another Tampa Bay loss with less than stellar goaltending. The Lightning were hardly picked to win a Cup this season, but many thought they were at least decent enough to be a playoff contender. Like the Kings some blame needs to be spread to jay Feaster for not improving his goaltending. Most saw that as a clear weakness LAST season, and they did nothing to change this. Recent call up, Finnish youngster Ramo doesn't appear ready and therefore, isn't the answer. despite having one of the leagues best lines in St. Louis and Vinny & Vinny, they are now tied for 14th with the caps in the East. As our contributor here Antz says, "the team is probably tuning out Tortorella" and his frequent rants. Unlike LA, there were preseason expectations in the sunshine state, so their current 2-7-1 slide may cost Johnny T his job.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
1) Yes, it was Happy Festivis for Mike Richards a couple of weeks ago, as the Philadelphia Flyers announced they have extended the contract of the 23 year old forward to an unprecedented (for a non-Islander) double digit (12) year deal! This just as the league was starting to accept that the Islander's long term deal for Rick DiPietro wasn't as bad/dumb/insane as some called it when first announced last summer, came this stunner.
2) It was a mere 15 months ago when there was almost universal (even from then Flyer GM Bob Clarke) condemnation of Charles Wang's deal for his 25 yr old goaltender. The laughter at the Islander's expense simmered down considerably as DiPietro blossomed into a top 10 goalie last season. At his 4.5 mil salary his is already paid at a rate less than many in that same calibre and in a very short time will likely be vastly underpaid. This was what we alone last fall at FAUXRUMORS said might be the result in our post: http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2006/09/dipietro-deal-not-so-dippy.html#links
3) Of course at the time the Isles were also saddled with another double digit deal (For perennial underachiever and frequent quitter Alexei Yashin) as well as the circus that surrounded the hiring/firing of Neil Smith in a mere 30 days, the formation of the famous 'round table' of Islander hockey minds headed by the admitted hockey novice Charles Wang. So it was easy to 'pile on' and say this was yet another colossal Islander blunder.
4) However that deal and we also believe this one have merit and significantly differ from the Yashin 10 year deal.
- Both DiPietro and Carter are vastly younger and have much more upside
- Yashin had already quit TWICE on the Senators. Showing he was no leader and not someone to whom to entrust that kind of monetary investment.
- Yashin while surrounded by a great cast never seemed to become the superstar the Senators expected, never excelled in the playoffs and was probably at his apex when the trade/contract was signed. The ladder 2 players as alluded to earlier are not yet near their primes yet are already contributing significantly to their teams'.
- When Yashin was signed almost all (apparently except Wang and Milbury) knew a salary cap was coming in or about 2004, so any deal that went beyond that point better take that into consideration. The result: Yashin instantly became a salary cap anchor/albatross around the Islanders
5) We don't want our readers to come away from all this discussion that these 2 deals are without risk. Both teams took huge risks that the players would continue to mature/improve or worse yet decline prematurely from their current production. In this case the Islanders took a larger gamble as its been shown in the past(See Jim Carrey/Jose Theodore) a goaltender can go from Vezina winner to AHL/NHL back-up in a short time. That would be the worst case scenario. Paying big bucks for mediocrity hurts!
6) However, these can potentially be mitigated, if that should occur, with AHL demotion. Not preventing the team from paying the player, but alleviating their salary cap hit. Long term injury too is protected under the salary cap system if the player were incapable of playing. All in all we feel that these kind of deals will be more common place in the future as teams try to stay ahead of salary inflation by locking up their best players at earlier ages and to much longer deals. The trick will be to choose the right player to lock in. Mistakes can be costly! In more ways than one (See Yashin)
Monday, December 24, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
2) The 'biggest', and really only "deadline deal" that occurred was a swap of marginal players between the Black hawks and Flyers. The Flyers dealt winger Ben Eager to the Chicago Black Hawks in exchange for defenseman Jim Vandermeer. Hardly an Earth shattering deal that will change the balance of power in either conference.
3) What was once one of the more active times of year (behind only the spring trade deadline, and entry draft) the holiday trade freeze has become just another arbitrary deadline that comes and goes with little notice by anyone but team' GM's and some hard core fans/bloggers.
4) The inevitable question would be why? Why is it/has it been so quiet the last few years. The answer(s) are simple:
- The salary cap: This is the obvious reason for ALL trade inhibition. Teams can no longer simply make a trade without first thinking of the short AND long term salary cap implications. Although the cap has increased substantially(39 to 50 mil) the past 2 seasons, teams are learning the system and reluctant to get too close to the max, if possible, to retain flexibility for a deal later in the season. As we have seen, even then the cap (as well as the earlier trade deadline) helps to retard the number and scope of a trade.
- League-wide parity: With so many(almost all right now) teams still technically in it for longer periods, almost all GM's are still thinking of this year and not ready to throw in the towel, per se, after 30 or so games and think re-build. So there are very few 'sellers' of quality.
5) Here are some deals that were rumoured to be left on the table that may be revisited again in the New Year.
- For starters we can tell you the silly Alex Ovechkin trade rumors were just that, silly. They were simply the fabrications(desires-?) of a thehockeynews.com writer. Our DC sources tell us that while negotiations have stalled, there has been NO attempt by Capital management to trade their resident superstar. Our source went on to say IF that should happen, look for the team to be sold the next day! LOL
- Bob Gainey, probably in a attempt to see what his worth may be for a later deal, dangled underachieving forward Michael Ryder. One source tells us it was obvious it was a trial balloon as BG 'asked for the moon' for a guy who will be a UFA at years end.
- We are told that Chicago attempted to deal perennial underachieving LW, Sergei Samsonov, we're told there were no takers but quite a few giggles on the other end of the phone line.
- Edmonton thought they had a deal in place to send Raffi Torres to an "Eastern Conference Club" before his latest set back. A knee sprain. We're told that team may revisit the deal once Raffi is back and playing healthy.
- Toronto attempted to see if there were any cheap defensemen available as Bryan McCabe appears to be out 2 months. With their cap issues it seems that anyone they traded for would be only marginally better than what they could promote from the Marlies
- Our west coast source tells us that we've probably seen the last trade by the Ducks for a while. Perhaps at the deadline, but Burke wants to stop any further roster shuffling to see if what they have is enough to get back to the level of last season. We read that as its likely we''ll see a return of Teemu Selanne. probbaly by late January!
- That ever persistent rumor that the Penguins are in contact with the agent of former Panther, Star, Blackhawk goalie Ed Belfour persist. Especially with the recent injury to M-A Fleury. The pens don't want to fall out of contention during his recovery and don't feel Sabourin can handle the starting role just yet.
- The Flyers though not offering any big names this time around are going to be active before the February deadline we're told. Either Jeff Carter or R.J. Umberger our source tells us may be playing in a new uniform once the deadline passes. Who the Broadstreet bullies want in return will depend on the need at the time of the deal. There will be quite a few potential buyers as those 2 are young with plenty of upside
6) These were a few of the stories we were following the last week or so. If any seem to be getting close to fruition we of course will let all our loyal readers in on the rumor as we hear them. As always, keep it here for all the latest!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Antz' attempt to rebound from a really sub-par past performance... Besides, I haven't predicted without Faux, so here goes:
Ottawa v. Boston - Senators
Pittsburgh v. NY Rangers - Rangers
Tampa Bay v. Atlanta - Thrashers
Florida v. Montreal - Canadiens
Dallas v. Edmonton - Stars
Anaheim v. San Jose' - Sharks
Toronto v. Carolina - Hurricanes
Phoenix v. Philly - Flyers
Calgary v. Columbus - Flames
Nashville v. Minnesota - Wild
New Jersey v. Vancouver - Devils
Monday, December 17, 2007
3 Ottawa Senators (1)- The Senators started off hot and have finally hit a bit of a rough patch recently. Still the best team in the East, yet seem to be missing something to give us at FR2 the feeling that they are a legit Cup threat. Perhaps its because we're not sold on them in goal.
5 NJ Devils-(24) Made THE biggest move upward of any team. Left for dead by many. We even called for Sutter's dismissal, the Devils have been one of the best teams in the east the past month. Propelled into 1st place in the competitive Atlantic. No team with Brodeur can ever be over looked!
8 Carolina Hurricanes (3)- The 'Canes have struggled of late with consistency. Looking like a contender one night and a pretender the next. dropping the boys from Tobacco Road 5 spots in our rankings. The SE division again seems to be weak which is probably, helping the boys from Carolina pad their win totals a bit.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets-(12) Move back down 10 levels. Were one of the pleasant surprises here early on. However they appear to be stumbling a bit lately. Still far better than in years past, but certainly not appearing to be playoff ready as of yet. Continued kudos to Hitch to get this bunch playing this well
26 Nashville Predator-(11) As amazing as they rose 17 slots last time around, they dropped 15 in this months poll. As with the rest of the Central, they had a good November, but poor December thus far. falling back in the standings in the process. basically where we figured they'd reside.
29 Washington Capitals-(30) Since last month they have changed coaches. They seem poised to turn their season around and could find themselves significantly higher in our poll if they can. However they have been just a tad over .500 the past 3 or so weeks. A breakout season for defender Mike Green is tempered by the invisibility of forward Alex Semin. Also starting goalie Kolzig may be showing signs of his advanced age. Not good for a team with noone ready to step right into his skates any time soon
30 Los Angeles King-(16) We thought that they had finally turned their season around a month ago, only to fall back into dead last in the league. The Crawford watch is on, and we'd be shocked to see him still as coach if they continue to wallow near or at the bottom of their conference.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
1) Since almost everyone has already weighed in on this issue we decided we'd make the definitive post about this. We have been on record early on saying that Scott Niedermayer should not be lauded, but be derided for his selfishness.
2) Most are following the lead of the team and welcoming back Scott like a hero. Sorry folks, we can NOT look at his return in that way. If he took time off for injury/family emergency reasons we would be fine with this. However, we do NOT buy the argument that he was 'exhausted' with all the hockey he's played, etc. Thats total Bullshit!
3) We understand that professional athletes do have to work and are under a lot of pressure to perform, BUT so do every other working person! While a pro athlete works for about 3-4 hours a day for 7-8 months and is treated like a God/celebrity wherever they go the other 99.99% of us work 8-10-12 hour days, 5-6 days a week, for 50+ weeks a year. Regardless of our 'mental fatigue' we are bound to continue to do our work, be responsible to those around us, etc.
4) We also would NOT be as adamant about this position if:
- Scott didn't have a valid contract. By signing that deal he pledged to play for the Ducks for another 2 years at a very nice salary. The Ducks in turn made a commitment to Niedermayer. In a salary capped NHL the Ducks had to look at this long term commitment in the realm of all other players. As we wrote this past summer when the Oilers made that silly penner-offer-sheet, it was THEN that we felt Scott should have told Burke of his intentions to take a few months off, and not wait until training camp started to do so. Utter selfishness!!
- Had he retired and walked away(Permanently) from the game. We would have been OK if on June 30th (2 weeks after his last game and plenty of time to 'think it over') Scott informed the Ducks of his intention to retire. This would have given his team time to reassess their short and long term options, and not forced them to assume, and try to fill a hole that may or may not be there in October
- Then even in September Scott still was allowing his team mates to twist in the wind with his indecision. Nothing creates in house team problems like the uncertainty of who the team leader is, etc. As captain he owed his team more than what he gave them this past summer. As we wrote this past September before training camp. http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/09/niedermayerdead.html
5) To add insult to injury Scott's return after December 1st placed the Ducks into a precarious position as it relates to the salary cap. We won't try to outline the details as folks with PHD's in accounting are themselves unsure how this works, but you can read about how it affects the ducks. In a nut shell it forces them to shed payroll to accommodate Neidermayer's return. If Scott had returned a month earlier the Ducks apparently would not have had this issue. Thanks Captain! So while others may be giving this overpaid self centered nut case a standing ovation we at FAUXRUMORS will be giving Niedermayer a hearty, well deserved Boo!
6) Note: We at FR2 will have our December Power Rankings-Holiday edition out either later this weekend or at the latest this Monday. Look for it! Also as the trade freeze gets closer (THE NHL'S CHRISTMAS TRADE FREEZE PERIOD IS DECEMBER 19-27, 2007) e will soon be putting out the latest rumors that our sources have been reporting. As always, keep it here for all the latest!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
1) We were looking at some of our past posts and realized that we had yet to hear about any of this year's monthly winners of the once heralded "Messier Leadership Award". After all, the Moose was just installed into the hockey HOF, and all, so we should have known who the October and November winners were. Right?
2) To review for some, last season a new 'award' was instituted to be given out monthly, and then also at the end of the year a special year-long Leadership Award would be presented by the Bald One himself. We commented on the messier award last year. Questioning not only the merits of such a nebulous, difficult qualitative measure such as 'leadership', but also naming it after a living individual. Unlike all other trophies/awards which are named after departed former NHL players/builders.
3) Of course the award was more a commercial enterprise(Some say Messier never turned down a chance to make money regardless of how) for a sports drink and NOT an NHL endorsed award. Still, it is surprising how fast this 'award' has faded. Not lasting beyond its inaugural season last year when the season winner (Chris Chelios) wasn't even among the 5 regular season awardees.
December Scott Niedermayer
January Sidney Crosby
February Vincent Lecavalier
March Roberto Luongo
4) Anyone want to wager if the dubious award will be prominent in Mr. Chelios' trophy case now that it has been shown clearly to be nothing more than a way for an aged, money hungry former player and soft drink maker to make a few bucks?
Monday, December 10, 2007
1) To start this blog entry we feel the need to employ a popular Mark Twain phrase: "There are Lies, damned lies, and there are statistics" by having to again mention the method that the NHL uses to determine it's attendance figures is a joke. They use the number of tickets distributed. Not the number sold, or number of folks who are actually at the game. While the ladder figure would be the ideal, we'd settle on the former to at least gauge what income a team is attaining, and not the number of freebies/comp tickets a team is distributing.
It was one thing to see/hear about empty seats in traditionally poor southern markets or in cities with bad teams, but this season there seems to be a disturbing trend developing; namely good teams in traditionally good US markets are having attendance issues!
2) Gary Bettman can talk about 'cost certainty' till he's blue in the face, but as many had postulated, there are always unintended consequences to a year without hockey then a huge change in the way the league does its finances. In this case, the object of the salary cap was to ostensibly help the smaller markets compete for talent that before the cap would usually go to the larger revenue teams .
3) Through about 1/3 of the season there have to be some disturbing trends that the board of governors have to be worried about. Even with Bettman's silly proclamation that the league set an attendance record for November.
- Detroit- despite having one of the best/most exciting team to watch, the Wings play before less than a 90% full Joe Lewis Arena. This was supposed to be "Hockey Town", remember? One of the hardest tickets to come by. Not anymore. We don't buy the argument that the local economy is the cause.
- Colorado- WAS the most difficult ticket to get of a US based hockey team. Not anymore. Gone are the days of consecutive sell outs. Now the team is barely breaking 90%. Shocking. The team hasn't really had any true down years either, They spent $$ to improve, have a good core of young exciting players and have been in contention for their division most of the season.
- Chicago- An original six team in one of the biggest US markets. Have 2 of the most exciting young players. Have been quite competitive all season. yet they play to the LOWEST % of fans, a dismal almost embarrassing 66.7%! We understand the Wirtz factor of alienating their fans for years, but he's now gone and the team is exciting to watch/in contention
4) Sure, Gary will point to the significant gains made in St. Louis, Carolina, and Pittsburgh, and even New Jersey as examples. However, those numbers should be tempered with a dose of reality:
- The Blues had to significantly lower ticket prices to re-attract fans back. They also had no where to go but up! It doesn't hurt that they've been playing very well. The same can be said of Carolina. Just a year removed from a Cup, they didn't enjoy much of a honeymoon with poor attendance last season. Its improved this year, but is it a stable following?
- While the Devils increase is significant, they are playing in a brand new arena. In reality they SHOULD be playing in front of packed/full houses, instead of the relatively embarrassing 85% full figure we are seeing thus far. If they fall from contention will the Rock be even more empty? So much for 'If you build it they will come'!
5) Which leads us to ask, why? What is the cause of this problem? There are many proposed causes. Some say its too early to make such claims, but we say it's not too early to point out that the NHL continues to lose ground in certain U.S. markets, including some long-standing hockey towns. Or that some franchises are badly run and poorly located, a reality that won't be altered by any of the changes meant to make the game more appealing.
- The Lockout! Yes, its been 2 years since the SECOND Gary Bettman imposed work stoppage, but the after effects are still profound! While the Canadian markets have shown no weakness, and in fact are as strong as ever, the US where hockey was struggling before the second Bettman lockout is on life support. The league gets minimal press coverage. Their national TV contract is with a channel that many can't find/don't have. Even local TV ratings are in the toilet in most areas. In some, the announcers could call each viewer by name if they wanted!
- The Salary Cap- Yes, the same device we were told would solve all the ills of the game may be contributing to its demise? Some have surmised (and we're not yet sold on the idea) is that the cap prevents some teams from spending money to improve their teams, and as a result fans aren't as excited(especially in big markets) like they were in years past. Certainly, its not yet a sure thing that the cap is helping to financially stabilize the small (non-Canadian) franchises. Which is why we are hearing that expansion is no longer on the front burner. That its possible/likely that we will see a franchise move before anew one is established.
- Less fighting=less intense rivalries? It was thought that the unbalanced schedule would fire up old rivalries and create newer ones to increase/revive fan interest. The NHL forgot though what helps increase those rivalries, and that is fighting. Nothing gets fans going like an emotion filled contest. What aids in generating emotion? Scoring, yes. A meaningful game, of course. However, NOTHING creates more emotion/intensity than a fight, or the potential for a fight. Next game you go to, watch the crowd during a scrap, and immediately afterwards. The interest in whats going on the ice increases immeasurably, and that can/will carry over.
- Too many teams! As we have written in the past about how to improve the game we have proposed contraction. There simply are too many franchises in cities that don't deserve them/haven't supported them. Its time to cut bait and move on. We won't list them here again, but if the league moved the bottom 2 teams into Canada where they'd sure to get a huge following(Winnipeg/Hamilton, etc) then contracted another 2 or so teams the overall health of the NHL would improve immeasurably.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Carolina vs-Montreal: Canadians
Atlanta vs-Washington : Thrasher(Tonight's Lock)
NY Islanders vs-Tampa Bay Lightning
Pittsburgh vs-Vancouver Canuck
Buffalo vs-San Jose Shark
Boston vs-Toronto MapleLeaf
Minnesota vs-Columbus Blue Jacket
Anaheim vs-Nashville Predator
Phoenix vs-Los Angeles Kings
Thursday, December 6, 2007
- Severely fining/suspending the coach
- Fining the GM
- Fining the team
- Taking away future draft picks
- Taking away points in the standings
- Loss of current/future Cap space
2) First to review for those keeping score at home. So far this season the Flyers have been the perpetrators in what seems to be an inordinate number of questionable/dirty incidents that have resulted in various suspensions. To review:
- Steve Downie- (September 24) hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond during the preseason resulted in a 20 game ban. Downie is dispatched to the minors to 'serve his suspension.
- Jesse Boulerice- (October 10) cross-checking Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler in the head getting him a 25 game ban. Later released by the team.
- Randy Jones- (October 27) Hits Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron with a hit from behind that very well could end his NHL career. Jones received a mere 2 games.
- Scott Hartnell (November 25) came across the ice to hit defenseman Andrew Alberts with a head shot that resulted in a 2 game suspension
- Riley Cote- (December 1) with a high head shot to Stars defenceman Matt Niskanen resulting in a 3 game 'rest'
3) On one hand one can look at these as a trend. That the coach and organization must be saying something to their players as a whole to have such a rash of incidents to one team over such a short time. On the other they could be looked at individually and see what may have provoked/caused each, who was the culprit, and the intent if any. See if there is any commonality with the 5 plays in question. Then ask if this was an institutional issue, why would the Flyers as a team want to take such a course?
4) Ironically the worst of the incidents, the Jones hit on Bergeron, was probably the least as far as premeditated intent to injure. It was more careless than sinister. Downie and Boulerice have checkered histories that should not make it surprising that they would be involved in such a play. If neither ever played another shift no one would care/notice. Hartnell has no such 'rep'. He simply made a bad decision. Its hard to fathom that he was instructed to do what he did there. Cote is a tough guy/goon trying to make a name in the league and went over the edge as a result. Unlikely he was under orders from the team. Jesse Boulerice, the worst(most blentently trying to hurt the opposition) offender and the team promptly released him after the incident
5) Now, before the anticipated backlash starts, we are going to go on record to say we are NOT fans of the Flyers and their organization. We merely hate it when the media gets into a feeding frenzy like here and tries to link everything together into some kind of conspiracy where there is no evidence one exists. We also have no issue if the NHL wants to have rules in place that fines more than players for such incidents. As we listed in our post crime-and-punishment.
6) However we object to the apparent de-facto rules changes that Gary Bettman seems to be doing with Philadelphia now. We can find no precedent in the NHL rule book that allows the commissioner/league to link separate incidents together and suddenly fine/suspend a coach/GM/team. Individually that has occurred, but never because one team had a 'rash of suspensions/separate incidents. Some severe some more mild.
7)If they want to change the rules, thats fine, do so in the correct manner; at the GM's/ownership meetings. Set firm outlines of what teams and players can expect. There is entirely too much arbitrariness in the punishment process NOW. Imagine if the league starts to levy fines/suspensions to non involved parties(coach/GM) and/or take cap space/points away, etc.? Meanwhile what do the Flyers do now that they are under 'Double Secret Probation from Dean Bettman? Worry every time they throw a check or drop the gloves? Not knowing what may happen now that the league microscope is upon them. There has to be a better way Gary. This current system is broken!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
1) The link above is to a very interesting piece done by spector at how the big/high priced free agents (unrestricted as well as restricted as there is less of a difference these days)are faring thus far. He lists the guys who signed the megabucks this past off season and see how they are doing/project their final totals then decides if they are worth it.
2) What we find interesting is how predictable the vast majority are doing thus far. We decided to go through his list add some of our own and make our own commentary:
3) For example these players are playing at or below previous years:
- Scott Gomez- Got off to a slow start(as the rest of the Rangers did). However, as we mentioned when he was signed Scott is a gifted player for sure, BUT he has never been a goal scorer. His current pace of about 60 points would be only slightly under an average season for Scott, regardless of the 10 million dollar salary.
- Keith Tkachuk- One of our least favourite players. We feel he has stolen money from teams the last few years. He again(see Bertuzzi) somehow managed to convince a GM that he deserved big money. This time the Blues (after trading him to the Thrashers) got him back over the summer(as we predicted) fora 2 year 8 mil deal. Unlike Bertuzzi though so far at least Keith is earning at least part of that money. projecting a 20 goal/70 point season would make the Blues outlay appropriate. But we still dislike him nonetheless
- Thomas Vanek- Along with Dustin Penner won the NHL's version of Lotto when Kevin Lowe made his offer sheet for the Austrian forward. The pressure is on Thomas and thus far he hasn't lived up to the 7+ mil cap hit the Sabres were 'forced' to accept. He is on pace for a decent season with 25 goals 60 points, but far from what his contract makes him need to be.
- Scott Hannan- Was one of the more sought after defensemen this past off season. Many teams coveted the former Shark for his ability to log a ton of minutes, his grit and and leadership qualities. The Av's thought they won the sweepstakes, throwing 4 years, 18 mil at the B.C. native. Thus far they aren't getting their monies's worth. A 'plus player 'through out his career, he is on pace to finish with an abysmal -43!
- Chris Drury- The Trumbull, CT native was another of the more sought out forwards this past summer. Like Gomez, perhaps teams over estimated his offensive ability as Drury, despite his post season heroics, has never breached the 70 point plateau. he makes a good 2nd line center, but a 7 mil/year cap hit was over payment in our opinion (Unless of course he leads the Blueshirts to a Cup!)
- J-S Giguere- The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner(2003), and current Stanley Cup winning goalie was resigned by the Ducks for a 4 year 24 mil deal over the summer. No one can fault the team for placing their faith in Giggy. Unfortunately thus far(along with the rest of the team) he hasn't been playing like champs. His GAA and Save % are only mediocre. Given his past, we wouldn't be worried.
- Mathieu Schneider- The NY,NY native has been one of the more productive offensive defenseman to play and not be noticed in the league. This year, when he plays he is productive/earning his big cash deal, but his age may be showing with a series of injuries which have limited his games played thus far.
- Ryan Smyth- The NY Islanders did all they could to land the wing; having traded some decent assets to get him at the deadline. However Ryan chose(as we at FAUXRUMORS told all prior to his decision) to stay in the west where the Banff Alberta native felt most comfortable. Like Drury his offense is decent, but unspectacular. The Avs(and Isles) also coveted his intangibles that led to his nick-name of 'Captain Canada'. Also, like Drury, the jury will be out until the post season to see if the investment (6.25 cap hit) was appropriate.
- Scott Hartnell- This one falls under the heading of 'What were the Flyers thinking!' The guy is a 3rd line forward. Thus far he's playing well(for a 3rd line forward) not a guy making 4.2 mil! He's on pace to accumulate an unimpressive 10 gaols and 28 points. Of course Flyer brass will point toward their improvement as a team and give Scott some of the credit for bolstering the roster. We would not have given him 6 years with his concussion history either!
- Jason Blake- The former Islander spark plug seemed to come into his own on the Island. Putting up career year stats in 2006-07 of 40 goals. The Isles tried to resign him, but Blake wanted an additional year which the Leafs obliged (4 year 12 mil) for the 34 year old Minnesota native. So far he hasn't lived up to the advanced billing; projecting for an underwhelming 10 goals. However, no one could have predicted his health issue(Leukemia). We wish him the best!
- Kimmo Timonen- The 32 year old Finn defenseman was another(along with Hartnell) of the pilfered Predators that the Flyers acquired last summer when the Nashville ownership problems caused them to cut payroll. Also like Hartnell the Flyers gave him a 6 year deal worth about 40 mil! Even with his numbers(projected to be 46 points) he is NOT worth that kind of out lay! His +/- also are NOT impressive!
- Dustin Penner- Another off season lottery winner. The 25 year old projected power forward had a very nice rookie season with the Ducks; Combining with fellow youngsters Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry they formed a formidable power trio. However in our opinion he was undeserving of the 4.2 mil/year 5 year deal a desperate Kevin Lowe gave him. Dustin is having a typical sophomore season that under different circumstances would seem OK, but for his salary he is underachieving.
- Todd Bertuzzi- Five years removed from his last productive season(Injuries and poor play) Big # 44 somehow convinced Brian Burke to give him a 2 year, 8 mil deal. So far Todd is producing as expected. Garnering an unimpressive 1 goal/6 pts in 14 games. Looking like one of the bigger busts this off season.
- Michael Nylander- Will probably come close to what most expected production-wise, but that minus jumps out like a sore toe! He may rack up 76 or so pints(he had 83 last year) but he also projects a minus 36! Also, thus far he hasn't been the answer to the Caps need for a true #1 center for Ovechkin. To his credit, he has been a mentor to rookie, and fellow Swede Nick Backstrom; becoming Nylander's 7th child some have written. However, the Caps made a big investment in money and years(4 years 20 mil) Perhaps they expected more/too much?
4) Some have(thus far) earned their dough:
- Pavel Datsyuk- The Redwings rewarded the 28 year old Russian center with a contract extension last April that pays him 6.7 mil for the next 7 years. So far the investment seems to be paying dividends. Along with Zetterburg, they have propelled the Detroit Sextent to the top of the league. He is on pace for 30 goals and 90 points, possibly eclipsing his production(87 points) the prior 2 seasons.
- Danielle Briere- Many, including us at FAUXRUMORS have been Briere detractors in the past. However the diminutive center from Gatineau, Que is surprising many. We didn't see him living up to the big contract(8 years 6.5 mil cap hit)the Flyers gave him this summer. Coming off a career year is always a gamble, however Danielle may surpass last years numbers. he is on track for a 40 goal, 100 point season. making him worth every penny. Of course some will say that if the Flyers fail to win in the post season it makes that moot.
- Mats Sundin- May provide leadership, but thus far his production is what got him noticed by us. Has really been well ahead of what most expected. The 36 year old Swede is on pace for his best season, offensive-wise since 1993 when he garnered 114 points for the Nordiques. Even if he tails off a bit he is on his way to earn the 5.5 mil he is currently receiving.
- Paul Kariya- Another player enjoying a bit of a renaissance. He was once one of the top players in the NHL. Though he has tailed off a bit the last few years he still has been productive. His days of 50 goals and 100 points may be over, but 30 goals 90 points is possible. Helping the resurgent Blues regain some respectability. It remains to be seen if the Blues investment for 2 additional years(6 mil/per) for the 33 yr old pays off. Thus far, it has.
- Sidney Crosby- The Penguins made a VERY wise decision to extend the contract of their resident superstar as early as they did. The deal kicks in after this year, but will pay him 8.7 (no coincidence) for the following 5 years. If Sid had wanted, or if the Pens had waited(see caps and Ovechkin) he could have easily garnered as much as 11 mil/year(assuming the salary cap goes up again next summer). However they came together early, and Sid decided to place the team first and take the home town discount to leave room for others. On pace for another 120+point campaign.
- Brian Rafalski- Before Niedermayer left the Devils he was a highly underrated offensive type defenseman. He was signed by the Redwings this summer to replace the departed Schneider. So far the Wings don't miss Matthieu one bit with Brian on pace to have a career year; Possibly as much as 70 points for the high flying Detroit team. Making the 6 year 30 mil deal for the Michigan native look very good so far.
- Andrei Markov- Habs fans forgetting quickly about the 'loss' of Sheldon Souray. Andrei even has a decent minus(projected to -25) to mimic the departed former Canadian defender. The Russian will need to tighten up his defensive game to make the 4 year investment look good, but most Habs fans would still prefer him to Souray
- Roman Hamrlik- May not be putting up huge offensive numbers, but has been the quieter/steadier of the big three Hab defenders thus far. The 33 year old Czech is now far removed from being the top draft pick overall by the Lightning in 1992. He never developed into the Czech version of Bobby Orr some stated at his draft, he has quietly become a steady two-way defender. Much more reliable in his own end now then in years past. Making the Habs investment of 4 years looking like a sound choice.
- Sheldon Souray- Incomplete. Having missed most of the year its unknown what a difference(positive or negative) his presence would have made. We should know soon.