Thursday, July 21, 2011

News And Views

1) With the Dog Days of August nearly upon us I thought I'd comment on some of the various news stories that have occurred the past couple of weeks.

  • Steve Stamkos- As expected Steve resigned without an offer sheet being thrown his way. He got as much as he could expect raising his average salary nearly to 7.5 million over the 5 years. A few observations. One is that even after this deal is completed the Bolts will still be on the hook for another 2 seasons to pay Vinny Lecavalier at a cap hit of 7.77 million!! The other is that we wonder if Stamkos is prepared for the intense pressure he will now be placed under. Its one thing to be the new young guy, and another cog in the offense. Its another to be one of the highest paid NHL players. There are now expectations, fair or not, to score 40-50 goals every year. Lets see how he handles a slump. Of course it will help that he plays in a less of a media circus than NY or any Canadian market.

  • Osgood- Chris Osgood retired this past week. FR has opined of his Hall of Fame worthiness in the past. Once in 2008 with wizard-of-osgood and again the following year with: revisiting-osgood-to-hall-argument It can be said that Osgood's Hall of Fame case is based on his 401 career wins, he's 10th on the NHL's career list, and his performance in the postseason. He went 74-49 in the playoffs with a 2.09 goals-against average. He ranks fourth in league history with 15 playoff shutouts. What we believe will hurt him is lack of a major award (Vezina, ConnSmyth, and/or First team All star selection) and his non-Redwing record of 84-67. Not bad, but hardly Hall of Fame material. In our estimation If Curtis Joseph gets in (with Zero Cups or Vezinas) Ozzie should too!

  • Islanders- Still waiting for that other 'proverbial shoe' to drop. Word is that Snow has been feverishly working the phones with his fellow GM's in an effort to get a big deal done. problem is he has an artificial deadline other teams do not. Namely the August 1st referendum where Nassau County voters will approve(or not) a new arena. If that goes down to defeat the Isles are history(after their lease runs out supposedly in 4 years). To make a yes vote more likely, Wang/Snow want to make a big summer splash to get the locals excited enough to vote yes. Most GM's who don't have arbitration issues have left for their summer vacations are would rather deal later in the summer or are set i their rosters and aren't interested in anything big right now. Our sources tell us Snow and Darcy Regier have talked but no deal is immanent, but as one Asst GM told me, don't be surprised to hear about a sabres and Isles swap

2) So there we are, almost to the end of July. Most teams rosters are 90%+ set. FR tells us they will commence their annual 'winners and losers' of the summer season some time later this month or early August. When something drops we will sure to cover it and discuss any rumours we hear. As always keep it hear for all the latest!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Lock Out Looking Inevitable!

1) Few who follow this blog will be shocked to see that headline. We have been on record from almost the beginning of the last CBA in 2006 that this was going to be the case. Despite getting almost everything that they wanted in the new CBA the owners were never going to stop there. Bettman got his precious "cost certainty" and all was going to be well, right? We wrote about it way back in 2007 when Kelly was instituted as the new CBA boss.
new-labour-war.Then once again 2 years later:

2) Yes, as new readers can see we have been WAY out in front of this now looming issue. Things have been becoming even worse in recent months as the usual media mouth pieces start to spew the NHL line of how player salaries are now out of control and hurting the small market teams, etc, etc. here's one --->
We could probably cite several more written right around the recent free agency madness. Its reminiscent of what was written back in 2003-2004 right before the NHL went to war (and won?) with Bob Goodenow and the NHLPA. The story line then was the players salaries comprised too much of the % of revenue, the richer teams had an unfair advantage, and ticket prices were becoming too high.

3) So here we are 6 years into the new CBA and the story line is the same. The problem is that the league now has its "cost certainty". Translation: The players get a fixed percentage! Supposedly it was pushing 70% before the last Bettman lockout, and its now fixed at 56%. It doesn't matter how much the league makes or doesn't make, the players still get their fixed piece of the pie. As the league has grown so has the average player salary, BUT the % of the overall revenues has stayed the same! If revenues fail to meet expectations the players lose their "escrow money" and the owners get a refund on paid out salary.

4) As we and many others wrote before and during the last Bettman lockout, the problem is NOT player salaries, its the lack of revenue sharing between the big market (revenue) teams and the small market(revenue) teams. The big markets and all the Canadian cities are raking in record profits, while the small markets are struggling. Why? the provision in the CBA that required all teams to spend a certain amount. As our post race-to-floor states teams are now forced to spend even if they don't want to. The result: Continued/worsening financial hardship. The likely Betman fix? Reduce player percentage, tweak the salary floor, and if they see blood, eliminate guaranteed contracts all together

5) What SHOULD be done? A realistic revenue sharing system like the NFL has. The NHLPA proposed a very sensible revenue sharing system as part of a possible CBA agreement last time which was rejected out of hand by Bettman. Yes, we know the NHL is a regional sport and most teams make their own money locally, not from national TV etc. However if the NHL wants to stay in these markets they will have to make significant concessions. If not we will have the teams moving from market to market. Atlanta lost a team with this CBA. Phoenix, Florida are on the precipice of losing their respective franchises. Bettman will probably use these teams' plights as a weapon against the NHLPA and not see it as it is: An indictment of his mistakes in constructing the last CBA.

6) The biggest question is not; will Bettman and the NHL play hardball again? Surely they will. However the 2 billion dollar question is; Do the players have the intestinal fortitude to go toe to toe once again and possibly lose another season? Regardless that they now have a tested labor negotiator in Donald Fehr, (Fehr has yet to lose, but that was baseball) the NHLPA has a long history of failure. Can Fehr set goals and keep the players together and cohesive as the pressure inevitably mounts next summer. Surely the league as well as the usual media puppets will be blaming the players and trying to drum up public outcry against the 'greedy millionaire players'). We believe based upon the past the players will initially hold firm(leading to Bettman's third lock out) but unravel leading to Ferh's ouster and possibly union desertification. It is then that the owners and Bettman may go for the kill, and demand the elimination of guaranteed contracts.

Stay tuned folks the bumpy ride is just getting started. Be sure to keep it here to get unfiltered perspective!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Race To The Floor?!?

1) Yup, that's what capgeek is calling the need for NHL teams to spend enough to comply with the CBA rule that they spend a minimum of combined salaries each season. Now, most have heard of the salary ceiling, or 'cap', but few discuss that there actually is a corresponding 'floor' that requires teams to spend. Its calculated using the median from the allowed max, which is based upon gross revenues. The max this next season will be whopping 64.3

2) Its amazing , but in the 'short' 6 seasons since the last Bettman (owners)-initiated work stoppage/lockout the salary MINIMUM is now almost 10 million ABOVE ( 48.3) what the MAX was (39 mil) then. Low income/small market teams that initially were helped by the salary cap now find themselves having to try to spend money just for the sake of spending money to achieve the floor minimum. Thus the Bettman salary cap which was supposed to help these teams, is now causing needing financial distress. Thanks Gary, but that discussion is for another post. What we are going to ask (rhetorically) is how some of these teams can realistically reach the floor? Some, like the Florida Panthers spent like drunken sailors(with due apologies to sailors) to easily get to the floor. Some, including us, think Dale Tallon spend stupidly. Others think he had little choice, which we can understand, but 16.4 million for 36 yr old Ed Jovanovski and 4 yrs 18 mil for Tomas Fleischmann??? The Jovocop salary by the way can not be bought out/stashed in the AHL, as he is over 35! Dumb! Others, especially the NY Islanders will have real trouble getting there; (More on them later)

3) So the 48.3 million dollar question is, " What IF a team fails to get to the salary cap floor before the season starts, or at any time during the season"?? WE asked just that and we were told that officially if a team either is under OR over the salary cap parameters they are disallowed from participating in playing any games until they do. We inquired further, and surprisingly we were told that the NHL would either 'look the other way', or have lax enforcement of floor dwelling teams. Really?? Amazing if true! In fact its probably happened already. Not before a season started, but after the trade deadline after teams' have dumped salary. We're told a few have gone under the floor for the last couple of weeks and no sanctions were employed. Another reason we have been clamoring for years that the NHL publish each teams' salary cap obligation daily

4) So who is most as 'risk' of not making the floor? Well it appears its going to take a great deal of work by Garth Snow to get his Islanders "Up to the floor". Right now they have 18 players under contract for next season and 10+ million in salary to use. They have 2 RFA's who by all accounts will get, at most, 4 of that mil. That leaves 6 additional million on 2 roster spots. What we have been told is that the Isles may have already penciled in Nino Neiderieiter (last years 1st round pick) to be on the team (ready or not?) to account for almost 3 mil (with bonuses). AS you can see Garth Snow will still have to add another piece to get up to the floor. Likely Snow will pick up a discarded player in September/October unless a team makes him an offer he cant refuse and a big trade for an established player for a prospect/pick is made? Also keep in mind their cap # includes 3 million in payments to Yashin and Witt!

5) Now regardless of how the Isles or any other team gets to the floor, the thing that bothers me is that teams now appear to be spending just for the sake of spending. Seems to defeat the purpose of making the league financially sound. Spending big $$ doesn't equate into success anyway. To force a team into making fool hearty financial decisions is idiotic and a circumstance few discussed at the time the CBA was signed in 2005. We expect the fact that several teams are struggling financially will be used against the players in the next round of CBA talks when in fact its the owners lack of revenue sharing that is the main culprit. If the NHL wants small market(revenue ) teams to exist they better be prepared to share with them and prop them up and not expect the players alone to do the heavy lifting (again) Yes, the subject for another post.

As always keep it here for all the latest

Monday, July 11, 2011

WANTED!! RFA's On Rival GMs' Wishlists?

1) For many years, the NHL's CBA allowed its teams the option of signing restricted free agents. But for a long time, such signing attempts only happened once in a proverbial blue moon. Most teams don't want to risk shelling out valuable first-round picks as compensation, and as important NHL GM's are a close-knit group so its almost an unwritten rule that you didn't sign Group II players. However there have been attempts (Ryan Kesler, Steve Bernier, Thomas Vanek, David Backes, Dustin Penner) to sign restricted free agents over the last few years. In an NHL that is increasingly geared towards building with young (cheaper-usually) and budding talent, as well as a dearth of decent UFA the league could see the verge of a new offseason frenzy that goes beyond the usual menu of trades and UFA signings. Here is our list of The Most Wanted - a list of high-profile Group II players that any NHL general manager may want to take a chance on.

2) Firstly what would the price (in compensation) that a team would need to be aware of?
An offer with a $1,034,249 annual cap hit or less: No compensation

$1,034,249 -- $1,567,043: Third-round pick

$1,567,043 -- $3,134,088: Second-round pick

$3,134,088 -- $4,701,131: First and third-round pick

$4,701,131 -- $6,268,175: First, second and third-round pick

$6,268,175 -- $7,835,219: Two first-round picks, a second and third

$7,835,219 and higher: Four first-round picks

3) Right off it seems to not be as prohibitive as one might think. Especially with the new way teams' have been extending contracts, thus making the actual 'cap-hit' minimal, a team could, lets say sign a star player for an average cap hit of 6 mil(for a 10 year front loaded deal, and only lose one 1st,2nd, 3rd rounder. Of curse the flip side of that is the team that owns the rights would likely match that kind of deal, but it does open up some possibilities for the mid level RFA's on teams that are close to the cap ceiling.

4) Now on to our list. No its not comprehensive and if we include a player who is arbitration eligible (not really a free agent) please let us know

  • Steven Stamkos- The Lightning center is by far the best RFA forward available. The 21 yr old has scored 96 goals the past 2 seasons. Contrary to some reports the Lightning have enough cap space (14 mil) right now to match any offer sheets. We doubt very much Steve will be going anywhere and an offer sheet might just do Steve Yzerman a favour at this point. Steve is going to get big $$ for sure and be playing in Tampa come October!

  • Shea Weber- The 6 year pro and Predator captain is one of the best defensmen in the NHL today. The Norris runner up is due a nice raise from the 4.5 mil he was making. (If Erhoff is worth 4.5 mil, what is he?) The question here is not whether Nashville has cap space (it has 24 mil right now) , but can the small market(revenue) team afford to match a potentially front loaded type deal? David Poile is one of the more respected GM's so we doubt a rival GM will attempt to poach Weber. ( Team opted for arbitration. Not a free agent unless team walks away from hefty award)

  • Drew Doughty- The LA defensemen took a bit of a step backwards last season, but still was one of the better at his position and would be a welcome addition to any teams' backline. Coming off his entry-level deal Drew should expect a nice raise (team mate Jack Johnson got a nice long deal last season at 4.5 per) Cap issues aren't huge in LA, and we expect Drew to get signed well before training camp.

  • Zach Bogosian- The Winnipeg Jet (hard getting used to writing that LOL) The big kid from Massena, New York is the 'poor man's Doughty' as one scout told me. He has all the tools and will be a Norris finalists some day, but right now is a step behind Doughty(as he was in the 2008 draft) That said, the kid is due a nice raise and would be worth an offer sheet for a team looking to upgrade their defense in the long term. The problem is Winnipeg (Atlanta)has plenty of cap space to match almost any offer

  • Luke Schenn -Even playing on a bad Toronto team the past 3 seasons its apparent this kid is good. Perhaps brought up too soon, but he should be a fine defender for a lot of years. Toronto doesn't have cap space some other teams do, but we doubt that Brian Burke would allow 'his boy' to get away. I'm also not sold that Schenn would be worth throwing huge $$'s at.

  • Brad Marchand-Yes, the same Marchand that was among the best players for the Stanley Cup champs this past spring.The diminutive 23 yr old had a nice 20 goal rookie season, but it was his strong playoffs that might entice a fellow GM to throw an offer sheet his way. The Bruins have the space to fit him if that would happen, but would the usually tight fisted Jacobs want to over pay a player?

  • Karl Alzner- WE would have thought the Caps would have had their former first rounder locked up long term by this date, but what we're hearing is that Alzner is looking for a 5 year 30 mil deal and the Caps are only offering 3 years 8 mil. Quite a bit to make up. Recently they shed some payroll to try to toward off a possible offer sheet which would force George McPhee to trade assets he otherwise wouldn't. They still are right up against the cap max but would a rival GM think Karl is worth big time money?

  • Micheal Frolik -The former Florida 1st round pick had a disappointing 3rd season after promising 20 goal campaigns in the sunshine state, prompting his late season trade to the former cup champs. He did manage 5 points in Chicago's brief 7 game playoff run and based upon past performance, his age (23) he could still be looked upon and a player worth looking into. With Chris Campoli also needing to be signed in addition to a decent back up goalie (will Turco return?) can/will Chicago match a potential offer sheet for the Czech forward?

  • Josh Gorges -(Arbitration eligible)

  • Kyle Turris-Has yet to live up to his draft position (taken 3rd overall in 2007) but has shown improvement in each of his 3 pro seasons. Has all the tools and a good work ethic but it would be interesting and a bit of a conflict of interest that a team is owned by the NHL might be the ones who decide on whether to match an offer sheet or even to try to dissuade a rival GM from doing so?

  • Blake Wheeler-The 24 year old power forward who like Turris (a Phoenix draft choice) is so far been a bit of a disappointment from his draft position (5th overall in 2004) but he has scored 21 and 18 goals twice in his 3 NHL seasons, so many would still consider him a 2nd line RW. Is he worth taking chance with an offer sheet? Probably not in my opinion. As one asst GM told Fauxrumors, 'There's a reason this is his 3rd organization'. No further elaboration given

5) To sum up I'd have to say its VERY unlikely we'll see any offer sheets thrown to any of the above players. It might make for a good story/see papers/attract blog traffic, but it belies logic that any will be going anywhere this summer. The clubs involved either have plenty of cap space, or need to retain their marquis player to stay relevant or need to stay at the cap floor. The top end talent is too valuable to let go, and the lesser available RFA's are not good enough try to poach. Sorry folks, no big news here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Three Years, No Nutz!!

1) Firstly apologies to FR. He continually ask me to NOT commemorate our blog victory over the delusional moron known as Hockeynutz. However, being that today is the Three year anniversary that that imbecile finally gave up his insane/ perverse fascination with this blog we simply couldn't allow it to go by without mention.

2) For those who have become readers again in the past few months, and are unaware of what occurred not long after this blog started almost 5 years ago until July 2009, an individual(s) located in the Calgary Alberta region (determined by IP address) quickly became amazingly obsessed with everything that we wrote here. He'd comment on almost every post we'd make with accusations of plagiarism, etc. He even started to make up several blog names to additionally comment here. The pinnacle of his audacity occurred in February of 2007 when employing the help of a computer hacker (or himself?) he stole our original blog. We hesitate to publish what it became, but to illustrate what kind of a sicko this guy is, we will. <----( We have NOTHING to do with this blog!!)

3) As you can see even after he stopped his blog he briefly continued the ruse of mirroring this blog on the old site. FR's continued approach of comment moderation coupled with alerting everyone of his tactics must have made his job near impossible and he slowly has lost interest. (Perhaps his parents took his computer away? LOL) We still occasionally see him pop up and use the Fauxrumors name on other sites to try to discredit the blog. Thankfully never to success. We have long since moved on and continue to grow. As we come close to our 5th anniversary of doing this, we want to thank everyone who has assisted us in this endeavour!
As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Musical Chairs?

1) As we have seen the past few years the initial flurry of free agent activity inevitably calms down in a hurry after the first few days. This year was no different. We saw many signings in the first few hours on July 1st, and the big fish in this years FA pool, Brad Richards was landed by the NY Rangers this past Saturday, thus ending a busy 48 hours of activity. Yes there are some decent players left, but i think we've seen the last huge deals as many teams like Florida who had tons of cap space to fill are less inclined/can give big cash for the remaining free agents

2) Thus the Musical Chairs analogy comes into play. No doubt a player like Kaberle will find a soft landing, but it wasn't so soft (financially speaking) for one of the most sought after (most thought anyway) goalies in this years UFA class. Tomas Vokoun was the only legit starter in my opinion available. As the only big name goalie available this summer, like Brad Richards, he'd have his pick of 4-5 teams who were in need of a new starting goalie/an upgrade in that position. Right? As such his agent/he declined a very generous 3 year 15 million dollar offer from the Florida Panthers who wanted to retain the Czech.

3) From what we've heard, when Dale Talon was spurned by Vokoun he immediately set his sights elsewhere, regardless of his old goalies availability. The biggest domino to fall was the trade of Semyon Varmalov to the Avalanche by the Washington Capitals. This immediately eliminated the most likely destination of Vokoun. Colorado GM to his credit didn't want a temporary roster filler, and instead went after Varmolov to be not only their goalie of the future but the present as well. They also added JS Giguere to fill out their net minding tandem. Florida then turned around and signed former Colorado and Washington goalie Jose Theodore to a 2 year deal. Thus reducing Vokouns options.

4) Phoenix, the other likely destination, decided they also didn't want to spend big $$ on a 35 yr old. Following this evidently Vokoun and his agent did the math and saw the number of available starting jobs pretty much gone. We're told it was then that they reached out to Washington. Having lost 1 goalie, perhaps George McPhee would like to add a veteran and someone to mentor fellow Czech Micheal Neuvirth? McPhee apparently liked the idea and came back with what Vokoun's agent thought was a lowball figure but the DC GM intoned that this was a take it or leave it offer. The Caps intended to go into the season with Neuvirth as their starter and hot prospect Braden Holtby as his backup, so they had the upper bargaining position.

5) Apparently player agents, especially agents of goalies have yet to learn. When you are offered a good deal before free agency, you should take it!! Ask Evgeny Nabokov about this! Last summer he was in a similar position. Having turned down a long term multi million dollar offer from SJ, he found himself back in Russia and so miserable his play suffered. Now he's also hoping to be traded or be part of the NY Islanders. Not where he could have been if he took the deal. It remains to be seen if these two will be held as exmples of what not to do. Else there may not be enough starting goalie 'chairs' left.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


1) A story was quietly released recently by the NHL that seemed to go almost unnoticed by the NHL writers/bloggers, and that's the likelihood of significant team realignment for the 2012-2013 season. So we felt it was our duty to our readers to look into the possibilities and see what is possible/likely to be seen after the shift.

2) The biggest issue(s) are the move of the Thrashers to Winnipeg and the possible(likely) move of the Coyotes. The ladder will be the biggest issue that will need to be decided to make the break down possible. As far as the Yotes are concerned its a lost cause we're told. If Matthew Hulsizer couldn't get it done, its unlikely any new potential buyer can/will. The City of Glendale has gone as far as they financially can so a new prospective buyer can not expect any further concessions. The real unknown is where will the Phoenix franchise land?

3) The initial story didn't mention which teams would play in which division BUT did hint at a significant change. There would be only 4 divisions instead of the current 6. Two in each conference. Two would have 8 and 2 would possess 7 teams. (allowing for 2 expansion teams?) We like the reduced number of divisions. Makes it MUCH more important to play for a divisional title, etc. For the sake of argument we'll say Phoenix moves East( KC?) Yes, that can/will be argued, but for this exercise we will say they move to the Central time zone. Additionally, as we have argued for before, we'd like to see a return of the original divisional names. (Or new ones we've already suggested) They gave the NHL a unique feel that some announcers still allude to. So here are our realigned divisions

4) First the Eastern or (Prince of Wales) Conference

Patrick Division

  • Tampa Bay

  • Carolina

  • Washington

  • Florida

  • Philadelphia

  • Rangers

  • Islanders

  • New Jersey

Adams Division

  • Boston

  • Buffalo

  • Montreal

  • Ottawa

  • Toronto

  • Pittsburgh

  • Detroit

5) Next, The Western or ( Campbell) Conference

Norris Division

  • Chicago

  • Dallas

  • Columbus

  • Nashville

  • Minnesota

  • St. Louis

  • (Phoenix)

Smythe Division

  • Anaheim

  • Calgary

  • Colorado

  • Edmonton

  • LA

  • San Jose

  • Vancouver

  • Winnipeg

6) We admit there are a few controversial placements. Among them are moving the penguins out of the Patrick and into the Adams. WE moved Winnipeg into the Smythe, where the old jets once played to keep the west Canadian teams happy Also moving Detroit out of the West and into the East won't make the remaining 'Norris' teams happy. We also moved Phoenix to replace Detroit. Regardless of who moves where, to keep the conferences/divisions even someone won't be happy. The final decision is supposed to be announced in December. Look for 'trial balloons' to be floated/leaked prior to the official announcement. We will keep our collective ears open and relay any info we receive.

As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Drunken Sailor Time!

1) Yes, the flood gates for Unrestricted Free Agents is upon us. In only an hour or so contracts for free agents will be expired and they will be free to talk to any clubs who might be interested. With the increase in the salary cap to almost 64 million and several clubs exercising their rights to buy out their previously bad/bloated contracts, many teams have oodles of cash to spend today if they desire

2) Early evidence was seen late yesterday with the absurd contract Christian Ehrhoff signed in Buffalo. The generally serviceable 2 way defensemen signed a 10 year 40 million dollar contract. In reality its a 7 year 37 million dollar deal but the final 3 years for 3 mil total were added to reduce the salary cap charge. Its also front loaded we're told, so Chris Ehrhoff will get 9 million next season! Crazy! WE have NOTHING against he or any other player getting compensated for as much as they can get but we do NOT want to hear owners crying over it !! And you can bet their dollars they will certainly be crying!

3) If Erhoff is worth that kind of money, what kind of dough can Brad Richards, espoused to be the cream of the UFA class, be worth? Geez, even Jaromir Jagr has found that there is (more) big money to be made here this summer. The Czech was about to sign for 2 million when his agent started to get significant offers from other clubs to now its likely Jagr (as written here first) will get nearly double, or more than that when he signs. Other free agents who normally might be considered 2nd or 3rd line players will get top line money. AS several agents have told us, "its a sellers market". Meaning to us, lots of cash to spend and few decent players to spend it on! What remains to be seen is how 'drunk' will the sailors get?
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