Monday, September 05, 2005

My Fantasy Hockey Team

I'm in a 20 team (yes that's right 20 teams) fantasy hockey league of only Ranger fans. Last night we had the draft and here's my team. It's not the best but it's not bad either considering the amount of teams and the amount of players per team.

C - S. Fedorov
C - D. Briere
C - B. Holik
LW - O. Kvasha
LW - J. Blake
LW - M. Gelinas
RW - V. Bure
RW - P. Sykora
RW - M. Parrish
D - S. Niedermayer
D - T. Kaberle
D - I. Ulanov
D - K. Rachunek
D - R. Suchy
D - F. Bouillon
BN - J. Madden
BN - M. Lapointe
BN - M. Nilson
G - M. Brodeur
G - J. Markkanen
BN - C. Huet

Obviously I'm happy about Brodeur/Markkanen as my goalies, they should help me out a lot. What I'm missing up front is a true offensive punch. I've got a bunch of good role players who will put up 60 points a year, but no Iginla/Naslund type. Scott Niedermayer is nice on the point as well. I expect this to be a middle of the road team.

And can you believe as a Ranger fan I have three Fishsticks on my team?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Carnival of the NHL #7

Welcome to Carnival of the NHL #7. In this week’s edition, we look at three teams in the East, Pavel Datsyuk, Doug Harvey and a lot more. But we start with the top news story in America. (The wording of this intro was heavily borrowed from PTI)
John at BoltsMag went off-topic a few days ago to blog about the coming wrath of Katrina, and now we have seen it. Thousands are feared dead and New Orleans is basically gone. If you have a few bucks to spare, send $5 to the Red Cross or some other organization. If we all just chip in a few dollars, we can make a world of difference.

John is not abandoning NHL blogging all together. He wishes the Tampa Bay Lightning would redo their website. I’ve previously written about how the NHL is severely lacking in the online world. If you want to see what a great online strategy is all about, check out MLB.com. The team websites are run by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (which the teams initially invested in but now makes a profit) and subscribers can watch nearly every baseball game live. For me, a Mariners fan living in New York, it is perfect. I’m happy that OLN and the NHL are partnering to stream some games in the coming years, but there is a long way to go.

John is also upset about ridiculous trade rumors that people come up with and he’s not alone. J.J. from Canucks Corner can’t stand that there seems to be no thought by the John Doe that comes up with these things. Personally, I can’t stand trade rumors. Real leaks are one thing, but what a radio host thinks should happen is something I don’t need to waste my time with.

J.J. also has two posts on Matt Cooke and the progress of his negotiations with the Canucks.

Mr. Ben Wright over at The Net Files gets the next slot because he was the first one to send in a submission. He’s taking another side of the signings debate and thinks that revenue across the league will go up. He looks at a number of markets and really believes things are looking up for the NHL. I hope he’s right.

I think one of the biggest stories not being talked about enough is Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and their lack of contracts with the Wings. Matt at On the Wings has a post on the lack of progress with the two players. But wait, today Matt posts that there is some good news on the Datsyuk front.

Next up is the Big Papi of the NHL Carnival, Eric McErlain. He even wrote his own intro and since he put that kind of effort in, I think I need to post it. (Especially since he’s the one who rewarded me with this Carnival): Earlier this week, both EJ Hradek and John Buccigross of ESPN.com jumped ugly with USA Hockey after the coach of the women's squad, Ben Smith, left 1998 Olympic heroine Cammi Granato off the roster for the team's pre-Olympic tour. Eric McErlain wondered what all the fuss was about in What Would Herb Brooks Do?

We have two posts on the Buffalo Sabres from two different bloggers. Tom at Sabre Rattling is impressed by the job Tom Golisano has done with the team and Lindsey examines the state of the team and some of the criticism GM Darcy Regier has endured.

Jes Golbez has a monster post on the Carolina Hurricanes, looking at attendance, standings, coaching, cap space and the depth chart. I don’t know much about the Canes but I liked Peter Laviolette when he on Long Island, despite my being a die-hard Ranger fan. I also never realized how good of a backup Martin Gerber was. He posted a .918 SV% last season, along with a 2.26GAA.

The Puck Stops Here looks at the great career of Doug Harvey, and how it’s hard to prove it through numbers. I love using statistics in baseball but they do not have nearly the relevance in hockey, especially for more defensive players.

Spector examines the activity over the summer and comes away with one conclusion: “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was...” I have to agree. I hope revenues rise so that these deals don’t look foolish, but I’m not so sure. Sometimes I wonder if GM’s learned anything. If you are still confused about the cap and how injuries relates to it, Tom Benjamin has a good post on the matter.

Can you believe Peter Bondra is a hot name in the free agent market? Either can Chris at Hockey Country.

Jon from Sharkspage posts about a four team rookie tournament going on out west. You can buy tickets if you are in San Jose.

And finally we have David from the Ice Block posting about OLN. I like his blog but he is going to get ribbed here (in a very joking way), for sending in this post just twenty five minutes before the deadline.

Whew, was that fun. I would love to do that again sometime down the road. If there are any problems with the post, just drop me a note in the comments.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Great Hull Quote

From TSN/The Arizona Republic:

Hull, who has played 18 seasons in the NHL, said that while he admired former St. Louis linemate Wayne Gretzky for trying coaching, he was not one of the people who reportedly tried to convince Gretzky not to try coaching.

"I've only told Wayne Gretzky not to do one thing, and he didn't listen to me so I would never tell him not to do anything again," Hull said to the Republic.

"I told him not to come to St. Louis from Los Angeles and that (Blues coach Mike) Keenan was an idiot. He said (Keenan) wouldn't be an idiot once he got there. I said, 'He'll never change.'

"I was right."

Link.

Carnival Reminder

Submissions for Carnival of the NHL #7 are due by Noon EST Thursday. All submissions go to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Emrick Going to OLN

The New York Post reported a few days ago that Mike "Doc" Emrick is going to be doing the play-by-play for OLN games. OLN is also in talks with John Davidson to do the color along side him. Doc is a solid announcer and JD is the best color man in the business. If this ends up being the team, hockey fans will be very happy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Going on Vacation

I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow morning and will be back Thursday night. There will be some posting while I'm gone, but it will obviously be light, maybe one post a day. The deadline to submit posts for the Carnival is Thursday at Noon. Please e-mail your entries to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Carnival #7 Details

Just a reminder: Carnival of the NHL #7 will be posted Thursday, September 1st (or in the early hours of September 2nd). Please have all your posts in by Noon EST on September 1st so I can work on the Carnival as I fly back from Seattle. (I'm leaving for Seattle on Sunday. Go Mariners!) Please send the links to worldcusa (at) aol (dot) com.

Lemieux's Salary

A friend and I were talking about a hockey subject this last week and then I saw it on a message board so I thought my readers must be thinking the same thing: If you are Mario Lemieux, what do you pay yourself? Under the old system, it did not matter at all. You could pay yourself $5 million and re-invest some or most of that in the team. But in a cap environment, salary means a lot. The Pens are not going to bust the cap, but what they spend matters for revenue sharing.

The revenue sharing is complicated (I don't completely understand it) but there are two "batches" of revenue sharing. If a club spends more than average on player salaries, they are not eligible for the second batch. So you see why Lemieux's salary can be so important. If the Pens are $500,000 away from the average, and he just pays himself $450,000, then they can get revenue sharing. If they are $2 million away, he can pay himself $1.9 million.

We also have to look at if it's even fair for a player to hold front office positions. Why can't the Flyers just have Forsberg buy 2% of the team at a very discounted price, and then have him accept less money? (which is basically what is going on with Lemieux, except he owns a lot of the team) There has to be a provision in the CBA that stops teams from giving front-office positions or small slices of ownership to players. Lemieux bought the team pre-CBA, so it will not affect his ownership, but it is still something that needs to be addressed.

Someone on a message board mentioned Lemieux should get a special arbitration hearing to determine his salary. I think this is a great idea. Mario Lemieux is one of the best players of all-time and owns his team. If the Pens were at $33 million, only gave Lemieux $450,000, and then brought in a big time player to fill the rest of the cap space, there would be outrage. Lemieux is a several million dollar player, and his ownership should not allow the Pens to lowball him for revenue sharing purposes. Lemieux needs to earn a fair wage, so that the Pens payroll is actually their payroll.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

St. Louis and Elias Sign

I'm on my way out but I wanted to quickly post my thoughts on today's transactions. Martin St. Louis is heading back to Tampa, signing a six year deal worth $5.25 million a season. I really like St. Louis, I think he is an excellent player, and the money is good. But six years? How can you possibly sign a player for six years? In today's economic environment with the new CBA, signing someone who is coming off an MVP season but is 30 years old to a six year deal is cap suicide. This CBA could be over in four years; signing someone to a six year deal is just plain dumb. The only person I would sign to a six year deal is Wayne Gretzky in his prime.

Patrik Elias signed the Devils qualifying offer for a one year deal worth $4.18 million. Elias has Hepatitis and as TSN is reporting, his contract will not count against the cap until he returns to the lineup. But the Devils are still way over the cap. (TSN says $5 million, woah)

Stats for 2003-2004:
St. Louis: 82GP - 38 - 56 - 94 with a +35
Elias: 82GP - 38 - 43 - 81 with a +26 (Can you believe he was not an All-Star last year with those kind of numbers?)

Ducks Making Cap Room

In an effort to get under the cap before the start of the season, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim sent Steve Rucchin to the Rangers for Trevor Gillies and a pick in the 2007 draft. The Ducks had to get rid of someone, and while I thought it would be Sykora, Rucchin works too. He's going to be a UFA after this season and is making $2.26 million.

The Ducks basically got nothing in return for a second line center because they are in cap trouble, and when you get into trouble, no GM is going to give up much to help you out. It's probably why Rucchin was moved instead of Sykora. Burke would have wanted a nice return for Sykora but no GM would give it. So he parted with Rucchin for a minimal return, which is easier to swallow than for a player like Sykora.

If you go to TSN, it looks like the Ducks are fine under the cap. But they still need to move someone. With a 22 man roster, the Ducks will be about 400-600K over. Look for them to make another move in the near future. And if they do decide to move Sykora, they will be able to get a decent return because they are not in serious cap trouble anymore, just minor trouble.

Also, check out two new hockey blogs: Canucks Hockey and Goon Blog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hossa for Heatley?

I was about to post news of the Sens signing Hossa for $18 million over 3 years when I see the big news on TSN: Danny Heatley heading to Ottawa in return for Marian Hossa. To me, this is bigger news than the Forsberg signing. The Senators are sending a D-Man to Atlanta as well. I'm hearing it's De Vries and that Atlanta is sending back a first round pick. Check out Chris at Hockey Country for continuing updates and a look at this from the perspective of a Sens fan.

Hossa is slightly better right now but I have always been a Heatley fan and I'll stick by him. He's two years younger and has the potential to be a better player. The first round pick is great news for Sens fans because it does not look likely that Atlanta will be a top team.

The biggest question mark here is Ilya Kovalchuk. He remains unsigned and is good friends with Danny. He has said that he does not want to negotiate until the Heatley situation is cleared up. Will this stop him from returning to the Thrashers?

Edit (5:27PM) - Fan 590 out of Toronto is reporting that Heatley and the Sens have reached a deal on a contract. It is going to be so weird to see Danny Heatley in a Sens uniform but I think he will have a great year.

Also, if you are asking yourself why Atlanta did this, there are rumors that Heatley wanted out of the Thrasher orginization so he could have a fresh start. I'm sure the accident has a lot to do with that.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Selanne Going Back to Anaheim

Teemu Selanne is heading back to the Ducks, having signed a one year deal for $1 million. Good for him and good the Ducks. They have serious cap problems (see this post) but this is a good value for an aging veteran who is going to have a much better year than he did with the Avs. This guarantees that Sykora is going to go as I don't see how else they can realistically get under the cap.

Lindros Cartoon

John from BoltsMag/RawLightning sent me this funny cartoon.

Carnival of the NHL

Late last night/early this morning, James Mirtle posted Carnival of the NHL #6 and thanks to Eric at Off Wing for announcing that I will be hosting the next Carnival. I will be going back to the trend of Carnivals being posted on a Thursday and it looks like September 1st will be the date. I'll post details in a few days.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Off-Season Winding Down

Even though there are still plenty of players that remain without contracts, the off-season is winding down. Most of the blogs (including mine) have been getting more and more quiet and it's beginning to feel like a typical off-season. I know for me, I just want to watch some hockey. My good friend and I talked last night and planned some of the games we want to go to, talked about which sports bars will have the games on (there was some debate whether ESPNZone would still show games, especially those on OLN), etc etc.

For me, some big questions still remain unanswered and they have to do with restricted free agents. Ilya Kovalchuk, Danny Heatley and Martin St. Louis still do not have contracts and September is less than two weeks away. St. Louis is the most interesting because he is coming off an MVP year in which he helped his team win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning are currently just under $32 million in salary with two players left to sign (St. Louis and Dave Andreychuk). But Bolts' management has said they will not go over $37.5 million which means St. Louis is going to have to receive less than $6 million in salary, maybe $5 million. They were put in this situation when Lecavalier took $6.875 million per year for four years. (Home team discount, yeah right.)

The Bolts also have to worry about Brad Richards, who becomes an RFA next season. He is barely 25 years old, coming off two 70+ point season and should have no trouble fetching a big salary next year. The Bolts have to lose either Richards or St. Louis to restricted free agency; I don't see how they keep both. I'm wondering when other teams are going to step up and make an offer on St. Louis. He might want to play in Tampa, and four first round picks are a lot to give up, but he's a talented player. Or, a team can trade some prospects for St. Louis' rights and then sign him. Either way, someone should do something. It puts pressure on Tampa and they could get last year's MVP.

Then comes the Atlanta situation. They are pursuing Bondra, when they still have two talents in Kovalchuk and Heatley unsigned. They have plenty of cap space, but they need to pull the trigger. Heatley just switched agents and some Russian papers are reporting Kovalchuk is reluctant to return to Atlanta unless Heatley re-signs.

The Red Wings also have not signed their two big RFA's: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They have $7 million left to sign 4 players (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall and a depth player). The big challenge for the Wings will be to sign Datsyuk and Zetterberg for less than $6 million combined. If I'm a GM with cap space, I'm offering Datsyuk $4 million per season. The Wings can't match it, and if they do, then that allowes me to go after Zetterberg.

Before I end this post, I'm going to link to a random set of hockey musings by Jes Golbez, who is turning out to be my favorite hockey blogger as of late. He responds to a comment I made about Kevin Weekes, looks at splits of two Slovak NHLers, defends his pick of the Bruins winning the East, and thinks Derian Hatcher won't be as bad as people think in the new NHL.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

New Team Canada Jerseys

Take a look. What's up with those socks? They've got to go.

There's also a press release to go with the pictures. These jerseys, which will be worn at the Olympics this year, are "Nike Swift" uniforms and are supposed to be lighter. According to Nike, players can move faster compared to standard jerseys/socks. You can check out the press release for all the benefits. Despite those ugly socks, I actually would like to play with this uniform and really see if it's as good as Nike says it is.

Edit: Tom Benjamin is reporting that players like the jerseys but they have a serious problem: when you fall, you slide. Kirk Maltby compares them to ski pants. So why can't Nike just use the old material of socks with the new material of the jerseys. I've been playing hockey my whole life and I think current hockey socks are perfectly fine.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Individual Tickets On Sale Sep 17

The NHL is making all teams begin selling individual tickets on Saturday, September 17. No word yet on what time the flood gates will open. Is this new? I don't remember all teams having to start selling individual tickets on the same day in the past, but it's been a couple years.

From the same source, the Penguins have already sold more tickets (500,000) than they did all of the 2003-2004 season. Now the question for the City Council from Pens ownership is going to be, "When are we getting a new stadium?" If they don't receive a favorable answer, the Pens could be on the move in the next few years.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Comcast: I Love You

Burried in today's AP piece on the Comcast deal is this:

The deal with Comcast goes beyond just television rights. Comcast will bring the NHL Network to cable systems in the United States, and provide on-demand game broadcasts and computer streaming of live games.

Live streaming games? Yes!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Final Word On The NHL-IIHF Agreement

The whole process of the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement is finally over. The Czechs are in but the Russians are not. I reported a little while ago that I thought the Russians would do it because if they did not, they would be without compensation at all. Russian labor law allows a worker to quit any job as long as they give two weeks notice.

Pittsburgh is already working on bringing Malkin here using this "loophole." It is the same way the Blue Jackets got Zherdev. (see note below) Now, the Pens are not required to give any money to Malkin's Russian club, which is great news for their franchise. I see no reason why Malkin won't be in a Penguin uniform this year, unless him and the Pens have contract issues.

As plenty of people have said, it's quite sad that Russia thinks they are better than everyone else, that this deal isn't fair even though every other IIHF country believes it is fair. I wonder if they can still opt into the deal later

Edit: It seems the Jackets did pay a fee for Zherdev. I had heard differently.

Monday, August 15, 2005

LeClair to Pittsburgh

The Penguins sure are a different team after a flurry of signings this off-season. Today, Pittsburgh added John LeClair with a two year deal. Don't expect LeClair to be a first line player on the new look Pens. Too many people are still saying John has a lot left in the tank. I've always liked the guy but he has had serious back trouble and had another surgery during the lockout. He's only played 208 games over the last 4 seasons and notched 146 points in that time. I would consider him playing above expectations if he hits 50 points this season (assuming he does not play with Lemieux).

I've looked around and the terms of this deal have not come out yet. If the Pens paid more than $2 million for an injury prone 36 year old, then they are only hurting themselves while there are better players on the market. But as a pure low budget depth signing, this is not a bad move. He adds character, grit, and can help this team.

James Mirtle has last year's and this year's Pens depth chart for comparison.

Top Goals of 2003-2004

NHL.com has a 23 minute clip of the top goals of 2003-2004. It is so good to see hockey again and watching these sick moves makes me think of two things. The first is, hockey players are such talented athletes. I love watching them perform. And the second is, I cannot wait to see hockey again.

Streaming video (WMV): Broadband, 56K.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cap Misunderstanding (Edit: I could be wrong)

I hear a lot of people make the same mistake when talking about the cap. They say that the value of the contract is averaged out for salary cap purposes. If Sundin has a contract for 3 then 4 then 5 million dollars a year, it counts as $4 million per year for cap purposes. This is only true for existing contracts. New contracts can be structured with different amounts against the cap for different years.

Here is where things get confusing though. If I decide to pay a player a million dollars a season, then 2 then 3, against the cap it will count as 1 million, then 2, then 3. It is only when the dollar amount per season goes down, not up, that there is an averaging for cap purposed. Mike Modano signed a five year $17.25 million dollar contract. He will be paid $4.25 for the first three season and $2.25 for the last two. For cap purposes, it counts as $3.45 million per season because he is getting more money in the beginning seasons than the ending seasons. If the deal was reversed, there would be no averaging.

I hope this does not confuse you even more. I just hear a lot of people saying that all new contracts get averaged for the cap. This is un true. It is only when the value goes down per year and those contracts are not that common.

Edit: Now Larry Brooks is saying that it is the average that counts against the cap. I'm waiting to hear from the NHL on this. There are people who think it's the average and then there are reports that it's not the average. Also, Larry Brooks has reported different things over the last month that seems to contradict other articles he's written. I might be wrong, but Lacroix's statement (see comments) and the fact that the NHL specifically went out of their to say existing contracts would be averaged, while not saying anything about new ones, leads me to want to wait it out. So we'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

OLN, IIHF and Alexander Frolov

ESPN is seriously considering matching Comcast's offer for the NHL. It's not so much that ESPN wants hockey back as they want to keep a potential competitor from getting off the ground. The figure was supposed to be $100 million over two years, but the Buffalo News is reporting it has been raised to $135 million. This is the only place I've seen this figure so take it with a grain of salt.

NHL players will be at the Turin games this year, even if the NHL-IIHF transfer agreement falls through. Russian and Czech clubs have by early Monday morning on the east coast (10AM GMT) to agree to the deal, or the NHL has open season on their players.

Novosti (a Russian site, but in English) has a good article up with details the American media would never pick up on.

However, senior Russian hockey officials themselves admit that contradictions in Russian domestic legislation allow the North Americans simply to ignore this demand. The Russian Labor Code, for example, grants any person the right to give up one's job within two weeks, and this alone, should the agreement be not signed, will give a trump card to NHL clubs in securing Russian club players for free.


I think this deal will get done. These European teams have too much to lose by standing their ground. Even if the NHL has to throw a little bit more money their way, the two sides should come to an agreement.

The Kings have re-signed gifted young Russian forward Alexander Frolov. He will be paid $14.5 million over five years. This is a deal more about potential than anything else. He is a good player and those 48 points last year were nice, but the Kings are locking him up for so long because he just turned 23. Here is the player page for Frolov.

This was originally a longer post but Blogger ate the first version of it. Oh well.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thornton Takes Shorter Deal

Joe Thornton did not take the five year $32 million dollars the Bruins were offering, but Sportsnet is reporting that the Bruins have re-signed him for three years at $20 million dollars.

They are also reporting the Lindros deal is finalized. For that amount of money, this is a great gamble by the Leafs.

RFA's Are Fair Game

I belong to a Ranger message board and I hear people saying that Glen Sather should not go after a RFA like Heatley or Kovalchuk, not because it's bad for the rebuilding, but because other teams will get mad. They reference the 1997 incident when the Rangers offered Joe Sakic $21 million over three years (with $17 million in the first year) and the rest of the league got outraged. I have two things to say to that: a) It's a different environment now and b) So what?

Under the previous CBA, teams like the Rangers could overspend, and it hurt the league in the long run. But it was completely fair under the CBA for the Rangers to offer Sakic that contract. If the Avs did not match that offer, they would have been heavily compensated. Teams and fans were mad at the Rangers, but when you have the opportunity to land a player who is going to the Hall of Fame, you do it. There was no reason for other teams to get mad; the Rangers played by the rules. I never liked all the spending the Rangers did, but you can't disagree with trying to get a Joe Sakic on their team.

Now, we are in a completely different environment with this new CBA. Teams cannot offer huge RFA deals because there is a salary cap. If they spend too much on a player, it will decrease their chances of winning. It levels out the playing field. RFA's are fair game. Everyone has the same salary cap now and no team is going to overspend by that much.

Danny Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk are special players, impact players as I like to call them. Kovalchuk is 22 years old and had 87 points last year. I would do everything in my power to get him on my team. And the CBA has RFA compensation to protect against outright taking of every RFA in the league.

If a team offered either one of these players less than $5 million a season (so they would not have to give up four first round draft picks) the Thrashers would surely match it. If a team gave them (probably not Heatley, but Kovalchuk) $6+ million a season, and Atlanta could not match that figure, the team would give up FOUR first round picks. That is a lot of first rounders. What makes RFA signings fair is that teams cannot make more than one major RFA signing every half-decade. If a team went out and offered Kovalchuk $6 million and they lost four first rounders, they would be basically done from making any significant RFA signings until 2008.

Restricted free agents are fair game. There is a compensation schedule in place to make sure teams don't offer huge salaries to players that don't deserve them. And if they overspend, they are hurt significantly in the draft. They are also going to be out of the RFA market for the next few seasons. And RFA's are even more fair in a salary cap environment because everyone is on (basically) a level playing field. Even if a team tried to overspend on Kovalchuk, they could not offer him the world and still be in fine cap position.

So people need to stop saying that RFA signings are unfair and that other teams will get mad. It lacks a basic understanding of the CBA, business and what "fair" truly is.