Archive for March, 2011

Ottawa-Colorado trade

Posted in Flyers-related on March 27, 2011 by wechslerh66

One of the more baffling NHL trades to me in recent memory was the Avalanche dumping goalie Craig Anderson— he of the 38 wins, 7 shutouts, 2 playoff wins and 933 playoff SV% last season vs. a powerhouse Sharks team (including a 51-save shutout in Game 3); he even wound up 9th in Hart Trophy voting (based on a single first place vote)– on the Ottawa Senators in exchange for underwhelming goalie Brian Elliott and….nothing.

True, Anderson was bad this season– his .897 SV% was a full .02 lower than last season– but Elliott was even worse at .894% (even Pascal “Pascal Leclaire is not made of glass, glass is made of Pascal Leclaire” Leclaire was at .908 for the same awful Senators team).

The trade looks even worse now, as Anderson has been ridiculous in Ottawa, whereas Elliott has totally imploded for Colorado:

Anderson OTT 8-4, .945%, 1.84 GAA, 2 ShO
Elliott COL 2-5-1, .890%, 3.73 GAA, 0 ShO

Obviously no one is a .945% goalie (Hasek’s Hart seasons were .930% and .932%, and his best ever was .937%– oddly, the season after, when Jaromir Jagr won the Hart), nor is anyone– except maybe Vesa Toskala– an .890% goalie. Still, why dump Anderson with only Elliott as return? Why make an unwinnable trade that Avs bloggers are writing off as “the best possible return for a player that was going to be moved regardless” for a player considered a Peter Budaj clone? The Copper and Blue expressed my opinion best:

I think this trade makes a great deal of sense for Ottawa and not much sense at all for the Avalanche. Over the last four seasons, Craig Anderson has posted a .926 save EV save percentage over 3,858 shots and an .882 PK save percentage over 940 shots, an indication that Anderson is a very good goaltender…It is of course possible that Elliott turns into a decent goaltender (I don’t think it’s likely), and it seems the Avs had already decided that Anderson wasn’t in the plans, so it’s not as though this is a big loss for them. It’s just that they didn’t really get anything.

How bad will this trade be long term?

Anderson’s career numbers, pre-trade (age 29): 2.85 GAA, .910 SV% in 11,862 minutes, $1,812,500 cap hit, UFA next season

Elliott’s career numbers, pre-trade (age 25): 2.80 GAA, .902 SV% in 7,058 minutes, $850K cap hit, RFA next season

Elliott had only been a Senator since his NHL debut at 22, but Anderson had played for two teams before signing with the Avs as a free agent before last season:

as a Blackhawk (ages 21-24): 3.19 GAA, .892 SV% in 3,029 minutes
as a Panther (ages 25-27): 2.52 GAA, .928 SV% in 2,788 minutes
as an Av (ages 28-29): 2.85 GAA, .911 SV% in 6,045 minutes

Anderson may never top his seasons as Tomas Vokoun’s backup in Florida, nor will he be as bad as the Blackhawks goalie who shared a crease with Michael Leighton, Steve Passmore, and Adam Munro. His Avs numbers almost exactly match his career numbers, and should be about what to expect of him as a Senator once he cools off.

He will be a Senator, because Ottawa GM Bryan Murray wrapped him up for 4 more seasons at $12.75M– an unwarranted and unnecessary move, especially with prospect Robin Lehner waiting in the AHL.

The Avalanche, on the other hand, have Calvin Pickard…who was born two weeks before the LA riots and won’t be ready for a few more seasons, if ever. Either Budaj or Elliott will get out of Denver after this season, so who knows who the next Avs number one goalie will be– not that even a healthy Avs team will be contenders in 2011-2012.

Colorado won’t win this trade no matter what, but that doesn’t mean Ottawa will win either. Of course, when your best goalie ever is 2,583 minutes’ worth of Dominik Hasek (who else– Lalime? Tugnutt? Emery?), it won’t take much to feel like a win for Ottawa.


Eurotrash, Part II: 2006-2010

Posted in Flyers-related on March 20, 2011 by wechslerh66

When we last left our heroes, Krzysztof Oliwa was not only the EuroPIM winner of the NHL with 247 but almost a Stanley Cup winner (along with fellow neanderthal Chris Simon, he of the 250 PM), as the Flames lost in 7 to the juggernaut that was Tampa Bay.

Four months later he was a member of Podhale Nowy Tag, who sadly lost to Cracovia in Runda 1 of the playoffs. The rest of his NHL career: 3 games with the Devils in 2005-2006, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PM. Pożegnanie, Krzysztof Artur Oliwa.

With the owners’ lockout of 2004-2005 would come the salary cap, the shootout, a few major moves (Pronger to the Oilers, the Heatley/Hossa trade, Forsberg to the Flyers, Lindros to the Leafs, and of course Todd Fedoruk to the Mighty Ducks), and zero tolerance towards goons. Between 2000 and 2004, Andrei Nazarov and Oliwa regularly racked up 150+ PM and Zdeno Chara wasn’t far behind– a far cry from Ulf Samuelsson’s glory days, or even Oliwa’s late 90s glory days, but still worth watching. Since 2006, only one European NHLer has exceeded 150 PM in a season even once– the immortal Evgeny Artyukhin, barely (151 PM), for 2008-2009 Tampa Bay.

Who are the top EuroPIM “scorers” since the lockout? Below is a season-by-season breakdown:

Euro rank / Overall rank / Player / Total PM / Born

1. #16 Jarkko Ruutu 142 Finland
2. #20 Zdeno Chara 135 Slovakia
3. #39 Ruslan Salei 114 Belarus
4. #59 Sergei Gonchar 100 Russia
5. #64 Andreas Lilja 98 Sweden
6. #66 Darius Kasparaitis 97 Lithuania
7. #67 Jaroslav Spacek 96 Czech Republic
8. #69 Pavel Kubina 96 Czech Republic
9. #78 Mattias Ohlund 92 Sweden
10. #82 Vitaly Vishnevski 91 Ukraine

Ruutu, who during the lockout racked up a record 215 PM in only 50 games for Helsingin IFK of SM-liiga, wins the EuroPIM title for the first, but not the last, time. Gonchar (in his debut as a Pen) breaks 100 PM, and the top ten, for the only time in his career to date. Kasparaitis would only play one more half-season with the Rangers before retiring. Spacek’s PM would drop after being traded from the Blackhawks to the Oilers (1.6 per game vs. 0.77 per game)– perhaps team effects, as his Chicago teammates racked up more PIM (1518 total, counting Matthew Barnaby, Martin LaPointe, Mark Bell, even brother of Jarkko Tuomo Ruutu, among others) than his Edmonton teammates (1182 total, out of which no one topped 100 PIM; even Le Grande Georges Laraque only had 73 in 72 games). Stalwart Canuck D Ohlund also makes his first appearance among the top ten. Vishnevski barely edges Michal Rozsival (in his debut as a Ranger) and Artyukhin by one PIM for 10th.

1. #7 Alexander Svitov 145 Russia
2. #8 Raitis Ivanans 140 Latvia
3. #20 Jarkko Ruutu 125 Finland
4. #25 Ole-Kristian Tollefsen 123 Norway
5. #43 Rostislav Klesla 105 Czech Republic
6. #48 Ruslan Salei 102 Belarus
7. #49 Andrei Meszaros 102 Slovakia
8. #51 Zdeno Chara 100 Slovakia
9. #61 Tuomo Ruutu 95 Finland
10. #66 Alexei Zhitnik 92 Ukraine

Columbus’s Alexander Svitov, who would return to Omsk in the offseason, won the EuroPIM title by a fight over (but not with) LA King Raitis Ivanans in the Latvian Assassin’s rookie season (only one fight in four games with Montreal the previous season). Both Ruutus crack the top ten, also not for the last time. Norway’s bravest son Tollefsen, the future Flyer, sets a career high in PIM; future Flyer Meszaros and then-Flyer/Islander/Thrasher Zhitnik (who as an LA King himself was once referred to as “Shitnik”) also make the top ten.

1. #21 Jarkko Ruutu 138 Finland
2. #24 Raitis Ivanans 134 Latvia
3. #31 Pavel Kubina 116 Czech Republic
4. #34 Zdeno Chara 114 Slovakia
5. #36 Ole-Kristian Tollefsen 111 Norway
6. #57 Ruslan Salei 98 Belarus
7. #64 Andreas Lilja 93 Sweden
8. #66 Nik Antropov 92 Kazakhstan
9. #68 Tuomo Ruutu 91 Finland
10. #72 Bobby Holik 90 Czech Republic

Both Ruutus crack the top ten for the second consecutive year, with Jarkko reclaiming the EuroPIM title from the departed Svitov. Ivanans falls short by 4 PIM, Antropov returns to the top ten after a four-year absence, the usual suspects make up the rest of the EuroTeam. Holik will retire after a non-top ten, 66 PIM return to the Devils the following season.

1. #16 Evgeny Artyukhin 151 Russia
2. #22 Raitis Ivanans 145 Latvia
3. #23 Jarkko Ruutu 144 Finland
4. #26 David Koci 141 Czech Republic
5. #33 Boris Valabik 132 Slovakia
6. #56 Mattias Ohlund 105 Sweden
7. #65 Zdeno Chara 95 Slovakia
8. #68 Pavel Kubina 94 Czech Republic
9. #72 Mikhail Grabovski 92 Germany
10. #92 Fedor Tyutin 81 Russia

Ivanans misses out on the EuroPIM title by 6 PIM this season, as Artyukhin becomes the only Euro-NHLer to top 150 PIM since the lockout. Koci, arguably the most useless player currently in the NHL (assuming Wade Belak is not in the NHL and John Scott occasionally plays D), somehow manages enough ice time with the 24-40-18 Lightning to break the top four. Valabik similarly manages 50 games with Atlanta (more than half his career total to date) to break the top five. Toronto’s Grabovski (Belarusian but born in Potsdam, where his father was a construction worker– thanks, Wikipedia) somehow racks up 92 PIM (and 20 goals) in 78 games before totaling 10 (and 10 goals) in 59 games the following season. Columbus D Tyutin barely edges Art Ross winner Evgeni Malkin (80 PIM and 113 points) and the other Ruutu (79 PIM) for tenth.

1. #20 Raitis Ivanans 136 Latvia
2. #26 Jarkko Ruutu 121 Finland
3. #47 Martin Hanzal 104 Czech Republic
4. #48 Evgeni Malkin 100 Russia
5. #59 Alexander Ovechkin 89 Russia
6. #63 Zdeno Chara 87 Slovakia
7. #69 David Koci 84 Czech Republic
8. #77 Robyn Regehr 80 Brazil
9. #83 Victor Hedman 79 Sweden
10. #88 Michal Rozsival 78 Czech Republic

Perennial runnerup Ivanans beats Ruutu Number One to win the EuroPIM title at last. Odd names also cracking the top ten: the Coyotes’ Hanzal (who did nonetheless total 94 PM with Red Deer of the WHL two seasons before), Tampa rookie Hedman (#2 overall pick in the 2009 draft), the Brazilian Regehr, Malkin, and 50-goal, +45, MVP runnerup Ovechkin.

In Part III: Who will win the 2010-2011 EuroPIM title? (It won’t be Ivanans, who’s now a Flame who’s been out since opening day with a concussion, nor will it be Koci, who won’t see enough ice time on an Avs team that just went 1-11-1 in February and was 0-6-1 in March before beating the Oilers in a shootout last night.) 2010-2011 season wrapup! EuroPIM career leaders!

Shocking stat of the week

Posted in Flyers-related on March 19, 2011 by wechslerh66

Brandon Prust— he of the 6 goals and 296 PM in 107 career games between 2006-2010– is tied for the NHL lead with 5 shorthanded goals.

Only Frans Nielsen– which shockingly is actually less shocking– has as many shorthanded goals.

(Flyers fans: Richards and Giroux are tied with 3, one ahead of Timonen and Darroll Powe.)

Prust’s overall numbers are mixed.

He’s 9th among Ranger forwards in 5v5 TOI (ahead of, among other Rangers, Sean Avery, Vinny Prospal, and $1.625M worth of Derek Boogaard, who’s dead last), but 4th in 4v5 TOI (behind only Callahan, Dubinsky, and Boyle).

His relative Corsi of -3.1 ranks him ahead of only Drury, Prospal, Christensen, and the now-deposed Boogaard and Todd White among regular forwards (both Staal and Girardi are worse among the D).

His Qualcomp of 0.003 is sixth among regular forwards, though, behind only the Anisimov-Dubinsky-Callahan top line* and his own linemates of Boyle and Fedotenko.

(* assuming Marian Gaborik healthy does not automatically = Top Line– I’m not a Ranger fan so I defer to the consensus)

As one would expect for someone with 5 ShG, his 4v5 P/60 is also tops on the team at 3.30 (excluding Todd White’s killer small sample size of 14.12).

His shooting percentage of 14.1 is high– he’s tied for 48th overall with Clarke MacArthur– though actually lower than it was last season.

Overall, not a bad return for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins, especially at a mere $800K cap hit. And especially when you throw in Olli and his moves.

Too bad his brother Marcel never worked out…no wait, that was him. Why was I thinking Marcel Prust?

Note: Stats courtesy of FAQ available here.

Eurotrash, Part I: 2000-2004

Posted in Flyers-related on March 10, 2011 by wechslerh66

European NHLers– wrongly but relentlessly– were never known for being rough or tough.

When the first wave of Swedes headed west to the NHL in the 1970s (Borje Salming, Inge Hammarstrom, Juha Widing, Bob Nystrom, the execrable Hardy Åström), “Euros” were denounced as chicken, soft, or dirty by Don Cherry and his fellow Europhobes. With notable exceptions (Salming, Peter Stastny, Kent Nilsson, Jari Kurri, the late Pelle Lindbergh), 70s and 80s European NHLers, whether Swede, Finn, or Czech, weren’t stars but supporting players (Miroslav Frycer, the other two Stastnys, drug-smuggling Jiri Bubla, Petri Skriko)– and the notable exceptions weren’t known for dropping the gloves.

The Russians, in the wake of glasnost, weren’t much more welcome. With the exceptions of the ageless Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov and the world’s oldest rookie Sergei Makarov, the first wave of ex-Soviet veterans in the NHL were either unmemorable (Fetisov’s fellow Devil Alexei Kasatonov) or just plain ugly (Sergei Mylnikov, who went 1-7-2, 4.96, .858 for a brutal Nordiques team, and of course ex-Canuck Vladimir Krutov, whose traumatic reaction to North America and extra weight led to the nickname “Vladimir Crouton,” and who will forever be honored on Facebook). When younger Russian superstars took over (Bure, Mogilny, Fedorov, Kovalev), the word “enigmatic” became a euphemism for “Russian” among Russophobes.

Whatever the Europeans/Russians were, one thing they weren’t was goons. With one exception– the Whalers’ Ulf Samuelsson, the future Penguin/Ranger/Red Wing/Flyer and the only player born outside North America to rank in the top 25 in career PM (at exactly 25th, with 2,453 PM)– Europeans/Russians weren’t exactly helpful in the PM category in your hockey pool. Even now, no European/Russian has ever “won” the PM title (five have won the Lady Byng; Pavel Datsyuk won it 4 times) and none crack the top fifty this season.

Who have the best– or worst, depending on one’s outlook– non-North-American-born NHLers been for PM within the past decade, both before and after the lockout? We’ll begin at the beginning, with the 2000-2001 season.

Note: players are ranked based on total PM only, not PM per minute of ice time, PM per game, or any other more Moneypuck-type metric. (Despite the expectedly tacky banner ads (Zwack Hungarian Herb Liqueur?), has some decent season-by-season stats, or maybe I just enjoyed seeing former goons referred to by their full names, e.g. “Edward Ward” and “Anthony Twist.”)

Euro rank / Overall rank / Player / Total PM / Born
1. #4 Andrei Nazarov 229 Russia
2. #17 Krzysztof Oliwa 165 Poland
3. #21 Zdeno Chara 157 Slovakia
4. #61 Darius Kasparaitis 111 Lithuania
5. #74 Olli Jokinen 106 Finland
6. #79 Pavel Kubina 103 Czech Republic
7. #83 Sami Helenius 99 Finland
8. #84 Vitaly Vishnevski 99 Ukraine
9. #86 Bobby Holik 97 Czech Republic
10(t). #87 Jiri Slegr 96 Czech Republic
10(t). #89 Alexei Kovalev 96 Russia

Nazarov’s 229 PM between the Ducks and Bruins were a career high, but barely (222 for the 1996-97 Sharks, when he somehow scored 12-15-27 as well). Oliwa’s 165 PM between the Blue Jackets and Penguins weren’t even close, nor was his 17th overall rank, after three consecutive seasons in the top 10 (#8 in 1999-2000 with 184 PM, #5 in 1998-1999 with 240 PM, and #3 in 1997-98 with an amazing 295 PM as a Devils rookie, the most ever by a European player in a single season). Chara cracks the top 10 for the first time in his final season as an Islander before being traded to the Senators with Bill Muckalt and a pick (Jason Spezza) for Alexei Yashin and Carol Alt. Holik (career high of 119), Kasparaitis (career high of 166 as a rookie), and Kubina (career high of 116 as a Leaf– see Part II) were/are also regulars among the Euro-PM rankings. Jokinen, on the other hand, would never again top 100 PM– though he would come close once. Vishnevski’s 99 were a career high as well. Sami Helenius would never even crack his 57 games played with Dallas again. Most obscure fact: the year the Rangers won the Cup, to the torment of Canuck fans everywhere, a sophomore Alexei Kovalev racked up 154 PM. He would never again top 100.

Did you know Jiri Slegr’s father was Jiri Bubla?

1. #6 Andrei Nazarov 215 Russia
2. #27 Zdeno Chara 156 Slovakia
3. #30 Krzysztof Oliwa 150 Poland
4. #33 Darius Kasparaitis 142 Lithuania
5. #40 Tomas Kloucek 137 Czech Republic
6. #80 Pavel Kubina 106 Czech Republic
7. #95 Olli Jokinen 98 Finland
8. #96 Bobby Holik 97 Czech Republic
9. #97 Ruslan Salei 97 Belarus
10(t). #103 Owen Nolan 93 Ireland
10(t). #105 Robyn Regehr 93 Brazil

Yes, both Nolan and Regehr count, as both were born outside of North America. (Nolan is the only other “Euro” among the top 100 PM leaders, ranked #71 with 1,793 total. Otherwise, it’s the usual suspects plus Tomas Kloucek, who would only play 45 more games for the Predators and Thrashers before defecting to the KHL.

1. #13 Krzysztof Oliwa 161 Poland
2. #29 Andrei Nazarov 135 Russia
3. #37 Nik Antropov 124 Kazakhstan
4. #48 Zdeno Chara 116 Slovakia
5. #67 Owen Nolan 107 Ireland
6. #88 Ville Nieminen 95 Finland
7. #89 Ladislav Nagy 92 Slovakia
8. #90 Ivan Majesky 92 Slovakia
9. #101 Roman Hamrlik 87 Czech Republic
10. #104 Robyn Regehr 87 Brazil

Why do so many Finns excel as superpests (other than, of course, sisu)? (see also: Esa Tikkanen, Jarkko Ruutu, Tuomo Ruutu) Roman Hamrlik, who is older than dirt now, will always be the Ottawa Senator Who Got Away to me. Per ROAD GAMES by Roy MacGregor:

The team had been named the Senators after the team that won ten Stanley Cups between 1903 and 1927 before fleeing town for St. Louis in 1934. The modern Senators would bask in the ageless glory of the “Silver Seven,” which had featured such legends as one-eyed Frank McGee, who once scored 14 goals in a Stanley Cup game and later died in action during the Great War. The new logo would be of a Roman Centurion– so what if Don Cherry had ridiculed it on Hockey Night in Canada as looking like a condom package?- and their star player, their future, would be an 18-year old whose first name was “Roman.” A marketer’s dream.

Until, of course, Tampa drafted him first overall. (Ottawa had the second pick.)

1. #3 Krzysztof Oliwa 247 Poland
2. #19 Zdeno Chara 147 Slovakia
3. #32 Jarkko Ruutu 133 Finland
4. #38 Andrei Nazarov 125 Russia
5. #39 Ronald Petrovicky 123 Slovakia
6. #52 Ruslan Salei 110 Belarus
7. #54 Owen Nolan 110 Ireland
8. #68 Alexei Zhitnik 102 Ukraine
9. #82 Bobby Holik 96 Czech Republic
10. #83 Danny Markov 95 Russia

No European/Russian has ever led the NHL in PM, but Oliwa came close, a mere 14 PM behind Sean Avery’s league-leading 261 and 3 PM behind Chris Simon at #2 with 250.

Jarkko Ruutu also cracks the top 10 for the first time with a bullet. Speaking of Finns, Ossi Vaananen (89 PM) just missed the cut.

In Part II: more Ruutu! (Two Ruutus, actually.) A Norwegian! The Latvian Assassin!