NHL Offseason Roundup









A few quick takes on the past month’s worth of off-ice hockey:

Flames sign Jiri Hudler

Hudler is the perfect Flame—he’s not a star but he’s not bad, he can score with increased ice time on the PP and with soft minutes, he won’t drive play, he can play in the top six if not the top three…he’s the Czech Mike Cammalleri, or Martin Gelinas, or Kristian Huselius. If you’re lucky, he’s Mike Cammalleri 2010 playoffs, or Martin Gelinas 1997, or Kristian Huselius 2007. If you’re not, he’s Mike Cammalleri 2012, or Martin Gelinas 1998, or Kristian Huselius almost every other year. If he were a defenseman, he would be the Czech Dennis Wideman. Again, the perfect flame.

Unlike the Oilers the past few seasons, the Flames won’t suck enough to not end up with 85-90 points and barely miss the playoffs and end up with a worse draft position than if they tore it down completely. On the other hand, the Oilers tore it down completely in 2009 and still suck, so which is the worse move? (Would you rather have Guillaume Desbiens on your 4th line, or Darcy Hordichuk? And if you had either of them, would you actually resign them?) On a related note…

Oilers draft Nail Yakupov

Somehow, the Oilers managed not to fuck this one up. The odds-on Calder favorite (runners-up: Brendan Smith, Jaden Schwartz; longer shots: Sven Baertschi, Mikael Granlund, Brandon Saad—where are the rookie goalies?) and already a top-ten, Bryzgalov-esque interview.

The Flyers are worse

Some of this is what Bill James called the plexiglass principle– teams that improve one season will decline the next, and vice versa– but I don’t know that the Flyers exactly overachieved last year: Giroux really is this good, Schenn and Couturier could be even better (eventually if not in 2013), and even if we all overrated Bryzgalov before last season, he probably won’t be any worse; last year was more the norm than the decline. My concerns are more on defense (no Pronger, no Carle, a 37-year old Timonen, who knows what Luke Schenn we’ll get, who knows what Andrej Meszaros we’ll get, a sophomore Erik Gustafsson, Bruno Gervais facing anything other than soft minutes—this could be truly scary at times), a 26-year old sophomore slump from Matt Read, the bottom falling out from Danny Briere, and, pending plan B, Michael Leighton as the backup, unless he’s only facing the 2010 Canadiens (sans Cammalleri). I don’t see them missing the playoffs, but 7th or 8th isn’t out of the question, and they may need to count their blessings the Devils lost Parise.

Update: Regarding the plexiglass principle, the Flyers didn’t improve as a team from 2011 to 2012, points-wise.  But the players– minus Richards and Carter and Pronger, of course– did improve, led by Giroux.

The Sabres are better

I loved the draft for Buffalo, even if it won’t help them in 2013—Grigorenko at 12 is exactly the kind of pick you gamble on at 12, and Girgensons is exactly the kind of pick the Flames should never have traded down from. John Scott wins the Most Useless Free Agent Signing so far (and will probably keep it unless David Koci signs somewhere or the Flyers extend Jody Shelley), but whether or not they make the playoffs this year– and they arguably should have made it last year– the Sabres have a nice future, and with Luongo likely moving on from Vancouver and Tim Thomas retiring to a militia in Montana, Miller/Enroth may be the best goaltending tandem in the NHL.

Florida is worse

The Panthers were really lucky last season. The Panthers lost their top defenseman to the Canucks and will replace him with Filip Kuba, who’s not bad but not Jason Garrison good. The Panthers, apparently mourning the loss of Krys Barch to the Devils, also signed George Parros and J.F. Jacques. The Panthers still have 3 years/$12.5M of Ed Jovanovski’s contract left– but the cap hit is only $12.375M! The Panthers are hoping Jose Theodore can repeat his .917%/2.46 season again. The Panthers are worse.

2013 Stanley Cup

As always, a healthy Sidney Crosby—and now Tomas Vokoun as a veteran option to Marc-Andre Fleury who’s better than Brent Johnson—would rank the Penguins with any other potential Cup team. The defending Kings, Canucks, and Red Wings (retooling, not rebuilding) are up there, and Chicago would be as well with a goalie (Luongo for any of Hjalmarsson/Kruger/Hayes/picks?). I rarely pick repeats, but I would actually go with Kings-Penguins at the moment, with the Pens winning…I think.

Worst team in the NHL

I picked Winnipeg last year and was tempted to pick them again this year, but I actually like the Jokinen and Ponikarovksy signings for them, and if you’re comparing them to Columbus and the Islanders, Pavelec/Montoya should be better than Bobrovsky/Mason or DiPietro/Nabokov (by virtue of the DiPietro half). If Howson weren’t Howson, he could actually trade Nash and improve, but he’s Howson, so the Blue Jackets should be the worst team in the NHL again.

Other useless offseason trivia

So the Hurricanes now have two Staals and the Flyers now have two Schenns, but did you know the Penguins now have two Dupuises (unrelated) and the Oilers now have two Schultzes (also unrelated)?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: