Monday, February 28, 2011

Seabrook, Reimer and all the other big stories around the NHL

A lot of people are questioning the signing of Seabrook to a five year deal with a 5.8 million dollar cap hit, claiming they overpaid on him. The problem with this is that, the Hawks simply had no choice, their are too many bad contracts on the back end, which provided his agent with an extremely high baseline. His teammate Campbell is making over 7, Bowmeester is making over 6, heck if Komisarek is worth 4.5 mil, Seabrook at his price is an absolute steal. Also, after being selected to the Olympic team, his value went sky high. With all of their high priced forwards locked up, this was a move the Blackhawks simply needed to do. (Look for Brouwer to get traded this summer for a nice package of prospects). 

If it was not apparent how important James Reimer is to the success of the Maple Leafs, it is blatantly obvious after the meltdown in the third period against the Thrashers on Sunday. I am not ready to blame it on Giguere as he had absolutely zero support from his teammates. I think the Leafs are just not as trusting in Giggy, (not that I would be) and do not play as well when they are feel they need to be more conscience defensively. Let's remember this is a young team and confidence is a big part of their game. As a Leafs fan cross your fingers that Optimus Reim is healthy enough very soon!! On a side note, Lupul has been bringing the best out in Phil Kessel, I don't think we have ever seen Kessel work this hard all season..... let's just hope it will not be the same pattern. Seven game goal streak followed by a fourteen game drought if you know what I mean. 

The Boston Bruins look scary good these days. Did you see their dismantling of the Canucks in Rogers Arena? Peverley and Kelly have made them a very deep team and Kaberle is fitting in beautifully on the back end. Barring injury I just do not see anyone in the East beating this team come playoff time. 

Chris Phillips resigns with the Ottawa Senators....... finally!! Did anyone think he was going to move? This guy has been in the organization for 15 years and along with Alfredsson has been the heart and soul of that team. Him getting traded is almost like Shane Doan ever leaving the Coyotes, could you actually see that happening? The former first overall pick exemplifies loyalty to a city and an organization matched by few in this growing age of selfish professional sports.

Terry Pegula tried to make a statement yesterday, in his first week as the new owner of the Sabres as he acquired Brad Boyes for a second round pick. This trade is a lot more of an addition by subtraction by the Blues as they were able to dump a four million dollar contract of a player that went from a future star to an absolutely horrible player in like record speed. The only player that fell from glory faster in the last decade has been Cheechoo (albeit not even a comparable example) but hopefully Boyes (for his own sake, and not the Leafs) is able to get his game back on track, with the added ice time for the Sabres. 

It is the trade deadline today and it seems that all of the big moves may have already happened, but do not forget to check back in tomorrow, with all of the analysis. 

Hope you enjoyed!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Analyzing the NHL movement in the last week.

There has been a lot of movement in the NHL in the last ten days. It seems that Brian Burke got the ball rolling with his trade with Anaheim, (no I am not talking about Aaron Voros for a conditional draft pick) and it has not stopped since. Let's look at the some of the teams involved in the trades and if they are better or worse off.

Toronto: The different trades that the Leafs have made are all in some shape intertwined. Brian Burke has done an excellent job, of stockpiling draft picks (two 1st, a 2nd probably, and a 3rd) plus two recent 1st round picks, (never mind Lupul) while essentially only sacrificing Kaberle from their lineup. What I mean by that is, do you notice a difference between Lupul and Aulie, instead of Versteeg and Beauchemin? In the system the Leafs play, which places a premium on big bodies, that can skate there is no downgrade. Kaberle will be hard to replace but as Burke said in the press conference he was not coming back anyways, his contract demands were to high. All in all, the past week has created more optimism in Toronto, than in a long long time.

Ottawa: While their battle of Ontario counterparts were busy maximizing trade returns the Senators did a significantly poorer job of that. With getting rid of a fan favorite in Fisher, their starting goaltender Elliot, and Ruutu and Kelly, the Senators got a 1st, 2nd, 6th round picks as well as a UFA goaltender that probably does not figure into the long term plans of the team. One must think that more value should have been available, as the Senators did not do much in terms of rebuilding, through these trades.

Boston: I think they may be the most improved team after all is said and done. They got Kaberle, a PP speicalist, that will vault them into the top 10 in that category, as well as two solid third line players in Peverley and Kelly. Peverley especially adds a nice punch to this team, with his goal scoring ability. Also, they did not lose much from their roster in these transactions and it places them in a nice position to make a deep playoff run. Watch Chiarelli press conference discussing Peverley and Kaberle, this is one very smart man.

Colorado: This team has undergone massive changes in the last week. They acquired Erik Johnson and Brian Elliot, while losing Shattenkirk, Stewart and a disgruntled poorly playing Anderson. Elliot was a good pickup, he is a young goalie that had a good year last year, and with Anderson feuding all year with Sacco, he definitely was not coming back. The other trade is very high risk, giving up two players that look like they are on their way to stardom while getting in return a defenceman, that although he is a star needs to take it to the next level. If Johnson can up his game, and become the next Pronger that the Blues envisioned him to be as the first overall pick, this deal will ultimately have paid off. Gonna have to judge this one down the road.

St. Louis: Trading Johnson makes a little bit more sense for the Blues. They have a future star in Pietrangelo and with Shattenkirk they still have power on the backend. They also were able to add Stewart, to an offence that has suffered a lot from injuries this season and looked like it could need a boost. The only thing that is surprising is that, they were willing to trade away Eric Brewer to Tampa, for a middling prospect and a third rounder, it looks like they may have problems in their own zone for the rest of this season.

Tampa Bay: This team just looks better and better, and Yzerman deserves a whole lot of credit for that. They have addressed their goaltending issues, added Brewer to a defence corps that is looking a whole lot better now and are absolutely stacked at forward. This team may emerge as the leaders of an Eastern Conference that is becoming significantly more top heavy.

Atlanta: I just do not understand what this team saw in Wheeler to trade Peverley, and Boris Valabik, who seems like an heir to Chara. Wheeler has not progressed in four season in the NHL, and seems to have peaked. Maybe they are hoping that a change in scenery can take him to the next level.

Dallas: Why do they make this trade?? Neal is a 23 year old forward that may crack thrity goals this year after getting 27 last year. This type of player at that age does not grow on trees. Also, they are giving up their second best defenceman, to get Goligoski in return. It seems this trade has a lot to do with finances as the Stars save 3.5 million dollars next season with this trade. Ownership (with all their financial issues) probably made them cut this salary if they wanted to resign Brad Richards next season, otherwise this does not make much sense.

Pittsburgh: Phew, a forward that can score that is actually healthy! This may have been the best trade done all week! Lets' do a little test, name six healthy forwards for the Penguins, and don't count Cooke, because by the time you read this he may be suspended again........ I figured you could not do it. They add a serious winger that can play with Crosby come playoff time, and will be a huge force. (Sorry Dupuis, you just do not cut it). With Letang emerging as a top defenceman, and the signing of Michalek and Martin in the offseason, Goligoski became expendable.

Anaheim: Adding Beauchemin was probably a nice boost for their defence, and he is comfortable in the system and should work out as a good fit for them in their surprising quest to make the playoffs. Also, if they get to the playoffs, Ruutu will be an indispensable player that adds a level of feistiness that few players can match.

Philadelphia: This team is so stacked, that Versteeg will get lost in the mix. They are really gunning for the Cup, after being so awfully close last year. Not a bad idea to add a guy that was a key piece in beating you the year before.

Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, February 18, 2011

With this Kaberle saga fully underway again, who to pick up, hoping they get more valuable at the deadline.

From Darren Dreger reporting Kaberle to the Bruins for a first rounder and Wheeler is a "done deal" at 11:25 this morning, to CSN New England reporting that he is getting traded for two Bruins prospects, it seems that everyone has an uninformed inside source. While Kaberle will probably end up being traded, Burke has made it quite clear that he will not be held hostage and exclusively deal with the Bruins. (I actually think that you will see him end up in San Jose). While Leafs fans may be wary, in dealing a key player on the team, being only six points out of the playoffs, it is important to remember that the goal should always be to win the Stanley Cup and making the playoffs is a mediocre result. Kaberle's returns can actually help us get there in the future.

On this topic, with the frenzy starting to begin, (Ottawa has already traded every depth forward they have) lets see who may still be traded, causing a bump in their fantasy value.

Ty Conklin- His spike in production is twofold. Firstly Halak is injured indefinitely, so Conklin will most likely see the majority of the games while he is sidelined. But Conklin's potential value can be much higher. A team like the Red Wings, that have shaky goaltending, with Howard in a little bit of a slump and Osgood not being healthy, could be interested in a player that had some success in their system. So between the trade option and Halak's injury potentially being more serious, I would say the time is to grab him, especially because he will not cost you to much.

Devin Setoguchi- He is the Sharks ticket to acquiring another top flight defenceman. What team would not want a player that when given the oppurtunity in his sophomore season scored over 30 goals and 65 points. The future is bright for this 23 year old former first round pick, just not with all that depth at forward in the Shark Tank. If he gets traded and plays top six minutes, he can add that big splash to your fantasy team and hopefully put you over the top.

Nikolay Zherdev- As I have done in some of my other posts, I will add a disclaimer to my statements. If your league places any emphasis on PIM, or does not have a strong emphasis on goals, do not have any interest in this uber-talented Russian. His days in Philly are over. The proof is written on the wall, Ville Leino got hurt, and they put in Jody Shelley and left Zherdev a healthy scratch. If that is not a sign, that it is over, I dont know what is. Nevertheless, if he was placed in a system that is not so defensively oriented and responsible, he can return to becoming the offensive star that he showed himself to be as a Ranger in recent years. Keep him, but stash him on the bench until we see more info on his future. ( Btw, how deep do the parallels between him and Filatov go? Hmm...........)

J.S. Giguere- This post is obviously contingent on his health returning, and doing so fast. The thing that makes Giguere most intriguing is that I can only imagine top notch teams like Detroit, or Washington taking a chance. These are teams that aside from goaltending are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and may take a risk on Giguere with an expiring contract, because of his remarkable post-season credentials. Do you remember how he destroyed the Red Wings! Wow, where did that talent go! Take the risk, at this point he should not cost you much in your pool.

Zdeno Chara- What, you think he is getting traded?!?! No. However he may have Thomas Kaberle as a power play quarterback. Do you remember the numbers that McCabe put up with Kaberle on the backend? Well I have news for you. Chara has the hardest shot in NHL history, if someone can slap in a Kaberle one time pass (I think all Leafs fans know what I am talking about, you know when you actually think Kaberle will shoot and than he passes? Ya that's what I was referencing) it is Chara. In general after a slow start Chara has been playing significantly better offensively, but with Kaberle manning the point with him, we may see unprecedented offensive totals from the giant Slovak.

Well those are a few players that may see a rise in fantasy value over the next couple of weeks, now it is up to you to make the move first! Hope you enjoyed!

Update: Well Kaberle has been traded to the Bruins, this means two things. 1- My theory that he will end up in San Jose were wrong. 2- Chara is in for a field day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leafs land streaky winger for the better of their two pylons on defence.

I would like to start off by saying that I believe the Leafs did this trade more for Jake Gardiner, than for Joffrey Lupul. If you saw the way he played in the juniors, it is apparent to you of his two way potential. If you want to read more on his abilities.

Joffrey Lupul seems to get traded every single season (Aside from when he is nursing the most peculiar of injures, which also seems to happen every single year). If he plays like the way he did on the Flyers this may be a very good pickup for the Leafs, on ther other hand if we get the Oilers version of Lupul, who in 2006 might have been the worst player in the NHL, this would be a colossal disaster. Parenthetically can you imagine that all it cost Anaheim to land Pronger, was Lupul, Smid and a couple of picks. Ouch Kevin Lowe. Lupul seems to pile on the goals when he starts with a new team. His best starts to seasons have been his first season as a Flyer and last seasons 23 games before getting injured. The biggest issue with Lupul is his 4.25 million dollar cap hit. No matter how well he plays that is a hard number to absorb, on a rebuilding team filled with burdensome deals.

My fantasy recommendation is that if you have a roster spot open, nab Lupul with the hope he will take advantage of playing on a top two line with PP time, and then promptly trade him. Even with the dearth of talent on the Leafs scoring lines the chances of him staying healthy while he is still producing at a high output is is pretty low.

Assuming the Leafs realize that Lebda is completely inept, and don't give him Beauchemin's minutes, rather they call up Aulie to play, I do not think that we will see such a drop-off in talent on the backend. Beauchemin did not look good in Toronto, without playing with his longtime partner Niedermayer.

 Good trade Burkie, but you got a lot more work trying to get rid of Komisarek!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In honor of Peter Forsberg: The top five players that are denying age and retirement

As a fan of the game of hockey and the NHL, I really hope that Forsberg's return does not turn into a massive flop. He was the best player in the NHL Post Gretzky-Pre Crosby/Ovechkin, and a role model to all of the young Swedish superstars that are taking over our league. Here is a look at some of the players of Forsberg's era that still contribute to the passion that unites us all.

Honorable Mentions:
Dwayne Roloson: Doesn't it seem that this guy only became good after the lockout, when he was already 35? He was in a platoon position with Manny Fernandez forever in Minnesota and did not have the chance to shine.All the respect to him, as he attempts to be the oldest goaltender to win a Stanely Cup.

Teemu Selanne: Points wise he has been more dominant than the players in the top 5. The only issue with Teemu Selanne is that we have not seen him as dominant in his later years, due to injuries. His points per game is still one of the best in the entire NHL, but with the constant concern that his groin will give in at any day, he does not have the same impact for his team. At the same time his points per game is at an absolute high. Remarkable!

5: Mark Recchi- This man can still flat out play. He beat out Teemu Selanne for this spot because he is 43 years old! He is second on the Bruins in points, and fifteenth in the NHL in +/-. If you are in a fantasy league that calculates GWG, their may be some secret value here, as Recchi is third in the NHL in that category. (The caveat being that they represent 60% of his total goals). Hopefully Recchi can stay healthy and continue to play at a high level. I just hope he does not ruin his legacy by playing until he is 48. "Cough cough Chelios."

4: Adam Foote- He needs to be on this list as a teammate of Forsberg on those dominant Stanley Cup teams. (Canada got screwed out of another Canadian team championship, I hate you Bettman). While this guy has slowed down, he is still the captain of a young and upcoming team, which can attribute a lot of their troubles to porous goaltending. (Giggy anyone?!?).  His fantasy value is extremely limited, but he remains an important part of the Avalanche defence.

3: Brian Rafalski- As much as I don't like him as an American, after he singelhandedly beat Canada in the preliminary rounds this past year, compounded with his significant role in eliminating the Leafs about ten years ago. (We actually beat ourselves- six shots on goal in an elimination game are you kidding me!!) Aside from all of my frustrations, there is no denying the fact that he is just as significant a player as he was those many years back, and deserves recognition for this accomplishment. Fantasy owners also are still reaping the benefits of  his ability to put points on the board. He is tied for fourth in the NHL in PPG amongst defencemen.

2: Martin Brodeur- While he had a really rough start to this season, a lot of that can be contributed to his horrible team play. His play lately has been picking up as well as that of his teammates, (especially kovalchuk) and barring injury, he will hopefully be able to pick up his game, rewarding the Devils as well as his fantasy owners. As the owner of almost every significant regular season record for goalies, I am confident that Brodeur will finally show his true form over the last thirty games.

1: Niklas Lidstrom- What can be said about this guy. He may be the best D-man in the history of the league, (Bobby Orr did not have a full career to compare them) as well as the best European player. Captain Lidstrom is having a bounceback year from what was relatively a down year for by his standards. He is second in the NHL amongst defencemen in points, and first in PP points. The one surprising stat in his amazing numbers, is his relatively weak +/-. His -3 can be attributed to playing against the top teams best players. At this rate we may not be seeing another captain in Detroit for quite some time.