Mar 092006
 

After acquiring Ken Klee and Brad Lukowich the Devils had an extra defenseman and so they traded Sean Brown to the Canucks for a 4th round pick. The Canucks get some much needed defense depth to fill in for their currently injury riddled defense squad. The deal works for both sides.

Sean O’Donnell has also been traded to Anaheim for a draft pick or future considerations of some sort. Nothing significant but the Ducks pick up some toughness and depth on defense.

Meanwhile there were a few waiver wire transactions. Apparently the Ottawa Senators have filled their goalie needs with an Edmonton Oiler reject as the Senators have picked up Mike Morrison off of waivers.

Other waiver wire moves have Washington picking up Rico Fata from Atlanta and the Penguins picked up Andy Hilbert, whoever he is, from the Blackhawks.

Mar 092006
 

The Toronto hockey media and Toronto Maple Leaf fans are quite amusing if you follow them closely like myself. It is completely rediculous how much Toronto GM John Ferguson Jr is getting scolded for trading a 5th round pick for Luke Richardson. Chris Selley of Battle of Ontario criticized the deal. Ninja at Raking Leafs didn’t have too many positive thoughts on the deal either. And callers into and hosts on the Fan 590 are almost outraged at the deal. Come on guys, it’s a 5th round draft pick. That 5th round draft pick has somewhere between 5-10% chance of being a mediocre player in the NHL and maybe a 1% chance of being a good one. More than likely it will amount to absolutely nothing. Now, I realize that Luke Richardson isn’t the player he once was but if a 5th round draft pick keeps the Leafs hopes of a playoff spot alive (and yes, they still have a chance) then I don’t have a problem taking that low risk, low cost gamble. Give it a rest guys, it’s just a 5th round pick.

Then there is Steve Simmons who is about as clueless about hockey matters as anyone in the media. Today his insightful article criticized Ferguson Jr. for a having a plan that Simmons doesn’t know about or understand and this believes doesn’t exist. But what does Steve Simmons know? Last summer he advocated buying out Belfour, Klee, Kaberle and McCabe and not offering contracts to Kilger, Ponikarovsky and others. So let’s get this right. If Simmons was GM of the Leafs Kaberle, McCabe, Kilger and Ponikarovsky, all key contributors to the Leafs this season, would not be on the team this year or in the future. Instead he would probably have had the Leafs paying Khabibulin, Foote, and Gonchar upwards of $15 million so we could have been out of the playoffs on December 1st. Oh, and we could be doing that for the next 3-4 years as well. So I want all Leaf fans out there to tell me who you would rather have running the Leafs. John “Simmons thinks I have plan” Ferguson Jr. or Steve “I have a plan” Simmons?

Mar 092006
 

Two minor trades have been announced so far. Montreal adds some toughness and defense depth by acquiring Todd Simpson from Chicago for a 6th round pick. The New Jersey Devils have acquried their second defensemen in 2 days by picking up Brad Lukowich from the Islanders for a 3rd round pick. I really like what the Devils are doing by adding Klee and Lukowich. I thought last year the Devils tried too hard trying to replace Niedermayers offense by adding Malakhov and McGillis but now they are getting back to more typical New Jersey players by adding more defensively responsible players. And Lukowich is a defensive defenseman and a good one. I am sure Tampa is missing his stability on the blue line this year. Because of these trades I am slowly moving the Devils up the Cup contender list.

Mar 092006
 

It is trade deadline day which is going to make predictions on tonights 11 games kind of difficult as we don’t know which teams will make trades and some teams may end up having to play a little short handed as the the they wait for the players they traded for to show up. But there are some big games with big impacts on the playoff race.

Montreal/Boston – This is a must win for Boston if they want to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They currently trail Montreal by 7 points and Montreal also has a game in hand. If they fall to 9 points back it might be all but over for the Bruins. Making matters worse is that the Bruins might be trading off some of their players. Samsonov is a likely candidate to be traded and Brian Leetch could be out the door too. This isn’t good news for Toronto, NY Islanders and Atlanta as they desperately want Boston to win.

Buffalo/Tampa – Buffalo has nothing to worry about regarding a playoff spot as they are pretty much guaranteed to finish in the top 5 in the east but they will still be playing for position and still have a cahnce to catch Ottawa for top spot in the Northeast. They current trail Ottawa by just 4 points but have a game in hand. But all the teams from New Jersey down to Boston will be cheering for Buffalo to beat Tampa as Tampa is still a playoff bubble team.

Chicago/Colorado – This will be the first test for Colorado’s interim goaltending tandem of Budaj and Kolesnik. That’s a pretty scary goaltending tandem for Avalanche fans to have to live with for the next 3-5 weeks until Theodore can heal his heel. Because of this I think I would drop Colorado from a strong favourite to win over Chicago to a ‘some’ confidence favourite to win.

Nashville/Vancouver – The struggling Vancouver Canucks all of a sudden are becoming a playoff bubble team just 5 points ahead of 9th place Anaheim with Anaheim having 2 games in hand. They have to start winning some games or else what started as a season of high hopes will turn into a season of massive dissapoitment. That said, they are also only 2 points behind Calgary for the division lead so it could go either way for Vancouver. They could finish the 3rd seed in the playoffs or 9th and out of the playoffs. Look for Vancouver to add a defenseman or two to their roster before the 3:00pm trade deadline but that won’t likely help them for tonights game.

San Jose/Edmonton – Like Boston, a loss here might be the final nail in the coffin for the Sharks as they trail Edmonton by 8 points. It wouldn’t put them in a very good situation if they fell 10 points back though they do still have 2 games in hand over the Oilers.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Montreal Montreal Some
Buffalo Tampa Bay Buffalo Good
Columbus Phoenix Phoenix Some
Detroit Los Angeles Detroit Good
Chicago Colorado Colorado Strong
Calgary Dallas Calgary Some
Vancouver Nashville Vancouver Some
San Jose Edmonton San Jose Some
Mar 082006
 

As a clear follow up to the Luke Richardson trade, the Leafs have traded Ken Klee to the New Jersey Devils for prospect Alexander Suglobov. This is one of those deals that should help both teams. The Devils this year and the Leafs in the future. Klee is a pretty good defenseman who can play 18-20 minutes and will do a good job stabalizing the Devils defense which is still trying to adjust after losing Stevens and Niedermayer. He is more of a Devils-style player than Malakhov and McGillis who haven’t lived up to expectations in New Jersey this year.

I don’t know much about Suglobov but he seems to be a decent prospect having produced 25 goals and 48 points in 51 games with the Albany River Rats, the Devils AHL farm club. Depending on what other moves the Leafs make with their forwards between now and 3:00 tomorrow we may even see Suglobov given a chance with the Leafs this season. This is also a good move because while the Leafs have some decent youngsters on defence (Wozniewski, Kronvall, Colaiacovo, Bell, White, Harrison) they don’t have much up front.

Mar 082006
 

A couple more trades have occurred over the last couple hours:

1. Luke Richardson to Toronto for 5th round pick and conditional 4th round pick

2. Sharks get Nieminen from Rangers for a 3rd round pick.

3. Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel to L.A. Kings for Denis Grebeshkov and Jeff Tambellini and conditional 3rd round pick

4. Montreal trades Jose Theodore to Colorado for David Aebischer

At this point in his career Luke Richardson isn’t much more than a 5th/6th or depth defenseman but what this deal might be is a precursor to another in which Klee, Berg or Khavanov get moved with Klee being the most likely.

Nieminen is a role player and a 3rd line type of guy. He’s nothing special but every team needs guys like this for depth and penalty killing. This might be a precursor to the trading of Alyn MacAuley who is rumoured to be on the block because he is the Sharks only soon to be UFA. MacAuley provides more offense than Nieminen but plays a similar 2-way, penalty killing role.

The Islanders picked up a couple of pretty good prospects in Grebeshkov and Tambellini but it cost them two pretty good players off of their roster and that is going to hurt and chance they had of getting back in the playoff race. Parrish is a goal scorer with 24 goals and 41 points so far this year and will add some much needed offense to the Kings lineup which was too dependent on Demitra who was severely missed when injured. Parrish is unrestricted free agent at seasons end. Brent Sopel is a solid defenseman as well and will certainly help the Kings especially on the power play with his good shot. Sopel is signed through next season so it gives the Kings some stability on defense going forward. This trade should help the Kings maintain a playoff position but I am still not sold on their goaltending. But you never know, maybe this too is a precursor to another deal. There were rumours of the Kings going after Luongo. Maybe this deal allows them to include a Sopel, Tim Gleason or Joe Corvo in a package for Luongo.

I don’t like the Theodore trade from a Colorado point of view, especially for this season. Theodore just hasn’t been very good this year and is currently injured. He also has a pretty hefty contract taking away some salary cap flexibility for several more years. That said, if Theodore can return to form of a few years ago this could work out well. They have had some luck with former Montreal goalies in the past so who knows. Maybe the change of scenery will do Theodore good. As for Montreal Theodore had worn out his welcome and as good as Huet has been he just isn’t going to cut it. Aebischer has suffered some inconsistancy issues but he is still relatively young with this being only his second season in the NHL as a starter. Most importantly for Montreal is they rid themselves of a hefty contract on a guy who had become a bit of a side show and a distraction for the team.

Mar 082006
 

The first significant trade has been made. Dwayne Roloson has been traded by Minnesota to Edmonton for a first round pick and a conditional pick. This is a good deal for both teams. Minnesota has committed to Fernandez as their goalie for the next several years so Roloson was expendable and getting a first round pick will help them to continue to build out their team. The deal is good for Edmonton as well. Edmonton is a Stanley Cup contender but not with the goaltending they had. Roloson has never been a true #1 goalie in his career but in sharing duties with Fernandez Minnesota over the past few years he has shown to be a very very good goalie. This is a significant improvement for Edmonton and has filled their only glaring hole in their lineup. This doesn’t make Edmonton an elite Cup contender but it certainly give them an opportunity to make a run in the playoffs which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

What this does mean is that you can forget about Belfour being traded to Edmonton. That probably means that Belfour isn’t going anywhere as Edmonton was one of the few teams that needed a goalie and could ahve absorbed Belfours salary under the cap. That said, anything is possible and Vancouver and Los Angeles, both possibly in need of goalie help, might be getting antsy seeing Edmonton improve themselves.

In other news, Boston has claimed Mariusz Czerkawski off waivers from Toronto. This is a good, no risk pickup for Boston and I was dissapointed the Leafs didn’t give Czerkawski much of a chance to prove himself.

Mar 082006
 

Ottawa remains on top of the Power Rankings and barring a collapse look like they will remain their for the remainder of the season. After Ottawa though we have 6 teams tightly packed together – Detroit, Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas and Carolina. In my mind these are your top Stanley Cup contenders.

This weeks movers include Colorado (down to 5 from 2), Los Angeles (up to 10 from 13), Phoenix (up to 16 from 20), and Philadelphia (down to 18 from 14).

(Be sure to scroll down past the Power Rankings for bonus information)

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.700 0.495 0.693
2 3 Detroit 0.672 0.486 0.621
3 5 Buffalo 0.650 0.486 0.620
4 4 Calgary 0.598 0.516 0.616
5 2 Colorado 0.562 0.526 0.606
6 6 Dallas 0.589 0.515 0.606
7 8 Carolina 0.664 0.471 0.603
8 7 Vancouver 0.556 0.514 0.568
9 10 Edmonton 0.516 0.526 0.558
10 13 Los Angeles 0.532 0.515 0.548
11 9 San Jose 0.508 0.521 0.540
12 11 Nashville 0.573 0.488 0.539
13 15 Anaheim 0.516 0.517 0.535
14 12 Minnesota 0.477 0.527 0.518
15 16 Montreal 0.484 0.510 0.517
16 20 Phoenix 0.452 0.537 0.511
17 17 Toronto 0.475 0.513 0.508
18 14 Philadelphia 0.565 0.468 0.507
19 18 NY Rangers 0.557 0.467 0.500
20 19 Tampa Bay 0.524 0.473 0.484
21 21 Boston 0.444 0.507 0.466
22 22 New Jersey 0.492 0.476 0.464
23 24 NY Islanders 0.443 0.491 0.448
24 23 Atlanta 0.476 0.472 0.440
25 25 Florida 0.402 0.481 0.386
26 26 Columbus 0.347 0.507 0.356
27 27 Chicago 0.344 0.504 0.347
28 29 St. Louis 0.317 0.504 0.321
29 28 Washington 0.308 0.486 0.302
30 30 Pittsburgh 0.258 0.502 0.272

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficulty of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams

Prior to the Olympics I posted an article on each teams records against teams ranked in top 10, middle 10 and bottom 10 in my rankings. Once again here is how they rank. If you are wondering why a team like Philadelphia gets ranked 18th these tables will explain why. Philadelphia has just 4 wins against teams ranked in the top 10 and just 5 more against teams in the middle 10. That leaves the bottom 10 teams which Philadelphia has beaten 29 times. 54 of Philadelphia’s 78 points have come against teams in the bottom 10 teams in my power ranking system. That is why Philadelphia is 18th in the power rankings.

Record Against Top 10 Power Ranked Teams

Pos Team GP Wins Losses OTW SOW OTL SOL Trad. Win%
1 Carolina 9 6 3 0 1 0 1 0.667
2 Ottawa 14 8 6 0 0 1 2 0.643
3 Calgary 26 15 11 1 2 2 1 0.558
4 Detroit 19 10 9 1 0 2 1 0.553
5 Los Angeles 22 12 10 1 1 1 0 0.523
6 Nashville 26 13 13 2 0 2 1 0.519
7 Atlanta 14 7 7 0 0 1 0 0.500
8 Edmonton 28 14 14 3 2 0 1 0.482
9 San Jose 27 12 15 2 1 2 3 0.481
10 Dallas 24 14 10 1 5 1 0 0.479
11 Tampa Bay 14 6 8 1 0 0 1 0.464
12 New Jersey 13 6 7 0 1 0 1 0.462
13 Colorado 30 11 19 1 0 0 4 0.433
14 Phoenix 33 15 18 2 3 0 1 0.424
15 Buffalo 12 5 7 0 1 0 1 0.417
16 Vancouver 28 11 17 1 2 2 3 0.411
17 St. Louis 25 9 16 1 2 1 2 0.360
18 NY Rangers 13 5 8 1 1 0 0 0.346
19 Philadelphia 13 4 9 1 1 1 2 0.346
20 Anaheim 25 7 18 1 1 1 4 0.340
21 Minnesota 33 11 22 0 0 3 0 0.333
22 Florida 14 4 10 1 0 0 1 0.321
23 Montreal 21 7 14 1 1 3 0 0.310
24 NY Islanders 17 5 12 0 1 0 1 0.294
25 Chicago 25 7 18 0 1 2 1 0.280
26 Washington 11 3 8 0 0 0 0 0.273
27 Boston 20 4 16 1 0 1 2 0.250
28 Toronto 20 3 17 1 1 0 3 0.200
29 Columbus 25 4 21 0 2 0 2 0.160
30 Pittsburgh 16 2 14 0 0 2 1 0.156

Record Against Middle 10 Power Ranked Teams

Pos Team GP Wins Losses OTW SOW OTL SOL Trad. Win%
1 Vancouver 20 15 5 1 0 0 0 0.750
2 Colorado 22 16 6 1 0 1 0 0.727
3 Ottawa 25 18 7 1 2 0 2 0.720
4 Buffalo 22 15 7 3 2 1 3 0.705
5 Detroit 21 14 7 1 0 1 0 0.667
6 Anaheim 22 13 9 1 0 2 2 0.636
7 Montreal 20 12 8 3 0 3 1 0.625
8 NY Rangers 16 10 6 1 0 4 0 0.625
9 Minnesota 18 12 6 1 2 0 0 0.611
10 Dallas 25 16 9 1 2 1 0 0.600
11 Calgary 21 11 10 0 0 0 2 0.571
12 Edmonton 21 13 8 1 4 2 1 0.548
13 Washington 23 13 10 1 3 0 2 0.543
14 Carolina 21 12 9 1 2 3 0 0.524
15 Toronto 18 8 10 2 0 1 1 0.472
16 Tampa Bay 16 8 8 1 1 0 0 0.469
17 Boston 24 10 14 1 0 2 2 0.458
18 New Jersey 22 11 11 1 3 1 1 0.455
19 Phoenix 18 8 10 1 1 1 1 0.444
20 Los Angeles 27 12 15 2 3 3 1 0.407
21 Columbus 22 10 12 1 3 0 0 0.386
22 San Jose 21 7 14 3 0 1 2 0.381
23 Nashville 13 6 7 0 3 1 0 0.346
24 Chicago 20 6 14 2 0 0 1 0.325
25 Philadelphia 16 5 11 2 1 2 1 0.312
26 Florida 21 5 16 1 0 3 2 0.286
27 Atlanta 22 6 16 1 2 1 1 0.250
28 Pittsburgh 22 5 17 2 1 3 1 0.227
29 St. Louis 18 3 15 0 1 2 2 0.194
30 NY Islanders 19 4 15 0 1 1 0 0.184

Record Against Bottom 10 Power Ranked Teams

Pos Team GP Wins Losses OTW SOW OTL SOL Trad. Win%
1 San Jose 12 9 3 0 0 0 1 0.792
2 Detroit 21 17 4 1 1 1 0 0.786
3 Los Angeles 14 11 3 1 0 0 0 0.786
4 Philadelphia 33 25 8 4 1 2 2 0.773
5 Dallas 13 11 2 0 2 1 0 0.769
6 Nashville 23 17 6 0 1 1 2 0.761
7 Carolina 31 25 6 2 3 0 0 0.758
8 NY Islanders 25 20 5 3 5 0 2 0.740
9 Toronto 23 17 6 2 1 0 0 0.717
10 Calgary 14 9 5 1 0 0 2 0.714
11 Ottawa 21 15 6 0 0 0 0 0.714
12 Buffalo 26 19 7 2 1 0 0 0.712
13 Atlanta 26 16 10 2 1 0 3 0.654
14 Minnesota 13 7 6 0 0 0 3 0.654
15 Anaheim 14 9 5 0 1 2 1 0.643
16 Boston 18 11 7 2 0 2 1 0.639
17 NY Rangers 32 21 11 1 4 3 1 0.609
18 Columbus 15 10 5 3 2 0 0 0.600
19 Colorado 12 8 4 0 3 0 1 0.583
20 Tampa Bay 32 19 13 2 3 1 2 0.578
21 Vancouver 15 9 6 0 1 0 0 0.567
22 Phoenix 11 6 5 2 0 1 0 0.545
23 Edmonton 13 5 8 0 0 1 4 0.538
24 Florida 26 14 12 2 1 2 1 0.538
25 New Jersey 27 15 12 1 3 3 2 0.537
26 Montreal 20 10 10 2 1 0 2 0.525
27 Chicago 16 7 9 2 1 3 2 0.469
28 St. Louis 17 6 11 0 1 1 2 0.382
29 Pittsburgh 24 7 17 1 0 2 3 0.354
30 Washington 26 4 22 0 3 3 1 0.115
Mar 082006
 

There were a lot of close and hard fought games last night. Of the 11 games, 6 went to overtime and 4 of those went to the shootout. The other 5 games featured 2 1-goal games, 2 2-goal games and a 3 goal game. What a night for hockey. It wasn’t a good night for my picks though as I got just 5 of the 11 correct.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Carolina Carolina Some
Washington Pittsburgh Washington Some
Atlanta NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Florida Ottawa Ottawa Strong

Tonight won’t have quite the same impact on the playoff race as last night as only Atlanta is legitimately still in a battle for a playoff spot. The rest are either out of the playoffs or have a playoff spot almost locked up. Of tonights games I am most interested in the Atlanta-NY Rangers game because I really want to see what Atlanta has in it. They are finally a healthy team and if they were to grab the final playoff spot I think they could put a scare in some of the top teams in the east. If I am Ottawa or Carolina I’d definitely want to face a Montreal or a Tampa over Atlanta. They have a fairly tough schedule the rest of the year starting with their next six games when they the Rangers, Ottawa, the Rangers, Islanders, Philadelphia and Buffalo. After that things get a bit easier including 2 games against each of Boston, Washington, and Florida and a huge 3 games against Tampa who they can still easily take a playoff spot from. I like Atlanta as a team and if I were Carolina or Ottawa I’d be a bit nervous of meeting them in the first round.

Mar 072006
 

Last night was a pretty good night for game predictions going 4 for 5 and only missing out on the Washington win. We have 11 games on the schedule tonight and I am aiming for at least 7 correct. There are some pretty important games to.

Toronto/Montreal – Despite what Pat Quinn says the Leafs are in dire straits to make the playoffs now but a loss tonight would all but eliminate them as they would fall a full 10 points out of the playoffs. Whiel that doesn’t mathemeatically eliminate you the chances of making that up and climbing over a couple other teams as well is pretty slim.

Minnesota/Los Angeles – Minnesota finds themselves in a position not all that different from Toronto as they trail 7th place Los Angeles by 8 points and 8th place Edmonton by 7 points. A win tonight would go a long way to keeping them in the playoff race. A loss and things don’t look so good.

Anaheim/San Jose – Both of these teams sit just out of the playoffs. Anaheim is 4 points behind Edmonton while San Jose is 8 back. Both teams are going to fight hard for the 2 points.

Dallas/Edmonton – The 4 teams playing in the above 2 games are all going to be cheering hard for a Dallas win. Edmonton wants the win to keep some space between them and the 3 teams chasing them and in Minnesota won then leap frogging over Los Angeles into 7th wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo Boston Buffalo Good
NY Islanders New Jersey New Jersey Some
Columbus Chicago Columbus Some
Toronto Montreal Toronto Some
Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Pittsburgh Some
Detroit Phoenix Detroit Good
St. Louis Colorado Colorado Strong
Minnesota Los Angeles Minnesota Some
Calgary Nashville Calgary Good
Edmonton Dallas Dallas Some
Anaheim San Jose Anaheim Some