Jun 272006
 

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am working on creating tables of every teams salary cap commitments. I currently have the northeast division completed and hope to be adding more teams in the not to distant future. You can view these tables by clicking on the team links in the left side menu. I hope to be able to keep these updated over the summer as trades happen and free agents get signed but this will be done on an as time permits basis.

Update: Northeast and Northwest teams have been updated to include free agent signings through July 2nd. I’ll hopefully be adding another division or two later today.

Jun 242006
 

(Since it is draft day I thought I’d bump this article I wrote a couple weeks ago back up to the top of the stack.)

With the Carolina Hurricanes on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup (I think they will do it in game 5), it is time to start looking towards the off season and all the interesting stuff that it brings. One of the first things to happen after the Stanley Cup is awarded is the NHL draft set to be held in Vancouver on June 24th. You can find lots of information about the potential draft picks and what not elsewhere but as usual you will find something different here.

Back when Cliff Fletcher was GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs he traded away several draft picks which drew criticism from the Toronto Hockey Media which led to his famous “Draft Schmaft” comment and implying how he seemingly thought that draft picks were somewhat over rated and are just another commodity to be used however they can best be used to improve a team. So, how valuable are those draft picks? That was what I set out to find out.

Continue reading »

Jun 242006
 

So I got home late last night and checked the sports news to be shocked that Luongo had been traded. The deal is:

Luongo and Lukas Krajicek to Vancouver for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld

My initial reaction was this trade is a steal for the Canucks. After sleeping on it overnight I think more or less think the same. What Vancouver gets in this deal is two fold. First, they get the high-calibre goalie they have never had. Second, they save some money they despertely needed to in order to try to re-sign the Sedins as well as try and keep Jovanovski and Anson Carter. It is also all but certain that they will dump Dan Cloutier’s salary to the first team willing to take it off their hands. The big question mark on the deal is, will they be able to ink Luongo to a long term deal. If they can then this trade is a steal for the Canucks. If not and they lose Luongo next summer it will not be so great but it is not like they gave up a lot as Bertuzzi is a UFA next summer to.

For the Panthers they get two Mike Keenan type players (big, physical players) and a youngish goalie with still some potential improvement for a goalie they apparently didn’t think they could sign long-term, or weren’t willing to pay what it would take to sign him long-term. If it is true that Luongo was not going to re-sign with the Panthers and he had to be traded then this is a respectable return but I am a bit surprised they couldn’t get more. People are saying that Todd Bertuzzi had a bit of an off year last year and hasn’t fully rebounded from ‘the incident’ mentally. But he had 25 goals and 71 points and only twice in his 11 year career has he posted better numbers. I think that in reality might be what Bertuzzi is. A 25-30 goal scorer and 70-80 point producer. His 2001-02 (36g, 85pts) and 2002-03 (46g, 97pts) are probably the exception and not the rule. But that combined with his phyical play still makes Bertuzzi a very valuable player to have on any team and he will certainly help the Panthers. And Bryan Allen will do the same on defense. Talk is the Panthers might go hard after Jovanovski too and if they sign him (or another quality defenseman) this will be a mighty fine team. That is, if Auld provides them with quality goaltending. And that is where the Panthers might get slapped in the face with this deal. Without consistant quality goaltending, you don’t win. Just ask the Canucks.

Jun 222006
 

The Leafs are in quite a different position than the Ottawa Senators. While the Senators are asking themselves, how can we keep the players we have, the Leafs are asking themselves, do we want to keep the players we have. Aki Berg has gone back home to Finland to play next season but John Ferguson Jr. has to assess whether he wants Belfour, Domi, Allison, Lindros and others back. And depending on what he decides he might have a fair bit of money to spend on a few free agent signings. Here are Toronto’s salary cap commitments for the next few years.

Pos Player 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 20010-11
C Mats Sundin 6,840,000
D Tomas Kaberle 4,250,000 4,250,000 4,250,000 4,250,000 4,250,000
LW/RW Darcy Tucker 1,596,000
G Ed Belfour 1,500,000*
RW Jeff O’Neill 1,500,000
RW Tie Domi 1,250,000
LW Chad Kilger 900,000 900,000 900,000
W/D Wade Belak 800,000
C/RW Alex Steen 720,000 720,000
LW/RW Alex Ponikarovsky 700,000
G Mikael Tellqvist 589,000
G Jean-Sebastien Aubin 550,000
C Jeremy Williams 507,000
D Andy Wozniewski 475,000
D Ian White 456,000
W John Pohl 450,000
Total 23,083,000 5,870,000 5,150,000 4,250,000 4,250,000

*Ed Belfours buyout value as I fully expect the Leafs to buy him out

Restricted Free Agents:
Nik Antropov
Brendan Bell
Carlo Colaiacovo
Jay Harrison
Karel Pilar
Matt Stajan
Kyle Wellwood

Unrestricted Free Agents:
Jason Allison
Alexander Khavanov
Eric Lindros
Bryan McCabe
Luke Richardson
Clarke Wilm

I am also not sure of the contract status of Staffan Kronvall and Ben Ondrus.

With just over $23 million committed for the upcoming season and a salary cap of $44 million the Leafs will have about $20 million to spend on either keeping their own free agents or signing free agents from other teams. It is widely rumoured that the Leafs will re-sign Bryan McCabe for around $5.75 million per year so a more realistic number would be $14 million to spend. Now, what do they do with that money.

The first question they have to answer is how much of a youth movement do they want to go on with their own young players. This is particularly true for their defensemen. McCabe and Kaberle are the existing veterens but how many jobs they want to allocate to youngsters White, Wozniewsi, Kronvall, Colaiacovo, Bell, and Harrison. All six of those guys saw some action with the Leafs last year with varying levels of success. Almost certaintly the Leafs will allocate 2 defense spots to those youngsters and maybe even 3 spots might be open. I really liked what I saw from White (good PP guy) and Harrison (more of a defensive guy) and Colaiacovo has the most experience of all of them. Karel Pilar might also be in the mix as well if he can get healthy. One or two of these guys might be used as trade bait if necessary.

Up front the Leafs don’t have many young guys ready to make the jump. Steen and Wellwood looked great in their rookie years last year and will be featured more prominantly in the Leafs offense next year. Jeremy Williams is probably the only new guy potentially ready to make the jump. The big question marks up front are guys like Lindros, Allison, Stajan, and Antropov. Rumours a few weeks ago were that Lindros was about to sign a contract with the Leafs for somewhere under a million dollars. If this happened this would be a good low risk, potentially decent upside signing. When healthy he can still be a solid contributor. As for Allison and Antropov, I expect that they will not return to the Leafs as every indication from Leaf management is that they want to go with more speed in the lineup and neither of these guys are very speedy. Antropov is a restricted free agent and might be used as trade bait but I don’t think the Leafs could expect much in return largely due to his injury proneness. Matt Stajan was a bit of a dissapointment last year. After a solid rookie season in 2003-04 he failed to improve any last season. He is young and has good speed and was a valuable penalty killer so I expect him to get another chance and re-sign with the club.

The other question is in goal. I fully expect Belfour to be bought out so that leaves Tellqvist and Aubin under contract. Is this enough? I doubt it. I expect the Leafs will take a run at signing one of the free agent goalies out there. Gerber, Legace, Huet are the most likely candidates. Roloson would be a nice pickup but his superb playoff performance might price himself a bit beyond what the Leafs are willing to pay.

So, if the above holds true the projected lineup might be:

Forwards:
Tucker-Sundin-Steen
?????-Wellwood-O’Neill
Kilger-Lindros-Ponikarovski
Stajan-Williams-Domi
Extras: Pohl, Ondrus, Belak

Defense:
McCabe-Kaberle
?????-White
Colaiacovo-Harrison
Extras: Kronvall,Bell, Wozniewski, Belak

Goal: ?????, Tellqvist, Aubin

The above lineup might cost the Leafs about $32-33 million. That would leave about $10 million to spend on other free agents or via trade. The ????? are where I think the Leafs need to fill a hole. I would assign $2-2.5 million on a goalie. You might be able to get Gerber, Legace or Huet for that amount. The other $8 million would be split between a forward and a defenseman or maybe 2. How much confidence the Leafs management have in their young defensemen will determine how that split takes place. If they have a lot of confidence in their young defensemen I wouldn’t hesitate to throw $6 million at Patrick Elias and see if that will be enough to get him. I doubt that they could get Elias but the Devils have some budget problems and might be willing to trade either Gionta or Gomez to make room to keep Elias. I’d love to see either of them, particularly Gionta, on the Leafs. Anson Carter is a lower cost alternative as he desperately wanted to sign with the Leafs last summer (Leafs went with Lindros instead) and might sign with the Leafs at a discount. Other options include Sergei Samsonov, Martin Rucinsky, Martin Straka, Langenbrunner and playoff star Fernando Pisani

If the Leafs do in fact sign McCabe then the big name defensmen are likely out of the question but they are a ton of quality second tier guys that would attract a lot of interest with the Leafs including Ruslan Salei, Jay McKee, Frantisek Kaberle, Jaroslav Spacek, Willie Mitchell, Brendan Witt, Brian Pothier, Eric Desjardins, Kim Johnsson, Pavel Kubina, Filip Kuba, Joe Corvo, Niclas Wallin, Aaron Ward and former Leafs Danny Markov and Kenny Jonsson (who might be enticed to return from Sweden). Tops on my list would be Kenny Jonsson, Jaroslav Spacek and Jay McKee with Wallin, Ward, or Pothier potential secondary signings.

All in all the next month or so should prove interesting for the Leafs as we will really get to see what new direction the Leafs move in. They have the new coach with presumably a new philosphy. Now they have to start changing the players. This is the summer they start to lay the foundation for long-term success in my mind. Lets see how they do.

Jun 212006
 

As we head into the off season and the very important free agent signing period it is time we take a look at how some teams are positioned in terms of salary commitments and fee cap space and what they might do in the off season. Today I’ll look at the Ottawa Senators and tomorrow I’ll take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

To the best of my knowledge here are the players the Senators currently have under contract (excluding players on 2-way contracts that are not expected to make the team).

Pos Name 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
RW Daniel Alfredsson 4,662,894 4,662,894 4,662,894
RW Dany Heatley 4,500,000 4,500,000
C/W Bryan Smolinski 2,242,000
D Chris Phillips 1,976,000
C Mike Fisher 1,500,000 1,500,000
D Anton Volchenkov 1,300,000
D Andrei Meszaros 984,200 984,200
C/RW Patrick Eaves 942,400 942,400
RW Brian McGrattan 525,000 525,000
Total 18,632,494 13,114,494 4,662,894

Key Restricted Free Agents:
Martin Havlat
Jason Spezza
Peter Schaeffer
Antoinne Vermette
Chris Neil
Tyler Arnason
Chris Kelly
Christoph Schubert
Ray Emery

Key Unrestricted Free Agents
Zdeno Chara
Wade Redden
Brian Pothier
Dominik Hasek
Mike Morrison

Although the salary cap will be $44 million next season it is uncertain whether the Ottawa Senators will spend to the full cap level. More likely they will have an internal budget limit of no more than $38-40 million. That leaves about $20 million to spend this off season. Of the players under contract I am sure the Senators would love to trade Brian Smolinski and free up his $2.2 million. But who will take him? I suspect the best they can hope for is to get a mid-round draft pick in return or to use him as a throw in in a trade similar to DeVries in the Hossa for Heatley trade last summer. Whatever happens, I think there is a decent chance that Smolinski is traded to free up that cap space.

But that is only a small fraction of the Senators problems this summer. Star defensemen Chara and Redden both need to be signed and even if they can get them on a loyalty discount it might cost them close to $12 million. Spezza is going to want a substantial raise, possibly as high as the $4 million range, or maybe more if they try to get him on a long term deal. Those 3 guys could account up to $15-16 of the $20 million. They still need to sign a couple goalies. Emery will likely be wanting $1 million or more and Hasek might want a similar $1.5 million to last year. Neil, Vermette, Schaeffer and Pothier will all be looking for money in the $1-2 million per year range. And Martin Havlat might be looking for up to $4 million as well. All this means someone will have to go and all signs pont to Havlat. There has been some rumours of the Senators wanting to trade for one of the top picks. Could Havlat be packaged (with Smolinski maybe) in a deal for a top 5 pick in the draft? That would free up a lot of cash in the short term and give them a key component of the team in a year or two (if not next year). If they think they are going to lose Chara or Redden then maybe trading for and drafting Erik Johnson is an intriguing option. Stay tuned, the draft is only a couple days away.

All in all, John Muckler is going to have to do some creative player and contract management this summer if he wants most of his players to return. He won’t be able to keep the whole team in tact so who he keeps and who he lets go will be the biggest question on Senators fans minds this summer.

Jun 212006
 

I was listening to the Team 1200 radio station here in Ottawa this morning and they were discussing the often claimed idea that it takes Canadians to win the Stanley Cup and that maybe some of Ottawa’s problems are not having enough Canadian’s on its team. That got me to wondering if that is really true. So, the number cruncher in me set out to find hard evidence one way or the other. In doing so I took a look at the past 5 Stanley Cup champions which were all different teams. What I did was to add up all the games that Canadian, European and American players (skaters only, not goalies) played during their successful playoff run. The table below shows the percentage of games played by each Stanley Cup winner based on their players nationality.

Year Team Canadian European American
2005-06 Carolina 53.6 19.6 26.9
2003-04 Tampa Bay 70.0 23.7 6.3
2002-03 New Jersey 52.1 30.3 17.6
2001-02 Detroit 51.7 37.2 11.1
2000-01 Colorado 63.0 24.9 12.1
Average 58.1 27.1 14.8

According to this website in 2003 Canadians accounted for 53.6% of all NHL players while Europeans accounted for 33.3% and Americans 13%. If we use those numbers as reality then we find that over the past 5 years Canadians were a slightly larger than average contributor to Stanley Cup champions while Europeans were slightly lower than average and Americans were about what one would expect. But, the the Stanley Cup champions numbers aren’t that far off the league wide average numbers and on 3 occassions teams won the Cup with just an average number of Canadians on their team. That said, there was only one time (Detroit) in which a team with a greater percentage of Europeans on their team won the Cup so maybe there is something to it.

One might wonder if the new rules will give a bit more advantage to the Europeans. Well, it seems that isn’t the case as runner up Edmonton had 69.9% of their playoff games played by Canadians, 23.1% by Europeans and 6.9% by Americans. Western Conference Anaheim also had a high percentage of Canadians with 71.2% of their playoff games played by Canadian born players and just 23.3% by Europeans and 5.6% by Americans. The other semi-finalist had a very different team makeup. The Buffalo Sabres were 38.4% Canadian, 37.5% European and 24.1% American. Quite an interesting team makeup indeed.

So where do the Ottawa Senators fit in? Well, 48.9% of their playoff games were played by Canadians, 35.6% by Europeans and 15.6% by Americans and they lost to Buffalo.

Jun 142006
 

Steve Simmons recently had an article on whether the Leafs should buy out Domi and his $1.25 million contract for next season and several other bloggers have also discussed the buyout issue. But there seems to be some confusion as to what the buyout procedure is and its implications on a teams salary cap. I believe some of the details that Simmons discussed in his article are incorrect. I have exchanged a few e-mails with Simmons on the issue but he sticks by his article even claiming his source on the matter is the vp of the league but I still think there is some confusion on Simmons part on which CBA rule applies in Domi’s situation should he be bought out. Here is what I believe to be the situation (but I will add that I am not a lawyer).

There are two sections in the CBA which I believe are causing the confusion. The first is about players over the age of 35 who sign multi-year contracts. A section on CBA page 190 states:

All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the Player was age 35 or older, regardless of whether, or where, the Player is playing except to the extent the Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which case onlt the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000 shall count towards the calculation of the Actual Club Salary…

So, if Domi is on the second year of a multi-year contract his full contract value would count against the Leafs cap, even if he was released or demoted to the minors. In this case his $1,250,000 salary would count to the Leafs cap total.

But, if the Leafs buy out his contract he technically would never make it to the second year of his contract and thus in my opinion the above rule would not come into effect. So what matters is the rules for the buyout. The rules for how a buyout impacts the cap is on CBA page 206 and is followed by several examples and with more specifics on the buyout procedure on page 224. In none of the examples is the players full salary used, only the buyout amount. The buyout amount is 2/3 of the remaining value of the contract if the player is over age 26 and 1/3 otherwise with it to be paid over twice the number of remaining years of the players contract. In Domi’s case the Leafs would be buying out one year at $1,250,000. The cost of that buyout would be 2/3rds of 1.25 million or $833,333 which is to be paid over the next 2 seasons which would mean a $416,666 cap hit in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

The above is how I interpret the CBA. If anyone disputes the above then please make your case in the comments.

Jun 142006
 

Just want to let everyone know that I have started a hockey website directory and website rating system which can be found at http://hockeysites.hockeyanalysis.com/. I hope to make this a fairly thorough listing of hockey related websites and it will be much easier to maintain than the current blog list that I somewhat keep up to date here. Feel free to drop by and add your website to the list.

Jun 062006
 

Ok, I am going to take a stab in the dark and hope someone out there can help. I am interested in doing a number of hockey research related projects including:

-A sophisticated player ranking system which takes into account the players basic statistics as well as ice time (ES, PK, PP), the quality of opponents they have played against (due to the heavily unbalanced schedule), etc.
-A study of which NHL teams are successful. i.e. teams with the best goalies, best defensemen or best forwards, Teams with superstars but not so deep or teams with lots of depth but not so many superstar players, etc.
-A study of the NHL draft-Which team drafts best. Are forwards, defensemen or goalies the more ‘risky’ pick (i.e. who develops in a more predictable manner).
-How a players junior statistics translates to their NHL statistics.
-Anything else you guys might find interesting.

To do this I would be looking for some financial funding to both subsidize the significant amount of time I would have to invest and also to purchase access to statistics where necessary (particularly important for the player ranking systems I am looking to develop). If anyone is able to fund this to a reasonably significant level or knows of someone with the NHL, an NHL team, or someone with a hockey media organization that might be interested in the results of such research and be willing to fund it drop me an e-mail. Also e-mail me if you have any idea for research projects that you might be interested in seeing done or enhancements you would like to see done to this website. Thanks.