Inside the Numbers: Sergei Samsonov

I have just decided that it is time I start something new here. Who knows if I’ll continue with it but I am starting it and that is, well, a start. I am going to begin writing ‘Behind the Numbers’ articles in which I will analyse a player based on that players statistics. I am going to try to focus on players whose statistics might not back up common perception of that player or whose statistics might not warrant the salary that player just received or something along those lines. The first of hopefully many Behind the Numbers articles will focus on Sergei Samsonov.

I’ve debated the merits of the Sergei Samsonov signing by the Montreal Canadiens in the comments section of this website as well as elsewhere and I still believe that signing Samsonov for $3.5 million per year was a bad move. Common perception of Samsonov is that he is a highly skilled, goal scoring forward who will bring some much needed offense to the Canadiens. Unfortunately for the Canadiens the numbers don’t back that up. The numbers show him to be just an average, second line kind of winger.

Samsonov has played 8 seasons in the NHL. His first 3 years of his career he averaged 22 goals and 48 points. His next 2 seasons he averaged 29 goals and 73 points. Then in 2002-03 he missed most of the season due to injury and played just 8 games. In 2003-04 he scored 17 goals, 40 points in 58 games and last year he scored 23 goals and 53 points for Boston and Edmonton. In 533 career games he has scored 169 goals and 392 points. Prorate that to and 82 game schedule and you get 26 goals and 60 points. To put that into perspective Ray Whitney’s career 82 game average is 24 goals and 63 points. Ray Whitney is actually a pretty good comparison for Samsonov. Both are small left wingers with good speed and puck handling skills but not quite so adept defensively. But even that 24 goal, 60 point average that Samsonov has put up so far in his career might be a bit misleading considering he has only twice scored more than 53 points.

Is a 25 goal, 55 point guy who isn’t great defensively worth $3.5 million per season? Is Samsonov going to solve the woes of the Montreal offense which was the 11th worst in the NHL? In my mind the answer to both those questions is ‘No!’

(BTW, the same story can be written about last years signing of Kovalev who got a $4.5 million per year contract and who has never scored more than 26 goals and 66 points when not playing with Mario Lemieux.)

This article has 62 Comments

  1. So why do players like Samsonov get that kind of money? I think GMs pay for what they see as potential. Samsonov’s problem isn’t so much his skill — he has talent that can spin your head — but it’s his effort and consistency that are more of a problem, IMO.

    I don’t take Bob Gainey for a fool. So here’s my take on what he’s thinking: Samsonov is talented but in the past hasn’t contributed a lot. The guy just about won the Stanley Cup last year with the Oilers, and has learned about grit and determination and how far it can get you. If he learns from this, he can become the dependable point-a-game winger we need. Plus, who else is left on the free agent market that we can get for that price?

    Samsonov could turn out to be a good signing for the Canadiens, if he takes his game to another level as a result of the Edmonton experience.

    Otherwise? A lot of cellar-dwellers have upgraded in the off-season. If Samsonov doesn’t provide bang for his $3.5 million bucks, the Canadiens could be working on their putting game come the playoffs.

  2. I think Gainey was kind of forced to do the deal with Samsonov. Rumours were he really wanted Jason Arnott but was unable to get him and there really weren’t many other quality forwards on the market this year. I think he may have tried to get Shanahan as well but didn’t. That put him in the position of going for Samsonov or not doing anything and I don’t think not doing anything would really fly in Montreal.

  3. Shanahan was offered more money to come to Montreal than he took with the Rangers. Talk this summer was, players dont want to play in Montreal. Can you blame them? its far up north, the language barrier, the pressure of playing in Montreal is unreal! and the team hasnt shown signs that are committed to winning. There’s a reason why majority of Habs players are born in Quebec, the city suits their life style more than non-French/Canadian players. I dont expect much from the Habs this year as well. Playoffs is a long shot if you ask me. I say more likely than not Montreal will be fighting to stay out of the Northeast basement.

  4. Mr. Hockey, the assertion that a “majority of Habs players are born in Quebec” is ridiculous. There are 3 Quebec-born players on the roster (Ribeiro, Dandenault and Begin). Ribeiro is garbage and if they could find anyone to take him they would dump him in a second. Yes the pressure from the fans and media is a factor in why they can’t attract free agents. What other city would hang their captain out to dry because he doesn’t speak French?

  5. Mr Hockey, wow what a great thing to say. real on the money there. how are the canaidens NOT commited to winning? and how are they NOT a better team??? from last year, we upgraded in nets, our rookies are a year older, we added samsonov, and it doesnt matter how many bad things u can say, hes an upgrade over bulis who was our second line winger last season, and we have a new coach and coaching staff who is commited to improvement from within the organization. maybe u should do some research before u attack a team.

  6. I kept falling for Samsonov’s potential and would take him in my hockey pools… but that’s not happening this year. Fool me thrice… He is an upgrade in Montreal though, and the Canadiens have a respectable top-6 group of wingers now in Kovalev, Samsonov, Ryder, Higgins, Johnson, and Ribeiro (who really should improve his game this year – he was supposed to increase his production post-lockout, not decrease!).

    The team is definitely improved, but I’ll wait for a sign of Samsonov’s potential actually coming back to light before picking him in any hockey pool again.

  7. Just been thinking about Montreal’s lineup for the upcoming season, and just for the sake of argument, why wouldn’t Montreal think about taking a chance on signing Jason Allison to an incentive laden contract for 1 year? Somehow the idea of him, IF he can stay healthy, as the team’s second line center, is quite appealing.

  8. They aren’t allowed to give Allison an incentive laden contract. Only players on entry level contracts and veterens coming off a serious injury are allowed bonuses in his contract.

    Allison’s biggest benefit to a team is the ability to run the PP and he will certainly help any team he goes to in that regard. 5-on-5 he can help a bit but not so much on ‘on the rush’ plays because he is slower and in the new NHL on the rush plays happen more often. I am not sure Montreal is the best fit for him.

  9. But isn’t he in the same position as Lindros regarding injury and eligibility for incentives?

    Well, just thinking that he averages 0.9 pts and 1.15 pm per game when healthy, is 6″3 225lbs, and is not afraid to use his size. Montreal has so many quick, small, skilled rush type players.. Might be worth having a type of player who can produce in other ways and in certain situations.

    Just a thought….

  10. No, Allison played too many games last year to be eligible for incentives. You can check the CBA for the details but I think he has to miss at least half the season before he can earn incentives (on a one year contract only) the following season. I think you also need to have played 400 games in the NHL (Allison qualifies there though).

    I think Allison would be a good fit for a few teams. Atlanta and to a lesser extent Calgary being two teams as they both could use a center. In Atlanta Marc Savard did wonders setting up Kovalchuk and Hossa on the PP and Allison could fill that same role. He’d be great. Same for Calgary with Tanguay and Iginla.

    Montreal might work too but for the most part Montreal’s wingers aren’t snipers. Guys like Samsonov and Kovalev often like to carry the puck and make the skilled play as opposed to the one timer slap shot. That said, he could still help anyones power play.

  11. Daniel. First off i disagree Samsonov is not an upgrade over Bulis. Bulis is a good player with a lot of potential and was a complete asset to the Habs. Samsonov is way over paid and over hyped. How did the Habs improve from last season?? oh by signing Samsonov and Mike Johnson …wow great! Did you forget about losing Simpson, Bulis, Sundstrom and Zednik? The Habs are missing a great 2nd line centre to support Koivu. Koivus great but he needs help. Did you also forget one of the only reasons the Habs even made the playoffs is die to Huets stellar play? Without his play the Habs would def not made the playoffs. Being ranked 20th in goals for, and 21st in penalty kill is not stats of a power house team. Habs lost too many valuable players this off season to get better Daniel as you say. Huet wont put up the numbers he did last year. Many other Eastern Conference teams improved a hell of a lot mroe than the Habs did this offseason….Atlanta, Boston, Florida, Toronto, NY Rangers, and even Pittsburgh. Thats 5 teams which didnt make the post season last year. Its very obvious Montreal is on the decline for this upcoming season. They will be competitive sure, but will be very tough to stay out of the basement in the toughtest division in hockey. Like I said, Montreal will place last in the Northeast division, may not be far back but will finish last and not make the post season this season.

  12. Hockeyguru before you jump to conclussions all i meant by majority of Habs players are from Quebec is not necessarily this seasons teams but thru the years many, many QC players have come and gone, more than any other team due to the fact it is Montreal and it is a different life style for non french speaking players. The Habs attract province born players as any other team attracts local players but not at Montreals rate. Im actually suprised they ony have 3 QC born players for this up coming season.

  13. it could be 4 players not 3 if you count Huet. Yes hes born in France but he is ultimately French. Montreal would suit him a lot more than any other city in my opinion.

  14. The Habs are missing a great 2nd line centre to support Koivu.

    Actually, I could do an Inside the Numbers feature to argue that the Habs actually need a first line center. Koivu’s best seasons in terms of points are 71 in 2002-03 followed by 62 last year. I n his career he has 460 points in 569 games. Those aren’t first line center numbers. Koivu is a great hard working 2-way player and a very good leader but he isn’t a great first line center.

  15. Mr. Hockey, I think it might almost be the opposite for Montreal, as the expectations of any French-Canadian player playing in the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge are so much higher, and the pressure so incredible that they would not enjoy the experience for very long. Look at Ribeiro. On any other team he is a marginal third line player, and in fact I would not want him on my team at all, but in Montreal he is expected to be the one of the saviours. One has to look no further than Brisebois,who played like a new player once he left the Habs for the Avs.

    If you believe the hype, teams like the Leafs would attract many more home-grown talent, and they are under the same media microscope, but the fans don’t have the same expectations of the players simply because they are from Southern Ontario. Not too many Quebec-born players go to Montreal as free agents.

  16. I agree David. Montreal does need a first line center. Koivu is a great second line center, and Ribeiro would be an ok 2nd line center. It’s one of the reasons I brought up the Allison argument. Of couse, if Higgins was shifted back to his natural center position and given the time to develop. Who knows?

  17. I liked watching Samsonov play last year in Edmonton. He was a great assest to the Oilers. I would have liked to see him stay. His career numbers may not be great overall but he did have a good 25 goal season last year so he may be in store for another good season on a good Montreal team. I do agree that 3.5 million is pricey but it might pay off for Montreal. I would have liked to see Samsonov stay put in Edmonton and Dumont sign with Montreal. Due to salary cap restrictions that may not happen.

  18. How can you say the habs have not improved?

    1. We still have Huet and Aebisher as backup (which could become another d-man or forward before season is over).
    2. If it weren’t for the stellar play of Cam Ward (conn smythe winner) we would’ve knocked off the eventual stanley cup champions.
    3. We have one of the best groups of up and coming forwards in the league. Who knows who will be the Higgins and Ryder of this year? (Kostitsyn had a 98 mph shot in skills competition)
    4. We have one of the best all around 6 unit defensive groups in the east. Markov will probably be an allstar and komisarek will continue his continued progress. Emelin may even come across to become a 7th d-man or get experience playing in AHL.
    5. Koivu will be healthy (another huge factor in losing to Carolina)
    6. Ribiero (im not a fan) is better than his numbers last year and has been working out hard all summer.
    7. Expect Carbo to improve that penalty kill to top 5 in the league.
    8. Powerplay speaks for itself. Look at our top 2 pp units.
    9. Even last year we were decent at 5 on 5 and will show steady improvement in that area this year.

    Anybody that says Toronto or Boston has improved enough to overcome Montreal has no clue about hockey. Boston has significant improvements, but, still not as good as Montreal. Ottawa and Buffalo has lost ground to both Montreal and Boston. Samsonov was a solid contributor on a very talented group of Edmonton forwards last season and watching Samsonov play for Boston against Montreal, as a habs fan he was scarier than thornton at times (im not suggesting hes better than Thornton).

  19. “We still have Huet and Aebisher as backup (which could become another d-man or forward before season is over).”

    Still have doesn’t constitute an improvement. And neither does ‘could become another d-man or forward’.

    If it weren’t for the stellar play of Cam Ward (conn smythe winner) we would’ve knocked off the eventual stanley cup champions.

    Are you saying you were out goaltendered by the goalie you ‘still have’?

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda…Whatever. You didn’t.

    Had the Leafs one one of those 2 games against Montreal late in the season (could have been as simple as starting Aubin over Tellqvist in one of the two games) the Canadiens wouldn’t have even made the playoffs.

    We have one of the best groups of up and coming forwards in the league. Who knows who will be the Higgins and Ryder of this year? (Kostitsyn had a 98 mph shot in skills competition)

    Really? I’d hazard a guess that most people would disagree with you. Latendresse and Kostsitsyn have some good upside but neither top tier, sure thing, prospects.

    We have one of the best all around 6 unit defensive groups in the east. Markov will probably be an allstar and komisarek will continue his continued progress. Emelin may even come across to become a 7th d-man or get experience playing in AHL.

    Montreal’s defense is good, but not really among the best IMO. Montreal gave up the 10th most shots on goal last year and nothing has changed since last year.

    Koivu will be healthy (another huge factor in losing to Carolina)

    Koivu played 72 games last year and Montreal barely made the playoffs. Only once in the last 9 seasons has Koivu surpassed that game total so expecting more games from him is unrealistic.

    Ribiero (im not a fan) is better than his numbers last year and has been working out hard all summer.

    Maybe, maybe not. Maybe his good 2003-04 season was the anomoly and not last year. And every player will say they have been working out hard all summer. Work ethic hasn’t been Ribeiro’s strong point.

    Powerplay speaks for itself. Look at our top 2 pp units.

    Montreal’s PP was 5th in the NHL last year. Are they going to get better than that this season? Unlikely.

    Expect Carbo to improve that penalty kill to top 5 in the league.

    Even last year we were decent at 5 on 5 and will show steady improvement in that area this year.

    Why? Why will Montreal’s PK get better and 5 on 5 play shot steady improvement this year? What has Montreal done to improve itself? Johnson and Samsonov are the only significant changes and they are only marginally better than Bulis and Zednik.

    All the stuff you listed are nothing more than ‘hopes and wishes’ and there is little to support those hopes. The Montreal team this year is pretty much the same Montreal team that was a loss to Toronto from missing the playoffs last year. Toronto’s defense is much improved and their goaltending can only get better. Certainly that has the potential to be more than enough to make up the 3 points separating Montreal and Toronto.

    As for Samsonov, yes, he is a very talented player. But so is Kovalev. Some say Kovalev is one of the most skilled players in the NHL. But talent only gets you so far and while Kovalev and Samsonov can dazzle you at times when the dust settles neither appear to be much better than 25 goal scorers with questional defensive ability.

  20. Is this site supposed to be objective? For a moment I thought I was on the Leafs official fan page! Mr. Johnson, have you ever seen a columnist from espn or tsn showing such feelings for a team they don’t like like you do? I do hate the Canadiens too (I’m a Sens fan) but I do know they have top end prospects (see, which is a very serious site as you probably know) and a pretty decent team if not good.

    Just wanted to tell you that I like your site for the numbers and your understanding of the new cba but for the rest, it’s typical of any fan bashing on their rival team.

  21. has a list of their top 50 prospects. Montreal’s top prospect, Perezhogin, sits at position 34. Their second best prospect is Carey Price and sits at position 47. And at age 22 (not young for a rookie) Perezhogin had an unspectacular 19 point season. His AHL numbers in 2003-04 were also unspectacular (23g, 70 points). So far he has done nothing to show himself to be a future first line player. So, as I said, Montreal doesn’t have any top tier prospects.

  22. “Had the Leafs one one of those 2 games against Montreal late in the season (could have been as simple as starting Aubin over Tellqvist in one of the two games) the Canadiens wouldn’t have even made the playoffs.”

    That’s not entirely true. Montreal finished with 93 points and Toronto finished with 90 points. One lose wouldn’t have taken the Canadiens out the playoffs but I do see what you are trying to say. It makes scense but in a way its argruable because you can say this about ANY team in the NHL. If only they won this game and that game, if only this player didn’t get hurt, or if only this goalie played instead of that one. Bottom line, the Canadiens finished better than the Maple Leafs last season and made the playoffs. Montreal was a better team than Toronto last season. I don’t think that will be the case this upcoming season, but we’ll have to wait and see.

  23. 2005-2006 Power Play Standings at home:

    1. Buffalo 25%
    2. Ottawa 24.9%
    3. Detroit 23.6%
    4. Toronto 22.1%
    5. Montreal 21.6%
    (4 Northeast Division teams in top 5)

    2005-2006 Power Play Standings Overall:

    1. Detroit 22.1%
    2. Toronto 21.4%
    3. Buffalo 21.2%
    4. Ottawa 20.8%
    5. Montreal 19.2%
    (4 Northeast Division teams in top 5)

    Leafs record vs other divisions: 30W, 17L, 3OTL = 63 pts

    Leafs record vs Notheast Division: 11W, 16L, 5OTL=27 pts

    I thought Leaf fans would find this stat interesting. Shows you how good the Leafs were on the power play but so were 4 other Northeast division rivals. Its clear if the Leafs want to improve in the Northeast they will have to start winning vs teams that were regularly beating them last season (Ottawa, Buffalo, and Montreal)

  24. “That’s not entirely true. Montreal finished with 93 points and Toronto finished with 90 points. One lose wouldn’t have taken the Canadiens out the playoffs but I do see what you are trying to say.”

    Take 2 points off of Montreal and they have 91 points, add two points to Toronto and they have 92 points. Toronto makes the playoffs, Montreal doesn’t.

  25. Wow i should of definetely taken grade 12 math. Miscalculation in my head. Either way, you see what i was trying to say. Could have, should have and would have can be said to any NHL team. Toronto missing the playoffs didn’t just come down to one game vs Montreal. It was a series of bad and unlucky events throughout the entire season. Good teams play through slumps and injuries, the Maple Leafs did not do a good job. This season is a clean slate and a new start, for every team. I personally dont like comparing last season results and stats to the upcoming season because it is so unpredictable. I do believe the leafs should be somewhat better than last season which will be difficult to do in the Northeast.

  26. One thing you are all forgetting in your comments and evaluations, is the fact that Kovalev and Samsonov together on the same ine can be a great threat to any deffense. If you saw them in the last worlds, you would understand what I mean.

    The Habs are an upgrade, If not the biggest Upgrade in the East, and it comes first from behing the Bench. Carbo and Kirk are like adding a Huge Forward and a dozen Huge Blue Liners in any team.

    The Habs have the best Goalie Tandem in the East, a descent deffense that could be extreemly well directed from behind the bench this year, a couple of above average offensive lines, Kovalev-Ribeiro-Samsonov, Higgins-Koivu-Ryder, and not so bad 3rd and 4rth lines that have been upgraded by Johnson. The addition of maybe a very promissing Grabovsky who many compare his stats in Russia to those of Oveshkin won”t hurt.

    I am not saying that the Habs will finish top 3 in the East, but will definately finish around 5-6 easier than last year.

  27. Now where did the leafs upgrade from last year? Hit me.

    Boston did for sure, remains to see what they have behind the pipes their only problem in my opinion. Plus Boston is never a problem for the Habs, was not even when they had Thornton and Samsonov and a top year from Raycroft. Why should it be now?

    The leafs in my opinion are the ones who would be left outside of the playoffs this year and expect Gilmour to replace JFJ. What an ignorant that guy really.

  28. Habs4ever: are you serious? The Habs lose Simpson, Bulis, Sundstrom, and Zednik and pick up over rated Samsonov and Mike Johnson and thats any upgrade? Yet, the Leafs, drop Belfour, Berg, Domi, Wilm, Khavanov, Lindros, and Allison (a lot, i mean a lot of dead weight) and they will be left out of the playoffs? Pick up Raycroft, who in my mind will shut up all critics and have a stellar season in Toronto, and the Leafs picked up Kubina, Gill, Peca and have a new wave of young talent ready to play. Honestly I dont mean to sound rude but Montreal did not get any better this off-season. Toronto definetely did. I can write for days on why the Leafs will be a much better team than last season. There’s a lot of Leaf haters out there, and this season the Leafs will stun all critics. One of the best if not the best defense core in the NHL, McCabe, Kaberle, Kubina, Gil, Coliaicovo, Kronwall, White, ect ect . One of the best, if not the best Penalty Kill unit, Sundin, Peca, Stajan, Gil. Mark my word. Gilmour was just hired by the Leafs but he wont take over for Ferguson. Ferguson’s contract will be re-newed after a strong 06-07 season. If you take a look at what JFJ has done to the Leafs in his first year in FULL control of his team, its amazing! JFJ is a great GM, and I hope to see him in toronto for years to come.

    Prediction: Montreal 7-8 spot East (aprox. 90-95pts)
    Toronto 1-2-3 spot East (aprox 100-110pts)

    Yes, the Leafs will surpass 100 points in 06-07

  29. Most people agree that Pavel Kubina is a good addition to the Maple Leafs, but Raycroft remains a question mark and anyone whose predicting the Leafs will get 100 points this season is clearly a gambling man. If Raycroft finds the form he showed in his rookie season, the Leafs should have a good shot at the playoffs, but the sheer fact of playing in a very tough division may have the Leafs on the outside looking in.

    Better seasons are ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.
    Zednik lost his desire to play hard hockey and cut in front of the net; the player who was scoring on Raycroft and terrorizing the Bruins during playoffs past had already left Montreal so Samsonov should be a huge addition over last year’s Zednik. This is regardless of whether or not Zednik turns his career around playing with Ovechkin.

    And Bulis may have a career year playing with the Sedin twins, but his lack of heart wasn’t enough to make up for a pretty decent skill set. Mike Johnson should be an improvement, but Bulis was a 3rd-line player and not a key piece of the Habs picture.

    The big question marks are if Koivu will be healthy and if Huet really is as good as he played for like half a season. Depending on those two factors, the Canadiens can challenge the Sens and Sabres for division title.

    By the way, all of the Habs losses were voluntarily let go by the organization. Simpson and Sundstrom did not even crack the line up. I don’t think either will be playing in the NHL this year. And Jan Bulis seems to have come close to going to Europe before Vancouver picked him up.

  30. There is no way that the Canadiens will compete with the Senators and Sabres for the division title. Montreal is a mediocre team with little top end talent. They have no elite forwards or defensemen and Huet hasn’t proven he can be a quality starter for a full season. When the season ends there is a decent chance that Montreal won’t have a 30 goal guy or a 70 point guy. So that means Montreal will have to win by solid defensive play and while Montreal’s defense is decent it isn’t among the best in the NHL. Montreal gave up the 10th most shots on goal last year and this years defense is pretty much the same. So that means any success Montreal has will depend significantly on goaltending, just as it did last year. The Theodore was in goal and not playing well Montreal was a sub-.500 team and if Huet and Aebsicher just provide average or slightly above average goaltending I wouldn’t expect Montreal to be any better than a .500 team and that isn’t good enough to make the playoffs. If Huet has an outstanding season they could have a repeat of last year and squeek into the playoffs. Anyone who thinks they will compete for top spot in the division is dreaming.

  31. It’s a shame most of the writers on this site have such an obvious bias for the Leafs.

    “Take 2 points off of Montreal and they have 91 points, add two points to Toronto and they have 92 points. Toronto makes the playoffs, Montreal doesn’t.”

    It’s great how playing with no pressure can help a team. Keep dreaming with your 3 pt difference, if it helps you sleep at night.

  32. Felix, I understand perfectly the notion of playing under pressure vs no pressure but even the most die hard Montreal fan if they are being a realist has to admit they only barely made it into the playoffs. Yes, the Leafs were 3 points behind and you can give me all that playing under pressure nonsense but Atlanta was only 3 points behind too. Montreal was a mediocre team last year and they are essentially the same mediocre team this year. Deal with it.

    If you want to talk about bias lets talk about the guy who thinks Montreal will compete with Ottawa and Buffalo for top spot in the east. The people with the serious bias issues are those who think that trading Zednik and Bulis for Samsonov and Johnson is going to make up 20 points in the standings.

  33. David has a point. Bias has nothing to do with it. Montreal did justbarely squeeze into the playoffs last season. They didnt get any better this off-season at all, mediocore at best. The Leafs on the other hand have made a huge improvement this off-season, on paper at least. From a NHL fan’s point of view, and if you know what you are talking about, you can’t seriously look at both these teams on paper and say Montreal is a better team. Montreal is not a better team on paper. What happened last season is exactly that, LAST SEASON and it doesn’t matter anymore. Fact is Toronto will make the playoffs this season and will be much better than Montreal.

  34. Realistically, the Montreal Canadiens did just barely sneak into the playoffs, but anybody who followed them knows that after Theodore left town, they were one of the better teams in the league.

    Now lots of teams had goaltending issues last year, but the Canadiens have solved their issues.

    Its pretty silly comparing Toronto to Montreal, most people who follow hockey know that Toronto is at the beginning stage of rebuilding, and Montreal is an emerging team with lots of young talent that will get better.

    Truth is, Samsonov shouldn’t even be the big story with Montreal if Higgins, Plekanec, Komisarek etc continue their natural progression as emerging stars.

    When it comes to Toronto’s goaltending, my suspicion is that Raycroft will continue to have problems, but Aubin will come up as a decent goalie. But Toronto’s other problem was scoring at even-strength – how does adding Mike Peca help that? And their stength was scoring on the power play, Allisons departure should weaken that.

    The thing is, even though Ottawa and Buffalo got weaker, the Leafs will have trouble winning games in their division. Montreal had a winning or even record against Ottawa, Buffalo, Toronto and Boston last year. I see Boston being tougher, but beyond that their record within the division should improve. I wonder if Ottawa will start Gerber against Montreal?

    And David it is pretty biased to say that Montreal doesn’t have a proven starter, when even Abeischer is considered a proven NHL starter. At this point in his career, I think Raycroft has the most to prove.

  35. Somefan: I agree with one thing you said…Raycroft does have a lot to prove this season. Last season he was injury plauged, in a bad Boston enviroment, and on a team with no motivation or leadership. Any goaltender would not do well in this situation. Even Tim Thomas’ stats dropped dramatically towards the end of the season. Raycroft will have a good rebound season. As for the other things you say, how are the Leafs in a rebuilding phase? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day, seriously. Do people forget that the Leafs dropped Pat Quinn and promoted their AHL coach Paul Maurice? Maurice brings a new winning attitude to the Leaf team who were in desperate need of a new head coach and a new system. Maurice’s has been coaching the likes of Pohl, Aubin, Sugoblov, Williams, Bell, Harrison, Woznieski, Ondrus and not to forget O’Neill from Carolina. These rookies have a one step advantage over other NHL rookies due to the fact these rookies have already learned Maurices play style last season and will not have to give time to adapt to it this season. The Leafs “rookies” wont play like rookies for the most part. Advantage Leafs. Yes the Leafs couldnt score even strengthed last season, again..that was LAST SEASON and stop referring to the past. Quinn is gone, the old system is gone, Maurice and a new wave atmosphere is in. Younger players such as Steen, Wellwood, Stajan, and Pohl should see a lot more ice time under Maurice, as they should. Something Quinn would not do, he was too loyal to his older more experienced players..thats where he went wrong. The Leafs young corp is the best in the NHL if you ask me. Bringing the baby Leafs to Toronto was the smartest thing this organization could have done. Sundin will see more ice time as well (as he should). O’Neill will no longer be hampered by a serious shoulder injury which he played thru all of last season. O’Neill had four 25+ goal seasons under Maurice in Carolina, 2 over 30 goals and 1 over 40 goals! Expect similar numbers this season. The Leafs were dominate on the power play last season and only got stronger, even with the departure of usless Allison who couldnt defend a beach ball. Adding Kubina (one of the hardest shots in the NHL) to the power play point goes a long way. Power Play will be even better this season. Leafs penalty kill was mediocore at best last season, but they sure as hell dumped a lot of pucks in the net during it… Leafs have the top penalty killering forwards in the league… Sundin, Peca, Ponikarovski, and Stajan. The Leafs defense got a lot better as well…dumping Berg, Khavanov, Richardson and picking up Kubina and Gil who are a combined 250lbs!!! Each standing 6’4″ and 6’7″ respectively. The Leafs defense will be top notch this season as well, which means less shot on goal for Raycroft, Aubin and Tellqvist which results in less goals allowed. I could go on and on about how the Leafs improved this offseason. But the evidence above speaks for itself. You can talk about LAST SEASON all you want, but its just that….LAST SEASON. New season, new coach, new atmosphere, new winning attitude, new and improved defense, and new starting goaltender. This is one team to be feared in the Eastern Conference this season.

  36. Best teams in the league? Come on. Huet had a 18-11-4 record and Aebischer had a 4-3 record. That equates to 48 points in 40 games. Over 82 games that would equate to 98 points. There were 6 teams in the east and another 6 teams in the west that had 98 or more points.

    If Huet has a really good season comparable to last year I think 98 points would be about Montreals upper limit. But that would assume that Huet plays as good as he did last year and plays ~68 games. I am not convinced he will play as good as last year and I am almost certain that he won’t play 68 games.

    And I don’t ever think I said Montreal didn’t have a proven starter but rather that Huet hasn’t proven he can be for a full season. As for Aebischer, yeah, he has been a full time starter before but an average one at best. I would personally rather put my hopes on someone who has shown he can play at an elite level but hasn’t shown he can do it full time like a Huet or a Raycroft than someone who has shown that he really no better than an average goalie, starter or otherwise.

    Oh, and none of Higgins, Plekanec or Kmisarek are emerging stars. Higgins should develop into a very nice player but not a star. Think 30 goal, 60 point type player that won’t hurt you defensively. Plekanec is more of a third line kind of guy, maybe second line at best. Again, a good all round kind of guy who will produce some offense (though not as much as Higgins) and won’t hurt you defensively but not a star. Komisarek is a defensive defenseman who can play physical (definitely needed in Montreals lineup) but has next to no offensive ability. At best he is a #3/4 defenseman. Every team needs Komisarek type players but he is certainly not an up and coming star.

    Toronto’s woes last year were not lack of goals, it was giving up too many goals. Toronto has addressed that with the signing of Peca, Kubina, Gill and Raycroft. But I think they potentially have as good or better offense this year as well because I fully expect with a new coach that they will not play their best offensive players on the PK. Peca will be the primary PK guy, not Sundin and on defense Kaberle and McCabe will likely see far less PK time thus leaving those players more rested for 5 on 5 play. I also expect Wellwood to pick up a lot of the offense that Allison provided. Same goes for the PP. McCabe and Kaberle were almost exclusively used as PP defensemen but with the addition of Kaberle and with Colaiacovo and White both potentially making the team that won’t be the case this year. Kaberle and McCabe averaged 7 and a half minutes of PP ice time. The next highest defenseman were Colaiacovo, White and Khavanov all at just under 2 minutes but neither Colaiacovo nor White were with the team the whole season. No other defenseman played more than 34 seconds per game on the PP.

    In short, Toronto’s even strength offense should improve because guys like Kaberle and McCabe will be more rested and will get more even strength ice time.

    (BTW, only Kovalchuk had more PP ice time than the Kaberle and McCabe)

  37. So Aebischer may not be a great starter, but he’s one of the best backups in the league. I’m still in awe of the trade that saw Gainey send Theodore to Colorado for Aebischer. Although, there’s still a small chance Colorado found their franchise goaltender in that deal.

    Aebischer serves two purposes. One, he’s a great backup, so long as he’s happy doing that. Two, he’s great trade bait should Montreal decide that Yann Danis is ready for the big show. Look for Aebischer to be traded if Danis continues playing well in the minors and the Habs need another player to make a run for the playoffs.

  38. Yes, I full expect Aebischer to be used as trade bait. Problem is, goalies don’t have a lot of value right now as there are a lot of goalies on the market. Giguere, Nabokov, and Biron are also available and the number of teams looking for a goalie is pretty minimal. Maybe Phoenix if CuJo shows his age. Maybe Florida at some point. Maybe Tampa but you’ll probably have to take a big contract back. Maybe Detroit if (when?) Hasek gets injured but they probably would go after one of the other better goalies before Aebischer. Also Los Angeles also has 3 goalies and might make one of them available. There really isn’t much demand for goalies right now. Just ask Manny Legace.

  39. Just a few things on this thread. Samsonov has “only twice scored more than 53 points.” You’re right… he scored 53 last season, but what the hell? The “twice” he’s scored more than 53 points he’s scored 75 points and 70 points respectively. The season’s he’s scored LESS than 53 points were his first 3 seasons in the NHL and two injury plagued season’s where he lost numerous games to wrist injuries.

    Statistically NHL’ers predominantly have their “break out” seasons in their 4th year, exactly when Samsonov did. The years where he’s since seen lower totals he’s either been injured, or playing in a palpably bad situation which eventually saw him traded (which considering the way Boston blew up their team last year leads me to believe there were numerous internal disruptions, not the least of which was the loss of Thornton). Your complete LACK of in depth analysis of the CAUSES for his decreased production in recent years is sort of interesting. In years he’s been healthy, and in a stable situation, Samsonov has consistently produced at a MUCH higher level than Richard Zednik. He’s a large upgrade, and if you want to compare him to other NHL’ers at $3.5 million I think he’s at least comparable. Steve Sullivan, Doug Weight, Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Ryan Smyth, Brendan Morrison, etc. All have similar scoring records and are capable of producing around 70 points a season when healthy.

    As for Kovalev, the comment about him never producing without Lemieux, that’s a bit off also. His highest scoring season was 2000-01, when he finished with 95 points. Lemieux only played 46 games. Admittedly that was when the Penguins still had Straka, Jagr, and Lang also. My point is just that all of those OTHER players have produced without Lemieux (as has Kovalev) and frankly to imply Lemieux was the only reason for any one of their production is a tad misleading. He was Pittsburgh’s best player during the transition period between Jagr’s leaving, Lemieux’s retiring, and Lang leading the league in scoring. To insinuate he’s never “succeeded” without these other players is a disservice to the man who is a very very very talented and capable hockey player. He’s had injury problems regularly throughout his career which has more to do with the physical nature of his play than any softness on his part. He’s been a part of winning teams, he’s also a leader on and off the ice. He’s being paid less than Saku Koivu and has had much better individual seasons statistically. Nobody insinuates that Koivu is worth less than he’s being paid, and I don’t particularly understand how anyone could insinuate it for Kovalev. The man shows up in the playoffs and he scores when called upon.

    I’m a Leafs fan so if anything I should be biased AGAINST these guys, why is it I’m defending them against bizarre assertions of underperformance?

  40. Oh and in the 2001-02 season Kovalev posted 76 points to lead the Penguins in 67 games. Lemieux only played in 24 games that season. I assume that means Lemieux was sending down special Magical Mario juice to help Kovalev score over 66 points that year since obviously he didn’t post all of his 76 points in the same 24 games Mario played… or DID HE???

    I guess being the 5th leading scorer in the NHL one year and 11th leading scorer in the league the next must be sort of meaningless in the world of revisionist hockey history.

    If Patrick Elias has only scored over 72 points TWICE I guess that means he’s not worth his pay cheque?? Even though he’s had seasons of 96 and 81 points and finished 3rd in the league in scoring one year… all those years he had only 57 or 50 points obviously indicate a propensity to be weak on the scoring without Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora apparently.

    I mean Jason Allison finished 4th in scoring in 2000-01 and is no longer in the league, but since that’s based on the “new” NHL all those old stats shouldn’t mean much. Really why do we even bother consulting stats from before the lockout… lets just wipe the slate clean and pretend nobody has any skills at all until they prove it by lighting the lamp 80 times in one year.

  41. Even if you prorate Samsonov’s injury filled 2003-04 year to a full season you only get 56. So if you want you can consider his last 2 seasons to be 56 and 53 points. So far this season he has 7 points in 13 games which translates to 44 points. But hey, lets give him the benefit of the doubt and call him an injury prone 55 point guy.

    As for Kovalev, you can argue whether he played with or not with Lemieux all you want but the fact is that Pittsburgh team was a highly talented team and that he has never really produced near that level on any other team. Last year he had 65 points and this year he is on pace for 63 points.

    So, $8 million for 120 points. Not a great deal.

    Let’s compare some of the players you mentioned.

    Kovalev 110 points in 147 games 0.75 points per game
    Samsonov 93 in 132, 0.70
    Elias 126 in 120, 1.05
    Briere 123 in 130, 0.95
    Sullivan 141 in 149, 0.95
    Drury 120 in 157, 0.76
    Smyth 125 in 157, 0.80
    Morrison 116 in 164, 0.71

    So Samsonov produces better than none of those players and Kovalev produces better than only Morrison. That means that all the other players are likely better as they all probably provide more in other aspects of the game as well. I think Morrison is over rated as well but I am pretty sure he provides more defensively than Samsonov and Kovalev. I might take Kovalev over Morrison but I’d definitely take Morrison over Samsonov.

  42. Or we could use these numbers:

    Kovalev 755 points in 931 games, 0.81
    Elias 513 in 609, 0.84
    Briere 300 in 416, 0.72
    Sullivan 531 in 676, 0.78
    Drury 411 in 565, 0.72
    Smyth 508 in 730, 0.69
    Morrison 405 in 569, 0.71

    Seems to me the CAREER SCORING RATE FOR KOVALEV IS HIGHER THAN 5 OF THE 6 PLAYERS I MENTIONED. If you’re doing a guy’s “per game” basis in the NHL, why not use all of his games? Elias is obviously the most valuable but considering the “name” of the rest at this point he’s not a bad bargain… we can both pull numbers for that point so it’s sort of moot.

    Anyway… he’s making what he’s worth at this stage in his career. Free agency has it’s perks.

  43. See, I used the numbers from the past 2 seasons because I thought you were interested in what the players could do NOW. I guess not. Hey, Guy Lafleur scored 1353 points in 1127 games. That is 1.2 points per game, substantally better than anyone you listed. Maybe you should bring him back. He’s gotta be way better than Kovalev.

    Kovalev and Samsonov are both making too much money for what they bring to a team.

  44. My point wasn’t about how recent the numbers are. Obviously things happen from year to year in a player’s career that affect their production. By picking only the last 2 years you’re reducing the sample size. It might make more sense to look at the rate of change of their point per game production if we’re going to bring it to that level… since I’m pretty sure Guy Lafleur’s numbers have been locked in their current state since he retired 15 years ago.

    By reducing your argument to the absurd you really aren’t accomplishing anything, nor are you concretely refuting my point. Over the last 2 seasons the players you mentioned performed better, over their entire careers, Kovalev is number 2 on the list. Interpretation of who is worth what, when and why is obviously very subjective. While trying to make it objective you seem pretty bent on using some numbers and not others, that strikes me as biased.

    Chris Drury has never scored more than 67 points in a season even though he once skated alongside Sakic, Forsberg, Tanguay, and Hejduk amongst others. Briere’s career high is 65 points, Steve Sullivan’s is 75 (the one year he scored more than 68 points), and Ryan Smyth’s is 70. Elias would be the one I already admitted has better career numbers and has scored more points than Kovalev in a season.

    Now… considering Samsonov has 2 years with 70 or more points, and Kovalev has reached the plateaus of 76 and 95 points respectively, how exactly can you say they aren’t “capable” of scoring that much and don’t “deserve” it without making the decision subjectively. Based on PAST performance they have the 2nd and 3rd highest single season point totals of that group (on more than one occasion), and their career numbers would indicate they have a decent ability to produce. The fact that Kovalev was stuck on a crappy team that wasn’t producing under Glenn Sather 2 years ago in NY, and that Samsonov was also working in a less than ideal situation in Boston kind of seems to be passing by the wayside in your analysis here.

    Obviously both players contributed to the situations that resulted in their reduced output, but at the same time to say the situations had no impact on their production is absurd. NOBODY on those teams was producing at their highest levels. Glenn Murray didn’t suddenly forget how to score because he only had 24 goals last year after scoring 44 three seasons ago. Joe Thornton’s rate of production didn’t go from 1.43 ppg in Boston to 1.59 in San Jose because he suddenly changed into a different player.
    Jaromir Jagr went from roughly 1 ppg over the previous 3 seasons to 1.5 last year… does that mean his RECENT statistical trend should decide he’s suddenly worth less?

    Obviously NHL GM’s are willing to pay for the POTENTIAL to produce. The fact that players don’t do it at the same rate across every night of their career doesn’t mean they suddenly lose that ability entirely because of one or two bad seasons. In 03-04 Rod Brind’Amour only scored 12 goals and 38 points in 78 games. Last year he had 31 goals and 70 points in another 78 games. If you could’ve predicted that coming out of the lockout using your “past 2 seasons” justification I’d be pretty shocked.

    Don’t be myopic for the sake of propping up your preconceived notions. We don’t have to agree, but to insist that they are incapable is far less logical than to say you don’t think it likely they will produce. They’ve proven themselves capable in the past… moreso than most of the other players I listed. Looking at the numbers should at least demonstrate that clearly. If you want to pretend it doesn’t that’s fine.

  45. Oh and one more thing that Kovalev brings to the table that a lot of those other players don’t (at least not in the same volume) is playoff experience. Kovalev has 37 goals and 84 points in 100 career playoff games (0.84 ppg). 17 of those points were in his last 17 playoff games (thats 1 ppg). Samsonov has 39 points in 59 career playoff games (0.66 ppg, admittedly not that amazing) with 15 points in 24 games (0.63) en route to the finals last year.

    Drury has 68 points in 98 playoff games (0.69 not much better than Samsonov), with 18 in his last 18 (1 ppg… KOVALEV’S EQUAL!).

    Briere’s got 22 in 24 (0.92… pretty solid), although most of that was a result of his 19 points in 18 games last season.

    Smyth is sitting at 43 points in 68 games (0.63), with only 16 in 24 games last season (0.66).

    Sullivan is sitting at 11 points in 29 career playoff games (0.38 ppg), with 4 of those coming in 11 games the past two times he was there.

    Elias is sitting near the top with 94 points in 111 playoff games (0.84 which ties him with Kovalev for his career), and a wonderful 21 points in 14 games (1.5 ppg) the last two times he made the show.

    So if we look at recent OR career playoff production, Kovalev is on par with the best of the bunch. Samsonov is at the lower end, but he’s still solidly in the middle of the group with Ryan Smyth right next to him.

    I never said they were BETTER mind you, just that they were comparable. There’s a LOT of numbers we could throw around here, but the more we do the less of a case I think you’ve got.

  46. Over the last 2 seasons the players you mentioned performed better, over their entire careers, Kovalev is number 2 on the list. Interpretation of who is worth what, when and why is obviously very subjective. While trying to make it objective you seem pretty bent on using some numbers and not others, that strikes me as biased.

    You can see it as biased but I see it as being smart. I don’t care what the players did 5 years ago playing along side superstars such as Lemieux and Jagr, I care what they are capable of producing now. And the only reason Kovalev has better career numbers is because of those 2-3 years he played in a stacked Pittsburgh lineup. In any normal lineup he hasn’t produced to near that level and that is what we have to evaluate Kovalev on.

    The fact that you only want to quote career numbers makes you looked biased, not me. You are the one trying to argue that what he did 5+ years ago is more relevant than what he did the last 2 seasons. That makes no sense to me.

    Let me state clearly once again that I think Kovalev has a ton of talent and I definitely do think he is capable of 35 goals and 80 points. But I don’t want to pay for what he is capable of, I want to pay for what he is likely to achieve. And what he is likely to achieve is probably closer to 25 goals, 60 points. When I am predicting what a team will do in a season I don’t predict on the basis of everyone having career years, I predict on the basis of having typical years or expected seasons.

    Oh, one last thing. Pretty much everyone we have been comparing Kovalev and Samsonov to brings a lot of other stuff to a team be that defensive awareness or leadership abilities.

  47. Steve – You don’t happen to be LeafsFan Steve from the old Corn Flakes board? I guess it’s a common name but I recognize a similar adherence to logic.

    I have to agree with David that both the Kovalev and Samsonov contracts were out of line – neither player has shown the kind of consistency necessary to be relied on scorers. One thing about Kovalev, though – while his leadership ability is often questioned and rightly so, the guy is simply money in the playoffs and always has been. While 37 goals in 100 games doesn’t look that impressive, it’s still above his career average.

    That’s one thing I don’t think you can say for Samsonov. And also, David is right to question the intangible qualities of both players – they are ONLY scorers – and Kovalev has a propensity to take silly penalties which detracts from his value.

  48. Well. If we are speaking about the Montreal Canadians, then it is entirely appropriate to compare this Samsonov to a few of the greats. OK That said….I can’t seem to find any great Hab player to compare him to. In reality, his numbers are pathetic, if you compare him with any of the greats. But, better still, just watch him play the game of hockey. Notice how is NEVER where he should be at the crucial moment. Truly. Just take a look at this guy. Yes, he can skate. Yes, he can skate with the puck. But….look at the decisions he makes. He ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE AT THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME. HIS PASSES? TO NOBODY! WHEN HIS TEAMATES ARE LOOKING FOR HIM….WHERE IS HE? WATCH THIS PLAYER VERY CAREFULLY AND YOU WILL SEE A PLAYER SEEMINGLY ON DOPE….CONSISTENTLY….CONSISTENTLY AT THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME…..FOR 3.5 MILLION DOLLARS….HE MUST BE GIGGLING LIKE A FOOL EVERY NIGHT WHEN HE GOES HOME. I ENCOURAGE ALL TRUE HABS FANS TO CALL UP THE STATS OF THE GREATS. MAKE YOUR OWN COMPARISON. sAMSONOV IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO ANY OF THEM…IN ANY ERA. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. —-jUST FOR FUN…TAKE A LOOK AT MIKE BOSSY’S NUMBERS FOR A TEN YEAR CAREER….MORE GOALS IN TEN YEARS THAN MARIO…..BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT!!!!!

  49. Where shall we start? Lafleur? Shutt? Peter Mahovalich? Out of respect I will not invoke Richard…Beliveau….
    Wow! Samsonov….who can we compare him to? I think we need to look to the fourth line……….my dear God…have we all forgotten the good old days of 50 goals and 130 points?

    Sergei! We shall wait for 50…..Ha! Not a chance!!!!

    3.5 million for 23 goals!!!! Guy! Where are you, man?

  50. Common perception of Samsonov is that he is a highly skilled, goal scoring forward who will bring some much needed offense to the Canadiens. Unfortunately for the Canadiens the numbers don’t back that up. The numbers show him to be just an average, second line kind of winger.

    Try third line. Watch him play the game. This is the litmus test. Watch him for a two minute shift… most cases he is invisible….in all the others, he makes passes to nobody….is rarely charging the net….skates well with the puck and then passes to….nobody…..or better still…to the opponent. Don’t take my word for it. Just watch this man play the game of hockey….it is so weird you cannot believe it. 3.5 mil for this?????He is completely out of sync with his teamates…yet doesn’t even seem to realize it. So weird!!!! Watch the great Hab players. They exhibit none of this!!!!!
    Don’t take my word for it!! Just watch Samsonov for yourself!!! The strangest style of hockey you will ever see. And he is a millionaire!!! He drives Porsches….drinks pink champagne….enjoys the best that life has to offer….and cannot put the puck in the net even 30 times in one season. 30 Goals??? Is that too much to ask???? Selanne potted what? 76 goals in his rookie season. OK Russians. Even Yashin has done better. Mogilny? In a different league………entirely in a different league.

  51. Ok I find it amusing you ignored Kovalev’s playoff numbers in both your “past 2 years” references, and in your follow up comment. Obviously clutch scoring isn’t relevant?

    Anyway, if you want to keep up the whole why picking 2 years out of a guy’s career is not entirely fair vs. yes its entirely reasonable argument we can.

    If you look at the numbers for Markus Naslund, Robert Lang, Brendan Shanahan, Elias, and Kovalev for the 98-99, 99-00 you’d note that they all had varying ppg averages between 0.70 and 0.85. Elias and Kovalev were the only 2 of that group to top 90 points the next season in 00-01 (with 96 and 95 points respectively). Now the only player from that group on pace for anything CLOSE to 90 points is Shanahan, who also happens to be the oldest of the bunch. Most of them are heading for around 65-70 points and Kovalev is far from the most expensive. Elias is being paid $7.5 million and he’s having the worst season of the group thus far. Naslund is way off his career highs (guess it was all Bertuzzi?) and is making $6 million. Shanahan and Lang are the bargains making $4 mill and $3.8 mill respectively, but then they’re playing with the likes of Jagr, Nylander, Datsyuk and Zetterberg… so are they really “worth it”?

    The fact is playing with a great player doesn’t make you a great player. You still have to put the puck in the net or get the puck to the guy putting it in the net. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby put up 100 points each last season, but nobody else on either team broke 58 points. Kovalev was still scoring 76 points in 67 games, when Jan Hrdina and Robert Lang were his only other helping options with 57 and 50 points respectively in Pittsburgh (Lemieux only played 24 games). That means he was scoring at a 1.13 ppg pace, which compares fine to Crosby’s 1.25 and Ovechkin’s 1.30. I’m not saying he’s an equivalent player, but he’s never going to get the money they will either.

    Saying “I don’t care” about some stats but you do about others is fine but you aren’t really justifying it by saying it’s “smart”. That isn’t an explanation, it’s an evaluation. When you want to explain something logically you need to give the REASON WHY. Not “just because”. If you want possible answers to the question I’ll even hand you a few: 1) The average of the two most recent seasons has a higher statistical predictive correlation on the next season’s production than the career average (although you didn’t actually bother to determine that and use it as a point… and since I haven’t either I think I might as well just to resolve all this for myself).

  52. Steve –

    I think it’s a little early in the season to start projecting stats. However, Kovalev’s 42 assists last season are a little misleading when you consider that he was Montreal’s PP point man for much of the season IIRC – these types traditionally get more assists but are not that much more valuable than a similar forward. Other examples of this phenomenon include Jamie Langenbrunner in New Jersey last season, and Mark Recchi for the Flyers in past seasons.

    Considering Pittsburgh teams have traditionally had more of a focus on offense than similar clubs in the NHL over that timespan, I feel comparing points per game across the board is silly. Kovalev was a legitimate star in 01-02. However, Kovalev is now 33 years old – past his prime to be sure. When you consider that A – he is not an elite level RW (and there are 10 better than him in the league now), B – his best seasons were mostly had with other superstars, which Montreal lacks C – he takes silly, selfish penalties which probably hurt the team to the tune of 3-4 goals against per season and D – he will make passes and shots that catch the team out of position often – you have to consider that signing him to that contract was not intelligent. Is his clutch scoring worth it? The guy is a monster when it counts (paradoxically, he wasn’t in Pittsburgh, but everywhere else).

  53. I’ll concede all of your points are entirely valid. I’m not going to say he’s an elite level RW still. My point is more that players have up and down seasons for a variety of reasons, and just going based on 2 years is also misleading especially considering the variety of situations out there.

    I also think Unrestricted Free Agency is an entirely different ball of wax when it comes to paying players. It’s a FREE market entirely. By having to compete with other teams for limited supply the prices of Unrestricted Free Agents is jacked way up in any category in demand. Like this past season with Defencemen. Scoring Wingers were also in demand… hence the expense of signing both Kovalev and Samsonov.

    Maybe a better comparison would be to other UFA wingers that have been signed in the past few years. Like say, Petr Sykora in Edmonton, Shanahan in NY, Satan in Long Island, etc. Those guys were on the same sort of open market and pulled in similar cash (or took a bit of a hit to play with better players). I think the attraction to Montreal for Kovalev and Samsonov was not only the cash but the style of system they employ, which is relatively high pace, free wheeling, offensive hockey. They aren’t that sound defensively as a team, and they’re a very skilled group up front for the most part. Koivu, Kovalev, Ryder, Higgins, Samsonov, Plekanec, Perezhogin, Bonk, are all capable of handling the puck, passing, and shooting. Bonk and Higgins would be the most reliable defensively of that group, but overall they’re not exactly the most defensively oriented.

    You could to an extent compare them with the Oilers (who are having similar problems finding a top flight scorer mind you), Hurricanes, or the Sabres. That’s the “scheme” they seem to be working towards. The difference is, the Sabres are far more organized defensively, the Hurricanes are more HIGHLY skilled, and better in their own end, and the Oilers are more rugged on the forecheck. Generally speaking though they all want to play a high paced, high shot total, free wheeling offensive style of play.

    Kovalev and Samsonov fit into such systems for a reason. They can skate with the puck and are relatively good with it when they’re in possession. You can argue all you want that they make bad passes regularly, but a lot of NHL’ers do. The difference is they end up with the puck so often, that they’re still making ENOUGH good passes that they get decent assist totals. They also have solid skills when it comes to beating NHL level goaltending. I’ll agree they’re not good in their own end, but then a lot of NHL forwards who score aren’t, so I’m not entirely sure that’s what they’re there for.

  54. My point is more that players have up and down seasons for a variety of reasons, and just going based on 2 years is also misleading especially considering the variety of situations out there.

    Fine. Lets look at what Kovalev has done so far this year. 10 points, 14 games or 0.71 points per game. Seems pretty consistant with what he has done the past 2 seasons. Want to do the same for Samsonov? 8 points in 14 games this year which also seems close to his production from the past 2 seasons.

    I understand that you want to hold out hope that these two guys might some day return to their form from 4-5 years ago but there is zero evidence that they are doing that or are going to start to do that. If anything at age 33 Kovalev is heading into the downside of his career. Look, we can keep debating this forever but the fact is that Kovalev is likely just a 65-70 point one-dimensional player and Samsonov is a ~50 point one-dimensional and significantly inconsistent player. That’s it. That’s what those two guys are. End of debate.

  55. Ok… seriously you’re STILL missing my point. I’m NOT saying they’ll ever regain their past form, I’m defending their signing and potential to score. I’m justifying their value on the open market through past performance. You’re the one insisting they were overpaid… but based on MARKET value they probably weren’t.

    You’re also consistently ignoring all my points regarding the fact that you can conveniently pick 2 year segments out of the careers of a number of players and make them look like bums… in their prime or past it.

    Heck you even missed my comments about Shanahan’s age and him being on pace for 109 points. I’m guessing he too is on the downturn. Or we could discuss Rod Brind’Amour. But again that isn’t really my point. So let me repeat it for the fourth time.

    They are being paid what Bob Gainey felt they were worth on the open market. That is likely based on their past production and compared to other players it really isn’t that far out of line. If you incorporate Kovalev’s playoff numbers he becomes MORE worth it if you consider the Habs to be a team that is playoff bound… which most people probably do.

    I’m not saying they’ll score 95 or 75 points ever again. I’ve never said that and I’m not saying it now. I’m just saying they’re paid on their potential to score and they’ve proven in the past that they have that potential. Perhaps it’s due to the players they were skating with, but that’s irrelevant to the point that they have the potential to rack that many up. You’re not PROVING ME WRONG on this… you’re just repeating yourself over and over without addressing my point.

    I’ve admitted numerous times that they lack defensive polish, in my last post I even explained the likely reason for their signing. I’m not trying to say it was a GOOD signing. I’m just saying it’s not hard to figure out WHY they got signed for what they did. I also don’t know that it was a particularly bad signing given the Habs needs. They were either going to rely on fringe players from their system who MIGHT develop into scorers, or they were going to bring in outside talent that had proven they were scorers in the past. Obviously they’ve tried to do a bit of both. Why is that so wrong?? The Leafs bring in Peca and O’neill, but they still want to develop Stajan, Steen, Suglobov, Pohl, and Wellwood. That doesn’t mean the signings were a mistake. It’s just hedging your bets and hoping for some veteran leadership. Feel free to ignore this post and not address 90% of what I’ve said like you have every other time. End of the not-so-existent debate.

  56. P.S. You just exacerbated things further by quoting their numbers from 15 games into the season. Do you honestly think after I said quoting 2 years could be misleading that I’d think 15 games is LESS misleading?? What the heck are you smoking?

    If you’d noticed I quoted Elias’ numbers regularly – KNOWING that he had better numbers. There’s a reason I did that. He’s on pace for a horrible season 15 games in. That doesn’t mean I think he’s overpaid at $7.5 million. It also doesn’t mean I think he’s likely to turn into a completely useless player. But based on YOUR analysis, if we pick out limited data and use it to justify a statement that’s PERFECTLY fine. We’ll just reduce our bandwidth and only handle small snippets of information for the sake of argument. Which tends to make them go on forever… like this one… anyway… I have a hard time letting things go obviously, but please try to recognize that I’m not DEBATING your point about their likely production. I’m saying signings aren’t always made based on LIKELY production. If you need a player to point to for the fans when they ask “who did you bring in that can score?” you need someone you can point at and say “this guy did this before and we think he can do it again”… even if you don’t think he can do it again. It’s called GENERAL MANAGEMENT for a reason… you have to manage everything.

  57. They are over paid. $3.5 million for a one dimensional 50 point guy? That’s rediculous. Kovalev is a little more respectable but I still don’t like that deal. Spending $8 million on your second line wingers (one of which was demoted to the 4th line a few games ago) is out of whack.

    And quoting Elias at $7.5 million is also out of whack because his contract is heavily front weighted. You should be quoting $6 million. There are reasons in the new CBA that make it beneficial to the team and the player to front weight contracts and that is what is happening in Elias’s case (McCabe’s too).

    I’m saying signings aren’t always made based on LIKELY production.

    And the ones that aren’t are usually the ones that are the BAD CONTRACTS. And in the case of Samsonov, that was a BAD CONTRACT. I evaluate contracts on what value the player will bring to the team for the salary you are paying him. And honestly, I probably wouldn’t want Samsonov on my team for $1.5 million let alone $3.5 million.

    If you need a player to point to for the fans when they ask “who did you bring in that can score?” you need someone you can point at and say “this guy did this before and we think he can do it again”… even if you don’t think he can do it again.

    That kind of thinking gets teams in trouble. Paying someone $3.5 million just so you can say ‘look, I did something’ is simply moronic. It’s stupid. It’s what the Islanders did when they signed Yashin and look what that has gotten them. You make a splash by winning, not by signing a name player and making promises he can’t keep.

  58. As much as I’d agree with you that it’s “moronic”… it still happens and it’s reality. Knee Jerk reactions happen all the time. Fans don’t exactly have the patience for rebuilding teams from scratch in a lot of cities. Montreal and New York are prime examples. The last time the Habs won the cup based on talent they developed themselves was a while ago. Have you noticed their development system is a bit bare?

    When players like Ron Hainsey are considered one of your better prospects in recent years, fans and the media might be keeping management on a fairly short leash.

    I also would pose the question what you would suggest a team do when it has $3.5 million to spend under the cap, and there’s a scoring winger available but they feel he isn’t “worth” the money when the fans and media are clamoring for SOMETHING to be done in the off season. Especially when they know the team that finished last season wasn’t enough to get it done. Do you really think in a market like Montreal that you can just do nothing and keep people happy?

    Maybe Samsonov was their last ditch effort. We don’t really know, but obviously there was a reason they paid him what they did. I also think it’s amusing to second guess guys like Bob Gainey. Why not give the man the benefit of the doubt based on HIS previous work?

  59. I made a lengthy post here yesterday and for whatever reason it never posted – bottom line is, Samsonov was a last ditch effort – and you can’t give a guy like Gainey a break just because of his track record – this move stinks on the face of it, given Samsonov’s career arc, injury history, and general skills. I didn’t give Lou L. a pass on signing Vladimir Malakhov at 3.6 M – and that was a panic move too.

    I truly feel that doing nothing might’ve been better than signing Sergei. It’s not like Samsonov is one of these prima-donna Euros who has the talent but not the effort – he doesn’t have the talent. It’s one of the top 20 worst contracts in hockey. If the guy is hurt for any length of time, it becomes worse. Samsonov is an average 2nd line LW in this league.

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