Feb 212013
 

Over the past few years I have had a few discussions with other Leaf fans about the relative merits of Francois Beauchemin. Many Leaf fans argue that he was a good 2-way defenseman who can play tough minutes and is the kind of defenseman the Leafs are still in need of. I on the other hand have never had quite as optimistic view of Beauchemin and I don’t think he would make this team any better.

On some level I think a part of the difference in opinion is that many look at his corsi numbers which aren’t too bad but I prefer to look at his goal numbers which have generally not been so good. So, let’s take a look at Beauchemin’s WOWY numbers and see if there is in fact a divergence between Beauchemin’s corsi WOWY numbers and his goal WOWY numbers starting with 2009-11 5v5 WOWY¬†starting with CF% WOWY.

Beauchemin200911CFWOWY

I have included a diagonal line which is kind of a ‘neutral’ line where players perform equally well with and without Beauchemin. Anything to the right/below the line indicates the player played better with Beauchemin than without and anything to the left/above they played worse with Beauchemin. As you can see, the majority of players had a better CF% with Beauchemin than without. Now, let’s take a look at GF% WOWY.

Beauchemin200911GFWOWY

While a handful of players had better GF% with Beauchemin, the majority were a little worse off. There is a clear difference between Beauchemin’s CF% WOWY and his GF% WOWY. What is interesting is this difference can be observed in 2007-08, 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12¬†(he was injured for much of 2008-09 so his WOWY data is not reliable due to smaller sample size). Looking at his 5-year WOWY charts you get a clear picture that Beauchemin seemingly has a skill for ‘driving play’ but not ‘driving goals’. Let’s dig a little further to see if we can determine what his ‘problem’ by looking at his 2009-11 two year CF20, GF20, CA20 and GA20 WOWY’s.

CF20:

Beauchemin200911CF20WOWY

GF20:

Beauchemin200911GF20WOWY

As you can clearly see, Beauchemin appears to be much better at generating shots and shot attempts than he is at generating goals. The majority of players have a higher corsi for rate when with Beauchemin than when not with Beauchemin but the majority also have a lower goals for rate. What about ‘against’ rates?

CA20:

Beauchemin200911CA20WOWY

GA20:

Beauchemin200911GA20WOWY

For CA20 and GA20 is is better to be to be above/left of the diagional line because unlike GF%/CF%/GF20/CF20 it is better to have a smaller number than a larger number. There doesn’t seem to be quite as much of a difference between CA20 and GA20 as with CF20 and GF20 so the difference between CF% and GF% is driven by the inability to convert shots and shot attempts into goals as opposed to the defensive side of the game. That said, there is no clear evidence that Beauchemin makes his teammates any better defensively.

There are two points I wanted to make with this post.

  1. Leaf fans probably shouldn’t be missing Beauchemin.
  2. For a lot of players a corsi evaluation of that player will give you a reasonable evaluation of that player but there are also many players where a corsi evaluation of that player will not tell the complete story. Some players can consistently see a divergence between their goal stats and their corsi stats and it is important to take that into consideration.

 

Nov 122008
 

It seems that in about 20 minutes or so that the Ducks will announce that Brian Burke is no longer GM of the Ducks and that Bob Murray will take over. This isn’t really all that surprising considering that it has been rumoured for a long time that Brian Burke has a desire to work on the east coast closer to his family in Boston. Additionally, it has been rumoured for some time that Ducks ownership has had a very lucrative contract extension on the table for months now and it is likely that if Burke really wanted to stay in Anaheim he’d have signed an extension long ago.

So where does Burk end up now? Well, Toronto seems to be the likely choice if you believe all the reports that the Leafs really are waiting for someone like Burke, if not Burke himself. Plus with his good friend Ron Wilson as coach it seems to be a perfect fit. But there will be others interested in him as well. Let the rumours begin.

Nov 122008
 

Brian Burke will not be returning as the Ducks’ GM next year, says ESPN. A press conference this afternoon will reveal the nature of his resignation and officially move Bob Murray, who is still at the moment the GM of the Iowa Chops, into Burke’s position. Under NHL rules a GM cannot take over another team in the same year without the former team’s blessing, and it’s been reported that Anaheim has been quite reluctant to do so.

Burke has publicly stated that family is one of the major factors in his decision, with children on the east coast from his previous marriage. Burke’s wife, reporter Jennifer Mather, was reportedly having difficulties finding work in California. A move to Toronto, as any other destination would come as a surprise, allows Burke to be closer to his children and provide new opportunities for his wife to find work.

The Ducks have the ability to prevent Burke from taking the Leafs’ GM position, but only until the summer.

More to follow.

FOLLOW UP: It seems as though Burke will stay on, and it’s not a sure fire deal that he will end up with the Leafs. There’s been speculation that Burke will stay as a consultant to Murray for the time being and then take over the Rangers after Glen Sather departs. Burke does have ties to New York, as his children from a previous marriage still reside in New England, and also previously worked for the NHL’s head office. It has also been revealed that Jim Rutherford was actually offered the Leafs job a year ago, but turned it down to stay in Carolina

With the transfer of power to Murray, you have to wonder where Dave Nonis, whom Burke hired shortly after he was fired in Vancouver, fits into the master plan. Nonis was groomed by Burke to be his successor after his departure in Vancouver, and it’s a little odd that Nonis wasn’t handed the reigns in Anaheim. Of course Murray is the more experienced of the two, but this non-move has also fueled speculation that Nonis will follow Burke to his next destination, wherever that may be.

Nov 022008
 

- Add a new team into the Mats Sundin sweepstakes: the Ducks. That’s right, the perpetually financially strained team is reportedly making a pitch to Sundin, and with the Ducks so close to the cap they’re going to have to shed salary (again). This time, the casualty may be Chris Kunitz, the former Ducks alternate captain who hasn’t quite lived up to his $3.5m price-tag since signing it. No doubt that the Ducks would prefer to trade Kunitz to an Eastern Conference team, but Brian Burke continues to put himself in situations in which he has absolutely no leverage – Mathieu Schneider was dealt for close to nothing, Ken Klee and Ilya Bryzgalov were lost through waivers, but the Ducks continue to spend, most recently Bret Hedican. I think Sundin is a long shot to land on the Ducks, because the Ducks’ offer won’t come close to the Canucks’ offer in terms of money and length. However, should the Ducks find themselves atop the Pacific come Christmas time (unlikely considering the way the Sharks are playing), it is a very attractive option.

– After Brendan Shanahan gave up hopes in returning to the Rangers, especially after their hot start, he’s starting to look at other options, and those teams include Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington, Montreal, and Boston, all of them east teams, but all of them close to the cap. Colorado has also figured into the mix, and I think that’s where we may see Shanahan end up. The Avs have always been an enticing franchise for veteran free agents to play for, and although that may not be the case these days, don’t forget that the Avs still have Joe Sakic, who still has a considerable amount of pull, and the two played together at Salt Lake.

– The Jackets have tried everything, including moving Rick Nash to centre during practise, but it still hasn’t ignited a potentially high-octane offense. Since the first days of the franchise the team has always lacked a playmaking centre for Nash to play with, even though RJ Umberger (I predicted he would be a bust alongside Nash) and Kristian Huselius were signed, it still didn’t work. Derick Brassard is playing well, but he’s not quite ready for number one centre duties yet. This has prompted the Jackets to revive their search for a number one centre… and I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

Nikolai Khabibulin is making a strong case for himself to stay, and the Hawks must be giddy about his rising stock. The Hawks seem to be fairing well with both Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet, which means that another $6m on the Hawks’ roster, Martin Havlat, could be out the door instead. The injury-prone winger will be an UFA this summer, which makes him an attractive trade bait, especially if (a big one at that) he manages to stay healthy at least until the trade deadline.

Mathieu Garon is also playing fairly well, despite the Oilers’ recent cold streak. There haven’t been any public grumblings from Dwayne Roloson, but it’s common knowledge that the 39-year old veteran doesn’t like playing second fiddle. There have been, unsurprisingly, no takers so far, and it’ll be a long season for Roloson from the bench. The Oilers are eager to get Roloson’s $3.667m cap hit off their books, paving the way for Jeff Deslauriers to handle backup duties full-time.

Rumours courtesy of Bruce Garrioch from the Ottawa Sun.

Oct 202008
 

The only thing that’s saving the Ducks from being the worst in the league is their one win (4-0 vs. SJ). Some teams have traditionally been off to bad starts (Dallas), but the hockey the Ducks have been playing have been horrendous. In six games, the Ducks’ top offensive weapons in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, and Chris Kunitz have only combined for a measly 3 points and -18. Instead, it’s the third liners that have done most of the scoring, led by veteran linemates Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen, both with 4 points. I find it a little surprising that the usually vocal Brian Burke and Randy Carlyle have remained mum on their star players’ disappearing acts, but they probably know something we don’t know. The Ducks will continue to fall if their players refuse to show up for games. Some of the lack of scoring can be attributed to the penalties the Ducks have taken (Getzlaf, Perry, and Selanne aren’t regular penalty killers), but it’s no excuse for 4.2% powerplay. When will they start showing up? How long before Burke makes some noise?

The Pacific Division will be no contest this year if the Sharks continue to play they are – with something to prove. Asides from the loss to the Ducks, the Sharks are 5-0 with a goal differential of +10 (18-8). That is the best ratio in the West, and it shouldn’t be surprising. Jonathan Cheechoo is off to a great start with 4 goals and Patrick Marleau has been pretty good with 4 points. The powerplay is only clicking at 12.5%, but with Todd McLellan behind the bench (he managed Detroit’s powerplay in years past), that number should increase substantially by December. The question is though, how long can the Sharks keep this up? It’s early in the season and the Cup is months away – will the Sharks burn out? The toughest thing in pro hockey is to stay motivated, and will Cheechoo and Marleau be able to keep that pace?

Drew Doughty has been great for the Kings. He has yet to register a point, but is a healthy +2 and logs just under 20 minutes of ice-time per game (19:59). He’s making a strong case for himself to stick around full-time, especially now with Jack Johnson out for an extended period of time. The Kings are a surprising 2-2 to start, with a emphatic win over the cross-town rival Ducks while managing to keep the Sharks on their toes with their home-and-home series at the start of the season. The Kings have only scored 1 more goal than their opponents, and that will be a problem as the season goes on. Jason LaBarbera is playing just fine for now, but he’s no NHL starter. The Kings are only one of three teams (Minnesota and Buffalo) that have had perfect PK so far. Can the Kings play spoiler this year?

The Stars are off to a terrible start and so is Marty Turco, especially after a 6-1 drubbing by the Blues. As stated previously the Stars are slow starters, but they’ve allowed 13 goals in their 3 losses, and with such a defensively tight team it’s unacceptable. The Stars are really feeling the effects of not having Sergei Zubov. Captain Brenden Morrow has been frustrated and he’s starting to take some bad penalties, and along with linemate Mike Ribeiro (they were separated briefly against the Avs), own the team’s worst +/- at -4 and -6, respectively. Fabian Brunnstrom made noise with a hat trick in his debut, and the Stars will look to him to provide some scoring after letting Nik Hagman and Miettinen walk. When will the Stars turn it around?

The Coyotes’ 2-3 start is rather pedestrian, but with a 12-17 GF-GA ratio it’s a little alarming, considering that adding Kurt Sauer and having Ilya Bryzgalov on board for a full season should help defensively. Olli Jokinen has not disappointed, with 6 points in 5 games, while Kyle Turris has pitched in nicely with a goal and 3 helpers, making an early case for a Calder nomination. Trading away Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard took a lot of Phoenix’s depth away, and it’s showing, with the third pairing of David Hale and Keith Yandle both an awful -5. The desert dogs have some cap room to play with and may opt to bring in a veteran presence to their blueline – perhaps either Rhett Warrener, Anders Eriksson, or Kyle McLaren?

Sep 272008
 

Old news, but Mathieu Schneider is now a Thrasher, pending physicals on Brad Larsen and Ken Klee, the players going the other way. Klee and Larsen are in the last years of their contracts and were not part of the Thrashers’ plans going forward. Schneider makes the Thrashers defense better, but they won’t be making the playoffs anytime soon. It also means that perhaps Atlanta isn’t too interested in finish first in the draft sweepstakes. Don Waddell was not interested in Schneider through waivers saying he was too expensive and wasn’t the right fit. The Thrashers’ payroll increased by about $4m in the deal. So much for Waddell’s explanation.

It looks like David Bolland has an uphill battle to get the coveted second line centre spot behind Jonathan Toews, and coach Denis Savard has noted his current top six are Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Ladd, Martin Havlat, Dustin Byfuglien, and Patrick Sharp. Savard put Kane at centre for a couple shifts but didn’t like what he saw, and the Hawks may end up with either Ladd or Sharp at centre. Kyle Beach made a good impression in his pro debut, but the hot-headed junior star will be hard-pressed to stick around. Keith Carney might also make the team.

Ken Hitchcock
is really liking what he sees from Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard. The Jackets were absolutely dangerous offensively against the Predators last night, and more impressive were the plays of Fedor Tyutin and Kris Russell. Russell, still listed at a paltry 165 lbs., needs to put on more bulk to play in a tougher West. Courtesy of Michael Arace, the Jackets’ strategy for the season. Nothing too special, but have a gander anyway:
1. Keep the tempo high
– short shifts
– fast changes
2. Make the goalie work
– funnel the puck
– real traffic
3. Outwork the opposition
– on contact, our 2nd before their 2nd
4. Manage the puck the right way
5. Pack mentality
– 5 up, 5 back
6. Check to score
– the harder we check, the more we score

In Florida, on a radio poll Peter DeBoer was voted as the coach who would do the best job this season. Todd McLellan of San Jose finished second, Scott Gordon on Long Island third, and Jon Anderson in Atlanta fourth. There’s definitely a hometown bias there, McLellan will be blowing the other three out of the water by virtue of having a very good team.

In a very un-Nashville like move, the Preds may be giving the second line right wing spot to Patrick Hornqvist, who has spent the last three years in the Swedish leagues. Alexander Radulov‘s defection and Steve Sullivan‘s injury history means that there are a lot of holes to fill up front.

Forget about having two all-star centres on separate lines. Like the Sharks who are putting Patrick Marleau on Joe Thornton‘s wing, the Rangers have followed suit and have lined up Chris Drury on Scott Gomez‘s right wing, despite the fact that Drury had a better face-off winning percentage. Markus Naslund is the third of the trio. This means that Brandon Dubinsky, who had a lot of success last year on spot shifts with Jaromir Jagr, will have to step up after being pegged as the team’s number two. He will have Nikolai Zherdev and Nigel Dawes as linemates.

The Blues absolutely destroyed the Thrashers, scoring 9 goals. The Blues aren’t supposed to a high-scoring team this year, but they got production from all four lines. This might be a preview of what’s to come this season:
Stempniak – McDonald – Boyes
Kariya – Berglund – Perron
Tkachuk – Oshie – Backes
King – McClement – Porter
As noted before, Patrick Berglund is set to centre Paul Kariya and the pair has looked good. Keith Tkachuk seems to have moved back to his original left wing position and Jay McClement may be ill-suited for a fourth line role considering his offensive game is better than his defensive game.

Barry Melrose likes what he’s seeing from Evgeny Artyukhin (I think it was a mistake letting him go in the beginning) and may see himself on Steve Stamkos‘ line. Jussi Jokinen, who has been the subject of many trade rumours this summer, has moved to centre on the third line and is making it hard for management to cut him. Radim Vrbata has apparently been invisible and is dropping on the depth charts.

Sep 182008
 

If the Leafs are serious about rebuilding for the future, the Leafs should acquire Mathieu Schneider from the Anaheim Ducks. Ok, that sounds quite odd considering Schneider is old and expensive and set to be a UFA next summer. But after you read this it will make total sense.

The Anaheim Ducks are desperate to shed salary so they can get under the cap and sign Teemu Selanne. They have some forwards that they could possibly get rid of but non would free up all that much salary. Schneider is the guy they really want to get rid of. A few years ago the New Jersey Devils were desperate to shed salary to get under the cap as well. To do so the Devils traded Malakhov and a first round pick for a couple of fringe players. So, what the Leafs should do is offer Ian White to the Ducks for Schneider and a first round pick. Fletcher doesn’t seem all that interested in White long term, but is more than capable of playing on the third defense pair for the Ducks. The Ducks free up Schneider’s salary and the Leafs get a good pick to use in next summers draft.

But it doesn’t end there. Schneider is still a good defenseman and come trade deadline there will be teams looking for a defenseman with his skills and experience. At that time the Leafs could trade Schneider again for another good draft pick.

In the end the Leafs could end up with a couple of very good draft picks at a cost of Ian White, who may not make the team anyway, and the $4-4.5 million they would have to pay Schneider between now and the trade deadline. But as you know, the Leafs have ample money and ample cap room so that isn’t really an issue if they are truly serious about rebuilding. They are one of the few teams that could make such a move. The Canucks and Kings could probably do this as well but the Canucks seem intent on holding out for Sundin or would prefer a forward and the Kings are Anaheim’s cross city rival so Anaheim may prefer not to deal with them if they didn’t have to. The Leafs, if they were smart, could be Anaheim’s answer to their problem.

Oh, and Burke will be helping the team he will soon be GM of (if you listen to the media) so it works out perfectly.

Sep 172008
 

Brian Burke has become the Toronto hockey media’s favourite pick for the next GM of the Leafs and for the most part he has been heralded by the Toronto media as one of the best GMs in hockey and the kind of GM the Leafs desperately need. But what if Burke was GM of the Leafs. Would Burke get the same recognition?

If hypothetical Leafs GM Burke signed Todd Bertuzzi to a two year $8 million deal, only to buy him out the following off season, would the Toronto media herald Burke as one of the greatest GMs in hockey?

If hypothetical Leafs GM Burke signed Mathieu Schneider to a two year $11.25 million deal and just to put him on waivers the following summer hoping someone would claim him, would the Toronto media herald Burke as one of the greatest GMs in hockey?

Of course not. The deals to Bertuzzi and Schneider are actually far worse than the monetary cost to the team. These deals essentially cost the Ducks team a talented player in Andy McDonald because Burke was forced to trade McDonald to clear salary space. If Burke made such moves while GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs he would be criticized beyond belief. But he isn’t GM of the Leafs so the Toronto hockey media are still in love with him.

If you then factor in that Burke chose to sign Bertuzzi instead of signing a young power forward capable of scoring 25 goals while playing a solid two-way physical game named Dustin Penner and you have to ask yourself, why does everyone think Burke is such a great GM.

If you go back to his Vancouver days he never was able to acquire the goaltender the team desperately needed to seriously challenge for the Stanley Cup and his draft record was mixed at best.

He did win the Stanley Cup in 2007 in large part by his bold move to sign Niedermayer and trade for Pronger but the core of the forward crew was there before Burke arrived.

If Burke were the GM of the Leafs having put Schneider on waivers desperately hoping someone will claim him, my guess is that there would be more than a few in the Toronto media calling for Burke’s firing.

It is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Sep 162008
 

After the Habs decided to move forward with Plan B with Robert Lang, it was expected the dominoes would fall. And they did, but not like this.

It was announced today that veteran Mathieu Schneider was placed on waivers by the Ducks, after months of speculation that Schneider would be dealt after Sundin makes his decision. It was heavily rumoured that Schneider would be heading to an Eastern Conference team, or perhaps cross town and join the Kings, who are still trying to get to the cap floor. There were as many as 5 teams interested in Schneider’s services, but now that teams don’t have to give up assets to nab him, there could be as many as 20 teams interested in picking him up.

With Schneider gone it means that the Ducks will have some cap room to sign Teemu Selanne, who Finnish news sources have claimed that he has informed Ducks management that he intends on returning. Unfortunately, to make enough room for Selanne, whose contract may include a low fixed salary but bonus-laden, the Ducks will have to make some more room, as for the first time under the new CBA there will be no bonus cushion.

I think it’s unlikely that any team will take Schneider off waivers right now, because no team is in dire need of a defenseman. A lot of teams’ rosters are pretty much set, but the Ducks may elect to put Schneider through re-entry waivers so that teams can claim him for half the price. The downside to that, of course, is the assumption that no team will snatch him up before he enters re-entry waivers.

Sep 132008
 

The Habs’ acquisition of Robert Lang from Chicago means a couple things:

1. Mats Sundin will not be a Hab. That is with utmost certainty after Bob Gainey made that clear in his press conference. Lang will be slotted into the third line, which means that Kyle Chipchura, who is expected to make the squad, may start the season in the AHL unless he has a good camp.

2. Chicago will still be looking to dump salary, but it looks like they may actually start the season with a Cristobal Huet-Nikolai Khabibulin tandem as Dale Tallon had suggested they would. By dumping Lang’s $4m salary, the Hawks are roughly $1.5m under the cap, good enough to start the season, but a little dangerous should the need for injury replacements arise early in the season. The Hawks are saddled with a lot of sub-$1m rookie contracts, which makes creating room a lot more difficult because it would have to involve multiple players. There is still a chance that Khabibulin ($6.75m) get moved, and if he does that means the Hawks will have plenty of cap room to play around with. The Khabibulin to LA rumours won’t die down until he is actually moved.

3. The dominoes are starting to fall. The Habs decided to move on after Sundin stated that he will not be making a decision prior to camp, which means that more teams will do the same. A lot of players, notably Brendan Shanahan and Mathieu Schneider, will find out their new homes in the coming weeks. I would think that both players would be dealt before camp begins, although under the new CBA it looks like more and more GMs are hesitant to pull the trigger and willing to be patient. Mark Parrish, another player who is looking for a new home, may find one soon after he complained that Sundin’s indecisiveness was holding up league transactions.

4. Now that the Habs have made the first move, other East teams may do the same. The Rangers could be busy in the coming weeks, perhaps signing Shanahan or acquiring Schneider, but then of course should they choose to do that they’d have to dump some salary too.

5. The Canucks are in a tight spot. While having $10m to spend is a luxury, it’ll be interesting to see how they spend it. There were rumours flying around that should Sundin land in the Big Apple that Gomez could be in a Canucks uniform, but now that seems less likely than ever. Parrish is on the Canucks’ radar and could find himself there very soon.