New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres

Thoughts on Thoughts” is a feature that looks at Elliotte Friedman’s terrific weekly post “30 Thoughts.” Justin Bourne selects his 10 favourite tidbits, and elaborates.

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Last edition (that I followed through on)Penguins desperate for inspiration (My 10 thoughts)

Friedman’s column, June 26th: NHL buyouts no sure thing

Opening:

Elliotte’s opening point:

During a phone conversation two weeks ago, one NHL general manager predicted there would be fewer player buyouts than we think. Why?

“Imagine asking your owner to write a big cheque, then seeing that player succeed somewhere else for less money,” he said. “That’s going to get you fired.”

Pretty good argument there.

So maybe less dominoes fall than some of us expect.

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5. Vigneault said he hopes to use his lines the same way he did in Vancouver, deploying the best scorers for offensive-zone draws (Henrik and Daniel Sedin) and the best defenders (Manny Malhotra, Ryan Kesler) to take faceoffs front of your net. “I prefer it that way,” Vigneault said. “It’s a great way to maximize the strength and potential of your lineup.” During interviews, he said he was told the Rangers were built to do that, although he will withhold final judgement until getting behind the bench.

I included this quote as the final punctuation mark in my quest to rid the advanced stat community of the word “sheltered,” because it’s never been “boy, this guy is terrible defensively, let’s hide him in the O-zone,” it’s always been “we signed this guy to provide offense, so lets give him a chance to utilize his tools.”

It’s not quite the chorus from Money, Power, Respect, but…

First you get the statistics.

Then you figure out what they mean.

Then you can use them accordingly.

7. Vigneault had a great line about his children. As a divorced father, he noted it was very important to them that dad would only be a one-hour flight away. “But they’re more excited about the shopping,” he added.

I too was the son of a divorced father who coached hockey. Dad’s coaching gigs took me to Central Texas (Killeen/Bell County), Las Vegas, and Utah, all of which was really, really cool. But yes: closer would’ve been better. Also would’ve been better: New York. Seems like the Rangers are a great fit for Vigneault all around.

10. There is incredible skepticism about what Sakic, who is Colorado’s executive vice-president of hockey operations, and head coach Patrick Roy are saying. However, there are at least two reasons to think they are telling the truth. First, Roy had the best seat in the house in 2012 QMJHL playoffs as Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin led Halifax back from a 3-0 deficit against Quebec. MacKinnon had eight points in the last three games. Second, the Avalanche are trying to rebuild their name in the Denver community. If they are not going to take Seth Jones, who has major local ties, it’s not the worst idea to prepare fans in advance.

I’m actually changing my tune on this a little bit. At first I thought they were definitely trying to weasel something, but Elliotte makes a great point. The romantic pick the fanbase wants to see is not always the right one, and if the organization has decided it isn’t, even by a fraction of a percent, then they have to disappoint some people (hopefully en route to making them happy). And yeah, letting them down easy, early, would be the best way to go about it.

Fine, I’m in. MacKinnon to the Avs.

12. As we approach what could be a wild draft week, GMs to watch include MacTavish: “He’s got his fingers in everything,” said one compatriot. Another? Dave Nonis of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Somewhere this off-season, he is determined to get a high-level centre.

This was written yesterday, before Vincent Lecavalier was bought out. I’m not saying the Leafs will end up with him, but given the sparse market and the desire to improve at center and the utter lack of need to give Tyler Bozak much money…hey, who knows, right? As good a chance as any team out there.

As for MacTavish, I love that he’s active, and think he can be a great GM. I also wonder if he isn’t going to step in with a little bit too much gusto and put people off with his “fingers in everything” approach. Who knows. I’m enthralled by how much relationships between the group of 30 GMs alters what they’re able to do for their teams.

Being abrasive limits options, being too passive limits options…it’s a tight-rope walk.

14. Hotstove nightmare: proclaiming Philadelphia as a favourite for Jonathan Bernier and seeing him dealt to Toronto the next day. My biggest fault on this one is that my information was not as up to date as it could have been. The Flyers were out of it before the weekend for a couple of reasons. First, they did not have a goalie to include; Toronto did with Ben Scrivens. Second, they were not willing to include Sean Couturier (that was mentioned during the broadcast) or Brayden Schenn.

Makes perfect sense that Philly was probably the team dealing primarily with Los Angeles, what with Dean Lombardi trying to pry one of those two talents from Paul Lolmgren, but if it isn’t going to happen, at some point a guy has to settle. Funny how often the names Couturier and Brayden Schenn come up in trades, not because Philly wants to move them, but because others want them. A nice indirect compliment, indeed.

17. When Philadelphia signed Ilya Bryzgalov two years ago, Snider made it very clear he was tired of the theory that you could win without spending copious dough in net. How does he feel now? There is a very legit — and reasonably cost-effective — solution: Ray Emery. As his comeback began in 2011, Emery said Philly would be his first choice. Some of those Flyers are gone, but assistant GM John Paddock remains. The goalie was hugely appreciative that Paddock took a chance on him after what happened in Ottawa. Just something to watch for.

I was kicking through Ray Emery’s numbers over the years to decide if I thought he was really a “legit” NHL starter choice, and I was struck by one thing: that dude is only 30? I feel like he’s been around the NHL for 100 years.

His young(er than I thought) age makes up for one thing in particular – how many teams he’s bounced around with over the past handful of seasons…

emery teams

…I also know a lot of that is circumstantial.

So in the end, do I feel like he is a legit #1 NHL goalie?

No.

He’d be another stop-gap until the Flyers could get one. I feel we need a name for a talent that’s between NHL starter and back-up status – I feel like he’s a tweener. Great season this year (1.94 GAA, .922 save % in 21 starts). But, 2.81 and .900 in 34 games last year. I just don’t think he’s an “answer” for a team like Philly who could use one.

19. After watching one of his mentors (David Poile) go through difficult dances with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, is Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero prepared to start the season with Kris Letang heading into unrestricted free agency? This is going to be an interesting one — and not just because of the money. According to one friend (and it’s not the guy I work with), Letang is upset, feeling someone in the organization is badmouthing him to the media. I can’t speak to that because no one’s said anything to me, but it shows how complex these things can get. Keeping cool will be critical for both sides.

I don’t really get how someone like Kris Letang could be upset about what the Pens are saying about him, which is “we want him, but he’s going to cost a lot, and the cap is coming down, so we’re considering all options including a trade.”

Shouldn’t a reasonable guy be able to do the math on that and go “oh fuhhhh, even if they want me, if I want to stay, I’m going to have to eat a pay cut”? And if you aren’t willing to, then you should understand why you have to go, right? I doesn’t seem like it should be that dicey to me.

21. Zdeno Chara led the Boston Bruins in ice time in each of their first 15 playoff games. In the last seven, he led just twice. The second was Game 6, when he was fifth after one period, but played 19 minutes in the last two. He’s still a beast, but at 36, does the organization look at the way things finished and say, “We’ve got to rest him more.” 

I think it depends, because, without him playing a ton, the Bruins probably don’t get to the Cup Final. Actually, given their scare against Toronto, they might not make it out of the first round. And given how much that matters to everyone, for their jobs, their futures and all that, I doubt you taper his minutes back in case you go the distance. Who knows what happens once you “get there,” maybe Chicago or whoever gets in a bus accident and you coast to the Cup, but you can’t find out until you get there, so no… I don’t think in the future Boston plays him less if he’s able to handle those minutes on a given night. I think you worry about getting there, assess your situation and roll from there.

26. Corey Crawford took a lot of abuse after that 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4, but the way he handled himself in the post-game was very impressive. He answered questions for almost an hour. The thing that really stood out was how no one from the team worried about pulling him away. That tells you the organization thinks he can handle it, that he doesn’t need to be shielded. Crawford proved that with two more impressive performances.

He was an absolute pro. To take all the heat – “weak glove!” “crappy low blocker!” – then stand there, answer questions and make a crack like “last round it was my blocker, so I guess I’m bad everywhere,” then go out and pitch a couple huge performances like he did down the stretch, I think it’s safe to say he believes in himself. And if he does, everyone else – not just the fans and media, but teammates – will too.

30. One source on the Phoenix Coyotes: “There is so much going on behind the scenes, you have no idea.” Totally believe it. The NHL and the potential Coyotes owners said they were “cautiously optimistic,” but the opposition is mounting a fierce campaign. We were supposed to see the proposal Monday, but didn’t. Too close to call.

Oh for the love of god will someone take this situation out behind a shed and end it? I want the Coyotes to stay in Arizona for the people of Phoenix, but man, it has to be a drain to be involved in this nonsense.