Dave Lozo

Dave Lozo

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Today’s piece is designed to help us decide if Patrik Elias will be worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame at the end of his career. I can tell you right now that this is going to end with “I don’t know” because honestly, I don’t know.

I realize I’m not raising a new question, but I think it’s a really interesting case.

To me, based on the standards of previous Hall entrants, Elias is sitting right on the bubble.

The 37-year-old, who signed a three-year contract with the Devils this summer, has 375 goals and 930 points in 1,090 career regular-season games, all with New Jersey. He has been just as good in the postseason, posting 45 goals and 125 points in 162 career games. Breaking it down to points per game, that’s 0.85 in the regular season and 0.77 in the playoffs.

Where do those numbers rank Elias as of today? Glad you asked. It’s a good question. The 0.85 number ranks him 138th all-time, while the 0.77 figure ranks him 120th all-time. In terms of totals, Elias’ 930 points rank him 92nd all-time, while his 125 playoff points rank him 45th all-time.

If Elias averages 70 games per season over the next three seasons and dips to 0.75 points per game over that time, he will (likely) finish his career at the age of 40 with 1,087 points. That will get him to the mid-70s on the all-time points list. Anything can happen with the Devils, but they don’t look very much like a playoff threat. Still, Elias should settle around the low-40s/high-30s in playoff points if the Devils can crack the postseason twice in the next three years.

That, of course, assumes a lot, including Elias not pulling a Teemu Selanne and sparking an #EliasForever movement that sees him play into his early-40s. If he plays beyond his current contract, he will amass even more goals and assists.

But let’s say that’s where the road comes to an end for Elias. What does 400-plus goals, nearly 1,100 points and two Stanley Cup rings – including 43 points in 48 playoff games when the Devils reached the Cup Final in 2000 and 2001 — mean to the Hall of Fame voters?

Numbers in a bubble don’t mean much, so let’s delve into Elias’ career a little deeper in the search for context. Read the rest of this entry »

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At some point in the next 10 months, Henrik Lundqvist will become the highest-paid hockey goaltender on the planet. There’s also an outside chance the AAV for his potential eight-year contract with the New York Rangers will be the highest for any player in the league, regardless of the position.

Lundqvist, at this moment in time, is the best goaltender in the NHL. That is clearly an opinion, but one that is impossible to dispute. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings can be part of the discussion, as long as he’s willing to sit quietly and accept that Lundqvist’s body of work is far more impressive. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins is allowed to hang out in the waiting room but should be invited into the discussion after this season.

The pressing issue with Lundqvist’s contract – and really, that of all long-term contracts in every sport – is that by the time the contract reaches its final few years, Lundqvist will be nothing near the elite player he is now. Time is a serial killer, methodically destroying our bodies until we are food for worms. There is no stopping it. Sure, Lundqvist will still be sickeningly handsome when he’s 39, impregnating infertile women with only a glance from his piercing blue eyes, but his ability to stop NHL players from scoring goals will be severely diminished.

Lundqvist is 31 years old, and assuming he signs an eight-year contract, will be 39 when the deal expires. History shows goaltenders cease to be effective north of 36, so there could be a lot of dead years on Lundqvist’s contract at $9 million per season, and even with a salary cap that will considerably rise between now and then, that’s a lot of dead weight that will be impossible to completely remove from the roster.

Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek are arguably the two best goaltenders in the history of the NHL. Brodeur’s last truly effective season was 2009-10, when he was 37 years old. Yes, he reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but he finished 34th out of 45 eligible goaltenders in save percentage that season, behind the likes of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Bryzgalov.

Hasek, however, had more positive results as he aged. He had a pair of terrific seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07 with the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, respectively. Hasek finished second in save percentage in 2005-06, the one caveat being he made just 41 starts in his age 39 season.  With the Red Wings the following season, Hasek finished 13th in save percentage as the team’s primary starter and reached the Western Conference Final.

It wasn’t entirely a fountain-of-youth story for Hasek, as retirement and a severe groin injury limited him to 14 games during his age 37 and 38 seasons. It’s also worth mentioning that Hasek didn’t make his NHL debut until he was 25 and didn’t become a starter until he was 28, minimizing the wear and tear on his body. Read the rest of this entry »

carson_ptsIf there’s one thing the hockey offseason consistently yields, it’s stories about the anniversary of the NHL’s biggest trade — on August 9, 1988, the Edmonton Oilers shipped away three veteran players and received Jimmy Carson, another player, picks and cash from the Los Angeles Kings. It has become known in the annals of history as The Jimmy Carson Trade, and no transaction since has come close to eclipsing it.

It changed the landscape of hockey forever.

Carson went on to score 49 goals the following season and the Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1990 after trading Carson for Adam Graves, Petr Klima and Joe Murphy. That coupled with the fact the players dealt to the Kings never won the Cup there and faded into the ether makes this a trade Oilers fans hold close to their heart and isn’t a source of sadness or controversy at all.

The trade in many ways is now an anomaly, but what makes it very special for the purpose of today’s writing is it occurred in August.

Cycling through a list of NHL transactions since 2006, it’s apparent that teams aren’t doing their major business in August. At some point, Mikhail Grabovski is going to sign a contract to play professional hockey. Whether that contract is with the NHL remains to be seen – I mean, good lord, someone sign the guy already – but a case can be made that if he signs before August ends, it will be the most meaningful transaction in August 2013 barring a cap-space-saving trade.

August is a graveyard for game-changing NHL transactions. Yes, teams do a lot of their best work when it comes to in-house moves, such as re-signing players and coaches to long-term extensions and locking up draft picks to entry-level contracts, but when it comes to infusing new talent via signing or trade, it’s very rare and usually features veterans desperate for a one-year deal. It’s akin to that show where the people bid money on storage lockers, then rummage through them to find a valuable gem no one else saw.

Your team is what it is at this point, history says, so while Grabovski will help your club, be it the Washington Capitals or Ak Bars Kazan (my No. 1 source for downloading illegal music in college), this month may as well not even happen. We need to get that remote control from “Click” where Adam Sandler can fast forward through uhhh I mean I’ve never seen that movie and cried shut up leave me alone.

What have August transactions since 2006 yielded? Here are the 10 most impactful moves (re-signings and extensions excluded) that have happened in August over the past seven years and how it affected the team. Read the rest of this entry »

This entire post isn't going to be "Wah wah Gary Bettman needs to go" but he's in here hence the photo.

This entire post isn’t going to be “Wah wah Gary Bettman needs to go” but he’s in here hence the photo.

It’s July. Still. God this month drags for what feels like an eternity. I have no passionate feelings about anything so it’s hard to find a writing topic. New divisions? Whatever. The Minnesota Wild crying poor? Meh. Mikhail Grabovski remaining unsigned? Yeah, what is up with that? NHL GMs, man.

When the passion isn’t there, you can’t force it. That’s how you wind up with a ninth season of Friends and marriage. So instead of forcing it with one of those aforementioned topics (Seriously, if Grabovski winds up somewhere besides the NHL, this league should be embarrassed), I’m doing one of those things about ways to make the NHL better that will never happen but whatever it’s fun.

Some are obvious, some maybe aren’t, some are probably dumb, some are definitely things you’ve heard before. So here’s some stuff about hockey to distract you from your life and job for a few minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Milton Green was one of the better track-and-field athletes of his day. Born in Lowell, Mass. in 1913, he was the world-record holder in the 45-yard high hurdles and the 60-meter high hurdles. Green was the captain of the Harvard University track team and finished first in the 110-meter high hurdles in the regional trials leading up to the 1936 Olympics.

Despite qualifying for the final Olympic trials and being considered among the favorites for gold in Berlin, Green decided to boycott the games after a conversation with his rabbi. With the Games being held in the heart of Nazi Germany, Green made the difficult choice to stay home as a form of protest.

Green never had a chance to participate in another Olympics, as the 1940 and 1944 Games were canceled due to World War II. He died in 2005 with zero regrets about his decision. Read the rest of this entry »

This is one of Justin Bourne's cats. This is what July has done to us.

This is one of Justin Bourne’s cats. This is what July has done to us.

Mid-July. It’s the worst time of year for a sports fan. Let us count the ways.

1. Baseball, the only true sport during the heart of summer, takes three days off to play an All-Star Game no one wants to watch.  The spectacle includes the torture of American civilians, as Chris Berman screams the word BACK for three consecutive hours during the HR Derby.

2. Football is still seven weeks away.

3. Basketball is still…I don’t know. Whatever.

4. The oppressive heat of July is especially terrible for the sports fan, for the sports fan is generally overweight and out of shape, thus leaving him or her sweating through parts of their bodies no one else dare dreams.

5. Most importantly, the NHL season is in the desert of emptiness. The rush of free agency a week old, fans go into a painful detox, twitching in their beds as the signings of Harry Zolnierczyk and Benn Ferriero serve as the useless drug to treat the sweats and vomiting caused by NHL withdrawal. The new season is still more than two months away, and times are tough.

That pain hockey fans feel is felt even more by people who run hockey Web sites, as there is just simply nothing to write about these days. That’s why you see heated 11-hour Twitter debates about where to place a locker-room logo. It’s the hockey person’s way of dealing with withdrawal by lashing out at those they love.

Instead of being a hockey writer who waits around for stories to write about – the Olympics! – why not be a proactive hockey writer and write about the stories that aren’t true but you wish they were? That’s journalism, people. You can’t spell journalism without fiction.

So without further ado, although I do love ado, here are the five biggest hockey stories of the offseason that haven’t happened but I hope they do. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Nill, who probably has a better understanding of what a hacker is than Jim Nill, has had a pretty good start to his career as Stars GM.

Jim Nill, who likely has a better understanding of what a hacker is than Tyler Seguin, has had a good start as Stars GM.

One of hockey journalism’s true follies is the immediate reaction to the first weekend of unrestricted free agency. Every writer is dying to tell you which teams won and which teams lost before the newly signed player has even put his apartment on the market. It’s foolish, embarrassing and hurts the reputation of the media as a whole.

That’s why today, I won’t give you the winners and losers of free agency.

Today, I will give you the winners, losers and SO MUCH MORE of free agency.

Look, I’m no better than anyone else. I have opinions. Some good, some bad, all pointless. To be honest, it’s the summer, and there’s less and less to write about, so let’s go just go into this fully aware that it’s silly and have fun with it.

So without further ado, here are free agency’s winners, shootout winners, ties, losers, blowout losers and healthy scratches after just three days. Read the rest of this entry »