Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

via OHL Images

via OHL Images

Three Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were selected to the National Hockey League on June 30. Darnell Nurse went 7th overall to the Edmonton Oilers. Tyler Ganly went to the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round, and with the penultimate pick of the draft, the Boston Bruins took Mitch Dempsey at No. 210.

A fourth Greyhound, Sergey Tolchinsky, went undrafted. Listed at 5’9″ and 160 lbs, the young Russian’s weaknesses lay in some of hockey’s most up-for-debate attributes: size, physical play, and grit. He had been ranked 67th on TSN analyst Craig Button’s rankings, and 56th on Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman’s list.

Depending on who you asked, he’d been projected as going anywhere between the second and fifth rounds. All it takes is one team to take a risk on a talented young player like Tolchinsky. In his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League, Tolchinsky scored 26 goals and was the third-leading point-getter among rookies behind Sarnia’s Nikolay Goldobin and Erie Otter phenom Connor McDavid.

Read the rest of this entry »

(Debora Robinson, Getty Images)

(Debora Robinson, Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks had a remarkable turnaround last season, finishing first in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference after finishing 13th in the West in 2011-12. They were nearly unstoppable all season, getting off to a great start that kept going and going until it stretched the meaning of the word “start.”

Everything was clicking for the Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf bounced back after an off season, Francois Beauchemin amassed points to go with his solid defensive play, rookie Viktor Fasth came out of seemingly nowhere and won his first 8 starts, and the Ducks’ powerplay zipped along at 21.5%.

The Ducks may have lost in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, but things seemed to be coming together for the Ducks. And yet, the outlook does not actually look that bright for the Ducks heading into next season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jeff Gross/Getty

Jeff Gross/Getty

There was a trade that happened two seasons ago that looks like a sure win for the Toronto Maple Leafs in retrospect. The Leafs, headed towards their sixth consecutive season with no playoffs, traded away François Beauchemin, under contract for one more season, for Jake Gardiner and Joffrey Lupul.

Beauchemin has had an interesting career and despite being one of the steadiest and consistent top four defenders in the National Hockey League. He’s missed just 74 games due to injury over eight full seasons in the league. He’s played over 17 and a half minutes a game at even strength over each of the last four seasons save for last, when he only played 17:29. That was only good for 39th in the NHL, but his other years he’s been in the top 15 in the league in 5-on-5 ice time.

He’s the definition of a late bloomer and teams have been paying higher and higher prices for him throughout his career. Originally a third round pick by Montreal, he was waived by the team in 2004 and claimed by Columbus. Noted crazy person and terrible general manager Doug MacLean traded away the 25-year-old Beauchemin to Anaheim for a 36-year-old Sergei Fedorov.

Read the rest of this entry »

0

I wrote about the Ottawa Senators on Monday, and how Bryan Murray has assembled a pretty good squad on a budget that, well, doesn’t seem to exist. It raises the question of what Murray would be able to do in Toronto, or New York, or Philadelphia, or a market where money is less of an issue. I posited that question on Twitter yesterday.

Twitter dot com’s @garik16 and @DrivingPlay jumped in and suggested that it may not be an advantage if Murray had a wad of cash to spend. DrivingPlay pointed at Lou Lamoriello having more success when his team cost less, and Glen Sather is Exhibit A in all of this. I’ve heard about a million versions of the famous “if I had the Rangers’ payroll, I’d never lose a game” quote from Sather from when he was in Edmonton. A 2010 post on Blueshirt Banter expands on that a bit. Let’s just say it’s true:

“even if I had been in Atlanta and I had the budget that team may or may not have, I still would not have paid Curtis Joseph 24 million for four years. I think you’re a lot better off getting a group of young guys together, teach them about the game and about life and bring them along. You’re much better off than trying to hit a home run with a bunch of 30-year-old free agents.”

Read the rest of this entry »

"Alfie! Alfie! Alfi—I mean—Mika! Mika! Mika!" (François Laplante, Getty)

“Alfie! Alfie! Alfi—I mean—Mika! Mika! Mika!” (François Laplante, Getty)

Despite being such an efficient and workmanlike group on the ice last season, the Ottawa Senators executive has had a tough time nailing down its story on why Daniel Alfredsson skipped town for division rival Detroit. While general manager Bryan Murray told the media assembled in Ottawa on July 5 that he pitched Alfredsson on the idea that Bobby Ryan was going to be a Senator.

In the same presser, Murray also in a roundabout way told the world that Daniel Alfredsson was “Plan A” and Bobby Ryan was “Plan B”. A couple of days ago in an interview with James Gordon, team owner Eugene Melnyk admitted that “the team wouldn’t have been able to afford a player of the calibre of Bobby Ryan … and met the numbers put forward by Alfredsson’s camp.”

The allegedly cash-strapped Melnyk’s finances have been covered in good detail by Travis Yost over at Hockeybuzz.

But that circles back to the central question in Moneyball. The Ottawa Senators have made the playoffs in two straight seasons. According to Capgeek, they had the fifth lowest payroll in the league in 2011-2012, and the sixth lowest in 2012-2013. Only the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues (both last season) have made the playoffs paying less than their roster for the Senators. They’re going into this season, if nothing changes, with the third lowest payroll in the National Hockey League ahead of just the Islanders and the Florida Panthers, and were projected by Rob Vollman to be the best team in the NHL.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brian Babineau, Getty

Brian Babineau, Getty

“To view the potency of narrative, consider the following statement: “The king died and the queen died.” Compare it to “The king died, and then then queen died of grief.” This exercise, presented by the novelist E. M. Forster, shows the distinction between mere succession of information and a plot. But notice the hitch here: although we added information to the second statement, we effectively reduced the dimension of the total. The second sentence is, in a way, much lighter to carry and easier to remember; we now have one single piece of information in place of two. As we can remember it with less effort, we can also sell it to others, that is, market it better as a packaged idea. This, in a nutshell, is the definition and function of a narrative.”

-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

As we saw in Molly Brooks’ excellent comic that came out this past week, it’s easy as a fan to reduce hockey to theatre. It’s not just hockey: political reporters love to attribute slight increases or decreases in poll support to the public’s reaction on a promised policy change or event on the campaign trail.

It’s easy and satisfying to attach reason to everything, but part of the beauty of sports is that things happen without regard of logic or good sense. Not each outcome is determined, and the best team doesn’t win every game in every sport. If they did that, nobody would watch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Black_Swans

I’ve done by best to get away from hockey for the last couple of weeks. It’s August, and hockey should only last from October to April in a perfect world—we’re conditioned in Canada to think about it year round and it’s hard to escape. The off-season is hit with deadlines, free agent signings, and often the low-profile ones are the most interesting to me. Scott Gomez upped with Florida last week which is interesting, Alex Pietrangelo is unsigned, and there’s still the matter of where Mikhail Grabovski and Brad Boyes will sign. There’s a lot surrounding hockey that has little to do with the actual playing of the sport in the months of the year when there’s actually snow on the ground.

(Although I’m from Vancouver, so I’m unaccustomed to seeing snow on the ground during hockey season. You don’t have to shovel rain.)

What I have been doing, on and off, is sitting around listening to music and have been reading some writing from Nassim Taleb. His job description is somewhat ambiguous, but his Wikipedia entry calls him an “essayist, scholar and statistician”. He has an interesting focus in random events, or “Black Swans”, that are essentially things you can’t accurately predict or forecast yet have a huge impact on our daily lives.

Read the rest of this entry »