Posted on: February 22, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 3:17 pm
 

NHL Trade Recap 2/22/2011

NHL GMs have been busy leading up to the 2/28 trade deadline with numerous trade being made already. Let’s take a look at some of the deals that have already gone down as of yesterday:

Colorado acquires Brian Elliot from Ottawa in exchange for Craig Anderson – I immediately Tweeted (@Ed_Welsh) about this one as I felt it was just a swap out of two mediocre goaltenders. Anderson has had one good season in the NHL and may never repeat it. Although, that is one great season more than Elliot. I have no idea why the Avs make this deal as it is my opinion that only the Sens have a chance of winning this deal.

Boston acquires Tomas Kaberle from Toronto in exchange for prospect Joe Colborne, Boston’s 2011 first round pick and a conditional second round pick in 2012 – Toronto gets real good value for Kaberle here. Colborne is having a pretty good rookie AHL season so far this year and the first and second round picks are just what the prospect starved Leafs need to re-stock the system. Boston has the prospects to be able to pay the steep price, although if they can re-sign Kaberle beyond this season, the price doesn’t seem too out of balance.

San Jose acquires Ian White from Carolina for a 2012 second round pick – The Sharks needed someone blue line help and they get it in White. Carolina picks up a low end second rounder for a guy that was basically falling into the third pairing.

Tampa Bay acquires Eric Brewer from St. Louis for Brock Beukeboom and their 2011 third round pick – Good trade for both teams here. Brewer was falling down the depth chart in St. Louis thanks to their tremendous young depth on the blue line, so they pick up some future in return for a veteran providing diminishing returns. For Tampa, it’s a small price to pay as Brewer is exactly the type of veteran presence they need as they attempt to go deep into the playoffs this season.

Colorado acquires Eric Johnson, Jay McClement, and a conditional first round pick from St. Louis in exchange for Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk, and a conditional second round pick – The biggest deal thus far with a marquee name on both sides. However, I like this for the Blues much more than the Avs. Basically, the Blues are in a much better position to lose Johnson than the Avs are to lose Stewart. With Pietrangelo taking the reigns as the #1 defenseman in St. Louis, losing Johnson is a easier pill to swallow, especially when you have bruising Barrett Jackman still around and you are getting an offensive puck-mover back in Shattenkirk. Colorado loses a budding power forward, with no one ready to assume that role and gets back McClement, who is best suited for thrid line center, a position they already had filled in O’Reilly.

Pittsburgh acquires James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Dallas in exchange for Alex Goligoski – I am on the Stars bashing bandwagon on this one. I don’t care how much payroll this trims. Neal has scored 20+ goals the last two seasons and is on pace to push 30 this season. At his age, it should take moving mountains to get him off the team. But instead, the Stars “throw-in” Niskanen and all they get in return is Goligoski. Goligoski is a nice puck-moving defenseman, but he has been wildly inconsistent and you are now hoping that he will gain that consistency by being higher on your depth chart than he was on Pittsburgh’s. This one is a slam dunk for the Pens, as if Niskanen responds well to a change of scenery, this will go down as an all out thievery.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Posted on: November 25, 2010 1:11 pm
 

NHL Thoughts and Opinions 11/25/2010

• It has been a rough couple of games for Jimmy Howard. In his last 4 outings, his save percentage has dropped 11 points, down to .908. Maybe he’ll get a much needed game off.

• It was nice to see Antti Niemi get the “W” against the Blackhawks last night. Hopefully it’s the boost he needs to get his season on track.

• Tough luck for Jhonas Enroth. He has his best start of his young NHL career against a quality team like the Penguins, only to see his Sabres shutout in a 1-0 loss.

• It’s now 14 games and counting since the Islanders last win. As anticipated, firing Scott Gordon was not the answer. A roster full of AHL talent is the reason they are terrible.

• The Flyers are for real. Sergei Bobrovsky continues to impress and a deep lineup is too much for most teams to handle. Another dominant victory last night.

• What happened to Duncan Keith? Last season’s Norris Trophy defenseman added to his minus total last might and logged a little over 18 minutes, 4th among defensemen on Chicago.

Posted on: November 18, 2010 3:13 pm
 

Can the Kings afford Iginla?

There have been many rumors, none substantiated, about a potential trade between the Kings and Flames involving Jarome Iginla. The main player coming back to the Flames is rumored to be prospect Brayden Schenn. While acquiring Iginla would seem like a good addition with the Kings poised to win now, what would the impact be to their ability to sustain success long term? 

The first question around an acquisition of Iginla is his play thus far in 2010-11. With only 3 goals and 7 assists through the first 17 games this year, he is on pace for the worst goal scoring year of his career and second worst point total. Additionally, his -7 is alarming for a player than has never been worse than a -10 in a full season. I know Calgary has struggled this season, especially with a rash of injuries, but is Iginla struggling because of the Flames or are the Flames struggling because of Iginla. Given his style of play over 14 years, one has to wonder about future returns offensively.

The second question is a financial one. With a $7 million cap hit for two more seasons after this one, what does acquiring Iginla do to the Kings’ cap situation? This year is no problem. With Schenn’s $3.14 million cap hit, the Kings are about $6 million under the cap; absorbing Iginla’s contract this season presents no challenge. Next year is a whole different story, however. With key RFA’s Simmonds, Doughty, and Jack Johnson due for substantial raises and UFA’s to be Handzus, Williams, Ponikarovsky, Richardson, and Lewis, the Kings might struggle to get under the cap with Iginla in place of Schenn.

Before they resign any of these players mentioned, the Kings have 15 players (8 forwards, 5 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders) signed at a cap hit of $43.537 million. Assuming a 5% increase over the current $59.4 million cap, that would leave the Kings with $18.833 million to spend on filling out their roster with 8 additional skaters, or roughly $2.35 million per player. On the surface, this appears to be plenty, but let’s look closer.

Drew Doughty will command a large contract; most likely in the Duncan Keith range of $5.5 million. Jack Johnson will also command a nice salary, at least the $3.5 million per year the Blackhawks gave Hjalmarsson. Simmonds is a little more difficult to project given the disparity in contract extensions to forwards last year. My best assumption currently would be in the $2.5 million ballpark. With these 3 key RFAs resigned, the Kings would be left with $7.333 million to spend on the remaining 5 players, roughly $1.47 million per player.

Given these numbers and his games played this season, I would expect Loktionov to make the team outright next season. If this is the case, his very palatable cap hit of $817K would be very welcome leaving the Kings to sign only 4 players with $6.516 million to do it. Given the total dollars to work with, the Kings would only be able to afford one of Williams, Handzus, or Ponikarovsky. My assumption is they would go try and resign Handzus, as there are no prospects ready to fill the void at center he would create. While Loktionov was drafted as a center, I don’t know if he projects as a center in the NHL. If the Kings believe he can, then maybe they let Handzus walk and sign Williams.

Overall, the idea of obtaining Iginla sounds like a good idea. Given that the team could afford to do it and still retain both Doughty and Johnson on the blueline make it seem even better. However, I still believe that this team is good enough without him and is in a much better position financially if they keep and develop Schenn. With more cap space and quality players on the roster, I believe that the Kings are better suited for long term success if they do not trade for Jarome Iginla.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Posted on: November 13, 2010 9:23 am
 

Goaltending will calm this storm

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a feel good story in the early part of the season. Steve Stamkos has continued his goal scoring way from last year and is a legit offensive force in the NHL already. However, last night’s drubbing at the hands of the Penguins showed a major flaw that will prevent this team from going anywhere this season: goaltending.

Mike Smith was terrible last night. The defense did its part, yielding only 20 shots. Unfortunately, Smith looked like an amateur goalie. Many of the Pens goals came from his mistakes. Alex Goligoski’s wide open net was a result of Smith going down in the butterfly as a reaction to Mike Rupp’s PASS. He didn’t even fake a shot. He simply passed the puck across the ice and, instead of shifting right, Smith went down in the butterfly, square to Rupp!

On Deryk Engelland’s (yes, even he scored) goal, Smith played the angle completely wrong. He believed he was square to the shooter, but his angle was off, and instead of going wide, Engelland’s shot just went past Smith and into the net. Even Crosby’s goal seemed a bit too easy, as Smith was not screened and Sid didn’t even need to make a move on him. He just shot the puck past Smith and into the net.

To make matters worse, free agent signee, Dan Ellis, hasn’t played much better this season. He has had two really good games, netting two shutouts. But even with those two shutouts in nine games, he has a pedestrian 91% save percentage. That is due to his less than inspiring play in the other seven games. Clearly, he hasn’t been good enough to establish himself as the number one in Tampa, evidenced by Smith’s start against a quality team like Pittsburgh.

For all the good things Steve Yzerman has done to get this franchise on track, allowing Antero Niittymaki to leave for $2 million a year seems to be a mistake at this point.

Posted on: November 9, 2010 3:20 pm
 

Thank Goodness!

Word from the "experts" is the the GMs shot down Dale Tallon's "coach's challenge" proposal and I couldn't be happier. While the idea has been successful in the NFL for years, it just wouldn't work in the NHL game.

Hockey is a game in almost continuous motion. hile the NFL is full of stops and starts between each play, hockey can continue on for long stretches. Would the coach have to wait for a stoppage to issue a challenge on a play? If so, would we then have to rewind the game and start back to the time of the questioned call? It has the potential to be a mess.

For those that would argue that it could be used only for disputed goals as play would be stopped in these instances, there are problems there as well. There just isn't a fair deterrent to keep coach's from disputing anything and everything that happens on the ice. Timeouts just don't carry the same weight in the NHL as they do in football. Some say that the team should be charged a 2 minute minor for delay of game if the play isn't overturned. On the surface, this sounds like a solution; however, too many calls would be upheld, not because the challenge wasn't legitimate, but because of inconclusive replay. I don't think it is fair to assess a 2 minute minor when the coach's only fault may be that the NHL doesn't have good enough replay angles to make the correct call.

At the end of the day, this change would bring more problems than it would solve and I don't see that as a change worth making.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh
Category: NHL
Posted on: November 5, 2010 10:28 pm
 

Brandon Dubinsky; goal scorer?

Brandon Dubinsky scored two more goals tonight in the Rangers victory over the Devils. He is now tied for the league lead in goals scored about 15% of the way into the season. For a player that had 47 career goals in 233 career regular season games prior to this season, his production is somewhat unusual.

Perhaps the difference is his move from center to left wing full time this season. He is currently playing on a line centered by Artem Anisimov. Dubinsky was no slouch at center; he was a more than capable faceoff man and is solid defensively. However, it appears that the shift to left wing has freed him from some of the extra defensive responsibilities assigned to a centerman, and he know can focus more on providing offense without the fear of giving up an opportunity to the opposition.

I have always been a fan of Dubinsky’s, as he plays a bit of a throwback style; willing to hit, fight, and do whatever it takes to win. So, I am happy to see him take his game to another level and hopefully he’ll surprise people with a breakout year this season.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Category: NHL
Posted on: November 4, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 8:35 pm
 

Brayden Schenn: Destined for the "Dub"

The next game Brayden Schenn plays for the Los Angeles Kings will be his ninth. Significant because that is the last game he can play this year before Kings management needs to decide whether to return him to his junior club or have this season count as the first against his entry level contract (ELC).

Earlier in the week, Kings’ management stated that they did not know what they would do and they would meet once he played his ninth game. They said all the nice standard comments, such as, “we’re going to keep our best players.” I’m sure they will, however, in this cap era, it isn’t just your best players, it’s your best players at prices that make sense.

The money is what I believe will drive their decision, and I believe the decision will be to send him back to Brandon, his junior club. Is it because that is the best place for him to develop? No. The best place for him is the AHL, but thanks to the rule governing CHL rights, that isn’t an option for Schenn. The reason he will be back in Brandon is money. His ELC calls for a cap hit of over $3 million thanks to his high draft position and unfortunately the ten or so minutes a night he is playing on the fourth line does not justify that large of a cap hit. Additionally, it does not make good fiscal sense to blow the first year of his ELC on fourth line duty. The Kings are better served waiting a year until he can take the place of Michal Handzus, who’s contract, and $4 million cap hit, is up after this season.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Category: NHL
Posted on: November 1, 2010 9:18 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 3:28 pm
 

NHL thoughts and opinions 11/1

  • Quote of he day comes from Pat Verbeek, regarding his availability to play golf: “Now that I’m retired, I have more chances to do what I love.” Could someone tell Pat that he is not retired and holds the post of Director of Pro Scouting for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I guess he isn’t working very hard.
  • I want to know who does the statistical analysis for NHL.com. Today they posted two articles regarding rookies. One was about how Taylor Hall is off to a disappointing start, but current Stars like Joe Thornton, Steve Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier started off slowly as well. Then, there was another article about rookies that have started the season hot. I found it interesting that Hall’s 2 goals and 3 assists qualified as starting poorly, but Tyler Seguin’s 3 goals and 2 assists, while playing on a much better team, had him on the hot list. 
  • I am in shock at how poorly Mike Comrie has played for the Penguins. When they signed him, I truly thought he would have a comeback year being able to play with young superstars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Instead, he has found himself playing on the fourth line. Mike, if you can’t produce playing with those guys, it might be time to hang it up.
  • USA Today’s Kevin Allen tweeted an interesting stat today. The Devils have a -19 goal differential so far this season. They have not had a negative differential for an entire season since the 1988-89 campaign. Some people (EJ Hradek) continually point to a young and inexperienced blueline as the cause. However, the stats just don’t back it up. The Devils are giving up around 27 shots per game, not a terrible number. The stat that has me concerned is Martin Brodeur’s .902 save percentage number. Other than the 1991-92 season, when he only played 4 games, Martin Brodeur has never had that low of a save percentage. 
Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com