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
Posted on: October 29, 2010 10:05 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 3:29 pm

Patrik Elias - The $6 million man

Much has been made about the New Jersey Devils cap problems this season. The media attention that was given to their playing with less than 18 skaters for a couple of games was much more than when the Calgary Flames did the same for the last 5 games a couple of seasons ago. All of the attention due to the mega contract given to Ilya Kovalchuk in the offseason. However, to say that the Kovalchuk contract is the main reason for the Devils cap issues is naive at best.

Kovalchuk’s contract pays him an average salary, and therefore cap hit, of $6.67 million per year. Compared to other players with his offensive acumen, that really isn’t out of line. Kovalchuk is in his prime and the DEvils are getting production from him. There is one player on the Devils who’s contract is a cap tragedy at this point given his performance for the first 10 games of the season, Patrik Elias.

Elias’ contract brings a cap hit of $6 million, only about 10% less than Kovalchuk’s. Elias is 34 years old which is not ancient, but is on the other side of his career for sure. Now for $6 million per year, one would expect top line production and value from a player. Elias’ performance thus far has been anything but top line.

Through 10 games, Elias has only scored one goal and added three assists. These numbers prorate to an eight goal, twenty-four assist season. For a player that has never scored less than 17 goals in a season in which he played 40 or more games, that is unacceptable. Even more troubling is Elias’ plus minus. He is currently a -9 in 10 games. He hasn’t been a minus player since he was a minuns four in only seventeen games way back in 1996-97. His current performance would prorate to a -72 for the entire season. Now, no one would believe he would finish there, but the current number is absolutely terrible. 

People can question the Kovalchuk contract all they want, but one thing is clear. The Devils are getting far less for their money out of Elias and his $6 million dollars per year. 

Follow me on Twitter: @Ed_Welsh

Posted on: October 25, 2010 8:39 pm

Small contracts can be bad contracts, too

There has been a lot of publicity about teams up against the salary cap and the large contracts that got them there. In Chicago, there was Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet, with Huet being shipped overseas to dump his contract. Long time veteran Wade Redden is playing in the AHL with Hartford so the Rangers could clear his $6.5 million cap hit. And most recently, the Devils played with only 15 skaters thatnks in large part to the high contracts of Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston.

However, there have been a few contracts given out this season that were quite puzzling and, despite their relative low value, can be a significant contributor to a team having limited cap space with which to work.

While all the talk about the Devils player shortage earlier this year was about Kovlachuk and Rolston, I for one saw the contract that was given to Johan Hedberg this offseason as a contributing factor. While it is only for $1.5 million per season, had New Jersey signed a backup goaltender for a more appropriate price, they would have been able to afford calling up a player or two to help alleviate their roster shortage. I am not saying that Johan Hedberg is not good enough to earn $1.5 million, rather, the backup to Marty Brodeur, a 70 game per season goaltender, should not be one of the highest paid backups in the league. Of the 61 goaltenders on starting day rosters, Hedberg makes more money than 29 of them. For a position that will most likely play less than 20 games, that is way too much.

Another contract that was significantly too much money for the player acquired was the deal given to Derek Boogaard by the Rangers. Boogaard is nothing more than an enforcer, yet the average value of his contract is $1.825 million per season. This is three times as much money as was given to Raitis Ivanans, another enforcer that fulfills the same role for his club, the Calgary Flames. Most enforcers make between $600 and $800 thousand per season. That extra million dollars per season could be used much more wisely somewhere else on the roster, although the Rangers have never proven themselves as shrewd cap managers.

These are only tow of quite a few deals that, while smaller in value, can contribute to a team’s inability to field the best team possible in this new cap era of hockey.

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