Saturday, March 29, 2008

Game 79; Pens vs. Rangers

Okay, another NBC game. So let's look at some salary cap issues which Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire are sure to bring up tomorrow (if I hear "Tampa Bay North" one more time I'm going to flip out...). How Mike Milbury is qualified to comment on building a team is beyond me. Well...unless we count building other people's teams through terrible trades. Then he is definitely the man for the job...

Let's look at the salary situations of several of the "elite" clubs (and pre-deadline Tampa Bay) in the NHL, examining their 5 highest paid forwards, 2 highest paid defensemen, and their goaltending (if a team has a clear cut #1 being paid as such, I will only count one. If they have two being paid average money and rotate fairly evenly, I will count both). We will call this the "core of the team." (contract figures taken from

If players have extensions that kick in next season, we will use that figure as I'm more concerned with the future than the present years. Though this will sometimes conflict with players who have deals expiring this year that do not have extensions and are scheduled to be UFA's. So obviously these figures will not be completely accurate. Scott Niedermayer is also tricky and throws off Anaheim's calculations.

(all figures in millions)

Pavel Datsyuk: $6.7 (signed through 2013/14)
Dan Cleary: $2.8 (takes effect next season through 2012/13)
Henrik Zetterberg: $2.65 (through 2008/09 and due for a huuuuuge raise)
Tomas Holmstrom: $2.25 (through 2009/10)
Kris Draper: $2.128 (an extension kicks in next season that, I think, will actually lower his cap hit)

Top 5 forwards: $16.528

Nicklas Lidstrom: $7.6 (through this season, then $7.45 for the next two seasons)
Brian Rafalski: $6.0 (through 2011/12)

Top two defensemen: $13.6

Dominik Hasek: $4.05
Chris Osgood: $1.42 (extension kicks in next season through 2010/11)

Goaltending: $5.47

Core of the team total: $35.598

Additional considerations: Detroit is one of the best drafting teams in the NHL and constantly finds young players to step in when others leave. Players like Niklas Kronwall, Valtteri Filppula, and Jiri Hudler seem to be constantly making huge strides are one of the main reasons Detroit has remained an elite team year after year. Both Datsyuk and Zetterberg were low round picks who became elite players.


Anaheim Ducks

I'm cheating and using only 4 forwards and 3 defensemen due to the makeup of this team.

Ryan Getzlaf: $5.125 (beginning next season through 2012/13)
Todd Bertuzzi: $4.0 (through 2008/09)
Chris Kunitz: $3.725 (through 2011/12)
Todd Marchant: $2.518 (through 2008/09)

Forward total: $15.368

Mathieu Schneider: $5.625 (through 2008/09)
Chris Pronger: $5.515 (through 2009/10)
Scott Niedermayer: $4.115 (through 2008/09...though this cap number is for only this season as he sat out most of the way. He would count $6.75 were he to be on the roster the full season, so take that into consideration)

Defense total: $15.255

J.S. Giguere: $6.00 (through 2010/11)

"Core" total: 36.623

Additional Considerations: Niedermayer may retire (again) and Corey Perry is due for an extension which should place him among the top 4 salary-wise among Ducks forwards.


Ottawa Senators:

Dany Heatley: $7.5 (effective next season through 2013/14)
Jason Spezza: $7.0 (effective next season through 2014/15)
Daniel Alfredsson: $4.14 (effective through 2008/09 with 3 underpaid option years after that)
Mike Fisher: $4.2 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Chris Kelly: $1.262 (ends this season)

Forward total: 24.102

Wade Redden: $6.5 (ends this season)
Chris Phillips: $3.5 (through 2010/11)

Defense Total: $10.00

Martin Gerber: $3.7 (through 2008/09)
Ray Emery: $3.167 (through 2009/10)

Goaltending: $6.867

"Core" total: $40.969

Other things to consider: What will happen to Wade Redden after the season? Will Emery be traded (if anyone will take him)? What about Alfredsson's low salary (whose option are the option years? Player or club?)? Antoine Vermette and Andrej Meszaros are restricted free agents after this season.


Tampa Bay (not an elite, but just for fun...and we'll examine pre-deadline trades)

Brad Richards: $7.8 (technically off their books, but through 2010/11)
Vincent Lecavalier: $6.875 (through 2008/09 with a huuuuge extension coming this summer)
Martin St. Louis: $5.25 (through 2010/11)
Vaclav Prospal: $1.90 (technically gone, but through this season)
Chris Gratton: $1.5 (through this season)

Forward total: $23.325

Dan Boyle: $6.667 (effective next season through 2013/14)
Filip Kuba: $3.0 (through 2008/09)

Defense total: $9.667

Kari Ramo: $.658 (through 2008/09)
Johan Holmqvist: $1.0 (ends this season...and technically gone)

Goaltending total: $1.658

"Core" total: $34.65

Additional considerations: Where are their good young players? Where are their good free agent signings? Why have they failed on every attempt to solve their goaltending situation? This organization is a mess. Hockey's Future ranks Tampa 29th out of 30 teams in regards to prospects. So because they can't draft or sign free agents and have a handful of good players, this is what the Penguins are supposedly going to turn into? Also note that the Senators are/will be paying their top 5 forwards more money than Tampa was prior to the trading deadline. This is a team that signed Michel Oullet to be a top-six forward, a player the Pens did not even attempt to retain despite him being inexpensive.


New York Rangers:

Scott Gomez: $7.357 (through 2013/14)
Chris Drury: $7.050 (through 2011/12)
Brendan Shanahan: $5.3 (through 2007/08, includes bonus money)
Jaromir Jagr: $4.94 (perhaps through only this season though possibly including next season, the Caps are still picking up some of his tab, hence the low number)
Martin Straka: $3.3 (through 2007/08)

Forward total: $27.947

Paul Mara: $3.0 (through 2007/08)
Marek Malik: $2.5 (trough 2007/08)

Defense total: $5.5

Henrik Lundqvist: $6.875 (effective next season through 2013/14)

"Core" total: $40.322

Additional considerations: Spending more on their top 5 forwards than Tampa was, yet they were a trendy pick to win the cup this year, not to "turn into Tampa North." They can get out from under Jagr's contract this year. They might lose Jagr, Straka, Avery, and Shanahan after this season.


Dallas Stars

Brad Richards: $7.8 (through 2010/11)
Mike Ribeiro: $5.0 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Brendan Morrow: $4.1 (through 2012/13)
Jere Lehtinen: $4.0 (through 2008/09)
Mike Modano: $3.45 (through 2009/10)

Forward total: $24.35

Mattias Norstrom: $4.25 (through 2007/08)
Sergei Zubov: $4.0 (through 2008/09)

Defense total: $8.25

Marty Turco: $5.7 (through 2009/10)

"Core" total: $38.30

Additional considerations: The Stars are also paying more money to their top 5 forwards than Tampa was pre-deadline. Oddly enough, they are not "becoming Tampa West." They have built a solid blue-line and receive solid goaltending (something Tampa has not post-Cup winning).


Pittsburgh Penguins

We're going to have to use some (extremely) hypothetical salaries here since we have some key players coming up for new deals in the offseason...

Sidney Crosby: $8.7 (effective next season through 2012/13)
Evgeni Malkin: $7.5 (hypothetical through 2013/2014)
Marian Hossa: $6.5 (hypothetical through 2013/14)
Ryan Malone: $3.5 (hypothetical through 2012/13)
Petr Sykora: $2.625 (through 2008/09)

Forward total: $28.825

Sergei Gonchar: $5.0 (through 2009/10)
Ryan Whitney: $4.0 (through 2012/13)

Defense total: $9.0

Marc-Andre Fleury: $3.0 (hypothetical through 2011/12) This puts him in Cam Ward range, which is probably about right for the moment, though perhaps a bit on the low side. He's shown a lot of potential and seems to be starting to show consistency recently. He played well in the playoffs last year (despite what most commentators say) other than the first period of the first game. This number could vary greatly based upon his playoff performance this year.

Extremely hypothetical "core" total: $40.825

Additional considerations: Will Marian Hossa take a figure like this when he could get (a lot) more on the open market? Don Waddell stated money was not the issue in getting an extension done, it was the bleak future of the Atlanta organization (as recently documented by both TSN and ESPN). What will Staal's extension be? We could probably let Gonchar go once his current deal expires as defense is our organizational strong point (Whitney, Letang, Goligoski, Sneep, Strait). That will clear some salary off the books when Letang will get a new deal. I love Gonchar, but it would save salary and the Whitney/Letang combo can capably handle the point on the powerplay and will develop further over the next two seasons.

Obviously my salaries for Malkin, Hossa, and Malone are ridiculously hypothetical and probably will not be accurate. I have no idea what they'll do with any of them. For all we know, Hossa and Malone may not even be back. So let's just avoid arguing over whether these figures will be accurate. Especially Hossa. I know he probably won't sign for that low of a number, I still will hold out hope that he will.

So let's compare the "core" totals for all these teams: (forwards, defense, goal)

Senators: $40.969 ($24.102, $10.0, $6.867)
Pens: $40.825 ($28.825, $9.0, $3.0)
Rangers: $40.322 ($27.947, $5.5, $6.875)
Stars: $38.30 ($24.35, $8.25, $5.7)
Ducks: $36.623 ($15.368, $15.255, $6.0)
Red Wings: $35.598 ($16.528, $13.6, $5.47)
Lightning: $34.65 ($23.325, $9.667, $1.658)

So let's get this straight...Pittsburgh, according to NBC broadcasters and many others, is going to become "Tampa North" even though there are at least four teams that are or will be spending more per season on their top 5 forwards than Tampa was prior to trading Brad Richards?

While my analysis is definitely not a complete analysis, it does it least give a snapshot of the salaries of these teams. It should also at least somewhat debunk the "Tampa North" argument (which obviously fires me up more than just about anything hockey announcers say).

Where's the similar criticism of the Rangers (who don't have as good of a defensive corps as the Pens), Senators, and Stars? So these teams get a pass, but it's Pittsburgh who "gave up too much" and will "become Tampa North"? (clearly they didn't watch Colby and Crusher play that much)


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Game 78; Pens vs. Islanders

On the Islanders backup goaltender:
Errey: "Michael Mole. There he is...looking through the mole hole!"
Steiggy: "That guy in front of him is Bruce Bennett, a longtime NHL photographer."
Errey: "He looks like Einstein!"

"What's he been doing for the last 28 games? He's been working on his magic!"

Woah woah woah...Petr Sykora just got in a fight?!?!?!? The apocalypse is upon us...

...and now Daryl Sydor?!?!?!?

Steiggy: "Yeah...I was in Sudden Death, which I suppose you could say is the worst movie ever made..." (Editor's note: never trust Iceburgh with your kids. He will kidnap them.)

"I'd like to see Dan Potash in a fight with Iceburgh!"

Potash: "Don't underestimate the 90210!"
Errey: "Danny, you gotta get your mugshot in that picture!"
Potash: "Easy, Bobby. Easy..."

Steiggy: "Georges jumps into the window!"
Errey: "Get out of the way!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Game 77; Pens vs. Devils

On the Devils: "I just think they're sometimes too stale. Like this building, Steiggy. They gotta get out of their...out of their suits a little bit. Get...get dirty here!"

"That's an impressive face! We should get Sutter faces. We can put a collage together or something..."

On Connor James: "He's gotta be getting dizzy! He's getting pulled up and down and up and down!"

"Brooks Orpik is feeling the lovin', I think, from his teammates. Specifically Michel Therrien."

Steiggy: "...on Penguins rewind. We should call it Errey Rewind!"
Errey: "C'mon Steggy! I just want to see more...facial expressions of Brent Sutter!"

Steiggy: "They announced 16,292 here tonight."
Errey: "Half of them are cardboard, like you said..."

Way to miss the empty net goal by showing Fleury sitting in his crease, FSN...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Game 76; Pens vs. Isles

So let's try something new today since tonight's game is on Versus. Since I do not get that channel at my house, I will have to watch from a bar and won't be able to listen to Doc Emrick get super excited over everything. Today we will go to work on debunking the myth that "Marian Hossa chokes in the playoffs," as many lazy commentators love to point out.

First, let's look at Hossa's career playoff stats:

Year Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM Shots Sh%
2006-07 Atlanta 4 0 1 1 -6 6 10 0
2004-05 HC Dukla5 4 5 9 2 14 - -
2003-04 Ottawa 7 3 1 4 2 0 32 9.38
2002-03 Ottawa 18 5 11 16 -1 6 54 9.26
2001-02 Ottawa 12 4 6 10 2 2 42 9.52
2000-01 Ottawa 4 1 1 2 1 4 12 8.33
1999-00 Ottawa 6 0 0 0 -8 2 14 0
1998-99 Ottawa 4 0 2 2 1 4 11 0

Now, let's go through the years chronologically to examine these stats:

Hossa is 19 years old and in his first full season in the NHL. The Senators leading scorer had 4 points (Alfredsson, who is about six years older than Hossa, and Vaclav Prospal both had 4 points). This is 2 whole points more than Hossa, a 19 year old rookie. His stats are also in line with his .50 ppg pace of the regular season (15g-15a in 60 total games in the regular season).

Malkin last year had 4 points (0 goals, 4 assists, -1 +/-) in 5 playoff games. Malkin was in his rookie season and appeared tired by the end of the year. This is normal for rookies to tail off at the end of their rookie seasons.

Hossa is now 20 years old, and the Senators leading scorer that season was Radek Bonk (Shawn McEachren was also in their top five). This is the year Barrasso was their goalie in the playoffs when the Pens traded him for Tugnutt. Now when Radek Bonk is your leading scorer, do you really have high hopes in the playoffs? Granted, the 0 points and -8 in six games does not look good.

Not bad stats. 10 points in 12 games (.833 ppg), +2

16 points in 18 games (.889 ppg), -1

4 points in 7 games (.571 ppg), +2

In Slovakia (so take that for what it's worth), but he still had 9 points in 5 games (1.8 ppg).

1 point in 4 games, -6.
These stats are pretty horrific. However, keep in mind what team he was on. Atlanta relied almost entirely on two players (Hossa and Kovalchuk) to provide the bulk of their offense. This can succeed in the regular season (especially in a weak division), but once you get to the playoffs you're going to be facing teams that regularly play good defense. The Rangers did a good job of shutting down Atlanta's only two offensive threats (Kovalchuk: 1 goal, 1 assist, -1).

In addition to the Rangers shutting Atlanta down offensively, their goaltending was horribly mediocre as Hartley kept shifting between Kari Lehtonen (2007 playoff stats: 2 gp, 2 losses, 5.59 GAA, .849 save %) and Johan Hedberg (2007 playoff stats: 2 gp, 2 losses, 2.56 GAA, .928 save %; this is a lot better than I was expecting, actually). They got terrible goaltending from Lehtonen and decent goaltending from Hedberg. Atlanta's defense had no chance though. They traded away one of their few young prospects with potential (Coburn, now with the Flyers) for an overrated defenseman in hopes of a playoff run (Alexei Zhitnik, now occasionally a healthy scratch).

This is not the recipe for playoff success and Atlanta was consequently swept out of the playoffs. Before the series I (and many, many others) predicted the Rangers would sweep them. And because his whole team was overmatched and the Rangers only had to shutdown two players to eliminate all offensive threats, this makes Hossa someone who doesn't perform in the playoffs?


Now, let's compare some other players performances in the playoffs with the several good years Hossa had (arguably his only years with a good team in the playoffs):

Brad Richards (Conn Smythe year, 2003-2004): 23gp, 12g, 14assists, 1.13 ppg. Obviously this is better than Hossa's best year. Even still though, 1.13 ppg isn't overwhelmingly better than Hossa's best playoff mark of .889 ppg. Better? Definitely. Could Hossa have had a couple good games had he survived another round and had that many games played? We'll never know, but it is plausible. And Richards did win the Conn Smythe trophy, so clearly this was an excellent playoff performance.

Vincent Lecavalier (2003-2004, Cup winning year): 23gp, 9 goals, 7 assists, -2, .696 ppg.

Jarome Iginla (2003-2004): 26gp, 13 goals, 9 assists, +13, .846 ppg

And for an even better measure of comparison, let's look at Daniel Alfredsson's stats during the years he and Hossa played together during the playoffs in Ottawa:

Year Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM Shots Sh%
2003-04 Ottawa NHL 7 1 2 3 0 2 29 3.45
2002-03 Ottawa NHL 18 4 4 8 -3 12 41 9.76
2001-02 Ottawa NHL 12 7 6 13 6 4 55 12.73
2000-01 Ottawa NHL 4 1 0 1 0 2 13 7.69
1999-00 Ottawa NHL 6 1 3 4 0 2 11 9.09
1998-99 Ottawa NHL 4 1 2 3 -1 4 13 7.69

Now let's compare the points per game of the two players for those years:

Year Hossa Alfredsson
2003-04 0.571 0.429
2002-03 0.889 0.444
2001-02 0.833 1.080
2000-01 0.500 0.250
1999-00 0.000 0.667
1998-99 0.500 0.750

So Alfredsson was better for several years, especially at the beginning of Hossa's career. Again though, Alfredsson has about six years on Hossa. The last two years they were together in Ottawa, Hossa put up better numbers. He was significantly better in 2002-03. There is also a much higher sample size for that season vs. the following one (18 games vs. 7 games).

The past two years Alfredsson has been over a point-per-game player in the playoffs. Would Hossa be able to do likewise when surrounded by a good supporting cast? Hopefully we will learn the answer to that this season in the playoffs.

So is Hossa really a choker in the playoffs or did he gain that reputation through lazy journalism and an inability to look beyond the stats?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Game 75; Pens vs. Devils

"Sounds like somebody won a body building championship! Put that one on!" (YES! Your wish is my command! Thanks for the mention Bob! Much love!)

"Pandolfo had the stick between the big giant's legs, and boy... TIMMMMBER! Down went Gill, and into the penalty box went Pandolfo."

"Ruutu just ran over Paul Martin. It looked like roadkill in front of Martin Brodeur!"

"The old solar plexus, eh?"

"They're looking to put another nail in the coffin and maybe...implode Brodeur!"

Wait...did Errey just start singing a Zeppelin song?

"You're not eating any fish out of the Magnitogorsk ponds?"

Ty Conklin: "Apparently Adam Hall's a Hall of Fame announcer already."

"Everybody wants our job, Steiggy!"

"I can't tell you how long you have to bathe your hands in palmolive for that kind of play. I mean, he's got some of the softest hands I've ever seen."

Need the video for that one...

Steiggy: "They're all going up there, Bob. They're going to write a book at the end of the year! I want to know who that guy is who runs the!" (all right, Steiggy/Bob. Shoot me an email through my profile on here. Also figure out how I can get my hands on an old school Errey Pens jersey. You can't find those anywhere!)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Game 74; Pens vs. Bolts

On Robbie Scuds/explosives: "You talk about take a pin out of a bomb and what does it do? It explodes. You take the pin out of his finger, and he's ready to explode too."

Steiggy: And Dupuis shoots it into the bench...
Errey: It's not in the bench, Steiggy. It's in my hand!
Steiggy: Good catch!
Errey: And I'm going to throw it...over the glass!"

"Ruutu's a tough guy, but he's not a beaver, Steiggy! He's not trying to eat wood there!"

"Fleury did all he could, but he was like a worm in the crease..."

Errey on facing St. Louis in the minors at the end of his career and telling him he was too small: "I was just trying to get under his skin. I was trying to pull a Ruutu, Steiggy!"

"They have 18 shots, but half of them glorious!"

"...and look at him dribble, Steiggy!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Game 73; Pens vs. Rangers

"The NY Rangers are like sharks. It's a feeding frenzy right now!"

"Hal Gill! A fistful of dollars for Avery!"

"Look at Jagr and Hall Gill. Jagr's trying to be his friend here. 'Please! Let me go!'"

Steiggy: "Ruutu gets the puck, walks all the way down Broadway, and lit up the lights on Broadway to give the Penguins their first goal!"

Steiggy: "He turned him into an ice carving with that first move!"

"There's the Long Arm of the Law right there!" (YESSSSSSSSSS! That's the first of the season I think! Finally!)

"Who plays it? You got it? I got it? No, Dupuis' got it!"

Steiggy: "There's Chris Stewart with the puck. Yeah, he's still got it. I don't know where it is. It might be up on that sod farm!"
Errey: "What did they bury it?"
(awkward laughter from both)
Steiggy: "Hank's got it on a shelf somewhere!"
Errey: "With everyhing...euhuhuh...ohhh can you imagine how much...hardware they have in that family? They don't have enough shelves!"

"Dupuis was just flying on that 4-on-4! He looked like he was on the Nordic he couldn't be stopped."

Steiggy: "It's kinda quiet in here right now..."
Errey: "The Mayor is in the house. They have to be on their best behavior!"

On Roberts' dad: "He doesn't look as scary as Gary though..."

"He got nothing but smelly gloves...right to the chest."

I really hate Sean Avery...

Game 72; Pens vs. Flyers

Fantastic. A couple notes:

1) Edzo seems to have finally lost his bitterness over being fired. They even set him up perfectly to unleash by asking about how he thought the organization developed Fleury.

2) Is there anyone out there who would not trade Christensen straight up for Dupuis? (I'd even say Armstrong straight up too if you only consider on the ice and not his personality/locker room presence) I said it at the time and I'll say it again: Dupuis was an overlooked part of that deal but a very good addition.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Game 71; Pens vs. Sabres

Once again: Errey between the boards means Keith is at the game.

The only things I got via text message:

1) Courtesy of Ryan: "You know I get hungry, Steiggy!"

2) Justin informs me Errey got a steak in between periods??? Someone needs to give me some details on that one...

Best thing overheard at the game (not counting any yinzer hockey "knowledge"):

-Some guy describing the plot of Talladega Nights to his friend, followed by the plot to, "you know, that Adam Sandler movie...Click."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Game 70; Pens vs. Caps

Man...Backstrom buried that goal at the end. Great shot!

Side note: we need Robbie Scuds back...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Game 69; Pens vs. Panthers

If I see this goddamn Steubenville commercial one more time...

"How about this motion here? A little ballroom dancing!"

"How good does Bobby Orr look? Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?"

"He was like a kid who touched a hot coil and...let it go."

Steiggy: "Let's look at the Subway Sandwich of the Game!"
Errey: "I always like food!"

Is it just me, or does Olli Jokinen look like a giant 4 year old?


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Game 68; Pens vs. Bolts

"His Dallas Stars what? Regalia? You starting early tonight?"

"You can't doubt these linesmen, Steiggy. They're right down there!" (If only I could accurately type out this voice...)

"A guided missle...not too well guided..."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Game 67; Pens vs. Thrashers

"Ryan Malone was fishing there!"

"You know if you assume stuff and what that makes you, Steiggy"

"McCarthy...where's he going?!?!?!? He's on I-79! [...] Steve McCarthy was out to lunch, Steiggy!"

"Pointing him down like he wanted to put handcuffs on him or something. C'mon, just ref the game!"


"You're not going to want to, uh, exchange five-head blows with that guy."

Gotta skip the end of this one to go play my own game(s)...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Game 66; Pens vs. Senators

"There's a tattoo of #55 in the glass down there!"

"You just have to recognize the situation. I tried to warn him, Steiggy!"

"We gotta get ourselves some towels, Steiggy!"

"Sid's probably watching right now. How about a little paraphernalia up here for the guys in the booth? [...] I'm making the call. I just did, Danny. I'm not gonna sit there in the, uh, in the weeds. I'll wear that stuff on that air. I'll look good in some of that...Sidney gear! I love it!"