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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Predators Match Flyers Offer to Weber

This is an update to my previous article on Weber, the offer by the Flyers, and the Predators likely decision regarding the situation.

Shea Weber certainly did a nice job in confusing the media and fans about where he really wanted to play hockey, and he did so by first signing the offer sheet from the Flyers and following-up by declaring that he wanted to play in Philly. Well, that settled the matter for me because I would expect Weber to be honest. However, after the Preds matched the offer, Weber has stated that he is happy to be in Nashville and that he is glad that the contract issue is over so that he can concentrate on getting ready for the upcoming season. He also said that he wants to do his best for the team by recruiting other players when the opportunities arise so that they have a better chance to win the Cup. These are words from a person who obviously was primarily concerned about the size of his contract, and when the Flyers presented him with an offer sheet for 110 million, Weber knew that signing it guaranteed him that amount no matter where he ended-up. Weber also knew that the Preds had publicly stated on numerous occasions that they would match any offer sheet that any team presented to Weber; and, Weber confessed that he was well aware of that fact after the Preds matched the offer from Philly. All said, Weber played it smart but it now sounds like he wanted to be in Nashville all the time—which is what I thought before he and his agent declared that he wanted to play in Philly. If Weber did not want to be in Nashville then I wouldn’t expect him to be so satisfied with the contract match and eager to recruit other players to the team. Very strange indeed! Time will tell whether he will be happy in Nashville or whether he will pull a Rick Nash. Even if he pulls a Nash, the Preds made the right decision in matching the Flyer’s offer because Nashville can get a lot more by trade (and without having to wait) as compared to the compensation of five first-round draft picks which would be lower down each year since the Flyers are expected to place fairly well for some time.

TJ Stanley

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nash Traded to the Rangers – And He Shamelessly Lies Again to Fans Via the Media!

Today Rick Nash finally got his wish as the Blue Jackets traded him. The deal involved Nash and defenseman Steve Delisle going to the Rangers along with a conditional third-round draft pick in 2013, in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and the Rangers first-round pick in 2013. 

Nash Shamelessly Lies Again to Fans quoted Nash as saying,

“Initially, I went in with Scott Howson and was trying to get a game plan on what was going on with Columbus and I was told there was going to be a rebuild. I’ve been here for nine years now and figured I could be the main piece of a rebuild for them in that case. If the circumstance was right, I’d waive my no-trade clause and help them rebuild and help my career carry on.”

Oh come on Rick, now you (and your weasel agent) are trying a new story in an attempt to save your reputation! Compulsive liars always find the need to have to cover-up for themselves. Grow-up!

Who Got the Best of the Trade?

The Rangers will get a spoiled, lying baby in Rick Nash, and honestly what fans and players really want a guy like that on their team? Last year was the worst season of his NHL career next to his rookie year (all things considered including games played, points, plus-minus and his effect on his teammates). When a baby doesn’t work hard to earn the money that he is being paid (7.5 million last year), and when he doesn’t get his way and spits and throws food at you and stomps his feet—you know that you have to trade the rebel! By the way, his salary gradually goes up and in 2017-18 he will receive 8.2 million, at which time he will be an UFA. 

On the Ranger’s website it says, “The Nash Era is Here!” I find it comical to lift up a baby and a liar into Messier-like status. Messier was a true leader and far more talented than Rick Nash was or ever will be. I hope that Nash buckles under the pressure, that the Rangers finish no better than third in the East, and that they get knocked-out in Round 1 of the playoffs (which should have happened this year against the Senators if it wasn’t for the officials allowing the Rangers to repeatedly break the rules without being penalized, including punching Karlsson in the face over and over). Nash has proven that he is not a player who has the ability to make all of the players around him a lot better; and, he has to be responsible for, take “credit” for, his own poor plus-minus stats. In his nine years with Columbus, his plus-minus stats are (starting with his rookie season): minus-27, minus-36, plus-5, minus-8, plus-2, plus-11, minus-2, plus-2 and he finished-off his career with the Blue Jackets this past year with an abominable minus-19. Thus said, don’t “puff-up” a guy into Messier status when he doesn’t deserve it, and obviously, Nash is already full of himself so don’t give him any more pride or he might float away like a zeppelin! 

The Rangers also received 21 year-old Steve Delisle who is a 6-foot-6, 234-pound defenseman, but who hasn’t seen NHL action. 

The condition for the third round pick in the 2013 entry draft is that the Rangers get the pick if they don’t make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013. Blue Jacket GM Howson should have negotiated more regarding a pick in return, and if a condition was attached it should have been based on if the Rangers made the Eastern Conference Final (at most) and not the Stanley Cup Final. 

Howson and the Blue Jackets have received in return two respectable centers, a probable solid defenseman, and a first round pick in the 2013 entry draft (which is going to be down low in the round).

Center Brandon Dubinsky only had 34 points this past year and was plus-16 on a team that had quite a number of players in higher plus figures. His 34 points was 20 shy of his 2010-11 total, however, a new opportunity in Columbus might bring out the best in him. He is 26 years old so he has a lot left.

Artem Anisimov played in 79 games last year and had 16 goals and 20 assists, and was plus-12. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Russian is 24 years-old.

Defenseman Tim Erixon played in eighteen games last year for the Rangers and had two assists and was minus-2. That was his first NHL action after playing for five years in Sweden (despite being born in NY) and I believe that he is going to be a solid NHL defenseman. He is just a kid at 21 years-old.

Final Analysis

Howson allowed himself to be pressured too much in this trade. He almost made a deal with Sather before the trade deadline and he has been trying to move Nash for months. Subsequently, he took a little less than he could have received and should have fought harder regarding the draft pick, condition or no condition attached to it. I would have pushed for a fifth or sixth round pick at best rather than letting Sather get a third round pick which can only be lost if the Rangers make the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013. Thus said, the pick is almost a gift in my opinion because I doubt that the Rangers are going to make it to the Finals in 2013. The Bruins, Caps, Flyers and the Penguins are all going to be tougher this year. 

If Dubinsky and Anisimov apply themselves mentally and physically, rather than sulk, then, Howson can still look like he made a good deal. If Erixon develops as expected then Howson will look even better; and, if the first-round pick in 2013 turns-out to be a winner then Howson can win this trade big-time. Just getting rid of an ingrate like Nash is a huge victory because was like poison to the team this past year.

The Rangers win this trade if Nash is able to be the leading scorer on the team and leads them to a Stanley Cup victory this year or in the next two or three years. I doubt that it will happen because I don’t think that he will have the positive effect on his teammates that Sather, Tortorella, media and many fans believe. He will not be another Messier!

TJ Stanley

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Predators to Trade Shea Weber?

Restricted free agent Shea Weber has signed an offer sheet with the Flyers, and the deal is huge at 110 million over a fourteen-year time period—according to TSN. Predators GM David Poile has indicated that the offer sheet is complex and that they will review it before making a decision to match the Flyers offer or to let Weber go and receive the compensation according to NHL rules. The compensation depends on the average annual value of the contract, and in Weber’s case it equates to the Flyers first round draft picks over the next five years. That might not sound too bad but when you consider that the Flyers are going to finish high in the standings over the next five years, that reduces the value significantly—yet, any first-rounder could turn out to be an elite player. One thing we do know is that this long-term contract is going to be similar to Crosby’s in that it will pay Weber a ton of money in the first several years (front-loaded) and then take a good-sized drop for another few years, and then pay very little for the last few years—which takes the cap hit down, and Weber won’t even play these low-paying final years because he will have lots of money and won’t want to risk injury. The Preds have seven days to match the Flyers offer if they choose to do so. Poile could match the offer and then trade Weber and we shall re-visit that scenario in a moment.    

Does Weber Truly Want to Go to Philly?

The Tennessean reported today that Weber’s agent has indicated that Shea wants to play in Philadelphia. I believe that to be true because Suter has left and the Predators gambled last year with trades and things do not look as bright as last year. Also, Radulov is probably going to return to the KHL.

What Should Poile and the Predators Do?   

Since Weber does not want to play in Nashville, there is no reason to force him to stay or you end up with an overgrown baby like Rick Nash.

What will be the best option for Poile? Should he match the contract offer and trade Weber, or should he take the five first-round draft picks? Honestly, I believe that he has to match the offer and then trade Weber so that he has a team this year (and future years) that has a chance to make the playoffs and that fans will pay to watch. For Weber, Poile could get two very good players or an elite player and a couple of draft picks. Weber has not been the easiest guy to deal with, and why let him go to the team where he wants to play? I would send him up to Toronto or Winnipeg and let him suffer there (no playoffs for either team for years in my opinion), but a more likely place would be Boston or even the Rangers since they have more talent to offer. We would expect Poile to try to do a deal with an Eastern Conference team if at all possible (increases Nashville’s chance of making the playoffs), but he would go anywhere if the deal is right. Certainly, Poile is not happy about Holmgren’s huge offer to Weber so it would be a little “shot” back if he could trade Weber to an Eastern Conference team.       

I think of the playoff series this year between the Red Wings and the Predators, and Weber putting his hand behind Zetterberg’s head and smashing his face into the glass. For that Weber, I hope you go to Toronto or Winnipeg and suffer!

TJ Stanley

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Selanne to Play in 2012-13

Teemu Selanne signed a one year, 4.5 million dollar contract with the Ducks for the 2012-13 season. Despite the good-sized pay-check, you know that he is playing for the enjoyment and because he wants to move up on the lists for all-time point and goal leaders. Currently he is 19th in career points with 1406, and if he produces like last year he could move up to 14th just behind Paul Coffey. In goals, Selanne is 12th all-time with 663, just two behind Jagr who will also be playing this year (with the Stars). If Selanne gets 29 or 30 goals he will move into 8th on the list, passing Lemieux who has 690 goals and Yzerman who has 692 goals. I would love to see him overtake Yzerman. By the way, Robitaille is in 10th with 668 goals and both Selanne and Jagr should pass him early in the season. Of course, Gretzky sits at the top of the career goals list—with 894.  

On the Ducks side of things, 4.5 million is definitely worth it to them because:

  1. Selanne was the highest scorer on the team last year with 66 points (26 goals and 40 assists). Included were 12 power-play goals and four game-winners.
  2. Selanne is a great leader and ambassador for the team (and the game of hockey itself). If more guys like him make the NHL the better the game will become.
  3. The fans love Selanne and will pay to see him as this could be his last year and he might just pass some big names on the career goals and points lists. 
All the best to Teemu this year!

TJ Stanley

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yzerman’s Goalie Predicament – Yet he is Not Interested in Roberto Luongo? – Other Goalies he Could Trade For – Can Anders Lindback take the Lightning all the Way? – Mathieu Garon?

Steve Yzerman, VP and GM of the Lightning, probably made the worst all-time goalie decisions after the 2010-11 season. First, he let Mike Smith go—and for nothing! Second, Yzerman rested his hopes on a 42 year old Roloson and gave him a one-year deal worth 3 million! You can’t gamble your entire season on a retirement-ready goalie and neither is it wise to count on one goalie without providing an exceptional back-up—and Yzerman did not provide a good enough back-up in Mathieu Garon (who actually became the starter). Furthermore, you should always strive to have at least one other competent goalie in your system who can be brought-up in case there are one or more injuries—it simply is the most important position in hockey and you need a lot of depth, and you can ask the Penguins about that since Fleury choked big-time in the playoffs and they had nobody who could effectively take over. I guess Yzerman felt that a goalie would be given to him as a gift because he also passed on the chance of taking the #1 goalie prospect in the 2011 draft—John Gibson! Instead, he opted for a Russian center for his first pick, a Russian winger for his second, a Russian defenseman for his third (Round 5), and he finally took a goalie in Round 6. All said, Yzerman was entirely responsible for the Lightning missing the 2012 playoffs—a series of some of the worst NHL managing mistakes ever! He was a great player but obviously needs a lot of advice in managing and directing a team (and the same goes for Kevin Lowe of the Oilers). Yzerman selected a goalie for his second of two picks in Round 1 of the 2012 draft (19th overall), but too little too late, and again the player was a Russian. He also took a Russin in Round 7. Yzerman is going way overboard on Russian players in my opinion, and you tell me if fans in North America want to watch a team full of Russians rather than Canadians and Americans? Also, Russian players are a risk because they could go to the KHL, like Radulov did once, and will likely do it a second time this year—the baby that he is.

So, Yzerman needs an excellent starter (someone who can be a Top 20 goalie) if he wants to salvage the 2012-13 season, and a good back-up as well. A week before this year’s draft, Yzerman acquired 24 year-old netminder Anders Lindback from the Predators, along with forward Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick in the draft, in exchange for two 2nd round picks in the 2012 draft, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft and goalie Sebastien Caron. Yzerman had put himself into a position where he really had to do this deal because he has nobody of merit between the pipes and Lindback could develop into a starting goalie. Currently, he is a back-up caliber goalie, but if Yzerman does not obtain a goalie by trade this summer or fall, I believe that Lindback will earn the starting spot over Mathieu Garon. Lindback played 22 games for the Preds in the 2010-11 season and his Save Percentage was acceptable at .915 and he had two shutouts. Last year he played just 16 games (with a 5-8-0 record) and his Save Percentage was .913. As for Garon, he had to play the starting role for the better part of last year due to Roloson’s terrible play. Garon proved that he is not a starting goalie because in 48 games his Save Percentage was .901, he only had one shutout, and his GAA was 2.85. The 34 year-old has never proven to be good enough to be a starter and his two previous seasons with the Blue Jackets were very similar to last year—with .901 and .903 Save Percentages. Only one season since he has been in the NHL has he shown any better and that was when he was with the Oilers back in 2007-08 when he had a .913 Save Percentage. Well, the chances of Garon significantly improving to the extent that the Lightning can make the playoffs this year are not good at all. So, unless Yzerman trades for a goalie it looks like Lindback should win the spot over Garon. However, it is too much of a gamble to trust in Lindback to be good enough to get the Lightning into the playoffs (either) so I see no logical choice but to trade for a goalie before the season starts. Yzerman has put himself in an extremely embarrassing position and has compromised the Lightning in a huge way, and I prefer that he suffer and miss the playoffs again this year so that people can see what a brutal job he has done with the team; however, if he has any commonsense he will sacrifice part of his team (including a couple of Russian prospects) and trade for a goalie before the season starts. He has no depth in the position and he needs injury protection and not just a starter. The ideal is to have a Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott situation where two good goalies are battling for the starting spot. Let Lindback battle for the starting position with whoever Yzerman can trade for and send Garon to the minors where he can stay ready in case needed. People, it is all about trying to make the playoffs and Yzerman has to provide goalie support so that his team can have a chance. When you have 60-goal scorer Steven Stamkos on your team and you can’t make the playoffs you need to make a big goaltending move so your players can have a chance at the Cup. To wait two or three years for an NHL-caliber starting goalie is wasting the talent of Stamkos—and not many Stamkos’ come around. Stamkos has said repeatedly that being in the playoffs is most important to him. Do the Lightning really have a chance of making the playoffs with Lindback and Garon? In the East, the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, and Hurricanes are going to make the playoffs in my opinion, and that only leaves two spots open. The Canadiens are going to be tougher this year and I expect them to battle hard for a playoff spot. The Senators should have a decent year with Karlsson inspiring his teammates, the Sabres shouldn’t be far back, while it does not look good for the Devils without Parise but I wouldn’t entirely discount them since they could add some players before the start of the season. All said, I cannot see the Lightning in the playoffs unless they trade for an excellent goalie, or, unless Lindback is able to improve—possible, but again, why not have two very good goalies battle for the starting spot?

Who to trade for? Luongo?

Well Roberto Luongo is clearly available but Yzerman said that he is not interested in him. That surprises me a little because Luongo is a solid goaltender (but not elite) and would be enough to get the Lightning into the playoffs at least some years in the next six or seven years that Luongo will play before retiring. Luongo was a 10 million dollar man in the 2010-11 season but that dropped to 6.716 million a season and until 2017-18, and then to 3.382 million for the following year, 1.1618 in 2019-20, and then the final two years of the contract pay just 1 million a year—get that cap hit down boys. Luongo is likely to retire after the 2017-18 season which will mean six more years in-between the pipes until he is 39 years old, but, he could bow himself really low and play for the 3.38 million in 2018-10—wink, wink, snicker, snicker. Yzerman could take on Luongo’s contract if he really wanted to. To be honest, I don’t care for Luongo due to his over-rated status (as proven by stats and other parts of his game), his pride, previous poker TV commercials for BC Lottery (not a good example for the kids who look up to him), and his recent radio interview in Vancouver where he kissed the Canucks goodbye despite the fact that he has not been traded! Luongo should have just kept his mouth shut and let GM Mike Gillis do his job, rather than offending him by trying to force a trade. What it comes down to is that Yzerman has dug himself in a huge, extremely deep hole and Luongo would be a sure way of giving the team a decent chance of making the playoffs and advancing. So, I think that Yzerman should consider Luongo more carefully and go ahead and take him unless he can secure another goalie. Just don’t play Luongo in the TD Garden in Boston—enough said. 

Besides Luongo, Yzerman might want to consider a trade with the Kings for Jonathan Bernier. He had a tough year last year but given more ice time he would improve to where he was before and probably become even better. And, he is only 23 years old, a steal at 1.525 million for 2012-13, and would be a RFA at the end of the upcoming season.   

The goalie that I would go for would be Robin Lehner who the Senators have grossly mistreated despite the fact that he had the best Save Percentage of their four goaltenders last year. They only allowed Lehner to play five games in 2011-12, four after Anderson lacerated his finger; and, in those five games he had a Save Percentage of .935, one shutout, and a GAA of 2.01. Furthermore, in the four games he played after Anderson was injured, he was the 1st Star twice and the 2nd Star once. The 20 year-old, 220 lb Swede is going to be another Lundqvist in my opinion (almost already is and has not been given much of a chance), and maybe even better. GM Bryan Murray’s buddy, Ben Bishop, who he clearly favored, played in ten games and had a Save Percentage of .909, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 2.48. Alex Auld played in 14 games and had a brutal Save Percentage of .884, zero shutouts, and a GAA of 3.35. Craig Anderson played in 63 games and had a Save Percentage of .914, only three shutouts, and a GAA of 2.84.

Finally, Mike Smith is out now Mr. Yzerman. You better make a move for an excellent  goalie rather than resting all of your hopes and playoff chances on Lindback. Two goalies are better than one. Furthermore, I would trade a couple of your Russian prospects as part of a goalie trade.  

TJ Stanley

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Roberto Luongo’s Ego too Big for him to Want to Stay with the Canucks – On a Radio Program in Vancouver on July 6th he Spoke Like he was no Longer a Canuck Despite Not Even Being Traded – Also Luongo’s BC Lottery Corporation Poker TV Commercials

In Round 1 of this year’s playoffs against the Kings, Luongo’s ego was bruised when he was pulled as the starter in favor of Schneider, and when Schneider outplayed Luongo that was enough for Luongo to state that he wanted to be traded. Hard to believe a grown man would act like that!

Well, Luongo is still waiting for an NHL team to take a chance on him, and he could be waiting and waiting because he has never proven that he is an elite goalie in the NHL, but rather, only a very good goalie who can be extremely hot or utterly brutal. More on that after I present some of what Luongo said in a radio interview in Vancouver on Friday July 6th. Notice that he is talking like the Canucks have already traded him. I quote:

“I HAD a great six years in Vancouver. It’s a really wonderful city. I ENJOYED my time there……………”

People, this guy has so much pride that he has to gather sympathy from fans and try to publicly force a trade! I guess that he actually believes that the decision to be traded is up to him, and it isn’t.

Luongo has a no-trade clause but he agreed with GM Mike Gillis to waive that for about five teams. Well, Luongo had better expand that to the entire league, and fast if he wants to be out of Vancouver before the start of the upcoming season. I suggest that he offers to take a pay cut so that another team can more easily facilitate him. Luongo was a 10 million dollar man in the 2010-11 season but that dropped to 6.716 million the following year and will continue at the amount until 2017-18. Then, it will drop to 3.382 million for the following year, 1.1618 in 2019-20, and then the final two years of the contract pay just 1 million a year—that is how they get the cap hit down. Of course, Luongo is almost surely going to retire after the 2017-18 season which will mean six more years in-between the pipes.

Well, considering Luongo’s attitude and his disrespect towards the Canucks, I hope that Mike Gillis holds on to “Lu” and disgraces him for coming out and speaking on radio like he did. Let Lu rot in Vancouver until he learns some humility and understands that he is not the boss of the Canucks. He was extremely fortunate that the Canucks foolishly filled his pockets despite the fact that Lu had never proven himself to be an elite goalie, and yet, Lu is now repaying the organization by not showing any respect to them at all. Luongo should have just kept his mouth shut and let Gillis do his job by trying to work a trade. That way if they can’t do a trade Luongo could have returned to the team with his head held high, but now he cannot. And, if the Canucks decide that they don’t want to trade Luongo for what is being offered in return then that is their right. Rick Nash is another spoiled baby who is making too much money. The worst part about Nash is he is a liar.

For those of you who believe that I am being too tough on Luongo, please continue reading as we examine his career more closely including his endorsements, TV commercials, last year for the BC Lottery Corporation—what a great example (being sarcastic) for children who admire him!

In 2011 after the Canucks lost in the Finals to the Bruins, I indicated that I felt the Canucks should trade Luongo, and not just due to his collapse in the games at the TD Garden but because Luongo is too expensive for what he provides and Schneider was already showing that he was going to be one of the better goalies in the league. Luongo is a good NHL goaltender but he is not one of the elite—and stats and other factors prove that fact (more on that later).  

The Canucks had a golden opportunity to move Luongo last summer because the Flyers wanted a goalie and were willing to empty the bank to get one—signing free agent Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract worth 51 million! Bryzgalov had totally choked in the playoffs before the signing, as a Coyote, losing four straight to the Red Wings. This year we saw his brutal performance in the series against the Penguins, and it was hard to believe that Fleury’s play was so abominable that Bryzgalov was not exposed by the media as much as he should have been. Fleury might have provided the worst all-time playoff performance by a goalie and was benched. Anyway, the Canucks could have easily unloaded Luongo and his salary to the Flyers and would have received a player and one or two draft picks in return; but, the Canuck organization was too proud to admit error in signing Luongo to an enormous contract worth 64 million—and they still are too proud. By the way, I would much prefer Luongo over Bryzgalov since Luongo is far better in the playoffs. I predict that the Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup any time soon because you can’t win it without stellar goaltending—not in today’s league.

In January of 2012, I wrote an article entitled:  “Canucks—The Luongo Question?” and in February another entitled: “Canucks—Schneider, Luongo and the Red Wings.” In these articles I discussed the issues that I have with Luongo including his stats, his contract, problems with his game, the slighting of his teammates, and the better play of Cory Schneider. My articles were not designed to simply attack Luongo, but they were more geared to wake-up the many fans who have been deceived by the media into believing that he is one of the top goalies in the league, and, I also wrote the article to expose the Canuck organization’s mistake in offering Luongo a ridiculously high contract that he definitely had not earned. After signing Luongo to the big deal, the Canuck organization has continued to sell him to the fans and has not benched him when he should have been sitting. Coach Alain Vigneault played Luongo in Boston in Game 6 of the Finals when he knew full well that Schneider was the guy he should have played—but the organization was paying Luongo so much money that they felt that they had to play him no matter what. This year when the teams met in Boston in the regular season, Vigneault played Schneider and the Canucks won the game. I believe that Vigneault was hoping for a loss so that he could feel justified about his wrong decision in the Finals last year and so he could sleep better at night—but that did not happen.

By the way, in the April 8, 2012 edition of HNIC’s “After Hours” (just before the playoffs), Vigneault was the guest and he said that people blame Luongo for everything and he went forth to state that some fans have blamed Luongo for the teacher’s strike, the bad weather, and also for high gas prices. Oh, Alain, give us a bloody break and be a man and stop excusing yourself and pointing your finger at some of the fans. People, Alain knows full well that he played Luongo just because he was the highest paid goalie and not the best goalie in the particular situation. If you want to win the Stanley Cup you have to go with the player who is going to do best considering the circumstances and that obviously was not Luongo since he could not gather himself mentally in the TD Garden in Boston.

One person, after reading “The Luongo Question,” attempted to defend Luongo by pretending that I was not examining his total game. I directed this individual to parts in my article that proved that I was examining everything and not just stats. I told this person that Luongo has had a major problem in dropping his stick pretty much every game and sometimes two and three times a game (as any Canuck fan knows), that he has frequently dropped to his knees for no reason and left the upper part of the net wide-open, that he has at times not taken responsibility for his own poor play and has subsequently laid the blame on his teammates (publicly in interviews), and that he was promoting online poker for the BC Lottery Corporation (TV commercials) despite knowing that many children admire and follow him. Additionally, all elite goalies have excellent stats (at the very least in Save Percentage and shutouts) and you cannot be classified as an elite goalie if your Save Percentage is not great.

From “The Luongo Question?” I quote:

In the 2009-2010 season Luongo did not play that well all things considered. His Goals Against Average (GAA) was high at 2.57 and his Save Percentage was not overly impressive at .913. In fact about 15 starting goalies had a better Save Percentage! Luongo registered just 4 shutouts and there were 12 goalies in the league who posted more than him, and 6 others who tied him at 4. This entirely average season for a goalie in the NHL somehow convinced the Vancouver Canucks that he was more valuable than a chest full of gold and diamonds because they decided to bestow upon him a long-term contract that would make him the second highest paid player in the league! In 2010-2011 he was paid 10 million dollars! Sinking that much money into an average player is not only tough on the organization but also on the other players.

TJ Stanley

Friday, July 6, 2012

Joe Nieuwendyk Rebuilds Dallas Stars – Jagr, Whitney, Rome, Eakin, Roy, and 1st Round pick Radek Faksa

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk has significantly and positively rebuilt his team going into the 2012-13 season and he still might acquire one or more free agents. Furthermore, he may be able to insert rookie Radek Faksa into his line-up this year as well as defenseman Brenden Dillon. Let’s analyze the series of huge trades and free agent signings that Nieuwendyk used to reconstruct the Stars. I will also list the Stars 2012 draft picks by round and will include their final rankings which is very interesting (North American and European). 

The Stars haven’t been in the playoffs since the 2007-08 season (including self-destructing the last two years) so the huge changes that Nieuwendyk has made were definitely necessary.

Trade – Ribeiro for Eakin and Draft Pick

The first move that Nieuwendyk made was a trade just before the draft and it involved sending Mike Ribeiro to the Capitals in exchange for 21 year-old center Cody Eakin and a 2nd Round pick in the 2012 draft (54th overall), who turned out to be center Mike Winther of the Prince Albert Raiders. Winther was 21st in the final draft rankings so the Stars certainly got their money’s worth in landing one of the better prospects at that stage in the draft. Eakin is extremely talented and it looks like he is going to make a huge difference for the Stars in the long-run and possibly this year as well. In 2010-11 he split time between WHL teams the Swift Current Broncos and the Kootenay ICE, and in 56 games he had 36 goals and 47 assists for a total of 83 points. Last year for the Caps he played in 30 games, and with limited playing time he was still able to get 4 goals and 4 assists and was plus-2. He has a cap hit of only $638 000 until the end of 2013-14 at which time he will be a RFA.

Of course, trading Ribeiro left a hole to fill in the Stars line-up since he has been a big contributor for the team over the last six years; however, he is 32 years old and also has a cap hit of 5 million. Yet, if he keeps himself in top condition he could be a game-breaking player for another five years. In going for Ribeiro, the Caps are making a big effort to win the Cup this coming year. Ovechkin was terrible this past season and especially in the plus-minus department. He was too busy with big endorsements and girlfriends and did not commit himself at all to hockey. The playoffs were a little different but it would have been better if he had trained himself properly before and throughout the season. I expect OV to put more effort in this year, and time will tell. The Caps should play Ribeiro with Ovechkin in the preseason to see how they do together, and add Backstrom and you have a very potent power-play. 

Trade Winner – The Stars are getting a probable long-term NHL producer in Eakin and at very low cost; and, they also obtained a good prospect in Winther. Ribeiro could make a big difference for the Caps for the next couple of years and help them go further in the playoffs. Both teams could turn out to be winners in this trade, but I am hoping that Eakin will come through in a big way and prove the Stars to have gotten the best of the deal.

Free Agent Signings – Ray Whitney and Aaron Rome

The next moves by Nieuwendyk occurred on the first day of free agency, and he began by signing 40 year-old Ray Whitney. Whitney led the Coyotes last year with 77 points and was also an impressive plus-26. Nieuwendyk awarded him with a two-year deal worth 9 million. Nice to see an older guy who works hard get paid what a lot of the younger guys are making.

Later that same day, Nieuwendyk was able to sign free agent Aaron Rome, who obviously decided that the Stars offered more money and a better opportunity as compared to the Canucks and everyone else who was interested in him. Signing 28 year-old Rome was a great move by the Stars because he is a big, tough defenseman who has several good years left if he takes care of himself. Nieuwendyk locked Rome into a three year contract worth 4.5 million, a raise for Rome but also an absolute steal of a deal for the Stars in my opinion. 

Derek Roy

The following day, Nieuwendyk traded Steve Ott and Adam Pardy to the Sabres in exchange for Derek Roy.

Roy was drafted by Buffalo in the 2001 Entry Draft, Round 2 and 32nd overall, and is now 29 years old. He was a proven performer for several years but in the 2010-11 he only played 35 games due to needing surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon. He returned for the 2011-12 season and he was only able to compile 44 points in 80 games and was minus-7. So, the question is can he get back to where he was before the operation? And, then there is another huge issue with this trade and that is the fact that Roy will be getting paid the highest amount this coming year of his six-year contract: 5.5 million; but, that is not all since this is the last year of his contract before becoming an UFA. If he does not like Dallas he won’t consider signing with them after this year. Roy does fill at least part of the gap at center left by the Ribeiro trade and that is important.

In exchange for Roy, Nieuwendyk surrendered Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. Ott was a fan favorite and a good team guy but he is a third or even fourth line center; and, he also carries a pretty high price tag considering what he can do on the ice. He is under contract for two more years and will make 3.2 million each year and then be an UFA. Like Roy, he is 29 years old but is only capable of producing about half of Roy’s offense (when Roy is at the top of his game, and yes, he may never get there again). Adam Pardy will be an extra defenseman for the Sabres and he has one year left in his contract and will make 2 million in 2012-13. He is 28 years old and only played 36 games for the Stars last year, his only year with the team since the Stars picked him up last summer.

Trade Winner – Well, all things considered, the Stars did not have to give up much at all to get Roy so the gamble by Nieuwendyk was a great one in my opinion. I don’t know what the Sabres were thinking, but maybe they know more about Roy’s leg than has been revealed?

Jaromir Jagr

Then, on July 3rd, Nieuwendyk signed Jagr to a one-year deal worth 4.5 million plus a significant signing bonus of $500 000, and he is also eligible to earn an extra $50 000 on a performance bonus. Jagr surprised us last year by choosing to sign with the Flyers over the Pens, for 3.3 million, and now he has surprised us once again. Obviously, the amount of money is a big issue for Jagr and that is why he signed with the Stars. I think he would have been better signing with a Stanley Cup contender for less money, however, I am happy to see him with the Stars and in the Western Conference since he has always played in the Eastern Conference.  

Jagr is 40 years old and brings a lot to the table including some excellent hockey, being an example for other players regarding work ethic and he has a “hate to lose” attitude, being able to give advice to other players, having the ability to teach others, and of course he will bring the fans into the American Airlines Center (where the Stars play). Last year Jagr played very well for the Flyers and in 73 games he compiled 54 points and was plus-5. In my opinion, he will not only be able to help the youngest players but also many of the veterans who are used to losing and who need an attitude and confidence boost. Whitney will also do the same work in helping the others and we should see a significant change in the team this year. All said, Nieuwendyk was wise to surrender 5 million to Jagr since he has much to offer, and Whitney too. 

Another thing, Jagr is Czechoslovakian and so is the Stars Round 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Radek Faksa. Faksa is a huge fan of Jagr and has watched him live. Jagr could help the kid a lot in training camp and onward if Faksa is able to crack the line-up this year; however, Niewendyk has stated that he doesn’t want to rush Faksa. Jagr won’t likely be with the Stars next year but who knows? Faksa has already signed a contract with the Stars and now he is in development camp. Benn, Eriksson, Jagr, Whitney, Roy and Eakin will certainly bring the fans into the building and that is another reason to wait until Faksa is actually ready for the NHL. I will never forget the Oilers inserting Taylor Hall into the line-up before he was NHL-ready and his first year was a disaster for the most part (improving in the second half). Hall was falling all over the place and he suffered a season-ending leg injury in a fight with Dorsett of the Blue Jackets. His play was significantly better this past year but he had numerous injuries and his season was cut short again and this time due to a concussion and the need for shoulder surgery.

Power-Play Boost

The Stars had the worst power-play in the NHL last year at 13.5 % overall (home and road games). We can expect that to change with the addition of Jagr, Whitney and Roy. Add on Benn and Eriksson and you have five guys who can put the puck in the net. Goligoski and Daley are the Stars best defensemen for power-plays, but I would only play one of them at the most and have at least four of the forwards previously mentioned on the ice most of the time.  

2012 Draft Picks

Nieuwendyk had nine picks in the 2012 draft and his choices were, along with their final ranking (North American being “NA” and European being “E”) or if they were unranked):  Round 1, 13th overall, center Radek Faksa (NA Ranking 7th); Round 2, 43rd overall, defenseman Ludwig Bystrom (E Ranking 8th); Round 2 again, 54th overall, center Mike Winther (NA Ranking 21st); Round 2 again, 61st overall, center Devin Shore (NA Ranking 58th); Round 3, 74th overall, defenseman Esa Lindell (E Ranking 12th); Round 4, 104th overall, center Gemel Smith (NA Ranking 37th); Round 5, 134th overall, right-winger Brandon Troock (NA Ranking 65th);  Round 5 again, 144th overall, goalie Henri Kiviaho (not ranked); Round 7, 183 overall, defenseman Dmitry Sinitsyn (Limited Viewing).   

In my opinion, Nieuwendyk didn’t do too bad up until his last two picks. There were some superior goalies left including 10th Ranked goalie Marek Mazanec—who is Czech like Radek Faksa! I don’t know what Nieuwendyk was thinking but he made a big mistake in my opinion. I would have taken at least two goalies in the draft and at least one in within the first two rounds.  


It is going to be extremely interesting to see if Jagr, Whitney, Roy, Rome and Eakin are going to be able to transform the Stars into a team that will make the playoffs this year. I will be providing my predictions at the beginning of the season and will update those after the All-Star break. Last year I chose the Devils to win the East (and to have a chance at winning the Cup) as long as they did not have to face the Bruins. I might get lucky again this year. No, I didn’t have the Kings to win the West because they did not show enough before the playoffs started.

TJ Stanley

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Steve Nash Traded to LA

Steve Nash has negotiated a deal that will take him to LA to join Kobe Bryant. Whoops, wrong sport. I don’t know how I mixed-up Rick Nash with Steve Nash because they are two entirely different people. Steve Nash is a pretty good guy and a lot better athlete than Rick Nash ever was or will be; while, Rick Nash is a liar and a baby. He is still sitting in Columbus where he belongs. I hope he rots there for lying to fans and turning his back on his team not long after signing a huge contract with them in 2010.

Sorry, I have to have a little fun people!

TJ Stanley

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crosby’s New Contract – Lemieux and Burkle Gambling Fools?

On July 1st, Sidney Crosby signed his new contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one that stretches over 12 years and that will pay him the enormous sum of 104.4 million dollars. There has been talk that Crosby could have gotten more and that he deserved more, but I entirely disagree considering his brain injury / concussion issue. The contract is not small since it makes him the highest-paid NHL player if you consider the first nine years of the contract, and it is only in the last three years that his pay-check drops drastically. In the first three years he will make 12 million per year, then the next two 10.9 million, then 10, 9.6, 9, 9, and then only 3 million the final three years. If a miracle occurs and he was to make it to the 10th year of his contract, he definitely would not play for 3 million and risk further brain injury. Crosby is fully aware that he will not play that long and in my opinion he has pulled the wool over Lemieux’s and Ron Burkle’s eyes—Burkle being co-owner with Lemieux in case you did not know. But, the contract itself is not the problem with this deal for Lemieux and Burkle (despite their having to free-up resources to make it happen), the real issue is that Crosby cannot be insured against a career-ending injury caused by concussion / brain injury because insurance policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions. That means that if Crosby goes out and gets nailed during his first shift of the new contract, and suffers a major concussion that sidelines him forever, Lemieux and Burkle will have to pay him the full 104.4 million! That is a huge gamble in my opinion and one that I would never consider after hearing Crosby speaking about his injuries throughout his lengthy recovery. I have had concussions and deal with ongoing symptoms and brain injury just does not go away—there is always a degree of permanent damage, small or large! By the way, excuse me if you read words in reverse order or words that don’t seem to fit in a sentence due to my typing the incorrect word. I proofread the articles a number of times and try to catch all of the problems before publishing.

Dear Mr. Lemieux, how much will you pay me to clean your golf balls, shine your shoes, polish your wine bottles, and have those Godfather movies ready when you want to watch them? Readers, to let you in on the joke, in an interview around the time that Lemieux’s statue was unveiled, March 7, 2012, he stated that his passions are golfing and fine wines, and that his favorite movie is The Godfather.

In continuing, last year Crosby presented himself as fearful and cautious regarding his concussion, and it lasted so damn long that people began to wonder if he would ever return at all. In fact, he sought out his own medical advice to be sure that the Penguins’ doctors weren’t just acting on behalf of the team. It was not a good situation and I stated in an article that Crosby should just get some more endorsements, retire as an NHL player, and do hockey schools or coaching (if he wanted to still be on the ice). Well, Crosby has decided that he will need a lot more money than he really needs and that he wants to risk further brain injury in the quest for one or more additional Stanley Cup rings. If I was younger and foolish I would probably do the same thing. Despite Crosby not being one of my favorite players in the game, I hope that he is able to escape further brain injury and that he can out-play all of the Russian stars in the league!   

TJ Stanley

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oilers Sign Justin Schultz – It was Lucky but Tambellini Patted Himself and Lowe on their Backs Anyway! – Also, Deserved Rebuke of Tambellini and Lowe

The Oilers have been looking for an effective offensive defenseman for a long time, and today, the start of free agency, they hit the jackpot by signing Justin Schultz, a young, talented player who was a steal at the cost of an entry-level contract plus bonuses.

Schultz was originally drafted by the Ducks back in 2008 (Round 2, 43rd overall) but refused to sign with them and decided to play at the college level and study until he would become a free agent in July of 2012. What made him one of the most sought-after free agents this year? Three things: his youth, his low price, and his outstanding play in the three years he was with the University of Wisconsin Badgers. In both 2010-11 and 2011-12 he was named the WCHA defensive player of the year, and he was also named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award each of these years. In 2010-11 he had 47 points in 41 games (18 goals and 29 assists), while in 2011-12 he compiled 44 points in just 37 games (16 goals and 28 assists). Obviously, he was a much desired commodity. 

Pretty much every NHL team made an effort to get Schultz, but it really came down to three possibilities: Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Toronto made a huge effort to obtain Schultz and so did the Oilers, while Vancouver was the favorite in many people’s minds since Schultz is a BC boy—Kelowna. The Leafs used defenseman Jake Gardiner to try to convince Schultz to decide on Toronto, the two are good friends, while the Oilers used a barrage of people. In the end, Schultz chose the Oilers as the best place to begin his NHL career. I will explain why in a moment.

On June 28th, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, new head coach Ralph Krueger and Taylor Hall flew to Toronto to meet with Schultz to see if they could work his mind / sweet talk him. Furthermore, Kevin Lowe got dirty by contacting Gretzky and Coffey and asking them to phone Schultz to try to convince him to go to Edmonton. Both did phone Schultz and I guess Gretzky felt he owed something to his buddy Kevin and also to the fans of Edmonton for leaving. Nevertheless, all of this pressure was not responsible for Schultz’s decision to sign with the Oilers, but rather, various circumstances came into play. Lowe  and Tambellini were simply lucky to get the nod from Schultz and they landed him for the following four reasons, none of which had anything to do with Lowe and Tambellini’s skill in doing their jobs—and yet, Tambellini, in his pride, shamelessly patted himself on the back as he spoke to the media about the signing. 

  1. First, Schultz wanted to play in Canada.
  2. Second, and most importantly, he wanted to play on a team that had many players around his own age, as this would allow him to feel comfortable and enable him to easily connect with his teammates and make friends. The Canadian team with the greatest number of young players is of course the Oilers, who, will have eight under 24 including Yakupov. Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal have around five each, the Jets four, and the Canucks and Flames just three each. So, it was clear to Schultz that he would decide on the Oilers.
  3. Third, Schultz liked the Oilers team when he was growing-up.
  4. Fourth, Shultz wanted to play on a team where he would get a lot of ice time, and a team that had a coaching style that agreed with him. Schultz respected the attitude of Krueger. Schultz would have been given plenty of ice time in Toronto and Edmonton, and probably less in Vancouver (depending on how he adjusted to the NHL of course). One could say that Schultz wanted to be on a team that was going to have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup in 2013, but only Vancouver fits that role and the Oilers are likely looking at two to three years before they get their shot, depending on their goaltending. Tambellini and Lowe forgot that they needed an elite goalie to make the road to a Stanley Cup victory that much easier, and they did not even draft a goalie in this year’s draft! Unbelievable! They ought to pat themselves on the back for that too.     
All said, it was not Lowe and Tambellini who were the main factors in Schultz’s decision, but it really was luck since the Oilers had the situation that Schultz wanted to be in—one more comfortable for him with more players nearer to his own age. In fact, it has been Lowe’s and Tambellini’s abominable work that put the Oilers in the situation that they are now in, so, I guess they are indirectly responsible for getting Schultz—ha, ha, ha! Tambellini, go ahead and take credit for being a lousy GM who has screwed the Oilers in the drafts, in trades and also by never signing any significant free agents, previously. Furthermore, Tambellini, you don’t even know what players are worth and you have offended good players (Ryan Jones for example) and you have also blown money on players who really have not contributed much to the team—Hemsky for one, who you extended for two-years for a whopping 10 million dollars! Does he clean your house as part of the deal? Kevin Lowe has been no better. Both of these guys ought to pat themselves on the back for winning the draft lottery too—ha, ha, ha.

Yes people, I do hate to see Tambellini and Lowe taking credit for something that involved more luck than anything else. These two guys know no shame, and is it any wonder they were the first guys to bring cheerleaders into the NHL in Canada. If the Oilers can’t put out an entertaining team without cheerleaders it is time to pack it in boys. The people can get their “peeps” and sex at home! Kevin Lowe should have phoned Gretzky to ask his opinion on the cheerleaders. Certainly, Gretzky would have told him that it was sleazy, and Gretzky knows because he had to put his daughter in place for flashing her stuff all over the place. 

Regarding Schultz, he will make $925 000 a year for the next two seasons and also received a $92 500 signing bonus, but, the real money comes in performance bonuses as this takes him up to a potential 3.775 million US per year. Afterwards he will be a RFA and will have the opportunity at many millions if he performs as expected.

With Schultz on board, the Oilers just became a lot stronger and there is envy and concern in Calgary that is for sure.

TJ Stanley