February 28, 2007

A Wipeout - Toronto 1 - 6 Buffalo

Urgh. I made the mistake of staying up last night to listen to the radio broadcast of the game and I wish I'd had an early night in hindsight. Ryan Miller was fucking ridiculous in the Buffalo whereas Raycroft and Aubin were ridiculous themselves (but the bad kind of ridicule, this time). I figured when it was 1-0 at the end of the first, we at least had a chance of coming back but the way Miller was playing when they scored again it was pretty much game over. I like Andrew Raycroft, I'll defend him when other people are claiming he shouldn't have the starter's job, but this game was a poor performance all-round. In fact, it wasn't just bad from him, there was little to celebrate at all period.

A Brawl Worthy Of Happy Gilmore Himself

In the movie bearing his name, Happy Gilmore, an amazingly violent youngster with pipe dreams (copyright me; the phrase here is used in the same context as a basketball player would use "hoop dreams"), brags that he once took off his skate during a hockey game and tried to stab someone with it, adding he's the only player to ever do it. After watching some of the Ottawa/Buffalo Royal Rumble, I have made some observations.

1) None of the players attempted to use their skates as weapons, which makes me sad.

2) Andrew Peters is a fucking pussy. He pussies out of fighting whoever he was fighting originally to rumble with Ray Emery, who's already been through one fight, and still can't put him down. I'm filing this under "F" for "Faggotry".

3) Ray Emery could be the hardest man in the league. He beats the fuck out of Martin "Am I Supposed To Win" Biron, then fights Andrew Peters - WITH A FUCKING SMILE ON HIS FACE. He is batshit insane, and will now be known as Ray "Kid Dynamite" Emery until such time someone surpasses him.

4) I really, really wanted to see one of the coaches throw a punch at the other.

5) Chris Drury is going to seriously tear shit up when he comes back, until he faces Ottawa again, when he will have a Vietnam flashback and go into the foetal position on the ice.

February 27, 2007

A Seller's Market (Part Two)

The deadline has passed, the dust is beginning to settle and the Leafs have proven me wrong by finagling a move after all (and it's a biggie compared to past years). Did my earlier point hold up? Let's take a look and see, because I'm going to provide some probably-worthless analysis. Enjoy.


Toronto gets: Yanic Perreault, 5th-round pick in 2008
Phoenix gets: Brendan Bell, 2nd-round pick in 2007

This is excellent news, especially when you look at our injury situation. Perreault is a good faceoff man and a checking forward who can easily fill the boots left vacant by Mike Peca until he comes back, and the cost was surprisingly little. The pick was obviously the main selling point here, as Brendan Bell is a marginal prospect who isn't going to get much better; of the many prospective defensemen - Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and so on - Bell is probably the least of them, so this is actually a real steal for us. CBS Sportsline claims Bell is a developing defensemen who'll see more icetime in Phoenix - one part of that sentence is true, guess which.


Florida gets: Noah Welch
Pittsburgh gets: Gary Roberts

Really, this is a win-win deal right here. Roberts has the potential to be a great leader for the Penguins, and he might even be the offensive force they need to secure a spot in the postseason - seriously, picture a line of Roberts/Crosby/Malkin and tell me that doesn't disturb you. Welch, unlike Bell, actually IS a good young defenseman with potential, and he can probably learn from Jay Bouwmeester among others - that said, the defensive corps are going to need to shape up pronto because of the bigger trade involving the Panthers...


Florida gets: Conditional pick in 2007, conditional 2nd-round pick in 2008 OR Shawn Matthias
Detroit gets: Todd Bertuzzi

From what I'm hearing, the further the Wings go in the playoffs and the better Bertuzzi's performance is, the higher the 2007 pick they give up, which means there really isn't a way this can go wrong for Detroit. Bertuzzi's in the last year of his contract to start with, so if his back proves a problem they can opt not to re-sign him, but if he plays well, the Wings can go further into the playoffs and everybody's happy. There are conflicting reports about what Florida actually got, as TSN say it's a conditional pick and Matthias whereas CBS say it's both picks.


Buffalo gets: Dainius Zubrus, Timo Helbling
Washington gets: Jiri Novotny, 1st-round pick in 2007

Overpaying? Novotny was a fourth-line centre in Buffalo and the pick is...well, the pick, and so I really question the wisdom of shipping Zubrus off this easily. The Sabres' pick is going to be a low one anyway and putting Helbling in just unbalances it further. Bad move, Capitals.


Ottawa gets: Oleg Saprykin, 7th-round pick in 2007
Phoenix gets: 2nd-round pick in 2007

And the firesale goes on. Phoenix had better hope Peter Mueller develops quickly because at this rate, they're going to be in real trouble next season if they don't make some serious moves in the free agency period. Saprykin had a lot of pressure put on him to perform when Calgary drafted him and nothing really changed when he went to Phoenix, so who knows, maybe he'll flourish when Ottawa don't need him as much.


San Jose gets: Bill Guerin
St. Louis gets: Ville Nieminen, New Jersey's 1st-round pick in 2007, Jay Barriball

Remember what I said about the Roberts/Crosby/Malkin line? If that didn't scare you, imagine facing a line made from Guerin, Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Or throw Pat Marleau in there somewhere for kicks. Yeah. I have to say, I'm surprised at the cost - I don't know anything about Barriball, but St. Louis got less from this than they did the Tkachuk trade, whereas I expected Guerin to be more valuable, particularly since Nieminen's a free agent at the end of this season as well.


Buffalo gets: Ty Conklin
Columbus gets: 5th-round pick in 2007

Philadelphia gets: Martin Biron
Buffalo gets: 2nd-round pick in 2007

These two are grouped together because one directly caused another. Apparently, Biron wanted a move to somewhere where he would get more icetime, and so went to the Flyers; the Sabres obviously needed a new backup goaltender as a result, and traded for Ty Conklin. Let me clarify that - they effectively traded Biron...for Conklin. That faint sound you can hear is the sound of Oilers fans pointing and laughing at Buffalo, and the other sound is the sound of Sabres fans weeping.


Phoenix gets: Daniel Carcillo, 3rd-round pick in 2007
Pittsburgh gets: Georges Laraque

Is that Sidney Crosby? Yes, Mr. Crosby, we've found you a bodyguard. I don't know anything about Carcillo, but since the Penguins were only really interested in getting an enforcer, I wouldn't expect him to be anything special. Laraque might provide some extra offense, but they hardly need it and his function is...well, to be a bodyguard and protect the team's young stars. As for Phoenix, the firesale goes on; I can't decide whether it looks more like an auction or a garage sale at this point.


Boston gets: Aaron Ward
New York gets: Paul Mara

The Rangers somehow managed to offload Ward and replace him with a younger, more talented version of himself, which makes me wonder exactly why Boston took this deal - I'd hazard a guess at financial reasons, but I don't know what Boston's cap-room situation is so it's all moot.


New York gets: Ryan Smyth
Edmonton gets: Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, 1st-round pick in 2007

Since I didn't know anything real about O'Marra or Nilsson, my first thought when I saw this trade was an indignant "WHAT IS THIS FAGGOTRY?", as now the Islanders have Smyth and look surprisingly dangerous (two words you'd rarely associate with NYI). However, CBS inform me that they are apparently the Islanders' two best prospects, which actually makes Edmonton seem smarter - if they couldn't keep Smyth around, it makes good sense to pillage another team, and now it becomes Garth Snow's job to negotiate so that Smyth stays in Long Island next year.


So, did my earlier point hold up? Is it still a seller's market? My first inclination is to say yes, looking at the Smyth and, to a lesser extent, Guerin trades, but there are just as many arguments against it - the farce that saw Zubrus leave Washington, for instance - and some trades that seem to be neutral, like the Roberts and the Perreault ones. If anyone's reading, drop me a comment and abuse me for my views, I'd like to know if you agree or disagree.


A Fantasy Player

In my defense, I like doing these things, it's fun. If I were a hockey player...

Team: Initially, I thought the Leafs, but I realised I'd be taking time from Kaberlabe so I couldn't do that. Then I thought Detroit, but then I'd just make Chris Chelios look bad. Then I thought Minnesota because of the funky jerseys. So Minnesota it is.

Number: 21, mainly because it's my birthday (the 21st). If not 21, then 23 to give the 23 conspiracy theorists something else to rave about.

Position: Defenseman, left-sided.

Nickname: Be. Long story.

Playing in Front of Me: Marian Gaborik, for obvious reasons. Pavol Demitra, ditto. Derek Boogaard, because the Boogeyman is a ridiculously good fighter. Branko Radovojevic, as the more Slovakians the better. And Niklas Backstrom, for coming into the league as an old rookie and actually kicking ass.

Job: Being the yin to the Boogeyman's yin. Every time our pairing gets on the ice, the Wild plays Dogs of War. I requested "SexyBack", because I do bring the sexy back, but apparently Rick Nash claimed that. What a pansy.

Signature Move: A showy shootout move, better known as "OH MALIK WENT BETWEEN HIS LEGS" to the more dirty-minded.

Strengths: Godlike checking and hitting and fighting skills, a decent slapshot and surprising speed.

Weaknesses: No finesse whatsoever. Repetoire consists of hitting and little else (but what else is even needed, mirite?)

Injury Problems? None, I am to make Karlis Skrastins cry his little Latvian eyes out when I shatter his game-streak-record, and possibly his kneecaps as well.

Equipment: If the league didn't make me wear a helmet, I wouldn't. If the league didn't make me wear pads, I wouldn't. Hell, I would be happy wearing pants and a pair of skates, I would be the studliest player going as I broke bones and hearts in equal measure (usually both at once).

Nemesis: Rick Nash, the very epitome of a crease faggot (term copyright R. Perry 2006)

Scandal Involvement:...just read on.

Who I’d Face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Toronto, naturally. I would then "accidentally" smack Backstrom in the face with my stick with the score at 3-3 before tearing off the Wild jersey to reveal a Leafs one underneath and scoring on him. I'm such a heel.

What I’d Do With the Stanley Cup After Our Victory: Tour Columbus with it, mocking them because it's the closest they'll get to one. I'm still such a heel.

Would the Media Love Me or Hate Me? Everyone would hate me, I would make it my mission.

(Thanks for this go to E of A Theory of Ice. Don't worry, the entire quiz was decontaminated and unhabbed first to get rid of the French-Canadian influence - http://theoryofice.blogspot.com/)


A Seller's Market

For the moment, I'm choosing to ignore everything else that's going on around the trade deadline to focus in on one case, a case so extremely stupid that at least one of the parties involved should be charged with something, be it larceny, corruption, first-degree murder, war crimes; I'm not really bothered, just as long as someone gets shot for it.

Tampa Bay gets: Shane O'Brien, 3rd-round pick in 2008.
Anaheim gets: Gerald Coleman, 1st-round pick in 2007.

Gerald Coleman is sitting behind at least Giguere and Bryzgalov on the Ducks depth chart, and the 3rd-rounder is probably worth about as much as him in this context, so we can strip those away. What we're left with is Shane O'Brien for a 1st-round pick this year. Tampa Bay currently sit third in the Eastern Conference standings and would be sixth overall if the season ended now, putting this pick at #25. This trade implies that Shane O'Brien is worth the same as Zach Hamill, for instance, Colton Gillies, maybe Tyson Sexsmith, and this is the clearest sign yet that the trade market has gone crazy.

You might think that's crazy. You might think the Nagy trade fits the bill better, or possibly the Forsberg trade, and those are fair viewpoints. But look closer at those trades - the Coyotes could probably have strung Dallas out for more, possibly another pick this year or a better quality player than Mathias Tjarnqvist; the Predators already have a stable of great young players, and it's likely neither Upshall nor Parent would have got any significant playing time for a number of years, if at all with Nashville. But while these have contributed to the problems, the O'Brien trade has set the bar at a disturbing level. Jay Feaster had admitted he'd be willing to overpay for a player who'd be a perfect fit with the Bolts, and while O'Brien is far from a perfect fit, it's obvious he has overpaid here. But this seems to have become a theme this year, and it's not one I'm confident about.

The day after the O'Brien trade went through, two trades took place. One saw Craig Rivet go to San Jose, the other saw Atlanta claim Keith Tkachuk. The Rivet trade went like this:

San Jose gets: Craig Rivet, 5th-round pick in 2008.
Montreal gets: Josh Gorges, 1st-round pick in 2007.

Rivet, for all his many faults I have with him, is a good defensemen, definitely a top-4 player; Gorges, on the other hand, is a mediocre prospect who doesn't look like he'll make any real difference to the Montreal defensive corps. While you can't exactly equate Gorges to the 5th-round pick this time, the upshot of the deal is that Montreal have given up a good blueliner for a 1st-round pick that will almost certainly be later than their own. It's not strictly overpaying, because I get the vibe that San Jose went looking for Rivet rather than the other way around, but the deal is disturbing because it is unbalanced.

The other trade mentioned above went as follows:

Atlanta gets: Keith Tkachuk.
St. Louis gets: Glen Metropolit, 1st-round pick in 2007, 3rd-round pick in 2007, 2nd-round pick in 2008 and a conditional 1st-round pick in 2008.

If Tkachuk resigns with the Thrashers in the offseason, St. Louis will have taken two 1st-round picks, a 2nd-round pick and a 3rd-round pick as well as a roster player for one man. Tkachuk may bring something to the table for Atlanta in the postseason, but considering they're still fighting for a place, things look very tenuous for them, and if this gamble doesn't come off for them, they've given up some potentially very valuable pieces of their puzzle by overpaying for Tkachuk's services. Bill Guerin is reportedly on his way to join Rivet in San Jose, and I will looking at what the Sharks give up to secure him with interest.

So what is my point here? Initially, I was planning on simply complaining that Toronto didn't look like making any deadline moves not out of preference, or out of financial problems but because we were handcuffed in terms of what we could offer, and this situation has illustrated that problem nicely. It's a seller's market, and we don't have enough to sell; too much is invested in the young guard, Stajan, Wellwood, Steen and so on, for them to be a factor in any big deals, but at the same time past the "superstars" - Sundin, McCabe and Kaberle - we have very little else that could tip a set of scales. Jeff O'Neill's play hasn't returned the level he reached with Carolina, Hal Gill has been unimpressive and Pavel Kubina definitely wouldn't be an appealing part of a deal, with his five million dollar price-tag (incidentally, he's made a million for every goal he's scored this year. I expect more from an offensive defenseman, personally).

Who knows, maybe next year will see the stars moving for farmhands and low draft picks, I can't say. But for now, and for the forseeable future, things look tough for the teams without sellable assets.


A Warning

At the tender age of just nine years old, I was treated to two weeks in sunny Florida during the summer with my family, and I was understandably excited, not least because I'd finally have the chance to experience a warm climate for once. During our stay, we did the traditional touristy things - we visited the theme parks, we found out it was only possible to avoid the queues at waterparks by staying in a hotel right across from said park, we had some teething problems with traffic lights and aggressive drivers who seem to care little for the lives of the innocent pedestrians - but I also remember my dad taking me and my brother to a couple of games. The first was a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game, and my brother still has the ball I caught somewhere in his possession (I believe he promised to trade me a video game for it and never paid up; the lesson learnt was obviously don't trust your siblings. Ever), and the second was a Florida Panthers hockey game.

Who the Panthers were playing, I don't remember. What the score was, I equally don't remember. For that matter, I barely remember anything about the game, as it didn't seem to make a big impression on me. Nonetheless, I returned home having experienced what it was like to be in the crowd at a hockey game; I later discovered it wasn't dissimilar to being in the crowd for a football game, when my prize for passing the 11+ exam with a ridiculously high score was a pair of season tickets waiting on my bedside table the following weekend.

Fast forward to two years ago. Having recently acquired a broadband connection and being a certified internet geek with not enough to do, I stumbled upon a particular message board that I've remained a part of to that day. Despite being based in England, it had a sizable contingent of American and Canadian members, a number of who were hockey fans, such that they had a thread of their very own. I wandered in once, but had the misfortune to be in the middle of a sizable argument regarding the Battle of Ontario and was effectively scared away. I think it may have been this sort of gung-ho "our team > your team forever and ever and a year after that" mentality that first endeared me to the sport, and so I found myself leaving GAME the next day with a copy of NHL 2004. I'd wager I'm one of the small minority of people who became a hockey fan as a result of Microsoft, and this is a very small minority.

But what does all this have to do with warnings? Or ponds and the wrong sides of them? It's simple - I'm an English hockey fan, and that puts me at a disadvantage from a hockey perspective, as I sadly don't have much depth knowledge on the subject. Most of my viewpoints and opinions will probably be torn apart by fans much older and/or wiser than I, and here is your warning, this is not likely to be a place for quality discussion and thought-inspiring topics. All this is going to be is a place for me to vent my spleen about whatever topic gets on my nerves within the sport; as a Maple Leafs fan, the early indications show this might happen a lot. However, I welcome any and all comments - if I've got something by the wrong end of the goaltender's paddle, tell me so. Preferably without too much profanity, but if I've committed some form of heresy feel free to just let rip.

Anything else to say? No, I don't think so. OK then, kick ass.