- Hockey Rambling
- Written by Thomas Drance
Thoughts on Semin's injury, Methot's stalemate and the bottom line in Broward County.
It would seem that Alexander Semin is still recovering from wrist surgery, a procedure the skilled Russian-born winger underwent in late May. That's a bad sign for the Hurricanes obviously, and might give me some pause in gambling on Semin to bounce back in a major way next season.
Semin, who played through this injury for much of last season and was said to be unable to take a wrist shot, only managed 22 goals and 42 points last season - his lowest cumulative total since 2007-08. The days of him potting 30 goals and 80 points are probably over, but if Semin's healthy, I certainly think it's reasonable to expect 25 goals and 60 points.
The problem then is that it doesn't sound like Semin is particularly healthy, and though I'm sure he'll be ready to open training camp, you have to wonder how much that wonky wrist is going to bother him this season (especially early on).
The Ottawa Senators are having a tough time working out a contract extension with defenseman Marc Methot. This isn't a huge surprise - Methot seems to have fallen out of favor a bit in the Canadian capital anyway, and he likely saw the way this summer's free agent frenzy played out for other "shutdown defenseman" and has a pretty high appraisal of his value on the open market.
I'd urge potential buyers to beware on Methot. Though he's a useful piece, I very much don't think he's a top-of-the-roster quality defender and the performance of his defensive partners with (vs. without) him would suggest that he's not exactly moving the needle in terms of shot attempt differential.
One day the Ottawa Senators will find a defender who can really skate to pair with Erik Karlsson. That day though is probably not coming this summer...
Speaking of defensive defenseman, former journeyman NHL blue-liner Jason Strudwick wrote an interesting piece on analytics over at OilersNation.com. I don't particularly agree with the "it doesn't have to be one or the other" misnomer (we really have to get past the idea that anyone is recommending you build a team just based on Corsi For percentage...), but I found Strudwick's explanation of how he's come to value the stats as a former player very interesting, and doubly so since Strudwick was not a player who the underlying numbers flattered.
Also interesting: how the ultimate failure of the 2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs test case was a tipping point for Strudwick (and presumably many others in the hockey world), and the acceptance of analytics. Because there's nothing like a statistically improbable event - like an 80 point team going from third in the East to way out of the playoff picture by picking up just four points in their last 14 games of the season - to vouch for playing the odds...
According to Florida Panthers Vice Chairman Doug Cifu, new cats head coach Gerard Gallant so impressed owner Vincent Viola in their meeting that, within 30 minutes, he all but declared the club's coaching search over.
Of course, reports at the time would suggest that Dan Bylsma was the front runner and the reason he didn't take his talents to South Beach was that the Panthers wouldn't offer him the sort of lucrative contract that he was looking for...
In the same interview, by the way, Cifu refers to the club's business model not being sustainable and talks about incurring years and years of massive losses.
Fascinating, compelling stuff from Harrison Mooney over at Puck Daddy on the subject of a potential ECHL/CHL merger, ECHL integration into the AHL, the Western migration of minor league hockey and its potential impact on NHL teams.
It seems to me that if the AHL is going to pull off an expansion as ambitious as what Mooney details, then they desperately need to rebrand their game.
I enjoy watching the occassional AHL games, but I'm an insane hockey nerd. In general, the AHL game is a lot slower than the NHL product. That's not just in terms of on-ice pace, but also how many stoppages there are, the number of fights there are, and how long the game literally takes to play.
That an AHL game can take 3.5 hours to watch sometimes is brutal, and really tests my patience (and again, I'm a pretty significant societal outlier in terms of my "willingness to watch an endless amount of hockey"). I really think that's an issue that needs to be solved if the AHL is going to attract more fans.
High quality streams of games would be nice too. Also the occassional 19-year-old who is legitimately ready to play, and shouldn't have to spin his wheels in junior for no good reason except that the NHL treats the CHL as a favored partner for whatever reason.
Jordan Nolan taking the Stanley Cup to a 'mini pow-wow' is all kinds of awesome.
There's just three more weeks until September, and four-and-a-half more weeks until the Penticton Young Stars and Traverse City tournament's open. After those prospect tournaments it's just one short week until training camp and then the preseason only lasts for 12 days before coming to a close on October 4th. After that, there's just four days until the start of hockey season.
If you look at it this way, then the dog days of summer seem somewhat less interminable.