- Category: Hockey Rambling
- Written by Steve Laidlaw
More on Green, Heatley, Gonchar and the Devils' draft struggles...
There was no question of Green's expendability two months ago. (That is, he was a core piece.) The Caps had just four clear-cut, reliable NHL defensemen: Green, Dmitry Orlov, Carlson, and Karl Alzner. After this latest spending spree, they're up to six (or, at least, five plus one who could be in the right situation). That doesn't mean the Caps are good enough to lose Green, but it does open the possibility of the organization having enough depth to construct a championship contender despite losing him.
A few thoughts on Green:
I think he’s been such a criticized player that he’s veered into the underrated portion of the ledger. If you accept his flaws (poor defensive zone play/injury prone) he’s still got top notch puck moving ability, which will keep him a valuable NHLer for years to come. Is he $6 million valuable? Probably not but hopefully that means he takes a discount on his next deal.
Along with the negativity surrounding Green as an NHL player, there’s even more for him as a fantasy asset because of heavily he let people down following his back-to-back 70+ seasons. Obviously we are never seeing that guy again. But again, if we can accept Green’s flaws (injury prone/inconsistent) as a fantasy asset we can still acknowledge that he has plenty to offer. Even a Green that is missing 15-20 games will get you around 40 points with strong multi-category numbers. That’s a guy I want on my team.
There is concern that John Carlson and now Matt Niskanen can push him out of a job in Washington but if that’s the case then he makes for excellent trade bait. You know where I would love to see him? In Anaheim, reunited with Bruce Boudreau. Pair Green with a guy like Francois Beauchemin or maybe Hampus Lindholm if he takes a leap and you’ve got a real match. Plus with the forwards they have there and a coach who really knows how to deploy him Green could be rejuvenated.
Or maybe I’m just overly optimistic.
Either way, I know that the worst case scenario for Green is still a guy who has value to my fantasy team so he’s absolutely a player I’ll continue to try and steal late in my drafts.
Rumours continue to fly about the availability of Patrick Sharp on the trade market. I don’t know that the Blackhawks would really dare remove a piece that integral to their core but they are a little over $2 million over the cap right now so something has to be done. And things don’t get any easier for next season with those massive extensions for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews kicking in. Maybe they really could make a move.
But hey, maybe moving on from Sharp is what the Blackhawks need to force them to use Bickell in a larger role befitting his contract. I don’t really believe that. Just throwing a random notion out there.
The NHL is looking into player-tracking cameras as part of the next wave of analytics. This is something that the NBA has done and it’s fantastic. It really helps confirm eye-test stuff like in assessing defensive positioning. They’ve developed programs using this tracking data that can tell you where a player should have been on any individual play based on a team’s specific defensive scheme and where he actually was.
Lots of news about NHL teams hiring stats folk to help with analytics. The Devils have hired a former poker pro to head up their analytics department. I’m sure there’s a joke in here about the Devils needing help with their future gambles (Martin Havlat, maybe?) In any case, I can’t think of one. I’m sure you guys will come up with something.
I did find this hiring a bit strange however. The Devils have been advanced stat darlings over the past several years, frequently ranking among the best teams in the league in stats like shot differential. I mean, if they were killing it on that front without even considering analytics then one can only imagine what they’ll come up with now that they’ve taken a focus on it.
Where the Devils could really use some help is with their draft and development process because they’ve been really stagnant on that front for a long time. Their only real draft hits of the past 10 years have been Adam Henrique, Mark Fayne and if you are being generous Mark Fraser. You have to go back to the 2004 draft for their last success story out of the first round (Travis Zajac). And yes, the jury is still out on players like Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Scott Wedgewood but the point is, the Devils haven’t had much coming up the pipeline for the last decade.
Not fantasy relevant but this was a really entertaining Q+A with Cliff Ronning from The Hockey Writers.
Apparently the Stars have been shopping Sergei Gonchar this summer but have found no takers. So you can probably expect to see him in Dallas once again. I think he improves a bit on last year’s result simply because the whole team is likely to take a step forward with the additions of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky but I’m not expecting Gonchar to be fantasy relevant in anything but the deepest of leagues. 30 points maximum, is where I’d put him.
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.