Pick up the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide. Your league-mates will hate you for it.
As Angus mentioned earlier this week, Mike Amato and I will be taking over from him as Associate Editors. I won’t bid Jeff a farewell yet since he’s still with us for a couple of weeks but I wanted to point out that this week’s Cage Match was my last.
I am sad to be letting the column go but fear not, the column will continue to run weekly and is in great hands with established DobberHockey writer Rick Roos taking over.
If you haven’t been reading Rick’s columns (first, shame on you) you’ve really been missing out. I have no concerns what so ever about Rick taking over. In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he outclasses anything I wrote in that space.
Voting for the 2013-14 season DobberHockey banner (that thing up there with Stamkos, Karlsson, Quick and Giroux) has now opened in the forums. There are three pools; A, B and C. Follow the links to vote and get your favourite player on the DobberHockey home page for the next year!
Here are my votes for the record:
A – Teemu Selanne (hoping he signs in Winnipeg.)
B – John Tavares (because he’s the truth.)
C – Daniel Alfredsson (I may or may not be attempting to troll Sens fans with this one.)
The Senators have apparently offered Jared Cowen an eight-year contract extension. The deal would be worth $28 million for an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.
I love the offer from the Sens perspective. To me, this is the sort of contract that could become the new inefficiency in the NHL. Every team knows that talented young players on ELCs are valuable commodities so everyone is looking to get them but there’s a lot of inherent risk in depending on young assets who’ve yet to play NHL games.
Cowen has played NHL games (albeit only 90) and has proven that he is definitely a quality player and projects to be a really good pro. What’s the going rate for a UFA defenseman now? $5 million a year? What’s it going to be in three years? How about in five?
This has the chance to be a bargain in as little as two years, at which point the Senators would reap the benefits for six more seasons. That would be outstanding.
Now, you can’t make this sort of deal without taking on some degree of risk that Cowen either gets hurt or stagnates and simply never lives up to this deal, which is why you can’t give this sort of contract to anyone but with the right players it makes a lot of sense. The Tampa Bay Rays have been giving these contracts out to young players for several years now and it has been a part of why they have remained competitive with a small payroll in a sport with no salary cap.
It makes sense to sign the deal from the player’s perspective as well because it’s not every day that a player with this young and with this little experience gets offered that kind of financial security. It takes real brass balls to turn down that guaranteed money and to bet not just on your own development but to also be lucky health-wise. And Cowen will still be just 31 years old when this contract is up so if he really is a great pro he’ll have another shot at a big money long term deal then.
I would absolutely be sweating this decision if I was him but in the end I think I’d take the money. Look at how cruel the NFL is with their non-guaranteed contracts. One injury and poof it’s all over. When you think of things that way it’s almost insane to turn down that guaranteed money, which is what makes it a really smart and creative way to do business for GMs.
In a similar vein, I loved the contract extension the Avalanche handed to Gabriel Landeskog earlier this week.
You can argue that they jumped the gun on this extension. After all, Landeskog still has a year left on his ELC so the Avalanche had no obligation to do a deal but I think that they looked at what happened with Ryan O’Reilly and decided the best course of action was to just lock up their guys as soon as possible.
They did the same thing with Matt Duchene earlier this summer though they gave him less years and a slightly higher cap hit because Duchene was much closer to unrestricted free agency. But that’s kind of the point here. The Avalanche wanted to get a deal out of the way sooner than later because the closer a player gets to UFA status the more leverage he has so getting in early is imperative.
As I alluded to above with regard to Cowen, you can’t do this sort of deal with just anyone but Landeskog is only 20 years old and already has two seasons under his belt, has won the Calder Trophy and is the team captain. If you can’t bet on this guy, you can’t bet on anyone.
This contract isn’t dissimilar from the extension the Los Angeles Kings gave to Dustin Brown a while back. That contract is just finishing up but he’s been a massive bargain for the past four seasons at a meager $3.175 million cap hit these past five seasons and will be so again this season. I’ve no idea where salaries will be in three years, or in five or in seven but my guess is that sooner rather than later the $5.75 million Landeskog will be making a year after this season will seem like a bargain in a big hurry.
You can also point to contracts like John Tavares’ (already the best deal in hockey just a year into it) or Claude Giroux’s (ending this season) or Kris Letang’s (ending this season) as examples of when betting on the right guy with a smart extension is the right move and in the case of Giroux and Letang you can bet those teams wish they’d bet bigger (longer) because they’d be reaping the benefits beyond this season.
You can also look at the situation in Montreal with PK Subban where the Canadiens no doubt tried to get Subban to agree to this sort of deal. He balked, opting to instead bet on himself and his value when he hits free agency. It’s looking like a great bet on his part. The Habs are certainly wishing they could have convinced him to bend to their thinking.
And really, isn’t Landeskog already worth at least $5.57 million a year anyway?
NHL.com’s over-35 club – A good list if only to remind you of the good old farts that are out there who can still produce for your fantasy team. They are perennially undervalued in both keeper leagues and one-year leagues.
Don’t be afraid of drafting old farts. Hell, draft a team full of them and come up with geriatric-related team names all season long. It could be a fun game for you as you coast to a championship.
With old guys in mind, Teemu Selanne met with the Ducks earlier this week. I can’t see him retiring with this being an Olympic year but with that in mind what are the odds he can remain healthy enough to be impactful for you when he not only has an 82-game season to play but also several high intensity Olympic games as well. If he comes back don’t count on more than 60 games out of him.
Same goes for Jaromir Jagr. These guys don’t have much left in the tank. They’ve got enough to be productive when in the lineup but not enough to play every night.
Since we are on the topic of Olympics, how many of you subscribe to the theory that players who may be on performance enhancers will have down years because of the Olympics?
I ask because that was one theory used to explain Alexander Ovechkin’s regression from 2010 to 2012. Of course, I think that it is complete conspiracy theory nonsense, after all, Ovechkin finished tied for second in league scoring with 109 points during the last Olympic year. Granted he regressed heavily in the next few seasons but wouldn’t logic dictate he’d have had to have been OFF the juice in 2009-10 thus regressing that season and then could have gotten back ON the juice once the Olympics were over?
Anyway, just thought it was something worth mentioning if that is something you might consider subscribing to.
Here’s a great video from inside the Columbus Blue Jackets draft room prior to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and as well at the draft table including some trade discussions. Here’s a link to a breakdown of some of their talks with Buffalo during the draft.
The Buffalo Sabres were aggressively targeting Max Domi in the 2013 NHL Draft. General manager Darcy Regier offered a pair of picks to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 14th overall pick in the draft. By jumping up two spots, the Sabres felt they could grab the London Knights center before anyone else wanted him. They just needed to make Columbus a better offer.
I love what the Blue Jackets are building in Columbus. I don’t think they are close to competing for a championship but the pieces are starting to come together. They have built a roster that will be tough to play against if nothing else and that’s a huge improvement from the pushovers they’ve been some years. Still not a lot of talent you want to own in your fantasy league however.
The strength of McBain’s game is definitely his offense. Other than Christian Ehrhoff, the Sabres don’t really have too many threats from the point. McBain could be a perfect fit for the Sabres 2nd power play unit. He has a hard shot from the point and great vision while moving up ice. With a legitimate chance to prove himself, McBain could be part of the puzzle in improving the Sabres dreaded power play.
Although McBain is more of an offensive Dman, he isn’t bad in his own end as well, posting a plus/minus of 0 this past season. McBain is a solid puck mover which should allow for easy exits out of the defensive zone. If Ron Rolston can find the right partner for McBain (maybe Mike Weber or Mark Pysyk), this could prove to be a very effective add for the Sabres. McBain is only 25 years of age, so there is still lots left in the tank for the defenseman.
I have to admit, I was drinking the McBain Kool-Aid that was so prevalent on this site a few years back but mostly because Carolina had no other good options. Once Justin Faulk emerged I jumped onto his bandwagon.
Lars Eller is healthy and ready to play. He’s still just 24 years old with a fair amount of upside. There will be competition for playing time in Montreal to be certain but coming off a season where he scored 30 points in 46 games, he could be just the sort of post-hype prospect to latch onto. He has pedigree as a former first round pick and next season qualifies as his fourth full season (BREAKOUT CANDIDATE!)
An absurdly in-depth look at what drives special teams success from Fear the Fin. I won’t get into much of it here other. There are a lot of advanced stats involved so if that isn’t your cup of tea then disregard. If you are into that sort of thing then check out the link, it’s very interesting. My biggest takeaways were that the most important thing a team can do on the power play to increase goal scoring is to fire shots at the net and also that there is very little difference between a shot attempt that reaches the net and one that misses in terms of its correlation with scoring.
Not that that means teams should blindly fire shots on net when on the power play (or at any time for that matter) but making a more concerted effort to take shots would seem to have its benefits.
Having read this piece I think I’ll start work on a look at teams who could be due for some regression in terms of power play success based on their numbers from last season.
A look at how the Sharks are using advanced stats to help evaluate junior prospects including 2013 first round selection Mirco Mueller.
Simply because we have access to almost every tape of every game. So once we highlight a player, our guys down in San Jose start doing that procedure right away. And we have four meetings a year and we start breaking things down really early. For example, the boy we drafted, Mirco Mueller, out of Everett. We knew about him a year before the draft. What we did is when we got him into the Western League, we really started to pick him apart and then we built a whole profile on him. And, at the time we drafted, he was one of maybe four guys we were very interested in. And the reason we moved up was because that small little package of guys were starting to go and so we had to move up to get after this guy.
Suffice it to say that I wish I had advanced stats data to go over before my keeper league drafts. Oh hell yes.
As we head towards draft season here’s a quick reminder of how random hockey can be:
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. Thanks for reading.