Expansion Rules will Create Crisis for some GMs

With news breaking this week that the NHL and NHLPA have agreed on the structure for  a future expansion draft, the maneuvering and preparations across the league can begin in earnest.

Reaching an agreement on no movement and no trade clauses was among the most important unanswered questions surrounding the way teams will form their protected lists. With the potential for an expansion draft taking place as early as next summer, the need for that determination was obviously important.

One position that will get plenty of focus will be between the pipes. As there is only one option for protecting goaltenders, there is a near guarantee that a pair of solid goaltenders are headed to Vegas should a draft take place next summer.

The requirement that no movement clauses must be protected could put pressure on a number of general managers to make a move this summer – or prior to next year’s deadline – to ensure they aren’t losing a goaltending asset for nothing. Continue reading

Sabres’ Murray Could use Cap to his Advantage

There will deservedly be a lot of coverage over the course of the next six weeks involving all sorts of trade rumors and possibilities as general managers work the phones in an effort to either position their team for a playoff run or plan for the future. All of that coverage is obviously merited, but there is a story getting a bit less air time that will play a major role in deciding who goes where in February and July: the salary cap.

The salary cap for the 2016-17 season has yet to be set, and the Canadian dollar’s dropping value has many around the league concerned; the Loonie is currently below 70 cents on the dollar for the first time in over ten years. This is bad news for a league with seven Canadian franchises that account for roughly 30 to 35 percent of hockey related revenue, according to The Globe and Mail. According to Steven Burtch of SportsNet, if the Canadian dollar remained at around 69 cents the salary cap would drop around $3.9 million next year, and that includes the escalator. Continue reading

Offside review has become a detriment, not a benefit to the NHL

The clamor over adding a coach’s challenge to the NHL game wasn’t necessarily deafening, but it wasn’t silent either. Over the past few seasons various occurrences (looking at you Matt Duchene) led to a stronger case for teams to have the ability to review certain plays on the ice. Beginning this season the league obliged and provided coaches the ability to challenge one play per game.

It’s become a disaster.

Instituting a coach’s review for goalie interference or offside plays was brilliant, in principle. Mounting examples of each play made for a strong case to give coaches this option and the league was wise to research it and ultimately institute it. The negative impact continues to mount, however and it would seem wise of the league to backtrack on the offside rule at the very least.

Okay, now show me where Angry Birds is again.

The length of the reviews and the size of the tablets used by officials have been the focal point of the new system’s naysayers. That coaches have managed to use the new system as a loophole for much longer timeouts has been another unexpected consequence. The flaws are really coming to the forefront as more and more plays are flagged for review.

I will add that while I am a Sabres fan, my view on the rule does not reflect that Buffalo has been victimized four different times on offside reviews. While that sad bit of irony likely irritates many in the Buffalo fanbase, my criticism rests solely on the flaws I see in reviewing offside plays.

In fact, I’ve grown so tired of the offside review that it upsets me to hear and read the narrative bemoaning the tablets and length of the reviews. While those two features are certainly giant red flags, nothing outweighs the fact that a goal starved league created a rule which removes goals which would otherwise be perfectly legal. There are many out there crying to change the size of the nets – a fundamental alteration of the fabric of the game – while there’s a brand new rule stripping goals off the board. Continue reading

North American Young Stars World Cup of Hockey Roster Projection

The long wait for the World Cup of Hockey’s return is almost over and I can’t wait to see the event back on the ice next fall.

There is some contention over the choice to include a pair of teams who aren’t connected to any one country. The European All Stars, made up of players from countries not named Sweden, Finland, Russia or the Czech Republic, and the North American Young Stars teams will allow the league to showcase more star talent in the short tournament. The two teams have drawn the ire of some, particularly the Young Stars team which will pull American and Canadian players under the age of 23.

While Team Europe’s melting pot roster will be star-studded, the team isn’t pulling talent from other nations participating in the tournament. The same cannot be said of the North American Young Stars who will likely wind up with three or four players who would have otherwise suited up for the Americans alone.

I, for one, love the idea of the Young Stars team. As this isn’t the Olympics and there still doesn’t appear to be a long-term answer for the structure and schedule of the tournament, there’s no reason not to introduce a new wrinkle or two to help put more star power into the games. Each time the Olympics come around there’s discussion over how good a second Canadian squad would be. This practice isn’t far off from giving the Canadians another entry, there just happens to be a few Americans sprinkled in. Continue reading

New York Rangers: Stanley Cup Champions In 2015-2016?

In the last four years, the New York Rangers could very well making case that they are the most consistent NHL team to not have at least one Stanley Cup title during that time period. They have made in the Eastern conference finals in three of those four years, and in 2014, they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Being consistently good is definitely exciting, but fans really want to see them win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. Even though it is the summer, how does the team stack up against some of the other challengers heading into next year?

It was a bit of an unexpected run in 2013 to get all the way to the Stanley cup finals. They were a bit overmatched once they were there, but they put up the good fight against Los Angeles. This past season, everyone expected them to get back to the Stanley Cup finals, but the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to knock them off. It was still a very successfully year, but they didn’t take care of business in the most crucial parts of the series. Continue reading

Mid-Round Picks Worth More than Meets the Eye

With the NHL Draft finally getting underway tomorrow evening, the value of draft picks is usually a topic of discussion around this time of year. Every media outlet, whether it be Sportsnet or TSN, has taken a stab at trying to determine the true value of a given draft pick. The measuring stick most used to figure out if a draft pick was successful is NHL games played. While I also implement the games played factor, I’ve opted to go in a bit of a different direction. Instead of trying to quantify the value of a given pick (or range of picks) I focused on the value of a pick in regards to the trade market.

I took the basic stats (games played, goals, assists, points) of every player who dressed in at least one NHL game this season. I also included if and where in the draft every player was selected, and how he was acquired by his current club, with the help of HockeyDB, Hockey Reference, and various team websites.

This is only one season of data so the results of the data do not reflect any decades long recipe for success or anything, but it does paint a pretty nice picture of where the league is today and where it may be headed. Continue reading