Monday, July 1, 2013

Thoughts on the draft

I only had the stamina to sit through the first round and most of the second, but luckily that's when most of the interesting stuff happened.
Cory Schneider to N.J for 9th overall pick (Bo Horvat)

TSN was saying that Edmonton made a much better offer to Vancouver for G Cory Schneider than the Devils made (9th overall pick). Supposedly, it was something along the lines of the 7th overall pick, a second-rounder, and a good prospect (or maybe that's what Vancouver was asking for; at any rate, Edmonton must have offered at least the 7th overall). I don't think I understand why Mike Gillis chose New Jersey's offer--is the prospect of improving a division rival (which already has a starting-caliber netminder, mind you, in Devan Dubnyk, meaning that the upgrade in net wouldn't be as significant as it would be for, say, the Islanders) really that much of a turn-off?

Actually, come to think of it, maybe this is the new playoff format at work. From 
The top three teams in each division will make up the first 12 teams in the playoffs. The remaining four spots will be filled by the next two highest-placed finishers in each conference, based on regular-season points and regardless of division...
The seeding of the wild-card teams within each divisional playoff will be determined on the basis of regular-season points. The division winner with the most points in the conference will be matched against the wild-card team with the fewest points; the division winner with the second-most points in the conference will play the wild-card team with the second fewest points.
The teams finishing second and third in each division will play in the first round of the playoffs. The winners of each series will play for berths in the conference championship series.
The winners of the conference championships advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver will be in Division A, along with Calgary, Edmonton, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Jose. The other division in the "western" conference has Chicago, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado, St. Louis, Nashville, and Dallas. I'm sure that Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Chicago, and St. Louis make the playoffs by virtue of top-three seedings in their divisions, but there's a real chance Vancouver (high seed) draws Edmonton (wild card). Although it's unlikely Schneider would steal a series against the Canucks--really, any goalie is a longshot to steal a given series--the Canucks organization would be thoroughly embarrassed if he did.

That being said, for a team with as thin a prospect pool as Vancouver--the only projected top-six forwards are Jordan Schroeder and Nicklas Jensen, to my understanding--I was surprised to see it pick a guy like Horvat who doesn't look like he'll be a difference-maker offensively (unlike, say, Max Domi, Hunter Shinkaruk, or Valeri Nichushkin, who were all available for Vancouver to pick).

I'm also a little surprised Schneider was the one traded. I thought that his contract was the more tradeable one, but pretty much every reputable source was saying Luongo would be the one leaving (at least, until a couple of days ago).
Calgary and Philadelphia go off the board

For the Flames' second first-round pick (22):
And their third-round pick (67):

Philadelphia reached a little, picking Samuel Morin at 11, but I'm really focused on the third-round pick. From BSH:
In that ISS guide, it summed up Goulbourne pretty clearly:
  • Gritty hard working forward
  • Good Skater
  • Willing to go through the wall
  • Works hard up and down the ice
  • Teammates love him
  • Willingness to block shots
  • Great character leader
  • Warrior
  • Tough and respected
The Flyers just used a third-round pick on another Zac Rinaldo, basically. Or, perhaps worse, another Garrett Klotz, who they selected with their third-round pick in 2007. Klotz is now an ECHL regular at age 24.
 No one thinks Calgary is a good organization, but I'm a little surprised the Flyers reached so much. Maybe I shouldn't have been.

Cal Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter

I like a lot of what Garth Snow has done as GM of the Islanders, finding lots of scrap heap players who can still be useful. That being said, surely there was a GM out there willing to offer more for a 2010 top-five pick than a third liner.

Edmonton trading down

New GM Craig MacTavish has said a lot of things to make the Oilogosphere optimistic, especially relating to how he wants the team to play. (Puck possession; you'll recall that the Oilogosphere is what popularized Corsi among hockey fans.) Then he annoys them by valuing pick quantity over quality.

Capitals go for mobility

From one of my favorite follows, scout Corey Pronman:

I guess skating isn't an issue for any of the Caps' picks, and for their first two--Andre Burakovsky and Madison Bowey--it's a real strength, and projected to be even at higher levels. Fast guys can always make the NHL as long as they're not super-awful in other parts of the game, and are invaluable for moving pucks up the ice (see: Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera), which, in turn, is really important for an effective possession (or, rather, zone time) game.

Frankly, it's always a little underwhelming for me to hear about the projections and current performance for guys outside the top of the draft--these two probably project to second-line wing and second-pair D, although I understand there's enough uncertainty surrounding Burakovsky that he could end up a top-line player--but hopefully these guys put together strong draft+1 and draft+2 years, like Evgeny Kuznetsov (maybe not the best prospect in hockey anymore, but certainly still top-seven or so), Tom Wilson, and, going back earlier, John Carlson. I don't really know how to judge their performance so far.

I guess, in short, I like the drafting philosophy here, I just have no idea whether I should be more or less excited than normal with these particular picks.

Anthony Louis sounds familiar
Legends of the game 

I hadn't noticed in previous years how many were making picks for their teams. This year, I saw Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy making picks for Colorado, Ron Francis for Carolina, Mike Modano for Dallas, and Steve Yzerman for Tampa Bay. I guess a lot of top players like staying around the game, and their franchises put them in the spotlight as much as possible because they're the recognizable faces.

Dave Bolland and Michal Frolik out of Chicago; Bickell re-signed

Bolland had a tough 2013, but he had been a solid 3C for some time before that, and is definitely an upgrade on Tyler Bozak. (Even bringing more pts/60, despite being on a third line and definitely not playing with Phil Kessel.)

I like Frolik's game a lot. He's become a dependable defensive player since his offense dried up (after back-to-back 40-pt seasons in Florida). I think he was decent value for Chicago, but they do have a deep prospect pool. Winnipeg I think is better off after the trade (sending back a 3rd and a 5th).

But for a team that needs cap room, and for a team that has its two most gifted offensive players due for substantial raises in two years, re-signing Bryan Bickell for $4m cap hit a year for four years seems excessive. Bickell is definitely a second-line wing, and he took his game to top-line level this season, but that's just one (abbreviated) year. He might be worth it, he may not. Either way, the Hawks will continue to need bargain-basement bottom-sixes, and as good as that organization has been at drafting and roster assembling, I'm skeptical they'll be able to pull it off again.


I saw that Lecavalier had met with the Capitals, as well as a slew of other teams. That's due diligence by McPhee--Lecavalier is one of the best players available in UFA. That being said, I'm not sure how much better he is than Mike Ribeiro.

Remember that coming into the 2013 season, Ribeiro was an okay ES player who broke even in shots or got slightly outshot. Lecavalier is the same age as Ribeiro, didn't have a great 2013 season, and if his 2011-12 is an anomaly, doesn't look like a great ES player, either.

On the other hand, since Steven Stamkos emerged in 2009-2010, Lecavalier has become a second-liner, playing with many different players...except Tampa's best. Unlike Ribeiro, who got to play with legitimately good wings in Dallas, Lecavalier has had to carry his line. It's possible that with better linemates--playmaking, pass-first wing Erat looks like a natural fit--he'll be a very solid player and make this good team into a very good one. I don't know which line of thinking is more accurate, but it's worth remembering that, like with Ribeiro, his age is a concern and his point totals may overestimate his actual effectiveness.

That being said, Oates seems to think he'd be a good fit, and the guy (Oates, not Lecavalier) seems like he understands what's going on really well, so I'll just trust him.

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