Rambling about the Red Wings – and I’m not very nice; Also the Rangers, the Kings, DeKeyser, Schenn and more…
These are my last Ramblings before the 11th annual Fantasy Hockey Guide comes out. The Guide will be out on Monday at around 3pm Eastern Standard Time. I’m just polishing up the Pittsburgh Penguins as you read this, so I currently consider myself an expert on all things NHL for teams ‘A’ through ‘P’!
The Monday Ramblings will have an old friend back to guest-write: Steve Laidlaw.
If Danny DeKeyser is worth six years, $30 million (i.e. $5 million per year), then I guess next year when Brent Burns’ contract comes up he’ll sign for 10 years at $500 million ($50 million per year). That’s the only way to properly pro-rate the DeKeyser contract.
Do you want to know why there is a lockout every time the CBA expires? This is why.
I was called out by a reader a number of weeks ago when I was caught saying about Matt Martin “he’s only overpaid by $500k”. And the reader was absolutely correct. And that just exemplifies the way all of us think! A player who is worth $1.2 million signs for $1.6 million and we don’t blink an eye. But someone worth $4.7 million signs for $5.6 million and we all go ballistic. I think DeKeyser is worth $3.25 million per season. This $5 million is way, way, way high. And I don’t care if the Wings bought out four years of his unrestricted free agency. I’d let him walk. Sign him for one year at $3.25 million, and then let him walk away next summer. The cost of this deal goes deeper than the mere $5 million. The Red Wings are way over the cap and trading Jimmy Howard won’t fix that (they still have to sign Petr Mrazek – who probably deserves that $5 million more than DeKeyser does, though I peg his value at about $4 million).
Do you know what I am starting to compare the Red Wings to? The Vancouver Canucks of three years ago (and look at them now). Now that was a team that was overpaying players $500,000 here, $1 million there. Times 23 players. It adds up. I still respect GM Ken Holland’s legacy, but he’s not adapting to the new reality. The old reality was – they have Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom. With that core you can slightly overpay the supporting cast (Kronwall, Draper, Holmstrom, Franzen, etc.) and you’ll have a competitive team. But here is the difference between then and now: then you had three Hall-of-Famers. These are A+ superstars. But now you have “potentially” B+ stars, but at the moment they’re just C+. Tomas Tatar is no Zetterberg. Zetterberg is no Zetterberg (anymore). Gustav Nyquist is no Datsyuk. Neither is Dylan Larkin. And DeKeyser is no Lidstrom. If you overpay the supporting cast around this new ‘lesser’ core, you’ll run your team into the ground.
GMs need to be reminded that it’s okay to say no once in a while and just walk away from a player. Even over $500,000.
And I promise to try harder not to just ‘shrug’ when a role player signs for $500,000/year too much.
Brayden Schenn’s contract was four years at $5.125 million per season. If we were talking straight up under-27 seasons, then I would suggest that he’s worth $4 million per season. But two of his years are UFA years, so I would value him at $4.8 million. So he is overpaid by $325,000 per season. Just my opinion but I don’t think I’m far off. The domino effect that happens here across the league is that each new RFA points to the latest contract as a comparable – and then pushes for a little bit more. If he doesn’t, then his agent sucks. This is what GMs need to be better at fighting. Say “No, you’re actually not better than so-and-so, your contract’s value should be slightly below his. Here is the offer, you can sign it in November if you’d like, we could use the cap savings while you sit on the couch and watch games on TV.”
Fans would hate me if I were GM of their team.
Dobber for GM!
Remember when I said that after analyzing the Anaheim Ducks, I wasn’t impressed with their team? Well, I have a couple more team observations to share.
The Los Angeles Kings suck. To be honest, they were never really great. A superstar defenseman, a superstar two-way forward, a star goalie, a budding star sniper, and a great second-line center. And a great coach. Then they filled the roster with slush (exception: Lucic, I’ll admit) and competed for the playoffs and won Cups. But they’re terrible. If they make the playoffs again, they should create a statue and a shrine in Darryl Sutter’s honor. Hey – maybe this goes back to my point about the Red Wings – just go with the three Hall-of-Fame players and have a ‘good enough’ supporting cast filling the right rolls. Except in the case of the Kings, the HoF players are just two – Kopitar and Doughty, compensated by better goaltending (Quick is better than Osgood was). But my impression of the Kings was not good. With any other coach I’d have them out of the postseason.
The Rangers don’t suck. Before tackling the Rangers, my opinion of them was on the decline. Henrik Lundqvist seems to be fading fast, Rick Nash is overrated (maybe not anymore) and the team just lacks ‘pop’. But after going over the roster with a fine-toothed comb I have to admit I was wrong. This is still a good team. Maybe not great and maybe still on the decline, but not nearly as bad as I thought. There are some very promising signs coming from their young players – from Chris Kreider to JT Miller to Mika Zibanejad. And Nash I think has now crossed the threshold and entered the ‘underrated’ section now. I had probably written him off when he’s still a 60- to 65-point player.
Anyway, food for thought.
David Rundblad and the Chicago Blackhawks have “mutually agreed to part ways”, which is a nice way of saying they gave each other the finger. Rundblad was never anywhere close to the player that he was billed to be. But, he was a lot better than he is given credit for. Chicago never gave him a chance, and frankly Phoenix wasn’t so great with him either. I think with all highly-touted prospects you need to give them 10 real games, at minimum. I’m not talking about a game in which he gets seven minutes of ice time followed by another game two weeks later in which he gets nine minutes of ice time. I mean give him 10 games in a row at 17 minutes (for defensemen) or 15 minutes (for forwards), including power-play time. If that means that you lose an extra two games that season then so be it. In the case of Chicago, two more losses wouldn’t have killed them. And they could have made a proper evaluation a lot sooner. And who knows – maybe they would have discovered some intangibles. If all teams did this, then the cost (a couple of extra losses)/benefit (finding the odd gem you never would have found otherwise, to help you win games now and in the future) is worth it.
And I think we’re on the same topic when we discuss Petter Granberg. Will Predators give him some ice time this year? Not that he has fantasy value, just saying that if you have a player on your roster then give him a proper look. Anyway, Granberg signed a two-year, two-way contract.
Tampa Bay signed Vladislav Namestnikov to a two-year deal according to Craig Custance. The deal is worth $3.875 million (or just over $1.9 per season). In other words, if Detroit signed him it would be $4.5 million. That’s how I think I’ll discuss new contracts from now on: by providing the currency exchange in ‘Detroit dollars’. Anyway, I haven’t arrived at Tampa Bay yet in my Guide so I’m not fully educated on their situation and where Namestnikov slots in, so all I can give you is my guess that he sees more ice time on a scoring line and takes another step forward this year. He was up to 14 minutes per game last year and I’d be shocked if that didn’t top 15 minutes this season.
Travis Yost takes an interesting look at shot blocking and whether it’s better for short-handed teams to set up in the zone for the purpose of blocking shots…or let goaltenders get clean looks at shots from a distance. He didn’t arrive at a conclusion, but I’d love to see more on this – and more on the benefits of shot-blocking in general. I’m anti-shot block for the simple fact that while you may save a goal for every 10 shots you block, you also sustain an injury for every XX shots you block (On average 100? 120?). And if you’re injured, how many games will your team lose if you’re out? And of those 10 shots you block and one goal you save – how often does that goal mean the difference between a win or a loss? Every 50 shots? So now we’re measuring how often your team wins when you block shots, versus how often they lose while you’re on the IR. There is data out there, I just don’t have the time to do it. It’s a huge project. But I would love to see my hypothesis (that shot-blocking is not good) proven correct.
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