Rambling about Halak vs. Elliott, the Red Wings, Lou, Doan, Rask and more …
I solicited questions in the comments area of the Ramblings Monday and there were some interesting topics that I’ll tackle today…
I like this one because each is a topic unto himself. It’s also very relevant to me because I actually own both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak as my third and fourth goaltender and both of them are on the bubble for expansion protection. We can only protect 10 players, I’m already protecting Cam Talbot and Craig Anderson. But my 10th spot is up for grabs and Halak and Elliott are in the mix.
These two are fairly equal in value. On one hand you have Halak who is on a better team and is getting the bigger contract. So even though Thomas Greiss stole the net from him while he was injured, I think Halak gets it back. Just look at Team Europe – Halak will be the starter and Greiss will be the backup or the No.3. But Halak is also a Band-Aid Boy, so the risk is of course there.
Then you have Elliott, who finally has the net to himself but will probably be too injured to get more than 55 starts. He’s also on a pretty bad team that will win at least 10 fewer games than the Islanders.
How I’m dealing with it – I think the two are equal. But Halak couldn’t get me a bucket of pucks. Nobody wants him. Whereas there is plenty of interest in Elliott. So I’m going to try to get two or three assets for him and keep Halak (update: see below for more on this).
Another commenter asked me to discuss how I think Adam Larsson is going to be the next Pronger. Instead, I’ll discuss how it’s not my responsibility to help readers properly absorb and interpret statements correctly. That’s actually the responsibility of your parents and your teachers. If you read something and interpret it in a wrong way, and then regurgitate it to others as something I (or anyone on the Internet) said, then that’s on you and the people who assisted in your development!
Why is Lou nickel-and-diming the franchise’s future?
The commenter is referring to Lou Lamoriello and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Specifically, how Lou refuses to give bonuses to his top draft picks. Adam Larsson, for example (fourth overall), did not get bonuses in his entry-level contract.
I don’t really enjoy defending Lamoriello because frankly I’m not a fan. I think and hope that he’s just there as mentor for Kyle Dubas until Dubas is ready. He’s there to show how to deal with the different personalities around the league, from agents like Allan Walsh to NHL execs like Bill Daley to other GMs such as Ken Holland. I think and hope that Lou is not the sole decision maker in any trade process or contract discussion and in fact I think (and hope!) that he plays a minority role in those things while Shanahan, Dubas and Mark Hunter do the legwork.
But in this case, there is smoke but no fire. Lamoriello is not hijacking relations between the Leafs and Matthews. Auston won’t play without those bonuses, and the Leafs won’t hesitate to give them to him. Lou gave bonuses to Mitch Marner. He’s no longer held back by cash concerns as he was for years with New Jersey. Now it’s merely salary cap concerns. But Auston will get the max for everything, don’t worry. The delay is just in how the bonuses are structured – the timing of the payments, the thresholds that need to be reached. The Matthews camp is angling hard to get as much of that bonus money as possible up front and guaranteed. Dubas (and Lou) are probably insisting on something basic such as actually making the team, and maybe a bigger obstacle such as winning the Calder Trophy. But push comes to shove and the team will cave on most of these things.
This whole issue is just Maple Leafs mania. A mountain out of a molehill. Lou will go before the Leafs ever lose Matthews. Long before.
Example of Connor McDavid’s bonuses from last season (the max of $2.85 million in bonuses):
– Top six forward in ice time per game on the team, minimum 42 games (achieved)
– 20 goals, 35 assists, 60 points (did not achieve)
– 0.73 points per game, minimum 42 games (achieved)
– Top three forward on team in plus/minus, minimum 42 games (achieved)
– All-rookie team (achieved)
– All-Star game (did not achieve)
– All-Star game MVP (did not achieve)
– Top 10 in points-per-game average in the NHL, minimum 42 games (no idea)
– Among top five vote getters for Hart or Selke trophies (did not achieve)
I was asked about the Red Wings and their lack of attention to their defense corps this summer…
They cleared up cap space by moving the Datsyuk contract, but then what? Well, they probably wasted a little bit too much on Darren Helm. They could have let him walk. But aside from that (since perhaps you believe it helps the reputation of the franchise among players by staying loyal), they signed Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott and Frans Nielsen. I honestly don’t think Vanek will pan out, but at that dollar figure it was well worth at least checking and giving him a try. The other two are great character guys, so I think the Wings did a great job of adding the character and intangibles that they were lacking up front. For years, Ken Holland has had this conveyor belt of prospects that rolled in a couple of good ones each year. But these last few years, the prospects have been of one type – skill. So they needed Ott’s sandpaper and Nielsen’s two-way talent.
But the big weakness is on defense. Detroit has a ton of very promising prospect defensemen and I think this caused Holland to hesitate in addressing the shortcoming three years ago. And two years ago. And last year. After all –you’re Holland and you just signed a great NCAA prospect in Danny DeKeyser and you have Brendan Smith looking great as a rookie and you have Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko and later Joe Hicketts and don’t forget how good Brian Lashoff looked early on. The problem is, Smith hasn’t taken a big enough step forward. The others can’t be written off, but none of them are going to be stars. So I think Holland is a little stuck now and he knows it. But what can he do? Free agency had Goligoski and Yandle out of the picture before the bell even rung. Honestly, the only defensemen that left that could help were Hamhuis and Russell.
Do you really want the Wings to drop $4 million per year on Russell? Eh Wings fans? I wouldn’t. Money could be better spent. So that leaves a trade. Somehow acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk would help, but it’s not enough. You need Shatty’s offense, and you need a top stay-at-home defense-first guy too. Holland’s competing with the Oilers and probably five other teams, so Wings fans I’m sure would not want him to overpay. I think the Wings head into the season with DeKeyser, Green, Kronwall, Ericsson, Smith, Marchenko and Ouellet.
Putting my money where my mouth is – I traded (after I wrote the above, actually) Brian Elliott in my keeper league. In return I got Adam Larsson (money where my mouth is!), Calvin Pickard and a third-round draft pick (draft is four rounds, it’s a full keeper). I would lose either Elliott or Marchand in the expansion draft. Now I’d lose Pickard, Larsson or Marchand.
Shane Doan signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He’s staying with Arizona of course, given that he has a big beautiful ranch there. The soon-to-be 40-year-old is coming off of a 47-point season but 28 of those points were goals and they were scored on a 16.5 SH%. If he shoots 10% (more in line with what he does) then the 47 points become 36 points on 17 goals. I wouldn’t bet on him getting more than 40 points in this, his last (I’m calling it!) season.
Victor Rask signed a six-year contract worth $4 million per season. That number used to sell me on a player’s value. A player signs for $4 million and he’s a Golden Boy. But these days $4 million seems to be handed out like candy. Mathieu Perreault, Kyle Palmieri, Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith. So $4 million is the new standard for second liners. As for my expectation for Rask, I think only two Carolina players get to 50 points and Rask isn’t one of them. He’ll be close though. Name the two I think will hit 50.
Jordan Weal re-signed with Philadelphia. It’s a two-way deal so don’t expect a break for him this year. Last year he was dynamite in training camp, couldn’t get into the LA lineup and they couldn’t send him down or they’d lose him on waivers. Then the Flyers gave up Schenn and Lecavalier for Weal and a third – but the Flyers wouldn’t play him either! Weal played 14 games last season, but with ice time that was the equivalent of eight games for a second liner.
Jack Campbell, one of the bigger fantasy disappointments of the last decade, has signed with the Kings on a two-way deal. So a fresh start for him, good luck.
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