Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Starry Eyed

The sweltering James Mirtle (how's that 53-degree humidex working out for you, Torontonians?) has an interesting post up about the Dallas Stars' bevy of defence (and, uh, also makes sure to point out that we're the exact opposite). I don't know that we've ever actually made a deal with the Stars (anyone remember anything specific?), but they're worth looking at anyway.

Now, assuming they aren't going to drop new acquisitions Modry and Sydor, and there's no way in hell they'll give up a Norris candidate, we're left with Phillipe Boucher, Janne Niinimaa, Stephane Robidas, Jon Klemm and Trevor Daley as reasonable trade options. Daley has potential but is only a third-year player, and considering we've already got two non-NHLers and two players with less than two full years experience (Smid, Hejda; Bergeron, Greene), it's safe to assume we'd try to avoid the young'un. There's still a lot that's attractive.

Boucher potted 43 points (19 on the powerplay) in only 66 games as his team's second option, which is a bit of an anamoly at 33 years of age, but he's scored at roughly a .4pts/game ratio over his career, so he can probably be relied upon for a solid 30 if he plays a whole season, presumably more with prominent PP time, which he would obviously get here. He's definitely injury prone, slightly less so lately (played two full season of the last three), and while he was +28, that's obviously helped by being on a good team, as he had average-to-below-average numbers until he got there (mostly evens or just over/under, with a few stand-outs like a -26 10 years ago). He makes $2.5mil, though, which isn't ridiculous, and he's locked up for three more years at about the same rate. I don't know if a 36-year-old Boucher is worth that at all, but it would probably be worth the hit then to get two good seasons out of him as a powerplay quarterback we wouldn't have to hide—that is, it would be if you wouldn't have to give up too much in return. Given that he was their second defenceman and Dallas has no cap issues, though, the price right now would probably be too steep (top-six forward and a high pick) for someone who hasn't done much outside of last season, although Modry could essentially replace him, so maybe that comes downa little. Not likely, I think, but maybe. Rating: Very attractive, for the right price

is a poor man's Boucher in most every way, though he is four years younger and may be finally blossoming (20 points in 76 games, double his output in the only other season he played that many games). It's something of a stretch to consider him anything more than your second point option on a second PP unit, and the fact his PIMs doubled from his previous career high suggests he probably had a little trouble with the new rules. Makes $550,000, which is indicative. Rating: This would be just another warm body, without the potential of a young defenceman. Pass.

is the type of defenceman who we'd probably keep mentioning if he was a free agent, but not the type you'd bother to trade for. He's 36, was a minus player (though presumably got harder minutes than, say, Robidas), and had 11 points as a 3/4/5-ish guy for the Stars. He could probably be had for pretty cheap (4th-round pick?), but with someone like, say, Vishnevski, who's got more or less the same stats but is 10 years younger, why bother? Rating: If we really want Klemm, we might as well just sign Ulanov.

is, for me, the most interesting option. Obviously he was fairly terrible last year, but there's a lot mitigating that. First of all, he started the season with the Islanders, and while he probably contributed to some of the woes there, you still can't entirely hold that against a guy. He also got injured, and while it was only for seven games, it was an ankle injury, which presumably loses you a step. So, he might be damaged goods by now, but last season might have just been an anomaly. Keep in mind also that his best years were in Edmonton and he loved the city so much he cried like Cory Cross with his delicate bits under the team bus when he left at the deadline a few years back. Having said that, his production had sort of declined when we traded him, and though it seems odd that a late-20s/early-30s defenceman of Niinimaa's calibre would fall off, perhaps Lowe recognized something and got while the getting was good. That said, considering that even if Niinimma does pick it back up again (a decent if), the Stars have three defenceman like him (Zubov, Boucher, Modry) and one not far off (Sydor), he could probably be had for a young prospect or a middle pick. Rating: A cheap and relatively good-odds gamble, but still a gamble, and aren't we doing enough of that already?

Also on the defenceman front, the New York Daily News (hat tip to Lowetide) says that a one-year deal with Brian Leetch is a possibility, pointing out that Lowe and Leetch used to play together, something I had forgotten when I brought up the prospect of Leetch all those weeks ago. For what it's worth, I still think it's a good idea for a one-year contract, I just wonder how much we'd have to pay a 37-year-old defenceman who's spent his entire career on the Eastern seaboard to come to Edmonton with no long-term commitment. Ideal situation in a video game, but is another $4mil worth it?

Anyway, barring the acquistion of Leetch or Vishnevski (or both), I think a cheap deal for Niinimaa might actually be worth it. We have cap space (he's $2.5mil), and even if he only gets back up to 20-25 points, a middle pick or half-decent prospect is definitely worth it, given our situation.

Now, just to make me feel better about our defence, even though I know I'm lying to myself, I'm going to put out various defensive depth charts, with decreasing levels of believability.

Our current depth chart:


That's fucking depressing, unless we keep rolling sevens (Bergeron and Smith play like they did with Pronger, Greene turns into a werewolf of defence, Hejda is actually the best defenceman outside the NHL, Tjärnqvist just needed more responsibility, Staios finds a magic amulet that gives him the power of Earth, Wind, Fire and Powerplay Quarterback, nobody even thinks about getting injured).

As training camp begins, Brian Burke realizes he's burnt his bridges with Vishnevski and gives him up for whatever sad offer the Oilers faxed him earlier:


Respectable, though again, we could use a combination of playing above past performance and enchanted talismans.

Lowe convinces Leetch Edmonton is where it's at, and Burke is appeased enough to give up Vishnevski:


Questionable but entirely respectable, and even a signficant injury would leave us better off than we are now.

That scenario plus we pick up Janne Niinimaa for a third-rounder and he remembers that being a 40-point defenceman and drinking at the Black Dog is all he wanted in life:


Some part of me still believes this possible, but the confluence of events is probably a bit of a stretch. Sigh.

I wake up tomorrow having dreamt the last month and a half, we actually beat Carolina in Game Seven and become a desirable destination for UFA defenceman, who all sign below-market-value, four-year contracts for a chance to build another dynasty:

Staios, Mitchell

Now we're fucking talking! WOOOOOO!!

I wake up tomorrow having dreamt the last 15 years, and it turns out I'm actually a once-in-a-lifetime defensive talent, mentioned in the same breaths as Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, and Paul Coffey. Drafted by the Oilers first overall in 2002, I immediately stepped in to become both a punishing, physical defender (it's worth noting I'm actually 6'3", 230lbs in this scenario) and a smooth-skating, ice-reading point man with a glass-shattering shot and an uncanny sense of where my other players are. To show my loyalty, I've signed a 14-year contract with the Oil, which attracted other world-class talent over the past four years, all of whom I've made better en route to three Stanley Cup appearances (two wins, in 2003 and 2005--also, there was no lockout, because in my position as NHLPA president I talked sense into both sides, arriving at a salary cap, revenue-sharing and the lynching of Gary Bettman over a delicious salmon dinner at an upscale Vancouver restaurant), four Conn Smythes (having become the only player to win it without actually appearing in the final series), a lifetime lock on the Norris trophy, two Harts and a serious run at the Art Ross (oh, and two Olympic golds).

Chara, Bouwmeester

I'm going to stop now.


jon said...

Dave, was that you in drag for this year's Getaway? If so, it would amusing to post a link to that in response to this thread. Seriously though, this post made me laugh out loud in my little corporate cubicle.

Doogie2K said...

Meanwhile, I'm in decent shape, a small, speedy winger at 5'11", and potted 55 in '03-'04. As a 17-year-old. Take that, Bossy!

Ooh, I like this fantasy world.

Steve said...

We're giving up on Tarnstrom completely, are we?

Colby Cosh said...

Ummmmmm, begging your pardon, but you have Spacek #3 on a depth chart that has Steve Staios and Willie Mitchell in street clothes. Me not think so.

mike w said...

No shit, what exactly is Tarnstrom's agent doing?

I'm hoping this bodes well for us. An experienced sometimes lame defenceman is still better than unproven prospects and college players.

Pleasure Motors said...

Colby! Where the hell have you been? Something better to do these summer months?

Anyway, true enough, Spacek wouldn't be ahead of Jovanovski, but really, aside from his penchant for getting plastered against the end boards from time to time, would Spacek not be ahead of the other four on that particular depth chart? Mitchell had 10 points last year, Staios had 28, and while both are probably better defensively than Jaro, I think his 43 points make up for it.

He's not so decrepit defensively, is he?

And Steve: pretty much, yes. He could sign, I guess, but it's taken a long damn time, considering our lack of defensive depth, and furthermore, is he really any better than a fourth-ish defenceman (at best), anyway? If we're going to add another to this Motley Crüe, he might as well have top-three potential: we have enough people competing for our third defensive pairing.

Also, jon: the last time I appeared in drag in a publication was actually 2005's Rolling Stone spoof. As far as I know, those pictures have been destroyed. Or, at least, aren't available online. Thankfully.

Colby Cosh said...

Something better to do? Sort of. It's called "frantically writing my ass off to make up for the two months I spent doing nothing but watching hockey." Let's hope it's a new July-August tradition.

Spacek looked terrific for about three weeks after he got into town, but watching him in the playoffs was unbearable. Like Cory Cross bad. And he finished the tournament minus-3 with Pronger and Smith doing the heavy lifting.

Speaking of "Christ On The" Cross, did you see that Journal piece about where he's playing next year? Ich bin ein Hamburg Freezer!

jon said...

PM: That would be the one. I guess I call all of the Gateway spoof editions the Getaway out of habit. Unfortunately, a quick search confirms that the picture is not available. Bah.

Paul O-the O stands for Sports said...

Of course Cross signs on the dotted line two days after I talk to him, and two days before my profile on him that mentions the strong possibility of him going to Europe hits the stands. This is why I hate only publishing once a month.

Anonymous said...

Cor Cross signing w/ the "Hamburg Freezers"... more hilarious proof that real life will always be 18.6 times funnier than anything any of us could make up.Haw Haw

bigleaguer said...

I was in Hamburg during the recent World Cup and even Hamburgers laugh at the name "Hamburg Freezers."