Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday News and Notes

After a slow week around the NHL, the pace has quickened with players signing to new teams or inking extensions.

This week will also be very interesting because arbitration hearings begin. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with arbitration, it is a process in which a restricted free agent and an organization are unable to come to terms on a contract and use a third party (court of law) to decide what the salary should be. Usually, the player is asking for more than the team is willing to pay and the arbitration ruling is somewhere in between what the player was asking for and what the team was asking for. 

Anyways, here's whats going on in the NHL:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Off Season Soap Opera: Ilya Kovalchuk

On July 1st, 2010 Ilya Kovalchuk became the marquee free agent for the off season. After fielding offers from many teams, he agreed in principle to sign a 17 year, $102 million dollar contract to remain a member of the New Jersey Devils. The length of the contract became the longest contract in NHL history.

The next day, it was revealed that the NHL rejected the contract because it circumvented the league's salary cap. An arbitrator heard the union's appeal but still rejected the deal.

Another deal was submitted to the NHL on September 4th, 2010 which the league approved. The contract that was approved is the one he opted out of  this past week worth $100 million over 15 years.

The NHL penalized the New Jersey Devils for their attempt at circumventing the salary cap with Kovalchuk's original 17 year deal. The punishment included a $3 million dollar fine, a third round draft choice in the 2011 NHL Draft, and one future first round draft choice within the next four seasons.

In the seasons after his gargantuan contract, Kovalchuk responded with 31 and 37 goal seasons in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 respectively. During the lockout he played with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL where he put up 42 points in 36 games.

His high level of play carried back into the NHL where he was a little shy of being a point per game player (as his career average is) by producing 31 points in 37 games played.

So we've established he has more money than most people will ever see in their lives, is a bonafide sniper in the best hockey league in the world and is an alternate captain for a team that just went to the Stanley Cup finals.

That is why his (seemingly) sudden announcement to retire from the NHL shocked the league.

Today we look at why he made the decision to retire and what repercussions his departure will have on the rest of the NHL.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fancy Stats

Some not so fancy stats
The movie "Moneyball" (based on a book by Michael Lewis) shed a new light on how baseball teams manage and create their rosters. Smaller market teams are unable to spend with the "New York Yankees" and the "Boston Red Sox" of the world so they need to ensure that every dollar they spend is in fact worth spending.

The movie shows how the statistics like stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average (that are typically used to gauge a player's value) are flawed and do not express a player's true value. The book/movie argues that Oakland's management took a more analytical approach to find players that would not only provide the most bang-for-their-buck but also compete successfully against the richer teams in the MLB.

The "Moneyball" story applies to the NHL as well.

Over the last six years, there has been an increasing interest in how advanced statistics apply to the game of hockey and one website has come out on top as the leading source of this information.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Off Season Soap Opera: Tyler Seguin

One of the most debated trades in recent NHL history was between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. Right winger and 30 goal scorer, Phil Kessel, was traded to Toronto for a first round pick in 2010, a second round pick in 2010 and a first round pick in 2011.

Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, those two first round picks turned out to be a second overall pick in 2010 and a ninth overall pick in 2011. Ouch.

The Bruins would go on to keep both draft picks and add center Tyler Seguin in 2010 and defenseman Dougie Hamilton in 2011. Both players have extremely high ceilings as Hamilton projects to be a top pairing defenseman and Seguin projecting to be a top line center.

The last few seasons saw constant taunting from Bruins fans thanking Kessel (starts at 1:06 in the video) for what his departure brought back to Boston.

That all changed at the NHL Draft...

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Best of the Rest

Another year means another off-season that begins with a splash.

Some of the big names that were available this year were signed within hours of free agency opening up. There are, however, still a handful of players that could make an impact in the NHL as complementary or secondary players.

Here's a look at some of the top free agents still available: