Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chances getting smaller?

it's a fact, if Kyle Wellwood burps on the ice, Nik Antropov is too high up to hear him

The Forechecker, a great hockey statistics blog, recently put up an article detailing size and weight of all 30 teams in the NHL. As you can see, the Leafs come up slightly below the league average, in 18th place. This is only slightly surprising to me, we actually shed some small guys in Tucker and Wellwood, and only really lost size in Gill when it boiled down to transactions. It also helps that waaay back in 07 when the Leafs were making another ill-fated playoff push it was the "Big Three" of Poni, Sundin, and Antro that I heard Philly's announcers talking about in a game, to them back then we were a big team that used it's size. Looking over our dudes though, most top out at 6' even, and guys like Stajan, Steen, Moore, Devereaux, Tlusty, Stralman, and Williams are pretty darned shrimpy.

Is this a big deal? I mean, the Sharks and Sens top the list and both appear to be dominant teams (in the regular season), but both perennial contenders Dallas and Detroit actually reach out at the bottom of the list. Dallas even played a fairly physical playoffs this past season, so it would appear that size isn't necessarily a determining factor when it comes down to team competitiveness and play style.

So why talk about something that apparently doesn't matter? Because Cliff Fletcher seems to think it does.

The Leafs selected eight players at this last draft, Fletcher's first in a while. Not one of them topped out below 6'2". Weight doesn't really apply to 18 year olds, but they project to be a pretty massive group of guys. Both Damien Cox and the boys at Hockey's Future seem skeptical of the actual talent level of the group, while Steve at another great hockey analysis blog begs to differ. The two big names past Schenn are Hayes and Stefanovich, both of whom definitely have first round skill levels, but both have question marks that are hard to argue with surrounding their consistency and work ethic in regards to their careers.

Were Fletcher's draft day decisions based on figures that appear to be meaningless? Or did he just pick the best guys that seemed available, and by coincidence they all bang their heads on the way out of their limos? I'm really interested to see how the big guys work out. The franchise already has a past neglecting small players, we will never hear the end of the Steve Sullivan catcalls.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I hate you, Bryan McCabe

pictured here: Paragons of uselessness

Though this time it isn't because your idea of taking the man is poking at him with your stick from behind the goal line when he has an open net. It's not because you're a whiner, or a connoisseur of apologetic excuse making. It's not because of your stupid facial hair or shit-eating grin.

I hate you today because you're making me a liar.

I knew that, if I said you weren't moving long enough, you'd see your way out to spite me. Now that your stance is weakened, the end result is inevitable. You're like some poor unsuspecting victim at a bar, someone asks you to go grab a slice of pizza and after a while you go "Well, I suppose I am a little peckish" and then before you know it you wake up in some hellhole in Connecticut surrounded by Darcy Tucker jerseys. Your plane ticket's already been paid for, first class, because we like to treat our guys right while threatening to not play them.

I think the better question now is, who the hell even wants him?

mf37's Toronto Maple Leafs blog had an excellent piece covering the issue a few weeks ago, the market has changed a little bit since then so let's take a look:

The Variables

Location: McCabe still gets to choose where he goes, and then it all comes down to whether or not those specific teams are interested. Garth Snow is, for the first time in his life, playing hardball with the Leafs over the McCabe issue. Good for him, but like a retarded stepchild he's picking the exact wrong time to try out this exciting new concept. This is a team that had Bryan Berard and Marc-Andre Bergeron as it's first power play unit. Mark Streit's only one half of a pair, and well, we'll see how much of his production was a product of Montreal's system, as Souray didn't do so well his first year out.

I'm going to assume McCabe is not a total asshat (a stretch, I know) and say that family is very important to him, and that he'll want to stay close to New York or southern Ontario.

Cap room: Now, Fletcher's already gone on record saying we may have to take some salary back, this isn't a salary dump as the market probably won't allow that. This actually supposedly gives us a wider range of teams, as individual cap space isn't an issue.

Need: Free agent frenzy's over, and a lot of teams have addressed their needs on D. While the Boyle trade let us know that it's entirely possible to sign a contract with a no-trade and get traded immediately, not all teams are undergoing an ownership change.

That makes our potentials: New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators. Not too different from mf37's list, it's true. I didn't include Atlanta because, well, Georgia's a lot closer to Florida than it is to Rhode Island or the GTA, and if we include them we might as well include Tampa and Florida*.

The Islanders signed Streit, but still have loads of space and the need for a power play defensemen. The question is whether Wang will allow his team to spend higher, and if Snow will soften on his demands for a 1st rounder. I kind of doubt that either is likely knowing the Islanders.

The Sabres need a good powerplay dman and have the cap room to make anything possible. However, just re-signing Numminen fills up their roster slots and with guys like Sekera, Weber, and Gragnani looking to crack the line-up I think we'd have to take at least one bad dman back in order to make any trade remotely possible.

New Jersey's interesting, losing Rafalski hurt them a great deal, but they're right up against the cap. Their d-corps is modest, but their forward core is actually fairly expensive, with 8 guys out of 12 being paid at least $2.5 mil. With some of those guys being 35 year old John Madden, and 37 year old Bobby Holik, I can see some moves being made to allow a guy like Bryan in. Whether or not they want him at all is a better question.

The Rangers are out of the picture with the Redden signing and the amount of money they've invested in their vets; I can't conceive of a deal that would work and they have a solid enough core.

Ottawa's another interesting choice, they have space to do whatever they want and just lost Redden, but guys like Meszaros and Lee are supposed to be stepping up. I think the biggest impediment to this deal is the fact that I can't understand why a team that saw 8 games of Bryan McCabe last year would want him.

Oh Fuck We're Probably Keeping Him Anyway Aren't We

The Islanders are going to remain the front-runners in this discussion, the circumstances are too perfect for them not to. Looking up and down a list I can see Buffalo, Ottawa, or Jersey also receiving some consideration, though the deal would likely be epic.

I'd say the market for a $5mil broken, old defenseman whose peak was two years ago is pretty slim, especially when he gets to choose the region his team would be in. I'm still optimistic that the deal will work itself out by the start of the season, but this list exercise was depressing in it's limitations. Just stop being a dick, Garth Snow.

*rumours of a McCabe to Florida trade have gone around despite being tremendously dumb. With Bouwmeester likely to leave Florida will need a good point shot, but the location works against this. With Belak McCabe's at least got someone to talk to, but I'm putting this into the 'no' category until McCabe proves me wrong again and accepts a trade to Los Angeles.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Just when you've lost faith in the general public...

Some guy named GuelphGuy posts in the comments section of theStar on this article and totally redeems the lot of them.

"How many articles can you print about absolutely nothing? Please just stop, and give us the news when there IS news."


Straight to the point, being critical of the media that's manufactured it's own monster in regards to this Sundin story. Let's be honest here, nobody's talking about Joe Sakic, nobody's talking about Teemu Selanne, because most legitimate media have the sense to know that it's a dead story. The player will make a decision or they won't, and when they do it won't be in secret, it won't be something that needs revealing.

What's been pissing me off is the amount of aggrandizement that Mats has been getting over this bullshit press.

People are pissed off because they see articles being printed every other day that don't say anything, even from decent sources. Rather than blame the piss-poor decision making of these establishments, they're blaming Mats for taking his time on a very personal decision here. This is one case where you really should be shooting the messenger, for instead of delivering a message you don't like he's stopping by your house and talking about the fit of his codpiece while delivering the same expired coupons you've been getting for weeks.

The media is pissed off because they've been following this story so closely, devoted so much time to what anybody could have told them was a loser's proposition, that they're lashing out at him and questioning the heart and work ethic of a guy who could come to their house and take it apart brick by brick with a hockey stick and some herring. I love the idea that people who can't even find a real story to print and who turn on their subjects and audience so quickly are questioning
anybody's work ethic or heart.

So enough. The media seems to think that Mats is entitled to come back and give them a huge story for all the time they've spent on him. The public seems to think that Mats isn't entitled to do whatever he wants, when he wants. Unfortunately, Mats doesn't take shit from anyone, and if his long decision making process is pissing people off then I'm glad, I hope they stew for at least another week.