04 July 2012

Offer Sheeting Shea Weber

Ryan Suter decided to go to the Minnesota Wild, who still don't look all that impressive, nor exciting.  The Detroit Red Wings still have a Nick Lidstrom-sized gap in their blue line.

Shea Weber was taken to arbitration last year by the Nashville Predators.  Once a case is going to arbitration, the player is unable to sign an offer sheet with another team.  However, the team can only elect for arbitration once in their interaction with a player.  As the Predators have already done this once with Weber, they're unable to do so again.  The ball is firmly in Shea Weber's court.  He can choose arbitration with the Predators (restricting him to only working with the Preds on a long-term deal until the arbitration date arrives), or he can sit back, keep his options open, and work on a long-term deal with the Predators while still being open to offer sheets.

Mirtle at the Globe and Mail revealed this year's RFA compensation tiers.  For a deal that averages between  6.728 and 8.410 M/yr, the compensation required is "only" 2 first round picks, a second, and a third.  I'd trade that straight up for Weber in a heartbeat.  Considering that Ryan Suter just went for 13 years/98 million (7.54M overall cap hit), and Weber is presumably the better of the two, it wouldn't be outlandish to give Weber a deal that somehow averaged 8-8.4M/yr.

There's two considerations that have to be made here though:

First of all, the compensation package is based off of the first 5 years of the deal.  Suter will be making a lot more than his 7.54M/yr average salary in the first 5 years of his deal, via signing bonuses that pump his total yearly pay to over 12M a year for the first couple years.  Putting years like this into the first 5 of a Weber offer sheet would bump the compensation up into the next tier, which would be four (!) first round picks.  Such bumps for signing bonuses would have to be pushed back until years 6-8 of a potential deal.  Would this be palatable to Shea Weber?  I don't know, but it would be necessary from the perspective of any team that would be putting an offer in front of him.

Secondly, would Nashville match the offer sheet?  Back in 2006, when Edmonton put an offer sheet in front of Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres, the Sabres matched the offer sheet.  That same summer, Buffalo had already let Daniel Briere and Chris Drury walk (one of those was a good decision, the other was not).  Buffalo fans were already upset, and losing Vanek would have been too much to bear for the fanbase, which likely would've responded by demanding the heads of everyone in the Sabres' organization.  The Vanek offer sheet probably would've been matched for anything short of Wayne Gretzky and a time machine.  Nashville is likely at a similar point in their process here.  But if they wouldn't pony up what MIN would for Suter, would they pony up even more for Weber?  There's one way to find out...

18 May 2012

MvsW #0122 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0122 (May 09, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who do you like in today's Game 6 and why?

Again, this is the problem with answering these after the fact.  My pick was Washington, not only because I dislike the Rangers (for all the shit people give teams like Nashville and Phoenix about their style of play, New York is more boring than anyone else in the league), but because I had money riding on the Capitals.

While I was in Las Vegas a couple weekends ago with some good friends, I got the opportunity to do some sports betting for the first time.  I've always wanted to get in on this, but because our wonderful country thinks it needs to save us from ourselves, it's a pain in the ass to start online betting through Bodog/Bovada.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty low on funds right now, due to a combination of last year being an expensive one (my bank account is so sad!) and being in between paychecks right now, as I just started a new job.  Hell, I wouldn't have even made the trip to Vegas if my airfare and accomodations at the Bellagio weren't paid for.

To give you an idea of my bankroll, I ended up going to Vegas with about $200 in my pocket.  I came home with about $50.  About $75 or so of that was spent on food and drink while being out there, and the other $75 went into gambling, $30 of it at the sportsbook at the Bellagio, on three bets:

- $10 - The Flyers -1.5 in Game 1 to beat the Devils - Flyers won by 1, bet lost
- $10 - The Capitals +1.5 in Game 1 to beat the Rangers - Rangers won by 2, bet lost
- $10 - The Capitals to win the Best of Seven series against the Rangers - Spoilers: Rangers won, bet lost

I didn't win a damn thing while I was in Las Vegas.  I accidentally lost $30 to video poker by hitting the "maximum bet" button.  I placed some sports bets that immediately fell through.  I didn't have the cash to play table games at the Bellagio on a weekend (if you have that much money to give to a casino, you should give me some!).  The Capitals were my last hope on my first sports betting adventure, and my only hope of winning anything from my trip to Vegas.

So yeah, I was pulling for the Capitals.  And of course, they won.  Inevitably, they lost Game 7, and I sadly threw away my bet slip and accepted my fate as a sports betting failure.

17 May 2012

MvsW #0121 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0121 (May 08, 2012) Question of the Day:
Where is Ryan Suter playing next season?

Oh good god, I hope it's in Detroit.

I think that it would ultimately be best for the NHL if he stayed in Nashville, and if he's not going to go to Detroit, I'd prefer he just stayed there.  I can't help but root for a team that has done things the right way, in how they've built their team, which is an alarmingly rare thing anymore.  It is good for the league and for the Nashville market if they don't lose their star players and continue to be contenders in the West.  I believe that part of our job as hockey players and hockey fans is to evangelize the game, and help it spread and grow and be a positive factor in other people's lives.

One of the things I really dislike about a lot of people in the hockey world, and particularly in Canada, is the tendency to tell certain markets that they don't "get" hockey, that they don't "deserve" hockey.  Whether it's because they "don't even get snow", because they're "in the city", or because they don't "appreciate the game", that is absolute bullshit.  Hockey is for everyone.  If you don't believe me, ask Jarome Iginla, Sean Avery, or Brian Burke.  One of the things that we, as hockey fans, need to do, is to help push that mission.  We shouldn't do that because the NHL has a PSA about it, but because it's something that should happen for the good of and the growth of our game.

The only way we can grow this game is to do so organically, from a grassroots level.  Hockey can work in "alternative" markets, but it takes work and success on the part of an NHL team.  Hockey has exploded in areas like Northern California (Sharks), Texas (Stars), and Southern California (Wayne Gretzky Kings) because of successes that those teams have had, in addition to grassroots efforts on the parts of those teams to help build rinks and found youth hockey programs, to hook new generations on this wonderful sport.

As a result, 20 years later, we're beginning to reap the rewards of those efforts, as we start to see new players come from those areas, as well as building a culture by way of kids who've now grown up immersing their own kids in the game.  This is how a culture is built, and it's god damn ignorant for Canada and other "traditional" markets to think that because they have a head start of several decades, that they are somehow superior to anywhere located south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Bringing that tangent full circle, it's easy to see why Ryan Suter remaining in Nashville is important for the NHL and for the Predators.  If Suter goes to DET or PHI, he's going to a more established hockey culture, where his impact on the growth of the game will likely not be what it would've been had he stayed in Nashville.  If he stays in Nashville, he can be a part of the effort to grow the game there, helping push Nashville as a stronger hockey market.  This can help the NHL, not only by strengthening it's national presence, but maybe more importantly by maybe making the Nashville Predators stronger financially, eliminating them as a bottom-third team in the NHL's financial structure, making the entire league more financially stable.

All of that said, my personal preference is that he goes to Detroit, for my own selfish reasons.  Nicklas Lidstrom is on the way out, and ever since the 2009 finals where a hobbled Lidstrom was unable to be his usual self against the Penguins, I've been scared of what this team will be without him.  The way the NHL has worked for the last 20 years, the most valuable thing you can have is a true #1 top-flight elite defenseman who can fill a "shutdown" role.

The Red Wings do not currently have anyone to fill that role right now.  Kronwall isn't a "shutdown" type of guy - he just directs more chances at the opposition net than he gives up.  Quincey isn't that guy.  White isn't that guy.  Maybe Smith is that guy, but we don't know that yet.  Ericsson is a genuinely impressive kind of trainwreck.  Kindl probably won't be that guy either.  This team needs a player like Suter to win the sort of series that Detroit just lost to Nashville.

In the end, my money is on Philadelphia.  They have the riches in their forward ranks to trade to Nashville to get Suter's negotiating rights, and we all know that Paul Holmgren is not shy at all with ratcheting up the numbers on contracts.  If that happens, it will be a loss for both the Predators and the league as a whole.

16 May 2012

MvsW #0120 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0120 (May 07, 2012) Question of the Day:
Your favorite team wins the Cup - which jerseys do you wish they were wearing?

Well, being a Red Wings fan, this is pretty easy, as there's not a multitude of older jerseys or such to choose from.  My personal preference is the Detroit white now-away-but-previously-home jerseys.  I still don't like the whole "darks at home" thing that was inexplicably changed after the lockout, because I really prefer most teams' white jerseys.  I think they just look a little cleaner, a little sharper, a little more detailed than the darks for most teams, including Detroit's.  With the dark jerseys, it's a big blob with some little white writing and stuff going on.  With the light jerseys, it just looks neat and clean, like someone took a blank canvas and set to putting together something great.

On a slightly related note: my wife was watching Game 1 of the Kings/Coyotes series, and was briefly confused on which team was which, because the Coyote's "whiteout" seemed to be a statement of support for the team in white...  which was the Kings, as the whiteout pre-dates the post-lockout policy of home teams now wearing their dark jerseys.  Shouldn't Phoenix now change the event to be a "maroon-out" or a "burgundy-out", similar to the Capitals' "Rock the Red"?

If anyone knows why they changed the home jerseys after the lockout, I'd love to hear why.  The only thing I can think of is some sort of really silly thing like "We notice we sell more home jerseys than away jerseys, so we should switch the jerseys so that we can get people to buy the jersey they don't already have!", but that seems like a quite a stretch.

I would also like to mention (I think I've mentioned it on this blog before, but I don't remember for sure), I think the Edmonton Oilers blue-and-oranges are absolutely hideous, and I always really liked their McFarlane-designed alternates that they wore briefly about 10 years ago.  I thought they were pretty neat and a helluva lot more sharp than the blindingly bright jerseys that they've been bringing back.

12 May 2012

MvsW #0119 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0119 (May 04, 2012) Question of the Day:
What would make you care about the IIHF World Championships?

I think the whole problem with the IIHF World Championships is pretty obvious - it happens during the NHL playoffs.  That alone makes it a hard sell, as it's tough to get time to watch it (and don't even get me started on how stupid a tape delay is in the Information Age), but the fact that it's also not featuring all the best players in the world is a significant factor as well.

The obvious solution is to not play the event during the NHL season, which makes it more viewable, but also increases the player pool for the event.  I would personally schedule it for August.  June has the Cup Finals and the draft, and July has free agency, but from the second week of June to mid-September, there's nothing at all for hockey fans to sink their teeth into.  I always start getting my hockey jones real hard in mid/late August, and if the IIHF were on at that time of year, I'd be all over it.

The only thing that might become an issue then is if it would really mean much to be a yearly event, and if players would want to take time from their offseason plans to participate.  I'm not sure if that would be a concern or not, but if it were, I think setting it up to have a championship tournament every other year (alternating between Olympics and IIHF) would be a pretty solid idea.  I think just moving it to August would be good enough though, to significantly increase interest in the game.

10 May 2012

MvsW #0117 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0117 (May 02, 2012) Question of the Day:
You're starting a team, which currently unemployed GM do you hire and why?

For years now, I've always maintained that I would love to see what would happen if you put a couple of the smarter minds in the NHL blogosphere into an NHL front office.  With indefensible morons like Don Waddell, Doug MacLean, and Steve Tambellini (and I'm not even touching on Matt Millen - Never forget!) able to land jobs in the NHL, often multiple times, I would love to see a new team go way off the board, and get someone completely new to run their front office.

My ultimate preference would be to replace the individual GM position with a small GM-council, of James Mirtle, Gabe Desjardins, and Tyler Dellow.  You could even make it bigger (though an odd number is probably ideal, for voting out any disagreements) and add folks like Tom AwadVic Ferrari, or a hundred others.  These are the guys helping lead the advanced statistical revolution in hockey, and I cannot possibly fathom a scenario in which they wouldn't at least be moderately successful.  Given the incredibly low bar set by several of the GM's in the NHL right now, it would be nearly impossible for them to end up in the bottom of the league.

This wouldn't be half as much fun though if they couldn't document the things they were doing, for our entertainment, which obviously wouldn't be very practical.  But such a thing would certainly make for one ridiculously interesting blog or reality tv show or something.  Shows like the Oilers propaganda piece Oil Change wouldn't stand a chance against this.

Of course, this also would lend itself to adding more folks from around the blogosphere in other positions.  Earl Sleek could become the director of marketing, ushering in a new era of print media promotions for the team.  Corey Pronman, Director of Scouting?  James O'Brien, Community Relations?  The possibilities go on and on...

09 May 2012

MvsW #0116 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0116 (May 01, 2012) Question of the Day:
What is your best theory about what happened to Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov?

I'm not the most creative person, so I don't have a good answer here.  The best I've got is that a Russian friend of mine has told me that Russian women are far better than American women.  My understanding from him is that they take much better care of themselves, and are more interested in their men, relative to American women.  In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, Alex Ovechkin has at some point said much the same.  So my guess is that Kostitsyn and Radulov were either A) getting drunk and bemoaning the state of American women and how they are lacking in comparison to the superior Russian women/groupies in the KHL, or B) trying to go shot for shot with some Russian women that they ran into at the bar, which can take a very long time, to my understanding.

Of course, whether Russian women are better or not, they don't have a song like our American women do:

It's a shame it's Heather Graham dancing, instead of Elizabeth Hurley :-/

08 May 2012

MvsW #0115 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0115 (Apr 30, 2012) Question of the Day:
Who is the most underrated player in the playoffs so far?

You know what's interesting?  I'm still using these prompts, but I haven't even been able to listen to the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast since mid-April when I started my new job.

Anze Kopitar strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Jon Quick, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown have all been getting a lot of attention for the job that Los Angeles has done so far this post-season, and rightfully so, but I think the straw that's really stirring their drink is Anze Kopitar.  From everyone's favorite pervert, Rudy Kelly of the Battle of California, after Game 2 of the Blues/Kings series:

Kopitar rules, we all know this. He's +4 thus far with 2 goals and a pretty consistent domination in the offensive zone (game 1 here, game 2 here). Last game saw Ken Hitchcock move David Backes away from Kopitar, which is something I thought I'd never see. It'll be interesting to see if Sutter pursues that match-up in LA or if he simply doesn't care who the Blues put out against Kopitar. So far it hasn't mattered.

If you'll recall, a lot of people began singing the praises of David Backes as a Selke nominee, trying to put the 28 year old in the conversation for best two-way player in the game.  Kopitar is 24 years old, and he's playing better at each end of the ice than the trendy Selke pick of the year in Backes, at a more important time of the year.  Murray's defensive philosophies may have stymied some of the Kings' offensive potential (as well as crushed Alex Frolov's NHL career, and helped the team miss out on quality offensive players like Matt Moulson and Teddy Purcell), but I think that forcing that sort of attitude on several of the Kings players when they were young will be a good thing in the long run for the Kings.  Kopitar is probably the #1 example of that.

He was always fantastically talented offensively (seriously, watch this), but the fact that he can play well defensively is what really gives him the extra dimension out on the ice to play in any situation, and do so extremely competently.  Having the same in Mike Richards allows the Kings to play with two lines with fantastic two-way capability, along with being able to run another line with Jarret Stoll as a stopper.  That defensive depth has been one of the keys to the way the Kings have been able to get so far in the playoffs, being able to create mismatches and take advantage of them.

07 May 2012

MvsW #0114 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0114 (Apr 27, 2012) Question of the Day:
Give us 1 lock to advance and 1 lock to be eliminated in the second round.

This is the problem with falling behind, while having tied myself to the MvsW QoD as a means to get myself to regularly try to write something.  Sometimes I end up being stuck writing about some silly things.

Obviously, we're already most of the way through the second round, but my lock to be eliminated would've been the Devils, and my lock to advance would've been the Blues.  So, that turned out well.  But hey, my round 1 prediction totally happened!  In fact, I'd like to point out that I wrote the first (that I've seen) piece on this year's "passing of the torch in the West" piece, as a lot of other people said the same thing after a tumultuous first round finally ended.

MvsW #0113 QoD

Marek vs Wyshynski #0113 (Apr 26, 2012) Question of the Day:
Give us your two Game 7 heros for tonight's games.

Well, this just looks stupid, since the question was actually for Game 7 of the 1st round.  That night, NYR/OTT and FLA/NJD were both going to Game 7, and obviously, NYR and NJD won.  I was a bit busy that night getting ready for my trip the next day to Vegas, and on top of that, I didn't really care about either series.  Which is all to say that I didn't watch either game.  And yet here I am talking about it, 2 weeks after the fact.  Huh.

So instead, I'm going to cop out of doing a real post, and I'm going to tell you a joke.  By the way, I am a fan of bad jokes.

A man goes the doctor for a physical.  He gets to that part of the physical, and he drops his pants for the doctor.  The doctor takes one look, and says to him, "My god, you have five penises!  How do your pants fit?"
The man says, "Like a glove!"