I guess this will be a semi-regular feature when I take slow Fridays in the office to look around the league and comment on things like P.A. Parenteau’s affinity for Bethesda Studio video games. Enjoy!
You know how sometimes you hear about a trade that “makes sense for both teams” and everyone pats themselves on the back and does forty minutes worth of analysis anyways? Well, the Eric Cole for Michael Ryder trade is a weird, weird trade for both teams. I don’t think both teams lose, but…no, no, they pretty much both lose.
From the Habs’ perspective, it’s surreal to be sitting atop their conference and trade a leader, veteran, and top six player—even if Cole was having a terrible start to his season—for a guy who they basically booted out of town on the back of unrealistic expectations. Ryder is playing better hockey right now—again, possibly as a result of not playing in Montreal—and they got a pick, but you have to think this sends a strange message to the dressing room. Kudos to Bergevin, though, if he’s got a blueprint for a rebuild and he’s sticking to it, even if his team is acting like a contender. But the timing is particularly bizarre. The team is playing its best hockey. What a weirdo.
Dallas, meanwhile, sticks to its blueprint of rostering very old players making too much money. So…excellent job?
Speaking of contending, I suppose it’s time for all of us to admit we were wrong about Therrien. The Habs aren’t just benefiting from puck luck, or getting dominant goaltending; they’re dominating possession, outshooting their opponents by a wide margin, and playing with all kinds of confidence. They have a solid mix of veterans and skilled rookies, and you can’t underestimate the effect of having a healthy Andrei Markov on that team. I said before the season started that Montreal wasn’t your traditional rebuild waiting to happen, and they’re proving me right. They have too much skill to be anything worse than a bubble team. But Therrien is putting it all together, giving this team an identity and a purpose, and juggling his ice time perfectly.
Calgary refuses to recognize their situation
The O’Reilly offer sheet from Calgary, in and of itself, wasn’t anything too shocking; team offers premium for very good two way player. Ho hum. But what it signifies for a team like Calgary is almost shocking.
This team, sitting 14th in the West, sixth last overall, and with the seventh highest payroll in the league, was willing to give up a first and third round pick for the opportunity to pay Ryan O’Reilly $6.5MM next year. That’s dumbfounding. O’Reilly’s a great player (not $6.5MM great, but pretty great), but how could Calgary possibly look at their situation, at the golden opportunity they have with all of those still-productive-but-expensive veterans, and not launch one hell of a rebuild? It’s a deep draft; they could enter it with multiple first round picks if they play their cards right. Instead, they want to re-up with the sad old strategy that hasn’t worked for them for years. I feel bad for Calgary fans. I expect to see an announcement that they’ve re-signed Iginla any day now. David Simon could write a season of The Wire based on the Calgary Flames’ management.
As for the Avalanche, well, Greg Sherman’s press conference was pretty hilarious. They’d always made it a priority to sign O’Reilly, and they got it done? Are you kidding me? So, they were waiting to sign him…on somebody else’s terms? I’m already reading that they’ll trade him once the year embargo on matched offer sheets is up, and that seems obvious. I bet Calgary will be first in line to give up even more than a first and third rounder for the privilege.
James has written on this blog about Turris’ scoring problems, and they don’t need to be restated here. Though beyond all the goose eggs I was also struck by his performance against Montreal earlier this week. He was all over the ice—falling, taking a bad hooking penalty in OT, attempting low-yield passes through traffic, and just generally looking exactly like a player who knows he’s in a slump and is trying too hard to bust out of it. It’s telling that the kind of guys who are scoring—Greening, O’Brien, Dziurzynski—aren’t really capable of doing much more than going hard to the net and getting some lucky bounces.
Dziurzynski is the perfect foil for Turris right now: goes out and in ten minutes of ice time wires a lucky shot far side on Price, one of the best goaltenders in the league, while Turris, playing in every situation, gets his chances and is unable to finish. I don’t want to be like a Maple Loafs fan circa 1998, a proponent of lunch pail hockey at the expense of, you know, watchable hockey, but Turris needs to smoke an enormous doob before his next game and just let shit take care of itself. (Note: I am not a hockey coach, and this is terrible advice.)
Too bad Paul MacLean doesn’t have too many other options in order to take the pressure off of Turris. What is he going to do; play 19 year old Mika Zibanejad 20 minutes a game? Play Alfie at center? Wait…has he tried playing Alfie at center?
PMac for Jacko Mc’Adams?
At what point do the analysts stop talking about how Alfredsson should be traded once Ottawa inevitably goes off a cliff and start talking about how Paul MacLean should win the Jack Adams for having this team in fifth place in the East with THAT LINEUP? He was a finalist last year after coaching a fully stocked team to eighth. You could argue that his teams are being badly outshot and he’s saved by a trio of brilliant goaltenders. You could also argue that this team had the fifth lowest payroll in the league before it lost $23 MILLION in salary to injuries. If injured reserved didn’t count against the cap, Ottawa would have a payroll of about $30.6MM against a $70MM cap, or a staggering $20MM lower than the lowest payrolled team, which is St. Louis.
Big Rig Beer
Pretty good! Can’t hold a candle to Kichesippi 1855, and gets a little pissy if it’s not shockingly cold, but a worthy addition in a city that’s getting its fair share of really great craft brews. Great job Phillipsy!