Christmas is almost here and that means Santa Clause has the busy job of delivering toys to children all over the globe. What goes unnoticed is that he also tries to help out NHL teams. Today Santa uses his magical ways to help improve the teams in the Eastern Conference. What is he getting each team? Boston: A sucker for Milan Lucic.
Lucic isn’t a bad player, but he isn’t worth 6M. On a team that just had to shed Johnny Boychuk because they ran out of money the Bruins need to do better with managing their assets. Bergeron, Chara, and Rask are all great high value investments. David Krejci comes in pricier than he should be but at least he plays center. Re-signing Torrey Krug, Reilly Smith, and Dougie Hamilton is a must. They need to find money to fill out the roster properly. Milan Lucic is the obvious candidate for that. They won’t miss him nearly as much as some people think. Buffalo: A one way plane ticket for Jhonas Enroth. Seriously, this guy is single handedly ruining Tim Murray’s masterful tank job. The Sabres are still playing awful hockey but he is stopping every puck that has been flung his way. The Sabres have two choices to make. Either trade Enroth and hope the losing starts again. Or keep Enroth, extend him as the goalie for the future, and start shopping that 2015 first round pick while some people still think it has more value than it does. The Sabres have previously gone with mediocre veterans but recently they have started calling up their better younger players from the AHL (Grigorenko, Armia, Pysyk, Larsson). Perhaps the tank has stalled out. Carolina: Futures for Andrej Sekera. Sekera is the type of player that can really help a Cup caliber team. He will be one of the more sought after rental players. The Hurricanes aren’t a good team. By trading Sekera they may get some useful assets back and more importantly they can assure themselves a legit shot at 30th place. With the aformentioned Sabres slipping out of contention for 30th a team like the Hurricanes can slip in and guarantee themselves a Jack Eichel or better for next year. Columbus: A blueprint of the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs. Way back when the San Antonio Spurs had a great center by the name of David Robinson. The Spurs were a good team but when Robinson went down the team floundered. Their reward? The #1 overall pick in the 1997draft and Tim Duncan. When Robinson returned back to health the Spurs started their run of dominance. Given the amount of injuries (Boone Jenner now out another 1-2 months) the Blue Jackets have suffered from this year perhaps they should look to sell off some parts like Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson, yes I said Jack Johnson he’s as overrated as they come. 2014-15 looks to be a throwaway year, but it could pave the way to a championship sooner than later if they embrace the down year out of their control. Detroit: Puck moving defenseman. The Detroit Red Wings are starting to show signs of becoming the juggernaut they were from 2007-2009 when they made back to back Stanley Cup Final appearances. They currently have a Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 53.0% but unlike in year’s past they are doing so without an amazing defense corp. The forwards are doing a great job of driving possession so far and that isn’t easy to do. Another defenseman like Andrej Sekera and the Red Wings will be cooking with fire as one of the dark horse favorites in the Eastern Conference. Florida: Sunscreen. The Fancy Cats are a good possession team, have solid goaltending, and are starting the youth movement. Just don’t get a sun burn after celebrating wins. Bright future ahead in South Beach. Montreal: A new head coach. Yup, I know, that is a cruel thing for Santa to do to Michael Therrien but the fact of the matter is that Therrien’s system of play is not conducive to good puck possession. When Therrien’s Penguins reached the 2008 Stanley Cup Final guess where Pittsburgh’s PDO was ranked? Yup, #1 overall in the league. Therrien’s best laid plans rely on luck. Montreal is currently sixth overall with a PDO of 1015, what happens when that slips? Monreal’s goal differential of +9 only ranks 8th in the Eastern Conference. Montreal needs a coach to focus more on the process than the end results and their success will be more consistent and sustainable moving forward. New Jersey: Fountain of Youth. The Devils are structured as if they are a win now team but they aren’t getting the results that coincide with a win now team. Last year they were a solid possession team that had trouble finishing and also received terrible goaltending from Martin Brodeur. The Devils let Brodeur walk and tried to get some finishing prowess by signing Mike Cammalleri but it hasn’t worked to this point. The Devils should be hard sellers and get what they can for guys like Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Marty Havlat, and Marek Zidlicky. Does Lou have it in him to be a seller? Islanders: A good luck card. Let’s be honest, Christmas came early for the Islanders this year. They shored up their goaltending position by making an excellent move to acquire Jaro Halak and then they went all in with Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. They are the second best possession team in the NHL with a pretty deep roster. The Islanders are a very good team and will be a very difficult out come spring time. Santa doesn’t have much to offer other than his best wishes. Rangers: An elixir for Glenn Sather’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde approach to building his team. For every good move Sather makes with the Rangers he makes an equally puzzling one to follow it up. Trading for Marty St. Louis and not overspending to extend Ryan Callahan was a very good move. Signing Dan Girardi to a huge extension while letting Anton Stralman walk away, not a very good choice. Signing Lee Stempniak, Dominic Moore, and Kevin Hayes, all good moves. Signing Tanner Glass, not so much. His next big test is the Marc Staal contract. Trading him or letting him walk would fall under the Dr. Jekyll category, extending him with big money and term would be a Mr. Hyde move. Ottawa: A new owner. All the forensic studies in the world are not going to solve Ottawa’s problems as long as the nut job also known as Eugene Melnyk is running that franchise. He is running the team on a below average budget and you need to spend money to win in the current NHL, even in a cap world. Philadelphia: An analytics department. This team has been crushed by awful contracts. They actually traded assets away in order to acquire Andrew MacDonald and then gave him a long term contract. They actively traded for RJ Umberger who had a terrible 2013-14. They signed Vinny Lecavalier.
Flyers are spending $14.1-million on MacDonald, Lecavalier and Umberger until 2017. That’s more than 20% of current cap.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) December 21, 2014
#Analytics Pittsburgh: A new hospital wing attached to CONSOL Energy Center. Multiple blood clots, cancer, mumps, endless surgeries, and much more have taken its toll on the Penguins. Why not save some gas money and just have the proper facilities at the arena to treat all of these inevitable conditions in the future. Tampa Bay: Ben Bishop a clean bill of health. Remember that Penguins Islanders series where everybody made fun of Marc-Andre Fleury’s playoff collapse? Well he wasn’t even the worst goaltender in that playoff series, Evgeni Nabokov was. If Ben Bishop isn’t healthy Nabokov has the ability to sink what appears to be a pretty formidable ship. Toronto: An end to Randy Carlyle’s reign of terror. Randy Carlyle is the kiss of death to possession hockey. The Ducks won a Stanley Cup in spite of him on the bench. It only took multiple Hall of Fame players including two generational defensemen (Pronger, Niedermayer) as well as guys on rookie deals like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Maple Leafs have an bottom dwelling 43.6% Score-Adjusted Fenwick during his time in Toronto, only the Buffalo Sabres have been worse. The sooner the Leafs embrace getting a progressive coach, the sooner they can turn the corner and become a solid hockey team. Washington: Bruce Boudreau. The Capitals are doing OK this year and right now they are in the middle of a 10 game stretch that has them 7-1-2 and currently in a playoff spot. However here is some data to digest. From the 2005-06 season to November 22, 2007 (Boudreau’s hiring date) the Capitals had a Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 52.1%, not bad. During Boudreau’s tenure from 11/22/07-11/18/11 the Capitals had an amazing Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 55.0%. Since his firing it has been 47.8%. The worst thing that happened to the Capitals was losing to a Montreal team riding a sky high PDO in 2010. The Capitals thought their process was wrong when in fact they were just unlucky. Trotz hasn’t done anything bad yet, but Bruce had the Capitals playing at their ceiling.
Merry Christmas to everyone.
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