Mid-August Bric-a-Brac

Jonathan Willis
August 11 2009 01:02PM

It turns out that there are a few things to talk about with respect to hockey – even without looking at Patrick Kane’s off-ice adventures (or worse, writing article #9954 about Sidney Crosby’s birthday party). The Leafs have made some moves, Nikolai Zherdev has bolted for Russia, Theo Fleury plans a comeback, and the Sabres have signed Mike Grier.

Ye Olde Switcheroo: Pogge and MacDonald

I have to hand it to Brian Burke: he’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. Not only did he manage to land a decent return for a fringe prospect in Justin Pogge, but he upgraded his goaltending at the same time. I realize that I just said three things that might raise eyebrows, so let’s look at them one at a time:

1. Decent Return: According to the Orange County Register, the Leafs will receive at least a 6th round pick in 2011 – a pick that will be upgraded to a third-rounder if Pogge makes 30 starts over the next two seasons. When a far superior player like Alex Auld (with an established NHL track record and on a reasonable contract) only lands a 6th round pick, this trade looks like larceny.

2. Fringe Prospect: Let’s take a quick look at Pogge’s numbers.

  • AHL: 71W-56L-11OTL, 2.71 GAA, .899 SV%
  • NHL: 1W-4L-0OTL, 4.35 GAA, .841 SV%

In three AHL seasons, Pogge’s season high save percentage is .908; not only that, but in three seasons the only time he’s legitimately outplayed his backup was in 2006-07. That backup, Jean-Francois Racine, has since moved over to play in the LNAH. Last year, his numbers were far inferior to minor-league journeyman Adam Munro (.913 vs. 895) and at this point I’d put him well back of Jeff Deslauriers. Leafs blog Sports and the City summed it up nicely:

I can't recall another young goaltender so big - six-foot-three, over 200 pounds - who couldn't cover more of the net.

3. Goaltending Upgrade

Joey MacDonald isn’t exactly the first name that comes to mind when I think of exceptional goaltending, but last year he wasn’t bad (these things being relative, of course). A quick comparison between him and the incumbent starter:

  • Vesa Toskala: 22-17-11, 3.26 GAA, .891 SV%
  • Joey MacDonald: 14-26-6, 3.37 GAA, .901 SV%

MacDonald played for the Islanders, so you’ll have to excuse his win/loss totals. My money says that Jonas Gustavsson is Toronto’s starter next year, and MacDonald plays the role of #3, but even so he’s a nice insurance policy to have. Or, as Pension Plan Puppets put it:

To reiterate, MacDonald is probably a better goaltender than Vesa Toskala at this point in time. Assuming Toskala gets hurt or plays like he usually does, or if both Gustavsson and Toskala play well making Vesa expendable then MacDonald would be a more than capable backup.

Meanwhile, in the Motherland…

Nikolai Zherdev, spurned by the Rangers (and apparently every other NHL team) has reportedly decided to return to Russia, signing a contract with the KHL’s Salavatovo Yuleav Ufa. Ufa doesn’t normally grab UFA’s; they’re the same team that signed Alexander Radulov out of Nashville.

Zherdev isn’t a player I saw fitting in Edmonton, but he has scored 23+ goals and 54+ points three of the last four years, so it’s a little surprising not to see him get enough interest to stay in North America. Playoff meltdown or not, there’s more than one team that could have used his offense. I suspect we’ll see more of this as too many teams are bunched around the salary cap ceiling.

Which takes me to a (mostly) unrelated point. Given that it’s August, Theoren Fleury’s comeback bid has generated quite a bit of attention (Jean Lefebvre has been covering it admirably for FlamesNation) but it remains highly unlikely that he’ll set foot on NHL ice this fall. So why doesn’t he try the KHL? The money should be comparable, since Fleury isn’t going to get big money from anyone (and it seems he needs it), and the chance of success is much greater.

Mike Grier Goes Back to Buffalo

I’ve already said most of what I think about the signing, but it deserves a mention here to. I don’t know what Grier was like off the ice, but he never gave less than his best in Edmonton and along with players like Todd Marchant, Ryan Smyth, Rem Murray and Ethan Moreau made it easy to cheer for the Oilers – even though they weren’t overly successful.

It seems that Sabres’ fans have similar feelings for the forward; a poll at Die By The Blade was 74% in favour of the move and only 7% opposed.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 11:29AM
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Lofty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Ya, unsubstantiated/unsupported posts/theory’s bug me. Just because you dont agree with a post does not make it unsubstantiated/unsupported. Ogden Brother wrote: That’s great, still doesn’t mean he’s increased anyones goal totals, nor that he will in the future. How can you prove that Hemsky has not increased anyones goal totals? It is just as plausable that Horc, Cole, Penner or anyone else would have scored even less points without him. Does the fact that Smyth had 96 points over 132 games without him vs. 119 points over 128 with him prove that Hemsky does increase players totals? Tayranchula’s theory is that he does, how can you say it is unsubstantiated/unsupported?

It is unsubstantiated because their is little to no proof that he increases players point production?

Here's my proof

Cole - Stunk with Hemsky

Penner - Goals went down

Sykora -

GPG combined 3 years before playing with Hemmer: .34

GPG year he played with Hemmer: .27

GPG 2 years after leaving Edmonton: .34

Smyth - scored 39/31/28 etc etc goals without Hemsky. He's proven he can score with or without him.

The only support to Tranch theory is Horcoff... who had 2 really good years and 2 "ok" years playing with Hemsky, but has never played anywhere else and had a bit role with the Oil before the lock-out - ie you have no contrast to compare him to, because we have no idea how he would produce with another team.

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#52 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 11:34AM
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Cam wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Considering the team has been out scored roughly 2-1 the past 2 years (5 on 5) when Hemsky is on the ice without Horc, ya I’d say Horc is pretty important to Hemsky’s/the teams success. I concur. Hemsky needs Horc’s responsibility in order for his “creativeness” not to backfire into our own net.

He even needs him for his creativeness to end up in the other teams net. The numbers are stagering over the last two years.

When Hemsky is on the ice with Horc the team scored at a:

1.047 G/20

1.27 G/20 pace

When Hemsky is on the ice without Horc the teams scored at a:

.496 G/20

.526 G/20 pace

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#53 Lofty
August 12 2009, 11:58AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

The only support to Tranch theory is Horcoff… who had 2 really good years and 2 “ok” years playing with Hemsky, but has never played anywhere else and had a bit role with the Oil before the lock-out - ie you have no contrast to compare him to, because we have no idea how he would produce with another team.

No contrast either way, exactly. So how can you attack someone's opinon if you cant disprove it? Your idea about unsubstantiated/unsupported theories would apply to pretty much every comment that has been made on the nation. Too many variables in sports to say what would or wouldnt happen.

If you are on the nation long enough you start to expect certain comments from certain people. I expect you to post some douche bag comment every time!

Its funny to read, thanks for the entertainment.

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#54 Cam
August 12 2009, 12:06PM
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@ Lofty: Ogden Bro is saying there is no evidence for Hemsky helping peoples game and has shown evidence that supports that.

Saying "no I disagree" without some facts to support your theory is weak in comparison and just proves Ogden's point.

I love Hemsky. He is our most entertaining player, but I don't think he would look as good out there without Horcoff supporting him positionally. Ogdens stats supports my thinking, which is why I am chiming in on this one.

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#55 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 12:36PM
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Lofty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: The only support to Tranch theory is Horcoff… who had 2 really good years and 2 “ok” years playing with Hemsky, but has never played anywhere else and had a bit role with the Oil before the lock-out - ie you have no contrast to compare him to, because we have no idea how he would produce with another team. No contrast either way, exactly. So how can you attack someone’s opinon if you cant disprove it? Your idea about unsubstantiated/unsupported theories would apply to pretty much every comment that has been made on the nation. Too many variables in sports to say what would or wouldnt happen. If you are on the nation long enough you start to expect certain comments from certain people. I expect you to post some douche bag comment every time! Its funny to read, thanks for the entertainment.

What? I think you are missing something here.

Their is proof of Hemsky having no (or even negative) affect on other guys goals Sykora/Cole/Penner

Their is no proof of Hemsky having positive affect on other guys goals.... ie someone coming in that scored 25 goals 3/4 times somewhere else and then puts up 35 with Hemmer. This is why "AK will put up 35 with Hemmer" is unsubtantiated, because no one (with a history) has seen that type of increase before.

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#56 Chris.
August 12 2009, 02:00PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

~What...you mean tha-tha-that Hemsky's play may be at least a small factor in the Oiler's first line woes?~

Sacriledge!

ARCH! WHERE ARE YOU!

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#57 Ogden Brother
August 12 2009, 04:00PM
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Chris. wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: ~What…you mean tha-tha-that Hemsky’s play may be at least a small factor in the Oiler’s first line woes?~ Sacriledge! ARCH! WHERE ARE YOU!

Ha-ha

I think Arch would have a heart attack if he seen what the teams offensive production was like when Hemsky was on the ice without Horc.

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#58 Tayranchula
August 12 2009, 06:17PM
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K what im saying is, Horcoff wouldnt have the contract he does today if he didnt get points from assits to and assists from Hemsky. He would get more of a defensive forwards contract. This is why Horcoff and Hemsky fit so well. You have a creative offensive player whos defensive duties are watched by Horcoff and he is good enough to skate with him and produce. Now with that being said there still needs to be a player that can skate with these two on the LW. Cole just looked lost, Penner is to slow (although in my mind played alright with what skill he had) and Nilson just isnt good enough. The only player that has been able to pot any ginos with these two is Smyth and he wasnt so much a sniper (did amazing in everything else). So im almost certain if Hemsky and should i say Horcoff get a sniper on the LW (AK or Simone Gange type player) they would both have the perfect Chemstry. Hemsky would get 90 points like he is capable of doing while Horcoff would get 50 to 60 Its not that far off but I may be dreaming since im a die hard oilers fan

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#59 Arek Gruszowski
August 14 2009, 01:44AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Man your statistic doesn't take into account so many variables and doesn't show anything. OF COURSE Hemsky's production totals are lower when his line mate is off the ice, he's used to playing with him every game, they run plays together. Looking at just his production totals doesn't mean absolutely anything - it's a useless stat. It just means he doesn't score as many points without the player with the second highest points on the team. Any playmaker in the league will have lower totals when making this comparison.

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