Six Degrees of Separation

Lowetide
July 14 2010 08:20AM

Earlier this week, I was listening to NHL radio on XM/Sirius. They're running old playoff series during the summer, and this particular day it was G1 SCF 2006. I turned the radio so quickly it startled the passengers. I don't know that I'll ever be able to watch or listen to G1 SCF 2006. However, there are some things to be learned from that hockey club.

The 2006 Edmonton Oilers had a lot of very good players before the trade deadline. Pronger and Peca arrived in summer, and they had an immediate impact on the team. The deadline (adding Roloson, Spacek, Tarnstrom, Samsonov) marked Oiler management's high water mark for the decade and we all enjoyed that wonderful team and their terrific run to the Stanley cup finals. Many look back on that team's regular season (barely won 8th in the conference) and suggest it was a weak team that got hot at the right time. Rubbish. It was an outstanding team in search of goaltending until the deadline. Anyone who watched that spring knew this team could win a playoff round or more.

It would be a mistake to give too much credit to the hired guns that season. The 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers were blessed with 6 stunning "value contracts" and their presence gave the team exceptional depth (especially up front) and more than one line capable of outscoring the best opposition. Here are the players, their contracts and their accomplishments that season (in alpha order):

  • Marc Andre Bergeron ($931k). Bergeron played 1600 minutes in the 05-06 season, 350 of that on the powerplay. He delivered 2.74/60 with the man advantage but was pretty solid at EVs (1/60) and his 15-20-35 for the season was exceptional for the price.
  • Ales Hemsky ($901,740). Hemsky played 1375 minutes in the 05-06 season, slightly over 400 of them on the powerplay. His PP/60 number (6.17) was very nice, his EV number 2.25 was a little better than he managed this past season (2.09); that PP number helped him lead the team in scoring (19-58-77) and he delivered 6-11-17 in the playoffs too. A wonderful payoff for less than a million, a season to remember.
  • Shawn Horcoff ($1M). Horcoff played almost 1600 minutes, almost 300 on the PP and 225 on the PK. In 05-06 he went 3-3-6 on the PK (about 1.6/60), went 4.82/60 on the PP and then 2.44 at EVs and this was against the other team's good players. A very underrated season when all was said and done.
  • Fernando Pisani ($611,800). In 05-06 he was excellent in the regular year and ridiculous in the postseason. Pisani played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 150 on the PP. He did a lot of heavy lifting at EVs and still managed to score 1.84/60 and 3.59 on the PP. Pisani was Guy Lafleur in the post season, 14-4-18 in a run I will never forget. At $611,800 he was ridiculous value.
  • Jarret Stoll ($501,600). Stoll played 1500 minutes in 05-06, 410 on the PP and 200 on the PK. He was a pretty valuable hockey player. On the PP he was 4.53 and at EVs he was 2.35 on the way to 82gp, 22-46-68 totals. At the price, he was extremely valuable.
  • Raffi Torres ($875,000). Raffi played 1100 minutes in 05-06, 224 of them on the PP. He's pretty famous for wandering out there but his results have always been solid. His EV number in 05-06 (2.07) and his PP number (2.95) were very good considering he spent little time on the club's top line or #1 PP. Torres' biggest moments in the season came during the playoffs when he made some massive hits (one of which had an impact on the SJS series). At this price, he was a bargain.
     

Taylor Hall is a huge part of the Edmonton Oilers future, but his entry level contract (with bonuses) is $3.75 million dollars a year. Since the club will no doubt start burning that entry level deal this fall, chances are that Hall won't over-deliver on that contract based on expectations for a teenager in the NHL. A young man like Tyler Pitlick--should he stay in junior and sign at age 20--has an excellent chance of being a "value contract" at a time when the Oilers should be pushing for a deep run into the playoffs (2012, 2013, 2014).

Which players could deliver the most value this season? Colin Fraser (.825M); Smid (1.3M); Dubnyk (.800M). RFA's Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule could also deliver more than their contracts, but we don't know their cap number yet. The rookies mentioned here are unlikely to outperform their cap hits as rookies, but in year two and three it is entirely possible.

With Pääjärvi (1.525M), Eberle (1.158M) and Linus Omark (.875M) joining Hall as possible rookies, years two and three of their entry-level contracts offer a real opportunity for creating a list similar to the 2006 group above (although Hall will have his work cut out for him). Add Vande Velde, Peckham, Lander, Plante, Petry and a host of young pro level kids, plus Pitlick, Marincin and a few other quality picks (should they develop) and this team should have a nice group of value contracts in the next few seasons. We can only hope for a group as strong as the 2006 six.

This is the most important area for the team. Big name free agents, high cost offer sheets, even #1 overall picks bring their own cap hits and a team must pay 100 cents on the dollar. Those value contracts--like the ones we saw in 2006--will allow the Edmonton Oilers some separation from the rest of the NW division.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#101 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:27PM
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@DC

Can't see the Hawks moving Bolland or Sharp. Maybe they'd move Skille or Beach in order to move Campbell, but I can't see more than a couple teams having interest in his contract... maybe Atlanta (since the Hawks have done them so many favors) or NYI (just to get to the cap floor). And Campbell has a NTC, so chances are he's not willing to waive for either of those destinations.

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#102 DC
July 14 2010, 07:28PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Can't see the Hawks moving Bolland or Sharp. Maybe they'd move Skille or Beach in order to move Campbell, but I can't see more than a couple teams having interest in his contract... maybe Atlanta (since the Hawks have done them so many favors) or NYI (just to get to the cap floor). And Campbell has a NTC, so chances are he's not willing to waive for either of those destinations.

Are you indirectly agreeing there may be a workable package with the Oilers though?

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#103 DC
July 14 2010, 07:30PM
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JW just tweeted about the Barons getting Todd Nelson as head coach.

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#104 Nate Full of Hate
July 14 2010, 07:30PM
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Colorado could use Brian Campbell...

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#106 PabstBR55
July 14 2010, 07:31PM
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Buffalo won't trade within the division, and probably won't trade a legit prospect that TO is looking for in exg for Kaberle. Buffalo probably won't deal with us either because of the "Vanek incident". Making a deal for a D with Van for Bieksa makes more sense.

No no friends, if we want to deal Souray we'll have to get ugly. To NJ for Zubrus (4 more years $3.88M avg) or To CBJ for Huselius (2 more years at $4.75). ... if we're lucky. Yikes.

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#107 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:33PM
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Oil_Loc8or wrote:

What makes you think the Oilers are interested in Hecht ?

Not so much that they're interested in him in particular. BUT, if the Sabres are looking for a PP d-man, Souray may be a fit. The Sabres aren't a cap team, so their main concern is the actual dollars ($4.5M), not the cap hit ($5.4). Obviously, the Oil will need to take some salary back leaving little options. Given that the Oil are looking at adding a two-way 3rd liner (preferably with grit, but oh well), I'd suggest that Jochen Hecht could be a fit... at least in terms of a Souray trade. I wouldn't trade for Hecht outside of a Souray dump, though.

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#108 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:34PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Colorado could use Brian Campbell...

If Colorado wanted to spend the money, I'm sure they'd be in on Kovalchuk rather than taking on Campbell.

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#109 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:34PM
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DC wrote:

JW just tweeted about the Barons getting Todd Nelson as head coach.

For a lil info on Nelson...

http://www.coppernblue.com/2010/7/14/1570299/report-todd-nelson-hired-as-the

Interesting to note, apparently he previously played for Rob Daum.

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#110 Oil_Loc8or
July 14 2010, 07:36PM
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So is Lowetide a stats guy like Willis ? I respect the stats but they don't paint the full picture.

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#111 DC
July 14 2010, 07:37PM
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I read that. Don't know how I feel hiring a guy that we wouldn't hire for the Oil Kings. Unless he impressed at that interview and was the choice all along.

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#112 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:38PM
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PabstBR55 wrote:

Buffalo won't trade within the division, and probably won't trade a legit prospect that TO is looking for in exg for Kaberle. Buffalo probably won't deal with us either because of the "Vanek incident". Making a deal for a D with Van for Bieksa makes more sense.

No no friends, if we want to deal Souray we'll have to get ugly. To NJ for Zubrus (4 more years $3.88M avg) or To CBJ for Huselius (2 more years at $4.75). ... if we're lucky. Yikes.

Zubrus "only" has 3 yrs left @ $3.4 cap hit & salary. But of course, we've already discussed this ;-)

http://oilersnation.com/2010/7/6/potential-trade-targets-for-souray

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#113 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 07:40PM
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@Oil_Loc8or

I believe Lowetide is the "original" Willis. At least I think Willis has referred to himself in that manner - Lowetide being the reason Willis got into blogging, IIRC.

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#114 Oil_Loc8or
July 14 2010, 07:45PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

I believe Lowetide is the "original" Willis. At least I think Willis has referred to himself in that manner - Lowetide being the reason Willis got into blogging, IIRC.

Nice thanks man. Yeah I read the stats and agree with them until I read about a player I think sucks and the stats show different....Weird hey.

I'm glad Lowetide is now part of the Nation he seems to put lots of effort into getting us an article everyday.i checked out his site but find it harder to browse than the Nation. Good work Lowetide

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#115 Nate Full of Hate
July 14 2010, 07:50PM
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Oil_Loc8or wrote:

Nice thanks man. Yeah I read the stats and agree with them until I read about a player I think sucks and the stats show different....Weird hey.

I'm glad Lowetide is now part of the Nation he seems to put lots of effort into getting us an article everyday.i checked out his site but find it harder to browse than the Nation. Good work Lowetide

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

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#116 DC
July 14 2010, 07:53PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

That works great if your the Old Spice guy and can be every where and see everyone play every shift of every game because he is manly and awesome.

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#117 Nate Full of Hate
July 14 2010, 08:04PM
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If I knew how to give props I would...

Can you imagine the tail Old Spice Guy & Doseki's Guy could pull if they hit the clubs together?

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#118 OilBaron
July 14 2010, 08:06PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

I couldn't agree more. The advanced stats are somewhat irrelevant if not outright delusive.

Nothing like the school of duck. If it looks like, sounds like, and walks like... it's a duck. Hockey players and there roles and importance are only calculated through observation.

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#119 DC
July 14 2010, 08:09PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

If I knew how to give props I would...

Can you imagine the tail Old Spice Guy & Doseki's Guy could pull if they hit the clubs together?

That's enough for me.

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#120 heavyd
July 14 2010, 08:23PM
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@Nate Full of Hate

To give props you have to sign in. Then you can.

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#121 Nate Full of Hate
July 14 2010, 08:23PM
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OilBaron wrote:

I couldn't agree more. The advanced stats are somewhat irrelevant if not outright delusive.

Nothing like the school of duck. If it looks like, sounds like, and walks like... it's a duck. Hockey players and there roles and importance are only calculated through observation.

I love stats, but...

You can't measure effort, smart hockey plays, and on ice presence.

stats are black & white, you need colour to get the real picture..

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#122 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
July 14 2010, 08:46PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

problem is, 99% of the fans have little clue how the pro game actually works.. We havent played pro, havent coached, havent sat in the room etc etc etc. watching something alot doesnt really make a person an expert.. does it?

for example, could you go out and build a house after watching alot of "holmes on homes"? or, does it give you enough info to really make you dangerous?

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#123 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 08:50PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

~So I'm not an 'expert' at porn?~

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#124 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 08:54PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

- signed, the 12,000 fans at Rexall constantly yelling "shoooooooot".

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#125 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
July 14 2010, 08:55PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

~So I'm not an 'expert' at porn?~

~well, if your porn name is smallwillyquickdraw, maybe~

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#126 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 14 2010, 09:02PM
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OilBaron wrote:

I couldn't agree more. The advanced stats are somewhat irrelevant if not outright delusive.

Nothing like the school of duck. If it looks like, sounds like, and walks like... it's a duck. Hockey players and there roles and importance are only calculated through observation.

Kind of strange that real live NHL teams use them then. I guess the anti-math crew on the net know more about evaluating talent though.

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#127 Oil_Loc8or
July 14 2010, 09:03PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Try watching a game live to form an opinion, I've found that technique very useful.

This is funny, watch a game live....

~One day I'll get to see a live game~

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#128 Oil_Loc8or
July 14 2010, 09:09PM
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Stats aren't everything but I don't ignore them.

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#129 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 14 2010, 09:11PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

If I knew how to give props I would...

Can you imagine the tail Old Spice Guy & Doseki's Guy could pull if they hit the clubs together?

This reminds me of a story I once heard of a guy who unveiled something during a PowerPoint presentation, then flipped to a slide with 'Walla!' in bold type.

Dosekis. Heh heh heh.

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#130 Nate Full of Hate
July 14 2010, 09:15PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Stats can be skewed depending on your point of view or what you find relevant.

When you're watching a game at ice level, you can see you keeps up, who players avoid, and who looks the other way in fear.

Cameras only cover so many angles,(HD included)

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#131 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 14 2010, 09:19PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Stats can be skewed depending on your point of view or what you find relevant.

When you're watching a game at ice level, you can see you keeps up, who players avoid, and who looks the other way in fear.

Cameras only cover so many angles,(HD included)

Riveting.

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#132 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
July 14 2010, 09:20PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

Stats can be skewed depending on your point of view or what you find relevant.

When you're watching a game at ice level, you can see you keeps up, who players avoid, and who looks the other way in fear.

Cameras only cover so many angles,(HD included)

Stats don't lie.

Interpretation of stats is what you're getting at.

If Player X scores 20 goals in a year and 8 are on the power play, that is a statistic. It's a fact. It's an objective measure of an event or quantity.

Where it gets fuzzy is when someone like Willis comes in and explains why Player X is a good or bad player based on those facts. It's an opinion based on measurements. The opinion can vary because it's not objective, just like your opinion of a player can vary based on things you see when you're at the game.

They're different ways of observing the same thing.


Let me put it this way. I weigh 195lbs. That's all the information you have about me. How do you decide if I'm overweight or not?

1) You could ask my friends and family and find out if I shop at the big and tall store.

2) You could take more measurements - shoulder, waist, and hip diameter, height, etc.

Odds are, either method is going to lead you to the same conclusion. You used pretty different methods, but they're both entirely valid.

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#133 Racki
July 14 2010, 10:02PM
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Nate Full of Hate wrote:

I love stats, but...

You can't measure effort, smart hockey plays, and on ice presence.

stats are black & white, you need colour to get the real picture..

I agree. Stats can give you a quick glance at someone, but there is no substitute for good old fashioned watching games.

Some people get far too wrapped up in players stats, whether it be the old box cars, or the more advanced stats. As much as I dislike when people quote stats like they're the law though, they can help support an argument, to some extent. But generally people overanalyze stats and often twist them to completely explain an argument, rather than use them sparingly to help support an argument (I do like though if someone uses them briefly to support an argument more so than driving their whole argument with stats).

OB1 - Team Hall wrote:

Kind of strange that real live NHL teams use them then. I guess the anti-math crew on the net know more about evaluating talent though.

Are you trying to tell us all that if say the Penguins were looking for a left winger, they would scroll through the stats and then pick their guy? I'm afraid not. They use the stats as a quick glance, and truly pick the right player by evaluating video tape as well as watching them in person. Stats aren't useless, but they're only one part of it. Watching the games is a far more important part of evaluating talent.

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#134 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 10:22PM
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Hm... Don Hay not coming to Oilers (via Corey Graham)...

http://www.theprovince.com/sticks+Vancouver+Giants/3279311/story.html

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#135 Racki
July 14 2010, 10:25PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Hm... Don Hay not coming to Oilers (via Corey Graham)...

http://www.theprovince.com/sticks+Vancouver+Giants/3279311/story.html

Damn... and the list narrows even further.

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#137 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 10:28PM
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Next up... Marc Habschied? I doubt it, but he'd interest me.

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#138 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 14 2010, 10:38PM
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Racki wrote:

I agree. Stats can give you a quick glance at someone, but there is no substitute for good old fashioned watching games.

Some people get far too wrapped up in players stats, whether it be the old box cars, or the more advanced stats. As much as I dislike when people quote stats like they're the law though, they can help support an argument, to some extent. But generally people overanalyze stats and often twist them to completely explain an argument, rather than use them sparingly to help support an argument (I do like though if someone uses them briefly to support an argument more so than driving their whole argument with stats).

OB1 - Team Hall wrote:

Kind of strange that real live NHL teams use them then. I guess the anti-math crew on the net know more about evaluating talent though.

Are you trying to tell us all that if say the Penguins were looking for a left winger, they would scroll through the stats and then pick their guy? I'm afraid not. They use the stats as a quick glance, and truly pick the right player by evaluating video tape as well as watching them in person. Stats aren't useless, but they're only one part of it. Watching the games is a far more important part of evaluating talent.

I'm trying to tell you that NHL teams use advanced stats.

Despite what alot of people think, they aren't useless.

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#139 Racki
July 14 2010, 10:51PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I'm trying to tell you that NHL teams use advanced stats.

Despite what alot of people think, they aren't useless.

Sorry this whole stats thing has been a bit of a sore spot for me lately. I do agree that teams use advance stats (and all forms of stats, really). I think some people are just arguing that there is no substitute for watching a game. Stats can tell you a little bit about a player, but you really have to watch them to see the whole picture.

But I'm definitely not one who believes stats are useless. I just believe they are less important than some people make them to be. Or perhaps I should they they're just to widely open to interpretation for the average person to use them to tell the whole picture well enough. As I mentioned in the post you quoted, I think stats should be used to add a bit of support to an argument, but they shouldn't be the whole basis (which unfortunately, many people too often use them in that way).

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#140 Chris.
July 14 2010, 11:03PM
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Andrew Lang Wrote: He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—for support rather than for illumination.

I quoted this to Willis a couple years ago after a heated exchange... but I still respect Jon and the value of stats to provide a fresh starting point for discussion. Cheers Nation!

*pouring yet another stiff drink while balancing debt in anticipation of paying for another great year of Oiler season seats*

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#141 Jonathan Willis
July 14 2010, 11:04PM
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Ross Creek wrote:

I believe Lowetide is the "original" Willis. At least I think Willis has referred to himself in that manner - Lowetide being the reason Willis got into blogging, IIRC.

Lowetide was the first blog I ever read, and the reason I got into commenting and blogging. He also got me thinking about the game in different ways.

I owe him a great debt for that.

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#142 RossCreekNation
July 14 2010, 11:08PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Who's the ~goofball~ in your new pic ;-) jk

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#143 Jonathan Willis
July 14 2010, 11:08PM
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@ Chris: You and I have had a few of those over the years (is it really years?) and I've always appreciated the fact that we could disagree on things without drifting into some of the pointless internet bickering that goes on here and elsewhere.

Speaking of which, the more I look at the draft, the more I come around to your POV of the Prendergast draft years.

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#144 PabstBR55
July 14 2010, 11:11PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Did anyone see this awful TSN "documentary" Oil Change about the draft? Starring the shining personnalities that are the Oilers senior management team?

Maybe the strangest moment in the show is when Kevin Lowe plunks down at his hotel room computer to read the stats page from the World Hockey Championship.

"Eberle had an assist. That's good. Magnus had a goal!" K-Lowe uttered, then popped a metamucil and took a cat nap.

Teams SHOULD use advanced stats, but they are not statisticians. I'm pretty sure they don't use regression analysis tools, and don't compare player stats against assumption violations. They are also promoted into positions as managers who oversee 8-figure budgets, however usually have no formal management training and experience.

This serves to explain things like Wade Redden's contract or the fact that the Sutters have the league's worst draft record.

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#145 Chris.
July 14 2010, 11:11PM
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@rindog

We should be cool man.

We just disagree about one specific horrific play... A play that will resonate and be debated by enthusiates for the balance of Oiler history. If I met MAB in an airport twenty years from now I'd have him sign my future grandson's hockey card. (No hate) The blog can be a funny animal that lends itself to hyperbole.

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#146 Chris.
July 14 2010, 11:20PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Chris: You and I have had a few of those over the years (is it really years?) and I've always appreciated the fact that we could disagree on things without drifting into some of the pointless internet bickering that goes on here and elsewhere.

Speaking of which, the more I look at the draft, the more I come around to your POV of the Prendergast draft years.

Cheers Willis!

I've been drinking... have missed your daily offerings as you've changed careers; and have been struggling with the need to tell you, "I told you so!" *wink*

Thing is: even Brownlee was wrong about Sequin; and though I think you were overly optimistic about some Oiler draft picks... there may have been some development issues.

It takes more courage to write a blog and defend your positons than to just post a few comments attacking those positions. Lord knows I've made more than a few mistakes along the way!

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#147 Leopard
July 14 2010, 11:21PM
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I have a Entry Level contract question. Do the contracts only count in the number of contracts allowed if the players play in the NHL?

Thanks in advance if anyone knows the answer.

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#148 book¡e
July 14 2010, 11:22PM
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If it were possible to measure every factor in a game, stats would be everything.

If it were impossible to measure any factor in a game, stats would be worthless.

Guess what, it is possible to measure quite a few factors in a game.

Stats are an important way of viewing the game. Observation, which relies upon complex mental processing of observed data, is another way of viewing the game. Both have value. Both have weaknesses.

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#149 rindog
July 14 2010, 11:30PM
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Chris. wrote:

We should be cool man.

We just disagree about one specific horrific play... A play that will resonate and be debated by enthusiates for the balance of Oiler history. If I met MAB in an airport twenty years from now I'd have him sign my future grandson's hockey card. (No hate) The blog can be a funny animal that lends itself to hyperbole.

Hockey debate is great no matter what the topic.

I am just puzzled as to how any knowledgable hockey fan can blame MAB (and that play specifically) as the reason the Oilers lost the cup?

I guess I would feel better about our debate if you were able to come up with an alternative way that MAB should have played it?

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#150 Jonathan Willis
July 14 2010, 11:33PM
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Leopard wrote:

I have a Entry Level contract question. Do the contracts only count in the number of contracts allowed if the players play in the NHL?

Thanks in advance if anyone knows the answer.

This is from memory, but I'm fairly sure I'm correct here:

There's a 50 contract limit, which includes all the players with an NHL clause in their deal except (and this is the part I'm a little hazy on) the junior age players whose deals can slide a year if they don't play professional hockey (for instance, if Taylor Hall goes back to junior, his three year Entry Level deal won't kick in until next season, and he wouldn't count against the contract limit).

There's another limit - 100, I think - of players whose rights a team can own, a limit that includes RFA's and drafted players who have yet to sign a contract but also have yet to be eligible to re-enter the draft.

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