Do You See What I See edition IV

Would Blair Betts be a good roster addition for the Oil?
Would Blair Betts be a good roster addition for the Oil?

The past two weeks have been a blur for me.

I find out the citizens at OilersNation wanted more Draft coverage so they paid to send me to Montreal, then Brodziak gets traded (okay not a major story but Oilers fans are so passionate that even a trade involving #51 gets people fired up) and then Heatley-gate.

Just when you think you know how passionate Oilers fans, they do something that makes me shake my head in admiration and wonder. The Draft was awesome and then the Heatley fallout had such a wide range of emotions and opinions it was fascinating.

I finally had some time to breathe this weekend and here’s what I’ve seen from the past two weeks.

Winning faceoffs isn’t key to a good PK

Many Oilers feel Blair Betts would be a great addition to the line-up because he’s a good faceoff guy and a good penalty killer. And while his penalty killing is good, he isn’t a dominant guy on draws.

He was 49.3% in the dot last year, and while on the PK he won 149 and lost 196 faceoffs which is 43.1%.

I’m not ripping Betts, rather it seems that winning faceoffs doesn’t equate to PK success.

The Rangers killed off 87.8% of their penalties last year, which was tops in the league. As a team they won 258 and lost 350 draws, which is only 42%, while down a man. And Betts took more than half of those draws.

The Rangers only allowed 40 PP goals last year, while the Oilers gave up 76. The Oilers were 77% on the PK, while the Rangers were 87%. The Oilers allowed almost twice as many goals in virtually the same amount of chances.

The Oilers were 46% on faceoffs when down a man. They won 38 more draws than the Rangers did as a team, but gave up 36 more goals. The Wild were also 87% on the PK this year and they only won 45% of their draws. The odds are you will lose more draws on the PK strictly because a team has one less guy to battle for the puck if the centreman is tied up, but faceoffs were not the reason the Oilers sucked on the PK. They lost too many battles in front of the net.

In 2007/2008 the Oilers were 5th in penalty killing. They gave up 56 goals and as a team were 47% in the draws that year. The only won 18 more faceoffs that year, than they did this past season. Many of us thought it was the faceoff prowess of Stoll and Reasoner that was missed on the PK, but in fact the faceoffs were almost even. The problem was positioning, and toughness on the puck.

Lombardi surprise

Kings GM, Dean Lombardi made it clear in June that he would add a big contract in the form of a sniper come July. Many thought it would be Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat or even Dany Heatley, but he surprised everyone when he acquired Ryan Smyth on Saturday.

While Smyth doesn’t possess the flashy skill like those other four, he’ll bring a dimension the Kings need up front; Grit and determination.

Last year only Alexander Frolov (12) and Jarret Stoll (10) had double digits in PP goals for the Kings. They were a respectable 14th on the PP, but they didn’t score many garbage goals, and that is Smyth’s forte.

Smyth has three years left on his deal, and his $6.25 million cap hit is overpriced, but I suspect he’ll be a nice fit in LA. He scored 26 goals last year, without Paul Stastny or Joe Sakic for most of the year. The Kings top six will include Smyth, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Frolov, Justin Williams and possibly Oscar Moller.

The Kings gave up two D-men, but they have lots of talent on the backend, and this deal will make the Kings another team that will push the Oilers for the final two playoff spots.

UFA winners, losers, and ?

  • Kudos to Chuck Fletcher, the rookie GM in Minnesota, who made some solid signings last week. Greg Zanon is a steal at $1.93 million for the next three years, and Havlat at $5 million looks solid. Zanon will play 20 minutes a night and be a solid contributor, while Havlat will bring some excitement to Minnesota.
  • Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky will help the Hawks next year, but Dale Tallon will have to be a cap genius next summer. Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews will all need new contracts next year. The Hawks have committed $35 million for ten players in 2010/2011, and with the cap going down they will have to move some bodies. I bet Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland could be on the move next year.
  • The Lightning needed some help on their blueline, and Brian Lawton made some decent signings. Matt Walker played over 16 minutes a night in Chicago last year, and for only $1.7 he will give the Bolts some much needed toughness on the backend. Lawton is praying that Mattias Ohlund retires before his contract expires, but he is great outlet passer and with all the firepower up front in Tampa he’ll play a big role. Toss in Victor Hedman and the Bolts could have a big turn around. That is if the Owners can play nice with one another.
  • The Flyers have the best offensive depth in the league, a trifecta of blueliners with Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and the Human Rake, but once again they have major questions in goal. Ray Emery and Brian Boucher, are they better than Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki? Unless a year in exile has given Emery a better perspective on life I don’t see the Flyers getting close to the Cup next year.
  • Was Bob Gainey partying too much with his new owners? He trades for Scott Gomez and his horrendous $7.3 million dollar contract, and then signs Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri. The Habs were small last year, but somehow Gainey made them smaller by signing these three smurfs. They might do okay in the regular season, but in the playoffs they will get man handled.
  • I like Khabibulin a lot more than Biron, Craig Anderson or Scott Clemmensen, but the 4th year of his deal could hurt the Oilers. His signing shows me that one of JDD or DD probably won’t be here next year. If JDD plays solid in his 20-28 games, and DD is stellar in Springfield I’d bet that DD would want a chance to play in the show, and both can’t play in Edmonton.
  • Rick Nash at $7.8 million dollars for the next eight years is a horrible signing. Nash is solid but he has never scored more than 41 goals, he has never had an 80 point season and he isn’t close to being a point-a-game player over the course of his career. Nash has done nothing to deserve that type of money, and unless he becomes a big scorer that contract will hurt the Blue Jackets for years.
  • patty

    Why is it that everything degenerates into a Horcoff debate these days?

    @ Scott Wood:
    Willis did a great article on Horcoff a while back. Maybe someone who isn't super lazy (me) can drag up a link to it. He's overpaid, but he's also insanely useful and this team would be way way worse off without him.

  • patty

    @ Archaeologuy:
    hopefully a few less minutes. And hopefully he works on one-timers a bit too.

    These are the things on Horc:

    This way people can at least form an informed opinion instead of '7 Million! AAAAAAH!'

  • Ogden Brother

    patty wrote:

    Why is it that everything degenerates into a Horcoff debate these days?
    @ Scott Wood:
    Willis did a great article on Horcoff a while back. Maybe someone who isn’t super lazy (me) can drag up a link to it. He’s overpaid, but he’s also insanely useful and this team would be way way worse off without him.

    With the current signings, he's also been bumped into the 20 range for pay amoungst centers for next year. Last year the 20th highest scoring center put up 67 points….

  • patty

    @ Ogden Brother:
    word. It's already not looking too bad. I dug up those links, but it's awaiting moderation. Soon it will be up a couple posts.
    I think in another year or two, the 5.5 will look much more reasonable to the haters.

  • erixon

    What is with the shear hate of Horcoff? I mean ever since the cup run people are riding his ass no matter what he does. I remember when he was playing with a bum shoulder getting a point a game everyone still thought he was garbage… is it just the style he plays? Like I said in another blog post, if you look at the numbers, Horcoff is not that overpaid, and he brings a lot to the table. I think if he were gone, you would notice a huge hole in the roster. Again, not saying he is worth 5.5, but still not drastically below that number.

  • Scott Wood wrote:

    turn the tables around and comparing contracts who would you rather pay 7million+ to? shawn horcoff or rick nash. both are good players but its really not a comparison.

    Horcoff is a $5.5 million cap hit…Nash is a $7.8..And using Horcoff, who is overpaid, as your defence doesn't hold much water. Nash doesn't come close to the guys who earn as much as him in terms of production.

    Comparing him to Horcoff doesn't make sense. Nash makes $2.3 million more than him, so he should produce more. But he doesn't come close to Heatley, Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin…or Hossa, Zetterberg etc… Nash is grossly overpaid.

  • Dominoiler

    Nash has carried his team for a few years now, producing (although not tremendous stats) much better offensively (from a goal scoring perspective) than one could forsee with that mob… he is a goal scorer.. put him with spezza or alfie (or both) and me betts that he out produces heatly easy…

    still, he isnt an ovechkin or malking/crosby type.. but does nash approach the iginla level of player.. probably close, if not already there… (but will get there, no?!)

  • Homie

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Homie wrote:

    No doubt it is a slight overpay, but the Jackets need to build around someone. And he’s only 25. I believe in paying for potential – not waiting until he is 30 and has his best years behind him. Its not like Crosby and Malkin had years of production before the Penguins signed them to long term, high priced contracts.

    Crosby had 102 and 120 point seasons his first two years. Malkin had 85, then 106 when he signed his big deal. Nash isn’t close to those guys.

    Dude – I'm not comparing Nash as a player to Crosby and Malkin, they are obviously two of the top three players in the game. My point is that you shouldn't wait until someone is 28 or 30 and has a bunch of great years behind him before you sign a long term deal. This locks him up for most of his prime UFA years and the cap will come up beyond what it is in the next 8 years – probably in a couple. If he is 30 years old and still scoring 40 goals a year when the salary cap is $75M+, it will look like a great deal. The Jackets probably think, like I do, that he has one or two 50+ goal seasons in him over the next few years and that would equal far more than a $7.8M cap hit on the open market, if and its not that far fetched, the cap starts rising again in a couple years fairly significantly.

    So many factors play into a huge signing like this, not just whether the player matches up statistically with other players making similar amounts of money.

    But if you want to match up against goals scorers other than the big three (Ovie, Malkin, Crosby), I put Nash at the top of the next level with Zetterberg, Hossa, Heatley, etc who get a similar salary. He's younger and has produced with VASTLY inferior linemates when compared with those guys. He's produced at the same rate as Heatley the last two years and basically done it by himself – there is no Spezza and Alfredsson in Columbus.

    Bottomline, its a great signing, but like all long term deals, it comes with risk. But I would rather risk it on a 25 year than a 30 year old like Hossa.

  • Mike L

    the dude wrote:

    For the love of God please stop using the lame nickname the Human Rake. It’s just not funny.

    Why because you don't like it? Get over yourself. I find many people say it or laugh when Gregor says it. The need for people like you to post stupid comments like this are beyond me. Get a life.

  • Ogden Brother

    Mike L wrote:

    the dude wrote:
    For the love of God please stop using the lame nickname the Human Rake. It’s just not funny.
    Why because you don’t like it? Get over yourself. I find many people say it or laugh when Gregor says it. The need for people like you to post stupid comments like this are beyond me. Get a life.

    Whats the background to the nickname anyways?

  • patty

    @ Ogden Brother:
    I think it stems from when he signed the big deal in Edmonton. He was 'raking in' the cash. I'm pretty sure that must be it. It's a great nick name, not lame, and quite funny actually.