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.
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.