Photo: Bruce Bennett
Last year, I had some fun with a theoretical expansion draft. I did that more as an August musings post than anything else. This time around, there are big rumors about expansion, and it seemed like a good idea to do another theoretical expansion draft. After all, the roster has changed and the team’s situation has changed. As cities like Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and Toronto become more entrenched in the expansion rumors, it becomes hard to ignore the need to prepare for an expansion draft.
Let’s assume that any future expansion draft will follow the same rules as the 2000 expansion draft. Each team is allowed to protect either one goalie, five defensemen, and nine forwards, or, two goalies, three defensemen, and seven forwards. At least one defenseman left unprotected must have played 40 games last season or 70 games in the last two seasons. Two forwards must meet the same requirements. All first and second year pros (including AHL players) and unsigned rookies are exempt (Anthony Duclair and Brady Skjei are exempt, J.T. Miller is not). All players on ELCs that will slide (Ryan Graves) are exempt as well.
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Is it hockey season yet?
Throughout the course of a season, a team will play 82 games in the hopes of playing just four more rounds for the chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. These 82 games are no walk in the park. They consist of grueling hits, tough goals and workouts that most of us would pass out or throw up halfway through. These athletes do it because they want to know the glory of being the very best, having their names etched in glory forever on the greatest trophy in all sports.
Of the 30 teams in the NHL, 16 make it to the first round of the playoffs. For certain teams, making the playoffs is a distant dream. For others, missing them is beyond unacceptable. Below is the breakout of the first round from April 2014:
s/t CBS Sports
So which of these teams will most likely make it again?
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Over the past few days, various reports have come in claiming the possible expansion into, depending on the report, anywhere from one to four (!) new markets. The consistent player in all these reports is Las Vegas, to be spearheaded by film and TV mogul, Jerry Bruckheimer. Additionally, Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City and another Toronto franchise have been bandied about.
The chatter has also come in several different permutations. Some reports have expansion of two teams, some four, some moving two teams and expanding two teams. There is very little consistency at this point. More speculation than reality. Whether any of it comes to pass at all is completely up in the air, but let’s chew on it a little. Read more »
The lone item remaining on the Rangers to-do list this summer is getting RFA defenseman John Moore under contract for the season. Jeff Gorton, via USA Today, said he is “pretty sure” the Rangers will get him under contract before the season starts:
“We like John a lot, just trying to get him signed,” Gorton said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll get him signed, and get him ready to go. He’s a good player for us; he’s been a good fit for us, he’s a great kid, and we like his upside.”
Moore, 23, is coming off the best season of his young professional career, putting up 4-11-15 while playing half the year on his weak side with Michael Del Zotto. There was a noticeable improvement in his play when he moved back to the left side after the Del Zotto/Kevin Klein swap, but Moore has a long way to go. The club likely wants to get him on a bridge deal, and we have him pegged around $1.2 million.
Yesterday, Howard Bloom noted that the NHL was looking to expand to four cities: Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and Toronto (second team). This was not the NHL looking to move a franchise or two, but full-blown expansion to 34 teams by 2017. Las Vegas was actually confirmed by multiple sources, and it makes sense if you read between the lines of recent NHL moves (award ceremony). However, Renaud Lavoie quickly refuted that, citing Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. But what else is Daly supposed to say?
Adding four teams is a bit much, but I’ve been of the belief that expansion is coming sooner rather than later. If the NHL is really looking at these four cities, then it would make sense to move a struggling franchise or two (Florida comes to mind) and expanding to 32 teams instead of 34. No professional league has 34 teams, and while expansion would create a lot of jobs, it would severely water down the talent pool.
These are just rumors and conflicting reports for now, but we are going to see a change in the landscape relatively soon. Nothing is done yet, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Last year: 34-37-11, eighth in the Metro Division. Missed the postseason by 14 points.
Key additions: Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Cory Conacher, Chad Johnson, T.J. Brennan
Key subtractions: Evgeni Nabokov, Radek Martinek (likely)
Franchise direction: The Islanders’ rebuild has been very slow, but it really does look like things are starting to change. The additions of Halak, Grabovski and Kulemin were major pieces and the Islanders clearly are hoping to make a splash when they begin play at the Barclays Center in 2015-2016. New York needs several of its prospects to fulfill their promise in order to become a perennial playoff team, but they certainly have the talent to make that a reality over the next couple seasons.
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In case you missed it, the Rangers blog-o-sphere picked up a story from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune saying the Rangers had been speaking to Ryan Malone. Usually this is something we would post here, but the problem is that the article is from August 21, one day after the Rangers landed Kevin Hayes. The article also explicitly talks in the past tense:
Malone looked good and with his legal issues soon behind him from Tampa, one would think somebody signs him (Rangers have talked to him) or he attends a training camp on a tryout.
All it says is that they’ve spoken to him at some point, likely as a backup if they couldn’t land Hayes. The Rangers now have no use for Malone, especially with Hayes and Lee Stempniak under contract. Plus, Hayes puts them at 50 contracts, so even on a PTO, the club would need to make a trade in order to sign him. I’ll chalk this to outdated
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
If you’ve been reading us for a while, then you know we are proponents of the new stats that have popped up over the past few years. One that has really taken hold in the community, and led to the hiring of several “stats guys” around the league, is Corsi. Corsi is a measure of shot attempts (on net, missed, or blocked) taken for or against while a player is on the ice. It’s basically the plus-minus of these shot attempts. If Player X is on the ice for three shot attempts for and one shot attempt against, then that shift he was +2 for his Corsi (also a 75% Corsi). Fairly simple concept.
Ignoring some of the noise associated with these stats, the biggest complaint that comes up with the possession metrics is that it doesn’t measure goals, and goals win games. It’s tough to argue with the logic, because it’s partially true. Great work has been done proving that possession directly correlates to wins with large enough sample sizes, but it still doesn’t measure goals. Pucks in the net are what matter.
Luckily, the guys at Hockey Graphs have begun breaking ground on this front. They did a lot of the legwork in measuring goals via possession numbers, and that post is definitely worth a read in its entirety. But to summarize: Players can be separated into four buckets (forwards) or three buckets (defense) based on ice time. Each player falls into a bucket based on ice time, and you can use their Corsi% to project a goal differential across the season.
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I’m going to make a much better effort to continue with the ATF posts this season. It was difficult last year due to personal reasons, but this year I’m trying to start fresh. Calle Andersson is the only prospect in action in meaningful games at the moment, and he has played in two games with EV Zug in the Champions League thus far, losing 2-1 in the opener and winning 5-2 over the weekend. Here’s how the young defenseman performed:
- Calle Andersson (EV Zug, Champions League; L 2-1, W 5-2): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
Talking about needing to fill a big hole.
When the Rangers signed Dan Boyle to a two-year deal worth $9 million, they were signing someone to fill a pair of holes. The first hole to fill was that of the now departed Anton Stralman on the second pair, and the second was to fill Brad Richards’ role on the powerplay. It’s a gamble to take on a 38-year-old defenseman, but it’s a calculated gamble that, in reality, is relatively low-risk considering the term.
In Boyle, the Rangers get one of the premier powerplay quarterbacks in the game, albeit several years past his prime. Almost half of Boyle’s offensive contributions throughout his career have been with the man advantage, something the Rangers have sorely missed since the Martin Straka, Michael Nylander, and Jaromir Jagr trio left town. His booming shot from the point still commands respect, and his ability to move the puck is still solid.
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