Feb
17

Friday afternoon thoughts

February 17, 2017, by

Newsday

Last night, the Rangers lost a disappointing game to the rival Islanders in Brooklyn. The loss snapped a six game winning streak in which the Blueshirts were able to move into a temporary three-way tie for second place in the Metro. Since it’s Friday and we are all looking to kill some time at work, I have some thoughts…

1. I am not a big believer in picking your preferred playoff matchups. I generally find it to be a fool’s errand, but this season, I really can’t see any upside in trying to vie for position in the stacked Metro division. Nothing good can come from the meat grinder of potentially playing the Penguins, Blue Jackets and/or Capitals in the first two rounds.

A big problem the Rangers have had over their past few playoff runs have been too many grueling series, too early. They completely ran out of gas in the conference finals against New Jersey and did not have enough left in the tank for the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final a few years back. Now, I’m not saying that the Habs/Sens/Leafs/B’s would be pushovers in the playoffs, but considering the talent on the Metro side of the bracket, I would be very willing to take my chances in the Atlantic.

2. Henrik Lundqvist has come back to life since that brutal loss in Dallas. Since the calendar flipped to February, Hank has put up a 2.17 GAA and a .937 save percentage with two shutouts. His play up until recently has been subpar, but if you had to pick a time of year for him to catch fire, this is the time.

3. This team has been very exciting to watch offensively, but I find a certain aspect of analyzing them this year to be horribly boring. The flaws have been what they are the entire season and haven’t changed one bit. Gifted offense and a defense that gets pinned in their zone and can’t transition. Game after game after game. It’s maddening. The only thing more maddening is that there is really nothing they can do about it but put Adam Clendening in the lineup more. That’s it. Too much of the team’s value is tied up in the forward depth to pay the price of a defensive upgrade. To do something meaningful with the defense is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

4. I agree with Dave in that the lineup tinkering isn’t anything to get worked up over. I understand and agree that AV’s rigidity with the blue line is immensely irritating, but they aren’t really related issues. The rotation of forwards is a good thing to keep some guys fresh and try out different combinations while the team is playing well. I don’t understand why he prefers the current crop of defensemen over Clendening, but that just is what it is. The forward group tinkering should be looked at in a vacuum.

5. When the salary cap was implemented following the lockout in 2005, there were certain growth assumptions that I am sure both the league and the NHLPA were using to make their decisions. If you look at the growth between the original cap implementation and the 2012-2013 lockout, and then the growth between the last lockout and the present, the figures are a bit staggering. Between 2005-2012, the average year over year growth of the salary cap was 8%. The growth between 2013-present? 4%. The weak Canadian dollar has a lot to do with this, but the stagnant salary cap has put quite the strain on big market clubs, especially in the trade market.

Obviously, there have been fluctuations on a year-to-year basis during the actual growth of the cap, but if you apply a straight 8% growth curve onto the cap figure from its inception, the 2016-2017 salary cap should have been $90.93m. Next year’s cap should be $98.2m. This is a far cry from the $74m we are staring at today. I think many organizations made tough contract calls based on the assumption that the cap would be steadily pacing revenue as the game grew. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal’s contracts would look a lot less gruesome if each team had $15-20m more in cap space. I’m not going anywhere specific with this, it’s just disappointing that the cap has stagnated the way it has.

That’s it for me this week; the Rangers have a bit of a tough stretch over the next two weeks getting Washington and Montreal twice, in addition to the Blue Jackets and Leafs. Enjoy your weekend everyone!

"Friday afternoon thoughts", 5 out of 5 based on 11 ratings.

43 comments

  1. Chris A says:

    Great work on Point #5 Justin. If the NHL wants to get things right, it’s time to grant each organization a window to exercise a compliance buyout or two between the Cup Finals and the Expansion Draft.

    Not sure who would be against that. The players love it as it essentially allows them to have two contracts (Buyout and New Contract) at the same time, the teams love it as they have a chance to get out from under some bad contracts and it floods the markets with veterans that are willing to work below market rates (since they already have their buyout money).

    • kris says:

      While the compliance buyouts would help out the Rangers, I doubt that would happen, nor would I want that to happen. The compliance buyouts were introduced to allow teams to cut ties with the back diving contracts, that under the new CBA would have strict cap implications if the player retired during the bogus years, even if they traded that contract away.

      I dont think the players would love it or would be happy at all. The players would be losing 1/3 of the guaranteed money they signed for. Richards didnt recoup the money he lost, Redden didnt, Girardi and Staal probably wouldnt. The NHL chose the hard cap to allow teams to be on the same playing field (I still cant figure out how Chicago stays under lol). They only used compliance buyout because new penalties were introduced.

      The hard cap serves as a punishment for handing out unmovable contracts, whether they be with NMC or with overpaid players. If they wanted to go the soft cap route, it would allow bad contracts to be hidden by teams. By not allowing buyouts, that gives Vegas the chance to get some good players and they want that. Thats why I dont think that they will allow compliance buyouts.

      • Walt says:

        The hard cap is punishment to wealthy teams, like us, for deals like Wade Redden. We were able to send him to the AHL, getting his contract off of the books, while bottom feeding organizations like the Yotes can’t afford doing that. That’s also a reason for the floor, and cap, to make certain that teams don’t do business on the cheap !!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • kris says:

          Walt,

          The hard cap was right from the start, due to loop holes like sending Redden down and back diving contracts they tightened up the rules, to not allow us to use our money to our advantage, like we were, as well as other teams with money. A soft cap with a luxury tax would allow teams with money to use it. They introduced the compliance buyout to allow you to get out of the contracts that would now have penalties in the future, not because of the lack of cap rise.

          If you remember once they changed the cap hit for buried contract rules, Redden(us) and Gomez(MTL) were told they werent allowed to suit up in fear that they would get hurt because you are not allowed to buyout an injured player, the league allowed Redden and Gomez to be bought out shortly after games for the shortened season to started and fall under compliance even though you cannot buyout a player during the season.

          The floor is there to prevent teams from doing things on the cheap it also allows them to get young talented players for the absorbing of a bad contract (to reach the floor), like Carolina and Arizona did, even though neither are actually paying any salary.

          • Walt says:

            Kris

            You basically said what I did, and I agree with the post entirely. They have to find a better way to handle this problem, why should teams with money, and willing to spend it , get penalized for doing so??????????

            • Kris says:

              Walt,

              I would say there is one reasons and it all goes back to the greedy owners. With a cap on what they can spend, it tops the top players out and keeps their payroll in check. Remember they also rolled back all player contracts when cap was introduced. As pre-cap NYR fans we know that spending money does not equal winnng.

              I would prefer a soft cap with luxury tax, but they love to use that teams are on an even playing field. The hard cap has punished Chicago the most, they built from within (other than Hossa and Panarin) and have had to give up pieces all the time. Id rather talk about on ice production rather than on ice production but not worth the cap hit.

              • Walt says:

                agree, and I posted below that we should have a cap like the NHL, but that won’t happen………

  2. Andy says:

    all good stuff. Glad you brought up the cap. The process totally sucks. The cap has been held down mostly because of the Canadian dollar coming back to historical levels. (can’t imagine the Pittsburgh/ SJ finals was a revenue boost for the league either)
    Ironically who would have thought FED policy could affect our sport. But QE(quantitative easing) infinity artificially boosted the Canadian dollar and helped boost the cap. Conversely when the FED finally stopped doing QE, most currencies reverted back to historical levels. It was in unintended consequence to our cap. Not a big NBA fan, but I love how their cap works. This really needs a fix.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Waiting for the Canuck RE bubble to burst, driving the loony down to 50 cents.

      If the league wants to drive growth, they need more weekend matinees that are in European prime time. People are back from the footie, not a lot of competition.

  3. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Look at you getting all yoy growth rates on us on a Friday afternoon.

    Kidding aside, excellent points and a big reason why we’ll be staring another lockout in the face in the not so distant future.

    • Justin says:

      Hah, you know I like to keep things light on Fridays. I agree on the lockout, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere good…

    • Richter1994 says:

      Bettman = a work stoppage after every CBA has expired. The only Commish in sports history to accomplish this. The streak will continue. Well done Gary.

      • Walt says:

        That’s why I refer to him as Buttman !!!!!!!!

      • Walt says:

        Richter

        With the passing of both the Flyers, and Bruins owners, Snyder, and Jacobs, I don’t see too many organizations that will be pushing for a lock out again. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part, now that is the case !!!!!!!!!!

        • Richter1994 says:

          Here’s the thing my friend, and you can “fact check” it. In return for getting the NHL the salary cap back in 2004, the owners gave Bettman almost full legal power.

          It takes over 75% of the owner vote to override Bettman. So Gary only needs 25% of the league owners to do what he wants. He’s a DICtator and it would take the new owners of those franchises you mentioned to “turn” on Gary going forward.

          • Walt says:

            Your right, but the two mentioned were very aggressive about a cap, and had plenty of political clout. Ed Snyder owner of the Flyers, also owned Comcast/NBCSC, was the most aggressive of all, and Jacobs was a tight wad, who didn’t want to spend any money at all. Hell, Boston is still a snug outfit, holding on to the penny as long as they can !!!!!!!!!!!

            As for the DICtatorship they gave to Buttman, they have to rectify that issue quickly……………

  4. Andy says:

    And a cap question. Wasn’t the cap supposed to get a hike from the Vegas $500 mill buy in fee?

  5. Larry says:

    I have confidence in Jeff Gorton.
    .

  6. Al Dugan says:

    The individual matchups in the playoffs have zero impact on the current television deal as those revenues are already negotiated and set in stone. So, Pitt/SJ last year has no impact at all. And when the TV deal comes up, the only way the money grows will be IF either Fox or ESPN return to push up the dollars on a national level.

    How Bettman keeps his job with no revenue growth is stunning, considering how far the cap has grown in the NBA and NFL. But Justin is correct by using the Canadien dollar as a scapegoat. At its highest rate over the last 6 years, the Loon has now dropped by 43%.

    So, the G and Staal deals were made at a time where the going salary for a defenseman was going to be 5 million. Not the best salaries.

    • Bloomer says:

      I think staal and girardi stay in the lineup for at least the end of next season. Then nash and kk come off the books. The rangers lack of depth on the blueline is a result of pissing away first and second round picks that could of been used to draft blue chip defencemen. The whole win now mantra while lundqvist is still in his prime has impacted the future of the ranger organization.

      • RagsFan says:

        I totally agree and we blew those picks on Yandle waste and E. Staal waste.

      • stevesse says:

        From the time lundqvist took over starting goalie, We have had 4 #1 defensemen. Sanguinetti Del Zotto, McIlrath and Skjei. That is just poor drafting, not pissing away. We also had the misfortune of Cherepanov dying, which also set us back.

        • Walt says:

          those were all before Gordy, and Jeff took over the scouting department !!!!!!!!!!!!!1

          • paulronty says:

            No Walt, the latter three were Gordie Clark-Gorton picks. Del Zotto was a real bummer & the one I was most upset about as Jordan Eberle was right there for the taking and who I thought they should have taken. There were multiple Qs about Del Zotto, even before the draft.

            • Walt says:

              Doc

              I stand corrected, and as for MDZ, and issues, you live north our the border, and are far more informed than we are down here on things of that nature. He proved to be a bad choice, with the partying, and chasing hookers !!!!!!!!!

        • kris says:

          Stevesse,

          Just cause they are first round picks doesnt mean they will work out, thats why I dont mind when they trade them for proven NHL talent. Besides for the first overall generational talents, every other draft could be redrafted and have different picks selected. I bet St Louis would love to have drafted Toews (third) instead of Eric Johnson (1rst) or Pitt with the second pick taking Jordan Staal. Same for the Islanders who used the 4th overall pick on Griffen Reinhart while passing on Morgan Reilly, Lindholm, Dumba, Trouba, Ceci, Maatta (even with his health issues), or Skjei who all went in the first round of the same draft in that order with some busts inbetween.

          • stevesse says:

            My point was that we have been consistently bad drafting d-men in the 1st round. I agree that you could redraft any one year, but 25% success rate will not cut it.

      • Walt says:

        it’s about time someone made mention of this point, that’s been my argument all along !!!!!!!

      • Richter1994 says:

        “I think staal and girardi stay in the lineup for at least the end of next season.”

        If that’s the case then trade Lundqvist, Nash, Zuc, etc. and start the rebuild. Because 1st round losses will be in the Rangers’ future as long as they stay in the line up.

      • paulronty says:

        That win now strategy was indeed misguided, but driven by the ego of Slats with his desire to get that Cup & thus be seen in NY in the same light as the Messiah. Prudent forethought is always preferable to desperation need related thinking driven by the need for self aggrandizement. Thus, the trading away of multiple years of draft choices.

        • Walt says:

          Doc

          Not to be critical, but there are plenty on this site that agree with that philosophy, which drives me nuts !!!!!!! That may be the reason cars come in multiple colors, and styles……..

  7. roadrider says:

    I get your point about the playoff match ups with the Atlantic. And I understand the temptation to try to game the system to get he most favorable match up. but if you want to win the Stanley Cup you can’t be afraid to play anyone.

    I would say that the Rangers should not try to do anything heroic to win the finish as high as possible like playing guys who are hurt or need rest or burning out Hank. But that said I don’t think they should purposely throttle themselves. If they keep winning and pass Pittsburgh or Columbus – so be it.

    Besides, I think trying to get an Atlantic division match up might be a case of being careful what you wish for. Montreal and Ottawa always seem to give the Rangers fits.

    Agree on the cap (Bettman is a fool and a stooge of the owners).

    About the defense – it is what it is. I doubt there’s anything they can do to fix it before the off-season (and maybe not even then). But they’re still 3rd in ROW and 6th in points despite having only one Bettman Bonus Point (point for OT loss) which is tops (or bottom – depending on how you want to look at it) in the league and less than the Caps, Pens, Blue Jackets, Wild and Blackhawks who all have 5-7.

    Will their weaknesses be exposed in the playoffs or will they be able to ride the rejuvenated Hank and their forward depth to win a round or two (or more?). Who knows but I’m not writing them off yet because they’re hardly the only flawed team out there.

  8. Hockey Sittoo says:

    Nice article with great points. I agree that I’d like to see the Rangers stay in their current wildcard slot. That being said, I really didn’t like their lack of intensity last night. The only 2 players who seemed fired up for the whole game were Hank and Vesey. The KZZ line was MIA, except for Zucc’s great pass to Holden. Nash had a few flashes but everyone else seemed disinterested in fighting for the puck etc. Mac, JT, Zib, and Staal seemed especially out of it in my opinion. I don’t think there is a danger of not making the playoffs. But if they play like that the rest of the way we are going to see Hank start overcompensating again, which he did at times last night, and they won’t be in “playoff mode” when the time comes. The Caps are a big test and I’d like to see them pass with flying colors.

  9. Walt says:

    What I’d like to see negotiated in the next contract would be a cap situation like the NFL. People play, or get cut, even if contracts are guaranteed, and the teams aren’t stuck holding a bag full of crap that is the current deal…………

  10. kris says:

    Im not one (anymore) who believes in trying to tank to pick your opponent and heres my story of why. Playing in a mens national roller hockey tournament, my team and a team from another round robin bracket were tied in every statistical category for tie breakers at the end of the first round. The rule book states that in that rare event a shootout will happen to break the tie. Both teams scouted who the results to see what would be the better seed. Both teams concluded that throwing the shootout to play the higher seed would be better because they did not play in a good bracket, and believed they were the easier opponent. Word got around and the tournament directors decided rather than have a mockery on the rink they would have a coin toss decide who got the seed, that both teams wanted.

    My team wins the coin toss and we pick this team called “The Fooz”. My team gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, The Fooz wins the whole national tournament. We got our revenge the following year beating them in the finals, but ever since that day every player on my team has a saying for situations like that “You Fooz, You Lose”.

    That being said I understand both sides of the coin, but if your for keeping all picks, especially first round picks, wouldnt it be better to lose in the first round to the Pens (Ill always say the Pens until the Caps get out of the second round) then say lose to them in the Conference Finals for a better drafting spot?

  11. Snake says:

    I read somewhere that the Senators weren’t going to make the playoffs, so you should replace them with the Panthers. LOL

  12. Steveknj says:

    I’ve watched Clendenning a few games now and I’ve come to the conclusion he stinks. I’ve never been a Girardi fan and Klein has been a bit better but Clendenning is not the answer. Sorry I know a lot of you want to see him play but he’s terrible.

    • paulronty says:

      He’s beyond terrible!!!! The Ranger fandom is so desperate for good D-men, that everyone looks good to them, even stiffs like Clendo.

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