Happy Friday, BSB community! Can you believe it is August already? It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had the time to write, as the summer is the busiest time of year for me at the office. I suppose I haven’t missed much, though, as most of the Rangers’ business was taken care of in early July. We are now only a few weeks away from the return of the World Cup and training camp/pre-season is just around the corner.
There are still a few features I plan to write before the season (Top 30 Goalies!), but for this morning, I wanted to share some thoughts now that I have had some time to digest the summer moves.
The concept of change is not a complicated one. One thing becomes another. Yet, out in the real world, change embodies complication. It can be lengthy, violent, compromised, terrifying and exciting. It tends to affect most things, some more than others. Some is met with little resistance, some with the greatest force you could ever imagine. The way it effects you will be determined by your investment, your willingness to adapt, and what you stand to lose. It effects economics, politics, art, religion and yes, sports. At this juncture, our beloved sport of hockey is at such a crossroads of change.
It was brought to light yesterday that Matt Pfeffer, an analytics consultant for the Montreal Canadiens was let go from the organization for his impassioned plea for the club to reconsider trading PK Subban. Now, in a vacuum, while it raises operational questions, it is not a big deal. Any employee who does not see eye to eye with their employer can be let go. However, this situation is emblematic of hockey’s growing civil war between the current powers that be and the emerging sub-culture of analysis-driven management. Read More→
The ridiculousness of free agency is now a week behind us, and a whole lot has happened. Not much with the Rangers, mind you, but that is more or less a good thing. The Blueshirts brought in Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Holden and a couple AHL signees. Most of the heavy lifting appears to be done, and as you can imagine, I have some thoughts…
- I can’t help but wonder if Jeff Gorton was aiming for some sort of actual return for Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. I am painfully aware that the number of cap floor, analytically-averse teams are dwindling rapidly and that there simply may have been no interested parties. This could explain why no one has signed Kris Russell yet. Point is, I hope Gorton would have jumped on the opportunity just to shed the salary and not hoped for an actual return.
Ah, the first day of free agency. That magical time of year when GM’s completely lose their minds and spent huge amounts of precious cap space on mediocre players. Unlike most other sports, NHL free agency is like a shotgun blast followed by several hours of “musical cap space”. It’s like a bizarre version Supermarket Sweep (note my dated reference) where everyone throws their items into their cart without looking at prices and runs to the checkout. It makes no sense.
In fairness, players want to sign quickly. No one wants to see teams use up all their cap space and be left without that lucrative contract that will set up generations of your family (hopefully). It had gotten so bad that the NHL has decided that a window for teams to meet/woo free agents prior to the formal offer window was necessary. This seems to make for an awkward courting period/possible tampering fest going on between the Draft and July 1.
Much to the dismay of about half of Rangers fandom, the Keith Yandle era is over in New York. After dealing his rights to the Florida Panthers for a sixth and conditional fourth round pick on Monday, the Cats came to terms with Yandle on a seven-year/$44.45m contract yesterday. His deal includes a no movement clause for the first six (!) years of the deal, with a modified no-trade clause in year seven.
We all knew going into his big contract that Yandle would not come cheap. We also knew that his gross misuse over the past season would likely lead to his exit. The cap hit for the deal is a pretty representative $6.35m, but it was the term that really knocked me over. I certainly did not expect Yandle to get max term, but in a barren waste land of free agency and Alex Goligoski already off the board, I feel like the Panthers did what they had to do. Read More→
With the NHL formally announcing its decision to expand into Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2017-2018 season, there has rightfully been much discussion of the direction the league is taking. Opinions have varied greatly on the viability or lack thereof of an NHL franchise in Sin City, so I thought I’d weigh in. After doing some research on the matter, I’ve decided that an NHL team in Las Vegas is a bad idea.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying this is going to be an abject failure. I’m certainly not saying it would be on par with putting a hockey team in Atlanta (twice!). I’m just saying that if we were to re-examine this decision a decade from now, it’s probably one the league wishes they did not make. Here are my reasons Las Vegas expansion is a mistake…
With the Sharks 4-2 win last night in game 5, the 2015-2016 season lasts just a little bit longer. Once Lord Stanley has found his summer home, we move on proper to the business of improving the New York Rangers. Much digital ink has been spilled, including some stellar pieces around these parts, about who should stay or go, cap math and statistical analysis. This morning, I want to talk about some subtle distinctions.
I was having a beer with a buddy of mine yesterday afternoon. I grew up playing with this guy, and we been friends and Rangers fans for over 20 years. We started talking about the team; who we liked, who was overpaid, who should be shipped out and replaced in an effort to re-tool the roster back to a legitimate contender. It occurred to me during this conversation, partly because of our dynamic, that it kind of sounded like those old school scouting conversations. He isn’t much of an advanced stats guy, so we were talking like it was the 90’s. Read More→
Normally, I would say “Happy Friday” and other pleasant greetings on the eve of Memorial Day weekend. Nope. Not today. Last night, my air conditioning decided that it didn’t feel like cold air was the life choice it was looking for anymore. This was on top of the Penguins winning, the Yankees losing and few other personal life factors that I could have done without. In the wake of this, I decided to take it out on a few Rangers off-season concepts that have been irritating me over the last few weeks. You’ve been warned. Just to qualify these fractured mini-rants to those who will find themselves disagreeing with me. They are not meant to insult you, I just find them to be ridiculous and need to vent. Feel free to pick a fight with me in the comments.
It’s never fun enduring a long offseason while fans of other clubs get to enjoy a playoff run. This may sound a little spoiled to fans of teams like Edmonton and Calgary, but over the last decade, Rangers fans have been treated to a consistent expectation of contention. Since the Rangers have been eliminated, I have read a lot of great analysis about the importance of this offseason and potential directions for the club to go.
It’s going to be very difficult to handicap the exact moves from an analysis standpoint and hey, that’s up to you guys and gals anyway (shameless plug for the Off-season Plan Contest). I have kind of a conceptual thought-dump I wanted to share about this coming offseason and to see how you are felt about some of these things…
The evolution of sports is an interesting beast. Forever embedded in the American (and Canadian) consciousness, competition and loyalty can breed life long interest and devotion. People spend countless hours over countless years watching their idols. The love of the sweater eventually outlives all the players you grew up watching and those who have long faded into oblivion. As players come and go, the game changes around them. Some embrace the evolution, some fail to evolve and their time within the game draws to a close.
The evolution tends to come in common themes. Players get bigger, faster, and more skilled. They are better trained, with their talented cultivated from younger and younger ages. The game itself develops more specialized roles for players and matchups and statistics become more prevalent. Trends emerge, science is tested and every team tries to gain that competitive advantage.