Archive for Business of Hockey

Last year, I started with a series of posts projecting the 2014-2015 New York Rangers payroll, and they were a series of posts I enjoyed writing. So with the trade deadline passed and a large majority of players locked up for next season, projecting the 2015-2016 Rangers payroll seems like the next logical step.

Payroll is a huge concern for the Rangers, as they have a boatload of money committed to seven forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies next season. They have four key RFAs (Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Carl Hagelin, Jesper Fast) to re-sign, and two –Hagelin, Stepan– are going to be relatively expensive.

The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the cap ceiling. This year’s cap is at $69 million, and while everyone has been expecting a healthy increase due to increased revenue, the Canadian Dollar has been slipping, and that will be a major influencer on the cap. Most are predicting a modest increase to just $71 million, which does not do the Rangers any favors.

Let’s break down who the Rangers have signed and who their free agents are:

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Once again it seemed like Rangers GM Glen Sather had little to no maneuverability under the salary cap, and once again Slats found a way to wriggle his payroll under the cap ceiling.

By exploiting a to this point little-used clause in the new collective bargaining agreement, Sather got Arizona to eat half of Yandle’s contract. Of course Sather had to sweeten his offers to persuade the Coyotes to offer financial aid, but Sather still shrewdly found a way to take on salary and improve his club when it seemed to be nearly impossible.

The Coyotes will absorb half of Yandle’s cap hit again next year, but the $2.625 million the Rangers have added to their payroll is still going to be difficult to work around given that the guys Yandle is replacing, John Moore and Matt Hunwick, counted just $851k and $600k, respectively, against the cap this season. Read More→

At last season’s trade deadline, the Rangers played chicken with their captain. Ryan Callahan was demanding a relatively outrageous contract extension that the Rangers were extremely hesitant to hand out. He was looking for top line dollars to play a well rounded, third line game. Down in Tampa, the Bolts’ long-time captain wasn’t feeling the love anymore. A first-ballot Hall of Famer left off the Olympic roster by his own GM. It was a recipe for bad blood.

Glen Sather was forced to make a choice between a legitimate top 6 upgrade or letting a homegrown, valuable player walk for nothing if his contract demands did not back down into reasonable territory. Ultimately, I still believe that Sather gave up too much ancillary value in the form of two first round picks, but such is life. The point is, it was appropriate for Sather to make that call in the middle of a competitive run. Upgrades are upgrades. Draft picks can be sorted out later. Read More→

Dec
10

Bettman: 2015-2016 cap to be “around $73 million”

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Per Pierre LeBrun, citing Gary Bettman in a meeting with team owners, next year’s salary cap ceiling is projected to be in the $73 million range. That will be a $4 million increase (5.79%) increase on this year’s cap. Bettman stressed that this number is based on the Canadian Dollar not going down much further, Every dollar the cap goes up is critical for the Rangers, as they have five pending UFAs (St. Louis, Zuccarello, Stempniak, Staal, Hunwick) and five pending RFAs (Stepan, Hagelin, Miller, Fast, Moore).

Most of the pending free agents are due raises, specifically Derek Stepan.

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Dec
05

Rethinking the shootout

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I had contemplated writing this post a few weeks ago when the Rangers dropped several shootouts in quick succession, but I decided to hold out for the sake of objectivity. I think after almost ten (crazy, right?) seasons of sampling the utility of the shootout, it’s time to examine whether or not it is still a viable method for determining the winners of NHL games.

When the shootout was implemented in the 2005-2006 season, I’ll be honest; I was sick of ties. They were irritating. We didn’t get any sense of closure and half the time you weren’t sure what the prevailing emotion was. Did your team play well enough to win? Were they lucky to grab a point? There was just no satisfaction to it. Running the risk of being tarred and feathered, I’ll admit: I was on board with the shootout.

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Oct
29

MSG exploring Media/Sports and real estate split

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MSG

MSG

Newsday is reporting that MSG Inc (spun off from Cablevision in 2010) is exploring the idea of splitting the company into two companies: MSG Sports and Entertainment and MSG Real Estate. Both companies would be publicly traded, much like the way MSG Inc. and Cablevision are publicly traded today. The goal of this split would be to unlock value in the New York Rangers and New York Knicks, while keeping the concert industry afloat.

Currently, MSG Inc includes the professional sports teams: Knicks, Rangers, New York Liberty, and the Hartford Wolf Pack; MSG Media, which includes the regional sports networks, and the real-estate concert venues (Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Chicago Theatre and the Forum in Inglewood, California).

The proposed split would merge MSG Media and MSG sports, while spinning off the real estate.

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Sep
12

Poll: what to do with Cam Talbot

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Cam Talbot has been an interesting story since joining the Rangers in Marty Biron’s stead at the beginning of last season. An undrafted free agent who blew the lid off his ceiling and went on to have a mini-breakout season as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He put up tremendous numbers (12-6-1, 1.64 GAA, .941 sv%), and by virtue of his age, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season.

Now, this puts the club in something of a pickle. He has an incredibly small sample size of games to judge his true talent level. What complicates things further is that most goalies of NHL caliber talent can put up quality numbers in a small set of games. What makes a starter is the ability to hold up that level of play over a fairly grueling 55-65 game sample. We have no idea if Talbot is up to that task, and unless something goes catastrophically wrong, we’re unlikely to find out this season. Read More→

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Aug
29

Some quick thoughts on expansion

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www.travelsworlds.com

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→

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Aug
10

The Hiring of #fancystats

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Caption This!

Caption This!

In the summer of 2006, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first ankle surgery shortly after Independence Day. To me, it was a waste of a summer: I couldn’t make much money as a waitress before I’d head back to college, and if you’d ever tried going to the beach on crutches, you’re brave/insane/all of the above. Above that, my room was downstairs at my parents’ place, making me a refugee on the couch for the six weeks it would take my ankle to heal.

My mother is an avid baseball fan and, as such, my new bedroom had access to a package through cable showing every baseball game for the 2006 season. In case you forgot, that’s a TON of baseball. We’re talking 162 games played by every team. I picked up an affinity for the Oakland Athletics, mostly for Rich Harden (I’ve had a thing for foxy Canadians since I was 19, apparently) and Dan Haren (my steady fantasy baseball late round pick, he never let me down). When people think A’s, they think moneyball – and this is where hockey comes in to this long narrative about my boring life nearly ten years ago.

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Jul
18

#fancystats: Where do we go from here?

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Stats.

Stats.

I want to preface this article with the fact that I am not a mathematician or statistician. I’m a lawyer. In fact, they lied to us in law school and told us we wouldn’t have to do math once we were out practicing. So even if you love my ideas, I have no real skill set to design or implement them. This is purely for conceptual discussion purposes.

Ok, with that out of the way, I wanted to talk about #fancystats for a minute. It’s becoming clear that organizations around the league are starting to recognize the usefulness and momentum that these types of statistics have, evidenced by more and more front offices disclosing their emphasis on integrating them into their management processes.

However, I think we can all agree that the concepts and statistical methodologies are rudimentary at best at this point. It’s also completely understandable. Baseball has led the way in the revolution of statistical analyses, but it has a massive advantage on all other sports: each play happens in a vacuum, and at most there are 2-4 players involved in any given play. This level of isolation makes it incredibly convenient to look at individual performance within that play and assign value to it. The causal relationship between each player on the field is limited, and unlike hockey, plays happening minutes prior have very little bearing on what you are measuring.

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