Archive for Business of Hockey
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→
In the least surprising news of the offseason, four Rangers have filed for arbitration. Forwards Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller, and defenseman Dylan McIlrath all filed for arbitration before yesterday’s 5pm deadline. This is a part of the process, and shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It’s a common occurrence for the Rangers, and it buys them more time to negotiate a contract.
This does protect all four players from receiving an offer sheet, something some people were concerned about. I’d expect that all four players reach deals before going to arbitration, since these hearings can get pretty ugly (remember the Sean Avery hearing?). Also this triggers the August buyout period for the Rangers, so they will have a second window to buyout players, if need be.
Give good players time and you will be rewarded. Mats Zuccarello had to fight off traditional hockey stereotypes, climb up the Rangers cluttered depth chart and fight his way into a prominent position over a long period of time but Zuccarello eventually became one of the Rangers most reliable and cost effective players. Zuccarello’s contract is looking better every game and it’s worth looking into the value again because right now, there are few better value deals around the league.
Zuccarello is likely going to lead the Rangers in scoring for the second time in three years by season’s end. Over the past three years (going on numbers after the loss to the Red Wings) Zuccarello is averaging around 54 points per season and this is with 14 games of the current season to go.
Zuccarello is of course, in the first year of his new deal that pays him 4.5m per season. Prior to this season Zuccarello had bagged 142 points in 222 regular season games for an average of .63 points/game. This season he’s scoring at a .77 clip; a pretty significant increase.
Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, hell even Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. Right now the Rangers have a handful of contracts that – to varying degrees – aren’t offering full value and ‘value’ is über critical in the cap era NHL. However, the fact that the Rangers have a handful of big contracts on their books shouldn’t make them shy away from adding more. On the contrary. If a player is worth the investment, it’s the Rangers duty to upgrade their talent base. After that, well that is when the Rangers need to get creative, but spending big shouldn’t be a concern.
People think that salary needs to be spread out around the roster: a spread the wealth approach as it were. However, the best team in the league right now, and arguably for the past half decade, has been the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks have taken a significantly top heavy financial approach to staffing their roster, one that many people would have thought would lead to major depth issues yet year after year the Hawks are in contention.
In some surprising news, James Dolan is set to sell Cablevision to Altice, a European telecom giant. The deal will be for a whopping $17.7 billion. Yes, you read that number right.
It is worth noting that MSG Inc., which owns the Rangers, Knicks, Liberty, Wolf Pack, Madison Square Garden, MSG Network, and The Beacon Theater, is not included in this deal. MSG is a separately traded company, having been spun off from Cablevision in 2010. The Rangers will remain owned by James Dolan.
Happy Friday, BSB faithful. As promised, Hatrick Swayze has run the gauntlet and earned the right to contribute his learned thoughts in the form of a guest post. Thanks, Hatrick, for a seriously comprehensive piece of work. I hope you all enjoy. Ladies and gentlemen, Hatrick Swayze…
Enter Emerson Etem. [Alliteration. Capitalization. What more could you want? Oh, Carl Hagelin? Too bad for you.] While many are sour over Hagelin’s departure, and for good reason, what’s done is done. All too often in a league with hard cap restrictions, a player’s hard work, dedication and a growth under a franchise ultimately is what forces management’s hand and prices that player out. We’ve seen it with Callahan. Hagelin is the latest victim. Quite honestly, it is a good problem to have. Consider the alternatives: bad draft pedigree, players underperforming expectations, a team meandering in mediocrity. Personally, I’m very content to avoid all of the above. For better or worse, player turnover is the reality of operating in a league governed by a hard salary cap. Read More→
As expected, the New York Rangers have been relatively quiet this off season due to their cap situation. One NHL transaction that they made that can be seen as prominent is the signing of left wing Viktor Stalberg. At first, some people may have been confused over why the Rangers signed a player who played some games in the AHL to a $1.1 million contract, or why the Rangers signed him when they have young guys like Ryan Bourque and Oscar Lindberg still competing for an NHL spot. But the more I look at this the more it seems like an efficient signing by the New York Rangers.
For those who do not follow me on Twitter, I am currently working on a project that can allow fans and maybe NHL employees alike to view a player at any contract and see if he is worth it in the light of numerous stats. However, instead of talking about just millions we will be talking about cap percentage (cap%).
Why cap percentage?
A common thread among sports fans is that they’ve had a role in all of our lives, no matter how unimportant or trivial they seem in the big picture. Many of us have always been a fan, though it’s not a requirement to be a “true fan,” despite the pretentious attitudes of some people. You could like one team, many teams, many players, many plays… but you like the sport, and that’s what draws you to it.
Growing up, I was a diehard baseball fan. I practically grew up at Shea Stadium (yes, it’s still weird that it’s Citifield all these years later), buying cheap tickets in the low of the Mets lows and “sneaking” down from the loge section to catch a better glimpse of whichever scrubs the Wilpons threw together. The Mets broke my heart over and over, but I was a fan of the game and, moreso, what it meant to me. Read More→
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:
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→