Posts filed under “Uncategorized”

Followup: Keeping Lilja

In light of the analysis of others, I think I should rework my chart:

Player Old Cap Hit New Cap Hit
Total salary commitments $57,292,045
Cap space for signing Lilja/Meech $2,107,955
(Calculations via CapGeek) (cap hit values in millions)
Darren Helm $.599 $.850
Patrick Eaves $.500 $.750
Justin Abdelkader $.850 $.800
Drew Miller $.500 $.700

Bullet points:

  • The consensus seems to be that Justin Abdelkader is going to have to take a cut in terms of cap hit if he’s looking for a one-year deal that will allow him the opportunity to shoot for more next summer. If he takes a multi-year deal (a tiered one, perhaps), his cap hit could go up. But I wouldn’t expect it to go up much. So yeah, my original tossed out number of $1 million is almost certainly way off base.
  • I do think Helm will earn more than Abdelkader. The guy has proven his worth and however high the Wings are on Justin, they are more so on Darren.
  • Eaves and Miller are sort of interchangeable to a degree, but I think Eaves offers more at this point. Hence the higher number.
  • These numbers leave about $2 million to coax Lilja into staying or for paying Derek Meech to watch games from the weight room. They save money going the second route, but do they really gain value that way? I don’t think so.
  • I’m not sure what exactly Lilja is looking for to shore up his financial future, but the Wings’ cap space isn’t likely to fill his need there. If they can offer him the possibility of breaking out of the confines of the third pairing and relief from babysitting either Ericsson or Kindl, maybe that’ll be enough. If the guy thinks no matter how good he plays he’ll never get to enjoy a quality partner, keeping him around will be tougher.
  • But the Wings do need him to do some babysitting: those two aren’t going to grow playing with some random veteran defenseman pulled in from outside the organization like they would playing with Lilja.

Keeping Lilja

Sorry for the lack of posts on the Draft this weekend. We were Up North and I didn’t have much computer time. But you’re probably already read up on the Wings’ picks, so I’ll leave it at that.

I tweeted about this on Friday, but wanted to expand on it here:

Fiddling w/ numbers on CapGeek. w/ a $59.4m cap, DET can keep Lilja even w/raises for Helm, Eaves, Abby and Miller. Just no Meech. Do it Ken

Unfortunately, CapGeek doesn’t offer permalinks for mocked up rosters using their cap calculator feature (feature request!), so I won’t dump the full generated roster on you. But here are my numbers for Helm, Abdelkader, Miller, Eaves and Lilja (cap hit values in millions):

Player Old Cap Hit New Cap Hit
Total salary commitments $58,942,045
Cap Space $457,955
Darren Helm $.599 $1
Patrick Eaves $.500 $.750
Justin Abdelkader $.850 $1
Drew Miller $.500 $.750
Andreas Lilja $1.250 $1.250

I figure Helm and Abdelkader are important enough to the team now to deserve that kind of raise. Conceivably, they could get less, of course. Maybe just to $900/$950. Miller and Eaves have obviously earned a paycheck higher than the half million they earned last year. I kept Lilja at the same rate because he didn’t necessarily earn a raise or a pay dock with that limited playing time. And the Wings can’t afford it.

This assumes Ken Holland sees the value in a guy like Lilja over a guy like Meech. I know I do. Meech is a nice utility player, but I thought Lilja looked great after returning from his concussion and I think he can be a more valuable guy to keep around. Especially when you think about the possibility of an all-youth third pairing on a Lilja-less team: Meech-Ericsson or Ericsson-Kindl or Kindl-Meech. Any way you cut it, that’s a recipe for disaster. One thing the Lebda-Ericsson experience showed is that there needs to be some experience anchoring down that end of the blueline.

Lilja may not be the first guy that comes to mind when you think “valuable experience,” but I’d much rather have him babysitting Jonny than Meech, who has been watching games from the stationary bike so much over the years that I have serious doubts about his ability to actually play hockey over the course of a full season any more.

So, give the forwards their raises, but in such a way that allows you to keep Lilja, Kenny. Please.

On Jim Joyce and NHL Officials

By now, virtually everybody has heard how Jim Joyce robbed the Tigers’ Armando Galarraga of an official perfect game with one of the most badly-blown calls most of us has ever seen. And most of the people who heard about that are also aware of how Joyce handled himself after missing the call.

“It was the biggest call of my career and I kick the (stuff) out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

That’s a man owning up to a mistake. It’s genuine realization that he blew it.

Joyce also made a point of apologizing to Galarraga for denying him a personal achievement only 20 other pitchers in MLB history have accomplished.

The MLB’s stance on the situation was that Joyce made a mistake. In fact, the MLB is looking into ways to prevent that kind of thing from happening again, through the possible introduction of more instant replay. Commissioner Bud Selig has not gone so far as to reverse the decision, but everyone in baseball agrees: Joyce made a mistake and Galarraga actually had a perfect game, even if it won’t go down in the record books as one.

Contrast all of that with any blown call in the NHL. You wouldn’t get the official apologizing because those guys are protected from the media by the League. You wouldn’t get the NHL issuing a statement acknowledging a mistake. You wouldn’t see the League looking at the possibility of making immediate changes to protect the integrity of the game and ensure the correct outcome.

The NHL’s stance seems to be that their officials are infallible and that any criticism of them is illegitimate. The basis for this stance may be that the League feels trust in the officials would be eroded by any kind of nod to the fact that they are in fact human and capable of making mistakes. The NHL may feel it is protecting the reputation of the office of the referee with this stance and safeguarding the trust fans have in the men with orange armbands.

If this is truly the thinking in League offices, they are more out of touch with the fans than we thought. This isn’t news to any hockey fan, but it may be news to the likes of Colin Campbell, Terry Gregson and Gary Bettman: there is no trust to safeguard. Fans, generally speaking, loathe referees and think almost nothing but the worst of them.

I suggest that this is due to the utter lack of transparency and honesty on the NHL’s part. The League’s efforts to protect referees’ reputations have in fact hurt them. Instead of fostering a referee corps the fans can trust, they’ve created a system with zero apparent accountability. If NHL refs are ever disciplined for mistakes they make, fans don’t see it. Fans don’t hear from officials. They don’t see officials apologizing for anything. They don’t see the NHL recognize problems with officiating.

Instead, we see officials that seem to feel secure in the knowledge that they will not have to answer to anybody for the decisions they make. We have officials that come across as the worst kind of stereotype of a cop, carrying an attitude that says, “I am the law. I can do no wrong.”

Now back to Jim Joyce. Did his apology and MLB’s discussion of his mistake erode the authority of either party? Did Joyce tearing up before the next game cause fans or players to respect him less? No. I would argue quite the opposite: all of those things showed Joyce to be a man and an official to be respected. His owning up to the mistake he made was the best possible thing he could have done, aside from getting the call right in the first place. He humanized himself in the eyes of the fans and may have actually established himself as someone fans can trust.

The NHL should learn from Jim Joyce’s example. Open referees to examination by the media. Admit it when they make mistakes*. It’s not hanging them out to dry. It’s not throwing them to the wolves. It’s a level of honesty that will repair fan trust in officials.

*And give them the tools they need to make the right calls when they may have gotten it wrong at first: let them review intent-to-blow goals and others in the zamboni entrance.

Game Day Notes: @ Edmonton

Update (3:58 PM): Pavel’s in, officially, says Khan.

Ansar also has more on the Oilers’ health situation. Hadn’t caught on about Souray and Staios being out with concussions earlier. Comrie and Visnovsky are out with the flu, but Smid is in. Apparently, he’s recovered from H1N1. – Matt

Short on time today, so this’ll be brief:

… The Oilers are the losers of their last three games, with their most recent win coming at the end of a streak of three a week ago. Since then, they’ve lost a couple road games (Calgary and Vancouver) and a home-game (Colorado). They were shut out in that last, 3-0.

… They’re 6-5-1 with 13 points, which is good for 8th place in the West right now.

… The Oilers are one of a few teams with a player (Ladislav Smid) that’s come down with swine flu. I say getting out of Edmonton without coming down with the virus should be about as high on the list on the priorities as getting out of there with a win is.

… Nikolai Khabibulin is the likely starter for the Oilers tonight. He’s posted a pedestrian 3.07 GAA and .906 save-percentage so far this season.

… The Wings are looking to build on Tuesday’s success in Vancouver with another strong performance tonight. Here’s hoping some more attention will be paid to defense this time around.

… Pavel Datsyuk skipped out on practice yesterday after he had trouble getting a skate on. Evidently, he blocked a shot in Vancouver and the swelling got in the way. He’s slated to play, though.

… Darren Helm, who was a healthy scratch Tuesday, will return to the lineup, as will Patrick Eaves, who has yet to make an impact as a Red Wing. They’ll dress at the expense of Maltby, who’s having his best season in years, and Abdelkader, who should have been scratched over Helm Tuesday. Brad May remains in the lineup.

… Jimmy Howard will have the opportunity to follow  up his strong relief effort in Vancouver with a start tonight. He was scheduled to start before he came in Tuesday, so it’s no commentary on the status of Chris Osgood, who will get to redeem himself Saturday, unless Babcock changes his mind unexpectedly.

… The Wings need to be at their best tonight and they need to do what they can to avoid scrums and unnecessary close contact with the Oilers. The last thing they need this season is for anyone key to get sick.

This game will be a start in determining whether or not Tuesday’s game was a turning point, or just another decent game surrounded by crappy ones. Do it, guys.

Datsyuk Likely Out

According the the AP, as reported by Malik, Datsyuk will probably sit for game three. This is getting very frustrating for us Wings fans. If he does indeed sit, I think it’s getting pretty safe to say he’s not gonna be back in this series.

Petulance vs. Maturity

Despite all the talk about the Pens’ having grown up, it’s clear that they’re still a long way from real maturity. The sequence in the closing minutes with Malkin’s ridiculous antics, and Talbot’s spear are just the most obvious example. They’re in danger of falling into the same trap Chicago did, and if they do, the next couple games aren’t going to be pretty. They’re playing well in general, but are completely lacking in composure when faced with real adversity. It’s cost them two games, and now the question is this: will they realize it and shape up in time to prevent losing three and four?

Malkin’s immaturity may cost his team his services in Game 3, should the League follow its own rules. Honestly, I don’t expect them to and that’s not cynicism. Worse offenses by players with worse records have gotten out of “automatic suspensions” in this post-season before.

For the Wings, it was the second straight game in which a minute-by-minute analysis would likely show them being outplayed for much of the game. But they’re doing the things they need to do to win. They’re opportunistic and battling. They’re keeping their composure, and staying alive through Pittsburgh pushes (really, the second half or so of each period). They can still be better offensively, but it’s hard to argue with results. This group has championship-level poise.

Once again, Osgood was strong. You can’t overstate the guy’s value to this team in this run.

Helm, Abdelkader, Zetterberg all had great nights, I thought. Hank could finish his plays a little more often, but he’s looking like a real leader out there, in my book.

The Wings’ll need really bring their A-game to Pittsburgh Tuesday, because despite their frustration, this doesn’t mean the Pens are done. This series is far from over, however good a tw0-game lead feels tonight. The Wings earned a nice psychological edge with these back-to-back games (maybe they were so bad after all), but if Sidney and Co. can keep their emotions in check (or rather, apply them properly), that edge can get dulled.

Ville Out, Dick in

Dick Axelsson has been officially signed to an amateur tryout by the Grand Rapids Griffins. Axelsson only played in 39 games in the Swedish Elite League this year, but he managed to total 3o points. Hopefully he can bring some of that offense to the Griffins, who, with the losses of Leino and Helm, desperately need it.

See the Griffins press release for more details.