Chris Drury will have a cap hit above $7 million next season, but he only had five points in 24 games with the Rangers this season. (Photo by Jonathan Klein/Getty Images)
Author: The Hockey News
NHL buyout candidates
By: Adam Proteau
Jun 15, 2011
The NHL’s free agency season is fast approaching and with it there will be speculation as to which teams will increase their available salary cap space by buying out veteran players no longer in their plans. The NHL’s buyout period will start June 17 and run until June 30 this year. Who is most likely to be bought out? That’s the topic of this week’s THN.com Top 10:
Clarkson had a terrible year like most of the rest of the Devils as his plus-minus dipped to minus-20 and his points dipped to 18. There has been a little talk about buying his contract out to make room for other moves, such as re-signing Zach Parise, so if New Jersey can't trade Clarkson, his contract may be cut short.
With the Flyers acquiring the rights to ex-Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the team in tight to the cap, a veteran enforcer such as Shelley (who has two years left at a cap hit of $1.1 million) could be sacrificed.
The 37-year-old Blake had 16 goals for Anaheim this season. Is that worth $4 million in 2011-12, the final year of the five-year deal he signed with Toronto back in 2007? No, it isn’t. The Ducks have cap concerns as well, meaning it’s time for Blake to move on.
Although he’s only 25, Barker never has panned out as someone drafted third overall, as he was in 2004. Moreover, he’s scheduled to have a cap hit of nearly $3.1 million next season. The Wild need cap room, so he may go.
Yes, Olesz missed 38 games last season due to injuries and only scored six goals and 17 points. But he’s only reached the 14-goal plateau mark twice in his six-year NHL career. With three years and about $9.4 million left on his contract, he’s earning too much to be that unproductive.
Once a folk hero in Columbus, Commodore fell out of favor with team coaches and management last season and was waived and shipped to the American League in January for the rest of the season. He has two years with a $3.75 million cap hit left on his deal and you can’t imagine the Jackets owners will want to keep paying him to play in the minors.
Dumont has spent the past five seasons with the Preds, but was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions down the stretch and in the playoffs for them this season. He has one year and $4 million left on his contract, far too much to pay him to sit in the press box.
Souray, who turns 35 next month, has been worn down by his physical style of play and injuries, but he has one more season (with a $4.5 million salary) left to go on his contract. Oilers brass wouldn’t be spiteful enough to make him play in the AHL for two straight years, would they?
He’s had a stellar decade-plus in the NHL, but Drury’s massive cap hit - $7.05 million for one more season - has him square in the sights of a Rangers team that needs to pare down costs wherever possible. His career isn’t over, but at that price tag, it’s almost certainly over in Manhattan.
Down Goes Brown: Five times a team avenged a round robin loss at the World Cup
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 21, 2016
The history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped, so don't worry just yet. Unless you're Team USA.
We're two games into the round robin portion of the World Cup, and we've already seen a handful of upsets, with favorites like Russia and the United States already tasting defeat, and in the case of the Americans, already being eliminated. With one game to go and some of the four playoff spots still up for grabs, fans around the world are no doubt panicking over the games their teams let get away.
But while the round robin is obviously important – you have to make the playoffs to win the whole thing – it's worth remembering that the results of individual games don't necessarily tell us much as much as we might think about what will happen in the playoff rounds.
In fact, the history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped down the line. So in an effort to calm some nerves, here are five times that overreacting to a round robin result would have steered you wrong once the eliminations games began.
1976: Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0
In the first ever round robin game in Canada Cup history, Canada made a statement by crushing Finland 11-2. They went on the beat Sweden and the U.S., and they closed out the round with a win over their arch-rivals from the Soviet Union, winning those three games by a combined score of 11-3.
But in between, they dropped a surprising decision to Czechoslovakia. Vladimir Dzurilla outduelled Rogie Vachon at the Montreal Forum, turning aside all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 win. The game was an instant classic, described at the time as one of the best ever played.
The two teams finished at the top of round robin standings, setting up a best-of-three final. But there was no repeat of Dzurilla's heroics – Team Canada blitzed him for four goals in the first period of the opening game, sending him to the bench and paving the way for a lopsided 6-0 win. Game 2 was more entertaining, with Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes in before a Czechoslovakian comeback set the stage for Darryl Sittler's tournament winner in overtime.
1981: Canada 7 – Soviet Union 3
By 1981, the Soviet Union was coming off a relatively rough stretch of international play. They'd won their usual Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976, but been upset by Team USA's Miracle on Ice squad in 1980, lost the 1972 Summit Series, and failed to even make the final of the 1976 Canada Cup.
When they met Canada in 1981 in the final game of the round robin, both teams were undefeated and battling for first place. The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the third, but Canada erupted for five straight goals in what ended up being a 7-3 laugher. Even with star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak sitting out due to illness, the result was an embarrassing one for the Soviets.
Both teams won their semifinal game to advance to a one-game winner-take-all final in Montreal. With Tretiak back in goal, most fans expected a closer game. Instead, they got an even bigger blowout. But this time, it was the Soviets who ran up the score, earning an 8-1 win and handing Canada what still stands to this day as its most embarrassing international loss.
1984: Soviet Union 6 – Canada 3
Three years after their impressive win, the Soviets looked even more dominant through the round robin portion of the 1984 tournament. Heading into a final game showdown against a struggling Team Canada, they were sporting a 4-0-0 record and looking to wrap up the tournament's top seed. They went on to smother their rivals in an impressive 6-3 win, finishing the round robin with a perfect record and dropping Canada down to fourth place.
That set up another meeting between the two nations in the tournament semi-final, held just three days later in Calgary. After being held to just 17 shots in the round robin, Canada exploded for 41 in the rematch. But Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin stood on his head, and had his team in position to win with a 2-1 lead late in regulation. It took a late goal by Doug Wilson to set up overtime, where Paul Coffey's lunging breakup of a Soviet 2-on-1 set the stage of Mike Bossy's sudden death winner.
Canada went on to sweep Sweden in the final to claim the tournament. It marked the third straight time that the eventual Canada Cup champion had avenged a round robin loss on the way to their title.
1987: Czechoslovakia 4 – Canada 4; Sweden 5 – Soviet Union 3
The 1987 Canada Cup marked the first time that the eventual champion went undefeated through the round robin. That would be Canada, who beat the Soviets in a three-game classic punctuated by Mario Lemieux's historic winner.
But while Canada didn't have any losses to avenge on their way to the title, they weren't perfect in the round robin. And the first blemish came in their opening game, when a rusty Canadian squad blew a third period lead on their way to a 4-4 tie with Czechoslovakia. That was a disappointing result against a team that had gone 0-4-1 in the previous tournament, and raised questions as to whether Canada could defend their crown. Meanwhile, the tournament's other favorite had a disappointing opening of their own, as the Soviets gave up three goals in the first eight minutes while dropping a 5-3 decisions to Sweden.
Both powerhouses recovered well, with each winning three straight before facing each other in the round robin finale and skating to a 3-3 draw. That set up a pair of semifinal rematches, with Canada facing Czechoslovakia and the Soviets drawing Sweden.
This time, the favorites took care of business. Canada started slowly but pumped home four straight goals to take a 5-3 final, while the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before eliminating Sweden by a 4-2 score. That set the stage for a final that still stands as perhaps the best international hockey series ever played.
As a side note, the Czechoslovakian goaltender for both of those games against Canada was a 22-year-old kid that most North Americans had never heard of. He eventually made it to the NHL three years later, and turned out to be pretty good. He even got some revenge against Canada at an international tournament over a decade later.
2004: Russia 3 – USA 1; Sweden 4 – Czech Republic 3
Canada didn't have to avenge any round robin losses on their way to the 1991 title, and the United States likewise was a perfect 3-0-0 under the new World Cup format before winning it all in 1996. Canada repeated that feat in 2004, making it four straight Canada/World Cups that have been won by a team that didn't suffer a loss during the round robin. Yes, that's right – it's now been 32 years and counting since a team lost a round robin game and still managed to win this tournament. Wait, this is supposed to be about giving teams that lost in the round robin hope. Forget everything I just mentioned.
But we can still find a couple of revenge games in the 2004 round robin, thanks to that year's, um, interesting format. The tournament featured eight teams, and the playoff round featured… eight teams. Yes, everyone made the playoffs in 2004, with the round robin settling the seeding and nothing else.
That format actually gave us a few interesting moments, like top-seeded Finland needing a goal in the dying minutes to edge winless Germany 2-1. And it also set up a pair of interesting rematches. In the round robin, the defending champion Team USA had dropped its first two games, to Canada and Russia. In the latter game, they fell 3-1 while being outshot 45-21. The 0-2 start didn't hurt their playoff hopes, because of the whole "everyone makes it" thing, but it certainly put a dent in their confidence.
Meanwhile, the Czechs dropped their opener 4-0 to Finland, then fell behind by the same score to Sweden. They came back to at least make that game a respectable 4-3 final, but other than running up the score on Germany in the finale, they didn't come out of the round robin with much room for optimism.
But in the opening round, both teams got a chance at payback, and both took it. The Czechs looked like a different team, shelling Mikael Tellqvist and Team Sweden in a 6-1 win. The Russia/Team USA rematch was a closer affair, with both teams going back and forth, but the Americans held on for a 5-3 win.
Both teams went on to lose in the semifinal, although the U.S. blew a late lead against Finland and the Czechs took Canada to overtime. Canada beat Finland in the one-game final, the year-long NHL lockout began the next day, and the World Cup hasn't been seen since. Twelve years later, we're finally getting another look at the tournament, and another chance to see a tough round robin loss avenged in the playoffs.
At least, that's what teams like Russia, Finland and North America are hoping.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Author: (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
The 10 most overvalued fantasy players for 2016-17
By Matt Larkin
Sep 13, 2016
Which players will cost a pretty penny at the draft table and burn you with subpar production relative to expectations? Matt Larkin identifies 10 to avoid.
Picking sleepers is one of the most exciting aspects of fantasy hockey drafts. It makes us look smart. That's why I've offered up my favorite 10 for 2016-17 here. But as much as we like to think finding those late-round gems puts us over the top to win championships, something else matters much more: avoiding mistakes in the early to mid rounds.
And a "mistake" doesn't always mean picking a bust player who has a terrible season or gets injured. It can also mean taking a perfectly decent player way too early when many more effective guys are still available. I define overvalued fantasy picks as some combination of:
Players whose production won't match their average draft positions
Players being drafted ahead of players who will outperform them
Players with falsely inflated value because of real-life success, playing in popular markets or other emotional attachments
So here are my top 10 players to avoid in 2016-17 based on Yahoo average draft position (ADP) compared to my top 200 rankings, listed alphabetically. And remember, I'm not saying these players are bad…only that they are being drafted too early.
We have a bunch of Dean Lombardis at the fantasy draft table, apparently. It's no disrespect to Abdelkader, a scrappy and useful winger who can play on any line, but he's not a high-end scorer. He's 29, and his career highs in goals and points are 23 and 44, respectively. He's not getting any better than this. Even though he gets a boost in penalty minutes leagues, it's laughable to see him being drafted ahead of William Nylander, Sam Reinhart and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in typical leagues.
Sergei Bobrovsky (THN rank: 200; Yahoo ADP: 139.2)
Some poolies cling to the idea of 'Bob' as a Vezina Trophy-winning world beater. He's a talented goaltender…when he plays. The soft-tissue injuries have become a yearly headache. Instead of taking on the Bobrovsky problem, why not grab the dirt-cheap and durable Cam Talbot, who goes 17 picks later on average?
Matt Murray (THN rank: 144; Yahoo ADP: 69.7)
This one stings, as I'm a huge Matt Murray backer. Have been for years, so much that I'm teased for my man-crush in the THN office. Listing Murray here has nothing to do with his talent, which is immense. It has everything to do with Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray is likely locked in a timeshare at best until Penguins GM Jim Rutherford trades Fleury, and no deal is imminent. Murray's Stanley Cup heroics have inflated his ranking to the point he's being drafted ahead of actual starters like Brian Elliott and Semyon Varlamov. That shouldn't be happening. It's a different story in keeper leagues, of course.
James Neal (THN rank: 116; Yahoo ADP: 37.7)
James Neal, top-40 fantasy player? Sheesh, that's steep. He's currently valued as if he's still ripping off 40-goal seasons like he did in his Pittsburgh days. Neal's fresh off a highly useful effort of 31 goals, 58 points and 65 penalty minutes. But it's just plain strange to see him picked in the fourth round on average, ahead of Blake Wheeler, the league's No. 6 scorer, and Jack Eichel, whose floor might be Neal's ceiling. Get a grip, drafters.
Jonathan Quick (THN rank: 53: Yahoo ADP: 18.6)
Quick's legendary playoff prowess puffs up his fantasy value every season. I concede he's valuable in pools weighting wins heavily, but he's finished 34th, 22nd, 17th and 19th in save percentage over his past four seasons. His rate stats are merely average. It's thus odd to see Quick the fourth goalie off the board, before Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford and Henrik Lundqvist.
Pekka Rinne (THN rank: 122; Yahoo ADP: 34.6)
Rinne is one of the most athletic goaltenders in the NHL, blessed with a lightning-quick glove hand, honed by playing a form of Finnish baseball. He's a fun guy to interview. Other goaltenders I've spoken to consider Rinne one of the best in the business. But it's harder every year to justify that status. The numbers just don't support it. Rinne has posted a save percentage of .910 or lower three times in his past four seasons, he turns 34 in November, and he's become the analytics crowd's whipping boy. Apparently, the stats get ugly if you look under the hood, as our guru Dom Luszczyszyn did last season. Like Quick, however, Rinne will still get enough starts to carry substantial worth in leagues that focus on volume stats like wins and shutouts. He's quite overvalued in rate-stat leagues, though.
Patrick Sharp (THN rank: 173: Yahoo ADP: 79.5)
Sharp going in the middle of the sixth round? Huh? He scored 34 goals in 82 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013-14. Since then he has 36 goals in 144 games. There's no shame in it, as Sharp is simply in decline at 34, but he's now just a safe depth guy you grab in the late middle rounds to fill out your roster. He's still being drafted as a core player, ahead of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Andrew Ladd, Tyler Toffoli, Jordan Eberle and Jakub Voracek. I don't know who the poolies are making these shameful picks, but I want in their leagues and I want to play them for money.
Andrew Shaw (THN rank: none; Yahoo ADP: 147.6)
Shaw, like Abdelkader, is admired in real life for his versatility and tenacity. But just because you're a fun player to own doesn't mean you're a good player to own in all but the deepest of leagues. Shaw will top out at 15 to 20 goals and 35 to 40 points. He should be on waiver wires in most pools.
Alexander Steen (THN rank: 110: Yahoo ADP: 77.9)
Steen is a productive player, one of the more underappreciated of his generation. He's typically been a great sneaky add around pick 100, but things have reversed. Now he's overvalued at 77.9 because he never gets through a full season. He's missed 12.3 games on average over his past three years. Major shoulder surgery in June knocked him out of the World Cup, and while he's optimistic about suiting up for the Blues next month, it's concerning that his health is already in question again.
Jimmy Vesey (THN rank: none; Yahoo ADP: 124.6)
Jimmy Vesey is being drafted ahead of Auston Matthews right now. There are no words. Matthews lit up a pro league in Switzerland, then flourished against NHLers at the worlds, and now he looks poised to make a statement with Team North America at the World Cup. Vesey won the Hobey Baker as college hockey's best player but has never played pro hockey. He should have a learning curve and is nowhere near a lock to make the Rangers. The hype train has veered off the rails and tumbled into a ditch.
THE BLACKHAWKS/KINGS PROBLEM
Chicago's and Los Angeles' "mini dynasty years" have inflated the ADPs of everything they touch, from current players to former players. They're all great real-life contributors, but they're presumed to be top-notch fantasy assets, which they aren't. I mentioned Quick, Sharp and Shaw already, but here are some more overpriced current and former Hawks and Kings:
The Canucks are a bottom-of-the-league team adding veteran players as if they were a playoff contender. They're just delaying the rebuild that needs to happen.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season. Today, the Vancouver Canucks.
THN's Prediction: 7th in Pacific
Stanley Cup odds: 80-1
Key additions: Loui Eriksson, RW; Erik Gudbranson, D; Olli Juolevi, D
Key departures: Dan Hamhuis, D; Radim Vrbata, RW; Jared McCann, C; Linden Vey, C; Yannick Weber, D
-Are the Sedins destined to go down with the ship? The Canucks aren’t in rebuild mode yet – they look to be reloading still – but when that happens does that mean the Sedin twins will be peddled for picks and prospects? Henrik and Daniel will be 36 when the season opens and have two years remaining at $7 million AAV on identical pacts. If things go pear-shaped this season or next, what are the chances the Sedins waive their no-movement clauses and accept a deal to one team with a ton of cap room? That’s a slim to none proposition.
-Brandon Sutter is due for some good health, isn't he? After missing 60 games with a sports hernia and broken jaw, Sutter was dearly missed in Vancouver in terms of production (he should be good for 20 goals) and what he offers as a proven two-way center. His return to good health is a strong bet, and there should be few concerns about his fragility. He missed just three games total in the five seasons before coming to Vancouver.
-Will the Canucks draft first overall for the first time ever? Since joining the NHL in 1970, the Canucks have drafted second-overall four times (Dale Tallon, Trevor Linden, Petr Nedved, Daniel Sedin) and third-overall four times (Jocelyn Guevremont, Don Lever, Dennis Ververgaert, Henrik Sedin). But they’ve never picked first. Several prognosticators peg them for 30th, which still just gives them a 20-percent shot of winning the lottery. So odds are they’ll lose the draft lottery, too.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
Based on the off-season they had, it seems like the Vancouver Canucks are trying to make the playoffs. They signed Loui Eriksson to a six-year deal and traded recent first round pick Jared McCann for a prime-aged player in Erik Gudbranson. Both moves point to a team trying to reload after a disappointing season.
One quick look at their roster and you start to question why. Simply put, this team just isn’t very good and they’re only delaying any future contention further by foregoing a rebuild. As presently constructed, this roster isn’t good enough to compete and the team is kidding themselves if they think otherwise.
The Sedins are still very good players – although age is a concern – and Eriksson is a bonafide first line talent, but other teams boast much stronger first lines. After that things get even murkier as those three are the only legitimate top six players on the team. The next three are third liners, while the entire bottom six is composed of fourth line or replacement level talent. The Canucks are actually tied with the Devils for fewest projected top-six level forwards in the league. Being tied with New Jersey for anything revolving forward skill is usually a bad sign.
What that lack of depth means is that any injury to the top line and the forward group starts looking very ugly, very quickly. Even if they manage to stay healthy, the talent is spread too thin to compete. The Canucks easily have the worst forward group in the league.
Things aren’t much better on defense. Again, the top is fine with Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, but the bottom four is incredibly uninspiring. In net, Ryan Miller isn’t the same goalie he once was and Jacob Markstrom hasn’t panned out to the goalie many expected him to be.
What that leaves is a very flawed roster, one that’s more likely to compete for the best lottery odds than with the best teams in April.
Rumor Roundup: Canadiens GM Bergevin listening to offeres for Beaulieu
By: Lyle Richardson
Sep 19, 2016
The Canadiens could continue to shuffle their blueline by moving out Nathan Beaulieu for help on the left wing, while the Islanders are in a tough position with restricted free agent Ryan Strome still unsigned before the team-imposed deadline.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin shocked the hockey world in June by swapping popular free-wheeling blueliner P.K. Subban for the more defensively responsible Shea Weber. With training camp opening later this week, he might not be done tinkering with his defense corps.
Francois Gagnon of RDS (via The Score's Craig Hagerman) reports Bergevin said he's fielded offers for rearguard Nathan Beaulieu. The Habs GM said he wasn't shopping the 23-year-old, but added it's his job to listen and evaluate offers from rival teams that could improve his club.
Beaulieu isn't on the same talent level as Subban, but he has potential as a second-pairing defenseman. In his sophomore campaign last season, he finished with a respectable 19 points in 64 games. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has upside and an affordable contract ($1 million) for 2016-17.
What Beaulieu might fetch for the Canadiens and how to replace him on the blueline are two key issues for Bergevin. NBC Sports' Mike Halford points out the Canadiens are thin at left wing beyond first-line Max Pacioretty, so perhaps Beaulieu could be dangled as bait to address that need.
One option could be Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane. His recent off-ice legal issues sparked trade speculation this summer, and the Sabres are always on the lookout for good young players. However, Bergevin will likely pass on that potential headache.
The Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers have depth in wingers and need blueline depth. It's believed both clubs prefer a top-pairing puck-mover, so Beaulieu might not interest them.
Halford also suggests promising Mikhail Sergachev, selected ninth overall in this year's draft, could replace Beaulieu if he proves NHL-ready in training camp. Placing that much pressure on the 18-year-old Sergachev, however, could prove a costly gamble for the Canadiens.
TIME RUNNING OUT FOR ISLES, STROME
The clock is ticking on restricted free agent winger Ryan Strome's contract negotiations with the New York Islanders. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the Islanders policy of cutting off contract talks with unsigned RFAs when training camp opens, implemented under previous owner Charles Wang, remains in effect.
If Strome's still unsigned after that date, a rival club could be tempted to ink him to an offer sheet. However, Isles GM Garth Snow told Brooks he doesn't rule out matching an offer for Strome beyond that cut-off date.
Strome managed only 28 points last season, but had a 50-point campaign in 2014-15. If he's still unsigned after Sept. 22, a GM seeking a young playmaker with upside could contract Snow with a trade proposal.
If Snow is willing to entertain a trade of Strome, perhaps he should give the Canadiens a call. They're lacking depth at left wing and Strome can skate on either wing. The Habs are reportedly listening to offers for defenseman Nathan Beaulieu.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).