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10-05-2003, 07:59 PM
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Excellent post, Choppystrike. Commend you on that.

Originally Posted by choppystride

In general, my opinion is that the success and failure of any NHL GM has more to do with luck, randomness, and circumstances than it has to do with actual skills. However, I have to disagree with a lot of what you said about other GMs, franchises, in addition to your rather harsh criticisms of Lowe.
I have to agree but equally disagree. There is a measure of luck to GM'ing. However, I don't believe that Lou Lamereillo has horseshoes and rabbits feet jammed up his a** The ability to assess talent is indeed a possible thing to do (otherwise we wouldn't have scouts). Some GM's are better at this than others.

1) I think your classification of Minny as a model franchise is way premature. Sure, they had a great season last year. But that was the 1st time they have even finished above .500 and made the playoffs. Let's hold the accolades until they show that they can sustain it for a few years.

As I recall, not so long ago, another expansion team had great success early on by playing air tight boring trap hockey. They even made it all the way to the finals. The team: Florida Panthers. Enough said.
I did not mean Minnesota as 'the team', but Minnesota as 'what's going on there'. Amazingly low payroll that can win and packs the arena every single night. That's what I was getting at, not so much the wild themselves. What I mean is - the prototype is very nice.

2) I have a bit of a problem with your quote:

With all due respects I think the Canucks have a very average set of young players and a very mediocore (to put it politely) set of prospects. Putting Jovo and Ohlund in that group is really stretching the definition of youth (they are the same age as Ryan Smyth). I like Sopel but I don't think he belongs with most of the players mentioned in your list based on current capabilities or youthful potential. As for the Sedins, after 3 years of priviledged ice time and preferential treatment, it seems to me that their potential as frontline star players is based more on hype and hope than actual merit. If they were fresh faced rookies, I would cut them some slack. But after 3 years of occassional flashes but mostly nil, let's wait to see if they can actually put up some Comrie like numbers (who is another one of your recent Oiler whipping boy) before we even mention them in the same breath as Havlet and Hossa.

Is it? Jovanovski and Ohlund in particular are not very old - they turned 27 this calender year. Less than a month ago for Ohlund. Is 26/27 now old in NHL terms? No, it's not. They are just entering their prime now.

Sopel is a tough one, I agree. I could have chosen a few other names there, but Sopel is a very nice offensive defenseman. If he could play defensivly.. well

The Sedin's is our big disagreement. However, I'm not going to win an arguement. All I will say is yes - I am a big fan of the twins, and I am a homer in this respect. I will put it this way: I feel Henrik Sedin is a better young player than Ales Hemsky & has more potential to be a star in this league. Crazy, aint it? Like I said, no use arguing this point, I'm a complete homer in the subject. (At least I admit it )

3) I agree with Lowetide that your criticism of the Weight trade is a bit unfair. Every team that had to trade an UFA at that time got crappy returns. That was the financial reality at and since that time. You kept harping on the fact that Canucks and the Flames were able to lock up their key players as if they were strokes of management genius. The fact was, none of those guys were impending UFAs. The Flames are now stuck with a huge Iginla contract and cannot afford any depth. They have become overly dependent on him and look what happened last year when Iginla could not duplicate his MVP season. The Oilers, on the other hand, survived last year even with injuries to key guys like Comrie and York, a Niniima who played with wonky back all year, not to mention a less than stellar Salo. The Canucks have done well by keeping their key players but the truth is, they have significantly more financial resources than the Oilers. Last year the Nucks had a payroll of 36 mil compared to the Oilers' 31. With that extra 5 mil the Oilers could possibly have kept some of the veterans and signed some UFAs. This year the gap get even bigger as the Nucks payroll jumps to 42 mil compared to the Oilers' 33 (I'm not exactly sure, but close). The fact is the Oilers is walking on a very tight rope financially. If they had lost 30 mil like Burke did in his 1st (??) year there, there isn't a McCaw to absorb the losses. The franchise would have been doomed. There's not as much room for error as there's for the Canucks (not that I'm saying they have a lot).
Hold off on the UFA arguement. I'll get to that in a second.

You're right, the Canucks do have more financial resources than the Oilers. This was not always so. Before Mr. McCaw bought the Canucks, we were INDEED a small market team with Arthur Griffiths owning the team. Lately the Canucks have moved up from their small market roots. However, it wasn't long ago that the Canucks had a sub 30-million dollar payroll. We made money last season, however, so I believe we are moving up. Does that make a team a small-market into a big-market? Not sure, the market itself actually doesn't chance much, just the money. We're a medium-payroll team, whereas the Oilers are a small-payroll team. However, market-wise, the Canucks are still considered a small market franchise. Don't believe me? The media has been calling us that for 8 years now.

As for the Sens, I have to agree that they are a very well run team. But you have remember that all those consecutive years of finishing dead last or near dead last have allowed them to accumulate a lot of useful assets. I'm not sure if this is the best strategy that you want to use intentionally.
Ottawa however is probobly a blueprint on how to build a team. Yes they had big picks, but look, a few of those big picks didn't pay off at all (Hello Alexander Daigle). It's not all draft picks. Consider the fact that Alfredsson was a very late pick, and Hossa and Havlat were both selected well into the middle or late part of the draft. Actually, Ottawa's best players are not top 5 draft picks at all.

4) You also seem to think that Burke is a better GM than Lowe. I think they've both done a good job and I like them both. They both had their hits and misses. But since you've pointed out all the shortcomings of Lowe, let me point out some of Burkes:

The continual fumbling of his search for a goalie not only has cost the team games and possibly playoff series, but also useful players like Aucoin and Scatchard. Even to this day, you gotta wonder if Cloutier is the man. I find this disturbing as the window of opportunity for winning it all is closing fast on this team, given the fact Bertuzzi and Naslund are close to pricing themselves out of the market. This is compounded by a looming lockout that could lose everyone a year. You can argue til your face turn blue but the Nucks do not have a youthful core nor do they have the depth scoring wise beyond the 1st line.
Okay, a few points here.

No arguements about the goaltenders. That's Burke's biggest problem.

Naslund & Bertuzzi close to pricing themself out of the market? Well, they said the same thing about Naslund a couple years ago, and Jovanovski last year. We'll see. Don't forget that Naslund has 2 years left on his contract plus an option year. He'll be 34 before he becomes a UFA most likely, if he doesn't retire. As for Bertuzzi, you may be right. But you may be wrong, too.

The core is: Naslund, Bertuzzi, Jovanovski, Morrison, Ohlund, Sedin, Sedin, and Linden. No, it's not 24 years old, like the Oilers'. However, the Stars, Wings, Avs, and Devils have MUCH older cores than the Canucks. Are they all 'fading fast'? The Wings were supposed to be dead and burried by now, if you listened to people in '99.

You stated that Lowe has drafted atrociously. Well, I'm not sure I agree with you on that. However, I think that Burke and his regime has drafted even worse. After making all that splash to get the Sedins (which also cost their own 1st pick + McCabe in the process), they have still yet to show they are anything more than marginal 2nd liners and probably should be playing on the 3rd line. Chubarov, Ruutu, Reid, King may become serviceable, 3rd/4th line checker/energy guys, but they are more or less fringe journeymen. Picks like Nathan Smith, Thatcher Bell, Vydareny, Fedorov (with the BIG warning sign and the BRIGHT flashing red light before the Nucks took him) are highly questionable picks. In the later rounds, it's as barren as anyone can get. But I gotta admit though, Kesler looks like a keeper and Umberger may turn out OK (either in a Nucks jersey or as trade bait).
Hold on one second, you're misquoting me. I never said Lowe drafted atrociously. I said he was an average drafter. BIG difference. Has the Burke regime drafted worse than the Oilers? Well, outside of the Sedin's (since, as I said before, I'm a big fat homer), no I don't think so. The Canucks are second in the league when it comes to players drafted by them going on to play 100 or more NHL games. Our % of churning out NHL players are much higher than the Oilers. Has this continued on since Burke has come in? Well, we may not have the quality (yet?), but we certainly have a great deal of young players who can play in the NHL. The Oilers have us beat in quality. Again, I'm not trying to compare the two teams, though. You missed a lot of names, however:

Jason King, one of our top prospects, is still on the roster and will get a start. Big scorer in the QMJHL looks to be a very wise pick by Canucks brass. Brandon Reid too, another QMJHL scorer that may pay off, played a few games last season. Alexander Auld is regarded as one of the better goaltending prospects in the league at the moment. Actually, if you look at the later rounds, Burke is excellent. It's the top rounds that either: A) The jury is out in (Umberger, Kesler, Koltsov), or B) are taking their sweet time - aka, not looking as good as they should have been (Sedin's, Allen).

Burke is no great drafter, mind you. But you look at the later round picks and there are some absolute gems. Where he needs to improve is in the first two rounds. However, the last 3 years it's impossible to judge, since outside of Kesler and Koltsov in the preseason, neither of the three have played even one game in the NHL.

As I said before, the Sedins deserved no better than to be playing on the 3rd line. It would have served the team better. I think Burke is selfish in that he wants to do everything he could to see the Sedins succeed even at the expense of the team. He really stuck his neck out in the way he drafted them in 1999 and I think it has clouded his judgement since. Instead of giftwrapping ice time and mostly 2nd line duties to the Sedins, he should have kept Cassels as his 2nd line C. If he had done that and perhaps pair him with Linden and/or some other wingers, he would now have a solid 2nd line, as everyone cup contender needs. Instead, he now has a one line team that can be keyed on and shut down come the playoffs. You say he didn't have the money for Cassels? Well, if you think, as you stated in a prior post, that the Oilers could somehow magically come up with the money to keep Weight, I don't see why the Nucks couldn't have done the same with Cassels.
Alright, here's where you make your first mistake:

The Sedin's were on paper the Canucks second line for two years now. But they have never - ever - played true top 6 minutes. Last year, Henrik played a career high of 13:54 of ATOI (average time on ice) per game. That's flat out not good top 6 minutes. In fact, Linden played 15:49, yet he was on the Canucks 3rd line most nights. So in fact, the Sedin's have actually only been playing 3rd line minutes throughout their careers. 39 points last year for a 3rd line player would actually be pretty good. They look a lot worse on the second line due to minutes played. Don't even get me started on Daniel's minutes, they are much worse.

The first year in this league, too, the Sedin's played 3rd/4th line minutes. So, to kill the myth - the Sedin's have never - ever - played 2nd line minutes with any regularity outside of this past playoffs and stretch.

Even to this day, I still question the Pavel Bure deal. Yes, I know, Jovo has turned out to be one of the top D in the league. But Bure is one of greatest scorers in the history of the game whereas Jovo, will probably go down as merely a good one compared to other great D in history. If you also consider that, at the time of the trade, Bure was in the prime of his career whereas Jovo was a young guy whose future was still very much in doubt (actually, was regressing a bit), you really have to wonder why the Nucks got so little in return, especially with the fact that salary discrepanies were not as big a factor in trade at that time as it is today. Not only that, for whatever reasons, the Nucks had to give up a very useful defenseman in Hedican and were shoved up their the ass with a garbage in Dave Gagner. I was living in Vcr at that time. My friends and my reaction to the Hedican and Gagner part of the deal were an unanimous "WTF ?!?!?!?!?!!?". So if you think the Weight deal set the Oilers back a couple of years, I would have to say the same for the Bure deal.
Heh, I had a similar reaction back then.

However, this is where I find it somewhat comical that you say I'm unfair about the Weight trade. Bure was going to be making $10 million dollars and at the time was not a heck of a lot better than Weight - if at all! Weight was going to be making $8 or 9 or something. The Canucks were able to bring back Jovanovski, Weekes, Gagner, swap of picks and a 1st round pick back for Bure, Hedican, and Brad Ferance (correct me if I'm wrong on this trade, I think I'm pretty accurate). And Weight brought back.. Jan Horacek, Marty Reasoner, and Jocan Hecht. Now I know Hedican and Ference were pretty good, but if you break it down to Bure for Jovo and Weight for Horacek, Reasoner, and Hecht - I'm being unfair about Weight? C'mon.

Anyhow, great post. One of the best I've read in the last week.

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