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Building a contender ... a practical approach

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06-05-2004, 03:18 AM
  #26
oilswell
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Fun fun thread. Lets keep it rolling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Talking about trying to build a team that is a credible threat for the cup over a period of several years. A team that racks up 100+ points a year.
Can I assume that you're wanting to build a perennial contender under the assumption that its payroll must perennially be below (say) the top 8 payrolls in the league? I agree with your insinuation that there's many potential ways to do this and taking (say) Carolina as a blueprint isn't necessarily the idea. Certainly you could on paper try to build by saying "get a Brodeur, Lidstrom, Forsberg, and Iginla. Then...." You'd already be looking past the Oilers' entire payroll. The issue, then, is a strategy for building strong teams without paying a lot of money.

While you made some reference, you were concerned with what you thought was needed ingredients, rather than really explicitly considering this player value angle very much in your posting, and I guess nobody really did so far, although I'll be echoing a lot of what has been said already (thanks people!). I hate the idea of talking like a "Moneyball" guy (or whatever that baseball book is). But IMO one needs to weave in some talk about how to work "undervalued" players into your lineup. So here's some ideas:
  1. Rotating #2 Goalies. Its common knowledge now that a #1 goalie is required, but it wasn't that way before. Successful teams have tag-teamed, although it hasn't been for a while. Arguably Minnesota did it in their cup run. The theory behind a #1 goalie was, in part, maximizing your investment: a star goalie is expensive and if you're only playing him for 41 games its a huge waste of money.

    Now if you want to build a contender on a budget and keep it that way, you need to find two goalies who can be terriffic for 41 games a year but can't pull it off for 75. By playing them 41 games a year you make it hard for them to justify huge salary increases to the arbitrators. And if they're truely not capable of starting 70 and being a top goalie in doing so, then this is a decent solution for the goaltenders also, who might otherwise be stuck playing 10 games a year behind a guy like Brodeur.

    If you want to build a great team for cheap, this is one way of building it and ensuring the costs don't rise too quickly, so its in your best interest to try to make it work. I would also point out that having rotating goalies perhaps reduces the severity of injury at this position.
    .
  2. Committee defense. Former Mizral used to talk quite a bit about a "true #1" defender and you hear this a lot. A guy who has offense and great defense and makes the PP and PK click. A guy like Lidstrom, Pronger, or Blake comes to my mind. While a #1 guy is a good thing to have, what about a bunch of #2/#3s? Here's what I'm thinking of.

    St. Louis was teriffic defensively with McInnis and Pronger. The point, though, was that they'd play on different pairings, and it really didn't matter what their partners were. They could be pylons or worse (eg. Cross). These top two pairs would be on the ice almost all 60 minutes. Now, I fail to see why each pairing should contain such a great defender. Can't a pair of solid Ds match a pairing of a Norris candidate and a lesser light? The sort of player I'm thinking of is probably some combination of big, mobile and physical, with some ability to handle the puck, but perhaps not a terrifically offensive guy. Blake without the shot, or similar. Just missing the stuff to be called a "true #1". You'd need maybe three of these and your top 4 would have to be solid all the way through. Something a little like a Calgary D perhaps?....at least now that Morris is traded....

    The point, though, is that true #1 Ds are hard to find, hard to replace, hard to pay for over the long run, and carry a strong risk in case of injury. The solid D types, in contrast, tend not to get huge contracts. You could almost have 2 Jason Smiths and a Brewer for a single Pronger. That sounds like better value to me without losing much (if anything) except on the PP.
    .
  3. The dreaded checking line. People hate checking lines, but there's a case to be made for a budget team with a great checking line. The MGM line wasn't expensive and the RPM line isn't expensive now. In total, less than 6 million. Yet they continually nullified lines totalling 15 million or more. If you can have a checking line that nullifies the top end opposition over the season and maybe even chips in a few points, this is a great bargain strategy.

    In addition, these guys can be chosen to be also good PK guys. And IMO they're pretty easily replaced. Sometimes by decent drafts (Horcoffs, Stolls). Much easier to replace than a Forsberg. With the opposition's top line nullified 5-on-5, you just have to make sure your remaining lines kick their remaining lines, and you might have the money left over to do it.
    .
  4. Unspectacular forwards. I'm with igor on solid forwards. So long as they don't let in very many, they don't have to score a tonne. And they shouldn't if you want to keep them cheap. Even though Marchant played against top players, he whined that he didn't get the money. Peca was the same thing. Defensively sound forwards don't get rewarded monetarily. A bunch of 15-30 goal scorers who are solid will remain affordable longer. Arguments about replacability and injury risk apply again here.
    .
  5. Role specialists. With the above strategy, the top two D pairings are taken care of, as is the PK for the most part, and the main ice time (checking unit, solid two lines). What is left is finding 5 minutes per game for the 4th forward lines and the third D pairing. Who goes on these? IMO the specialists.

    These are typically fairly one-dimensional players. Defenders that can play a PP but are maybe too soft to draw into the top four. Forwards that can excel on the PP but maybe need to be shielded otherwise. They get the points but don't need to compete h2h with the better players and don't need to be physical. You might end up paying a slightly higher price for these guys, but they're not like the Sakics, Forsbergs, and Iginlas of the world who command a really high price because of their complete games. A Larionov pickup by the Devils is a possibility. Maybe a Whitney, although he's expensive and wants a more regular shift.

After listing these, you may find it an amusing excercise to see how closely certain teams appear to be setting up like this. To wit:
  1. Rotating #2 goalies. Conkkanen. Hmmm.
  2. Committee defense. Brewer, Smith, Staios. Semenov, Woywitka, Lynch, Greene in the pipe. Could be a coincidence, I suppose.
  3. Checking line. MGM and now RPM. A strange coincidence, I suppose.
  4. Unspectacular but solid Fs. Smyth. Dvorak. York. Torres. And then Reasoner, Horcoff, Stoll. Moreau. Pisani. Sounding familiar?
  5. Role specialists. Oates? Bergeron? Trading for Gilbert? Re-signing Peter Sarno and then giving him PP time? Honestly, IMO Nedved ain't far off and Whitney is just a similar thing.

I'll just leave it at this without commenting whether I think the Oilers are thinking in such a direction. I'm also not endorsing any one of these strategies, just pointing out some of the arguments for them. I think I can see at least some of these ideas fitting teams like the Sharks. As compared to, say, the model of Atlanta and Tampa.

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06-05-2004, 03:20 AM
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Thompson
Outside of Bergeron, no Oilers blueliner has a shot worth speaking about.
Are you kidding me? Bergeron doesn't even have the hardest shot on the Oilers because it belongs to Alexei Semenov. Ulanov, Semenov, Bergeron and Staios all have pretty decent shots from the blueline and even Cross scored a few goals this year off of rockets from the point. I think you're a little off base on this one..

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06-05-2004, 03:26 AM
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerebral
Are you kidding me? Bergeron doesn't even have the hardest shot on the Oilers because it belongs to Alexei Semenov. Ulanov, Semenov, Bergeron and Staios all have pretty decent shots from the blueline and even Cross scored a few goals this year off of rockets from the point. I think you're a little off base on this one..

I don't know about that. MAB has a laser and it hasn't been clocked to my knowledge. He could rival Semenov IMHO

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06-05-2004, 03:31 AM
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerebral
I think you're a little off base on this one..
I don't. Laraque came close to Semenov and when has he ever had a slapshot hit the net? Semenov isn't much different, and his shot is that much harder to get off from the press box. Brewer's got a wimpy shot, Staios misses 98% of the time.

Bergeron's very good, but he's most impressive from around the hash marks in. I haven't seen a McInnis or Borque-ish ability to always find the net or pathway for the tip in right from the line. Maybe he's got the stuff but I haven't seen it.

Honestly, I think the best shots from the point coming from the Oilers may be Ulanov and Cross

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06-05-2004, 03:50 AM
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilswell
I don't. Laraque came close to Semenov and when has he ever had a slapshot hit the net? Semenov isn't much different, and his shot is that much harder to get off from the press box. Brewer's got a wimpy shot, Staios misses 98% of the time.

Bergeron's very good, but he's most impressive from around the hash marks in. I haven't seen a McInnis or Borque-ish ability to always find the net or pathway for the tip in right from the line. Maybe he's got the stuff but I haven't seen it.

Honestly, I think the best shots from the point coming from the Oilers may be Ulanov and Cross
I agree that our d-men all don't don't have amazing shots but I think it is a little far-fetched to claim that Bergeron is the only one that has a decent one. I too agree that Ulanov has a pretty good shot and Cory Cross' is very under-rated (he scored at least two bullet goals this season off of faceoff wins by Oates). It is definitely not one of our strong points but it's not like Bergeron is the only guy that can shoot the puck.

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06-05-2004, 03:59 AM
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilswell
Honestly, I think the best shots from the point coming from the Oilers may be Ulanov and Cross
In full agreement with you here. These two guys don't have the prettiest or hardest shots, but they seem to somehow get the puck in on net at a nice spot. Usually, they're little wristers that get through and are tipped or set up good rebounds.

That said, these two d-men aren't in the position to use their shot from the point too often. They either don't get the time, or simply don't have enough skill with the puck to create an opportunity for the shot.

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06-05-2004, 07:37 AM
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
Where I'm not with you LT, is that the defencemen make a contribution at both ends. There are a very few of them who do, but think of it this way-when a forward is keeping the puck in the other team's zone, he is preventing the other team from scoring. What forwards do at one end of the ice is essentially defence as well as offence. By comparison, the role of defencemen is so limited offensively, their contributions are effectively limited to the defensive zone. Their job is essentially to get the puck out, and then move on.
This is a great thread. The way I see it, the role of a forward in his own end is somewhat like a zone defense in basketball and football. The winger stays high and guards against a free shot at the net by the dman. The defender, however, is responsible for the most important area on the ice (at that time), the area surrounding the net.

Anyone who ever saw Tom Poti play without the puck knows the value of a solid dman back there, because the decision making process is swift and if you make the wrong decision tragic consequences await. I would argue that the value of a truly exceptional defender is very high, and the only thing that obscures that nowadays is how few there are plus the fact that most NHL defenders are so very well trained.

By that I mean that in very real terms the difference between a team's top dman and say #4 is a lot less than it was 30 years ago. A fifth defenseman in 1974, say Pierre Bouchard, couldn't get arrested in today's NHL. His skill set just wouldn't be good enough, and his ability to maintain position would be compromised for many reasons (lack of mobility, poor decision making). We sort of scoff at Cory Cross, but he's a big man with a pretty good brain. He gets beaten wide due to lack of foot speed, but Cross is very good at being in the right position and using that big body to his best advantage.

As for offense from the dman, well one of the really difficult areas for Edmonton right now is the outlet pass. They used to call it the head man pass when I was a kid, and the Oilers have a bunch of plumbers when it comes to this area. Janne Niinimaa was probably the last defender the Oilers had who could hit the tape on the fly consistently, and his assist totals reflected that when he was here.

I guess my feeling on the issue is that its very interesting, but I can't bring myself to agree with it. It's like saying you don't need pitching to win a pennant. It sounds like a good idea until you're down 10-1 in the first inning.


Last edited by Lowetide: 06-05-2004 at 07:43 AM.
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06-05-2004, 12:11 PM
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerebral
I agree that our d-men all don't don't have amazing shots but I think it is a little far-fetched to claim that Bergeron is the only one that has a decent one. I too agree that Ulanov has a pretty good shot and Cory Cross' is very under-rated (he scored at least two bullet goals this season off of faceoff wins by Oates). It is definitely not one of our strong points but it's not like Bergeron is the only guy that can shoot the puck.
It's all about standards. We're talking about a power play here, Cerebral. Maybe in the AHL you could say Ulanov has a very good shot from the blueline. In the NHL, guys like McCabe, Timonen, Gonchar, Zubov, and Lidstrom have 'very good' shots from the point. Ulanov does not even belong in the top 30 shooters from the blueline. Bergeron probobly doesn't either just yet, though maybe in a year or two.

Cross had a bit of a dream season offensivly. I doubt he contributes the same type of numbers this coming year.

And yeah, it is like Bergeron is the only guy who can shoot the puck worth a damn back there. All this past season, opposition PK's were letting the Oilers D-men shoot away just for that very reason.

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06-05-2004, 12:18 PM
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I guess my feeling on the issue is that its very interesting, but I can't bring myself to agree with it. It's like saying you don't need pitching to win a pennant. It sounds like a good idea until you're down 10-1 in the first inning.
I think a better analogy might be a bullpen with no designated closer. I think I remember J.P. Ricciardi talking about a while ago... that having a designated closer was not extremely important as long as you trust every reliever in your pen can do the job. I think that analogous situation is more apt in this case. Whether it necessarily works or not is another matter entirely, however.

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06-05-2004, 12:27 PM
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momentai
I think a better analogy might be a bullpen with no designated closer. I think I remember J.P. Ricciardi talking about a while ago... that having a designated closer was not extremely important as long as you trust every reliever in your pen can do the job. I think that analogous situation is more apt in this case. Whether it necessarily works or not is another matter entirely, however.

Well, if we're going to use a bullpen analogy it might be like all 5 guys down there throwing exactly 85mph. The Oilers don't have a dman right now who can stretch the defense with a breakaway pass (Bergeron may be the guy) so an opponent can clog up the middle with no real worry.

Its along the same lines as Jay Thompson's point above about the shot. Why bother cheating up high when the guy at the point either can't break glass or shoot it on net?

Same with the headman pass. The Oilers need a 98 mph closer, a guy with a circle change, another with a nasty slider, etc.

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06-05-2004, 05:10 PM
  #36
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lowetide: just to play the devil's advocate, what if you trust the rest of your players enough that you don't need the designated closer? ie, if your forwards are good enough in their own ends, your goalies are competent, and your D don't make too many mistakes, you're not going to often find yourself down so far that you need dmen who can take big chances and not get caught.

You can't win 82 games a season anyway, so if you accept that you'll lose some due to a lack of a superstar with a rocket shot and hard tape to tape passing, and trade that for the fact that your D aren't scoring and don't do much more than chip it off the glass every time, you still may win more than you lose. It isn't pretty, but it's winning hockey.

Myself, I like seeing breakaways, but we're talking about building a perennial contender here.

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06-05-2004, 05:41 PM
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kraigus
lowetide: just to play the devil's advocate, what if you trust the rest of your players enough that you don't need the designated closer? ie, if your forwards are good enough in their own ends, your goalies are competent, and your D don't make too many mistakes, you're not going to often find yourself down so far that you need dmen who can take big chances and not get caught.

You can't win 82 games a season anyway, so if you accept that you'll lose some due to a lack of a superstar with a rocket shot and hard tape to tape passing, and trade that for the fact that your D aren't scoring and don't do much more than chip it off the glass every time, you still may win more than you lose. It isn't pretty, but it's winning hockey.

Myself, I like seeing breakaways, but we're talking about building a perennial contender here.

I think MacT is a terrific coach in terms of making sure his troops play well without the puck, and that's the most important part of the game. Punch Imlach used to say to his players "do whatever the hell you want once the puck is out, but your ass is mine when the puck crosses the blueline."

But the tremendous value of a defender who can make that quick pass, or hit a man in the neutral zone on the tape so he doesn't have to break stride opens the game up tremendously and forces the opponent to adjust. After that everyone has more space.

I was honestly pretty encouraged by MacT's handling of Nedved and Bergeron toward the end of the season, and here's hoping Hemsky can get into a groove too.

As for the discussion we're in, let me ask you, would you rather have a 50 point dman who can do the job in all areas, or a 75-80 point two way forward?

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06-05-2004, 10:17 PM
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
As for the discussion we're in, let me ask you, would you rather have a 50 point dman who can do the job in all areas, or a 75-80 point two way forward?
To build a contender... the forward, every time. All the dmen gotta do is not suck. Off the glass and out is fine. You're not going to win a lot of games 7-5, but "you" don't want to - 1-0, 2-1, or high-scoring 3-2 thrillers.

If the question is, would I want the Oilers to play that? Nope. I'll be a Wild fan first, thanks.

Although the first guy that came to mind when you said 75-80 point two way forward was Mike Modano, and I think he'd be a nice fit on the Oilers team. (Just gotta persuade J. Smith that it's ok to stop hitting him now.)

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06-05-2004, 11:46 PM
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I think MacT is a terrific coach in terms of making sure his troops play well without the puck, and that's the most important part of the game. Punch Imlach used to say to his players "do whatever the hell you want once the puck is out, but your ass is mine when the puck crosses the blueline."

But the tremendous value of a defender who can make that quick pass, or hit a man in the neutral zone on the tape so he doesn't have to break stride opens the game up tremendously and forces the opponent to adjust. After that everyone has more space.

I was honestly pretty encouraged by MacT's handling of Nedved and Bergeron toward the end of the season, and here's hoping Hemsky can get into a groove too.

As for the discussion we're in, let me ask you, would you rather have a 50 point dman who can do the job in all areas, or a 75-80 point two way forward?
Gasp I gotta disagree with you LT. I think the forward is of far more value. Just look at the Flames. Would they be in the final if they had Leetch instead of Iginla?

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06-06-2004, 12:33 AM
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s7ark
Gasp I gotta disagree with you LT. I think the forward is of far more value. Just look at the Flames. Would they be in the final if they had Leetch instead of Iginla?
Well, I agree that Iginla has far more value than Leetch, or in the example I used, Rob Blake. However, Jarome isn't really a 75-80 point two way forward, he's more a power forward.

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06-06-2004, 12:44 AM
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Well, I agree that Iginla has far more value than Leetch, or in the example I used, Rob Blake. However, Jarome isn't really a 75-80 point two way forward, he's more a power forward.

Oh you meant more of a Stillman or Conroy?

Then I totally agree with you. Blake is far more valuable the either of them.....

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06-06-2004, 12:49 AM
  #42
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A really good post IMO, oilswell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oilswell
...
Can I assume that you're wanting to build a perennial contender under the assumption that its payroll must perennially be below (say) the top 8 payrolls in the league? I agree with your insinuation that there's many potential ways to do this and taking (say) Carolina as a blueprint isn't necessarily the idea. Certainly you could on paper try to build by saying "get a Brodeur, Lidstrom, Forsberg, and Iginla. Then...." You'd already be looking past the Oilers' entire payroll. The issue, then, is a strategy for building strong teams without paying a lot of money.

While you made some reference, you were concerned with what you thought was needed ingredients, rather than really explicitly considering this player value angle very much in your posting ...
Yeah, but I was a bit too busy to type it and far too lazy to pursue it.

Hockey is a business like any other. Even the hockey operations side. And there are two basic points that a reasonable manager in that industry must be aware of.

1. The key to long term success is the ability to outscore your opposition. And very nearly every 3 extra goals (or 3 fewer against) equals one point in the standings.

2. The median NHL salary is far lower than the average, and has increased at a much lower rate than the average.

So from a short-term perspective ... every additional dollar that you spend on a player over-and-above the median should yield an expected return (in terms of goal differential to the team).

Quote:
[*]Rotating #2 Goalies. Its common knowledge now that a #1 goalie is required, but it wasn't that way before. Successful teams have tag-teamed, although it hasn't been for a while. ...
I think that there is a lot of reason in that argument. And certainly for this Oiler team, at least for the next couple of years or so ... it makes sense IMO.
I would pontificate on the subject, but I have before here http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=59908, so I won't again
.
Quote:
[*]Committee defense.
The point, though, is that true #1 Ds are hard to find, hard to replace, hard to pay for over the long run, and carry a strong risk in case of injury. The solid D types, in contrast, tend not to get huge contracts. You could almost have 2 Jason Smiths and a Brewer for a single Pronger. That sounds like better value to me without losing much (if anything) except on the PP.
First off, this whole notion of #1 Ds and 2B guys or whatever ... its just ridiculous to my mind. I've never understood the sense behind creating vague pigeonholes and then debating endlessly on which player qualifies for which slot

I agree with your point though. The question really is ... how much do you lose by spending less on your defensemen, in terms of impact on team goal differential? And its not a precise science by any means, but you don't have to be a rocket surgeon to apply a quantitative system either.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

I agree with the rest of your post except for the 'dedicated checking line' bit, but I'll come back to this to argue with you later

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06-06-2004, 02:02 AM
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
First off, this whole notion of #1 Ds and 2B guys or whatever ... its just ridiculous to my mind.
No disagreements here. Whatsoever.

Quote:
The question really is ... how much do you lose by spending less on your defensemen, in terms of impact on team goal differential? And its not a precise science by any means, but you don't have to be a rocket surgeon to apply a quantitative system either.
Its a fun puzzler to be sure. LT's points should be taken into advisement here. One thing to consider is that taking out a dynamite outlet pass capability from your D group may force extra requirements on your forwards. For instance, it may require a F group better skilled at bringing the puck through centre. The saying "the best defense is a good offense" isn't truly a throw-away quotation. Few goals are scored against you when the puck is in the O zone. I guess one follow-up question is: are the savings made by not employing great puck moving D higher than the cost of improving the F line enough to compensate sufficiently?

Quote:
I agree with the rest of your post except for the 'dedicated checking line' bit, but I'll come back to this to argue with you later
I'm both saddened and encouraged. I thought that point had the tightest argument even if I disagreed with it most.

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06-06-2004, 01:33 PM
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I think MacT is a terrific coach in terms of making sure his troops play well without the puck, and that's the most important part of the game. Punch Imlach used to say to his players "do whatever the hell you want once the puck is out, but your ass is mine when the puck crosses the blueline."

But the tremendous value of a defender who can make that quick pass, or hit a man in the neutral zone on the tape so he doesn't have to break stride opens the game up tremendously and forces the opponent to adjust. After that everyone has more space.

I was honestly pretty encouraged by MacT's handling of Nedved and Bergeron toward the end of the season, and here's hoping Hemsky can get into a groove too.

As for the discussion we're in, let me ask you, would you rather have a 50 point dman who can do the job in all areas, or a 75-80 point two way forward?
Well, I rarely have reason to argue with you Lowetide, but we disagree here.

Firstly, I am NOT discounting the importance of defensemen. I AM saying that you pay a helluva lot more money for a very good defencemen than a merely solid defenceman ... and that it isn't money well spent.

First pass out of the zone is obviously really important. But I think you don't give enough credit to guys like Cross, Staios and Ulanov who ... by and large ... do a good job of this.

If the desired result is to win, and the means to winning is outscoring ... then a guy has to set dogma aside and look at who is realy contibuting to the success of the team. When you do this there are few surprises ... except that there is a HUGE dropoff from the star defenseman to the very good defenseman ... and relatively little dropoff to the rest. And with young defensemen ... you're paying a lot of money for potential, and by the time they are REAL contributors in a tangible way ... they're usually in there mid to late twenties.

I like Brewer. He still has his share of gaffs, but at ice level the NHL game moves at blazing speed, and that's to be expected. Personally, I like Brewer as much as Redden and more than Morris or Jovanowski or Kubina or Philips et al. But that is not the point ... the point is that all of these guys are paid way too much for what they bring to the table. Five or so years from now these guys will be the premier defencemen in the league. And they will probably be earning a lot of coin with different teams. But right now they aren't having a big impact on what really matters ... the results.

As for the argument that Brewer logs all the tough minutes ... I call nonsense. He's nearer the middle of the pack.

Quality of opposition for Oiler players at 5on5:
Player # Opposition
21 28
94 27
55 25
16 25
10 22
34 20
20 20
24 20
2 18
5 15
14 12
15 10
23 8
36 8
27 -1
18 -5
28 -6
83 -7
32 -26
47 -32
77 -56


Nothing on that list should really surprise anyone.

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06-06-2004, 05:32 PM
  #45
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Originally Posted by igor
Well, I rarely have reason to argue with you Lowetide, but we disagree here.
I'm not certain we disagree. My main argument here is that while an excellent two way forward who can score 75+ points is very valuable, he's not clearly better than a solid dman like Rob Blake (a very good 2 way defender who can score 50 points, hit like a wall and do the tough work down low).

Would you disagree with that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Firstly, I am NOT discounting the importance of defensemen. I AM saying that you pay a helluva lot more money for a very good defencemen than a merely solid defenceman ... and that it isn't money well spent.

First pass out of the zone is obviously really important. But I think you don't give enough credit to guys like Cross, Staios and Ulanov who ... by and large ... do a good job of this.
I think they're worth every penny. Eric Brewer at 2.5 million is high, but that was an early Kevin Lowe signing that should be corrected down the line. Certainly by any stretch Brewer hasn't delivered 100% on the promise (so far) that inspired that contract. How about Wade Redden? 43 points, +21, 25 minutes a night. $4.5 million. I'd say he's worth it.

As for the Oilers outlet passes, my only problem is that we have the same guy back there. If we list the ways the dman can get the puck out, Edmonton's backline can't do the high skill ones (deke, tape to tape with speed through the neutral zone) with consistency. Brewer can when he's playing with some confidence and abandon, but its fleeting. Bergeron can and hopefully will. Smith, Staios and Ulanov can all show flashes, but it isn't something they can feature on their resumes.

After that, we're left with Igor's maniac passes (which are rare now) and the flip, the chip off the glass, the throwing it out, the giving the puck to the nearest forward at the first sign of pressure and the always popular icing. It's predictable, and often results in a quick left turn and the chase back into the Oilers' end.


Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
If the desired result is to win, and the means to winning is outscoring ... then a guy has to set dogma aside and look at who is realy contibuting to the success of the team. When you do this there are few surprises ... except that there is a HUGE dropoff from the star defenseman to the very good defenseman ... and relatively little dropoff to the rest. And with young defensemen ... you're paying a lot of money for potential, and by the time they are REAL contributors in a tangible way ... they're usually in there mid to late twenties.
How do you measure some of these things, though? How do you measure how well Rob Blake solves a tough defnsive chip in with Bertuzzi earing down on him? How would we measure his success against the league? These have an effect on the outcome of a game, but it's impossible to attach a number to them as we can a goal or an assist?

As for our backline, without exception, ALL of Edmonton's dmen have proven they cannot perform at a high level when their minutes are extended. Brewer's suffered through his growing pains, and may be ready to assume that role. We'll see.


Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
I like Brewer. He still has his share of gaffs, but at ice level the NHL game moves at blazing speed, and that's to be expected. Personally, I like Brewer as much as Redden and more than Morris or Jovanowski or Kubina or Philips et al. But that is not the point ... the point is that all of these guys are paid way too much for what they bring to the table. Five or so years from now these guys will be the premier defencemen in the league. And they will probably be earning a lot of coin with different teams. But right now they aren't having a big impact on what really matters ... the results.

I don't see why they're not worth what they're being paid (the exception being Brewer, as mentioned above). 4.5 million is alot for Wade Redden, and he didn't play well in the playoffs (-5), but lordy he brought it in the regular season.

Are Redden's 43 points plus all that he brings without the puck make him worth less than a forward making 4.5 million and scoring 75 points? I just don't see that as being obvious.



Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
I think they're paid too much to, but
As for the argument that Brewer logs all the tough minutes ... I call nonsense. He's nearer the middle of the pack.

Quality of opposition for Oiler players at 5on5:
Player # Opposition
21 28
94 27
55 25
16 25
10 22
34 20
20 20
24 20
2 18
5 15
14 12
15 10
23 8
36 8
27 -1
18 -5
28 -6
83 -7
32 -26
47 -32
77 -56


Nothing on that list should really surprise anyone.

Again, Brewer isn't really my example, Rob Blake is. So, my question to you is this: if you're Kevin Lowe, and you have an equal need for a 2 way forward and a solid defender, and you only have 4.5 million for one of them, would you sign Wade Redden or the forward?

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06-06-2004, 06:24 PM
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I'm not certain we disagree. My main argument here is that while an excellent two way forward who can score 75+ points is very valuable, he's not clearly better than a solid dman like Rob Blake (a very good 2 way defender who can score 50 points, hit like a wall and do the tough work down low).

Would you disagree with that?
Yes. Firstly, no defenseman in this era will even come remotely close to 50 points without getting a swack of them on the powerplay while playing with high-end forwards. But as I feel the need to drive every point home with facts:

On the Blake issue, and at 5on5:

When Blake is playing with Sakic and/or Forsberg (limited games for Peter this year, but probably the best outscoring forward the game has seen IMHO) ... Blake is EV+/- +11 and Forsberg and Sakic are a combined EV+/- +12. Good numbers to be sure.

When Blake is not playing with Sakic and/or Forsberg
EV+/- +3.

When Sakic and Forsberg are playing without each other, AND without Blake
A combined EV+/- +25!

Quote:
How about Wade Redden? 43 points, +21, 25 minutes a night. $4.5 million. I'd say he's worth it.
I wouldn't, but that's just me. Redden is the safety net Dman on the powerplay. The Sens use a forward on the point the vast majority of the time, and Redden benefits from being the designated Dman playing with some terrific players on the first unit. That's where he gets most of his points.

When Ottawa is playing well the puck doesn't see their end of the ice much. And they have a lot of guys up front that can score and keep the offensive pressure rolling.

Its the "who's zoomin' who" question. Personally ... I think that you could swap the entire OTT defensive corps with Pittsburgh for next season ... and OTT would still be what they are: a very good team with iffy goaltending.

But if you swapped forward corps with PIT ... draft lottery time in OTT next year at this time methinks.

JMO.

Quote:
How do you measure some of these things, though? How do you measure how well Rob Blake solves a tough defnsive chip in with Bertuzzi earing down on him? How would we measure his success against the league? These have an effect on the outcome of a game, but it's impossible to attach a number to them as we can a goal or an assist?
Goals and assists are im portant things to count if you are in a hockey pool. Otherwise ... less so. Guys who outscore a lot without scoring too much ... those are the guys that can make a small budget team contend IMHO.

So you ignore the minutae. And focus on results. Consider the role of the player and apply common sense. The result that matters is goals scored ... for and against.

Outscoring is what matters, everything else is just a means to an end. By way of example ... faceoffs. Yeah, they're important, but not more important than creating more scoring chances than you surrender ... they are just a piece of the puzzle. Digger put a great post up here on faceoffs back in the winter when a lot of fans were panicking ... the Oilers actually had a better winning% in games where they were below 50% in the faceoff circle. He was almost completely ignored. :lol And he was, of course, right.

Quote:
Again, Brewer isn't really my example, Rob Blake is. So, my question to you is this: if you're Kevin Lowe, and you have an equal need for a 2 way forward and a solid defender, and you only have 4.5 million for one of them, would you sign Wade Redden or the forward?
Okay. IMO ... at the same dollars, and with a concern only with team results in mind ... I'd take Langkow over Blake I think. And with salary isuues considered ... it is a no-brainer.

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06-06-2004, 06:46 PM
  #47
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Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
I found Igor's point incredibly interesting in relation to the defencemen. I've been thinking the same thing myself recently. In my mind, it's somewhat obvious. Consider two guys like Sakic and Blake, similar pay and all that, but one's a C and one's a D. How can Blake come anywhere near doing what a guy like Sakic does? At most, Blake gets what, 50 points? Meanwhile, Sakic gets his usual 80. In order to justify the vast disparity in production, Blake would have to somehow individually stop X number of goals compared to Sakic. Let's say it's just 10, although I suspect that's a bit low. Does anyone think Rob Blake is worth that much of a difference? I suspect that while he's valuable compared to the average defenceman, due to his increased offence, his defensive value doesn't equal the difference between he and Sakic.
To me that's a bit of an unusual way of looking at it, but it does make sense.

And to support your other notion that maintaining a forecheck is the best way to prevent goals, by way of pop quiz:

Q. Over the last three years the Oilers opponents are least likely to score when this player is on the ice. Who is he?

.
.
.
.

A. Georges Laraque.

Not exactly a dynamo in his own end. And this is EXTREMELY unusual for a 4th liner. Usually they have the worst numbers in this regard. Go figure.

Quote:
One question, how do you assign a point value to points of sv%...seems a bit odd to me.
Simple really ... let's say that a goalie let in 3 extra soft goals at 5on5 during one year ... just at random. That would work out to costing his team one point in the standings on average. And it would cost his EVsave% .002 points.

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06-06-2004, 07:02 PM
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Q. Over the last three years the Oilers opponents are least likely to score when this player is on the ice. Who is he?

.
.
.
.

A. Georges Laraque.

Not exactly a dynamo in his own end. And this is EXTREMELY unusual for a 4th liner. Usually they have the worst numbers in this regard. Go figure.

Interesting...... Do you think this could anything to do with MacT shielding BG from other team's top lines????

Great thread, guys...

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06-06-2004, 07:12 PM
  #49
Lowetide
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Originally Posted by igor
So you ignore the minutae. And focus on results. Consider the role of the player and apply common sense. The result that matters is goals scored ... for and against.
I think that's where we differ. If Rob Blake spends the evening on the ice against the Bertuzzi line and no one scores, it's consider +/- neutral.

I would argue it's an extreme positive.

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06-06-2004, 07:50 PM
  #50
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Originally Posted by lowetide
I think that's where we differ. If Rob Blake spends the evening on the ice against the Bertuzzi line and no one scores, it's consider +/- neutral.

I would argue it's an extreme positive.
I think I am in real danger of pishing off the nicest guy on HF ... but I'll continue anyway Don't take offense.

It WOULD be an extreme positive if it were true. But I don't think it is.

Granted, it does seem that Granato has made more of an effort to increase scoring in COL by getting #21 and #19 in less of a head-to-head matchup role ... but one or the other still play the lion's share of the time against the other team's big guns. Its a necessity in COL ... just terrible depth there, so bad they make VAN look like N.J. Yikes!

At the very least ... we can be thankful that now we don't have to watch the great talents of Forsberg and Sakic boring us to tears with Hartley's painfully well executed LW lock every game (what a nightmare that was ).

Fact is: Both Sakic and esp Forsberg still face equal, if not greater competition on the average than Blake does. Based on the goals that were scored.

The only hard facts around are goals scored ... and I suppose that you could argue that Sakic and Forsberg both mysteriously play poorly against the Donato's and brilliantly against the Modano's ... but I know you've watched a lot of hockey, so I won't accept that kind of tragic rationalization from you.

BTW: If you'd picked Pronger, Hatcher, Lidstrom or McInnis ... you'd be driving a much stronger point. But you didn't. :-) These guys are tremendous hockey players, so is Blake ... but there just aren't many around. By the numbers ... Bobby Orr was far and away the best even strength player to ever lace them up, and he was a D. But that's not the point.

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