Ryan Lambert

  • Pacific Division: Still the worst in the NHL? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 18 hrs ago

    Every year, there's one division where you look at its potential playoff teams and say, “Yeesh, they're gonna get demolished.”  

    For much of recent memory, that division has been the Southeast, perhaps the single worst division in modern North American sports history. But with the Southeast eradicated by realignment two seasons ago, things have been a little wonkier.

    There are obviously a lot of different ways to measure the quality of a team or a division, including but not limited to overall record, record against other divisions, on-ice performance, and so on. But the quality of a division usually tells you a decent amount about how well teams are going to do once playoffs roll around; by that point we typically have a pretty good idea of what teams are capable of doing, and it's not often that a team comes out of a weaker division and makes it all the way to, say, the Stanley Cup Final (though the divisional playoff format typically helps them do so these days).

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

    All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Kessel and Crosby; Canes on the move?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    7. Defenses in the Eastern Conference

    So Phil Kessel is going to play with Sidney Crosby, huh? There wasn't really a good answer between Kessel-and-Crosby or Kessel-and-Malkin as far as opponents went, but if you're looking to keep Pittsburgh goals off the board, that was probably about as bad as the news could have gotten.

    What number of those are going to be Kessel's? I don't think it really matters, but anything fewer than 30 would be pretty shocking. And that's at 5-on-5 only. If you get them out there on the power play along with, say, Malkin and Letang, you can basically forget about it. Put me down for Kessel breaking 50.

    Should be entertaining, if nothing else.

    6. The Hurricanes

    5. Expansion

    1. Defiance

  • Christian Ehrhoff, concussion casualty or market inefficiency? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    It was easy to write Christian Ehrhoff's signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer off as a byproduct of a bizarre system. 

    He had been a compliance buyout for Buffalo, but that appeared to be unrelated to his level of play, which was strong for a $4 million cap hit. Instead it seemed wholly tied to the ridiculous length of the 10-year contract in question, its potential cap recapture penalty should he retire early (he was paid $22 million of a $40 million deal in the first three years), and the fact that the Sabres suddenly and rather judiciously didn't want to pay him until he was 39 even if he did stick around.

    As we've seen in the past, guys who get bought out tend to be rather looked down upon by the rest of the league, resulting in them settling for what is by all appearances well less than market value. So his pulling just $4 million from Pittsburgh on a one-year deal came as a bit of a surprise, but struck many as a bargain.

    Further worth examining: Is that fact that he got three concussions in less than a year a byproduct of his having lost a step, or just bad luck? Here are the videos of the two hits that led to concussions last season.

  • In defense of ads on NHL jerseys (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    Ads on NHL jerseys are coming. This is unavoidable. In the next year or three, it's going to happen.

    Why are they an inevitability? Because it's a revenue stream in a league always desperate for them. Everyone understands this fundamentally, and yet when the idea was brought up at various points this week, the reaction was one of such revulsion that you would have thought the ads were being tattooed on the first-born of every NHL fan, and not the goofy, baggy shirts for which they pay $250 without blinking.

    It's easy to understand why people would be so against the idea. It is new and therefore bad. As is all things the NHL does at every turn. That is, at least, the way fans see things, and in much the same way that people harp on about the sport's purity in general, the whole is not actually greater than the sum of its parts; if one aspect of the league's innocence is lost, then the whole thing is ruined and everyone is unhappy. Generally, though, the average hockey fan is perpetually unhappy with how every aspect of the sport progresses slowly toward the future, so jersey ads — inevitable though they may be — are gauche and soiling the legacy of the sport.

  • What We Learned: What should Carolina Hurricanes do with Eric Staal?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    (Hello, this is a feature that aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

    It's no secret at this point that arguably the two most important players in recent memory for the Carolina Hurricanes are now major points of concern.

    Eric Staal and Cam Ward have long been talked about in trade rumors, largely because they are in their declining years on a rebuilding and improving team, are both UFAs at the end of next season, and cost a combined $14.55 million against the cap for a budget team that never actually comes all that close to the ceiling.

    The problem with any looming Staal rumors, though, is that cap hit. Because no one has $8.5 million in space lying around. Hell, even if Carolina were to retain as much as 50 percent of his salary and cap hit, many teams would still be in tough to make $4.125 million work unless the Hurricanes took bad money back as well. And would they, given their own budgetary constraints that have little to do with the cap itself? Someone would have to make it very much worth their while.

    What We Learned

    Gold Star Award

  • Are the Los Angeles Kings in decline? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 days ago

    There probably aren't too many people out there who think that the Los Angeles Kings missing the playoffs last season was anything other than a bizarre fluke.

    They were once again at the top of the NHL in terms of possession, and allowed the fourth-fewest goals at 5-on-5 in the league. They were also ninth in goals for. But the power play and penalty kill were both middling, the team suffered mightily as a result of losing Slava Voynov and being in a weird salary cap limbo for most of the season, and some other teams in their division got undeniably lucky. 

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

    They also carry a ton of cap room (as a result of losing Voynov and, more recently, Mike Richards from their obligations), so that helps as well. But even though this season's training camp isn't even going to open for another month, it's hard not to worry about what next summer — and beyond — looks like for the Kings.

    All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.

  • What We Learned: Why give Sergei Gonchar a tryout deal?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 11 days ago

    (Hello, this is a feature that aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

    As NHL signings go, any one involving a guy who turned 41 in April comes across as a pretty big red flag.

    But the Sergei Gonchar deal Pittsburgh signed is extremely low-risk, being that it's only a professional tryout contract. It's basically a way to assess a player exclusively for a little while and, if things go well, they can sign him to a real deal shortly thereafter. If not, he's gone and they face no penalty.

    This is basically the first of the training camp tryout invitees to make things official, but it's still one that can be a little confusing to understand from the team's point of view. Why not sign someone else — or rather, someone younger and better — to a tryout deal?

    Though it may not seem it on the surface, this is a mutually beneficial deal. No-risk quality assessment is a perfectly reasonable approach for any sort of a player, even one like Gonchar who doesn't come across as a big threat to make the roster, and hey, it just might get him a job.

     

  • How rare are elite right-shot defensemen? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 14 days ago

    Thursday, Aug. 13, was National Left-Handers Day, an event to celebrate the roughly 10 percent of all human beings who are left-handed specifically.

    That fact, plus Travis Yost's column on NHL defensemen making more than $6 million against the cap, got me thinking about the overall value of right-shot defensemen in this league. They are, to be sure, a relative rarity. Of that group, only Erik Karlsson and Mike Green have right shots.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]

    Last season, 307 defensemen got at least one game in the NHL, and of that group, they are a slight minority, making up a little less than 1 in every 3 defensemen of the league (30.6 percent), meaning teams have an average of about two apiece. Still larger than the global average for lefties, but not as many as most teams would probably like in an ideal situation.

    (All stats via  War On Ice  unless otherwise noted.)

    MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS:

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Outdoor games; Wild improvement; Silfverberg's new deal

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 16 days ago

    [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    7. Shocking opinions about Randy Carlyle as a coach

    Mike Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings to go to the Toronto Maple Leafs this summer. You might have heard about that.

    Well, he replaces Randy Carlyle, and you'll never guess in a million years who thinks that's really going to be good for him. Wow, it's Nazem Kadri. You got it after all!

    Said Kadri of his incoming coach , and the team's entire managerial structure:

    6. Outdoor games

    5. Expecting improvement for Minnesota

    4. New jerseys

    3. The Jakob Silfverberg extension

    2. Center depth

    Yeah, that's a lot better.

    1. Phil Kessel

  • How Jarret Stoll may represent value over better players (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 17 days ago

    The New York Rangers signed Jarret Stoll, he of the drug charges and declining on-ice utility, on Monday for a one-year deal at just $800,000. It was a strange addition, to be sure, but one that makes sense.

    Stoll's numbers still appear to fall in the “solid fourth-line option” range, for one thing, and being able to sign him at such a deep discount from what he got last season ($3.25 million in the final season of a three-year deal in LA) is in and of itself not a bad idea. Getting him on a “prove-it” contract also carries little risk for the Rangers because they are among the league's richer teams and, if he sucks — which he might because he's a physical 33-year-old, and they don't age well — they can send him down with no cap penalty. At that point, he'll still make his $800,000 if he wants, but he'll do it riding the bus in the minors.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today!]