[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.]
8. Please like my sport
Tuesday gave us a whole lot of great stuff for people who are so insecure about their love of hockey they need to constantly bring up why other sports are bad.
Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini! That never happens in hockey except when Chris Chelios, Marc Savard (twice), Derian Hatcher, Jarkko Ruutu, Scott Hartnell, Matt Cooke, Alex Burrows, and Mikhail Grabovski do it. But other than that, never.
HOCKEY IS THE BEST SPORT DO YOU SEE???
7. Anyone who signs Martin Brodeur
There are a lot of free agents who are going to get more money and years than they should this summer, and chief among them is Martin Brodeur, who is definitely going to sign somewhere for some amount of money and for some amount of years.
It was suggested yesterday that perhaps chief among these potential landing spots for the 6 million-year-old future Hall of Famer is Washington, which is just about the funniest thing on earth and something you should hope happens.
You'll recall that the Capitals are currently a shambling disaster on the back end and that while Barry Trotz is a very good defensive coach, one has to wonder just how much positive impact he can have overall on this team immediately. By bringing in Brodeur — and you'd have to assume someone with his ego wouldn't accept a straight backup role — you're essentially saying, “Even if we shore up the defense, we want someone back there about 40 percent of the time who can't stop a shot.”
The stats tell the story on Brodeur, who has understandably been in decline given his advanced age for some time now. He's cost the Devils a playoff spot in each of the last two seasons, by posting a combined save percentage of .901 in 68 total games. Unless the Capitals are really angling to lock down Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, signing Brodeur would be a total disaster.
This, however, goes for literally any team. Come Oct. 1, Brodeur should be looking around like, “Why didn't I get a job?” But he won't be, because NHL teams always defer to stature in this kind of situation.
Why would anyone sign him to do anything at this point? He's finished.
6. Anyone who signs Adam Oates
Speaking of the Capitals, maybe the worst suggestion ever for the Penguins coaching job bubbled to the surface right before Mike Johnston was named to the gig.
Scott Burnside, as respectable a hockey writer as you're likely to find, suggested that the Penguins, if they want to be successful, should bring Adam Oates aboard as their coach.
“Things didn't turn out well for Oates in Washington, but that's what mediocre goaltending and suspect defense will get you. Hey, sounds a little bit like the Pens, no?”
Well, I mean, right. They didn't turn out well in Washington because Oates was the primary reason for that suspect defense, and also he is a bad coach who almost everyone apparently hated.
“But look at Oates' work with the Capitals' power play and the production he got from top players like Alex Ovechkin and role players like Joel Ward and Jason Chimera, who blossomed under Oates' tutelage.”
Meanwhile the team bombed out spectacularly, and if you're saying, “He made Joel Ward and Jason Chimera look good,” well the fact that Ward was third on the team with 49 points tells you how he did with the rest of the roster, doesn't it? And yeah, the Capitals power play was good. They also scored 139 goals at 5-on-5, which was tied for 21st in the league with Calgary and Vancouver. (And allowed 155 in the same situations, but that was only tied for 19th.)
As much as I'd have liked to see Sidney Crosby get moved to the wing for no reason whatsoever, the idea of Oates coaching in the NHL without “assistant” affixed to his title remains ghastly.
5. Bad promotions
The Arizona Sundogs minor league team had a great idea to sell 300 season tickets: They would bury their GM and owner alive in a dumpster until they reached that goal. The burying happened a week ago, and the team had sold, as of Sunday, just 50 season seats.
Why do you think that is? Ah yes, people want to see people buried alive, and Arizona is basically the opposite of fertile ground for hockey ticket sales. Right. This was always a bad combination.
The Boston Bruins' cap situation is a bit dodgy at the moment, essentially because the team pushed all in on bonuses assuming that this was their best chance to win a Stanley Cup for a while. Hard to blame them.
But now facing a bonus overage of some $4.75 million, depending on who you believe, and needing to spend some serious cash to re-up Torey Krug and Reilly Smith for entirely too much money, it's starting to look like the hyenas around the league smell a chance to strike.
Over the next few weeks, every team in the league is probably going to be connected with a mid-price Bruin. Johnny Boychuk is going to be HFboards-traded to every team in the Western Conference, and Chris Kelly is going to be salary-dumped on just about anyone with cap space using the power of imagination.
Caught in the middle of all this is Jarome Iginla, who is about two weeks away from being labeled greedy by every Boston media member who's mad the Bruins didn't have cap room for him after all. “He cares more about money than winning,” and so on, despite the fact that unless he takes like $2.5 million next season it wouldn't even be possible for the team to bring him back. Wonder if he's thought about signing in Pittsburgh.
3. A certain veteran defenseman looking for one last contract
Andrei Markov signed a three-year deal with Montreal that will pay him $5.75 million against the cap, about a week before he would have hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career, which is a hell of a thing.
It's too much money (by about $1 million) and term (by about two years) from Montreal, but they were backed against a wall with no better options on the market, so any kind of discount they could get from the original rumor of three years and $18 million is likely one they're going to take.
With that having been said, though, the guy who was probably doing fist-pumps on the golf course when he found out about the new deal was Dan Boyle. Markov was probably his only real “old blue liner who might still have something in the tank” competition this summer, and thus the line of suitors who might have bid for both he and Markov can only bid for him. More bidders, more money, more years. Great bounce here for a guy who is really going to need to be sheltered. Now he can point interested teams to this other too-big contract and say, “Me too.”
Dan Boyle is going to get $10 million over two years. Just you wait and see.
2. Panthers trade rumors
The hiring of Gerard Gallant was often cited over the weekend being as much about the Panthers' inability to give Dan Bylsma the kind of money he might have wanted, as their thinking Gallant was the right man for the job. Who knows how true it is, though, because it seems the purse strings will be quite open for the Panthers this summer.
Just three years after going on an insane spending spree to sign a slew of slightly-above-average NHLers, the Panthers allegedly will once again have the ability to spend all the way to the cap. These Panthers, who sit with about $29 million to spend on RFAs and UFAs alike, will be able to throw ludicrous money on all the mid-level free agents who are never going to get better offers elsewhere.
And there's still the possibility that they trade Brian Campbell. And, according to Dale Tallon, the chance that they also trade some of their prospects — and maybe the No. 1 overall pick — for immediate help. A fascinating summer ahead in Sunrise. Who will be this year's Scottie Upshall?
Included in that story, by the way, is this gem:
“Brad Boyes led the Panthers with 21 goals last season. That was a good year for him. He still ranked 81st in the league. And that number includes his specialty work of six shootout goals at the end of tied games to put it in better context.”
What a great hockey market.
1. Jarmo Kekalainen
Now, it's not that taking on a contract that will pay a man, who is currently 32 years old, $4.75 million against the cap until 2019 is necessarily a good idea in actual practice; but when that man is much, much better than the one that was offloaded, then it at least starts to look alright.
They say the team who gets the best player wins the trade, and if that's the case, Kekalainen is standing on the winner's podium with the Finnish national anthem playing while Ron Hextall is still tying their shoes. The amount of “better” Scott Hartnell brings to the already-pretty-good Blue Jackets is significant. The amount of “worse” RJ Umberger brings the other way to Philadelphia almost as great.
While Hartnell got far more favorable zone starts from Craig Berube than Umberger did from Todd Richards, that's because he is good and Umberger isn't. His relative corsi number is minus-4.5 percent, and Hartnell's, on a worse team, was plus-6.2 percent. Another way of saying this was that Hartnell brought his team to heights it otherwise could not reach, while Umberger dragged his down.
The only reason for Philadelphia to make this deal is to get out under from the last five years of Hartnell's contract, which is understandable. But having to pay the price of “RJ Umberger is on your team for the next three years” is too steep. The team has already used both its compliance buyouts, too.
So Kekalainen really made a good call here: He dumped a guy who's currently a drag on his team (plus a fourth-round pick, which, who cares?) and got one who's going to help him. Hartnell is going to be able to drive possession for at least the next two or three years fairly effectively, even if his scoring drops off. The last two years of this deal, he might be more of a hindrance to the team than a help, but that's three years from now. Umberger will have been an anchor for the Flyers the entire time.
Kekalainen is a very smart general manager. The Blue Jackets are going places.
(Not ranked this week: Intellectual dishonesty.
While it is technically true that Mike Modano is a “former Red Wing,” his making it into the Hall of Fame had nothing to do with the 40 lost games he played in Detroit as a 40-year-old shell of his former self. This is as disingenuous as a Boston newspaper talking about “former Bruin Paul Coffey” making it, or a St. Louis newspaper talking about “former Blue Wayne Gretzky” being inducted.
But yeah let's get that famous No. 90 up to the rafters at the Joe ASAP. It worked in Colorado.)
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- Martin Brodeur