Ryan Lambert

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Let's talk about Maine

     

    Maine

    It wasn’t that long ago that a year like 2015-16 would have been unthinkable for Maine hockey.

    Eight wins. That’s it. In a whole damn season. And not one of those wins came against a team with a record of .500 or better. And really, it wasn’t just last season. Maine hockey has been putrid for years, less than a decade after making two consecutive Frozen Fours.

    There are a lot of reasons why the Black Bears haven’t been consistently good for a long time. Coaching problems have been obvious, but more to the point the recruiting just hasn’t been there. Red Gendron and Tim Whitehead before them could still get a handful of good players, but depth routinely fails them. With more schools in Division 1 than ever, it’s hard to attract kids to a college that’s 20 miles from nowhere, and whose last national title — which you still hear about endlessly — came when they were in diapers. It’s not a new problem, and it’s why they have one 20-win season since 2007-08.

    The athletics budget has been

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  • What We Learned: When NHL teams don’t know they’re rebuilding

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    (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and 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.) 

    Call it one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

    The good news for the Canucks is that they know they should be rebuilding this roster. It’s flat-out not very good, even if it’s leaning young. Ryan Miller, The Sedins, Alex Burrows, Loui Eriksson, Derek Dorsett, Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen are all on the wrong side of 30, but that’s only eight guys. It’s not a terrible position.

    The bad news for the Canucks is that they seem to not know how to go about this rebuild, with a combination of misevaluation of talent and an idea that they’re significantly better than they actually are. The GM and the team president seem to very much not be on the same page.

    This has become a bit of a well-known laugh line already, but for those who haven’t heard, Trevor

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    The hockey analytics community is well-known for its general revulsion toward Kris Russell, and for good reason.

    This is a group of people who worked for years to prove the positive link between something as simple as raw shot attempt numbers at 5-on-5 to goals for and against, which ultimately correlates strongly to winning.

    Russell, meanwhile, has generally been seen as shot-attempt poison: Put him in your system and you lose, because he gets outshot very, very badly. As such, people like me strongly advised teams against signing Russell in general — and certainly at the rumored asking price in the $30 million range seen prior to the free agency period — because giving him any kind of big-money or prominent role would likely end in tears.

    [Sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Hockey for free | Mock Draft | Latest news]

    So the league waited literally an entire offseason as Russell went unsigned. We got occasional reminders that he was out there, and that a handful of teams generally wanted

    Read More »from Peter Chiarelli, Kris Russell, and the value of 'micro-stats' (Trending Topics)
  • Sidney Crosby, players’ rights and Olympics (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    9 – RFA rights

    Turns out all that credit we were giving Steve Yzerman for being able to stare down his various players-to-be-extended was a little unnecessary.

    Turns out, in fact, anyone can do it.

    When you’re a general manager in the National Hockey League, the decks are so heavily stacked in your favor that you basically have no chance of losing a stare-down with an RFA. It’s like saying, “Boy the casino did a really good job of staring down that guy who played slots for 12 hours straight.”

    Because not only did Yzerman do it with Nikita Kucherov this week — signing the forward to a bargain-bridge deal significantly below his actual value — but Brad Treliving did it to Johnny Gaudreau, and well, maybe Tim Murray didn’t have things go his way in re-signing Rasmus Ristolainen.

    Point being, though, that if you’re an

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  • Puck Lists: 20 Bold Predictions for 2016-17 NHL season

    (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Well folks, the NHL season starts tonight and you know what that means: Mindless predictions are coming from every corner of the internet.

    But no one in hockey is as smart as I am, and so I feel it morally incumbent upon me to make all the good predictions. The ones that are most likely to come true! Now, don’t come to me in April and say, “Hey buddy, you got three of these 20 predictions wrong!”

    [Sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Hockey for free | Mock Draft | Latest news]

    That isn’t my fault! Hockey is a game of mistakes after all, and sometimes even when you are so so so smart you don’t get it all right. Even if you’re getting a whole hell of a lot right. Which I always am.

    20 – Minnesota comfortably makes the playoffs, but doesn’t overwhelm anyone.

    The Wild made the postseason last year and that was so nice for them even if the team wasn’t that good. The good news is they improved this summer, both on the ice and behind the bench. That’ll be a boost

    Read More »from Puck Lists: 20 Bold Predictions for 2016-17 NHL season
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Brutal start to season, aesthetically

     

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    A bit of friendly advice to those planning to head to a college hockey game in the next month or two:

    Clear out a little extra time on your daily planners.

    Across the NCAA, officials are doing a bit of re-emphasis on penalties, in much the same way they did more than a decade ago, and similar to what the NHL experienced after the 2004-05 lockout. In theory, it’s a good thing to say “We’re going to crack down on obstruction, hooking, and other penalties that are slowing down the game.” In actual practice, it makes games abysmal to watch.

    At first it was easy to dismiss exhibition results as an outlier. Sure, there were 31 — thirty-one! — minor penalties called in the game between Boston University and Prince Edward Island last weekend, but games between Canadian Interuniversity Sport clubs and NCAA teams typically get pretty testy. If that was the refs doing what they could to protect everyone from getting boarded into December by some 26-year-old with 32 career QMJHL points, so much

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  • What We Learned: How the Oilers failed Nail Yakupov

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    You have to hand it to Peter Chiarelli: He’s given a lot of other teams a lot of very talented players.

    He traded Phil Kessel, the former fifth-overall pick, to a division rival for what amounted to a trio of draft picks. He traded Tyler Seguin, the former second-overall pick, for a handful of lesser players. He traded Taylor Hall, the former first overall pick, for an iffy-if-promising defenseman. And now he’s traded Nail Yakupov, another former first-overall pick, for an ECHL player and a conditional pick.

    One can look at these transactions on the surface and say that on the whole, he traded four top-five picks — all while they’re in their early 20s — for two first-round picks, a second-round pick, a potential second-round pick, Loui Eriksson, Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, Adam Larsson and a guy who had nine goals in the ECHL last season. You also say that doesn’t seem particularly shrewd.

    But what you have to understand about Peter Chiarelli is that he must think high-level

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    Barret Jackman retired this week with a career high in points of just 27.

    That was a decade ago.

    He won a Calder Trophy in 2002-03, but after that he didn’t get votes for a single award. The job of a stay-at-home defender is often a thankless one, after all. One supposes he was thanked with some $33 million in salary earned over his NHL career, but no major awards after the Calder and a World Championship appearance (he won gold in 2007) were all he really had.

    And hey, that’s not nothing. There were times that Jackman was a decent player, earlier in his career. As he pushed into his mid-30s that wasn’t always the case, which is true of most guys who are still in the league at that age. But the thing Jackman probably represents most is the long, slow decline of the stay-at-home defender as a mainstay in the NHL.

    Over nearly 900 games he scored just 29 goals, and ended with a career average of 0.21 points per game. Scoring wasn’t really what he was asked to do, but on the rare

    Read More »from Barret Jackman and an elegy for stay-at-home defensemen (Trending Topics)
  • Puck Lists: Dan Boyle and defensemen on the Hall of Fame bubble

    NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 02: Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 2, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Sharks defeated the Devils 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    NEWARK, NJ – MARCH 02: Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 2, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Sharks defeated the Devils 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    Dan Boyle retired Wednesday at the age of 40, wrapping up one of the more fascinating careers of any modern defenseman.

    Boyle was undrafted and got a fairly late start to his career after four years at Miami University. The guy started college in 1995. That’s how long Dan Boyle has been around. He didn’t become a full-time NHLer until 2000-01, when he got 69 games with Florida. He was 24 years old at that point.

    The next year he was traded to Tampa for a fifth-round pick (oops!), where he played until 2007-08, winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 along the way. When he missed the bulk of the ’07-08 season with an injury, Tampa’s ownership forced him to waive a no-trade (by threatening to put him on waivers so he could be claimed by a rotten team) before a

    Read More »from Puck Lists: Dan Boyle and defensemen on the Hall of Fame bubble
  • Brad Marchand, Las Vegas and NHL suspensions (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    Brad Marchand
    Brad Marchand

    (Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    7 – DOPS

    Rough week for the NHL Department of Player Safety. Two dumb-ass repeat offenders in Andrew Shaw and Radko Gudas get a combined three preseason games for dangerous hits. The Shaw one was a joke because he tried to kill a prospect who may or may not have slew-footed him, and three preseason games literally costs him zero dollars. He probably wouldn’t have played in all of them anyway.

    The Gudas hit on Jimmy Vesey was one of those things where I get why he didn’t have a call from DOPs on his voicemail the second the game ended, because Vesey turned into the hit and wasn’t hurt and all that. But honestly this is Radko Gudas we’re talking about here, and of all the people who might have earned the benefit of the doubt in this league for a borderline hit, he’s basically the polar opposite of one.

    DOPS doesn’t suspend people any more. Since Brendan Shanahan went to

    Read More »from Brad Marchand, Las Vegas and NHL suspensions (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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