Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Teen drama for NHL rookie sensations

    (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)

    Every year, many NHL teams will grant a small number of teenagers the requisite maximum nine-game tryout before sending them back to junior or, in some cases, to the AHL.

    This gives the teams the chance to evaluate where those players are in their development paths, and where they stand relative to both expectations and actual NHL talent. It also gives players to show off their skills and potentially impress their way onto the full-time roster.

    It is, however, exceptionally rare for teenagers to stick around with their NHL teams, because in the vast majority of cases, they simply aren't ready for the rigors of playing 82 games against grown men who happen to be the best in the world at what they do.

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    But

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  • A little while back I wrote a column saying that goaltending controversies are almost always overblown by the media and that, in reality, teams usually ought to have a pretty good idea of which of their goalies is the best.

    One team that is quite notably going through a goaltending controversy right now, entirely because they put themselves in this position, is the Calgary Flames.

    This is a club with a lot of evidence as to which of their goaltenders gives them the best chance to win every night, and unlike most goaltending controversies, this isn't some ginned-up story to fill column inches: By all appearances, they legitimately just don't know which of their three (three? Three.) goalies to play. 

    First and foremost, they have Jonas Hiller, a long-time NHL starter who is self-evidently at least average and sometimes a little above that. He's in the final season of a two-year deal that pays him $4.5 million against the cap. He is the guy they should be playing most of the time because

    Read More »from Calgary's goaltending controversy, and trying to make sense of it (Trending Topics)
  • Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.

    20. By way of introduction

    I forgot to do these for Monday so here they are today in lieu of the normal Power Rankings. These are just predictions and I'm pretty sure if you disagree with me that's only because I hate your team and you personally, right? Right.

    19. Shane Doan gets traded at the deadline, but it doesn't matter

    The Coyotes will be a tire fire (though at least they sent down Dylan Strome, because why not?) and it'll finally lead to the trade of lifer Shane Doan, as he pursues a Cup in what should be his final NHL season. However, Doan will be 39 by then, so the odds that he's even a remotely meaningful contributor to whoever picks him up — on the cheap, I might add — are basically nil.

    18. Calgary improves on the ice, but drops in the standings

    There's no question that the Flames are a much, much better

    Read More »from NHL 2015-16: 20 bold predictions for this season (Puck Daddy Power Rankings)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: What's left for returning powers?

    Have a look at last year's teams to make the Frozen Four: Boston University, Providence College, North Dakota, and Nebraska-Omaha. They kind of typify the situation in college hockey at large this season. 

    Usually, when a year begins, we have a pretty good idea of who's going to be really good. It's not uncommon to get near-unanimous preseason No. 1 rankings. But in the first preseason poll, that was not only not-the-case, but there wasn't even a good idea of what the top-10 would look like. In all, a whopping 10 teams received at least one vote as the No. 1 team in the nation, and of that number, five got two or more.

    This is, to some extent, a democratization of power on the national level; long-time lower-tier programs (reigning national champion Providence, Minnesota State, UMass Lowell, Harvard, etc.) have closed the gap between themselves and traditional powers (Boston College, North Dakota, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami, etc.) and it's a trend that's likely to continue.

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  • What We Learned: What NHL GMs don’t know about quality goaltending

    (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.)

    There is a huge shortcoming when you talk about goaltender evaluation at just about any level of hockey:

    We only have one number that really tells us anything about their quality.

    All we have is save percentage. That's it. There's not a lot more we can really do at this point to objectively understand their efficiency, efficacy, and so on when it comes to doing anything involved in their job, except for what it ultimately boils down to: Stopping the puck.

    For example, who's the best in the NHL at getting from one post to the other? Who takes up the most net? Who best takes away scoring chances in 1-on-1 situations? These are all measures that probably could be measured, but not right now, and that means that while we can have opinions as to who does all

    Read More »from What We Learned: What NHL GMs don’t know about quality goaltending
  • What would you pay Eric Staal? (Trending Topics)

    There was a rumor going around this week, since kinda-debunked by Bob McKenzie, that Eric Staal wants a $9 million AAV for his next contract.

    The partial refutation from McKenzie was that Staal and the Hurricanes haven't even begun to discuss the dollars and cents of the new contract, and even the initial rumor from Renaud Lavoie indicates that while that might be what Staal wants, it's not necessarily what he thinks he'll get.

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    Which he shouldn't, because he's not worth anything close to $9 million and he and his agent know that just as much as anyone else. Asking for $9 million for a player like Staal — declining, past 30, no longer even a center as far as his team is concerned — might as well be asking for the league maximum, which this year is $14.28 million. By degrees, you're not really being that much more ludicrous with your initial ask. 

    No one is going to give Eric Staal, who hasn't broken 70 points in a full season since

    Read More »from What would you pay Eric Staal? (Trending Topics)
  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: 3-on-3 OT, Tanner Glass and Travis Zajac

    [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. Travis Zajac

    The idea that anyone should want to take on Travis Zajac's contract has been kicked around a lot in the last week or so, but it's all rubbish. This is an oft-injured player in decline on an awful contract, which would be fine for the Toronto Maple Leafs to take aboard with Dave Nonis at the wheel.

    But this is the New Smart Maple Leafs, not the Old Dumb Ones who could be bilked into giving just about any bad player who had a good season four years ago big money because hey you never know he might do that thing that's impossible to reproduce

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: 3-on-3 OT, Tanner Glass and Travis Zajac
  • Regarding that really bad Brent Seabrook extension (Trending Topics)

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) celebrates with defenseman Duncan Keith (2) his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center; May 30, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsChicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) celebrates with defenseman Duncan Keith (2) his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center; May 30, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Stan Bowman is a very smart hockey man. He values the right things (on the ice anyway, haha) and has had a lot of success not only in terms of icing consistently great NHL teams, but also in drafting and developing talent to replace the high-quality NHLers he necessarily has to lose every few years. 

    You could put together a decent enough NHL team just from the former Chicago players that have had to be let go after a Cup win to get the current team under the cap. Andrew Ladd, Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Nick Leddy, Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Antti Niemi, Ray Emery, and some I'm surely forgetting. The point is that this team goes through solid middle-of-the-lineup (or better) players like water, and almost always comes out the other side unscathed because the top-of-the-lineup players are so, so good.

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    It doesn't hurt that they have two such “core” guys locked in on long-term,

    Read More »from Regarding that really bad Brent Seabrook extension (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Breaking down NHL goalie controversies

    (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.)

    Every year, it seems as though there are at least a few controversies about which teams should start which goalies and why.

    As Travis Yost noted early last week, there is just such an issue bubbling in Calgary, because Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio are not good enough and too unproven, respectively, to actually wrest the “starter” mantle from Jonas Hiller in any fair or reasonable world.

    But that hasn't stopped speculation about it.

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    As early as a few months ago, people were saying the Flames should perhaps be looking to trade Hiller, because a Ramo/Ortio battery could probably deliver similar results. That's not actually true, of course – though the Flames should be looking to sell high on veteran roster

    Read More »from What We Learned: Breaking down NHL goalie controversies
  • In retrospect, re-signing Dennis Seidenberg was not a good decision. That's not to say it was even a good idea at the time, because it wasn't. But in retrospect it's really not good at all. 

    The team effectively chose Seidenberg — 33-year-old Seidenberg — over Johnny Boychuk, signing the big German for four years and $4 million just ahead of the 2013-14 season, for a deal starting in 2014-15. Around the same time, Boychuk was not yet entering the final year of his contract, and the Bruins, clearly worried about losing Seidenberg to free agency, went all the way to Oct. 4 before making the decision to trade Boychuk. Who is three years younger, and was even at the time demonstrably better. 

    Now, to some extent maybe you argue that the Islanders' decision to extend Boychuk for seven years at $6 million per was what Boychuk was going to be asking for to begin with, and that's a price the cap-strapped Bruins were never going to be able to pay starting this season, so cutting bait was

    Read More »from Will Dennis Seidenberg's injury be a blessing in disguise for Bruins? (Trending Topics)

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