Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Why are teams waiting on Cody Franson?

    The apparent sticking point in all these Cody Franson negotiations, which have stretched on impossibly long to this point, is that Franson would like a team to sign him for more than one year. Not that he's hard-lining that, but it's definitely a preference.

    And the thing is, teams should be falling all over themselves to give him that kind of term.

    Franson is 27 years old and to all appearances greatly helps his team. In a lot of respects, he could be considered a high-end No. 3 defenseman or a low-end No. 2. This despite being on rotten Toronto teams for the last three seasons and generally having a lot asked of him. He pushes positive possession, suppresses opponents' shot attempts, generally outscores the other team, and so on. He also makes the teammates with whom he shares the ice post better numbers than they do without him. In short, Franson looks like a defenseman who should be pulling what you'd consider to be, say, Brooks Orpik money. Maybe that's not a good example, so

    Read More »from What We Learned: Why are teams waiting on Cody Franson?
  • Settling the Seguin/Benn vs. Kane/Toews debate (Trending Topics)

    Last week on our own Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast, Jim Nill did a thing that got everyone good and riled up: He compared the two dynamic superstars on his team to the unassailable Good Winner Boys from his division. 

    The allegedly inflammatory quote in question:

    “We’re not there but we think we’re on pace with where our players are at. The Benns and Seguins remind me of Toews and Kane when they were 22, 23, 24 years of age. I think we’re trying to get there.”

    This in some ways is a general manager blowing smoke for His Guys. He was asked against which team he measures the Stars' progress, and he obviously said Chicago because it's hard not to measure yourself against the club that won three Stanley Cups in six years. That's a pretty good way of defining success; it's not as though they fluked their way to one Cup win five years ago. They've clearly built something that allows them to stay competitive despite a hell of a lot of roster turnover, which is something that Nill knows all

    Read More »from Settling the Seguin/Benn vs. Kane/Toews debate (Trending Topics)
  • [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. Concussions

    Amanda Kessel's college career is reportedly over because of them. They don't even allow much checking in women's hockey (it still happens), which makes this all the more upsetting. Hockey's a physical, contact sport, obviously, but this shows just how easy it is to get concussions that have extreme effects for years after the fact.

    At what point do we start acting like this kind of injury is the mega-huge deal it really is?

    6. Stocking up on “experience”

    No one is saying that Johnny Oduya or Patrick Sharp aren't still good hockey players —

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Experience factor; Del Zotto's deal; expansion dreams
  • How much is Braden Holtby really worth? (Trending Topics)

    Later this week, Washington goaltender Braden Holtby is scheduled to have an arbitration hearing, and the two sides seem quite far apart from an arb asking price perspective.   

    The Capitals asked for a $5.1 million cap hit, because they have about $10.3 million worth of cap space remaining and still have to re-sign Marcus Johansson as well. Holtby asked for quite a lot of money — $8 million — because by a lot of standards he seems as though he's worth it.

    Among active goaltenders, his save percentage across both the regular season and playoffs since 2010 ranks fourth, behind some guys you might have heard of like Tuukka Rask, Cory Schneider, and Henrik Lundqvist. He is ahead of guys like Carey Price and Pekka Rinne, among other really, really good goaltenders who make a lot of money. The average goaltender in the league's top-five in terms of cap hit carries an AAV of $7.285 million. That's dragged up pretty sharply by Lundqvist's $8.5 million cap hit, because that average would be

    Read More »from How much is Braden Holtby really worth? (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Craig Smith and an education about arbitration

    Nashville Predators center Craig Smith tries to control a bouncing puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)Nashville Predators center Craig Smith tries to control a bouncing puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    (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.)

    Most hockey fans, I think it's fair to say, couldn't pick Craig Smith out of a lineup.

    He was the fifth-leading scorer on the Predators this past season, so put him behind Pekka Rinne, and probably even a few other guys who finished behind him in scoring (Colin Wilson, James Neal, and Seth Jones), and he's one of the lesser-known interchangeable parts on a team that not a lot of people league-wide get to see very often.

    Most people really only got exposure to them in that six-game series against Chicago to open these playoffs. If they were really, really paying attention, they might have noticed that Smith was one of four guys who tied for second on the team with five points in six games.

    So then Elliotte Friedman says on Saturday that, with Smith's

    Read More »from What We Learned: Craig Smith and an education about arbitration
  • Why Ryan Kesler's new Ducks contract is indefensible (Trending Topics)

    A good indication that you have signed a player to a bad contract is that outside your organization, there is basically no one, in their right mind or otherwise, who is willing to defend the deal. 

    Ryan Kesler is, for some reason, now signed in Anaheim until 2022, when he will be 37 years old, and receiving $6.875 million per season against the cap. The future of the ceiling is of course unknowable for a litany of reasons, but it's a safe bet to say that in 2022 — which oh my god that's still seven years from now, because Kesler still has one year left on his current contract — $6.875 million will probably still be a decent chunk of the total limit. Even if the cap goes up to $90 million in that time, an AAV of that size would be worth what about a $5.5 million deal is today.

    You do not want to have 37-year-olds making 7.7 percent of your cap. That's just a general rule.

    When talking about how forwards age, and what it takes to get to the point where someone thinks you can still play

    Read More »from Why Ryan Kesler's new Ducks contract is indefensible (Trending Topics)
  • [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. The Canadiens' offense

    Alex Galchenyuk better start putting up goals like crazy next year, and Carey Price better still be well-beyond-incredible, or this team is in a lot of trouble.

    7. Coach's challenge

    Loved this article from Greg last week about the coach's challenge we'll enjoy in the NHL next year. Because one thing hockey games definitely needed was to get longer.

    Coaches seem to have a good understanding of how they're going to use it and what that means for their teams. And the whole “getting things absolutely right” issue is obviously an

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins math; arbitration hearings; coach's challenge
  • Chicago recently traded Patrick Sharp and good defensive prospect Stephen Johns to Dallas for Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, and (most important here) cap relief.

    This was a necessary move for Stan Bowman, obviously, but one that leaves a lot of questions, not the least of which are, “Why does Dallas feel as though it needs another forward?” and “Seriously, shouldn't Jim Nill be trying to get some help on defense?”

    It also leads one to wonder what Bowman sees in Daley. He had to take bodies back, of course, and even with Dallas retaining some of Garbutt's salary, the Stars were probably happy to rid themselves of their long-time defenseman. Daley has a reputation as being a very good defenseman, but he's coming off a deeply awful season. And now that he's 31 (and will turn 32 in October), there are legitimate questions as to whether the Daley of last season — who, again, is bad — is the Daley we can also expect going forward. Most players do not get better after their 30th birthday, and

    Read More »from What Trevor Daley can teach us about defensemen in decline (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: How much is Derek Stepan really worth?

    (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) 

    Last week in this space, the subject of what Ryan O'Reilly is worth was discussed at length, and in the end the conclusion was that, by the end of that hefty deal, Buffalo would likely have gotten more or less full value from the contract.

    And this contract is important, straight away, in determining the value of Derek Stepan, who now has an arbitration date scheduled with the Rangers and currently looks for all the world like he's going to get there without a new contract having been signed.

    It's fair to say that this would be a disaster for the Rangers. In a best-case scenario, New York gets him on what they hope is short money for one or two years before he hits unrestricted free agency. In a worst-case scenario, he gets pissed off and feels like he

    Read More »from What We Learned: How much is Derek Stepan really worth?
  • St. Louis got its shakeup, now what? (Trending Topics)

    St. Louis needed a shakeup and entering this summer, there was no way to guess how it would come.

    There was talk they might fire Ken Hitchcock, whose defensive style hasn't held up under the bright lights of the playoffs. There was talk they might actually go out and get playoff-quality goaltending, which has been a big reason for Hitchcock's teams failing once the postseason rolls around. There was talk, too, that the team might try to shake up its underwhelming veteran forwards corps.

    The last of these is, obviously, exactly what happened (though it must be said that Blues fans should be worried that it took Doug Armstrong this long to realize the core forwards were a problem). And so the obvious question is whether the team is better now than it was a month ago. And boy that's an interesting one.

    There are guys St. Louis has signed this summer who will help (Andre Benoit, maybe Peter Harrold), and others who probably will not (Kyle Brodziak, Jordan Caron), but the big move for St.

    Read More »from St. Louis got its shakeup, now what? (Trending Topics)

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