6. Undoing a good thing
A thing the Flyers announced last week was that they’re considering moving Claude Giroux back to the middle of the ice this season.
Now, I wasn’t sure last year that moving him away from the middle of the ice (because maybe it was hurting his productivity) was a good idea, and then he ended up being an MVP candidate. So y’know, the idea that you’d move him BACK? I dunno man.
Obviously the Flyers don’t have a ton of centers on the roster, right? Couturier is awesome and the addition of James van Riemsdyk really crowds the left side of the ice if you keep Giroux there as well. But this guy just saw his production increase from 58 points in 2016-17 to 102, and it’s like, “Well I bet there’s a pretty good reason for that.”
Maybe that reason isn’t that they moved him to the left wing, but like I said with the 3M line in Calgary, why would you mess with what is pretty clearly a successful mix on that top line. Obviously a lot of Giroux’s scoring can be attributed to some pretty good luck, but still! You don’t see too many teams say, “This change that made a guy into a 100-point scorer? Let’s hit CTRL+Z on that one.”
Curious to see how it works out, that’s for sure.
5. That Adam Henrique contract
I truly don’t see where Adam Henrique is worth $5.85 million a year from ages 29 to 34.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely a good player, but that’s “high-end No. 2 center” money and it’s tough for me to say for sure that he’s a high-end No. 2 center. Currently, it’s the 32nd-largest AAV for a center. That ranking will likely drop next summer, but nonetheless, it’s a bit high.
He scores 40-plus points a year pretty reliably but his underlying numbers over the last three seasons are really not very good in comparison with what his teams did when he was off the ice.
Plus, among the 90 forwards with at least 3,000 minutes at 5-on-5 since 2015-16, Henrique ranks 78th in primary points per 60. For most of that time, he was just past his prime. The idea that he’s going to keep up that level of scoring as he ages out of his 20s and into his early 30s? Not well-founded, that’s for sure.
So I’m uncertain where the value in that deal comes from if you’re Anaheim.
4. Wild ideas
Saw something on TSN the other day that the Canadiens and Senators may be able to solve each other’s problems by just trading their captains.
Obviously that couldn’t be a 1-for-1 deal because Erik Karlsson has a lot more value than Max Pacioretty, but it’s, uhh, intriguing for sure. With Shea Weber out until December, the Habs need a high-end defender and they don’t come much higher-end than Karlsson. And while the Senators would probably want a defenseman in addition to some scoring pop, there aren’t many guys who score at the rate Pacioretty does.
But could this actually work? The Senators would, once again, be kicking the can down the road because much like Karlsson and Kyle Turris before him, Pacioretty would want big money next summer and why would anyone on earth choose to tether themselves to this franchise long-term? Can you imagine if the Sens traded a generational talent for a good goalscorer who would almost certainly want out immediately?
Plus, for the Habs, why on earth would Karlsson sign there after this season? And are the Habs on Karlsson’s no-trade list? (Pacioretty doesn’t have any trade protection, not that he cares too much right now, you figure.)
You’re just swapping problems to divisional rivals in what are almost certain to be lost seasons for the respective franchises. It’s an interesting idea but that doesn’t mean it’s a good one for either team. Which, hey, given how these teams are run, is why it’s probably going to happen.
3. Getting very mad at the Coyotes
Ahhhh, can you believe the Coyotes made use of their cap space to acquire a good young player? I hate when that happens!
Now, to be fair, it happens a lot, but as has been pointed out by plenty of people this isn’t a case of the team using this contract to sneakily get above the salary floor. They were already well above it.
People just like to get mad at the Coyotes for existing and I get the impulse but also like, take it easy.
2. That Jussi Saros contract
Over the last two seasons, 53 goaltenders have played at least 2,500 minutes in all situations. Of that group, only nine have exceeded their expected save percentages (based on the quality of shots they faced) by 10 points.
You’ll note that a number of them are guys who were backups and moved into starting jobs — or at least 1b roles — this summer. Saros, fourth on the list at a .924 save percentage versus .909 expected, is potentially one of them.
His three-year contract carries an AAV of just $1.5 million and could provide the Preds with insane value when Pekka Rinne’s contract expires after this coming season. You never want to project a guy’s backup numbers as directly correlating with what he’d do as a starter, but that’s an impressive list to be on and well, the Preds have the personnel to make his job awful easy.
Even if Saros is only league-average, getting that for $1.5 million over the next three seasons would be amazing, especially because this team will need to re-sign Ryans Hartman and Ellis, and Kevin Fiala, next summer as well.
(Man, how does a team this good have 15 players signed for 2019-20 at just $56.2 million already? Come on.)
1. An interesting approach
New Rangers coach Dave Quinn hiring Greg Brown and David Oliver to be his assistants is something you don’t see much in the NHL.
These are two guys with plenty of assistant-coaching experience at the lower levels of the game (Brown with Boston College for more than a decade, Oliver with Lake Erie for just two seasons) but nothing on their resumes at the NHL level except for Oliver being Colorado’s director of player development for the last four years.
Non-traditional hires, to be sure, from a guy who was himself a non-traditional hire. One might normally expect a team with a coach who has as little big-league experience as Quinn to lean on him to hire guys named like Gord Toilet who has been an NHL assistant coach for each of the last 80 seasons and gave Gordie Howe his first cigarette or something.
But nope, two guys with no real experience at this level. Pretty bold move, but if you’re a team like the Rangers with plenty of money and a clear mandate to rebuild from the ground up, you have the luxury of fooling around with traditional thought and maybe getting somewhere with it.
Definitely something to watch this season, but knowing Quinn and Brown in particular from their college days, I bet it works out.
Also, the fact that Brown — long considered the heir apparent to Jerry York as the head coach of Boston College’s legendary program — made the jump here kinda indicates to me that, ahh, York ain’t retiring any time soon even though he’ll be 73 next week. Pretty interesting, to me.
(Not ranked this week: Ray Emery.
Seems like a lot of people in hockey took this one particularly hard. It was just horrible news.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)