(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
6 – Not following the NBA’s lead
If the NBA isn’t the single most popular sports league in the world — and it almost certainly is once you take out the various major European soccer leagues — it’s pretty damn close. One thing you can definitely say about the NBA is that it is exceedingly well-run and profitable.
So it probably tells you something that this is going to be the way the NBA does things, jersey-wise, in the near future:
Nike and the NBA are doing away with home and road jerseys. Each team will have four uni options and home team picks, road team contrasts it
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 18, 2017
I’ve said all along that this is absolutely how the NHL should function. White jerseys can be fine or even good (see: Chicago’s, Montreal’s, Minnesota’s, etc.), but often they’re not, and if it means we’re seeing the Red Wings play the Predators wearing red versus gold, I think that would be good.
Especially because the reason — at least anecdotally — the league switched to color jerseys at home in the first place is that they sell better.
Now obviously the idea that a team would have four jerseys in the NHL is a bit much, but three will probably do the job pretty effectively. And yeah, I think we’re like universally supposed to think third jerseys are dumb, but sometimes? They aren’t dumb.
This is definitely one of those things they should put me in charge of. I would get it right. History has proven this.
5 – Shortchanging Tomas Tatar
I touched on this the other day, but the idea that the Wings are crying poor about paying Tomas Tatar, who led a rotten team in goals last season (albeit shooting 15 percent) while giving Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm a combined $8.1 million AAV is absolutely stupid.
Like they’re drawing the “you can’t make more than this” line at Justin Abdelkader?
Remember when it was Nick Lidstrom?
That was fine, it made sense. Can’t make more than the second-best defenseman of all time. Fair enough, says I. But if you can’t make more than the seventh-best winger on his own team that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard in my entire life.
Abdelkader made $4.25 million against the cap last season to score seven goals in 64 games. Also he was bad even discounting the scoring he didn’t do, which is a hell of a thing to discount when you’re paying someone $4.25 million. Abdelkader has played almost 550 NHL games and he’s not particularly close to 100 goals. Tatar’s one goal away from the century mark in 200 fewer games. You tell me who’s more valuable.
Hint: It’s not the guy who is 30 years old and also bad!
So yeah, I mean, it’s arbitration stuff and teams are always going to try to low-ball the player. That’s how it goes. But the fact that Tatar is only asking for $5.3 million — i.e. about what Frans Nielsen makes, which seems perfectly reasonable if you’re going to suck anyway — tells you this is Ken Holland drawing some dumb line in the same that doesn’t, frankly, make any sense.
Detroit’s cap situation is bonkers. Nielsen, who’s 33, makes $5.25 million. Abdelkader makes $1 million less than that. Helm is at $3.85 million. Danny DeKeyser makes $5 million! Jonaathan Ericsson makes as much as Abdelkader. How do you explain any of this rationally? Good lord.
Just pay Tatar what he wants. It doesn’t matter. You’re missing the playoffs by a mile regardless, and even if he doesn’t score 25 goals again (he won’t) he’s going to be one of the better players on the roster. And frankly, why risk pissing him off to save a million bucks in a lost season?
It’s almost like Ken Holland is not good at this. Hmm.
4 – Shortchanging Colton Parayko
All the stuff I just said about Tomas Tatar, who I think is pretty good but not, like, great or anything, goes double for Colton Parayko. This kid is pretty close to being an elite defender if he’s not already (and I think I would lean pretty heavily toward being in the latter camp; I think he’s probably already better than Alex Pietrangelo) and the Blues are also crying poor on this.
Elliotte Friedman says they’re about $1.35 million apart on their asks — Parayko also wants $4.85 million for one year, rather than a $3.5 million AAV for two — and it’s like, “Hey man, you can’t make less than three-quarters-of-a-million less than Jay Bouwmeesster here!”
Again, I get it, you’re trying to keep the cost down for the next RFA contract and all that. Sure, makes sense. But man, no one made them give Patrik Berglund $3.85 million or Bouwmeester $5.4 million, right?
Turning out your pockets over a borderline-elite young player, or even a pretty good one, because you’re overpaying mediocre veterans seems like a “you” problem, rather than a “them” problem.
I wonder why NHL teams keep thinking they can get away with this kind of thing.
3 – Oh I figured it out
The reason NHL teams feel more than free to try to screw RFAs come arbitration time every single year is because they know that some team with a need for a good young player on a slightly-above-middling contract, and also plenty of cap room and cash to spend — like say, I don’t know, Boston — would never ever ever ever try to offer-sheet a Parayko type, no matter how much they needed him.
Let’s just stick with the thought experiment here: The Bruins are rebuilding on the fly (haha, that’s what they think) and what are their needs here? Young defensemen and good wingers. They have to re-sign David Pastrnak — who I would guess won’t go more than $6 million — and Ryan Spooner, but that’s about it. Leaves them about $5-6 million to fool around with against the cap this year.
You can get one of these two guys above for about that much, in theory. All it costs you a your next first-, second-, and third-round picks under the current compensation rules. Hell, you can go as high as $7.85 million and still lose that little. The Bruins, in theory, have had plenty of first-round picks in the past few years anyway, so why not take a flyer on a clear top-pairing 24-year-old?
Yeah, St. Louis could match, but why not give ‘er a whirl?
Ah yes, because offer sheets effectively don’t exist in the NHL and probably never will because of how dumb this league is. Right right right. Pretty cool for the teams, though. They get to jerk around their good young players for a while and who doesn’t love that?
2 – Vegas ticket revenues wink wink
I find it just about impossible to believe Vegas is already in the top sixth of the league or so in terms of ticket revenue. They say it’s because a bunch of STHs bought long-term ticket deals at an average price of $88 a head, which seems insanely high to me if you’re locking in long-term deals.
That’s especially true because the stated capacity for T-Mobile Arena is 17,368 (so says Wikipedia). That puts them sixth-smallest in the league, behind everyone but Winnipeg, Brooklyn, Nashville, Arizona, and Anaheim.
How on earth does this team make more in ticket revenue than the Penguins, who have nearly a thousand more seats? Or the Flyers, who pack an extra 2,000 in for sellouts? Doesn’t make sense. Don’t buy it.
1 – Brian Campbell
Bless up to a real modern player.
Campbell always felt pretty underrated to me, in part because everyone hated his last big contract for being too-big. But here’s a Brian Campbell stats dump for you:
A – Brian Campbell is one of only four defensemen to play at least 12,000 minutes at 5-on-5 since 2007.
B – Among the 35 defensemen to play at least 10,000 minutes at 5-on-5 in that time, he’s eighth in points.
C – Among those 35 defenders, he’s also fourth in CF%, at 53.9 percent, behind only future HHoFers Doughty, Keith, and Chara.
D – And then also look at the WOWYs with his five most common D partners over the past decade:
How many millions of dollars can you directly attribute these guys earning in their careers to the fact that Campbell made them look like superstars pretty much across the board? C’mon!
Yeah I’m a Big Hall guy, but I think at some point we might have to have a Hall of Fame conversation about this guy. Maybe that point is in the next few years.
Hope so. Happy trails.
(Not ranked this week: Not signing Jagr.
Someone sign Jagr already.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
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