Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Podcast: Extending credit

In this week's episode of Biscuits, the Vice Sports hockey podcast:
- Dave and I discuss the Marc-Andre Fleury extension
- And also the Connor Hellebuyck extension
- Honestly it's like 90% extensions, nothing else is happening
- Marian Hossa's cap hit goes to Arizona; should we be mad?
- A few words about Ray Emery
- And we spend way too much time trying to cast Ocean's 11 with NHL players

>> Stream it now:

>> Or, subscribe on iTunes.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Six teams that were forced into trading a star, but still won the deal

We’re still waiting on an Erik Karlsson deal. We’re still told that the Lightning and Stars are the frontrunners, but the rumour mill has largely gone cold and a deal no longer seems imminent. Some reports now suggest that Pierre Dorion could even end up holding on to Karlsson until training camp, if not beyond.

As far as the Senators and their fans go, no news may feel like good news. After all, conventional wisdom says that this is a trade they just can’t win.

For one, there’s the old adage about the team that gets the best player winning the deal, and that will be Karlsson. But more importantly, it’s always been clear that the Senators are dealing from a position of weakness. They don’t want to trade their captain, but they might have no choice. And as the old saying goes, when the league knows you’re drowning, other teams start throwing anchors instead of lifejackets.

We’ve seen it plenty of times in NHL history, and the team that’s forced into dealing a star typically gets taken to the cleaners. Think of Montreal trading Patrick Roy to Colorado, or the Oilers sending Mark Messier to New York, or the Flames all but giving Doug Gilmour to Toronto. Those ended up being some of the most lopsided deals in NHL history, but the teams making them didn’t have much choice. That’s the sort of situation the Senators may be headed towards, and it always ends in misery.

Well, almost always. Because while it’s rare, there have been some cases in NHL history where a team was forced into trading away a superstar and actually ended up doing well on the deal. So today, let’s offer up some optimism for Ottawa fans by looking back at six times that a team was backed into a corner and still found a way to come out even, or even ahead – and what the Senators could learn from them.

Eric Lindros to Philadelphia, 1992

The setup: We’ll start with the most obvious example, and a blockbuster that reminds us that sometimes the best player in a trade doesn’t end up being who you might think.

When the Nordiques drafted Lindros in 1991, they thought they’d landed their franchise player. Lindros was the most hyped prospect to enter the league since Mario Lemieux, and was viewed as a sure-thing superstar. But he didn’t want to play in Quebec and went back to junior rather than sign a contract with the Nordiques. The team tried to play hardball, but after a full year had passed it became evident they’d have to make a trade.

The trade: This gets a little complicated, since the Nordiques actually ended up trading Lindros twice. They agreed to separate deals with both the Rangers and the Flyers, and it took a hearing in front of an NHL arbitrator to figure out which deal would stand. After five days and 11 witnesses, the ruling came down: Lindros was headed to Philadelphia, in exchange for Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, the rights to Peter Forsberg, two first-round picks and cash.

The result: While he wasn’t the next Lemieux, Lindros came reasonably close to living up to the hype. He won a Hart Trophy in his third season, and eventually made the Hall of Fame despite an injury-riddled career. But the Nordiques may have got the best player in the deal in Forsberg, and the rest of the haul helped them make a quick transition from laughingstock to Cup contender.

(For what it’s worth, the Flyers would end up being backed into an unwanted trade of their own in 2001, when Lindros sat out an entire season to force his way out of town. That deal ended up being a bust.)

The lesson: With all due respect to Karlsson, it’s hard to imagine a player ever having as much trade value as the 19-year-old Lindros did, so the Sens won’t be getting anywhere close to that sort of windfall. But they do seem to be following one key page from the Nordiques’ playbook by working to create a bidding war between two teams. If Dorion can maneuver the Stars and Lightning into an auction, he may be able to extract enough value to make the move work out. Just, uh, don’t pull the trigger on both deals at the same time.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

Friday, July 13, 2018

Grab Bag: Sign-and-trade on the dotted line

In the Friday Grab Bag:
- Seriously, stop talking about sign-and-trades
- An offseason idea we can steal from Marc Bergevin and the Habs
- An obscure player who Canucks fans don't hate, unlike some people we could mention
- The week's three comedy stars get NSFW and involve Alexander Ovechkin's mom
- And a YouTube look back at a Bobby Ryan trade that worked out great.

>> Read the full post at Vice Sports

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What happens when one team has two elite defensemen?

The Erik Karlsson watch continues. After rumours swirled all weekend that a deal to send Karlsson to Tampa was imminent, we’ve made it into the week without a trade. The Lightning still seem like the frontrunner, but for now, nothing is official.

That’s good news for everyone who isn’t a Lightning fan, because it means there’s still a chance that the two-time Norris winner won’t end up playing on the same team as this year’s recipient – Victor Hedman — and maybe even on the same pairing. That’s vaguely terrifying for the rest of the league, since we’re told that defence wins championships and the Lightning would have two of the very best in the league.

That kind of star power sharing the same blue line is rare, but not unheard of. So today, let’s run through some of the times over the past 30 years or so that one team could run out a pair of Hall of Fame defencemen. Note that we’re talking about a pair here, not necessarily a pairing – in most cases, these players weren’t used on the same unit, and we don’t know whether Karlsson and Hedman would be. But even if they’re deployed separately, having two Norris-caliber defencemen gives a coach all sorts of opportunity to dominate matchups.

It also virtually guarantees a Stanley Cup… most of the time. As we’ll see, there are no sure things in the NHL, although having an all-star blue line comes awfully close.

Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks

There’s a good chance that when you saw the subject for this post, this is the first pair that came to mind. They land right in that sweet spot where they’re recent enough that everyone remembers them, but long enough ago that we can start to build a mythology around them.

In the case of the Ducks, the mythology goes something like this: Anaheim was a good team coming out of the lockout, and they became a very good one when they signed Niedermayer as a free agent in 2005. But it was the acquisition of Pronger in 2006, thanks to some aggressive maneuvering by GM Brian Burke, that gave Anaheim one of the greatest pair of blueliners in modern NHL history, and they rolled to the Stanley Cup the very next year.

Most of that mythology is pretty much true, although it leaves out a few details, like Pronger forcing his way out of Edmonton and Niedermayer choosing the Ducks at least partly because he could play with his brother.

Those minor details aside, it’s hard to deny how overpowering the pair were. Randy Carlyle often used them on the same unit; other times he’d split them up and basically play the entire game with a Norris winner on the ice. During Anaheim’s Cup run, both players averaged roughly 30 minutes a game, miles ahead of any other Ducks.

When you think of a potential Karlsson/Hedman combo, this is the scenario you’re dreaming of if you’re a Lightning fan and dreading if you’re anyone else. But the story ending with a Cup parade isn’t quite inevitable, as Pronger himself can remind us…

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Podcast: Nik of time

In this week's episode of Biscuits, the Vice Sports hockey podcast:
- Dave and I react to breaking news about Nikita Kucherov
- The Erik Karlsson watch continues
- Shea Weber was hurt and the Habs didn't tell anyone
- Artemi Panarin sounds like he wants out of Columbus
- Reader questions and lots more...

>> Stream it now:

>> Or, subscribe on iTunes.