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Blackhawks DL - A Chicago Blackhawks blog | Page 23

A Salary Cap Analysis: Did Bettman Get Parity?

Written by Kelly Thomas Reardon on .

Gary Bettman, image via CBC

Image via CBC

The NHL lockout of the 2004-2005 season tarnished the image of the NHL and the lasting effects of the concessions made in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) are still felt today.  One need look no further than your 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (*swoon* this will never get old).  The Chicago Blackhawks have had to say goodbye via one method or another to the following players: Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Adam Burish, John Madden, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Nick Boynton, Colin Fraser and finally -- and most notably -- Antti Niemi.  That's ten players from the lineup gone, erased, let go from a championship team.

Comparisons were made early and often to the Florida Marlins of 1997.  Literally days after their World Series victory, the dismantling began.  Their owner, Wayne Huizenga, claimed huge losses despite the team's championship run (gee, sound familiar?) and promptly dumped their stars for young, cheap talent.  This particular comparison is completely misplaced due to the fact that Major League Baseball does not have a hard salary cap (teams can go over the salary cap and pay a 'luxury tax') like the NHL does.  The Blackhawks were forced into this mass exodus due to the rules the NHL and NHLPA established in the CBA from the summer of 2005.

The salary cap was implemented mainly as a way to give parity to the league, allowing Bettman's beloved southern market teams smaller market teams an opportunity to be competitive with long-standing franchises that were run with effectively little to no limit on their spending to pay players.  But has the salary cap actually served this purpose?  One could look at the last ten champions and see two two-time champions (Detroit & New Jersey) and take what they would from it.  However, I feel a deeper and broader analysis should be made to make this decision, but how does one base the analysis?

To be honest, I wasn't too sure either.  So I just acquired the necessary data and started plugging things together to see if I could see any type of pattern.  First, some full disclosure: All salary information was acquired from USA Today and comes with some caveats.  Firstly, the dollar amounts are salaries, not cap hits.  I felt this was alright because it was the ONLY information I could find regarding team salaries dating back to before the lockout.  Secondly, the only salaries included are for players who played at least 30 games or would have played 30 or more games if not for injuries.  Again, I felt this was not an issue since the players that wouldn't have played 30 games wouldn't have had significant salaries or cap hits.  All other historical team information and statistics (records, strength of schedule, simple rating system) came from HockeyReference.com.

Now all that is out of the way, onto the analysis.

Photoshop Fun with the Calgary Flames Hertiage Jerseys

Written by Kelly Thomas Reardon on .

The Calgary Flames unveiled their tribute jerseys for the Heritage Classic this coming year.  They immediately invoked particular images in people's minds.  And I'm here to capture those images for you with my awful Photoshop skills.

 

Stories of a Bender: The Dizzying Highs and the Cavernous Lows

Written by Kelly Thomas Reardon on .

Recreational hockey can go through highs and lows similar to an NHL season.  If you take the games seriously - or maybe too seriously, as I tend to do - you get some dizzying highs but you can also suffer through some cavernous lows.

Continue after the jump to read about one of each that I've had the pleasure/pain of experiencing/suffering.

Niemi No No Will Be No Mo'

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Turco

Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune has reported that the Blackhawks will walk away from Antti Niemi's arbitration decision and sign Marty Turco.  Turco's deal is for one year, but the terms have not been disclosed yet.  Niemi is now an unrestricted free agent.

Niemi was a goalie that fit well into the Hawks system.  He had the ability to go long stretches without seeing any shots and then "turning it on" and making a few big, flashy saves in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, the Blackhawks brass decided that they would rather round out the defensive corps with some better talent to play in front of Turco.

I personally felt that Niemi was overrated due to the defense in front of him.  His even strength save percentage was below replacement level (Replacement level = the level of play of a guy you could pick up on waivers or a marginal NHLer).  The cap hit was simply too high to give a guy who hasn't even played half of a season in the NHL yet and would command another raise next offseason.  There isn't enough of a market to warrant a sign and trade and the Hawks likely needed the cap flexibility to sign Turco.

Good luck to Nemo as he trys to find work somewhere in the NHL.  It'll be very difficult because most teams are not looking for another goalie and most don't have the cap space.  Say hello to our friend Nikolai in Edmonton, Antti!  Honestly, Niemi's agent Bill Zito screwed the pooch on this one.

Marty Turco is a guy coming off two tough years in Dallas.  He had one of the worst defenses of the past decade in front of him.  It'll be interesting to see if he can play with the mental consistency that Niemi brought.  His puckhandling skills should work well with the speed that the Hawks have on the back end.  Controlling pucks as they leave the zone is a big key to the puck possession system.

This probably leaves the door open for Corey Crawford to be groomed for the number one job in 2011-12.  Turco will either play his way to a bigger contract with a different team or not play well enough to be re-signed by the Hawks.  Crawford was a casualty of his contract last season, which ended up being the deciding factor between Niemi getting the job as the backup goalie out of camp.  All reports had the two goalies playing at the same level through camp last offseason.

Count me as a supporter of this move.  Niemi was overvalued by Hawks fans for his ability to make the big save.  This was a decision made for the long term future.  Don't forget the rock solid core the Blackhawks have moving forward.

Stories of a Bender: An Introduction

Written by Kelly Thomas Reardon on .

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Author's Note: Stories of a Bender will be a (hopefully) recurring series of posts about my experiences and thoughts on recreational league hockey.  For the uninitiated, a "bender" is a poor skater.  Think ankle-bender. This was originally posted over at my personal blog, but this series will be republished here as it continues.

Yep, that's me, #47.  That's easily my favorite picture of me playing since it looks like I actually know what I'm doing and that I'm a good skater.  (Both of those are highly contested statements.)  It seems to me that many of the Hawks bloggers I follow online are not hockey players (if I'm wrong, please correct me!), so I thought this could be an interesting series of posts.  This first post will be an introduction to how I became a fan of hockey and how I started playing pick up games and finally how I began my rec league career.
Hit the "Read More" button below to continue reading...

Hi! My Name Is...

Written by Kelly Thomas Reardon on .

Kelly Thomas Reardon. You may remember me from such information streams as Kelly's Look on Life, @blinkfink182, and many others.

Okay, awkward self-promotion over. As you may have already guessed, the fine kids at Blackhawks Down Low have asked little ol' me to join them as a writer. I've obviously accepted.

Hossa Adds Another Ring

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Marian Hossa recently liked it, so he put a Stanley Cup Championship ring on it.  He also liked his girlfriend Janka, so he put a ring on her too.  Here's a few pictures from Slovokian media. Click Read More from the home page for the pictures.

Hawks Trade Reasoner, Gain Cap Space

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Ahhh Marty Reasoner, we hardly knew ye.  Enjoy all the sunshine in Sunrise, Florida and send Dale Tallon our regards.

Marty was traded to the Panthers in exchange for center Jeff Taffe (or as I now know him as: Jeff Cap-space).  Reasoner had a cap hit of $1.15 Mil.  Taffe ($550K cap hit) spent most of last season in the AHL, racking up 28 goals and 28 assists in 61 games.  Hope he plays that well in Rockford. Its hard to see him making the NHL club.

So now let's play Salary Cap God.

CapGeek has an awesome tool that allows you to drag and drop players and check out what kind of team you can make.  I'll be using that to come up with my projections. Note: These are just my best predictions. Lines likely won't look like this, but it is the best looking way to fill the roster. Plus, we all know that no line stays the same for more than about 3 shifts with Coach Q.

Forwards

Kane - Toews - Hossa

Sharp - Bolland - Kopecky

Brouwer - Stalberg - Skille

Dowell - XXXXX - XXXXX

Defensemen

Keith - Seabrook

Campbell - Hjalmarsson

XXXXX - XXXXX

Goalies

Niemi

Crawford

Assumptions:

  • Huet is waived and his cap hit comes off the books.
  • Niemi is awarded a $2.5 Mil contract in arbitration.
  • Crawford is the backup goalie.
  • Taffe and Scott are sent to Rockford.

With these calculations, the Hawks have just under $3 Mil for 2 forwards and 2 defensemen (just to fill out the roster. They would likely carry an extra forward on game days).

Plugging in Shawn Lalonde ($773K) and Ivan Vishnevskiy ($821K) leaves $1.6 Mil in cap space.

Jordan Hendry's contract is still unknown.  He and Brian Bickell could both come in around $700K and fit in well on the roster.

If Kyle Beach has an outstanding camp, he could make the team.  But with the way things look, he probably won't due to his $1.17 Mil cap hit.  It is technically possible as long as the Hawks last forward is making close to league minimum.  Odds are we'll see two guys who make the team out of camp with a lower cap hit.  Guys like Morin, Didomenico, Kruger, and Smith all have a shot.

If you want to play with the CapGeek tool yourself, check it out here: http://capgeek.com/cap_calculator/index.php

 

Ladd's Day With The Cup

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

These are boring days for hockey fans.  Late July is the small span between the Free Agency boom and the start of training camps.  Most front offices in the NHL take their vacation days during this time, so there isn't a whole lot of news going on.  Thankfully, the Hawks won the Cup!  After the jump, check out some amazing pictures of where Andrew Ladd took Lord Stanley's chalice.

Kovalchuk Ends Hostage Standoff, Puts Kings Out of Their Misery

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Kovalchuk ShirtlessLadies, please try and contain yourselves.  That ruggedly handsome shirtless man is not me.  You have me confused with another ruggedly handsome shirtless man who will be taking his talents to the Jersey Shore to fist pump with Paulie D (Stick tap to @Hawknut who beat me to the punch on this joke).  That's right, folks.  Ilya Kovalchuk has ended the stranglehold he has held on the NHL free agency period today, day 19 of the standoff.

So we waited all this time to find out Ilya is going to stay in America's armpit instead of moving out to beautiful Los Angeles.  Sometimes I am amazed at what those agents can convince people to do.  One person who didn't fall for agent Jay Grossman's shpeel was Kings GM Dean Lombardi.

Lombardi was in negotiations with the Kovy Kamp since free agency day one.  The Kings have a very skilled, very youthful team, much like the Hawks before they signed Hossa.  Kovy would be their Hossa in a sense.  Of course the two aren't exact matches as a player.  Hossa provides much more of a two-way game than Kovalchuk's NBA-style of playing defense.  He would have filled the need for a veteran and a prolific sniper all in one signing.

However, talks between the two sides broke off more than a relationship between those damn kids from Dawson's Creek.  Reports filtered through that the two sides couldn't agree on some particular, undisclosed sticking point.  Rumors have come out withing minutes of the signing that Kovalchuk's mom told Russian media that the deal has a term of 17 years.  Aaaaaaand there's your sticking point.  There is no way that the Kings should commit to paying Kovalchuk until he is 44 years old.  Signing him would have been absolutely crippling for their cap.  In the short run, yes, it will be hard to find someone to score from the wings.  But in the long run the Kings may have been the winners of this deal by not making it.

So How Does This Affect The Hawks?

The Kings are shaping up to be the best team in the West for years to come.  They have young studs in Jonathan Bernier and Drew Doughty.  Jack Johnson is the Seabs to Doughty's Dunc.

Kovalchuk is one of the hardest players to understand when it comes to adding him to a lineup.  If there is adequate defensive support for him, he can flourish and put tons of pucks in the net.  However, the offensive support has to be there too, otherwise teams could just load up on him in the offensive zone and he'll never get a shot off.  A center like Anze Kopitar could very well be that teammate to play with him.

But that entire point is moot now that Kovalchuk is with the Devils.  And, honestly, Hawks fans should breathe a sigh of relief.  The Hawks are still in a very good position to conted for one of the top spots in the West.  Looking at the rosters of the top teams out west, the Hawks are still right there despite all the players lost to the cap crunch.  Keeping anyone with the "superstar" tag out of the Western Conference is good news for Chicago.

So rest easy Hawks fans.  You only have to see that ruggedly handsome shirtless man face the Hawks once this season (Nov. 3rd at the United Center).  Congrats to the Devils for winning themselves a phony investigation from the NHL.  I'm sure it'll make the first round loss hurt a little less.  We now return to your regularly scheduled Cup Celebration Summer.

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