Oh Wow the Rangers Traded for a Guy that Scored Three More Points than Pascal Dupuis, Weber Staying in Nashville

So the Rangers finally made the deal to bring in Rick Nash. I’ll give them credit for getting great value in the trade. They gave up Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tom Erixon, and a first round pick and they got a dominant scoring forward, plus an AHL defenseman, and a third round pick in next year’s draft. Wow. The Blue Jackets screwed this one up pretty bad. I was pretty sure they were asking for way more than that, and now to hear what the Rangers give up is almost sad. I mean the Pens could have offered two third-liners, a defensive prospect, and a first round pick. Oh well, c’est la vie. You can’t tell me that this is that epic of a signing for the Rangers.

From NHL.com

Nash is a great player, but he’s never really come close to living up to the hype that he is reported to have. His career best production is 79 points in a season, his greatest goal total, even with most of his games played after the “Dead Puck Era” is 41. I understand that he’s never played on a great team, but that’s not really an excuse. A very large percentage of media types have said that Nash is the “best power forward” in the NHL. If Nash counts as a power forward then I’m sure that his new rivals James Neal (81 points in 80 games) and Scott Hartnell (67 in 82) will have a lot to say about that. Not counting guys like Milan Lucic, Chris Stewart, Shane Doan, and others who are more “pure-bred” in that role.

Nash put up 59 points last year, that’s uninspired honestly. I mean it’s not like he was having health issues, he played in all 82 games last year give him a PPG output of .72. I mean his team wasn’t very good, but he didn’t exactly lift up the team’s burden on his own as a proper captain should. I understand that he also won’t have to be Captain of the Rangers, but so what. After James Neal came to the Penguins people said that he was going to be a 25-30 goal guy because he had played with Brad Richards in Dallas and Richards was about as good of a puck distributer as there is in the NHL. With a full season alongside Evgeni Malkin Neal became a 40 goal scorer and increased his career best point production by 26 points. So what does that mean? Is Malkin that much better than Richards? Yes, he is. Is Richards overrated? Yes, he is. Is Brad Richards going to make Rick Nash that much better again? I really doubt it.

Are the Rangers better now? Yes. They cut out Dubinsky who can be as destructive to his own team as he can to opposing players, and they cut out Artem Anisimov who can be an absolute game-breaker or completely invisible for an entire game. They’re replacing all of that with a game-changing winger with untapped potential. That means they’re better, but this was already an incredible team last year, they led the Eastern Conference from November until the end of the season. They went to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Penguins were 5-0-1 against them this year. That’s still the story as far as I’m concerned.

In other news, the Predators announced today that they have officially matched the Flyers’ offer sheet on Shea Weber and he will be playing at least all of next year in Nashville. The Preds can’t trade him next year, but after that he’s fair game. The only disincentive to trading him is that after the Preds pay him $26 million over the next one calendar year between 2 bonuses and his $14 million salary, they probably won’t need to trade him as much. To me this isn’t a big surprise. If anything the Preds get a better contract on Weber than they would have independently—he’s signed for 14 years. That’s ridiculous. I don’t care if the Flyers had “promised” to trade away roster players to the Preds in order to get their first round picks back, if the Preds decide that they don’t want to keep him, they will get a much better return on investment to actually trade the player than to trade draft picks.

Just saying, but you have to assume the Flyers are going to come back even more angry now. Expect something like a ludicrous, $6 million a season, offer to Shane Doan or a renewed interest in Bobby Ryan. Personally I hope it will be a trade for Ryan. It would likely have to include a defenseman and either Brayden Schenn or Matt Read, or in other words, a gross overpayment. Here’s to hoping.

Mike pointed this article out to me yesterday and I think it is very topical. Yes, it mostly attacks the Flyers, which I love to do, but they definitely aren’t the only villains like this. It isn’t fair for the small market owners who legitimately aren’t making a lot of money to be punished by the big market owners with deeper pockets. It especially isn’t fair for big market owners to pretend to care about the same cuts that small market owners need in order to be competitive. Will anything be done about it though? Probably not.

I think the thing that deserves mentioning is just the way that the Penguins don’t do that. They offer normal contracts, they don’t front load every player on their roster, the first and only time it’s been done is in Sid’s new contract, and you even get the sense that they may not do it again even with Evgeni Malkin. I mean is there a reason to? If Malkin is dominant again next year, he’s going to be the highest paid player in the league anyway; do you have a reason to cheat on that? Probably not. On the flip side, is there a reason why the Penguins shouldn’t be following the form of the Flyers or the Wild and trying to cheat the best players away from their small market teams? I mean the Penguins have a ton of cash assets (250 consecutive sellouts), they’re owned by a billionaire (well Ron Burkle is). I don’t know what the right answer is, I respect the Penguins for not doing it, but I don’t want to see us drop in competitiveness because of morals that don’t matter.

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It’s Garbage

 

I honestly don’t know what I would do with myself if people who should know better would suddenly stop saying stupid things. The latest in the long list of people speaking out against the Penguins is John Tortorella. He also was subsequently fined, this time an impressive $20,000 for his remarks made during his post-game press conference following his Ranger’s uninspired 5-2 loss to the Pens on Thursday.

I’ll say this. I think Orpik should have received at the very least a fine. Really he probably should have had a one or two game suspension. I mean, Orpik is what he is, he’s a big hitter. He’s not a dangerous hitter, he has no reputation as a dirty player. Nonetheless, he did deserve some punishment. I’m disappointed in the NHL for not prosecuting on this issue. It’s true that the NHL didn’t prosecute against the Rangers and Mike Rupp earlier in the season after a similar incidental, but still dirty, hit on Jordan Staal that took him out of the lineup for several weeks. I mean it could be an “even-up” decision like we see in games, a questionable call for one team gets answered with an equally questionable one for the other team to keep things equal. Still, I wish they had done something with this hit just to shut the rest of the league up.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fascinating to see Tortellini and Peter Laviolette fined for being the ultimate hypocrites. Complaining about the “whiny” Pittsburgh Penguins in the only way they know how—whining. I’m also really happy to see Dan Bylsma keeping his nose clean from these shenanigans or as Sid awesomely described it yesterday, “Garbage.”

Further, all I can say is that the more those coaches decide to pick on Sid and Geno, the more likely it becomes that they’re just going to piss them off. Given that Sid is still averaging more points per game (1.7) than we’ve seen in the league in a decade and a half, and Geno has absolutely embarrassed his scoring race competition (including Philly’s own Claude Giroux) despite playing half a dozen fewer games, it really seems like playing with fire to me. I mean I guess this is a calculated risk that these coaches need to take. But I just don’t buy it.

Call me old-fashioned, but I want to see the game played, and won or lost, on the ice. I have no problem with gamesmanship and I love the way the Pens handle it. By his own admission Crosby is big into participating in that, so is Matt Cooke, and Chris Kunitz and probably half a dozen other guys on the team. The same can be said of a bunch of guys who play for the Rangers and the Flyers. But that’s just it. It really should be left on the ice. Nothing says “whiny” more than taking your message and shoving it down the throat of everyone in your post-game comments. Just save it for the ice.

Also this is an interesting tidbit. In the entire history of the NHL there are only 5 American-born coaches who have ever won the Stanley Cup. The first was a guy named Bill Russell who won it in 1938. There was not another American to win it until “Badger” Bob Johnson with the Pens in 1991. From there you have to look forward to 2004 when none other than John Tortorella won it with the Lightning. 2006 saw Peter Laviolette become the 4th with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 5th is of course Dan Bylsma. In other words, there are only three American coaches currently living, and currently coaching, who have won the Stanley Cup. They all coach teams in the same division. These are the three best teams in the Eastern Conference this year. We’re only two years away from the 2014 Winter Olympics. All of these guys will likely be considered for the head coaching role for team USA, and they will all likely be considered to serve as assistants to whoever does get picked. Can you imagine what those planning sessions would be like? Wow. They would likely kill one another.


Return of the King, Pt. 2


So it’s official. Sidney Crosby will be back tonight against the New York Rangers. Huge news. It’s also been divulged that Crosby will play on the third line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, and get third line minutes (~15) when he first comes back. Because there are many other places to go to debate line pairings and overall expectations for the return, I won’t really bother with them here. What I’m interested in exploring is if Sid can stay healthy and if he will stay healthy this time (hint: the answer is yes).

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