Friday, August 17, 2007

TEAM 1260 vs 630 CHED


A noun.

Making sure the highs are not too high, and the lows are not to low.

Can perfectly sum up the TEAM 1260, an Edmonton based 24-hour Sports Radio station. Objectivity is vital to keep opinions honest throughout the community.

Being an ex-630 CHED listener, things have never been the same since Syd Smith got promoted. A fan I was of CHED, albeit reluctantly, being it the only source of sports. There just weren't any options available. In the capitalism economic model however, the consumer is concerned with and has only one question: "What the fuck have you done for me lately?"

A legit question - what exactly has CHED done lately?

We know the Oilers gave up their radio broadcasting rights to CHED. But what was given up by CHED? Cash and an Objective viewpoint. That's right - Objectivity was the deal clincher. Required so in the mission to shape up the opinions of the majority of Northern and Central Alberta Oiler fans, in a way that benefits the organization. CHED deserves credit for the number of NHL/Oilers guests on their open-line sports shows on weekdays(weeknights). The problem, however lies in with the "softballs" thrown by the hosts. I remember a recent conversation between Bryan Hall, a passionate homer that has the right to write his own retirement ticket when he loses that passion, and Kevin Lowe.

Hall: "Seems like everything is fine and dandy in Oiler country!"

Lowe: "Well Bryan, we looked at our needs and tried to address them. I'm optimistic things will go our way. We're still not done making moves yet."

Hall: "..but I mean, you have to be pretty confident with this group of guys?"

Lowe: "Well Bryan, the reality is that we missed the playoffs last year. We weren't as an organization at a level we should have been. We're trying to turn that around."

Hall: "Yeah, absolutely! I understand that! But at the same time, Oiler fans have lots to be excited about."

Of course this was followed up with Bryan's customary, "Tony Romas, the best tasting ribs in North America," propaganda.

Dan Tencer seems like a good guy - but it becomes painfully obvious that something is up when he doesn't ask Patrick LaForge, the Oilers President, anything about the team finances because he "finds that stuff boring."

Even "rah-rah-rah-Go-Edmonton-Go" Graham Hicks voiced his displeasure on 630 CHED's way of doing.

Enter, TEAM 1260. Keeping opinions honest, asking hardball questions to interview guests, establishing credible sources to break news first, and bringing in solid guests from around the league for interviews. A station that used to have Matts (Dennis) on regularly to voice his opinions. Below are a few examples:

Example 1: Interview list this summer - Ritch Winter, Kevin Lowe (multiple times), Cal Nichols, other NHL agent(s), Patrick Laforge, multiple Oiler players, etc.

Example 2: Hardball question. "~How is the Grebeshkov situation any different?" to Kevin Prendergast, regarding the decision to pass on Cherepanov. Prendergast fumbled on the answer.

Example 3: By establishing Ritch Winters as a credible source, the TEAM 1260 broke talks on Peter Sykora negotiating with the Oilers a month before he was signed.

Example 4: Stauffer the only brave soul in the room to ask Cal Nichols how the EIG will provide the funds for a new arena.

Of course I have no financial stake in either stations. I'm not even a regular listener - an occasional one when word gets around that a specific guest is going to be on the show. The purpose of this entry was not to change one's radio channel preference - that's strictly a personal choice. The underlying question to be brought up for discussion is, do the Oilers shape up the work of their partners in which financials are involved? Namely, 630 CHED and the Edmonton Journal?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Evaluating The Return of Draft Picks At The Trade Deadline

It's been 4 years since the 2003 NHL Trade Deadline. Long enough time period so, that we can assess whether these deadline deals have been worthwhile for the team(s) receiving draft pick(s). Only deals in which the draft picks were a major component will be touched. A summary and commentary will be provided at the end.

Here we go:
March 11 Nas. Alex Riazantsev, D Col. 7th-round pick in 2003

Alex Riazantsev never played a game in the NHL (AHL and Russia only). Nothing amounted of the 7th round pick.

March 11 Was. Sergei Berezin, RW Chi. 4th-round pick in 2004
Berezin played 9 games in the regular season for WSH, winding up with 9 points. Followed up with a single assist in 6 playoff games. Next year, he wound up in Russia for 16 games, and since retired. Meanwhile, the fourth round pick acquired by CHI amounted to goose eggs.
March 11 Cal. Dean McAmmond, LW Col. 5th-round pick in 2003
Dean was ineligible to play for the Flames that season (prior CBA rules). However, next season, he put up 30 points in 64 games, an efficient bottom 6 player when healthy. No dice for the 5th round selection


Doug Gilmour, C Mon. TOR 6th-round pick in 2003
Doug played one game with the Leafs, in which he got injured. He retired after the season. Meh, still one game better than what Toronto's 6th round pick amounted to.

March 11 Bos. Ian Moran, D Pit. 4th-round pick in 2003
Moran played 13 games (including 5 playoffs) that season. 35 games next year before bouncing around the league. The 4th round pick amounted to nothing.

March 11 Tor. Phil Housley, D Chi. 4th-round pick in 2003
9th-round pick in 2003
Injuries forced Housley to play only 4 games (3 playoffs), all better totals than the two draft picks.

March 11 Bos. Dan McGillis, D S.J. 2nd-round pick 2003
Dan McGillis played a total of 15 games (4 points) in the 2002-2003 season. He amassed 80 games with Boston the next year, putting up 28 points, before jumping ship to the Devils and eventually the minors. San Jose took with the second rounder, defenceman Matt Carle (89GP - 49 PTS) who looks to have a solid career down the road both offensively and defensively.

March 11 NYI Janne Niinimaa, D
2nd-round pick in 2003
4th-round pick in 2003
Edm. Brad Isbister, LW
Raffi Torres, LW
Zero games played by the 2nd and 4th rounders. With hindsight, Isbister was negative value, namely for his ~2M salary. Effectively it was a Niinimaa for Torres deal. Niinimaa had a solid 2003-2004 season, before his career sank. Raffi Torres, meanwhile is a trusted ES left-winger that was an integral part of the Oilers 2006 cup run, locked up for the next 3 years.

The Islanders won the deal in the short run, but it was solid Billy Bean-esque management on Kevin Lowe's part.

March 11 Ana. Steve Thomas, RW Chi. 5th-round pick in 2003
Steve Thomas put up strong number (13 pts in 12 games) with Anaheim in the regular season, following up with 21 strong games in the Ducks 2003 Cup run. He left as a free agent for Detroit next season. Blanks show up for the 5th round pick for Chicago.

March 11 Det. Mathieu Schneider, D L.A. Sean Avery, C
Maxim Kuznetsov, D
1st-round pick in 2003
2nd-round pick in 2004
Mathieu Schneider spent the next 3 years with Detroit following the completion of the 2003 NHL season. He never won a cup, but put up strong numbers offensively (7,46,59,52) in 3 seasons plus change and was solid top 4 choice defensively. Sean Avery also found success on the ice, with his ability to handle tougher minutes and draw penalties. Maxim Kuznetsov played a whopping total of 16 games with LA. The 1st round pick (Brian Boyle) turned out as a bust with zero games played. The 2nd-round pick at Detroit's slot, also drew blanks.

March 10 Phi. Tony Amonte, RW Pho. Guillaume Lefebvre, LW
2nd-round pick in 2004
3rd-round pick in 2003
Tony Amonte put up 15 points in 13 games for Philadelphia in the 2002-2003 regular season. He then proceeded with another 7 in 13 playoff games. The figures were 53 in 80, and 8 in 18 the next season, respectively. Meanwhile, Lefebvre struggled in the minors. The two draft picks yielded absolutely nothing.

March 9 Tor. Glen Wesley, D Car. 2nd-round pick in 2004
Glen Wesley had a hand-shake deal with Carolina to return after the season, thus limiting his GP total to 12 (5 playoffs). Fear not, Maple Laugh fans - you gave up nothing. Nada. Zip.

March 9 NYI Randy Robitaille, C Pit. 5th-round pick in 2003
Randy Robitaille played 15 games (5 playoffs), putting up 5 points that season before moving on to Minnesota. A bottom 6 C, who later returned to the Island in 2006. Again, zero's on the board for the 5th round slotted draft pick.

March 9 Phi. Claude Lapointe, C NYI 5th-round pick in 2003
Claude put up 9 pts in 27 games with Philadelphia that season. Brought back next season for 42 games. All totals that soar above the slotted Philadelphia's 5th round pick.

March 8 Col. Bryan Marchment, D S.J. 3rd-round pick in 2003
5th-round pick in 2003
Bryan Marchment played 21 games for Colorado (7 playoffs). A grit-hard defenceman. I'm not sure how Colorado re-obtained that 5th round pick, but they ended up with Brad Richardson who has thus far played 114 games and has a career ahead of him.

March 3 Nas. Oleg Petrov, RW Mon. 4th-round pick in 2003
Lets cut the chase. There's shit everywhere.

March 1 Phi. Dimitry Yushkevich, D L.A. 4th-round pick in 2003
7th-round pick in 2004
Yushkevich played 31 (13 in playoffs) games for Philadelphia that season, providing offense from the blue-line (9 PTS) that better the totals of the 4th and 7th round picks.


The purpose was not to demonstrate that the draft picks after the 1st round (to a lesser extent, 2nd round) are more or less, useless, with a huge element of luck in obtaining a regular NHLer. No sir. One can easily look it up him or herself and see blanks all the way around, or very short NHL careers


Rather, the underlying questions to be asked are:

1 Do NHL GM's overvalue draft picks?


2. If so, why?


3. How can that be corrected and what would be the end result?

I'll take a stab at it
1. Do NHL GM's overvalue draft picks?
-Trades on draft day to move down in the first round in exchange for an extra 3rd round pick (Oilers and Flames). Risking the possibility that your targeted player (i.e. Pouliot, Backlund) will not be available at the moved-down spot.
-Lack of RFA offersheets over the years.
-Draft picks playing a noteworthy role in perceived to be as ''big trades'' (Smyth, Pronger, Niinimaa, Satan, Comrie, Lydman, Tanguay, etc.)
-Most trades involving moving down at the draft are a result of the expectation that your targeted player will still be available at the moved-down spot. Why not obtain an extra free pick?
-RFA offersheets have nothing to do with valuation, but everything to do with collusion.
- Most "big trades" involve 1st rounders, everyday NHLers, and/or quality prospects. The aggregate is important.

2. If so, why? If not, why not?
-Subjective belief of superiority on ability to draft greater than peers.
-Recent year draft picks have worked out well. Extrapolate this success to future years.
-Like baseball pre-21st century, lack of mainstream statistical use which can pinpoint how successful drafting is, round-by-round.
"I'm going to lose player X on July 1 because he either wants more money than he deserves, or we just don't have any interest in bringing him back. The low draft pick value accurately reflects the fact that he's not going to wear our uniform colours next year"

3. How can that be corrected and what would be the end result?
-As mentioned, statistical use must be implemented, with data gathered over years.
-Leads to GMs making *calculated* decisions when moving players for draft picks.
Ask Questions and Analyze Results
-If say, the probability of landing an NHL player who will play more than 164 (2 seasons) games in the third round is 5%, smart GMs can take advantage over the dull GMs whom overvalue 3rd round picks by implementing it in part of a package deal or moving up in the draft.
-Connect free agency to draft picks
"What is the probability that a 3rd round pick will have a more successful career than Mike Johnson/Martin Gelinas, whom are available for peanuts in the free agent market?" If it's low, should I take advantage by using it as trade bait to move up in the NHL entry draft?
- Address pending free agents
I have Petr Sykora and Jussi Markannen, both set to be UFAs in 4 months. They are worth a 3rd and 4th rounder on the market respectively. Is it worth keeping one or both to evaluate their play over the next 20 games to make next year decisions? Is it worth passing up a 3rd or 4th rounder to buy decision-making time on the make-up of next year(s) club? Is it worth burning bridges by trading the player.

Statistics in hockey may never prove to be as useful as they are in baseball due to two main factors:
1. Team/player chemistry has a much bigger role in hockey
2. Baseball deals with an individual (batter) against an individual (pitcher). Hockey deals with 12 guys on the ice, fighting, muscling, and positioning themselves to put the rubber across the goal line.

That being said, statistics still can be useful in hockey. Until then, the few number of teams that employ full time statisticians such as the Minnesota Wild, will gain a competitive advantage and exploit their peers.

In other words, the market has a long way to go before it is corrected.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I must admit, I'm not a huge baseball fan anymore. The Blue Jays lured me as a kid. Fun times watching Speedy Blue Jays Baseball on CBC. Around 2000, the full-time baseball fan of me disappeared. Perhaps I was just a bandwagon jumper all along, or perhaps I found better forms of entertainment. Or perhaps, my interest in professional sports other than hockey dwindled. Whatever it was, I ceased to become a full-time fan - or even a part-time fan. I watch a few innings here and there, and follow the storylines, but the days of 3 hours/day summer commitments are gone.

So what the fuck am I doing reading "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis?

Interest in the business/economic/financial side of sports. Whereas I used to get wet dreams 10 year ago optimistically believing CUJO would lead the Oilers to the cup, numbers became my new passion.

It took a while, but I've found respect for the "number guys" on the Oilogosphere who use a problem-solving scientific approach to the hockey game. There is still a long way to go before it becomes widely recognized, but it will in time, become mainstream in the NHL. Currently, only a handful of teams such as the Minnesota Wild employ full time statisticians.

Anyways, back to the National Best-Seller, "Moneyball."

It's an entertaining book. Many of the strategies and logic used by Billy Beane seem sound and innovative. A guy who willingly challenged the traditional baseball methods (subjective approach) of evaluating talent, in an attempt to win ball games.

Which, he did. At least so in the regular season, objectivity didn't fail him.

There are, however, some criticisms I have about the the book and the Moneyball Approach. Agree, or disagree - feel free to provide your comments

1) In my opinion, evaluating Moneyball based on the performance of just seven draft picks (and only 1 draft year) is a weak methodology. Billy Beane has been the GM for the A's for 8 years (4 years when the book was released) - his overall draft success should rather be evaluated. Moreover, only 3 out of those 7 become regular ball players. Was he THAT successful?

2) The book failed to expand on Beane's statistical use of evaluating free agents

3) Beane's strategy fails to look at the human element of trading away player. Is it sustainable in the long run?

4) The NY Yankees are an extreme outlier. The author conveniently and too simplistically points out the payroll gap between the Bronx Bomers and the Athletics - but what about all those teams in between who incurred only a marginal higher payroll. What about the success of lower payroll teams like Minnesota, whom contended for the division title?

5) What about the fact the Oakland A's played in division of only 4 teams, the smallest in baseball. Surely, odds are better to begin with.

6) How much alone did the trio of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder play in the success of the A's, rather than the on-base %?

7) By the "average wins per dollar spent" standard, I am sure that there are other teams, including losing teams, that could celebrate their frugality. For example, how much did Atlanta spend per win during this period, and are they the mark for success in the NL (despite the fact that another team has been the NL representative in the World Series in each of those years)? How about Minnesota, including its success in reaching the post-season during these years?

8) Beane's draft seemed to flunk some basic precepts of game theory and economics. Spending a first-round pick on someone no other team is going to pick in the first 10 rounds is overpaying, even if only in terms of opportunity cost, even if the player turns out to be a hidden-gem success. A better strategy would be to draft the BPA , meet the contract demands, and if necessary, trade him to the rich-pockets of the MLB.

Lewis wrote an entertaining book, but he tended to too often paint things in stark black and white, rather than recognize the shades of Grey.

Last question - is there less of an incentive in baseball to win Championships than any other sport?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

E.I.G - Egocentric Interfering Gentlemen

August 7, 2007.

"This morning, our shareholders voted resoundingly to reject this offer," - Cal Nichols

Wonder what the ''collateral damage'' Nichols is talking about? People realizing the truth on the EIG's finances? Their ability to spend to the cap? Their ability to fund a new arena primarily by themselves?

I still believe the EIG made a good business move for themselves - the Oilers are profitable, and they will still be able to get away with taxpayers significantly funding the new arena under the ''It-benefits-the-whole-city/economy-card" propoganda

What I can't stand is this:

“This is not about dollars. This is about Edmonton. An ownership group is best-suited for Edmonton and the Oilers.”

Later in the Press Conference, Nichols used the survey results on season ticket holders preferring an ownership group as a defensive tool.


Instead of admitting the offer is not enough in their opinion, they had to play the ''We're-doing-it-for-YOU'' card. How many times can they insult the intelligence of Edmontonians? Again and again. It's like a carousal. It goes up and down, and around. Circular. With the music. The Flow. All good things - NOT.

Katz has a different view
Katz Disagrees

Nichols said the offer to buy the Oilers was unsolicited but the Katz group disagrees, claiming he was told the EIG would be willing to listen to offers as long as they were $165 million or more.

"We're going to have to agree to disagree with Cal on a few key points, including the value of the offer and whether it was truly unsolicited as he has said," Katz spokesman Josh Pekarsky told TSN. "But fundamentally, the EIG has said the team is not for sale so that's the end of the story."


I believe him on the unsolicited bit. Ritch Winters also confirmed it in the past week on Bob Stauffer's show on TEAM 1260. I believe the EIG was seeking the 200M+ that the likes of Tampa Bay and Nashville are/were attracting.

Can't really comment on the value of the offer tidbit. Is Cal is referring to the after-tax amount, after utilizing optimal tax planning?

In any case, EIG's credibility isn't hot at the moment. It's a hard time believing ANY of their claims.

Cue, the bashing.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wayne Gretzky's Suggestions in 1990

First let me say, reading Wayne Gretzky's autobiography, it should be a lesson to anyone on the importance of school. Terrible, terrible English and vocabulary. Finishing high school at the minimum is essential. Anyways, below Wayne Gretzky highlights his suggestions if he was the NHL Commissioner (Page 214-217).

1) End the Fighting. Make it illegal. Period. If you fight, you're out of the game

2) Expand. The NHL is going into the San Francisco area next year. Great. Now expand to Seattle, Houston, and maybe Milwaukee.

3) Rename the Conferences. It's parochial to call them the Wales Conference and the Campbell Conference....We have enough trouble trying to explain the blue line to people. Just call them East and West.

4) Realign the Conferences. Everybody wants to blame the president, John Ziegler, for the NHLs problems, but he's pretty good. The trouble is that some of the owners always do what's best for their own team, not the game. For instance, the lineup of the conferences is ridiculous, but it's set up so that Toronto and Chicago are almost guaranteed to make the playoffs. What should be done is put 10 teams in one conference, and 11 in the other. As it is now, we play teams in our own conference eight times - which is way too many - and the other teams 3 teams. The new way, we'd play them 6 and 3, respectively. More people would see more players and therefore build interest. Forget the divisons. Keep the playoffs the same and eventually have two conference winners play the Stanley Cup.

5) Bring on Free Agency. Why shouldn't we fight for it? Free agency hasn't hurt any other professional sport. It's only helped baseball. Now football is getting it. Look at the Green Bay Packers. They rebuilt their team mostly from Plan B free agents. If the players wanted to strike for it, I'd strike. The fans don't know it, but it'd be th best thing for the game

6) Institute a week-off plan. By the end of February, the players are so spent that the fans and the owners don't get out of us all they could. The owners have us running all over the country doing exhibition games before the season, then the All-Star game (which now includes an extra day of ''skills'' competition and if you don't don't participate in the skills, you can't play the game) halfway through the season, then the playoffs at the end of the season. That's over 100 days of hockey sometimes. How many years does that take off your career? Give the players a break! Give each time 5 consecutive days off (not counting travel days) in January or February. You never have more than two teams taking the time off at once, so you don't have to shut down anything. The league just keeps right on going. When the players come back, they're playing better and everybody is getting their money's worth.

7) Let the Players make the Rules. In the NHL, the people making the rules usually never played the game. For instance, the league sneaked through a rule that let only ''offficial suppliers'' logos appear on the skates, sticks, and gloves we use. ....blah blah blah

8) Pay the refs more. The top referee in the entire league makes something like $85,000. An everyday linesman makes $30,000. If you want the best refereeing, you've got to pay the price. I mean, would you want to break up those fights.

9) Bring Back ESPN. When the NHL chose Sports Channel America over ESPN, it was another decision by the league to choose the quick bucks over the long term effects. Sure, we got more money from Sports Channel, but how much did we lose in exposure? Who sees Sports Channel anyways? I'll tell you who, only 1 in 10 U.S. Homes, that's who. ESPN, who had bought NHL rights before the Sports Channel outbid them, goes into 51 million homes. Obviously the NHL's decision was based upon what was better for the owner's pocketbooks, not what was better for the game. What a shocker.

10) Let us play in the Olympics. ...Any Questions


Some excellent thoughts and ideas, but clearly not a guy you can hand over the commissioner title position.

Other notable commentary in his Autobiography
- His best friends were Mess and Kevin
- He has little to no respect for Pocklington
- He mentions that some of the hockey players tried drugs back in the day. He's proud of the fact he's never tried any of them - at least that's what he says.
- He boned Janet and got her pregnant 4 and a half months before marriage.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

UFA Goaltenders - 2008

Notable Goaltenders slated for Unrestricted Free Agency in the Summer of 2008:
Mikka Kiprusoff (3.333M)
Jose Theodore (5.333M)
David Aesbicher (0.6M)
Dominik Hasek (4.050M - Performance bonus of 2.0M)
Cristobal Huet (2.875M)
Olaf Kolzig (5.450M)

Notable Goaltenders slated for Restricted Free Agency in the Summer of 2008:
Pascal Leclaire (1.050M)
Henrik Lundqvist (4.250M)
Marc-Andre Fleury (1.6M)
Kari Lehtonen (1.850M)


Mikka Kiprusoff

The UFA corps looks fair week on paper, save for Kiprusoff and Huet. Kolzig will be 38 by next summer, and you can imagine Hasek will be on his last legs. Theodore's days in the future lean towards the category of a backup.

Early rumors are suggesting Kiprusoff won't be a ''push-over.'' Rumors are also suggesting he may be wishing to go to a place where he isn't in the spotlight. On a recent NHL Network segment, Mikka mentioned how he's enjoyed playing in Calgary, and its ''been a great place for me to start my career.''

Those same words were uttered by the son of billionaire-tycoon Bill Comrie.

Mike Comrie.

I always had the vibe that Mike wasn't as Mr. Edmonton as the media thought him to be. I'm getting that same vibe from Kiprusoff.

This could possibly be his last contract, with the whispers of his lower-body injuries, so you can look for him to cash in. I'm looking at numbers between 7.5-8.0M, and a minimum of 3 years.

So Which Teams Will be Interested in Him?

Colorado -
Sitting at 44.666M with Jose Theodore (5.333M) coming off the books. Sakic (6.75M), Brunette (1.6M), Laperriere (1M), Clark, Liles, Sauer all notable UFA's. Svatos, Wolski, Richardson the notable RFA's. Would be tight, but you can bet they'll be hunting in the market for a goaltender

Los Angeles - Sitting at 42.699M with Mike Cammalleri's arbitration to be decided. Definitely looking for a solution in net, and they will have the flexibility to do so with Nagy, Thornton, Willsie, Blake (6M), Stuart, Tverdovsky, Modry, Dallman as notable unrestricted Free agents. Dustin Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan the only notable RFA's. With the cash flow to withstand burning Cloutiers 3.1M salary in the minors, expect them to go hard after Kiprusoff.

Phoenix - Phoenix would provide Mikka with a low-key lifestyle. Cap space really isn't an issue, with Phoenix grinding with the Cap floor. Though with Phoenix rebuilding, that may prove be a hindrance.

Columbus - Sitting at 37.977M at the moment, with contracts of Chimera (1.0M), Federov (6.080M) Vyborny (2.2M), and Foote (4.6M) to expire. There will be plenty of money to play with.

Detroit - Sitting at 45.262M, with Hasek (4.050M), Draper (2.128M), Cleary (0.675M), Lidstrom (7.6M), Lilja, Chelios set to become UFA's. I would expect Lidstrom, Cleary, and Draper (reduced price), and Lilja to be brought back. A winning franchise may just lead Mikka to jump on their ship.

Montreal - Sitting at 44.683M with Huet (2.750M), Ryder (2.950M), Smolinksi (2.0M) the only significant UFA's. Kostitsyn and Murray the only significant RFA's. Montreal's attractive nightlife, and cap space flexibility may assist in a healthy marriage.

Washington - Sitting at 35.137M with Kolzig (5.450M) the only noteworthy UFA. On the restricted front however, Ovechkin, Semin, Sutherby, Eminger, and Morrisonn. Would be a bit difficult should Ovechkin be re-signed near the maximum

In any event, there will be no shortage of interest in Mikka Kiprusoff. Call it my prediction, Mikka lands in Los Angeles.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reason to be optimistic RE: Penner

Dan Tolensky sheds some light on why Penner may indeed be a good signing.


Even Dan Barnes likes this move


Unreasonable Demands - "A Declaration of War"

Bruce Dowbiggin highlights in his book, Money Players , a memo sent by the NHL to its players in the summer of 1994.

These unreasonable demands forced the 1994 lockout, leading to an abbreviated NHL season
Please be advised that the NHL, effective on or about September 1, 1994, plans to unilaterally impose the following measures on NHL Players:

1) Mandatory two-way contracts
2) The elimination of salary arbitration
3) The elimination of guaranteed contracts and buy-out provisions
4) The reduction of the players' playoffs and awards fund from $9M to $2M
5) The elimination of all per-diem allowances
6) Roster size reduced to 17 skaters and 2 goaltenders, major league roster reduced to 22 players
7) Force players to pay the first $750 of the medical cost per insure person and co-insurance of 70% (NHL) and 30% (insured person) to $10,000
8) The elimination of the senior player benefit. Force players earning in excess of $350,000 to pay 50% of the annual pension contribution
9) Compulsory currency conversion. Players traded between a Canadian club and a U.S. club shall have the amounts of their salaries and bonuses converted to the currency of the country to which the player was traded
10) Clubs will no longer pay the players to travel from summer residence to the club's home city prior to training camp and at the conclusion of the season.
11) NHL's discipline increased to $50,000
12) Players required to wear only approved NHL apparel off the ice. League will dictate "Skates, sticks, helmets etc." for all players
13) Mandatory community service, public appearance, and commercial appearances


There you have it.

Greed is a two-way street

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Cap Situation as of August 2, 2007

A great website this is:

Thus far, 11 forwards, 7 defencemen, and 2 goalies have been signed to 1 way contracts.

I don't see the purpose of a maximum 23 man roster, unless guys are banged up. You end up paying ~1M to the kids throughout the season to sit in the pressbox, munching Orville Popcorn. The opportunity cost is development time in the minors. Teams like the Canucks have in recent years, used the 21 man roster layout. 1 extra forward is sufficient. Call up another forward of a 7th defenceman if a few guys are banged up.

Assuming the Oilers go with the traditional 14 forwards, 7 defenceman, and 2 goalies layout, the Oilers cap hit for the 2007-2008 season is approximately 46M. That's assuming Nilsson (1.013), Jacques (.668M) and Stortini (.534M) are the extra forwards.

The 7 one-way defenceman contracts all but assures Gilbert and Roy will start the season in the AHL.

In any event, the Oilers have approximately 4.0M-4.3M in cap space. Ideally, starting the year at 48.75-49.0M still allows you flexibility at the trade deadline (5.2M-6.2M) and short term injuries/call-ups.

Kevin Lowe claimed he's still not sold on the forward situation, and implies the Oilers will spend up to the cap if they find the right moves. Certainly an encouraging word for Oiler fans, considering the EIG's history, pre-Daryl Katz Press Release.

EDIT: hasn't listed Garon's salary. Tack on another 1.2M to the cap hit.

The Overvaluation of Draft Picks

I must admit, I haven't a clue on the 2008 draft prospects.




However, the hockey world is quick to call it one of the deeper drafts in recent history.

So would the 2003 draft be a good comparable?

Where would the Oilers fit in pre-Prenner Offersheet? Is it Lowe's job to tank the team to obtain a top 5 pick? If Penner is not signed to an offersheet, does that mean Lowe would go in the season without addressing the forward issue?

I must admit, most of the top 10 from the 2003 draft look like they'll have solid careers down the road. From 11-20, you see a bigger dropoff, although still gems in Getzlaf, Seabrook, and possibly Parise. From 21-30 (likely where the Oilers pick obtained from Anaheim the FCP deal) there are good support/2nd tier guys, but the Oilers seem to have plenty of them in the system with Pouliot, O'Marra, Chorney, Nash, etc. The other part of it is - it will take 3-4 years before we begin to realize the value of these draft picks.

Draft picks after the 1st round are ridiculously overrated

From the 2nd round - I count 4 solid players (Bergeron, Carle, O'Sullivan, Weber)

In the 3rd round, only 1 notable player (Picard).

Therefore, the only reasonable benchmark comparison should be the 1st round.

So where does Penner fit in with the 2003 (making the assumption the 2008 draft class is similar and using hindsight) 1st round class? Behind MAF, Staal, Horton, Vanek, Michalek, Suter, Phaneuf, Seabrook, Getzlaf, and Parise, putting him 11th overall.

I'll take this bet.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Drive for the Payoffs..err..Playoffs

Mark Spector, a connected hockey writer, reveals the financial side of home games at Rexall in April/May/June


A look at the financial statement of the Edmonton Oilers after their Cup run in 2005-06 provides a glimpse into how profitable a long playoff drive can be for an NHL club. Of course, the teams are not paying players during the post-season, and roughly 20% of gate receipts go to the league.

The Oilers still pulled in more than $26.5-million dollars in gate revenues from 11 home playoff dates -- or more than $2.4-million per home game, before concessions and parking.

Dazed and Confused

Taken from MC79's blog (link to the right), copyright Edmonton Journal

This written prior to the 2005-2006 NHL season
Nichols acknowledged that revenues league-wide are projected to fall to $1.74 billion from $2.1 billion US in 2003-04. He reckoned the Oilers, who pulled in about $85 million Cdn in gross revenues the last NHL season, will derive something closer to $70 million in 2005-06.

Some sponsors have fallen away, or committed funds elsewhere, at least for this year, Nichols explained. And the small-market equalization fund that delivered about $2.5 million to the Oilers most years does not exist under the new CBA.

- The Oilers payroll was up from 2003-2004 season. We're down 2.5M from NHL equalization funds, and down revenue from the Heritage classic (although that was likely made up from higher ticket prices). Unless individual sponsors lost were paying the Oilers in 8 figures, I'm lost on how the Oilers were potentially making 10-15M less in gross revenues.
-Today, Sponsorship revenue is likely at franchise high levels.
- How did the Oilers manage to still break-even in the 2005-2006 regular season with potentially up to 15M less in revenue?
- Does this suggest the Oilers were a money making machine in 2003-2004, with potentially 15M more in gross revenues?
- If the Oilers were putting in 85M in revenues in 2003-2004, what does that suggest for the 2006-2007 season, factoring in the Significant Canadian dollar appreciation, 21.6% increase in ticket prices, increases in luxury box prices, general advertising revenue, etc.
- Mind you, some costs would also go up - although fair to say revenues grew faster than expenses.
- Patrick Laforge's ''a 39M cap would mean the world to us'' cry back in January in addition to Lowe's concern on 630 CHED of the rising cap is IMO, adhering to the rule of, ''Do not bite the hand the feeds you.''

The Oilers finances, from time to time, are published in the local dailies. There is too much contradiction, but it would seem to me the Oilers are profitable venture to the EIG, whom have shown (based on logical assumptions) up until this summer, more interested in pocketing profits rather than winning hockey games.

Daryl Katz has done the city of Edmonton good without even (thus far) purchasing the team. His offer and press release filled with strong commitments , the EIG can no longer hide behind the small-market, revenue strapped, hockey club label.

It will be an exciting day on August 7, the day the EIG votes on whether they will sell the team to Katz. This Oilogosphere blogger is one of those voices that is hoping for a change.