In doing the stats on a daily basis you tend to notice trends. One trend that has been clear to everyone is that the Wolves are making a spirited run for the Cup. What may be less well known is what a marked improvement in the standings the Edge have made since the half-way point of the season (end of Week 13) to now.
Having the presumptive Hart Trophy winner and 60+ goal man in Alex the Great tends to help there. Adding NHL Assist leader Super Joe Thornton doesn't hurt either.
The steepest drop off has been by the Personal Vendetta who have fallend 6 slots down the rankings (slightly worse than the 5 spots the Lost Boys have tumbled).
The Shadow looks at the teams and the competition and if Crosby is back for the last 2 weeks, the Kipper gets Calgary into the post-season, and Carcillo doesn't get benched for his massive, undiscplined PIMs, the Highlanders will probably pick up both the Omnivore [repeat] and then BECOME repeat PREDATOR champions again. However, Pronger's suspension may slow him down...or those +/- gambles...
Then they are the Bladerunners, hoping to lock up game 1 of the Challenge Cup [after qualifying on the last week and then barely eliminating the aforementioned Highlanders, 2-1]. They are still the team to beat, but they're offence has gone soft [except for the inspired call of Gagner]. They need their fps iggie pop and the new pit hossa to score or else...of course where's the defence.
The Wolves are spirall,ing, yet have constructed a team only 3 pts back entering the weekend. They probably have the best shot at a 3rd Omnivore and maybe even their 1st Predator! They go well as Montreal goes...plus having Brodeur does not hurt.
The Severed Heads have injuries at centre that will slow them down but having control [for now] of the Pens offence doesn't hurt...Malkin, Gonchar and stability on the wings at D and esp. at goal [which he ironically admonishes himself] is saving him.
Week 26 and 27 will be exciting at the top.
Outliers the Shadowmen will attempt to hang onto 5th and the Omnivore, though despite the fact they have won this award back to back, they have placed 2nd 6 times and perhaps 7th again as both the Highlanders and Wolves have much stronger teams...
Unless there is a miracle The Knights Templar will be awarded their 2nd Herbivore. 4 other teams have this sad distinction including the Severed Heads...
FP Ovechkin hit 60 goals with 8 games to go. 1st since Jagr's 62 and Mario's 69 in 1996! The Gm of the Edge is now within striking distance of 7th place...
Now what will the Great Whites do with Lundqvist fp and Price p1. Trade the fp for a forward or defence fp?
Hart Trophy ?
Bladerunners Surge Back Into 1st, Lead In Challegne Cup Final; Shadowmen Solidify Lead in Omnivore Race
FYI, Cam's stats were corrected the other day (I fixed the Gilbert thing - no impact on the Challenge Cup game and confirmed one other player's numbers). Bob noted that my manual correction of stats from Monday's games cost Bob 2 pts, that has now been corrected as well.
So here's the thing, the Penguins missed out on Ovechkin a few years back and had to settle for Malkin. Not a bad deal all around.
Then they won the lottery-of-God and landed Sidney Crosby first overall. He turned out to be pretty good all things considered.
Two franchise centre-men, and both of them entering their prime.
Oh the horror! You see, with the new NHL salary cap Penguins management only has to take a gander over at the miserable wreckage that is the Tampa Bay Lightning to see what happens if the team decides to invest too heavily in a few players at the expense of team depth and goaltending.
And there is the rub. Malkin is due a hefty pay raise - very, very hefty, and it goes even higher if he wins MVP and Art Ross honours as well.
Can the Pens afford to pay two pivots $8m+ each and still field a team that won't roll over like an attention starved puppy whenever one of them isn't on the ice?
A sportsnation blogger ponders the 'Trade Crosby' idea, and ESPN columnist John Buccigross gives his take first on Malkin;
"The Penguins have to at least consider and discuss trading Evgeni Malkin this summer if he is looking for an Alexander Ovechkin-type contract ($9-10 million per season. Term doesn't matter. You always will be able to trade a great player if he is healthy), and the team concludes that paying a combined $17 million for two players on their roster will greatly affect their Stanley Cup plans.
NHL teams will have to look at things as NFL teams do. You won't be able to fall in love with players, and you can't talk about being a contender for 10 seasons. You have to look through smaller windows. Otherwise, you could have a very good season, then be mediocre for the next five. You have to keep looking forward, keep building."....and on dealing Crosby;
"As far as trading Crosby, the Post-Gazette would have served its readers more aptly with a 10-part series on the career of former Steelers wideout Weegie Thompson. If I ever did make a trade, I wouldn't fall into these 37-for-1 trades you see involving big-name players. I would make it a simple 2-for-1 with a draft pick. I don't understand why GMs across all sports go for volume when they trade icons. Crosby to the Blackhawks? Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and a No. 1. Crosby to the Kings? Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson and the Kings' No. 1 pick. Simple. Quality. Not a whole bunch of nothing."
Now, I'm personally tempted to agree that a Crosby deal will simply never, ever, ever happen for a couple of reasons;
A. From what we've seen so far, Crosby probably has a higher talent ceiling than Malkin at least as a play-maker, and in terms of his overall 'excitement factor'. Where Crosby zips and darts about, Malkin drives into defenders and slips by them. Crosby makes a great show of dropping to his knees to score, while Malkin unloads a bomb of a slapshot from difficult angles. Both are getting the job done, but it's always Crosby getting the points for artistic impression.
B. Even if 'A' turns out not to be true, Crosby definitely has a better marketing potential than Malkin. He's younger, speaks English (and French) and has the kind of good looks which will allow him to appear on GQ covers and leave a trail of inseminated super-models in his wake ala Tom Brady. Malkin on the other hand has a face that cries out for the nick-name 'Lurch'.
If the two were in a movie Crosby is the suave leading man and Malkin is the despicable villain who speaks with a lisp and has trouble with girls not bound in electrical tape.
So I just don't see anyone ever trading Crosby, if not because he is too good, because he is too good looking.
That all said, I'd be tempted to look at Malkin's cost in trade as similar to what Butch suggests the Pens would want for Crosby, 2 young studs and a 1st rnd pick.
Does such a deal exist? Yes, but not at the same level of interest as it would for Crosby. I can't see Chicago offering both Kane and Toews in a deal for Malkin, but the Kopitar/Jack Johnson offer would still make sense to both teams.
If you are the Coyotes would you move Mueller, Turris and 1st for Malkin? Maybe, but I'd be trying to take one of those guys out of the deal to include a winger like Wheeler instead.
Here's one to think about, would the Av's send Stastny and Shattenkirk to get Malkin? I suspect that the family ties with Stastny would blind them to it.
The team I think would want to make the play would be the Rangers. With Jagr hitting the age of retirement/sucking/going elsewhere as a free agent, a strapping mega-talent with wheels and offensive ability galore is just what the doctor ordered. Would the Pens take Cherepanov, Staal and a 1st?
Ultimately, the best fit is probably with the Blue Jackets. Columbus can send a package of Voracek and one of; Zherdev, Brassard, Brule, Mason or Leclaire to get Malkin. Nash would get himself a pivot who can make plays and Zherdev would be the speedy Kovalev type of compliment that would make them one of the scariest trios in the NHL. If Columbus wanted to break the trio up Nash would still have a guy like Brassard or Brule on the 2nd line. For the Pens, they get an offensive complimentary winger for Crosby/Hossa and either an up and coming goaltending stud (bye bye Mr Fleury), or an offensive pivot with speed (Brassard) or grit (Brule) to fill out the 2nd line with Staal. Everybody wins.
Week 24 Stats: Wolves Cling To Narrow Lead; Severed Heads and Bladerunners to meet in Predator Cup Final; Shadowmen still lead Omnivore
- Since Crosby went down with his high ankle sprain 23 games ago, Malkin has registered a cool 40 points.
- The decision by the Great Whites to invest in Carey Price has a series of historical overtones;
A: The Great Whites - almost from infancy, were big fans of les Canadiens, and Ken Dryden. There is no doubt in my mind that Dan has already pictured himself being awarded and then wearing a Carey jersey.
B: Canadiens' Goaltender (and current 'best goalie ever' title holder) was the teams first ever FUNHL pick, and he lead the GW's to their first Predator Cup.
C: The GW's made Brodeur (the next 'best goalie ever' title holder) their first ever Franchise player selection, and he remained a cornerstone of the team until this year.
- Sam Gagner was an utterly inspired call to dress last week for the Bladerunners as he went ballistic recording 6 points in three games. He appears to have permanently relegated McDonald to the bench, and more and more he looks like the Marc Savard clone he was advertised as.
- More good news for the Bladerunners is Steve Stamkos' rating as the top draft prospect for the 08-09 draft. With his speed, shot and he's got 'Alexandre Daigle' written all over him. ;-)
- The last time the Bladerunners had two centre prospects with so much promise was when Eric Staal and Evgeni Malkin were picked in consecutive years.
- Which hints at why the Bladerunners are routinely so competitive - they have a formulae;
A. Trade for top prospect picks each year. Both Staal and Malkin were top 3 picks in their respective prospect drafts.
B. Correctly identify and draft the elite offensive talent. (this is in contrast to the Severed Heads who once used the first overall prospect pick to take Dan Cleary-L Chi. Mega. Bust.)
C. Trade the elite prospects late in the year for a package of players to fuel the stretch drive
which leads me to the surprising conclusion;
D. Never replace an FP from within! Elite prospects - even FP quality prospects - bring more in trade value during a stretch drive than they will as players. (I call this the 'Malkin-Schmalkin' theory)
Based on this formulae, we can expect that neither Gagner nor Stamkos will be a long term Bladerunner.
- It seems unlikely to me that any of the top teams will go over the magic 1000 points this year.
- I know this won't be a popular opinion with some, but I believe goaltending stats are way out of whack again. Yes, the lockout saw a slight rise in scoring, but it has dipped back down to pre-lockout levels.
Here is the scoring for top ten goaltenders:
Now consider that we currently only have two non-goaltenders, Ovechkin (99) and Malkin (97), who have even reached 90 points yet. Hmmm. Does it seem right to you that Ovechkin is only the 7th best player in the league? Does it seem right to you that Bryzgalov will go over 100 points as the goaltender for Phoenix, or that career back-up Manny Legace is a 100 point player in league worst St Louis?
Here is what the top 10 goaltenders look like if we use 3.5 instead;
Ovechkin's 99 points now leads the league, and Malkin's 97 is #2 - which given the fact they are the leaders in MVP talk seems to me to be more appropriate.
Nabokov and Brodeur (it's always Brodeur) are still having outstanding seasons and would still be #3 and #4 in league scoring - but would no longer be 23-30 points ahead of Ovechkin.
I'd like to think that these stats speak for themselves at this point, but I look forward to any critics who wish to make the case that 4.0 is still the superior stat.
- In no particular order, here's my short list for future Franchise Player candidates;
Malkin* (Severed Heads)
Nabokov (with Kipper's GAA ballooning Nabby's now the top goalie available)
Nash (using the Cameron Theory of FP drafting, Nash as the top forward in his draft year has a 75% chance of reaching elite player status)