Thursday, August 11, 2005

NHL Roundtable for Thursday, August 11th

It’s time for Round 2 of the Roundtable, and this time I’m headed to the West Coast to visit the elder statesman of the Mirtle clan, Cousin BJ. Let’s get it on.

Today's topics:

  1. The Sedin twins sign twin qualifying offers.
  2. Revenge of the idiot GMs.
  3. Leafs fans compare getting Eric Lindros to the Flyers pickup of Peter Forsberg (no, seriously).
  4. The Penguins keep reeling them in by adding Joycelyn Thibault.
  5. And finally, we draw the ire of Penguins fans by asking: Does Pittsburgh even deserve this renaissance?

JM: Any idea what the Sedin twins signed for? I see TSN has that they’ve signed, so we can now discuss our diverging viewpoints of their talents.

BJ: Just got word that they are going to make $1.2 million a season each. One-year deals. I can live with that; they are worth that kind of basement price. I think the problem is that they were overhyped from the start and will never live up to what they were tagged as being. They are what they are — which is average NHLers.

JM: I think if you want an average NHLer, look at a guy like Richard Park. The Sedins, and especially Daniel last season with 54 points, are not average. He was tied for 54th in NHL scoring, which for the team's fourth-highest point producer, is pretty damn good. That's not average.

BJ: Meh, 18 goals (four of them in one game), from a guy who had 20 in his rookie season isn't a significant improvement. They have good qualities, and at times can smother the opposing team, but they lack any dazzling finish. All I'm saying is that they need to raise their game another notch to impress me.

JM: You know what, I think it's coming. They're still only 24 years old and will never be excellent, top-line talents. That said, there are a lot of NHL rosters in 'the new NHL' that won't have two players of their offensive potential on their second lines.

BJ: I hope you're right. They don't need to be top-line players, and I don't expect 70 points from either of them — ever. Daniel's point total of 54 is respectable, and overall, I don't expect much more (55+ pts is ideal, and historically solid for a second line). But I wish I could see more goals from him (25/season would be great and welcomed on any team). My main complaint is their inconsistent play, but it looks as though Nonis has put some pressure on them to perform. One year deals are probably by design.

JM: Switching gears on you here... how about ESPN’s Scott Burnside on the Chicago Blackhawks: "The fact the Hawks overpaid for all of these players is moot if the offseason moves help draw fans back to the once-fabled franchise."

With a $39-million salary cap, how can any overpayments be moot? A ridiculous statement in my opinion.

BJ: Hah! No shit. Even a seemingly idiot proof system isn't keeping the idiot out of many GM's. This mad dash to sign up UFA's may backfire in some instances, and I don't see player salaries declining like I hoped they would. I was quite surprised
that most of the big names were gone within a week. For example, look at Brian Burke. If my addition is correct, he has $32-million locked up in 12 players. What now, Brian?

JM: Another leap as we wind down here: Leaf Nation over in Toronto is comparing the impending signing of Eric Lindros to the Flyers getting Forsberg. I kid you not, the statements I'm hearing are unbelievable. i.e. "Lindros has averaged two games less a season than Forsberg over his career."

BJ: Seriously? If they sign Lindros, they might as well reserve the concussion wing at the hospital. He has too much baggage, so why go near him? My God Leaf fans ruin hockey for me.

Funny I should say that, [former NHLer and current broadcaster] Ray Ferraro was pushing hard out here to get Nonis to sign Lindros.

JM: Just to quantify the madness, this guy at work is going to bet me that Lindros has a better season than Forsberg.

BJ: Straight points? Good grief. Lindros will be the third line centre behind Allison and Sundin.

JM: I told him I'd bet $50 Forsberg does better... he has since backed off. Pity.

BJ: Lol, no shit.

JM: Well, you never know... maybe Leafs fans may wish to emulate their team by flushing money down the toilet.

BJ: [Switching gears on me, for a change] What a great move for Pittsburgh to get Jocelyn Thibault for a 4th round draft pick. And top that off with the very reasonable salary of $1.5 million/season (two years) that they signed him for. I'm actually disappointed he's not headed West — he's at worst an even trade-off with Cloutier.

JM: You know, I felt the Penguins were already solid in goal, so yea, getting Thibault is a good move. If his injury history is a thing of the past, this move was a steal. In all honesty, Chicago didn't get that much of an improvement in goal by shelling out huge dollars for Khabibulin. Thibault played very well behind a brutal team for a lot of years for the Blackhawks, despite, as I said, his injury problems. It wasn't his fault that the ‘Hawks had zero goaltending depth and were embarrassed with the goalie carosel they had last year.

Anyway, another nice move by Pittsburgh. I guess they figure that with Crosby, they'll sellout every game and have the revenue to move to the top of the cap?

BJ: I hear the demand for tickets in Pittsburgh has taken off, and I'm glad to hear it. I think Lemieux sees the next two seasons will definitely be his last hurrah, and he's taking advantage of the new CBA as best as he can — unless I'm mistaken, if their revenues remain weak, he should benefit from the revenue sharing regardless of payroll. Unfortunately, they still play their games in a big metal boob. Note to Pittsburgh politicians — get a new rink.

JM: Not a fan of the metal boobs, hey? The thing I wonder with Pittsburgh is — say they don't get Mario in 1984, [it’s widely accepted that] that city loses its NHL team. Now in 2005, with the franchise struggling as it has been, they get Crosby. Without him, would the team have left in the next five years? If the answer’s yes, then maybe there simply shouldn’t be a team there. When Carolina, Nashville and the Islanders are creaming you in attendance numbers, that's got to be a possibility.

BJ: At least the Penguins are making an effort to be competitive this year. Attendace overall has been crap and I think there are several cities that should not have had an NHL team in the first place — in fact, I think that 24 teams in total is a much more stable league. 30 teams may be good for the NFL and NBA, but the NHL? I guess that's a topic for another day.

I mentioned Burnside's ESPN rankings of free agent moves earlier in his comment on Chicago, but how about some of his other musings. He picks the Flames, Flyers, Penguins and Oilers as the teams which have made out the best, and I won't argue that Calgary and Pittsburgh have done well. But Edmonton and Philadelphia (aside from the huge coup in getting Forsberg) haven't really wowed me with anything.

Then again, Burnside calls 29-year-old Ty Conklin and 30-year-old Jussi Markkanen "emerging" goaltending talents, so what does he know.

Philly's defence doesn't scare me. It would have five years ago, but not now. Hatcher will turn into a damn expensive boat anchor (I can't believe a five year deal for him) and Therien has been there, done that. I like Rathje — the best of the bunch. As for Forsberg, he's undoubdetly one of the top three players in the league when healthy. There's no question that when he's in the lineup, he'll give you everything he has.

As far as Edmonton goes, I like Pronger and Peca, but they gave up a good deal of young talent in the process, and Pronger's salary eats up a ton of cap room. The Oilers have upgraded somewhat short-term, but depending on the potential gave up, I'm not so sure long-term. They will compete, but they still have several holes.

A big thanks to my big cuz for stepping in and doing this. I’m off to the lake for the weekend, but next week, I’m getting into the bear pit with the carny folk and hosting NHL Carnival #6: Mirtle’s Revenge. Trust me — it’ll be the best sequel yet.



At 12:05 a.m., August 12, 2005, Blogger Phil said...

I agree with BJ. The Forsberg signing is great but they are being overrated by everyone. Those D signings were too long of terms, overpaying and for the old NHL. If ANYTHING goes wrong with Forsberg, they won't make the late rounds of the playoffs.

At 10:55 a.m., August 12, 2005, Anonymous pete said...

Ouch! On behalf of Leaf fans everywhere, that hurt. Honestly - we're not the egotistical assclowns we're made out to be. Ok, well, maybe 70% are the idiots who say "we should trade Belak for Iginla", but dammit, it hurts the other 30% to hear the backlash from it all day long.

As a quasi-intelligent Buds fan, here's the God's honest truth on Eric Lindros. That guy who says he'll outscore Forsberg? Wrong. So very wrong. I take Forsberg any day of the week, injuries and all.

But Lindros is what he is. He'll get 7-8 points for every 10 games he plays. That's the simple fact. If he gets his clock cleaned in November and has to retire, the Leafs are out $1.5-million bucks. Would you rather have that, or a 37-year-old Adam Foote, making $4.5-million in 2008?

Tell me this. Who else has a better #3 centre than Eric Lindros? Philly maybe. But honestly, that's it.

And here's another one: name another player in the league making $1.5-million that will have more points per game than the Big E. Seriously. That's a bet I'll take right now. I get Lindros, and you take everyone else in the league making less than $1.5-million.

The bottom line is, the moves the Leafs have made this off-season were very prudent, intelligent transactions by a team with salary cap issues. They didn't commit more than $1.5 to anybody! And in the process, picked up a 40 goal scorer, a former 100-point man, a former MVP and a solid top-4 blueliner. All of whom ranged between the ages of 28-32.

They got a little younger, a little faster, and they don't have a single player on the roster who's signed through more than two seasons. I'm not saying they're prohibitive Cup favourites, but they'll make the playoffs this year and be well poised beyond then. And the best part? They didn't give $2.5-million to the sinkhole that is Dan Cloutier.

Ok, I apologize. That was a cheap shot. I have no beef with the Canucks, or their fans. Best of luck to the good people of British Columbia. I hope you win a Cup if my team can't.

That's all. I'm done. But please, stop the Leaf-hating. If you want to hate anyone, hate the Senators. Those bitches don't even seel out their home playoff games.

Wait, one last thing. I have a Leafs joke for you. Two Leaf fans have died, and they get sent down to Hell for all eternity. The Devil's trying to figure out a way to punish them, so he turns up the heat to a thousand degrees. The two men smile, pull out a deck chair, and sweat to their heart's content - they're Canadian, after all: a little heat's never bothered them. The Devil is undeterred. He turns up the heat to a million degrees, and the two men get a little uncomfortable. They babble a little bit about the unpleasant humidity, but basically, they're not affected. Getting angry, the Devil turns up the thermostat to a billion degrees, and the two guys crack open a few cans of Moosehead they've smuggled in, and make the best of a bad situation. Furious, the Devil gets an idea. He drops the temperature to -1000 degrees. The two men jump up and start screaming and dancing with joy. They're high-fiving and hugging all over the place. "I'm confused," says the Devil, "why are you idiots so happy?" "Isn't it obvious?" the first man says. "Hell has frozen over - the Leafs must have won the Cup!"

Go Leafs Go, baby...

At 12:28 p.m., August 12, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...


You close your argument about how Leafs fans are not dumb with one of the lamest, overused hockey jokes of all time.


As for your bet, I'll take it. Probably more than half the league makes less than Lindros at this point.

At least Belfour finished four spots ahead of Cloutier in GAA and five ahead in save percentage. When he was (only) 38-years-old... I suppose the extra $4-million was worth it at the time.

At 12:42 p.m., August 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, the debate you and BJ had about the Sedin sisters is identical to the ones my father and I have. He likes them and believes that they could yet "break out", and I am a Sedin skeptic like your cousin. At least Nonis got them at a good price -- any more than that and I would have tossed them overboard to sign a couple of minimum wage free agents instead.

At 1:08 p.m., August 12, 2005, Anonymous pete said...

Hey, you won't catch me defending the ludicrous Belfour re-signing of last year. In this NHL, $4.5-million should buy you a lot more goalie. Belfour's no longer a top 10 goalie, but JFJ gave him top 3 money.

As for my bet - it's on. With one caveat. Your player has to have at least 10 games played, because every year there's some kid who comes up for a game and gets a secondary assist - making their ppg ratio 1.0.

Shall we say the stakes are a pitcher of beer? Remembering of course that you already owe me a few for helping you move. :)

If you want to narrow down your list of players, you'll be the bigger man for it, but I'll put Eric against the league. I think he'll get more points per game than anyone else at that money.

At 1:48 p.m., August 12, 2005, Blogger Brett Mirtle said...

I don't hate the Leafs, and of course my blanket statement about their fans was an exaggeration. I think that Lindros is a decent pick up for the price, but the Leafs look thin on the wings and maybe the money could have been better spent on a top 6 winger?

Time will tell, and who knows - maybe Lindros nets 30 goals.

My main complaint about some Leaf fans is when I have to put up with comments such as these:

"If Allison and Lindros don't get injured the Leafs might be the best team in the league."

"Talant wise this guy may be the best player to ever put on the Maple Leaf."

"Sundin-Lindros-Allison, when healthy, might be the most offensively-potent trio in the entire league. the only one that would compete with that trio would be Richards-St. Louis-Lecavalier."

Or my personal favorite:

"Lindros and Forsberg have almost identical stats during their careers. We just signed the bigger player - scary isn't it?"

Like, come on! Good grief! But that aside, Lindros does have upside.

As far as Cloutier goes - I'm not a big fan of his. I was quietly hoping that Thibault would be on Nonis's radar.


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