Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes: Congratulations and Concerns

July 1st is always a busy day for clubs and it was no different for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Canes Broadcast team returns

Much to the delight of Caniacs worldwide, the broadcasting trio will return. Play-by-Play Announcer John Forslund (@JohnForslund), Color Analyst Tripp Tracey, and television/web host Mike Maniscalco (@MikeManiscalco) have all been re-signed by the Carolina Hurricanes. This will mark the 21st season that Forslund and Tracey will have worked together for Carolina. Additionally, it will be Forslund’s 25th season as the play-by-play voice of the Hurricanes. This posting dates back to 1994-95 season when the franchise was still located in Hartford, CT. Tracey, a former goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers, has been with the club since his retirement in 1998. Maniscalco enters into his fourth season with the club as the host of Hurricanes LIVE! on FOX Sports Carolinas and host of the popular podcast CanesCast.

Hurricanes find a primary – Return of the Mrazzle Dazzle

 

In true cardiac cane fashion, the Carolina Hurricanes re-sign the 27-year old Czech phenom on UFA-day. The new contract is a 2-year, $6.25M deal that will last through the 2020-21 season. The deal pays out a respectable $3M in the upcoming 2019-20 season, and follows with a $3.25M payout in 2020-21. The Ostrava, CZE native was originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Selected 141st overall (5th rd, 21s pk). In the year Petr Mrazek has spent with the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club, he’s hammered out quite the reputation. Both within franchise records, and in fan’s hearts. Following the 2017-18 season, Philadelphia did not tender a qualifying offer to Petr, which opened him up to the free agent market.

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Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, on July 1st 2018, extended a contract offer. A 1-year, $1.5M contract, and an opportunity to redeem himself after the season in Philly. Now, a year later, Petr has registered a 23-14-3 record, a 2.39 goals-against average, and a .914 save percentage that includes four shutouts. This tied his career high in shutouts. It addition, put him squarely in fifth place in franchise records for lowest single-season goals-against average. He sports a career record of 101-78-26, a 2.61 goals-against average, and a .911 save percentage spanning 223 NHL games. The Hurricanes Twitter account puts it best.

Controversy and concern – Sebastian Aho receives an offer sheet

Then the day got interesting. GM Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens extended an offer sheet to restricted free agent and Hurricanes superstar, Sebastian Aho.

It was not entirely unexpected, considering that multiple teams had called Carolina. The shock came more in the form of the offer itself. Surprising enough that the Hurricanes GM made mention of it during a press conference addressing the offer sheet.

Carolina’s on a 7-day clock, on whether to match the offer, or to take the draft pick compensation. The compensation would come in the form of a 1st Round pick, a 2nd Round pick, and a 3rd Round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. It had been previously said that the club would match any offer. Not to worry, though, Caniacs.

Stats and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL and Cap Friendly

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

San Jose Sharks Sign RFA Timo Meier: Four Years $6 Million AAV

The San Jose Sharks have signed one of their essential players, in right-wing Timo Meier.

After Joe Pavelski left for the Dallas Stars, it was paramount the Sharks signed Meier, and they got him in a great 4 year deal, at $6 million per year. This contract was another stellar signing by GM Doug Wilson, considering what he still has left to do and what Wilson has already done. After signing Erik Karlsson to an 8 year $11.5mil AAV, the Sharks had very little room to sign what many thought was one of their core players going forward, Timo Meier. The other one is 23 year old rightwing Kevin Labanc, look for him to sign for around $3mil AAV in the coming days. The Sharks 2019-20 team is rounding out as expected and they look more than capable for another feeding frenzy next season.

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Sharks Depth Going Forward

The Sharks blue line is in fully operational Death Star mode, so their focus will be on signing Joe Thornton, Dylan Gambrell and Kevin Labanc next. The Sharks will also look to add depth with signing their old captain and long time center Patrick Marleau, the Sharks second pick in the first round in 1997. Marleau played with the Sharks for 19 seasons and is another great playoff scoring threat along with a team leader for the up and coming youth in the Sharks locker room. I am considering the Sharks move of letting Pavelski go and signing Meier as addition by subtraction. The Sharks will lose the 38 goals that Pavelski provided, but it will also allow Meier to step up even more than he did last year. Last season he netted 30 goals along with 36 assists, not to mention the 5 goals and 10 assists during the 2018-19 playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. With him playing on the top line with Logan Couture, those number will inevitably rise. During the playoffs this past season we all witnessed what Meier is capable of, and the Swiss born first round pick is primed to be a force for the Sharks.

Logan Couture New Captain

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With Joe Pavelski signing a new 3 year deal with the Dallas Stars, the Sharks will be naming a new captain. The overwhelming fans choice from what I have seen on Twitter, would be a one Logan Couture. Couture has been amazing in all the cup runs the Sharks have had, amassing 101 points since the 2009-10 season and shocking the world with 30 playoff points in 2015-16. Mr. Playoffs has more than what it takes to be a captain in this league and I see the 30 year old center being handed the “C” for next season. The only other player besides Joe Thornton that could take the reigns of being captain is Erik Karlsson, having been team captain in Ottawa, but I think Logan Couture has earned that right. Stay tuned Sharks fans, there is more to come! Chomp Chomp!!!

Jon Margolis

@jmargolis_NHL

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image: Dinur Blum

Ranking the 2019 Free Agent Goalies

You may not find a better crop of Free Agent Goalies than what is available this season. Let’s take a look at each available netminder. 

Many like to call goaltending in hockey “voodoo”, meaning we can never predict what a goalie will go on an insane run, such as how Tukka Rask did in the 2019 Stanely Cup playoffs or on the contrary what goalie will pull a Martin Jones and put up solid results until 2018-2019 essentally costing his team putting up a SV% under 0.900%, being among the worst goalies in the league. So despite all of the voodoo associated with goalies I have ranked the 2019 UFA class in separate tiers from starter calibre to AHL calibre but using data from the past three seasons to get the best sample.

*Glossary of stats can be found at the bottom of the page. 

 

Tier 1: Definitive Starter

Sergei Bobrovsky-(2016-2019)

Age-30

Total WAR-22.9

Average HDSV%-84.93%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.506%

Total GSAA-65.4

Bobrovsky, the two time Vezina winner is without a doubt, a world class goaltender, and has been throughout his career.  He also is the best goalie within this group available July 1st 2019.  It is expected he will be given a monster contract for his consistent and elite level results. While I think he is easily a starter currently, I’m not certain that if I were a general manager of a current NHL team, I would hand him anything over four years at a maximum with his numbers clearly regressing as he ages. Furthermore, in 2016-2017, bobrovski had a 0.957 SV% above expected (SV%-xSV%), in 2017-2018 it was 0.352% and in 2018-2019 it was 0.21%. These numbers falling is probably a result of Bobrovski simply aging, here is a chart describing goaltender aging curves using GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average (League SV_perc * SA) – GA)) .

The question is, can Bobrovski sustain his Vezina calibre goaltending going into his 30’s?  We will see for ourselves whether he is in the Sunshine State or somewhere in New York.

Tier 2: Probably Starter Calibre

Robin Lehner-(2016-2019)

Age-27

Total WAR-10.1

Average HDSV%-78.675%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.055%

Total GSAA-8.03

Robin Lehner is a goaltender who is hard to predict what will happen with him next season.  Historically over the past three seasons, his results did not scream “starter”, but last season he was truly a Vezina level goalie, landing third in voting and putting up respectable numbers all around with a very solid HDSV% in 2018-2019 with 82.67%.  I could see Lehner being a starter next season and doing well but I don’t fully expect him to replicate a season such as the most recent one. One sense of optimism is his mental health seems to be in a lot better condition than it was in Buffalo before, which is a very important aspect of the game that goes under the radar in a sport known for the saying “just tough it out” in hockey.

 

Tier 3: Solid Backup

Mike Smith-(2016-2019)

Age-37

Total WAR-11.3

Average HDSV%-79.373%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.325%

Total GSAA-4.36

Mike Smith is probably the ideal backup on any team who has a definitive starter already, Smith has had a very consistent career of being a good goaltender whether he was behind a good or bad defensive structure. Smith is 37 years old and probably only has one year left in the NHL, but even with the age in account he is capable of being a backup goaltender for any team, posting a HDSV% of over 80% with 80.43%. Smith adds more value to the table by adding a good veteran presence in the locker room.

 

Semyon Varlamov-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR-5.0

Average HDSV%-77.32%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.776%)

Total GSAA–3.81

Seymon Varmalov has been, when healthy, Colorado’s starter for the better of the past five or six seasons, putting up largely okay numbers, and in the past three seasons has been a below average goaltender which puts him within the solid backup category rather than the starter category where many would assume he would be placed. I would bet on Varmalov to continue to put up decent numbers and think any team looking for a backup able to play thirty games or more should definitely inquire on Varmalov.

 

Petr Mrazek-(2016-2019)

Age-27

Total WAR-3.8

Average HDSV%-80.35%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.323%)

Total GSAA-2.81

Petr Mrazek is about slightly below what would be you could call you average NHL goaltender which places him within the third tier. Mrazek has never had a full season of being terrible, nor has he had a full season of being amazing, just simply mediocre results across the past three seasons. Mrazek would be a good bet for a team to acquire that doesn’t have one definitive starter, to split the games 50/50 with the other goaltender, such as how Carolina just did last season with Mrazek himself. All in all I would put my money on Mrazek to continue to be the goaltender he has been throughout his career, that is, an average goaltender.

 

Cam Talbot-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR-11.9

Average HDSV%-77.73%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.161%)

Total GSAA-8.91

Cam Talbot is an interesting case when it comes to evaluating him, after he and McDavid carrying Edmonton to the division final in the 2017 Staneley Cup playoffs and throughout the 2016-2017 season. Talbot has not put up stellar numbers since. In both the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 season Talbot’s GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) and SV% above expected have been negative or below the average goaltender. However these unattractive results could be as a result of the 86 games he played in 2016-2017 (playoffs and regular season combined), while facing 2015 shots, 146 shots more than the next goaltender. On the other hand, he is already 31 years old and well past his prime (a goaltenders prime is around 25) and he is set to regress. But combining all of the factors in play, I do believe Talbot could be a serviceable backup or half starter if he is behind a sound defensive structure such as Calgary, where he is rumored to be heading to. If I were a GM I would avoid paying him starter money because the results don’t show he is of starter quality.

 

Curtis McElhinney-(2016-2019)

Age-36

Total WAR-6.1

Average HDSV%-82.587%

Average SV% Above Expected-0.691%

Total GSAA-17.98

 

Curtis McElhinney is among the most strange cases of goaltenders we have seen before (#GoaliesAreVoodoo), similar to this years Norris winner, Mark Giordano, McElhinney has peaked at a very unusual age. After having the worst career SV% among active goalies in the league, McElhinney has continued his three year journey of putting up fantastic results (I don’t think anyone saw this one coming). So as a result of the data from the past three seasons, McElhinney will be a solid backup for any team in need of a secondary goaltender. McElhinney probably only has a limited amount of time left in the league being 36 years old, but he would be of value for sure.

 

Tier 4: Mediocre Backup 

Keith Kinkaid-(2016-2019)

Age-29

Total WAR-3.9

Average HDSV%-77.95%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.245%)

Total GSAA-(-10.65)

Keith Kinkaid is an interesting option for a backup, as he appears to be about an average NHL backup at this point in his career putting up mixed results over the past three seasons, but still NHL calibre results. Any team who misses out on the options above should take a shot at Kinkaid if they need a second goaltender.

Tier 5: Third Goalie (AHL Starters) 

Cam Ward-(2016-2019)

Age-35

Total WAR-0.6

Average HDSV%-77.63%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-0.595%)

Total GSAA-(-22.26)

Cam Ward is simply not the Cam Ward from 2006 when he was a rookie who won the Stanley Cup with Carolina. He hasn’t been for years and it’s extremely unlikely he will ever perform at a level as he did in 2006 again, given he is 35 years old and will only likely regress because of his age as a result. For teams who are looking for a goalie to be an emergency call up when injuries happen he is a great guy to have, but I think he will probably play in the NHL as a backup only because of his stellar play TEN YEARS AGO.

Michal Neuvirth-(2016-2019)

Age-31

Total WAR–1.7

Average HDSV%-73.46%

Average SV% Above Expected-(-1.313%)

Total GSAA-(-17.05)

Michal Neuvirth is a player whose existence as an NHL player is forgotten about. It may be because he was one of the Flyers sevens goalies this past season but don’t quote me on it. Neuvrith over the last three seasons hasn’t put up NHL calibre goaltending (was below replacement level) meaning you can bring in your best AHL goalie and he would probably put up the same results.

Index of Abbreviations: 

SV_perc    Save Percentage: 1 – (GA / SA)

FSV_perc    Fenwick Save Percentage: 1 – (GA_ / FA)

xFSV_perv    Expected Fenwick Save Percentage: 1 – (xGA / FA)

d_FSV_perc    FSV_perc – xFSV_perc

GSAA    Goals Saved Above Average: (League SV_perc * SA) – GA

GSAx    Goals Saved Above Expected: xGA – GA_

Goals Above Average & Replacement (Goalies):

 

Metric    Definition

GAA_per_fenwick    Goals Above Average per Fenwick Shot Against (the transformed coefficient from the regression. See below)

FA    Total fenwick shots against

GAA    Goals Above Average: FA * GAA_per_fenwick

GAR    Goals Above Replacement: GAA + (FA * 0.007312411) // inverted replacement level GAA_per_fenwick

WAR    GAR / season goals per win

Data is from, Micah Blake McCurdy 2019, https://evolving-hockey.com/, http://moneypuck.com/goalies.htm and https://www.corsicahockey.com/nhl/players/nhl-player-stats/goalie-stats

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Misconception Of Alex Killorn

Let’s take a look at Alex Killorn of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Part 17 of my Tampa Bay Lightning player evaluations has arrived. Last time, I looked at rookie forward Mathieu Joseph’s season, and he was far better than I had initially thought before I started. This next player is another in which I don’t believe he had a great season, but could definitely surprise me. He’s someone who I’ve seen thrown around by fans, including myself, in trades, and some fans just don’t like him at all. This intriguing third line winger, is Alex Killorn. 

The Basics

Alex Killorn played in all 82 games last season, and recorded 18 goals and 22 assists (40 points). Averaging 14:52 time on ice, which was a career low, Killorn started just 46.1% of his shifts in the offensive zone, also a career low, being used more defensively than on offense. However, he followed that up with fantastic possession numbers, with a 54.2 Corsi-For%. He also posted a career best takeaway to giveaway ratio of 30 to 22, which is a +8 differential. That marked the first time in his career that he had more takeaways than giveaways. For PDO, which is ultimately measured and calculated luck, he posted well above the average of 100, with a 102.9, which is very lucky, and means he might not have as good of a season next year, unless his luck holds true. When Killorn was on the ice, the Lightning had an expected goals for of 46.4, another career high for Killorn, and an expected goals against of 35.7, his second lowest total since the 2014-15 season, which is a +10.7 differential. 

Advanced Analytics

Looking at his stats, he’s solid all the way around, but those stats don’t always translate into the advanced analytics that I use. CF% does not mean he is good at breaking out of the defensive zone or gaining entry into the offensive zone. But he still had some really solid numbers last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the spider graph below reflect that, even a little bit. 

Killorn (red), stands out when it comes to his shooting metrics. He shoots a lot (Shots60), and gets a lot of goals, or just general contributions off of those shots (ShotContr60), but doesn’t necessarily gain assists off his shots, whether it’s tipped or put in off a rebound (ShotAssists60). Where he really struggled, relative to the other two players on the graph, was in his effectiveness of entering the offensive zone, as he posted last in both entry metrics (PossEntry60, PossEntry%). He ranked second in the exit metric that calculates how often he breaks out in a 60 minute span (PossExit60), and tied for first in how many exits he posts relative to the total number of times he attempts an exit (PossExit%). To dive in deeper on his exit metrics, I looked into CJ Turtoro’s Exits per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 9th on the Lightning roster when it comes to exiting the defensive zone. The one problem is, Killorn has the second lowest number of total breakouts, ahead of only Brayden Point, among the top 10 players. He is effective passing the puck up and out of the zone, but doesn’t often find himself skating it out himself. If there isn’t any passing options or room to skate, he dumps or clears it out to reset in the defensive zone. He doesn’t have a very high number of fails either, nearly half the amount that Mathieu Joseph had in a near identical workload, so he does just fine breaking out and doesn’t face too many problems in doing so. However, where I am most interested is in how badly Killorn looked entering the offensive zone on the spider graph. Let’s take a closer look at his entry metrics, by using CJ Turtoro’s Entries per 60 minute visual. 

Killorn ranks 12th on the Lightning roster in entering the zone. The struggles we thought we saw on the spider graph really wasn’t much of a struggle at all. The spider graph looks at controlled entries, when a player passes or skates it into the zone. It doesn’t take into account uncontrolled entries, which is when a player dumps it in deep. When you take controlled and uncontrolled and put them together, Alex Killorn really isn’t bad at all. He just looks for the smart play, sends it in deep, and then forechecks hard. He tends to skate it in himself when he doesn’t dump it in, relative to him passing to a teammate. But the best part about Killorn’s entry metric, is the fact that he seemingly never fails. He has the second lowest fail total among the 14 players listed, behind only Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

 

In Conclusion 

Killorn may not be the best player on the Lightning. He also doesn’t have the best contract. However, he is a lot better than many people think. He was very safe with the puck last season, able to enter and exit the offensive and defensive zones without turning the puck over very often. He had good shooting stats and nearly had a 0.5 point per game total, which is solid, considering he played less than 15 minutes per game (on average). Maybe there’s just a misconception of him due to the fact he has such a bad contract, but no one really knows. Looking at everything, maybe we should hang on to Killorn for at least one more year, because his value is lower than his production, and the Lightning won’t get a fair return for him. 

 

All stats via Hockey-reference

Spider graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered by CJ Turtoro

Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner

Arizona Coyotes Acquire Kessel

The Arizona Coyotes, on Saturday night, acquired Phil Kessel, Dane Birks, and a 4th round pick, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre Olivier Joseph. 

I’ll set a scene for you. Imagine you’re excited to watch an indoor football playoff game. You’re at a bar having a couple of drinks, and your friend won’t stop blowing your phone telling you the player you’ve wanted your team to trade for was acquired by them. You immediately don’t believe them, primarily because you know your small market team would never acquire elite talent that would put them at the cap ceiling. Then find out the cost was one of your favorite players in the team. One more drink was required to come to terms with everything.

It’s happened. The thing I wanted most this offseason actually happened. I actually feel foolish that my first reaction was “not Galchenyuk.” Like a spoiled Lakers fan over Lonzo Ball when we just acquired top tier talent for him. Galchenyuk and Pierre-Oliver Joseph have been sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Cheeseburger Phil, a 4th round pick, and Dane Birks.

Cheeseburger Phil Kessel is now an Arizona Coyote, and it’s a dream come true. Our leading scorer last season was Keller with 47 points. Kessel last year scored 82. (Per NHL.com)

What Arizona desperately needed was goal scoring, and this year they added a 30 goal scorer. I was on record last season saying that Galchenyuk wasn’t a 30 goal scorer considering how he hadn’t hit that mark in two seasons. With him only scoring 19 last season, it’s safe to admit what I said a year ago. That season was a career year and not the example of his consistent talent.

Kessel has had 5 seasons of 30+ production, and 11 consecutive seasons of 20+. Kessel is legit the answer to Arizona’s scoring woes.

Add in the fact that Kessel hasn’t missed a game in 9 seasons. (per ESPN) Arizona is sure adding guys who stay healthy after last seasons horrible misfortunes.

As of right now, the Coyotes top line is Keller-Schmaltz-Kessel. Not only did Keller play his best hockey with Schmaltz last season, but you add a multiple time Stanley cup champion, and elite goal scorer to that line, and Keller has just been handed the keys to not only a bounce back season. He’s been handed the keys to a career year two days before free agency.

Factoring in the acquisition of Soderberg (another 20 goal scorer) and the rumors of possibly more moves to come, Arizona is a legitimate playoff contender. I am fully comfortable saying that this team has gotten tremendously better over just the last couple of weeks.

I’m going to miss Galchenyuk. I loved his overall game and he paired very well with my favorite player, Conor Garland.

As for Joseph, I’ve been following him the last two Coyotes rookie camps, and moving on from his services was a great idea. Last year, he was easily the best at the camp, but this year he was far from it. I noticed that he was a lot slower than the season prior. It legitimately looked like he was nursing an injury. He wasn’t skating well in the corner, his transitions were sloppy, and his passing seemed to be weaker. The only upside he still had in my eyes was his shot. He has Keith Yandle‘s shot, easily. Unfortunately, like Yandle, he’s a defenseman and not a winger. I expect defensive ability with the potential upside of providing scoring depth.

The cherry on top of the deal was the 4th round pick as a “free asset” and Birks to replace Joseph on the depth chart. Chayka made an amazing trade and has made Arizona a playoff team. 

I should mention that Kessel is 31 with 3 years left on his contract with a cap hit of $6.8M (per capfriendly) , but he’s yet to show an signs of aging to date. If he does start to regress, he’s still likely to be a 60 point player, so this is still a huge net positive.

Chayka played pot of greed bois, and +1s are usually banned in Yu-Gi-Oh!

 

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum