Yawn Stastny

The Oilers picked up
Yan Stastny from the B's for a 4th round pick.

Experts, who are apparently easily impressed by pedigree, are raving about how big a steal this was. The kid made the U.S. team last World Championship. The reason? That team sucked (they called it a 'youth movement' south of the border).

Next piece of evidence: Stastny was worth 54 points in 51 games in the DEL, putting him in 4th place in the scoring race. What they don't tell you: 35-year-old Patrick Lebeau (remember him?) was good for 94 points in 52 games in the same league. Whoop de doo.

I sincerely hope the best for him, but sorry Oiler fans - his Hall-of-Fame dad, he ain't.

Maybe Kevin Lowe is hoping Yan's pop Peter will drop by the dressing room to offer pointers to the Oilers' offense.

[Update: I have been told that Patrick Lebeau no longer sports the perm shown in the above photograph.]


Full of sound and fury...

JFJ's recent wheelings and dealings in T.O. must have created a Prozac shortage in the city because, my goodness, the writers on the Leafs beat sure are a snarky bunch. Steve Simmons sees the greener grass in Ottawa and can't resist trash-talking:

"The Sam Pollock theory of trading -- established long before the days of salary caps points the winner of any trade as the team that comes away with the best player.
By that definition, the Ottawa Senators lost out by dealing Marian Hossa to the Atlanta Thrashers for Dany Heatley."

Steve says some people think Heatley is on the decline. Who are these people? Some people believe Elvis Presley is alive and well and living miles below the surface of Venus, but does that entitle them to have their opinion printed in the Sun? Don't answer that.

At least Simmons is just as hard on the home team:

"Mats Sundin had a media availability on Thursday. Had media members responded appropriately, they would have treated Sundin with the same respect he treated them with throughout the lockout. They wouldn't have showed up."

I guess I'd be crabby too if I had to watch Tie Domi 'play' for another two years.


Luongo's not that dumb

So. The self-proclaimed hockey guru of my office (every office has one) swings by the water cooler, saying:

"Luongo must be kicking himself now, huh? Huh? Turns down a 5-year, $25M offer and the arbitrator gives him one year at $3.2M! Boy, he really must be kicking himself."

I didn't argue. It's pointless to argue with the office guru. Every time I do, the discussion is eventually reduced to which one of us has seen Bobby Hull play. So I'll post my argument here.

Luongo will be a free agent in two years. He will also be the best goalie in hockey in two years, if he isn't already. If Khabibulin is worth $6.75M (which he isn't but that's neither here nor there), Luongo will be worth more. So Roberto makes $3.2M this year, maybe $3.5 next year, then at least $7M for the next three years when he's an UFA. That adds up to $27.7M over five years, and includes the bonus of being able to walk away from the team that took him to arbitration.

Of course, there is speculation involved. No one really knows what the market or cap will be like in a few years. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure Luongo will earn more than $25M over the next 5 years. If he doesn't, I'll just delete this blog to erase any evidence of my error then change the subject to Bobby Hull.


Double D

The Habs plugged a couple of holes on defense, signing Andrei Markov and Mark Streit to two-year and one-year deals respectively.

Markov's cap figure will be $1.75M, which is pretty reasonable. Skoula makes $1.5M, Lydman $1.9M, Sopel $2.4M, Poti $2.35M, Kaberle $2.3M. Unfortunately, Markov is scheduled to become a UFA in precisely two years.

Several years ago Brian Raflaski joined the Devils after beginning his career and maturing in Europe. He immediately fit in with one of the best blueline brigades in the league, and even surpassed Niedermayer's offensive production over the time they shared in NJ. I'm not suggesting Mark Streit will be the next Raflaski - merely that he may turn out to be more than a bit player, especially in the *New and Improved* NHL. According to an article in the Gazette, Gainey is very big on Streit. Here are some stats from the Swiss league, for reference:

Streit also had 7 points in 7 games at the WHCs in May.

Here's a nice article on Canadiens.com, in which mentions the Zidlicky, Timonen and Rafalski route to the NHL.

Not bad, for a guy with one leg


Why did I pick an agent with a 4.07GAA in '80-81?

Thank Jiri Crha for Hossa affair. He's a former player often mentioned in the same breath as Hardy Astrom in reference to the NHL. Now he's living vicariously through an immensely talented star in Marian Hossa, and has convinced him that he's worth Jarome Iginla money. It's been said many times before - no GM in his right mind would swap Iginla for Hossa 1-for-1. Maybe that was just posturing, but it reflects very badly on a great player who has given his all for the Ottawa Senators over the last six years.

On to the trade...
DeVries was a throw-in. He's a useful player, no question, but overpaid guys in tight cap situations are now pretty much given away (see Roenick, Malik, Sopel).

So it was basically Hossa at $18M over 3 years for Heatley at $13.5M over 3 years. Both are power forwards but where Hossa uses his size and strength for offense only a la John Leclair, Heatley is willing to crash and bang. A criticism of the Sens was a lack of toughness, so they acquired Varada and Rob Ray. That improved matters only a little - how can toughness on the 3rd of 4th line solve the problem of your top line players being pushed around? Guys like Heatley are the answer and that's why they're so valuable. He can put up Hossa numbers and dish out Rob Ray punishment. For less money.

What about Heatley's 'baggage?' People have said that he hasn't been the same player since his accident. True, he was not the same player in the 31 games he played in '03-04 that he was in his Calder season, but 25 points is pretty good considering his injuries and other circumstances that season. Then Dany led Canada to the gold in the '04 World Championships with 8 goals and 11 points in 9 games and was tournament MVP. Last year he bagged 14 goals and 24 points in 16 games with SC Bern. Compare that 1.5 point-per-game average to Joe Thornton's and Rick Nash's 'dominant' seasons in the same league: Thornton had 10g, 44a in 40 games and Nash had 26g, 24a in 44 games. In the '05 World Championships, Heatley was recovering from his eye injury and still posted 3 goals and 4 assists in his 9 games.

If his eye has completely healed, and John Muckler would have required firm evidence of that before making the deal, Heatley will be back to his dominant self. In getting a player who will put up Hossa's numbers, be more physical, and play for 75% of Hossa's salary, the Senators appear to have been big winners in this deal. Even more so if it allows them to keep Chara and Redden long-term.


Top Ten Canadiens, '85-05

For 50 years, Red Fisher has been covering the Montreal Canadiens. During the lockout he wrote articles on the top ten Habs he has seen. (Excellent articles, by the way. Go read them, now!) It is striking that only Gainey and Robinson had careers that reached into the last twenty years, and they were in their twilights.

I have been a Habs fan since the 1986 Cup. This season will mark the 20th anniversary of Cup #23. In celebration of this milestone, and with a tip of the hat (and apologies) to Mr. Fisher, I give you my top 10 Montreal Canadiens of the last twenty years.

This list is not necessarily the best players who happened to don a Habs jersey sometime over the last two decades. That list would probably include names like Recchi and Muller. Rather, it lists the players who made the greatest contributions to the team over the years.

10. Stephane Richer
A man of his talent should place higher on this list. Unfortunately, he personified many of the negative qualities of professional athletes over the last 20 years. Nonetheless, there were many nights he was the Habs sole threat to score and he has a couple of 50 goal seasons on his resume. 225 goals, 421 points in 490 games with the Habs from 1984-1998.

9. Shayne Corson
Another player long on promise yet short on results. He was expected to be the next great power forward. It never happened, but he gave the team some much needed size and grit up front. I hope his stint with the Leafs, where he caught the "Darcy Tucker Crazy," doesn't tarnish his long career. 423 points, 1341 PIM in 662 games, 1985-2000.

8. Bobby Smith
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to one of the goonies, this rangy, talented two-way centre produced at nearly a point-per-game pace. Yes, this happened smack-dab in the middle of the Gretzky NHL. 482 points in 505 games, 1983-1990.

7. Vincent Damphousse
A solid offensive performer with a surprising edge to his game. One of the few players whose production did not drop off after joining the Habs - indeed his best seasons (40g, 91pts in 93-94 & 38g, 94pts in 95-96) were with the tricolore. 23pts in 20 games in the '93 Cup run. 498 points in 519 games from 1992-1999.

6. Chris Chelios
The best defenseman to wear the uniform after Larry Robinson and the reason I wore #24 in minor hockey. He was with the team before hitting his peak, but enjoyed some great seasons. I'll never forget Ron Hextall taking a run at him after a deliberate offside in their '89 playoff series. 309 points, 783 PIM in 402 games from 1983-1990.

5. Mats Naslund
An inspiration to small players, including Hart winner Martin St. Louis who also wears #26. Naslund racked up 110 points in the '86 Cup season, and won the Lady Byng in '88. 612 points in 617 games from 1982-1990.

4. Jose Theodore
Hart and Vezina winner in 2002. First Hab to win the Hart since Guy Lafleur. Led the team to playoff upsets over the Bruins in 2002 and 2004. Now please sign him, Bob Gainey.

3. Saku Koivu
Sisu personified. Pierre Turgeon bagged 96 points in '95-96. At the tender age of 21, Koivu's performance in '96-97 made Turgeon expendable. Despite his size, his injuries and his illness, he has been the team's heart and soul for the last nine years. 398 hard fought points in 497 games from 1995-2004. Please start working on a long term contract for your captain, Mr. Gainey.

2. Guy Carbonneau
Allowed fans to continue chanting "Guy, Guy, Guy!" well after Lafleur retired. His three Selke trophies trail only Gainey's four. Took over as co-captain with Chelios when Robinson left. A quintessential defensive specialist, this guy had great hands and was a real threat in the offensive zone. 547 points in 912 games from 1980-1994.

1. Patrick Roy
Who else? Four Jennings, Three Vezinas, and Two Smythe trophies. He's the only player from the last two decades worthy of being on Red's top 10 list (but wasn't, inexplicably). The torch was passed from Richard to Beliveau to Lafleur to Roy... then the catastrophe in 1996 broke the chain.

Honourable mentions go to Patrice Brisebois (Canadiens' 6th highest scoring defenseman of all-time), Claude Lemieux, Chris Nilan, Mike Keane, Benoit Brunet and Eric Desjardins.