Mmm, Tangy!

Bob McKenzie says Tanguay for Ryder. Matt at BoA has an informed response.

With all the staff sightings between between Montreal and Calgary this year, it's hard not to think 'where there's smoke there's fire.' Then you look at the names involved - Tanguay for Ryder - and think it's typical nutty media speculation. Tanguay automatically comes up because he's French. Ryder is mentioned because he's the goat du jour in Montreal.

Unlike most of the media regarding rumours like this one, McKenzie does recognize the real motivation here: the Flames need 08/09 cap space (which isn't exactly Earth-shattering news - BoA's Matt has talked about it for months) and the Habs have 08/09 cap space. To clear 08/09 cap space via trade, the only two realistic options are Tanguay and Aucoin. Both have no-trade clauses. Neither can be given up entirely for futures because Sutter can't weaken the team's chances this season. And Sutter can always clear 08/09 cap space by simply not re-signing UFAs Huselius, Langkow, Conroy and Yelle. It's not like he must make a trade.

From Montreal's perspective, they can't add a whole lot of salary for this season. To take on Aucoin or Tanguay, Montreal would have to give up a significant 07/08 salary. The Habs only have one player who fits the criteria, and that's Ryder. I would think the Flames would be a little wary of Ryders, given their experience with Daniel.

Aucoin doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Habs. There are already more players than roster spots on the blueline, and more importantly the team's salary distribution is already defense-heavy. In addition to Ryder, the Habs would have to send one or more defencemen back. Brisebois, Streit and the youngsters are the only ones who won't take up much 08/09 salary. Something like Aucoin and Yelle for Ryder and Streit is possible, I suppose. I can't imagine why Gainey (who is dealing from a position of strength, being the one with the cap space) might make a deal that widens the F/D imbalance.

Tanguay makes more sense for Montreal (duh). He would even if he weren't French. The team's even strength scoring (Tanguay's bread & butter) has been improving, but it's still below average. The problem here, obviously, is that Ryder is nowhere near the player Tanguay is. That's true even if Ryder is on pace for his usual 30 goals. Gainey would have to sweeten the deal with significant futures. Even then, I have a hard time believing that Sutter would be willing to surrender such a big contributor this season.

For Calgary, there must be a better option out there for an impending UFA on a team with 08/09 cap space. Marian Hossa, perhaps?

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Why is this man smiling?

All the commentary about Ovechkin's contract got me thinking. I posted this comment at Tom Benjamin's:

One thing that seems to be overlooked is the downside of this deal for Ovechkin. If he turns out to be a top 5 player in the league, he should be paid close to the ceiling (20% of the cap). Whether paying anyone the player maximum is the right team-building strategy is irrelevant - the top players will command the maximum salary. By signing for 13 years, he's allowing the player maximum in 2008 dictate what he'll be earning in 2020. I suppose that's a good bet if you think the cap will still be $50M in 2020.

Suppose the next CBA is the same as the current one. If you project a modest cap increase of 5.5% per year over the next 13 years (it's gone up over 10% in each of the last two years), you're looking at a team cap of ~$75M when Ovechkin hits age 30. In 2020 the team cap would be over $100M and the player max would be over $20M. Ovechkin's cap hit will be roughly 60% of the player max when he's 30 and under 50% of the player max when the contract's done. I don't think it's outlandish to suggest that, come 2020, he might be able to earn more in the RSL than his $9.5M cap hit in the NHL.

If this contract makes sense for any team, it's the Caps. If they hadn't signed Nylander in the offseason, they would have been dangerously close to the $34M team salary floor. They needed a big salary to pay for the next few years to replace Kolzig's. The diminishing fraction of the team cap that Ovechkin eats up over the next 10+ years gives them room to build a supporting cast. If you believe Ovechkin is a top 5 player, a deal like this gives the team it's best chance to contend.

I thought this was the reason for the brief term of Crosby's contract. If you know you're worth the league max, why settle long term for the league max right now? Why not get the most current league max (or close to it) every year?



Brett Hull's First Blunder

$5M per season for Mike Ribeiro? Wow. Well done, Brett. Why, oh why couldn't you have been hired as the next GM for the Leafs?

THN's Ryan Dixon notes that Ribs is indeed on pace for 41 goals and 87 points. As some other writer once said, "I'm on pace to live forever." He's shooting over 36% - more than double his career number. On top of that, according to the behindthenet qualcomp numbers there are only two Dallas forwards playing softer minutes than Ribs: Krys Barch and Brad Winchester. If Ribeiro scores 40 goals this season - or any other season for that matter - I'll eat my shirt.

Hull said he wanted to mould his team in his own image. Handsomely rewarding an indifferent floater is a great first step in that direction.


The Southleast Division

This snapshot is from Zorak's NHL standings. Based on points per game, the five Southeast division teams sit at 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th place in the East. The Hurricanes were actually sitting in 10th prior to their win over Tampa on Sunday, and for a brief moment the SE division held five of the bottom six places in the conference. All five are solidly sub-.500 in terms of GF/GA too. We are now halfway through the NHL season. With the number of divisional games played in the New NHL, how is this even possible?

Here's the punchline: One of these clubs will start the playoffs at home.