Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Frack

He's retiring.

Joe Sakic to Announce Decision on Thursday

Joe Sakic will announce his decision this Thursday at 1:00pm MT.

I still believe.

Colorado Avalanche Roster Updates

The Avalanche announced a slew of signings over the weekend. David Jones, Darren Haydar, Chris Durno, Matt Hendricks, Brian Willsie and Saskatoon native Tyler Weiman are all back with the franchise.

AD has scooped us up the contract numbers for David Jones. The rest should be minimal value and are likely headed to Lake Erie anyways.

I've updated the Google Spreadsheet with Jones' contract - which wasn't far off from my estimate - and I also removed Sakic's contract but left his name in. Why? Because he's not part of the team (yet), his numbers shouldn't be counted.

Duchene is still on the squad as people seem adamant to keep putting him in there. However, I'm going to keep his cap hit at the maximum salary an entry-level player can sign. He will have a bonus-laden contract for sure, but those bonuses don't need to count against the cap this year. The reason last season's values counted against the cap was because the NHLPA had the option of not renewing the CBA for this season. But they did renew so again, the cap hit for bonuses can be deferred to next season.

I left seven D on the squad but it's looking like one or more of them are moving out by the end of the week. I hope we don't see Hannan tossed out simply because he has the highest salary among the D.

As always, feel free to correct any errors or omissions in the sheet, open it up and make the change.*



*But as mentioned, Duchene should stay at an entry level salary. It's already a compromise to leave him on the sheet, which is a bit premature in itself :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Colorado Avalanche to Sign Former Griffins Captain

Geore Malik is reporting that a Swedish paper is reporting that the Colorado Avalanche are about to sign former Grand Rapid Griffins captain, Darren Haydar. Grand Rapids is Detroit's AHL affiliate and we've seen the products they churn out.

Haydar put up 80 points in 79 games this season playing on the right wing, but he's torn it up in the AHL before and it's amounted to little in the NHL so far.

Related Links
Darren Haydar Stats on hockeydb.com

The Rebuild Begins

It was the trade heard 'round the world. The Ryan Smythtrade signaled the end of an era for the Avalanche. An era that included greatness, dominance and glory coupled with a steep fall from grace which included shame, ridicule and frustration.

Now, it's time for Paul Stastny. Time for Chris Stewart. Time for T.J. Galiardi. Time for Matt Duchene. Time for Kevin Shattenkirk. Not all this year of course, but these players will be the new face of the Avalanche.

But was it time to let Ian Laperriere walk after offering him less than he deserved? Was it time to trade Ryan Smyth for Kyle Quincey + two bags of pucks? Was it time to keep Darcy Tucker knowing they would be shedding salary so would have the cap space to eat his buyout. No.

And if it turns out Sakic told Sherman "I'm retiring" and he still got rid of Smyth, then heaven help the man because I think he might get beat down by a crazed fan.*

So prepare yourselfs, Avs fans because it's going to be a rough couple years in terms of standings. But the joy of watching these young kids grow and cheering them on is untouchable. New leaders will emerge, new stars will blossom, and the organization will have a new identity when all is said and done. And I (have to) believe that identity will be a good one.

But I've got concerns with Stan Kroenke's ownership recently. A rebuild is one thing, but cutting costs is another. And the cost-cutting isn't coming just in the player salary department, but throughout the organization. I'm a penny-pincher by nature but you can't let that blind you to your surroundings.

It appears Kroenke is being blinded and possibly distracted by his many other sporting endeavors. Given that he's pouring more money into Arsenal, the cost cutting can't be due to tanking Wal-Mart shares or real estate holdings. Something else is behind his apparent disregard for the Avs and it is concerning.

This rebuild could be spectacular. But it could be hamstrung by an owner not willing to open his pockets for his former favorite child while still expecting fans to open theirs. A rebuild is mutual, as is the partnership between a team and its fans.

Let's hope we can work this out together.

*I'm not implying I would do it. This was not a threat. Please stay away from me, FBI. I'm also not saying I wouldn't do it...

Colorado Avalanche Trade Ryan Smyth

I'm in shock. I didn't want to believe the rumors. In fact, during the trade deadline I was quite emphatic that it was all bunk. Turns out, I was wrong.

The Avalanche have traded Ryan Smyth to the Los Angeles Kings. I haven't yet heard what we're getting in return but I'd guess Doughty is not an option.

This frees up $3M in cap space which should help with Kroenke's goal of driving away fans...I mean trimming payroll. It would also create some extra space to allow both Sakic and Duchene to fit on the squad. So maybe I'm not wrong on Sakic...

UPDATE 1: AD has the early scoop on the details: Tom Preissing, Kyle Quincey and a 5th-round pick next year. Without researching more on those players, it's a "meh" from me. And dangerously close to a "WTF?".

UPDATE 2: Tom Preissing was looking like a stud early in his career but he completely tanked in LA and ended up spending time in the AHL. I remember him now from his time with the Ottawa Senators during their run in '07 and he looked like a blossoming defenceman so I'm not sure what happened but based on his last two seasons, he's not worth $2.75M. But I suppose if you want someone to take a big contract off your hands, you've got to take back an unwanted one in return.

Kyle Quincey actually had a solid season with the Kings and could be an excellent pickup. He spent time in the Detroit organization and there are definitely worse places to be trained. The Wings did waive him this season, leading to his LA picup He scored 38 points in 72 games with the Kings and feels a bit like John-Michael Liles' doppleganger. There are worse things to be, especially with a 500K price tag.

The 5th-round pick should have been a 2nd or 3rd-round pick since those later rounds are basically throw-aways. Yeah, yeah, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, blah blah blah.

The end result leaves me going "WTF?!". Note the extra exclamation point. It's not the loss of Smyth, it's the lack of return. I know Smyth had a large contract for what some viewed as limited point production, but Smyth did so much more than just put up points. This leaves room for young guys to step up which I'm actually excited for, but I still feel Smyth was worth more than this. It's probably the 5th-round pick that's really sticking in my craw.

Logjam in the backend
This possibly squeezes out Kyle Cumiskey for another season since there is a bit of a logjam on defence now. To be honest, I'm not that sold on Cumiskey and Quincey looks to be a better version. Of course, I say that without having had enough time to really watch Quincey.

Surely you would think there's another d-man on the move. That's a lot of salary on the backend for a squad of that calibre and there's a lot of offensive d-men, and not many shutdown guys. But when you're in cost-cutting mode, I'm guessing filling roles is a secondary priority.

Youth Movement
So it's officially time for the youth movement (come on, let's spin it a bit). There's now room on the squad for T.J. Galiardi, who should make the team based on his play last year, as well as Matt Duchene.

But just because you're going younger doesn't mean you trade the vets for nothing. I'll say this, Duchene better be as good as we all hope he is and Stastny better stop blocking shots with bare body parts. And for the love of Pete, let's hope Hejduk stays healthy. And that Wolski picks up his game. And that Svatos decides to score 30+ again. And that...oh hell, let's just call next season a full-on rebuild season and get it over with.

Leadership
This leaves a lot of leadership room that needs to be picked up by guys like Milan Hejduk, Scott Hannan and Adam Foote. Especially if I'm wrong on Sakic coming back. Smyth, Sakic and Ian Laperriere contained a lot of leadership. Losing all three at once would be a big hit.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Do the Avalanche have room for Super Joe?

The Avalanche are likely done with the free agent signings after nabbing Craig Anderson (good stuff) and David Koci (WTF?) on the first day. And since I believe Joe Sakic is coming back, we should take a look to see how much cap space is left for his contract.

I've put together a quick Google spreadsheet which includes a couple projections to fill out the Avs 2009/2010 roster. I've got T.J. Galiardi making the team while Ryan Stoa and Matt Duchene do not. I also put in some projected numbers for David Jones and Kyle Cumiskey, who both received qualifying offers but no contract has been signed. I believe both will re-sign and neither should be getting any large increase in salary, but I did give them a modest bump because I'm nice that way. And finally, I brought back Daniel Tjarnqvist as a 7th defenceman, but you can slot in any serviceable name in that 7th-D slot.



With all the dust settled, there is enough space to give Sakic a $5M contract. I went conservative and gave him a $4.5M contract, leaving some flex in cap space. Of course, this is complete conjecture on whether Sakic would take "just" $4.5M for what would undoubtedly be his final season. And it's still conjecture on my part that he's coming back but let's not ruin the entire point of this post.

Would it be disappointing for Matt Duchene to not get a chance to skate with his idol, Joe Sakic? Absolutely, but I'd be willing to bet that even if he doesn't prove NHL-ready during the development and/or training camps, he'll stick around for at least one game to start the season so he can say he skated with Joe.

There's also plenty of time for Greg Sherman to work on unloading a bloated contract or two to some sucker GM out there - maybe Burke would take Darcy Tucker? - to open up more space for youth. Of course, the odds of that happening are slim to none but one can hope, right?

If you notice a mistake in the spreadsheet or think I'm flat-out wrong, feel free to either comment below or open up the spreadsheet and make a change.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avalanche Sign Craig Anderson

Greg Sherman starts off his tenure with a solid pickup, signing goaltender Craig Anderson to a 2-year deal, rumored at $1.8M/year. Anderson was one of the top-3 goaltenders available and likely the best bang for the buck, though we've yet to see what Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Biron sign for.

Anderson played very well for the Florida Panthers in his limited playing time, posting 15 wins, 7 losses, a 2.71 GAA and .924 save percentage. On a non-lethal Panthers team, those are very good numbers.

Anderson and Peter Budaj will jockey for the #1 position in training camp, but it's quite possible this is another 1a/1b situation. Anderson is not the Avs goaltending savior, but Anderson/Budaj is more solid than Budaj/Raycroft.

Nice scoop, AD!

Free Agent Frenzy 2009 Edition

In a mere 10 minutes the gates will lift and the NHL's annual free agent frenzy will begin. What does that mean for everyone? Well, if you are lucky enough to live in Canada, you get to watch endless speculation by the TSN talking heads since little signings are announced for the first couple hours. And of course you get to do that while sitting in your underwear on the couch because today is Canada's birthday. The little guy is growing up so fast.

If you're in the US, you can follow along on TSN's website along with their handy free agent tracker. They tend to get the breaking news up quickly and only if it's 100% confirmed. Darren Dreger is all a-twitter while TSN.ca also has a CoverIt Live blog going. Sadly, I don't see a Jay Onrait live blog.

If you're the informed rumor loving type, Spector and The Fourth Period have you covered. If you're the ill-informed rumor mongering type, you know where to go (but hey, we've all gone there once or twice).

Holy crap, I've been so busy lately I'm recycling posts. And without the decency to update my thoughts on what the Avalanche will or should do.

And I'm not gonna. I'm going to sit down, catch a little of the covereage, go for a bikeride by the river, lay on the grass and think about nothing...and then head in to work for a bit. I'll catch up on everything later in the day and will put up a post if the Avs did anything worthwhile. Like trade Tucker.

At least it can't be worse than last year's frenzy...

Related Links
Mile High Hockey Free Agency Live Thread