Dec 012013
 

ROGERS COMMUNICATIONS INC. - Rogers and NHL 12-year deal

Photo credit: canada.com

The last week brought several big news items off the ice for the NHL.  We found out that, according to Forbes, the value of NHL teams went up by an average of 46.6%.  3 of the top 5 valued NHL teams are based in Canada.  The Toronto Maple Leafs, again, top the list valued at a whopping $1.15B.  The New York Rangers come in at a relatively distant second with a value of $850M.  The Montreal Canadians and Vancouver Canucks come in at 3rd and 4th with values of $775M and $700M respectively.

The Canucks jumped from 7th last year to 4th this year; more than doubling their value of a year ago ($342M). The Canucks have by far the largest percentage increase from last year at 104.7%.

Comng out of a lockout-shortened season and seeing growth like this certainly bodes well for the NHL as a whole moving forward.  That said, the bottom 5 or 6 teams still have low values and below par growth.

NHL Franchise Values

Further increasing team values is the Rogers Sportsnet-CBC television deal announced this week.  Many were shocked to learn that TSN, regarded by many as putting out the best televised hockey product, was left out in the cold and will not have national NHL television rights for at least the duration of this deal.  The deal is for a whopping $5.2B over 12 years, an average of $433M a year, a whopping increase over the $100M a year for the last deal.

My math tells me that’s an average of $14.43M per team, per year, and with 50% going to player salaries per the new CBA, it looks like the salary cap will be increasing steadily over the next few years.  This is good news for the Canucks, in particular, as they can definitely use some cap space to supplement their core moving forward, more than likely targeting one of the many star forwards turning UFA at the end of this season.

It wasn’t all rosy for the NHL this week however, with a group of players filing a lawsuit against the NHL in relation to head injuries suffered during their playing career.  The lawsuit originally started at 10 players and has since ballooned to over 200 players as of this writing.  It should be interesting to see how this story develops over the coming weeks.

Mar 062012
 

It seems these days not a day goes by that there isn’t something about the mediocre Toronto Maple Leafs that’s making the headlines. 

At first blush, the signing of Mikhail Grabovski to a five year, $27.5 million contract seems rather ludicrous. We’re talking about high-end salary for a streaky scorer that’s never put up 30-goals or 60 points.

 But is the contract really that far out of whack? Let’s do this arbitration-style, and look at some comparables.

Comparable #1: The 2004 NHL Entry Draft – Part 1

Grabovski was drafted 150th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. There were 30 centres selected prior to that, although only 19 have made the NHL, and only nine have played 240+ games (the rough equivalent of three NHL seasons):

PlayerDraftedSalary Cap HitGPPPPG+/-PIM
Evgeni Malkin2nd$8.7 M4104991.2237406
David Krejci63rd$5.25 M3592600.7258128
Mikhail Grabovski150th$5.5 M3041950.6410188
Travis Zajac20th$3.89 M4162520.6137126
Brandon Dubinsky60th$4.2 M3772050.5422446
Dave Bolland32nd$3.375 M2841480.5232181
Tyler Kennedy99th$2 M3091460.4730162
Rostislav Olesz7th$3.125 M3551320.37-10118
Torrey Mitchell126th$1.367 M263700.2713137

Clearly Malkin remains the best centre taken in the draft. Grabovski though is in the running for second-best (with Krejci, Zajac and Dubinsky).

Comparable #2: The 2004 NHL Entry Draft – Part 2

When you take all players from this entry draft into consideration, there are a group of players who have played a similar number of games to Grabovski: 

PlayerDraftedSalary Cap HitGPPPPG+/-PIM
Blake Wheeler5th$2.55 M3091810.5954188
Blake Comeau47th$2.5 M3061320.43-49159
Tyler Kennedy99th$2 M3091460.4730162
Kris Versteeg134th$3.083 M3091960.6315185
Mikhail Grabovski150th$5.5 M3041950.6410188
Troy Brouwer214th$2.35 M3031320.44-1214

Clearly from the above table Kris Versteeg’s career production is the most similar to Grabovski’s. Furthermore, just like Grabovski, Versteeg’s career-to-date is without a 30-goal or 60-point season.

Comparable #3: What Does Cap Geek Say?

A search function on Cap Geek  gives the user the chance to find comparable salary cap hits for any player. These are the centres Cap Geek selects as Mikhail Grabovski’s salary comparables:

PlayerAgeSalary Cap HitGPPPPG+/-PIM
Ryan Getzlaf26$5.325 M4974600.9364481
John Tavares21$5.5 M2271840.81-3397
Jason Pominville29$5.3 M5254170.7941155
Mike Richards26$5.75 M5103830.7543458
Jeff Carter27$5.27 M5043700.7341302
Patrick Sharp30$5.9 M5523710.6759375
Tomas Plekanec29$5 M5353530.6613322
Mikhail Grabovski28$5.5 M3041950.6410188
Ryan Kesler27$5 M5453320.6152487
Shawn Horcoff33$5.5 M7494330.58-43479

It’s an interesting list. The Horcoff contract is widely regarded as a huge albatross for the Oilers. He’s also the oldest centre on this list, with the most experience (and least production).  Kesler has fewer points per game than Grabovski, although he plays a far more well-rounded style (physical, defensive-minded, good on faceoffs) than the Leafs player. In fact, many of the players on this list bring “more to the table” than Grabovski does on a nightly basis.

With his new contract, Grabovski is effectively being paid to produce the type of offense consistent with a first-line player. Yet most of the comparable centres on this list produce more offense than he does.

The majority of players on this list have also played around 500 games, or roughly two more seasons than Grabovski has. While it seems logical to pay a player like Tavares this kind of salary early in his career (he’s an elite talent that the Islanders have locked-up long term), Grabovski is 28-years old. The player he will be is the player he is right now.

And the player he is right now looks like a player who doesn’t necessarily fit in with this group.

Looking at all these lists, it’s clear Grabovski will be overpaid at $5.5 million per season.

Toronto’s desperate for a number one centre. Now they’ve got a player who can’t play like one, but certainly gets paid like one.

THOUGHTS ON THE FLY

  • Speaking of the Leafs, Grabovski’s now paid more than Phil Kessel, the Leafs top scorer. That can’t sit well with Kessel, who’s carried the team’s offense this season. It also gets the Spidey-senses tingling – maybe there could be a Rick Nash for Phil Kessel trade in the off-season after all.
  • From a few weeks ago, here’s the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle on what Grabovski is worth.
  • Final Leafs note – Randy Carlyle will bring necessary structure to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But let’s not forget Ducks players grew to hate their coach, and dressing room issues were a large part of the last two years in Anaheim. It would not be a surprise to see, at the end of the day, that Ron Wilson will have coached more Leaf games than Randy Carlyle.
  • I lied about it being the final Leafs note. This happened today on Toronto radio. Must bring back warm memories for Vancouver sports radio listeners.
  • Rumoured complaints by the Senators, Canucks and Maple Leafs about Ron Maclean and Don Cherry are just another reason why it’s easy to believe the CBC is getting out of the hockey business after their contract runs out.
  • So Sidney Crosby’s head is clear and it looks like he might be ready to go for the playoffs. Except that the playoffs are played at a faster, more physical pace than the regular season. In everyone’s rush to get Crosby back on the ice, isn’t it in his best interests to take as much time off as possible and start fresh for the 2012-13 season?
  • The Globe and Mail selects the 2014 Men’s Olympic Hockey Team so Steve Yzerman doesn’t have to.
  • Interesting news that Canada currently sits fourth in the world hockey rankings. Here are the top-10 rankings in descending order: Russia; Finland; Sweden; Canada; Czech Republic; United States; Switzerland; Germany; Norway; Slovakia.
  • Dobber writes a personal note to George McPhee and Ted Leonsis that sounds similar to what was said in this space a few weeks ago.
  • Not making too big a deal about this, but Tim Thomas’s numbers in 2012 aren’t at their usual level of excellence (11-9, 2.66 goals against, .909 save percentage). With Tuukka Rask out and Marty Turco signed, the Bruins have to hope that Thomas finds his old form in time for the playoffs.
  • Grant Clitsome on playing in Winnipeg: “The hardest thing to adjust to was having to shout at your teammates as you can’t hear them with how loud the crowd is.”
  • In case you missed it, a breakdown of each team’s height, weight and age post-trade deadline.
  • A nice analysis on Fear the Fin about the San Jose Sharks recent slide.
  • Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts.
Mar 012012
 

[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]

Did something exciting happen on Monday?  I’m not going to analyze the trades from earlier this week as my esteemed colleagues at CHB have done a great job of that already.  Instead, I’m going to look at a few other Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

Vancouver Canucks

1.  Will you be Seeking Stanley…six weeks early? Yesterday, Chris and I represented CHB at the media launch for Seeking Stanley, the Saturday evening hockey show on CBC hosted by Shane Foxman and Karin Larsen.  We had a great time meeting other media folk and meeting Shane, Karin and other CBC on-air personalities (I really enjoyed chatting with Gloria Macarenko as well…she is both lovely and personable…but I digress).  More importantly, we got to learn a bit about the CBC’s plans and high hopes for Seeking Stanley after a successful debut for the show during last year’s memorable Canucks playoff run.

Seeking Stanley promises to be Canucks-centric and will start airing this Saturday already and will be on for the remainder of the season from 10:30pm – 11:00pm PST.  With the Canucks playing on six consecutive Saturdays until the end of the season, viewers can look forward to a plethora of post-game coverage, analysis and interviews.

We appreciated the opportunity to hang out in the studio over-looking the corner of Hamilton and Georgia.  In fact, some of the most interesting stories were Shane Foxman’s recollections of the riots of June 15, 2011 as they had a perfect (yet dangerous) view of everything happening in front of Canada Post.  Some other highlights:  the free t-shirts, meeting other writers, my argyle sweater getting a bit of play on Twitter, and the delicious sliders.  At the end, your favourite Canucks blog was the only ones left standing as we shut the place down.  Coincidentally, it was about the same time that the food ran out.

Seeking Stanley has a beauty as their first game this Saturday:  it’s the long-awaited (haha) return of Cody Hodgson, Christian Ehrhoff and the underachieving Buffalo Sabres.

2. Showdown for first overall…with the Blues? Last week I wrote about the great anticipation for the Canucks-Red Wings tilt – one that saw the Canucks snap Detroit’s impressive 23-game home winning streak. Since then, the Canucks have leap-frogged the Red Wings in the standings. Meanwhile, another team has caught up to Detroit as well.

Thus, tonight’s game between Vancouver and St. Louis is for first overall in the league. The Blues have quietly put together a remarkable season under coach Ken Hitchcock. They have the second-best home record in the entire NHL (26-4-4, just behind Detroit) and they have the stingiest defence, allowing a mere 1.91 goals per game. They are getting decent offensive production from David Backes, TJ Oshie, and young defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. Also, David Perron is having a strong season (with 13 points in his last 13 games) after missing the first two months with post-concussion syndrome. The goaltending has been stellar, with the tandem of Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak rivaling other combos in the league, including the one here. After a few years of being a good but not great team, the Blues have matured into arguably the hardest team to play against in the NHL. They lead the season series with the Canucks two games to one heading into tonight’s game.

3.  A chance at immortality…at least for a few years. When I first joined CHB at the tail end of last season, the tagline on our website was: “We’ll be nice to Kevin Bieksa, we promise”.  Bieksa’s emergence as a top-two d-man coupled with the potential in Cody Hodgson led to the change to: “The Cody Hodgson Era Begins”.

Well, the Hodgson era (here at least) was a short one.  So now, we’re looking for a new tagline. 

Per Chris’ post yesterday, we’re giving you a chance to offer suggestions.  If we end up picking yours, you will win a $25 gift certificate to the Donnelly Group.  More importantly, you will know that your contribution will be viewed by the thousands…or at least hundreds…of CHB visitors every single day.

Think you have what it takes?  Then see all of the details here.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll be at Rogers Arena for both tonight’s game against St. Louis and Saturday’s game against Buffalo.  Send me a tweet if you’re there too and maybe we’ll pass each other in the concourse.  Or at least we can pretend we did.

Oct 142011
 

A collection of hockey thoughts and observations as one settles into a new NHL hockey season:

  • It should be clear to anyone who has watched the Senators play that Paul Maclean hasn’t had any more luck than Cory Clouston at motivating Sergei Gonchar. No one gives up on puck battles quicker than he does.
  • One week doesn’t make an NHL season, but as of today the Senators look an awful lot like the worst team in the NHL.
  • Speaking of NHL defensemen, Sheldon Souray’s big shot has already helped the Dallas Stars. However, Souray also looks a step slower than he did back in his Oiler and Hab days. At some point in the season the Stars will have to manage his minutes at even strength.
  • Staying in Dallas, it’s clear early on that Kari Lehtonen is auditioning for the Ilya Bryzgalov role as “goaltender who single-handedly keeps his team in the playoff hunt.” The Stars are not very good, but Lehtonen has been sensational out of the gate.
  • One more Dallas thought – let’s settle down about their attendance issues. It’s only October (American NHL teams normally struggle at the gate at the start of the season), the Texas Rangers are legitimate World Series contenders (and they’ve played both nights when Stars had woeful home crowds) and they’re finally getting an owner soon.  Texas is blossoming as a hockey state, but the Stars have been on life support as a franchise for the last couple of years. A new owner, with a clear business plan for the community, should rectify the issue.
  • One early season trend: more and more teams on the powerplay are attacking the blueline with speed, only to drop the puck to a trailing player before entering the zone. Since the penalty killers have collapsed on the puck carrier, the trailer usually gains easy entry into the offensive zone.
  • Speaking of early season impressions, despite his -2 rating Nikita Nikitin has had a solid start in St. Louis and may be ready for top-pairing minutes. On the downside, Jaroslav Halak has had a tough time controlling his rebounds and hasn’t looked great in net.
  • Question: Did Aaron Asham take it upon himself to apologize for his post-fight antics or did the Penguins leadership group (Dan Blysma, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz) encourage him to be regretful post-game? Personally I think it was the latter, in hopes of minimizing any potential suspension.
  • Interesting to see how some teams are dolling out the ice time to start the year. Through Friday, Brian Campbell is getting close to 30-minutes a game in Florida. Surprisingly, Jason Garrison is getting the second-most ice time among Panthers defensemen.
  • Other ice time observations:
  • Most ice-time among Panthers forwards: Kris Versteeg. Probably wishing he’d signed elsewhere: Scottie Upshall, who is only seeing 10-minutes a game in Florida.
  • In Colorado, Daniel Winnick is the surprising ice-time leader among forwards. Actually the Avalanche are taking an offense-by-committee approach to the start of the season. No forward is averaging more than 18-minutes a game, and nine forwards (including Chuck Kobasew !?!!?) are getting at least a minute of powerplay time per game.
  • In St. Louis,  Jason Arnott is seeing only 13-minutes a game in St. Louis, and is seeing less powerplay time than Matt D’Agostini.
  • Speaking of not seeing any powerplay time, Shawn Horcoff looks like the odd-man out in Edmonton. He’s averaged 46 seconds of powerplay time thus far. Adding insult to injury – it took all of two games for the Sportsnet panel (Jeff Marek, John Shannon and Marty McSorley (?!?!)) to speculate that the Oilers may trade Horcoff at some point this year.
  • Don’t look now, but Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky left Thursday’s game against Minnesota early with an an injury to the same shoulder he had surgery on.
  • One last Oiler note: Linus Omark, he of the nifty shootout attempts, is reportedly in Tom Renney’s doghouse.
  • Yes Don Cherry’s days as a relevant commentator are probably over. His recent comments about fighting even have some people calling for his job.  But the CBC owns NHL hockey rights until 2014, and Coach’s Corner remains a ratings goldmine. Whatever the current fallout, expect Cherry to stick it out until the end of the current CBC deal. After that? Says here he retires from regular TV duty.
  • The parade route is already being planned in Toronto where the Maple Leafs are 2-0. Most impressive thing about their start? Phil Kessel, who seems quicker, stronger and more determined than ever before. Heck, he’s even joined Twitter, although it looks like we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for him to post something interesting.
  • A nice recap of the first week by Katie Baker over at Grantland.
  • Sadly, some players still don’t seem to realize the danger of concussions.
  • The top-10 immoveable contracts in the NHL, according to The Hockey News.
  • The New York Islanders 3rd jersey has been leaked.
  • Oct 022009
     

    After already taking away Jim Hughson from the Canucks’ portion of the CBC telecast, it seems the CBC now has also give us Kevin Weekes to provide color commentary.

    The fact is, Weekes was horrible. He was biased – he obviously has a man-crush on the Kipper – and his comments added no value to the broadcast. Not that the Canucks didn’t deserve criticism because for the first 20 minutes they did. But as horrible as they were in the first period, they were very good in the final two. Hearing Weekes’ comments, you wouldn’t have been able to tell.

    You would have thought that Calgary significantly outplayed the Canucks for the entire 60 minutes. You would have that they outshot the Canucks 35-16 in the last two periods. You would have thought Bieksa was really Bieska.

    There was rare commentary on the Sedins and Burrows even though they generated chance after chance, shift after shift. There was, however, a chest-bump to Rene Bourque for roughing up the ever-intimidating Mason Raymond.

    I realize that this is Weekes’ first game and I realize it’s not an easy gig. At the same time, I’ve heard enough to know that I want someone else in the booth.

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