Where Do The Lightning Go From Here?

With the first round over, let’s take a second to recap one of the biggest upsets shall we?  According to NHL.com’s playoff predictions, 48% of the brackets had the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, and just under 2% of people had Columbus beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The playoffs have been such a surprise that only one bracket had the New York Islanders sweeping the Penguins and Blue Jackets beating the Lightning. The user; who goes by “lolwat” actually noted that he only made such drastic picks to annoy his friend. With that being said, what does the future look like for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The team at Not Your Average Hockey Blog isn’t very excited for the 2019-2020 Tampa Bay Lightning. We recently did an episode focused on this exact topic, and you can check it out here. Our analysis suggests that the Lightning will be in for a cap crunch soon. We expect players such as Killorn will have to be traded soon to make space for the big RFA elephant in the room; Brayden Point. Our team had a difference in opinion how much we expect Brayden Point to earn, but one thing is for sure; it will be expensive. Capfriendly currently projects the Lightning to have just over $6.3M in cap space, and we all know that just won’t cut it! So who do we expect the cap casualty to be, and what is the price the Lightning will have to pay? Unlike the past there is no longer the cap dump team that teams could just unload their bad contracts on (we’re looking at you Arizona.). If the Lightning do want to package a pick or prospect with Killorn to clear some space, the Lightning are in good shape. They have their upcoming 1st round pick, 3rd round pick, 4th round pick, two 6th round picks and a 7th round pick. Will they have to trade it away as part of a package for a salary dump? If not, what options are there in terms of prospects?

The Lightning’s secret weapon over the last few years has been their scouting. Tyler Johnson was undrafted, Ondrej Palat was a 7th round pick, and Nikita Kucherov was a 2nd round pick. Their cupboards remain stocked with NHL ready prospects such as Carter Verhaeghe, Taylor Raddysh, and Cal Foote. Could it be possible that they can be a cheap replacement for departing players?

Maybe the team here at Not Your Average Hockey Blog is wrong. Maybe the odds are in the favour of the Lightning. According to SBD, the odds for Tampa Bay winning the President’s trophy were about +150 or a 40% chance, but had identical odds of +150 of being eliminated in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. That’s drastically difference in comparison to this year, when they entered the postseason as -375 favorites (~79% chance) to advance past the Blue Jackets. Given how similar the roster is going to look next year, anyone willing to bet on Tampa Bay to win in the first round now is likely getting a better payout than those who wait until the 2020 playoffs actually commence.

Now that you’ve heard both sides, what do you think? Should you consider waiting before placing a bet, or are you in the camp of higher risk, higher reward. Let us know what you think below!

Episode 7: Lucky – Bag of Pucks Podcast

In this episode of the Bag of Pucks Podcast, the guys talk luck. They place way too much weighting on PDO and other fancy stats, while Alson learns how bad his idea of stats are. Is Patrick Laine unlucky, or are teams starting to figure him out? Is Ryan Getzlaf elite anymore? How does Alson know so much about slot machines but doesn’t gamble? How does Geoffrey know so little about slot machines?
The guys finish up the podcast with their playoff predictions and Draft Lottery Predictions, and spoiler alert: Alson doesn’t want the Kings to win the lottery.

Check out the podcast on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2ib3yq4quqK62RAC6465es

Check out the podcast on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/bag-of-pucks/id1454580877?mt=2

Become a supporter of this podcast: https://anchor.fm/bag-of-pucks/support

Episode 4: Is Pierre Dorion A Wizard?

In Episode 4, Alson delivers some hot takes, with a questionable idea about the Ottawa Senators and their draft picks. Is Pierre Dorion such a genius we don’t understand him? Geoffrey has no idea how to say a name so he calls him Mr. P for an episode.

Finally, we find out that Alson is actually terrible with Trivia.

Check us out on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/bop_pod
Check us out on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/bag-of-pucks/id1454580877?mt=2
Check us out on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2ib3yq4quqK62RAC6465es

Maybe Pierre Dorion Was Right?

Change My Mind

At Not Your Average Hockey Blog, we’ve always tried to change it up a bit. I love considering the what-ifs in various storylines in the NHL. One of the biggest storylines in the NHL currently, is how the Ottawa Senators chose to convey this year’s first round draft choice to Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche instead of last year’s. The Senators fan base have not forgotten this trade at all. According to the fine folks over at Senspicktracker, the Senators’ pick have a 18.5% chance of being the 1st overall pick, 16.5% chance of being the 2nd overall pick, 14.4% chance of being the 3rd pick, and a 50.6% chance of being the 4th pick. With a weighted average, the Senators likely pick is 2.971 rounded up to the 3rd overall pick. The pick that the Senators could have conveyed last year was the 4th overall pick.

Analysis by TSN has shown that statistically speaking, the 3rd overall pick will be a top six forward, with a basic guarantee that they will play 100 games in the NHL. The 4th overall pick will statistically be a top nine forward with a 84% chance of being playing 100 games in the NHL, and a 24% chance of being a 4th line player or worse. The analysis shows one thing clearly, there is a statistical benefit of picking third vs picking fourth. With that being said, the analysis does not take into account the strength of the draft class. The 2019 draft is expected to be deep, but not very top heavy. The 2018 draft on the other hand, was not very deep, but rather top heavy. The first fourth picks in the 2018 NHL draft are all regulars in the NHL, with the fifth pick Barrett Hayton; being returned to the OHL after being scratched for his first two NHL games. The Ottawa Senators may not have their first pick, but they will have Columbus Blue Jackets’ first round pick; which is expected to be in the teens. Of course a top four pick is much more valuable than a mid-round pick, but what if the trade balance is the 4th overall pick plus the 15th overall pick for the 3rd overall pick and a replacement level player? Suddenly, it isn’t as bad as it looks!

The next step is to consider the value of the players involved. According to hockeyprospect.com, ISS Hockey, Future Considerations, McKeen’s Hockey, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin is the projected third overall pick. The comparison with the Ottawa Senators draft pick Brady Tkachuk will have it’s strengths and weaknesses. It is beneficial that they are both wingers, and play similar games, but they play in different leagues and Podkolzin has a relatively small sample size of 29 games this season. Using NHLe as a way to normalize point values, Podkolzin has an NHLe score of 20.97. (For our readers unaware of NHLe, a quick guide is available here.) Looking at Brady Tkachuk’s Hockey East stats in his draft year, he has an NHLe score of 23.5135. What the statistics show us, is that offensively, Brady Tkachuk had a stronger offensive year in his draft year than Podkolzin has had this year. However, as previously mentioned, there are factors that NHLe has not taken into account into it’s formula, such as the few games that Podkolzkin has played this year, and the instability that Podkolzin has had this year, with him playing in three teams this season alone.

My argument here isn’t that the Ottawa Senators are amazingly run, and they have a competent owner. If you have a few minutes, check out Episode 2 of our Bag of Pucks podcast. I spend forty minutes calling out the Ottawa Senators. However, my argument here is that maybe the option to convey the fourth pick instead of possibly the expected third overall pick is not as big of a deal as it sounds. What do you think? We would love to hear from you! Comment below, or tweet me directly here.

Episode 1: Trade Deadline/What Are We Doing? – Bag of Pucks

Not a fan of reading? Well the folks here at Not Your Average Hockey Blog have got a treat for you. We’ve created a new podcast, where we banter about hockey, have some hot takes, and make uneducated comments. The first episode is about the Trade Deadline and a little background of us. We hope that if you enjoy it, we would love if you share it, comment, and follow us on Twitter: @hkyblogger and @bop_pod.

We will try to keep future episodes at 30 minutes, but the first one is a little longer.

What’s Next For The Oilers?

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

The most Stock photo representation of the Oilers I could find.
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

The inevitable has happened. Peter Chiarelli was fired as the GM of the Edmonton Oilers. Keith Gretzky has been named the interim GM while the brain trust finds a permanent replacement.  Chiarelli is the first fired Edmonton Oilers’ GM to not be retained in a limited fashion since Glen Sather left in 2000. In the past 19 years, Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, and Craig MacTavish have all been re-assigned instead of being fired, with Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish still remaining with the team. This is significant, as Chiarelli will not have any influence on the team moving forward, unlike Lowe and MacTavish.
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Edmonton Oilers’ CEO Bob Nicholson has stated that he would like to change the organizational philosophy, and today’s move has done so. Kailer Yamamoto has been sent down to gain more seasoning.

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With the possible change in philosophy, what are the long term steps for the Oilers? We’re here today to explore that, and we’ve come up with a few ideas.

    1. Turn a new leaf, with new management and new philosophies. When it comes to the Oilers and the last ten years, they’ve become infamous for two main reasons; being terrible, and winning the first overall pick. Teams with winning records and backgrounds don’t get known for these things; just ask the Detroit Red Wings. For this, the Oilers will have to tear it all down, and start from the beginning. How much appetite does the organization have for a teardown like this? This has to be initiated from the top at ownership,  and there does not seem to be too interest from Katz. To do this, the Oilers have to hire externally for their next GM, and avoid hiring a former Oilers star to take his place. Their ideal GM would have a proven track record with a big market, and has a speciality in trading. The Oilers of the past have been alright when it comes to drafting, but if the Hall and Eberle sagas have said anything; they need help with player retention. For the prospective GM, the main selling point would have to be, Connor McDavid, and the thought that, “Hey, we’ve bottomed out, what can I do to make it worse?”. It’s an interesting proposition, and I would say there’s a 30% chance of this happening.
    2. The same old remains the same old. The Oilers hire someone within the organization to lead the organization. Why? Because why not. Stop making tasty wines Wayne Gretzky and come on down! Stop trying to fix the defense on the ice and come up to the front office Paul Coffey! Come down the hallway Craig MacTavish! I suppose it has something to do with the name recognition and the ability to excite fans, but your GM should not be what excites people! It should be the players! People pay hard-earned money to watch the players play on the ice, and not the GM make some phone calls. Besides, this has totally worked in the past, why can’t it happen again? Right? In all honesty, this is the path I would not want to see. There comes a point where you just kind of feel bad for the team, and we’re getting real close to there. It’s never really worked before and we understand psychologically why. The organization needs a new direction, as the old one clearly hasn’t gone so well. Unfortunately, past behaviour is usually the best indicator of future behaviour, and is the most likely scenario, I give this a 55% chance of happening.
    3. So I’m going to preface this with this idea being a total long shot, but it would be the absolute greatest. I’m also going to preface this with I hope Eugene Melnyk is reading this, because he could save a whole bunch of money with this idea. Darryl Katz becomes the new GM of the Edmonton Oilers. Why? Because it’s totally worked in other sports. Look at Jerry Jones and how successful the Dallas Cowboys are. They’re America’s Team, and with Darryl Katz at the helm of the Oilers they could become Canada’s Team, oh, absolute shivers down my spine. (Editor’s Note: How you interpret the shivers is up to you the readers). Ignore the fact that the owner of the Stanley Cup winning Capitals said that, “If you’re making the decisions and you think what you know is more than your coach and general manager, then they can’t work for you.” Ignore that! You can do better than that! With the braintrust of Bob Nicholson, Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, etc. You could definitely manage the team! It’s like managing a large drug store right? I would like to say after my convincing and arguments, the likelihood of it happening is higher than 5%, but 5% is already pushing it and I am not going to push my luck much further.

So there you have it folks, the Oilers are at a crossroads, and need to do something. What can they do? I personally would say do number three. That’s definitely the best option for the fans (of other teams), financially, and hockey wise. Do you have any ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

With the end of this post, I’m going to start a new segment with a completely outlandish trade rumor that Twitter users believe. I hope you like it, and hey maybe I’m the crazy one here.

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Players To Avoid For Your League

So a few weeks ago, we released our sleepers, Grit N’ Grind list for our fantasy hockey preview series. The second instalment is naturally who you should avoid if you want to win your league.

Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by our friends over at Honest Hockey.

William Karlsson
Im going to be the first one to tell you that I didn’t expect the Vegas Golden Knights to do so well last year (granted, no one did). There’s one name in particular that no one expected to do as well as they did, and that’s William Karlsson. Last season, Karlsson scored 43 goals, 35 assists, and was the Lady Byng Memorial trophy winner. Remember, this is the same guy that was traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets along with a 1st, 2nd, and David Clarkson’s contract just to ensure he would get picked.

There can be an argument that last season he should have done better than his last year in Columbus because of his better analytics numbers, and a consistent improvement year after year, but no one would have expected more than tripling his point total in one more game. Our biggest red flag was his shooting percentage last year. It was a staggering 23.4%! That jump is unheard of, and there’s really no explanation for it. His career shooting percentage is 14.6%, but if you remove last year from the total, it’s 8.3%. Now I’m not saying that you avoid Karlsson like the plague, but ESPN ranks him at 47, Yahoo at 59. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if he gets 25-30 goals next season, but the way fans are hyping him up, you would think he would be challenging McDavid next year.

Better options: Mark Scheifele (ESPN Ranking 58), Mikko Rantanen (Yahoo Ranking 74)

Jonathan Toews
Every year, someone in your league will draft Jonathan Toews way too early and become disappointed. He’s a great leader for a team, don’t get me wrong, but his hockey production does not justify his high rankings (ESPN Ranking 100, Yahoo Ranking 94). In terms of analytics, he still remains an analytical darling, with high CF%, and FF%, but a lot of that is due to his strong defensive play. He has been in the running for a Selke trophy every year since 2008-2009 but most leagues don’t reward strong defensive play, only offensive play. His Points per game numbers have been dropping steadily since this 2012-2013 peak of 1.02 points per game, and his point share has dropped from 9.4% in 2014-2015 to just 5.0% last year. There is nothing to suggest that the number will improve next year. Just like Karlsson, he’s a good pick in the middle to later rounds, but his name recognition often gets him drafted too early.

Better options: Jeff Carter (ESPN Ranking 104), Dylan Larkin (Yahoo Ranking 107)

Mikko Koivu
Koivu just like Toews is a great leader, and a great two way player, but fantasy leagues don’t reward defensive production that well. At best, it will reward defensive players with +/-. Koivu is a great defensive player with him being ranked 5th in Selke voting last year, but was only a +9 for the season. If his 2016-2017 season is not taken into account, he has never been higher than a +13. In terms of offensive production, he is not an elite producer, and his age suggests his production will continue to decrease. He has taken on a defensive role in the last two years, with his starts in the defensive zone rising to 57.5% last year and 63.8% a year before. His CF% is 49.6% and his PDO last year was 101.3. Some fans may argue that his 2016-2017 season is proof that he isn’t regressing and his stats last year were a fluke. He had 58 points was third in Selke voting, and had 63.8% of his starts in the defensive zone. I would argue that his 2016-2017 season was the fluke and not last year. His individual PDO was 104.2, which would suggest that it was a combination of good goaltending, and offensive teammates that were shooting their lights out. I expect that his production this year will be around 12 goals, 25 assists and 37 points. There should be better options out there at his rankings (ESPN Ranking 148, Yahoo Ranking 203).

Better Options: Ryan O’Reilly (ESPN Ranking 150), Nick Schmaltz (Yahoo Ranking 206).

What do you think? Do you agree with our busts or did we hit it spot on? Are there better replacements than we have suggested? Let us know! Do you think you can beat our busts on the ice? Make sure you have the right stick on the ice! Check out our friends over at Honest Hockey for the honest reviews on sticks here: https://honesthockey.com/gear-reviews/sticks/best-senior/!

Fantasy Grit and Grind

It’s almost fantasy season, and fantasy players are going to be scouring the internet for sleeper picks and late round gems. After fifteen rounds in a fourteen team league, most users are going to be grasping at straws. Final picks are either going to be boom or bust picks, or low ceiling players. All of the major sites will have these boom or bust guys but not low ceiling players. Low ceiling players can be safe picks that can provide stability and opportunities for your team to get that extra little push. With this post, we’re looking for overlooked players that can provide the “Grit ‘n Grind” for your championship team. Without further to do, here’s our list!

Alex Petrovic
We begin with one of my favourite defenseman. I’m a little old school, I still believe in having the rough and tumble defensive defensman. Petrovic fits in the role. His career high is 17 points, and he’s not as durable as other players on the list, but he fits in well with the list. He gets hits, blocks and PIMs (wholly underrated in fantasy drafts), He has been sheltered quite a bit last year, with 60% of his starts being in the offensive zone. The high offensive starts correlate with the improvement in relative Corsi percentage. I don’t expect his offensive zone starts to continue being that high, but that may be beneficial for his hits and blocks.

He’s still rather young at 26 years old, and is just starting to hit his prime. His offensive ceiling is rather low, and could have peaked already. However, if his offensive ceiling was higher, then he wouldn’t be on this list would he?

Milan Lucic
I can already hear the boos from here. NHL.com has him ranked 247 in their Top 250 fantasy rankings.Give me one second, though and hear me out. He is relatively durable, and has played an average of 74 games a season since 2007. The 74 game average takes into account the 48 game 2012-2013 lockout shortened season. Once that season is removed from the equation, his career average rounds up to almost 77 games a season. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be near those averages again. Statistically, he hasn’t been as terrible as many people believe. He dropped off a cliff to 34 points last season, but I believe its more of a one year drop more than a long term worry. It is natural to expect some sort of regression to begin by his age 30 season, especially with the way he plays, but I don’t believe he will regress further this year. Last year, his shooting percentage dropped to 6.8%. It seems that every four years, his shooting percentage takes a drop to under 10%. I’m not saying that he phones it in every fourth year on schedule, but he has experienced a drop in shooting percentage before and has recovered from it. I do expect his shooting percentage to increase. His dip in production this year could also be partly blamed to luck. His PDO had been one of the lowest in his career at 98.4. There’s not much Lucic can do but wait it out. He is still a tank on the physical front, with above average years in hits and blocks, and is still able to generate quite a few penalty minutes. I do not expect his physicality to change, but I do expect his points total to increase this year. A lot of the criticism of Lucic has to do with his bloated and inflated contract at $6M per year, but this is fantasy hockey we’re talking about. His contract doesn’t matter here. He’s a solid pick.

Radko Gudas
I’m not going to lie, I originally had Jake Dotchin but after his weird termination, I can’t in my right mind add him to the list now. Radko Gudas is still part of the Grit ‘n Grind list. Gudas doesn’t need to be introduced. He’s infamous for his hard hitting defense, and the “Grit ‘n Grind” that makes you special part of this list. 123 hits, 170 blocks, 83 penalty minutes, screams Grit ‘n Grind. He’s not much of a offensive force, with his career high in points being 23. In 2017-2018, his goal total is a meager 2 goals. However, at the same time, his shooting percentage was 1.4%. If you take away his 2017 season, his career shooting percentage is a much more respectable 3.8%. Critics would argue his offensive abilities are so bad that if he scored even one more goal, his shooting percentage rises to 2.1% for 2017-2018. However you look even deeper, his advanced stats are still relatively solid; 51.8% Corsi For, 52.9% Fenwick For, 98.0 PDO. All positive numbers. Gudas is relatively protected for his game. Last year, he had 53.2% starts in the defensive zone. Let’s address the elephant in the room. He’s not the cleanest player. He’s been suspended quite a few times, and he likes to walk the line. There’s nothing fantasy owners can do, but he’s a strong depth piece for the last few spots.

Are there anyone we missed? Let us know below!

Where Do The Wild Go From Here?

Sometimes you make the gamble and it pays off, sometimes you end up like the Wild. The Wild took a gamble, signed Eric Staal to a three year deal in the off-season, They took another gamble and traded a 1st Round pick (amongst others) to the Arizona Coyotes for Martin Hanzal. As much flack as he received he scored 13 points in 20 games played. Comparatively speaking, his 20 games played resulted in a 0.65 PPG is the highest in his career. His CF% was the highest of his career at 58.6%. Yes, a lot of this is on a very small sample size, and yes, his teammates were much better than with the Wild than when he was a Coyote. But the season is done and Hanzal is a UFA. Using the CapFriendly cap comparable tool, Hanzal should get a slight raise, with my personal guess being approximately a $3.5-4M a year contract. The Wild may not be able to keep a player at that cost, as they only had to absorb $1.55M of Hanzal’s contract this year and players such as Granlund, Niederreiter, and Haula all expecting to get raises from their current RFA deals.

Looking at their draft picks, the Wild do not have their 1st and 2nd round picks, as they traded their 1st for Martin Hanzal and their 2nd for Chris Stewart. Looking at their prospects, there’s a few interesting prospects. Krill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson-Ek, and Luke Kunin did very well in the World Juniors, and could be the core for the future. But what do they do now?

Kaprizov will remain the KHL for the next little while and Kunin and Greenway will need some time to develop. Joel Eriksson-Ek is an intriguing prospect will have to be seasoned in the AHL. The Wild are in an intriguing position. Their free agency situation will be rather predictable, with Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder and Nino Niederreiter all expected to earn hefty raises. With approximately $11,441,409 cap space expected, their moves will be limited to mostly depth moves.

So what’s next? The experts are unsure. The Wild came into the 2016-2017 NHL season at 30-1 odds. Our friends over at www.CanadaCasino.net have pegged the 2017-2018 NHL season odds for the Minnesota Wild at approximately 20-1 by the time the season starts. How about you though? What do you think? Think that the odds are a steal? Let us know!

Editor’s note: This article was sponsored by www.CanadaCasino.net