Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Chris Pronger Hired By The NHL

Yesterday I wrote about the salary cap circumvention that Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay have been able to commit by leaving players who are effectively retired on the longterm injured reserve.  I call these LTIR frauds.  Marc Savard, Chris Pronger and Mattias Ohlund haven't played an NHL game since 2011 and they will not be playing any NHL games in the future.  These players remain listed as "active" players because their respective teams would face a large salary cap hit to recapture the excess salary from, their frontloaded contracts that were never intended to be fulfilled.  It turns out the situation is worse because the NHL is obviously complicit in the situation.  They have hired "active" player Chris Pronger to be the number two in the NHL's department of player safety.  This was announced less than three and a half hours after I completed my post.

Gary Bettman is quoted as saying:

"Chris' case is unique.  There are salary cap reasons why he couldn't officially retire, but ... if in fact we go that route, I'm not sure that presents any problem at all to deal with. He's done playing. He gets paid no matter what from the Flyers. He doesn't owe them anything.

Bettman appears to endorse these cases of salary cap circumvention.  He has no problem with an NHL player taking a second job that prevents him from being an NHL player.    He admits that Pronger is effectively retired and the only reason he hasn't actually retired is to circumvent the salary cap and he is OK with it.

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LTIR Frauds

Every season there is a push for teams to get below the salary cap. Some do so by placing players who remain on their rosters despite having not played an NHL game in years onto the long term injured reserve.  These are players who are no longer even trying to come back to play in the NHL but on paper they remain "active" players because it is better for their team's salary cap situation to continue paying him and claiming he is injured than to let him retire.

Players in this situation are Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers, Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins and Mattias Ohlund of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Pronger has not played an NHL game since 2011.  He is a candidate for the job working in the NHL's department of player safety.  Clearly this is an admission that he isn't an active player despite his being characterized as such.  Savard has not played since 2011 either.  He scouts for the Ottawa 67s of the OHL.  That clearly isn't an activity consistent with being an active player.  Ohlund hasn't played a game since 2011 either.  None of them should count as active players but they do.  They only count as active players to skirt salary cap rules.

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East Conference Predictions

I am finishing off my regular season predictions by listing my predicted order of finish of the East Conference teams.  I will not write a blurb for these teams as I already did in the Metropolitan Division and Atlantic Division posts.  This post along with the West Conference predictions completes my regular season predictions.  Of course, I expect that much of this will not come to pass as things will change in unpredictable ways in the season.

1. Boston Bruins
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. New York Rangers
5. Washington Capitals
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Detroit Red Wings
8. Toronto Maple Leafs

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Atlantic Division Predictions

Today I am giving my predictions in the final division in the NHL.  I have already predicted an order of finish for the West Conference and made predictions for its constituent divisions the Pacific and Central Divisions and also made predictions for the Metropolitan Division

Here are the Atlantic Division predictions:

1. Boston Bruins - Boston is probably the class of the East Conference.  Tuukka Rask is a top level goalie.  Zdeno Chara is a star level defenceman but at age 37 he is expected to slow down.  Youngsters Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton will have to carry more of the load.  Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward in the game and further strengthens the Bruins defensive ability.  David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson will provide depth.  Boston has a strong deep team, though they may miss the veteran leadership and scoring of Jarome Iginla this year.

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Metropolitan Division Predictions

I continue my regular season predictions today by looking at the Metropolitan Division.  I feel the need to point out that I hate the name of this division.  Metropolitan does not describe this group of teams any more than any other current NHL division. 

I have already written my predictions for the West Conference and its constituent divisions the Pacific and Central Divisions.  Here is the predicted order of finish in the so-called Metropolitan Division.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins -  The Penguins won this division quite easily last year and should be able to defend it despite being a weaker team this year.  Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both hurt at the start of the season.  Likely they will be healthy before long, but it's a poor start.  Kris Letang should be their top defenceman but he hasn't proven that he can get into form after suffering a stroke last year.  Marc-Andre Fleury has been inconsistent in goal in the past.  Despite these potential problems the Pens have some depth.  Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis provide very good depth at forward.  Their defence may come together but it depends upon aging Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff succeeding.  This has been a good team in the past but they have lost some depth from last year and have some question marks.  I think they will do well enough to win the division.

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West Conference Predictions

I am continuing my regular season predictions by listing my predicted order of finish in the West Conference.  I will not be writing a blurb for each team, as i have already done so in the Pacific Division and Central Division prediction posts. 

Here is my predicted order of finish in the West Conference:

1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. San Jose Sharks
4. St Louis Blues
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. Dallas Stars
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Colorado Avalanche

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Central Division Predictions

I am continuing my regular season NHL predictions today.  I have already done the Pacific Division.  Today I am moving onto the Central Division.

1. Chicago Blackhawks - The Hawks are the most talented team in this division.  If they do not win it, probably it shows that they didn't over-extend themselves in the regular season in an attempt to wait for the playoffs.  Jonathan Toews is an outstanding forward and he has all star depth behind him in Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.  Brad Richards j0ins this bunch and should make it a little more potent.  Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are a top defensive line and lead a solid group of defencemen.  Corey Crawford has been a solid goalie but has never shown himself to be an elite keeper.  If there is a significant weakness on the Hawks, he could be it, but this team will likely be without any glaring weakness.

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Pacific Division Predictions

With the season fast approaching, I figure that now is a good time to start my pre-season predictions.  I will begin today in the Pacific Division.

1. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings are the most talented of the teams in this division.  Should they fail to win the division it is likely due to a Stanley Cup hangover.  They may not be as fresh as any other team having had a shorter summer and they may not be as up for the more meaningless regular season games as some opponents.  Jonathan Quick gives them a solid goalie.  Drew Doughty may be the top defenceman in the game.  Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams are some very good forwards.  The popular opinion for people trying to find a significant weakness for this team comes from stating that Mike Richards is overpaid as a fourth line centreman - but that misses the point that the Kings have the depth to put an ex-Olympian on the fourth line. 

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Brian McGrattan Is A Poor Puck Possession Player

When I last posted about a week and a half ago, I posted the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi as a rate stat.  Corsi is the difference between attempted shots in five on five situations when a given player is on the ice.  In order to make it more of an individualized stat, there are adjustments made for the team and usage of the player and it is divided by five on five playing time.  This is a good measure of the puck possession ability of the player involved.  The worst player among those who played 50 or more games last year is Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames.

McGrattan is a goon.  He appeared in 76 games last year scoring four goal and four assists.  His offensive contribution was minimal.  He had 100 penalty minutes, which placed him 32nd in the NHL.  The Flames knew he had little value despite the fact he dressed almost every game.  They only played him a little over six minutes per game.    When he played, the puck was going the other direction.  Calgary's opponents had control of the puck.  McGrattan offered little to his team besides fighting. 

This was predictable.  McGrattan has never been a valuable hockey player.  His four goals and eight points were career highs - as was his 76 games played.  Despite his lack of success in the past and the fact he is into his thirties, Calgary signed him to a two year contract in 2013.  Thus he will be back with the team for the 2014/15 season.

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Worst 20 Players By Adjusted Corsi (Rate Stat)

I am continuing my summer sabermetrics and hockey series today by looking at the 20 worst players in the 2013/14 season by adjusted Corsi rate.  Corsi is the difference between attempted shots taken by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations.  This is a gage of puck possession, but it is a team gage and not an individual one.  In order to make it an individual gage, the Corsi rating must be adjusted for the team that a player plays on as well as their usage by that team as shown by their zone starts.  This list is then expressed as a rate stat by dividing it by the amount of ice time a player plays in 5 on 5 situations.  This should give a list of poor puck possession players.  In order to assure that players on the list played a sufficient number of games to have a meaningful rating, this list is limited to players who played at least 50 games played in the 2013/14 season.

Here are the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi rate in 2013/14:

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com


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