Today Mats Sundin announced his retirement. I like to write a career perspective for players who retire that I consider future Hall of Fames, such as Sundin.
Mats Sundin was born in Bromma, Sweden on February 13th, 1971. He was raised in the Swedish hockey system. Sundin first came to the notice of North American scouts in the 1988 European Junior Hockey Championships where he scored nine points in six games as a fifteen year old. Sundin was quickly promoted to the Swedish division two, where he was playing against men many years older than them and managed 18 points in 25 games. NHL scouts had seen enough to select him first overall in the 1989 entry draft by the Quebec Nordiques. This was the first time ever that a European had been selected first overall.
As I continue with my pre-season predictions, here is my predicted order of finish for the West Conference teams. To see blurbs about each of the teams in question, you will have to look to my division previews(Northwest, Pacific and Central).
This is my predicted order of finish in the West Conference:
Here is my predicted order of finish in the Central Division:
I am continuing with my pre-season predictions today. I have already done the Northwest Division and today proceed to the Pacific Division.
Here is my predicted order of finish of the Pacific Division teams:
The Phoenix Coyotes situation has dragged on way too long. They are all but guaranteed to spend the upcoming season competing for last place in the league as a result. I think the NHL should have either allowed the move to Hamilton long ago or contracted the team. It is awful to see the mess they created that seems to be getting continually worse.
One part of the mess was coaching. Wayne Gretzky was the Phoenix Coyote coach. He was also a minority owner of the team. He owned about 1.4% of the team when it went in to bankruptcy. This makes him insignificant in the ownership scheme of the team, but important in terms of lending his name to the franchise as a goodwill ambassador. For this role and his coaching job he was paid $8 million a year. That made him the highest paid coach in the NHL - if you ignore his other roles with the team (which make up some of his salary).
With the regular season starting soon, it is time to begin posting my predictions for this season. As I did last year I will post the predicted finish in each division with a little blurb about why I think each team should finish where they are ranked and then I will post a ranked list of where I think the teams should finish in the conference. Of course when a significant injury, trade or other unforeseen event occurs, these predictions will likely begin to look a bit more incorrect. Nevertheless, it is fun to see how close to reality I managed to get before the season.
I will start with the Northwest Division.
We have an opportunity (or two possibly) for a fantasy hockey league that I have been involved with for over a decade. The current league website is here but as geocities is dying we are in the process of moving the website and have not exactly kept it up to date. We have a 30 team deep keeper salary capped league. For a dedicated hockey fan it is fun. The draft is coming up this weekend and in the struggle to get 30 people on the same page, there are always a straggler or two. If you might be able to take over a team in time for a weekend draft please contact me through my email or respond to this message with your contact info.
In this sabermetrics and hockey post, I am looking at adjusting Corsi Numbers for both team effects and zone starts as I described here. This will be a pretty good indicator of puck possession of individual players that has zone starts and team effects accounted for. These should be players who drove puck possession when they were on the ice. These should be some of the more successful players in the roles that they played last season.
Here are the top 20 Corsi Numbers adjusted for zone starts and team effects from 2008/09:
The Boston Bruins were unable to sign restricted free agent Phil Kessel because they had left no salary cap room for the young star. The Bruins have traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for first round draft picks in 2010 and 2011 and a 2010 second round pick. This is most likely a good trade for the Maple Leafs. They get a proven young star and give up nothing immediately.
Boston is a good team now. They finished first in the East Conference last season. Their best window to win the Stanley Cup is right now. They need to strike now while Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard are in their primes. They won’t have this window open when these draft picks become NHL players (if they ever do).
The NHL pre-season schedule is packed with games. 107 pre-season games are played over 18 days. That is an average of almost six games per night with each team playing an average of more than seven times. Is this really necessary? Players come to training camp in good shape. In the salary capped era, the vast majority of team rosters are set by the contract structure of their players. Most teams have at most one to two positions that may be available to be won in training camp. The majority of competition in training camp and pre-season games is to win roster spots in the AHL and not the NHL. The NHL season is enough of a marathon without tacking on an increasing number of pre-season games. These are games that exist for the most part to make the NHL money. Season ticket holding fans are forced to buy tickets to these games. Many of these games are played in neutral sites that have no other access to NHL hockey, so the game will remain a hot ticket despite the fact it is an exhibition game.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???