UFA Options: Dallas Stars

Jonathan Willis
June 02 2009 11:52PM

Lehtinen

UFA Options is a continuing series that gives a brief run-down of the unrestricted free agent market this summer, team-by-team. Our next team for consideration is the Dallas Stars.

Joe Nieuwendyk has a reputation as smart man, but as a rookie general manager he’s about to enter one of the busiest times of the season. The draft is coming up at the end of this month, and on July 1st eight regulars - including key members of the team – are about to hit unrestricted free agency.

On the other hand, with nearly 19-million dollars coming off the books, he’ll certainly have some flexibility to craft his team in the days ahead.

Jere Lehtinen

The three-time Selke trophy winner has long had a reputation for being one of the top defensive players in the NHL, and he did nothing to tarnish that this season, outscoring tough competition. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, injuries held the Finn to 48 games and durability is starting to become a serious concern.

Lehtinen came over to North America for the 1995-96 season; he’s played 818 games since then – 1 with the Michigan K-Wings and 817 with Dallas. He’s more of a goal scorer than a play maker and if healthy generally scores between 25 and 30 goals in a season. If he hits the market, there are a lot of teams who could use a veteran like him.

Brendan Morrison

The 31 points that Morrison recorded this season is the lowest mark over a full year of his entire NHL career. Coming off a serious injury the year before, Morrison disappointed in Anaheim (something that seems to happen to Brian Burke’s ex-Canucks, whenever he finds a spot for them). He picked up the pace in Dallas, recording 9 points in 19 games.

The smallish forward has been durable over the years; before missing 43 games in 2007-08 he had played six straight seasons without mising a game. He’s creative with the puck and a wizard on the powerplay (at least in previous years), but at this point it’s fair to ask if he can bounce back to the 50-point plateau offensively. For a team in need of a cheap second-line centre, Morrison may not be a bad bet.

Steve Begin

The smallish Begin is a high-energy player, and I suppose he has to be; he hasn’t eclipsed the thirty-point mark at any level since junior. Plays with reckless abandon and is generally a good penalty-killer, too. He’s forged an unlikely NHL career and at this point is a welcome addition to any team’s fourth-line.

Joel Lundqvist

The less famous Lundqvist is average-sized, and while he’s contributed offensively in Sweden and the AHL, so far his impact at the NHL level has been minimal, and at 27 years of age it’s entirely possible that it will stay that way.

One thing Lundqvist does bring to the table is a high-energy game; he perpetually rang up the penalty minutes during his career in Sweden, and while his penalty totals have not been excessive in North America he likes to initiate contact. A good fourth-line option at this point.

Landon Wilson

Landon Wilson’s had an up-and-down career. He was a first round pick of Tortono out of the USHL in 1993, and spent two seasons in an excellent program at the University of North Dakota. During that time he was traded to Quebec and made his NHL debut in 1995-96 with Colorado. He also played for Boston, Phoenix and Pittsburgh before trying his luck in Europe during the NHL lockout. He had one season in Finland and three very nice seasons in Switzerland before coming back to North America this past season. He spent most of this past year in Dallas, only playing 15 games in the AHL, but missed a bunch of time with a rib injury.

He’s been called an “underachiever” and labelled as someone who doesn’t make good use of his physical talents but he played a gritty game this past season and adds size to the fourth line (6’3”, 226lbs). He’s got a decent offensive skillset, and while he doesn’t have much of a track record on the penalty kill he would be a great depth addition for a team needing a cheap fourth liner who can get the job done. I’m a big fan of contending teams adding depth players like Wilson; while breaking in prospects is great a veteran presence comes in handy when injuries strike – particularly a veteran presence who can actually play the game.

Mark Parrish

Minnesota bought out Parrish, and when they did Dallas took a chance on him, signing him to a bargain contract. Even so, it probably wasn’t a worthwhile investment. Parrish has never been a fluid skater, and while Mike Milbury once considered him (and Oleg Kvasha) to be worth Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen, Parrish has always been a somewhat one-dimensional offensive player. With his offense dried up, he doesn’t bring much to the table.

Sergei Zubov

Sergei Zubov has long been one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. Unfortunately, he’s now 38 years old, and he’s played a grand total of 56 games over the last two years; between hip and foot injuries he has missed a ton of time. If healthy, he’s a difference-maker on the ice, but it’s difficult to see him with any team other than Dallas.

Darryl Sydor

Darryl Sydor has nicely rebounded since a disappointing season with Pittsburgh in 2007-08. He’s not overly physical and at his age (37 last month) injury and physical wear and tear are concerns (although in fairness he’s been relatively healthy over the past few years). He can still make a good first pass, but no longer provides the offensive output that he did when he was younger.

In conclusion, Sydor’s a decent veteran option to round out a defense corps and a useful player, so long as he’s played within his limitations.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 12:47PM
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Chris wrote:

~I’d give a guy a standing ovation for a hat-trick goal even if the guy had been directly responsible for six goals against… wouldn’t you?~

Be careful, i've been told a million times here that +/- doesnt mean anything.

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#102 Kevin Lowe.
June 03 2009, 12:49PM
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We were fortunate to get Lupul. We have the best young group of forwards in the league. This GM'ing gig isn't exactly "brain science" or "rocket surgery"

(Is that enough dead horse beating?)

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#103 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 12:49PM
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Chris wrote:

He floats. He Isn’t strong on the puck. He can’t win a puck battle. IMO. His totals MUST be inflated by weak opposition, combined with the benifit of playing with quality linemates.

Kind of like Vincent Lecavalier ;)

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#104 Mikey
June 03 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Archaeologuy: Exactly.

Take Pit vs Det for example.

Is it Malkin's job to score goals or is it his job to score more goals than Hossa does?

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#105 Librarian Mike
June 03 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Chris:

That sounds pretty accurate, except for Lowe's inevitable anecdote to the media about how this current situation is just like something 'Gretz' and 'Mess' said to him once just before they won their third cup.

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#106 Kevin Lowe.
June 03 2009, 12:51PM
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@ Archaeologuy: +/- defensively means about as much as point totals offensively. (Very little if you don't examine the context)

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#107 Chris
June 03 2009, 12:52PM
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Whoops. I've pulled an Austin. I've been caught impersonating a legend!

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#108 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 12:57PM
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@ Kevin Lowe.: I'll be sure to notify the league that the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard, and the President's trophy are pretty much meaningless because they dont look at context for their totals.

Also meaningless: Point totals for tabulating the standings in the NHL and votes in General elections, because they dont look deep enough at context.

+/- can be contextualized better, but on the whole it tells the story well enough except for some extreme cases.

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#109 Chris
June 03 2009, 12:58PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Kind of like Vincent Lecavalier

Now you're catching on! We can watch the player... and disagree with what we see; but it is overly simple to say Hemsky is the seventh best right winger in the game because he is seventh in right wing scoring. It is also overly simple to weight point totals with a stst like +/-. These indicators often say as much about the linemates, team, and situation as the individual player. You have to correctly contextualize any ststistical data. Just ask Willis, this is hard to do. You might say it's "brain science".

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#110 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:01PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I’ll be sure to notify the league that the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard, and the President’s trophy are pretty much meaningless because they dont look at context for their totals.

Just when I thought you were finally going to take that first baby-step... you post this garbage. Do you think Datsyuk or Zetterburg cares two pisses about the Rocket Richard trophy? They are complete players who became that way in pursuit of the STANLEY CUP.

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#111 sittingatmydesk
June 03 2009, 01:03PM
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@ Archaeologuy: i agree

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#112 Cam
June 03 2009, 01:03PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Kevin Lowe.: +/- can be contextualized better, but on the whole it tells the story well enough except for some extreme cases.

And if you couple +/- with quality of competition and PK time you really have something.

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#113 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 01:05PM
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@ Chris: I try my best to contextualize almost every point i make. If i dont, call me on it. Until that happens dont suggest that i do it all the time.

For lecav i spent pages giving reasons why he isnt as great as his hype. For hemsky, i've spent pages contextualizing his career/situation.

This is an example of not contextualizing point total arguments.

"Nikolai Zherdev is better offensively than Bobby Ryan. 58 points to 57."

I dont do that.

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#114 Jonathan Willis
June 03 2009, 01:09PM
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Austin Ayala wrote:

Yes.. the centerman who’s score 50 points once in his career making nearly 6 million is one of the best centres on EARTH.

Wow. You do realize that he hasn't scored less than 50 points since the lockout right (including last season where he was limited to 53 games)?

Make your argument without crazy mistakes like that one.

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#115 Jonathan Willis
June 03 2009, 01:13PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

what do you folks think of Gilbert O”sullivan and cogliano for Lecavalier?

Believe it or not I'd seriously consider doing that. Lecavalier/Horcoff is a pairing of centres that could work very well.

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#116 kingsblade
June 03 2009, 01:16PM
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Chris wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: I’ll be sure to notify the league that the Art Ross, the Rocket Richard, and the President’s trophy are pretty much meaningless because they dont look at context for their totals. Just when I thought you were finally going to take that first baby-step… you post this garbage. Do you think Datsyuk or Zetterburg cares two pisses about the Rocket Richard trophy? They are complete players who became that way in pursuit of the STANLEY CUP.

That is just ridiculous. There is no way you can try and claim that those guys wouldn't be pretty pleased if they won one of those awards. It's fair to say they aren't specifically trying to win those awards, but to declare it completely meaningless makes no sense.

Nobody argues that Gretzky is an all-time great because of his stellar 2-way play. He is considered as great as he is because of his ridiculous scoring numbers. Do we look at the fact that he usually had a great scorer playing with him and declare his numbers meaningless? Lemieux and Jagr played together a lot. Their numbers must not mean much either. Hell Messier had great linemates too....

It's obvious that context matter to anyone with a brain, but to completely discount numbers as meaningless makes no sense at all. They still have some meaning regardless of the context.

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#117 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:16PM
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Ask Gregor. Ask Brownlee. Ask Tambellini if you can... Hockey people generally regard the plus minus stat as being a poor indicator of overall defensive ability.

As for the scoring race and overall point production.

a) Figuring out who will put up points is critical in your office hockey pool. b) Figuring out how to put up points is critical for an offensive player heading into free agency. c) Figuring out the total package; including heart, durability, leaderhip, talent, offensive pedigree, defensive awarness, etc, etc... THAT is the key to proper player evaluation. A GM who is desciding whether or not to trade Pronger for Lupul and Smid had better be good, or have people who are good at player evaluation... Oh wait.

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#118 Cam
June 03 2009, 01:22PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I just crunched numbers and Horcoff is 0.78 PPg since the lockout. That's pretty good in my books. I wonder how that compares to other centres in the game?

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#119 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:25PM
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@ kingsblade: @ Archaeologuy:

I've overstated myself. (Not for the first time)

Of course players like to win awards. of course agents can use these awards to drive up contract values. I'm not going to stand here and pretend that point totals don't matter. It is my opinion, (simply stated) that many people who post on this sight, lend too much weight to offensive point totals when evaluating a player. The people who I think place too much emphasis on point totals obviously will disagree with me. It's a point of opinion and nothing else.

I think putting up points is important. I think the other stuff is important too.

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#120 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:32PM
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Chris wrote:

Ask Gregor. Ask Brownlee. Ask Tambellini if you can… Hockey people generally regard the plus minus stat as being a poor indicator of overall defensive ability. As for the scoring race and overall point production. a) Figuring out who will put up points is critical in your office hockey pool. b) Figuring out how to put up points is critical for an offensive player heading into free agency. c) Figuring out the total package; including heart, durability, leaderhip, talent, offensive pedigree, defensive awarness, etc, etc… THAT is the key to proper player evaluation. A GM who is desciding whether or not to trade Pronger for Lupul and Smid had better be good, or have people who are good at player evaluation… Oh wait.

Sadly he had his hand forced.

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#121 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:32PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Chris: I try my best to contextualize almost every point i make. If i dont, call me on it. Until that happens dont suggest that i do it all the time. For lecav i spent pages giving reasons why he isnt as great as his hype. For hemsky, i’ve spent pages contextualizing his career/situation. This is an example of not contextualizing point total arguments. “Nikolai Zherdev is better offensively than Bobby Ryan. 58 points to 57.” I dont do that.

I apologise. I was being patronising and rude. The baby steps thing was un-called for. You DO try to contextualize your arguments. You simply value overall point production much higher than I do. Who is right is a matter of opinion; and doesn't really matter as neither of us gets the final say in any roster decision.

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#122 esa tikkanen
June 03 2009, 01:33PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Jonathan, would you consider writing a column on the idea of the Oilers going after Lecavalier? Garrioch says he is available, that Tampa is desperate to dump the $10 million salary.

The appeal for the Oilers is he is only a $6.8 million cap hit. He is 29 and signed for the next 10 years. He is big, fast, skilled, a bona fide number one center who scored 50 goals one year.

Whether Tampa gets Tavares or Hedman they will be an up and coming team. They need more quality players. Cogliano and O'Sullivan are legitimate second line players (or should be as their career moves along), Gilbert is a legitimate #2 or 3 defenceman, very good 5-5 and on the PP. This idea is a fair compensation to get a fair star player. Two years ago many thought he was in the top5 in the game. Maybe we can get him after he has had a mediocre season on a terrible team? Also, Jonathan, you say you would give up those three to get him, do you think Tampa would give him up to get those three or would they want more?

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#123 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:35PM
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Cam wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: I just crunched numbers and Horcoff is 0.78 PPg since the lockout. That’s pretty good in my books. I wonder how that compares to other centres in the game?

Over 82 games that would put him at 64 point clip.

Which would be:

21st 25th 25th 29th

Since the lockout

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#124 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Believe it or not I’d seriously consider doing that. Lecavalier/Horcoff is a pairing of centres that could work very well.

I totally agree. The Oilers would have three talented centers who can score, a salary structure that works (for now), and would partially clear out that logjam of young smallish forwards.

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#125 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:39PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Over 82 games that would put him at 64 point clip. Which would be: 21st 25th 25th 29th Since the lockout

And these are the offensive numbers. Clearly the strenghth of Horcoff's game is not his offensive. Who is Stupid now?

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#126 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 01:39PM
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@ Chris: Thank you. Most of our disagreements arise from preset values we place on different aspects of the game. Thats why these back and forths go on for so long.

Now if you dont mind, this simple guy needs to go to the University and pick up his Master's degree. I hope there's some good convo going on when i get back.

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#127 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:40PM
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@ esa tikkanen:

His hit is 7.8

That said, it's the 10 year term that would concern me more then the $

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#128 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:41PM
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Chris wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Over 82 games that would put him at 64 point clip. Which would be: 21st 25th 25th 29th Since the lockout And these are the offensive numbers. Clearly the strenghth of Horcoff’s game is not his offensive. Who is Stupid now?

Yup, I'd take a 55 point Horcoff over a 65 point Roy/Gomez/Ribero type guy.

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#129 RossCreek
June 03 2009, 01:42PM
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@ Esa Just correcting Vinny's contract. His cap hit will be 7.7

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#130 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:46PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Chris wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: Over 82 games that would put him at 64 point clip. Which would be: 21st 25th 25th 29th Since the lockout And these are the offensive numbers. Clearly the strenghth of Horcoff’s game is not his offensive. Who is Stupid now? Yup, I’d take a 55 point Horcoff over a 65 point Roy/Gomez/Ribero type guy.

*65 point Horc over 75 point Roy/Gomez/Ribero*

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#131 Chris
June 03 2009, 01:46PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Yup, I’d take a 55 point Horcoff over a 65 point Roy/Gomez/Ribero type guy

~for the FIRST line?...Why would you consider sacrificing a minimal upgrade in scoring potential for something as useless as overall solid play? You must be stupid~

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#132 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 01:52PM
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Chris wrote:

Jonathan Willis wrote: Believe it or not I’d seriously consider doing that. Lecavalier/Horcoff is a pairing of centres that could work very well. I totally agree. The Oilers would have three talented centers who can score, a salary structure that works (for now), and would partially clear out that logjam of young smallish forwards.

I think it would be great for the first 2-3 ... maybe 4 years... then going forward we'd be complaining about it every day.

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#133 esa tikkanen
June 03 2009, 01:57PM
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funny, nhlnumbers.com says vinny is a 6.8 but i believe you basically the oilers have too many pretty good players, not enough very good players. i would rather trade three pretty good for one very good. we have done the opposite most of my life and i am sick of it

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#134 Chris
June 03 2009, 02:05PM
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@ esa tikkanen:

Would you trade Gagner, O'Sullivan, and Gilbert for LeCavalier?

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#135 esa tikkanen
June 03 2009, 02:06PM
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in 4 years both Cogliano and O'Sullivan will be UFA's so we won't be complaining about it - we could sign them if we want to.. Vinny will be a stud for at least 5 more years

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#136 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 02:18PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

in 4 years both Cogliano and O’Sullivan will be UFA’s so we won’t be complaining about it - we could sign them if we want to.. Vinny will be a stud for at least 5 more years

Depends how the structured Cogs deal, if he goes with a three year deal he'd still be a RFA at the end of it, if they went long term they could potentially have him locked up for life.

Vinny's studlyness has been quickly going down hill, also the top 100 goal scorers of all time seen their production drop after the age of 30... quickly and sharply.

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#137 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 02:19PM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

in 4 years both Cogliano and O’Sullivan will be UFA’s so we won’t be complaining about it - we could sign them if we want to.. Vinny will be a stud for at least 5 more years

And it's not the fact that we are missing Cogs/O'sully that we'd be complaining about. It's the fact that we could very resonably have a 20 goal 50 point 7.8 million dollar player locked up for 6 more years that we'd be complaining about.

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#138 Chris
June 03 2009, 02:24PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Thats why these back and forths go on for so long.

These back and forths go on so long because we are both stubborn, and never let anything go.Archaeologuy wrote:

Now if you dont mind, this simple guy needs to go to the University and pick up his Master’s degree.

Congrats.

Oh, and when I said Malkin has twice as many points as Hossa, I was referring to these playoffs. I'd be winning the office pool but I had the sixth overall pick (Hossa) and the guy who took Malkin ahead of me is winning on the strength of his thirty plus points.

I'll argue with you again later.

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#139 Jonathan Willis
June 03 2009, 02:24PM
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@ esa tikkanen:

I think Lecavalier's going to Los Angeles (if he moves), and Steve Tambellini strikes me as a cautious sort. I don't think the Oilers will be players.

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#140 Chris
June 03 2009, 02:32PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

I think Vinny could/would evolve his game to compensate for lower production as he ages. (Remember we are the guys who argued Horcoffs case five minutes ago) Arch's scouting aside; LeCavalier is big, fast, takes draws, and would fight IGGY. (There's the price of admission alone) Financially, it is hard to predict the landscape five years out. It might not be smart to bring in LeCavalier... But it would be FUN! The same downfalls that come with grabbing Vinny come with grabbing ANY other high profile UFA, or star player... We need to start drafting these guys; hence my question; Who amoung us that approved Esa's first deal would still approve if Gagner was the price in place of Cogliano? Here is where I start to waffle.

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#141 Chris
June 03 2009, 02:44PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Maybe Tambellini doesn't want a repeat of the Pronger situation. It's a lot to risk, building your organization around an outsider.

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#142 Ogden Brother
June 03 2009, 02:48PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: I think Vinny could/would evolve his game to compensate for lower production as he ages. (Remember we are the guys who argued Horcoffs case five minutes ago) Arch’s scouting aside; LeCavalier is big, fast, takes draws, and would fight IGGY. (There’s the price of admission alone) Financially, it is hard to predict the landscape five years out. It might not be smart to bring in LeCavalier… But it would be FUN! The same downfalls that come with grabbing Vinny come with grabbing ANY other high profile UFA, or star player… We need to start drafting these guys; hence my question; Who amoung us that approved Esa’s first deal would still approve if Gagner was the price in place of Cogliano? Here is where I start to waffle.

It's one thing to pay 5.5 for 60 points + intangibles... but 7.8 for 50 points + intangibles?

This risk with Vinny is the term, not alot of high end guys make that kind of coin over that kind of years. If you had Vinny for 10 years for 5.5 (with a heavy front load)or 5 years for 7.8 then ya sure make the trade. but 7.8 for 10 years?

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#143 Robin Brownlee
June 03 2009, 02:50PM
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I was wondering how a UFA item about the Dallas Stars -- not that it isn't wonderfully written and absolutely riveting stuff -- warranted 140-plus comments while the Detroit UFA situation is as a boat anchor. Great writing? Dallas giving players away for free with a toaster included?

Is there a comment about Dallas and their UFA situation in the lot or is all "Austin Ayala is a dumbass?" Just wondering.

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#144 esa tikkanen
June 03 2009, 02:51PM
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i don't think i would trade Gagner in that package instead of Cogliano. I think Cogliano could (if things go well) become a valuable consistent 25 goal 60 point guy for years to come, somewhere between Marchant and Camalari. But Gagner, to me is going to be like Doug Gilmour or Joe Sakic... I think in the last 15 years there are several elite players over 30 who maintained their eliteness to 33-35. Sakic, Jagr, Iginla (so far, he is 32), Sundin, Gilmour, Messier, Gretzky, all played I would say at 90% of their former greatness. WHo didn't? Lindros, Lemieux, Forsberg, all because of serious injury issues. So far Lecavalier has had none of those. To me, he is in his prime and will be for at least 3 more years. I would go hard after him and trade anyone except Hemsky and Gagner. Tampa wouldn't want many of our guys other than the ones I mentinoed thus the suggestion...

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#145 Wanye Gretz
June 03 2009, 02:54PM
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@ Robin Brownlee: It's spicy on here today. It just took me 20 minutes to read all these commentary looking for spam comments about medication for sale on the interwebs.

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#146 esa tikkanen
June 03 2009, 03:11PM
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Robin would you go after Vinny? And would tampa part with him for those three players?

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#147 Cam
June 03 2009, 03:34PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I was wondering how a UFA item about the Dallas Stars — not that it isn’t wonderfully written and absolutely riveting stuff — warranted 140-plus comments while the Detroit UFA situation is as a boat anchor. Great writing? Dallas giving players away for free with a toaster included? Is there a comment about Dallas and their UFA situation in the lot or is all “Austin Ayala is a dumbass?” Just wondering.

robin until recently it was the only new post on this site and Dallas is a pretty boring team to talk about so the subject strayed. Now that there are more posts we can spread it around a little bit but for a while it got kinda interesting. We work with what we are given, man!

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#148 Chris
June 03 2009, 03:50PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I tried twice to lobby for Lehtinen...think he would look good with Gagner, if healthy.

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#149 Archaeologuy
June 03 2009, 03:57PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Is there a comment about Dallas and their UFA situation in the lot or is all “Austin Ayala is a dumbass?” Just wondering.

I accept no responsibilities for my actions in the de-railment of the ON train. Without any direction or supervision this place becomes a scene from Lord of the Flies pretty quickly.

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#150 Jonathan Willis
June 03 2009, 04:18PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

~You feign indifference, but I know you're just as interested in the triumphs and tragedies of Joel Lundqvist and Landon Wilson as I am.~

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