July 16th News and Notes


Mikko Koivu



Dead as a doornail, isn’t it? Kent remarked to me on Wednesday night that he couldn’t remember a time where things got so quiet so quickly after July 1st, and I’m in accord. After the jump, we’ll look through the thin gruel for morsels.



Nothing to report beyond the resigning of an AHL goalie and adding an assistant in Abby. Like many teams, the club hasn’t got much official flexibility if it wanted to add players. It’s all very good to say that Kotalik and Staios are gone, but until they actually leave the payroll, they aren’t, and Ian White’s impending arbitration award of 3 million + also has to be factored in. As a result, appears that the club is done unless they can trade a body. That doesn’t mean they won’t sign a Conroy or someone of that salary level, but I’d suspect that the top nine forwards are:





…or some iteration thereof unless Langkow is on LTIR for the duration. I don’t hate that lineup, but I’d certainly like better 10th-12th forwards than what’s currently on the roster. 



I don’t consider anything regarding Ilya Kovalchuk’s status as "news" unless he actually signs, or goes on a hunger strike. That’s it. As for the rest of the frozen market, Denis Grebeshkov’s agent made a perfectly worthwhile point regarding the fact that a lot of teams are jammed with contracts that they can’t move, so adding UFAs isn’t a simple task (Hi, Darryl!). As well, this summer has seen at least a couple of teams like Carolina and Anaheim pull back from being cap teams. That’s likely 10-15 million dollars out of the market. There are going to be some bargains if a team does manage to clear a few million off the payroll in the next couple of weeks, just as there was at the end of last summer. 

 When the Wild improves its depth, then maybe Koivu won’t be checked as hard and you can start using statistical analysis to determine Koivu’s worth.

That’s from Michael Russo’s lengthy piece at the Star-Tribune regarding the resigning of Mikko Koivu to a seven year contract extension yesterday. I highlighted that sentence because Russo is referring to the boxcar numbers that most of the MSM types use to rate players. As someone who uses different metrics in assessing value, I don’t need a change in circumstance to know that Mikko Koivu’s a front-rank NHL center that can handle the toughs with pretty nominal help. I don’t doubt that the people that just judge players on the boxcars are likely to be in the "surprised" category, and I’d guess that those that use underlying numbers wouldn’t spend much time comparing him to a guy like Tomas Plekanec. Koivu is certainly signed at the top of the market, but that’s how things go when UFAs-to-be sign contracts. Nice player, at any rate.


Off-ice, there are rumblings that a veteran labour hand will be assisting the players for their next go-round at collective bargaining. Donald Fehr isn’t the anti-christ, and I’d like to encourage people to go back to the statements made by representatives from the ownership side during the last lockout. Cost containment hasn’t exactly worked as advertised, especially for teams like Nashville, and I don’t really see ticket prices headed down. The results haven’t necessarily been bad or unfair, but the owners are not selfless guardians of anything besides their own wallets, so when the inevitable rhetoric starts up about "greedy" players, just remember that there aren’t any virgins out there.


There are conflicting reports this afternoon regarding the ownership status of the Dallas Stars, with Ken Campbell having the deal at a more advanced stage than Mike Heika. If the Stars can boost their payroll budget via new ownership, they have cap space and some nice pieces at forward. If the deal gets done soon enough, they could be the sort of team to benefit from cheap help that I mentioned earlier. I suspect that no matter who gets possession of the Stars, it’ll happen before any deal gets worked out in Phoenix. Crickets down there, isn’t it? 


Finally, Kent was nice enough to point me towards a pretty interesting interview with Jeff Ma. Whether you’re interested in the mathier side of things or not, it’s worth a look.


That’s all for today. Like I said, thin gruel. We’ll see you next week.


  • Pretty impressive you came up with that long an article after the snore fest this week. Koivu is the only real decent news this week. You could have packed it into three or four sentences:
    Koivu signs with Wild for ridiculous amount.
    Keetley stays an extra year with the Heat.
    And the rest of the Hockey world is crickets.
    Enjoy the golf.

    I applaud your work ethic this week RCleave.

  • This is purely hypothetical and I do not know what my thoughts on the player is at this point but lets pretend shall we.

    Lets assume Dutter has done it again. He gets out of his cap troubles and clears some bodies on the team. Kotalik will go and we assume staios as well. that would leave a defensive corps looking like:



    Now I want to see Pelech play next year. Lets assume Sutter does as well and the kid makes it out of camp. We’ll assume Sarich goes to give some cap flexibility and Sutter sure talks up for 5th round draft picks as “quality” and “key.” Kotalik+Satios+Sarich = ~9 mill. 3.5 mill for White drops that down to 5.5 mill.

    The big question I have is what do you do with that 5 mill? They could trade Pardy for a 2nd or 3rd I’m sure and then sign Grebeshkov for ~2 mill. That to me seems like a great mode of action. In the event of an injury we have lots and lots of AHL defensive depth. Thoughts?

    • Robert Cleave

      The one flaw in this kind of argument, and I’m not picking on you here specifically , Brent, is that people still don’t quite grasp how hard it is to unload salary in the current market. Unless Sutter can pull off a miracle, it’s almost impossible for him, or any other GM, to unload a big ticket without taking a crappy contract back in return. Cory Sarich might be movable, but the odds of Sutter not taking almost as much salary back in a deal are slim. I suspect the best case scenario would be to get a player that’s just as expensive, but that only has one year left before their contract is up. If the Flames de facto swapped Sarich for Grebeshkov, I wouldn’t complain, but like I said, where’s the team that takes Sarich and doesn’t demand the Flames take a boat anchor in return? I’m not seeing it yet. I suppose if a team gets to late August, still wants a decent 4th-5th D, and can live with his contract, maybe.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      If Duts manages to get Kotalik to go to the KHL, and he sends Staios to the Heat, and he signs White for $3.5M, then he’d be pretty much at the cap.
      If he trades Sarich, I doubt there is a GM in the league who’d take him without giving the same amount of salary back, unless it’s a team looking to get it’s salary up to the salary minimum.

  • I don’t know how good Brassard actually is (can’t read behindthenet for crap), but hypothetically (NTC and the fact that he JUST signed re-signed him notwithstanding) what would people think if Dutter managed to swap Stajan+Sarich for Brassard+Hejda? Or Brassard+a 3rd or something?

  • Bob

    Another thing to consider is that most GM’s, ours included, will be more or less content to see what happens at training camp. Any team with holes to fill may just wait and see if any prospects are able to show they’re ready to make the jump to the big show. Obviously some teams have more positions available than others. But with training camp also comes preseason games…and what can occur during this time? Injuries!!

    And if Darryl has been unsuccessful at unloading a body by then, an opportunity to rid a salary for a team suddenly needing additional depth just might be willing to give us a little something (anything…7th rounder even) to get a Sarich or a Staois or Kotalik or whomever they and Darryl can work a deal for. Injuries could also happen to the Flames, as Langkow is apparently still a question mark over the summer. Maybe some salry relief will come from LTIR, not to sound like the grim reaper, which would allow Darryl to maybe explore some options as well.

    It may be quiet now, but at any minute things could explode. Of course, that’s what the media was thinking at the draft and look how that turned out for them.

  • Do any of the contributors here at the Nation know a good site that provides simulation of actual payouts to players based on actual salaries and hockey related revenue?

    I am also seeing the writing on the wall about “greedy” players, and I just keep having to face palm. The players get a fixed proportion of HRR per year (depending on how much HRR there is). How any owner can paint player’s as greedy if they are asking for anything less than an increase in their share of HRR is ridiculous.

    Also, how do teams like Anaheim and Carolina pulling back affect how much actual salary they have to shell out? It seems to me that, all other things being equal, if the same number of teams are spending to the cap, and HRR doesn’t change, a pull back on player salaries for multiple teams isn’t that big an affect on actual payment out. Maybe if a higher proportion of the other teams spend to the cap (or above if you have lots of front end loaded deals) but otherwise I don’t think they are making that big a difference in their bottom line.

    • I don’t know of any such site. You’re right though, players only get a certain piece of the pie. After that, escrow kicks in. So technically, “greedy” players only effect the salaries of other players and not the bottom line for the owners.

    • Robert Cleave

      The same number of teams aren’t spending to the cap, Tach. Carolina and Anaheim weren’t replaced by new big spenders, and most other teams that weren’t tight to the cap last year have frozen their internal budgets. The escrow paid out might end up decreasing this year, but that doesn’t help this summer’s UFAs-to-be as much as it helps players with pre-existing deals.