It’s Monday and I didn’t have any coffee. Here are some hockey-related things I’ve thought of today.
CANUCKS MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM EVER?
Towards the start of the season I had a post up on Bovada odds, musing that the betting service had drastically underestimated the number of overtime games played in the NHL and thus some of the over-unders were too low. I also suggested just betting the over on every team.
Had you put $10 on every team to hit the over, you’d win either $60 or $80, depending on what happens with Toronto, Los Angeles and Calgary the rest of the way who are all within a point of their projection based on games played.
Vancouver, meanwhile, is one of the few teams that will hit the “under” in the NHL. Bovada pegged the Canucks at 95.5 points. Through 70 games, they should have 81.5, according to those odds, but they’re stuck at 72, 9.5 points below the original projection. They’re one of the worst teams stacked against the original projection.
But not the worst:
Anaheim, Colorado and San Jose have already hit their over totals. Boston are very close. Surprisingly, Tampa Bay isn’t doing that much better than its projection, but they’ve struggled since the Olympics.
On the negative side of the ledger, it shouldn’t be surprising to see the Canucks on the one end, but the Islanders, Oilers and Sabres all somehow managed to be behind them. Not pleasant company at all. It’s fun to see that Buffalo was one of the lowest-ranked teams coming into the season, with the third-lowest over/under in the NHL, and have somehow managed to play well below that.
I’m having trouble finding opening line odds for individual Canuck stats, but if you can point me in the right direction we can determine which Canuck forward played the worst compared to expectations. I’d guesstimate it’s either Daniel Sedin or Alex Burrows.
DRAFT LOTTERY TWEAK?
I was reading Dellow earlier. He has a post up on proposed changes to the draft lottery (via Elliotte). While I haven’t looked too much at the system yet, this paragraph caught my eye:
I was talking about this with NHL.com’s Corey Masisak in the context of the Canucks being better than their record the other day and he pointed out that teams like Philadelphia in 2006-07, New Jersey in 2010-11 and Montreal in 2011-12 cratered in one year and snapped up a top prospect before returning to grace the following season. Good teams can have terrible years in which nothing goes right – does the NHL really want to reward teams with a top prospect for that?
In my mind, I’ve kicked around the comparison between the 2014 Canucks and the 2012 Montreal Canadiens. It was a bit of a lost year for the Habs, starting strong with good possession stats, but then they hit a slump, fired their coach, and nothing went right for the rest of the season. In June they picked up Alex Galchenyuk with the third overall pick and went back to the playoffs the next season.
There’s potential for the Canucks to be a team like that if they can hit on the right prospect. Currently, the Canucks are 7th worst in the league in point percentage—a few key losses towards the end of the season (that Wednesday game against Nashville is going to be pretty big) plus maybe a lottery win and the team could be selecting as high as second. Not to say that’s likely, but the Canucks don’t suck as much as people think and a couple of young scoring forwards changes the landscape dramatically.
Philosophically, though, should a team that hasn’t been in dire straits for years get a shot at a top pick? I’d suggest yes, that’s it’s better for the league if chances for top-ranked players like James van Riemsdyk or Alex Galchenyuk kickstart their careers on good teams. There’s probably a better way to do that than to reward the teams that have a run of bad luck over a year, and the new proposed system seems to weight the lottery in favour of those teams in the 17-20 range who perpetually have good teams that don’t make the playoffs.
My preferred lottery system though would be to just give teams five ping pong balls, and take out a ball for every top eight pick or playoff round in the last two seasons, and let more than one team move up in the order. The lottery prior to the 2005 draft was simple and every team had a shot, and it may make organizations shape up a little if consecutive losing seasons reduced their chances at landing a Sam Bennett or a Sam Reinhart.
I’m open to any change though.
MARKUS NASLUND TO RETURN?
Huh… what? A discussion between Glenn Healy and Elliotte Friedman on the Saturday Hotstove revolved around rumours connecting Markus Naslund to a sorta-maybe-kinda-eventually-wink-wink vacant management position here in Vancouver.
Harrison Mooney at Pass it to Bulis has a post on how that could work, which isn’t too dissimilar to the way Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have wrested control of the Colorado Avalanche.
Mike Gillis would presumably drop the “GM” portion of his dual title, “GM and President of Hockey Operations”, and Naslund would step in under his and Laurence Gilman’s direction, in much the same way Craig MacTavish took over in Edmonton. He’s not operating free of accountability, but it becomes his team, with a strong collection of hockey minds behind him.
We’re seeing management structures like this more and more in hockey, and with the uncertainty in Vancouver’s front-office, this strikes me as a good time for the Canucks to try it on for themselves.
The problem the Canucks are running into is that games are no longer guaranteed sellouts, which means the team has to pay attention to the fact fans would respond to cosmetic changes that are simply cosmetic. Naslund always seemed like a diplomat and a future manager. I’m also not opposed to the idea of phasing out all the Canucks from the 1980s who retain management positions and phasing in all the Canucks who played when the team was actually good.
Right now it seems both parties are doing a form of a mating dance, but it’s a pretty natural association that I’m in favour of so long as it doesn’t also include a complete organizational facelift.
Also, since I just quoted a Bulis post, I figure now is the proper time to call out Daniel Wagner to an arm wrestle rematch at Canucks Army Gathering II on April 1. We had a pretty good battle a month ago at Canucks Army’s first gathering at The Pint, but I was eventually overcome by what I’m sure is Daniel’s dad strength. I’ve been training and am determined to reverse that result.