Same stuff as the last couple weeks, I’m afraid.
There’s no end to the summer speculation, which is what summer is good for. It’s exactly long enough that you can really dig into whatever team or player you want and think about all the could-be scenarios that spring up around them. And with so many players still unsigned, there’s room for speculation about what’s fair there, too. (How about that Brooks Orpik contract situation? That doesn’t seem weird at all, right?)
When the previous season ends, the new one begins in fans’ minds more or less immediately. Unlike NHL front-office guys, most don’t have a cabin to go to, so speculation heats up fast and doesn’t die down until mid-September at the earliest. Pretty good.
And hey, I only got two Senators questions this week. Fun.
Let’s get cracking:
Ryan asks: “What is an appropriate contract for Tom Wilson?”
First of all, great name.
But let’s just start by saying what is appropriate and what is likely are two very different things. This is a guy who had career highs of 14-21-35 despite playing with two of the best players in the world. People will say his value lies in his intangibles and that’s certainly true to the extent that this is a thing people think.
But to really drill down on what the Capitals will end up buying for an undoubtedly insane amount of money, Wilson had the same number of points this season as Justin Abdelkader and Brandon Saad, two guys who make a bunch of money and were seen as pretty big disappointments.
More to the point, there have been six other 23-year-old forwards who scored 35 points in the cap era, and it’s not exactly a who’s-who list; Alex Chiasson, Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, Vlad Namestnikov, Dan Paille, and Alex Wennberg. I can assure you that none of those guys had the kind of on-ice help Wilson received this past season.
Wennberg, by the way, isn’t even really a comparable because he only played 66 games this year, so his 35 points is a little misleading; he scored on a 44-point pace, and that was down from a breakout age-22 season of 13-46-59 two seasons ago. A disappointing, injury-shortened year from Wennberg (who has an AAV of $4.9 million and great underlying numbers) was a banner year for Wilson.
I wouldn’t give Wilson more than $3.5 million for three years, and that’s factoring in his, ahem, upside. I bet he gets closer to $5.5 million and at least five seasons. This is an insane sport.
Vikki asks: “What’s going on with the Voynov situation? It’s been way too quiet…”
One imagines that the lack of news isn’t due to lack of interest from NHL teams.
However, it doesn’t appear as though there has been much movement from the league, one way or the other, as it relates to clearing the player to return after a superior court judge allowed him to clear his record. The fact that it’s been “too quiet” is probably due, again, to Insiders hitting the cabin and stuff like that, but rest assured the league is working on a decision with this guy.
The decision SHOULD be a hard no, of course, but that’s not usually how these things go, unfortunately.
Sam asks: “Which currently optimistic fan base (somewhere like St. Louis, Carolina, Toronto, et al.) is due for the biggest letdown this next season?”
Both St. Louis and Carolina are good guesses here, to be honest. Both could be derailed by goaltending. I’m somewhat bullish that Scott Darling will be better (though by how much, it’s difficult to say) and I refuse to get my hopes up about Jake Allen anymore.
But I can also see like half the Pacific really being awful as well. If Edmonton can’t get above-average goaltending out of Cam Talbot (who was awful last year) they’re gonna be trash. Calgary improved in some ways but got worse in others and still has a million-year-old Mike Smith in net. Vegas is bound to take a sizable step back and people may or may not expect that. I think the Kings could really stink unless Quick and Kopitar go all the way off. Who knows with the Ducks?
The Pacific was the worst division in hockey last year, and that was with two teams getting pretty lucky. It might be even worse this year. Pretty interesting.
REW asks: “Should the league have the power to coerce Melnyk to sell the Sens?”
I mean, the league technically works as a means of promoting all owners’ interests and there’s no reason why the other owners should really care how bad Eugene Melnyk is at running his club.
If the whole debacle with the Coyotes over the last however-many years didn’t tell you how hard Gary Bettman and Co. will go to bat for even the worst owners (hell, even non-existent owners) then you’re not paying enough attention.
The question, of course, was whether the league “should” have that power, and I guess technically it does. The NBA pressured Donald Sterling into selling the Clippers when he very clearly needed to (and the ghoul got billions of dollars out of it). It won’t use that power, of course, but it could.
But we probably just have to start accepting the fact this guy won’t sell until there’s a downtown arena that significantly inflates the value of the club even in the absence of Erik Karlsson. Like, just deal with it.
Jones asks: “Joe Colborne often misused and played above his head. Is he worth a contract for some team looking for a reasonable fourth-liner (assuming they don’t think he’s a first liner and PP1 guy?”
Joe Colborne is not a good example here because he had eight points and poor underlyings last season, playing less than 11 minutes a night. Colborne can play a little bit in a lesser role, maybe, but there are potentially better, younger, cheaper options.
But in general I think there are plenty of guys who get put into outsized roles, struggle and get deemed busts or something. Justin Schultz is a perfect example. Everyone in Edmonton decides he sucks because he’s not the No. 1 D they arbitrarily decided he would be. Gets traded for peanuts to Pittsburgh, which uses him properly and now he’s making a bunch of money and is largely seen as a positive contributor to the team.
There are a ton of guys you can do this with (though maybe not Colborne). I don’t know why it doesn’t happen more often.
Michael asks: “Do you think Karlsson refuses to play if he doesn’t get traded in the offseason. Should he?”
Has anyone big-name player been under contract but actively refused to play in recent memory? I guess Jonathan Drouin, but kinda not really because the Lightning tried to send him down and he just said, “No thanks.”
The only thing I can really think of Dany Heatley when he, too, was in Ottawa and I guess it worked because they traded him to San Jose. Although if I remember right Heatley just made it clear he really really really wanted to be traded and didn’t actually miss any games with Ottawa.
But no, I don’t think Karlsson would do that, and if he makes (or already made?) a trade demand he would probably not do it publicly. That’s just not how things work in this sport, for the most part, so I’d be surprised. Whether he “should” do it, well, if you wanna get out of Ottawa that bad — and why wouldn’t you? — then yeah, sure.
Tyler asks: “Which bad-to-okayish team is going to PDO their way into a playoff spot and convince themselves they’ve figured out shot quality this year?”
You’re basically asking about bad-to-okayish teams with good goalies. Pretty much everyone who ever does this sort of thing does it in large part due to goaltending, so let’s start there.
I can see Florida doing it (again) if Luongo is still Luongo, and that always seems to happen. I can see Washington or Minnesota doing it again. New Jersey might if Cory Schneider can bounce back. Arizona might if Antti Raanta can keep up the same performance but actually stay healthy. Carey Price basically always makes Montreal a threat to do it.
That feels like about it to me, but I guess we’re talking about the whole point of PDO: You can’t predict it and sometimes a rotten team just shoots 11 percent for three months. That’s hockey.
All stats via Corsica unless noted otherwise. Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.