Everything Else

We give Dallas GM Jim Nill a lot of shit for a lot of things. The way he completely ignored his goaltending situation the past three years or so. Or when he did try to remedy it he ended up with Antti Niemi. And then ended up with Ben Bishop, which might only be a slight upgrade. The way he stuck by Lindy Ruff when it was clear that his defense-less ways were never going to allow the Stars to go anywhere. Or the way he “wins” every offseason according to the hockey media, and then the Stars are still not around when the calendar gets to May. Or they miss the playoff altogether.

We’ve spent so much time going over all that we’ve missed his Martin Hanzal signing. And this one might really suck. It might be one of the worst of the summer, actually.

Before we get to what Martin Hanzal is, let’s get to what he was. Martin Hanzal has scored over 40 points exactly twice in his 10-year career. And never more than 41. He’s never scored more than 16 goals in a season. Connected to that, he’s only played more than 70 games in a season four times, and three of them were in his first three seasons. He gets hurt, and he doesn’t score much when he’s actually on the ice.

And Jim Nill gave him $4.7 million for the next three years.

Here are some centers making around the same money. Bryan Little makes the same, as far as cap hit. When he signed that deal, he was coming off 32 points in 48 games in 2013. He then backed it up with a 64 point seasons and a 52-point season. Vincent Trocheck makes the same cap hit. He has two 50-point seasons and has been a point-per-game this year. Artem Anisimov’s cap hit is slightly less, and it’s probably not a good contract, but he’s about to gather his third-straight 20-goal season. Nazem Kadri makes $4.5 per year, and he’s got three 50-point season and is going to add a fourth this year. Other names are Marcus Johansson, Valtieri Fillpula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Galchenyuk, Jori Lehtera. Make of that what you will, which is probably there are some really dumb GMs around.

Hanzal has five points this year. He’s also been a possession black hole, which given his just-shit-myself skating style on a team that can get-up-and-go isn’t a huge surprise. His relative-Corsi is -5.37 and his -10.3 relative xGF% is one of the worst in the league.

Nill will get away with it because Kari Lehtonen’s $5.9 million hit and Dan Hamhuis’s $3.7 million hit come off the books this year. Even with Roussel, Johns, Shore, Elie, Janmark, Smith to re-sign. Then again, they’ll only have 11-14 million to do all that with. The following year Tyler Seguin is going to get his, but Jason Spezza’s hit comes off the books. So Nill might dodge the damage that could come along with such an oversized mistake.

To be fair to Hanzal, Jabba The Hitch has used him exclusively as a checking-line center. He starts only 32% of his shifts in the offensive zone, so of course his metrics are going to be low. Still, if you want merely a punching bag who sucks up defensive zone draws, you can probably find one for cheaper than $4.7 million per year.

More genius. You gotta love it.

Game #34 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

For the second time in two weeks or so, we go and bother Taylor Baird from DefendingBigD.com. Follow her on Twitter @TaylorBaird.

The Stars are one of the lowest event teams in the league, which is something of a Hitchcock specialty. But given how this roster is built, is that really conducive to success? Is that why the record has been a touch wonky?
I think they’re still trying to figure out the balance between structure and suppressing chances against while being creative offensively. When they won five games straight right after Thanksgiving, they scored an average of 4.4 goals per game (excluding shootouts/empty netters) and they only allowed 2.2 goals per game on average. That’s a terrific recipe for success, and now they’ve shown they can do it. The trick is finding the consistency to put it into place each night while still adjusting to new linemates/system/coaching/etc. Sometimes that takes longer to put together than fans would like, but I think they’re capable.
The Stars traded Jamie Oleksiak, which seems to be a vote of confidence for Julius Honka. Why are Stars fans so excited about him? 
He’s mobile and very creative with the puck in flashes in games he played last season, something the Stars have lacked at times from their blueline. Stars fans are excited that Dallas could have two of the offensive defensemen style blueliners in the lineup and believe it will help improve the transition game immensely. And while these kinds of players come with inherent risks, Honka has shown that he has the speed to be able to recover from his mistakes, something that Oleksiak struggled with in Dallas. It’s not that people felt Oleksiak was a pylon, but for many fans his defensive shortcomings when he wasn’t providing much in the way of possession/scoring was tough to swallow.
Martin Hanzal, five points, some of the worst metrics on the team. This has not gone well so far, has it?
The better penalty kill from the terribad one last season might say otherwise. He doesn’t look good statistically, but he has had flashes in games this season when healthy of doing all the little things that help maintain possession or cycle in the offensive zone that has created the environment for goal scoring by the next line on the ice. I’d say it’s more likely an “incomplete” grade at this point in the season, especially given that he’s missed games due to injury.
Marc Methot is returning from injury soon. What kind of difference will that make?
I think it will really solidify a top six, and maybe the Stars can stop the bottom four merry-go-round that they’ve run searching for the right combinations. If they can get a group in consistently for a stretch, I’d expect the team as a whole will look much better in general.
What will the Stars need to pick up to lock down a playoff spot this year?
Most likely a top six forward, as the Stars haven’t found the right answer to have a consistent second line threat without breaking up the dynamite grouping of Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Alexander Radulov. It doesn’t seem to be ready to be answered from inside the system today, so acquiring that will probably be a top target for Jim Nill at the trade deadline (or sooner) this season.
Everything Else

 vs 

Game Time: 11:30AM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Makes No Sense At All: Hockey Wilderness

Late season, weekend matinee games suck out loud regardless of the two teams involved. The thought process behind having them is clear, with both college and pro football shuttered for their respective seasons, and baseball yet to move north from Arizona and Florida, there is a void that can be filled by the Winter Tenants for viewership when there’s really only Law & Order: SVU reruns on elsewhere. But the vast majority of hockey games are played at night, and professional hockey players, like all athletes, enjoy their ya-ha time after a game and generally keep later hours. There is always at least a 24 hour break going into them so it’s not totally cutting into physical recuperation the way Thursday Night Football does, but circadian rhythms are still fucked with, and now past the deadline there are many teams who are just playing out the string. Couple that with the overall quality of the league due to a flat salary cap, and it’s left an absolute dogshit product on the ice on par with Thursday Night Football by any absolute or relative measure. And on top of that Daylight Savings just kicked in, so now two teams who at least on paper who are still jockeying for the top spot in the Central and the West, are effectively facing off at 10:30AM local time, all for the sake of courting viewers that the NHL is never going to grab. Nice work everyone.

Everything Else

In the aftermath of last night’s entertaining tilt with the equally fast and dinged up Penguins, the Hawks held practice today in anticipation of tomorrow night’s home tilt against the Islanders and then Saturday night in Nashville. And while it was for the most part an ordinary late-season practice, the organization showed its hand a bit in the process.

Live From The Five Hole

As we were recording, there were actual trades going on in the NHL, and Cieslak was somewhere over the Atlantic, as he is being extradited to The Hague for his various war crimes. Sam has escaped from the maw of the Internet Monster to actually be able to engage in the conversation. Of course, by the time this posts, half of what we discussed could be irrelevant, but isn’t that always the case anyway? And the title is interpreted at the reader’s discretion. Audio after the jump.

Everything Else

 vs 

Game Time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Joe Arpaio Should Die In Prison: Five For Howling

If it feels like forever since the Hawks had a traditional 7:30 start at home at the UC, it kind of has, as it’s been nearly a month since they had one. It was a riveting affair, as they always are, against the Winnipeg Jets on January 26th, and tonight figures to be just as rollicking against the the league’s second worst team in the visiting Arizona Phoenix Glendale Coyotes/Quebec Nordiques/Seattle Metropolitans.