The Opportunity Cost of Drafting a Goalie

Why goaltenders are approaching first-round extinction

Everyone knows you need a good goalie in order to win games. But what you may not know is that many of today’s star goaltenders weren’t always the cat’s pajamas. In fact, many of them came from relative obscurity.

In the 5-year period from 1997-2001, 14 goalies were drafted in the first round. Apparently this number satisfied some type of equilibrium, because it stayed exactly the same from 2002-2006. Then suddenly things changed. In 2007, not a single goalie was taken in the first round – the first time this had occurred since 1992. Then it happened again in 2009, and again this past year. Collectively, only 4 goalies were drafted in the first round between 2007-2011. Why? Continue reading

NHL Draft and Free Agency – The Victors

Big Winners

Washington Capitals

In:

F: Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer (from Chi), Jeff Halpern

D: Roman Hamrlik

G: Tomas Vokoun

1st and 2nd round picks in 2012 (Colorado)

Out: 2011 1st round pick (to Chicago), Semeon Varlamov (Colorado)

A very good defensive group got even better with the addition of Roman Hamrlik, who many think was Montreal’s best defenceman last year. Up front, Joel Ward provides them exactly what they need – a big, gritty, two-way winger who saves his best for playoffs. Troy Brouwer is a top-6 forward with good size and some grit, while Jeff Halpern is a solid veteran who will make small but important contributions in the bottom-6.

But the crowning jewel for Caps GM George McPhee is the cloak and dagger artistry he displayed with his goaltending. McPhee dealt young Russian netminder Semeon Varlamov to Colorado in exchange for first and second round picks in next year’s draft – the first of which will almost certainly be in the top 15, and even has the potential to be a lottery pick (top-5). Meanwhile, he managed to sign veteran Czech netminder Tomas Vokoun, giving them a bonafide #1 goaltender, and a mentor to young Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth. While a conference rival like Philadelphia blew up their roster to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a mamoth 9 year, $51M deal, Washington managed to get an equally good goalie on a 1 year, $1.5M deal, and an early first round pick to boot. The man is a magician. His team, elite.

Buffalo Sabres

In:

F: Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik, Joel Armia (2011 1st round pick)

D: Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff Continue reading

NHL Free Agent Update

***FREE AGENCY KICKS OFF THIS FRIDAY AT 12 PM ET***

UPDATES: Roloson has re-signed with Tampa Bay (1 yr, $3M); Chad Larose re-signed in Carolina (2 years, $1.7M per season)

Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights traded to New York Islanders (doubt they sign him); Wisniewski’s rights traded to Columbus, where he may actually sign

The UFA market is quickly drying up. It’s literally changing by the minute. Joni Pitkanen was just re-signed by Carolina. Other big free agents like Kevin Bieksa, Eric Brewer, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Alex Tanguay have signed in recent days. I’m sure Tampa Bay is trying to retain Roloson and Gagne, Philadelphia – Leino, Boston – Ryder, etc. By the time Friday at noon hits, this already weak crop will be even thinner. That means that trade activity may be a bit heavier, as GM’s will look to tweak their roster in the only other way possible.

But I know what you’re really wondering – who will the Jets target? My money is on the players below:

JETS UFA TARGETS Continue reading

2011 Free Agents

(This summer’s big fish – Brad Richards)

(Note: I’ll keep this on a permanent page and will update the list frequently when we get closer to July 1)

Here’s the 2011 UFA crop. It’s extremely weak on forwards, but pretty loaded with defencemen. I’ve included salary expectations, which is a hybrid between how I think the market will view them, and what I personally think their value is. I’ve also included a small list of players who may be facing retirement, as well as those who may be playing overseas next year. Continue reading