June 13, 2009

Looking Back And Going Forward

So who's better now? Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin?

The 2009 playoffs were really Sidney Crosby's arrival as a superstar. There was no doubting he was an elite player, but he really took it up to the next level in the post season.

I think most people conceded Alexander Ovechkin was the better player this season. He will repeat as the Hart Trophy winner to prove it.

The younger Crosby has a Hart and Art Ross to show off too, but he also now truly has hockey immortality. He captained his team to the Stanley Cup, the most important thing you can accomplish in hockey. And he has a playoff pedigree that puts Ovechkin's to shame.

It will be fun to watch these two go at over the coming years, especially next season with Canada and Russia on a collision course at the Olympics. Crosby's big game experience will come in handy then, but Russia may not need to worry. Why? Because the answer to the question of who is better, Crosby or Ovechkin, just might be Evgeni Malkin.

Crosby Snubbing Lidstrom? - What a stupid story this is turning into. It's only the first day of summer (according to the hockey calendar, the day after the Cup is awarded is the first day of summer. Winter starts in training camp.) and we're already seeing the media scrounging for stories? Everyone in the building is trying to congratulate the kid and be a part of his moment. It's too bad he was late to the hand shake line, but he was distracted. He's 21 years old and got lost in the protocol. Give him a break! Tell you what Detroit fans, next time he beats you in the Stanley Cup finals he'll know better.

Should the Red Wings sign Marian Hossa? There has been talk that Wings and Hossa were both interested in a long term deal. Are the Wings still interested after he failed to bring it in the Stanley Cup finals?

Regardless, I think it would be a mistake to tie up Hossa too long. According to NHLNumbers.com, the Wings have already committed over $51 million for next season. The salary cap figure should be announced shortly, but everyone is expecting it to be a touch lower than $57M it was this past season.

Even at $57M, would $6M get Hossa signed? Or would that $6M be better spent filling the backup goalie position, signing UFA Mikael Sameulsson and RFA Jiri Hudler and leave a little cap space for mid-season moves?

Looking not too far down the road we can expect the salary cap to come down around to the $50M mark or even lower in 2010-11. With Nicklas Lidstrom's contract up that season, is locking up Hossa long term smart?

If I were Detroit, I'd let Hossa go given the coming salary cap turbulence. Play Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader more, give Valterri Filpulla a bigger role with the team, and don't put yourself in a spot to have to move someone you don't want to, especially when that someone would preferably be Hossa anyways.

Busy Summer For Penguins - It will be very interesting to watch every team this summer and how they spend their money short term and long term. Forecasting the upcoming salary cap turbulence will break a few teams.

The Penguins have their key guys locked up, with almost $47M committed to next season. $18 of that goes to Crosby and Malkin. Key free agents include Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin and Craig Adams, all UFAs.

Assuming 37 year old Bill Geurin plays next season, I suspect he will re-up with Pittsburgh around the $3M mark. The other forwards on the list are all replaceable so the Pens can be choosy.

Defensemen always come at a premium. I expect Rob Scuderi will get big offers this summer, so this will be like winning the lottery for him. I don't doubt he wants to stay with this group of guys he just through war with, but no one would blame if he found a better offer. Same goes for Hal Gill to a lesser extent, given his age.

The Penguins defense was underrated all playoffs long. Still, they lack depth and losing one or both will create big holes.

Penguins GM Ray Shero has proven to be a very astute GM in his short tenure. I really do believe he should be named as General Manager of the Year. After all, his team lifted the Cup, and no one else did. So Pens fans know they have one of the best at identifying holes and filling them.

Coyote Ugly? Thankfully the judge in the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy case did not lay down any significant decision on Friday, as some had expected. What a terrible cloud that would have been over a great night of hockey. That cloud has been around too much this playoff. It was one of the best playoffs I've seen. The Stanley Cup finals in particular were excellent, probably the best I've seen since 1994.


Unknown said...

"Because the answer to the question of who is better, Crosby or Ovechkin, just might be Evgeni Malkin."

Nailed it right there.

vdkhanna said...

I can understand that Crosby was lost in the euphoria of the moment, but I can also see why Draper, Lidstrom, et al. were upset when they lined up to shake hands and Crosby was a no-show---these veterans distinguished that it was not a matter of "sour grapes" on their part, but rather the fact that tradition, sportsmanship, class, and respect for the losing side were not displayed.

I feel absolutely terrible for Red Wings fans. The city of Detroit, already crushed and depleted by the recession, did not need this added heartbreak (and on home ice, nonetheless!). Losing a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is one of the most devastating feelings you will ever have in your life---it takes me back to the Devils losing in 2001.

Congrats to the Penguins on a remarkable run, and to ex-Devils Billy Guerin and Petr Sykora!