The draft is over, the bloggers are back home, nursing their hangovers, and the draftees are admiring their new swag from their new team. I hope everyone had a good time. The draft is mayhem on the first day, but then things settle down on the second, despite the much faster pace.
So here are a few things I’ve been thinking about, with only five more days until free agency, and four more left on this challenge.
– Ryan Smyth: Real Denver Sport has a good roundup of what Smyth left in his wake after each team he served time with (and served time is fairly accurate, considering how bad a few of those teams have been). I don’t think it’s quite the contrail of disaster that happens when Pronger leaves a team, but it’s pretty interesting.
I remember getting caught up in the excitement when Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan were signed in free agency to the Avalanche. I thought it was a bold move, when a bold move needed to be taken. Unfortunately, neither player are still with the Avalanche, and neither are the players who came in after Smyth and Hannan were traded away. Tomas Fleischmann is set to become a UFA on July 1st, and as usual, all is quiet from the Avalanche camp with their desire to sign him. He’s worth the money if he’s healthy.
– Realignment is going to be the topic of the season, and I don’t think any scheme will make anyone 100% happy. I’m ready for it to happen, and would be perfectly happy to see the Canadian teams in the Western Conference split up. Keeping Vancouver out of the Pacific and Dallas in has always been a bit of a stretch. After that, the eastern-most Western teams (get all that?) get screwed over for about half the season. Aligning closer to time zones makes much more sense. But if this plan involves four divisions, I expect the league will do everything they can to shoehorn the Canadian teams together. It makes business sense, even if it doesn’t make much hockey sense.
– Hand Paul Stastny the captain’s “C” and be done with it. The guy is staying around, and he is the closest thing to leadership the Avalanche have right now. Much like any goalie that has to play in the shadow of Patrick Roy, the captain will always be judged by how they perform in comparison to Joe Sakic. It isn’t fair, but that’s how it goes. Stastny is the most deserving, and no one else is ready to take up the job. As good as Matt Duchene is on the ice, he isn’t ready to be captain yet. He’s still growing, and needs the time to grow into the hockey player he has the potential to be.
– The Canucks are going to be interesting this offseason. How do you blow up a team that came within one win of the Cup (I think of it as two games, since they had two opportunities to win it all)? I don’t think you can, but you need to figure out what went wrong with the Sedin line quickly. If you can’t, history is doomed to repeat itself. There can’t be that many changes needed. Perhaps they just need to avoid Boston next season.
– In the next CBA, the league needs to either create a wider gap between the cap floor and the cap ceiling, or increase revenue sharing, and how that sharing can be used. Too many teams are being forced into salary structures they simply can not afford. And the ceiling is too high anyways. How many smaller market teams are losing money, while the bigger markets are getting richer and richer? The revenues the league proudly states as growing aren’t coming from the smaller markets, but the smaller markets are just as important to the league as the larger ones. It isn’t about the GMs saving themselves from themselves, it’s about the league saving itself from the first iteration of the cap era. This thing needs to be refined.
– Also for the next CBA, I would love to see a limit to the number of no-trade clauses that a team can hand out. Maybe five per team. Maybe even shorten the term of a no-trade, perhaps to 2/3 of the contract length (if a player signs a 3 year contract with a no-trade, the first two years are covered by the clause, but not the third). I don’t like seeing players treated like property, but the amount of no-trade clauses out there are staggering and barely managable. Teams need options, and no-trades take away those options.
– Brad Richards is going to be the most watched UFA on July 1st, but I’m more interested in what will happen with goaltenders. There are a few holes out there needing to be filled, and only so many people out there to fill them.
That’s about it for now. To borrow a phrase from Buddy Oakes, more later….