Archive for November, 2009

US Thanksgiving

Posted in Hockey Thoughts on November 26, 2009 by davepoleck

I wish I had today off…..and tomorrow. Three football games and a turkey would do me good today. The reason for the picture is that Kris Draper is having a full house meal today at his place: Bertuzzi with his family, Cleary with his family, along with Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves. What a nice guy.

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Team Sweden 2010

Posted in Predictions with tags , , , on November 25, 2009 by davepoleck

Here are my projections for the reigning gold medal winning Swedish team: Continue reading

Filatov Watch

Posted in Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospect Talk with tags , on November 25, 2009 by davepoleck

Last week I wrote an impassioned article on the coaching style and management of the Columbus Blue Jackets. I am going to do my best at staying up to date with how Russian prospect, Nikita Filatov is doing in the KHL. I have made a “Filatov Watch” section on the right hand column of this page. So far, he has four goals and 2 assists in three games.

Staal Returns

Posted in Carolina Hurricanes with tags on November 25, 2009 by davepoleck

Eric Staal returns to the lineup tonight against the Ducks. He is normally dominant in the second half of the season, so he will definitely be improving on the terrible five points he put up before missing the last ten games.

The Price is…..right

Posted in Montreal Canadiens with tags , on November 24, 2009 by davepoleck

Well if I am annoying enough to say “I told you so” regarding Brian Burke earlier, I have to man up and say I was dead wrong about my Carey Price writings a few weeks back. He has really turned around his game in the past two weeks. Not saying I still don’t disagree with how he was handled two years ago, just that he has proven me wrong with his recent play.

The Burke Report….one year later

Posted in Toronto Maple Leafs with tags , , on November 24, 2009 by davepoleck

Alright, I have held off as long as I can on this topic. Anyone who knows me should know that I do not like Brian Burke and do not think he is that good of a GM. Certain people would tell me the reason for the dislike is that he was the GM in charge of my most hated team, the Anaheim Ducks, and those people are probably right in some respects. But I really, really do not think he is that good. Now, it is difficult for me to say this to those who do not know me because they did not hear me say it 3 months ago; but I did not believe the Leafs would make the playoffs, and I definitely did not think that Phil Kessel was worth giving up two first round picks for. In this case, I have to say a big fat “I told you so”, because really….I did. Below is a blog that I wrote for the Cord Weekly that was published on November 16, 2008, right before Brian Burke joined the Maple Leafs. I have to say that I was right on the mark about Burke not being a guy who wanted to wait around to build through the draft. How the hell can a GM be so far off on his assessment of the players he watches every day. They are no where near a playoff team right, and have absolutely no where to go, no one to trade, and no sign of hope down the road because their high draft pick for the next two seasons will be playing in Boston. To make matters worse, those players who were expected to step up this year (Grabovski, Kulemin and Tlusty) might have actually regressed. Tlusty, a former 13th overall pick, cannot get out of the AHL, and Kulemin looks like he should join him. So was it Brian Burke’s misreading of all of these players that has led to this horrible start, or is he just so god damn arrogant that he could not stand to fathom his team was not good enough to compete for at least a few years. I say option B. Here is what I said over a year ago:

The Burke Report

                Brian Burke’s days in Anaheim are finally over. Speculation leads everyone to believe that it is now only a matter of time before he becomes the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After all, as much as the media and the Leafs themselves think, I do not think they have the power to go to any team that they want and take their GM. Burke coming to Leafland would mark an eventful year long upheaval of their management team. Since firing John Ferguson Jr in January of this year, the Leafs have added the likes of Cliff Fletcher, Ron Wilson, Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour to their staff. Time will only tell if Burke is the missing piece that will be able to bring everything together for this team.

But once again I have to question whether or not this is the right move for a team that needs to completely rebuild. First you have to think what the team needs to get them to the next level. Are they a couple of free agent signings away from a Cup run? Or do they need to build through the draft? I think most people would agree with the latter because although they have been surprisingly good thus far in the season, they still do not have a strong enough core of players to compete in the East. Also, based on the mandate set out by Cliff Fletcher at the beginning of the summer, building through the draft is exactly what the Leafs plan on doing.

                So here is where my problem with Brian Burke being their GM comes in. I would not exactly consider him a guy who is good at building through the draft. Instead, he has always been a man of action, making moves that attempt to make his team a winner in the present, not the future. In 10 seasons of being a General Manager in this league, he has only drafted 2 high profile players. The two that I am talking about are Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who he drafted 2nd and 3rd overall in the 1999 NHL Draft. However, I don’t think it takes much talent to make that kind of pick. To compare with another GM, over that same span, Ken Holland of the Red Wings drafted Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jiri Hudler; four of the five were drafted out of the first round. Now it is unfair to put all of the blame on the GM for scouting deficiencies. However, the GM is the person in charge who should have the final say on all decisions.

                The team that he did attempt to rebuild through the draft was the Vancouver Canucks. During his time there he got rid of players like Mark Messier, Pavel Bure and Alex Mogilny and added the likes of the Sedin Twins, Brendan Morrison and Ed Jovanovski to a team that already had Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. However, with all of this talent, the team failed to make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs.

                After the lockout of the 2004-05 season, Burke signed on the Anaheim soon to be Mighty-less Ducks. I think that this is where he gets all of his credit from. However, what he did in Anaheim did not entail building through the draft. He came to a team that already had future stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in their system, along with secondary scorers like Dustin Penner, Chris Kunitz and Travis Moen. Now without question, Burke’s free agent and trade additions in his first 2 years with the Ducks were detrimental to the team winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. He signed free agents Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer, and traded for Chris Pronger. These guys are among the best to ever play their respective positions.

                But Burke has also had some questionable signings in the past few years, both of which were former members of his Canucks teams. After winning the Cup, he signed Todd Bertuzzi to a 2 year, $8 million contract, only to buy him out after one year. I am really hoping Burke doesn’t have some sort of fetish for signing Bertuzzi because that is one player that definitely would not help the Leafs. This past offseason he signed Brendan Morrison. So far this year Morrison has 3 points in 18 games.

Of the prospects he drafted during his 4 drafts with Anaheim, none are currently playing in the NHL. Now I know it takes time for these guys to develop, but he was lucky enough to pick 2nd in the lottery draft in 2005. That was the year in which Sidney Crosby was taken 1st overall. The Ducks took Bobby Ryan, who has only managed to play 23 games in the league.

                I will say this again, I am not implying that Brian Burke is not a good GM. He has a much better record than many of them in the league right now. But, he has not been able to prove that is the GM that the Leafs need to be successful for many years to come.     

The Replacement

Posted in Hockey Blogs with tags , , on November 24, 2009 by davepoleck

When Minnesota signed Martin Havlat to a 6 year, $30 million contract, I think they expected him to come in as sort of a replacement for Marian Gaborik. Well if that was the expected outcome, they are probably really angry right now. Havlat has been almost non-existent, scoring only 8 points in 19 games played. He is also a team worst -14. And now he is day to day with a hamstring injury. Marian Gaborik on the other hand, has 32 points in 21 games.

I was surprised that both players were signed to such long term deals given their injury history. But Gaborik I could at least understand because of his tremendous upside when he does play. While Gaborik has spent all of his time in Minnesota playing with little talent, Havlat had his best season last year on a completely stacked Chicago team, and prior to that, played on a stacked Ottawa team. His games played since the look like this starting with last year: 81, 35, 56, 18. I get that the Wild felt they needed to bring in big name player to fill the void Gaborik left, but why take a risk on a guy who is one of the most fragile in the League. I guess that is why they are last in the West right now.