28 October 2010

An open letter to Allan Walsh...

Dear Allan Walsh,

If I may speak for one of the most knowledgeable hockey fan bases in the world, we find it very insulting that you are trying to portray Martin Havlat as something he simply hasn't been since arriving in Minnesota.

Havlat was -19 with 54 points in 73 games last year and a big donut so far this year.

Taking your outburst to the media makes your client look bad and won't help Mr. Havlat reach the expectations for which the Wild have (over) paid. There is no way to spin the numbers above that he's more deserving of ice time than Koivu, Brunette, Miettinen, and frankly many other players on the Wild's roster.

I commend your client for keeping his mouth shut over your idiocy. (Though personally, I hope Havlat tore you a new one privately). Havlat needs to stay quiet and find a way to approach the expectations built. I hope Havlat just keeps quiet, does what it takes to help the team, and hopefully things will turn around. Your bitching about ice time, Mr. Walsh, won't help your client one bit.

I'm sorry the Wild's front office is too weak to say these things to your face, instead they offer the cowardly excuse of how much time they've played shorthanded this year. They should be willing say what is obvious to Wild fans, Havlat is yet to play better than a second liner, and deserves to be treated as such.

I'll close by asking you to have the sense not to insult the customers again by saying things that register as untrue to any Wild observer with a brain. Havlat's role on the team is fair for what he's produced and shouldn't change until his production does, and no amount of whining from the likes of you should change that.

Sincerely,

Justin Jelinek
State of the State of Hockey



16 May 2010

Round 3 Playoff Picks

Conference Finals, Both series start today!

Western Conference
#2 Chicago over #1 San Jose in 6

Eastern Conference
#7 Philadelphia over #8 Montreal in 7




29 April 2010

Round 2 Picks

Real Quick as SJ-DET starts soon

Western Conference
SJ over DET in 7
CHI over VAN in 5

Eastern Conference
PIT over MTL in 6
BOS over PHI in 6

14 April 2010

Quick Playoff Picks

Hello Everyone Quick Playoff Picks.

The fun begins tonight!

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#1 SJ over #8 COL in 5
#2 CHI over #7 NSH in 6
#6 LA over #3 VAN in 7
#4 PHX over #5 DET in 6

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 WSH over #8 MTL in 4
#2 NJ over #7 PHI in 5
#3 BUF over #6 BOS in 7
#5 OTW over #4 PIT in 7



03 March 2010

Wild Playoff Chances

As the Wild Resume their regular season today (at Calgary, 9pm ct, take your naps people) with 21 games to play it is time to speculate on their playoff chances.

They sit in 12th place in the West, but just 4 points behind 8th place Dallas. This doesn't seem like a lot, but having to jump 4 teams complicates things, not to mention the fact of life that are overtime point games make closing gaps difficult.

If I had to be honest, I predict the Wild again finish just outside for the second straight year. Eleven of their final 21 games are away from the X, and the Wild have been a terrible road team this year (9-21). Their schedule is pretty division heavy, and they do have games remaining against the teams they need to pass (2 against Detroit, 3 against Calgary, and the home finale against Dallas). Those six games will probably determine their fate, if they lose any more than two of them they're probably done.

But honestly, I'm somewhat ambivalent as to whether the Wild make the playoffs this year. Yes, it'd be nice, but either way I'm pleased with how this front office has operated while saddled with some constraints. This summer coming will be the Wild's big chance to move to the top of the West depending on how much cap room they have in what should be a big buyers market in free agency.

25 February 2010

Leddy and Johnsson for Barker

With a break in the men's tournament today (don't forget US v Canada in the Women's Gold Medal Game this afternoon!) I thought I'd give my thoughts on the big Wild trade made before the "Olympic Roster Freeze." As you know I have been critical of Johnsson's salary for the last few years. I believe Johnsson's salary is about the last of the deals made by Dummy Doug that Fletcher has to flush away. After this trade I can confidently say this team is now officially Chuck Fletchers bed to lie in, and he may now be judged accordingly for the teams success. Well I guess it would be more fair to start judging him based on the next full season...

1) To Preface, I know I have an anti-Johnsson bias
I think Johnsson is a good puck handler, but I also believe he is not superior in that skill above an average defensman to a point where he ever should've commanded $5M/year. All defensemen, whether bruisers, shooters, or whathaveyou, need to have good puck handling skills. For that matter all forwards need that as well and it helps with goaltenders also, so I just don't see how superior puck handling skills alone commanded such a premium salary. Johnsson is certainly contributing more this year.

2) This year has been his best with the Wild
He is shooting for the net more often this year (he has 90 SOG through 54 games, compared to 84 for all of last year, and he hasn't taken more than 100 since putting up 189 the season before the lockout with PHI). But Johnsson lacks in hits and he doesn't protect the crease well enough either to justify his pay. It's clear Johnsson was never going to be part of the team's new direction, and Fletcher did good to deal a player he probably had no intention of signing.

3) Good for Chicago, for sure
At the same time Chicago has defenders that fill Johnsson's weaknesses and he seems to me he could be the role player that help Chicago's back end enough. Chicago also dumps salarly (Barker was one of the players that ended up being signed at an inflated price because of the Blackhaws qualifying offer mishap last summer). In that sense Johnsson makes a great rental for a serious contender like Chicago. The only real knock on the Blackhawks is their goaltending has certainly underachieved. Yet they still have been toe-to-toe with perennial Western Conference regular season leaders San Jose. If they make a deal for a goaltender, or if one of their current ones (Nimi or Huet) play to potential, I think the Stanley Cup may find its way to the Windy City.

4) Good for Minnesota?
(taken verbatim from a facebook convo with my younger brother)

" The Upside...
*$2M Salary dump is a big deal when the team is already so close to the cap.
*Barker is 10 years younger with 2 years left on a contract, he has potential to be a great asset instead of keeping Johnsson when he's going to be difficult to sign.

The Downside...

The Leddy throw-in, Giving up last year's first round pick doesn't make me happy. I'd be much more comforatable with this deal if they traded away lower round picks from this coming draft. "

In short, I would be more comfortable if the Wild didn't give up on their prospect, they gave up to get a young player. Though Barker undoubtedly has upside, the high price Fletch paid makes this deal risker than it should be. But of course, the main criticism of the previous GM is how risk averse (okay cheap) Dummy Doug was.

5) Very loosely related to the Wild, the Kovalchuk trade

Speaking of reasons to criticize Riseborough (though I think this will probably be the last chance I have as it relates to the wild) did anyone see how much the New Jersey Devils played to rent Kovalchuk? After turning down a reported $10M a year deal to resign with Atlanta, the Thrashers traded the player they couldn't sign and in return got defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Niclas Bergfors, a junior prospect, and a first-round draft pick. Three players (albeit 2 NHL's and a prospect) and a first round pick. Remind me how many players and picks Riseborough got for Gaborik once it became apparent he wasn't signing here? That right NONE! Yes, I know Gabs was injured at the deadline, and I think Kovalchuk certainly commands more than Gaborik should, but still we could've probably got a prospect or two for a rental, but ended up with nothing.

23 February 2010

Olympic Fever...

Sorry I've been ignoring this blog, but I'm back.

Big Congrats to the US, a team I would never thought good enough to medal has found itself the number one seed going into the elimination round after a perfect preliminary round including a 5-3 upset of the host nation.

I figured it to be in stone it will be Russia and Canada at the end (both teams winning their groups), but because Canada dropped to the 6 seed after losing to the US, those sides will now meet in the quarters (presuming Canada doesn't pull a "San Jose" against Germany today). One of those teams now won't even medal, that is shocking.

I wouldn't take the US' path to the gold medal game lightly, they would play the Swiss if they get past Belarus today. The Swiss played tough games against both the US and Canada in the preliminary round. And then it could be the Finns in the semis, a team which I think has underachieved and actually had little to play for in their final prelim loss to the Swedes.

Still that path looks more favorable than Canada's now staring at a date with pre-tournament favorite Russia (Someone crank up the NBC Ovie-Crosby rivalry promo-amatic).

It should be a great medal round. Before the tournament I predicted Canada, Russia, Finland. As the Bracket lies now I think I like Russia, Finland, United States as the order. But if the US make the Gold medal game over Finland, I would not be shocked either...

We'll re-focus on the Minnesota Wild before the NHL season resumes, and look for a cool new NHL feature when the season resumes as well...