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Showing posts from July, 2008

Koistinen joins the 700 club

John Glennon at the Tennessean is reporting that Ville Koistinen has been awarded a $700,000 contract coming out of arbitration. *yawn* No word yet as to what each side was seeking, but the Predators now have their seven defensemen set for the upcoming season. I would expect that young guns like Sulzer and Franson will only get an NHL look if injuries open up opportunities, or a dynamite trade offer pries away one of the current group.

Tuesday Tidbits

These are pretty slow days from a hockey news perspective, so just a few quick notes: 1. Today's Tennessean has three items of interest; firstly, that 2008's top draft pick Colin Wilson has decided to return to Boston University for his sophomore season. This isn't a surprise, but sticks a fork in any speculation some fans had that he'd make an impact in Nashville this year. 2. The next item in the Tennessean has a no-surprise update on the Radulov situation, but the noteworthy bit is how GM David Poile is likely to react to Nashville's dearth of scoring talent on the wings: If Radulov doesn't return for the coming season, Poile said he's more likely to see how the organization's prospects fare as opposed to looking at unrestricted free agents like veteran Glen Murray. "I like what we have going for us internally with the likes of (Patric) Hornqvist, (Antti) Pihlstrom, Ryan Jones and Rich Peverley playing more regularly,'' Poile said. &

These wings won't fly without some help

Yesterday over at the Hockey News Adam Proteau wondered out loud whether anyone can reasonably expect St. Louis to make the playoffs this season, and while I agree that there's not much reason to get excited about their chances in 2008-9, the same question might well be asked of the Nashville Predators. In light of the Alexander Radulov defection and the Marek Zidlicky trade , how do the Predators playoff hopes look at this point? To be honest, they look pretty grim to me. Despite the fact that the core of this team is young and improving, they've lost two difference-making players from a squad that barely made it into the playoffs in 2008, and the assets that have been brought in (primarily 1st-round draft pick Colin Wilson and Ryan Jones in the Zidlicky deal) can't be relied upon to produce for the club this upcoming season. GM David Poile has built a reputation for patience, for sure, but there's no question that at some point major-league talent that can produc

Sound the Trumpets!

Today I'm happy to announce a couple of new gigs for your friendly neighborhood Forechecker; first, the one that puts bread on the table, involves a new job. I've been looking since March, and was fortunate enough to land with a strong local company that keeps me here in Nashville. There was every possibility of taking a different job which would have had me on the road 80-100% of the time, which would have made my NHL habit a bit problematic to say the least. Of more interest to most of you stopping by here is that I've been invited to represent Nashville over at , where they are assembling bloggers covering each NHL squad. The posts I'll provide over at The Hockey News will be unique to that site, but obviously related to the two main themes of this blog; the Nashville Predators and the investigation of NHL statistical analysis. They're assembling quite a stable of writers to fill out that section of their website, and I'm honored to joi

Can Sully Ride to the Predators Rescue?

Updates on the progress (or lack thereof) on the Steve Sullivan injury front are few and far between, but this morning's Toronto Sun includes a note from Timmins, Ontario, Sully's hometown, where the Predators sniper is co-hosting a charity golf tournament. Based on the comments he's giving, there's no certainly no cause for optimism that we'll see him playing hockey anytime soon: Sullivan's back problems -- which forced him to miss the entire 2007-08 National Hockey League season -- have limited his efforts on the links to only chipping and putting. "My back can't handle a full swing yet," he said yesterday. Sullivan suffered a back injury during the overtime period of game against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 22, 2007. In January, Predators general manager David Poile said the hope was for his star winger to return for the '08-09 season. But Sullivan concedes that his back hasn't been responding as well to treatment as team offici

5 Things You Didn't Know About the 2008-9 NHL Schedule

As hockey fans all over North America giddily pour over their team's schedule for the 2008-9 NHL Regular Season, let's take a look at things from an overall perspective, using the NHL Super Schedule , which I recently made publicly available via Google Docs. 1. Crank Up The Bus : This season's most well-traveled team will be the San Jose Sharks, with 56,111 miles to be logged, followed by the Calgary Flames (52,941) and Dallas Stars (51,541). This is a marked departure from last season , which saw Vancouver and Edmonton lead the way in frequent flyer miles. On the opposite end, it's no surprise to see East-Coast teams like the New York Islanders (28,126), Washington Capitals (28,321) and New Jersey Devils (29,289) with the least travel. 2. Break Out the Smelling Salts : One of the more grueling aspects of NHL life is having to deal with back-to-back games, when a team has less than 24 hours to recover from one brutal match before taking on another opponent.

Get Your NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 Right Here!

Click here for the 2009-10 NHL Super Schedule , at my new site, ! The NHL announced the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule today, so of course, it's time right here to publish my very own NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 as well. For those unfamiliar with what I did last year, the NHL Super Schedule is a spreadsheet that I put together and make publicly available via Google Documents*. It includes an entry for each game in each team's 82-game regular season schedule, with additional information such as how far that team has had to travel since its last game, how many days have passed since that previous game, and various statistics relative to the opponent that evening, such as 2007-8 Winning Percentage, Goals Per Game, Goals Against Per Game, etc. For example, you can total the distance that each team will travel during the upcoming season, or find who plays the most back-to-back games. Check out which team faces the toughest opposing offenses, or which pow

Does the Bell Toll For Gary Bettman Now?

When I opened up my morning copy of the Tennessean and saw the headline " Del Biaggio may have skirted full NHL review ," that grabbed my attention. When I then saw a picture of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman underneath Boots Del Biaggio's, with the caption "may have given Del Biaggio special treatment," I had to sit down, because this looked the beginning of the end for Bettman's reign as commissioner. Major kudos, by the way, for Brad Schrade, the Tennessean writer who is leading the way with this story. The main gist is that Doug Bergeron , who at one time was poised to invest in Del Biaggio's minority share, claims the following: Bergeron said Del Biaggio told him in December that National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman's office had given special permission for Del Biaggio to buy a share of the team without being subjected to all the scrutiny the league usually gives to prospective owners. Del Biaggio told him the commissioner

Puck Daddy, Say It Ain't So

I'm a big fan of Greg Wyshynski's NHL blogging work over at Yahoo ( Puck Daddy ), but his screed today painting the Predators as a " desperate " team for how they're handling the Alexander Radulov situation is more than a bit absurd. He uses some tenuous logic coupled with bogus comparisons to portray the Nashville organization as one that is barely clinging to life. His main point is that by coming out in a Tennessean article yesterday and claiming that the door is being held open for Radulov to return, the Predators are showing a gutlessness that, in his mind, outlines a clear difference between them and Stanley Cup-winning franchises like Detroit and New Jersey. Look, I know goal-scoring is at a premium and Radulov has plenty of upside. But just so we're clear: He walked out on his contract. To think that some statistic act of contrition will erase that fact from the memory banks is appalling and embarrassing for the Predators. Do you think the Red Win

Forget the Del Biaggio drama, is NHL expansion on the horizon?

So now we can add words like "brazen" to help describe the fallen financial entrepreneur "Boots" Del Biaggio, whose precipitous plummet into bankruptcy has launched multiple lawsuits and investigations, and caused many outsiders to question the stability of the Nashville Predators ownership group. Today's Tennessean includes a report on how Del Biaggio was making his pitch to bring other investors into his Forecheck Holdings Investments firm (obviously no relation to this blog, or I wouldn't be running ads!), which actually holds the ownership interest in the Predators. It's a rare glimpse into the machinations that go on behind the scenes among the owners, and included with the online version of the Tennessean's report are a number of PDF files that outline Del Biaggio's pitch, and a draft version of the Predators ownership's internal operating agreement. Needless to say, this is juicy stuff. The biggest whammy is on Page 10 of the &qu

Radulov to Russia Story Keeps Moving Forward

UPDATE (2:30 p.m.): Ken Campbell at the Hockey News has an update with more details. Apparently the contract is for 3 years, $13 million, which, since it is tax-free, is roughly equivalent to $18 million over here. It sounds like Jay Grossman, Radulov's agent, didn't negotiate this deal, so he's off the hook in terms of professional violations. The IIHF , through a spokesman, indicated that the CHL will be directed to void the contract, but who knows how this will eventually shake out. The least likely option, however, would seem to involve a happy and productive Radulov scoring goals at the Sommet Center this fall. ORIGINAL POST : The "Radulov to Russia" story keeps gathering steam, folks. Greg Whyskhginsky! (err... the Puck Daddy ) over at Yahoo chimes in with excerpts from an interview that is to appear tomorrow in Sovetsky Sport . Some of these quotes are just plain doozies: Were you expecting a new contract offer from Nashville? "Yes. By the

Alexander Radulov, Heading Home to Mother Russia?

Just when you thought it was safe to go to sleep until hockey training camp opens in September, a curious story broke yesterday that has Alexander Radulov heading back to Russia to play for Salavat Yulaev , a team in the new CHL (Continental Hockey League) which is throwing money at past- and present-NHL stars to quickly gain status as a world-class hockey league. Just recently, Ray Emery and Wade Dubielewicz have headed East to further their careers, but Radulov would mark the first time that an up-and-coming player on the verge of NHL stardom threw that away for a move to Europe. First of all, many thanks to emailer Mike for pointing this out to me, as Kukla's Korner ran the story as it initially appeared on AllHockey.RU , a Russian hockey website. As of yesterday, all we could use is something like the Google Translator to get a rough idea of what the original article stated, but today there are two articles to point to. Kukla's has a piece from Sport Express (Engl

Sully Still In Limbo

So here's what we know about Steve Sullivan and his potential return from back injuries that have kept him out of action for more than a year: He's on the ice, sometimes working with the Predators trainer to see how far he can push himself. The back spasms are still occurring, albeit less frequently. David Poile hasn't given him a firm deadline to return. Those signs would seem to indicate that there might indeed be hope for Sully to return to the Nashville lineup sometime during the upcoming season, his $3 million contract is an awful lot for the Predators to carry without any assurance that they'll get anything in return. In a way, it would be much easier for the organization to know for certain that he must retire, so they can leverage any insurance they have in place and move on. That said, I think this story will linger for at least a couple more months, with hockey training camp set for mid-September.

NHL 2008, Inside the Numbers

As promised, after having had time to digest Alan Ryder's epic 50-page 2008 NHL Review , I'm here to chime in with thoughts on the overall analysis, as well as a look at how the Nashville Predators fared in particular. First, a bit of an introduction to Ryder's work. Alan's research articles, found in full over at , aim not just to apply statistical analysis to the study of NHL hockey, but also to properly balance the various factors within the game, giving appropriate emphasis to goaltending vs. power-play production, for example. His basic approach within this review is to start from the foundation of team accomplishment (measured as points in the standings), then to divide that up between members of that team according to their individual Player Contribution (PC). This PC value is calibrated such that 10 PC points are equivalent to one earned point in the NHL standings. Thus the Detroit Red Wings, who won the Presidents Trophy with 115 point

Study Up For Arbitration

Thanks to a pointer from James Mirtle , I highly encourage Preds fans to head over to Daniel Tolensky's recent article about the NHL's salary arbitration process, which includes the full text of a decision made between Dmitri Khristich and the Boston Bruins back in 1998. We've got word now that Ville Koistinen and the Predators are headed down the road to arbitration, and while there's every possibility of a negotiated deal before an actual hearing takes place, it's an intriguing process to follow. Keep in mind that there are some differences between the arbitration process in the current CBA as opposed to ten years ago, but Tolensky's piece is a great read. Over the next couple weeks I hope to provide some of my own assessments for particular arbitration cases, using statistical measurements currently being used both here and elsewhere around the hockey blogosphere. It's interesting, for example, to see how the arbitrator uses PIM's in the Khristi

Hockey Nerd Alert!

A tip o' the hat goes to the Five Hole Fanatics for pointing out that ur-hockey stats analyst Alan Ryder has posted his 2008 Year in Review piece over at Hockey Analytics .  Looking to curl up with a little summer beach reading?  This is it, folks.  I'll be back tomorrow with a reaction to Ryder's latest & greatest, but in the meantime, head on over and take a look for yourself.

Zidlicky Gets the Ziggy

Nashville Predators GM David Poile finally made the big trade today to clear up a logjam on defense, by trading Marek Zidlicky to the Minnesota Wild for prospect Ryan Jones and a 2nd round pick in 2009. Legions of Preds fans will be cheering this move, as #3 was often derided by some fans for coughing up the puck at inopportune times and not being a physical blueliner like fan-favorite Shea Weber . I've been a big fan of the other transactions the team has swung over the past few months, and I know I've been as vocal as any calling for Poile to open up opportunities for Kevin Klein and Ville Koistinen to get regular playing time this season, but I have to say that at first blush, I don't like this deal. Zidlicky is a legitimate #1 power play quarterback, a valuable asset in today's NHL, and I'm betting that after Brian Campbell gets his ridiculous free agent contract, the teams that miss out would be eager to trade for a player of roughly similar ability wit