Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trade deadline looms; WHL owners review rules

With the trade deadline approaching, Mark and I felt we should review some of the rules, just so everybody’s on the same page.

* The trade deadline for the 2009-10 season is [b]Wednesday, March 10[/b] at noon.

* To be keeper-eligible, a player must be on a WHL roster by the trade deadline and remain on that roster for the rest of the season. This means that a player who is dropped after the trading deadline will lose keeper eligibility.

* There are two reasons for the keeper eligibility deadline: 1) to prevent a run on young, cheap players at the end of the season or in the offseason, which would circumvent the draft; 2) to make owners show at least a modest (one-month) commitment to a player before keeping him.

* Just like the NHL, trading is open during the offseason. Trades may be made from the day after the end of the regular season up until the keeper selection deadline (Sept. 8). Any player who is keeper eligible (see requirements above) will retain that eligibility if traded.

To reiterate Mark’s email, the current poll is to gauge interest in increasing the number of keepers after NEXT season. The 5 player, $200 cap keeper system will remain in place for this 2010 offseason. We would not change that midseason since everyone is making their plans based on that system.

That said, we are very pleased with the strong turnout in the poll! Thanks to all 16 teams that have voted. It appears that more than half of the league owners (13) approve of increasing keepers following the 2010-11 season, so we will likely hold a formal vote on that during the summer.

We’ve received some other great suggestions and valid concerns and we are taking them all into consideration. I am sure that there will be at least a couple other changes up for official vote during the summer.

Thanks again to everybody for your contributions to the league!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Out with the new, in with the old

By: Rob Merrills,

It's all change in Rhode Island again, as another trade - this time with the West Edmonton Mauls - sees a total of four new signings tip up at the Cocumcussoc building site. Eyebrows will no doubt be raised at the fact that two of the players are of veteran status, with Keith Tkachuk (37) and Cory Stillman (36) set to struggle in to their new scarlet, black and gold uniforms, while Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Radim Vrbata pack their thermals and head for the frozen tundra in Alberta.

"As far as the players involved are concerned" said Recoats GM Rob Merrills, "this is not a trade for the future. The thinking behind it was again to solidify production down the stretch and protect the hockey club's standing in the WHL's Most Improved race - that, of course, secures us an early pick in the opening rounds of the 2010 draft, and that's where the real talent will come from."

While most observers had Lucic nailed down as a keeper for the Redcoats, the young power forward has struggled to hit the heights since coming back from injury early this year. The signing of Phil Kessel - producing at a phenomenal rate recently - undermined Lucic's potential long term position, and when the opportunity to pick up Dan Carcillo arose, his outbound ticket was rubber-stamped. "Dan has generated 40% more points than Lucic since the New Year" said Merrills "In our position, I have to trade for that sort of upturn when the opportunity arises".

"Keith and Cory, point for point, are a minor downgrade compared to Bergeron and Vrbata at their best" continued the Rhode Island GM "but they offer solid, reliable production rather than peaks and troughs, and if they can carry that forward after resting up over the Olympic break, then they'll have done everything I can ask of them".

The final piece in the jigsaw sounds almost inconsequential, but was in reality the driving force behind the whole deal. Positional realignments opened up a free spot at center ice, and Greg Campbell was picked up off the waiver wire in place of Brad Winchester (LW), giving the club another near 50% boost in player for player point production. Further free agent signings in the near future may further increase this positive differential.

"It's mind-numbing stuff - bean counting to the n'th degree" said Merrills "but to lay the foundations for the future of the club, I'm trading names for numbers right now. If other GM's want to offer solid production from John Doe in return for a flashy name, they know where I am....".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crosby, Stolls and Nash

Portland, ME--The rich got richer today as the Portland Pints added Rick Nash to an already star-studded roster. The Portland Pints acquire Nash, 2010 6th and 18th round picks and a player TBD from the New Jersey Wallflowers in a unique two-part transaction.

"The Pints organization is very pleased to welcome Rick to Portland and I'm proud of the creativity my front office staff showed in helping bring this deal to fruition," said Portland general manager Colin Smith. "The exact structure of this deal was actually inspired by a proposal we received from another team earlier in the season. That particular offer didn't pan out, but I admired my fellow GM's creativity," Smith continued.

Part one of the trade sees Nash and an 18th go to Portland for defenseman Zbynek Michalek and a 3rd round selection. To complete the deal in the off-season, Portland will send goaltender Jonathan Quick and a 16th round pick to the Wall Flowers in exchange for a 6th round draft choice and a player to be named later.

"Rick will really solidify the left wing position, where we haven't had a true top-liner since we traded Dustin to Rhode Island. What makes Rick a great player are his strong scoring instincts and willingness to shoot the puck. Obviously, being able to hold on to Quick for the rest of the season is what made this deal work for us and we were willing to pay extra in draft picks to make it happen."

Trade rumors have been swirling around the WHL in recent weeks. Names floating around include Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Mason, Marty Turco and Dion Phaneuf.

[i]Glad that you got it made
When did you finalize your last trade?
You are the only one I've ever seen
Do what you done[/i]
-[i]Got It Made[/i],Crosby, Stills & Nash

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Red Coats Press Release

By Rob Merrills

Cocumcussoc, RI--It’s been a big few days for various business sectors across Rhode Island recently, with the Redcoats’ front office making two impactful trades that will see five players changing uniform, subject to league approval. For those who like to dabble in share dealing, as well as having an interest in hockey, market analysts now predict that the time is now ripe to:

BUY in Providence telecoms companies, on the back of the frantic exchanges as the deals were put together by way of protracted negotiations

SELL an interests in local couture houses and bespoke wardrobe manufacturers, as Sean Avery is shipped out of town (which may also adversely affect burlesque houses in the region, but this – of course – is no more than unfounded speculation…)

BUY big in liquor stores, breweries, and domestic service providers, as marquee signing Mike Richards steams in to town and enlivens the area’s social scene. Lawyers engaged to act on behalf of the Providence Journal may also see an upturn in workload, while overtime for the ProJo hacks is certain to become the norm - Bourbon and cigarette sales are likely to increase exponentially, so convenience stores around Providence Place will see increased turnover….

For the hockey club, Richards had been a long-coveted target, but generally considered to be beyond the means of the struggling franchise. It was a bolt from the blue when CSKA Moscow offered Richards as part of a deal to secure the services of Ondrej Pavalec, and GM Rob Merrills took “about three or four seconds” to consider the offer before sending the goaltender back beyond the iron curtain, along with Stephen Weiss, in return for the abrasive centre who is likely to be presented to the public as epitomizing the Redcoats’ new brand of in your face hockey.

Lubomir Visnovsky also joins the club as part of the deal, and his arrival paved the way for the second big transaction, immediately making the constantly disappointing Jay Bouwmeester yet more surplus to requirements. The outgoing defensman, who’s much-vaunted “second half production” has entirely failed to materialise this season, served to balance the stats across a deal that also sends Avery and Matt Stajan to the Mount Vernon Blades, with Brian McCabe, Phil Kessel and Steve Reinprecht moving in the opposite direction.

The Redcoats’ front office quantified this second deal as a “kick up the backside” for the remaining players as the club looks to hold on to it’s coveted current high ranking in the WHL’s “most improved” standings. “Matt and Avery did a job for us” says Merrills, “but their figures showed they’d just been treading water since the New Year – and to be honest, Sean’s damn cologne just stank out the dressing room – and the Redcoats organisation has never been fully supportive of the concept of guys playing with dolls…..”.

“Steve (Reinpriecht) has the ability to make an impact down the stretch” continued Merrills, “and Phil makes a three way contribution, helping out in a problem position, making a solid contribution in points, and winding up everyone who lives in Boston, which can only be a good thing. McCabe is just a solid, hardworking guy with guaranteed production, rather than Jay’s promise of points that may or may not be accrued depending on some vague intangible – I can’t take this club forward on the basis of unfulfilled promise”

With Richards now likely to have completed the projected five man keeper line up for the club, it may also be reasonable to say that Kessel in particular will be viewed as more attractive trade-bait later in the year as the jostling for draft positions heats up than would Bouwmeester, who had been punted in several speculative deals without ever generating much interest.

All in all, a whirlwind few days for the Redcoats front office, and – with the acquisition of Richards – perhaps the first real statement of intent for a franchise looking to redefine itself after months of futility. To coin a phrase – the Redcoats are coming !