The Thing About Stamkos

The Boltosphere is all in a tizzy these days because Steven Stamkos, who’s in the final year of his last RFA contract, hasn’t signed an extension. 

This is not the first time this has happened, of course. We all bear the scars of the last #Stammergeddon in 2011. When he signed in July. It is now the latter part of August. So it’s getting a little antsy in here. 

 I don’t necessarily have the feeling that Stamkos won’t sign. I don’t have the feeling that he will, though, either. I know I’m going to hear from a whole slew of other writers that it’s still early and still preseason and he’s still under contract for another year anyway. But, really, you’re all just fooling yourselves. 

It is late. Not hugely late. Not panic-inducingly late. But it is a little bit late to be hearing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the state of these contract talks. Not even “they met today” kind of stuff. Total radio silence is okay in June or even July, given how late the season ended. August, though? It’s reasonable to have some concern.


Steven looks a little concerned, too.

Because I can guarantee you that if there’s no agreement by the opening of training camp the next thing we’ll hear is that they (meaning Stamkos and his agent) don’t want to negotiate during the season but that he loves playing in Tampa. 


Then before you know it, he’s taking questions about this at the All-Star game and saying “it’s not just about the money” and we’re all parsing every word and debating trading him and making “Please sign, Stammer. We love you.” videos and probably church signs because this is Tampa and then he goes and signs in Minnesota of all places for like the entirety of the salary cap because, hey, it’s not all about the money.

I’m just saying I’ve been here before. It’s about the money and loyalty is dead.

On the other hand, I don’t think this is an undoable thing. If it were I’d be a bit less concerned. Certainly some kind of max contract would be tough to work around, but there are ways to make it work without selling off all the young talent.

For one thing, you need young talent to be a Cup contender, not just marginally useful veterans, a bunch of rookies, and one superstar in his prime. If you have half a chance, you trade away one or more of the veterans like, say, Valtteri Filppula, despite the fact that the team would be Finn-less and significantly less blond if you did.  

 Filppula is one of those moderately useful veterans and he’s got a cap hit of $5 million and if you have to choose between him and Steven Stamkos plus Alex Killorn or I don’t know, Ondrej Palat, sorry but näkemiin, Val.

The kids might get more in trade, but that’s because they’ll provide value above their contract for another few years and Steve Yzerman would have to be Mike Milbury not to see that. I thank all the heavens daily that Steve Yzerman is not Mike Milbury.

It’s that very dynamic that makes trading Stamkos a losing proposition if it comes down to it. Nothing you get in exchange for Stamkos will be worth what you give up unless you are, in fact, trading with an idiot. There are plenty of idiots out there, but they’ve already traded all the good players for gritty fourth liners with heart so there’s nothing left to put together a package for Stamkos.

Plus, and this always gets ignored, Steven Stamkos has a no move clause in his contract, so he controls where he goes. 

  In the end, I expect that Yzerman will do everything possible to retain Stamkos for the long haul but that even he has a line he can’t cross. If he’s as smart as I think he is, that line is drawn around the young core of the Triplets, Kucherov, Drouin, Killorn, Hedman, and Vasilevskiy. Maybe Stralman, too. With everyone else a deal can potentially be done. 

Again, though. Steven Stamkos has to agree to all of this. If he doesn’t, if this drags of for another six months, trade him. It will be painful, but that doesn’t make it the wrong thing to do. 

On Women, Sportwriting, and “Just Keep Writing”

People like to give advice. People who have become successful at something love to share their wisdom about how to end up where they are. It’s a kind of humble brag: I did this (I’m special and worth listening to) and you can, too! (but not too special.) It’s also a way of saying that the actions a person took are more important than the context in which they took them.

Recently, a successful hockey writer gave some (as far as I know unsolicited) advice to women and people of color who wanted to become successful at–and get paid for–writing about hockey. It was well-meant but naive and more than a little arrogant. If you don’t like the rules at one site, start your own. Create great content and people will find you. Just do it. That kind of thing. Continue reading

Oh, Captain! What a Day This Could Have Been

Marty St. Louis retired yesterday. It ends not with a bang, but with a whimper, to use a cliche. Everyone knew it was coming. He’d become something of a liability on the ice recently and no offers appeared to materialize on July 1. So the next day, he retired.

When I first heard the news, I simply stopped. I didn’t know what to think or what I really felt. Sadness? Nostalgia? A little bit of schadenfreude–some “serves you right!” ? How about regret? Continue reading

Observations on Drafting Goaltenders

Over the past few years, I’ve been spending my summers immersed in NHL goaltending draft data. In light of the upcoming draft I’ve pulled together some general observations that fans of drafting teams might find interesting. All of this has been published before, mostly at Raw Charge or here at Puckology, although in one instance it was published in Justin Goldman’s latest book, Between Two Worlds. Links are provided below. Continue reading

The Montreal Canadiens Really Are the Underdogs. But….

I find it fascinating how winning changes people’s perceptions of a team’s actual strengths. Take the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens, for instance. They won 50 games, the Atlantic Division title, and a first-round series. And somehow, it gets forgotten that they have been, at least over the long haul, not very good as a team.

You’d think they were good, looking at their roster. They should be good. And yet, there is virtually no measure by which the Montreal Canadiens are actually a better team than the Tampa Bay Lightning. In every single measure of process, they are worse. [All data and graphs are from War On Ice and are 5v5 Score-Adjusted, including playoffs.]

Continue reading

CWHL/NWHL: Competition is Good, War is not

Not even a month ago, on March 26, a new women’s professional hockey league was announced: the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). The arrival of this new, US-based league had sparked intense interest and discussion among women’s hockey fans. It has also sparked anxiety and hostility in some quarters. While the former is positive, the latter is not.

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Adjusting for Shot Quality: Gudlevskis and the Syracuse Crunch, Pt. II

Last time I looked briefly at some elements of shot quality and their effect on Kristers Gudlevskis’s statistics. I used Steve Valiquette’s Red/Green shot criteria as a baseline, though I did add my own twist to it. Rather than repeat all of that again, I’ll recommend that if you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher you take a moment to look that over as the following is based on concepts explained there.

In the meantime, I have added three more games from the early part of the Crunch’s season and Steve Valiquette has also added a few more tidbits of trends at the NHL level that help give context to the numbers I’ve uncovered for the Crunch.Two of these games were Gudlevskis’s games. One was Andrei Vasilevskiy’s. This gives me a sample that is mostly concerned with the kinds of shots seen by Gudlevskis. Continue reading

Kristers Gudlevskis, the Syracuse Crunch, and Shot Quality

When the Tampa Bay Lightning assigned Kristers Gudlevskis to the Syracuse Crunch this past September, it was with the intention that he work on his consistency from game to game. They wanted him to learn how to be good even when he was not at his personal best.

There’s another caveat here, however, and that is that Gudlevskis has to learn how to be good even when the team in front of him is playing at their worst. The particular mix of chances that the Syracuse Crunch are allowing does affect Gudlevskis’s overall save percentage and Gudlevskis’s particular vulnerabilities are reinforcing that. Thus, when defense is good, goaltending is good and when defense falters, goaltending falters. Continue reading