Monday musings, April Fool’s Day edition

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1. Having gone to school on the east coast, I have a lot of friends who are fans of the following teams: The New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers and, of course, the Boston Bruins. Therefore, I know a lot of people who don’t like Sidney Crosby. That said, Crosby’s injury is a shitty thing for hockey regardless of who you root for and against.

Before taking a Brooks Orpik shot to the jaw, Crosby had registered 41 assists through 36 games. That’s the number of assists a very, very good hockey player puts up over the course of a typical 82-game season. Crosby did it in less than half, and added 15 goals for good measure. That’s a ridiculous pace. He’s been the league’s best player this season by a mile, and pure entertainment on the ice. Losing him for the rest of the regular season is no good for anyone.

2. On Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday, CBC analyst Glen Healey called into question the price Pittsburgh paid to acquire Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks. While, as a Sharks fan, I was happy with Pittsburgh’s generous return, it’s idiotic to criticize Ray Shero for what he gave up to acquire what amounts to a third-pairing rental.

Healey noted that highly-touted Senators prospects Jakob Silfverberg and Robin Lehner were second-round picks. Would you give them up for Douglas Murray, he asked? Well, no, of course not. But number one, we’re not talking about tangible assets. And number two, we’re not talking about the Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins have to be considered Eastern Conference favorites, if not de facto Stanley Cup favorites, at this point in the season. They are poised for a very long playoff run. A pair of second round picks is a small price to pay for a Stanley Cup. The Penguins also aren’t hurting for young talent. In addition to boasting one of the best farm systems in the NHL, the majority of Pittsburgh’s core players haven’t even reached their prime. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen, Brandon Sutter, Marc-Andre Fleury, and James Neal are all 28 or younger. This is not a team that will be lamenting lost second round picks in a year or two because their core has aged out.

This trade is one of those rare cases where a seemingly lopsided deal makes perfect sense for both teams. On the other side of the coin, San Jose’s cupboard is relatively bare. As a deadline buyer for the better part of the last decade, they’ve given up quite a few picks in the first-through-third round range. Douglas Murray is slowing down, he’s an impending free agent, and the Sharks had eight serviceable NHL defensemen on the roster. He was the clear odd man out on an already slow squad, and the return was inflated by a Pittsburgh team that could afford to pay it.

3. Speaking of the Sharks, trades, and the state of Pennsylvania, it’s rumored that Ryane Clowe might be on his way to Philadelphia, where a contract extension will be waiting for him. The reported return? Sean Couturier. So, if you see an inordinate number of Sharks fans walking around with uncontrollable erections, you now know why.

The reported deal is being widely criticized as nonsensical for the Flyers and Clowe. And while it may appear nonsensical in the sense that a) Philadelphia is likely not going to be a playoff team, so why would Clowe waive his no-trade to go there and b) it doesn’t address the team’s core need, which is defense, it actually makes a ton of sense if you look at a little history.

First and foremost, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has reportedly coveted Clowe for nearly five years. There is a famous rumor among Sharks fans that Holmgren went after Clowe at the 2009 draft, but Doug Wilson asked for some prospect named Giroux and the deal went south. But Clowe’s bruising style and penchant for banging in pucks around the net (this season notwithstanding, where he has a penchant for literally the opposite of that) still has to be enticing to the rough-and-tumble Flyers even four years later.

Second, the rumor that an extension is in place lends some credibility to the report. It totally jives with Holmgren’s history – he’s the master of acquiring deadline “rentals” for a slightly inflated price and then talking those players out of unrestricted free agency before they hit the market. It also would explain why the Flyers might be willing to give up a prized prospect to land Clowe. They anticipate having him around for a while. Additionally, Paul Holmgren has done some pretty weird shit in his tenure as Philadelphia’s general manager, and this deal certainly wouldn’t be the strangest.

But that still leaves the Clowe factor up in the air. Why would a guy like Clowe, who has come pretty close with San Jose on multiple occasions, take what looks like a back step in going to Philadelphia? Well, quite simply, because Clowe has had a horrific year, and if Philly looks poised to overpay the Sharks to acquire Clowe, they might be inclined to overpay him as well.

The Flyers also tend to take players with offensive upside and turn them into scoring machines. Is Matt Read a 25-goal scorer as a rookie anywhere else in the league? Hard to imagine. Scott Hartnell, a guy you could easily compare Clowe to and not be far off base, put up 40 in orange and black. Philly’s system is conducive to offense and, coming off a very down year offensively, Ryane Clowe might be eager to jump on that train.

From the Sharks perspective, the deal works because Ryane Clowe hasn’t scored a single goal all year, and they’d be getting Sean fucking Couturier in return.  

4. I was super bummed when Mike Modano didn’t finish out his career with the Dallas Stars. Seeing him in another jersey was wrong, he had a bad year, and it just left a bitter taste in my mouth. Too few players start and finish illustrious careers with one franchise. Joe Sakic did it. Steve Yzerman did it. Modano should have been given every opportunity to do it, too.

That said, I don’t have the same sentiment about Jarome Iginla, for one very simple reason. The Calgary Flames are fucking terrible, and Iginla hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. He’s a 500-plus goal, 1,000-plus point player. He was the face of a storied Canadian franchise for the better part of two decades. He’s a two-time Olympic gold medal winner. But he’s only had one legitimate kick at Lord Stanley’s can, and wasn’t going to get another sniff with the Flames.

I think Jarome Iginla has the wheels, shot, and smarts to play another three years in this league at a very high level. Throw Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin into the mix, and I think you can extend that to five years. I hope he signs an extension with the Penguins and plays out his days there. One has to imagine that, with the talent they have, a four-year stint with the Penguins organization would mean that Iggy is all but guaranteed the only thing he doesn’t have on his resume – A Stanley Cup championship. 

5. And finally, happy birthday to my main man Shawn. He’s been my hockey-related partner in crime for nearly 20 years. He doesn’t like to read, so I can tell you all that this is the last year of his 20s, and feel fairly confident that he won’t ever see it. He’s old

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One Response to Monday musings, April Fool’s Day edition

  1. Brent says:

    I agree with this assessment all across the board. Well done.

    All good trades for the Sharks.., we need youth, speed, and cap room right now and this is getting us there.

    My only concern with the Sharks if that they will lack toughness going forward. We’ve been a very soft-hitting team for some time now and Clowe and Murray were two guys who did that.

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