OK, so we lied. Rather, I lied and must shoulder the blame because I am the author.
I began yesterday with our “Inserting A Measure Of Sanity…” series, stating it would be published in two blogs. In Part I, I defined what the Baseline, Stanley Cup-winning team looked like in terms of a per-game statistical ranking for all players on those Cup teams. I then explained there are two ways to use the rankings.
One way was to compare leading teams against the Baseline and determine both what they need to meet the minimums and who is closer to the mark. I did this measuring NYR against DET and the Baseline.
The other way was to see what a team is lacking in order to determine what they might need at the Trade Deadline in actuality instead of what their gut and/or wallet was telling them. That discussion would be the subject of Part II of this series.
Where the lie comes in is the fact this is going to be a seven part series. Because of the time it takes to gather the stats and measure them against the Baseline for a by-position call on team needs, I have to work this blog and those that follow by Division. But I will work to ensure all are posted by Sunday night going into the Trade Deadline so you can scream at or cheer on your team appropriately.
You cannot read this blog without keeping in mind the following notes:
- This is a snapshot in time for each team. By that I mean it is a comparison of the team’s statistics following their last game played when we begin the analysis. This means overall Baseline numbers will slink downward before the season is over. By example, Phil Kessel had a .70 goals per game (GPG) average at Game 24 this season and at Game 60 slid to a (respectable) .52 GPG. Statistics are worth less overall as more games divide them.
- We are measuring the current teams’ Baseline snapshot against average, final season numbers for the six Stanley Cup winners. That makes analysis easy when you see less on your roster than the winning Baseline calls for.
That said, let’s look at the Pacific Division in terms of overall team and by-position Baseline comparisons to determine what, if anything, a team needs as the Trade Deadline swiftly approaches. Each team’s section will begin with a graph of the numbers. Where numbers show a green background, they are an advantage. Where differences are in bold, red font, it is a disadvantage for the team against the Baseline. If you do not care to follow the numbers, simply scroll down to the team’s summary at the end of their section.
San Jose Sharks
SJS Summary: SJS enjoys a .631 overall team advantage against the Stanley Cup-winning Baseline. That is a bit more than half again over the average difference from Baseline. The Sharks also hold a 4:2 advantage in cumulative, by-position measurements. This puts the team as a whole in decent shape to be a Stanley Cup contender. The LW average is above the Baseline and it looks like there is no need to shop for another left-side winger. At pivot, SJS falls below the Baseline and looks to need one each “5” Center. (This would be in the neighborhood of Gilbert Brule in PHX.) On the RW side, the Sharks’ cumulative falls below the Baseline in large part due to having only half of the RW’s on roster that the Baseline calls for. (If they were shooting for true RW’s, they would need a “4” and two “3’s”, or players in the neighborhood of a Palmieri, Smith-Pelly or Parros on the RW-rich ANA squad). San Jose’s Defensemen rank higher than the Baseline. (If anything, they could use one more “6” Defender such as a Klesla, Matt Green or a Robidas, but would pay a price for doing so.) And finally, SJS’ Goalies are both above the Baseline, even though numbers go down when a team is in a losing streak. Of all of the Pacific Division teams, San Jose is most likely to end the season at or above the Baseline.
PHX Summary: PHX enjoys a .386 team advantage against the overall Baseline, placing them third in the Pacific pecking order against our marker. That advantage could very likely disappear with bad trades at The Deadline coupled with the continuation of the season to Game 82. The Coyotes are also an even 3:3 in cumulative, by-position measurements of advantage with the Baseline. If the team slips below the Baseline, team character would have to carry them through. As with SJS, the Coyotes are set at the LW position. They are also set up the middle where PHX holds an advantage at Center with their “8” (Hanzal). On the other wing, the Coyotes’ cumulative is above the Baseline but actually short two RW bodies in the “4” and “3” realm. (The same help for SJS would work here.) Phoenix is above the Defensemen overall Baseline. But they are short one each “7” and “6” defender, something their dearth of “5’s” could produce a proper trade proposal for under the right circumstances. (A Burns, Doughty or Robidas would be their target here for true value added in terms of capability.) And Smith and LaBarbera make PHX’s goalie tandem as good against the Baseline as SJS’.
While this blog was being prepared, PHX traded McElhinney and draft picks to CBJ for Vermette. As a Centerman, he throws in his 4.301 Baseline number to the overall team while McElhinney removes nothing since he had only played in two games. Since the team Baseline is an average of all team members’ marker, he drops the team from an overall 5.347 to a 5.323 and Centermen in particular from a 5.135 to a 5.016 for his $3.75M per season price tag. It sounds like a bad deal, especially when it looked like PHX did not need any C’s. The question would correctly be is Vermette trade bait, or will, say, Chipchura and a couple of “5” defensemen go for that “7” or “6” defender or a RW or two?
Los Angeles Kings
LAK Summary: LAK has a .340 overall team lead over the Stanley Cup-winning Baseline, the fourth highest in the Division. Many have said it and we will parrot: this team needs to score or they will not make the Playoffs, much less win The Cup. They are short one “5” at LW. (This is a Blake or Nystrom-type winger.) At Center, they are ahead of the Baseline. (This is particularly so at the “6” ranking where they could dangle Richards, Kopitar or Stoll to cover shortages.) They are below Baseline one “4” and one “3” at RW just like SJS and PHX. Los Angeles’s Defensemen rank below the Baseline. (One “7” Defender would do nicely here.) L.A. is ahead of the game in goal as with SJS and PHX above. Taking all of the above into consideration, if it was a dynamic Trade Deadline day, could the Kings dangle Richards to DAL for some combination of Nystrom, Ryder, Robidas and a draft pick? Stranger things have happened.
DAL Summary: Dallas has a Stanley Cup-winning Baseline lead of .555, the second highest in the Division. As a team, however, they need more consistent wins – heck, a seven or eight-game run would do wonders for the Stars. They are short one “5” at LW despite a higher Baseline number at this position that previous Cup winners. (This is a Blake or Clifford on the left side.) They are below of the Baseline at the Center position and could fix their woes with an upgrade in the “5” realm. (This would be a Langkow, Fraser or Koivu although Mike Richards would rock their world if the asking price was not too steep.) Two RW’s at a “6” and a “4” just like the three Pacific Division teams above would round out their roster nicely as well as fix their Baseline deficit in this slot. With all of the issues at this position in the Division, trade partners across Division and/or Conference lines would be a more likely candidate to rectify shortcomings. Dallas could use one “6” Defenseman although they rank above the Baseline. DAL sits in the best position of any Pacific Division team in net. With Raycroft joining Lehtonen as the franchise’s “6’s”, he could be put up on the block based on Bachman’s strong performance early in the year. It remains to be seen if DAL at The Deadline is a buyer under new management. They need to be at all positions forward of the goal, however, to even sniff the Playoffs this season.
Of all of the Pacific Division teams compared to the Baseline, only Dallas needs a Rick Nash with his 6.928 ranking at Right Wing. SJS, PHX and LAK could all use additional RW’s, but they could make do with something less than a Nash. It doesn’t mean they would not necessarily put him to work. Just that they have multiple issues to address and putting all their eggs in one Nash… (I will stop there) …does not necessarily allow them to answer their needs.
ANA Summary: Anaheim has a Stanley Cup-winning Baseline lead of only .067, the lowest in the Division and most likely to disappear as the season progresses. Despite his Washington miracle in ’07-’08, Coack Boudreau will not be able to resurrect this franchise from an early Tee Time this season. The Ducks start off short one “6” and one “5” at LW and greater than a .70 deficit against the Baseline. (Blake, Beleskey and Hagman are just not meeting the mail here.) One good upgrade of a “5” at Center might salve their issue at that position (along with more productivity from Getzlaf) as they sit almost one full point below the Baseline at this position. At Right Wing, the Ducks outpace the Baseline and are the only Pacific team without a strong need at this position. Anaheim could also use one “6” Defenseman just like everyone else in the Division. ANA is tied with LAK in their lead for the Goalie Baseline ranking. But while every other Pacific Division team has at least one “6” and a “5” in net, ANA has a “6” and a “4.” Despite the winning streak of late, expect ANA to finish last in the division and out of the Playoffs this season.
Coming next is the Northwest Division…