Inserting A Measure Of Sanity… To The Central Division

This is our fourth installment of the “Inserting A Measure Of Sanity…” series. You can read our analysis of the Pacific Division in “…Part Deaux…” and the Northwest Division in “…The Third….”

To keep you with all four tires down and everything between the trees, here are our reminder notes again:

  1. 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 as we begin the analysis. This means overall Baseline numbers will slide 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 sports a .52 GPG. Statistics are worth less overall as more games are divide into them.
  2. We are measuring the current teams’ Baseline snapshot against average, final season numbers for the six Stanley Cup winners. This is not a bad thing when you know No.1 above and find you have less on your roster than the winning Baseline calls for.

Now we turn to the butt-kickin’ Central Division. This is the leader of the Western Conference and could put as many as four teams into the playoffs this year. Who needs what by Monday is what we discuss herein.

Detroit Red Wings

DET Summary: See our analysis in Part I of the ‘Inserting A Measure Of Sanity…’ series.

St. Louis Blues

 STL Summary: Were it not for Detroit, STL would be leading the Central in both the standings and with their Division-leading, .573 Baseline-beating, cumulative team ranking. They are also 5-1 against all by-position cumulative scores of the Baseline which stands as the best in the Division. This team is looking good for making the playoffs. Personnel-wise, the Blues are short one “4” and one “3” Left Winger.  (Inside the Central, this would be the likes of Holmstrom and Bickell.) At Center they need one “5” (a Johansen or Hudler) and one “3” (Morrison or Letestu fit in here). On the Right Wing, the Blues’ are only short one “3” role player. (Halischuk could answer this requirement.) Like so many other teams, St. Louis needs one top end, “8” Defenseman. (This would be Brent Seabrook in the Central. There is only one “8” and one “9” in the entire Division.) Both of the Blues’ netminders sport a “5+” Baseline ranking which likely will not drop much before the playoffs because they are playing consistently playoff caliber hockey in net and defense in support out of The Gateway City.

Nashville Predators 

NSH Summary: As a whole NSH has a –.024 deficit against the Stanley Cup-winning Baseline, the lowest in the Central Division. They are also 3 – 3 versus all by-position, cumulative Baseline scores. The interesting thing about Nashville, however, is their organization’s ability to play strongly as a team and at times, against the numbers. We are here to measure them against the Baseline, however, as a means of letting you judge if your team makes the correct trades at the last minute. They are short one “6” and one “5” Left Wing. (You would need a Zetterberg and a Perron for this requirement.) They are above Baseline at Center but still need one “5” and “3” like STL. They have a bit of a surplus on the role player end of the Right Wing ranks despite the small deficit they hold against the RW Baseline. The Predators could also use one “7” Defenseman despite sporting Weber as the only “9” Defenseman in the West. (Think Kronwall or Petrangelo here.) In goal, NSH is right on par with most teams’ Netminder duos.

Chicago Blackhawks

CHI Summary: Collectively, Chicago has a respectable lead of .470 on the Baseline. That is third highest in the Central Division. So what do they need to stay over the hump? It begins with a shortage of a role-playing, “4” at Left Wing. (Drew Miller or Brian Bickell work here.) One “4” and two “3’s” at Center cover the deficit at that position. (Helm, Nichol and Letestu are that caliber of players.) Chicago is strong at Right Wing with no needs there. But the ‘Hawks need a “7”, “6” and “5” on Defense. (If they were raiding the DET cupboard, they would have to take Kronwall, White and Stuart.) And as suspect as they were during the long road losing streak, CHI’s goaltending duo are right on par with a SJS or VAN.

Columbus Blue Jackets

CBJ Summary: Columbus’ overall team Baseline is just ahead of the Stanley Cup Baseline with a positive .057. As you recall, our Baseline measurement is only for players who have played 10 or more games. The ‘Jackets have the most (eight) players who have been on the score sheet but not made that mark in the Western Conference which indicates a dearth of injuries and the lack of team cohesion that spawns. Their positive team Baseline ranking is not going to survive the regular season, a reason why they are looked at as a major seller by Monday afternoon. But what does that Baseline say they really need if we include the Carter-for-Johnson trade numbers? CBJ begins short One “6” and one “5” Left Winger. (A McDonald and Stalberg can fill this bill.) While many would argue it, the stats indicate they break even at Center so do not need players for this position. They need two “4’s” and two “3’s” at Right Wing (like Langenbrunners’ and Crombeens’), and trading away Rick Nash would mean a “6/7” RW (like Franzen) would have to come back. They also need one “8”, one “7” and one “6” Defenseman like many other teams do. Lastly, The Baseline indicates both Mason and Sanford are statistically as good a pair of goalies as DET has, so nothing is necessary in net right now. The question becomes in not being a Playoff contender, do they blow it all up, trade away their current star for draft picks and pick up some key pieces in free agency? Or do they flip Nash for one each top Left or Right Wing and Dman plus a draft pick and address the rest of the weaknesses in free agency? Time will tell us very shortly.

The Central Wrap Up

Since some have commented to us along those lines, we need to say it. When we write that teams need role-playing “4” and “3” level players, yes, by all means, that could be as simple as a call up of the team’s best AHL producing player(s). Those kind of players are usually value added to a critical need at the Trade Deadline, but nonetheless remain a part of the winning, Baseline formula.

As with the Northwest and most of the Pacific, no movement of current goaltenders has to happen in the Central. (ANA was the only Western team who could upgrade their backup against the Baseline.) Using the current numbers against the Baseline, only SJS in the entire Western Conference did not need an “8”, “7” or both at Defense. There also seems to be a shortage of above-middle ranking Right Wingers across the board in the West.

Monday is going to be interesting.

Because you now get the idea, the next post will be late tomorrow with a chart of what all teams need going into Monday, to include the entire Eastern Conference. We will also do our level best to keep track of the Baseline as the trades roll on Monday …




  1. Pingback: Your Questions About Trading Central | eConsumer Product Reviews - March 6, 2012

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