Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is not how it was supposed to look. Time heals a lot of wounds, but not all. Falling short in the run to repeat as Predator Cup Champs last season was a big blow as so many elements had alligned to make it seem possible. In Thornton and Pronger the team had two elite FPs. Crosby would be, potentially, a third FP. While not picking first overall, we were able to select second and got the goaltender we wanted. Alas, it was not to be. Fourth place and 33.07pts behind.
What went wrong #1. Kiprussof turned out NOT to be the goaltender we wanted. Heading into draft day we were debating between Kipper and Lundqvist. Kiprusoff got 96pts which sounds like a great number but ultimately he was only the 9th highest pointing goaltender - not because of injury, but because his game dropped off. Lundqvist had 127pts or the difference of 31pts - essentially the gap between 1st and 4th.
What went wrong #2. Crosby went down with injury. Crosby's high ankle strain cost him games - 29 in total. Even in games he came back to play in, he wasn't at 100% and it showed. His PPG rate projected out to 111pts, good for 2nd in the Art Ross race with Ovechkin and 39pts more than the 72 he got - more than the gap between 1st and 4th.
What went wrong #3. Malkin. With Crosby hurt, Malkin exploded. Before the injury Malkin was at about a 90pt pace, in the 35 games after he was at a 124pt pace.
What went wrong #4. Trading. I didn't win any big trades. The year before I managed to win a few trades - most memorably the Kovalev for Gonchar trade and the series of FP trades that transformed Jovanovski into Pronger. This year, in part because I was the defending champion, those deals never materialized. Conversly the Severed Heads were able to deal for Nabokov.
What went wrong #5. Pairity. I am comparing the Highlanders to the eventual champion Severed Heads a lot in this post and rightly so - they won. With with four teams within essentially 30pts, this was an incredibly tight race and made all the more so because of the fact no body was pulling away. With so many teams in the running trades are harder to make and the number of teams willing to "sell" is far less - at least far less willing to do so as early as they might have been in years past.
Bad picks and bad injury luck will happen. You can try and avoid it but it happens. The trading issue is one I have to get back on my horse and re-up my game. I will never be able to trade with the frequency of a Bob (I couldn't keep up with the paperwork) but I can't expect to win the big deals per se. Its not that they aren't doable but there was a lack of boldness in my approach last season as compared to the season before - that I can work on. Also, I need to expect that parity will get greater, not lesser, as the next season approaches - the fact is GMs in this pool are really, really good. When I hear about trades in so many other pools I often scratch my head and ask how they can get away with such highway robbery. The fact is, the FunHL is a pool of some real pros - I need to accept that fact and revel in it. Beating the best is much more satisfying than beating up on a bunch of chumps.
Sidney Crosby's tenure as a Highlanders prospect is coming to an end. Technically, it ended last Entry Draft as Sid the Kid was selected in the last round by the Highlanders instead of continuing to occupy a Prospect slot during Crosby's p4 year. This year, it ends for good with the promotion of the 21 year-old phenomn to one of two Highlander Franchise Player slots. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have scored more pts than Crosby as a 21 year-old so the Highlanders have high hopes for the new face of the franchise.
The FunHL 2008 Entry Draft goes September 20th in Calgary.