Hockey: My Hockey Adventures Part I: The Preseason

N.B. Large portions of this post are lifted directly from my journal. I meant to post this a long time ago, but never quite got around to typing it up.

 

Penny of the thousand stories used to tell me how she loved working at rinks – or simply being at rinks. She waxed poetic about the smell of the ice and the sound of skates. I didn’t disbelieve her, but it seemed a little crazy. I mean, I couldn’t very well disbelieve her when I can honestly say I love the way a stable full of horses smells. I just didn’t really get it.

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I have since spent quite a few summer Sunday evenings sitting in a rink, soaking in the cold and the smell of the ice at Steph’s ringette practices, listening to the sounds of blades, and sticks and, in this case, rings on the ice, and I understood a bit better.

IMG_20150926_154311Then this September, through a pretty incredible series of events, I had the chance to go see a preseason game with
Steph at the Bell Centre. Habs vs Hawks, sitting way up in the rafters. It was amazing.

Well, the game part of it kind of sucked, because the Habs played pretty terribly, but the rest of the experience, that part was amazing. As I said, we were way up in the sky, almost level with the press gallery, but while we were really far away from the ice, it gave us a great view of the plays as they unfolded (or didn’t unfold…as the case might be…).

Also, no amount of hearing how great the Bell Centre is quite prepares one for the sounds of “Fix You” booming over the dark arena, or for when the horn goes off and the crowd erupts. Thanks Zach Kassian. If he did nothing else, he at least ensured that I got to witness a Habs goal at my first game.

It was also pretty special to hear the crowd (thin as it was) come alive for Francis Bouillon when he came out to be acknowledged at the start of the game.

Unfortunately for me, there was no Eller, and no Pacioretty, no Subban, or Christian Thomas, but it was still great. There’ll be other opportunities to see them.

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The crowd came alive again when Gabriel Dumont dropped the gloves in defence of his teammate, Ryan Johnston, and again when Jeremy Gregoire dropped the gloves after a terrible hit on Dumont. It was pretty scary.

Other than that, it was a great way to finally understand why people were so grumpy about the way the Habs were playing at the time.

IMG_20150925_190211889_HDRIt’s one thing to hear how the Habs had been a perimeter team and know that they had trouble exiting the defensive zone, and another to actually see Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry struggle to get past what was essentially the Blackhawk’s AHL team. It was also pretty amazing to get to see Carey Price play, and all the others, even if they were mostly tiny numbers on the ice.

But even at that distance, Plekanec’s stride and Gallagher’s goalie adventures were easily identifiable, as were Emelin’s…defensive…um…adventures of a totally different kind. He’d been looking pretty good all game, not great, but  certainly not bad, and then…well…adventures. Frustrating when he essentially was (and is) keeping Jarred Tinordi or Mark Barberio out of a spot.

Nathan Beaulieu looked fantastic, singlehandedly bailing out several veterans, and Brett Lernout looked surprisingly solid for a baby defenceman (it’s also so strange that Beaulieu’s the one taking rookies under his wing when last year, that was basically him).

Regardless of the results, it was hockey at the Bell Centre, and I got to see it.

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Hockey: Some Exciting News!

I haven’t had internet for the past few days, and I’m terrible and didn’t queue a post in anticipation. However, I have some super exciting news!

I have been a huge fan and long time reader of the Montreal Canadiens’ fan website Habs Eyes on the Prize and it’s been a dream of mine to write for them for a similarly long period of time. Then they announced that they were looking for new columnists and such, and of course I had to apply. I didn’t expect to get a spot because there were so many applicants, and because there were bound to be so many really excellent writers applying, but I figured at least it couldn’t hurt.

And then this happened:

So I’m now a hockey writer for my favourite website that’s not actually the Canadiens website.

Because it’s me, my first article was on Lars Eller, as is tradition. I also wrote a season preview for Nathan Beaulieu.

I definitely sat there in shock when I first found out that I got a spot, and though I’ve now written two pieces for them, it still hasn’t completely sunk in.

Anyway, that’s what’s happened to me recently!

Hockey: Adventures into Contracts

I’ve been a hockey fan for quite a while, but I’ve really only been a serious fan of an NHL team for slightly over a year. Last summer’s project was to learn the basics of advanced stats. This summer’s project? Contracts. There’s a lot to them and, in this salary cap era, they’re an integral part of any team’s existence. I’m also very nearly clueless about them once you get past a vague sense as to what makes a contract good.

The Players

It all started out, as anything hockey-related does for me, with the Habs. This season the Habs had a number of contracts to extend, of most interest to me in terms of learning about contracts were Christian Thomas, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, and Brian Flynn (all Restricted Free Agents). I was also most anxious to find out whether or not the Habs were going to re-sign promising Swedish defenceman Magnus Nygren.

Tinordi, Thomas and Bournival were eventually signed to two-way contracts, Beaulieu and Flynn to one-way 2 year contracts at $1M and $950,000 respectively. (Galchenyuk and Nygren were both given qualifying offers, though as of the time of writing, neither have re-signed. Please get on that, oh best-est of GMs.)

My Questions

  • What is the difference between one and two-way contracts?
  • How much salary can you “bury” in the AHL?
  • Who has to be sent through waivers to play in the AHL?
  • What the heck is going on with Magnus Nygren?

The Resources

Andrew Berkshire, who until very recently, was the managing editor of one of the best Habs websites on the internet, was a huge help to me in my quest to find these answers. Through him, I was introduced to quite a number of people who provided extremely helpful summaries or websites on the information I wanted.

For anyone interested, these are the sites I found most helpful:

Beyond those, there are of course, the ever helpful and amazing sites which have stepped into the void left by Cap Geek: Hockey’s CapGeneral Fanager, and Cap Friendly among others.

What I Discovered

It turns out that the differences between two-way and one-way contracts are a lot simpler than I thought and have nothing to do with waiver eligibility. Two-way contracts simply mean that in the NHL the player will receive X amount, while in the AHL he’ll get Y (which is less). For example, Bournival will receive $600,000 a year if he plays in the NHL, while he’ll only be paid $125,000 in the AHL. 

A one-way contract means that the player will receive X amount of money regardless of where he plays. (So if Beaulieu gets the yo-yo treatment this year, it won’t have anything to do with managing the cap, as I suspect it largely did last year, since regardless of where he plays he’ll get $1 million a year.)

It also turns out that the exact salary you can completely bury in the AHL is $950,000. It could prove awfully convenient that Flynn’s contract is exactly that much.

Waiver eligibility is a bit more complicated, and is decided by age signed/years from signing and games played at the NHL level (whichever is reached first), as is shown in this handy chart from the reddit feed on contracts.

Flynn (26, 3 years from signing), Bournival, Thomas, and Tinordi (all 23 and 4 years from signing) would have to be sent through waivers (and potentially lost for nothing) to play in the AHL. So chances are we won’t see as much yo-yoing going on with these guys as we have in the past.

As to Magnus Nygren, he got a qualifying offer, so his rights still belong to the Canadiens, but he’s already signed with Färjestad so I’m not 100% sure what that all means in the long run. (If anyone wants to clarify, please feel free to do so!)

So there you have it. All the things I have learned so far this summer about NHL contracts. I hope you found it interesting and/or informative. Also if I’ve made a mistake anywhere please do point it out to me. I’m still learning, and have a terrible head for numbers.