It's not all that easy for me to "muse" about hockey on a rainy, humid 80 degree August day in the Washington, DC Metro but hey that's sort of what I do. So today I have two hockey related musings - one about Scott Hannan signing a one year, one million dollar contract with the Calgary Flames and the other about the NHL and the Olympics.
First, I'd expect most readers of this blog know that earlier this week, the Calgary Flames signed Scott Hannan to a one year contract, for a mere $1M salary cap hit. So this got me to "a thinking" if the Capitals had done that, this season Hannan would be the second lowest paid member of their blue-line corps; that's right of the Capitals projected defense corps, only John Carlson with his entry level salary of $845.8K, makes less than Hannan will this coming season. So what do you think? Not that any of these are or would have been viable choices but hey Caps fans, would you rather have Scott Hannan for $1M even Cap Hit or: a) Tom Poti for $2.875M, b)Jeff Schultz for $2.75M, or even c)John Erskine for $1.5M? I'm going to "zero in" on the debate of Hannan vs. Schultz for three reasons:
i)Given Tom Poti is fighting to resume any career whatsoever after his season ending injuries last year, I just don't think debating about him vs. anyone is "good form." My only hope relative to Tom Poti and the 2011-2012 season is that he is well enough to return to play this season and then we can have this debate in October.
ii) John Erskine is well John Erskine and he brings so much more in the way of total grit to the Capitals that contrasting him to either Hannan or Schultz just doesn't seem fair or wise. If it were only about skating or sick-handling abilities, there's no doubt in my mind John Erskine would likely be making about 1/2 what he currently does. That said I'm a convert, to me, John Erskine is worth the $1.5M he makes, or at least he was last season.
iii) Contrasting Jeff Schultz with Scott Hannan just seems to make sense to me.
Sure there's a huge age difference but in terms of roles and styles, they are both stay at home D-Men who aren't out on the ice for hat they bring to the offensive end of the game. However, Schultz is 25 years old, will make $2.5M and have a Cap Hit of $2.75M this year. Last year "Sarge" had a reasonably unremarkable season finishing the regular season at +6 with just 1 goal, 9 assists, 12 PIM, 34 SOG, and just 53 hits in 72 games. In the playoffs, the 25 year old Calgary native played 9 games was +1, had NO offensive contributions, 6 PIM and 9 SOG. On the other hand, Hannan is 32 years old, has 12 NHL seasons under his belt and will make $1M and have a Cap Hit of $1M this year. Last year Hannan played a total of 78 games joining the Washington Capitals at the end of November from the Colorado Avalanche; over the course of the season he had a +4, 1 goal, 11 assists, 34 PIM, 56 SOG, and 84 hits. In the playoffs, he too appeared in all 9 games the Capitals had, was +1, had an assist, 2 PIM and 6 SOG. So when you compare Schultz and Hannan's performances last season, there's just not a lot of difference; and last season Schultz made $2.5M while Hannan made $4.5M. So looking at last season, Jeff Schultz was no doubt "a better buy" than Scott Hannan. Now looking forward to next season, Schultz will make 2.5X what Hannan will make.
One logically asks will Schultz be worth 2.5X what Hannan is this coming season? The simple truth is none of us know the answer to that question, so "ask me in June 2012"; however I will say it's possible. If Jeff Schultz, now age 25 has the same sort of season he had in 2009-2010, and continues that high level of play into and through the 2012 playoff's he will have fully earned his pay and will be worth a $2.75M Cap Hit. I have little doubt that Scott Hannan will be worth the $1M that Calgary will pay him this season, but he's hoping to do a lot more. That said, the bottom line in this debate is at 25 Schultz still has a lot of upside and at 32 Hannan is much more likely to have just a few more years of his playing career and they are likely to look a lot like last season. Schultz's real value lies in his potential. Potential that will be realized if "Mr. Nasty" can and does become a real no-kidding "shut down" defenseman; something that, in my opinion, can and will only happen if he gets more physical. Schultz is 6' 6" and 230#, he's a big guy, with huge reach, Right now he over-relies on his reach and doesn't use his large body enough. If Schultz would do two things: a) muscle up a little (5-12 more pounds of muscle) and b) improve his skating just a wee bit so he wouldn't worry about being out of position after he makes a hit so much; I'm pretty sure he could increase his number of hits by 50-100% (last season 53, 2009-2010: 66, 2008-2009: 53). If Schultz does those things, the $3M he'll make in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons under his current contract a real deal. If he doesn't then it's likely that Caps GMGM will likely regret giving him such a nice, long term deal. So in the end even though it wasn't an option anyway, I'm saying I'd pick Schultz over Hannan.
Second, over at Red Light District, they brought up the debate "Should the NHL Continue to Participate in the Olympics" again just yesterday. So I'm flabbergasted. Everyone whose been reading this blog for a while pretty much knows, I CANNOT even understand how this is even a debate. My view is simple and straightforward, Garry Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors are idiots if they decide to not allow the players to participate in the Olympics. Further while, I question Bettman's intelligence, often, I think the BOG has some smart guys on it and they are just positioning for a bargaining chip and to get some needed concessions, especially during Olympic Year scheduling. All that said, my bottom line on the matter is this, participation in the Olympics, is something the NHL shouldn't "play politics with." End of story, end of rant.
My countdown shows just 53 days until the Capitals season opener; I'm waiting for my season ticket package delivery of which is just around the corner. I really can't wait.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!