Friday, February 28, 2014

A Goal in Goal?

With all of these trade pieces, one of which being star goaltender Ryan Miller, should the Sabres be pursuing a top-end goalie prospect this trade deadline? And if so, who might be of interest? On the first question, the Sabres have to be prepared for life without Ryan Miller. Enroth is, in my opinion, a capable starter for the rest of this season (unless we bring in a salary dump like Halak) and next if need be. The Sabres will be bad, but Enroth won't be their biggest area of weakness.

But what about a goalie for the short-term/long-term future. Enroth would, of course, have opportunity to play himself into that discussion. The Sabres also have 6 goalies in the system. Matt Hackett came over in the Pominville trade with a decent resume, but hasn't impressed in Rochester. Nathan Lieuwen has gotten nearly as many games as Hackett now and has looked better, but at this point I don't feel either goalie is a big piece of the puzzle for Buffalo. Deeper down in the system, however, are some interesting possibilities. The first name to mention is probably Linus Ullmark. He is currently playing in the 3rd best hockey league on the planet in Sweden and, despite being only 20 years old, is performing remarkably well. Another tender who has shown flashes is Andrey Makarov. This year he's playing in the ECHL, but not spectacularly. I still hold out hope that the 20 year old could turn into something. It may be time to give up on Connor Knapp. The 23 year old is big, but hasn't been able to shine brightly in either the AHL or ECHL. In the USHL, however, 19 year old Cal Petersen is having a great season for Waterloo.

Between Ullmark, Makarov, and Petersen, the Sabres might already have their goalie of the future, but these kids are a good distance from being ready for NHL action. The Sabres may be wise to bring in a goalie that is a bit more developed. There are plenty of options amongst potential trade partners. Anaheim's John Gibson is not older than the guys mentioned above, but he is a more polished higher-end prospect. LA's Martin Jones, at 24 years old, seems like a good fit age-wise and has made a real splash in the NHL this year. Without Quick the clear-cut number one netminder for the Kings, they may be willing to trade Jones to get a guy like Moulson. St. Louis prospect Jake Allen is another option. If the Blues acquire and re-sign Miller, they may be willing to let go of the 23 year old goalie. Though the Panthers don't look like a trade partner at this point, Jacob Markstrom is the type of big goalie Tim Murray says he likes. Perhaps a 3-team trade could be arranged.

All that to say, the Sabres have plenty of good options at the goaltender position both in the system and on the trade market. I would not be surprised at all if they add a very good 23-24 year old goalie at the deadline. If they do, I think there are plenty of options for life after Miller.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Trade Values

I wanted to document my thoughts on the trade value of those Sabres players most likely to be traded by next Friday's NHL trade deadline.

Ryan Miller- As I said in my previous post, I'm thinking he returns a cap dump (or two), a 1st round pick, and a very good prospect.

Steve Ott- I think his value is non-lottery 1st round pick. I wouldn't be surprise if he brings back slightly more than that, but I would be disappointed if he only brought back a 2nd. If we get a prospect in return, that'll be harder to analyze, but it should be at least someone ranked 7.0 on

Matt Moulson- We're probably talking a 1st round pick and a decent prospect here. I tend to think Murray will prefer to use Moulson to acquire someone closer to NHL ready than a draft pick would be. Someone like Tyler Toffoli from LA should be the target. I'm also not against re-signing Moulson. I think he'd look real good next to a good young center to be drafted in the next 2 drafts.

Hank Tallinder- I think he could fetch a 2nd rounder.

It's too hard to predict who else might be traded.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blues Clues

Perhaps the most mentioned trade partner in the Ryan Miller rumors is the St. Louis Blues. With the deadline just a week away, it is a good time for a fan like me to lay his cards on the table. What would I consider good value for Mr. Miller?

Of course, it's not easy to analyze trades that haven't happened yet because there are so many factors involved. In this case, we would need to consider 2 main issues. First, would Ryan Miller be a rental for the Blues or sign a new contract with them? Obviously the return increases if the latter is likely the case. Second, will (and how much) salary would the Blues want the Sabres to take back (and/or retain)?

Given the uncertainties in these two areas (and many others), it is highly unlikely that I will be able to predict a potential trade between the Blues and Sabres with great precision. Nevertheless, I do think it's possible to throw out a scenario that serves as a standard by which the actual trade (if it happens) could be graded.

Blues get Ryan Miller (50% salary retained for cap reasons)
Sabres get Jaroslav Halak, Dmitrij Jaskin, and a conditional 1st

I consider a trade like this to be the most likely scenario. I think Halak is part and parcel in any Miller deal. The prospect involved could, of course, vary. It could be Jaskin, Rattie, or goalie Jake Allen. Which one depends on the strong opinions of people who often keep their strong opinions to themselves on purpose. The first could be conditioned upon how far the Blues make it in the playoffs with Miller or whether or not Miller re-signs.

Here are some other returns with a 1 word reaction:

Halak & 2 of the following prospects (Rattie, Jaskin, Allen, Carrier):

Halak & 1 of those prospects and a pick that ends up a 1st:

Halak & 1 of Rattie/Jaskin and a pick that ends up a 2nd or 3rd: 

Halak & 1 of Allen/Carrier and a pick that ends up a 2nd or 3rd:

Halak & a lesser prospect and a 1st:

Halak & a lesser prospect and a 2nd or 3rd:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Men's Hockey Predictions

Let's face it, olympic hockey is a fast-pace, high-pressure tournament and (almost) anything can happen if a goalie gets hot (or cold). Dogmatic predictions are out of line, but general suspicions are possible. I've arranged the teams into tiers which, I believe, distinguish between the true gold medal threats, potential bronze medal threats, and teams that don't really have a chance to medal (in my opinion)

1st Tier: Canada, Russia, Sweden, United States
2nd Tier: Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Switzerland
3rd Tier: Austria, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia

So who will win gold? I have no idea. To be honest, I really like the type of player that the USA has lots of (gritty 2-way forwards). I think America is a clear underdog in this tournament which is a role most athletes love. Canada and Russia have a lot of pressure on them to win. We'll see what that pressure brings out of them. But, in the end, I think this tournament will largely come down to what goalies are playing their best. I suspect that the USA will win the gold over Russia.

Why not Canada? I think they'll run into better and hotter goalies. But make no mistake, I will not be surprised at all if Canada wins the gold. They should be the favorites.

Why not Russia? I actually think they'll play over their heads (respond to the pressure well), but I just don't think they have the defensive strength and/or depth.

Why not Sweden? King Henry would have to be at the top of his game for them to win gold in my opinion and he's done nothing this NHL season to suggest that he is ready to play at that level.

Will Canada at least win the bronze? I think so. If they end up in the bronze medal game and lose that will be a disaster, especially if they lose to an incredible underdog like Switzerland.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Tecmo Super Bowl 1

Stats from our first Tecmo Super Bowl Tournament:

Joe Waters: 89-54 total score (+35)
Beat Nick Wright 39-17
Lost to Matt Rose 0-6
Beat Jeff Grimes 22-0
Beat Nick Wright 14-7 in playoff
Lost to Matt Rose 14-24 for SILVER

Nick Wright: 98-94 total score (+4)
Lost to Joe Waters 17-39
Beat Jeff Grimes 30-3
Lost to Matt Rose 7-28
Lost to Joe Waters 7-14 in playoff
Beat Jeff Grimes 37-10 for BRONZE

Matthew Rose: 109-38 total score (+71)
Beat Jeff Grimes 13-7
Beat Joe Waters 6-0
Beat Nick Wright 28-7
Beat Jeff Grimes 38-10 in playoff
Beat Joe Waters 24-14 for GOLD

Jeff Grimes: 30-140 total score (-110)
Lost to Matt Rose 7-13
Lost to Nick Wright 3-30
Lost to Joe Waters 0-22
Lost to Matt Rose 10-38 in playoff
Lost to Nick Wright 10-37

Friday, February 07, 2014

Carving out a new Creationism

It seems to me that in the time leading up to... and the aftermath of... the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham a lot of people have been exercising in the form of logical leaps. The leap consists of concluding that if Ken Ham is wrong in any way (wrong on science, wrong on focus, wrong on hermeneutics, etc.) then Christians should seek a position that makes theistic sense of millions of years and microbe-to-mankind evolution.

Admittedly, I come from a Young Earth Creationism background. But I am not a fundamentalist (in the sense that many people mean that term). I recognize that Genesis 1 is a pretty poetic piece of literature. I do not insist on Bishop Ussher's precise chronology. But it is one thing to deny that the earth is exactly X,XXX years old and another to assume that if such precision is un-called for we're talking about millions upon millions of years of God letting death reign in order to bring about someone like us.

If Genesis 1 is primarily theological (God is Creator) and religious (this is why we have Sabbath) instead of scientific (it's not) and historical (I don't see how it's not at least secondarily historical), that doesn't prove anything about science or history. Genesis 1 is not the only reason to think that the earth is relatively young or that darwinian evolution is a flawed theory.

What I find upsetting is the seemingly vogue conclusion of some hip Christians that if you reject either millions of years or darwinian evolution then you're automatically part of the problem insofar as you must pit science against religion. I AGREE that science vs. religion is a false dichotomy. But there's more than one way to interpret scientific discovery. And there's an awful lot of philosophy/religion being touted as science these days.

I remain purposefully undecided on these issues (purposefully b/c I recognize I am not an expert in the relevant fields). I am quite open to theistic evolution (though I do not lean toward that view), but I also want to remain open to what still seems the most straight-forward reading of the text.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Stress of Excess

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy (actually, probably A LOT of the time). We willingly trade simplicity and sufficiency for complexity and efficiency. But the complexity adds stress and the efficiency often proves to have only been a potentiality. I'm speaking mostly about technology (and I realize I'm posting this on an incredibly complex and efficient computer... on the internet... at a push of a button).

This ranges from relatively simple technology to the most advanced stuff.

If I have a TV with a remote... I can lose that remote and get frustrated

If I have a gadget that can do 10,000 things... that's 10,000 things that may go wrong

On another front, shopping is super complex. We have hundreds more choices than we had in the past. But that not only makes shopping take a ton of time, it can also give us an almost constant feeling of buyer's remorse. And if I get sent to the store to buy some cheese, it takes me 5 minutes to make sure I pick the right one (and 20 minutes to run back to the store to fix my mistake).

I'm not necessarily advocating that we become Amish (I'd probably die within a month), but I am suggesting we weigh the TRUE cost of some of our purchases and decisions. In other words, don't complain about stress caused by advancement if you bought into each advancement without a moment of thought.