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Offseason Divination

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ARTHUR:
The shining moment for this blog to this point has to be when Daniel and I said "Koivu to Anaheim" on May 28th of last year. The eagle-eyed observers will note that that's 41 days before he signed with the Ducks, and those with their memories intact will remember that no one was really talking about that possibility back then (though people were talking about Koivu getting booted from Montreal, which prompted my speculation). After he put pen to paper, we bragged, but mostly because I accurately predicted what a discounted Koivu salary would look like with Anaheim.

"Ideally, Koivu comes in at a discount (3/3.75M) on a one-year deal to play with Selanne."

-ARTHUR, May 28th, 2009. Koivu came in at 3.25M

Unfortunately, I'm not that right that often, though I am eerily on the mark at times. In 1999, I said the 7th place Sabres would win the Cup before the playoffs started; they were ousted on what-is-so-obviously-a-no-goal-let's-not-get-on-this-subject-in-the-comments. In 2003, during the All-Star break, I said the Ducks (also eventually 7th place) would win the Cup, but Jeff Friesen is the devil. 'Nuff said.

With free agency and the Draft coming up, Daniel and I are going to make some picks . . . eventually. So here's a quick look back at how right/wrong we were last offseason i.e. how much stock you can put in our predictions.

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Those who followed the blog last year know that I warmed to John Moore, and my reach pick was Scott Glennie. Daniel, meanwhile, identified Dmitry Kulikov as a reach pick but really liked Zack Kassian.

How did the actual draft shake out? Glennie went 8th-- kid's good --and Kassian and Kulikov went 13th and 14th respectively, meaning the Ducks had no shot at any of them. Intriguingly, not only was John Moore available at 15th but so was Jordan Schroeder, who had been projected in the Top 10 on some boards. The Ducks passed on the pair (TWICE), and so did the Wild, Blues, Canadiens, Rangers and Devils. There was a clear bias against Schroeder, who reportedly interviewed poorly, but it's hard to say why Moore fell, too. The Wild and Canadiens made what amount to homer picks, and maybe the other teams weren't sold on this USHL star. I don't know, but the Ducks weren't the only ones who didn't take a flier on him.

So, how would things have worked out if the Ducks got into the John Moore business? Well, for one thing, it would have helped our Hockey's Future cred. Moore is currently listed as the 36th best prospect on their Top 50. Holland, whom the Ducks drafted instead, isn't on their board due to a slow start this season, though the team does have Luca Sbisa at 25 and Duck-draftee-turned-Penguin Eric Tangradi at 30.

If you don't care what Hockey's Future thinks, then you should know that John Moore is just a really good defenseman. Maybe his career would have panned out differently on the Ducks. Maybe he would have attended Colorado College, where he was committed last Fall. It's kind of irrelevant when you consider the fact that he signed a pro contract with Columbus, narrowly missed the cut, then put up these numbers with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL:

-Regular Season

GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SHG
61 10 37 47 -5 53 6 0
-Playoffs

GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SHG
20 4 12 16 3 2 2 0

He was the team's point leader on the blueline and second to defenseman Ryan Murphy's 17 points in the playoffs. For those that believe the OHL's a better judge of talent than the NCAA-- and there are a lot of you bastards --this would seem to prove Moore's inherent worth and make him a steal at 21. He would have been a solid pick and asset, even if the Ducks felt comfortable with their blueline depth in the cupboard.

The 2009 Free Agency Market

Okay, on to our free agency targets. My forward was Koivu, and I wanted us to take a shot at Jay McKee, thinking he'd take a discount after being bought out by St. Louis. Daniel's forward was Martin Havlat, and he wanted to see former Ducks' first-rounder and Minnesota Golden Gopher Jordan Leopold again. We braced ourselves for the worst with Beauchemin, and we both were willing to throw Shane O'Brien a dollar.

We won't go over Koivu, but Jay McKee indeed took a paycut down to 800K to play with Pittsburgh. We probably would have had to pay him more, and numbers in the East (and on Pittsburgh) don't translate to the Ducks, but here's what he could have potentially delivered on a discount:

GP G A PTS +/- PIM S TOI/G Hits GvA TkA BlkF
62 1 9 10 6 54 42 15:26 59 10 4 95

Martin Havlat was probably priced out of our range (6 years/30M for Minnesota), but here's how his season shook out in terms of basic statistics:

GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH GW OT S S% TOI/G Sft/G FO%
73 18 36 54 -19 34 4 0 3 1 169 10.7 17:55 21.5 50

Jordan Leopold signed with Florida at 1.75M and reportedly turned down multi-year offers elsewhere. After the trade deadline, however, he found himself in a Penguins sweater. In addition to the stats below, Leopold had 102 total blocked shots for on both teams and 2 overtime game winners for Pittsburgh.

-Florida

GP G A PTS +/- PIM S TOI/G Hits GvA TkA Sft/G
61 7 11 18 -7 54 69 22:25 59 25 14 27.4
-Pittsburgh

GP G A PTS +/- PIM S TOI/G Hits GvA TkA Sft/G
20 4 4 8 5 6 26 20:26 9 4 2 25.3

And finally, Sugar Shane O'Brien took some supplementary Canucks discipline when his after-hours activity affected his work, but he ultimately charged Vancouver 1.6M to do the following:

GP G A PTS +/- PIM S TOI/G Hits GvA TkA Sft/G BlkF
65 65 6 8 15 79 37 17:00 112 24 10 22 41

Conclusion

So there you have it. A quick review of who we liked going into the Draft and Free Agency and how their seasons panned out. When all was said and done, we ended up with Peter Holland, Saku Koivu and Nick Boynton. Holland was probably the most offense available at 15th, but his "will he ever put it all together" status arguably reared its ugly head this season until he found the right line chemistry. Saku Koivu worked out, obviously. Nick Boynton had trouble coming off the scratch list and just couldn't turn himself into an asset, not an asset worth more than future considerations at least.

For the record, I was optimistic about Boynton when we signed him, but only because I assumed a rookie would make the team and take his place early in the season. If I could be guaranteed otherwise at the time, I said the money would have been better spent on Andrew Alberts or Greg Zanon.