Monday, November 28, 2005

Bryzgalov playing Giguere out of a job?

I think that J.S. Giguere is feeling a lot better today than he did yesterday morning. I'm guessing that, come Wednesday, Giguere will tell the team that he's ready to play even if he's not 100%. Why do I think this? Two words: Ilya Bryzgalov.

Right now, Bryzgalov is taking Giguere's job away from him. Ilya has been fantastic in net for the Mighty Ducks in Giguere's absence, and with Brian Burke looking to shed payroll and increase flexibility/options under the cap I could easily see Giguere being traded to the first team that wants him. Take a look at the following stats and tell me which are Giguere's and which are Bryzgalov's:

Player #1) 15 games played - six wins, seven losses, 2.49 GAA & .915 sv %
Player #2) 14 games played - four wins, eight losses, 2.62 GAA & .913 sv %

If you said that Giguere is player #1 and Bryzgalov is player #2, you're correct! Now, while the numbers favor Giguere across the board, consider this. If Bryzgalov is to play on Wednesday, and he wins the game allowing two goals or less in the process, than he and Giguere will both have played 15 games and allowed 33 goals. Giguere will have played for about 30 minutes more than Brygalov on the season, but for the most part their ice time will be even.

Now consider these numbers:

Giguere - $3.990 million this season
Bryzgalov - $456,000 this season

Now, if you're Brian Burke and you have two goalies playing almost identically for you, but one makes $3.5 million LESS than the other one, which one would you keep?

This is not to say that I WANT Giguere to be traded, not at all. However, I will not be surprised if he is. If the Ducks can save another $3.5 million to spend on offense, which they desperately need, then I say do it. Bryzgalov is proving that he's ready to be a #1 goalie and since this is a season that is being used to build for the future, why not let him start as many games as possible by trading Giguere for the best players you can get?

I think one thing is for sure...Giguere knows that he is not safe with Burke callling the shots and he will be champing at the bit to get back on the ice and secure his job. Giguere has played very well this season, as has Bryzgalov, but he has to prove that he's the clear cut #1 goalie or else he could be calling some other city home before the end of the season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fedorov traded to Blue Jackets for scrubs - why that's good!

Yesterday, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim traded Sergei Fedorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Tyler Wright and Francois Beauchemin. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. The Ducks also sent Columbus a fifth round draft pick in the 2006 NHL draft.

The immediate reaction to this trade is - "What the hell? Why would they do that? Are you sure this wasn't a trade for FEDOR Fedorov?" But then, you look at it and it begins to make sense. Here's why.

The Ducks are not doing very well right now. They are in last place in the Pacific Division and they are having a hard time scoring goals. In addition, the team was at $38.1 million of salary with extremely little room to operate under the salary cap. If/when a major injury occured, the Ducks would have very little chance to make a move to fill the void.

At the same time, Sergei is about to turn 36, makes $6.08 million this season, and in 2006-07, and in 2007-08. Right now, he's not worth the money he's making. In two years...he'll REALLY be overpaid. Plus, having a guy make that kind of money in the new salary-cap NHL prohibits you from making other moves. With Scott Niedermayer also making over $6 million, and with Giguere making $4 just can't have $16 million of your $39 million invested in three players and expect to have any depth. Plus, those three players had better carry your team on their backs to a LOT of wins, and that wasn't happening.

By making this trade, Ducks GM Brian Burke has given himself options. Not only for this season, but for next season and the season after that. He got back about $1.5 million in salary in Wright and Beauchemin, and those guys are under contract through next season. That gives Burke about $4.5 million to play with this season, another $4.5 million to play with next season and a full $6 million to play with in 2007-08! What he does with that money will be the key.

Let's look at what he could do with that money. First of all, let's take a look at the players on the Ducks right now that, if you add their salaries together, are making less than what Sergei made by himself. Jonathan Hedstrom, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Joffrey Lupul, Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald, Todd Fedoruk, Travis Moen and Jason Marshall. Those nine players combine to make $5.98 million this year and have already produced 33 goals and 38 assists. Also, unlike Fedorov who can suffer one injury and leave the Ducks with $6 million in the press box, those players provide valuable depth.

Now, Burke can add two, three or even four players to the team with the money that he would have been giving to Fedorov. And, to be honest, Fedorov was not one of the best players in the league anymore. He is still a good player, but he's not the kind of guy that can take over a game and for $6 million that's what we would be looking for.

I have confidence that Burke will use that money wisely and that he will use it soon. Here is what he had to say about his plans for the money he saved and when he plans on using it:
"(This trade) gives us cap room to add a player. Whether we do that immediately, or reinvest that later in the season, it gives us cap room going out beyond the end of the season and as far as moves in the offseason."
"We intend to re-invest this money too. The Samuelis have been clear on that. We intend to spend at our near the cap, plus an adequate reserve for injuries, so we intend to reinvest this money as well. This isn’t about saving money, it’s about spending it elsewhere, or spending it in a different direction."
"I think when you’re reshaping a team and making a major move, I think if you can do more than one thing quickly, it’s better. If you’re trying to bring new people in, bring in three or four or five new guys in a seven to ten day period is preferable than bringing them in over a sixty day period."

Taking those comments into consideration, I would expect more moves to be made within the next two weeks and, unlike this deal, I would expect the Mighty Ducks to be adding salary and talent instead of losing it. We'll see what happens. I will give you a final verdict on this trade once we see how Burke spends the $4.5 million. For now, though, I like it and I like the options we have to improve the team.

Say this for Brian Burke, he's a stand-up kind of guy. He's going to be taking questions from the fans on at 2pm PT today to answer their concerns about the trade and the team. It's a rough day to be GM, but he's not interested in being popular, just in being successful.