Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anaheim Makes The Stanley Cup Finals

With a 4-3 victory over Detroit last night, the Anaheim Ducks made the Stanley Cup finals. They won their semi-final series by a four games to two margin. They will face the Ottawa Senators.

I have been attacked by many commenters for saying that Ottawa is not an elite team and would make a weak Stanley Cup champion. I am using two necessary but not sufficient conditions for a team to be elite in making that judgement. An elite team must have a top goalie and an elite team must have several players who are having Hall of Fame careers. How does Anaheim stand up by those standards?

Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a top goalie. He has already won the Conn Smythe Trophy in his career (in 2003) and he should have played in the All Star Game this season were he not injured. He is not the best goalie in the NHL, but he is good enough to be called a top goalie. In fact, Anaheim has the best two goalie system in the NHL with Ilya Bryzgalov backing up Giguere (although that is likely a trivial point since most likely Anaheim will only use one goalie in the finals).

As for having several players who are having Hall of Fame calibre careers, they have three who deserve induction should their careers end today in Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Likely that is an exhaustive list of Hall of Fame tracked players on the Ducks. The most likely next candidate is probably Giguere, who will need a couple Vezina calibre seasons for further consideration.

Does that make Anaheim an elite team? No. Not necessarily. The conditions I am using to judge them are necessary but not sufficient. For a team to be elite they must have elite players. Elite players are players who make the Hall of Fame. They must also have a very good goalie. It is not necessary that he be Hall of Fame calibre (though that helps), but he cannot be too far off of a Hall of Fame track career. Elite teams have some good players and those players play well together. It is certainly not enough to put together a random list of elite players and you are guaranteed an elite team (this obvious point is one some commenters feel the need to point out when they attempt to argue with me despite the fact I clearly agree with it). It depends on the success of those players together and on the contribution of the rest of the team. That said, Anaheim is the only team in the NHL that has a shot at being an elite team this year.

The big test is can they play well enough to win the Stanley Cup. In a couple weeks we will know the answer to it.

How does the rest of the team stand up? Does it look like it could be elite? On defence they rely strongly on three guys (Pronger, Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin). While this is not an ideal situation, as long as they are capable of playing the bulk of the ice time it can work. It is a problem if injury or suspension depletes this big three. Their depth defencemen are rather lacklustre including the likes of Joe DiPenta and Kent Huskins. Their forward unit is pretty deep. In Sami Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Todd Marchant they have a group of three defensive forwards that is better than any other any team currently has in the NHL. They have a line of good young kids in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner who are solid contributors and should have long successful NHL careers. They have a couple more players who have been very valuable in Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz, who were picked off of scrap heaps but turned out to be good players. This team has the talent that it could be an elite one. There is one more test it must pass (Ottawa) to cement that status.

In an NHL built for parity as long as the salary cap remains low enough to be affordable for all, how could such a team be built? Basically, it was built through the genius of Brian Burke. Burke is a man who has proven himself to be the best general manager in the NHL. Getting rid of him was a huge Vancouver mistake and grabbing him was the best thing Anaheim could do.

Is Anaheim proof that you can build an elite team in the NHL with the current CBA? Probably. Does this mean we will see more elite teams and not get stuck watching Carolina vs. Edmonton Stanley Cup finals? No. It doesn't mean that. However, as the salary cap rises and more and more good young players become available to be bought through free agency we will likely soon develop another route to build an elite team. Buy it. In the right market that is far easier than building it the old fashioned way that Burke seems to have done. However, we see that it is possible with a good enough GM and a good enough minor system and past draft record. The elite team may not be a thing of the past. We may even have one this year.

Preds sold to Canadian CEO
Well, for a "non-elite" team, the Ducks come as close to it as any team filled with Hall of Famers. No other team has won more playoff games since 2003, and for three of the last four seasons (excluding the lockout year) the Ducks have gone to the WCFs and have gone to the SCFs twice in the last five seasons.

If the Ducks can afford to resign Jiggy this summer and Teemu decides to play one more year and also resigns with the Ducks, the core of the team will remain in tact. The PPG line can only get better. The Ducks could very well be Stanley Cup contenders for the next couple of years too.
I can't believe you said "get stuck watching [another] Carolina vs. Edmonton Stanley Cup finals".

Apart from Game 5, I found the series to be highly entertaining. Plus, it was exciting to see Rod & Glenn Wesley finally win a Cup.
Have you ever considered creating an e-book or guest
authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you
discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.
I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you are even
remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

Feel free to visit my web site ... bankruptcy laws in florida
Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text
in your content seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.
I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know.

The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon.
Many thanks

Visit my web site: acoustic guitar chord
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?