James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Skimping on D

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


It has been a while since the NHL schedule makers sandwiched a scant amount of games in between a ton of them. It almost feels nostalgic.

During normal seasons, it’s not that unusual to see what we’ve seen in the last three days: 10 games on Sunday, just two on Monday and then 11 on Tuesday.

Squeezing more games into less time has changed that, but it reminds me of normal seasons where Tuesdays,, Thursdays and Saturdays often represented the evenings where you had to make tough bench vs. start decisions while Monday and Wednesday were the light nights and Friday were wildcards.

The ebbs and flows of each week present some interesting strategies, particularly during this condensed schedule.

SKIMPING ON D

In one league, I decided that carrying four defensemen with a very limited amount of roster space was just a bad numbers move. Why not load up on forwards (and grab as many goalies as needed) who rack up more useful numbers, instead? Simply put, I feel like there is so much more value in mid-level forwards than there is in run-of-the-mill defensemen.

As far as I can tell, it’s working out so far, but I’d love to find out if it’s really worth it in a season-in, season-out kind of way. I’ve used that strategy even when it wasn’t as safe of a choice and I think it has worked out, yet I’d like to know if it’s really true.

If you’re the number-crunching type, feel free to let me know if it makes statistical sense to replace a middling defenseman with a medium-level forward. Even if you’re statistically averse, I’d love to find out if you’ve also employed that strategy yourself. With those possibilities in mind, drop me a line on Twitter or via e-mail detailing your thoughts, numbers or experiences regarding the idea of rolling the dice with a move that looks strange but can give you an important edge.

(Maybe.)

GETTING GETZLAF

Because of that aforementioned imbalanced schedule, it makes sense to discuss one of the weekend’s biggest stories today, instead: the Anaheim Ducks locked up Ryan Getzlaf to an eight-year, $66 million contract extension.

His $8.25 million cap hit ties with Eric Staal for fourth overall in the NHL, but the most important factor is that he has a no-movement clause that immediately registers. That means you won’t have to worry about him being traded if the Ducks hit a big wall heading toward the trade deadline.

There are plenty of interesting things to consider, including Getzlaf’s motivation. Is he going to produce the same great work now that he doesn’t have his financial future hanging in the balance? The big, talented forward has been known for hot-and-cold streaks, so it’s not a crazy question.

PONDERING PERRY

Still, it’s natural to think of what becomes the bigger question: what does this mean for his partner-in-crime Corey Perry? The Ducks are known for being a low-to-mid level budget team, so if the trend of the two power forwards getting paid the same amount continues,* can they really afford $16.5 million per year between the two of them? (And considering Perry’s Hart Trophy bragging rights, one might argue he’s worth even more than Getzlaf.)

Then again, at least the Ducks and Perry have an obvious figure - and parallel contract - to point to.

It’s easy to look at the Ducks’ success and think that they will be fine without Perry, but consider the context. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are nearing the end of their careers, if not participating in their final seasons. In many cases, other players are reaping the rewards of playing aside the duo. Beyond Bobby Ryan, there simply isn’t anyone else on the team in Perry and Getzlaf’s zip code.

One way or another, Perry’s situation could make for an intriguing trade deadline storyline. Aside from Jarome Iginla’s mysterious future, there aren’t many great hypotheticals for fans to ponder, so imagining the polarizing (but gifted) forward in other climes could be an enjoyable way to pass the time.

Follow the jump for more.

* Both register a cap hit of $5.325 million on their soon-to-expire second deals.


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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than two years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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