Off the Podcast 16: Central Division Shake Up

Thomas and Pat host in a new location.

Thomas and Pat talk about some of the trades before round 1 of the draft (2:00)

The P.K. Trade (6:47).

Focus on central division free agency moves (16:50).

Phil Kessel and his hot dog obsession/ live podcast?? ( 34:52)

Top 10 remaining free agents (39:00)


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Solving Nashville’s​ Kyle Turris Problem

by Thomas Sarver

The lack of solid depth at center became apparent in the 2017 Stanley Cup finals after Ryan Johansen went down with an injury during the end of conference finals against Anaheim. The long term issue with Nashville once again came to haunt the team but this time the stakes were much larger than ever before.

The immediate solution? Sign centreman Nick Bonino who was one of the best third line centers in the league and hope he can manage as a decent second liner. Well, that didn’t work out as the team hoped it would so Nashville participated in a three-team blockbuster trade that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville. Turris looked the part of second line center and put up really nice numbers before disappearing once the playoffs started.

But once the next season starts he will be able to regain that tremendous form, right? Wrong. Injuries ended up plaguing him nearly half of his season, and whenever Turris was on the ice and healthy he looked like the opposite of a game-changing player. So, what changed?

During Turris’ first year with the team, it was very obvious that he had a preference in shooting location on the ice which is normal for veteran players. Turris shot nearly half of his shots in area where the faceoff circles and mid-high slot meet. In that area, he scored 11 of his 16 goals. He was also able to provide 29 assists in that season and while it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly on the ice he was for those assists, it’s unlikely that the amount of time spent in that high danger area was a nonfactor.

Then, starting in the playoffs in 2018 and carrying into the most recent season, Turris’ approach changed. Turris’ shots per game dropped from 1.8 to 1.4 per game which may not seem like a big difference but in addition to that, his preferred shooting spot changed, as did his goal totals and not for the better. Turris went from scoring 70% of his goals from that slot area where he shot 45% of his shots from to shooting 33% of his shots from there and only scoring 33% of the time when he shot from there. Instead of shooting more times in that high danger area, Turris instead shot less often and when he did shoot, his shots were from terrible angels coming from the far side of the faceoff circle. This issue was very similar to an article I wrote about Kevin Fiala earlier on in the season.

So now that has been addressed, a lot of fans have been very pushy to trading him, especially with the recent success Turris had while captaining team Canada.

Turris finished the tournament as a point a game player, and due to that his trade value is probably the highest it has been in the past year. That being said, however, his contract might as well have a no-movement clause as it would be hard to convince a team to commit to that deal. So, I started thinking, what if trading Turris is not the answer? What if the Preds traded for one of the two players he played within the tournament instead? After all, coming off a tournament in which he captained one of the best national teams in the world would do a lot for the confidence. Add onto that by including one of the players he played well with and it could be enough to break the cycle of extremely mediocre play that Turris has shown.

So, who did Turris play with? Anthony Mantha and Jared McCann. While Mantha would be the ideal player, it would be a lot easier to acquire Jared McCann. But we will start with Mantha who is the player who is without a doubt more fun.

Anthony Mantha who is a former first-round pick for Detroit has proven to have a nose for putting the puck in the net as he has scored 49 goals in the past two seasons. To add to that scoring ability, Mantha has good size at 6’5” and 225 pounds. A player like this who also can play on either wing would not be the cheapest thing in the world but be physical enough to open up opportunities for Turris as he can drive to the net and create the space for Turris to move in. While playing on the same line as Turris in the worlds, Mantha had seven goals and seven assists in 14 games

Now for the fun part, figuring out Mantha’s trade value. Usually, Detroit could be bullied when Ken Holland was the GM since he had signed terrible long-term contracts for old talent but that is not the case anymore, Steve Yzerman has taken over and in case you need a little note of what he can do with a team. He made Tampa Bay the contender they are today, so he is not a dumb guy by any stretch of the imagination. Nashville could probably lower the price on Mantha by agreeing to take on the last year of Johan Franzen’s contract which is currently occupying around 4 mil from Detroit’s cap, but even then, the Preds would have to sign Mantha to a big raise next year.

Now for McCann, another former first-round pick. McCann would be incredibly cheaper than Mantha, but you get what you pay for. McCann really isn’t anything special but something he did was working for Canada, whether it’s his brain or two-way ability. Don’t let his 5 points in 10 games fool you either, after all, he has taken a step forward in production at a consistent manner each season and after being traded to the Penguins, he was producing at .53 points per game rate. It would not be incredibly crazy for McCann to breakout next year have 40-50 points.

As for trade value, McCann is easier to gauge give how he is on his third team in four seasons. Every time he has been traded, McCann has not been the focal point of the trade, he has been the sweetener, so I doubt that he would cost more than a 3rd or a 4th round pick but I mean, as long as he performs better than Wayne Simmonds I don’t think Preds fans will mind terribly. McCann’s contract is also running out though but where Mantha will probably make anywhere from 5-8 mil a year, McCann will probably earn a much more modest 2 mill a year, making him an extremely attractive opportunity. Also given Pittsburgh’s efforts to create cap space, the Preds could take on a bad contract to make the trade value even cheaper.

Lastly, where does that leave Turris’ current linemates? Smith, Granlund, and Járnkrok are still going to be on the team of course, and I think Smith stays on the second line. But a whole separate article can be written about the state of the second line, so I will do that.

Off the Podcast 13: PK or Weber?

Thomas and Patrick talk about who won the blockbuster trade a couple of years ago.

Check out Thomas’s latest article here.

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Why the Preds Powerplay isn’t​ all that powerful

by Thomas Sarver

The Nashville Predators powerplay has been beyond just a simple disappointment. It’s been the beginning, middle, and end to the Predators problems this year…unless we are talking about injuries…. but we are not.

Tied for the last place, this powerplay unit is just a shadow of what it was last year when they ranked sixth in the league, and to make things worse, the Preds have the third most power plays in the league with 177. To have that many opportunities on the man advantage and not be able to have more than a 13% success rate is more than enough to end a season early.

When you factor in that the league average powerplay percentage is 20.3 percent and then compare that to the 13.0% that Nashville has, it is absolutely crushing. In a scenario where the Nashville Predators, you know, the reigning Presidents trophy winners, and Stanley Cup contending team, had a league average powerplay. In that situation, the Preds would have a whopping 35 goals on the powerplay, instead of the 23 they actually have.

So, what’s the cause of the anchor that’s holding this team back from pure dominance?

Let’s start by looking at the units and break them down from there

Unit one:

LW Forsberg
C Johansen
RW Arvidsson
LD Josi
RD Smith

So, first things first, the JOFA line as the number one unit is a must. That line is simply too deadly when playing at even strength to not keep together when there is a powerplay. Now, after we have addressed the obvious thing about this line, the next glaring thing about this unit is that Smith is the fourth skater rather than a defenseman.

That’s normal for more offensive teams, to include a fourth forward and only have one defenseman but for most teams who deploy this tactic, you’ll see them load a player with a cannon of a shot on the blueline, a player like Ovechkin, Stamkos, or someone along those lines. Smith is not that. He is more of a player with a strong wrist shot instead of a real hard slap shot.

As you may notice when I get to unit two, Ellis is not on a powerplay unit at all, and to be honest, he would be a much better fit for Smith’s spot, Ellis has the strong shot, the puck management skills, and the passing to be a real quarterback on this powerplay…. But Smith is cool too I guess…

Unit two:

LW Sissons
C Bonino
RW Fiala
LD Ekholm
RD Subban

Ah, back to the good ole three forward and two d-men powerplay, the classic. The whole forward group is a little rough, I like Fiala but not with this supporting cast. I get Bonino’s placement due to Turris’ injury, but I think I’d rather see Sissons down the middle, and either Járnkrok or Hartman on the other wing instead of having Bonino there. I also really think that this is a unit it the main area that could really get a boost from a player acquired in a trade, so keep an eye out for a top 6 winger to possibly come in to help.

Other than that, an in-house option that would be interesting on the second unit is Rocco Grimaldi, his point totals are not all that great, but his on-ice impact is a major building block that may end in him being somewhat of a poor man’s Arvidsson, and that would be great for the powerplay.
Outside of the unit, I think the main problem is that the Preds Powerplay is stagnate. Meaning in last year’s powerplay we saw players shooting from more areas on the ice, especially in or near the faceoff circle this year which is really limiting scoring opportunities.

For example, during the most recent game against Dallas, P.K. Subban did not push into the faceoff circle area when given the opportunity. Even though the closest player was on the other side of the zone, P.K. sat near the blue line. This push forward would’ve opened up a much higher scoring chance and wouldn’t have compromised him defensively because all four of the Dallas Defenders were focused in on Ekholm and Fiala which stretched the players but condensed them into the right side of the zone.

I believe that is the main problem with the Preds powerplay, we can throw in how the players don’t seem ready for passes they receive as well, but the lack of awareness and desire to take advantage of free space on the ice is the real thing that is holding this powerplay back. I wouldn’t expect this unit to change with the roster as is, however, so the best we can hope for is that Eeli Tolvanen will be able to step in and give this unit a jumpstart.

Biggest Draft Steals in Preds History

by Thomas Sarver

If you follow the entire NHL, you may have noticed how much conversation is revolving around Edmonton.

The Oilers who are consistently disappointments decided to cut ties with GM Peter Chiarelli and in light of that some of his more…questionable moves have come to light.

Situations like these make it really easy for fans to be grateful when their team has a solid GM making choices. Even though trades are important, they can backfire in heartbeat, like when you trade both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Solid drafting is what makes a Championship contending team though, and not just in the first round though, you need to do well through the entire draft.

So, with that, here are the top five most impactful players that the Preds have snagged in the late rounds of the draft.

1 Pekka Rinne

During the 2004 NHL Entry draft, The Nashville Predators changed the course of the franchise when they picked Pekka Rinne in the eighth round. Not much needs to be said here, Pekka has carved out one amazing career filled with acrobatic saves, a Vezina trophy, and almost every single team career record for goaltending.

It’s even more amazing when you were able to get that type of player in the eighth round of the draft. Your team has to be blessed by the hockey gods in order to get a franchise cornerstone that late in the draft.

To prove my point, Rinne has been the only player to actually succeed at this draft position, and the player with the second most games is Dmitry Bykov, who was draft by Detroit and had a long career of 71 games, so Pekka has done more than simply outperform his peers who were also taken 258th.  (hot take, number 35 will be the first number that hangs in Bridgestone’s rafters)

(Rank at that Draft position in Wins= 1st)

2 Martin Erat

Martin Erat, the former fan favorite who consistently ranked highly on the team in scoring was a former 7th round draft pick in 1999. He finished his career with 545 points, and 481 of those came with Nashville.

But even though things were looking well for Erat in the music city, things changed quickly and Erat demanded a trade in 2013. Erat was then traded to the Washington Capital’s because he wanted to be on a winning team. The feeling of betrayal that the Nashville fans were feeling quickly turned into overwhelming joy when we got Super Swede, Filip Forsberg out of it.

So as far as late draft picks who turned into steals, Erat gets bonus points for one, being a draft steal and two, being part of one of, if not the, most one-sided trades in NHL history.

(Rank at that Draft position in points= 1st)

3 Patric Hornqvist

One of the most relevant Mr. Irrelevant’s in NHL history, Patric Hornqvist formed a large part of Nashville’s identity while he was on the team due to his physically and offensively game-changing play.

Due to that ability, Hornqvist has carved out a nice little niche for himself as one of the most consistent players in the league with his point production staying between 43 and 53 points a season (minus his first season and the lockout season). Despite only playing one full season in his long career, his 684 NHL games rank second among players drafted at that position.

Who is he behind? Former Nashville Predator Karlis Skrastins. Karlis, who retired after playing in 832 games also found a role for him to stay in the league. Unfortunately for the 1998 draft pick, Hornqvist’s 437 career points are 301 more than his, and even though Karlis holds the spot for most games played,

it won’t be long before Hornqvist fully takes over as the best player to be drafted at that position. Overall, not bad for someone who was the last pick in the Draft.  

Similarly, to Erat, Hornqvist gets some bonus points added to this because of how his value on the trade market landed Nashville it’s first Elite Scorer since Paul Kariya when James Neal was acquired from Pittsburgh. That move was ultimately one of the first moves that truly ushered in this new era of Predators hockey, and for that, we thank you, Patric.

(Rank at that Draft position in points= 1st)

4 Mattias Ekholm

When I started on this list, part of my brain tried to tell me that Ekholm was a former first-round pick, and given how he has developed, that’s pretty believable.

It is also very false, Ekholm was draft in the 4th round of the 2009 Entry Draft. Ekholm had kind of a late start to his career and didn’t earn a spot on the Preds blue line permanently until the 2013-2014 season when he was 23 and even then, it was a rough season.

After that season, however, we really saw more and more of what he would turn into. And what he turned into was one of the key pieces of the best defensive unit in the league. A player who has played in 98.95% of games since the 2014-2015 NHL season. Ekholm’s been known for being a more defensive defenseman in his career until this season.

Matthias has already smashed his career high in points (37 on the season) and he has 31 more games to continue to add on to that. This list is filled with players who have exceeded expectations, but Ekholm has been downright amazing the past four seasons.

(Rank at that Draft position in points=1st)

5 Viktor Arvidsson

Before I get eaten alive in the comments for listing Arvidsson below Ekholm, hear me out. Despite Arvidsson being the most electrifying player to dawn the Nashville Jersey (sorry P.K. but you can’t win everything), that alone is not enough to put him above Ekholm.

He also just does not have the sample size to rank him above Ekholm. Arvidsson is a phenomenal player, however, his combination of speed, scoring ability, and well, his lack of care for how big the players he hits are, has made him a fan favorite in Nashville.

That in addition to the fact that he has possibly the highest motor in the history of sports is what led to his seven-year extension with the Preds. If Arvidsson is able to consistently score like he has the past two seasons (122 points in 158 games) then not only will he be listed above Ekholm, he will be rivaling Pekka Rinne. Rivaling though, not beating.

Pekka Rinne will always be the greatest steal in franchise history.

(Rank at that Draft position in points=2nd)

Honorable mentions Jusse Saros, Craig smith

This list alone is enough to show how much David Poile has brought to the city of Nashville via drafting. Everyone knows his knack for completely fleecing teams in trades, but it his drafting that has really brought the continued success that the Preds have enjoyed, and if this ship stays the course, then we can expect a lot championship caliber teams to call Nashville home.

What even is Corsi…or Fenwick?

Corsi and Fenwick…  two of the most used stats across many articles, but also two of the hardest to figure out. So here at Off the Pipe, we decided to explain it using English.

I know what you’re thinking. Reading about stats can be boring. This article is NOT boring. No worries. But for all you visual learners we have included video links at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

We are the best fans in the NHL. Now let’s also be the smartest.

So what is Corsi?

Usually, when you hear the word Corsi, you also hear the word possession. Fenwick is usually right there with them, but we will get to that later.

The reason you see Corsi and possession mentioned together is because Corsi is the use of total shot attempts to show who had more possession because in most cases, the team who has the puck more also shoots more. This takes into account Shots on target, missed shots, and blocked shots.

The beautiful thing about Corsi, and is it can be used for a teams total possession or a singular player. Usually, the statistic is presented as a percentage usually somewhere between (below average)45-55%(elite).

To put it simply, a player whose Corsi is 50% is a player who doesn’t out posses but also does not get out possessed. Meaning if the other team has ten shot attempts while he is on the ice, that players team will also have around ten shots.

Corsi can get even more intense because it can be separated into four separate categories which are Corsi close, Corsi ahead, Corsi even and Corsi behind. Thats not really the focus here however.

Corsi’s cousin, Fenwick is a much easier thing to explain once you know what Corsi is. the only difference between Fenwick and Corsi is that Fenwick ignores blocked shots. With that information, it is easy to ask why even use Fenwick if it is that close to Corsi? The answer to that is for one purpose really… It allows teams to focus in on actual scoring chances in a game, but longterm uses are very limited.

Advanced stats are a very commonly used tool for gauging a player or a team’s performance, but they don’t read easy so hopefully, this take on Corsi will help you read stats easier, and maybe even bail your former favorite player out of the fanbases doghouse…….cough cough Kevin Fiala


Here are some helpful links for your viewing pleasure!

https://youtu.be/oyLWC-VxBB0

Off the Street: Stanley Cup: Round 2 Game 7 2018

Off the Street: Stanley Cup – Round 2 Game 7 2018

 

Landon from offthepipehockey.com asks fans the tough questions during Game 7!

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