X | Day 8 | Monday @ 8 AM EST
#NSHLKyper on the Gaudreau Deal
Tuesday, November 14th
GAUDREAU DEAL BETTER WORK FOR CALGARY
"Draft schmaft." Where have I heard that one before?
Who needs future draft picks? Prospects? The Flames need to win NOW.
The question is: is Johnny "Hockey" the answer to get the Calgary Flames respectable and into the post-season? You know what, in my opinion he very well could be.
After losing Nicklas Backstrom in free agency, the Flames re-grouped and used what assets they had to go into "win now" mode and find a top line forward. Well, they couldn't have done much better than a 23 year-old stud like Gaudreau. Combine him with the addition of Drew Doughty thanks to "Expansion by Contraction" this off-season and Calgary could really be on to something.
Of course, like any other team it could all go to waste really quickly and we may be sitting here a year from now having finished "Expansion by Bankruptcy" in at least one western Canadian city.
A new-ish GM asked me today if I thought the Gaudreau deal, combined with the start of the pre-season would open the door to a flood of other moves. While I think there are teams out there looking to fill gaps they either missed out on in free agency, or they're seeing weaknesses in the armour they had not noticed before, I think GMs will wait it out for the most part.
Look, any player that was signed this off-season cannot be traded until after Opening Day Waivers. That's a fact. That takes a bunch of assets off the table.
GMs are now in the process of sending players for conditioning in Training Camp. Using up those valuable TC points takes a whole other load of players off the potential market as its very rare a GM wants to use their points only to deal the player a week later.
Add to that Opening Day Waivers themselves. Everyone 25 or older that teams want on the farm have to clear waivers. For some teams that means a bit of roster juggling to try and "protect" certain assets.
So what good is an "NSHL Insider" if they have no inside scoop?
Fine. Point taken. Here's your "insider information":
The expansion Los Angeles Kings have realized after two games that the Hutchinson-Markstrom duo between the pipes will be a big area of weakness for them this season. While it is still really early, I'm hearing reports that they've sent out feelers to a few teams, with Corey Crawford's name popping up out of Quebec as a prime candidate to be moving to Hollywood. The three year deal Marc-Andre Fleury signed this off-season makes him the man of the future in Quebec, while Crawford's expiring contract make him an interesting target for the Kings.
While they've only played one game, defensive troubles once again seem to be haunting the San Jose Sharks with Brayden McNabb and Brent Seabrook both putting up minus performances in Game #1. According to a few of my sources, the Sharks actively pursued a number of defensemen in free agency, including Alexander Edler and Torey Krug who both ended up in Toronto. A name that keeps popping up in relation to the Sharks as well is Chicago's Keaton Ellerby who will soon be the odd man out once Rasmus Ristolainen makes the jump.
Finally, it's about that time of year again where a team is unhappy with Jordan Staal and his name runs around the rumour mill. Here we are again, this time the Detroit Red Wings have been faxing teams to see if anyone's interested in the 28 year-old's services. I'm hearing the Montreal Canadiens kicked the tires and made an informal offer that included Dwight King and a pick heading to Hockeytown. Not sure what the Red Wings' response was to be exact, but I wouldn't put those talks to bed just yet.
Me however, bed is exactly where I'm headed. G'night!
Pre-Season Set to Kick-Off Monday
Last off-season the NSHL took its talents to Vegas in a unique pre-season tournament which gave teams an opportunity to mix and match their lines, test out their off-season changes and still focus on a competition. No more boring pre-season schedule of meaningless games, just like MLB's All-Star Game for a 10 year (?) stretch, now it counts.
"X" is set to commence on Monday morning with Day 1 action. The tournament will feature an 8 game inner-division round-robin, followed by a single-elimination knockout round where the top four teams in each division will take part.
That's at least 8 games per team and at least 4 home games, which is a guaranteed $1M per game gate revenue ($250,000 per game in the MSHL).
Teams are asked to submit their lines over the weekend. Details on how to submit Training Camp points will follow, as will details on what the incentive winnings are for "X" champions!
#NSHLJerseys 4 Sale
Wednesday, October 25th
League Set to Introduce New Revenue Stream for #NSHL17
After months of speculation, the league finally unveiled plans to dip into jersey sales as a new form of revenue that's open to all twenty franchises. On Wednesday, the Commissioner spoke at a press conference about the potential new income source.
"We have entered into the hockey jersey market and we are extremely excited about it. All of our teams have been signed up under a new deal with Adidas that will allow them the opportunity to generate revenue off jersey sales. We think this is a terrific venture for our clubs and will help grow the game in all of our markets and even outside of our markets significantly over the next 12 months."
According to the league's plans, following the completion of the pre-season teams will be allowed to name three (3) players whose jerseys they want to market. Each of those three players will then have their jersey sales tracked and at the end of the year there will be incentives for the top teams in total sales.
How Will Jersey Sales Be Tracked?
STHS maintains a stat called "Star Power" which is based on the player's value to their team in games (using 1st, 2nd and 3rd Star nominations throughout the season). The league will take this number and multiply it by the agreed upon price for a team jersey ($150) to determine jersey sales.
Once a team has named their three (3) players at the start of the year, they may not change them.
In the event of a trade involving a player named, the team can elect to cash out then and there for the sales to date (minus a 10% early withdrawal fee), or can maintain the amount in the bank and hope to apply it to end of season incentives. The jersey sales a player makes may not be transferred to the new team as the names have already been printed.
Gretzky traded? You can take his $1M sales to date and cash in (pocketing $900k) or keep the $1M "in the bank" and hope it plus your other sales net you a bonus at the end of the year.
Captain & Alternates Bonus
If a team's Captain and or Alternates are the ones they elect to have jersey sales tracked for, a bonus is applied. 10% additional sales for their Captain and 5% additional sales for each Alternate.
Gretzky's your Captain? His $1M sales is now $1.1M.
Captains and Alternates must be maintained and recognized in the simulator throughout the year to qualify (you can't say they're your Captain for the benefit of jersey sales and then not actually name them your Captain in the sim).
Best Player Wins, No?
The "Star Power" statistic is based on game-to-game results and those 1st, 2nd and 3rd Star nominations (as we understand it from STHS). That means it's not just a statistical "points-based" category, so the player who wins the Art Ross isn't gurantee to do the best. Yes, it helps. Of course it does, people want to buy the jersey of the guys that score.
As a point of reference, the top 30 skaters and top 10 goalies based on "Star Power" from last season are listed below (with potential figures if they were named Captain or Alternates).
Yes, you will see some of the big name Award winners at or near the top, but Boston's Patrice Bergeron at number one over league MVP Tyler Seguin may surprise some folks.
#NSHLFriedge Weekend Update
Sunday, October 22nd
#NSHLFriedge on Offer-Sheets, Backstrom & the Future of UFAs
I got a call from a GM recently, and I'd like to give some background that this GM is a long-serving, fairly well respected individual who has a fairly decent record on the ice and when it comes to the financial side of things. That's important to where this story goes.
They asked me "Friedge, do these guys understand offer-sheets?"
I responded back with "Well, yeah. They're being used more this off-season than ever before. I think it's going quite well actually.."
"No. I mean do these guys understand the politics of offer-sheets?"
Over the next few minutes this GM lambasted a few offer-sheets that have been put on the table this off-season - and not for the reasons we've seen in the past. At the end of his rant, I must say, he made a lot of sense.
The main point he made was that if you're making an offer-sheet on another guy's player, and it doesn't have some kind of "stench" attached to it. Something unattractive, something that will make the other guy hestitate, even just a little, then what's the point?
"I bet if you talk to all of the GMs who have matched offer-sheets this off-season, they'll tell you the contract they agreed to was sort of ideal. Maybe not in terms of price-tag - they'll likely have hoped to get him for less. But when you're offering a guy a flat rate salary for the maximum term you can - it just helps the other guy out, y'know?"
I went out and asked two different GMs that very question. Both had matched offer-sheets this off-season and both more-or-less agreed with the sentmiment. One said "I was happy, actually. There's no No Movement Clause on there. It had no Signing Bonus to worry about. Flat rate salary. Long-term. Wasn't even a thought to let the guy walk."
The other guy? "You're putting your name on something that the other guy sees. So already you're ruffling feathers. If the contract you're offering isn't going to annoy someone, why bother? Now you've ruffled feathers and got the guy his player back. Whatever. I'm happy."
On the topic of ruffling feathers with an offer-sheet, there has been some fallout from the Calgary Flames offer-sheets signed this past week. The Flames received three offer-sheets in a single wave this week, electing to match only one for Drew Doughty who they added in the recent Expansion Draft.
The offer-sheets on Nicklas Backstrom and Vladimir Sobotka they refused to match and instead took compensation. No big deal right?
Take a look at the numbers and what the compensation exchanged was.
Backstrom made $12,000,000 for 4 years ($48 M total) which netted a 1st.
Sobotka made $4,000,000 for 3 years with $4,499,000 in signing bonus ($16,499,000 M total) which netted a 1st AND a 4th.
The guy making less money, who is the same age, earned Calgary the better compensation.
Flames GM James Lemon submitted a request for review on the formulation process to the Board of Directors which is currently being looked at as an area for improvement down the road.
I asked the Commissioner about the error and how it impacted things considering it was his Toronto Maple Leafs that tabled the offer on Backstrom.
"We've looked at the way the Compensation has been calculated and we do see a need for improvement. There's too much influence on the PA value when a signing bonus is attached which we will have addressed before next off-season."
His thoughts on Backstrom being involved?
"I submitted an offer-sheet under the system we have, knowing the compensation involved. The Penguins did the same with Sobotka. The Flames although not happy about it, took the compensation for both players. These are all agreed to terms. Calgary has been professional through this process and has gone about it the right way to seek future improvement. We'll work to iron out the wrinkles as soon as we can."
The Board says the NSHLPA Value formulas haven't changed since this new "Offers Over" process was initiated last off-season. The change to allow offers to extend beyond a player turning 30 is the major change here and the fact that both Backstrom and Sobotka are 29 now has brought the flaw to light.
While I was chatting with the Commissioner he mentioned to me that another "fairly sizable" change was looming for free agency next off-season.
Apparently the Board has recently voted to approve changes to the UFA portion of free agency. Next off-season the "Offer must be 100% or more of last season's salary.." restriction that is currently in place in earlier waves will be removed.
"Starting in Wave 1 any team will be able to offer any UFA any amount they wish. We're going to let the market dictate salaries right from the opening bell."
The Commish added the Board feels this will not only get more players off the market earlier, it will allow teams to address their needs from the start, rather than potentially waiting for a player / players' asking price to come down 4 or 5 waves into the market.
"The restricted free agency / no negotiating changes we've made have proven that letting the market dictate salaries works well. Sure, some guys sign for a bargain price and that would not have been allowed under the old NSHLPA negotiation system. But that issue is on the rest of the GMs - every single GM with draft picks has a chance to bid on players that are on the market. If they choose not to, if they think the players are worth the compensation, then the market has spoken. There's no finger pointing. I think opening similar doors for unrestricted free agents will be a significant improvement."
The change will also make it easier for GMs to submit offers as they don't have to be going back and forth between last year's salaries to determine if they actually can bid on a player yet.
So what sparked this change?
A number of the rookie GMs had inquired why the league would reference "last year's salary" for UFAs, rather than NSHLPA value which is the typical reference point for free agency. This made a lot of sense and rather than have GMs inputting a player's old salary to determine their old NSHLPA value, the league scrapped referencing the past altogether.
I must say, and I know who signs my cheques around here, but I find the changes that have been made and that appear on the horizon have stepped things up a notch around here. It's more and more a "true or false" system for free agency rather than a "if this than this.." with multiple answers and a lot of opinion. I like where it's heading.
24/7 - Episode 4
Friday, October 13th
"What the f*ck are we doing guys? Seriously?"
Tampa GM Porter sits in a meeting with his senior staffers in their office at Amalie Arena. There's a lot on the table for discussion as the season has all but wound down for the organization. There are two key topics for discussion today: first and foremost where will they be playing in NSHL17? Second, what are they doing ahead of the recently confirmed Expansion Draft.
The news out of Ottawa is not good. The city is being firm on topics that are crucial to the move. A partnership deal with Porter Airlines has been nixed as the airport does not want to accommodate the increase of planes and plane storage Porter wants to tack on to the deal. The Lightning have also drafted plans to improve the parking facilities and the highways and roads to and from the arena - those plans have also been nixed.
"To be completely candid with you, this doesn't look good. We really want to work with Ottawa and bring sim hockey back to the Canadian capital. This is f*cking bullsh*t though. Not the start of relationship you want, you know? You wouldn't go on a date and have the other person turn out to be batsh*t f*cking crazy and be like "yeah cool, let's do this again?"
Porter has made inroads with other locations, some more desirable than others.
"There's always Vegas. Hahaha, speaking of batsh*t crazy, right? At least we know Marner would be safe when he gets the call up next year. He's too young to get into trouble there. Hahaha. Vegas has made a really, really attractive pitch for our move and they've got a beautiful new arena and would work out all the issues for us."
In contrast, discussion during their meeting has centred around a potential relocation to a city that could quite possibly be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
"It's a hell of a lot closer to home. Which is nice. It's not in the U.S. which is also really nice. I think it's an extremely realistic option and they'd have no problem with proposals we've made to house our organization."
The thoughts around the table are that "The Hammer" is the more realistic option. The team had already been working on all the visas required to move from Tampa to Ottawa so Hamilton falls in line with that.
"Everyone here seems confident in Hamilton. I'm going to make the call to Ottawa and tell them that we're going to back out of the deal citing the difficulties we're having with every proposal we've made to them. I'm not going to tell them what we're considering because I think they'd be really upset if they found out we are seriously thinking Hamilton over them. You know what? Call the Commish. Tell him it's Hamilton. Let Ottawa find out through him that we're out. He loves that pot stirring sh*t."
Less than 24 hours later it's unofficially announced that the Hamilton Tigers would be the new face of the Tampa franchise. A few tweets are sent out and suddenly GM Porter's blackberry lights up - it's his contact in Ottawa.
"Chris. Sorry I couldn't get a hold of you before the Commissioner's office leaked the details. I tried. Look, Hamilton is a short drive home for half the guys on the team. Your team made no effort to work with us and the team down the QEW busted their butts to accommodate us. You just didn't show us the love. It's a no from me."
The call would continue for another few minutes. The relocation team in Ottawa had come up short in their quest to bring the NSHL back and there may not be an opportunity for a few years now which definitely frustrated them.
The other main topic of the meeting Tampa was having centred around their protection options for the Expansion Draft where the league was set to introduce two franchises to replace outgoing teams from Florida and Nashville.
Word around the table is the team has plenty of forward depth, most of it doesn't require protecting as they're currently prospects and at best would be rookies next year and apparently exempt.
"I think once ratings are out and once re-rates are done we find a way to move on a top flight goalie. I don't want to keep a carousel of goalies coming in and out. I don't want to rely on free agency so we end up with another Drouin-Deslauriers situation. I want you guys looking at other teams and seeing who we can acquire and plug in between the pipes for the forseeable future."
The Lightning sketch out what their protection list would look like - although league numbers are unconfirmed at this point.
"It really depends on what some of these kids do with Wheeling in the playoffs. Sink or swim. If we can use them as assets in a deal we do it. Eichel and Marner are probably here next year and will take some jobs right out of Juniors. F*ck maybe it's Eberle who goes? We'll have to wait and see. We need the goalie. Priority number one."
A few weeks later when the ratings were released, the Tampa Bay Lightning turned Hamilton Tigers would introduce their new franchise goalie to the Hamilton media. Matt Murray had been acquired from the Detroit Red Wings.
No pressure, Matt.
Wednesday, July 26th
"We Don't Know What Went Wrong..."
Yep. The league screwed up.
Fitting, isn't it?
League can't count properly and it leads to Carolina being awarded the #NSHL17 All-Star Classic thanks to a tie-breaking league vote.
"Take off your socks and sandals Thelma! Get yer countin' done! The hockey it's a comin' our way!"
While the league takes full responsibility for the flub in counting, it bares no ownership over the way the votes were cast.
"We don't know what went wrong in the initial count.. well we do, we missed the Chicago vote. But we don't know what went wrong after that to create such a league-wide panic that the Carolina franchise has won the bid to host the event."
The 'Canes beat out the soon-to-be Pittsburgh Penguin and current Buffalo Sabre franchise who proposed an outdoor series of games. A brilliant idea. A money-making idea!
Nope. Carolina. Indoors. Rednecks.
You're all sons of b*tches for this one. You'll live to regret it - all of you. Get your mute buttons ready on the Twitter. No doubt they'll be hamming it up for ages with this win.
Board of Directors' Busy Season
Sunday, June 25th
The Annual Rulebook Cleanup
The Trade Deadline has passed menaing a number of teams slow down their efforts as we enter the stretch drive towards the playoffs. Not true if you're on the Board of Directors.
Following the deadline is the perfect time for items to be reviewed and changes to be made as no one can panic on a rule change and make franchise changing moves quickly to try and beat others to the punch.
The first such moves were announced earlier on Sunday with waiver claims becoming playoff ineligible and multiple claims now allowed via waivers. Neither one has sweeping ramifications but hopefully both improve the league as a whole.
Another change coming up for NSHL17 will be quite a bit more impactful as the Board agreed to change the allowances for IIHF contracts in the pros.
Starting this off-season IIHF players will only be able to sign MSHL contracts and will not be a part of NSHL rosters.
When asked the Commissioner stated the reason was "Young players work their whole lives to crack an NSHL line-up and to have those roster spots taken away by players who don't even necessarily want to play in North America doesn't seem fair."
With the success this season of IIHF players like Jonas Hiller in Anaheim and Roman Cervenka in Montreal the change guarantees some high-end talent will be featured next season for sure (add in the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Ray Emery).
To coincide with that change, the Board also approved another drastic change that makes all IIHF contracts two-way (worth 10% of their full value) and perhaps more importantly, tradeable.
All previous NSHL or MSHL IIHF deals came with mandatory No Movement Clauses. Not anymore.
"We are really focusing on improving the game at the minor league level and at the same time, have it make sense for all of our affiliates. This change not only allows IIHF players to be dealt, but it opens up a door to a bigger span of potential talent."
What the Commissioner was alluding to was the amount of IIHF players still listed as UFAs even today. By removing the one-way contract and no movement clause restrictions, teams should have no problem loading up on depth.
It's widely expected that the league will be holding a separate IIHF signing phase once regular free agency winds down this off-season.
The final official change so far is a guarantee for 35+ year old veteran free agents of a one-way contract regardless of the salary they signed for.
"The goal here is simple: keep our veteran players in the pros if that's where they belong. This will cut down on the "sign & stash" mentality of overpaying veteran players during free agency and then waiving them to receive the 10% salary discount."
The MSHL currently has a number of players who are over 35 who would make $2-$3 million a year if they were in the pros but instead are only making $200-$300k on two-way deals.
The Board is clearly focusing on having the MSHL as a developmental league and keeping NSHL quality talent in the NSHL.
In a separate change in order to "simplify" things, the Board changed the policy on minimum wage for the upcoming off-season. Rather than a variable minimum salary range between $350k and $500k depending on age and experience, any player signing that is not coming off the prospect list (and therefore does not qualify for an Entry Level Contract (ELC) will make no less than $500,000 a season.
"For $150,000 difference, the change to a flat $500,000 for anyone not entering the league for the first time is a no-brainer. Easy to manage, easy to remember."
A list of changes as they're made over the coming weeks will be posted in a separate section on the mainpage.
Suggestions and recommendations are welcome.
Official Rule Changes
Sunday, June 25th
List of Confirmed Rules Changes
Added Sunday, June 25th:
A player claimed off waivers following the Trade Deadline is ineligible to play in the playoffs.
A team may submit more than one waiver claim at a time, however the team must prioritize their claims from highest priority claim to lowest priority claim.
If a team with multiple claims is successful at claiming a player, they lose priority on any other player on their list.
An IIHF contract is a minor league only, one (1) year, two-way deal with a guaranteed 10% Signing Bonus with no future rights regardless of age.
Any player signing a contract that is 35 years of age or older is automatically given a one-way contract regardless of their salary.
League Average Salary
For reference purposes to rules within this rulebook, all averages are rounded up to the nearest $10,000 for ease of use (however both versions will be available).
The minimum wage for any player that signs who is not coming off of the prospect list is $500,000 per season.