Jets GM impresses, Wild in intriguing playoff chase, more in our Roundtable
• Let’s kick things off with a quick reaction to the Evander Kane blockbuster.
AL MUIR: So I guess it’s unanimous. We’re impressed. Let me take it in a different direction though, because it wasn’t the quality of assets that Cheveldayoff procured—in what was essentially a distress sale—that wowed me, but rather his ability to make a deal so quickly. We’ve seen recently—in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo, and in Columbus with Rick Nash—how these fractured-relationship sagas can drag on and take on lives of their own. That Cheveldayoff was able to address the Kane issue so promptly and efficiently is a remarkable achievement. As someone who has ripped him in the past for sitting on his hands, I have to give him high marks here.
I believe in Dubnyk, though. Last season’s disaster aside, he had a rock-solid stint with the defensively abysmal Oilers. In this post-Bryzgalov world there’s always some skepticism when a goalie leaves the Coyotes’ tight-checking system. But time in Arizona with goalie coach Sean Burke clearly did much to get Dubnyk’s career back on track. The biggest threat to Minnesota’s playoff chances at this point may not be its play, but the equally dangerous—and equally desperate—teams fighting with the Wild for the same playoff spot, namely the Kings and the Stars.
PAGE: It seems like Corsi and similar stats are headed for a change of name—or perhaps more accurately, no name at all—before they hit NHL.com. Corsi could end up being called “shot attempts” or “shot ratio.” It’s the same stat, but with a more descriptive name. That could actually end up hurting their acceptance slightly, as they will now be easier to dismiss with, “Just shot ratio.” Really, I don't think anything will increase their popularity except maybe the slow march of time. I think most fans know at this point whether they think explicating sports with analytics increases their enjoyment or not. And that’s OK! There’s no real upside to sports water-cooler talk getting “smarter.” It's not like debating public policy.
MUIR: First off, good on the league for expanding its stats package. It’s additional information, and that’s always a good thing. That said, I’m doubtful there’s widespread demand for much of what they’ll be adding. The NHL already provides some pretty cool data, including a team’s success at five-on-five or a goaltender’s save percentage at even strength, and those numbers haven’t gained a ton of traction despite being easy to understand and undeniably insightful. If those don’t grab the masses, I don’t see how Fenwick has a chance. And maybe more to the point, we all expect these proxy stats to be replaced by technology that more accurately captures possession, maybe as soon as next season. Until then, the numbers will be useful to fans who get a kick out of digging deep. For the mainstream fans, though, they’ll just be additional columns to ignore after they’ve checked how their fantasy players performed.