FanPost

DEAR SHANNY.

Dear Shanny,

I'm tired of being grouchy, and critical all the time. Sure, I’m a Leafs fan, and what we've seen both on (and off) the ice hasn’t been pleasant this year.

But I’ve decided. I'm going to change my approach.

Not like "change for good," obviously. I’m a blogger, and ultimately, we can’t be trusted.

But still. Rather than simply doing negative analysis stuff and hacking my way through stats toward a conclusion that just makes me want to vom, I’ve decided to do some work that is...

constructive.

Wow. My wrist cramped actually cramped writing that. Really.

No, not really Shanny. I’m a blogger. And thus, lie for effect.

Anyway. Cramp or no, I’ve decided to harness my massive forehead (seriously Shanny, my head's like a fucking streetcar tied to the top of my spine, and it's chockfulla brains.)(Chockfulla.) Anyway, where was I, oh yeah... brains... harnessed... to the task of producing constructive advice.

For you.

Shanny.

And so, today’s 3 thoughts are offered for your eyes in the spirit of constructive goodwill.

BUT JUST YOUR EYES, SHANNY. DON’T LET THOSE OTHER DOLTS READ THEM. CAUSE HOLY SHIT, ARE THEY IDIOTS OR WHAT? I MEAN, THE ONLY WAY THE TEAM COULD BE WORSE RUN WOULD BE TO PUT SIMMONS IN CHARGE. OR COX. DIMANNO. OK, THERE ARE A FEW WAYS THE TEAM COULD BE WORSE RUN.

Sorry. Back to being constructive. Had a bit of a spell there.

#1. LET'S INCREASE DANIEL WINNIK'S TRADE VALUE.

The hockey media says your friends amongst the playoff-bound GMs are frothing mad for Antoine Vermette.

But only warmish about picking up Daniel Winnik.

Let's move a few relevant facts about Winnik out into the wider media, just to... you know... drive up Winnik's value.

See, the media mouthpieces all say that Vermette is a pretty high-scorer, and a centerman who’s great on face-offs. Say those two things often enough, and NHL media types basically topple onto their backs and start kicking their legs with glee.

Whereas they see Winnik as grey grey grey, because he can’t score, but plays some defence, and did I mention grey? Yeah. That’s how they see Winnik.

Anyway. I did up a little chart to help people compare the two.

Screen_shot_2015-02-13_at_11.57.02_AM.0.png

There's a lot in there, so let's walk this one through.

Antoine Vermette is 32 years old. Daniel Winnik is 29. Win for Winnik.

Vermette makes $3.7 million per season, Winnik makes $1.3 million. Both are free agents at the end of this season. Another win for Winnik.

Vermette has 34 points this year, versus 22 for Winnik, which would seem to say Vermette is a much better offensive player.

The only problem being that Winnik is actually doing better than Vermette this year in terms of even-strength scoring, with 1.63 points per 60 minutes, versus 1.53 for Vermette. And in fact, going back over the last 4 years, the two are effectively tied, at 1.48 versus 1.42.

Which is to say, Vermette’s only going to outscore Winnik IF you’re prepared to give him some big minutes on the PP. And ahhh, while I don’t want to do tooooo much research for the league‘s GMs, Vermette isn’t actually... very good on the powerplay.

As in, over the last 4 years, Vermette has only scored 3.32 points/60 minutes on the Powerplay. That ranks a really quite bad 115th out of 125 Forwards. And - just to help set the bar here - Vermette's powerplay prowess ranks just 6 slots above David Clarkson.

You other league GMs might wanna think on that.

Now. When it comes to the defensive side of the game, the hockey media are positively drooling over the fact that Vermette is so good at face-offs. And he is. He’s winning 56% of them this year so far. He’s Top 10 on the draw this year, and most years.

Now. the thing is that winning face-offs is supposed to translate into more goals scored for your team, and less for the other guys, right?

Except with Vermette, it’s not quite that simple. Just compare him to Winnik. Vermette’s face-off prowess is NOT leading to more goals scored at even-strength, right? And on the powerplay, it’s NOT making him better than other team’s forwards.

So how abut we look at Vermette’s defensive play? Surely, winning all those draws must mean he has a better Corsi (because they possess the puck more), and give up fewer goals against, right?

Well, Corsi says no. Winnik wins. Even Zone-adjusted, Score Close RelCorsi says says Winnik wins, and by a long yard. Winnik is a whopping 11.7% better this year, and 4.6% better over the entire last 4 years than Vermette.

And how does that translate into goals against? Well, when Daniel Winnik is on the ice, the Leafs have allowed just 1.31 even strength goals against per 60 minutes this year. That makes him the 3rd best forward of the 260 in the NHL. And that’s as a Leaf.

Antoine Vermette has allowed 3.15 goals against, a terrible record, placing him 255th of 260.

And over the last four years, Vermette has allowed 2.46 per 60, placing him just 207th of 266 forwards. Winnik has allowed 1.84, placing him 20th best.

20th best versus 207th best.

So Daniel Winnik is gonna keep waaaaaaaaay more goals out of your net over a season than is Antoine Vermette.

EVEN THOUGH VERMETTE IS WINNING ALL THOSE FACE-OFFS.

Want an old-timey stat? That kinda shows this? Remember Plus/minus?

Well, Winnik is a +13 this year, while Vermette is a -16.

One last category. Penalties and playing on the PK.

On the penalty-kill, Daniel Winnik allows just 4.62 goals against per 60 minutes, while Antoine Vermette allows almost 9.83 goals against per 60. And over the last 4 years, it’s 5.09 versus 8.85.

Killing penalties. Useful in the playoffs.

Plus, salt in the wound, Vermette has taken 17 minors this season, a whopping 13 more than he’s drawn... while Winnik has only taken 7, but has drawn 11.

So. What do we have here?

Winnik is just as good as Vermette at scoring at even-strength. And he is far better defensively, both at even-strength and as a penalty-killer. He has a way better plus/minus, a way better Corsi, and he draws more penalties than he takes.

Vermette can play the powerplay, just not very well. And he’s great face-offs, which is fine, except that his wider game then basically throws that advantage away.

So. Shanny. Try to make sure the league’s other GMs understand they are being sucked into, once again, over-paying for a guy (Vermette) who is hugely over-rated... while ignoring a guy who is hugely under-rated (Winnik.)

Then tell them we want a 2nd AND a top prospect.

#2. READING BETWEEN THE LINES.

Now, on this next thing Shanny, you may need to read between the lines a bit.

Josh Gorges, defenceman for the Buffalo Sabres, has a 34.5% Zone Adjusted Corsi this season.

DAVE NONIS TRIED TO TRADE CODY FRANSON FOR JOSH GORGES.

Amongst regular players, Gorges’ Corsi is the worst in the NHL.

In fact, it’s the worst Corsi rating going back, ohhhhhh.... as far as the stat goes.

Remember how bad Holzer was a few years back?

Gorges is worse.

DAVE NONIS TRIED TO TRADE CODY FRANSON FOR JOSH GORGES.

I know, you think it’s just because of the Sabres, don’t you?

Silly you.

I can see you scrambling around, looking for something to defend him with... how about maybe that whopping 6 assists in 46 games.... no, hmmmm..... or maybe that -28 plus/minus.... ok, not really.... so, errrrm, maybe, hey, how about when he was with the Habs? He was quite good then, right?

No. He wasn’t.

In 7 years with the Habs - who weren’t what we Leaf fans would in any way understand as a "bad" team during that time - Josh Gorges played roughly 450 games. And had just 88 points. That 12 or 13 points per season is actually what we’d describe, in the vernacular, as "sucking." To be more statsy, he ranked 155th of the 186 most regular D-men over that period for offence, as measured by Points/60.

Still sucks.

DAVE NONIS TRIED TO TRADE CODY FRANSON FOR JOSH GORGES.

So... maybe Gorges was good defensively?

No. Again.

Corsi-wise - and this is playing for the Habs remember - Josh Gorges had a 7 season overall Corsi of 47.1%.

That’s 163rd of 186 D-men. Just behind Mike Komisarek, and just ahead of Jack Johnson.

Now, what I’m saying is that when you rank 155th on offence, and 163rd on overall Corsi, out of 186 guys.... you’re not a good defenceman.

DAVE NONIS TRIED TO TRADE CODY FRANSON FOR JOSH GORGES.

And at the time Nonis tried to get him, Gorges had 4 years remaining on his contract, at $3.9 million a year.

And was 30 years old.

Whereas Cody Franson was 27. And was entering his last year on a $3.3 million contract.

And Cody’s ranking on offence was 6th of 186 (vs Gorges 155), and for overall Corsi, 90th (vd Gorges 163.)

DAVE NONIS TRIED TO TRADE CODY FRANSON FOR JOSH GORGES.

Like I said, Shanny. You may need to read between the lines a bit on this Gorges thing.

#3. TRADE THE 29 YEAR OLD DION NOW. NOT THE 30 YEAR OLD DION THIS SUMMER.

On April 11th, Shanny, the Leafs close their season at home against Montreal.

And you know, as I do, that...

that game will suck.

But it will suck for more than the usual two reasons: (1) We’ll lose, and (2) Habs.

It will also suck because Dion Phaneuf will have turned 30 the night before. And the commentators will talk about it endlessly, and it’s likely to be one of the last facts mentioned about a Leaf player as the televised regular season ends.

And this is important because turning 30 is a big deal. It’s a big frigging round number, easily the most important one when GMs and fans and such evaluate where a player is in his career. Because after age 30, you’re almost certainly going down the slope, in terms of overall durability and performance.

Which is why we need to trade Dion Phaneuf NOW, Shanny, BEFORE the deadline.

And not wait til Summer.

Now, as a player, Dion’s been a war-horse. He has played his guts out.

But. He also has 6 years left on his contract, at $7 million a pop. Now, a bunch of people out here are Dion fans. And good for you. But from where I sit, I’ve never much liked him. He just doesn’t... move me. It’s partly the shoes,and partly the INTENSIFIER FACE he always wears.

But even when there’s a player I kindof don’t take to, I can still be impressed as hell by him, and what he’s accomplished. Like Dion.

Because Dion Phaneuf has accomplished a tonne. Let’s tote up a few:

  • Dion has played 10 years in the NHL. Ten training camps, ten long and grueling seasons. And that came on top of 4 full seasons in the WHL.
  • So he’s now up to 728 NHL regular season games, and over 1,000 games when you count Junior and pre-season and such.
  • Dion has played more than 18,000 minutes of regular season games as a defenceman in the NHL. That ranks him 17th amongst all active NHL D-men.
  • 17th. Dion has already played the 17th most minutes of any active NHL D-men.
  • And yet... he still has 6 more years on his contract.

I think you see where I’m going, Shanny.

  • By the end of Dion’s next season, he will likely rank 10th in minutes by an active Dman.
  • And if he plays 3 more seasons, Dion will likely play 24,000 minutes, and rank 3rd amongst then-active D-men (behind J-Bo and Duncan Keith, or maybe Ryan Suter.)

That’s a heck of an achievement.

  • But. Think about this. In the last ten years, not only has he eaten those minutes, Dion has handed out more than 1,800 official hits. And absorbed far more. How many times has he had damage done from those bone-crushers?
  • He has also just passed his 1,000th official blocked shot. Remember any that seemed to hurt? Yeah. A few hundred.
  • He has over 1,000 penalty minutes. Chara’s the only other guy to play that much and break 1,000 PIM. A lot of those came after fairly nasty, in-your-face engagements.
  • And Dion hs had more than 40 official fighting majors, just in the NHL. Think he’s had his bell rung any?
  • And on top of it all, he has spent years as the Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, during some pretty tough times, facing the hardest possible minutes, with often brutal partners, and under psychotic coaches.

Think about the physical and emotional toll that would pile onto a human being.

Mileage, Shanny. Hard mileage.

Now. I think you can see why there’s really only one Dion-relevant question in play, which is... When best to trade him?

If you wait too long, you risk being stuck for years 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 years of that $7 million a year payload, which you may be shifting to a guy who has really, seriously, slowed.

Could get ugly.

And so, my friend, if you’re thinking you’ll trade Dion this Summer, in addition to all that MILEAGE, remember this one other thing:

  • Round. Numbers. Matter.

Oh, and this:

  • People are stupid.
  • About things like round numbers.

So. Trade the 29 year old Dion. It’ll sound better to their GM - and better to their local media.

And obviously, other teams have lots of good reason to want a Dion. He’s a great guy to have for a playoff run. He can can play 20+ minutes, either side, can play the PK, work the PP, fight, block shots, play with rookies or veterans. And can handle the media heat.

But to make deal this Summer, with Dion having one less post-season run in him, and with a sticker price and mileage chart that reads NOW JUST 30 YEARS OLD?

TRADE THE 29 YEAR OLD DION PHANEUF.

Take the best possible combo of salary relief and draft picks available now.

IN THE FEW WEEKS REMAINING BEFORE HE TURNS 30.

I hope these thoughts have been helpful Shanny, and that we can continue our constructive conversations in the future.

Your friend, and a guy still quite a bit older than you,

- Not Norm Ullman.

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