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Savard to Toronto Rumors, Niederreiter’s Sick Junior Line



Too much going on to FJM Lambert’s Links today, so I’ll do that tomorrow.  Let’s dive right in:


The Islanders top pick, Nino Niederreiter, saw his entire line get drafted in the first two rounds of the 2010 NHL Draft.  I’m pumped about the pick for the Isles.  Still, I wanted to get down my thoughts on being part of a deadly trio like that:

Playing on a stacked line inflates your stats like whoa. 

Really excited about this pick.

If you’re on a dominant line where all three guys are capable of creating, right off the bat you grab a disgusting amount of second assists that you can’t get if you’re Rick Nash-ing it all year.  Puck possession time goes through the roof, and thus, so do chances.  Your linemates can create opportunities for you where other players wouldn’t normally get them.

In reality, it’s the top guys on the line that are helping our the lesser one, and Nino is clearly one of the top dogs (Jonathan Cheechoo wasn’t driving up Joe Thornton’s assist total, Joe Thornton wasw driving up Cheechoo’s goal total). 

My point is that it’s worth asking about the third linemate that got drafted – what would his VORP be? (I love the term VORP, baseball’s “value over replacement player” – as in, if you put the most average player in the league in that spot, with that ice time, etc, how much better is this kid than that average one?  All that much?). 

Keep in mind, I know nothing about the line, any of their names, or who the third guy picked is, I’m just saying – it’s always worth looking into where good numbers come from.  Could that kid that got drafted last (still first round) carry his own line?  Maybe the Isles’ Nino is a Thornton-esque star-maker.


The recent rumours, as I’m sure you’ve heard, have Marc Savard waiving his no-trade clause and heading to Toronto.  Which is so f**king bizarre I don’t even know where to start.

A budding Leaf?

First, the guy just took a bit of a pay cut so he could retire as a Bruin.  On his long-term deal, this 80-90 point center is only a $4 million cap hit (less than Keith Ballard, apparently).  Why would they trade him?

If it’s to dump salary, the story goes that they’d want a pick or two and a young prospect.  As in, someone they’d have to pay at least a little bit.  So maybe after they give that guy (Kulemin, Bozak?) a couple million a year, they’ve saved a mere two million to stab a guy in the back, get a worse player, bum out the fans…. and keep paying Tim Thomas $5 mill.  There’s no other way to save that money?

If it’s concussion risk, it’s not really a risk to your payroll.  If he gets another one, he goes on long-term IR, insurance pays him and he comes off the cap (as noted by @downgoesbrown).  You can re-spend that money if that’s a bridge that needs to be crossed. 

And hey – the guy took less money to play for your team.  That has to be worth some level of loyalty, no?

Here’s my somewhat-relatable story:  My rookie year in the ECHL, I made the all-star team and spent three months in the AHL.  At the time, I made a pro-rated $45,000 when I was in the AHL, $650 a week in the ECHL.

The next season, the Isles offered me another NHL tryout, and the same contract.  I figured I was worth at least a few pennies more after proving myself in year one, so I had a decision to make.  I decided to sign a one-way ECHL contract for the team with the highest number of AHL call-ups, the Reading Royals, and go to whichever A team needed me the most (instead of limiting myself to four RW spots in Bridgeport, this let me have a crack at 120 around the league).

Problem was, Reading was packed with kids like me who knew they were a hotbed for call-ups.  Thus, they said they really wanted me to be a part of their team, but that I’d have to accept less money because of all the talented kids they’ve signed who’re trying to move up as well.  Could I work with them on that? 

Of course, the goal is to move up, not get rich immediately (bllllllogging!), so I accepted $600 a week, hoping it wouldn’t be for long.  They also got me an AHL tryout in Hershey.

On day two of the AHL tryout, I was protecting the puck, got hit, and my skate caught a rut – my leg planted while I moved, and my MCL tore.  I went to Reading to rehab it and tried to be ready for opening night in the ECHL.  I literally didn’t skate for a month, and got “cleared” (“no, it doesn’t hurt”) to get on the ice the day before the first game.

I played sparingly and poorly in that first game (hadn’t skated/run in a month).  We lost.  The Maple Leafs signed guys and sent others down.  A trickle down happened.  So Reading traded me to Idaho, one game into the season.  After I signed for far, far less to be there (I had declined two $800 a week offers during the summer, as well as some decent European options).

Suddenly, after comprimising for them, I was making less than I was worth, in a city I didn’t choose, and one that rarely saw kids called up to anywhere but their AHL affiliate…. who I wasn’t under contract with. 

Not sure how I got stuck in #17, but man does that number suck.

This is Mark Savard.  Compromise to play where you want to, and to help a team out, and have it backfire. 

And, coincidentally, this is why you can’t be mad when players make money-first decisions - you gotta get that money.  Teams don’t owe you anything; it really is a business.  When I shattered my jaw in Idaho, I didn’t hear from their coach for over a month, until I showed up at the rink one day.  If I couldn’t play, I was of no use to them.

So make that money when you can, man, make that money.  Toronto could be the real winner here.  I feel like Savard is in a “if she doesn’t realize how great a guy you are, you don’t need her anyway” relationship.


I don’t have enough time to address Kirill Kabanov, the rest of the Islanders draft, or Keith Ballard today, so here are my thoughts: Love Crazinov, NYI draft was awesome, need more details on the Ballard to Vancouver thing (as in, what else are the Canucks doing on the blueline?).

Lets have a good week team.  Goooo free agency/Canada Day Thursday!


26 Responses to “Savard to Toronto Rumors, Niederreiter’s Sick Junior Line”
  1. Justin says:

    There’s some word out that Savard is having family issues and wants to be closer to his home, so he’s asking for a deal to Ottawa or Toronto.

    I’m ok with the bruins moving Savard, given their center depth, his concussion/age, and the fact that Krejci has a very similar game. Moving him within the division is a terrible idea though.

  2. Goody says:

    The concussion risk could be bigger than you think. The Wild is going through that right now with Pierre Marc Bouchard. He played one game last season and has been on LTIR since. Sure, they can spend over the cap equal to his cap hit, but if/when he comes back they have to get under quickly. So right now, the GM’s hands are tied. Does he count on Bouchard filling a roster spot in the fall, or does he find a guy to fill Bouchard’s spot and risk having to dump someone if/when Bouchard returns. Sure, he could fill the spot with a callup, but then waivers may come into play later… Or he could sign an FA, but then maybe have to do a ridiculously one sided trade to get under the cap later. All the other GMs will know he’s over a barrel and trades will be on their terms. Not an enviable situation.

    The only easy way out is if the player retires.

  3. MP says:

    Nice piece. Liking this blog. One note about Savard: He didn’t really take “less” money to stay in Boston; his cap hit is lightened because he signed to a longer deal (of which he probably won’t be paid the full amount because he’ll retire before it ends).

    He’s due $7 million this year, $7 million next year, $6.5M the year after, then $5M, $1.5M, $525,000 and $525,000 in 2016-’17. He’s still getting all of what he’s worth and more — but his cap hit is just over $4M because of the length of the deal.

    Which makes it strange that the Bruins would shop him. Guess you gotta see what’s out there, if you’re a GM.

  4. Jeff says:

    Brad Ross (third member of the Portland line w/ Nino and Ryan Johansen) went in the 2nd round to Toronto. Has been compared to Cooke/Avery/Downie/Tucker. Nice, Burkie.

    As for Ballard:

    Vancouver lost in the playoffs because of injuries to defense, and a lack of talent on the back end. They have a very solid group of three defensemen right now – Salo (always injured, but great when healthy), Ehrhoff, and Edler. Ballard will join Edler and Ehrhoff as three guys to build around for the foreseeable future.

    He isn’t a replacement for Mitchell. They are completely different players. I laughed when Lambert said Vancouver was draft day losers. They filled a huge hole w/ Ballard, who is a defenseman who can play in all situations and hasn’t missed a game in three years (perhaps the biggest draw for Canuck management, who see their defensemen drop faster than Evgeni Nabokov’s contract every spring).

    The Canucks will probably move Bieksa, who has regressed big time since his impressive 2006-07 season. He will have some value with one year left at $3.75 million, especially to those teams who miss out on all of the top UFA defensemen. He simply doesn’t fit in Vancouver any more. Look for the Canucks to target one of Michalek (I see Ottawa w/ his brother, Martin (best d-man available), or Hamhuis. I see a potential top six next year like:


    That doesn’t count Willie Mitchell, who may be re-signed if he passes on-ice testing after a nasty concussion this past season.

    For Ballard, the Canucks gave up an overrated, underachieving forward with stone hands (Bernier), who has had the opportunity to play w/ the likes of the Sedins, Thornton, Marleau, and Vanek (and failed with all). Not many players get that kind of chance, and Bernier only really has because of his draft number (2003 1st round), and size (which he doesn’t use consistently).

    Grabner is a terrific young forward, but Vancouver is deep up front and they don’t really have a spot in the top six for him. Grabner is defensively inept and brings little else aside from speed and scoring (think of him as an extra extra lite Kessel, with more speed and a worse shot). The Canucks want to get bigger and tougher in the bottom six.

    The first round pick was traded because the two players Vancouver targeted (Bennett and Tinordi) were both drafted already. The Canucks also have two very good young forwards close to the NHL, which made trading the pick and Grabner an easier pill to swallow – Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder.

    Essentially, Gillis significantly upgraded his team’s weakness without taking away much from the team. Ballard won’t be expected to be Vancouver’s top defenseman, but he brings physical play, offense, and mobility. His contract is below market value (soon to be market value) for a young top three defenseman ($4.2 million).

  5. ms.conduct says:

    Augh. Goalie. What are you doing with the paddle down already? Justin’s just gonna flip that thing over your shoulder!

  6. handsofconcrete says:

    I be a Winterhawks season ticket holder, so I saw lots of Nino this year and Nino is the real deal. He plays physical and goes to the net hard. He is also very good on the defensive side of the puck. His line with Ross (Toronto pick) and Johan (Columbus pick) was very good and they worked well together. Portland is now a well coached team. Ross was the sandpaper guy, but Nino can really surprise you with hitting. Johan was the scary goal scorer. Check out what Nino did on the Swiss team at World Jrs. on youtube. The Canadian crowd was chanting his name!
    Since Nino is Swiss, he will fit in well with Mark Streit on the Island.

  7. jtbourne says:

    Jeff – thanks for all the great information man…. you follow this s**t pretty closely. If you’re right, and you convinced me you are, the Canucks d-corps will be looking pretty effing sick.

    MP – Didn’t realize that about Savard’s contract – the league has to make those “there’s no way he plays those finals few years” contracts illegal, somehow (make the guys pay the money they were owed, I dunno….)

  8. zyllyx says:

    I’ll tell you why the Canucks traded for Ballard. It’s to make sure that Luongo doesn’t choke again late in the season. This time, if he does he knows that Ballard will be coming at him swinging his stick.

    Enjoy the veal!

  9. Jeff says:


    The cap loophole works well for rich teams and players. Rich teams can pay players a ton of money (Luongo, for example will earn $10 million this coming season, but his cap hti is only $5.33), and players can stay with good teams while still getting their pay day. Same goes for Hossa, Keith, etc.

    The big losers are the teams that can’t afford to pay high salaries to offset lower cap hits. The fact that the players will earn only $500k in real salary at the age of 40 or 41 (Hossa, for example) doesn’t help these teams at all, as they can’t afford the frontloaded portion of the arrangement.

    I imagine the league will find some way to include a poison pill in any deal that carries a player past a certain age w/ the next CBA negotiations.

  10. MP says:

    I guess if you’re Savard, you take the risk that if I’m still producing at a high level at age 37, I might not be getting all that I’m worth — but while I’m in my best years, this team (or any other team) can put other high-cost pieces around me to take a run at the prize. And hey, he could be a huge addition to a Cup-ready team if he’s still producing at age 40, when he’s making the league minimum (could be more with bonus clauses; haven’t seen anything reported on that, but I have to think those are in the deal if Savard agreed to it).

    Savard’s getting his money; but if he remains healthy and productive, I’d say has a better chance of winning given the way his contract is structured.

  11. MP says:

    Jeff: Does Savard’s cap hit stay $4M for the length of the deal?

  12. Jeff says:


    In 2011-12, he will make $7 million in real dollars. Cap hit slightly over $4 million.

    In 2016-17, he will make $525,000 in real dollars. Cap hit slightly over $4 million.

  13. Jeff says:

    Savard to the Leafs makes a ton of sense. They can afford to pay his real salary. They will benefit greatly from the low cap hit. To top it off, they have the worst group of centers (by faaaaaaaar) in the entire league. I love Bozak, but he isn’t a top line center (might be). Grabovski, Hanson, Primeau…. uh? Kadri is a great prospect but he should start off on the wing.

  14. Char says:

    Savard to the Leafs would make sense for the Leafs, which is why it wouldn’t make sense for the Bruins. Why trade your top playmaker to a division rival, especially when you hold that rival’s #1 draft pick for 2011?

    As for his family, he’s been divorced for some time, and signed with Boston (with a NTC) because he has three young children who are just a short, direct plane flight away.

  15. Marc says:

    #17 sucks? I’m heartbroken, I *like* being number 17.

  16. Sherry says:

    Justin, answer to your tweet inquiry “an vs a” can be found here I tweeted a cliffs notes version of it in a reply to your tweet, but I never know if my tweets do anything but end up in the ether, because I am in my tweeting infancy and don’t really know how all that works.

  17. Ballgame says:

    $650 a week in echl? Or did you mean a month

  18. Ballgame says:

    Nevermind, my mistake

  19. jtbourne says:

    That’s before tax. The pay isn’t horrible if you’re decent (they pay rent, utilities, give per diem), but you only get paid about 6/7 months a year.

  20. rouven from germany says:

    i’m also happy with the isles’ pick – and nino’s last name translates to “rides ‘em down” … that’s a effin great hockey name! :D

    here’s hoping kabanov makes the team – the league desperately needs guys like that in front of the mic.

  21. Richie says:

    Frightening thought, Niederreiter-Tavares-Okposo line….that’s high-light reel material right there. If Kabanov pans out to 80% of his potential he’ll be high-calibre. Great draft for the Isles. You gotta be pumped Bourne!

  22. Richie says:

    Oh and does the phote above end in the goal it looks like…..??

  23. nightfly says:

    If forced to guess, I’d say Alaska’s keeper was paddle-down because that’s JB in the act of tossing a pass across the slot. The goalie was selling out to defend low and tight. The defender has neither the passing lane nor position to stop JB if he chose to cut across to his backhand, but a pass is always quicker.

    In other words, I smell some toast all the way from across the continent, through time and space – that d-man is finely browned. He’s not even close enough to try to hook JB.

  24. Firestorm says:

    Of course, the discussion requires a final comment from our host. Is the next shot in the photo series red-light-on/arms raised? Or is it head-down/stick slam on the ice?

  25. jtbourne says:

    I guess I should address that. By the way, love the gravatar. Okay….

    I had just put the puck in the d-man’s “under the stick/near the feet triangle”, and was in the process of gathering it on the other side, to do something sweet, obviously. So, the puck was moving at a decent clip. When I went to corral it… I couldn’t. The goalie (as noted by Ms. C) was already down, without a fake or anything. All I needed to do was get my mitts on a puck that I had just nicely placed for my gathering. Couldn’t do it. Don’t remember why, but I remember picking it up in the corner and starting some useless cycle. Siggghhhh…..

  26. Firestorm says:

    Quote: “Don’t remember why, but I remember picking it up in the corner and starting some useless cycle…”

    There’s the problem. If you had signed with the Flames, you’d be playing in the NHL today.

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