Thursday, July 23, 2015

Did the Jets lose Michael Frolik for nothing?

Let's get one thing out of the way: Michael Frolik is a good hockey player and I for one am disappointed that he will not be playing for the Jets for the next several years.Like, he's even better than Drew Stafford. So that's a bummer. And in a likely close playoff race ahead, not having Frolik may just be the difference between a playoff berth or not.

But Frolik is now gone and some are suggesting that the Jets have "lost him for nothing" or otherwise wasted him as an asset. I'd agree with this, except, y'know... the Jets made the playoffs, thanks in part to Frolik's help. Making the playoffs and competing for the Stanley Cup has value (for me at least), so I'm pleased in general with the value we got out of Frolik. That's pretty much it but since my editor wants a higher word count I'll go into more detail below.

History, and a few details

The Jets traded for Michael Frolik in the summer of 2013 from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a 3rd round pick (74th overall) and a 5th round pick (134th overall). Frolik, 25 at the time, would be under team control for two more seasons.

Frolik played well his first year, scoring 15 goals and 42 points with excellent underlying numbers. Unfortunately, the Jets finished last in the Central and 9th worst in the league. He received a pay raise as an RFA during the summer of 2014 but he and the Jets did not agree to a long-term deal.2 He would earn $3-million and enter the 2014-15 season as a pending unrestricted free agent. The consternation began.

Frolik, the before-the-season pending-UFA

Having failed to sign Frolik to a multi-year extension and knowing that asset management is critical to a successful NHL franchise, what should the Jets have done heading into the 2014-15 season? How about halfway through the season when still no deal had been reached?

Entering the season, Frolik seemed a likely trade candidate since the Jets finished the previous season seven points out of a playoff spot and seemed determined to continue the insane Frontal Assault On All That Is Good And Holy by continuing to call Ondrej Pavelec an NHL starting goalie. The Jets were a near-consensus to miss the playoffs. If you believed the Jets season would be dismal, getting ready to field offers on Frolik would make sense.

However, even a shit-show like the 2014-15 Edmonton Oilers didn't begin to jettison good players until January 2nd, trading David Perron to the Penguins in the first "Good-Player-for-Future-Hope" swap of the season. Fans spending money on tickets need some modicum of excitement before flushing the season down the toilet - even Oiler fans. So it's unsurprising that the Jets did not trade Frolik before or very early in the season. Still, one could make an argument for trading him before the season if a good deal was out there, depending on if you thought the Jets would be good/bad. The consternation continued.

Frolik, the "the-trade-deadline-is-looming" pending-UFA

By the time January 2nd rolled around it turns out that the Jets were... good. They were getting the goaltending that had eluded them for years and had survived lengthy injuries - OR DRUG REHABS! - to pretty much every one of their defencemen. Two weeks later, James Mirtle wrote an article titled, "Yes, The Jets Are The Real Deal". And that felt pretty nice. As for Frolik, he was a valued contributor and was a notable part of this success.

The Jets' strong play continued and on the eve of the trade deadline, they destroyed the L.A. Kings and found themselves comfortably in a playoff spot. Already with the 7th-best score adjusted Corsi in the NHL, the Jets added depth forwards Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak. This was considered by many smart hockey people to be a team that could do some damage in the playoffs and became a popular "dark horse" pick. Trading Frolik at this point would have lessened the Jets chances at going deep or even making the playoffs - which aren't really that different anymore, given the parity in the NHL. The consternation... abated because we began buying white t-shirts.

Having not been traded, was Frolik a wasted asset?

Of course, getting swept adding an exclamation mark to the Jets' eventual first round playoff exit (which was a definite buzzkill) but I don't think we should get all "the Jets are worse than Hitler" over it. The Jets were banged up. Our goaltending picked a bad time to wear off. Whatever. Luck happens. The better team won. That happened to other teams, too, and it doesn't mean that St. Louis, Nashville, or the Islanders, should have sold all expiring assets on March 2nd, either.

Whether or not you consider Frolik a wasted (or, more defensibly, "underutilized") asset depends in part on how much you value "higher playoff odds now" or "higher playoff odds later". Unless Frolik was some kind of surprise cancer in the dressing room, any realistic trade would have meant hurting the Jets' playoff chances now and helping them later. Draft picks, or the compromise option: a roster player with more term remaining - would have logically made the Jets weaker last season. On a well above-average possession team in a playoff spot, an equally valid question would be, "Would trading Frolik have wasted an opportunity?"

Clearly not all 8th seeds are the 2014 L.A. Kings and making a regular habit of trading/passing up future assets in order to squeak into the playoffs would likely not be good for an organization. But this was a chance to make their first playoff appearance and the Jets had a hungry core in their primes. If this were an underachieving team with only a slim chance at the playoffs at the trade deadline then you might as well trade him. However in the context described above, missing out on a couple draft picks seems a cheap price to pay to be a playoff "dark horse" and give your players playoff experience in the process.


If you find yourself disagreeing with this and having visions of that second and third round draft pick haunting your sleep I have to ask... just what exactly would those draft picks be for? To me at least, the correct answer is "to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup". And the Jets did that this spring. Maybe your standards such that we should always look to trade pending UFAs unless we are in a divisional playoff spot. Or we need to feel 60% sure we can make the Conference Finals or something. Those standards are unnecessarily high to me.

While things could have worked out better, such as via a team-friendly extension or longer playoff run, the Jets still made off well enough in their acquisition and employment of Michael Frolik. Costing the team only a 3rd and 5th round draft pick, Frolik played an important role in giving the Jets their first playoff berth, which is a notable accomplishment. His two years of service capped by the playoff experience was solid value received.

NOTE:  I'd like all rebuttals to my argument to refrain from using the Curtis Glencross trade and how it somehow got Calgary draft picks and a playoff series win and how Brad Treliving spent the entire 2014-15 shoving horseshoes up his ass. Thanks.

1 There really needs to be a "ceterus paribus" (all things being equal) NHL equivalent... like "without thinking about his cap hit and the implications of that cap hit on signing other good players and other complicated shit like that.... he's a good player".
2 If the 4 years, $16-million rumors are true, the Jets missed out.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ondrej Pavelec is kicking ass

It is time to stop and behold one of the amazing stories within the larger story that is the NHL: Ondrej Pavelec is kicking ass.

Now some will point out that his .916 save percentage is exactly average for NHL starters (30 games or more) and is only a few "that one must have been screened"s away from his own career average of .907. He has a consistent track record of below average play, a well-documented inability to track the puck, rebound control that----

I'm going to stop you right there. If you're thinking bizarre, "rational" shit like this on March 22nd, 2015 you need to strap on your space suit and return back to Winnipeg from whatever planet you're currently on. Pavs has been a fucking redemption story on skates since that abomination on March 10. He's won four straight games behind an injury-depleted lineup. Fans who wanted to ride him out of town were chanting his name. He's been a highlight machine - for all the right reasons.

Exhibit A: Statistical Evidence

It's hard to argue with facts. Statistics March 10 and earlier are unavailable.

Exhibit B: Video Evidence

Exhibit C: Anecdotal Evidence

Look. I was at the game on Thursday against the Blues and Pavs stopped everything. Well, I'm pretty sure the goal by David Backes will be overturned once the league reviews how much of a dick he is. Then he will have stopped everything. Anyways, Pavelec played incredible and followed that up with an actual shutout against Washington. Ondrej is on his game right now.

Gratuitous Thorburn pic.
Poetic Conclusion

So yes, Pavelec has been excellent; an excellence that has been enhanced by the absurdity of it all. Each miraculous save, each chant of "Pavy", each victory against playoff-caliber opponents is cast against the backdrop of our expectations: That the demise of a below-average goalie had finally come to a very public ending two Tuesday's ago against St. Louis. Many wondered if we had seen the last of him.

But my how things can change. If you aren't appreciating the hell out of how awesome, surreal, and downright beautiful Pavelec has been, you're missing out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Losing five to four sucks hard

The funny thing about getting hosed by the Blues for two periods and going down 4-1? Probably somehow tying it up late only to see everybody's favorite goalie let in a 74' wrister from everybody's favorite asshole defenceman.

There were no words for this loss so I collected a couple gifs and found some pictures that allow us to envision Barrett Jackman as Adolf Hitler. Now leave me alone.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Should the Winnipeg Jets re-sign Michael Frolik?

Not Ashton Kutcher.

I'm willing to bet that every Winnipeg Jets fan loves Michael Frolik. He is a hard-working player, very good defensively, and able to contribute offensively as well. His accent is as endearing as his eyebrows are slanty.

After being acquired in the summer of 2013 Frolik has posted the following numbers:

143 Games is not exactly the longest-tenured Jet... but is past halfway to The Teemu Selanne Line!

These are more than respectable numbers, and his "fancier" numbers are even better. Frolik posted a Corsi of 53% last year and is up to 53.9% so far this season - 4th best among Jets forwards and 62nd among all league forwards (source: Not elite, but very good. It would be great to add more "Winnipeg Jets" rows to this graph.

Unfortunately there is the significant matter of Frolik's contract expiring this July. And this is where things get murky. The Jets don't simply get to sort the good players from the bad; The NHL salary cap as well as the Jets' slightly lower internal cap dictates otherwise. The Jets can still afford good things (those $10.25 beers do count for something) but there are tough choices to make. If this were a Louis C.K. sketch, it would go something like, "Of course the Jets should re-sign Frolik... but maybe... he wants more money than the value he provides and the Jets shouldn't sign re-sign him."

So how much is he worth? 

Pegging a player's value is not easy but Richard Pollock of Illegal Curve gave that more than a college try last summer during Frolik's RFA negotiations. Michael Frolik meet Andrew Cogliano:

Graph courtesy Richy P.

Cogliano was the Italian-Canadian, regular-eyebrowed clone of Michael Frolik last season and was signed to a four-year, $12 million contract. They were very similar. Frolik could not be signed to a long-term deal, however, so his question mark at the bottom of the graph can now be filled in with a 1-year, $3.3 million contract.

Now let's imagine that Frolik is a slightly better player than Cogliano, that Winnipeg is slightly colder than Anaheim, and that Cogliano may have preferred to take a slight discount to play on a very strong team. Let's also keep in mind that Frolik, at the time an RFA, signed his $3.3 million contract when the Jets were the only NHL team he could play for. We should expect Frolik's next contract to be higher. What else has happened in the world of million dollar contracts since then? To name a few:

  • David Bolland signed with Florida for 5 years, $27.5 million (5.5M AAV). 
  • Mathieu Perreault signed with the Jets for 3 years, $9 million (3M AAV).
  • Clarke MacArthur signed with the Sens for 5 years, $23.25 million (4.65M AAV)
  • Nick Foligno signed with Columbus for 6-years, $33 million (5.5M AAV). 

Not Will Forte battling Ashton Kutcher.

This blog is not your best source for contract comparisons so let's not waste each other's time. Foligno and MacArthur are better players than Frolik, Bolland's deal was - and is - the laughing stock of the league, and the Perreault signing looks to be the most team-friendly contract of the summer. No comparables are perfect. What do you want from me?

The contracts of Bolland and Foligno would be over-pays to Frolik. Another Perreault contract... just ain't happening. MacArthur money would be a slight but not insignificant (decimals count when you're talking millions) overpay for Frolik. Keep in mind, too, that the salary cap for next season was projected to "easily exceed $74 million" which was before the price of oil plummeted. Elliotte Friedman recently said a GM was now planning on a cap of $69 million. That's a big decrease. Term matters, too, and players were getting 5 and 6-year contracts. The Jets, who beat the drum of the long-term build ceaselessly,  likely treat those future commitments very seriously. Jacob Trouba will be 26 in the hypothetical 5th year of a Michael Frolik contract.

But these potential tough choices aren't just years away. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien will be entering the final year of their respective contracts next season. Imagine the consternation if they are not extended this summer. Imagine it. Next year is also the last year of Jacob Trouba's entry-level contract. Mark Scheifele's entry-level contract expires this summer. As of November 8, 2014 the Jets had $9.6 million in cap space. Since then, the Jets are better off in actual dollars but lost some cap space in The Kane Myers Trade. Capgeek is down so this is almost a pointless endeavor. In any case, the Jets' internal cap is unknown... I hope this has been enlightening.

So let's say that the Jets and Michael Frolik do not agree as to his value - as is clearly the case in real life....

Have the Jets wasted an asset? 

Final picture of the article.

What this question will come down to is whether or not you believe that Kevin Cheveldayoff offered Frolik a fair contract extension this summer, and whether Frolik would prefer to sign long-term in a different market. If Chevy offered Frolik Clarke MacArthur money and term but was turned down we should all rest easy and enjoy his last twenty regular season games in a Jets uniform (and possibly count our blessings the contract wasn't signed).

While the Jets probably shouldn't expect many "hometown discounts" at this stage of the franchise, they should be wary of signing too many contracts at a premium. For what it's worth, rumors are that the Jets offered $16 million over 4 years and I don't think we would want the Jets to add a big decimal to that cap hit. Frolik's agent Alan Walsh may see David Bolland's contract as a comparable but the Jets need good contracts, not bad ones. Perhaps Frolik will sign a contract that breaks no banks and we will feel grumpy towards Chevy. We will have to wait and see.

Some have suggested that the Jets should avoid letting an asset walk for nothing, and move Frolik for a non-imminently-expiring asset (such as a draft pick or a player with term), which is a fair thought. We should remember thought that The Asset Known As Michael Frolik should not be thought of as a (just-turned) 27-year-old former 10th-overall pick with many prime playing years left; this asset is merely 20 games of Michael Frolik's services.

There would likely be some unequal value at play that would make a trade more attractive: Another team that would like to sign Frolik in the summer would see value in testing the fit during the stretch drive and begin negotiations before other teams can bid. Also, a team convinced it will make a deep playoff run would may be trading for 40+ games of Michael Frolik as opposed to 20 to 30. Still, those 20 to 30 games have big value to the Jets. At the risk of being myopic, a low-seed playoff berth almost certainly has more value to the Jets than any other team given the desire of True North to embody a winning organization.

I, like everyone else, have enjoyed having Michael Frolik as a member of the Winnipeg Jets and would love to see him in a Jets uniform again next year. Unfortunately for the Jets and fortunately for Frolik, it seems inevitable that he will get more on the open market than the Jets believe it's wise to pay. This however is the kind of calls a winning organization needs to be willing to make - and get right. Hold the faith, wait and see, for we have no other choice anyways.

And hey - it least it isn't that hard to change "67" into "57".

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Right Wing Mayoral Candidate Challenges Generous Do-Gooder To Walk A Mile in Rich Wife's Shoes

Winnipeg - One local mayoral candidate is tired of comments from the peanut gallery, or more aptly, the bannock gallery.

"People who actually spend time with the poor and suffering have no right to lecture those of us who are only forced to acknowledge their existence during the brief minutes when we walk from our luxury cars to our well-paying office jobs in the downtown area," said Gord Steeves, Winnipeg mayoral hopeful.

"That is why I challenge the Bannock Lady to stop feeding the homeless for just one day and see what my wife has to deal with."

Winnipeg's disadvantaged upper-middle class citizens have been struggling under the weight of having to deal with homeless people for some time now - not to mention the horrible roads, which is drawing the attention of human rights advocates. But according to Steeves' wife, Lorrie, who spends her days "grinding away" and "working hard" and "donating to the government," there are other problems outsiders don't see.

"Having to see a freeloding (sic) homeless person is hard enuff (sic) but not being able to vent and make racist generalisations (sic) on Facebook because my husband wants to be mayor only makes it werse (sic)" said Lorrie, in a written statement.

"I just feel that somtimes (sic) the rest of society doesn't care about people like us."

Experts agree that these problems are worsening in Winnipeg, where a growing segment of the population is forced to deal with the stresses of multiple car ownership, vacation plans and the dangerous trio of home ownership, cottage ownership and rental home ownership. It's a world that most Winnipeggers just can't understand without being there, Lorrie said.

"They don't know what it's like to own even one house. Or to be super busy. Or what it feels like to forget your Air Miles card when you're re-stocking your cabin with expensive alcohol for the long weakend (sic)."

Lorrie's husband Gord, at least, is proposing a long-term solution of rounding up the homeless in vans to take them "somewhere else" among a host of other well thought out policies such as selling everything the city owns. However, pundits are concerned that Steeves' courageous moral decision to represent primarily the disenfranchised middle-income demographic will turn off undecided homeless voters.

It remains to be seen if the plight of the upper-middle-class will become an election issue in a campaign. The Bannock Lady was unable to be reached for comment as she was making bannock for homeless people.
(This is satire)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Insanely rich owners might be pieces of garbage

Let's have a little quiz on the finances of professional sport.

Q: How much money do professional athletes make? 

A: Exactly this much, to the very dollar. It's way too much. Those guys are greedy pieces of shit.

Q: How much money do owners make?

A: Uhhhhh.........we don't know. And probably the government doesn't even know because most owners employ teams of highly paid accountants to hide revenue and exaggerate expenses. But hey because of them (swoon!) we have our favorite sports team to walk through life with and even sometimes drink beer to.

These thoughts are spurred on by an article by the kickass blogger @DrewGROF at TheScore. His thoughts were spurred on by an odd (and dickish?) move by the Philadelphia Phillies to cause an unsigned draft pick/college student to lose his final year of NCAA eligibility. I recommend reading the whole thing but in the meantime consider this:

There is so, so much money in the game right now. The owners wield so much power, securing the lion’s share of revenue in the latest collective bargaining agreement – the same CBA that saw the union siphon draft dollars away from non-members like Wetzler in exchange for increasing salaries at the big league level. Every advantage is tilted towards the owners, who aren’t required to open their books yet somehow every single contract detail for every single player is leaked and publicized on dozens of websites. 
So many fans harbor intense animosity and straight-up resentment for the amount of money players make (this is not new.) The tongue clucking and unchecked glee with which “player X made Y dollars and is now broke!” are shared around only serves to underscore the prevailing notion that nobody should make such a large sum playing ” a child’s game” yet an art collector born on third base can weasel his way into owning a team while proudly crowing about the triple he just lashed to the gap. It’s an ugly side of the sports fandom that is only getting worse. 
While the TV riches float the top end of the salary tax brackets up, they might end up having the reverse effect on salaries in some markets. As the TV revenue begins dwarfing other sources of income for teams, the incentive to spend and “buy” a competitive team lessens, does it not? Why spend extra money when the impact on your bottom line is negligible? Clubs cry poor and cite budgets when they aren’t poor and their budgets are in place to save them from themselves, mostly.

While I'm not saying that players are saints and owners are scumbags, I wonder if the ultra-wealthy are spared the critical eye of we, the sports-horny public.

I need to go now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Twitter plagiarism happens a lot and that sucks

This isn't so much about "The Winnipeg Jets" but what's the policy on plagiarizing tweets? Is it plagiarism?

The question for me first arose when prominent local Jets fan @Jetsxoxo retweeted the following tweet:

Totally funny stuff. But it turns out someone else thought of it the day before:

Even this last tweet wasn't the original but it doesn't matter. Give credit where credit is due.Twitter is designed to share funny jokes like this. There is a fucking button for it.

People copy-and-paste other peoples' ideas from Twitter into other mediums as well. Remember Teemu Selanne and how cool he is? He rides a bicycle at the Olympics in Sochi to get around and says good-humored things to the media. Well, I saw this on Facebook the other day:

Wait. That sounds familiar...

I'm not sure what the Chicago and MLA handbooks say about sourcing from Twitter.......... but basically it's good to acknowledge where you heard the joke or thought from -- especially if you're directly copy-and-pasting it.

Otherwise you're being lame.

If you're interested in more on this read comedian Patton Oswald's fantastic and thorough piece on plagiarism among comedians as it relates to Twitter and the @ProdigalSam account in particular. Very interesting.