Now’s about the time when a lot of bloggers get political, and tell you why their team's guy(s) should be getting your All-star vote. Well, I’m here to tell you the opposite. Stop voting for Ducks.
Now I don’t know if there’s much I can do about the Niederpronger "Twins", as really, they are celebrities in this league and whether I like it or not, they will be on the western team. But Giguere? McDonald? Selanne? These guys are more on the fringe, so perhaps I can actually dissuade some votes. Don’t vote for them, especially you rare-breed Duck fans.
"But Sleek, why are you against Anaheim representation at the All-Star Game?"
a) It’s pointless. At this point the Ducks have bigger aspirations than participating or winning in an All-Star game. At this point, I would think a few days off would be more beneficial than a silly promo game.
b) Other than the d-men and possibly Giguere, they don’t deserve it. Currently Selanne is sitting 42nd in overall scoring and McDonald 108th. Even Giguere, after his bad outing, dropped to 8th in GAA and 10th in sv%, meaning that there are 6 or 7 better statistical goalies to select in the west.
c) Most importantly, both Selanne and Giguere are headed for unrestricted free agency after this year. What good is it for the Ducks to have these guys chosen as all-stars in a salary-cap environment? Really, it’s just another excuse to drive up the offseason signing price. The problem in this league with "feathers in your cap" is later, you have to pay for them.
In fact, the real theme of this post is to talk about individual success vs. team success. While individual success is nice (say, a scoring title or an all-start bid), a franchise will have to pay a player for these individual accomplishments, whether they bring a team to the playoffs or not.
That’s why I’m so excited about Anaheim’s W-L record thus far, because it is being done without scoring leaders. Despite being the 4th best offense in the league (and best in the west), there is no point-a-game player on the team. Selanne’s 42nd-best 17 points leads the team.
Compare this to other teams: Carolina has five players outscoring Selanne, Buffalo and the Rangers each have four, and Atlanta, San Jose, Toronto, and Washington each have three. What does this mean? Well, when it comes time to re-sign these rosters, which will be the cheapest?
I got nothing against scoring leaders per se, but we should keep in mind the ever-looming salary cap. Franchises with league leaders on their rosters will have more difficulty keeping the team intact, as all-stars negotiating contracts get to use other all-stars as comparables. What teams stand a better chance of keeping their rosters together? Well, look to Anaheim—those that can score goals without putting any of their players in the scoring race. Long term, it’s a cheaper way of producing a winner.
Side note: To date, the eastern conference has scored 840 goals, compared to the western conference’s 718. That’s a huge disparity, and to tell you the truth, I think eastern teams are generally going to have to pay bigger premiums later for their higher-scoring superstars than the lower-scoring superstars in the west. It’s a weird disparity, but as a guy concerned about future salaries, I’d rather be on the lower-end side of that scale.
One last paradox of success is the NHL trophy race, as tracked by Mirtle. Looking at his votes, does Pittsburgh really want Malkin winning the Calder trophy? What will that cost them later? Or does Atlanta really want a Hart trophy for Hossa? What will that cost them later? Is it worth it for a team to have a trophy winner any more, especially if that person will be coming up for contract negotiation in the near future?
It’s a weird environment to think about how a player performs today will affect what you pay him tomorrow, but that is in fact the reality of our new league. Especially teams that are smaller-market should be paying attention to Anaheim’s current team model: how to win games without making any of your soon-to-be-free-agents into superstars.
Thank god Niedermayer and Pronger have their salaries locked in long-term, or I’d really have to start an anti-Norris Trophy campaign.
p.s. Jeez I'm getting preachy lately, aren't I?