INSIDERS. Several reports, excerpts, quotes and multimedia on a Thursday afternoon:
FOX FACTS. I spoke with James Charles Fox about the playoffs, Todd McLellan, Patine, and whether Tuesday’s officiating judgement will serve as a watershed moment to spur the general managers and Board of Governors to consider changing rules to make certain major penalties reviewable by video:
PRAISING CANES. You saw Justin Williams forecheck, spin and whip a puck towards the net that Brock McGinn got a stick on in double overtime, sending Carolina to the second round for the first time since 2009, the last time they even qualified for the playoffs to begin with. Look out, Brooklyn: the Hurricanes are now 10-4 all-time in playoff series and traveled north today led by a captain who’s 8-1 in Game 7s with 18 total points.
Sometimes there are no words. pic.twitter.com/enrdoJLPOF
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) April 25, 2019
That’s got to feel pretty incredible for Williams. His legacy is set more so than any other player in the league. He could never qualify for the playoffs again, and it wouldn’t matter. But for someone who was playing his 147th playoff game and won the 18th series of his career, there’s got to be a pure, unadulterated joy in summoning a familiar feeling at 37 years old in beating the defending champions in their own home after returning from a 2-0 series deficit and a 2-0 Game 7 deficit. This is not out of character for Williams. Players aren’t always keen on reminiscing, getting too nostalgic or even thinking big picture in the middle of their careers, let alone in the middle of the playoffs, but with someone of his ilk and accomplishment – there’s some white in that playoff beard, Justin – I wonder how he processes what it means to not just reignite the love of hockey in the Carolina market but also back it with the substance of a playoff series win against his former team, which won a Stanley Cup the year he left. These are likely new emotions for a 20-year veteran. “Organic sports talismans” like the Rally Monkey and Rat Trick, as I wrote in February, weren’t simple flashes, but backed by actual, earned playoff success. The Jerks are still alive, and Mark Messier, if you’re listening, Justin is a fine choice for your leadership award.
LET’S MAKE THIS ABOUT US. The win also had an effect on two LA Kings draft picks: one real, and one conditional. It also raised the question: is it more valuable to own a sixth round pick, or for a first round pick already in the team’s possession to move up marginally?
We’ll get to that in a second. First! The real, tangible first round draft pick obtained in the Jake Muzzin trade. By Carolina eliminating Washington, that keeps the possibility alive that the Hurricanes could make the conference final, pushing them into the 28-31 draft slots rather than a slot behind Toronto, which finished above them in the standings but failed to win the division. This means that were Carolina to advance to the conference final along with Colorado and Columbus, Los Angeles would fall into draft slot #20. Had Washington won last night, that #20 slot would have been out of reach, and L.A.’s range would have shrunk from 21-23.
But wait! Because the Capitals lost, that conditional sixth round draft pick in 2020 from the Carl Hagelin trade goes poof. And that returns us to the original question about whether that (theoretical) pick is more or less valuable than (theoretically) moving up a slot in the mid-to-late first round.
The answer, by one formula, is that they’re almost exactly the same. Michael J. Schuckers, a professor at St. Lawrence University and the co-founder of Empirical Sports, sought to provide numerical value for each pick in the NHL Draft and built a formula that produced several tables (PDF), the most recent of which was passed along yesterday. Again, this is one study, and shared anecdotally. But the difference between picks 21 and 23 was a point value of 41, which is exactly the value given to picks 172-177, picks 17-22 of the sixth round. Also interesting: if the Kings were to end up with the fifth pick and the 21st pick, the values assigned to those picks (658 and 246) combine to exactly equal the #2 slot in the draft (904).
Don’t get too caught up in this. Let the chips fall where they may, lest you find yourself intently watching a Florida-New Jersey overtime in Game 82 that unknowingly and against odds nudged the Kings away from the draft lottery position that produced the first overall pick. Again, these aren’t exact sciences, but probably something more along the lines of “it really didn’t matter if Carolina or Washington won, as long as the team that advances reaches the conference final.”
CHART AND GRIT. Please refer to the following chart for LA Kings drafting scenarios:
CONFERENCE FINALISTS :: LA KINGS DRAFT SPOT
San Jose/Dallas/Boston/Carolina :: 22
San Jose/Dallas/Boston/Islanders :: 23
San Jose/Dallas/Columbus/Carolina :: 21
San Jose/Dallas/Columbus/Islanders :: 22
San Jose/St. Louis/Boston/Carolina :: 22
San Jose/St. Louis/Boston/Islanders :: 23
San Jose/St. Louis/Columbus/Carolina :: 21
San Jose/St. Louis/Columbus/Islanders :: 22
Colorado/Dallas/Boston/Carolina :: 21
Colorado/Dallas/Boston/Islanders :: 22
Colorado/Dallas/Columbus/Carolina :: 20
Colorado/Dallas Columbus/Islanders :: 21
Colorado/St. Louis/Boston/Carolina :: 21
Colorado/St. Louis/Boston/Islanders :: 22
Colorado/St. Louis/Columbus/Carolina :: 20
Colorado/St. Louis/Columbus/Islanders :: 21
So, there are two scenarios in which Los Angeles picks 20th, six in which they pick 21st, six in which they pick 22nd, and two in which they pick 23rd. Stars-Blues has no bearing on where the Kings will pick. Also, for your listening interests, Jim Fox will provide Game 4 radio color commentary from Denver on Thursday, May 2.
OATES NOTES. I had been asked about Adam Oates recently and relayed the question to Rob Blake during year-end coverage. This was before Todd McLellan was hired, and Blake at the time insinuated that the new coach would determine how they’d work with Oates in the future.
“He’d come in a few days a week,” Blake said. “A lot of his initial stuff was with me, understanding individual player skills. He’s got a really good knack at watching players and understanding how they pick up a puck on the wall, positionals and things. As it unfolded in the months later, he started going on the ice with some of our top guys, and in particular, Kopitar and Doughty, and working on some half-wall stuff on power plays and that. We’ll have to sit with him and see. A lot will depend, again, on that coaching staff and what they want to involve him in there.”
THE PLAN. The LA Kings aren’t in a quick-fix situation by any twist of reality, and the term and capital invested in Todd McLellan is an indicator that a vast body of work collectively lays ahead. This was laid out in the past two weeks as McLellan described that he was drawn to Los Angeles because of “the people, the plan, and the autonomy to execute that plan,” and that the “clarity of the plan” had been well presented.
“Look, I chose to come here, I know what’s ahead,” he said. “Patience is important, passion is importance as a coach. Those intangibles exist, and even in a 62-win year, as they had in Tampa Bay, you have to have those qualities as a coach. I operate based on reality. I think it’s really important to know where you are in your timeframe, as far as the team, and the evolution of the team. I understand where this team is and maybe more so than even the players do. I’ve accepted the plan. I can be patient, but when it comes to standards and practice habits, as Tyler Toffoli talked about, the execution or the attempt to execute, that’s where the patience can come a little thinner, you can become impatient a little bit quicker. The wins and losses, I understand where we are and we have to progress, we have to show that we’re going the right direction. We’ll take dips like every other team, but the buy-in, the standards, the progression, they’re all part of being patient.”
On that direction, he made clear that he was still familiarizing himself with the club’s prospects and younger assets. But because he lives in Kelowna, he didn’t have to travel far to access top-level major junior competition that provided additional dimension to many younger players he’ll coach and coach against in coming seasons.
“Anderson-Dolan, those players, I got to see them play in Kelowna this winter once or twice,” he said. “It can be dangerous in one viewing to formulate an opinion, but often when a team wins two Stanley Cups, assets are used to win and you have to recoup them later on and you pay the price for it. That’s where this organization is right now, and there’s nobody apologizing for it. It paid off, and now it’s hard work, and we all need to dig in.”
THE NOTORIOUS J.A.D. Speaking of Anderson-Dolan, his Spokane Chiefs are on the ropes after last night’s overtime loss to Vancouver and trail the Western Conference Final three games to one. Anderson-Dolan has four goals and 12 points in 14 games but has just one goal and a minus-four rating through four games against the Giants, who are on the verge of battling for their first Ed Chynoweth Cup since Milan Lucic, Jonathan Blum and Cody Franson’s epic battles with Medicine Hat in the spring of 2007.
Across the continent, Sean Durzi, Markus Phillips and the Guelph Storm are also staring down a three-one hole to the Saginaw Spirit for the right to face Jim Fox’s Ottawa 67’s in a battle for the J. Ross Robertson Cup. Durzi has two goals and 17 points through 15 playoff games, while Phillips has two goals in 15 games. Game 5 is Friday at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw. Cancel all your plans.
The Canadiens have agreed to terms on a one-year, one-way contract with forward Nate Thompson.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 25, 2019
— Lead photo via Patrick McDermott/NHLI