Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In Which Your Chronicle Solves Everything

Lots of talk these days about how to fix our forever-underperforming hockey team.

Lots of all-CAPS calls to "FIRE ANDERSON" and "FIRE WADDELL."

The odd bits of praise of the team for not finishing in the bottom 5...yet.

The occasional morale-boosting blog post, reminding us that there are some things to be hopeful about, and admonishing us not to lose the faith.

The occasional text message, like the one I just got from Big Shooter, that reads in its entirety: "We need CBJ, MN, CAR, NYI to win and we need to lose. That happens and we could have number 1 pick in the draft."

What to do? Well. First, let's put on our thinking helmets (and goggles).

Now then. Let's proceed:

Your TBC editor cannot disagree with the calls to remove Waddell from the GM position. As I've stated more times than I care to think about, Don Waddell has achieved some fine things, many mediocre things, and some disastrous things. In other words, he's not all Bad. Nonetheless, even if he were a reasonably decent GM, sometimes you just need a new regime. You need, in another words, a top-to-bottom purge of the front office. Because the biggest problem with the Thrashers isn't even Waddell, though he is a regrettable symptom of the problem.

And the problem certainly isn't that we haven't had enough high draft picks.

The problem with the Thrashers is this: the folks who own the team aren't willing to pay enough money for quality scouting. By "quality" I mean thorough and wide-ranging, like the Red Wings or the Sharks or the Devils. You know, the kind who find those players in rough corners of the world (like Saskatoon and Maine) who are good but overlooked, and therefore cheap. Waddell doesn't hire good scouts, but then again the owners don't put up the money for a decent number of good scouts.

There. Glad I could clear that up that for everyone.

Moving on: whoa hey, it's spring-and-summer now, isn't it? That means playoff hockey, which is cool, and something that your Chronicle will cover thoroughly I'm sure. It also means a lot of other stuff too: the Braves (which your Chronicle editor will be witnessing in person tomorrow night, hooray!), the French Open and Wimbledon, and best of all the World Cup. It will be grand.

That is all. Except for one thing: I'd like to take this opportunity to officially announce my bid to become the new general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers. I'll work for very little money, and I'm sure the Spirit will be down with that. I'll use whatever funds they appropriate to hire not new scouts but a brand new scouting-for-scouts corps, an elite new kind of diplomatic/espionage service that will search the world for good-but-overlooked-and-therefore-cheap scouts who will find the Thrashers good-but-overlooked-and-therefore-cheap players. SORTED.


j_barty_party said...

MP for GM!! Love it..I second.

To build on what you were positing above about our shitty scouting history, I did some research on the wunderkind Washington Capitals. I was a bit surprised by what I found and what I didn't find. I thought more of their current roster players were actual draft picks of the organization, but I was a bit surprised to find that of their 23 man roster, only 8 were original WSH draft picks.

The number goes to 11 if you include Carlson (2008), Alzner 2007) and Neuvirth (2006), which is a stretch because neither has played more than 55 games. Of course, of those 8, all are key players who shape their identity as a dynamic, beat-you-in-all-phases team. A look at the 8:

'06 - Backstrom, Varlamov, Neuvirth
'05 - none, horrid draft year as we well know and understand
'04 - Ovechkin, Schultz, Green
'03 - Fehr (18th overall)
'02 - Semin & Gordon
'01 - none, but acquired 1st rounders Steckel and Morrisonn, as well as darkhorses Laich (6th rd) and Jurcina (8th) trades
'00 - none, another horrid draft

So as you can see, 5 of their key contributors (arguably their best players not counting Semin) came in 2 draft classes and within 4 seasons of their rise to power.

By comparison, and this is a stretch, but the Thrashers have 5 key contributors (I'm including Bergfors, who makes up for the Bourret disaster, but doesn't really count because he is replacing Kovy, sort of) from the past 5 draft classes to help them continue on their path back to respectability.

The problem is that Ovechkin is the best player on the planet and Backstrom isn't exactly far behind him. Varlamov has already proven he's more ready than Pavelec (and a year younger) and Bogosian is far from Mike Green's caliber. Kane and Little have the potential to be very good, but they may end up more on par with Fehr and Gordon as opposed to top line material.

Also, while not having a high pick in the 2007 draft does hamper the Thrashers in the development realm, the draft class has yet to show if it is worth a damn (Pat Kane notwithstanding). So perhaps the Thrashers dodged a bullet there, but the fact that Spencer Machacek is the only player from '07 who seems, at first blush, ready for prime-time next year does not help.

HOWEVER!! There is a chance, a small one at that, that the Thrashers scouting dept actually found some hidden gems late in the '07 draft with Postma (7th) and Niclas (naturally!) Lucenius who I think just finished the year in the top Finnish league with a respectable 17 goals. But in all likelihood, Machacek is the only one with any shot at the roster next season. And while he's been solid, his 17-20 goals in the AHL may only translate into 5-10 at the next level.

In conclusion, and in confirmation of RCP's post below about the prospect of being more formidable in 2011, 2011 seems to be the earliest that the Thrashers will be able to compete for a playoff spot. Now, with the right UFA moves in the off-season (don't laugh), they may be able to compete for a 6, 7 or 8 seed in a watered-down Eastern Conf. But the key will be not clogging up the roster too long with UFA's who will prevent some younger players from getting some much-needed experience next season.

PS - please do not take this as me being delusional to think that anyone beyond Spencer M, Kulda and perhaps Enlund (led the Finnish league in goals) and Mannino will be ready to challenge for a FT roster spot next season.

Big Shooter said...

Oh, get your own blog!!!

I've been "What if-ing" for a decade. Just can't do it anymore. I'm gonna show up, drink beer, have fun, and hope they win. It no longer goes beyond that for me...

j_barty_party said...

Aw c'mon man I like this one better than mine!! And y'all always seem to be drunk when you're posting your entries!! ;-)

And don't give up on the what-if-ing!! Puck Daddy is countin' on you boys to deliver the goods!!

GoPuckYourself said...

Damn shame Jason Heyward can't skate.

Mortimer Peacock said...

I KNOW. I really can't tell you how glad I am that baseball season is starting.

Razor Catch Prey said...

Don't worry, Big Shooter will be back to "what iffing" before long. This is the "we just got eliminated and I'm bitter" phase. At least it comes later in the year than the old "it's December and we already know we have no shot at the playoffs" bitterness.

GoPuckYourself said...

Kovy even called the elimination of the Thrashers with himself playing for the opposition "symbolic." Dude may be a greedy SOB, but he's no fool.

Rawhide said...

I think what you are trying to say is...


Razor Catch Prey said...

Chris Chelios plead to improper lane usage and speeding. His DUI charge was dropped.

I'd be really curious to see that police report. has his mugshot, but that's it.

Mortimer Peacock said...


Correct! But I figured, "Hey, why be brief when I can type about weird bullshit for several paragraphs?"