Thursday, July 18, 2013
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - Your New 2013-14 Dallas Stars
Time to take a measured, rational look at the Stars' newest additions.
Hola, mi amigos de hockey. Last week we took a stroll down memory lane and roundly praised the tact and self-restraint of the Boston media. This week we're going to take a big step back and look at exactly what this well-churned Dallas Stars roster has in all of its many new additions.
But first, a quick warning: Teams with this much roster turnover and this many annual free agent signings historically perform terribly the next season. That said, many of these are long-term moves that, despite the highly entertaining trainwreck of a season starting in two months, may actually turn out to be beneficial down the road.
It also needs to be put out there that hockey fans re also fans of Truth: You're either winning three consecutive Stanley Cups or you're an abject loser. There is no such thing as middle ground.
Sparkling New Addition #1: Sergei Gonchar
2013 Stats: 45 games, 27 points, +4
...Which In A Real Season Projects Out To: 49 points, +4
Best Case Scenario: Gonchar acts as Yoda to Nichushkin's Luke and Goligoski's Leia, turning them into the Malkinest and Letangest players west of the Mississip. Gonchar and Goligoski tie for the Norris Trophy after putting up 82 points apiece, and Sergei celebrates by banging Shea Weber's mom on Russian national television. A generation of enigmatic Russian forwards are inspired to play defense and work the corners for the first times in their lives, giving all-seeing GM Jim Nill his pick of the litter in the next forty upcoming drafts.
Worst Case Scenario: Gonchar's 2013 playoff form turns out to be the utmost of his ability, as he surrenders three goals a period in his first five games and is unceremoniously benched. As a healthy scratch, he uses his forked Commie tongue to sow ill will and discord among Nichushkin and Goligoski, until both mysteriously leave the team and are found, naked and bleeding, in an old abandoned Soviet theme park just outside of Chernobyl trying to raise an army of radioactive deer to help them make vodka-flavored meth to sell to gullible American granddaughters. Both Gonchar and Nill are forcibly deported to Kirghistan, where they pen manifestos on the importance of secondary assists on the powerplay between rock-eating shifts in the Gulag. The franchise never recovers, plunging it into a thousand years of darkness.
Most Likely Scenario: The second one.
Sparkling New Addition #2: Lindy Ruff
2013 Stats: 17 games, 6-10-1, Fired
...Which In A Real Season Projects Out To: 82 games, 29-48-5, Fired
How They Got Him: After six years of futility highlighted by two ho-hum first round exits, the Sabres fired Ruff, doused his office in gasoline and burned it to the ground. After Nill's first choice for head coach --a guy who took one of the most complete rosters in the Western Conference and made it into an international punchline-- spurned him, Nill wisely went with the other guy who got canned for a half-decade of underperformance over several more promising AHL coaching studs.
Best Case Scenario: Ruff, learning the error of his ways, stops sniping at his best players through the media and actually tries this thing called "coaching," which leads to a stunning 60-point improvement on the 2013 season. His calm, unflappable-yet-tough-as-granite demeanor sets the tone for a young team to cruise through the playoffs, winning four of the next six Cups and firmly transforming the Stars into the Yankees of Hockey. With no further worthy challenges in the sport, Ruff retires and turns his talents to solving the twin problems of Palestinian occupation and interstellar space travel, negotiating a historic treaty that allows the Arabian diaspora to become the first people to colonize Mars. While there, Ruff himself discovers GammaWater, which will save all earth mankind following the Monsanto Plague of 2037.
Worst Case Scenario: Ruff, still slapping himself on the back for the way he handled Grigorenko's rookie season and blaming the Sabres front office for his recent troubles, wastes no time in his second preseason press conference, assigning his team's 0-2-0 start to Gaglardi's 72 IQ and Nichushkin's endless barrage of Yakov Smirnov jokes. After the team storms out of the gate to a 1-18-6 record, Ruff's players walk out on him in the second intermission of a 6-1 shellacking at the hands of the 2-17-6 Blue Jackets, prompting Ruff to lace 'em up with the four remaining Stars fans in the AAC and lose a historic 79-1 game that leads to Nill ordering Ruff's immediate execution. Ruff's body is dumped in an abandoned quarry in backwoods Oklahoma as he brings shame to the next twenty generations of his descendants and initiates a thousand years of darkness.
Most Likely Scenario: B.
Sparkling New Addition #3: Valeri Nichushkin
2013 Stats: 18 games, 4 goals, 6 points, +6
...Which In A Real Season Projects Out To: 82 games, 18 goals, 27 points, +6
How They Got Him: A very deep draft, combined with 4-5 very dim GMs of not-so-deep teams who passed on the talented young Russian in favor of objectively inferior players. Dallas was more than ready to trade prime assets for the winger, who some consider to be the second or third best player in the draft, but thanks to a half-dozen GMs who grew up thinking that they could avoid nuclear annihilation by ducking under cheap wooden desks, Nichushkin landed right in their laps at #10 overall.
Best Case Scenario: Nichushkin repeats the rookie seasons of Ovechkin and Malkin, putting up 50+ goals and 50+ assists, which leads directly to 50+ executive firings in Calgary, Tampa and Vancouver. His name becomes synonymous with hockey everywhere, causing legions of Cowboys fans to abandon their hopeless football team and convert to Stars hockey in droves, as well as finally learning how to spell. Nichushkin spends the majority of the next decade making people forget about has-beens like Malkin and Stamkos, and causes Kovalchuk to forgo the oil riches of the KHL and take the league minimum to play for the Stars. Tensions between Russia and the U.S. cease, as the two former enemies decide to combine their talents, join forces and invade the rest of the planet.
Worst Case Scenario: After putting up a paltry two goals and a secondary assist in his first three games, Nichushkin is made a healthy scratch by an incensed Ruff, who calls him out to the media as a "modern day Baba Yaga, stealing babies in the night." Nichushkin takes this insult personally, defects to the Cuban national team, which then beats the highly-favored US team in the 2014 Olympics on the strength of Nichushkin's 28 goals in 6 games. The war of words between the young player and his former team turns into an actual war when the Russian mafia summarily executes every man, woman and child who had ever bought a Sergei Zubov bobblehead. Relations between the two nuclear superpowers come to blows, as Putin personally suckerpunches Obama in the neck at the next G7, re-igniting the Cold War and sending the globe into a thousand-year Age of Darkness.
Most Likely Scenario: The first one.
Sparkling New Addition #4: Tyler Seguin
2013 Stats: 48 games, 32 points, +23
...Which In A Real Season Projects Out To: 82 games, 55 points, +23
How They Got Him: After a 1-for-71 goals-to-shots performance in an otherwise impressive postseason, Seguin was roundly criticized by "sources" that were probably Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, who was looking to shed some salary and decided to do it in the most backhandedly dickish way possible. Seguin and third line center Rich Peverly were then traded for a fading Loui Eriksson and three B- or C-level prospects, making the 21 year-old center into one of the many young faces of the franchise, along with Jamie Benn and Brenden Dillon.
Best Case Scenario: Seguin, finally playing the position that made him into the second-overall pick in the draft three years ago, excels with Benn and Whitney as his wingers, putting up 95 points and banging 95 SMU undergrads in his first season in Dallas. The Seguin-Benn pairing becomes the stuff of hockey legend, re-affirming advanced stats nerds' yearly predictions for these two and making terms like CORSI, GF/60 and PDO into household words. Seguin puts up HoF numbers over the next 15 years in Dallas and fathers thousands of healthy children, many of which emulate their dad and become the next generation of elite Stars forwards. Three years from now, Eriksson, Joe Morrow and Reilly Smith all sign with Dallas for the league minimum-- just for a chance to win six or seven Cups behind Seguin's blistering point totals and career 40% postseason shooting percentage.
Worst Case Scenario: For the first time in recorded history, the Boston media is proved right when Seguin shows up to training camp hungover, crawling with STDs and missing a kidney, which he sold to a back-alley Czech doctor for booze money. Then three games into the preseason he shows up to morning skate missing a limb, which he had sawed off himself in self-defense after taking a half-pound of bad acid. Skipping out on the team's first ten games to go on a wild road spree to Tierra del Fuego, Seguin contracts explosive diarrhea on just the second day, and while having his stomach pumped by untrained peasants in a northern Mexico border town, he has his internal organs sucked into the gears of an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. Seguin never sets foot on the ice for a regular season game for Dallas, while Eriksson recaptures the Most Underrated Form that made him a media non-darling for the past six seasons, leading Boston to three straight Stanley Cups and a thousand years of darkness in which "I Told You So" becomes the city's motto.
Most Likely Scenario: Definitely the first one.
Sparkling New Addition #5: Shawn Horcoff
2013 Stats: 31 games, 12 points, +8
...Which In A Real Season Projects Out To: 82 games, 32 points, +8
How They Got Him: Horcoff had exactly one better-than-average season in his career, eight years ago, which is also the last time he made the playoffs and the year right before signing a huge, bulky contract that was Reason #873 Why The Oilers Are A Laughingstock. Horcoff's numbers have declined nearly every year since, as he lost his spot as the team's #1 center, then lost his spot as the team's #2 center, then lost his parking spot to the team's #3 marketing intern. With a bevy of budding young superstars to re-sign to ridiculous contracts before they leave for other teams, Edmonton had no choice but to ship out Horcoff for Philip Larsen, who can immediately contribute as the team's second or third healthy scratch of the night.
Best Case Scenario: Horcoff, motivated by the Oilers spurning his services for Phillip Effing Larsen, becomes the player we all knew he could be a decade ago, nailing down the #2 center role with 60 points, a 60% faceoff winning percentage and 60 fights with Yakupov and Taylor Hall in the four games Dallas plays against Edmonton. Horcoff rediscovers both his shot and his blinding speed, anchoring a line with a pair of rookie All-Star wingers in Nichushkin and Alex Chiasson, which puts up 3-4 goals a game in the first-ever 16-0 postseason. Horcoff's contract is universally praised as the best in over a century of hockey, even as the Oilers are forcibly relocated to the marshes of Houston in punishment for giving up too soon on their former captain.
Worst Case Scenario: Horcoff continues to be old, first losing his second-line center spot to Literally Anyone Else before ending up as a permanent healthy scratch nine games into the regular season. Even from the press box, his Oilery ways infect the team, as the defense somehow forgets how to block shots or check and the forwards enjoy tea and crumpets at the center red line when the puck enters their own zone. Kari Lehtonen is replaced midseason by Kari Byron and nobody notices. The team purposefully gives Horcoff incorrect information so that he misses team flights on road trips. Horcoff's name becomes synonymous with "$5.5 million no show," as he fails to even appear in the final forty regular season games, first becoming a homeless drifter before finding his life's true calling: using his millions to set up hundreds of meth labs next to elementary schools across the country --raking in billions in lunch money, $10 checks from grandma and pennies picked up from parking lots. With his newfound wealth, he buys all 30 NHL teams, expands to 60 more markets in Central America and institutes a four-month lockout after every ten games. Disgusted by what they see, promising young athletes around the world turn to--ugh--basketball, relegating hockey to a ninth-tier sport, somewhere between Competitive Baby Mauling and the WBNA. All human progress and advances in civilization are halted, resulting in a thousand years of darkness.
Most Likely Scenario: The second one, obviously.