Armchair GM: The Price is Right (For a Backup)

I know I’ve already written a piece on backup goaltenders, and while the analytical results of that are relatively unchanged, the landscape of the league and who might actually be on the trade block has. While it is possible to pick up a backup goalie through free agency – both Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth are UFA – it’s becoming increasingly expensive to do so, and Nill tends to be the kind of GM that counts his pennies.

As I’ve said before, I think it’s unlikely that Lehtonen will be moved this summer, as his stock is very low, and Nill knows he would have to take a hefty hit on any trade with Kari involved, either by getting someone of equal or lesser performance back (think Mike Smith), or eat lots of salary to get someone better (think Craig Anderson). But the Stars are ripe with proven players as well as prospects trying to crack a crowded roster, and that makes trading for a backup a very likely scenario.

There are three main names that keep popping up in trade rumors: Robin Lehner, Eddie Lack, and Cam Talbot.

Read More »

Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It (Part 4 – Toronto Maple Leafs)

For this final installment of Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It, we’ll be taking a look at the Toronto Maple Tanks – I mean Leafs. I have to confess, this is the team I probably care the least about, through no fault of their own. The media situation in Toronto is openly hostile, and that kind of bad juju makes me shy away. That said, I’m giving this my best shot, so here goes nothing.

If you missed any of the earlier parts, click here: Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers.

Read More »

Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It (Pt 3 – Edmonton Oilers)

It’s time for the third installment of my Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It series, looking at probably the most tragic of the four teams: the Edmonton Oilers. Why is their story so sad? Well, because unlike the Sabres, Coyotes and the Maple Leafs, they were actually trying to be better this season.

Click to read Part 1 on the Sabres, or Part 2 on the Coyotes.

Read More »

Armchair GM: The Backup Goalie Situation (Again)

Well, folks, our year is pretty much done, so with no post-season hockey in sight, it’s time for Stars fans to do what we always do: look to next year.

You know when media outside of Dallas are talking about Dallas’ goaltending, it has gone past issue and straight into catastrophe. Kari is taking most of the blame for the goaltending woes, and as the starter, he definitely deserves a fair chunk of it, but the Stars have had a string of disappointing back up goalies as well. In fact, until Enroth’s win on 4/4 against Nashville, a backup hadn’t won a game they started for the Stars in over a year.

Much talk has been about trading Kari, but the truth of the matter is that he has a 5.9m contract, and that’s difficult to trade on a good year. Trying to move him in the off season this year would be like trying to sell stock in Barnes & Nobles – you’re not going to get a return anywhere close to the price you paid for it.

But with Enroth going UFA after this season, we do have a good chance to affect our back up situation going forward. And this year there are an intriguing mix of young up and comers and veteran goaltenders to look at.

First, let’s set the bar: The following chart is most of the guys who are not likely to get traded this season. Cross them off your wish list, they aren’t going to settle for being a back up, and no one, not even the Stars with their acres of cap space, can afford two $6m/yr goalies.

4.7 Backup Goalies - No Move

The Save % numbers are all 5v5 and span 3 seasons of data (2012-current). I chose to highlight Score Adjusted Sv% (a weighted Sv% of high, med, and low danger shots) and High Danger Sv% (shots from the slot and low slot, aka shots from right in front of the net – as defined here), because those are the two numbers  that are the most replicable by goalies over time.

This chart is sorted, however, by Weighted Wins per 60 minutes. Weighted Wins is a ranking I came up with to better level set the competition. The formula closely follows how teams earn points, as goaltending can frequently ‘steal’ wins or be key factors in losses (not that Stars fans know anything about that). The formula is as follows:

Weighted wins/60 = ((Total Wins*2  + Total OT Losses – Total Losses*0.5)/Time On Ice)*60.

Wins get 2 points just like the league, because good, consistent goaltending gives a team more wins.

OT Losses get 1 point, just like the league, because without the goalie keeping the game close (Stars vs the Red Wings is the exception that proves the rule, ok), there would be no chance for overtime.

But, there does need to be a penalty for regulation losses, as bad goaltenders will have worse records. Because bad defense is more likely to adversely affect the outcome of a game than good defense is to win a game, I’ve weighted losses less than wins. So we only subtract half a point per loss.

Since not every goaltender has played the same amount we convert this weighting into a time based rate, and voila – Weighted Wins per 60.

Unsurprisingly you’re seeing excellent Weighted Win numbers from goaltenders who recently received big contracts (Bishop, Crawford, MAF). Rask remains top of the heap with the best Adj Sv% and HD Sv%.

So knowing what we’re looking for, we can take a look at the other goalies available via free agency or trades. I had to pull out some players the Stars just won’t be able to afford, like Hiller, Mason, and Niemi (all over $4m/year), and also several UFA who will likely start bidding wars, like Ramo and Neuvirth (current salaries 2.9m and 2.6m, respectively). Both Bernier and Holtby are RFA this summer, and it’s hard to imagine they won’t receive qualifying offers from their current teams.

4.7 Backup Goalies - All

Again, this list is sorted by Weighted Wins, and is 3 seasons worth of data (when applicable. Obviously, some of these guys are rookies). I trimmed off anyone who’s High Danger Sv% was less than 81%, as again, that’s a very telling stat: the average Adjusted Sv% of that group is 91.4%, 1.6% lower than the group you see here. That took off some current backups like Tokarksi and Gibson, and cut off others who are going UFA this season like Anders “Been There Done That” Lindback or Dan “It Happened Once In A Dream” Ellis.

Unfortunately, many of these goalies are not very likely to be on the trading block, or are likely to be resigned by their current team. I mean, can you really see Ottawa giving up on the Hamburglar after all they’ve been through this year?

So to pare it down further, let’s look at the realistic options for signings or trades.

4.7 Backup Goalies - Reality

Starting at the bottom of this group, you’ll notice that the lowest 7 goalies have all been affected by teams who are consistently in the bottom of the NHL in points. Lieuwen and Hackett are both inexperienced goalies currently in the Buffalo system, so their numbers are bound to improve, but aren’t a good choice for a team like Dallas who needs consistency from a backup now. LaBarbera is currently playing for Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, and throughout the last three years has only managed to rack up 27 NHL games, even though he’s one of the oldest guys on the list at 35, so we can cross him out, too.

Khudobin, Reimer, and Scrivens have all posted similar Weighted Wins, and each plays for a team currently in the McEichel race. They are all making similar money with a year left on their contracts, and have plenty of experience. The big difference between all three of them is Reimer’s much better High Danger Sv%. Khudobin faces 6.86 High Danger Shots per 60 minutes, Scrivens faces 6.59, but Reimer faces 8.32 per 60, and is still posting the better Sv%.

Both Calvin Pickard and Philipp Grubauer are RFAs, which means their current teams would have to decline extending a qualifying offer before they can go into free agency, but both are currently playing in the AHL. They are relatively untested with only 16 and 20 NHL games respectively. I would expect them to stick with their current clubs.

Greiss has stellar 3yr numbers, and a 9-6-3 record with the Penguins, but his weighted wins are troubling, given that he has the highest OT Loss % of any goalie listed with over 30 games. If he were signed by the Stars for 1.5m or less, I wouldn’t complain, but he hasn’t yet dealt with a defense as shaky as Dallas’s has been.

The most interesting choices on this chart are closer to the top. Dubnyk is obviously the Cinderella story of the 14/15 season, and even though he’s been bounced around a lot, his 3 year numbers are very respectable. With how low his salary is currently, and how much of the workload he’s been shouldering for Minnesota, it’s not hard to imagine he’s due for a huge pay raise – and do the Stars really want to give him that? If Minnesota makes it past the 1st round of the playoffs, and they might this year, I could see him bringing in a $3 million contract easily, even if it is just for one or two years.

Raanta and Emery seem to be benefiting from their time with the Blackhawks, as each have started trending in the wrong direction, despite their solid 3yr numbers. Raanta is currently playing in the AHL, having lost his backup job to Scott Darling. Emery is a bargain, and hasn’t posted the numbers like Dubnyk to deserve a huge payday, but he’s also 32, and would just be another stop-gap measure while the Stars try to find a long term solution.

Chad Johnson and Jake Allen are probably the most intriguing prospects on the board. Johnson is 28 and posted a great year with the Bruins before being traded to the Islanders where he went a disappointing 8-8-1 (a record Stars fans would kill for – 17 more points would have us safely in the playoffs). Then, at the trade deadline, he was sent to Buffalo for a “playing better than expected” Neuvirth in a trade that solidified the Sabres commitment to tanking. Johnson hasn’t yet played a game for Buffalo as he’s been out with a lower body injury since March 6th. With a year left on his contract, and very few other goaltending prospects, Buffalo may be forced to make him or Lindback their #1 next year. Still, the Sabres could use some bottom 6 scorers (Garbutt) or an offensive Dman (Daley) to help flesh out their McEichel driven offense next year.

Jake Allen is an RFA, so there’s a very real chance the Blues extend him an offer. That said, Brian Elliot is still their number one, and this has caused some friction on the team, as Allen is hungry for starts. If Allen becomes available, I think the Stars would be crazy not to throw their hat in the ring to try to sign him.

As an Armchair GM, you have to give a little bit of the benefit of the doubt to guys like Jhonas “Currently Doing That” Enroth, who came from Buffalo as a starter and gave Dallas their first two backup starting wins in over a year. He also remains perfect in relief when Kari is pulled, though frequently the damage is already too much for the Stars to earn the win.

So who do we sign? Well, If I were to pick up a UFA, I would probably go Greiss (sorry Jhonas, don’t kill me) or Allen, if the Blues won’t put a ring on it. Neither are likely to break $2-2.5m/yr on the open market. Also, they’re in a good age range to really make a push at a starting job if they can put up the play to support it.

If we’re making a trade, you know my favorite refrain is Reimer for Sceviour (or even better, Garbutt), but Chad Johnson is certainly a notable option. However, Reimer is more used to working with a loosey-goosey defense, and he still puts up good numbers. Add in the offense of the Stars, and he would have a lot more wins under his belt.

The goalie market is going to be a hot one this offseason, so cross your fingers and pick up those lucky pennies, because lord knows the Stars need the help.


Note: All numbers come from War-on-ice, and all salary data comes from

Mail Bag: The Stars Are Bad For Our Heart Rates, Too

Time for another Two Bearded Ladies Mail Bag! Thank y’all so much for sending us these questions. We definitely have the best readers.

Anonymous Asked:

so … how do you explain that in every game they play whenever they outshoot the other team they lose … It’s coming to a point that when I watch the shot count on the screen and see that the Stars have more than the other team I can’t help thinking “mmm, that’s not good”. Also this team is not good for my heart rate.


M: Love. If we could explain that, we’d be co-captaining the Dallas Stars.

C: At this point, the only thing we can really look at is how many scoring chances the Stars give up per game. Usually, even if they’re out shooting the competition, they’re still ending up above league average scoring chances against per 60 (SCA/60). The difference between Scoring Chances and “Shots on Goal” is that they’re weighted by where they were shot from and whether it was a rush, breakaway, etc, and so are a better predictor of goals. Against Tampa we had an (5v5, score adjusted) SCA/60 of 31.2. Against the Islanders, which we had to win in OT, it was 37.3. League average is 25.

We are playing better defensively (against Anaheim it was only 15.3) as a whole, but we have a long way to go before we’ll really see that pay off.


Anonymous asked:

How would the Stars survive a zombie apocalypse? What would their plan be? Would they come up with a plan or just take it minute by minute? Who would be the surprising leader? Who would get caught by the zombies?


M: Where are they when apocalypse strikes? Because if they’re in their own homes, god knows. That would be a mess of everyone trying to get to a central location with their families. If they’re at the training facility just having a normal practice when all hell breaks loose, I predict minute-by-minute planning (nothing about this team strikes me as the long term planning type) and John Klingberg as your surprising leader. Turns out he’s GREAT at headshots with his hockey stick. Close combat isn’t ideal with zombies (you don’t want to become infected yourself) so Jamie and Tyler practice accuracy shots with pucks at zombie’s heads. They are also surprisingly effective at this, but naturally not able to react quickly with a horde. They manage to survive for a surprisingly long time in the Dr Pepper Arena before they run out of snacks and powerade. They send out the pitbull line to scout and lose Roussel and Garbutt (sorry boys) when they start a fight they can’t win against a handful of fresh zombies. Eventually they make their way to Ikea where Klingberg and Nemeth feel right at home. The employees and customers of Ikea have managed to hold off the zombies with stylish yet affordable home furnishings. They survive there on the meatballs until the National Guard arrives to take everyone to a more secure location. (All of the families survive because I’m not a monster.)

C: What she said. Also, Spezza learns to knit. Why? Because he seems the type.

M: If Spezza learns to knit, Hemsky learns to spin. They all end up on a ranch somewhere that Jamie names Apocalypse Ranch because he has no imagination. They keep sheep. For the knitting. (And other things, obviously, like cows and chickens. McKenzie turns out to be an excellent gardner.)

C: It’s probably Faksa’s goat farm.

M: They have to get rid of his fainting goats though. They let him keep a few that he bottle raised and named after family members in the Czech Republic.


Meep Asked:

Oh, a few things: Since this season is essentially done, do you think Tyler and Val should take it slow with coming back? I know they wanna be back asap, but it’s not like they could fix this anymore.


M: That would assume the only reason they’d come back is because of a playoff push, and not because they’re better. Stars organization unequivocally said that they weren’t rushing Tyler’s return on Saturday. Val’s taking a lot longer, but is still within the time frame they’ve been updating us with all season. So I don’t know that Val’s continued absence is because they’re taking it slow or just that he isn’t actually ready yet.

Another thing to consider, beyond what the medical staff approves, is that these are hyper competitive dudes that just want to play hockey. They got to the NHL by way of this hyper competitive attitude, and FUCK, Pascal Dupuis didn’t let MISSING ONE THIRD OF HIS LUNG stop him from playing five games. (This, by the way, is fucking stupid and not actually an attitude I advise ANYONE take to their health and wellbeing.) That said, the Stars staff is well aware of what Tyler’s going through, (the Pens staff were very much in the dark re: Dupuis) and would take his own opinion into account, probably, but not actually make decisions based on it.

C: Players playing while injured makes me so upset. LUONGO, I AM LOOKING AT YOU.


What steps would you like the Stars, or rather Jim Nill, to take during the off season? What are your dream trades, who would you like to see traded away etc.


M: Carolyn’s going to say Reimer for Sceviour and a pick and I’m not going to dispute that at all. I don’t know if we resign Enroth at this point, and we wasted a third round in a deep draft on him. Clearly we’re gonna need an upgrade in goal and honestly, TO BE QUITE HONEST AND FRANK, I wouldn’t be unhappy if we could unload Kari’s contract on someone, I just don’t know who would take him. Dream trade: Brent Seabrook for either Daley or Goligoski and probably a pick/prospect.

C: I would also take Bernier for Sceviour and a pick, as it would be another integral step to collecting all the hockey players with Brothers Forever tattoos.I do think either Daley or Goligoski will have to go over the summer, in part because we have a deep, if young, Defensive roster, and Nill is obviously going to be looking for a number one guy. If it’s Phaneuf (bleh), I could see the Leafs preferring Goligoski, but if we’re going to get Seabrook (plz plz plz) I think that Daley would fit better with Chicago’s super fast style of play. Defending Big D did an interesting article about trading partners, and Nill hasn’t been fond of in-conference trades (neither is Bowman) so I’m worried this might put a damper on possibly getting Seabrook.

I also think that either Oleksiak or Jokipakka will be traded as part of a package over the summer. So maybe it will be Reimer for Jokipakka and a pick.

M: LITERALLY ANYONE BUT PHANEUF. Also Stars organization seems like Jokipakka better than Oleksiak at this point, if the amount of time Jokipakka has spent up in Dallas is any indication.

C: Yes, but by the same logic, this would make him more valuable to other organizations. If we could get Reimer without giving up the pick, that would be even better.


Should there be coaching changes made? I mean clearly the PP hasn’t done quite as well as we’d want it to, or as consistent as we’d need it to. … Okay nothing has been as consistent as we need it to, *sigh*.


C: I wouldn’t be surprised if you see front office shake ups this summer. Nothing drastic like Lindy getting canned, but probably some of the support staff will go. The Stars’ power play has been limp and lifeless (M: one could almost say flaccid) (C: except then one would have to shudder) except for a few brief stints. They did score two power play goals against Tampa, so maybe it’ll kick back to life here and save someone’s job.

I think, despite our defense of him on our podcast, that Mike Valley will be out of a job come summer. Apparently Valley has also had a hand in some of the goaltending scouting that we were harping on, so I’m less keen on him sticking around. Also, it appears a good replacement, Jeff Reese, is no longer with the Flyers org, and by all accounts he did some excellent work with Mason and restoring his confidence. Rumor is that Reese & the Flyers “parted ways” because he was trying to make sure that Mason wasn’t played while injured, but Mason was put in net anyway. I would definitely not mind having a guy like that in our organization.

M: Former Flyers though, gross.

C: Dallas can rehabilitate him, though! I mean, not having to wear orange will do wonders for the soul.

M: So accurate.


@erozyskie asks:

@beardiestladies @merrinish How do you keep your beards so full? Conditioner? Mac & cheese loading? The world needs to know! 😀


M: I condition mine with only the finest of pizza oils. Every night. From Papa Johns.

C: Garlic butter does wonders for follicle stimulation.

Armchair GM: Picking a #1 Defenseman

As the trade deadline draws nearer, the talk of picking up a #1 Defenseman becomes more and more frantic for most Stars fans. There are a lot of rumors floating around, focusing mostly on three potential trade candidates: Brent Seabrook, Dion Phaneuf, and Cody Franson.

Everyone wants to be an armchair GM, and this article will help guide us through that process. So really the first question we have to ask ourselves is this: What makes a number one defenseman in the league?

It has to be more than just the ability to play big minutes: there have been games when Jordie Benn has played 26 minutes for the Stars this year, but clearly he’s not a #1 guy.

I would argue it comes down to two things, with a few caveats. First, you must have good possession numbers. The more you have the puck, the less your opponent can have it. In fact, it’s being argued that possession is the most important stat for a defenseman, as fewer and fewer teams use Dump & Chase as their strategy. Second, you must be able to prevent scoring chances against your team. Scoring Chance For % is currently the best indicator of winning, and since a Dman has little influence of the For number, his biggest realm of influence is the Against number (SCF% = SCF/(SCF+SCA)).Read More »