Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best NHL Team Money Can Buy

The only rule I am enforcing in assembling "The Best NHL Team Money Can Buy" is the ineligibility of players who are still on their entry-level deal, because their salaries are fairly standard depending on their draft position, meaning I couldn't select guys who have never been through a real negotiation. And of course, in a salary-capped world, this team must fit in under the current salary cap of $57 million.

I also tried to construct a team as if I were a real NHL GM, not focusing solely on offensive production but rather trying to build a well-rounded roster with defined roles. I'm not ready to say this squad would be the definite Stanley Cup champions, but I'd take my chances. (To any NHL owners reading this: my resume can be e-mailed in seconds!)

(All salaries are for the 2009-10 season.)

Ryan Getzlaf: $5,125,000 - A big, strong well-rounded player with soft hands, good speed, and incredible awareness. He's like Joe Thornton, only younger and with a Stanley Cup ring.
Marc Savard: $5,000,000 - Claude Julien has the formerly one-dimensional Savard playing hard at both ends of the ice. His play-making ability, especially on the PP, is among the best in hockey.
Derrick Roy: $3,500,000 - His salary goes up each of the next three seasons, but in 2009-10 he provides excellent value and production on my third line.
Dominic Moore: $1,100,000 - Good faceoff man, excellent on the PK and can chip in on scoring. The perfect 4th line center.

Left Wings
Ilya Kovalchuk: $7,500,000 - Granted, my man-love for the supremely-talented Russian is well documented (for the 1000th time, please come to Toronto next year Ilya!), but his scoring and play-making ability is under-appreciated. He is a guaranteed 45 goals and 90 points no matter who he's playing with.
Rene Bourque: $1,400,000 - Spark plug who can score (31 points in 32 games) and seems to be getting better and better every game.
Andrew Brunette: $2,500,000 - I've never understood how this guy continues to get passed around the league without ever finding a home. He's put up consistent points in every stop.
Nigel Dawes: $850,000 - How could Phoenix let Dawes go over a few hundred thousand dollars?

Right Wings
Ales Hemsky: $3,600,000 - I know he's hurt right now, and has never really fully delivered on his talent, but he's not overpaid and I still see a lot of upside.
Dustin Brown: $2,600,000 - Should surpass 30 goals for the second straight year and could really break out offensively at any time. Also not afraid to mix it up.
Jason Pominville: $1,350,000 - Has already signed a contract extension that will give him a hefty raise to $5.3M a year beginning next season. Suffice to say, Pominville isn't likely to be a repeat member of this squad.
Mikael Samuelsson: $1,200,000 - A smart player and a veteran presence to fill out the 4th line. Slightly more expensive than what you'd ideally want to pay a checker, but his ability to score combined with his winning experience make him a valuable addition.

Tomas Kaberle: $4,250,000 - One of the best powerplay quarterbacks in hockey and certainly the most affordable.
Shea Weber: $4,500,000 - My number one shutdown 'D' continues to live in relative obscurity in Nashville, but won't on this team.
Dennis Wideman: $3,750,000 - Has grown into a superb two-way defenceman. Another former London Knight, who learned from the Hunter brothers and is now excelling in the NHL.
Duncan Keith: $1,900,000 - With his recent long-term contract extension and likely inclusion on Team Canada's Olympic defence, Keith's unknown days are over. Could be the best value in the entire league for 2009-10.
Andreas Lilja: $1,250,000 - My top two defensive pairings will eat up close to 25 minutes a piece, leaving only 10 minutes or less for my numbers five and six. Lilja is a bit player who knows his role and excels in it.
Matt Carkner: $500,000 - Strictly a physical presence who will keep the opposition honest.

Antti Niemi: $827,000
Jon Quick: $570,000

My goaltending philosophy is well known in this space, so I won't repeat myself. Let's just say I'd continually roll the dice and take chances on 25-29 year-old guys, never over-paying any of them.

Total Salary: $51,866,000

(Another note to NHL owners: That would leave a little more than $5 million on the table, leaving room to make a deadline deal or take on salary in case of injury.)


  1. I won't say I can put together a better squad based on the criteria.

    What I will ask is when are you gonna tackle the three elephants in sports (for Canadians)? First, your take on Canada's Olympic squad selection? Second, your thoughts/reviews of our World Junior squad? Third, as a rabid golf fan, are you gonna offer up your opinion on Tigergate now that the dust has settled a bit?

    CSJ, your fans wanna hear, so we'll hand the mic back to you.


  2. Pretty good ... although I'm not a fan of Hemsky. I think it is safe to say he has been a bust.

    I'm curious about your opinion on the Team Canada selections as well. I have some opinions but I'll reserve them until I read yours. But Niedermayer as captain? You can't be serious Stevie. I don't think I would have even picked him based on his play the last year or so.


  3. I tackled the roster in the thought of the day...overall I am ecstatic with the selections. We went with young legs which in my mind is an excellent move. I'm particularly thrilled with the inclusion of Drew Doughty. As for Niedermayer as Captain, I think this was Stevie Y's way of calming the seas with the veteran crew and all the Canadian fans who were looking for more experience on the roster.

  4. In case you missed the Dec.31st TOTD...

    I am very pleased with the selections Steve Yzerman and his management team made for the Olympic roster. I was apprehensive leading up to the announcement, hoping we wouldn't repeat the same roster mistakes that led to the disaster in Turino. And we didn't. No Ryan Smyth, Shane Doan, Robyn Regehr and others of that ilk just because they've been there before. Yzerman and company simply went with the players who are at the top of their game right now, and have been there for the last 2-3 years. We've got a big, fast, skilled and tough team that, on paper, appears more than capable of winning Gold. The only choices I can even mildly question would be Patrice Bergeron and Brent Seabrook, but neither is even close to the level of Todd Bertuzzi over Sidney Crosby in '06.