Never Change, NW division. Never change.

Graphic Comments
March 06 2013 09:37AM

Feast or famine

Wow. There really is no middle ground in the Northwest Division, is there?

Whether it's in the standings, with the Canucks pretty much feasting on the talent starved rest of the division, or in the front offices, where you could never accuse any of the GMs of being underfed, but sometimes it sure seems like they've starved their brains of oxygen.

That's right: it's feast or famine in the Northwest. (Yeah, I went there. Deal with it.)

This last week was no exception...

Just when you thought Jay Feaster couldn't prove himself more inept, he went out an signed restricted free agent, Ryan O'Reilly, to an offer sheet. Nothing wrong with that, in and of itself. In fact, I'm sure there were plenty of Flames fans out there planning the celebratory feast when it was announced. Even when Colorado quickly matched, there was at least a sense that the Flames front office was trying.

But those feelings of self-satisfaction were short-lived.

On Friday morning, Sportsnet broke the news that O'Reilly would have had to clear waivers before he could suit up for any team other than Colorado because he had played two games in Europe after the start of the NHL season on January 19. Just like that, the team and it's fans were once again starving for some sort of hope.

But hey, there's plenty of blame and embarrassement to go around on this one.

Just down the Rockies from Calgary, Avs GM Greg Sherman shouldn't be feeling too smug about this one. After all, he's the one that left his best centre out there to get offer-sheeted. Sure, the Avs always the the right to match, but Sherman should have learned from David Poille's experience with Shea Weber that if someone actually signed ROR, the offer sheet would likely be structured in a way that was extremely inconvenient for him to match. And sure enough, the two year deal effectively blows up Colorado's salary structure when it expires.

So yeah, maybe it's the altitude, but Sherman's brain may be a little starved for oxygen as well. Luckily for him, Jay Feaster is around to make the rest of the GMs in the division look good. Maybe we need a new #fancystat to apply to front office staff:

StupidityRel

That being said, there may be one GM in the Northwest that even Jay Feaster doesn't make look good. I mean, it's still early but has anyone noticed how Ryan Suter is quietly turning himself into the most overpaid player in the NHL? We laughed at the contract Feaster threw at Dennis Wideman, but compared to Suter, it was chump change:

Didn't think it could happen

Like I said, it's still way too early to judge the suter signing. Heck, we have another 13 years to comment on it. But the early returns are rather underwhelming. And while I wouldn't seriously compare Suter (a legit top-pairing defenseman) with Wideman (usually just a top-4 guy), it's interesting to note that both players are getting top pairing minutes but Suter is the worst possession D on his team (-5.2 CorsiRel) while Wideman is doing pretty well (7.3 CorsiRel) all things considered.

Sure, Suter is playing some tough minutes in Minnesota, but remember, he's getting paid $100 million! That's what you pay a dominant defenseman, not somebody that can be unfavourably compared to Dennis Wideman.

Anyway, Feaster also picked up Brian McGrattan from the Predators this past week. Predictably, this set off an arms (or is that fists?) race in western Canada. First to respond, uncharacteristically, was Mike Gillis, who picked up noted pugilist, Tom Sestito, to replace the departed Aaron Volpatti. But at least Gillis didn't expend any assets to add Sestito, picking him up on the waiver wire. 

The same can't be said for Steve Tambellini in Edmonton. The Oilers gave up a conditional 4th round draft pick for hirsute winger, Mike Brown. Sure, this addition does nothing to address the Oilers' real needs, but let's not that get in the way of the dominant narrative:

That's right. Your bottom six guys don't need to try and score. I'll try and keep that in mind when the dominant narrative shifts to the lack of secondary scoring...

Anyway, this revelation totally ruined this chart laying out the conditions that would boost the draft pick up to the 3rd round:

Conditionally offensive

On the bright side for the Oilers, Brown is a Don Cherry favourite, so this trade should get them way more exposure on Coach's Corner every Saturday night.

This is actually long overdue, given the obvious relationship between Don Cherry and the team's namesake:

Oilers are Don Cherry's new favourite team

And that's to say nothing of the petroleum products those suits are made of.

I want to finish off with the Canucks, who did most of their blundering on the ice in the past week. Even there, the feast or famine motif continued, with a great outing against the streaking Kings on Saturday night, followed up by a listless loss to Feaster's hapless Flames on Sunday. Sure it was a brutal travel day, but not as brutal as the Canucks' performance when they finally got to Calgary.

I'm not sure you can pin it all on the defencemen, but with Kevin Bieksa back out of the line-up, Alain Vigneault opted to sit Keith Ballard yet again and went with Cam Barker instead. I'm not sure how or why Ballard found himself in Vigneault's dog house yet again, but Barker is worse and he bites: 

His Barker is worse and he bites

So yes, it was quite a week in the Northwest Division, and hopefully it really never does change. While we might be starved for action on the ice, there's a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment off of it!

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I'm not a hippie or on welfare. I don't live in Kits, wear Birkenstocks or own an umbrella. I've never been to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but I'm sure it's very nice. I have a mayor, not a crack addict. I drink pale ale, not Blue. And I call it a cabin, not a cottage. I can proudly say my team's been to the Stanley Cup Final in the last 45 years. They may not have won, but at least they got there. I believe in sunshine, not haze; heat, not humidity. And that sushi is a healthy and tasty meal. A coho is a fish. A ski hill is a mountain. And the plural of leaf is leaves. Okay? Not leafs. Leaves! Vancouver is the country's third-largest city, certainly the most beautiful, and the best part of Canada! My name is petbugs and I am a Canucks fan! ... You can find me on Twitter @petbugs13 or send your hate mail to petbugs (at) gmail (dot) com but it better be funny or it's getting plonked.
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#52 DSF
March 06 2013, 01:56PM
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Graphic Comments wrote:

One, if you're concerned about the facts, I should probably also tell you that the graphs are not to scale.

And (b) $100 million.

(III)

Really?

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#53 justDOit
March 06 2013, 02:48PM
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So is an article by 'Graphic Comments' a new theme here, whereby formerly known writers now hide in anonymity, like all of us mouth-breathers?

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#55 justDOit
March 06 2013, 03:23PM
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Graphic Comments wrote:

It's true. I'm really Kent Wilson, but I don't dare show my face over here at ON.

If Cervenka was leading the rookie point race, and Wideman was headed for a Norris, things would be different. Misery loves company, Kent.

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#56 Mac962
March 06 2013, 04:18PM
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Brownie will be a favorite here, he has heart and hits and hits and hits more. He wont be a savior but will be fine and will give you all he has every night, no nights off. He is a role player who knows his role. Yes, we need more than him. I will take him on the forth rather than Lenny Petrell.

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#57 Dog Train
March 06 2013, 04:36PM
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The Northwest is quickly becoming the West's answer to the Southleast division. The Oiler's incompetence over the years is magnified when you look at the piles of crap that they get to play against every year. I wouldn't be surprised if the Canucks were the only NW division team to make the playoffs again.

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#58 Woogie
March 06 2013, 05:23PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

Whats a playoffs?

It's the tourney in Europe run by the IIHF at the end of the season. This year it's in Helsinki.

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#59 OilClog
March 06 2013, 05:45PM
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Woogie wrote:

It's the tourney in Europe run by the IIHF at the end of the season. This year it's in Helsinki.

Oilers and Islanders team up together and take on Europe's best.

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#60 Mikey
March 06 2013, 06:23PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

What I find puzzling is why Sherman would swoop in and match Feasters offer sheet in the middle of the Flames- Avs game. Why such haste? He had a week to mull it over, and maybe let the revelation that ROR would have to clear waivers, likely to be claimed by the BJ's, costing Calgary a first,and third pick, 2.5 mill, AND ROR, be the juices that Feaster would have to stew in! Why not let Feaster (who Sherman seemed to be peed off at) sweat and then extract a concession or two from Calgary (another draft pick or a salary dump) and then graciously let Calgary off the hook at weeks end?

Was Sherman as ignorant of the rules as Feaster? Or are we talking collusion of some sort? Anyway, I'd rather be thinking about that stuff than the Titanic of a disaster called the Oil, which is currently plowing into a succession of icebergs like a drunk driver bouncing off parked cars.

You evil genius... It's what I would have done.

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#61 DSF
March 06 2013, 08:29PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

So injuries are an excuse then?

It just proves lack of depth on that team

Not many teams, if any, could survive missing 7 of their roster players at the same time.

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#62 carson
March 07 2013, 09:12AM
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Thank you thank you thank you for highlighting Spector's idiocy with that Tweet. Why does Edmonton have to get saddled with media dinosaurs like this spewing incorrect, xenophobinc garbage. I've never seen a media guy end up on the wrong side of an argument so many times.

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