• Michel Ouellet, Ken Phelps All-Star

    by Tyler Dellow • October 7, 2008 • Uncategorized • 19 Comments

    The Canucks-Lightning trade today is an interesting one. Willis, who is miles ahead of some of the other analysis over at OilersNation (I’m wondering whether Gregor really doesn’t see the problem with his some of his analysis or if the Oilogosphere has simply been infected by the worst qualities of sports radio), is bang on, I think, picking the Canucks as the winner. Michel Ouellet’s inclusion in the deal is particularly interesting:

    Michel Ouellet’s transformation into AHL-calibre forward is slightly baffling. He played the 7th-toughest competition among Lightning forwards last year, and scored 2.00 PTS/60, while posting 2.88 GFON/60 and 1.92 GAON/60. He should see time in Vancouver this season, if he clears recall waivers.

    If anything, I think that Willis is underselling things here. Bill James used to talk about the Ken Phelps All-Stars, defined by Baseball Prospectus as “…an assemblage of players with skills that made them useful, but who were generally not given a fair opportunity to prove their worth in the majors or had been given unwarranted labels they couldn’t shake.” There’s a pretty good argument that Ouellet should be considered as falling in that group.

    Ouellet has put up some very impressive numbers over the past few years. Here’s how they look, along with a random player for comparison:

    michel

    I tend to think that this is a hell of a move for the Canucks because they moved from a position of strength to shore up one of weakness. I suppose that you could make the same argument for Tampa Bay but I’m not at all sure that I’d rather have Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts for next year than Michel Ouellet. That PP number is legitimately elite for the past three years and, while he’s been playing with Crosby and Lecavalier types, anything over 5.0 in that many minutes should raise an eyebrow. He’s not going to be deadweight eating up PP minutes if the Canucks can slide him back up the NHL (I assume but don’t know for sure that he has to clear recall waivers to come back up; I would think that Vancouver will try this quickly because he is a UFA at the end of the year, so it’s not a situation like Jason LaBarbera a few years back where the Kings just stashed him for the year so as to be able to use him in the following season.)

    I’ve been impressed with Mike Gillis so far. I know that there was a lot of criticism of his strategy this summer but he struck me as a guy doing the right thing: if the move didn’t make sense, he didn’t make it. It was like the polar opposite of Kevin Lowe’s 2007. If Ouellet ends up in the NHL, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he ended up putting up decent numbers. At the very least, it should make Kyle Wellwood feel the need to stay in shape.

    TB’s moves have really puzzled me since Len Barrie took over. I don’t think that Tampa’s difficulties were up front last year; they had just godawful goaltending, which really hurt them. A lot of their underlying numbers were decent. Before I wrote a piece over at BoA suggesting that the Caps just needed a goalie (I was suggesting Garon), I was kind of scanning through teams that looked like they just needed a goalie and TB jumped out at me; for whatever reason, they’ve gone in a completely different direction. The second set of numbers up there belongs to Ryan Malone, who is the same age as Michel Ouellet, has had pretty much the same systemic advantages, scores at nowhere near the same rates and is slightly more expensive. Of course Malone played with Crosby last year and Ouellet spent a lot of time with Chris Gratton so that’s a point in Malone’s fav…wait, no it isn’t. It was a weird summer in TB. They seemingly tried to corner the market on forwards and ended up having to give forwards away to avoid paying them. It’s like the NHL’s version of Lamar Hunt trying to corner the silver market but stupider.

    I’ve been kind of muttering this quietly in a few places for a while but I’m quite bullish on the Canucks this year. I’m hoping to throw up a big NW look back at last year at some point in the next week to highlight a few things but while I tend to think that, injuries excepted, while the Oilers had a lot of things go more right than they had any right to expect, absolutely nothing went right for the Canucks and they still piled up 88 points. I kind of see the NW as being a fight between Vancouver and Minnesota at the moment, which places me at odds with the the ESPN panel

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    19 Responses to Michel Ouellet, Ken Phelps All-Star

    1. lowetide
      October 7, 2008 at

      Meh. They sent their forward to AAA in true Ken Phelps fashion. I’m pulling for Gillis and he seems to be collecting a nice group of players behind the blueline (Luongo and that kid from college–Schneider?–plus 6 interchangable defenders who are all pretty damn good) but the GM’s job is to deal from strength to address weakness during the offseason and the forwards are the weakest in this division by plenty.

      Should he offload Bieksa + and receive a quality top 6F in return then the Canucks have definitely done enough things to compete for the NW division crown.

      Right now? They better than a Ken Phelps somewhere.

    2. lowetide
      October 7, 2008 at

      The last line shoud read “they have HAVE a Ken Phelps somewhere.”

    3. mc79hockey
      October 7, 2008 at

      They sent their forward to AAA in true Ken Phelps fashion.

      I don’t think that they sent him there. TB had already assigned him. Now Gillis has to find a way to get him back through re-entry waivers.

      …the GM’s job is to deal from strength to address weakness during the offseason and the forwards are the weakest in this division by plenty.

      Why does it matter when he does it? By waiting, Gillis got a guy whose summer doppelganger would have cost more. If anything, by waiting until there was less demand and assuming that something would happen, he comes off looking pretty good.

    4. slipper
      October 7, 2008 at

      I think if Colorado gets a goaltender, or recieves league average from the ones they already have, then the Oilers could quite possibley finish last in the NW.

      Yikes.

    5. slipper
      October 7, 2008 at

      Tampa Bay needs more Ouellet types in their line-up.

      The Lecav/St. Louis pwer match-up is an ultimate failure. Sure, those dudes can finish and do fancy stuff when they have the puck in scoring position, but ultimately they give waaaay too much back the other way. Gomez-Drury-Naslund handed them their asses in Prague over the weekend, and it’s not a new trend.

      Over the past two seasons the Lightening’s GA/60 has been a buck less or better when those two are off the ice. I don’t think Recchi, Roberts or Malone provide an answer there either.

      Tampa just better hope Smith is the real deal.

    6. PDO
      October 7, 2008 at

      Someone go flip two coins in a row for me.

      Heads – Heads, Oilers win the division.
      Heads – Tails, Wild win the division.
      Tails – Heads, Avs win the division.
      Tails – Tails, Canucks win the division.

      … Flames don’t have a hope in hell. They barely pulled it off last year, almost everyone is on the wrong side of 30, and they lost Alex Tanguay with no replacement in sight.

    7. October 8, 2008 at

      The Canucks have some nice pieces (Kesler & the Sedins up front, blueline committee strength, Luongo) but they also have some rather glaring holes. Even with Demitra healthy, the second line is a glaring weakness (although if Ouellet can be snuck up into the big league that will be somewhat mitigated) and I’m not 100% convinced that any of Kesler’s wingers (incl. Burrows) would look half as good against power matchups if Kesler weren’t there.

      They have easily the thinnest forward corps in the Northwest (even behind CGY, imo) and as nice as Luongo and the blueline look, I don’t think they can overcome it, barring a Mats Sundin signing.

      And I’m not at all convinced that Gillis can get the player he needs thru trade; the jury is still out on him.

    8. October 8, 2008 at

      I think that Demitra is really the key for Vancouver. If you look at the level of opposition he played in 06/07, it was crazy. Johnson’s EV icetime site shows his list of opponents, and it’s big numbers, hard matches, against the star players from the other squads. iirc only Gaborik played more against Smyth, only Iginla played more against Sakic, and nobody played more against the Sedins. And save for the year playing for Andy Murray, he’s been playing tough minutes for yonks. A terrific player imo.

      Then the groin injuries, and he just doesn’t win the puck battles any more, not like he used to. He played much softer ice time this past season.

      Core injuries are a bitch. No Oiler won more puck battles than Weight in his last two seasons here. Then the abdominal and groin injuries in STL, and that aspect of his game left him and never came back. Still a useful player, especially on the PP, but much less effective than he was.

      If Demitra can find his old form, that of just two seasons ago, then you have to like the Canucks’ chances. If he doesn’t, then they could struggle.

    9. October 8, 2008 at

      If Demitra can find his old form, that of just two seasons ago, then you have to like the Canucks’ chances. If he doesn’t, then they could struggle.

      Even if he does regain his form (not something I’d be comfortable betting on), would he be able to drag his linemates (some combination of Raymond, Pyatt, Wellwood or Bernier) with him?

    10. October 8, 2008 at

      jonathon:

      I think so, absolutely. He was one of the very best players in the league up until last year, IMO. I just don’t think that he will regain his old form, just based on how it seems to roll with most guys that age who get into that type of injury trouble.

    11. Jason Gregor
      October 8, 2008 at

      MC79,

      THe point of the blog was that the Jinx is overrated. You throw out a Jordan Stall stat, and then later say you don’t believe in the jinx. So maybe decide which side of the fence you will be on. Don’t keep jumping from one side to the other. I used stats from players who scored 12 points their first year to those who scored 100.

      Feel free anytime to call in the show and debate live. I would enjoy it.

      You claim Gillis has done a great job. Based on what? Obtaining a 6th D-man???

      Their defence and goaltending was their strength before he got there and it still is. They can’t score and he hasn’t added anyone that will really help that. You think Demitra is that much of an upgrade of Naslund? Give me a break.

      If he wanted Ouellet so bad why is in the minors right now? Clearly he is much smarter than all the other 28 GMs who passed on him when he was sent to the minors a few days earlier, and they could have claimed him without giving up anything. Sound move there.

      You want to critique someone, at least have the courage to do it on their site. Meanwhile keep defending a move based on stats, that most hockey people never consider. But then again, I’m sure in your world, you think you are smarter than them.

    12. October 8, 2008 at

      You want to critique someone, at least have the courage to do it on their site.

      Hahahaha what

    13. cambo
      October 8, 2008 at

      The Grade 9 Girl volleyball team at St. Cecilia has more grit than Michel Ouellet. He belongs in the AHL.

    14. October 8, 2008 at

      Meanwhile keep defending a move based on stats, that most hockey people never consider. But then again, I’m sure in your world, you think you are smarter than them.

      I’d be very interested to know about the use of statistics in NHL team offices. Los Angeles tracks some interesting ones, and given that it’s happening under Lombardi’s watch, I’d imagine San Jose is in a similar situation.

      Regardless, I’m not sure that attacking statistics on the basis that many people are ignorant of them is the best angle to take.

    15. Jason Gregor
      October 8, 2008 at

      Jonathon,

      You think I’m naive enough to think they don’t track stats. Of course they do. Stats never tell the whole story. Which was my point in the first place regarding the Jinx. There is not enough data to back that it actually exists more in the second season than in any other! But what about the stat that Ouellet is SOFT. Is there a stat for that? Probably not.

      And now the Canucks are paying Ouellet $1.25 million in the minors, and if the Canucks recall him a team can claim him and only pay for half of that. If he is as good a pick up as you guys think, then he won’t play in Vancouver, and then the Canucks are on the hook for $625,000 for a player that isn’t playing for him. Not a great move.

    16. October 8, 2008 at

      And now the Canucks are paying Ouellet $1.25 million in the minors, and if the Canucks recall him a team can claim him and only pay for half of that. If he is as good a pick up as you guys think, then he won’t play in Vancouver, and then the Canucks are on the hook for $625,000 for a player that isn’t playing for him. Not a great move.

      That’s the rub. I don’t know why Tampa Bay sent Ouellet to the minors only to move him after – you’d think he’d be more valuable as a major-leaguer in Vancouver.

      I have no idea how Gillis will sneak him through – if he tries re-entry waivers, I’d guess he looks really dumb with that 625K cap hit and nothing to show for it.

    17. Dennis
      October 8, 2008 at

      You never want dead money on your cap (which Gillis could potentially risk in this case) but if you look at it as Krajcek for O’Brien and then the other guy for Ouellet, then it’s still not a bad gamble.

      I don’t think Gillis has done a great job in Van, BTW — Bernier hasn’t impressed me in a long time and I think Demitra’s over the hill — but they would’ve made the playoffs last year if not for the unbelievable bad run of luck on their D and if they get that health this year, they very well could make the playoffs again.

    18. October 9, 2008 at

      Tails – Heads, Avs win the division.

      My lucky loonie is broken.

    19. Mr DeBakey
      October 10, 2008 at

      “He belongs in the AHL”

      Hmmm
      Never mind the fancy-shmancy stats
      17 Goals and +11, for only $1.25mm

      Its insane that nobody grabbed him off waivers. Once the injuries start to pile up, a guy like Ouellet could mean the difference between making the play-offs and not.

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