Author: Jason Brough

Carolina Hurricanes v Vancouver Canucks

Hurricanes hire analytics expert Eric Tulsky


The Carolina Hurricanes have hired analytics expert Eric Tulsky on a full-time basis.

“Eric is an extremely intelligent person and has been an innovator in the field of advanced analytics,” said GM Ron Francis in a statement. “We found the information he provided last season to be extremely valuable and are glad that he will be with us on a full-time basis.”

From the press release:

A Philadelphia native, Tulsky holds a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from UC-Berkeley. He also conducted a two-year, post-doctoral study at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., and worked in nanotechnology for 12 years.

So yeah, he’s a bit of a thinker.

Some of Tulsky’s work can be read here. Safe to say his analysis on player age and its relation to performance will be relevant when it comes to Eric Staal, and whether or not the Hurricanes should re-sign or trade the 30-year-old center.

Editorial rips Flames’ request for ‘ludicrous amount of taxpayer support’ to build arena

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames

Canada’s “newspaper of record” doesn’t think too highly of the Calgary Flames’ plan to build a new arena.

From a Globe and Mail editorial:

Calgary, historically, hasn’t lacked for confidence. Now there’s a good opportunity for the city to prove its maturity by rejecting the latest proposal for an arena-stadium complex that would require a ludicrous amount of taxpayer support.

The owners of the Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders – who include three of Canada’s richest individuals – want to upgrade their aging venues and have brought forward plans for an $890-million development on an underused downtown site beside the Bow River.

The owners are willing to spend just $200-million of their own money on the project. They’re asking the city to ante up $200-million directly. A ticket tax (possibly financed by the city) would generate $250-million. Another $240-million would come from a so-called community development levy, which essentially means taxpayers would front the money and then somehow hope to get repaid through the increased economic activity in the regenerated arena-stadium district.

Just like it was for their provincial rivals in Edmonton, this is shaping up to be quite the political and P.R. battle for the Flames. Calgary’s mayor has already thrown cold water on the team’s big plan, saying that there are “very significant requirements for public funding” and that “there is currently no money.”

While the consensus is that an arena will get built somehow, someway, expect some testy negotiations before any deal is reached.

Capitals’ biggest question: Is this finally the year?

Washington Capitals v New Jersey Devils

Of the 12 NHL teams that have never won the Stanley Cup, there may not be a more optimistic one heading into 2015-16 than the Washington Capitals. 

Here’s why:

— Alex Ovechkin just won his third straight Rocket Richard Trophy. At 29, he remains the NHL’s most dangerous goal-scorer. On top of that, the Caps appear to have found the right coach for the Russian superstar in Barry Trotz.

— The Caps also appear to have found a second-line center in young Evgeny Kuznetsov. If the 23-year-old continues to progress — and there’s no good reason he shouldn’t — Washington could have quite the 1-2 combo at center in Nicklas Backstrom and Kuznetsov.

— Defenseman John Carlson is emerging as one of the top blue-liners in the NHL. And at 25, he may get even better.

— Goalie Braden Holtby continues to post strong numbers. His .923 save percentage last season was tied with Pekka Rinne and one point better than Tuukka Rask.

Now throw in the additions of veterans T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams to go with youngsters Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson, and what emerges is a roster where a glaring weakness is pretty tough to find.

OK, sure, there are concerns. Like maybe the Caps will miss Mike Green more than they think. Ditto for Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and/or Eric Fehr. If Washington’s young players don’t step up next season, it’s hard to picture this team hoisting the Cup.

But that’s true of any team, really.

“I’d say the next three or four years is the window,” GM Brian MacLellan said in May.

Given how quickly the landscape of a young man’s league can change, it may turn out to be a shorter window than that.

The Caps have a real opportunity in 2015-16. Can they finally get it done?

Related: Green calls this year’s Caps ‘the best team we’ve had overall’

Poll: Will the Caps miss Mike Green?

Mike Green

Mike Green only averaged 19:06 of ice time last season, down more than three minutes from his previous season.

But that reduction wasn’t really a reflection of his play. It was the additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik in free agency. There are only so many minutes to go around, and the Caps also had to give John Carlson and Karl Alzner their time.

Despite Green playing less, he actually saw his production increase, from 38 points in 70 games in 2013-14 to 45 points in 72 games last season. Only 15 NHL defensemen had more points than Green did. Shea Weber and Duncan Keith also had 45 points, and they played more games and received far more ice time.

But the Caps had to make a tough decision. If Green wasn’t a top-four d-man on their team, they couldn’t pay him like one. So he signed with Detroit for three years and $18 million.

Green’s departure leaves the Caps with a top four of Orpik, Carlson, Alzner and Niskanen, with a potential bottom pairing of 24-year-olds Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt. (KHL veteran Ilya Nikulin could reportedly be on his way to D.C., too.)

OK, time to vote:

Related: John Carlson is under pressure

Under Pressure: John Carlson

John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom

We wrote yesterday about how most teams that win the Stanley Cup have an elite center, like Jonathan Toews.

Well, most teams that win the Cup also have an elite defenseman, like Duncan Keith, the 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Can John Carlson be that guy for the Washington Capitals?

The 25-year-old is coming off his best season as a professional. In 82 games, he had 12 goals and 43 assists, his 55 points ranking fifth among NHL defensemen, behind only Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban and Dennis Wideman.

And with the departure of Mike Green, the Caps will need Carlson more than ever to provide offense from the back end, while also continuing to improve in all the other areas of his game.

“I think with Carly, there’s been areas of his game that sort of would lag, and I think he’s done a really good job of focusing on those areas, so he can have that consistency,” coach Barry Trotz said in February, per the Washington Post. “He’s maturing as a player. He’s still a very young player who’s now entering the front end of the prime of his career. There’s lot of good things to see from him.”

Related: ‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’