Dater reported today that the Avalanche were put through a bag skate today during practice. My reaction? I wish someone would put the Avalanche front office through the same.
The Avalanche are struggling; just 5 teams have fewer points going into tonight's games. The Avs are 21st in the league in scoring and 23rd in goals against. The PK is ranked 26th. Our top defense pairing - Jan Hejda and Erik Johnson - are a combined -28. Fire Joe Sacco, right?
Maybe not. Let's not forget that Joe Sacco doesn't have a ton to work with. His starting goalie has 92 career NHL games. His top 4 left wingers this year - Landeskog, Lindstrom, McLeod and Galiardi - have 77 career goals (this year included). McLeod is the top sniper in that group, with 31. Matt Duchene is a bright spot up front - the one Avalanche forward on pace for 60 points. 22 teams (Avs included) had a forward score 60 points last year. 15 teams (Avs not included) had more than one. This is a team with a lot of potential in the long run...but low on talent in the short run. Fire Greg Sherman, right?
Maybe not. Why? Money. Thanks to CapGeek, I compiled a list of the salary cap totals, points and playoff appearances for each team during the last three seasons (the Sherman era, although I think we all suspect he's not flying solo here). Obviously, this year's numbers are projected out to a full season.
|Team||Total Cap Used||Cap "Saved"||Points||Postseason||Dollars per Point|
|Vancouver Canucks "||$ 186,726,756.00||$0||306||2||$ 610,218.16|
|Philadelphia Flyers "||$ 186,457,067.00||$79,253||301||3||$ 619,458.69|
|Pittsburgh Penguins "||$ 182,513,471.00||$281,230||309||3||$ 590,658.48|
|Montreal Canadiens "||$ 181,976,377.00||$423,862||270||2||$ 673,986.58|
|Calgary Flames "||$ 180,660,387.00||$3,220,884||261||0||$ 692,185.39|
|Washington Capitals "||$ 180,418,393.00||$3,088,910||323||2||$ 558,570.88|
|New Jersey Devils "||$ 179,038,366.00||$5,546,127||279||1||$ 641,714.57|
|San Jose Sharks "||$ 178,269,308.00||$1,882,989||331||3||$ 538,577.97|
|New York Rangers "||$ 177,364,108.00||$2,608,892||290||1||$ 611,600.37|
|Detroit Red Wings "||$ 177,253,205.00||$4,965,965||305||3||$ 581,158.05|
|Buffalo Sabres "||$ 176,901,245.00||$5,198,572||294||3||$ 601,704.91|
|Boston Bruins "||$ 175,740,609.00||$4,408,497||276||3||$ 636,741.34|
|Toronto Maple Leafs "||$ 174,327,494.00||$5,733,381||252||1||$ 691,775.77|
|Anaheim Ducks "||$ 170,467,956.00||$10,032,044||253||1||$ 673,786.39|
|Minnesota Wild "||$ 170,162,000.00||$10,338,000||280||1||$ 607,721.43|
|Los Angeles Kings "||$ 169,918,861.00||$10,581,139||293||3||$ 579,927.85|
|Chicago Blackhawks "||$ 169,573,355.00||$6,593,892||314||3||$ 540,042.53|
|Ottawa Senators "||$ 164,599,413.00||$15,900,587||253||2||$ 650,590.57|
|Edmonton Oilers "||$ 164,433,629.00||$17,174,712||218||1||$ 754,282.70|
|Columbus Blue Jackets "||$ 162,102,670.00||$18,430,359||203||0||$ 798,535.32|
|Tampa Bay Lightning "||$ 157,048,451.00||$23,451,549||269||1||$ 583,823.24|
|Florida Panthers "||$ 155,051,101.00||$25,448,899||248||1||$ 625,206.05|
|Carolina Hurricanes "||$ 154,276,332.00||$26,223,668||237||0||$ 650,954.99|
|Dallas Stars "||$ 151,514,719.00||$28,985,251||277||0||$ 546,984.55|
|St. Louis Blues "||$ 147,118,238.00||$33,381,762||271||1||$ 542,871.73|
|Phoenix Coyotes "||$ 146,817,230.00||$33,682,770||310||3||$ 473,603.97|
|Nashville Predators "||$ 144,669,858.00||$35,830,142||302||3||$ 479,039.26|
|Colorado Avalanche "||$ 140,806,425.00||$39,693,575||237||1||$ 594,119.94|
|Winnipeg Jets "||$ 140,585,581.00||$39,914,419||240||0||$ 585,773.25|
|New York Islanders "||$ 130,557,979.00||$49,942,021||214||0||$ 610,084.01|
|Average||$ 165,911,686.13||$ 15,434,778.37||274||1.6||$ 611,523.30|
Two teams have spent less than the Avalanche during the Sherman tenure. One of those teams ended up moving and the other is heavily rumored to be doing the same at some point. Only three teams - Edmonton, Columbus and the Islanders - have less points over the three seasons (again, this year's point totals are projected). While some teams have done well with similarly tight budgets - Phoenix and Nashville appear on pace for a 3rd straight postseason berth with comparable cap numbers - the Avalanche have not had matching success squeezing blood from stone. In terms of dollars spent per point, the Avs rank 18th.
This is really just meant to be a quick and dirty look at the way our favorite team is doing. You can interpret these numbers a few ways. You can say that Dave Tippet and Barry Trotz are doing more with what they've been given than Sacco (coincidentally or not, both earned more votes than Sacco in the Jack Adams voting two years ago). You can also say that Greg Sherman hasn't spent his limited budget as wisely as Don Maloney and David Poile have. Personally, I think both are true statements...but neither is a damning indictment in and of itself.
What sticks in my craw is the $39 million in cap money the Avalanche have left on the table the last three years. $13 million per season. Two Kovalchuks. Or almost anyone. This team may be very good in a couple of years, but they also could be substantially better today if they were spending close to the league average. They aren't.
If the guys doing the bag skate this morning can't turn this season around, Sacco and Sherman are likely to be casualties by the end of the year. And that will get us what, exactly? Two more replacements promoted from within the organization who will have to make do with a cap floor team? Terrific. If the Avalanche don't make the playoffs this year, don't blame the players. Don't blame the coach. Don't even blame the GM. Blame the guy writing the checks. Or not writing, in this case.