Bang for the Buck: Which teams got the best value in 2012-13?

NHL teams’ payrolls have been capped for nearly a decade now, limiting the disparity between the big-market giants and their small-market counterparts. Still, the Philadelphia Flyers, who had the highest payroll in the league last season, spent over $23 million more than the NHL-owned Phoenix Coyotes. But the money didn’t matter: neither made the playoffs, and Phoenix actually finished two points ahead of Philly in the final standings. Did the teams that made it rain in 2013 get any bang for their buck? Let’s find out.

Here, courtesy of CapGeek, are the payrolls for every NHL team this past season:

Team Spending (USD)
1. Philadelphia Flyers » $72,549,431
2. Vancouver Canucks » $70,456,167
3. Minnesota Wild » $70,120,744
4. New York Rangers » $68,711,221
5. Chicago Blackhawks » $67,343,544
6. Montreal Canadiens » $66,857,720
7. Pittsburgh Penguins » $66,739,133
8. San Jose Sharks » $66,370,996
9. Boston Bruins » $64,486,562
10. Tampa Bay Lightning » $64,082,929
11. Washington Capitals » $64,053,698
12. Toronto Maple Leafs » $63,249,222
13. Detroit Red Wings » $62,823,032
14. Los Angeles Kings » $62,025,799
15. Buffalo Sabres » $61,437,023
16. Calgary Flames » $61,027,990
17. New Jersey Devils » $59,269,410
18. Winnipeg Jets » $58,447,941
19. Florida Panthers » $57,463,086
20. Carolina Hurricanes » $57,237,054
21. Anaheim Ducks » $56,931,061
22. Colorado Avalanche » $55,641,465
23. Dallas Stars » $53,967,129
24. Columbus Blue Jackets » $53,893,247
25. Ottawa Senators » $53,806,372
26. Nashville Predators » $53,723,203
27. Edmonton Oilers » $53,648,971
28. New York Islanders » $53,004,108
29. St. Louis Blues » $52,185,361
30. Phoenix Coyotes »

$49,438,632

And here, courtesy of NHL.com, are the final standings for the 2013 season. Note that despite conference affiliations, the top 16 teams in the league turned out to be the 16 that made the playoffs.

Rank DIV GP W L OT P
1  p – Chicago CEN 48 36 7 5 77
2  z – Pittsburgh ATL 48 36 12 0 72
3  y – Anaheim PAC 48 30 12 6 66
4  y – Montréal NE 48 29 14 5 63
5  x – Boston NE 48 28 14 6 62
6  x – St. Louis CEN 48 29 17 2 60
7  x – Los Angeles PAC 48 27 16 5 59
8  y – Vancouver NW 48 26 15 7 59
9  x – Toronto NE 48 26 17 5 57
10  y – Washington SE 48 27 18 3 57
11  x – San Jose PAC 48 25 16 7 57
12  x – NY Rangers ATL 48 26 18 4 56
13  x – Detroit CEN 48 24 16 8 56
14  x – Ottawa NE 48 25 17 6 56
15  x – Minnesota NW 48 26 19 3 55
16  x – NY Islanders ATL 48 24 17 7 55
17  Columbus CEN 48 24 17 7 55
18  Winnipeg SE 48 24 21 3 51
19  Phoenix PAC 48 21 18 9 51
20  Philadelphia ATL 48 23 22 3 49
21  Dallas PAC 48 22 22 4 48
22  New Jersey ATL 48 19 19 10 48
23  Buffalo NE 48 21 21 6 48
24  Edmonton NW 48 19 22 7 45
25  Calgary NW 48 19 25 4 42
26  Carolina SE 48 19 25 4 42
27  Nashville CEN 48 16 23 9 41
28  Tampa Bay SE 48 18 26 4 40
29  Colorado NW 48 16 25 7 39
30  Florida SE 48 15 27 6 36

Now, let’s see which teams got the  best value. Playoff teams are in bold.

Team Spending (USD) Points USD Spent/Point
1 Anaheim Ducks $56,931,061 66 $862,591.83
2 St. Louis Blues $52,185,361 60 $869,756.02
3 Chicago Blackhawks $67,343,544 77 $874,591.48
4 Pittsburgh Penguins $66,739,133 72 $926,932.40
5 Ottawa Senators $53,806,372 56 $960,828.07
6 New York Islanders $53,004,108 55 $963,711.05
7 Phoenix Coyotes $49,438,632 51 $969,384.94
8 Columbus Blue Jackets $53,893,247 55 $979,877.22
9 Boston Bruins $64,486,562 62 $1,040,105.84
10 Los Angeles Kings $62,025,799 59 $1,051,284.73
11 Montreal Canadiens $66,857,720 63 $1,061,233.65
12 Toronto Maple Leafs $63,249,222 57 $1,109,635.47
13 Detroit Red Wings $62,823,032 56 $1,121,839.86
14 Washington Capitals $64,053,698 57 $1,123,749.09
15 Dallas Stars $53,967,129 48 $1,124,315.19
16 Winnipeg Jets $58,447,941 51 $1,146,038.06
17 San Jose Sharks $66,370,996 57 $1,164,403.44
18 Edmonton Oilers $53,648,971 45 $1,192,199.36
19 Vancouver Canucks $70,456,167 59 $1,194,172.32
20 New York Rangers $68,711,221 56 $1,226,986.09
21 New Jersey Devils $59,269,410 48 $1,234,779.38
22 Minnesota Wild $70,120,744 55 $1,274,922.62
23 Buffalo Sabres $61,437,023 48 $1,279,937.98
24 Nashville Predators $53,723,203 41 $1,310,322.02
25 Carolina Hurricanes $57,237,054 42 $1,362,787.00
26 Colorado Avalanche $55,641,465 39 $1,426,704.23
27 Calgary Flames $61,027,990 42 $1,453,047.38
28 Philadelphia Flyers $72,549,431 49 $1,480,600.63
29 Florida Panthers $57,463,086 36 $1,596,196.83
30 Tampa Bay Lightning $64,082,929 40 $1,602,073.23

Finally, let’s take a look at the differential between teams’ spending positions and their standings positions:

Position Differential Rank Team Spending Position Standings Position Position Differential
1 St. Louis Blues 29 6 +23
2 Anaheim Ducks 21 3 +18
3 New York Islanders 28 16 +12
t4 Ottawa Senators 25 14 +11
t4 Phoenix Coyotes 30 19 +11
t6 Columbus Blue Jackets 24 17 +7
t6 Los Angeles Kings 14 7 +7
8 Pittsburgh Penguins 7 2 +5
t9 Chicago Blackhawks 5 1 +4
t9 Boston Bruins 9 5 +4
t11 Toronto Maple Leafs 12 9 +3
t11 Edmonton Oilers 27 24 +3
t13 Montreal Canadiens 6 4 +2
t13 Dallas Stars 23 21 +2
15 Washington Capitals 11 10 +1
t16 Detroit Red Wings 13 13 0
t16 Winnipeg Jets 18 18 0
18 Nashville Predators 26 27 -1
19 San Jose Sharks 8 11 -3
20 New Jersey Devils 17 22 -5
t21 Vancouver Canucks 2 8 -6
t21 Carolina Hurricanes 20 26 -6
23 Colorado Avalanche 22 29 -7
t24 New York Rangers 4 12 -8
t24 Buffalo Sabres 15 23 -8
26 Calgary Flames 16 25 -9
27 Florida Panthers 19 30 -11
28 Minnesota Wild 3 15 -12
29 Tampa Bay Lightning 10 28 -18
30 Philadelphia Flyers 1 20 -19

So what can we take away from all these numbers and charts?

  • Despite making the playoffs, one might have expected the Sharks, Canucks, Rangers and Wild to accrue more points and make deeper runs.
  • Payroll-wise, the Coyotes and Blue Jackets overachieved big-time despite missing the playoffs.
  • Only two of the ten highest-spending teams — the Flyers and Lightning — missed the playoffs.
  • Three of the ten lowest-spending teams — the Ducks, Islanders and Blues — made the playoffs.
    • None of the three made it past the first round.

      EDIT: Reader Matt spots an error in our analysis:

    “4 of the bottom 10 spending teams made the playoffs…. And the one you missed also made it to the second round… the Ottawa Senators.”

Let’s check out, as of today, how much each NHL team will be spending in 2013-14, again courtesy of CapGeek:

Team Salary Payroll

Cap Payroll

1. Philadelphia Flyers » $76,194,117 $69,153,522
2. Boston Bruins » $65,440,000 $70,223,810
3. Pittsburgh Penguins » $70,810,000 $65,398,333
4. Detroit Red Wings » $68,200,000 $67,947,879
5. San Jose Sharks » $63,756,666 $65,131,667
6. Los Angeles Kings » $68,810,000 $64,386,894
7. Edmonton Oilers » $58,841,666 $67,774,167
8. Chicago Blackhawks » $67,760,000 $62,946,795
9. Columbus Blue Jackets » $60,976,667 $66,808,809
10. New York Rangers » $65,226,666 $62,881,667
11. Winnipeg Jets » $57,701,000 $63,201,357
12. Dallas Stars » $58,368,334 $62,993,611
13. Tampa Bay Lightning » $64,953,572 $63,990,477
14. Minnesota Wild » $67,152,778 $65,265,534
15. Montreal Canadiens » $64,465,000 $63,610,833
16. Anaheim Ducks » $57,145,000 $62,795,833
17. Vancouver Canucks » $64,489,000 $59,952,778
18. Nashville Predators » $62,326,666 $62,862,976
19. Carolina Hurricanes » $59,365,000 $59,425,000
20. Toronto Maple Leafs » $58,996,434 $59,704,167
21. Washington Capitals » $56,725,000 $58,634,295
22. Phoenix Coyotes » $52,300,000 $58,176,667
23. St. Louis Blues » $56,991,667 $57,925,833
24. Calgary Flames » $51,717,500 $57,321,250
25. New Jersey Devils » $55,383,333 $59,720,834
26. Colorado Avalanche » $55,565,000 $58,833,333
27. Buffalo Sabres » $54,745,833 $54,645,357
28. Ottawa Senators » $50,877,500 $53,835,833
29. Florida Panthers » $50,176,209 $57,140,375
30. New York Islanders » $44,431,500 $49,496,976

Who do you think will outperform their payroll in 2013-14? Who is spending the most on a pile of crap? Tell us in the comments!

Related Reading:

Panther Parkway lists the NHL’s five best “Puck for Your Buck” Contracts

Sports Illustrated looks at the smartest deals of the summer

Elliotte Friedman said today that some within hockey circles believe the cap could rise to as high as $80 million by 2017-18

Fantasy Joe: A Handful of Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

If talented Islanders prospect Ryan Strome cracks the top line this season, he will undoubtedly put up huge numbers for your fantasy team.

As the dog days of summer move into the NFL preseason, the disease of fantasy football fever is upon us. While everyone else is rummaging the dark corners of the web to find that hidden sleeper no one else knows about for their football teams, you can just swing through Hockey Falls to to gear up for the final few rounds of your fantasy hockey draft, because you know by then your football squad will be in the shitter.

Here are my top sleepers to look out for during the 2013/2014 Fantasy Hockey Season.

Ryan Strome – New York Islanders

The departure of Brad Boyes leaves an empty right wing spot next to fantasy studs, John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Strome has huge potential as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 draft and has likely generated enough buzz in rookie mini-camp to earn a roster spot.  If he has an even more impressive training camp and preseason, he has a legitimate chance to fill that RW spot, which would cause his value to sky-rocket. Brad Boyes put up 35 points in 48 games alongside Tavares last season and P.A. Parenteau tallied 67 points in 80 games in 2011-12 before cashing in with Colorado. Just imagine what Strome, who had 94 points in just 53 games for the Niagara Ice Dogs last year, could do. Earning this spot on the depth chart will be a tough task though, as he will have to compete against the likes of Kyle Okposo, Pierre Marc Bouchard, and Cal Clutterbuck, who was JT’s linemate in juniors. This is a position battle to monitor, as whoever wins that RW spot will have a handful of scoring opportunities every night.

Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues

The 14th overall pick in the 2010 draft is quickly developing into a solid two-way winger. With the departure of David Perron to Edmonton and Andy McDonald’s retirement, Schwartz could end up playing on a line with either T.J. Oshie & David Backes or Derrick Roy & Chris Stewart. If that’s the case Schwartz will see a major increase in responsibility, ice time and power play minutes.

Emerson Etem/Kyle Palmieri/ Jakob Silfverberg – Anaheim Ducks

Very similar to the Ryan Strome situation on the Island, there is an open wing spot that will almost guarantee a major upswing in production. Etem, Palmieri and Silfverberg are the prime candidates to replace Bobby Ryan on Anaheim’s top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and former MVP Cory Perry. Etem and Palmieri just inked three-year extensions with the Ducks and Silfverberg was the marquee prospect the team recieved in return for Ryan. Both Etem and Palmieri had outstanding postseason series against the Red Wings, grabbing 5 points in 7 games each, but our gut feeling is that Etem will take over in that top line winger spot, being that he is the home-town kid.

Adam Henrique – New Jersey Devils

Adam Henrique came into last year’s lockout shortened season with “humongous big” expectations after he lit it up in the Devil’s playoff run the previous year. But he didn’t deliver, and his game hit a bit of a sophomore slump. Devils faithful and potential fantasy owners are hoping his dropoff in production wasn’t a result of the loss of Zach Parise because, if that’s the case, he will have even less star power around him as Ilya Kovalchuk is also off the team’s depth chart now. On the optimistic side, he will play big minutes and receive a lot of power play time. This is Henrique’s opportunity to become a star and one of the few bright spots on a lackluster New Jersey squad. Someone has to score, right?

Drew Shore/ Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers’ roster is loaded with up-and-coming young talent, and if the Panthers have any chance at being relevant in the “new” Atlantic Division, Huberdeau and Shore will have to put the team on their backs. Huberdeau, I almost didn’t put him on the sleeper list as he had 31 points in 48 games as a rookie last season and is clearly Florida’s next (if there was even one before him) homegrown franchise player. Shore was a second round pick in the ’09 draft, and is quickly developing deadly chemistry with Huberdeau. He contributed 13 points in the shortened campaign, but look for a major increase in minutes and points next season. If you can afford to take a hit on +/- then draft one of these two.

Alex Goligoski – Dallas Stars

Since he was traded to the Dallas Stars in the middle of the ’10-’11 season, Goligoski’s point totals have improved every year. Although playing on a top-heavy Dallas team won’t help his +/- , his point totals will continue to increase, and he has a good shot at breaking out as the primary puck mover to Jamie Benn who’s moving back to his natural position on the wing, and Tyler Seguin, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he was cast off embarrassingly from the Bruin’s organization.

Jacob Markstrom (Keeper/Dynasty League) – Florida Panthers

The Panthers made Jacob Markstrom their second-round selection in the 2008 draft, then he led the Swedish Elite league in save percentage and goals against average as a 20-year-old. For NHL fantasy purposes, however, Markstrom is more of a guy to look out for in keeper leagues or dynasty leagues. He’s incredibly talented and has a ton of potential. The problem is his team will not give him the support to put up solid numbers and often will leave him out to dry. The team in front of him might look even worse this season, now playing against the likes of Boston, Detroit and Montreal more regularly. Markstrom showed flashes of greatness last season, and will be the starter for the Panthers in ’13-’14 but a breakout campaign is not in the works just yet.  A few seasons down the road, Markstrom will be a top netminder in the NHL. For now, he would be a good pickup as a spot-starter when Florida’s matchups are favorable.

Jake Allen – St. Louis Blues

Picked just three spots after Markstrom by a far superior Blues team, Allen has the potential to be a top fantasy hockey goalie. But the goaltending situation in St. Louis is a bit murky.  Jaroslav Halak is one of the streakiest and most injury-prone goalies in the league, and Brian Elliot completely shit the bed last year when he had a legitimate chance to take over the starting gig. Allen won’t be handed the starting job and will probably have to wait for Halak to get hurt, and for management to completely lose their faith in Elliot. If Allen takes advantage of his opportunities and works his way into the mix, he will rack up a ton of wins, have a solid GAA, and have a chance for a shutout on any given night as the squad playing in front of him is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL.

Who are you eyeing in the late rounds of your fantasy hockey draft? Let us know in the comments.

ROAD TRIPPIN’: PART 2 OF YOUR TEAM-BY-TEAM GUIDE TO 2013-14′S BEST NHL ADVENTURES


Fan of Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas or Detroit?

Check out Part One of our three-part Road Trippin’ guide to find out where Hockey Falls is sending you this season!

By Trevor Kraus and Alex M. Silverman

Before we get into Part Two of our 2013-14 NHL Road Trippin’ guide, we feel it’s important to establish some rules of the roadtrip. For those experienced road warriors out there, feel free to go your own way, but if you’re thinking about taking your first taste of the open road, here are a few guidelines and tips:

1. NO FLYING! It’s not a ROADtrip if you’re in the air. Semantics aside, driving gives you the chance to control your own destiny: you stop where you want to stop, go where you want to go, bring what you want to bring and see what you want to see, all on your own schedule. You can really get a feel for these great nations by driving through what you might normally fly over.

2. Two-game minimum. We love the open road, but when you’re driving double-digit hours, you might as well cram in as much as you can, even if it means tacking on an extra day or two. It’s your one roadtrip of the season, you might as well make it worth your while.

3. No solo missions! Safety is a top priority here and driving halfway across the country by yourself is far from safe. Bring a few friends, split up the driving, rotate who’s sleeping/driving/navigating.

4. Be prepared. We’re not just talking about snacks here, although we’ve spent many hours debating about the ultimate roadtrip food. There are a few things you oughta be equipped with for a long drive through unfamiliar territory: an accident-prevention deer whistle (Don’t learn this the hard way…it’s not a guarantee, but it costs $5.95 to potentially avoid some serious shit), sunglasses, an iPod hookup/Satellite Radio/a binder full of CDs, car charger for your cell phone and a GPS, to name a few. Just take a few minutes to think about what you might need before you leave home.

5. Minimal fluids. Nothing gets in the way of making good time like constant bathroom breaks. Keep a bottle of water and an energy drink on hand, but indulge sparingly.

Got any more roadtrip tips? Post in the comments and we’ll share them in Part 3!

Now that that’s outta the way…

Quick Notes:

1. All stats and maps are courtesy of RoadTrippers.com

2. Click on the map for any roadtrip to be redirected to the RoadTrippers page, where you can find out how to get where you’re going, what’s on the way, what detours can be made, etc.

Edmonton Oilers

Depart Edmonton: December 13

Return to Edmonton: December 21

Oilers Roadtrip

Distance: 4,301 miles

Gas: $738

Driving Time: 65 hours, 49 minutes

Games: 4 (plus a home game on the end)

And we thought Calgary posed a problem…Edmonton is even further removed from the rest of the NHL, although at long last, the team might be worth traveling to see this year. This one will take some creativity and determination, but stick with the plan and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime. Start on early Friday morning, December 13th toward Vancouver and taunt Luongo that night as Taylor Hall nets two goals and two assists. Rest up after the game though, because you’ve got a 19-hour drive south to Anaheim, and you gotta get there by Sunday night if you want to heckle Ducks fans — in their own building, no less — about how much they could use Justin Schultz. Don’t be surprised if you get “Playoffs” or “Scoreboard” thrown back in your face. You’ve got all of Monday and Tuesday to hang out in LA because Tuesday night, it’s the Wayne Gretzky Bowl between the Oilers and Kings at the Staples Center. Take your sweet time moseying along to Denver (passing through Vegas, if you’re feeling lucky) and get there by Thursday night, the 19th. The Avs and the Oilers are two teams with gobs of young forward talent and little to no defense or goaltending, so hopefully you took the “over” in Vegas. A mere 18 hours later and you’re back in Edmonton, where you can see David Perron face his former team on Hockey Night in Canada on the 21st, if you’ve got any gas left in the tank (see what we did there?).

Florida Panthers

Depart Fort Lauderdale: December 14

Return to Fort Lauderale: December 21

Panthers Roadtrip

Distance: 3,798 miles

Gas: $652

Driving Time: 56 hours, 6 minutes

Games: 3

Luckily for Panthers fans, we had 48 bonus hours to plan a road trip, since their schedule was leaked well in advance of the rest of the league’s. Anyway, this trip is an opportunity to test the “snowbirds” theory: older Canadian hockey fans move down to warmer climates in Florida and Phoenix for the winter, and it’s these folks who make up a good percentage of Florida’s fanbase. We’re not buying it, but prove us wrong Panthers fans. Here’s how: leave Ft. Lauderdale in the early morning on Saturday, December 14th and head straight up iconic I-95, switch to I-87 in New York, and take that to Montreal, the most hockey-crazed city on the planet. Check out the Universite de Montreal and drop in on the Religion and the Montreal Canadiens course (which most likely meets on Sundays after church) and take good notes. See the Habs and Panthers, then spend a day in Toronto, the second-most hockey-crazed city on the planet and see Leafs-Panthers the night of the 17th. You’ll have to backtrack somewhat to Ottawa for the game on the 19th, but with the Panthers in first place and on an 8-game winning streak at this point, you’re going all out. As great as it would be to work in a fourth Canadian city, it is physically impossible to get from Ottawa to Winnipeg by puck drop the next night by car, so catch the game on the radio as you roll back into South Florida for the weekend.

Los Angeles Kings

Depart Los Angeles: December 30

Return to Los Angeles: January 4

Kings Roadtrip

Distance: 3,864 miles

Gas: $663

Driving Time: 55 hours, 46 minutes

Games: 2

Assuming Kings fans have already crossed the Honda Center, Shark Tank and Jobing.com off their bucket lists, the only remaining building of the old Pacific Division is the American Airlines Center in Dallas, where the Kings play the Stars on New Year’s Eve. Leave LA on the 30th to get to Dallas by the 31st. After the game, drink to your heart’s content  at the self-proclaimed largest New Year’s celebration in the Central Time Zone (!), sleep in and watch the Winter Classic on TV on the First. Get up early on the Second to drive 9 hours north to St. Louis. If the last 2 playoff series between the Kings and Blues are any indication, you needn’t worry about picking up those two points (though they play strikingly similar styles). Crash at my place in suburban STL (open invitation for a sweet air mattress, Puckheads) after the game and then get 26 hours worth of kicks on Route 66, back to LA.

Minnesota Wild

Depart Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 18

Return to Minneapolis/St. Paul: December 25

Wild Roadtrip

Distance: 2,481 miles

Gas: $426

Driving Time: 38 hours, 12 minutes

Games: 3

Ryan Suter and Zach Parise are going to play major roles on the U.S. Olympic team. But first, they’ll get a chance to show what they can do in three of the most significant American hockey markets in mid-December. And you, dear Wild fan, will be at all three games. Leave the Twin Cities on Wednesday, December 18th and catch Wild-Pens in the Steel City the next night. Drive to New York City on the 20th and spend all day on the 21st in the Greatest City in the World. The Wild play the Rangers on the 22nd in midtown Manhattan. The next morning, drive down to Philly and see where the Declaration of Independence was signed before you watch your team put up a six-spot on whichever netminder has survived two whole months in that goalie black hole. It’s only 17 hours back to Minneapolis, so you’re back by Wednesday at the latest.

Montreal Canadiens

Depart Montreal: December 16

Return to Montreal: December 24

Habs Roadtrip

Distance: 1,555 miles

Gas: $267

Driving Time: 24 hours, 3 minutes

Games: 4

We’ve already established how passionate Habs fans are, so we could easily send them 41 hours cross-continent to LA, Anaheim, and Phoenix in March…and they’d do it. But the schedule makers gave them the ideal set up: Ottawa, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and back, January 16th-24th. There’s a minor detour around Lake Eerie, but otherwise, this map is a thing of beauty. In fact it’s almost too easy on these die-hards! That said, if last year is any indication, this could be a tough stretch of games for any team.

Nashville Predators

Depart Nashville: December 5

Return to Nashville: December 11

Preds Roadtrip

Distance: 1,761 miles

Gas: $302

Driving Time: 26 hours, 37 minutes

Games: 2

Although Nashville was a prime candidate to move to the Eastern Conference into a division with Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and Washington, we ended up with the *sigh* Metropolitan Division. But early December gives the Preds a cool little east coast swing through two great cities. Leave Loudville on Friday, December 5th and get into DC in time to go out on the town that night. See Alex Ovechkin’s crew try to score on Pekka Rinne Saturday night, then see some sights on Sunday before driving north to New York City. You’ll have all day Monday to explore and all day Tuesday to sleep before Preds-Rags Tuesday night. Leave right after the game, pick up an hour going from eastern time to central, and be ready for work/school on Wednesday the 11th.

New Jersey Devils

Depart New Jersey: December 9

Return to New Jersey: December 14

Devils Roadtrip

Distance: 1,061 miles

Gas: $182

Driving Time: 16 hours, 34 minutes

Games: 2

While Preds fans are having the time of their lives on the road, Devils fans will be preparing for a two-game trip of their own. Somehow drag yourself away from the fresh air and wonderful odor aroma of the Garden State on Monday, December 9th and get to Columbus by the 10th, to see if Sergei Bobrovsky is the real deal. The Devils don’t play the Pens until Friday the 13th, so take your time in Ohio; check out Cleveland and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, or Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pittsburgh’s right on your way back to New Jersey, so stop there to see the game on Friday night, then survive the Pennsylvania Turnpike (ed. note: Godspeed to you) to get back home.

New York Islanders

Depart Long Island: October 10

Return to Long Island: October 14

Isles Roadtrip

Distance: 2,189 miles

Gas: $376

Driving Time: 32 hours, 59 minutes

Games: 2 (with one “road” + two home games beforehand and four home games to follow)

After a promising showing against the top-seeded Penguins in the 2013 Playoffs, Isles fans finally have reason to be pumped for the start of a season. Well, Isles fans…what if we told you that it would only take one missed day of work/school for you to be at your team’s first NINE games? The Islanders open up on October 4th in Newark against the Devils, which we won’t even count as a trip since it’s just a short train ride away. After that, six of Tavares and Co.’s next eight are at the Coliseum. Head to Chicago and Nashville and you can see the opening run of what could be the Isles’ best season in two decades. Leave Long Island after work on Thursday the Tenth for the Windy City and you’ll easily be there by lunchtime Friday. Grab a hot dog at Portillo’s or deep dish at Lou Malnati’s before heading to the U.C. to see the Isles take on the defending Cup champs. After the game, stalk Patrick Kane to see where he’s partying that night and, realizing you don’t have the choice between Kaner and TS19, try to ride his coattails. Wherever you wake up the next morning, do it early, because it’s a seven-hour drive to Nashville for a Saturday night game against Seth Jones and the Predators. Get some sleep for Sundays 13-hour haul back to the Island. Not only will you be back for work Monday, but you can catch the Isles four more times at NVMC before they hit the road again!

New York Rangers

Depart New York: March 12

Return to New York: March 17

Rangers Roadtrip

Distance: 3,286 miles

Gas: $564

Driving Time: 49 hours, 56 minutes

Games: 2

After a NINE game roadie to start the season thanks to the renovation of a building that’s on the verge of being torn down, Alain Vigneault’s boys have limited road trip opportunities, especially since most of their road games don’t qualify as road trips. So, we’re sending Rangers fans out to Minneapolis and Winnipeg in March. You’ll leave New York the morning of Wednesday, March 12th, grab a dog in Chicago with everything on it, and get to Minneapolis in time to see the game the night of the 13th. It’s a back-to-back, so wake up the next day and drive to Winnipeg. Sleep in on Saturday, because it’s 25 hours, with another stop in Chicago for deep dish this time, and then back to the City That Never Sleeps.

Ottawa Senators

Depart Ottawa: January 20

Return to Ottawa: January 25

Sens Roadtrip

Distance: 2,919 miles

Gas: $501

Driving Time: 44 hours, 3 minutes

Games: 3

Unfortunately, the first chance Senators fans have to see Daniel Alfredsson is a one-game trip to Detroit, and we’re not counting that as a road trip. So, on Monday, January 20th, head from Canada’s capital to the U.S.’s capital and see Bobby Ryan and the boys against Ovechkin and his Caps on the 21st. Continue down the east coast toward Tampa, where the Sens face the Lightning on Thursday the 23rd. There’s no rest for the weary, though, as the next night is Sens-Canes in Raleigh, 9 hours north of Tampa. But that’s right on your way home anyway. From there, it’s only 12 hours back to Ottawa.

Check back for Part 3 of our Road Trippin’ Guide, featuring…

Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington and Winnipeg

The July 5th Free Agency Day-Drinking Game for ‘MURICANS

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Suck it, Canada!

For the first time in years, unrestricted free agency in the NHL doesn’t start on Canada Day. In years past, Canadians got to turn on TSN, hide the remote and plant their Molson-guzzling asses in front of the TV, while fans South of the Border were left waiting for text message alerts at work or in class.

But this year, the Free Agent Frenzy begins on July 5th, meaning Americans can glue their eyes to ESPN OLN Versus NHL Network for the second day of their long weekends. U-S-A!

No American celebration is complete without day-drinking, so without further adieu, The July 5th Free Agency Day-Drinking Game for ‘MURICANS:

Sip your drink every time a free agent signs.

Take an additional sip of your drink if…

  • The first signing of the day is a forward or defenseman.
  • Jaromir Jagr signs with a team he hasn’t already played for.
  • The Flyers sign a goalie. (two sips if it’s Tim Thomas, three sips if it’s Tim Thomas to a multi-year deal)
  • In an interview on your network of choice, a player talks about how “excited I am for this new [opportunity/challenge/chapter in my career]”
  • One of the following players re-signs with his 2013 team:
    • Patrik Elias
    • Daniel Alfredsson
    • Teemu Selanne
    • Milan Hejduk
  • The Sabres begin their fire sale by unloading Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek or  Tyler “Traffic Cone” Myers.
  • Seattle signs a marquis player to mark the new chapter in the franchise’s history

Take a shot if…

  • The first signing of the day is a goalie.
  • Mike Ribiero’s wife bitches on Twitter…again.
  • Danny Briere returns to Buffalo.
  • Tim Thomas signs a multi-year contract with a team other than the Flyers.
  • One of the following players is traded:
    • Marian Hossa
    • Tyler Seguin
    • Ales Hemsky
  • David Clarkson gets $5 million+/year.
  • A 2013 NHLer signs a KHL/European deal
  • The Islanders find yet another way to circumvent the salary floor.
  • An American media member beats the Canadian guys to a scoop (take a big pull from the bottle if it’s Eklund)

Pour some out for one’s homie if…

One of the following players retires:

  • Teemu Selanne
  • Jaromir Jagr
  • Adrian Aucoin
  • Daniel Alfreddson
  • Milan Hejduk
  • Brendan Morrow
  • Saku Koivu

Chug if…

  • CapGeek‘s server crashes, leaving fans and GMs alike wondering how much cap space their team has.
  • A GM finds a loophole in the CBA, and the panic of going through another lockout begins to set in.
  • The Islanders sign a player for more than $4 million/year.
  • The Canucks sign a goalie.
  • The Canucks trade Roberto Luongo.
  • The Flyers get under the salary cap.
  • Vinny Lecavalier backs out of his deal with the Flyers.

Stop playing and move on to harder drugs if…

  • Your team signs Rick DiPietro to an NHL contract.

Have ideas for more rules? Post in the comments and we’ll add them in!

….

Game by Alex Silverman, Joey Naftol and Trevor Kraus

Gone are the DiPietro days

The Truth of My Youth

I was a shaggy-haired, just-starting-to-shave 15-year-old Islanders fan in 2006. I had been through the lost year of my youth as an 8th grader in 2004-2005, and I was fresh off of the “Neil Smith firing/Garth Snow hiring” that was zany enough to make the 2003 Laviolette firing seem sensible.

Some childhood, I know.

But what happened that September shook me to my core: ESPN’s Scott Burnside was on the right side of a zinger.

The latest punch line was unveiled Tuesday afternoon, when it was announced that DiPietro, a goalie who has won zero playoff games, had been awarded the longest contract in the history of the game and what is believed to be the second-longest contract in the history of pro sports.

Ha, ha, ha. Ho, ho, ho. Stop it, you’re killing us. Or is it just the franchise that’s being rubber-chickened to death?

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Wait, wait, wait, wait wait. You mean I’m gonna be F*%$ing 30 and we’re STILL gonna have this guy under contract. I couldn’t wrap my mind adolescent mind around it: the image of my young children and I standing along with 16,000 orange-and-blue clad fans at Rick DiPietro’s final game at the Nassau Lighthouse MegaColiseum 3000. It just didn’t seem right.

Being an Isles fan had been tough, but I had no idea what I was in for. I can’t imagine Rick did either.

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“…what a long strange trip it’s been.

A New Era

When the Islanders’ buyout of DiPietro is official, they will have rid themselves of what is, without a doubt, the worst contract in the history of sports. Yes, the Islanders will still be paying DiPietro 29 years after drafting him, but the Islanders won’t have his $4.5-million cap hit to take up space under the salary cap floor.

But it’s so much more than that to the Islanders’ tortured fanbase. The franchise has turned a corner.

Gone are the days of slotting Bridgeport’s starter into the big club’s lineup months before the season has even started.

Gone are the days of the “braintrust” pretending this is the year that the Glass Man will return to form.

Gone are the days of wondering why our “franchise goaltender” is devolving into a scraggly bearded hobo.

Gone are the days of a 60% Ranger-fan-filled Coliseum chanting “DP Sucks.”

Gone are the days of being the butt of every joke, the “your-team-sucks” trump card for 29 other fan bases.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

Islanders Missed the Boat on Bernier

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After spending years stockpiling talent both up front and on the blueline, the Islanders’ biggest need this off-season is an answer to the goalie question. Any arguments?

Moving on, then.

It was a one-man show between the pipes for the Islanders in 2013, as head coach Jack Capuano put the team on Evgeni Nabokov’s 37-year-old shoulders. “Nabby” didn’t disappoint in the regular season; his 23 were one shy of the league lead.

But the Nabokov formula for success over 48-games didn’t carry over to the playoffs, won’t cut it in an 82-game season and certainly isn’t the long-term answer in net. Neither is Kevin Poulin, the 23-year-old who Patrick Roy once called the best goaltender in Canadian Junior Hockey, but has yet to prove his worth in Bridgeport or in limited action with the big club.

Bringing in former Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Bernier, 24, would have at least offered the Islanders a sense of direction and, at best, could have provided the biggest piece of the puzzle since the 2009 selection of John Tavares, a goalie to build around for years to come. Instead, general manager Garth Snow sat idly, while Toronto acquired Bernier at a shockingly reasonable price.

Many hockey enthusiasts, this writer included, have praised Snow for his patience and dedication to the rebuild. But with success to build on and a buyer’s market created by a reduced salary cap, it’s time for Snow to roll the dice in hopes of bringing in players to turn the Islanders’ collection of stockpiled assets into a serious contender. Without giving up much, as Toronto showed, the Islanders could have added a goalie with serious potential to make an impact at the NHL level. The Kings would have had to consider any package built around Nino Niederreiter, who has reportedly asked to be traded, or any of several other top prospects.

As outstanding as Bernier has looked in limited NHL action, there’s certainly no way of knowing whether or not he has what it takes to be the franchise goaltender. That said, he would have had a far better chance of filling that role than anyone the Islanders have under contract. If the Islanders opted to bring back Nabokov, the two could have split time with Nabokov serving as a veteran mentor to his younger half.

Missing out on Bernier isn’t the end of the world by any means, but hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come from Islanders management. For a team that has been lacking a true build-your-team-around goaltender since Rick DiPietro’s body turned to glass, it’s time to stop sitting around and start kicking the tires when top-tier talent becomes available. There’s a solid group of free agent goalies out there for the taking.

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