Musings

August Mishegas: Schmaltz, Saad, Whatever Else We Dug Out Of Our Ear

Heading on vacation for the week, so let’s clear some stuff out before it’s all day drinking and yelling at college friends.

-Late to the train on this, but you can excuse me if I totally forgot the Detroit Red Wings existed. Anyway, they inked Dylan Larkin to a five-year extension, one that will carry a $6.1M hit. This has some bearing on the Hawks, because they’ve made a lot of noise about keeping some head room on the cap for when Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat, and any other jamoke that decides to have a good year, have to sign extensions themselves. And we know the Hawks are loathe to play hardball. They’ll either basically acquiesce to whatever any player they like wants, or they’ll trade them to Carolina.

Larkin’s deal is going to be something Schmaltz’s agent circles and uses as a starting point. While they’re hardly the same player, their production looks pretty similar. Larkin put up 77 points in his first two seasons, and Schmaltz has put up 80. Larkin is probably the better goal-scorer, but Schmaltz’s 22 is only one off what Larkin did as a rookie and hasn’t matched since.

What will have the Hawks a little worried is if Schmaltz bust out in his third season the way Larkin did, doubling his point-total from the previous season to this one just past. Ok, if Schmaltz did that he’d be a 100-point player so that’s not going to happen. And really, there isn’t too much where Schmaltz can bust. He shot 17.8% last year, and doesn’t appear to be the type who can mutate a 20%+ year. That 17% might even be an aberration. If he produces more shots, that would be an area where you could see the production rise out of. Schmaltz only fired off 1.5 shots on net per game, and just a little under three attempts. It’s not hard to envision playing a full year with Kane where that could go up, and if the percentages remained where they were and he tickles 30 goals he could become way expensive in a hurry.

Larkin also played with only middling talent, though Anthony Mantha is probably slightly more than that. Thomas Tatar really isn’t. Schmaltz is going to get a better platform, and a 60+ point season sees him in the $7 million range. No, it really could. Since The Great Lockout Of ’05, 34 players have managed 140 points or more in their first three seasons. All of them became at least what would be $6 million players today. Here’s the list in case you want to peruse.

-Scott Powers caught up with Brandon Saad’s summer training today at The Athletic. And if you want a lesson in saying nothing while looking like you’re saying nothing, check out the quotes from Brian Keane.

“We’ll track a number of different stats and things that are specific to the type of player that we’re looking at and try to identify areas they’re really excelling at, as well as areas we think they can improve upon,”

Wouldn’t that be every summer program?

“It really starts with the video and assessing all those different things we’re looking at and then start game-planning from there what we can to do to devise a plan for him during the summer.”

Yeah, again, wouldn’t this be every program? Or do most guys just go out and bail hay on some Canadian farm? I guess Saad would be on a Pennsylvania farm but you get the point.

“He can do that especially off a rush or a loose puck play where there’s a turnover and you have someone in front of him. He can use defenders as screens and read where the stick is to change the point of release or create that space for the shot. That’s been something we’ve focused on a lot. But also identifying where to pop in and out of seams and having a sense for when he can use those wheels to hit that seam and time it in a nice way where he’s giving himself a really good opportunity at the weak side or staying outside the pack and then reentering at the right time.”

Doesn’t this all boil down to “getting open?” Sure, changing shooting angles with the puck on your stick is something you can improve and not something Saad does a lot of, but if he doesn’t already have a sense of how to lose himself to the defense, is that something you can just learn?

Anyway, if it improves Saad’s accuracy or gives him a more lethal shot, I guess I’m all for it. Sounds like they’ve been saying what we’ve been saying, but whatever.

-NBC announced it was altering its hockey schedule a bit, which is good news. I guess. I mean the Hawks still appear more than anyone and they suck out loud, but mighty oaks from little acorns. The big news is that “WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY ARGH BARGH GRAB YOURSELF SPIT AND FART” is going the way of the dodo. Now it’s just “Wednesday Night Hockey” and more often than not will be a double-header. This is good news, as it allows NBC to get the likes of McDavid, Gaudreau, Karlsson, and various California players that are old now on national TV more often without waiting for them to visit the Flyers or Rangers. There will be more of a diverse lineup, as there should be, to highlight teams that are actually good instead of names you might know. If you can believe it, there’s actually a Jets vs. Leafs game on the slate.

Fine, whatever. It can’t hurt, though if they’re still going to have two drunken monkeys in the studio it’s still going to be an annoying broadcast. But at least it’ll be teams you want to watch, instead of more Hawks or Milbury breaking down why you need a Wayne Simmonds to win while he takes yet another dumbass penalty.

All right, jerks. Talk to you next week. Maybe.

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