When NHL general managers make their moves, Matthew Wuest gets to work.
When news broke this weekend that the Chicago Blackhawks had signed defenseman Brent Seabrook to a to a five-year contract extension worth a reported $29-million, he fed the information to his database in Halifax, Nova Scotia and came up with the interpretation of the deal th that media, fans and some team staff will treat as gospel:
That the defending Stanley Cup champions will have about $24-million invested in five defensemen and 12 total players in the fold at $49-million -- this according to CapGeek.com.
Wuest is the founder, owner, and primary capologist behind CapGeek.com, a web site dedicated to tracking NHL salary data that has become a trusted source for information in an era when “cap implications” is as meaningful as what player X can do for the power play.
Days like today are his bread and butter.
“Basically I look at my job to update people on the cap implications of ever move that’s made as quickly as possible,” he said in a phone interview from his home office where he was like the rest of the hockey world morning -- waiting anxiously for something to happen.
This trend toward analysis based on financial considerations doubtless turns some fans off, but it’s here to stay, particularly in hockey and basketball, where salary caps force teams – and their fans – to assess if their club's spending limited resources with the appropriate efficiency.
Wuest is the perfect kind of information provider for the new age. His first university degree was in computer science before he returned to Kings College in Halifax to study journalism.
His ‘day job’ is covering the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. He started CapGeek after using his computer science skills to build a cap calculator for RedWingsCentral.com -- a site Wuest has run in some formsince 1999 -- to help determine how the Wings could re-sign Marian Hossa at the end of the 2008-09 season
Fans of other teams began asking if he could do the same thing for their team’s roster and in response he launched CapGeek in May of 2009.
He describes running it as akin to running a small business; one that is busiest on days like today and on July 1st, the opening of the NHL’s free agency period.
He says he gets his information from a combination of reported figures as well as detail he supplements through his own sources. He recently added a trade machine to the site that has got heavy traffic of late as fans can test their favourite trade scenarios through the filter of the salary cap’s reality.
He’s busy enough that he hasn’t spent much time calculating or measuring the implications of his own niche in the hockey market, but they aren’t insignificant.
He has 15,000 followers on Twitter -- where he was providing real-time contract analyis today - and one report said his site received 3.5-million page views on July 1st 2010. He’s routinely cited by mainstream media and the blogoshpere alike as the source when references are made to how certain player moves will affect a team’s cap.
He’s never checked to see who is following him on Twitter (it’s a who’s who of mainstream hockey media) or where his site’s name keep popping up (the Chicago Tribune in reference to the Seabrook deal).
Instead his main hope on what might be the busiest day in his site’s history?
“I just hope there’s no down time,” he says. “I hope that when people come to the site they’ll be able to get what they need.”