Torey Krug get’s a lot of criticism. Much of it is undeserved, and a lot of it is built around the most mutable, and occasionally meaningless statistics, the plus minus. Today at Blogpolooza, I was asked “Would you expose Krug in the expansion draft?”Before I take a look at that, let’s look at some of what he’s doing well by anyone’s standard.

Through seventy four games played Torey Krug has 48 points, that entitles him to a share of the logjam from fifth to ninth place. Who is he tied with? Dustin Byfugelin, Dougie Hamilton, Justin Schultz, and Kevin Shattenkirk. For those who have forgotten, Shattenkirk is probably going to be the free agent who gets paid the most this off season. Schultz was part of the cup winning Penguins last season, the other two guys are NHL All Stars. Yes, this is a new career high for Krug, and he still has games left to play.

To break the points down further, the next closest defenseman in terms of scoring is Zdeno Chara who has 24.  With just three more assists, he’ll match his career total for points. He has more assists than all the other defensemen put together. With 23 powerplay points he’s one short of matching the total points for Chara, but is still getting most of his own points off the powerplay.

Take a look at the save percentage relative to team to get a good idea on what the team is like when a player is on the ice. You’ll find Adam McQuaid is a hearty +1.0, you’ll likewise see Kevan Miller at -1.7, Colin Miller at -1.0, and Torey Krug at -0.4. Not great, clearly not the worst on the team. When you remember that not only does his twenty three powerplay points laps the rest of the defensemen combined, not just leads the team, but is fifth for NHL defensemen it’s hard not to like his game. There’s only one real surprise in the names above him; Erik Karlsson, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Kevin Shattenkirk. That’s a Norris winner, a Finn with about eight inches of height and reach on him, and as mentioned above, a UFA that’ll likely get well over six million per year this summer.

 

Stick tap to Puckalytitics & Hockey-Reference

There are a lot of people who should be happy in the wake of the latest “best on best” tourney. The players, coaches, and fans of  Canada shouldn’t lead any well drawn list, especially as they were outplayed for both final games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets should be very happy to see Bobrovsky healthy and looking to be near his peak.

The New York Islanders should be thrilled to get Seidenberg at a good rate, who even if he never plays a shift will be a steadying impact in a locker room that saw a lot of turnover.

The Boston Bruins, most obviously for the performances of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, but also for their captain Zdeno Chara who while he didn’t look ten years younger, was still skating, passing, and shooting better than the first three months of last season. If that translates to just three additional wins over that same time they can make the post season.

Fans, coaches, players, and management of the Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche, and Edmonton Oilers who saw their players; Nino Niederreiter, Tobias Rieder, and Leon Draisaitl go through a complete playoff like run with multiple Stanley Cup champion team mates like Anze Kopitar, Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara and more and see how they prepare before a game and compose themselves through the good and the bad in game.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, because Milan Michalek had himself a great tournament turning in a point per game over the three games. If the young players are going to make the leap into the playoffs and winning once they get there they need veterans who know how its done.

It’s going to be very, very interesting to see how the various players respond to their World Cup performance. The American players will hopefully return to the ice upset, focused, and maybe a little bit ticked off. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a vexed Patrick Kane. Last season saw him rack up 46 goals if he comes in a bit hot under the collar can number 88 hit sixty goals? Can Dustin Byfugelin and hit 30 goals or turn himself into the juggernaut defensively he is offensively? Can newly minted captain Blake Wheeler pilot the Jets back to the post season?

What about those Finns? Teuvo Teravainen has had a double header of dejection, first he was exiled from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Carolina Blackhawks, and then they washout of the Cup. The Canes finished ten points out of the playoffs last year, and it can be argued the Red Wings and Flyers aren’t as good as they were last year, is Teravainen enough to raise the Carolina Hurricanes back to a real threat?

With the number of Minnesota Wild players at the World Cup, why aren’t they better?

Tonight the NHL’s oldest American NHL franchise will faceoff against their division rivals the Buffalo Sabres:

  • The Bruins Brass have purged all the Americans they could from the roster, Chris Bourque is the son of a Canadain, Jay Pandolfo is the 13th forward, so take your pick.
  • For the Buffalo Sabres, Nathan Gerbe and Ryan Miller lead the way with Marcus Foligno, Drew Stafford, Patrick Kaleta, TJ Brenna, Jordan Leopold,Tyler Myers, and Mike Weber filling out the roster.

The Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins will duel,

  • Dustin Byfugelien, and Blake Wheeler are part of a large of a very American crew that includes Mark Stuart, injured goalie Al Montoya, Zach Bogosian, Zach Redmond, Ron Hainsey, former Pittsburgh Penguin Eric Tangradi,  and Jim Slater.
  • Facing them will be Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Joe Vitale, Brandon Sutter for the Penguins.

When the Flyers and Devils square off, they’ll have their own American compliment

  • First round draft pick Stefan Matteau and Stephen Gionta will be joined by Bobby Butler, Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, and Peter Harrold are the Devils Americans.
  • In Orange and Black are Tom Sestito, and Sean Couturier.

The Red Wings and Ducks will also play tonight.

  • Jimmy Howard leads the Red Wings Americans, and travels with Brian Lashoff, Drew Miller, and Justin Abdelkader.
  • Bobby Ryan and Nick Bonino will be in the lineup for the Ducks and Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, will be out there with Nate Guenin and Ben Lovejoy.

The Sharks look to get back on track against the Blackhawks.

  • Patrick Kane highlights the Chicago side, with Nick Leddy and Brandon’s Sadd and Bollig.
  • Missing from the Shark tank are Justin Braun, Tommy Wingels, Scott Gomez and Adam Burish.

Despite recent news coverage, the Blues have stars other than Taresenko, and the Flames have the odd American of their own.

  • Lee Stepniak steps up under the red white and blue and brings Chris Butler, and Tim Jackman with him.
  • David Backes is the Captain of the St Louis squad, TJ Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Ian Cole are on the ice as well while Jamie Langenbrunner is on the shelf.

The Canucks and Stars will square off on the left coast.

  • Expected to return real soon now is Ryan Kesler, David Booth is down and out, Jordan Schroeder is however enjoying some ice time with Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard and Cory Schneider for Vancouver.
  • The Dallas American element is a three man threat with Alex Goligoski, Richard Bachman, and Eric Nystrom.

The question of who will captain this years All Star squads and direct the drafting of enough talent to push three or four teams over the salary cap is unanswered. Well, likely it is half unanswered. The possibility of Daniel Alfredsson not being the captain of one of the teams is so remote it’s more likely that Alex Burrows will win fights with Shawn Thornton and George Parros in back to back games.  Logically speaking the NHL should select some other high prestige player to lead the other squad.

There are a few strategies the NHL could use for picking the other captain:

  • Pick the player with the best name recognition.
  • Pick the player who has the most vibrant personality.
  • Pick the player from a rival team.
  • Pick the player from a small market as an attempt to boost its market share.
  • Pick a player from a big market to pander to that crowd.

The first likely means Alex Ovechkin is going to lead Team-Not-Alfedsson. Alternatively Jarome Igninla could be picked, but I don’t think they’d select captains from two Canadian cities, especially not when one of those teams rarely gets shown on national TV in the USA. Ovechkin makes sense as both the first and second possibilities logical conclusion, the only problem being he’s not particularly easy to understand for a lot of Americans.

Option two eliminates more players than it includes. As NHL36 is doomed to keep proving to us, hockey players are exciting to watch on the ice, but off the ice Ambien is in danger of losing market share in the sleep aid market. Off the top both Sedins are gone, Phil Kessel is gone even faster, and Captain Serious Jonathan Toews is laid by the wayside just as fast. Steve Stamkos and Brian Campbell make the cut simply for not freezing when a camera is aimed at them. Arguably Seguin makes the cut too as he’s largely stopped turning into one of Geppetto’s creations when he notices a camera.  With the drama of the Taylor or Tyler draft year, and winning the cup in his rookie year he might also make the cut for the first three categories.

The Senators rivals can be considered all of the northeast division, the Red Wings, and the Ducks who they lost to in the 2007 finals. Pavel Datsyuk would serve the Red Wings well, and it might be a stepping stone to his captaining the Red Wings themselves when Lidstrom eventually retires. Who knows the NHL marketing department might have more than one player from to Detroit to talk about leading up to the next Winter Classic? Perry who was a part of the Ducks championship win over the Senators and has come across well in the post Olympic internal Ducks rivalry videos is unlikely to put anyone to sleep.  Zdeno Chara as the captain of the reigning champions, a divisional rival, multiple time All Star and former Senator make sense for these reasons and more.

While Smashville’s partisans are fierce and loyal, not many people who live outside the Tennessee region get to see this team often enough. While Weber is the more obvious choice given the rising notice Suter is getting in part from his pending free agency it would present an interesting twist if he were to be picked as an All Star captain in his first appearance over his better known teammate. Dustin Byfugelin of the Jets is also on a small market team, and the extremely cynical could pick him for a multitude of reasons that have little to do with hockey or the fact that he comes across humbly, as a genuine guy with a sense of humor. Keith Yandle makes sense for number of reasons as well, he represent a team that could use a signal boost, he’s young enough he’s likely to be seen a half dozen more times at the All Star Weekend and more.

If cash is king (a shocking suggestion for the NHL All Star Game brought to you by Bell, Bridestone, Cisco, Now that’s positivenergy, Lays, Gatorade, Reebok, SiriusXM, Visa) New York City, Toronto, Los Angeles and Dallas are about as big a cities as you’ll find in the NHL. How much having a player from those cities will affect the viewership is a good question. It might add a few dozen households in Dallas or LA, but is unlikely to move numbers in the other cities. Jonathan Quick would be an interesting option as a goalie-captain, and Jamie Benn or whoever replaces him if he can’t make it would draw additional attention to a team on the rise again but going largely unnoticed.  For big hockey markets, the Flyers Claude Giroux has growing name recognition. The well traveled Marion Gaborik has name recognition in a number of hockey markets as well as his current home town of Chicago and there are very few players anywhere more skilled.

Or you could just let the fans have their choice. Revolutionary as it would be to let the casual fans who the whole weekend is aimed at have a say, it might just make the most sense. Tim Thomas is the only player voted in from a team not playing in Ontario. He’s been to the All Star Game before, has name recognition as part of the Olympics, two time Vezina winner, Stanley Cup Champ, Visa commercial star, and Conn-Smyth Winner. Better still, his quiet quick with won’t overshadow Alfredsson in what could prove the Ottawa titans last visit to the All Star game. Dion Phaneuf, former Calgary Flame is from that other Ontario team, the largest city in Canada and is enjoying possibly the best season of his career. If the rumors are true that the Leafs will be squaring off with the Red Wings at the next Winter Classic it gives the Leafs a bridge to recognition for hockey fans outside the northeast.

To me however the most intriguing option for the weekend is going with the Other Swede. Erik Karlsson got the most votes of any All Star. He’s a rising star in the NHL as a whole and leads all defensemen in scoring. He’s a good skater who may introduce some defense to the All Star game by swiping a few pucks at center ice and dishing to his teammates. More, with Alfredsson having spent his whole career with the Senators it would provide a nice transition from one star to the next for the Canadian capital city team.  For the rest of the continent and viewers around the world the drama of watching the two compete and seeing who drafts which teammates would add a little bit of spice to draft that would be hard to get in any other way.