May 1st, 2013 — Uncategorized
Welcome to the Second Season, unlike most years, the second season for the best teams will run nearly half the length of the regular season.
#1 vs. #8
The Pittsburgh Penguins marched determinedly through the regular season, attempting to keep pace with the western powers. Malkin, Crosby, Letang and other key players all missed games due to injury. Crosby is out least for game one, and Jarome Iginla will be playing in the post season for the first time in almost half a decade.
The Islanders haven’t seen the post season in so long you have to wonder how many members of the staff at Nassau had vaction plans this week and next. Sixteen players will be making their playoff debut, including nearly all of their key forwards, and several of their battered blueliners. From the blueline, only three gentlemen appeared in all 48 games this season; Mark Streit age 35, Andrew MacDonald, and 22 year old Travis Hamonic who’s in his third season for the Islanders.
Players to watch:
With Crosby out, the cameras may actually grace other Penguins, Neal is a human highlight reel, Brandon Sutter is finally making himself comfortable in the NHL, and Chris Kunitz quietly led the team in goals in the regular season.
For the Islanders if you aren’t already a member of the United Temple of Taveres; get familiar. The 2009 #1 overall has outpaced his class across the board, he’s got 20 more goals than the second place goal scorer from his class, and almost three times as many as 4th place. On the backend Vishnovsky and Streit are more than capable of being momemtum changers in any zone.
The Penguins should win this series. But that depends on Marc Andre Fleury turning in a useful playoff performence. In the last three years his sv% has been awful, despite reasonable regular season numbers, .834, .899, .891 are useful but only for making sure your team gets plenty of sun. The Islanders have a chance if Nabokov can out duel The Flower.
#2 vs. #7
The Montreal Canadiens had a wretched season last year, and reaped the draft rewards, American rookie Alex Galchenyuk made an instant impact, Vancouver Giants alumni Brendan Gallagher did as well. They’ve had a small downturn since Alexi Emelin injured himself, but they still held on to win the last Northeast division title.
The Ottawa Senators are probably glad they don’t have to make room on the plane for medical records. Overcoming injuries have defined this team this season. Jason Spezza is still out, Erik Karlsson is just back, and the list of who didn’t play all or most games is much longer than the list of those who did.
Players to watch:
P.K. Subban is the most electrifying player in this series, and possibly on all of the Canadian teams, Lars Eller has shown a willingness to get his nose dirty, and Michael Ryder still has one of the fastest releases in the NHL.
For the Senators, Alfredsson isn’t a player you should ever take your eyes off of, Kyle Turris led the team in goals and points, and Gonchar is still a consistent threat.
Offensively the difference between these teams is night and day, the Canadiens had the fifth best offense in the regular season, and the Senators the fourth worst. On the other hand the Senators finished second in goals against, while the Canadiens were a pedestrian 14th. Craig Anderson has better post season numbers, and should be able to snatch a game or two, but the Habs should win it.
#3 vs. #6
When it comes to winning the Southeast Division, the Washington Capitals have had that locked down for most of its existance, it seems only fitting they should finish its last season on top. Unfortunately, that’s all they seem to be able to win. Maybe this year with a rejuvinated Ovechkin, a mature Carlson and Alzner, and most miraculously a healthy Green they can turn in a good performence.
Last year the New York Rangers went to the Eastern Conference finals, and but for the skill of Adam Henrique, might have gone further. Some might consider it a problem when their 12th best paid forward leads the team in scoring, especially when that player makes roughly 10% of their highest paid forward, for the Rangers, that’s just the way things are.
Players to watch:
The Caps bost a potent offense, and a bit more grit than they are given credit for, Troy Brouwer was second in goals this season, Chimera had a big season last year, and Backstrom has finally started to round back into All Star form.
While Stepan led the Rangers in scoring, Richards, Nash and Callahan have got to be due for an offensive explosion at some point, right?
#4 vs. #5
The Boston Bruins had a heap of distractions towards the end of the season with bombings, blizzards and forever long pregame ceremonies, which might excuse their poor play if it hadn’t been a season long occurance. The positives for the Bruins are that they are pretty healthy physically. The negative is that no one knows where their collective head is.
The Maple Leafs are making their return to the playoffs. Lots of this team hasn’t played in the playoffs at all, and some who have aren’t all that good in the second season. Lupul and Van Riemsdyk have the most playoff experience, Kessel is a point per game player in the playoffs, but he’ll have to get over his ineffectiveness against Chara and Boston in a hurry to keep that going.
Players to watch:
For the Bruins, everyone is waiting on Soderberg to make his impact felt, but he may well sit, watch Bergeron per usual, and see if Ference and Lucic can keep up their snarl.
The Maple Leafs have woefully underused Grabovski this season, and he might just be the key to winning this series, Kadri and Gunnarsson should also be in your crosshairs.
The Bruins played poorly down the stretch, but the Leafs are new as a team to the playoffs, and have a bug in their heads about the Bruins. Expect a lot of physical play and for the team that wants it more to win.
April 30th, 2013 — Uncategorized
#1 Vs #8
The Chicago Blackhawks seemingly have everything going this season. They have two goalies putting up top flight numbers. they have an upgraded defense that has allowed Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to reclaim the form that helped the team win the Cup a few years back. Better still, they have arguably the best forward group in the NHL; Toews, Kane, Hossa, Saad and Sharp.
The Minnesota Wild are that new kid in playoff town no one knows quite what to make of. On paper the Wild have every tool they need to be dangerous, and even contend. In reality, they lack playoff experience, especially with Pominville and Heatley on the shelf. Add that to five of six blueliners who have never seen the NHL playoffs, and you have a recipe for a dicey playoff series.
Players to watch:
For the Wild, don’t be surprised if rookie Charlie Coyle comes up big in spots, Setogouchi is a threat, and Mikko Koivu is never to be underestimated.
On the other side of the puck for the Blackhawks, Kane, Hossa and Toews can all take over games individually.
Chicago, it isn’t purely the quality that they lead in, it is the playoff experience, particularly on the blueline that will decide this series.
#2 vs. #7
Anaheim Ducks have almost no pressure this year. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are drawing an inexplicable amount of attention, and Chicago was start to finish the best team in the NHL. The Ducks simply have to get on the ice and execute. They have savvy older veterans in Koivu and Selanne. They have high quality younger veterans still in their prime in Ryan, Getzlaf, and Perry. They also have a surprisingly strong backend in net and on the blueline. They don’t have any dominant or elite players there, but they do have several really good ones.
The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs again keeping their two decade long streak intact. They have Jimmy Howard who again very quietly put up impressive numbers, they have Datsyuk, and Zetterberg. These are not your Dad’s Red Wing’s though, they just don’t have even one elite talent on their blueline, much less two or three as they have had in years past.
Players to watch:
If the Wings don’t have Howard playing top notch goaltending, they don’t have anything, For them to win, guys like Tootoo, Smith, and other role players will have to elevate their game.
The Ducks need to have their defense continue to smother their opponents, and have at least one of their goaltenders show up and never take their eyes off of Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
Wings can’t win this if the Ducks show up and execute. It’s just that simple.
#3 vs. #6
Vancouver Canucks, it is put up or shutup time in Vancouver. They drama in their net has covered up the fact that this isn’t as good a team as it was in years past. They only won their division by four points, by comparison the Washington Capitals won by 6, and of the six division winners this is the team that scored the least this season. The Sedin twins combined for less goals than Jiri Tlusty. They put up the mediocre season numbers with three of the bottom four teams in their conference playing in their division.
San Jose Sharks are also at the point where if they don’t win the Cup it is tie to break up the band. Marleau, Boyle, and Thornton don’t have many more years left in them and behind them there isn’t much to write home about. What gives this squad a bit of believability is that Niemi, who was part of the Chicago cup run, has turned in the best regular season of his career and played in 43 of the teams 48 games.
Players to watch:
Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa are two guys you should never ever count out, for the Canucks to do well, these two will likely be the biggest impact players.
Joe Thornton appears to have learned how to play big in the playoffs, and Raffi Torres (when he plays clean) is a surprisingly good playoff player.
This series is almost a push, but I give the edge to San Jose, Thornton, Marleau, Couture are are better right now than any three forwards you can name for the Sharks, and with Schneider’s injury and the general chaos in British Columbia I don’t like the Canucks chances.
#4 vs. #5
The Saint Louis Blues boast some damn fine players no one talks about because the team is too far south. David Backes is a game changer, Pietrangelo is one of the best defensemen in the game, and Chris Stewart turned in more points in 48 games this year than he did in 79 last year. Goaltending is clearly this teams weakness, but with Oshie coming back the team gains immediately in two way play.
The reigning champions the Los Angeles Kings have to get scoring from more people than just Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, if for no other reason than Jonathan Quick is not as good this year as last. They’ve gotten a slight refresh adding Regehr and injecting Muzzin into the lineup, but the roster is really almost identical. You have to question the teams hunger a little.
Players to watch:
Drew Doughty emerged as an elite two way defenseman during last year playoffs establishing his bona fides in his own end in addition to the offensive ability he’s always displayed, he and Mike Richards who is frequently overlooked on this team will be crucial to this team going anywhere.
For the Blues, Vladimir Sobotka just finds an extra gear in the playoffs and he can tilt the ice, but he won’t be enough, Bouwmeester, Oshie, and Perron will have to show up and put in work.
This is a push, the Blues I think have the edge in hunger, the Kings have the edge in knowing how to win in the post season.
Total Wins by eliminated teams this round; 9
March 25th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Obviously it’d be nice for Calgary Flames fans if the general managers teams on Iginla’s list suffered some sort of stroke and had them offering up the whole farm system and three roster players. That is however unlikely to happen, even if you disagree with some of the choices, or even the general philosophy of the GM’s in question, all four have won a cup recently.
If I’m sitting in Jay Feaster’s chair, here’s what I’d ask from each team that is fairly reasonable:
Los Angeles Kings:
Centerpiece: Slava Voynov, an offensively talented defenseman who at 23 was part of the Stanley cup win and is still on his entry level deal through July first.
Tyler Toffoli a well regarded center prospect who has 3 games of NHL experience, and about a season in the AHL with good numbers.
a conditional 1st round pick either in 2013 or 2015, Calgary’s choice.
Defensive prospects Scott Harrington, and Derrick Pouliot
A first and a second round picks.
Centerpiece: Alexander Khokhlachev, a young center, a position the team is deep at.
Rich Peverley a versatile forward with speed, a bit of grit and who is affordable enough to be worth keeping around through the rebuild, Peverley does have a NTC, if he’s unavailable:
Niklas Svedberg who is 9th in the AHL in GAA and 7th in Sv%, with more games played than anyone ahead of him in the latter category except Curtis McElhinney who has never managed to stick in the NHL, this in Svedberg’s 1st season in North America.
A conditional 1st round pick either in 2013 or 2015.
Brandon Saad is technically a rookie, but he played two regular season games last season, two
Adam Clendening, a young defenseman with USNDTP experience, two years of college play at Boston University, and in his first year in the AHL.
A 1st and a 2nd round pick.
Given Jarome Iginla’s age, the fact that he will be a UFA in just a couple months, and the fact that the Penguins and Blackhawks as the number one and two offenses really don’t need him, not to mention the Morrow trade, I think these are fairly reasonable prices. If the bidding got heated, particularly if Iginla expands the list, I can see more being paid, but even as good as Iginla would be with a legitimate 1st or 2nd line center for the first time in a decade, there’s less than 20 games left in the regular season, and then the uncertainty of the playoffs. Each of theses teams should at least hit the second round. Also to be considered is when other teams decide to sell off. If for example Martin St. Louis becomes available, or if there’s suddenly a fire sale in a city whose GM has one foot out the door, prices could actually go down.
March 13th, 2013 — Feature: Trades that should
The NHL trade deadline is less than three weeks away, some players may or may not be healthy by then, but should still be shuffled of onto the roster of someone else either for a strong return, a change of scenery for them or the potential return and or cap space.
It is as plain as the snow on Buffalo streets that the team is in need of rebuild. Vanek has shown this season he can contribute big time but at 29, it is unlikely he’ll be as powerful offensively in 3-5 years when the team might be ready to contend. For Deroit, Nashville, or Los Angeles who have cap space and might want to add scoring, he’s the number one option who might be available.
The Washington Capitals are retooling on the fly, and trying to develop a new system of play. You can’t do that if you aren’t in the lineup. Last season Green played just 32 games, a total he may have trouble matching this year, the year before just 49. Since breaking into the league he’s had just one year where he played all 82 games. With cap contraction a reality, his six million dollars would look mighty fine if it belonged to someone else. If anyone is willing to take him for more than a 2nd round pick and a solid prospect, the return is worth it.
One of the great ambassadors for the sport deserves a chance to win a cup. Of the top contenders, all of them have cap space and can likely be parted from two or three prospects and or picks. Better still, all three of the four are American teams so there’s less likelihood fans see it as a betrayal. Far be it for me to suggest that waiving a no movement clause doesn’t burn bridges or imply collusion between players being traded and management, but one could take a look at Keith Tkachuk’s career and draw their own conclusions.
While as constituted the Montreal Canadiens are a likely contender, swapping the injury prone Markov out for a first or second line center who can actually win faceoffs would shore up their penalty kill, give them more puck possession, and likely improve their goal scored. With a full year left on his contract, a few teams ought to be interested just to see how much he can help groom their young blueliners.
Why in the world he’s in the Leafs dog house is anyones guess. His fall from grace has happened faster and just as inexplicably as Keith Aulies, and the time he’s spending in the AHL is as wasteful as Nazim Kadri’s, maybe worse since the big team has a coach who is getting results. If the Leafs don’t want him, there’s a good 20 teams who will be happy to exchange “AHL prospects” with the Leafs to relieve them of their burden. With his agent getting in on the inquiry via social media, it is only a matter of time before the situation becomes a distraction to the team.
The former AHL defenseman of the year has stagnated badly. It began almost as soon as he got to the NHL, clearly a change of scenery is in order. While his $3.3million cap his isn’t by itself that bad, hes the Bruins second highest paid defenseman, and currently has as many points as Shawn Thornton and has seen his powerplay time on ice go from 1:01 per game in 2010-11 to 0:09 per game this year.
Until the team finds a goaltender who can stop a beach ball, it doesn’t matter who is on the blueline. Bouwmeester is contributing at half a point per game, his highest level since arriving in Calgary. His contract is up after next season, and I can’t see him wanting to resign in Calgary, so the sooner he waives his no trade clause and get’s moving the sooner he can rebuild his market value an maybe not have to take an enormous pay cut in 2012-15, with luck he might win a cup a long the way.
While he’s the surprise leader of the Oilers scoring race, he’s also due a new contract July 1. With the wealth of forward talent the team has and no chance of making the playoffs, Gagner might be the best trade piece the team has to acquire a solid, defensive minded top pairing defenseman or at least a couple very strong prospects.
When it comes to luck, if Marc didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any at all. Both his brothers have won a Stanley Cup and he hasn’t, one of them concussed him, and now he’s caught a puck with his brow. From the team standpoint, his time downchecked due to injury has left a great deal of space for other players to mature into. The Rangers have just 17 players signed for next season and only nine million to sign the six other roster spots something has to give, of the players who need a contract come July the first are Michael Sauer, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonaugh, and Derek Stepan, moving out Staal’s four million for a rasher of picks or prospects before the deadline or at the draft makes a lot of sense.
March 9th, 2013 — Uncategorized
We all knew the Chicago Blackhawks streak would end eventually, most of us did not expect it to come at the hands of the erratic Colorado Avalanche. While other teams have been interesting to watch all season, none have gotten the attention the press has paid to Chicago.
5: The Colorado Avalanche are just four points out of the playoffs with just over half their schedule left to play. The team just got their best defenseman Erik Johnson back fro an injury, and Ryan O’Reilly should be back in game shape. Between those two additions to the roster and the confidence of ending the Blackhawks streak, the squad might just have what it takes to pry about 33 points out of their final 25 games to make the post season.
4: The Ottawa Senators, most everyone thought Erik Karlsson’s keening intonation that Matt Cooke’s actions were intentional would be the death-knell for the teams playoff hopes. Here we are weeks later and the team is still in sixth place with a comfortable four pint lead on the 8th place Rangers, and five on the Winnipeg Jets. Cue Jason Spezza’s pemding return. You simply can’t overstate the impact of the return of the divisions most offensively talented center, the fact that Spezza has also developed some defensive ability in the last couple years just makes Paul Maclean’s job a little easier.
3: Washington Capitals. Did you know this team is 7-3-0 in their last ten? Did you know that while they’re currently in 12th place and five points behind 8th place, with only 22 games played, only the Boston Bruins have played less? Did you know Ovechkin’s 5 points in his last 3 games brings him up to just under a point per game? With Carolina having lost their #1 goaltender, the Caps, like the Jets have to have their eyes wide open and focused on the division title as step on.
2: St Louis Blues, this team was scary good last season. Their goaltending was incredible. This season they are aggressively average. Currently 8th in the west, their goal differential is exactly 0, and they are an unspectacular 5-4-1 in their last ten. This team could be buyers or sellers on April 3.
1: Nashville Predators. This team needs to find goal scoring. They have the defense, coaching, and goaltending to do damage. Only five teams have a lower cap hit than the Predators. David Polie needs to be ready to move heaven, earth, draft picks and prospects to get into the playoffs and secure some offensive talent before the deadline. If Polie doesn’t do something to bolster the team and they miss the playoffs after having lost Ryan Suter in the off season and nearly losing Shea Weber, there could be some sad songs in music city.
In discussing the perpetually rumored signing of a Swedish prospect a certain big name media type referred to the potential signing as the players return to the NHL.
Question: How can a player who has never played outside Sweden, not even playing juniors in North America “return” to the NHL?
March 4th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Filling out the Team USA roster will require a mix of youth, international experience, and attitude. The Russians, the Canadians, and the upper echelon of European teams will not be intimidated by half the roster returning, or even two thirds. Part of what will be needed is a bit of familiarity, so anyone who has played with likely players wins the tie breaker over complete outsiders.
- Craig Anderson, he’s played with Erik Johnson, he’s the best goaltender in the NHL this season, and he’s got enough of a different style from both Miller and Quick that if the coach has to make a change, the opposition will have to make adjustments.
- Dustin Byfuglien, big body, can play defense and forward, has won the Stanley Cup has played with Patrick Kane.
- Jason Pominville, an infusion of skill is needed and this guy has it.
- John Carlson, is highly talented, knows the tendencies of several of the big names from some of the other national teams.
- Max Pacioretty has turned into one of the most interesting players in the NHL. Almost a point per game player on a team that has been injury prone over the last two seasons.
- Kevin Shattenkirk, has played well in the very defensive system in St Louis, has also played in the more free wheeling Colorado system in the past.
- Seth Jones, has won World Junior gold, will likely be part of team USA for years to come, even if he only plays seven or eight minutes a game, good experience for the future.
- Alex Galchenyuk, has played with Jones internationally, and plays with Pacioretty on the Habs.
- Rob Scuderi, no international experience, but has won Stanley Cup’s in two radically different systems, the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, among the leaders for US born defenseman in shorthanded ice time.
- James van Riemsdyk has had solid international experience, currently playing with 2010 Silver Medalist Phil Kessel.
- Alex Goligoski, the Dallas Defenseman gets overlooked a lot, but it should be noted he’s putting up almost identical offensive numbers on the far less talented Dallas team as he did with the Penguins. Has a small amount of international experience.
- Justin Faulk, great young defenseman burdened by a poor defensive team. Has played under the flag, plays in all situations, like Jones will likely be around for the next three Olympic cycles, has played with Gleason.
- Drew Stafford, scored 52 points in 62 games including 31 goals two seasons ago, plays with Pominville, some international experience.
- Erik Cole, former Olympian, World Championship experience, two time thirty goal scorer, played briefly with Galchenyuk, and a season with Pacioretty.
- John Gaudreau, speedy little pure goal scorer,
- John Gibson, WJC tournament MVP, stud goaltender.
- Rocco Grimaldi, speedy, agile, had two goals in the WJC win over Sweden.
- Blake Wheeler, great reach, good speed, plays in all situations.
- J.T. Miller, played in on the WJC gold team with Gibson, Gaudreau, Grimaldi, Jones, playing for the Rangers and getting compliments from John Tortorello.
- Emerson Etem has proved himself at the junior level in the WHL, he’s yet to make a big mark in the NHL, but he’s got speed to burn and plays on the same team as Bobby Ryan, some games for the NAHL national team.
- Tyler Myers if he can somehow get his grove back he’s undeniably talented, has developed some aggression, and is both a good skater and puck handler.
- Brandon Dubinsky, has had a downturn in production lately, but had a good World Championship and is a great two way player.
- Jack McCabe, captain of the gold team, solid defender, but the defense is the area where the team is likely to have the least turnover.
- Jimmy Howard no slight on his talent, but he’s about the fourth best American goaltender in the NHL right now. National development team veteran.
- T.J. Oshie, depending on how the top lines shake down he might find himself tapped to captain the penalty kill effort, also plays with Backes, some national experience, plays physical.
- Kyle Palmeri has a hat trick this season, and half of his goals have been game winners, national experience, and plays with Bobby Ryan.
- Paul Gaustad, incredible faceoff man, great penalty killer, like Oshie could end up as a “role player”, team guy.
Given the eventual composition of Teams Canada and Russia, ensuring there is a viable penalty kill, players at all positions who can skate, and guys who won’t wilt under physical play or the bright lights of Olympic play take priority over pure skill with questionable fortitude. With a deep enough team, playing against the weaker teams gets easier because you can use your whole bench and stay reasonably fresh for the games where one bad five minute stretch can bounce you from the metal round.
July 16th, 2012 — Collective Bargaining Agreement
The owners reported first offer to the NHLPA has been covered in depth both here and elsewhere. Donald Fehr is known to be a firebrand. The possibilities for his response are nearly limitless. Depending on what level they want to respond to the ownership positions there are a bunch of things that could be included with an equal degree of feasibility. I’ll skip the logical middle ground for now and go into that later on.
Possible positions the NHLPA can respond with that are on an equal level to the owners proposals:
- Pay at the daily breakdown rate of their salary during the playoffs.
- Minimum NHL game and minute counts on entry level contracts for retention of the player as an RFA.
- No entry level contract for undrafted players
- Same pay at NHL, AHL and ECHL for entry level contracts
- No confidence voting for NHL officials where a simple majority would mean the dismissal of said official (from linesman to announcer to commissioner)
- Paid transportation to and from home for all players going to official team events
- 100% pay for buyouts
- Teams dressing less than the 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders each game would have to give each player in their system, regardless of the level they are assigned to, a bonus equivalent to 1 days pay at the NHL level.
- Unrestricted right to use team and league logos, names and imagery when endorsing other products.
June 24th, 2012 — Uncategorized
Looking back at the Los Angeles Kings improbable Stanley Cup win, there is one identifying feature of their play that set them apart. We’ve all been through how well certain individuals played. Jonathan Quick rightfully earned the Conn-Smyth. Dustin Brown continued a tour de force that started at the trade deadline and didn’t stop until the cup went skywards. Anze Kopitar went from playing in the shadows to needing SPF90 just to play a game. Then there was Drew Doughty he held out during camp, got concussed early on, and by the time it was all said and done his play was the closest thing to Ray Bourque’s that the league has.
But none of those players for all their stellar play is why they won the Stanley Cup. Goaltending is an underrated part of NHL game. A mockery was made of defense at the NHL awards. As for goal scoring, the Kings potted less than a half a goal more per game than the Florida Panthers. Team work got the job done.
The highest level of that team mentality wasn’t one of the fights (which were great) or the powerplay which was mostly not worth mentioning. The one defining feature, the zenith of their teamwork was their puck anticipation, and puck tracking. If their was a shot from the point that went to the net mouth and rattled off of two or three bodies, the number of times a Kings player wasn’t the first to the puck can be totalled on one hand for all four rounds. The level of synergy between players was impressive. Of all the teams to display something similar the last Cup winning Detroit team is the best example.
But knowing where the puck would be was only part of it. They got to it and acted calmly. The puck went where it needed to go. The transition from puck chase to continued play was instant. While the puck was being pursued, the other players were headed in the right direction. No one needed to be told where to go or guess where to be, they just did it. That’s the type of teamwork all teams should aspire to.
June 11th, 2012 — player
I noticed a curious trend in the last decade. Few of the young players, say twenty five and under who won the Cup seemed to be major impact players later on. At the same time, players who won a bit later were contributing again and again to at least deep runs. Take Rob Scuderi and Mark Recchi as players who won the Cup towards later, and we’ll look at a few of the players who won young below.
While injuries have played a big part in the recent history of the Pittsburgh Penguins, its hard to argue that Marc-Andre Fleury is not playing well below the level he did when they last hoisted a banner. Oddly, the Cup win represents only a mediocre set of numbers for Fluery. The year before in a loss he finished with a save percentage of .933. In winning the cup he dipped to a pedestrian .908sv% and that represents the last time he was above .900sv% in the post season the trend in games played in the post season and overall performance is not pretty either, this season his save percentage was .834 and that’s about as unlovely as it gets.
Eric Staal was in his second NHL season when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. In that season he crushed out 100 points. On special teams he was magic, 19 powerplay goals and 4 short handed goals are more goals than most players will total in a season, the rest of his 45 goals that year came at even strength. In the playoffs he had 28 points in 25 games. Since then he’s only been in the playoffs once more, and has never again been over a point per game.
Patrick Kane peaked in the year the Chicago BlackHawks ended their drought. He had 30 regular season goals and 88 points in the regular season. In the post season on his way to sending the Philadelphia Flyers home with heads hung low he had an eye popping 28 points in 22 games. In the two seasons since he too has trended downwards. He didn’t score a single goal in this years playoffs, this isn’t what was expected when the Blackhawks brain trust drafted him.
For the Los Angeles Kings, the players who entered this season under twenty five are, Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Dwight King, Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov, Andrei Lokitinov, Kyle Clifford. New Jersey Devils fans may or may not want to be a bit more relaxed about the question, with just Mark Fayne, Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson and Jacob Josefson having entered the season under twenty five.
Am I 100% convinced that winning the Cup at a young age is bad for players? No, but it does factor in. And you really have to ask yourself how could it not sap the motivation at least a little? You aren’t even old enough to rent a car in some states or get good car insurance rates, all your friends are still in high school or college or maybe working some entry level job and you’ve just taken home the hardest trophy to win in sports. Having won a cup you’re assured of getting multimillion dollar contracts until at least two years past the point anyone else would have been forced to retire, and you’ll have a nice piece of bling for your hand to remind you of how great you were once.