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Future Hall of Famers

by chewy 10. November 2009 11:34

With one of the greatest sets of players ever to enter the Hall of Fame last night, it seems like an appropriate time to look ahead at what is to come for the Hall.  Recent retirees like Sakic, Sundin (and possibly Roenick) are pretty much a lock when their wait period ends, but what about current NHL players?  Which players have already earned their spots and which ones are the most likely to do so through the rest of their careers?  Let's break it down.


First, let's look at the players who have stamped their ticket already.  In other words, if these players were to retire today, they should be guaranteed a spot in the Hall, based on their accomplishments so far.   (Note: I'm excluding guys like Belfour who aren't technically retired, but obviously aren't coming back to pro hockey any time soon)


1. Martin Brodeur - Arguably the best goaltender of all time, and he's not done yet.  No discussion needed.


2. Niklas Lidstrom - Again, one of the best at his position of all time.  6 Norris and 1 Conn Smythe, puts him up with the elite D in the Hall.


3. Jaromir Jagr - 9th all time in points, plus a couple of Cups and a handful of Art Ross Trophies have secured his spot.  He may come back to add to his totals next season.


4. Marc Recchi - Probably one of the most underrated players of all time.  Hard to believe he's 14th all time in points and will probably climb another spot this season.


5. Chris Chelios - I'm no fan of Chelios, but you'd be a moron to argue against him getting into the Hall of Fame.  4th all time in games played and 3 Norris Trophies, along with 3 Cup rings, and he's still trying to play more.


6. Brendan Shanahan - 11th all time in goals, and could rise to 10th if he plays again this season.   Also sits 23rd in all time points.


7. Mike Modano - Highest scoring American player of all time and 29th overall.  Won a Cup and holds every record for the Stars franchise.


8. Teemu Selanne - 18th all time in goals, 41st in points.  Won a Cup.  His rookie season alone should have earned him consideration.


9. Scott Niedermeyer - Niedermeyer has won everything possible in his career, including: 2 Cups, Conn Smythe, Norris, Olympic Gold, World Cup Gold, & Junior Gold


10. Chris Osgood - Some may dispute his ticket being stamped, but you need to consider the facts.  10th all time in wins.  23rd all time in shutouts.   8th in playoff wins and 4th in playoff shutouts.  He's scored a goal and won 3 Cups.  Osgood is Hall material.


11. Sergei Fedorov - Fedorov has won 3 Cups and 1 Hart Trophy.  He's top 50 in all time points and 13th in playoff points.


12. Peter Forsberg - While injuries have held him back, he's still top 100 in points.  More importantly, he ranks 17th in playoff points and 20th in playoff goals.  He may be back for more shortly.


13. Rod Brind'Amour - Brind'Amour may be considered borderline by some, but consider: he's top 50 in all time points with 1165 and counting.  He's won a pair of Selke's and a Stanley Cup.  He's also considered one of the best captains in the game.


14. Chris Pronger - While not a popular choice for many, it's hard to argue against him.  He's won Hart and Norris.  He's taken the Cup.  He's a proven scorer and one of the most intimidating players in the game.  He's still got a few more good years to build on his reputation.





Now, let's look at the guys who are most likely to earn a spot in the Hall, based on what we've seen from them so far.  With some of the older guys on this list, they're a Cup win or a few good seasons away from locking up a spot.  Some of the younger guys aren't quite guaranteed a spot yet, since injuries could always end a career early.  Here's my shot at the 10 most likely to make the Hall:


1. Keith Tkachuk - Tkachuk is borderline right now with 1000 plus points.   He's currently ranked 31 all time in goals.  The one thing missing on his resume is a Cup win.  A couple more 20+ goal seasons should  cement his spot either way.


2. Paul Kariya - Like Tkachuk, the one thing holding Kariya back is his name on the Cup.  He came close in 2003.  He's top 80 in points all time and will likely crack 1000 points this season.  A couple more decent years of point production will get him into the Hall without much debate.


3. Jarome Iginla - Iginla is just about into the top 100 in all time points, and he still has plenty of good years left to come.  His all around game is another plus that should earn him a spot.  Like Tkachuk and Kariya, a Cup win would certainly help his cause.


4. Sidney Crosby - Already won a Cup and is well on his way to a guaranteed Hall of Fame career.   No reason to doubt he'll be there some day.


5. Alex Ovechkin - Just 5 years into his career, and already looking like a sure thing for the Hall.  2 Hart trophies already.  His aggressive style of play is the one thing that may cut this party short.  Think Eric Lindros.


6. Vincent Lecavalier - Already has the Cup on his resume and is a proven scorer who will steadily climb the all time list over the next  10 years.


7. Evgeni Malkin - It's only his fourth season, so this may be premature, but there's no reason to doubt he'll get there some day.  Already has a Cup, Conn Smythe, and Art Ross in his collection.


8. Joe Thornton - The biggest factor holding Thornton back is clearly the lack of playoff success.  No doubt if he keeps up his pace, he'll have the points to get there in a few years.  If the Sharks can break through and win the Cup, he'll be a lock.


9. Ilya Kovalchuk - Kovalchuk has averaged about 40 goals over his first 7 NHL seasons.  If he can keep up his pace, he has a good shot at finishing in the top 10 of all time, and will be a no brainer for the Hall.  Imagine where he would be already on a better team.


10. Marian Hossa - Sure, Hossa has been on the wrong side of the Cup handshake two years in a row, but he's in his prime and should have a few more shots at it with the Hawks.  He's already over 700 points in his career, and seems likely to get there.



Finally, here are a few more guys who I think will be borderline candidates when their time is up in a couple of seasons:

1. Rob Blake

2. Doug Weight

3. Mathieu Schneider

4. Evgeni Nabokov

5. Daniel Alfredsson

Hot Starts / Slow Starts

by chewy 5. October 2009 07:48

It's certainly too soon to draw an conclusions, good or bad, from what's transpired so far this season, but there were definitely a few surprises that came out of opening weekend this season.  Some of them may point to a trend, while others may be classified as a blip on the radar.


Hot Starts


Blues own the Wings

The fact that Blues won both games against the Wings this weekend was a bit surprising.  The fact that the Wings blew the lead in both games is more shocking.  So, are the Wings in trouble or are the Blues that good?  I've bet against the Wings before to start a season, and it never pays off.  Sure they're down a few players from last season, but they'll recover just fine.  If anything, we're starting to see that yes, the Blues have finally become a good team once again.  St. Louis showed last season that their young stars have arrived and it looks like this season, their veterans are playing great.  Add to that a solid start from Chris Mason in net, and that's a great formula for a winning season.  If you picked the Blues to miss the playoffs this year, you're probably going to look silly.


Avalanche Back on Top (?)

A quick glance at the league standings so the Colorado Avalanche as the top team with two wins, 8 goals for and 2 goals against.  Looks like the Avalanche are back to their glory days of league domination. 

And they won't miss Sakic one bit.  And Kazakhstan should win gold this winter.

From a fantasy perspective, feel free to ride this wave as long as it lasts.  Wolski and Hejduk may be available in your pool, but they won't be for long.  Wolski traditionally gets off to a strong start, so grab him until he cools off, but don't mortgage your team to load up on Avalanche.  This won't last long.


Brooks Laich

Yes, he's developing into a decent forward, but seeing his name in the top 5 scorers will be a distant memory in a week or two.  Still, he's probably available in your league, and as long as he's seeing occasional duty with Ovechkin and Backstrom, why not ride it?


Slow Starts


Hurricanes looking awful

Many prognosticators (myself included) expected the Hurricanes to have a pretty good season.  So far, we're looking like fools.  The Hurricanes didn't just lose their first two games, they looked like they weren't even trying.  2 goals for and 9 goals against.  Maybe they're still hurting from the smack down the Penguins laid on them last spring.  My advice (if you're in my pool) is to drop all Hurricanes right away from your roster.  If you're not in my pool, hang tight.  This team is well balanced, well coached (despite what you saw this weekend), and will recover just fine.


Canucks drop 2

The Canucks opened the season on the road with two losses in their division.  That doesn't bode well for a team with a messed up travel schedule.  Luongo is going to have to be the best goalie in the league for this team to be successful, and so far, he's casting some doubt.  If the slide continues, feel free to jump off the Canuck bandwagon and join me in the minority who see this team missing the playoffs this year.


Fantasy Wire

From a fantasy perspective, you can learn a little from players who get off to a slow start, but you shouldn't pay much attention to players who come out of the gate slowly in the first two or three games.  Remember, Getzlaf didn't register a point in the first week last season, before going on a tear in week 2.  Hold tight to your draft picks and check back in another week before bailing on your early picks.

Nine Fine Lines

by chewy 25. September 2009 06:05

Several of the finest lines in the NHL were split up in the offseason, opening the door for some emerging combinations to take the stage for the 2009-10 season.  Although most of these threesomes won't be matched up on a regular basis, it's a great option for the coaches to assemble these lines when they're in need of a late game goal.  Here are the top 9 finest (potential) lines in hockey:


9 - Spezza / Alfredsson / Kovalev

At some point this season, the third slot may read Michalek or Cheechoo, but out of the shoot, Kovalev will replace Heatley on what used to be one of the top 3 lines in the game.  If Kovalev can turn back the clock and find motivation, this could be a dominating line once again in Canada's capital.


8 - Lecavalier / St. Louis / Tanguay

Once again, the third piece in this puzzle is interchangeable, with Stamkos being a prime candidate.  Either way, the Lightning will be putting all their offensive hopes on one strong first line, as they have for the last several seasons.  St. Louis should keep up his consistent scoring, and Lecavalier is due for a good year, making this a potentially explosive all-Canadian front three.


7 - Toews / Kane / Hossa

While this line won't even have the chance to meet until late December, it should be worth the wait.  When healthy, Hossa will be the best player on a great team, featuring a whole lot of offensive talent.  Toews and Kane are about to reach the upper echelon, and this line could be unstoppable by the end of the season.


6 - Datsyuk / Zetterberg / Franzen

What's not to like about this threesome?  Put them out there to score or kill penalties, and you'll be equally pleased.  With Franzen's goalscoring progression over the past couple seasons, you can't even say who's the weak link on this line.   Probably because there is no weak link on this line. 


5 - Carter / Richards / Gagne

Two brilliant goal scorers flanking the total package in the middle.  This line wins games.  Problem is, with Carter and Richards both taking draws, and with so much talent on lines 2 & 3, these guys will rarely see time together.  Even so, the Flyers could easily make a case for placing a second line in the top 10.


4 - Thornton / Heatley / Setoguchi

What was already one of the strongest lines in the game last year just got more deadly.  And this is a line you will actually see together to start the season.  If Heatley can keep his head on straight, this line will be downright scary.  And if the Sharks can somehow resist trading Marleau, they could have the best 1-2 punch in top lines in the NHL.


3 - Crosby / Malkin / Kunitz

OK.  You could replace Kunitz with Fedotenko, Guerin, Coach Bylsma, or a pair of old wet shoes, and you'd still have to rank the line in the top 3.  Crosby and Malkin showed last season and throughout the playoffs that when paired together, goals will be scored.  Imagine if they landed a top 10 winger in Pittsburgh.


2 - Getzlaf / Ryan / Perry

Like the Sharks line, this group may likely stay together for much of the season.  Which is great news if you've drafted one or more of them.  All three of these guys will top 30 goals and the trio should top 100 combined.  That's a lot of scoring on one line.


1 - Ovechkin / Backstrom / Semin

If Semin stays healthy, this is undoubtedly the best line in hockey.  Two amazing goal scorers, getting dishes from an outstanding playmaker.  And all three are just entering their prime.  This trio could combine for 300+ points this season, and be the first team since Pittsburgh in 1996 to post 3 100 point scorers.

A Ship Without a Captain

by chewy 16. September 2009 14:13


Quick.  What do you think of when you hear these names:

Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, NY Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Mapleleafs.


Teams likely to miss the playoffs?  (SJ doesn't quite fit)

Cool Jerseys?  (Islanders are kind a lame)

Teams that disappointed last season?  (True, though Toronto didn't have high expectations)


These are all teams that are entering the pre-season without a captain in their lineup.  And, it's probably not a coincidence that most of these teams seem to be just a little lost among their NHL brethren.  Consider the teams with solid, undisputed captains in their lineup, and how steady those franchises are: Iginla in Calgary, Niedermeyer in Anaheim, Chara in Boston, Lidstrom in Detroit, etc.  Meanwhile, the teams without a C on a sweater each have problems to deal with that often center around character and team identity.  It shows the importance of having a strong captain on the roster.  Some of these teams may begin (and possibly finish) the season with no captain.  History shows that doesn't result in success.  Here is a team-by-team look at the teams in need of a leader.


Florida Panthers

The Panthers have been without a captain since trading Olli Jokinen in 2008.  Prior to that, they had no captain for a season.  The team hasn't had a quality leader since Scott Mellanby left in 2001.  Of all the teams in this list, the Panthers may be the team most in need of a strong captain.   The team is running with 3 assistants: Bryan Allen, Cory Stillman, and Stephen Weiss.  Perhaps they're waiting for one of the younger stars to emerge, but it hasn't happened yet.  Stillman, Allen, or Keith Ballard seem like the most likely candidates to assume the position at some point, but Florida seems to be content to shun the letter altogether.

Best Bet: Cory Stillman


Minnesota Wild

The Wild have never had a permanent captain in their history.  They've also never had much success in the playoffs.  They have steadily rotated the C, almost on a monthly basis.  Perhaps that will change with the new regime entering the state.  Over the last several years, Mikko Koivu has held the role more often than any other and seems to be the most likely player to get the honor, if the philosophy changes.  He has demonstrated quality leadership on the team and would certainly make a good captain.

Best Bet: Mikko Koivu


Montreal Canadiens

The captaincy of the Canadiens has been a hot topic lately, as it always is when the position opens up.  The Canadiens hold this designation in high regard, and many players run from the responsibility.  Just ask Andrei Markov.  With a total overhaul of the team, there are a number of possible candidates, and it seems likely that Gainey will wait a few months to see who emerges from the pack. 

Best Bet: Mike Cammalleri


NY Islanders

The Islanders lost their captain when Bill Guerin was moved to the Penguins last season.  The Islanders traditionally fill the role quickly, but have gone a couple seasons in their history with no captain.  It seems likely the role will ultimately go to John Tavares, but don't expect it to happen this year.  It would be silly to lay that burden on a guy who's already expected to save a franchise as a teenager.  Most likely, the team will either hold off on naming a guy, or they'll bridge the gap with a veteran for a year or two until Tavares is deemed ready. 

Best Bet: Brendan Witt


San Jose

It's anybody's guess what the Sharks management will do next in an attempt to reverse the ugly trend of crushed expectations.  After ripping the C off of Marleau's chest this summer, it was surprising to see that he wasn't in the deal that brought Heatley across.  Is it finally time for Joe Thornton to step up and take the captaincy?  If not, why?  Thornton is 30 now and without excuse.  He is the leader of the Sharks, C or no C.  It's possible that the Sharks could turn to more of a role player as their captain, but it seems like it's Joe's time - now or never.

Best Bet: Joe Thornton



Mats Sundin held the C for over a decade, and it has yet to find a new home.  In fact, at this point, only Tomas Kaberle is listed as an assistant.  The team seems headed in the right direction, but is in need of an identity and a clear-cut leader.  It may be too much to ask at the age of 19, but all signs seem to point to Luke Schenn being the face of this franchise for many years to come.   Much like the situation in New York, it may be best to keep the seat warm for a year or two before sewing it on Schenn's sweater.  Look for the job to be handed to a veteran this fall.

Best Bet: Tomas Kaberle

New Rule Proposal - Unopposed Faceoffs

by chewy 31. July 2009 07:19

I'm not on the NHL competition committee (yet), but if I were, one area that I would want to revisit is the puck over the glass rule.  It doesn't seem like the punishment fits the crime when a defenseman inadvertently clears the puck over the glass and has to sit for 2 minutes.  Is that really equal to an elbow to the face or hauling down a player from behind?  The idea of keeping the offending team on the ice after an icing call was a good start at a "minor" punishment.  Seems like there needs to be a middle ground between that and the 2 minute minor.  Particularly in situations like the puck over the glass.  So here's my proposal…


The Unopposed faceoff.


The idea is simple, the offending team doesn't get to place a player in the faceoff circle.  It's like a free kick in soccer, but you still have the puck being dropped.  The player on the other team would not be allowed to move the puck forward off the faceoff.  They would have to pull it back, but would have a free faceoff win.  (Otherwise, it would turn into a free slapshot).   This would still be a major deterrent to stop defensemen from clearing the puck.  A free, clean faceoff win in the offensive zone is a major advantage.


This could potentially be applied in other areas, beyond the puck over the glass. 

  • Player in defensive zone freezing the puck
  • Goalie playing the puck in the trapezoid (another stupid 2 minute minor rule)
  • Team is late in making a line change / buying time for a tired player


Thoughts from the gallery?  I think this could work.

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