Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THIS SUMMER TOP 25 FREE AGENTS

The NHL's free-agency signing period opens Wednesday. The most intriguing free agents:


JAY BOUWMEESTER

1. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester: The Calgary Flames acquired his rights from the Florida Panthers, and they're expected to sign the Alberta native in a deal worth at least $6 million per season. Should he choose not to sign, he will have a long line of suitors because he's 24 and his best seasons are still in front of him.

2. The Sedin twins: As this is being written, Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is heading to Sweden in what appears to be a final attempt to keep left wing Daniel and center Henrik Sedin. Considering they wanted to stay in Vancouver, it still feels as if a deal will get done. If it doesn't get done, the Sedins' options will be limited if they want to play together. The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs seem they would be a good fit.

3. Right wing Marian Hossa: Unless he's willing to accept a Johan Franzen-style deal (11 years, $44 million, $3.9 million salary cap), the Red Wings can't afford to re-sign him. Never mind his lack of product, he's big, strong, defensively responsible and he can skate. He's like to be a primary target of teams with money to spend, such as the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal or the Canucks, if they don't sign the Sedins.

4. Defenseman Mike Komisarek: He's the big shutdown defenseman that every team covets, particularly in the East where they have to deal with the bigger forwards such as Alex Ovechkin, Eric Staal and Evgeni Malkin, Considering how many teams will want him, it's easy to see the bidding going to $5 million per season. Even in the salary cap era, defensemen, even those without offensive numbers, are commanding big payoffs in the open market.

5. Right wing Martin Havlat: The Blackhawks want to keep him for his goal scoring and his presence, but they have salary cap issues going forward. Creativity will required to keep him in Chicago. If no deal is completed, he will have many interested teams. He scored 29 goals last season, and he was almost a point-per-game player. If you want to know what he is thinking, he twitters for fans regularly.

6. Defenseman Rob Scuderi: When he blocked Johan Franzen's shot near the end of Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals, he probably picked up another $500,000 in free-agent salary. His reputation was enhanced by his strong performance in the playoffs. Former Pittsburgh player Bob Errey, now a broadcaster, called Scuderi the "best 5-on-3 defenseman" in the league. He likes Pittsburgh and might be willing to give a hometown discount. But he has never had a major payday, and no one is going to blame him for leaving town if he gets offers of more than $3.75 million. That could happen.

7. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin: Based on the salary cap's short history, teams will overpay for a strong, tough, skilled defenseman. Don't be surprised if the bidding on Beauchemin spikes quickly.

8. Right wing Marian Gaborik: Although Gaborik has had some injury issues during his career, there is still a league-wide romance with his game-breaking ability.

9. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund: He's 220 pounds and is an offensive contributor.

10. Center-wing Michael Cammalleri: The Flames couldn't afford to keep him because he scored 39 goals this season, which probably means the bidding starts at $5 million and climbs. He's only 27.

11. Center Saku Koivu: The Canadiens are still trying to re-sign him, but if he becomes a free agent, it seems like a possibility that he would consider playing in Minnesota with his brother Mikko.

12. Center Nik Antropov: Although there are mixed reviews on Antropov, there is such a shortage of centers that multiple teams will be interested in him. The Atlanta Thrashers need a center for Ilya Kovalchuk and he might be a good fit.

13. Right wing Brian Gionta: He's 30 and his goal scoring has dropped each of the past four seasons. He has gone from being a 48-goal scorer to a 20-goal scorer. However, his assist totals have grown the past three seasons and he can still bring speed on the wing.

14. Right wing Alex Kovalev: By all accounts, Kovalev had a rough 2008-09 and he still scored 26 goals. He's a slick stickhandler and he's still a dynamic player, even at age 36.

15. Left wing Erik Cole: Despite his troubles scoring in the playoffs, his combination of speed, offense and snarl make him attractive. But clearly he doesn't have the same reputation as a difference maker that he had four years ago.

16. Right wing Steve Sullivan: The Nashville Predators wanted to keep him, but they are balking at a longer term deal because Sullivan missed more than 600 days with a back injury. Sullivan produced once he returned to the lineup and he wants to be paid like a scorer.

17. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek: The Buffalo Sabres are trying to sign this dependable two-way contributor. Several teams will be courting him.

18. Right wing Mikael Samuelsson: The Red Wings like him, but they have no room in the inn. He's 6-2, 218 and owns a booming shot. He can play the point on the power play. He suffers from confidence problems, but he's capable of playing as a top six forward when he's going well.

19. Left wing Alex Tanguay: The trick of trying to sign Tanguay is trying to figure out his potential at this point of his career. He lost 32 games to injury last season and still managed 16 goals.

20. Right wing Chad LaRose: He had a career year at the right time, scoring 19 goals this past season. He can be feisty.

21. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin: At 34, he's still a top four defenseman who can score 10 to 12 goals per season.

22. Right wing Mike Knuble: At 36, he was a 27-goal scorer last season. He can help a power play without breaking the bank.

23. Defenseman Mathieu Schneider: He just turned 40, but he produced five goals and 12 assists in 23 games after being traded to Montreal. He's not a $5.75 million player, but he will receive a one-year contract from a team looking for a power play point man.

24. Right wing Mike Grier: He's almost 230 pounds and can be a valuable role player.

25. Left wing/center Tomas Kopecky: He would be a quality signing for a team trying to find a diamond in the rough. The 6-3, 210-pounder has been a role player in Detroit, but he has shown a scoring touch when his playing time was increased. He has some spunk.

Monday, June 29, 2009

HALL OF FAME NEWCOMER - BRETT HULL


Brett Hull couldn't wait for the NHL to announce his name as part of the 2009 Hall of Fame class.


BRETT HULL

The former sniper confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that he will be one of the four honoured members when the NHL announces the Hall of Fame class during a conference call at 3:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

"It's a great honour, it's really unfathomable," said Hull, now the Dallas Stars executive vice-president and alternate governor. "I mean, when you're a kid, you dream about someday playing in the NHL or someday winning the Stanley Cup, but you just don't think about this, so it's hard to prepare yourself."

Hull is expected to be joined by Detroit Red Wings great Steve Yzerman. Former New York Rangers defenceman Brian Leetch is also a strong candidate for the NHL's exclusive club.

Hull won two Stanley Cups during his career, but his most memorable moment came during the 1999 final against the Buffalo Sabres.

Hull scored in triple overtime of Game 6 to clinch the Stars' first Stanley Cup title. The goal was not without controversy, however, as Hull's right foot was in the crease while scoring on Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek. Although players weren't permitted in the crease at that time, officials allowed the goal to stand.

The ceremony will take place at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Nov. 9.

Three other first-time eligible players — Luc Robitaille, Dave Andreychuk and Alexander Mogilny — should get most of the consideration for the final spot.

Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, Steve Larmer, Dino Ciccarelli and Pavel Bure are also in the mix.

The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee is comprised of 18 members. In addition to players, referees and builders of the game may also be honoured. Up to five can be nominated for induction in any given year, with no more than four players entering.

Hull finished with 741 career goals, third only to Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. He added 650 assists for 1,391 points, currently 21st overall. He best individual season came during 1990-91, when he scored 86 goals, a feat surpassed only by Gretzky's 92-goal mark.

Hull will join his father, Bobby, in the Hall of Fame — the top father-son duo in league history.

"I'm really not sure how I will feel," Hull said. "I do know that when you look at the names and look at the people who are in there, including my dad, you are really impressed."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 Draft First Pick - John Tavares


MONTREAL -- Months of waiting finally came to an end Friday night when the New York Islanders selected London Knights star John Tavares with the first pick of the 2009 Entry Draft.



"Our goal was to find the best player in this draft that will become an integral piece to us winning a Stanley Cup," GM Garth Snow said. "John has been a game-breaking type of player at every level he has played and will add a scoring touch to our lineup."

The dynamic center led the Ontario Hockey League with 58 goals and 104 points in 2008-09, was the MVP and best forward at the 2009 World Junior Championships and has been NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked player all season.

"To finally have this come true and be part of the National Hockey League, and especially in Long Island, where the building process with a young team is starting, to join a group of players there and the community and the fans, I can't wait to get started," Tavares told NHL.com.

The identity of the Islanders' selection was a closely-guarded secret from the night the Isles won the draft lottery in mid-April until Snow made the announcement at the Bell Centre.

The Islanders considered selecting either Tavares, Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman or Brampton Battalion center Matt Duchene. All three visited Long Island and met with Snow and owner Charles Wang.

Snow had said he was pretty sure Tavares would be the choice immediately after the Islanders won the lottery, and that nothing between then and now swayed him.

"We obviously liked John right from the beginning," Snow told NHL.com. "We followed through with the process that we've been executing the last three years. It just validated our belief that John was the right player for our organization."

Tavares gives the Islanders the No. 1 center they need to continue their rebuilding process. They have a number of good young forwards, led by Josh Bailey, last year's first-round pick, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Jesse Joensuu. But the Isles finished 29th in the League with an average of 2.42 goals per game.

Tavares should help them change that. He broke Wayne Gretzky's OHL scoring record for 16-year-olds with 72 goals two seasons ago, and his 215 goals is the all-time OHL record.

"He's a dynamic hockey player," Snow said. "He's a very special kid, a good kid. When you get a chance to add a piece of the puzzle like we did today, it's a good thing for the organization and for our fans."

Friday, June 26, 2009

LUC ROBITAILLE JOINS HALL OF FAME


LOS ANGELES - Luc Robitaille, the highest scoring left wing in NHL history and the all-time Kings leader in goals, was Tuesday selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Robitaille, the Kings’ President, Business Operations, joins Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch as part of the 2009 Induction Class, with induction ceremonies set for Nov. 9 in Toronto.


LUC ROBITAILE

“What I am feeling right now is very difficult to explain,” said Robitaille. “I never set out to accomplish anything like this. When I was a kid, I dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League, and to now be alongside greats like Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky is not only indescribable, it is beyond anything I ever dreamed of.

“I also want to congratulate Steve, Brett and Brian, three players I was fortunate to have played with during my career.”

“This is a tremendous achievement for Luc, his family and the entire Kings organization,” said Kings Governor Tim Leiweke. “We have always been honored to have the greatest left winger represent our franchise and our fans, and we are thrilled to now share Luc with the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

Originally selected by the Kings in the ninth round (171st overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, Robitaille went on to play in 1,431 career regular season games with the Kings, Detroit Red Wings – where he won a Stanley Cup in 2002 – New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Robitaille recorded 1,394 points and he scored 668 goals, both records by an NHL left wing, while in 159 playoff games he had 127 points (58-69=127).

One of five Kings to have his jersey retired, Robitaille, 43, burst upon the NHL scene with the Kings at the start of the 1986-87 season and won the Calder Cup Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. He quickly became synonymous with the Kings and played 14 of his 19 NHL seasons with the club. Arguably the franchise’s most popular player ever, Robitaille retired at the conclusion of the 2005-06 season ranked second all-time in games played (1,077), second in points (1,154), fourth in assists (597), first in power-play goals (210) and sixth in penalty minutes (924).

Robitaille has been honored with several awards and he has set numerous records throughout his Hall of Fame career. In addition to being the highest scoring left wing in NHL history and the left winger with the most goals ever, he ranks 10th in overall NHL goal scoring, 20th in overall NHL scoring and he is the only left wing in NHL history to record eight consecutive 40-goal seasons (all with the Kings).

With the Kings, he set the all-time record for goals on Jan. 19, 2006, with his 551st goal to surpass former Kings teammate, mentor, friend and Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne, who teamed with Robitaille for one season (1986-87). That season Robitaille, a 6-1, 215-pound native of Montreal, scored his first career goal on his first career shot (assisted by Dionne – Dionne’s 1,600th NHL point) on Oct. 6, 1986. Robitaille would go on to score a Kings-best 45 goals and record 84 points that first season, which was capped not only by the Calder Cup trophy (Robitaille remains the only King to ever win the award) but he was also named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team with teammates Jimmy Carson and Steve Duchesne.

Joined by the legendary Gretzky prior to the 1988-89 season, the duo helped lead a potent Kings offense which reached its pinnacle in 1993 with the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. That season, Robitaille was named the team’s captain while Gretzky began the season injured, and Robitaille responded by setting NHL records for the most goals (63) and points (125) in one season by a left wing (the points mark is an NHL record and the goals mark was broken in 2007-08 by Alexander Ovechkin). That season also saw Robitaille become the first player in NHL history to score against 22 different teams in one season.

Robitaille would go on to reach several other milestones with the Kings. He became the 27th player in NHL history to score 500 goals (he scored his 500th goal on Jan. 17, 1999) and he was the 12th fastest to reach that mark, accomplishing the feat in 928 games. While in a Kings uniform he also scored his 650th career goal on March 9, 2004, and he played in his 1,000th game as a King on March 13, 2004.

During that 2003-04 season, Robitaille led the Kings in points (51), goals (22), game-winning goals (four), power play goals (12) and shots (221). He was also the Kings nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

During Robitaille’s final season, he served as an assistant captain and had 24 points (15-9=24) in 62 games. He entered the season eight goals shy of tying Dionne for the most goals in Kings history and 99 games behind Dave Taylor in games played. His final goal came on March 14, 2006, against the Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes. He recorded his 15th career hat trick on January 19, 2006 (the night he surpassed Dionne), and Robitaille was also named the Kings nominee for that year’s Masterton Trophy.

Robitaille’s NHL career also included stops with the Penguins, Rangers (where he again teamed with Gretzky) and the Red Wings.

Traded by the Kings to Pittsburgh prior to the start of the 1994-95 season, Robitaille played one season with the Penguins before being dealt to the Rangers where he played two seasons (1995-97). He returned to the Kings via trade in 1997.

Upon his return to the Kings, Robitaille helped lead the team to the postseason for the first time in five years and he scored at least 36 goals for the Kings in three seasons from 1998-01.

After a two-year stint with Detroit from 2001-03, which was highlighted by the Stanley Cup in 2002, Robitaille again returned to the Kings in 2003 when he was signed as an unrestricted free agent. He has played with the Kings ever since, and during his time in the NHL he has been a teammate of five of the top seven scorers in NHL history (Gretzky, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Dionne and Yzerman), and six of the top seven including Mario Lemieux (who did not play while Robitaille was in Pittsburgh due to health reasons).

An eight-time NHL All-Star, Robitaille was named an NHL First Team All-Star five times and an NHL Second Team All-Star three times, including being named to one of those teams in each of his first seven seasons (all with the Kings). Robitaille has also garnered numerous Kings team wards, including: Most Valuable Player (four times); Most Popular Player (four times); Most Inspirational Player; Leading Scorer (six times - he has also led the Kings in goals eight time); and Community Service (three times).

Internationally, Robitaille represented his native Canada at three international tournaments, including the 1994 World Championship in Italy where his game-winning shootout goal helped Canada capture its first World Championship gold medal in 33 years.

Following his career as a player, his popular No. 20 jersey was raised to the STAPLES Center rafters on Jan. 20, 2007, where it hangs next to the sweaters worn by fellow Hall of Famers Gretzky and Dionne, and Rogie Vachon and Taylor. All five men are in the Kings Hall of Fame as well, and both Vachon and Dionne remain with the team as Royal Ambassadors.

Named to his current position on May 25, 2007, as President, Business Operations for the Kings Robitaille oversees the day-to-day business operations of the Kings. Primarily his efforts focus directly on all business initiatives as it relates to the Kings and the integration of all communication vehicles to the Kings fan base that includes game experience, fan/player relations, community outreach, broadcasting, fan development, LAKings.com, team events and player appearances. He also oversees and influences all Kings business relations and partnerships including season-ticket members, media partners, corporate partners and community organizations.

Luc and his wife, Stacia, have two sons, Steven and Jesse. Luc and Stacia are co-founders of two charitable organizations, Shelter for Serenity and Echoes of Hope.

Here is a list of Kings associated with the Hockey Hall of Fame (Robitaille and Larry Murphy are the only two members drafted by the Kings):

LUC ROBITAILLE, Paul Coffey, Marcel Dionne, Dick Duff, Grant Fuhr, Wayne Gretzky Harry Howell, Red Kelly, Brian Kilrea, Jari Kurri, Jiggs McDonald, Jake Milford, Bob Miller, Larry Murphy, Roger Neilson, Bob Pulford, Larry Robinson, Terry Sawchuk, Steve Shutt and Billy Smith.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brian Leetch Inductees to Hall of Fame


The Hockey Hall of Fame today announced that Brian Leetch has been selected as one of its four player inductees for 2009. Leetch will be officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 9 in Toronto.



Leetch, who retired from professional hockey after a memorable 18-year career, established himself as the most prolific defenseman to don the Rangers sweater and one of the most successful American born players in NHL history. Originally selected ninth overall by the Rangers in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, he holds the franchise record with 741 career assists and ranks second in career points (981) and games played (1,129). Leetch also holds the Rangers record for goals by a defenseman with 240. On January 24, 2008, the Corpus Christi, Texas native became the fifth player and first defenseman in Rangers history to have his number retired.

Leetch appeared in 1,205 career games with the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins, registering 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 points, along with 571 penalty minutes. He was selected to participate in eleven NHL All-Star games (1990-1998 and 2001-2002) and was honored with the Norris Trophy twice (1992 and 1997), the Conn Smythe Trophy (1994) and the Calder Trophy (1989).

In 1991-92, Leetch became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to break the 100-point mark in a season, registering 22 goals and 80 assists for 102 points. He also holds the NHL record for most goals by a rookie defenseman with 23 in 1989.

He was a catalyst during the Rangers’ run to the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship, in which he led the NHL with 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points (second highest total by a defenseman in playoff history) in 23 matches and became the first American born player to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The three-time Olympian helped lead Team USA to a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics while being named to the All-Tournament Team. Leetch became the 11th Ranger inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.

Leetch’s selection marks the third consecutive year that a member of the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup Championship winning team will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining Mark Messier (2007) and Glenn Anderson (2008).

Joining Leetch as the Hockey Hall of Fame’s player inductees for 2009 are former Rangers teammate, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman and Brett Hull. Robitaille was a member of the Rangers for two seasons, registering 47 goals and 70 assists for 117 points in 146 games from 1995-96 to 1996-97. He also recorded five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 26 postseason contests as a Blueshirt.

In addition, former Rangers goaltender and broadcaster, John Davidson, has been selected as the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award recipient for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster. Davidson served as the team’s color analyst for more than 20 years following his playing career. Davidson and New Jersey Devils President and General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, who has been selected as a builder, will be officially inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 9 in Toronto.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sundin Won't Play Olympics




STOCKHOLM -- Veteran centre Mats Sundin will reportedly not play for defending champion Sweden in the Olympic hockey tournament next year.

"There will be no Olympics in Vancouver for me next year," Sundin was quoted as saying Sunday on the Swedish newspaper Expressen's website. "I will not change my mind," Sundin told the newspaper. "I think it's time that the next generation takes over. We have many good players."

The 38-year-old Sundin, who played for the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending most of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, was one of Sweden's key players in the 2006 Turin Olympics. Sweden beat Finland in the final for its second gold since 1994.

"It was the perfect ending of a long career for Sweden, to lead the Swedish team against the best in the world and win Olympic gold for the first time when all teams had their stars playing. I could not have dreamed of a better scenario for my last game."

Sundin said he is still pondering about his future in the NHL and did not rule out playing another season with Vancouver.

"Absolutely," he was quoted as saying when asked if he might play again with the Canucks. "I will think about my future the next couple of weeks. I will make a decision in the summer. I can't say more right now."

Friday, June 19, 2009

NHL Awards - Another Ovie-Showie




Ovechkin Wins Second Straight Hart Trophy

For the second straight season, the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin was awarded with the Hart Memorial Trophy for the NHL's most valuable player.
He's the first player to win back-to-backs since Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998, and the first forward since Wayne Gretzky, who won every year straight from 1980 to '87.
"I like playing in Canadian cities, but right now, my favorite city to play in is Washington," Ovechkin said in his acceptance speech. "Next year, I hope [the] Stanley Cup will be ours."
Ovechkin, who finished the season with a league-high 56 goals, easily beat out the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin and the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk for the NHL's most prestigious award, winning 115 of 133 first-place votes.
Teammate Mike Green was up for the Norris Trophy for top defenseman, but the honor went to the Bruins' Zdeno Chara, who got 68 first-place votes to Green's 50

Ovechkin Wins Pearson Award

Caps winger Alex Ovechkin just won the Lester B. Pearson Award, awarded to the NHL's most outstanding player as voted by his peers.
"Whoa, I'm nervous again," Ovechkin began, drawing laughs from the crowd at the Palms Casino Resort. "First, I wanna say congrats to the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup."
He went on to praise fellow Russian (and fellow Pearson and Hart nominee) Evgeni Malkin, and thanked the Caps organization, his teammates and Coach Bruce Boudreau.
In addition to winning the Pearson, Ovechkin was also voted a First Team All-Star for the fourth consecutive season. Mike Green joined him on the first team, giving the Capitals multiple players on the first team for the first time.
Ovechkin is the second player in league history to earn first team honors in each of his first four seasons and the first since Canadiens Hall of Famer Bill Durnan was named from 1944-47.
"I'm happy to be here," Ovechkin said after accepting the Pearson. "What a life. Thank you."



And please, don't forget he is the 2009 NHL All Stars First Team member and Maurice Richard Trophy winner as well. Life is not bad, right Alex?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NHL Draft. All-Time: Ups and Downs 1 - 9


Drafting is an inexact science -- for every late-round gem (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk), there's a high pick that didn't work out the way the a team had planned (Patrik Stefan).

Here's a look at some of the best choices in the history of the Entry Draft, as determined by where they were selected among the top 30 picks. (Up and coming includes players taken from 2004-08)

MARIO LEMIEUX

No. 1: Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh, 1984) -- If the Penguins had not drafted Lemieux in 1984, the franchise likely would have left Pittsburgh two decades ago. Lemieux was brilliant from the day he arrived, and eventually the Penguins built a supporting cast that helped him lead the franchise to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991-92. Had he stayed healthy, it would have been interesting to see whether he could have broken some of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records. He was perhaps the most physically talented player in NHL history.

Runners-up: Guy Lafleur (1971), Denis Potvin (1973)
Up and coming: Alex Ovechkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005); Patrick Kane (2007)
Disappointment: Patrik Stefan (1999)

No. 2: Brendan Shanahan (New Jersey, 1987) -- Shanahan's career came full circle in 2008-09 when he re-signed with the Devils, the team he began his career with more than two decades earlier. He's one of the great power forwards of any era, with 656 goals, 1,354 points, 2,489 penalty minutes, three Stanley Cups -- and a Hall of Fame berth as soon as he's eligible, which could be soon depending on whether he plays next season.

Runners-up: Marcel Dionne (1971), Chris Pronger (1993)
Up and coming: Evgeni Malkin (2004), Drew Doughty (2008)
Disappointment: Dave Chyzowski (1989)

No. 3: Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey, 1991) -- Few defensemen in NHL history have had Niedermayer's wheels -- he's as swift and smooth a skater as you'll ever see. Niedermayer's offensive numbers were held down somewhat because he played much of his career with the defense-first Devils. There were benefits, however -- he helped the Devils to three Stanley Cups and then captained Anaheim to another in 2007. He became a Devil in one of Lou Lamoriello's greatest trades -- the New Jersey GM dealt journeyman defenseman Tom Kurvers to Toronto in 1989 for the pick that turned into Niedermayer.

Runners-up: Denis Savard (1980), Pat LaFontaine (1983)
Up and coming: Jack Johnson (2005), Jonathan Toews (2006)
Disappointment: Neil Brady (1986)

No. 4: Steve Yzerman (Detroit, 1983) -- It's hard to believe now, but then-Wings GM Jim Devellano actually hoped to get Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick in 1983, because LaFontaine had played locally and might help sell tickets. Instead, the Wings had to "settle" for Yzerman, who came into the NHL as a high scorer but later showed he was willing to trade individual points for team wins. The result was three Stanley Cups in six seasons, all of them with Yzerman as captain.

Runners-up: Mike Gartner (1979), Ron Francis (1981)
Up and coming: Niklas Backstrom (2006)
Disappointment: Alexandre Volchkov (1996)

No. 5: Jaromir Jagr (Pittsburgh, 1990) -- Missing the playoffs on the last night of the regular season is painful, but the Penguins' consolation prize for their near-miss in 1990 was Jagr. The Czech teenager turned into the perfect sidekick for Mario Lemieux and was a key to the Penguins' back-to-back Cup wins in 1991 and '92. He owns five NHL scoring titles, a Hart Trophy and seven First-Team All-Star berths, as well as five 100-point seasons. His combination of speed, skill and power is matched by very few players in NHL history.

Runners-up: Scott Stevens (1982), Tom Barrasso (1983)
Up and coming: Carey Price (2005); Luke Schenn (2008)
Disappointment: Daniel Dore (1988)

No. 6: Peter Forsberg (Philadelphia, 1991) -- Talk about the one that got away -- the Flyers drafted Forsberg with the sixth pick, but traded him to Quebec a year later in the Eric Lindros deal. Forsberg became one of the NHL's toughest skill players, a center who could beat you with a shot, a pass or just by running over you. It's hard to imagine how good he'd have been if injuries hadn't slowed him down and ultimately cut short his career.

Runners-up: Phil Housley (1982), Vincent Damphousse (1986)
Up and coming: Eric Johnson (2006), Sam Gagner (2007)
Disappointment: Daniel Tkaczuk (1997)

No. 7: Bernie Federko (St. Louis, 1976) -- At (maybe) 6 feet tall and all of 178 pounds, Federko hardly was a physical presence, but he more than made up for any lack of physicality with his hockey skills, which helped him pile up 369 goals and 1,130 points in exactly 1,000 games on the way to the Hall of Fame. He was the first player in NHL history to earn at least 50 assists in 10 consecutive seasons (1978-79 to 1987-88).

Runners-up: Bill Barber (1972), Shane Doan (1995)
Up and coming: Rostislav Olesz (2004); Kyle Okposo (2006)
Disappointment: Ryan Sittler (1992)

No. 8: Ray Bourque (Boston, 1979) -- Bourque stepped right into the NHL from junior hockey in 1979 and didn't step out until he skated away as a Stanley Cup champion with Colorado in 2001. Bourque holds all the NHL career scoring marks for defensemen (410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points), was a First-Team All-Star 13 times -- including 2000-01, when he turned 41 -- and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman five times. Bourque rarely was flashy, but almost always brilliant.

Runners-up: Grant Fuhr (1981), Jeremy Roenick (1988)
Up and coming: Devin Setoguchi (2005), Peter Mueller (2006)
Disappointment: Rocky Trottier (1982)


No. 9: Brian Leetch (N.Y. Rangers, 1986) -- Leetch, who spent most of his career with the Rangers, arguably is the greatest U.S.-born player in NHL history. He joined the Rangers after one season at Boston College and a stint with the 1988 U.S. Olympic team and never stopped putting up points. Leetch won the 1989 Calder Trophy, took home the Norris Trophy twice and led the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup (their only one since 1940) while becoming the first (and still only) American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Runners-up: Cam Neely (1983), Rod Brind'Amour (1988)
Up and coming: James Sheppard (2006); Josh Bailey (2008)
Disappointment: Brett Lindros (1994)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NHL Draft. All-Time: Ups and Downs 10-19

Drafting is an inexact science -- for every late-round gem (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk), there's a high pick that didn't work out the way the a team had planned (Patrik Stefan).

Here's a look at some of the best choices in the history of the Entry Draft, as determined by where they were selected among the top 30 picks. (Up and coming includes players taken from 2004-08)


DAVE ANDREYCHUK

No. 10: Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg, 1988) -- In terms of raw offensive numbers, Selanne had the greatest rookie season of all time. He announced his arrival in 1992 by shattering NHL records for first-year players with 76 goals and 132 points. The Finnish Flash led the NHL in goals three times and was good enough to score 48 goals and 94 points at age 36, helping the Anaheim Ducks to their first Stanley Cup. He had 27 goals for Anaheim this season and likely will go past 600 for his career if he comes back next season.

Runners-up: Steve Vickers (1971), Bobby Holik (1989)
Up and coming: Michael Frolik (2006); Cody Hodgson (2008)
Disappointment: Mikhail Yakubov (2000)

No. 11: Jarome Iginla (Dallas, 1995) -- The Stars traded the future for the present when they sacrificed Iginla to get Joe Nieuwendyk from Calgary. Landing Nieuwendyk helped them win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 1999, but the long-term cost has been steep -- Iginla has become one of the NHL's top stars. He's won the Art Ross, Rocket Richard and Lester B. Pearson trophies and was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2007-08 after reaching the 50-goal mark for the second time. He owns the Flames' franchise records for career goals and points.

Runners-up: Brian Rolston (1991), Brendan Witt (1993)
Up and coming: Anze Kopitar (2005); Brandon Sutter (2007)
Disappointment: David Cooper (1992)

No. 12: Gary Roberts (Calgary, 1984) -- If it seemed like Roberts was around forever, that's because he was -- at least by hockey standards. Roberts won a Stanley Cup with Calgary at age 23, scored 53 goals three seasons later, missed most of three seasons recovering from a serious neck injury, and still managed to score 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 games. At age 42 he was a key locker-room presence in Pittsburgh's run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, and he played briefly with Tampa Bay before retiring this season.

Runners-up: Kenny Jonsson (1993), Marian Hossa (1997)
Up and coming: Marc Staal (2005), Bryan Little (2006)
Disappointment: Josh Holden (1996)


No. 13: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Hartford, 1995) -- The last first-round draft selection in Whalers history had to make a few stops before finding success, but Giguere has been one of the keys to the rise of the Anaheim Ducks. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2003, when Anaheim lost the Stanley Cup Final to New Jersey, and he could have won again in 2007 after the Ducks topped Ottawa for their first Stanley Cup.

Runners-up: Mattias Ohlund (1994), Ales Hemsky (2001)
Up and coming: Drew Stafford (2004); Jiri Tlusty (2006)
Disappointment: Michael Henrich (1998)

No. 14: Rick Middleton (N.Y. Rangers, 1973) -- Want to make a Rangers fan groan? Mention Middleton, who came up as the Rangers were entering a rebuilding phase and was sacrificed in a trade that brought Phil Esposito's long-time sidekick, Ken Hodge, to the Big Apple in 1976. The Rangers traded Middleton's future for Hodge's past -- Middleton had seven straight 30-goal seasons and went on to score more than 400 goals with the Bruins, while Hodge was out of the League 18 games into his second season in New York.

Runners-up: Brian Propp (1979), Sergei Gonchar (1992)
Up and coming: Kevin Shattenkirk (2007), Zach Boychuk (2008)
Disappointment: Jim Malone (1980)

No. 15: Mike Bossy (N.Y. Islanders, 1977) -- Twelve teams (including the Rangers and Toronto twice each) passed on Bossy because he was regarded as just another sniper from the run-and-gun Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Isles coach Al Arbour told GM Bill Torrey he could teach Bossy to play defense; he was right, and the rest is history. Bossy scored 573 goals in just 10 seasons and was a key to the Isles' four consecutive Stanley Cups before being forced to retire in 1987 due to back problems. Had Bossy stayed healthy, it's likely he -- not Wayne Gretzky -- would have broken Gordie Howe's all-time record for goals.

Runners-up: Al MacInnis (1981), Joe Sakic (1987)
Up and coming: Riku Helenius (2006), Erik Karlsson (2008)
Disappointment: Scott Kelman (1999)

No. 16: Dave Andreychuk (Buffalo, 1982) -- At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Andreychuk was a presence in front of the net for more than two decades. He was a big scorer in the first half of his career, totaling 30 or more goals seven times with Buffalo and getting 53 for Toronto in 1993-94. He remained a consistent scorer for another decade while improving his all-round game. He also became a leader and was captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the 2004 Stanley Cup. Andreychuk retired with 640 goals and 1,338 points in 1,639 games.

Runners-up: Al Secord (1978), Markus Naslund (1991)
Up and coming: Petteri Nokelainen (2004), Colton Gillies (2007)
Disappointment: Ty Jones (1997)

No. 17: Bobby Clarke (Philadelphia, 1969) -- Clarke fell to the second round in 1969 because teams didn't want to take a chance on drafting a diabetic. The Flyers called his name at No. 17 and got a Hall of Famer. The diabetes became a non-issue as Clarke became a star. He was named team captain at 23, at the time the youngest player ever to get the "C." Clarke's drive and skill led the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, and he retired in 1984 with 1,210 points, three Hart trophies and a hatful of other honors.

Runners-up: Brent Sutter (1980), Kevin Hatcher (1984)
Up and coming: Martin Hanzal (2005), Trevor Lewis (2006)
Disappointment: Brent Bilodeau (1991)

No. 18: Glen Murray (Boston, 1991) -- Murray had two stints with the Bruins (sandwiched around time with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles); suffice it to say the second was better than the first. Murray never had scored 30 goals in a season before returning to the Bruins in 2001-02, and then did it three times in a row, including a high of 44 in 2002-03. A solid player for a long time, he had 337 goals and 651 points in 1,009 NHL games.

Runners-up: Ken Daneyko (1982), Petr Sykora (1995)
Up and coming: Kyle Chipchura (2004), Ryan Parent (2005)
Disappointment: Jesper Mattsson (1993)


No. 19: Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990) -- The Jets grabbed Tkachuk in 1990 and he made the NHL after one season at Boston University. Tkachuk became one of the NHL's best power forwards -- a two-time 50-goal scorer and the first U.S.-born player to lead the NHL in goals when he had 52 in 1996-97. He continued scoring after being dealt to St. Louis in 2000-01, reached the 500-goal mark on the final day of the 2007-08 season and was a big reason the Blues surprisingly made the playoffs in 2008-09.

Runners-up: Craig Ramsay (1971), Olaf Kolzig (1989)
Up and coming: Lauri Korpikoski (2004); Jakub Kindl (2005)
Disappointment: Matthieu Descoteaux (1996)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NHL Draft. All-Time: Ups and Downs 20 - 30


MARTIN BRODEUR

Drafting is an inexact science -- for every late-round gem (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk), there's a high pick that didn't work out the way the a team had planned (Patrik Stefan).

Here's a look at some of the best choices in the history of the Entry Draft, as determined by where they were selected among the top 30 picks. (Up and coming includes players taken from 2004-08)

No. 20: Martin Brodeur (New Jersey, 1990) -- It may be hard to believe now, but the winningest goaltender in NHL history was not the first goalie picked in 1990 (Calgary took Trevor Kidd at No. 11). Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the wins record this season and figures to surpass Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103 shutouts early in 2009-10. He has three Stanley Cup rings, four Vezina trophies and is regarded as the gold standard among NHL goaltenders.

Runners-up: Larry Robinson (1971), Michel Goulet (1979)
Up and coming: Travis Zajac (2004), Michael Del Zotto (2008)
Disappointment: Barrett Heisten (1999)

No. 21: Kevin Lowe (Edmonton, 1979) -- The Oilers' first draft pick after the NHL-WHA merger was a superb choice. Lowe anchored the defense on a team that won five Stanley Cups in seven years, then provided stability on the blue line when the New York Rangers broke their 54-year drought by winning the Cup in 1994. Lowe wasn't flashy, but on an offense-first juggernaut, he was a huge stabilizing factor.

Runners-up: Patrick Flatley (1982), Saku Koivu (1993)
Up and coming: Wojtek Wolski (2004), Tuukka Rask (2005)
Disappointment: Evgeni Ryabchikov (1994)

No. 22: Bryan Trottier (N.Y. Islanders, 1974) -- The Islanders completed a Hall of Fame daily double when they picked Trottier, a center from Swift Current, with their second pick in 1974 (they took his future linemate, Clark Gillies, with their first pick). Trottier was the prototypical two-way center -- tough, strong, defensively diligent -- but his offensive skills were off the chart. Trottier, Gillies and Mike Bossy formed one of the NHL's best lines for years. After scoring 500 goals and helping the Isles to four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980s, Trottier finished his career with two more Cups as a checking center in Pittsburgh.

Runners-up: Adam Graves (1986), Adam Foote (1989)
Up and coming: Matt Lashoff (2005), Claude Giroux (2006)
Disappointment: Nikos Tselios (1997)


No. 23: Ray Whitney (San Jose, 1991) -- The second draft pick in team history is 37 but still going strong, with 24 goals and a team-high 77 points for Carolina (his sixth NHL team) in 2008-09. That moved the Edmonton native past 300 goals and 800 points for his career -- not bad for a kid whose first hockey claim to fame was being the Oilers' stick boy in Wayne Gretzky's last season in Edmonton (1987-88). That's pretty good for a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder who was told he was too small to make it in the NHL.

Runners-up: Travis Green (1989), Todd Bertuzzi (1993)
Up and coming: Andrej Meszaros (2004), Simeon Varlamov (2006)
Disappointment: Craig Hillier (1996)

No. 24: Doug Jarvis (Montreal, 1975) -- No one was better at showing up for work every night than Jarvis, who broke into the NHL on opening night of the 1975-76 season and suited up for 964 consecutive games, a record that's not likely to be broken. Jarvis scored as many as 20 goals only once, but was one of the NHL's best checkers and combined with Bob Gainey and Doug Risebrough to form one of the League's top shut-down lines during the Canadiens' dynasty of the late 1970s.

Runners-up: Sean Burke (1985), Daniel Briere (1996)
Up and coming: T.J. Oshie (2005)
Disappointment: J-F Damphousse (1997)

No. 25: Mark Howe (Boston, 1974) -- Gordie's son never did play for the Bruins. Instead, Mark and Marty Howe joined their father in Houston, where they led the Aeros to a WHA title and made the club one of the league's flagship franchises in its early years. The Howes went to Hartford in 1977 and stayed with the Whalers through the merger with the NHL. Mark shifted to defense and had a number of excellent seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He obviously wasn't as good as his father, but totaling his WHA and NHL numbers, he scored more than 400 goals and had 1,246 points in 1,355 games.

Runners-up: Gilles Gilbert (1969), Brenden Morrow (1997)
Up and coming: Andrew Cogliano (2005), Patrik Berglund (2006)
Disappointment: Mikhail Kuleshov (1999)

No. 26: Claude Lemieux (Montreal, 1983) -- Lemieux somehow kept showing up when there were Stanley Cups to be won -- he took home rings with Montreal, New Jersey and Colorado. He also earned a reputation as one of the game's best playoff performers (and most irritating players). Lemieux was on four Cup winners, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1995, and stunned the hockey world by making a comeback with San Jose this season at age 43. He has 379 goals and 786 points in the regular season, plus 80 goals and 158 points in 233 postseason contests.

Runners-up: Don Maloney (1978), Zigmund Palffy (1991)
Up and coming: Cory Schneider (2004), David Perron (2007)
Disappointment: Kevin Grimes (1997)

No. 27: Joe Nieuwendyk (Calgary, 1985) -- Nieuwendyk started his NHL career with a bang, scoring 51 goals in each of his first two full seasons, the second of which ended with the Flames hoisting the Stanley Cup. Nieuwendyk had 45 goals in each of the next two seasons, and though he never reached 40 goals again, he was a consistent scorer for winning teams until retiring in 2006-07 with 564 goals and 1,126 points, plus 66 playoff goals, and Stanley Cup rings with three different teams.

Runners-up: Scott Mellanby (1984), Scott Gomez (1998)
Up and coming: Jeff Schultz (2004), Ivan Vishnevskiy (2006)
Disappointment: Ari Ahonen (1999)

No. 28: Mike Richter (N.Y. Rangers, 1985) -- Richter arguably is the best U.S.-born goaltender in history. He was in net when the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, led the United States to the World Cup two years later and to the silver medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. He ended his career (prematurely, due to concussions) with 301 wins, the most in Rangers history, despite spending the first few seasons of his career splitting time with John Vanbiesbrouck.

Runners-up: Guy Chouinard (1974), Justin Williams (2000)
Up and coming: Matt Niskanen (2005), Viktor Tikhonov (2008)
Disappointment: Adrian Foster (2001)

No. 29: Danny Gare (Buffalo, 1974) -- The Sabres took Gare in the second round after he scored 45 and 68 goals in his last two junior seasons. He quickly showed those totals were no fluke, scoring 31 as a rookie to help the Sabres make the Stanley Cup Final, and he reached the 50-goal mark in his second season. He had a career-best 56 in 1979-80, when he was a Second-Team All-Star, and came back with 46 the next season. He finished his career in 1986-87 with 354 goals and 685 points in 827 games.

Runners-up: Stephane Richer (1984), Corey Perry (2003)
Up and coming: Mike Green (2004), Steve Downie (2005)
Disappointment: Brian Wesenberg (1995)

No. 30: Randy Carlyle (Toronto, 1976) -- The Leafs took Carlyle with their first pick (in the second round) in 1976, bounced him up and down between Toronto and the minors for two seasons, and then dealt him to Pittsburgh in the summer of 1978. It was a deal they would come to regret, as Carlyle won the 1981 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, played in four All-Star Games and wound up scoring 647 points in 1,055 games with the Leafs, Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. He's done pretty well as a coach, too, leading Anaheim to the Cup in 2007.

Runners-up: Mark Hardy (1979), Patrice Brisebois (1989)
Up and coming: Matthew Corrente (2006), Nick Ross (2007)
Disappointment: Luke Sellars (1999)

The NHL Draft. All-Time: Ups and Downs




Drafting is an inexact science -- for every late-round gem (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk), there's a high pick that didn't work out the way the a team had planned (Patrik Stefan).

Here's a look at some of the best choices in the history of the Entry Draft, as determined by where they were selected among the top 30 picks. (Up and coming includes players taken from 2004-08)

No. 1: Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh, 1984) -- If the Penguins had not drafted Lemieux in 1984, the franchise likely would have left Pittsburgh two decades ago. Lemieux was brilliant from the day he arrived, and eventually the Penguins built a supporting cast that helped him lead the franchise to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991-92. Had he stayed healthy, it would have been interesting to see whether he could have broken some of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records. He was perhaps the most physically talented player in NHL history.

Runners-up: Guy Lafleur (1971), Denis Potvin (1973)
Up and coming: Alex Ovechkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005); Patrick Kane (2007)
Disappointment: Patrik Stefan (1999)

No. 2: Brendan Shanahan (New Jersey, 1987) -- Shanahan's career came full circle in 2008-09 when he re-signed with the Devils, the team he began his career with more than two decades earlier. He's one of the great power forwards of any era, with 656 goals, 1,354 points, 2,489 penalty minutes, three Stanley Cups -- and a Hall of Fame berth as soon as he's eligible, which could be soon depending on whether he plays next season.

Runners-up: Marcel Dionne (1971), Chris Pronger (1993)
Up and coming: Evgeni Malkin (2004), Drew Doughty (2008)
Disappointment: Dave Chyzowski (1989)

No. 3: Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey, 1991) -- Few defensemen in NHL history have had Niedermayer's wheels -- he's as swift and smooth a skater as you'll ever see. Niedermayer's offensive numbers were held down somewhat because he played much of his career with the defense-first Devils. There were benefits, however -- he helped the Devils to three Stanley Cups and then captained Anaheim to another in 2007. He became a Devil in one of Lou Lamoriello's greatest trades -- the New Jersey GM dealt journeyman defenseman Tom Kurvers to Toronto in 1989 for the pick that turned into Niedermayer.

Runners-up: Denis Savard (1980), Pat LaFontaine (1983)
Up and coming: Jack Johnson (2005), Jonathan Toews (2006)
Disappointment: Neil Brady (1986)

No. 4: Steve Yzerman (Detroit, 1983) -- It's hard to believe now, but then-Wings GM Jim Devellano actually hoped to get Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick in 1983, because LaFontaine had played locally and might help sell tickets. Instead, the Wings had to "settle" for Yzerman, who came into the NHL as a high scorer but later showed he was willing to trade individual points for team wins. The result was three Stanley Cups in six seasons, all of them with Yzerman as captain.

Runners-up: Mike Gartner (1979), Ron Francis (1981)
Up and coming: Niklas Backstrom (2006)
Disappointment: Alexandre Volchkov (1996)

No. 5: Jaromir Jagr (Pittsburgh, 1990) -- Missing the playoffs on the last night of the regular season is painful, but the Penguins' consolation prize for their near-miss in 1990 was Jagr. The Czech teenager turned into the perfect sidekick for Mario Lemieux and was a key to the Penguins' back-to-back Cup wins in 1991 and '92. He owns five NHL scoring titles, a Hart Trophy and seven First-Team All-Star berths, as well as five 100-point seasons. His combination of speed, skill and power is matched by very few players in NHL history.

Runners-up: Scott Stevens (1982), Tom Barrasso (1983)
Up and coming: Carey Price (2005); Luke Schenn (2008)
Disappointment: Daniel Dore (1988)

No. 6: Peter Forsberg (Philadelphia, 1991) -- Talk about the one that got away -- the Flyers drafted Forsberg with the sixth pick, but traded him to Quebec a year later in the Eric Lindros deal. Forsberg became one of the NHL's toughest skill players, a center who could beat you with a shot, a pass or just by running over you. It's hard to imagine how good he'd have been if injuries hadn't slowed him down and ultimately cut short his career.

Runners-up: Phil Housley (1982), Vincent Damphousse (1986)
Up and coming: Eric Johnson (2006), Sam Gagner (2007)
Disappointment: Daniel Tkaczuk (1997)

No. 7: Bernie Federko (St. Louis, 1976) -- At (maybe) 6 feet tall and all of 178 pounds, Federko hardly was a physical presence, but he more than made up for any lack of physicality with his hockey skills, which helped him pile up 369 goals and 1,130 points in exactly 1,000 games on the way to the Hall of Fame. He was the first player in NHL history to earn at least 50 assists in 10 consecutive seasons (1978-79 to 1987-88).

Runners-up: Bill Barber (1972), Shane Doan (1995)
Up and coming: Rostislav Olesz (2004); Kyle Okposo (2006)
Disappointment: Ryan Sittler (1992)

No. 8: Ray Bourque (Boston, 1979) -- Bourque stepped right into the NHL from junior hockey in 1979 and didn't step out until he skated away as a Stanley Cup champion with Colorado in 2001. Bourque holds all the NHL career scoring marks for defensemen (410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points), was a First-Team All-Star 13 times -- including 2000-01, when he turned 41 -- and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman five times. Bourque rarely was flashy, but almost always brilliant.

Runners-up: Grant Fuhr (1981), Jeremy Roenick (1988)
Up and coming: Devin Setoguchi (2005), Peter Mueller (2006)
Disappointment: Rocky Trottier (1982)


No. 9: Brian Leetch (N.Y. Rangers, 1986) -- Leetch, who spent most of his career with the Rangers, arguably is the greatest U.S.-born player in NHL history. He joined the Rangers after one season at Boston College and a stint with the 1988 U.S. Olympic team and never stopped putting up points. Leetch won the 1989 Calder Trophy, took home the Norris Trophy twice and led the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup (their only one since 1940) while becoming the first (and still only) American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Runners-up: Cam Neely (1983), Rod Brind'Amour (1988)
Up and coming: James Sheppard (2006); Josh Bailey (2008)
Disappointment: Brett Lindros (1994)

No. 10: Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg, 1988) -- In terms of raw offensive numbers, Selanne had the greatest rookie season of all time. He announced his arrival in 1992 by shattering NHL records for first-year players with 76 goals and 132 points. The Finnish Flash led the NHL in goals three times and was good enough to score 48 goals and 94 points at age 36, helping the Anaheim Ducks to their first Stanley Cup. He had 27 goals for Anaheim this season and likely will go past 600 for his career if he comes back next season.

Runners-up: Steve Vickers (1971), Bobby Holik (1989)
Up and coming: Michael Frolik (2006); Cody Hodgson (2008)
Disappointment: Mikhail Yakubov (2000)

No. 11: Jarome Iginla (Dallas, 1995) -- The Stars traded the future for the present when they sacrificed Iginla to get Joe Nieuwendyk from Calgary. Landing Nieuwendyk helped them win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 1999, but the long-term cost has been steep -- Iginla has become one of the NHL's top stars. He's won the Art Ross, Rocket Richard and Lester B. Pearson trophies and was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2007-08 after reaching the 50-goal mark for the second time. He owns the Flames' franchise records for career goals and points.

Runners-up: Brian Rolston (1991), Brendan Witt (1993)
Up and coming: Anze Kopitar (2005); Brandon Sutter (2007)
Disappointment: David Cooper (1992)

No. 12: Gary Roberts (Calgary, 1984) -- If it seemed like Roberts was around forever, that's because he was -- at least by hockey standards. Roberts won a Stanley Cup with Calgary at age 23, scored 53 goals three seasons later, missed most of three seasons recovering from a serious neck injury, and still managed to score 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 games. At age 42 he was a key locker-room presence in Pittsburgh's run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, and he played briefly with Tampa Bay before retiring this season.

Runners-up: Kenny Jonsson (1993), Marian Hossa (1997)
Up and coming: Marc Staal (2005), Bryan Little (2006)
Disappointment: Josh Holden (1996)


No. 13: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Hartford, 1995) -- The last first-round draft selection in Whalers history had to make a few stops before finding success, but Giguere has been one of the keys to the rise of the Anaheim Ducks. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2003, when Anaheim lost the Stanley Cup Final to New Jersey, and he could have won again in 2007 after the Ducks topped Ottawa for their first Stanley Cup.

Runners-up: Mattias Ohlund (1994), Ales Hemsky (2001)
Up and coming: Drew Stafford (2004); Jiri Tlusty (2006)
Disappointment: Michael Henrich (1998)

No. 14: Rick Middleton (N.Y. Rangers, 1973) -- Want to make a Rangers fan groan? Mention Middleton, who came up as the Rangers were entering a rebuilding phase and was sacrificed in a trade that brought Phil Esposito's long-time sidekick, Ken Hodge, to the Big Apple in 1976. The Rangers traded Middleton's future for Hodge's past -- Middleton had seven straight 30-goal seasons and went on to score more than 400 goals with the Bruins, while Hodge was out of the League 18 games into his second season in New York.

Runners-up: Brian Propp (1979), Sergei Gonchar (1992)
Up and coming: Kevin Shattenkirk (2007), Zach Boychuk (2008)
Disappointment: Jim Malone (1980)

No. 15: Mike Bossy (N.Y. Islanders, 1977) -- Twelve teams (including the Rangers and Toronto twice each) passed on Bossy because he was regarded as just another sniper from the run-and-gun Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Isles coach Al Arbour told GM Bill Torrey he could teach Bossy to play defense; he was right, and the rest is history. Bossy scored 573 goals in just 10 seasons and was a key to the Isles' four consecutive Stanley Cups before being forced to retire in 1987 due to back problems. Had Bossy stayed healthy, it's likely he -- not Wayne Gretzky -- would have broken Gordie Howe's all-time record for goals.

Runners-up: Al MacInnis (1981), Joe Sakic (1987)
Up and coming: Riku Helenius (2006), Erik Karlsson (2008)
Disappointment: Scott Kelman (1999)

No. 16: Dave Andreychuk (Buffalo, 1982) -- At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Andreychuk was a presence in front of the net for more than two decades. He was a big scorer in the first half of his career, totaling 30 or more goals seven times with Buffalo and getting 53 for Toronto in 1993-94. He remained a consistent scorer for another decade while improving his all-round game. He also became a leader and was captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the 2004 Stanley Cup. Andreychuk retired with 640 goals and 1,338 points in 1,639 games.

Runners-up: Al Secord (1978), Markus Naslund (1991)
Up and coming: Petteri Nokelainen (2004), Colton Gillies (2007)
Disappointment: Ty Jones (1997)

No. 17: Bobby Clarke (Philadelphia, 1969) -- Clarke fell to the second round in 1969 because teams didn't want to take a chance on drafting a diabetic. The Flyers called his name at No. 17 and got a Hall of Famer. The diabetes became a non-issue as Clarke became a star. He was named team captain at 23, at the time the youngest player ever to get the "C." Clarke's drive and skill led the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, and he retired in 1984 with 1,210 points, three Hart trophies and a hatful of other honors.

Runners-up: Brent Sutter (1980), Kevin Hatcher (1984)
Up and coming: Martin Hanzal (2005), Trevor Lewis (2006)
Disappointment: Brent Bilodeau (1991)

No. 18: Glen Murray (Boston, 1991) -- Murray had two stints with the Bruins (sandwiched around time with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles); suffice it to say the second was better than the first. Murray never had scored 30 goals in a season before returning to the Bruins in 2001-02, and then did it three times in a row, including a high of 44 in 2002-03. A solid player for a long time, he had 337 goals and 651 points in 1,009 NHL games.

Runners-up: Ken Daneyko (1982), Petr Sykora (1995)
Up and coming: Kyle Chipchura (2004), Ryan Parent (2005)
Disappointment: Jesper Mattsson (1993)


No. 19: Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990) -- The Jets grabbed Tkachuk in 1990 and he made the NHL after one season at Boston University. Tkachuk became one of the NHL's best power forwards -- a two-time 50-goal scorer and the first U.S.-born player to lead the NHL in goals when he had 52 in 1996-97. He continued scoring after being dealt to St. Louis in 2000-01, reached the 500-goal mark on the final day of the 2007-08 season and was a big reason the Blues surprisingly made the playoffs in 2008-09.

Runners-up: Craig Ramsay (1971), Olaf Kolzig (1989)
Up and coming: Lauri Korpikoski (2004); Jakub Kindl (2005)
Disappointment: Matthieu Descoteaux (1996)

No. 20: Martin Brodeur (New Jersey, 1990) -- It may be hard to believe now, but the winningest goaltender in NHL history was not the first goalie picked in 1990 (Calgary took Trevor Kidd at No. 11). Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the wins record this season and figures to surpass Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103 shutouts early in 2009-10. He has three Stanley Cup rings, four Vezina trophies and is regarded as the gold standard among NHL goaltenders.

Runners-up: Larry Robinson (1971), Michel Goulet (1979)
Up and coming: Travis Zajac (2004), Michael Del Zotto (2008)
Disappointment: Barrett Heisten (1999)

No. 21: Kevin Lowe (Edmonton, 1979) -- The Oilers' first draft pick after the NHL-WHA merger was a superb choice. Lowe anchored the defense on a team that won five Stanley Cups in seven years, then provided stability on the blue line when the New York Rangers broke their 54-year drought by winning the Cup in 1994. Lowe wasn't flashy, but on an offense-first juggernaut, he was a huge stabilizing factor.

Runners-up: Patrick Flatley (1982), Saku Koivu (1993)
Up and coming: Wojtek Wolski (2004), Tuukka Rask (2005)
Disappointment: Evgeni Ryabchikov (1994)

No. 22: Bryan Trottier (N.Y. Islanders, 1974) -- The Islanders completed a Hall of Fame daily double when they picked Trottier, a center from Swift Current, with their second pick in 1974 (they took his future linemate, Clark Gillies, with their first pick). Trottier was the prototypical two-way center -- tough, strong, defensively diligent -- but his offensive skills were off the chart. Trottier, Gillies and Mike Bossy formed one of the NHL's best lines for years. After scoring 500 goals and helping the Isles to four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980s, Trottier finished his career with two more Cups as a checking center in Pittsburgh.

Runners-up: Adam Graves (1986), Adam Foote (1989)
Up and coming: Matt Lashoff (2005), Claude Giroux (2006)
Disappointment: Nikos Tselios (1997)


No. 23: Ray Whitney (San Jose, 1991) -- The second draft pick in team history is 37 but still going strong, with 24 goals and a team-high 77 points for Carolina (his sixth NHL team) in 2008-09. That moved the Edmonton native past 300 goals and 800 points for his career -- not bad for a kid whose first hockey claim to fame was being the Oilers' stick boy in Wayne Gretzky's last season in Edmonton (1987-88). That's pretty good for a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder who was told he was too small to make it in the NHL.

Runners-up: Travis Green (1989), Todd Bertuzzi (1993)
Up and coming: Andrej Meszaros (2004), Simeon Varlamov (2006)
Disappointment: Craig Hillier (1996)

No. 24: Doug Jarvis (Montreal, 1975) -- No one was better at showing up for work every night than Jarvis, who broke into the NHL on opening night of the 1975-76 season and suited up for 964 consecutive games, a record that's not likely to be broken. Jarvis scored as many as 20 goals only once, but was one of the NHL's best checkers and combined with Bob Gainey and Doug Risebrough to form one of the League's top shut-down lines during the Canadiens' dynasty of the late 1970s.

Runners-up: Sean Burke (1985), Daniel Briere (1996)
Up and coming: T.J. Oshie (2005)
Disappointment: J-F Damphousse (1997)

No. 25: Mark Howe (Boston, 1974) -- Gordie's son never did play for the Bruins. Instead, Mark and Marty Howe joined their father in Houston, where they led the Aeros to a WHA title and made the club one of the league's flagship franchises in its early years. The Howes went to Hartford in 1977 and stayed with the Whalers through the merger with the NHL. Mark shifted to defense and had a number of excellent seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He obviously wasn't as good as his father, but totaling his WHA and NHL numbers, he scored more than 400 goals and had 1,246 points in 1,355 games.

Runners-up: Gilles Gilbert (1969), Brenden Morrow (1997)
Up and coming: Andrew Cogliano (2005), Patrik Berglund (2006)
Disappointment: Mikhail Kuleshov (1999)

No. 26: Claude Lemieux (Montreal, 1983) -- Lemieux somehow kept showing up when there were Stanley Cups to be won -- he took home rings with Montreal, New Jersey and Colorado. He also earned a reputation as one of the game's best playoff performers (and most irritating players). Lemieux was on four Cup winners, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1995, and stunned the hockey world by making a comeback with San Jose this season at age 43. He has 379 goals and 786 points in the regular season, plus 80 goals and 158 points in 233 postseason contests.

Runners-up: Don Maloney (1978), Zigmund Palffy (1991)
Up and coming: Cory Schneider (2004), David Perron (2007)
Disappointment: Kevin Grimes (1997)

No. 27: Joe Nieuwendyk (Calgary, 1985) -- Nieuwendyk started his NHL career with a bang, scoring 51 goals in each of his first two full seasons, the second of which ended with the Flames hoisting the Stanley Cup. Nieuwendyk had 45 goals in each of the next two seasons, and though he never reached 40 goals again, he was a consistent scorer for winning teams until retiring in 2006-07 with 564 goals and 1,126 points, plus 66 playoff goals, and Stanley Cup rings with three different teams.

Runners-up: Scott Mellanby (1984), Scott Gomez (1998)
Up and coming: Jeff Schultz (2004), Ivan Vishnevskiy (2006)
Disappointment: Ari Ahonen (1999)

No. 28: Mike Richter (N.Y. Rangers, 1985) -- Richter arguably is the best U.S.-born goaltender in history. He was in net when the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, led the United States to the World Cup two years later and to the silver medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. He ended his career (prematurely, due to concussions) with 301 wins, the most in Rangers history, despite spending the first few seasons of his career splitting time with John Vanbiesbrouck.

Runners-up: Guy Chouinard (1974), Justin Williams (2000)
Up and coming: Matt Niskanen (2005), Viktor Tikhonov (2008)
Disappointment: Adrian Foster (2001)

No. 29: Danny Gare (Buffalo, 1974) -- The Sabres took Gare in the second round after he scored 45 and 68 goals in his last two junior seasons. He quickly showed those totals were no fluke, scoring 31 as a rookie to help the Sabres make the Stanley Cup Final, and he reached the 50-goal mark in his second season. He had a career-best 56 in 1979-80, when he was a Second-Team All-Star, and came back with 46 the next season. He finished his career in 1986-87 with 354 goals and 685 points in 827 games.

Runners-up: Stephane Richer (1984), Corey Perry (2003)
Up and coming: Mike Green (2004), Steve Downie (2005)
Disappointment: Brian Wesenberg (1995)

No. 30: Randy Carlyle (Toronto, 1976) -- The Leafs took Carlyle with their first pick (in the second round) in 1976, bounced him up and down between Toronto and the minors for two seasons, and then dealt him to Pittsburgh in the summer of 1978. It was a deal they would come to regret, as Carlyle won the 1981 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, played in four All-Star Games and wound up scoring 647 points in 1,055 games with the Leafs, Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. He's done pretty well as a coach, too, leading Anaheim to the Cup in 2007.

Runners-up: Mark Hardy (1979), Patrice Brisebois (1989)
Up and coming: Matthew Corrente (2006), Nick Ross (2007)
Disappointment: Luke Sellars (1999)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Flyers Defenseman Derian Hatcher is Retiring




The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Derian Hatcher has been named as the new player development coach, according to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. The former Flyers defenseman and captain also announced that he is retiring from the National Hockey League after 17 seasons.
"We are pleased to add Derian to our coaching staff in this very important capacity," said Holmgren in making the announcement. "Derian will spend valuable time with the young players throughout our organization, working on their on-ice game as well as helping these young players deal with the issues playing and/or preparing to play professional hockey."
"I am very excited. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when Paul offered me this position. It sounded like the perfect way to stay in the game and see if I like it," said Hatcher. "I will be watching the younger players and making sure everything runs smoothly for them. I will be involved with running the rookie camp this summer, where I will get to work closely with some of our younger players."
Hatcher, 37, takes over the position from another former Flyers defenseman and captain, Eric Desjardins, who stepped down to pursue other business interests. Desjardins was named player development coach and served in that capacity since July 15, 2008.

Dallas Stars Mike Modano Returns




FRISCO, Texas (AP)-Mike Modano was caught off guard when the Dallas Stars fired coach Dave Tippett this week.
Yet, the surprising move by former teammate and new Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk isn't changing Modano's mind. Modano, the face of the franchise and the highest-scoring American-born player, is still returning for his 20th NHL season.
"I made a commitment to Tom (Hicks, the team's owner) and those guys," Modano said Saturday before playing in a celebrity baseball game that benefits his charitable foundation. "Hopefully, we'll have a fun and exciting year."
The Stars are coming off an injury plagued season in which they missed the playoffs for only the third time since moving to Dallas in 1993, and the only time in Tippett's six seasons.
Hicks reassigned co-general managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson within the organization on May 31 and hired Nieuwendyk, the Conn Smythe Award winner when the Stars won their only Stanley Cup title in 1999.
Nieuwendyk's first major move came when he fired Tippett on Wednesday, and introduced Marc Crawford as the new coach the following day.
"Joe had obviously been involved with the Stars in the past," Modano said. "Once he had the interview, I think things really accelerated and got to the point where Tom didn't waste any time and neither did Joe."
Modano, who turned 39 last week, took a month off after the season to ponder his decision before deciding that he would play in 2009-10. He was already under contract for $2.25 million next season, the last of a five-year deal.
The No. 1 overall pick by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, Modano has spent his entire career with the franchise and is the only player remaining who moved with the team from Minnesota to Dallas.
Modano had 15 goals and 31 assists in 80 games last season, and his 543 career goals and 1,329 points are tops for U.S. natives. He holds every significant franchise scoring mark and has led the club to three Stanley Cup finals.
The Stars reached the Western Conference finals in 2008 and expected to make another long playoff run. Those high hopes were derailed by numerous injuries and the controversial signing of Sean Avery, who was gone after two months.
"Our situation was really hard." Modano said. "Over time, it was tough to overcome. The injuries kept adding up and they were longer than anyone imagined it would be."
The key blow came in November when captain Brenden Morrow had a season-ending ACL injury. Forward Jere Lehtinen, defenseman Sergei Zubov and top-line center Brad Richards also missed extended time.
"When you do miss the playoffs, change is going to happen," said Morrow, who also played in the celebrity game. "We all realized it and it was unfortunate for coach Tip. We think we're headed in the right direction. Everyone is coming in healthy and we have a good positive outlook for next season."
Nieuwendyk put his mark on the team by replacing the player-friendly Tippett with the fiery Crawford, who coached Nieuwendyk in the Olympics.
Dallas goalie Marty Turco was excited about the hiring of Nieuwendyk.
"It's an amazing thing for this organization, this city and its hockey fans," Turco said. "It's going to go well beyond my career. He's going to come in here and breed a winner."
The 48-year-old Crawford spent this season in the television booth. He guided the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup crown in 1996.
Crawford has been compared to Ken Hitchcock, who Modano and Nieuwendyk both played for when the Stars brought their only Stanley Cup to Texas 10 years ago.
"Tip was definitely a player's coach," Morrow said. "We all respected him for that. Now we have coach Crawford, who has more of a dictatorship than Tip had. I think that is Nieuwendyk's impression that is the direction we needed."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pens Win the Cup, Malkin - Conn Smythe Trophy



Malkin - 2009 Stanley Cup MVP

DETROIT -- The comment came a year ago. Same time, same place, Stanley Cup on the line. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero was admiring the development of Evgeni Malkin as a player and person, and he wondered what his big, strong, talented young center might look like in two or three years.

"A lack of English sometimes holds him back," Shero noted. "But Geno has a great personality -- and it comes out more and more all
the time."

A second later, Shero came up with the ultimate sound bite, "When you look at his play, you don't need audio. You just need video."

Fast-forward from the day Malkin was selected No. 2 overall to Alex Ovechkin in the 2004 Entry Draft. He was awkward that day, kind of dizzy -- looking at adapting to life in a different world, different culture, with a new language. Even though there's a universal language in hockey, life around the sport can indeed be foreign.

Malkin will turn 23 on July 31. His spoken English is still a little iffy, but his body English is impeccably North American now after three seasons with the Pens and totals of 85, 106 and a League-leading 113 points this season.

"If you really wanted to do a book on him, you could do hundreds of pages long with all the things he does well," former Phoenix Coyotes GM Michael Barnett said after the 2004 Draft. "If you were looking for negatives, it wouldn't even fill up a page."

But the vagaries of youth and trying to get accustomed to a new world can be difficult, even for the best athletes. However, after struggling as many of his teammates did in the Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings a year ago, when he had just 1 goal and 2 assists in the six games, Malkin has had a monster playoff performance this year.

After the Pens stumbled to an 0-2 hole in the Final, it was Malkin's three assists in Game 3 that gave the powerful Pittsburgh center a
League-leading 33 points in the playoffs -- making him the first NHL player to surpass 30 points in the playoffs since Colorado's Joe Sakic accomplished the feat in 1996. That total included 11 multiple-point games.

His deft interception of Brad Stuart's pass and subsequent sweep pass set up Maxime Talbot's goal 1:13 into the second period gave the
Penguins a lead they never relinquished Friday night en route to a 2-1 Game 7 victory and Stanley Cup triumph. It was Malkin's 36th point of the playoffs -- the most of any player since Wayne Gretzky in 1993. That was enough to earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

He also joined Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Phil Esposito and Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead the NHL in scoring in the regular season and the playoffs.

Ready to concede that Malkin is something very, very special?

"All young players struggle with consistency -- and, if anything, that's all he seemed to be missing in last year's Final series," Red
Wings center Henrik Zetterberg observed before Game 7. "This year, he seems to be more comfortable, more confident, more powerful. He's definitely physically stronger and harder to handle."

Sidney Crosby, who feeds off Malkin's strength as much as Malkin feeds off Crosby's leadership, singled out a more electric game from Malkin this season.

"If anything, it's energy," Crosby said. "He looks like he's full of it out there."

"He's a more experienced guy who has been through it once before and you can see he is more comfortable," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a big guy that can hang onto the puck. He comes from the neutral zone with speed. And because of his reach and his size he
can be hard to handle. But I don't think anybody's really surprised. He's one of the best players in the world."

There's skill, grace, size and speed -- and he's still a kid.

"I started to get used to the faster pace," he said the other day. "Playing in a strong league definitely sped up my development."

Penguins center Jordan Staal has an interesting thought: He believes Crosby and Ovechkin have steered Malkin to the front row of talent.

"Geno's taken it to another level," Staal said. "I think he's figured out for himself that those two will keep improving, and if he wants to
be the best he's got to pick up his game.

"But, honestly, Geno's become pretty unreal the way he plays."

Though Malkin may still be shy in front of big crowds, he gives teammate (and fellow Russian) Sergei Gonchar plenty of credit for helping him bridge the gap from Magnitogorsk to Pittsburgh.

Gonchar took in Malkin as a house guest for his first two seasons in the NHL, allowing him to ease into the new culture. Gonchar talks about how Natalie, his 7-year-old daughter, used to help Malkin with English -- a few new words she had learned at school each day, and they would practice them together. That, plus watching American TV and listening to locker-room banter, has been his classroom.

"The great players usually find a way to make a difference," Shero said, with a big smile the other day.

Clearly, Evgeni Malkin is a natural on the ice. As he learns more about himself, his upside will be unlimited.

Reporters recently caught him at Mellon Arena, looking at photos of former Penguins stars Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr smiling as they gripped the Stanley Cup. The picture was on June 1, 1992, in a champagne-soaked visitors dressing room at Chicago Stadium.

It was one of those one-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words moments.

"It's my dream," Malkin said. "Me and Sid, just like that."

The snap shot of Malkin and Crosby is real now -- and there's clearly more to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Game 6 Numbers



Game 6. Crosby vs. Lidstrom

A few of the pertinent numbers from Pittsburgh's 2-1 win over Detroit in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night:

0 -- Goals by Detroit's Marian Hossa in this year's Final. Hossa led Pittsburgh with 3 goals and seven points while playing against the Red Wings in last year's Final. He has only 3 assists in six games against his former team this year.

1 -- Games played in this year's Final by Pittsburgh forward Petr Sykora, who was a healthy scratch through the first five games after scoring 25 goals in the regular season. It was Sykora's 115th career playoff game -- but only his seventh appearance this spring.

2 -- Minor penalties against Pittsburgh in the third period, after the Penguins went more than two periods without taking a penalty. Evgeni Malkin was called for cross-checking at 9:18, and Bill Guerin drew a high-sticking minor at 12:40. It was a big contrast from Game 5, when the Penguins gave Detroit nine power plays and allowed three goals with the extra man.

3 -- Shots on goal by Detroit in the opening period. It was the third time in the Final that the Red Wings were limited to three shots in a period. They managed three in the third period of Game 2 and again in the final period of Game 3.

4 -- Takeaways by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, the most of any player on either team. Malkin's total was one fewer than the entire Detroit team. Pittsburgh finished with 11 takeaways.

5 -- Times in this year's postseason that Detroit has been outshot, including Games 1, 2 and 6 of the Final. The Wings' loss in Game 6 marked the first time this spring that they've lost the game when being outshot.

5 -- Stanley Cup Finals this century that have gone to Game 7. This year's Final is the first to go the distance since 2006, when Edmonton and Carolina did it. The 2001, 2003 and 2004 Finals also went seven games. Before 2001, only two Finals since 1965 had gone to the max.

6 -- Blocked shots by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik, the most of any player on either team. Rob Scuderi was next for the Pens with four, including a key block in the final seconds. Niklas Kronwall was tops with four of Detroit's 12 blocked shots.

7 -- Losses by the Red Wings in the 10 Game 6s they've played in the Final. The Wings won last year's Cup by winning Game 6 in Pittsburgh, but couldn't repeat the feat this year. Overall, the Wings are 28-22 in Game 6s, but 0-2 this year.

9 -- Wins by Pittsburgh in the 13 games in which it has scored first. The Penguins have scored first in four of the six games in the Final, winning three of them -- all at home.

10 -- Pittsburgh's record in this year's playoffs when leading after the second period. The Pens are 2-0 when ahead after two periods in the Final.

11 -- Faceoff wins by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, the most on either team -- and nearly half of Detroit's 24 wins in the circle. The teams each won 24 faceoffs, with Sidney Crosby going 9-7 and Jordan Staal going 8-6 for the Penguins. Darren Helm, who was dominant in the circle through the first four games for Detroit, lost six of seven faceoffs after going 1-5 in Game 5.

12:55 -- Elapsed time between shots on goal by Detroit in the first period. Dan Cleary had Detroit's second shot on goal 5:27 into the game. The Wings didn't get another shot until Henrik Zetterberg tested Marc-Andre Fleury at 18:22.

13 – Shutouts in this year's Playoffs, the same number as last year. Detroit's Chris Osgood has two, including one in the Final. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury has not had a shutout, though he carried one into the third period on Tuesday night.

24 -- Times that a team has hosted Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final needing a win to avoid elimination. Pittsburgh is the 10th team to force the Final to a Game 7; only the 1950 Red Wings and 1971 Montreal Canadiens went on to win the Cup.

35 -- Hits credited to Pittsburgh, compared with 26 for the Red Wings. It's only the second time in the Final that the Penguins out-hit the Wings -- they've won both (Games 3 and 6). Detroit's 26 hits were its second-lowest total of the series; the Wings were out-hit 36-17 in Game 3, a 4-2 loss.

37 -- Shots by the Red Wings that didn't get to Fleury. The Wings missed the target on 17 shots and had 20 blocked. In contrast, the Penguins missed the net only seven times and had 12 blocked.

58 -- Wins in this year's playoffs by the team leading after the second period. Only three teams have lost a game this spring when taking the lead into the final period. Detroit has not won a game in this year's playoffs when trailing after 40 minutes; Pittsburgh has done it once.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Detroit Takes a Lead



Tomas Holmstrom wins the battle against Brooks Orpik

A few of the pertinent numbers from Detroit's 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

0 -- Points in the Stanley Cup Final before Game 5 by Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who has played all five games against Pittsburgh after missing the last three games of the Western Conference Finals against Chicago. Lidstrom assisted on Brian Rafalski's second-period goal that made it 4-0.

1 -- Losses by Pittsburgh in Game 5 of their four Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins had won both of their previous Game 5s, beating the Minnesota North Stars in 1991 and Detroit last year (they swept Chicago in 1992). Overall, the Pens are 19-17 in Game 5s, 1-2 this year.

2 -- Shutouts by Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood in this year's playoffs. The other came in Game 2 of the opening round against Columbus. It was the 15th of his career and third in a Stanley Cup Final game -- he blanked Pittsburgh 4-0 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 2 last year.

3 -- Power-play goals by the Red Wings in the second period. Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski scored in a 2:25 span early in the period, and Henrik Zetterberg added another at 16:40. The Wings had managed just one goal on the power play in the first four games of the Final.

4 -- Goals by Detroit in the second period, the most the Red Wings have scored in any period during this year's playoffs. It's also the Wings' biggest period in the Stanley Cup Final since April 26, 1966, when they scored four goals in the third period of Game 2, a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Detroit had scored four second-period goals in the first four games of this year's Final combined.

5 -- Career playoff assists by Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood, whose breakout pass led to Valtteri Filppula's goal 1:44 into the second period that made it 2-0. It was Osgood's second of this year's playoffs -- half of the total by all goaltenders in the postseason -- and the first assist by a goaltender in the Final since 2003, when New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (Game 1) and Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Game 3) both had one.

6 -- Shots on goal by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, the most by anyone on either team. Sergei Gonchar led Pittsburgh with four. Unlike Gonchar, Zetterberg scored a goal.

7 -- Hits credited to Detroit rookie center Darren Helm, giving him 32 for the series, the most of any player. Marian Hossa led the Wings in Game 5 with eight.

7 -- Games missed by Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who returned to the lineup on Saturday for the first time since injuring his foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Chicago. The Hart Trophy finalist missed three games against Chicago and the first four of the Final against Pittsburgh. He wasted no time making an impact, setting up Dan Cleary's goal 13:32 into the game that put Detroit ahead to stay, then added another assist in the second period and finished plus-2 with two shots and four hits.

7:19 -- Elapsed time from the opening faceoff to the game's first whistle. The teams went without a stoppage of play until Niklas Kronwall took the game's first penalty for tripping Chris Kunitz. Each team had three shots on goal during that span.

8 -- Play stoppages in the first period that resulted in faceoffs. Including the start of the game, there were just nine draws in the opening 20 minutes (an average period has 15-20 faceoffs). Detroit won five of the nine faceoffs.

11 -- Home victories by Detroit in its 12 games at Joe Louis Arena this spring. The Wings' only home loss in this year's playoffs was a 4-3, triple-overtime defeat at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. They've won all eight games since then.

12 -- Years since the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup Final game by five or more goals. Detroit's last victory by that many goals was a 6-1 rout of Philadelphia in Game 3 of the 1997 Final. The last time the Wings scored as many as five goals in the Final was Game 2 in 1998, when they rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory over Washington.

19 ­-- Previous occasions in which the Final was tied 2-2 after four games. Good omen for the Red Wings: Fourteen of the 19 teams that won Game 5 went on to win the Cup. The last one that didn't was the 2004 Calgary Flames, who lost Games 6 and 7 to Tampa Bay. Only one team, the 1971 Montreal Canadiens, was tied 2-2, lost Game 5 on the road and rallied to win the Cup.

36 -- Wins by Detroit in Game 5s of a playoff series. Saturday night's victory moved the Wings back to .500 (36-36) in the 72 Game 5s they've played, including 6-8 in the Final.

48 -- Consecutive playoff starts by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, who didn't make it through the second period in Game 5. It was the first time in this year's playoffs that Fleury was pulled.

49 -- Consecutive playoff victories for the Red Wings when they score four or more goals. The Wings haven't lost when scoring four or more goals in the postseason since the Phoenix Coyotes beat them 7-4 on April 24, 1998.

233 -- Stanley Cup Playoff games for Lidstrom, tying him with Scott Stevens for fifth on the all-time list. Detroit's captain will tie Claude Lemieux (234) for fourth place if he plays in Game 6.

300 -- Playoff victories in the history of the Red Wings' franchise, against 260 losses. The Wings are second in all-time playoff wins, trailing only the Montreal Canadiens, who have 398.