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Hart finalists - Crosby, Ovechkin, and Tavares. I'd have put Toews in there, but you could make an argument for any of the three of them.

 

*

 

The NHL is heading to Sochi next year, as the league and the IOC have reached an agreement (finally). Here's my roster projection for Canada from a few months ago.

 

*

 

Is the MA Fleury era over in Pittsburgh? Cap-wise, it would make a ton of sense for the Pens to move him (either trade or amnesty buyout) and go with Vokoun next year. He’s clearly as good as (or better than) Fleury, and he saves the team a few million, too.

 

Matt Martin had 12 PIM and eight hits. Nice night in a roto league, but don’t think there are many (any?) postseason roto leagues out there.

 

Tyler Kennedy played his first game of the postseason and scored a goal – he’s lost his roster spot with all of the new faces, but he played well last night.

 

Jussi Jokinen was a healthy scratch. Not sure why… maybe I wasn’t watching the first few games closely, but he was winning draws and seemed to be playing sound two-way hockey. Whatever the reason, the team responded last night.

 

Iggy and Crosby... together at last?

 

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The Ottawa Senators. Man. What can you say about this team? Adversity? They battled without their three best players for most of the season. They have a ton of great young talent, but what I love most about their team is how well Paul MacLean has put the players on the roster in the right positions to succeed.

 

He doesn’t ask scorers to check, and he doesn’t ask checkers to score. He has a great read on his team and that shows with how in sync they are on the ice every night.

 

And they are only going to get better, too. Spezza will return at some point (either this spring or next season), and their young guys should all take a step forward – particularly Mika Zibanejad, who has really come on in the last six to eight weeks.

 

And what can you say about Craig Anderson? The guy continues to get no credit, but he is absolutely in the mix for the best goaltender in the league argument. He’s been elite for the past few years now.

Ottawa got nice production from the depth guys – JP Pageau and Matt Kassian combined for four points.

 

Cory Conacher had two goals and 12 PIM. I am compiling a list of the best young multi-category guys in hockey, and he will definitely be on there. Love the game he plays. Still can’t believe Ottawa was able to land him for Ben Bishop (I understand the move from Tampa’s side, but it was a great coup by Bryan Murray).

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My #1 keeper league forward prospect is having a hell of a season in the OHL. Mark Scheifele is NHL ready now, and he could step in and center Winnipeg’s top line next season. I think he is that good.

 

Scheifele had five points the other night against London in the OHL final. He has zero weaknesses in his game. Big and powerful, but extremely smart and skilled, too. Here’s more on him from Canoe Sports.

*

 

Chicago and Minnesota – simply a case of a great team playing a mediocre team. Chicago continues to thoroughly outclass the Wild in every single area of the game.

 

Marian Hossa had three points, and Chicago received balanced offense from their other offensive stars, too.

 

Stat of the night – Chicago hasn’t lost a game in regulation this season when Patrick Sharp has dressed.

 

*

 

Yeah…..

 

 

*

 

Joe Sakic is expected to start running the show in Colorado soon. No, not as the GM, but likely President (or a similar boss capacity). He’s all class and integrity, and this is a great move for the team. Hopefully he can convince ownership that they actually need to spend some money to be good.

 

And more from Adrian Dater:

 

I do think the new Sakic-led regime would like to get the rest of the band back together. That means a possible offer to Patrick Roy to come aboard as coach. Yeah, Roy has a good situation going in Quebec, but he’s going to get bored whiling away his time in junior hockey, if he hasn’t already. I know Roy very well, and I know his ego is such that he wants to be on the big stage again eventually, as a coach or GM or both.

Colorado is one of the two organizations he played for, and he has a bunch of old friends still here – including Sakic and his former backup, Billington. I expect Roy to get a query from them soon, if they haven’t already, to see what it would take to bring him back here.


*

 

Brett Ritchie has made a quick transition to the AHL – he credits working with Gary Roberts last summer to help him get off to a great start in 2012-13. He made my top 10 forward prospects list for a reason – tons of upside, not too far off.

 

Desjardins noted some other adjustments that a player such as Ritchie needs to make when coming out of juniors.


“It’s a little different than juniors, where you play 22 or 23 minutes and you kind of save yourself on some shifts. He’s got to break that habit,” Desjardins said. “He needs to be more high-tempo every shift. But he’s been really good for us.”


*

 

You can pick one center for a seven game series tomorrow. Who do you take? After much deliberation... my list:

 

1. Crosby

2. Kopitar

3. Toews

4. Bergeron

5. Malkin

 

Obviously Stamkos and Tavares are "better" offensive talents than Kopitar, but I have seen him absolutely swallow up elite players on a consistent basis. Playoff hockey is all about the matchups.

 

*

 

If you have some time to read something, here is an interesting look at one man’s quest to find a statistic that measures luck even more accurately than PDO.

 

*

 

Edmonton prospect Toni Rajala has had a very strong AHL season in Oklahoma City.

 

May be a prospect worth looking at this summer…

 

After spending the last two seasons posting good-but-certainly-not-overwhelming totals in Finland, Rajala has had an absolutely amazing first pro season in North America. After bossing around the ECHL -- he had 38 points in 29 games -- Rajala joined the Barons full-time after the NHL lockout ended, and he now has 53 points in 51 regular season and playoff games.


Unlike Philippe Cornet's breakout season in 2011-12, questions about the sustainability of those totals have surprisingly pleasant answers, as Rajala has a high but not outlandish 11.2% shooting percentage on 170 shots in those 51 games. He's an older rookie, so it's probably unwise to expect an offensive explosion in the NHL next season, but safely clearing three shots per game is still very impressive.


*


Here is ESPN’s E:60 feature on Seth Jones from last week.

 

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My latest fitness post – 10 Nutrition Tips for May – boosting testosterone naturally, eating (animal) organs, what the Rock ate to add muscle for Pain & Gain… and more.

 

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Fantasy prospect who should be on your radar:

 

 

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Comments (19)add comment

kevin_mcallister said:

kevin_mcallister
Scheifele That was back to back 5 pt nights for Scheifele. 6g, 4a.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

TavesSoul said:

TavesSoul
... For me it's Crosby, Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar, Datsyuk, Malkin, Krejci, Tavares in my playoff center wishlist.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

27Blue said:

27Blue
... Great call on Kopitar.

No doubt that he is a top-3 center in my mind. He is terrific defensively, contributes big minutes to both special teams, he is a great playmaker, but is also a good goal scorer. And... his size is most definitely a factor in his game. Kopitar is a power forward type player whose size allows him to drive to the net against big defencemen. He is absolutely dominant, and one of the very best in the league, in his board work. He wins these battles to maintain possession in the offensive zone, but he also uses his body to separate the puck in board battles in the defensive zone. Someone mentioned Datsyuk below, and Kopitar actually reminds me of a far more physical version of Datsyuk, with a little less pizzaz... They are two of the smartest players in the game, they both have a defence first attitude and they both make the smart, simple play 95% of the time - only getting fancy when it is the right, and only play available to them. Anyways, Kopitar is a beauty and I always enjoy watching him play. I have even enjoyed watching his game in the Blues series this post-season, even though he is a big reason why the Blues are down 3-2 in the series...
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

BlackGold said:

BlackGold
olympics I'd say Getzlaf and Perry have played themselves back on to the team.
Hall is a lock, more so than Eberle and I'm glad people are finally realizing how good of an overall game he plays.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

Kofax said:

Kofax
Hamhuis I won't argue that he's a solid defensemen and can contribute offensively as well. He could slot in on the top pairing of a lot of NHL teams. That being said, once you get into the best of the best, I just don't see how he keeps up with many of the other names available for Canada. However, that is my opinion. It may be that there isn't a better left side option available, and having a left handed shooter available may be of more importance than another right handed shot. I guess we shall see.
Cheers
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
... Kofax, I think you might be underselling Hamhuis. I hate the Canucks but he is a really good player. I don't think he is as versatile as Angus does (he's not a PP1 guy) but he is very good at being a defensive defenseman. Thanks for the insight/reply Angus
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

Kofax said:

Kofax
Hamhuis I can't think of any reason why they would take Hamhuis over Subban. There must be a better 'off side' defencemen than Hamhuis available if that's what you're looking for, but even then, that player over Subban? That's a really tough sell.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... I'll probably provide an updated Olympic roster this summer.

And Pen - good analysis. I don't point to Kopitar's size as the reason for his shutdown prowess, but it is one reason for his value - opposing checkers/d-men simply can't handle him. Bouwmeester has done as good a job as you can do, and he's 6-4 220 pounds. Kopitar overpowers 95% of defensemen in this league.

Kopitar isn't getting the defensive zone starts because he doesn't need to. The Kings are deep and talented up the middle and thankfully they don't have to lean on their best offensive player to do all of the heavy lifting.

I think Kopitar would eat Datsyuk up in a series (at this stage of his career). I see him having a similar effect on Giroux, too. And Toews as well. Maybe that last one would be a saw off. We may get to find out in short order.....
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Hall is definitely on it. Couture too. And Duchene. I agree with all three. I'd take Jordan Staal and Eberle out. Subban too. The reason I have Hamhuis is that Subban/Letang/Pietrangelo are all RS defensemen and none of them play on their off side. That may not be as big an issue on the big ice, though.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
..... and really Duchene should be there too but I'm having a tough time finding a place to put him lol. I hate Bergeron and don't think he should go, but he will go. My big beef with him is he went to the Olympics in 2010 specifically for D zone draws, and he was taken off that role within 2 games. He is great on faceoffs until the pressure is on. I can't tell you how many late, D zone draws I have watched him take and lost when he was winning them all game. Toews, Crosby, E. Staal, and Girouz are all as good on faceoffs as Bergeron.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Olympic Team I realize your list is from a couple months ago but.....Hall is on it. I don't know who he replaces (Eberle, Seguin, or J. Staal most likely) but he is there. After watching these playoffs, I think Couture forces his way on the team. So I'd take out 2 of Eberle, Seguin, and J. Staal and add in Couture and Hall. Probably J. Staal and Seguin. Also Dmen, PK Subban has to go. And I hate the Habs, but PK is too good. He will replace Hamhuis or Seabrook.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Centers I like Kopitar, but there is NO way I'd rank him ahead of Toews and I probably wouldn't rank him ahead of Bergeron either. Datsyuk would be ahead of Kopitar on my list too.

A center is definitely the most important skater position on the ice, but defensively this is the player picking up the 3rd forward entering the zone. And typically the first two opposing forwards entering the zone are often the most skilled forwards. The way in which a center must man-up on that 3rd forward is usually less-physical than one might think. In other words... I think the size/body that Kopitar has over other centers suggests he is a better two-way player - but I don't agree. Let's keep in mind that STL isn't the most offensively-gifted team... and the 3rd STL forward entering the offensive zone isn't typically going to be much of a threat.

Besides watching the games, there's nothing in the zone start numbers that suggest that Kopitar is getting a bigger role or elite face-off performance on defensive drops.
http://www.behindthenet.ca/nhl_statistics.php?ds=63&f1=2012_p&f2=5v5&f5=L.A&c=0+1+3+5+63+67+57+58+59+60+61+62+64+65+66
The 2011-2012 playoff zone starts for LA don't suggest anything as defensively superior either.

Player values should still be considered with a significant weighting to their position (forwards=offense, defensemen=defense)
I'd peg player values split in roughly this way:
Winger: _/8 offense, _/2 defense
Center: _/7 offense, _/3 defense
Defense: _/2 offense, _/8 defense (*The offense number can be between 0-4 and the defense number can be between 6-10, depending on what the D-partner provides).

Most of a forward's value is still offensive, it's not even.
If you surround a "center-of-choice" with exactly the same "medium guy" forwards & defense & goalie, I'm taking:
Crosby
Malkin
Toews
Datsyuk
Giroux
E.Staal

All these guys before Kopitar.

Picking a real-NHL-value Kopitar over a real-NHL-value Toews, IMO, is akin to selecting Parise over Ovechkin in multi-cat w/Hits. Booo. (Thanks for the disagreeable point though!!! I haven't posted a long one in the ramblings in a while.)
May 10, 2013
Votes: +1

Kofax said:

Kofax
Sens Not to take too much away from the Sens season, as they did battle through adversity and injury all season and somehow managed to hold onto a playoff spot, but whoever played Montreal was gonig to end up winning that series.

The Canadiens are not built for the playoffs, limped in down the stretch behing some poor play by Carey Price (why did he changed his equipment so late in the season?) and really didn't have much of a chance against whoever they played.

Ottawa's real test begins against the Pens, where we'll really see what they're made of. I am excited for that series, as it should be competitive and there's some bad blood there.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

frozenpools said:

frozenpools
... I agree about Kopitar. He is a dominant 2 way player.

I'd go
Crosby, Toews, Kopitar, Datsyuk, Bergeron
HM: Krejci and Taveres

Taveres has been great this post season. Can't knock him because of team

Malkin and Stamkos aren't as good defensively but so dominant offensively they'd be next. I'd prob put Getzlaf in top 10 too
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

mapletreemarty said:

mapletreemarty
He's not in the top 5 list... But one C who never seems to get any credit is David Krejci..57 pts. in 63 career playoff games, and the guy can do it all.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

4horsemen said:

4horsemen
... "Nice night in a roto league, but don’t think there are many (any?) postseason roto leagues out there."

If you included H2H roto then yup! I'm in one with a number of other guys from around this site. Sobotka has been a beast for me!
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0

Atomic Wedgy said:

Atomic Wedgy
Pick one center Yes, I concede that I am biased on the opinion, but not to choose Claude friggin Giroux in a top five list is crazy. You dont remember "The Shift"? I mean he is incredible to behold when he is in that zone.

1. Crosby
2. Toews
3. Giroux
4. Bergeron
5. Malkin
May 10, 2013
Votes: -1

donpaulo said:

donpaulo
... I can pick one center ?

Derek Stepan

the guy does it all
May 10, 2013
Votes: -1

Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Jokinen benching Pens simply wanted more speed in the line-up to matchup with the Isles.
May 10, 2013
Votes: +0
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