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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
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.
Fantasy prospect who should be on your radar: