Better late than never! The final part of the Prime Cuts 2009-10 article series is here! Check out the Prime Cuts rosters from 2007-08 and 2008-09. The thinking process that goes in to selecting the team is similar to Pierre McGuire’s “Monsters” for TSN (I promise that is the first and only time I will compare my thinking process to Pierre’s). Since this is a fantasy hockey site, the selection process favours players that have had strong seasons on the score sheet, obviously. However, not just goals and assists are weighted – perhaps a player has started to shoot the puck more, or play better defensively. Intangibles like heart, grit, and determination factor in to the selection process as well. It is far and away my favourite article to write each year, and I hope you will all enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
Part 5 of the article series names the starting goaltender.
The starting goaltender: Ryan Miller
Selecting Miller as the starting goaltender for the 2009-10 Prime Cuts squad was a very easy decision. Miller trained only Tuukka Rask in goals against average and save percentage, while playing 24 more games than the Bruins netminder. He was the backbone of the surprising Sabres, who won the Northeast Division title in a season with low expectations. Without Miller, the Sabres were 4-9-2. With him, they were 41-18-8.
Miller saved his best for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he almost carried the underdog Americans to Gold. His name has already been carved into the Vezina Trophy for 2009-10, and many (including myself) were surprised to see him not among the three finalists for the Hart Trophy (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Henrik Sedin). Miller has always been one of the better fantasy goalies to own, but he always was a step below the likes of Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Henrik Lundqvist. Some may see now as a great time to sell high on Miller, while others may see a budding superstar goalie just beginning to scratch the surface of his elite ability. Miller has yet to turn 30, and goaltenders usually peak in the 30-35 age range (Dominik Hasek notwithstanding...).
The final roster:
Alex Ovechkin – Henrik Sedin – Martin St. Louis
Jussi Jokinen – Steven Stamkos – Chris Stewart
Steve Downie – Brandon Sutter – Eric Fehr
TJ Galiardi – Jay McClement – Ian Lapperiere
Duncan Keith – Mike Green
Tyler Myers – Joni Pitkanen
Keith Yandle – Mark Giordano
Sidney Crosby – the Penguins were unable to find a scorer to play with Crosby last summer, so he decided to become one. 33 goals in 2008-09 to 51 last season.
Matt Greene – cast aside by the Oilers, he has found a home on the Kings blue line. He plays tough every night and makes opposing forwards think twice about crashing the net.
Drew Doughty – arguably the best defenseman in the NHL at the age of 20. How good is he going to be in three or four seasons? Scary to even think about.
Marian Gaborik – finished the season with an impressive 42 goals, and an even more impressive 76 games played. Only two other Rangers hit the 20 goal mark (Vinny Prospal and Brandon Dubinsky). Gaborik was on an island many nights with the offensively-challenged Rangers.
Alex Burrows – after signing a (way) below market value contract last season, many expected Burrows to score fewer than the 28 goals he recorded. Instead, he surpasses that mark, lighting the lamp 35 times. He has quickly become one of the best points/PIM combination players to own.
Mikael Samuelsson – perhaps the best non-goalie UFA signing last summer (Craig Anderson), Samuelsson set career highs in almost every category, anchoring the Canucks second line with Ryan Kesler.
Ian White – really found his game this season, scoring 13 goals and adding 25 assists. He also kept up his strong play after being traded to Calgary.
Evander Kane – very solid rookie season for an 18-year-old on a struggling club. His nickname should be karma after the one-punch on Matt Cooke near the end of the season.
Christian Ehrhoff – his speed and transition game were huge additions to the league’s second best offense.
Patrick Kane – 88 points, not even 22 yet. He is one of the most lethal players in the league on the man advantage.
Paul Stastny – Stastny had one of the quietest 79-point seasons in quite some time. The fact that he does everything so well (defense, offense, passing, skating) sometimes keeps him under the radar.
Jakub Voracek – in addition to having the best head of hair in hockey, Voracek played extremely well down the stretch for the Jackets. It seems like 49 of his 50 points came after Ken Hitchcock was fired.
Stephane Robidas – his picture is next to the word ‘warrior’ in the dictionary. Chipped in with 41 points as well.
Maxim Afinogenov – resurrected his career after the Thrashers picked him off of the scrap heap.
Mark Recchi – 43 points, one more than his age.
Tim Connolly’s doctor – 73 games played!
Josh Gorges – one of the most underappreciated players in the league is finally getting his due with a stellar postseason.
Pavel Datsyuk – my favourite player in the league and the best defensive forward by a wide margin in the game today.
Ryan Kesler – 75 points and stellar two-way play all season, going head to head with the likes of Iginla, Thornton, Getzlaf, and Horcoff all season.
Patric Hornqvist – the Swedish ball of hate (plays a style of game similar to Pat Verbeek) scored 30 goals for a team that desperately needed each and every one of them. He battles hard and loves getting his nose dirty around the net.
Lee Stempniak – 28 goals, including 14 in 18 games with the Phoenix Coyotes post-trade deadline.
Ilya Bryzgalov – the best goaltender in the Western Conference this season provided consistent, elite goaltending for the surprising Coyotes.
Craig Anderson – The only reason Colorado made the playoffs (and pushed the Sharks to six games). Anderson played a ton of hockey behind a team that was expected to undergo serious growing pains this season.