I was going to title this article Flight of the Condra as we might be witnessing Erik Condra's career starting to take off, but when I heard that some are calling him AnaCondra, well that's golden.
With the Senators only two goals in Tuesday's game, the seventh round (211 overall) pick in the 2006 entry draft is starting to show some promise. It's not very often that late round picks are able to make the NHL, let alone an impact, but knowing that nearly everyone cheers for the underdog, the 24-year-old Condra will have plenty of fan support.
He was a prolific scorer in each of his four years of college hockey, playing for Notre Dame in the CCHA, recording 158 points in 159 games. Last season, he recorded 38 points as a rookie for Binghamton in the AHL. This year, before his call up, he was scoring at a 70 point clip in the AHL (46 points in 54 games). Since being promoted in mid-February, he has four goals and six points in 10 NHL games.
Assuming the pending restricted free agent re-signs with Ottawa, he will have competition for a roster spot next season, but it's not like the Sens are loaded with scoring wingers. Depending on what the team brings in during the off-season, Condra will get a fair shake at regular NHL duty. Keep an eye on what could be another late bloomer feel good story.
Whenever I hear anything on Craig Anderson now, there is this voice in my head that sounds like Agent Smith from the Matrix saying Mister Anderson. Ottawa's answer to their franchise long goaltending woes has been lights out since coming down from the Mile High hockey club. He has a deceiving win-loss record of 5-3 with the Sens, but his goals-against-average is a miniscule 1.49 and his 0.954 save percentage is surreal.
Nikolai Kulemin is in his third NHL season and the 24-year-old Maple Leaf has increased his scoring in successive years; from his 31 point rookie campaign to 36 points and his projected totals of 31 goals and 59 points this season. Over his last 31 games, Kulemin has scored 25 points, a 66 point pace.
In 2006-07, as a 20-year-old, he led his Russian Super League team with 27 goals in 54 games. His coach was some unknown Canadian named Dave King, who praised Kulemin for his work ethic and stated that he was the most complete player on a team that included Evgeni Malkin.
Party on Garth
New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow doesn't get a lot of credit from poolies, but give him props for his early October waiver wire pilfering of Michael Grabner from offensive powerhouse Florida. Still hard to believe the Panthers couldn't find any room to at least audition the speedy 23-year-old Austrian.
Since January 13, Grabner has recorded 29 points in 27 games and overall is on pace to finish with 32 goals and 49 points. If he can maintain some semblance of his recent scoring pace, he has a legitimate shot at 35 goals.
With Taylor Hall out of the running for Rookie of the Year, maybe now Grabner will at least garner some consideration for top rookie. He's one point back of Hall, three points from Logan Couture and eight behind of the slick Jeff Skinner and is the leading rookie goal scorer. I can't see Grabner catching Skinner for the rookie scoring lead, but by the end of the season, the voters should at least know his name.
Get Your Gunn?
In the nine games since Tomas Kaberle was dealt, Carl Gunnarsson hasn't played less than 22:43 in a game. In the 44 matches prior to that, the majority of his games fell into the 14-17 minute range and he logged over 20 minutes exactly once. That said, don't run out and grab him unless your pool values Time On Ice numbers as he only has three points in those nine games. He managed to score at a 29 point pace last season with the Leafs, but there is nothing on his resume to indicate that he will be a point producer. He hasn't shown an offensive side at any level. Just thought the spike in ice time was interesting.