Saturday, October 13, 2012

Top 10 Goalies of the last 20 years

Top 10 NHL Goalies of the past 20 years (1992-present)

1. Martin Brodeur ('93-present)

- 3 Stanley Cups ('95, '00, '03)
- 2 Olympic Gold Medals ('02, '10)
- 4 Vezina Trophies: '03, '04, '07, '08
- Calder Trophy 93/94
- 5 Jennings Trophies: '97, '98, '03, '04, '10
*Scored a couple of goals, including one in the playoffs vs. Montreal
*Ranks 1st in all-time career Wins and Shutouts

Marty's march to the Cup final this past season just shows how great this guy is. Still able to rise up and play at an elite level in his 40's. I don't think there is any denying he is the best of the last 20 years, if not all-time.

2. Dominic Hasek ('92-'08)

- 2 Stanley Cups ('02, '08)
- 1 Olympic Gold Medal ('98)
- 2 Hart Trophies ('97, '98) *Six goalies have ever won the Hart, only Hasek has 2
- 6 Vezina Trophies ('94, '95, '97, '98, '99, '01)
- 3 Jennings Trophies ('94, '01, '08)

Six Vezina's in 8 years is outstanding. Between the years 1997-1999 I believe Hasek displayed the best goaltending of all time, capturing back to back Hart's in the process. I can't put him at number one because Brodeur has a bit more long lasting appeal, and Hasek's 2nd Cup was won by Chris Osgood, with Dom on the bench. Still, Hasek in his prime was an unparalleled machine, and if you could take one goalie in his prime for one game, it should be Hasek. The 1998 Olympics, and 1999 run to the Cup (leading to Brett Hull's famous/infamous goal) were absolute works of art on the part of the Dominator.

3. Patrick Roy ('84-'03) *Only counting his achievements from 1992-present

- 3 Stanley Cups
- 1 Vezina Trophy (1992)
- 2 Conn Smythe's ('93, '01)
- 1 Jennings Trophy ('02)

First of all, I don't like Roy, and I tried to make him lower, but this is where he fits. His 2 Conn Smythe Trophies in the last 20 years can't be denied. He rose up in the playoffs. Now to take a jab at him: I'll never forget the famous "statue of liberty" celebration that cost the Avs game 6 in the 2002 Western conference final, and forced a game 7 against the hated Red Wings. Detroit came out in game 7 firing from everywhere and the great Patrick Roy, looking very old, was lit up for 6 goals by the 5 minute mark of the 2nd period, and Roy did not finish the game and the Avs lost 7-0. Still I guess he's pretty great.

4. Ed Belfour ('89-07) *Again only '92 onward will be looked at

- 1 Stanley Cup (1999)
- 1 Olympic Gold (2002)
- 1 Vezina Trophy (1993)
- 3 Jennings Trophies ('93, '95, '99)
- 1 Roger Crozier Award (2000, for outstanding Save %)
*3rd on NHL's all-time Wins list behind Brodeur and Roy

Eddie the Eagle was a beast. When he won the Cup in '99 he was unreal, and his save percentage was an outstanding 1.99 that year, following a 1.88 save % from the year before. This was clearly a golden age for goaltending when all 4 of the guys on the list so far were all on top of their games. If Eddie had played in another era and not had to compete with the 3 guys above, he would have even more hardware on his shelf.

5. Chris Osgood ('94-'11)

- 3 Stanley Cups ('97, '98, '08)
- 2 Jennings Trophies ('96, '08)

Osgood is flat out the most underrated and under appreciated goalie of the last 20 years. Ozzy doesn't always have the sparkling save % and definitely played on some great teams, which is why his critics are quick to dismiss his achievements. But the fact is, he never finished below 5th in his conference in his entire career. Including when he went to the Islanders, where he took a team that hadn't made the playoffs in years and turned them around, winning 32 games. Then on to St.Louis where he won 30+ games again, and finally back to the Red Wings. Osgood on his game could go toe to toe with any other goalie in the NHL, and he had that "it" factor, to rise up and make the big save with the game on the line. That's why he's one of the winningest goalies of all time (10th with 401 career wins). That's why he is a great champion. *Before I digress, I also want to mention that Osgood was getting a lot of Conn Smythe buzz in 2009 as he went back to the Cup finals in back to back years for the 2nd time in his career, but as the Penguins prevailed the award went to Malkin* Okay... I'm ready to move on

6. Tim Thomas ('03-present)

- 1 Stanley Cup (2011)
- 1 Conn Smythe (2011)
- 2 Vezina Trophies ('09, '11)
- Jennings Trophy (2009)

If not for mismanagement on the part of the Bruins, Thomas might have won 3 Vezina's in a row. However in 2010 the Bruins put the reigning top goalie on the bench in favour of Rask, and only played him sporadically. But anyway's, Timmy is an unorthodox goalie, to say the least, but when he's on his game, and that's most of the time (career save % of .921) he keeps the puck out as good as anyone on this list. His MVP performance in the 2011 playoffs was really something to behold.

7. Jean-Sebastien Giguere ('97-present)

- 1 Stanley Cup (2007)
- 1 Conn Smythe (2003) *1 of 4 players to ever win the MVP on the losing team

Giguere might not have the pedigree of these other guys, but his display in the 2003 playoffs warrants some serious props. He carried a terrible team really far, and then proved it wasn't a flash in the pan by playing great in the following few seasons and then finally winning his Cup in '07. Giggy on his game was a wall.

8. Miika Kiprusoff ('01-present)

- 1 Vezina (2006)
- 1 Jennings (2006)

My first non-Stanley Cup winner on the list. Kipper technically did win in 2004 against the Lightning in game 6 (review the tape the puck crossed the line and hit Khabibulin's pad inside the net!) but that's not important right now. Anyone who plays fantasy hockey knows the value of kipper, all this guy does is post outstanding numbers on a mediocre team, year in, year out. Did you know he's the only goalie in the NHL to have at least 35 wins or more in every season since the 2005 lockout? Its true. And his performance in the 2004 playoffs ranks up there as one of the best I've ever seen.

9. Nikolai Khabibulin ('94-present)

- 1 Stanley Cup (2004)

Number 20 on the NHL's All-Time wins list. The 'Bulin Wall has been one of the best most consistent goalies for the better part of the last two decades. 

10. Henrik Lundqvist ('06-present)

-Vezina Trophy (2012)

So he doesn't have a ton of hardware at this stage, he's definitely been one of the most valuable players in the NHL for the last few seasons and could be on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats.

*Honourable Mentions

- Olaf Kolzig - I know a lot of you will probably say that he should be there since Kipper is. They have the same hardware (Vezina, trip to the Cup final) and both were great. Kolzig, for the record is my #11 and it was a tough cut.

- Dwayne Roloson - a few lengthy playoff runs in his career, including trips to the final 4 with Minnesota and Tampa Bay, stepping in in the Conference Finals in game 1, 1999 when Hasek was hurt and getting the win for Buffalo, and of course his run to the Cup final with the Oilers, which he may have won over Carolina if he hadn't gotten hurt in that series. Rolly was often a guy who would step up in the playoffs and take his teams further than expected.

- Curtis Joseph - How can I leave off the 4th winningest goalie of all time? Well he also happens to have the most all time career losses. Joseph was great, don't get me wrong, and in his prime he was an amazing reactionary goalie, definitely one of the best of his kind. But there are meltdowns in his career as well, including the Olympics in 2002, where he was lit up badly and lost his starting job, and his inability to deliver in an Osgood-esque way in Detroit, where he was expected to win. He just never fully came through, although he was a very good goalie in his day.

- Marty Turco - Almost had to put him, based solely his performance in the playoff series against Vancouver in 2007. Did you know he had THREE shutouts, a 1.30 GAA, and a .952 Save % and he lost the series!? Easily the best performance in a losing effort. He did everything except score goals.

- Tom Barrasso, Mike Vernon, and Grant Fuhr - They all played during some of the last 20 years, but were all in the twilight of their careers. Still they all took home Stanley Cups in the last 20 (okay, not quite for Grant Fuhr, he just missed the cut.) But anyway's, if it were the last 25 years, I think I would have to include all three.

- Jose Theodore - Definitely had an amazing year in '02 when he took home the Vezina and the Hart. But his greatness was too short lived. Outside of that season he has been a very good starting goalie, but not great enough.

- Roberto Luongo - Olympic Gold is huge, no question, and he deserved it. But he did let in a shaky goal in the final minute to force OT in the gold medal game. He fights the puck a lot, and he's prone to bad goals. This is a hot topic right now because of all the trade rumours surrounding Lu, and I don't want to get into a whole thing, but I'll leave you with this: If you want to argue that his trip to the Cup final warrants any kind of accolades, then I think we should just open the list right up to all the Michael Leighton's of the world. We should also put Anti Niemi on the list because he won a cup. The thing is, Luongo played on a great team, and his trip to the Cup final (which included losing his starting job temporarily in the 1st round against Chicago, giving up bad goals late to force OT/Lose games vs. Nashville in the 2nd round, and being pulled 3 times in a 7 game Cup Final against Boston) does not stack up with Kipper, Kolzig, and Giguere's (2003) underdog teams, who made it against all odds on the strength of strong goaltending.

Criticism welcomed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Best remaining UFA's

Parise, Suter, even Matt Carle signed now... here's the best of the rest:

Centres - 
1. Jason Arnott, 37
2. Dominic Moore, 31
3. Daymond Langkow, 35
4. Jochen Hecht, 35
5. Gilbert Brule, 25
6. Blair Betts, 32
7. Kyle Wellwood, 29
8. Jeff Halpern, 36
9. Brendan Morrison, 36
10. Eric Christiensen, 28

Wingers - 
1. Alex Semin, 28
2. Shane Doan, 35
3. Teemu Selanne, 42
4. Andrei Kostitsyn, 27
5. Jamie Langenbrunner, 36
6. Tomas Holmstrom, 39
7. Peter Sykora, 35
8. Wojtek Wolski, 26
9. Eric Fehr, 26
10. Daniel Winnick, 28

Defence - 
1. Michael Roszival, 33
2. Carlo Colaiacovo, 29
3. Pavol Kubina, 35
4. Colin White, 34
5. Scott Hannan, 33
6. Chris Campoli, 27
7. Matt Gilroy, 27
8. Milan Jurcina, 29
9. Sean O'Donnell, 40
10. Cam Barker, 26

Goalies - 
1. Anterro Niittymaki, 32
2. Dan Ellis, 32
3. Marty Turco, 36
4. Ty Conklin, 36
5. Dominic Hasek, 47 (*reportedly wants to come back. Posted a 23-19-3 record with a 2.48 GAA, and a .915 SV% a year ago in the KHL. Last played in the NHL in 2008 where he posted a 27-10-3 record, 2.14 GAA, and .902 SV%)

Just threw Dom in there for kicks, beats Alex Auld...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Leafs big 4 prospects on the blue line

After the 2012 draft, Burke has really stockpiled the Leafs prospects on D. The Maple Leafs now have 4 of the NHL's top defensive prospects:

Morgan Rielly, 18 - 6'1" 190 lbs.
Smoothe skating, offensive defenceman.

Rielly is an exceptional skater with outstanding vision and great offensive instincts. He's generally praised for his poise with the puck, ability to make great passes, outlet or in the offensive zone, and his big shot. He has all the tools to become a top end offensive defenceman, and a #1 d-man on an NHL team.

Rielly was selected 5th overall at the 2012 NHL entry draft.

Jesse Blacker, 21 - 6'1" 195 lbs.
Hard hitting, offensive defenceman.

Blacker is definitely a guy who likes to fight, and brings strong offensive instincts and a big shot from the point. He plays with a lot of smarts and confidence with the puck. His upside is huge as he has great puck control and the big right handed shot from the point.

Selected 58th overall at the 2009 NHL entry draft.

Stuart Percy, 19 - 6'1" 200 lbs.
Hard hitting, two-way defenceman.

Considered a great puck mover, Percy was just under a point per game in the OHL last season as an 18 year old. He racks up the pims averaging a 1.25 penalty minutes per game, besides running the St.Mikes's Major's PP, Percy is also a good scrapper. He's the kind of defenceman who can change a game with a  big hit, a big goal, or just control the play because of his great hockey smarts, vision, and high end skill. In his one game call up with the Marlies this past season he registered an assist in his American Hockey League debut.

Selected 25th overall at the 2011 NHL entry draft.

Matt Finn, 18 - 6'0" 200 lbs.
Strong positionally, two-way defenceman.

Matt Finn was expected to be drafted as high as 15-20th overall (Central Scouting had him at 16 among North American skaters), a lot of scouts, GM's and hockey analysts were surprised to see him fall to the Leafs at 35th overall. Finn is a good all around defenceman who registered 48 points in 61 games with the Guelph Storm last season. He's known as a guy who makes a great first pass and has a very high hockey IQ, knowing when to join the rush, the right time to pinch, etc. He's very strong positionally. He also has a great shot from the point.

Selected 35th overall at the 2012 NHL entry draft.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gritty UFA's for July 1st 2012

Looking at the Leafs needs, some comments made by Burke, and the fact that Randy Carlyle is now coaching the Bud's, its a safe bet that Burkie will target some gritty, tough veterans on July 1st. Here are some possible forwards the Leafs might target:

Jason Arnott, 37
Paul Gaustad, 30
Adam Burrish, 29
Ryan Carter, 28
Zenon Konopka, 31
Scott Nichol, 37
John Madden, 39
Darcy Hordichuck, 31

Ryan Smyth, 36
Shane Doan, 35
Tomas Holmstrom, 39
Travis Moen, 30
Taylor Pyatt, 30
Mikael Samuelsson, 35
Jordin Tootoo, 29
George Parros, 32
Brandon Prust, 28
Aaron Asham, 34
Steve Bernier, 27
Cam Janssen, 28

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two outstanding draft classes- Quality vs Quantity

After a quick back and forth about the 2003 and 2005 drafts with my cousin, and Anze Kopitar enthusiast, I decided to compare the two drafts which are loaded with talent.

The 2003 draft boasts a ton of talent:

1st Round:

The Stars and high end support players:
Eric Staal
M-A Fleury
Ryan Suter
Zach Parise
Ryan Getzlaf
Cory Perry
Jeff Carter
Mike Richards
Dustin Brown
Ryan Kesler
Brent Seabrooke
Tomas Vanek
Dion Phaneuf
Nathan Horton
Brent Burns
Brayden Coburn
Milan Michalek
Andrei Kostitsyn

The Role Players
Steve Bernier
Eric Fehr
Robert Nilsson
Mark Stuart
M-A Pouliot
Anthony Stewart
Brian Boyle
Jeff Tambellini
Patrick Eaves

The absolute Busts:
Shawn Belle, only 20 NHL games to his name.
Hugh Jessiman, only 2 games played in the show.

*Not listed is Nikolai Zherdev. He was taken in this draft, and I almost wanna list him as a bust, although talent-wise that wouldn't be accurate. He could've been in the Kostitsyn/Michalek range if he didn't go back to Russia. He was a 3 time 20+ goal scorer in 4 NHL seasons.

Now let's take a look at the first round of the 2005 draft, which is also ridiculous. However, being a couple years younger, you should use discretion with certain players who may be late bloomers.

1st Round:

The Stars and high end support players:
Sidney Crosby
Anze Kopitar
Bobby Ryan
Jack Johnson
T.J. Oshie
Carey Price
Tuuka Rask
Marc Staal
Devin Setogucchi
Andrew Cogliano
Martin Hanzal
Matt Niskanen
Steve Downie

The Role Players:
Benoit Pouliot
Gilbert Brule (The Blue Jackets always seem to get it wrong)
Jack Skille (could be a late bloomer, could move into "high end support player" role)
Brian Lee
Ryan Parent
Jakub Kindl
Niclas Bergfors
Matt Lashoff (between bust and role player)

The absolute Busts:
Marek Zagrapan
Sasha Pokulok
Ryan O'Marra (could become a role player)
Kendal McArdle (ditto)
Alex Bourret
Matt Pelech
Joe Finley
Vladimir Michalek

Not listed is Luc Bourdon, RIP.

Okay, so its pretty clear that the 2003 draft had a way better first round. Crosby and Kopitar aside, the first round of the 2005 draft was pretty below average, overall. However, its the supposed depth of the 2005 draft that's so impressive. So I'm going to keep digging. I'm not going to list busts for the 2nd round on.

2003 2nd Round:

Stars/high end support:
Shea Weber
Louie Eriksson
Patrice Bergeron
David Backes
Matt Carle
Jimmy Howard

Notable Role players:
Kevin Klein
Cory Crawford
BJ Crombeen
Patrick O'Sullivan
Maxim Lapierre

Not bad, with 4 legit stars, a quality d-man and a legit starting goalie, along with a handful of useful role players.

2005 2nd Round:

Stars/high end support:
James Neal
Paul Stastny
Ondrej Pavelec
M-A Vlasic

Notable Role players:
Justin Abdelkader
Mason Raymond
Guillaume Latendresse
Adam McQuiad
*Matt Kassian (only 28 career games so far, but looks like a bit of a late bloomer)

Okay, so the 2nd round in '05 is solid, but doesn't quite stack up against the '03 class. Which is looking more and more obvious as the best draft class of a generation. Let's take a look at rounds 3-7

2003 later rounds

Stars/high end support:
Joe Pavelski (*7th round)
Kyle Quincey
Lee Stempniak ("high end support" is maybe a stretch?)
Clarke MacArthur

Notable Role players:
Dan Carcillo
Drew Miller
Ryan O'Byrne
Nate Thompson
Alexandre Picard
Zach Stortini
Kyle Brodziak
Jan Hejda
Nathan Paetsch
Johnny Mitchell
Brad Richardson
Mark Methot
Bruno Gervais
Paul Bissonette
Jay Rosehill

Decent draft from the 3rd round on, but the only player resembling a star in there is Joe Pavelski. The super stars drafted in the first couple rounds of this draft are undeniable, but let's see if the '05 draft can make it up in the later rounds:

2005 later rounds:

Stars/high end support:
Kris Letang
Jonathan Quick
Keith Yandle
Niclas Hjalmersson
Sergei Kostitsyn
Patric Hornqvist (*last pick of the draft! )

Notable Role players:
Darren Helm
Nathan Gerbe
Kris Russell
Cody Franson
M-A Gragnani
Anton Stralman
TJ Hensick
Mark Fayne
Matt D'Agostini
Jarred Boll
Kyle Cumiskey
Vladimir Sobotka
Oscar Bartulis
Tom Pyatt
Tim Kennedy
Colin Greening
Chris Butler
Tom Wandell
*Ben Bishop (potential to be a good goalie)

Well, not a lot to suggest that the '05 draft is in any way better than the '03 draft, except that it has produced a few more NHL'ers. The '05 players would all be about 24-25 years old right now, so there is still a chance that a few of the "notable role players" could make the leap in to the "high end" category, where as we have a better handle on the '03 players who are all 26-27.

Either way, my conclusion is that the '03 draft class is the draft of the generation, although the '05 depth is fairly impressive.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top Available Goalies This Offseason


Potential Starter's

Tomas Vokoun, 36: 25-17-2/ 2.51/ .917
Vokoun is a stud. Puts up good numbers every year. I think, depending on what happens in the playoffs the Capitals may or may not get a deal done to re-sign him. If he hits free agency he'll most likely be the most established goalie available with Nabokov having re-signed on the Island.

Josh Harding, 28: 13-12-4/ 2.62/ .917
Harding is a guy who has played well since he's entered the league but has never had a shot at being a starter playing behind Backstrom in Minnesota. He could be approaching his prime and as a UFA for the first time he will be looking for a situation where he can go and be a starting goalie.

Johan Hedberg, 39: 17-7-2/ 2.22/ .918
The old man can still stop the puck. Winning three quarters of his starts, he quietly put up amazing numbers in New Jersey. This guy has had a losing record just once since the lockout (14-15-3 in '08 with Atlanta). I See "Moose" as being a quality back up, capable of playing upwards of 30 games and winning 15-20 of them. Could be a great bargain too. Underrated goalie.

Martin Brodeur, 40: 30-21-4/ 2.41/ .907
Doubt Marty would leave NJ at this point in his career. I would imagine he'll stay in NJ where he's been a God for the last 20 years, or retire. But for every Yzerman, Sakic, and Jeter, there is a Favre, Modano, and Bourque who do change teams. Long shot, but had to include him.

Martin Biron, 34: 12-6-2/ 2.46/ 9.04
Biron hasn't been a starter in 3 years (29-19-5 with Philly in '09) but has always been a very good goalie and could potentially be a 1A/tandem goalie in the right situation. He always seems to play well and post solid numbers in goal.

Al Montoya, 27: 9-10-5/ 2.96/ 8.97
Not great numbers. Typically my rule is your GAA should be below 3.00, and SV% above .900 to be considered respectable. Montoya was hovering around both those numbers so he was pretty average stats wise, but keeping in mind he was playing on one of the worst teams in the Islanders. Montoya was a big time prospect 8 years ago (drafted 6th overall in the '04 draft) and has shown flashes of why. A lot of goalies don't come into their own until they are in their late 20's and I wouldn't be surprised to see Montoya find a good situation where he can succeed and become a legitimate starter. Or he might just be a back up, it could really go either way with this guy.

A few notable back ups

Chris Mason, 36: 8-7-1/ 2.59/ .898
Decent back up numbers for the Jets. He was pretty much a .500 goalie with average numbers and average play across the board. Could have a bit left in the tank in a back up role.

Dwayne Roloson, 42: 12-16-3/ 3.68/ .886
These are bad numbers, even for a back up. The veteran, who turns 43 at the start of next season will almost definitely retire. But he did look okay for stretches this year and could sign a cheap deal as a back up. Rolly never puts up spectacular numbers in the regular season but routinely goes deep in the playoffs (conference final last year, Cup final in '06, conference final in '03). His clutch play could make him an interesting option for a team looking for depth in goal, and he's a goalie who is used to playing in a tandem role. (As I write this Elliot Friedman reports that Rolly kept the game puck after tonights Tampa game and will most likely retire. Great career, if not for his fluke injury late in game 6 of the 2006 Cup final he would have his name on the Cup. Bad break, but great goalie, and great career.)

Marty Turco, 37: 2-2-0/ 3.68/ .855
These numbers are just terrible. Marty has actually been a .500 goalie for a while now (11-11-3 in '11, 22-20-11 in '10, 33-31-10 in '09). You have to go back to '08 to find him as a legit, winning starter (32-21-6). He used to be one of the best and he may retire, but I think he could be a good pick up as a veteran back up, especially for a team with a young goalie who could use a good team guy. Turco is a character and would bring a ton of experience to the bench. Just a side note, his performance against Vancouver in the 2007 playoffs has to be the greatest goaltending performance in a losing effort in NHL history. He had 3 shutouts in that series, carrying Dallas on his back, a GAA of 1.30 and a SV% of .952. Dallas lost this series...are you kidding me!

Other goalies like Clemmensen, Auld, Gustavsson, etc. Are UFA's too.

*For anyone thinking "none of these guys are any good except for (so and so)" just remember, many questioned if Theodore could return to form and be a starter again after a few mediocre seasons but he's played really well for Florida. Goaltending is a tricky position to predict sometimes. Another under the radar signing was Mike Smith in Phoenix, look how that turned out.

Available via trade

A few names being rumoured include:

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota - Another bad season for the Wild, the rumours were out there at the deadline. I could see them shopping Backstrom's $6 million salary for some help up front and then re-signing Harding.

Tim Thomas, Boston - Entering the final year of his contract and coming off a slight decline this season, I could see Boston maximizing the value on Thomas and moving him either in the offseason or sometime throughout the season and handing the reigns over to Tuuka Rask. Thomas has won a Conn Smythe and 2 of the last 3 Vezina Trophy's. Even though he's getting up there I think the market would be fairly big for Timmy.

Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary - Another year of missing the playoffs and the rumblings have started that Calgary could finally start their rebuild. Moving 34 Kipper is an obvious option. Ron MacLean even suggested that this summer Calgary could shop Iginla and give him a chance to play for a true contender. If these rumours are true a young package of picks and prospects could land Kiprusoff who is still one of the NHL's best goalies, posting ridiculous stats on a bad team this season (35-22-11, 2.35, .921).

Jaroslav Halak/Brian Elliot, St.Louis - Here's a team with two good goalies, both with a couple years left on their deals going into next year. I think the results of these playoffs could determine which stays and which goes. Slight edge to stay would go to Halak right now because he played more games. Halak's numbers were stellar this year, but Elliot's were actually even better. I think Hitchcock's defensive system is flattering to goalies but still you have to give credit to the guys stopping the puck. Elliot's cap hit is $1.8 million for the next two seasons, a little less than half of what Halak makes which could make Halak the trade bait.

Cory Schneider, Vancouver - The kid has put up outrageous numbers (20-8-1, 1.96, .937 this year, 16-4-2, 2.23, .929 last year). I know the wins are going to be inflated playing in Vancouver but you can't argue that the kid has proven over the last two seasons that he can play. He's primed to have an opportunity to be a starter somewhere. If Gillis can have some faith in Luongo he could move Schneider for a very nice return.

Steve Mason, Columbus - A fresh start in Columbus for next year and Mason coming off a terrible season, the rumours are that they tried to move him leading up to the deadline but nothing happened. He's 23 and was brilliant a couple seasons ago. He carries a $2.9 million cap hit which is affordable for a team looking to roll the dice on a kid who could use a change of scenery.

Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton - One year left on his contract with the Oilers, they said the asking price was too high for 'Bulin at the deadline, but keep in mind that was a sellers market and the asking price will likely drop this summer. At the start of this year Khabibulin played outstanding hockey but with the brutal... I mean re-building Oilers in front of him, he burnt out quickly.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia - For a while this season Bob has actually been better than Bryz in Philly and he's playing the best hockey of his career. Since Bryz is locked up to the big contract Bob could be available. We all know Paul Holmgrem loves to wheel and deal so we'll see if this guy moves this summer.

Jonathan Bernier, LA - Everyones favourite unproven goalie. There's a ton of hype around this kid, and he is almost certainly available for the right price with Quick playing so well in LA. He's definitely a good prospect but time will tell if he can be a starter in the NHL. He's 19-14-5 career over the past 3 seasons, which suggests that he has earned a shot at being a starter somewhere.

Anders Lindback, Nashville - Even less proven than Bernier, but has shown flashes of being pretty good. I doubt he moves but Nashville will have some decisions to face this summer and Lindback could be a trading chip to address needs at other positions. Lindback is closer to a Bishop (acquired from St.Louis by Ottawa) in a sense that we really don't know what he could be capable of, but there is a belief out there that he could be a starting goalie at some point in the next couple of seasons.

So that's it. If anyone knows of any good rumours of anyone I may have missed I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

35 interesting UFA's for July 1st, 2012

Just looking ahead to one of the best day's of the year for any hockey fan, here are 35 player's scheduled to UFA on July 1st (some of these guys will re-sign with their current club, some may retire)


1. Zach Parise, 27 - likely to re-sign, but there is a belief that he could hit the market
2. Alex Semin, 27 - I actually think he won't stay in Washington, they need some big changes
3. Shane Doan, 35 - Probably staying with the 'Yotes, but some uncertainty there
4. Teemu Selanne, 41 - Could retire or stay in Anaheim, but when it comes to Teemu, who knows?
5. Jaromir Jagr, 40 - The man can flat out still play. Could stay in Philly, retire, or test the market
6. P.A. Parenteau, 28 - 50+ pts last year, and close to pt per game this year, could cash in
7. Olli Jokinen, 33 - honestly, would be surprised to see the rejuvenated sniper leave Calgary
8. Jason Arnott, 37 - Veteran is more of a 2nd/3rd line C now, but 15 G so far this year, decent
9. Ray Whitney, 39 - Vet has not slowed down. A bit under a pt per game again, every year
10. Brad Boyes, 29 - his last 20+ G season was in '09 (33 goals). Could be a gamble signing
11. Petr Sykora, 35 - Comeback player of the year candidate likely sticking in NJ
12. Steve Sullivan, 37 - The man can still fly out there, would be a solid addition anywhere


1. Paul Gaustad, 30 - Big 6'5" frame, he's the ideal 4th line centre
2. Dustin Penner, 29 - Brutal year aside, he still has good hockey left in him
3. Jordin Tootoo, 29 - Having a career year, could be a cap/salary casualty in Nashville
4. Brandon Prust, 27 - Posts tons of PIMS, had a career high in pts with 29 in 2011
5. Jamie Langenbrunner, 36 - former playoff hero has slowed down, but still a great leader
6. Shaun Thornton, 34 - one of the toughest grinders in the league.
7. Jarret Stoll, 29 - Having an off year, typically good for 45 pts. Reliable 3rd line C, and tough
8. Taylor Pyatt, 30 - Big 6'4" 230 lbs, gritty, veteran winger
9. Darcy Hordichuk, 31 - Tons of energy. Great agitator as a 4th line centre
10. Travis Moen, 29 - Big grinder does a lot of the little things well
11. Dan Carcillo, 27 - Major league agitator, prone to bad penalties
12. Zenon Konopka, 31 - Big 4th line centre, drops the gloves, hits, limited minutes

DEFENSE (8) *could've done way more, lots of role players out there

1. Ryan Suter, 27 - Could test the market, would be a huge prize for any team
2. Brad Stuart, 32 - Excellent steady D-man, although the Wings have some cap room to re-sign
3. Matt Carle, 27 - Matt "Hot" Carle is a quality puck mover and will get attention
4. Dennis Wideman, 28 - Quality hockey player has bounced around. Likely seeking longer term
5. Hal Gill, 36 - PK specialist and 5 on 3 king pin. Solid veteran.
6. Pavel Kubina, 34 - Slow, but still has the big shot and plays with a physical edge
7. Scott Hannan, 33 - one of the many vets scheduled to be available
8. Colin White, 34 - see Hannan. And there are more like this so I'm stopping here


1. Evgeny Nabakov, 36 - Isles trying hard to sign him. His #'s have been good this season
2. Tomas Vokoun, 35 - Having a bad year, but wouldn't be too quick to call him washed up
3. Martin Biron, 34 - Best back up out there for my money. I think he could be a 1A in a lot of towns

And that wraps it up, 35 UFA's for July 1st. Although expect half these guys not to make it to free agency, as per recent NHL trends. Oh I left of Grabovski because this was originally a Leaf wish list, then it morphed into something else.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Fire Wilson" Chants rain down at the ACC, #FIREWILSON is trending on Twitter

I have to agree with the thousands of angry fans who were at the ACC earlier tonight. Ron Wilson has to go.

This is not a good guy. He publicly blasts his players, and I think he's lost the room. He complains that he gets blamed for losses but doesn't get any credit for the wins. So what? Do you want it the other way around, Ronnie? Do you want credit for wins and no blame for losses? Well, maybe if you were in 1st place, or at least 6th, then ya we could give you credit for a winning record and go easy on you when the team is losing. But when you're in 10th place, slipping in the standings like this, and out of the playoffs for a what's looking like a 4th straight year - you get the blame.

I think this team on paper is good enough to make it ( and at one point the Budd's were playing well enough to make it, in fact, 3 weeks ago we were 4 or 5 points behind Pittsburgh, Philly, New Jersey, etc. on the cusp of fighting for home ice in the playoffs. I don't think I, and other Leaf fans like me are overreacting from one bad losing streak. I think this "Fire Wilson" mentality has existed for about as long as he's been the coach. Here is some evidence of that:
That link is for a "Fire Ron Wilson" petition that was set up in 2010, and has dated signatures from November 201o, and continued signatures leading up to tonight, where it appears a handful of angry Leaf fans, presumably googling "Fire Ron Wilson Petition" came across it and have voiced their opinions.

There is a lot more to this issue, i.e. the friendship of Burke and Wilson which I don't wish to comment on because, frankly, I find it boring. End rant.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rick Nash/Jake Gardiner - one man's take

What up. Since Leaf Nation is torn on whether or not moving Gardiner in a deal for Nash makes sense, here's my 2 cents:

Flash back to 2001, the Leafs have a deal in place that would send Kaberle, Antropov, a 1st and prospect (wanna say it was Colaiacovo) to the Bolts for Vinny Lecavalier. Pat Quinn balked because he had to give up Kabby, wanted to move Markov but that was a no-go for Tampa Bay. And so the deal fell through.

Now of course Kaberle went on to have a great career with Toronto, currently sitting at 5th on the team's all time assist list. Nik Antropov also was a very good player for us for a long time and one of our top scorers, consistantly for a few seasons.

Vinny Lecavalier scored 50 goals, 40+ on multiple occasions, cracked 100+ points in a season, racked up crazy stats, won a cup, played for Canada in the Olympics and is still a great hockey player (19 pts in 18 games last year in the playoffs!)

Holding onto Jake Gardiner would not be a bad decision by any means, and if he becomes the next Kaberle, or even comes close to replicating Kabby's stats then that's awesome. But I would always trade a great young puck moving defenseman for a stud, big forward.

Best case scenario for Jake Gardiner: He becomes a Scott Niedermayer
Likely/Optimistic scenario for Gardiner: He becomes a Liles, Kaberle, etc.
Likely/Pessimistic scenario for Gardiner: He becomes Colaiacovo, Tverdovsky, etc.

Only scenario for Nash: He is Rick Nash. Enough said.

Next, for those of you whining about holding onto our 1st rounder and some prospects. I feel you, and I don't want to throw away our future either. However, please consider this -
I want to talk about JFJ's first year at as Leafs GM. This was in 2003/04
At the trade deadline that season there were a few big names bouncing around, including Alex Kovalev who was traded from NYR to Montreal (eventually becoming the face of the franchise) and another player traded from NYR, Brian Leetch who became a Maple Leaf for:

Maxim Kondratiev, Jarko Imminen, 1st round pick (and a later pick)

A lot of people were calling into the radio station that night with mixed feelings. "We gave up a 1st rounder and 2 of our best prospects for a 38 year old..." etc. But the fact is, none of those assets amounted to anything. Statistically speaking most draft picks and prospects don't. And historically speaking the team that trades the star for the package of prospects loses in the long run. This fact transcends hockey, Drabek for Halladay, those (Williams? Wilson?) brothers and Alonso Mourning for Vince Carter... (burnt Toronto Sports fan rant).

Of course this isn't 2004, we don't have Sundin, Roberts, Renberg, Mogilny, Nolan, Nieuwendyk, McCabe, Kaberle, Antropov, Reichel, Ron Francis... what a team! But Rick Nash is also not a 38 year old Brian Leetch. This is a move both for now and the future, and its one the Leafs should make.

Let's assume Gardiner is a MUST from Columbus's end, and especially to out bid the Rangers, and a 1st rounder is a given. The other pieces would include 2 of Frattin, Colbourne, Kadri, and the Jackets could possibly have interest in Keith Aulie, Nikolai Kulemin, or Korbinian Holzer as a little icing in the cake.

So I figure it would cost us:
1st rounder

Fat package. All 3 guys have some NHL experience, all are young, all have varying degrees of potential/upside. None are statistically or reasonably likely to ever be as good as Rick Nash will be for the next 5-10 years. This would be a good short/long term move.

Anyway's, 1 guys opinion.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trade Deadline Top 25 Available Forwards

Less than 1 week before the NHL trade deadline. Check this out:

These are the top 15 most talked about names in rumours, including only players who are scheduled UFA's on July 1.

1. Teemu Selanne, ANA
2. Alex Semin, WAS
3. Shane Doan, PHX
4. Ales Hemsky, EDM
5. Ray Whitney, PHX
6. Mikhail Grabovski, TOR
7. PA Parenteau, NYI
8. Tuomo Ruutu, CAR * signed extension with Hurricanes
9. Mike Knuble, WAS
10. Brad Boyes, BUF
11. Paul Gaustad, BUF
12. Sami Pahlsson, CBJ
13. Andre Kostitsyn, MTL
14. Wojtek Wolski, NYR
15. Dustin Penner, LAK

Top 10 Available Forwards, non-UFA
This list includes players who are not UFA but rumoured to be available. They're either under contract for next year or are RFA's. A lot of these players are dealt at the draft and in the offseason but some get dealt at the deadline.

player, age. length of contract @ cap hit
1. Rick Nash, 27. 6 years @$7.8 mil
2. Jeff Carter, 27. 9 years @$5.3 mil *traded to LA
3. Paul Stastny, 26. 3 years @$6.6 mil
4. Bobby Ryan, 24. 3 years @$5.1 mil
5. Brendan Morrow, 32. 1 year @$4.1 mil
6. Vinny Lecavalier, 32. 7 years @$7.7 mil
7. Sam Gagner, 22. RFA
8. Derek Roy, 28. 1 year @$4 mil (*actual dollars $5.5 mil, could limit trade value)
9. Ryan Malone, 31. 3 years @$4.5 mil
10. Antoine Vermette, 28. 4 years @$3.75 mil *traded to Phoenix

- Dustin Brown may or may not be traded. But his name has come up with Carter in LA
- Steve Ott has been added to the rumour mill as well.