I thoroughly enjoyed putting together the 2007-2008 Prime Cuts squad. To make the team, a player must show something beyond the stat sheet. Similar to TSN broadcaster Pierre McGuire's annual “Monsters Team,” the Prime Cuts squad is chalk-full of intangibles such as heart, determination, hockey IQ, two-way play, grit, and clutch scoring ability. Most of the players on this squad are also under appreciated (in both fantasy and real hockey circles). There are obviously some big stars on this team – the usual suspects – but there are also some under-the-radar players who you may not have noticed this season for whatever reason. (How's that for a rhyme?) Starting today, a section of the team will be released to DobberHockey every few days until the regular season wraps up, when the full roster will be completed.
In 2007-2008 I started the Prime Cuts with a bang, as my first installment contained the top forward line, the top defensive pairing, and the starting goalie. This year, I am going start from the bottom and work my way up. This first piece will contain the backup goaltender, the third defensive pairing, and the fourth forward unit. I was debating whether or not to pick a coach, but I figured that if I did that I may have to alter my selection criteria a bit (however just for the record, Nashville's Barry Trotz would have been my choice).
The Backup: Scott Clemmensen
The backup goalie in the NHL is a position that requires one to possess a combination of door-opening and gum-chewing abilities. It also requires a very unique mental makeup, as backups must sit and watch, but always be mentally and physically ready to step in to any situation (like when a star goalie suffers a serious tendon tear). Is that a strong enough clue?
Scott Clemmensen is my choice to fill the role of backup, for several reasons. Despite a brief one year stint in Toronto , Clemmensen has been within the Devils for over a decade. He has earned his stripes in the AHL, and was handed a huge opportunity earlier this season when Marty Brodeur suffered a torn biceps tendon. However, Clemmensen still had to beat out Kevin Weekes, and deal with the numerous trade rumors that had the Devils receiving a replacement goaltender. Clemmensen stepped in and the Devils didn't skip a beat. He posted an impressive 25 wins in only 40 starts, as well as a sparkling .917 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average. When Brod