Chris Mason sure hasn’t done much to boost his value this summer at the WHC over the past few weeks. He had another brutal game, allowing a few soft goals against a vastly superior Russian squad.
The Florida Panthers are introducing a more “intimate” seating system for this coming season. What does that mean? They are essentially covering the last six rows (2500 seats) with tarps. Genius planning!
Today’s fantasy hockey audit will be up around 1 or 2pm EST. I’ll be taking a look at AJ’s team (known as tml4ever on the message boards).
Made some more wallpapers! Join the DobberHockey Wolfpack! Some of the other new ones include Thornton, Gustavsson, Kovalchuk, and Datsyuk.
Ruslan Fedotenko has to be one of the most inconsistent playoff performers in NHL history. He has had two fantastic playoffs. Last year with the Penguins, he scored seven goals in 24 games, and he scored 12 in 22 games with the Lightning back in 2004 (19 goals in 46 games during those two cup-winng runs). Besides those two though, he has one goal in 37 career playoff games (including zero in six this season). I was doing research for a Penguins column (the need for a scoring winger or two) and came across this.
I am working on my next top 10 list, and this time I am going to focus on combo players (those that get points and rack up penalty minutes). I am trying to find a fair cut off, so the likes of Crosby and Malkin aren't on the list. I want to focus on players like Steve Downie, David Backes, and Alex Burrows. Do any of you have ideas or suggestions for how to formulate the criteria?
James Neal, one of my favourite young players in the league, is working out with Gary Roberts this summer. Does that mean he will score 51 goals last season? (Stamkos trained with Roberts last summer…). Neal was dominant for the first two months of the 2009-10 season, but he faded during the final few months. Any improvement to his fitness and conditioning is going to be fantastic – I wouldn't at all be surprised to see him around the 35-40 goal mark. Brad Richards looks rejuvenated in Dallas, and Neal (along with Loui Eriksson) is going to benefit substantially.
Some point to Neal's suspension for hitting Derek Dorsett from behind as the beginning of his downfall – he seemed to play less aggressively after the incident.
Apparently Nashville, Chicago, and St. Louis have expressed interest in Marcel Muller. Muller had 56 points in 53 DEL games this past season with Kolner Haie. He turns 22 in July. I remember being impressed with his game during the Olympics – he projects as more of an energy player in the NHL, but he has decent size and speed, and he plays with a physical edge. Perhaps we have some German readers who can shed some more light on Muller.
Anton Babchuk is expected back with Carolina next season. He'll probably side into the second pairing with Tim Gleason or Jamie McBain. He had 16 goals and 35 points with the Hurricanes back in 2008-09, but spent last season in Russia, playing in Omsk with Jaromir Jagr. 12 of his 16 goals came in the final 24 games of that season, so that number may be a bit misleading. He has an absolute bomb of a shot, but has yet to put it all together. He'll be on a one-year deal, so the motivation to produce will definitely be there.
Avangard Omsk has signed Brenden Bell to replace Babchuk on the back end. Bell failed to deliver in the NHL after a very successful junior career with the Ottawa 67’s. He had 21 points in 55 games for the Senators last season, which is very good production from a depth defenseman, but he wasn’t given a shot in 2009-10. He ended up in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch, recording 35 points in 49 games.
Bell was often compared to Ian White, as the two came through Toronto’s system together. Bell was picked in the 3rd round in 2001, White was taken a year later in the 6th round. Bell had 14 goals and 53 points in his best junior season, while White had 24 goals and 68 points in his. During the lockout, they played together for the Leafs AHL affiliate. Bell had six goals and 25 assists, while White had four goals and 22 assists. On paper, their careers appear to be very similar. However, White improved his game dramatically after finally earning a regular shift with the Leafs back in 2008, and is now considered an integral part of the (soon to be) retooling Calgary Flames.
Jordan Eberle and Magus Paajarvi-Svensson had some nice things to say about each other to TSN yesterday. Hall-Eberle-Paajarvi-Svensson? Or perhaps Hall will shift to center? Either way, the Oilers will have three elite offensive prospects in their system. Paajarvi-Svensson is leading Sweden in scoring at the WHC (and he only recently turned 19), and Eberle is doing what he does best – step his game up at the international level.
Completely separate from fantasy hockey, but a funny story nonetheless. Georges St. Pierre and Georges Laraque are going to have a grappling match this Friday on TSN's Off the Record.
“First we will do a wrestling match, because he believes that he is going to be able to put me down at will, and I believe that I am going to be able to put him down at will,” explained St-Pierre.
Henrik Sedin was voted as the best player by his peers according to a Sporting News Poll. Considering most of these players vote for the Ted Lindsay award as well, I think it is safe to say Henrik is the front-runner for that.
Danny Briere is creeping his way into Conn Smythe discussions with his 18 playoff points. He has scored in nine of the past 11 games, and in each of Philadelphia's last four (all wins, of course). He has looked great on a line with Richards and Carcillo.
Another Flyer who has impressed is Simon Gagne, who is playing like its 2007 again. I was a bit surprised looking at Gagne's stats to see that he has averaged 73 points in his last three full seasons. Injuries have pushed him out of the spotlight a bit – he played 58 games this season, and only 25 in 2008-09.
Atlanta has good depth on the back end, but don't be surprised to see prospect Arturs Kulda make the jump up to the NHL next season. Kulda had six goals and 25 points with the Chicago Wolves last season, and he led the AHL with an impressive plus-47 rating. He plays sound defense and has good size. His best junior season saw him record 34 points in 55 games (with the Kitchener Rangers). His upside in the NHL isn't high, but he plays like a veteran, and that poise will allow him to see more minutes than most rookies do. He could be worth watching if your league is deep and a premium is placed on defensemen.
No NHL hockey yesterday, but I found some videos nonetheless!
A beauty save from one of the best hockey games in the modern era. Game Six between San Jose and Dallas back in 2008. Dallas ended up winning after Brenden Morrow scored in quadruple overtime. Back to the save – Nabokov steals a sure goal from Richards:
NHL Plays of the Week – May 11th-18th:
Patrick Kane with a goal (from last season) that us mortals can only shake our heads at: