15 Points to Consider – Holiday Edition

Jeff Angus




Elliotte Friedman's weekly 30 Thoughts column on the CBC website is currently the best read in hockey. Friedman is insightful, articulate, knowledgeable, fair, and most importantly, interesting. He has sources and contacts in the hockey world that most could only dream of. He has an ability which is rare in this day and age – providing a balanced and reasonable opinion on the league, the players, and all 30 of the clubs.


Each week I will post my own observations (I couldn't completely steal Friedman's idea so I'll pick a number other than 30) – with a heavy emphasis on the fantasy side of hockey, of course. Prospects, goalies, sleepers, busts, it will all be covered each week.


1. Ryan Van Horne and Matt Bugg will be releasing comprehensive World Junior preview columns this weekend. The American team is big, fast, and talented. Chris Kreider, Jerry D'Amigo, and Jeremy Morin (if Chicago chooses to release him) should all be among the top scorers at the tournament. The Canadian forward I am most looking forward to watch play is Brett Connolly.


2.  Keep an eye on the Sharks in January – they need a top four defenseman badly. A few possible fits out there include Pavel Kubina and Francois Beauchemin.


3. Erik Karlsson is playing tremendous hockey – I wonder what kind of point totals he would be putting up if he were on a good offensive hockey club? He has eight points in his last seven games and is now on pace for just under 50.


4. Corey Perry is a fascinating player to watch. How he is able to be so dominant offensively while going out of his way to annoy every single person on the ice at the same time (refs, teammates, opponents) is extremely impressive. He doesn't get enough credit for how hard he works – I remember him in the OHL, and he was one of the worst skaters in that league. Kudos to him for turning a weakness into a strength in only a few years.


5. Andrej Meszaros bears watching with Chris Pronger out. For whatever reason he didn't fit with the Lightning, but he is a solid defenseman and is capable of playing a bigger offensive role with the Flyers than he has to date – Pronger's absence is his opportunity to do that.


6. Mike Green is caught between a rock and a hard place right now. He looks completely uncomfortable trying to change his game to fit with the more balanced  system Bruce Boudreau is attempting to employ this season with the Capitals. Green probably listened to the media too much during the summer – he had a difficult postseason, but he is at his best when he is playing like a fourth forward.


Sure, he may not be great in his own zone, but his offense more than makes up for it.  I really don't get what Washington is trying to do – are they caving to outside pressures? Stick with the system that worked last season.


7. Many were confused when the Penguins spent all of their available cap space this past summer on two defensemen instead of a winger. Right now that decision is paying off in spades, for a few reasons. The defence has been stifling all season long (especially from Zbynek Michalek). More importantly, having mobile defensemen like Michalek, Goligoski, Martin, and Letang who can both skate with and move the puck very ef