December 27, 2013

steve laidlaw

2013-12-27

How many of you got up early to catch the opening match of the World Juniors? 

 

I did and it was certainly worth it. It was a fast-paced messy game with lots of errors made by both sides. The type of game that drips with entertainment value because of the high end skill but also so much exuberance that it becomes a challenge to harness it. If you've found yourself only watching NHL games you really ought to treat yourself by going down to the local rink once in a while. The play won't be anywhere near as technical or skillful but there's a beauty in watching the game played in an imperfect way.

 

Canada, as you'd expect, clearly had the superior squad and it showed but that didn't prevent the game from being entertaining. I guess what I am saying is, I really love the World Juniors.

 

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I'm starting to understand why the Minnesota Wild decided to keep Matt Dumba on the roster rather than sending him back to Junior for another year. What happens when Dumba plays against players his own age is his wild side comes out. He takes a ton of chances and because he's so skilled they pay off at this level. At the NHL level, not so much.

 

 

Canada stands to benefit a great deal if Dumba's gambits pay off more often than not. But the point is, Dumba isn't really learning what it takes to be an NHLer when he plays against his peers so this is one of those situations where sticking in the NHL and playing little might actually be better for him.

 

I'm curious to see how Dumba plays against stiffer competition because the Germany game was one where he could definitely take big risks. Taking on some of the real contenders will be an opportunity to show what he's learned in the pros.

 

I expect to see Dumba playing at the AHL level next year as that would seem to be the appropriate level for his talents. It just happens that he's one of those prospects caught in between but with no AHL option. He could surprise though because he's clearly got talent.

 

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Anthony Mantha is looking like a really solid pick by the Red Wings. He has a real nose for the net, which has always been the scouting report. His hat-trick yesterday quite clearly highlighted his goal scoring talent.

 

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Despite his two-point game I wasn't all that impressed with potential 2014 #1 pick Sam Reinhart. Just seemed to me like a decent player kind of floating along and fitting in with other talent rather than being a real stud. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that. Not everyone can be a star and players need to fill roles, I just don't think that that's what a team is looking for at the top of the draft.

 

To be fair to Reinhart though, he is playing underage and out of position in this tournament. I was just much more impressed with Reinhart's linemates Bo Horvat and Connor McDavid. And McDavid is also playing underage and out of position so by contrast you can see why I would be down on Reinhart.

 

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Check out NHL.com's latest Canadian Olympic team projection.

 

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Another good read from NHL.com is their mid-season Fantasy Rankings.

 

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Some great stuff in Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts:

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19. One change head coach Peter Horachek made upon arriving in Florida was making big, young Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad his top two centres. Kevin Dineen used the former, but not the latter, who didn’t play more than 13:44 in any gam