Tag Archives: Joe Thornton

Bobby Ryan traded… in my keeper pool

Photo by Elliot, via Wikimedia Commons

Hello Bobby Ryan. Welcome to my keeper pool team. Try not to suck.

So I recently made the decision that I needed to make a move in the keeper pool.

I was in eighth place out of 10. I tried to make a move to move up in the standings, but no one was biting. So I decided that I needed to make a move the other way, and try to trade players that I couldn’t keep at the end of the season anyways.

So I made said move: I traded Joe Thornton, Teemu Selanne and a fourth rounder in 2013 for Bobby Ryan and a first in 2013.

This was a move designed to help both teams. It gave Andrew more depth, as he makes a run at first place. As for me, I get a great young player in Ryan (a former #2 overall pick, selected just behind Sidney Crosby). He’s young, had tremendous talent, and should be a solid keeper on my team for years.

I couldn’t keep Selanne at the end of the year. Because of expansion (we’re going up by two teams), we can only protect eight forwards, five defencemen, two goalies, and a rookie. So Selanne was dead weight on my team, so to speak.

The way I look at it, I traded Thornton and a fourth rounder for Ryan and a first. To me, that’s an upgrade on a keeper (maybe not this season, but in a couple of years as Thornton starts to slow down due to age) and an upgrade on a pick. For Andrew, he looks at it as trading away an underachiever and a first for two solid players who could get him 80 points this year.

Right now, my team looks like this (players in bold I plan on keeping):

Forwards: Malkin, Stamkos, Parise, Hall, Duchene, E. Kane, Ryan, Zetterberg, Granlund (rookie), Jagr, Kadri

Defence: Weber, Markov, Streit, Boyle, Murphy

Goalies: Miller, Niemi, Brodeur

Of course, all this could still change. A major trade offer comes my way that sees me improve upon a position. Or my guys magically stop sucking (I’m looking at you Parise and Zetterberg) and I make a run at it. Or my players stay healthy all season (ie- Miller, Markov, Hall, Jagr).

But I’m happy with my team. It’s pretty solid. I could use improvement at defence, but I think those are five solid defencemen once they’re all healthy and playing.

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33 NHL thoughts

I tried this once before, and I liked it way it turned out. I have a lot of different thoughts about the NHL, and this is a chance to get all of them out in one quick column.

Mark Canter photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Why would Chris Phillips want to stay in Ottawa?

So once again, here are my 33 NHL thoughts for the week.

1. There’s been rumours that Chris Neil may wind up in Montreal. That’s not a good fit though. The Habs play a fast speedy game. Taking one allegedly “tough” player and putting him in that system wouldn’t scare teams like the Boston Bruins or Philadelphia Flyers. If anything, it weakens Montreal’s style, since Neil is neither fast nor speedy.

2. Sens defenceman Chris Phillips wants to stay in Ottawa and be part of the rebuild. Isn’t this just like Tomas Kaberle? For years, some in the media have thought Kaberle just didn’t care to win, and wanted to stay on a losing team instead of accepting a trade elsewhere. Now Phillips is saying the same thing.

3. Just noticed that James Wisniewski’s stick is half white. I wonder if that gives him an advantage when shooting as goalies may not see it winding up as quickly as normal sticks. Also, would it give an advantage to Wisniewski’s shot blocking?

4. I’ve been really impressed with Benoit Pouliot this year. He’s probably the only Habs player that hasn’t played a bad game. He plays well, no matter what his linemates. He forechecks well, plays strong in the defensive zone, and makes plays. While he may not score in every game, he gives it his all, and that’s all you can ask of him.

5. Not understanding the love for Ryan Kesler for the Hart trophy. He’s not even one of the top two choices on the Canucks, much less one of the top three in the league. Yet there are plenty of stories being written about him having a shot at the trophy.

6. If I had a vote, my pick for the Hart would be Steven Stamkos. My second choice would be Tim Thomas (he doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done when it comes to the Hart voting). Third is Daniel Sedin.

Bridget Samuels photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael Grabner should win the Calder trophy.

7. While everyone has been talking about Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture and Michael Grabner for the Calder trophy, I think Rangers rookie Derek Stepan is a dark horse choice to be nominated.

8. That being said, Grabner is my call to win the Calder. He’s a plus-11 on a horrific Islanders team, has three shorthanded goals, leads all rookies with 25 goals and has only six penalty minutes. And he gets about three minutes less of ice time per game than most other rookies.

9. Would love to see a rematch in the playoffs with the Bruins-Flyers. A hard-hitting series with the Bruins looking for revenge for last year’s playoffs, when they lost a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers.

10. What has happened to Jonas Gustavsson? He went from being the Monster, to #3 in the Leafs organization. He was supposed to be a stud goalie, but he’s quickly turned into a dud.

11. Chicago’s penalty kill is going to give them trouble in the playoffs, if they make it in. They’re 27th in the league om the PK. In the playoffs, when special teams matter, that’s going to give them trouble.

12. Craig Anderson in Ottawa is not a good thing. Sure, he looked good against the Leafs, but that’s not really telling anything, since the Leafs have traded more talent away in the past two weeks then the Sens have completely. But it would be a mistake if Ottawa GM Bryan Murray signed Anderson. The Sens should have learned from the Pascal Leclaire fiasco: do not go after goalies who have only had one great year. You’ll be disappointed.

13. By the way, shouldn’t the new Ottawa GM be making these decisions? Murray will be gone this summer, so why saddle the new GM with Anderson?

14. Congrats to Dave and Holly. Two of my good friends got married a couple of weeks ago. Dave reads this site regularly, and is a big Habs fan. Even though we don’t agree on everything, he’s pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the NHL. And Holly is also a huge Habs fan, and a pretty solid defenceman on our co-ed team to boot. Congrats again guys!

15. Marc Savard’s injury is the only reason the Bruins could trade for Tomas Kaberle. That cap space saved from him being on the injured reserve cleared the way for the Bruins to make a big move.

Bridget Samuels photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado overpaid for Erik Johnson.

16. Colorado overpaid for Erik Johnson. Kevin Shattenkirk is probably not too far behind Johnson in development, and Chris Stewart is a dynamite young forward who was tearing up the league before injuring his hand earlier this year. Bad move on Colorado’s part.

17. Not sure why Colorado would want Brian Elliott. The guy hasn’t proven to win, yet they’re hoping he can bring them to the playoffs? Colorado has made some bad moves lately.

18. The trade deadline will be dead this year. With so many teams already making their deals, there won’t be a lot of dynamite deals left. Take Montreal, for instance. They have already made their moves to shore up their defence, first getting Wisniewski, and then Paul Mara. Unless they decide to trade for more offence, there won’t be any more major deals coming from them. 

19. Less and less no trade clauses should be coming in the next few years. Teams have found it extremely difficult to get rid of players they don’t want because of no trade clauses. Kaberle, Phillips, Gonchar, etc. All tough to move if they won’t waive their clauses.

20. Something that would be nice to include in the next CBA: a chance for teams to pay for salaries of traded players. For example, Wade Redden. If the Rangers could trade him, and agree to pay half his contract, both teams are happy. The Rangers would save $3 million in cap space each year, while the team trading for him would only accept $3 million in cap space. It would also do away with a lot of drama that comes with players and whether or not teams could afford them. It could make way for more trades, as teams near the cap could make more deals.

21. Joe Thornton is getting old, and look for this season to be a sign of things to come. He’s having an off year, and I don’t think he can get 100 points again. He’s 31, about to become 32 years old. You know how many players had 100 point seasons at the age of 32 or over? Only 10 (Gretzky, Esposito, Howe, Dionne, Jagr, Francis, Bucyk, Ratelle, Sakic and Alfredsson).  I don’t think Thornton will join them. The Sharks should probably trade him before his value dips too much.

22. If the NBA and the NFL don’t have seasons next year (or delayed ones), the NHL is in a great spot to capture new fans. Baseball had trouble getting fans back after the cancelled World Series in 1994, and hockey was only able to come back so quickly thanks to the new rules. If either the NBA or NFL are out for a while, then hockey will be one of the only sports to watch, once the World Series is over.

23. Everyone’s been blasting Mario Lemieux recently, and I think it’s well deserved. It’s crazy that he comes out, when his team leads the league in fighting and penalties, and talks about how bad the Islanders were during the brawl (and that’s not even including the fact Matt Cooke is the dirtiest player in the game). But the worst is the end of his statement, when he threatened to take his ball and go home. Look Mario, the league survived fine without you for years, and if you don’t want to be a part of it, then leave.

Connormah photo, via Wikimedia Commons

The problem with Ovechkin's scoring is simple: he's not as dirty.

24. The problem with Alex Ovechkin this season is simple. Last year, he was one of the dirtiest players in the game. This year, he’s changed his style so he’s stopped injuring people. That means he’s not as aggressive, and it’s showing. But, it’s a lot better he play this way than his reckless style that he used to do.

25. Even though the Penguins keep winning without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, they won’t get far in the playoffs with a top superstar. Every team needs a player that is required to come through when it counts. Pittsburgh doesn’t have that right now, and would be lucky to win a round with the squad they have.

26. Sens fans need to be patient with a rebuild. Look at the Oilers now. Despite young top level talent from good draft picks thanks to bad seasons, they’re still one of the worst teams in the league. It’s the same with Chicago, Pittsburgh, Tampa, etc. When you’re rebuilding a team, you need quite a few years to turn things around.

27. Anaheim has shown this season what can happen when you overwork your #1 goalie. Jonas Hiller needed to take time off for fatigue, and the Ducks have suffered since. Montreal and Buffalo are a couple of teams that should pay attention to that.

28. My picks to miss the playoffs in the West out of the logjam: Nashville, Calgary and Dallas. Nashville because they don’t have that top level talent at forward to carry the team on his back, Calgary because their players will have to come back to normal sooner or later, and Dallas because of the fact Brad Richards is out for a bit with a concussion. Crosby has shown that there’s no such thing as a mild concussion.

29. In the east, I don’t really see anyone catching Carolina. The Rangers would be my only guess as to who has a chance to miss the playoffs, but as long as Marian Gaborik stays healthy, they should be okay. (Note, I wrote that line hours before Gaborik received a concussion in the Rangers game yesterday, but thought I should keep it in).

30. It still amazes me at how good Detroit is. They’re the highest scoring team in the league right now (per game average). And that’s with a lot of injuries to a lot of key guys. It’s crazy how good that team is, from top to bottom.

31. At the same time, Montreal needs more scoring help. They’re 25th in the league in goals for per game, and 28th in shooting percentage. Sure, injuries to guys like Andrei Markov and Mike Cammalleri hurt, but every team deals with injuries, so that can’t be used as an excuse. It’ll be hard for them to sneak up on teams in the playoffs this season and create upsets. Teams will be ready for them.

32. Since the all-star break, no team has scored more goals than the New York Islanders. Once they get Mark Streit back next season to help man their powerplay, the team should be playoff-contenders, especially since their young guys will have more experience. They still need a top goalie, but teams have done more with less.

33. Is there a curse of the Kraft Hockeyville? Since having a competition where an NHL exhibition game would be played at a community arena in a small town, teams participating haven’t had a lot of success. If the Sens and the Sabres miss the playoffs (both are out of a playoff spot right now), that means only three of 10 teams participating in Kraft Hockeyville made the playoffs in the season they participated in.

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San Jose Sharks preview

Overview: It’s the same old, same old for the San Jose Sharks.

A great regular season, but unless they get to the actual Stanley Cup finals, the year will be seen as a disappointment.

Management showed confidence in the team by bringing back all the same players, and now it’s up to the players to show management that they made the right move.

Best offseason move: Signing Antti Niemi. The Sharks were getting no where with Evgeni Nabokov, and he wanted too much money, so the Sharks let him walk (all the way to Russia and the KHL). Niemi has a Stanley Cup trophy, but it will be interesting to see if he can continue to play well without as good a defence in front of him.

Worst offseason move: Not getting better for a playoff run. Losing Rob Blake will hurt this team in the postseason because of all the intangibles he brings. This team just can’t win with the roster they have now. It’s almost identical to the roster they’ve had the past couple of years (except for the goalie), but they can’t seem to get over that hump. Not bringing in someone that could help them in the postseason should be a major letdown for Sharks fans.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Joe Thornton for the Art Ross.

Pool pick: Ryane Clowe. He’s getting tougher, getting more assists, and knows how to score. If he can crack the top two lines, he should be good for 75 points. If he stays on the third line, expect about 55 from him. Who to stay away from: Joe Pavelski. Don’t be fooled by his postseason and his new contract. Pavelski will hover around the 50-point mark.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the top 30 all-time points leaders in Sharks history?

Best hall of fame choice: Joe Thornton. He’s an iffy player to make it in. He has the points (931), and is only 31 years old. So he should make it to about 1,300 easily. But he won’t make 400 goals, and doesn’t have a Cup ring. There’s also a stigma about him that he disappears come playoff time. But he does a Hart trophy and an Art Ross trophy. But he needs that Stanley Cup to push him over the edge. 

Blog to follow: Fear The Fin

My Prediction: First in the Pacific, first in the West

Famous celebrity from that city: Linda Park

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Round two predictions

I know I’m a couple of days late on my second round predictions, but that doesn’t matter.

First round winners were 3-5 in the first game of the series. That shows that losing the first game isn’t really that big of a deal, and teams are able to come back from an early deficit. So I’m not worried if a couple of my picks are already down in the series.

I did pretty well in the first round. I got six series correct, missing on only the Canucks-Kings and Sabres-Bruins. I correctly predicted the Habs and Flyers upsets (one of the most frustrating things of reading “expert” picks is that they rarely predict upsets, instead of going with the easy picks), and even correctly predicted the amount of games for the Wings-Coyotes and Sharks-Avalanche.

Here are my picks for round 2:

Montreal Canadiens vs Pittsburgh Penguins: I realize a lot of people don’t like Pierre McGuire, but I would give almost anything to be able to listen to him on TSN again instead of the guys on CBC. The CBC guys are brutal. Garry Galley is such a Sens homer that he can’t get excited for anyone else. Bob Cole seems to be five seconds behind the play. And Glen Healy doesn’t add anything from ice level. The worst is that the three guys seem to interrupt each other frequently, and we never get updates. On TSN, they’ll keep updating us on shots, blocks, hits, etc. For the CBC, I need to keep track of those things by logging onto my laptop and going to NHL.com. Not a good sign.

The other problem is that at some point in Game 1, Montreal thought they had scored. A Habs player was pointing into the net, but instead of acknowlding a possible goal, we were treated to a discussion about how great Sidney Crosby is on the faceoffs.

The analysis is bad, and we don’t actually learn anything. Please TSN, I’m begging you. Bring back the Habs if you can. Offer CBC the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. Make a trade where CBC gets Jennifer Hedger. Anything. But don’t let me listen to a long series of Cole, Healy and Galley.

Anyways, my pick is Habs in seven.

Philadelphia Flyers vs Boston Bruins: Forget for a minute the whole Marc Savard coming back and being an inspirational story. It’s the Flyers injuries that are the problem.

First, Jeff Carter is out for quite a while. That’s only 33 goals this season and 46 goals last year gone from the lineup. Simon Gagne is injured (lather, rinse and repeat), meaning a fast-skating scoring threat is gone. And Ian Laperriere is also done with after blocking a shot with his face. For Laperriere it’s not the goal-scoring they’ll miss, but the grit he brings to the ice.

And the worst thing for the Flyers is that Daniel Carcillo is still playing. He was in the penalty box when Boston made it 3-1 in game 1. He tries to be like Claude Lemieux, but he’s not as smart and doesn’t get away with as much stuff as Lemieux did. It’s going to end up costing the Flyers a game.

I think it would be great if Zdeno Chara and Chris Pronger got involved in some sort of on-ice altercation, but that doesn’t generally happen, since their opponents won’t be small enough for them to want to do something.

My pick is Bruins in six.

Detroit Red Wings vs San Jose Sharks: Let’s see: It’s playoff hockey, and Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley aren’t doing much. They had an easy team in the first round, but are now playing someone tougher. And there are questions about their heart.

Yup, sounds like the annual Sharks postseason. Yes, they won the first game of the series, but Detroit was tired, after playing a game 7 against the Phoenix Coyotes. And even then, it was a close game. I expect the Red Wings to bounce back in a big way.

My pick is Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks: When I made my top 10 playoff predictions a few weeks back, one of them was that Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo would have a game where he lets in at least seven goals.

I was thinking of this series when I made that prediction. In game six last year in a series between these two teams, he let in seven goals. Against the L.A. Kings in the first round, he got pulled in a game after allowing four goals on 16 shots in about half a game.

The Blackhawks have a much better offensive team, and can ring up the goals no problem. I expect the Blackhawks to get better as the series goes along.

My pick is Chicago in six.

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San Jose Sharks preview

The San Jose Sharks have been one of the best teams in the regular season the past few years, but one of the biggest disappointments when it comes to the playoffs.

No one seems to know why. They just don’t get the timely scoring when it counts the most, despite the amount of talent they have.

With a new coach and a revamped blueline, they’re hoping to get over the hump this year.

Forwards: Joe Thornton will be a beast this year, at least in the regular season. The former Bruin has shone on the west coast. Last year’s point total of 92 was his lowest in three years. That’s a pretty good letdown. Thornton is able to stay physical and is hard to knock off the puck.

Patrick Marleau is the captain of the team, but needs to prove it this year. His numbers have gone down each of the last three seasons, to a disappointing 48 points last year, and a career-worse minus 19.

Milan Michalek and Joe Pavelski are two young players on the team that are improving every season. They should be getting more ice time this year and increased productivity as a result.

Defence: The Sharks overhauled their defence this year. They traded for Dan Boyle, who missed a lot of time last season due to a freak injury. But he’s been durable the rest of his career, so the Sharks are expecting big numbers out of him.

The Sharks also signed Rob Blake. While he may not be the offensive threat he once was, he will bring leadership to the blueline that was missing before. He’ll be counted on to kill penalties, play strong defensively and be an all-around force back there.

Goaltending: Evgeni Nabokov is the team’s number one goalie, and would probably be the number one goalie on all but three teams. Last season, he first in games played and wins, and top five in goals against and shutouts. The Sharks just need to be careful they don’t play him too much and tire him out, especially in the tough Western conference.

Pool picks:Take a chance on Ryan Clowe. I don’t just say that because he’s a Newfie, but because he’s due for a breakout year. He’ll probably be off a lot of radars because he has a tendency to get injured often, but if he’s able to play a full season, he should be able to get 60 points. Stay away from: Jonathan Cheechoo. Despite having every opportunity to play on the top line, Cheechoo’s numbers have gone down every season, resulting in only 37 points last year. Chances are he won’t rebound from that.

Miscellaneous: The Sharks have been on the Stanley Cup contenders for the past four seasons, but could never get over the hump to get to the finals. So the team fired coach Ron Wilson, and hired Todd McLellan as the new coach. The Sharks soon have to win the Cup, because teams can’t stay Stanley Cup favourites for long.

Expected finish: Second in the Pacific division, fourth in the Western conference.

Overall: The Sharks will enjoy another stellar season. They’ll be a tough team to play against, and will win the majority of their games. However, they’ll only be judged based on how they do in the playoffs, and that’s a long six months away.

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