Tag Archives: Mark Recchi

What newly retired players should make the Hall of Fame?

Photo by Håkan Dahlström, via Wikimedia Commons

Should Peter Forsberg make the Hall of Fame?

This year, we have seen a lot of big name NHL players retire. In four years, they will all be eligible for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

However, not all of them can make it. Despite a lot of people thinking there are too many good — and not necessarily great — players being inducted into the Hall of Fame, there’s still a lot of talent out there that should be considered.

This year’s retirees so far include Craig Conroy, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Fredrik Modin, Brian Rafalski, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya, Todd Marchant, Chris Osgood, Patrick Lalime and Kris Draper.

But how to decide who should make the Hall of Fame? There’s no real criteria used by the voting committee, as most of it is secretive. But there are some indicators about who should make it.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post explaining why Daniel Alfredsson doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. With a couple of tweaks, I figured most of those criteria could be used to judge whether a newly-retired player deserves to make it.

Those 10 criteria are: Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons (ie- 50 goals), considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Some of these can’t really be measured. Intangibles, for example. Scott Stevens is the perfect example of this. While he meets the criteria of leadership, Stanley Cups and individual award, Stevens is mostly known for his thundering bodychecks, which gave him a reputation that certainly helped in his bid for the Hall.

Now, a player doesn’t need to have all of these to make it. But, the more they have, the better. The less they have, the worst the chance.

So far, 10 players have officially retired since the end of the regular season. For this post though, I’m going to include two more players who retired during last season who would be eligible for the hall of fame at the same time as the 10 during this summer.

Below are the 12 players, in order that they retired. I’ve bolded the criteria that each player meets.

Craig Conroy – 0% chance

Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

While a serviceable player, Conroy doesn’t meet any of the criteria on this list, and won’t be making a trip to the Hall of Fame, unless he gets invited to Jarome Iginla’s induction sometime in the future.

Peter Forsberg – 80% chance

Stanley Cups (two), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Although Forsberg meets seven of the 10 criteria, he falls into the Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros conundrum: Great players who could have made the Hall of Fame if they had played enough games. Unfortunately, Forsberg’s ankles were more brittle than Rick Dipietro.

But there’s no denying his impact on the game. While he never had a monster season, he was a consistent player, netting more than a point-per-game average for every season except for his last. In 2001-2002, he didn’t play a single regular season game, and then somehow managed 27 points in 20 playoff games. What rust?

He was a beast on the world stage, winning Olympic gold three times, and managed to get a World Championship gold in there as well. In 1993, Forsberg somehow managed 31 points in seven games at the World Junior Championships.

He has a Hart trophy, an Art Ross trophy, was featured on a stamp in Sweden for this Olympic shootout goal, and is fourth all-time in points by a Swedish-born player.

But in the end, if you look at his final numbers, it would be tough to let him in. Only 249 goals, 885 points. Lindros has about 100 more goals, and only 20 less points, yet some don’t believe The Big E should be in there.

I think Forsberg will eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, but he’s not a first ballot guy.

Adam Foote – 0% chance

Stanley Cups (two), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Adam Foote may have two Stanley Cup rings, an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship, but he’s got no chance at the Hall of Fame.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the guy as a player. A tough defensive defenceman, Foote was a leader on the Colorado Avalanche Cup winning teams. But he doesn’t have the numbers, the awards or the pedigree to make it to the Hall.

Fredrik Modin- 0% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He had a few respectable seasons, won the Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has an Olympic gold medal along with a World Championship. But he’s not a Hall of Fame player.

Brian Rafalski – 25% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Defencemen are probably the hardest to judge of whether or not they should make the Hall of Fame. Unless you’re a Paul Coffey scoring 49 goals a season, a Niklaus Lidstrom winning seven Norris trophies, or a Brian Leetch being the top American defenceman of all time, it’s pretty difficult to make the Hall.

A defenceman’s #1 job is to keep the puck out of their own net. They get usually don’t put up awesome offensive numbers. They don’t get the glory of goaltender wins. They don’t get enough credit for a simple play that stops a rush by another team. So it’s difficult to judge defencemen unless they’re superstars.

Rafalski is helped out by the fact he played for the Red Wings for the last few years, but that won’t be enough. He’s currently 51st all-time for NHL points by a defenceman, behind guys such as Bryan McCabe, Paul Reinhart, Sandis Ozolinsh and Garry Galley, and none of them have a shot of making the Hall.

If Rafalski does make it, look for it to be 15 years down the road, when people look back fondly and remember him as being a better player than he actually was.

Photo by Bridget Samuels, via Wikimedia Commons

Doug Weight won't be making the Hall of Fame.

Doug Weight – 10% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

While Doug Weight finished with more than 1,200 games and more than 1,000 points, he doesn’t really belong in the Hall of Fame. He has a very consistent player throughout much of his career, but he never really shone the way many fans may choose to remember.

And although he may have be the fifth highest scoring American in league history, that isn’t enough to get a player into the Hall. He’s right around the Dave Taylor and Bobby Smith mark, but without the goal-scoring prowess they possessed.

Mark Recchi- 100% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Should easily be a first ballot hall of famer. He’s pretty much done it all in the NHL.

He’s 12th all-time in points, 19th all-time in goals and 13th all-time in assists. He’s 16th all time in powerplay goals. He’s had a 50-goal season, and three 100-point seasons. His 123 points  in the 1992–1993 season is the Flyers regular season scoring record, pretty remarkable when you think of the great players the Flyers have had over the years (Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Eric Lindros, Time Kerr, etc.).

Since his rookie season in 1989, only two players have more points: Jaromir Jagr and Joe Sakic. When you look at all the other players that have played in the last two decacdes, Recchi has not only outscored most of them, but ended up with more Cups than most of them, and he did it with three different teams (the Penguins in the early 90s, Carolina in 2006 and Boston this past season).

He’s won a gold medal in the 1988 World Junior Championships, along with a gold at 1997 World Hockey Championships.

But if you look past the stats, you see a guy whom everyone loved: fans, players, opponents, etc. That’s amazing, especially considering he played on seven different teams, all Eastern conference teams and many of them hated rivals. Many fans learn to hate former players once they leave, but that didn’t happen with Recchi.

Paul Kariya- 50% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He’s a bit of a tricky one. If you allow him in, does that open the door for Rick Middleton and Brian Propp, who have almost identical numbers? Or is Paul Kariya an exception because he may be remembered as a better player than them?

But Kariya’s career seems to be right on that fence.

He won a ton of gold medals (one Olympic, one World Championship and one World Juniors), but no Stanley Cups. He scored a point-per-game pace, but never reached 1,000 in his career. He scored 50 goals in a season, but never made it to 500. He ranks sixth for points by a winger during his career, but never won a major award.

Injuries slowed him down a lot though, and they were some pretty major injuries. A whole season and a half due to a concussion. A vicious cross-check to the head by Gary Suter kept him out of another Olympics and the rest of the season in 1998. He broke his foot blocking a shot in 2000.

Really, it can go any way when it comes to Kariya. There’s arguments for him to be in the Hall, and just as many arguments against. I think he will eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, but it will take a few years.

Todd Marchant- 0% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He’s won a Stanley Cup and has played the most games by anyone drafted in 1993 (although he’s about to be passed by Chris Pronger, Bryan McCabe, Jason Arnott) and that’s about it.

Photo by Dan4th Nicholas, via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Osgood should make it.

Chris Osgood- 80% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Osgood will be the Dino Ciccarelli of this generation. It may take a while to get him in the hall, but eventually his numbers will get him there (although he really should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer).

All this talk about the fact Osgood only achieved the 400 wins he did because he played with a good team is kind of BS. No one says Grant Fuhr doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall because he played behind the great Edmonton powerhouse of the 1980s. No one is taking anything away from Martin Brodeur, despite the fact he played behind a trap team that allowed about 18 shots a game for 10 years. No one thinks Billy Smith is only in the Hall because he managed to get on a dynasty in the early 80s.

Would Ken Dryden, widely considered one of the best goalies of all time, have had the success he had if the Boston Bruins had traded him to the California Golden Seals instead of the Montreal Canadiens? Instead Dryden played behind Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Jacques Laperriere, Guy Lapointe and J.C. Tremblay, and that was just the defence.

So for someone to say a player shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame based on his team is just ludicrous, unless you’ve done it for everyone.

Not only did Osgood put up decent numbers with the Islanders (helping the Islanders get to 42 wins that year, the most for Islanders team since the last time the Isles made it to the Cup finals, way back in 1984) and the Blues, he routinely became better in the playoffs. His goals against average and save percentage were better in the postseason, and by a considerable margin.

Some more reasons on why Osgood will make the Hall of Fame:

  • Is currently 10th all-time in wins by an NHL goaltender
  • Led NHL in GAA in 2008 (regular season 2.09 & playoffs 1.55)
  • Led NHL in Wins in 1996
  • Scored a goal vs. Hartford Whalers, March 6, 1996.
  • 4th all time NHL leader in win percentage (53.9%)
  • 7th best Goals Against Average (career) of all time (2.49)

Patrick Lalime- 0% chance

Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Most people look at Patrick Lalime, and think he was a playoff failure, especially because of his time in Ottawa. But the numbers say the opposite.

In 2002, for example, he had a goals against average of 1.39 (second best all-time for any playoff season with at least 10 games played) and a save percentage of .946 (best all-time for a playoff season with at least 10 games played).

For all goalies who has played at least 25 playoff games in a career, Lalime is third all-time in save percentage and third all-time in goals against. Is it his fault that the Sens just couldn’t score come playoff time?

The one intangible for Lalime happened at the start of his career, when he set a record for the longest unbeaten streak to start a career (he went 14-0-2 in 16 games).

That’s still not enough to get him close to the Hall of the Fame though, but it’s worth noting.

Kris Draper- 0% chance

Stanley Cups (four), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Kris Draper’s name has been coming up a lot when people debate about whether Osgood should be in the Hall of Fame. They say since Osgood won three Cups, and Draper four, then Draper should be in there along with Osgood.

I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either. Not every player from the Oilers dynasty can be in the Hall of Fame. Not every player on the Habs five straight Cups in the lat 1950s can be in the Hall. Not every New York Islander from the early 80 can make it to the Hall of Fame (although they’re trying, right Clark Gillies?).

Draper was a great fourth-liner who player with grit and complimented the team. Nice guy to have on your team, but not Hall of Fame worthy.

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Boston Bruins preview

Overview: The Boston Bruins had a disappointing season last year.

Just like they always do on alternate years. Mark Savard was injured with a concussion that still gives him problems. Zdeno Chara had an off-year. Patrice Bergeron still hasn’t broken through to become the superstar he should be. Only one player (Marco Sturm) scored at least 20 goals. And the list goes on.

But the Bruins made some tweaks, traded for some offensive help and were able to draft a player that many believe could have gone #1 overall.

Some of the players will improve this season (there’s no way they’ll all regress). And that will be enough for them to have a successful season.

Best offseason move: Trading for Nathan Horton. Horton is a pretty consistent 25-goal, 60-point range player. And that’s without a lot of help. Playing with good players every night should see Horton do better in almost every category. Plus, having his wife around to ogle is a good perk.

Worst offseason move: Not dealing with their salary cap situation well. Despite being pretty tight against the cap, they signed Dennis Seidenberg to a four-year, $13 million deal, Johnny Boychuk for two years at $3.75 million total, Mark Recchi for a year at $1.7 million and Mark Stuart at one year and $1.675 million. That’s a cap hit of $8.5 million total, but to make everything fit, they were trying to trade Marc Savard, who is their best offensive talent and signed a long-term deal for cheap because he loved Boston so much. Not a good public relations move at all.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Tuukka Rask for the Vezina.

Pool pick: Blake Wheeler. Wheeler will probably play with Recchi and Bergeron on the second line. If not, then he’ll probably play on the top line with Savard and Horton (when Savard is healthy). Or if he sucks, he’ll be stuck playing with rookie phenom Tyler Seguin. In other words, expect a monster year from Wheeler. Who to stay away from: David Krejci. He had a not-so-great rookie year (27 points), followed it up with a monster season of 73 points, and then had only 52 points last year. You don’t know what to expect from him, so it’s safer to stay away.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name all the Bruins players that scored at least one goal for the team in the 1990s? 

Best hall of fame choice: Mark Recchi. The guy should be a sure-fire first-ballot hall of famer. Despite the fact he’s played on half the teams in the league, Recchi has own Stanley Cups, had a 50-goal season, three 100-point seasons, more than 500 goals, almost 1,500 points, etc. He’s 13th all-time in points, and 21 all-time in goals (and should move into the top 20 this season).

Blog to follow: Stanley Cup of Chowder

My Prediction: First in the Northeast, second in the East

Famous celebrity from that city: Eliza Dushku

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2009 preview: Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins had a great regular season run last year, but was surprised in the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Bruins should be the top team in the Northeast division, especially if they continue their domination of the Habs (they won’t). They’ll be more challenged by teams this season, but expect the Bruins to win the games needed to come first in the division.

Story of the season: Can the Bruins continue to expect everyone to perform at the same level as last year? Some players will expect to see a falloff in points, ice time, etc. But last year, everything worked out just right for the Bruins. Rookies performed great. On-ice chemistry was awesome. Zdeno Chara was a beast, and Tim Thomas had a career year. Can all that happen again?

Former Habs: Michael Ryder, Steve Begin, Mark Recchi

Blog to follow: Stanley Cup of Chowder

TV commercial break

Pool Picks: Patrice Bergeron. If he can stay healthy, he’ll get 60 points easily. Stay away from:Milan Lucic. The guy is a beast on the ice, but won’t be able to dominate to score goals every night, just when he’s playing against the Habs. Look for him to finish around 45 points.

Award nominees: Marc Savard for the Lady Byng

Expected Finish: First in the Northeast, second in the East

Cheerleader: A Bruins ice girl (the Habs ones are better, I think).

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Great big post of sports

Because I was finishing the top 100 Habs, I never got a chance to post playoff predictions. I thought I would use this post to talk about many hockey topics.

Top 100 Habs

First, the top 100 Habs. This was a project that took a few months, but it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about the Habs. A few things to note about it:

• Apparently, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News came out with a book called Habs Heroes: The Definitive List of the 100 Greatest Canadiens Ever. I didn’t know this when I had the idea or when I did up my list. I found out about halfway through publishing, and bought a copy when I was at about 17. I would post about a player, and then read about Campbell’s choice.

What was interesting is that we both had the same #1 and #100, and were hit and miss on the others. We were one or two off on some of the choices (Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau), but way off on others (Jack Laviolette).

• After doing some research on some of the players, I realize I didn’t know as much about them as I thought. Frank Mahovolich should have been a lot further down the list, and Bert Olmstead should have been a lot higher (at least 30 spots higher).

• It was frustrating to be writing some of the player profiles when Montreal was sucking this year. To write, “such and such a player won eight Stanley Cups in 12 years” was frustrating when the Habs haven’t won a Cup in 16 years.

Playoff predictions

Way back in October, I did an NHL preview. At the time, I guessed Calgary and Montreal would meet in the finals. Even though most experts believe both of them to be eliminated in the first round, I might as well stick with them for my prediction.

The rest of my picks for the first round: Penguins, Capitals, Devils, Sharks, Red Wings, and Blues (my upset special).

Season recap

I figured this would be as good a time as any to go evaluate my picks from the preseason.

I got most teams right. I predicted Boston to win the division and come second (they finished first). I had the Sens at 9th (they came 10th). I had the Flyers fifth (they came fifth). Most of them were close, but I was really off of the Lightning (had them eighth, instead 14th), Oilers (third, instead of 11th), and Stars (second, instead of 12th).

Who would have predicted Mike Fisher would have a horrible year? Oh yeah, I did.

Who would have predicted Mike Fisher would have a horrible year? Oh yeah, I did.

My pool picks were pretty spot on. Some of the good ones:

Simon Gagne may slip down a few rounds because of injury concerns and the fact he didn’t have a lot of points. If you can get him in the fourth or fifth round, you should take a chance. Or you could take a flyer (ha ha, get it?… Moving on…) Jeff Carter has shown improvement every year, so he might also be worth a risk if you think he will improve on his 53 points from last year. Stay away from: Braydon Coburn. He had a career year on defence last year with 36 points, but I think that he will plateau at that level.

Carter finished with 82 points, and Gagne with 74. Coburn had 28.

Mikko Koivu has been improving every single season. While he missed some time last year because of injuries, he should be able to get a career year this year, with at least 60 points.

He finished with 67 points.

Pavol Demitra will be centring the Sedin twins, so he makes the best pick. There’s no real dark horse on this team, as no one looks ready to break out with a career-year. But if you had to choose one, go for Ryan Kesler.

Demitra finished with 53 points in 69 games, and Kesler had 59 points.

Stay away from: David Legwand. He has only scored more than 50 points once in his eight-year career.

He finished with 42 points.

But stay away from Mike Fisher. He’s too streaky to be any good in a hockey pool, and hasn’t improved his point total in three years.

Fisher had 32 points, his lowest total in four years.

Lets see... I predicted Recchi to finish with 60 points. He got 61. Ill try to do better next year.

Let's see... I predicted Recchi to finish with 60 points. He got 61. I'll try to do better next year.

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.

Cheechoo had 29 points.

Could this be Martin Havlat’s year? After a few disappointing seasons, this guy is on the verge of a breakout year. If he can stay healthy, he’ll net at least 90 points this season. But the key is staying healthy. He’s in the final year of a contract that will pay him $6 million. If he wants to make close to that money next year, he needs to have a huge season.

He led the team in scoring, finishing with 77 points.

Mark Recchi had a great year in Atlanta once he was traded from Pittsburgh last year, so I also expect him to score 60 points.

He had 61 points.

Look for Corey Perry to continue his rise as one of the stars on the team. His goals and points have gone up every season since he joined the league. Expect him to have 30 goals and at least that many assists this year.

He had 32 goals and 40 assists.

And of course, some of the bad ones:

Stay away from: Michael Cammalleri. Yes, he scored 34 goals and 80 points two years ago, but that dipped down to 47 points last year. He may be with a new team, but despite Jarome Iginla, this team isn’t known for its wide-open style of play.

Cammalleri finished with 39 goals and 82 points.

Tucker to have a good year? Man, did I ever blow that prediction.

Tucker to have a good year? Man, did I ever blow that prediction.

Darcy Tucker would be a smart pickup that most people won’t see coming. He has scored at 20 goals in six of the last eight seasons. If he plays on a line with Joe Sakic, he could easily reach 60 points.

Tucker finished with 16 points.

Be wary of Phil Kessel. Unless it’s a deep draft, he shouldn’t be selected. He’ll be good for 40 points, but is a year or two away from his breakout season.

Kessel had 60 points in 70 games. I knew he would be a good player, but he broke out too soon.

Wade Redden will be counted on to move the puck, play the point on the powerplay, and be an offensive leader. He will also play between 25-30 minutes a game, so odds are he will be on the ice when goals are scored.

Redden had 26 points.

Stay away from: Slava Kozlov. He used to be a 70 points a season guy, but he slipped down to 41 points. This team will have trouble scoring, so don’t expect many more big seasons out of him.

Kozlov finished with 76 points.

If you need to take a defenceman in your pool, go for Andrej Meszaros. You could probably get him later, and this is a team bound to score. He’ll be on the ice for lots of those goals, and will get assists just because of it.

Meszaros had 16 points.

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Top 100 Habs: #58

#58 Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi has been one of the league’s most consistent leaders in the NHL for the past 20 years, and would be ranked higher on this list if he had played more seasons with the Montreal Canadiens.

Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi

Recchi joined the Habs in 1994, and played five seasons with the Canadiens before being traded back to the Philadelphia Flyers.

He’s won two Stanley Cups, has scored 50 goals in a season, had three 100-point seasons, but is probably best known for his ability to lead on and off the ice.

General managers of young teams routinely try to get Recchi on their team, and the Canadiens was no exception. In his five seasons with the Habs, Recchi was a consistent performer, scoring just under a point-per-game.

Recchi has scored more than 500 career goals, and almost 1,400 points.

He has played in seven all-star games.

For more information on Mark Recchi:

Hockey Hall of Fame

Wikipedia

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Tampa Bay Lightning preview

Was there any team more entertaining this offseason than the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Probably not. The general manager treated like the team like a video gamer playing the dynasty version of NHL09 on PS3. You make a trade, play a few games, then make more trades and sign more players. Then play a few more games and repeat the cycle. At the end of the season, your whole team is totally different than what you started out with.

It’s been fun to watch, but now it’s time to see how the new team will translate on the ice, and if any chemistry will be instantaneous between all the new teammates.

Forwards: Who didn’t the Lightning try to sign in this offseason? They now have more players than an NFL franchise. They have a whole new set of lines thanks to their busy summer and some trade-deadline deals last season. What’s funny is that the team didn’t really need a massive overhaul. They were 16th in the league last year in goals for.

They still have Vincent Lecavalier as their number one player. He is arguably one of the top three players in the game. They also have Martin St. Louis, who has alternate good and bad seasons. He’s due for a massive year this season.

They also had the number one draft pick in the league, ready to centre the second line, in Steven Stamkos. It’ll be interesting to see what he does this season.

They also went out and got some veteran leadership in Gary Roberts. He’ll make sure no one takes a night off.

Defence: For some weird reason, they traded away Dan Boyle because they couldn’t afford his $6 million a year salary, and traded for Andrej Meszaros, and signed him to a $5 million a year contract. It doesn’t make much sense, but whatever. Meszaros will be the team’s top point man, so look for him to get a lot of time on the powerplay.

Matt Carle could also suprise some people. Coming to Tampa from San Jose in the Boyle trade, he could see a lot of ice time. Don’t be surprised if he gets 40-plus points this season.

Goaltending: Tampa Bay seems to follow the 1990s Philadelphia style when it comes to goaltenders. Instead of getting a great goalie that can put the team over the hump, they seem content to try stopgap measures and hope the rest of the team is good enough.

The number one goalie, Mike Smith, was great in Dallas, and good once he was traded to Tampa Bay last year in the Brad Richards trade. But good may not be enough once the playoffs come around. Most people are expecting the team to allow six goals a night, but mostly because of the defence. I don’t think it will be that bad, but all Smith has to do is be like Grant Fuhr with the Oilers in the 1980s: He can let in five goals a game, but he just needs to make the stop when it counts.

His backup is Olaf Kolzig, who should have retired three years ago.

Pool picks: If you need to take a defenceman in your pool, go for Andrej Meszaros. You could probably get him later, and this is a team bound to score. He’ll be on the ice for lots of those goals, and will get assists just because of it. Mark Recchi had a great year in Atlanta once he was traded from Pittsburgh last year, so I also expect him to score 60 points. Stay away from: Jussi Jokinen. He’s a good highlight reel when it comes to shootout goals, but they normally don’t count in hockey pools. His point totals have been declining every year since he entered the league.

Miscellaneous: A few of their signings (Kolzig, Roberts, Recchi) will be free agents next year, so we can all look forward to another crazy offseason from this team next year,

Expected finish: Second in the Southeast division, Eighth in the Eastern conference

Overall: Tampa is going to score a lot of goals. The may also let in a bunch, but this team will be much better than last year. They’ll also be more entertaining, which is important if they hope to draw more fans to games. Look for them to grab a playoff spot this year.

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