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.
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).
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).
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.
• 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.
• 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.