A look at the best players selected below 100th overall in the NHL entry draft, a “personal challenge” to Carolina’s Eric Staal, Matt Cooke intends to change his ways, taking Tim Connolly to task for comparing the Maple Leafs to the NY Yankees, Sergei Bobrovsky admits he may have played too much last season, and much more. Read on, won’t you?
BLEACHER REPORT: Adam Davis looks at the best NHL players to have been selected later than 100th overall in the NHL draft. Among the notables: Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk (171st) and Henrik Zetterberg (210th ), Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff (116th), Buffalo’s Ryan Miller (138th overall), Boston’s Tim Thomas (217th overall), and NY Rangers Henrik Lundqvist (205th).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting compilation of current and future Hall of Famers who went much later in the NHL entry draft. Just goes to show that, despite how well a team prepares, the NHL entry draft can still be a crap shoot, especially in the later rounds.
HOCKEYBUZZ.COM: Matt Karash issues “a personal challenge” to Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal to become a better two-way player, as well as make his linemates better.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it’s a coincidence the Hurricanes performance improved last season after Staal took over the captaincy. Only 26, Staal is about to enter his prime, and I suspect we’ll see a considerable improvement in his all-round play.
PENSBURGH: “Hooks Orpik” commented on a recent report on Matt Cooke, in which the Penguins pest suggests he can change his ways and play within the rules. Orpik believes if Cooke can eliminate the “ugliness” from his game, he’d be “a useful, valuable player” who’d be a good fit on any NHL team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooke had better change his ways if he wants to continue his NHL career. He’s now got a reputation as a head-hunter, and will be closely watched by the league. I’ve also believed Cooke has the skills to be a good depth player if he would just eliminate the cheap shots. We’ll find out this season if Cooke can reform.
BROAD STREET HOCKEY: Travis Hughes noted a comment by Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in a recent interview caught his eye, where “Bob” admitted his second half meltdown last season was due to playing more hockey than he was used to.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was obvious the Flyers overplayed Bobrovsky last season. If he remains with the club this season, he won’t have to worry about that problem, as Ilya Bryzgalov will see the bulk of the playing time.
HOCKEYBUZZ.COM: “GARTH” cannot believe center Tim Connolly actually compared the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom he signed with this summer, to the New York Yankees.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone knows the Montreal Canadiens are the NY Yankees of hockey, if you go by number of championships, though not since the early 90s. Come to think of it, I think the closest any team since 1990 could be considered “the Yankees of hockey” are the Detroit Red Wings, given their success rate and perennial standing as a Stanley Cup contender. It certainly ain’t the Leafs.
THE HOCKEY WRITERS: Tim Kolupanowich concludes the second part of his “30 Questions” for NHL teams, this time targeting the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another interesting list of questions, though I would think a more important question for the Nashville Predators would be about Shea Weber’s performance this season under a one year contract, rather than wondering if Niclas Bergfors finally turns into a scorer. A minor quibble on my part.
ARMCHAIR HOCKEY: Steven Barker analyses the Anaheim Ducks to determine if they’re Stanley Cup contenders or pretenders. Ducks fans probably won’t like his conclusions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Barker’s conclusions. While the Ducks will be a playoff team, they’re lacking scoring depth beyond their first line (and that’s even if Teemu Selanne returns to action) as well as quality checking line depth. And if Jonas Hiller’s vertigo should return, they’ll be in trouble between the pipes again.
ARCTIC ICE HOCKEY: “Bettman’s Nightmare” has a nagging optimism the Winnipeg Jets could be a playoff team this season, pointing out how they out-shot their opposition following the all-star break, the addition of Blake Wheeler at the trade deadline appeared to provide additional improvement, Zach Bogosian’s improved performance as the season went on, Evander Kane could be poised for a breakout season, while players like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom are either in their prime or entering it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For most of last season the Thrashers/now Jets were in playoff contention, but it was their defensive game which scuttled their hopes. If they can improve in that department, they could indeed be a playoff contender this season.