Our buddy Ben who is living out in B.C these days chasing West Coast tail sent this our way.
His thoughts on hockey as we take a night off to drink like Radulov and Kostitsyn.
You might agree with Ben, but if not and you feel the urge to chirp him, shoot him an email.
The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are a great thing. They are also a very distracting thing. Some people get so into the playoffs they literally spend all day reading game previews or statistics to know more about the teams involved. They may forget about their wives, their kids, and all other hockey related news that doesn't involve the remaining teams participating for the best trophy in sports. Which is unfortunate because so many great things in hockey are happening or just around the corner. We have the World Hockey Championships going on, the NHL Draft coming up, and the Memorial Cup being fired up this weekend - it's going to be a very busy month.
Well, if you've been living under a Stanley Cup Playoffs rock, then here are seven things you may have missed in the hockey world while distracted by Henrik Lundqvist or the LA Kings dominance:
- Craig Button has proved why he’s not an NHL scout. He's got players moving all over the place throughout the season, sometimes dropping or rising 30 spots. One guy is defenceman Olli Maatta, who began in September ranked 13th before eventually plummeting out of the Top 60 in Button's April rankings. Well now he’s all the way up to 30 in this month’s rankings after Maatta could have easily could won the OHL playoff MVP with 6 goals, 23 points and a +11 rating in 19 games as he helped the London Knights win the OHL Championship. That was enough to lead all OHL d-men in goal scoring and points and lead the entire Canadian Hockey League in defensive scoring, and did I mention he’s a shutdown d-man? Maatta had a decent regular season as well, potting 5 goals and 32 points in a concussion-shortened season. Button is a brick.
- Flames sign the skilled playmaker, Roman Cervenka from the KHL. Jay Feaster is proving to be an idiot with this signing as he gives a 26-year-old with no North American experience a contract with full bonuses at $3.775M. Why didn’t top prospect Tim Erixon sign in Calgary? Right, bonus problems. Sure Cervenka led the KHL in goal scoring in 2010-11, but he has Fabian Brunnstrom written all over him. I would trust this cat running a hockey team over Jay Feaster.
- One familiar face at the World Hockey Championship these past two weeks has been Cristobal Huet. He posted some decent numbers (even better at even strength) and almost got a weak France team into the second round. Did Huet earn himself a two-way-contract or at least a chance to be an NHL backup again? Speaking of weak teams, Norway advanced to the playoff round and will play Russia. The Norwegian's were led by sniper, Patrick Thoresen, who currently leads the tournament in scoring and might just get himself back to the NHL one day.
- The “Russian factor” is going to be a crazy topic this summer. Alex Semin is bailing on the “Russian friendly” Washington Capitals team, and his prospect replacement, Yevgeni Kuznetsov, who people likely remember from this years World Juniors has signed a two-year-deal in the KHL. Alex Radulov is the other question mark and in the draft Mikhail Grigorenko has dropped with the KHL showing interest in him. If you’re a top 5 team at the draft, can you comfortably draft him knowing that if you miss a top pick you end up like Columbus (Filatov and Zherdev are two quick examples)?
- Now a mandatory talk about the Avs since they are my favourite team and I can't write a post for the Dirty Dangle bros without mentioning them. Why couldn’t Paul Stastny play like he is at the World Hockey Championships this year? He is among the tournament leaders with 3 goals and 6 assists through 7 games, and is rocking the faceoff dot with a 66.4% winning percentage. This is very discouraging for me and I demand sympathy from everyone that reads this. Also have to love what Ryan O’Reilly is doing for Canada so far.
- Seeing that lots of players are being signed before free agency, I’d like to look at Justin Schultz. The 21-year-old is potentially the best defenceman not playing in the NHL right now. Schultz has great vision and control the play in both ends, but one of his greatest assets is his shot that makes him a potential PP QB. In his last two seasons with the University of Wisconsin Badgers he's totaled 34 goals through 78 games and led the Badgers with 16 goals in 37 games last season. He becomes a UFA on July 1st, meaning the stud d-man could choose where he wants to play to begin his NHL career. There are many rumours floating around out there, but some of the biggest point to him ending up in Edmonton.
- Lastly I’d like to discuss the Memorial Cup. You have to like what London has brought to the table with a full roster, however I’m a big fan of Griffin Reinhart and the Edmonton Oil Kings. I'm not sure why he hasn’t progressed up in the draft rankings - he’s the next Jared Cowen, minus the scare of a knee injury. The Saint John Sea Dogs are the favourite going into the tournament with a stacked team all over the leaderboard of the QMJHL after going 16-1 in the Q playoffs. Make sure you find the have time during the NHL playoffs to try and watch the next young guns at the Memorial Cup.