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Tag:Logan Couture
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:07 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 5:15 pm
 

Nash Dash: How would Nash fit with Sharks?

What Nash would look like in San Jose. 

By Brian Stubits

In the days leading up to the trade deadline (Monday, Feb. 27) we're going to keep tabs on the biggest name on the block, Columbus Blue Jackets star and captain Rick Nash.

The list of teams rumored to be in on Nash isn't incredibly long and it's the usual suspects that you'd expect to be in on a big-name, high-priced star like Nash. His wish list -- put into song so wonderfully -- was supposedly five teams long with possible Wild cards in the mix too.

We're going to take a look at each of the rumored wish-list teams and how Nash would fit, looking today at the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks were on Rick Nash's rumored wish list from the moment it was first reported and speaking only for myself here, I didn't anticipate they'd be in the conversation much. It was holding true with most all of the talk surrounding the Rangers and Kings.

Then TSN's Darren Dreger reported not only that the Sharks were definitely in the conversation, they were making a push.

At the heart of the matter, one of the driving forces in the connection of Nash and San Jose is his relationship with Joe Thornton. Nash and Jumbo Joe are good friends. Not to mention they'd make a pretty damn good pairing on the top line. Remember, Thornton helped Jonathan Cheechoo to some ridiculous numbers in San Jose, imagine what he could do for Nash.

The Sharks are still in first in the Pacific, but it's not unfair to say they could withstand for some reinforcements. They are now tied with the surging Coyotes and are only three points up on the offensively inept Kings. With the Canucks and Red Wings pulling away from the pack atop the West, the Sharks are going to need to find a way to go toe to toe if they want to get back to the Western Conference finals and go further.

What it would do is give the Sharks another left winger, a position where Patrick Marleau resides. But that's not a problem, no team will ever complain about having too many left wingers who could play on the top line. As I touched on yesterday, the Kings would love to have that problem.

As is the question with every team that could potentially land Nash, though, is what would it take to get him? Dreger reported the Jackets asked for Logan Couture but were immediately rebuked by the Sharks on that request. Hey, no harm in asking if you're Scott Howson.

It was speculated from Andy Strickland at True Hockey that they could ask for Joe Pavelski too. I said yesterday that I'm not sure even straight up that would be worth it for San Jose, so let me explain a little more here.

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I'm a big Pavelski fan. I really like his game and he's taking it to a new level this season, already at his career high in goals for one season. He is excellent in the face-off circle. Digging into the advanced stats, Pavelski is second among Sharks forward in Relative Corsi behind only Thornton. He's a valuable player. That's not to say all 30 GMs wouldn't pull the trigger on a Pavelski-for-Nash swap, it's just that I was saying you're already starting at a very high price with Pavelski and we aren't talking about a slouch here.

Purely speculation on my end here, I haven't seen this even rumored, but you'd have to wonder if Thomas Greiss would be in the conversation. The Sharks obviously would like to have a good young goaltender around for many years, but Antti Niemi is their No. 1, the guy they have invested in and he's not necessarily an old guy at 28.

Not that there would be any concerns with how Nash would fit with any team, but it's hard to imagine a better fit than with San Jose considering the relationship with Thornton. The question is do the Sharks have the prospects and gumption to pull it off.

One thing that is important to remember in all of this is that Nash will have a serious decision to make. This is a matter of moving to a new home for many years, it's not something you decide on a whim (most of the time). And San Jose has prided itself in being a good home for hockey players. It's little wonder why not many guys seem to leave San Jose.

Here is what Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area.

“First of all, I didn’t read that story, I haven’t gotten into my clips yet. We don’t talk about other team’s players, and any conversation I do have with a fellow GM would be kept in confidence. Historically, though, one of the most important things we do is make this be a place where players do want to play, and make it an attractive destination for players.”

I've grown skeptical that any team will be able to pull the trigger on a deal before the deadline on Monday and this will drag into the summer. Either way, San Jose sure seems like it could fit well.

More from Eye on Hockey

How would Nash fit with Kings?
How would Nash fit with Blueshirts?
San Jose stepping into Nash talks?
Update on Nash, other rumors
Nash down to five teams?
Nash not untouchable for Columbus

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:24 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:32 am
 

Report: Sharks stepping up in Nash sweepstakes

By Brian Stubits

And here you were thinking that it was mostly a two-team race in the Rick Nash sweepstakes between the Rangers and Kings.

Well make some room for the Sharks in this equation too. One of the teams who was reportedly on Nash's wish list, San Jose is lurking in the conversation too and could have a say in matters if Nash is dealt this week.

From TSN insider Darren Dreger:

NHL Trade Deadline
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The San Jose Sharks are emerging as a strong contender for Rick Nash. Sources say Columbus initially targeted Logan Couture, but was quickly told that was a non-starter. But, make no mistake; San Jose will stay in the mix until Monday's deadline.

Nash and Sharks veteran Joe Thornton are good friends and have shown an impressive chemistry when playing together internationally that isn't being overlooked. The Sharks would prefer an off-season deal to avoid the in-season disruption, but San Jose is keen.

Boy, Scott Howson is really shooting for the moon, isn't he? Not that I blame him one bit but Couture and then some? The Sharks were right to balk immediately at that one. So who would it take? It's been made pretty clear that Howson is asking for one high-end player on top of everything else.

Andy Strickland of True Hockey says that could mean Joe Pavelski would be the target. Even if it were straight up Nash for Pavelski, would you be convinced the Sharks were getting the better end of the deal? I wouldn't be.

However Howson has to be liking this whole scenario that's playing out. The more teams that enter the bidding the better, more leverage to get the price he wants in return.

Still, I don't think any team is going to give up what the Jackets are looking for right now. If Nash is going to be traded before Monday's deadline, which is no guarantee, the price will have to come down but still be good enough for Howson to show to the fans and brass in Columbus.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:33 pm
 

Pavelski, Sharks continue to perform under radar

Pavelski's 22 goals are tied with Marleau, one behind Couture for the team lead. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- The San Jose Sharks are kind of like that team they got their head coach Todd McLellan from, the Detroit Red Wings. They are there every season now. The only difference -- and it's the big one -- is getting to and winning Stanley Cups.

But like the Wings, the Sharks have that whole organization stability and continuity thing down pat. They are well on their way to a playoff berth in the eighth consecutive season and 13th in the last 14 seasons. They have won the Pacific Division every season since finishing second in 2006-07.

They have franchise stalwarts, too. Everybody knows the guys like Jumbo Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and last year's rookie star (and this year's All-Star Draft Mr. Irrelevant) Logan Couture. Guys like Douglas Murray, Ryan Clowe, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and now Dan Boyle have been there some time, too.

Oh, and Joe Pavelski. You can't forget Joe Pavelski, although it seems sometimes that people do.

Heck, he was even an afterthought in the 2005 NHL Draft. It took until the 205th overall selection -- that's the seventh round, folks -- for Pavelski's name to be called. That's when the Sharks took the University of Wisconsin star despite him being a better than a point-per-game player for the Badgers.

He's only been a key piece of their puzzle in the last half-decade or so. Particularly this season.

Pavelski had himself a game on Monday night in Washington, recording four points with two goals -- including this rather remarkable tally in the first period. It brought his season totals to 22 goals and 22 assists. He's creeping up on his career high of 25 goals with a whole lot of season left to play.

"Heck of a year," McLellan said.

McLellan has a way with words and that's as succinct and appropriate a way to put it as any.

I'm not saying people in hockey don't know who Pavelski is. That'd be rude to underestimate the knowledge of hockey fans, which is know is second to none. It's more that he just doesn't seem to get his full due. He comes down the list of names mentioned when people talk about the Sharks.

But he deserves more, particularly with the increased scoring production he's showing this year. He seems to be on his way to easily eclipsing the 30-goal mark this season.

Considering there aren't a whole lot of new faces in San Jose this season -- Brent Burns on the blueline is fresh as is Martin Havlat, but he's having a down and injury-plagued season -- it has been more about getting the chance than anything else. Kind of like just getting a chance after being drafted so late.

"Last year he spent a fair amount of time on our third line just with the way our team was built," McLellan said. "On the power play this year he's benefitted by playing with some better players -- some more creative players, pardon me, not better but more creative maybe."

He's playing more this season than he ever has, averaging 20:52 of ice time per game. It's led to increased responsibilities at both ends of the ice, not just when it comes to scoring.

"Pav is a very reliable guy at both ends of the rink," McLellan said. As much as he's reaching a career high in goals he's doing some real good things defensively as well."

Everybody's favorite stat in hockey -- plus/minus -- says that's true. He's a plus-15 this season, better than any season before. He's never been on the negative side. But you can't put too much stock into plus/minus, as we know it's a flawed statistic, doesn't really say much about the individual player.

An advanced metric that's a bit more telling is Corsi (for an explanation, here you go), and there Pavelski is a 12.93, the second highest among forwards in San Jose behind Thornton.

"I'm not surprised. He plays in all situations," Boyle said. "He kills penalties, he's a power-play guy, big-minute guy. Does a little bit of everything."

With the Sharks embarking in a nine-game, cross-continent road trip, they'll rely on all of his tools. It's the kind of stretch that will determine how the Pacific Division will play out as the Kings and to a lesser extent Coyotes and Sharks continue to lie in the weeds. If it's a struggle, the race is on.

"It's really important for us, you don't want to go 0-2 to start a road trip," Pavelski said of Monday's 5-3 win that followed Sunday's 2-0 loss in St. Louis. "You see what can happen with Chicago. It can just keep snowballing. It never gets easier on the road so you take the wins when you can get them.

"It never gets easier. That next game gets that much bigger."

The goal now for Pavelski and the Sharks is to get to that game where the stakes can't possibly be any bigger.

More from Eye on Hockey

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Recap: Sharks 5, Capitals 3
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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 3:39 pm
 

All-Star Game preview: Finding lines to entertain

By Brian Stubits

When it comes to All-Star Games, the NHL is probably in the middle. It's certainly a notch below the holy grail of games, baseball's Midsummer Classic, but it's undoubtedly ahead of football's Pro Bowl. Like the NBA's version, defense isn't even optional, it's pretty much discouraged.

So truth be told, people don't watch the All-Star Game for the hockey. Really, mid-week games featuring the Blue Jackets and Oilers will provide a better game (not necessarily entertainment, however). Instead, fans watch it for the Stars , the chance to see their favorite players.

Or to see things we never get the chance to see.

Thanks to the Fantasy Draft, the possibilities exist for some squeamish line combinations that wouldn't otherwise have been feasible. Such as Bruins playing with Canucks. However seeing as one of the two captains was a Bruin, we missed out on some golden opportunity to have Zdeno Chara paired with Alex Edler while playing with Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Tyler Seguin in front of them with Tim Thomas in net. Oh, if Chara could have only seen the potential.

What Chara did end up doing was drafting a host of right wingers, making this pre-draft incredibly awkward exchange all the more apropos.

With all that said, thanks to our Line Mixmaster 3000 (patent pending) we were able to come up with some interesting lines with the teams that were selected -- and some lines that make you go "meh." Hey, you can't win them all.

(Do note we had to execute some position changes to get four even lines. But to Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Alfredsson: I see what you did. Lupul only helped Chara draft one left winger and Alfredsson only picked one right winger. Sorry fellas, you can't triple shift.)

Let's start with Team Alfredsson, considering he's the host and all.

As Seen in Ottawa line: Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson. Intrigue? Nah, there's not a whole lot on this one, frankly. Senators fans can see these guys together most every night. But you have an entire line of guys not out of position in their hometown ... it's a lock. But hopefully they keep the mic on Spezza during the game like he had it on in the draft and this time we can hear a full-out laugh. That's interesting enough.

Third Wheel line: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Logan Couture. OK, I'll relent and keep the Sedins together. The best third wheel for them is Couture. You have the whole Predators of the sea thing (Canucks' killer whale vs. the Sharks), the little rivalry between their teams and, well, just another way to pick on Couture a little bit after he was Mr. Irrelevant. Sorry Henrik, I don't think you're going to get those better players to play with this year (It's OK, Daniel, you can smile!).

I Believe I Can Fly line: Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, John Tavares. I had a harder time naming this line than any of the others (no doubt it shows). But the Flyers connection is pretty clear and they get an Atlantic Division friend in the mix in Tavares, somebody who has wheels that just might inspire Hartnell to try and skate faster and contribute to the Hartnell Down-O-Meter. Tavares converts to the wing to make it happen, a pretty easy transition from center.

The Forgotten line: James Neal, Steven Stamkos, Jason Pominville. Neal was the guy who the NHL just didn't seem to want to invite. It took the last replacement spot for Neal to get the call despite being second in the league in goals scored. Stamkos is the only guy with more goals than Neal and yet he's such a quiet superstar that some might not even be aware of that fact. As for Pominville? Well it's been a forgettable season in Buffalo so far, so he fits in here.

Defensive pairings: This is really a hodgepodge of names when put together, there's not a whole lot that screams out for obvious potential pairings. So I've got Shea Weber with Alex Edler (Western Conference the tie that binds), Erik Karlsson with Kris Letang (excessive use of the letter K) and Dan Girardi with Keith Yandle (ummm, they were each in that game that was won with 0.1 seconds left this season).

Now on to Team Chara. Here are the lines that we can put together, seeking maximum intrigue.

Cyborg line: Corey Perry, Pavel Datsyuk, Jarome Iginla. The cyborg obviously references the man in the middle, but it also includes one of the league's ageless wonders in Iginla plus a guy with a connection to Disney. Hey, we have to make some stretches. The only person out of position here is Perry, being forced to the left wing because of Chara's right-side glut.

Miss-match line: Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik. Yea, there isn't a whole lot of connections with this line except Malkin and Gaborik are both from Eastern Europe. But hey, good for Benn to play his first game in weeks alongside the best player in the NHL the last couple of weeks in Malkin. He'll take it, I'm sure.

Two Blackhawks and a Kid line: Jordan Eberle, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa. So this line has a couple of players "out of position" but Kane is no stranger to center. We had to convert somebody to the middle and he's the easy pick seeing that he's played there this season. He gets to be alongside his Chicago buddy Hossa. Poor Eberle, he might not get to see the puck with these two guys. That won't make his fan club president (on the right) too happy.

Blackhawks and ladies? No doubt this will be Joey the Junior Reporter's favorite line to follow.

The Awkward line: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel. We saved the best for last. Yes, consider this the coup-de-grace of interesting lines. The two players -- Seguin and Kessel -- who will forever be tied to each other thanks to the trade between the Maple Leafs and Bruins, alongside another Leaf in Lupul.

“I said ‘Kess, I think we’re linemates,'" Seguin said to Kessel on Thursday (from the Boston Herald). "He said ‘That be cool. I think the media would like it.’”

Yes, Phil, yes we would.

Defensive pairings: Well we have to put Chara with Dion Phaneuf. Again, it's the Leafs-Bruins angle but also two of the more fearsome defensemen in the league. Good pairing. Ryan Suter gets paired with Kimmo Timmonen so they can find out if there is any chemistry there in case Philly is Suter's landing spot if he's traded. That leaves Brian Campbell to pair with Dennis Wideman. All I got here is Campbell is a current Panthers defenseman and Wideman used to be one.

As for a goalie to be mic'd up like Cam Ward was last year? I'm going to vote for Carey Price. Hey, any guy that does a campaign video like this and nearly spits his drink out when he's picked in the draft is probably entertaining enough to help carry the event for a period.

Enjoy the game. It will be a lot easier with some of the above intrigue. But please, leave your gripes about the lack of defense at home, we all know it's sorely lacking.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:41 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 10:51 am
 

Logan Couture last man standing at All-Star Draft

By: Adam Gretz

Nobody remembers that Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was the first pick in last year's All-Star draft, just like nobody will remember that Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk went first this year.  But everybody seems to remember it was Toronto's Phil Kessel that was the last man sitting in the seats waiting for his name to be called a year ago.

Perhaps a little too much.

Kessel, of course, didn't think it was all that big of a deal, and still doesn't today. When asked on Thursday, after being selected in the eighth round by Zdeno Chara, what advice he would give to the player that goes last this year, he simply laughed and said "it doesn't matter, it's not a big deal."

The last man standing this season: San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, as he ended up on Alfredsson's team after Zdeno Chara selected Dallas' Jamie Benn in the final round.

But don't feel too bad for Couture. This isn't quite the same as being picked last for kick ball in gym class or on the playground. He is, after all, still getting an opportunity to play in the NHL All-Star game with some of the best players in the world, which is an impressive accomplishment on its own. But he also takes home a brand new car for being the last player selected, which this year is a Honda Crosstour. Shortly after the draft ended, Couture went to his personal Twitter feed and posted, "First order of business. Pimping that Honda out."

Along with the new ride, the NHL and NHLPA will also be donating $10,000 (each) to the grassroots hockey fund of his choice.

It's not much of a surprise that Couture was the last pick, as he was one of the favorites heading into the draft. According to the folks at Bovada earlier in the week he was a 13/2 pick to be the last player selected (yes, people actually bet on this … recreationally, of course).

The other favorites were Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell (6/1), Buffalo's Jason Pominville (13/2)  and Benn (13/2).

The only thing we knew for sure was that the last player was going to be a forward, as every goalie had to be selected before the end of round 10, and all of the defensemen had to be selected before the end of round 15.

More 2012 NHL All-Star Game Coverage

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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:17 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:29 pm
 

What to look for in tonight's All-Star draft

Kessel was the last one left last year. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

I only speak for myself -- obviously -- but the draft has already become my favorite part about the All-Star weekend. It's entertaining, fun and even has some suspense. The game itself that finishes the weekend might not have any of those three features working for it.

Last year's inaugural draft in Carolina was clearly a success, that's why it's coming back this year. It's just like sitting at home plate waiting for the kickball on the mound to call your name in elementary school recess. Who doesn't look back at those days fondly (don't answer that)?

Unfortunately, some of the suspense of the event is taken away though as there are some predictable elements to the draft. You already know that captains will stick to their real-life teammates. For example, Daniel Alfredsson has already made it very clear that his first pick will no doubt be his defensive teammate with the Senators, Erik Karlsson.

The draft will take part on Thursday night at 8 ET on NBC Sports Network (here's a guide to the whole weekend courtesy of Puck the Media). It was moved up one day this year to take place on Thursday instead of Friday. Don't forget that.

With all that said, here's a guide of what to look for in the draft.

Sens will go fast: This one is a guarantee. One of them is a captain. Another one will go to Team Alfredsson likely on his first pick. The others (Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek) could very well be headed to Team Alfredsson early too. It's the hometown team with a hometown captain, he's not going to let those guys sit in the pool for very long.

Same goes for the Bruins: I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say Tim Thomas will be the first goaltender picked, and he'll go to Team Chara. That's especially the case when you consider Team Alfredsson already has a goaltender in assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist. Tyler Seguin isn't going to last long with Chara picking either. You have to take care of your own, you know?

Kessel won't go last: There was a chance when the captains were named that you thought Phil Kessel could possibly fall to the bottom of the draft again and be Mr. Irrelevant even with the solid season he's having. But then Maple Leafs teammate Joffrey Lupul was named the assistant to Zdeno Chara and he'll likely lobby for Chara to forget some old feud and select Kessel for their team.

But one of these guys will: The pool for guys going last is pretty easy to narrow down. It's going to be a forward (rules require goalies and defensemen to go by a certain round) who is the lone representative from his team and is on the lower-profile side. That knocks out big scorers (Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry) and veterans (Jarome Iginla). That leaves five guys (not burgers and fries) to choose from -- placed in my order of least likely to go last to most likely.

John Tavares -- I think he's easiest to cross off seeing that he plays center. He's safe.

Logan Couture -- A couple weeks ago he was my pick when the teams were announced but some later additions make him safe in my mind.

Jason Pominville -- Some think he wasn't even the right Sabres player to pick, instead it should have been Thomas Vanek. Certainly good odds of going last.

Jamie Benn -- The only Stars player, the All-Star Game will actually be his first game in a couple of weeks after an appendectomy. That could actually garner him some sympathy. But he's a quiet guy, so we'll see.

Jordan Eberle -- The Oilers forward was one of the late additions because of injury. He's only 21 and in just his second season. There are ingredients for him to be the last one sitting. But as last year showed with Kessel, that can result in a nice parting package.

For the record, the oddsmakers at Bovada (formerly Bodog) have Scott Hartnell the favorite to go last at 6/1, but I think he's safer than the guys above.

Disinterested players: Of course there will be guys who look like this is one of the worst things they've had to do as a professional hockey player. That's pretty much inevitable. It's a distinct possibility the captains could look that way. Sorry, but Alfie and Chara don't exactly scream exuberance.

Boo birds: The battle of Ontario is regaining steam this season, so no doubt Lupul and Kessel will hear some boo birds (and cheers from those Leafs fans who snuck in). Poor Kessel, guy can't catch a break at this thing.

Sedin twins: Will Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin be split up again? Is it possible that Brian Burke was able to keep them together against 29 other teams but the captains can't do it against one other team? This is as good of a chance as any year ... would Chara actually pick a Canucks player?

Hazing: I'm not talking about anything serious here, but remember the things like Alex Ovechkin taking a picture of a lonely Kessel in the seats? Yea, there will be some fun being had among the players. I'm putting money down on Hartnell pulling a prank on somebody in some fashion.

Better yet, it would be better if Hartnell tripped himself after he is picked, like at least one kid does at every graduation ceremony ever hosted. It would add to the legend that is Hartnell Down.

Enjoy the show everyone. It only goes downhill from there this weekend.

More from Eye on Hockey

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For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 4:24 pm
 

All-Star Game: Dissecting the picks; predictions

By Brian Stubits

The NHL announce its full list of All-Stars on Thursday in about as poor a way as it could have. Remember when Mario Lemieux called the NHL a garage league? Maybe he was thinking of days like this.

The NHL had ample opportunities to put this front and center. They could have announced the selections on Wednesday night using NBC Sports Network and TSN. Heck, they could have made the announcement using the NHL Network instead of running a replay of a game from last night.

All of that would have been better. Instead, the All-Star selections started leaking one at a time. The first was the Florida Panthers announcing Brian Campbell would be representing them. Then the Blackhawks followed with the Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The leaks continued until the NHL finally released the entire list of players about an hour later.

It's almost like it wasn't planned.

Anyway, on to the guys who were selected. These are the guys who will head to Ottawa for the All-Star Game and will be part of the second NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, much like the way you would pick teams for kickball at recess with two captains selecting players until they're gone.

As usual, there are a few head-scratchers in here.

Forwards

Jason Spezza (Senators), Milan Michalek (Senators), Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), Jamie Benn (Stars), Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings), Marian Gaborik (Rangers), Claude Giroux (Flyers), Marian Hossa (Blackhawks), Jarome Iginla (Flames), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs), Mikko Koivu (Wild), Joffrey Lupul (Maple Leafs), Evgeni Malkin (Penguins), Logan Couture (Sharks), Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), Jason Pominville (Sabres), Daniel Sedin (Canucks), Henrik Sedin (Canucks), Tyler Seguin (Bruins), Corey Perry (Ducks), Steven Stamkos (Lightning), John Tavares (Islanders), Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks).

Defensemen

Erik Karlsson (Senators), Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs), Dustin Byfuglien (Jets), Brian Campbell (Panthers), Zdeno Chara (Bruins), Alexander Edler (Canucks), Dan Girardi (Rangers), Shea Weber (Predators), Keith Yandle (Coyotes), Dennis Wideman (Capitals), Ryan Suter (Predators), Kimmo Timonen (Flyers).

Goaltenders

Tim Thomas (Bruins), Brian Elliott (Blues), Jimmy Howard (Red Wings), Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), Carey Price (Canadiens), Jonathan Quick (Kings).

For those wondering on the breakdown, that's 24 players from the Eastern Conference, 18 from the Western. The six vote-ins all coming from the East helps with that bit of disparity, though.

Now, on to the superlatives ...

Biggest snub

You never know who actually said no to the invite. That's the caveat here. But if nothing else the players should get the honor and then decline to appear (I get the murkiness of it, but they deserve the honor).

With that said, wow, where do I begin? Teemu Selanne? Nicklas Lidstrom? Well they asked out, so no use getting bent out of shape there. So moving on ...

I understand that Nicklas Backstrom (the Capitals center, that is) is injured at the moment, but he's day to day and the game isn't for another few weeks. There is zero doubt that he has been the Capitals' best player this season, not Ovechkin, who made the roster ahead of a long list of players that probably deserved it more.

I scratch my head a little with the selection of Byfuglien on defense. Not that he is bad by any stretch, but I probably would take a few guys over him. From the Jets perspective, I would have liked to see Evander Kane more.

You could make a case -- probably not a great one, however -- for Florida's Jason Garrison, as well. He leads defensemen in goals with 11 and has a slap shot that might possibly stand a chance in the hardest shot competition against Chara and Byfuglien.

There are a few more in the forward role who seem to be more deserving. It's going to continue to come back to Ovechkin because he's the high-profile name with mediocre numbers. Thomas Vanek in Buffalo? Scott Hartnell in Philly? Kris Versteeg in Florida? Patrik Elias for the Devils? Patrice Bergeron in Boston? Patrick Sharp (who was reportedly not picked before injury concerns) Or even Radim Vrbata from the Coyotes? The lists goes on.

It goes to show how even when the fans aren't voting, star power is a big factor. It's always about a little more than just performance.

Least deserving

To make room for the snubs you obviously have to decide who shouldn't be on the list, otherwise they aren't a snub, right? Well that is pretty tough to do.

I do not think Ovechkin deserves his selection based on merit alone. But again, there's more to it than just the stats. Ovechkin gets in based on the star power and marketing more than anything else. I don't necessarily like that, but I can accept that. I think Kane falls into this category to an extent, too. All things being equal, a few of the snubs probably deserve the honor more than Kane this season, but he has a little star power that, say, Versteeg doesn't have.

I'm not terribly high on the other Caps pick of Wideman either. He's had a good season offensively, which is what this game values most, so in that regard it's OK. But even he admitted he was surprised when he was told, he thought he was getting traded.

After them (not counting the guys voted in) it gets pretty tough. Not any wholly undeserving guys (not even the above mentioned).

Keeping in mind that every team gets represented through the All-Star Game or the rookie selections, some guys are safe. That makes it tougher.

Who will be Mr. Irrelevant?

We know this much: It won't be Kessel again. Absolutely no way to predict this accurately, so my stab in the dark is going to say Couture. He's the only member from the Sharks, he is young and plays at the position with the most players, on the wing.

Who will be the captains?

The official announcement will come in a week, so for now we're left to speculate. Alfredsson is a given seeing how the game is in Ottawa. Take that one to the bank. The other was likely going to be Selanne, but now ... Iginla? Maybe you go with an old Senator in Chara? I'd take my chances it's Iginla.

Or maybe Kessel? That would be interesting.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 10:52 am
 

The Sharks' holiday video is absolutely must-see

By Brian Stubits

The other day we shared with you the Florida Panthers sending along their holiday greetings through song. It was entertaining for sure.

But then the all-stars of NHL marketing came to the plate with eight and a half minutes of spectacularly awesome holiday viral video and completely blew the Panthers out of the water.

The San Jose Sharks are no strangers to great ads where players are seen doing other professions poorly before you're reminded that they are great at hockey. You could literally spend an hour watching and laughing at the videos.

They have also knocked a few holiday videos out of the park. Here is their 2009 version, then they one-upped it with the 2010 version.

But here is this year's version and, quite frankly, I don't see how it can ever be topped. It's Fabulous!

It's too hard to highlight any one or two specific moments that are particularly funny. I'll leave that up to you, but just know this is full of candidates.

I'll just say that Jumbo Joe Thornton makes me laugh every time he's on the screen, whether he talks or not.

Don't ever stop, Sharks. Please, don't ever stop.

H/t to Puck Daddy

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
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