Around the League - April 8, 2010

Jason Gregor
April 08 2010 03:26PM

 

The debate over who is better, Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, will reach new heights now that the NHL Central Scouting final rankings had Seguin first and Hall second. For the past few months many posters, fans, bloggers and members of the media have said Hall was the best, however, I’ve been a believer that the Oilers, or whoever picks first should take Seguin. I’m not sold he is a better player, but he plays the more influential position; centre.

For the past few months I’ve spoken with a variety of scouts who have seen both play 30+ times, and out of the 27 scouts I asked 13 liked Hall while 14 preferred Seguin. But everyone one of them had them ranked first or second. Not much separates these two, and that is why I’ve said Seguin should be the pick.

Centres have historically been better and normally they influence the game more. Of the current top 50 scorers of all time, five are defencemen, 15 wingers and 30 are centres. Eight of the top-ten scorers of all-time played the middle. If Hall was a clear number one, like Patrick Kane in 2007, then of course he should go first, but he isn’t and that’s why taking Seguin first overall makes more sense.

The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup, and up until Henrik Sedin, Trevor Linden was the best centre they’ve ever had. The Flames traded their last great centre, Joe Nieuwendyk, to Dallas in exchange for Jarome Iginla. Iginla has been good for the Flames, but only once in 13 years did his team win a playoff round. And all we ever hear is how he needs a centreman.

One centreman won’t change everything for your team, but it is clear a franchise has a better chance with an elite centre than an elite winger. Of course you need a goalie and solid defence, but a centreman normally has more of an influence on a winger’s game than the winger has on the guy taking the draws.

Conn Smyth Trophy winners

LW
Gainey
Leech

C
Beliveau
Keon
Trottier
Goring
Messier
Gretzky
Lemieux
Sakic
Yzerman
Nieuwendyk
Richards
Zetterberg
Malkin

RW
Cournoyer
Lafleur
Bossy
C. Lemieux

D
Savard
Orr
Robinson
MacInnis
Leetch
Stevens
Lidstrom
Niedermayer

G
Crozier
Hall
Dryden
Parent
B. Smith
Roy
Hextall
Ranford
Vernon
Giguere
Ward

Fifteen centremen, 14 goalies, nine D-men, four right wingers, and two left wingers make up the list.

Look at the Stanley Cup champions and strength down the middle seems more important than strength on the wings. No team in recent memory had more dominant strength on the wings than down the middle. Goalies and centremen are the most dominant positions, but drafting a goalie in the first round is very rare.

Since 1969, 947 players have been drafted in the first round. Only 54 of them have been goalies, which is a measly 5.7%. Active goalies taken in the first round include Martin Brodeur (22nd), Roberto Luongo (4th), Marc-Andre Fleury (1st), Cam Ward (25th), Kari Lehtonen (2nd), Pascal Leclaire (8th), Rick Dipietro (1st), Devan Dubnyk (14th), Carey Price (5th), Simeon Varlamov (23rd) and Tukka Rask (21st). The first four are stars, but the rest are still developing and some are already in their second organization.

Only six goalies chosen in the first round have won the Stanley Cup: Tom Barrasso, Grant Fuhr, Martin Brodeur, Cam Ward, Marc-Andre Fleury and Michel Larocque. Goalies have become the most important position in hockey, but their development takes longer, thus many top flight goalies are taken later on.

It seems that Stanley Cup winners are blessed with either dominant guys down the middle or great defence. Rarely are teams led to the Cup by a dominating winger looking at the recent champions.

  • Crosby/Malkin/Staal in Pittsburgh
  • Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Draper in Detroit.
  • The Ducks won with great goaltending and two hall of fame blueliners.
  • Staal/Brind’Amour/Weight in Carolina.
  • Lecavalier and Richards in Tampa.
  • The Devils won with Stevens and Brodeur with three shutouts in the finals.
  • Yzerman/Federov/Lidstrom led the Wings.
  • Sakic/Forsberg/Roy was the backbone of the Avs.
  • Modano/Nieuwendyk/Belfour/Zubov led the Stars.

The last winger you could argue that led his team to victory from was Claude Lemieux, and he won’t make the Hall of Fame. He was great in the playoffs, but he was known more for scoring clutch goals than dominating a series.

I’m not saying it is a lock that Seguin will be more of an impact player in the NHL than Hall, but considering they are ranked so close I would go with the centre, based on past history and the fact Seguin’s 2nd year in junior was better than Hall’s second season in Windsor.

ICE WOMEN OF THE WEEK

The Phoenix Coyotes clinched home ice in the first round yesterday so say hello to Kristen. She is a veteran member of The Pack Entertainment Squad. This blonde haired, blue eyed beauty is a broadcast Journalism Student at Arizona State University, her favorite food is Mac & Cheese, her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, she loves watching movies and she never shies away from a night of karaoke. Sounds like a perfect date; cook her some KD, hit a karaoke bar and then rent a movie. Giddy Up!

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • Would you trade Jarome Iginla for the 2nd pick if you were Darryl Sutter? Or does loyalty to a player mean something to you.
  • Will Darryl Sutter remain as GM, will Brent remain as coach? The off-season in Alberta will be fun to watch, but both teams will be revamping complete opposite areas of their team.
  • Right now, who do you think will be a better team next year, the Flames or the Oilers?
  • The schedule maker got it right. The Rangers and Flyers finish the season with a home and home series. Those games are essentially playoff games.
  • I think Mike Gillis’ patience will cost his a team a lengthy playoff run. With Aaron Rome, Shane O’Brien or Andrew Alberts as a third pairing they are in trouble. And all three might have to play because Sami “injury-waiting-to-happen” Salo is always a play away from the pressbox.
  • Ted Leonsis is one of the few owners in sports who talks to the fans. His blog his pretty insightful and entertaining. www.tedstake.com Of course he is pro-Capitals, but Capital fans love interacting with him. He responds to their complaints and that’s what the fans want. The Oilers should pay attention.
  • I have no idea what the criteria is for the Messier award, but it’s supposed to go to “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." The five finalists are Nicklas Lidstrom, Jamie Langenbrunner, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Miller and Mike Richards. I’m a huge Messier fan, but this award is hard to handout, because unless you are in the room no one really knows how good of a leader a player is. Richards has been getting ripped all year for being a bad leader, yet he makes the final five. I don’t get it.

LEADERS THROUGH THE SEASON

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
48: Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby
47: Steven Stamkos
43: Patrick Marleau
41: Marian Gaborik
40: Ilya Kovalchuk
39: Dany Heatley and Alex Semin
37: Zach Parise
35: Alexandre Burrows

Assists:
78: Henrik Sedin
68: Joe Thornton
67: Brad Richards and Nicklas Backstrom
63: Martin St. Louis
58: Ovechkin and Paul Stastny
56: Patrick Kane
55: Mike Green
54: Daniel Sedin and Duncan Keith

Points:
107: H. Sedin
106: Ovechkin
100: Crosby
98: Backstrom
91: Brad Richards
90: Martin St. Louis
89: Stamkos
87: Thornton
86: Kane
84: Gaborik

Plus/Minus:
+44:
Jeff Schultz
+43: Ovechkin
+35: Mike Green
+34: Backstrom, Daniel Sedin and H. Sedin
+33: Christian Ehrhoff
+31: Alex Burrows and Alex Semin
+26: Tom Poti

***Patrick O’Sullivan has a big lead for the green jacket sitting at -37. Shawn Horcoff has dropped to -28, with Rod Brind’Amour is -26 while former Oiler Steve Staios sits near the bottom -27.***

PP Goals:
21:
Stamkos
18: Heatley
14: Anze Kopitar and Gaborik
13: Mike Richards, Crosby, Ovechkin, B.Richards, Tomas Holmstrom and Teemu Selanne

Hits:
308: Cal Clutterbuck
283: Ryan Callahan
274: Dustin Brown
262: Stephane Robidas
255: David Backes
247: Steve Ott
245: Brooks Orpik
239: Chris Neil
230: Matt Greene
228: Douglas Murray

Shots:
360: Ovechkin
333: Parise
310: Jeff Carter
301: Henrik Zetterberg
297: Phil Kessel
286: Vincent Lecavalier
285: Crosby
275: Patric Hornqvist and Heatley
272: B. Richards and Kovalchuk

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Wanyes bastard child
April 08 2010, 07:30PM
Trash it!
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props

Wait, we can comment on Articles?!?!?!

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#2 David Ogden Stiers
April 09 2010, 08:21AM
Trash it!
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trashes
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props

I like Pierce and Honeycutt in the draft.

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