The popular belief is that the blueprint to success is drafting that elite player atop the prospect heap to lead the charge. Without a doubt the Pittsburgh Penguins are the main root of the belief – and rightfully so. Drafting Marc-Andre Fleury; Evgeni Malkin; Sidney Crosby; and Jordan Staal from 2002 to 2006 certainly bodes well for the argument. The Blackhawks’ rise to the elite class of the league since drafting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (drafted 3rd in 2006 and 1st 2007 respectively) helps as well.

But is that the only way to do it? Are the Stars doomed unless they can somehow sneak in to the top five at this year’s draft and grab that elite talent? It would certainly help, no doubt, but there’s a very solid argument out there that says they can make out just fine without.

With four Stanley Cups and two more Cup Final appearances since 1995, the Detroit Red Wings can be compared to almost any dynasty from the past when taking all circumstances in to account. They’ve been as good as it gets in this day and age, being led recently by players like Niklas Lidstrom (drafted 53rd in 1989), Pavel Datsyuk (drafted 171st in 1998), and Henrik Zetterberg (drafted 210th in 1999).

If you want to argue that three of their cups were raised in the days of free spending, they do still have 2008 and once again proved to be a very relevant team this year. There are also more current examples of teams reaching the pinnacle of hockey without hitching their wagons to a fleet of thoroughbreds taken early in the draft. As current as one of this year’s finalists and the last two Stanley Cup champs.

Looking at the the last two Stanley Cup champions and the key cogs to their respective runs:

 

2012 Los Angeles Kings

  • Dustin Brown – drafted 14th in 2003
  • Anze Kopitar – drafted 11th in 2005
  • Jonathan Quick – drafted 72nd in 2005
  • Drew Doughty – drafted 2nd in 2008
  • Justin Williams – via trade in 2009
  • Mike Richards – via trade in 2011*
  • Jeff Carter – via trade in 2012

*2009 5th overall pick Brayden Schenn was the main piece the Kings sent to Philadelphia for Mike Richards.

2011 Boston Bruins

  • Tim Thomas – via free agency 2002
  • Patrice Bergeron – drafted 45th in 2003
  • David Krejci – drafted 63rd in 2004
  • Zdeno Chara – via free agency in 2006
  • Milan Lucic – drafted 50th in 2006
  • Brad Marchand – drafted 71st in 2006
  • Nathan Horton – via trade in 2010

 

Those lists are not exactly filled with high draft picks – but a mixture of smart draft picks, proper development, and key additions either by trade or free agency. Drew Doughty is the lone example there of a top five draft pick making an impact.

The Bruins’ roster is virtually the same as it was in 2011, with Tuukka Rask between the pipes instead of Thomas being the only difference of note. Rask himself was acquired via trade from the Maple Leafs in 2006. The Bruins recently disposed of the talent laden Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight and will face the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Wednesday. Rock solid proof that mining your talent with high picks in the draft is not the only route to success.

Could the Stars be helped by adding a player like Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin to their group of forwards at the draft? You bet your ass. It would be foolish to suggest otherwise. Can they build a winner by Jim Nill and co. making smart acquisitions and developing their own prospects properly? You can bet your ass on that too. Whether it happens or not is the only question.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

 

UPDATE 2:00 AM ET: It’s pretty late here, so this  is definitely my last update of the night. I’d say you can disregard the main post below at this point.. I’m still shocked, and a little mad at what transpired tonight. I thought that the Boston deal was pretty bad, but this deal takes the cake. It’s obvious that Iginla chose the deal he wanted, and that messed up the Flames, hopefully not in the long run. It’s been a late night for me, and every other intense hockey fan. Around 1:30 AM I was shutting my eyes and checked my phone only to see that the Pens had acquired Iginla, and not the Bruins. I rushed to my computer to update all of you, and now I feel wide awake. Iginla will speak tomorrow to the media, and expect water works.

If I were a Flames fan I’d be even more sad. Not only did they lose Iginla but they also took a pretty bad deal. I’ve said this a lot, but I’ll say it again.. Poor Calgary.

UPDATE 1:40 AM ET: Deal is for Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a 1rst round pick – not conditional. Crazy, crazy, crazy night. I guess this post was all speculation. On behalf of everyone in the NHL, I’m sorry we all got that wrong. Who would have thunk it?

UPDATE 1:36 AM ET: Iginla traded to Pens! Iginla traded to Pens! Everyone fan of the NHL got screwed up tonight! After everyone thinking that a trade to Boston was all but official, Jay Feaster tricks us all and sends Iggy to Pens!

UPDATE 12:50 AM ET: Flames get their first win in the post Iggy era. 4-3 final – Calgary. If the deal is officially announced tonight it’ll be in a matter of minutes.

UPDATE 12:25 AM ET: First rounder going Calgary’s way is a conditional pick. Condition is on Iginla singing with Boston.

UPDATE 12:20 AM ET: Though deal appears to be done, it doesn’t look like anything will be announced by the teams tonight, Darren Dreger reports. Expect an announcement early tomorrow. “Iggy, Iggy, Iggy” chants going strong at the Dome. Currently 4-2 Flames.

UPDATE 12:06 AM ET: Boston Bruins sources confirm Jarome Iginla has been traded per TSN’s Aaron Ward.

 

It feels like April 3rd (trade deadline) already in the hockey world! As of Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 an era appears to have ended in Calgary. A Jarome Iginla deal to the Boston Bruins is all but official. Jarome Iginla was a healthy scratch tonight for the first time since the last game of the season in 2007. This was to save him for the playoffs, but him getting scratched today certainly isn’t a tactic to keep him fresh for the post-season. Even though they’re only 6 points out of eighth spot (4 points if they win tonight) in the West it is looking very doubtful and a deal to the Bruins looks imminent at this moment. The reported deal includes Matthew Bartkowski, Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round pick going from Boston to Calgary, according to Bob McKenzie.

Without getting too far into the specifics of the deal, let’s just talk about with this means for some of the teams in the playoff race.

With Bostons shootout loss tonight in Montreal they’re currently sitting in fourth place in the conference (second in the division) and 6 points behind the conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.

As a Sens fan I don’t mind this deal. It’s looking like Boston is poised to take the top spot in the Northeast. As it sits now the Sens are  fifth in the East, and B’s are fourth. This means that if playoffs were to start tomorrow they would be matched up in the first round.

The Sens have never played well against the Bruins. It’s actually quite uncanny so that match up is horrifying even without Iginla on the team.

Assuming Boston can take top spot in the division, a Montreal match up is much more likely, and friendly looking.

This is pure speculation, but Boston lines could potentially look like this:

Lucic-Krejci-Seguin
Marchand-Bergeron-Iginla
Soderberg-Peverly-Horton
Paille-*Kelly-Campell

*Kelly is currently out with a tibia injury but should be back come playoff time.

One of the scariest, if not scariest, lineups in the league. I couldn’t have done better myself in my NHL Be A GM mode. Props to  Chia.

I can’t  imagine a better playoff team. They have all the pieces in place for a run at the cup. Scoring, grit, goal tending, defense, and offense are all there, and looking to be running on all cylinders.

Could this be the rebuild we’ve been waiting so long for? The rebuild that should have happened three years ago? I think so. If I’m a fan of Calgary there is a lot of sadness right now, but it’s going to get better for them. They should feel happy that this is finally happening. The Sens went through a similar thing two years ago and they’ve already made the playoffs once and are poised to make them once again this season, so anything is possible for the Flames. They could even potentially make the playoffs this year.

After this deal is official I’d be willing to bet the floodgates open for Feaster and the Flames and we see players like Cammalleri, Glencross, Tanguay and others all have speculation start swirling around them.

With the deadline only a week away and things beginning to heat up you can bet I’ll be here bringing not just Sens news, but news from around the league to you.

In regards to the Sens, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a busy year for them. With news that a Cowen return is now possible, Andy, who has been day to day for a month and a half, looking ready to be back in a matter of days, and Spezza expected back before playoffs it’s almost like they don’t need any trades. They have a top four defenseman, first line center and Vezina contending goalie all (hopefully) coming back in a matter of time.

But, of course, if something does happen I’ll know right away and relay it all to you.

Good luck to Calgary in the post Iggy era, and congratulations to Boston on their recent blockbuster.

Cheers,

Mack

 

Monday night the Ottawa Senators suffered a 3-2 loss in a shootout to the Boston Bruins. Kyle Turris and Guillame Latendresse notched the two goals for the Sens, both coming in the first period. Guillame Latendresse suffered a whiplash injury in the 6th game of the season and came back to score his first goal on his first shift back. Turris also ended  a lengthy goalless drought. Bruins answered quickly, scoring one at the end of the first and another in the second. The Senators inevitably fell through in the shootout, but no one is talking about the outcome of the game as much as the Kaspars Daugavins shootout attempt.

As the fourth shooter, Kaspars Daugavins tried a move you don’t typically see. You can see it here. This move has thrown the hockey world into a frenzy, though, it’s not the first time he’s tried this. In an AHL preseason game playing with the Binghampton Senators (Ottawa’s farm team), he tried the exact same move. It worked out a little better, and even made national news then. You can see that shot here.

Talking heads throughout the league are pretty split on their opinion of it. One half saying it’s disrespectful to the game, and the other half saying it’s beneficial. My take on it is that the shootout itself is the only thing that should be called disrespectful. It’s a game of luck, not skill. You have a 50/50 chance of scoring. You could put out your defensive defenseman and he could still score. Daugavins did something everyone else is too afraid to do, he tried to make it more entertaining. He did exactly that, and I don’t see how people can call it disrespectful.

The shootout was implemented because the fans wanted to see a clear winner, and the league wanted it to be entertaining. Well, league, it’s not entertaining. The shootout sucks. There, I said it. The shootout is so ridiculous to have. I don’t see why they can’t play 4 on 4, then 3 on 3 until someone scores. Is there another team renting the ice out after the game?

I think if anything needs to be changed, it’s the way the tie-breaker is set up, not the way shooters shoot. All he did was attempt to make the game a little more interesting, and he certainly made my job easier, because I just wrote 400 words about it.

Though, his attempt to score failed, he made me respect him a lot more for trying to pull that.

He surprised a lot of people, with the coach of the Ottawa Senators, Paul MacLean quoted as saying, “my initial reaction when the stick went down was ‘buckle up’, because I didn’t know what was happening. But, then again, he’s Latvian so I rarely know what’s going on.”.

It certainly made a questionable tradition of deciding games through shootout a lot more exciting, so I commend you, K-Daug.

In other Senator news, the team finally got their heavyweight they’ve been looking for. On Tuesday afternoon, Bryan Murray and the boys pulled off a deal for Matt Kassian, not to be confused with Zack. Kassian has been in  the Wild organization for his whole career and was playing for the Houston Aeros, Wild affiliate, at the time of the trade.

The trade was a 6th round draft pick in 2014 in exchange for the 6’5, 205 pound heavyweight. The Sens have not had a bonafide fighter since Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner both left via free agency last summer. It could be argued that Neil is that heavyweight player, and this trade was unnecessary, but it’s tough for one man to handle the job all the time. In the two previous games we have seen Patrick Weircioch and Chris Phillips both drop the gloves. I don’t think we’ll be seeing that happen anymore. During last years home opener for the Sens, Kassian fought Zenon Konopka. Click here for video of that fight.

Not only will Kassian be a fighter, but just having him in the lineup will make any potential combatants think twice before making a dirty hit. In an interview yesterday.

In an interview yesterday Matt Kassian was noted as saying,

 I’m going to be a very physical player, a very tough presence, I’m going to be a little bit of human HGH and make the guys grow a couple of inches out there. You want your players to play confident and feel comfortable out there in a very physical division that’s in a very physical conference. You want to bring that element of physicality and toughness and grit and that’s what I’m going to bring.

Kassian went through waiver earlier this season and some have been asking why the Sens didn’t pick him up then. The reason they didn’t is because of a blip in the CBA that says if they had picked him up he would have just went through waivers regardless, and could have been once again picked up, so trading him was the better option so he could start off with the big club. He is not expected to make his debut Wednesday vs. Montreal, but rather Saturday vs. the Sabres.

I’m hopeful for a Jon Scott – Matt Kassian tilt. As any good hockey fan would be.

Now, to adress the trade rumors. Let’s get it out of the way. These are the rumored players – Alfie, Gonchar

Do I think either of these players will be traded? No. Here’s why.

Daniel Alfredsson – longest serving captain currently in the NHL, spent his whole career in Ottawa, leading scorer this season for the Sens, team backbone, face of the franchise, and most of all, the team is currently in playoff contention.

Let’s just pretend for a minute that Alfie was going to get traded. There are a few destinations being thrown around. The obvious ones are Boston, Chicago and Vancouver.

Vancouver has a history of targeting players at the end of their careers to give them a last chance at the Cup. Most notably, fellow Swede, Mats Sundin. I think that if Alfie had to choose, his destination would be Vancouver. He’d potentially be playing with the Twins.

Chicago and Boston are lesser possibilities. It’s been made clear that management is not going to move him unless he has specifically asked for a trade, and with the deadline just weeks away, if he hasn’t by now I doubt he does at all. Also, if Alfie has asked for a trade he gets to basically choose where he goes and I don’t think he’d want to go to a division rival such as the Bruins.

If I had to choose where Alfie would go, I’d pick Chicago. For 3 reasons, 1) best chance at a cup 2) not divisional rival 3) they’re not Vancouver. I don’t think that last one is a reason, but I whatever.

In wrap up, I find it highly unlikely Alfie ever plays for a team not based out of Ottawa. Even when he’s old, his beer league team will be based out of Ottawa, but I guess it’s fun for media to speculate.

Sergei Gonchar is another name being thrown around, God knows why. It’s so obvious the Sens can not trade this player. With Erik Karlsson out for the entire duration of the season he is the only offensive defenseman the Senators have. Trading him would be a pretty moronic move in my opinion. Sergei Gonchar is one of the most underrated players in the franchise and I think it’s even pretty possible he get’s resigned to a one year deal this off-season.

If he were to get traded, I think the name most people are tossing around is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re always looking to add that final piece for a Cup run, and Gonchar has close ties with them. Malkin would also probably love it. When Malkin came to North America from Russia, Sergei took him under his wing and showed him the roped. It has been said that Malkin looks up to Gonchar almost as a father figure.  I also doubt this deal happens because of the current situation the Sens are in.

I think Sens fans should gear up for another boring trade deadline. Maybe one or two more deals are in the works, but for nothing huge. You have to remember that this is a youth movement, and that’s a good thing. Developing players now will be huge for the future.

Since so much has happened since my last post, I can only speculate that even more is in store for the coming weeks, especially with the deadline looming. If there is anymore Alfie news, we’ll be hearing about it in the coming days. I look forward to bringing all of their news to straight to you.

 

Cheers,

Mack

 

 

Remember, Remember the fifth of Movember.

For Phil Kessel Movember is more than mustaches and fundraisers. Movember is a reminder of his battle with cancer. During Kessel’s rookie year he was diagnosed with Testicular cancer. Most people would take a day off of work after finding out such stressful news. Phil Kessel did no such thing. Shortly after being diagnosed Kessel played in a 5-1 loss against New Jersey at home. Three days later he had surgery to remove his right testicle. Kessel was lucky. Further tests showed the cancer was confined to the removed testicle. After a two week  rehabilitation period Kessel was back on the ice and finished the season with 11 goals and 29 points. He also became the first NHL rookie to win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Kessel might not have made history if he didn’t go to the doctor. Many men find out they have cancer too late. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor. We can’t always stop cancer from taking form but we can keep it from spreading. Take a word of advice from what Kessel said to ESPN in 2006, ” If you’re not feeling well go get checked out and make sure you’re all right.”

It’s never to late to fight cancer. Please Join the Battle and donate to help put an end to Testicular and Prostate cancer here.

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