It’s always nice to look back on the World Hockey Championship and see if you can glean any nuggets of data you can use to influence your opinion on a player. Occasionally, you may even find a possible dark horse for the season ahead.
Mikhail Grabovski, Belarus (Toronto) – There aren’t many stars Belarus can boast, but Grabovski’s nine points in seven games against some impressive competition strengthens my opinion he can top 70 in the NHL.
Jason Spezza (Ottawa) and Martin St-Louis (Tampa Bay), Canada – They’ve still got it. Expect at least 85 points from St-Louis next season and 95 from Spezza. The two combined for 26 points in their nine games.
Shea Weber, Canada (Nashville) – He’ll be a 60-point rearguard starting next year. His 12-point tourney only solidifies that opinion.
Steven Stamkos, Canada (Tampa Bay) – After gathering 11 points in the tourney, his hot second half carried over to the international event. I’m convinced he’ll top 70 points in 2009-10.
Pekka Rinne, Finland (Nashville) – Another dominant effort. He’ll start for the Preds and get at least 35 wins next year.
Alexander Radulov, Russia (Nashville) – If he returns to the NHL next season – and I believe he will – he’ll flirt with 70 points.
Oleg Saprykin, Russia (free agent) – He can be a 65-point player in the NHL if put in the right situation. I doubt he’ll come back, though.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Russia (Phoenix) – Solid tournament; he was really only shaky for one game. His confidence is back and he will come back strong for the Coyotes.
Linus Omark, Sweden (Edmonton) – Are you sure you don’t want to give this guy a shot, Edmonton? He signed a two-year deal with Dynamo Moscow of the Kontinental League because he couldn’t get the money and guarantees he wanted from the Oilers. Edmonton was unwilling to give him everything he wanted because they were afraid his diminutive frame couldn’t handle the rigors of the NHL. Ten points in nine games at this tournament makes a statement: maybe he can.
Mattias Weinhandl, Sweden (free agent) – He left the NHL just before he hit his prime. After finishing in the top-three in tourney scoring, perhaps a team will give him another shot.
Jonas Gustavsson, Sweden (free agent) – Undrafted and coming off a huge year overseas, this netminder already had 24 NHL teams knocking on his door before the tournament started. He could have the same impact another late bloomer – Niklas Backstrom – had in the NHL.
Dustin Brown, USA (Los Angeles) – Nice to see him bounce back after a brutal finish to the season. He had me worried there.
Jack Johnson, USA (Los Angeles) – Hopefully he can stay healthy this year. Clearly he is a stud on the blueline.
Shawn Horcoff, Canada (Edmonton) – Unimpressive in the season, unimpressive in this tournament. Is he on the decline already?
Jaromir Jagr, Czech Rep. (free agent) – It’s hard to call nine points in seven games “bad,” but Jagr was outscored by teammate Petr Cajanek. In his last NHL season, Jagr posted 71 points and a return won’t improve on that.
Aleksey Morozov, Russia (free agent) – He missed much of the year with a terrible knee injury, but more was expected from him in the tourney after dominating the Russian Super League (and later the KHL) in scoring. In the NHL, if he could stay healthy (which has rarely been the case), he’d top 70 points, but not 80.
Ladislav Nagy, Slovakia (free agent) – He needed more than three points in six games to show NHL teams he can still be a top-sixer.
Martin Gerber, Switzerland (Toronto) – Set to be a UFA this summer, Gerber won’t find any takers after a save percentage of .855 in the tournament on the heels of a terrible campaign.
Rostislav Olesz, Czech Rep. (Florida) – He showed a lot of promise early on his in career, but injuries have hampered his development. With just one point in the tournament, it would take an Olli Jokinen-type of explosion for Olesz’s career to ever take off. (If you remember, Jokinen was posting about 25 points per season before coming out of nowhere to become a star.)
Patrik Berglund, Sweden (St. Louis) – I certainly wouldn’t write off this promising youngster over one tournament, but after going pointless in the playoffs and managing just one point in seven games in this event, I will be rolling back expectations a little for next year. Instead of a year-to-year progression of 60-70-75 for the next three years, I now think it’ll be 55-65-70. Just a minor tweak, but that’s all a nine-game tournament should influence you.
Robert Esche (free agent) and Al Montoya (Phoenix), USA – Not the way to win a starting NHL role. Bryzgalov’s job is a little safer in Phoenix.
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