The second round of the 2011 playoffs started last night. I went 7-1 with my first round picks and nailed four series in the precise number of games. That probably never will happen again, but that makes me feel slightly more confident in giving you my second round picks: Washington in six, Philadelphia in seven, San Jose in seven and Nashville in six. Now, on to your inquiries:
Adam, who do you think was the best duo in the regular season? Steven Stamkos and Martin St-Louis? The Sedin twins? Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane? Or Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Why?
Rylan Pruden, Quill Lake, Sask.
Great question. Hard to argue with the Sedins or the Ducks duo, but I’m going to go with Stamkos and St-Louis. It’s no wonder St-Louis was one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, given that he continues to serve as a mentor and set-up man for Stamkos and his prodigious scoring skills. And yes, I know full well Stamkos faded as the season went on, but I think sometimes people forget he is in only his third pro season and never had experienced the type of full-on playoff push made by the Bolts this year.
I don’t want to downplay the efforts of any of those other duos – particularly the Perry/Getzlaf pairing, which was dominant for Anaheim – but if you removed either Stamkos or St-Louis from Tampa Bay, I think the Bolts and the player you didn’t remove would suffer immensely. That’s the deciding factor for me.
Hey Adam, Ilya Bryzgalov says he won’t re-sign with the Coyotes if the franchise moves to Winnipeg, but do you think he would re-sign if they moved to Quebec City?
Thomas Karvounis, New Lowell, Mass.
The quick answer to your question is that it’s a moot one, as there is no way the Coyotes are moving to Quebec City anytime soon. There is no NHL-caliber arena there and most believe Winnipeg is in position to get a relocated team before any other city.
But for argument’s sake, let’s say you’re right and Quebec City was neck-and-neck with Winnipeg to have a franchise again. I think there would be similar concerns from not only Bryzgalov, but many players, in terms of the weather and the culture. In addition, there’s the language issue to consider as well.
None of this is to say those factors would stop all NHLers from playing in Quebec City, especially when money will always speak louder than most of them. But there will always be some hurdles inherent to those particular markets and there’s usually only one way to get over them: winning.
Hey Adam, I was wondering your opinion on the restricted free agents out there. Could a team like the Rangers or Thrashers lure Steven Stamkos from Tampa Bay or Zach Parise from New Jersey?
George Foley, New York City
First of all, with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Thrashers in Atlanta, I doubt any RFA would want to commit long-term to that franchise this summer. Now, the Rangers (as well as the Maple Leafs) will have enough available salary cap room to make a generous offer to either Stamkos or Parise, but you have to ask yourself the more important question: will either the Lightning or Devils choose not to match the offer and allow either player to leave?
My humble judgment in that regard is best expressed in all-caps: HELL, NO. The Bolts have a new owner willing to spend to the cap ceiling and would sooner move the franchise than let Stamkos go. And after seeing just how much the Devils needed Parise in their lineup this season, I strongly doubt GM Lou Lamoriello would want to be without him on a long-term basis.
The more interesting RFA – Islanders center John Tavares – doesn’t come on the market until the summer of 2012. If that team doesn’t improve next year and ownership doesn’t get its new arena agreed to, they could be ripe for a raiding and Tavares may not wish to stick around for the completion of GM Garth Snow’s rebuild.
Hey Adam, do you think Mats Sundin will make it in to the Hockey Hall of Fame? In my opinion, he is the greatest Leaf ever and deserves the honor more than anyone.
Matthew Cohn, Toronto
The greatest Leaf ever? You must be a young man. I know plenty of 40-to-60-year-olds who are choking on their Geritol after reading that assertion. When you get a chance, look up the accomplishments of ex-Leafs such as Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Syl Apps, ‘Teeder’ Kennedy or Tim Horton, then let me know if you wish to retract that remark.
Anyhow, I don’t have a HHOF ballot – only the secretive HHOF induction committee does – but if I did, Sundin wouldn’t be at or near the top of it. He was barely a point-per-game player and others of that ilk, such as Adam Oates, still haven’t been inducted. Moreover, he never was a First Team NHL All-Star (and only twice was a Second Team All-Star), never was nominated for an individual award, never carried his team to an appearance in the Stanley Cup final.
You can argue the crappy teams he played on in Toronto played a significant role in all those aspects of his career, but the facts are the facts. And to me, the facts are that Sundin deserves to be in the International Hockey Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Swedish hockey program – but not the HHOF.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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