Happy weekend, everyone. Today, we present to you another Screen Shots column, in which we break down a few newsworthy hockey topics into smaller column portions for your reading interest. Time to get to Topic One:
– In recent weeks, there’s been a notable campaign to get Ottawa Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson honored with admission into the Hockey Hall of Fame. From this writer's perspective, Alfredsson has done enough to merit an HHOF nod. He may not have been the most dominant performer at his position, but in 18 NHL seasons – as well as 14 international elite hockey tournaments – the Swedish winger made enough of an impact to be worthy of Hall of Fame admission.
The 49-year-old Alfredsson has been retired since 2014, and he still holds numerous Senators records, including most regular season goals (426), assists (682) and points (1,008), as well as most playoff games played (121), and most post-season goals (51), assists (49) and points (100). He played 1,246 games, and in 13 seasons, he had at least 20 goals; in four seasons, he had at least 32 goals. There are current HHOF members who have far fewer points than Alfredsson generated, and he’s synonymous with the Sens franchise the way few of his colleagues ever have been with their particular NHL team.
When it comes down to it, HHOF honors are supposed to go to players who’ve shown a first-rate “ability, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general”. Who can deny Alfredsson meets all of those qualifications? He was one of the classiest NHLers of his or any generation. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1996. His philanthropy was readily apparent when he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (for leadership and humanitarian work) in 2012, and his abilities as a phenomenal dressing room example were underscored when he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2013.
That ought to be more than enough to get Alfredsson into the HHOF – and that’s before you consider his footprint on the international game. He was part of Olympic gold and silver medals for Sweden, and he was on two silver-medalist Swedish teams at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships. He never won a Stanley Cup, but that’s not what the HHOF is about. It’s about “fame”, and Alfredsson surely achieved that during his on-ice years. He’s totally deserving of a place at the HHOF.
– After losing Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final Friday, the Colorado Avalanche announced they'd be going with veteran goalie Darcy Kuemper for Game Six. This shouldn't be an issue, should it? The Avs went out and spent a lot last summer to acquire Kuemper. They rode him all year to the best record in the Western Conference, and just because he allowed the OT goal to Ondrej Palat, they're supposed to abandon him now?
No, they've made the bed with Kuemper, and for the next two games, they've got to sleep in it. Kuemper’s challenge is to be equal to or better than Lightning counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy, and that’s a tall order, no matter who you are. For better or worse, Colorado’s and Kuemper’s destinies are bound together. Backup Pavel Francouz is not the answer. Better play in front of Kuemper is.
– The Nashville Predators are in an oddly public contract negotiation with star forward Filip Forsberg, and on Thursday, GM David Poile revealed the Preds have made the unrestricted free agent an eight-year extension, one more year than any other team can offer Forsberg under the current collective bargaining agreement.
However, what Poile did not make public was the dollar amount of the contract offer, telling NHL.com only that “it’s disappointing” they haven’t been able to agree to terms with the 27-year-old, who posted career-highs in goals (42) assists (42) and points (84) in just 69 games this past season. Forsberg was in the final year of a contract with an annual average value of $6 million, and there will be a number of teams lining up to pay him considerably more than that.
Poile’s stance on Forsberg’s contractual situation feels like an exercise in public relations, one designed to soften the blow of Forsberg moving on to a new employer. Time will tell whether Forsberg will accept a lower payday to surround himself with better players in Nashville, but as UFA season looms just ahead, he seems determined to test the open waters, and see the way the Preds react when there’s a serious, big-money offer on the table from a competitor.