Adam is off on vacation, so THN staffers step up to answer your queries this week and next. Adam will return to the mailbag March 25, refreshed and ready to go.
Hey Adam: What do you think James Reimer's chances are at the Calder? If the Leafs can sneak into the playoffs, Reimer is the main reason for their success since he's been called up. I know there are a bunch of rookies playing well this season, but Reimer's play has been exceptional. The future looks much brighter than it had at the start of this season. P.S. Looks like Kulemin will be a 30-goal guy this season! GO LEAFS GO
Scott Longenecker, Annville, PA
My apologies to Leafs Nation, but there’s no way Reimer will win the Calder. He has been putting up excellent numbers for a below-average squad, but there are other rookies around the league playing in pressure situations for better teams and posting eye-popping numbers of their own. Corey Crawford, Michal Neuvirth and Sergei Bobrovsky are all rookie No. 1 netminders for top teams. Up front, Islander Michael Grabner has a chance at 35 goals and Carolina’s Jeff Skinner might reach 60 points, the most for a rookie since Patrick Kane in 2007-08. On the blueline, John Carlson and Cam Fowler will also garner some attention.
So although Reimer has shone this season for the Buds and done a wonderful (and surprising) job of spurring them into the playoff hunt, he hasn’t played enough to be named top freshman. -JG
Hello Adam fill-ins, I have two small questions. Is Matt Moulson really this good or is he simply an above average player who is the best on a horrible team? He will probably hit 30 goals and has 43 points in 68 games right now. Hard to say he would put up those numbers playing for a playoff team such as Chicago, Vancouver, San Jose, Washington, or Tampa Bay. Secondly, assuming Edmonton selects first overall, Adam Larsson would surely be the gem of their blueline in the future. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the other favored choice. Would you take Larsson to build your blueline around or possibly create the next Messier and Gretzky combo in Hall and Nugent-Hopkins?
Anthony Kelly, Whitby, ON
The phenomenon of “someone always has to score on a bad team” is very real, but can’t be used to cover all players. I think the important thing to note in Matt Moulson’s case is that his offense has not been entirely as a result of playing with young star linemate John Tavares. In fact, Moulson averaged a point per game early this season when Tavares missed time due to a concussion.
On top of that, consider the opportunity Moulson has been given in New York in terms of ice time; perhaps his skills were just buried in Los Angeles. Of course, until he plays for a good team, it’s hard to be precise.
As for Edmonton, I firmly believe they should draft Larsson. While Nugent-Hopkins is an excellent prospect, he may not be a straight-to-the-NHL guy, simply because he doesn’t have the biggest frame (six-foot, 164 pounds). Larsson can step right in - just like Victor Hedman did in Tampa - and provide the Oilers with solid, all-around play. And defense has been a major sore spot in Edmonton this year. Thanks for writing! -RK
At what point will Corey Crawford get some support for Rookie of the Year? He is the red-hot workhorse goalie for the defending Stanley Cup Champions who was supposed to caddie for newly signed free agent Marty Turco. All Crawford has done is win the job; tally a GAA that is ranked fifth in the league; post a .917 save percentage that is second for rookies; earn three shut outs, which is tied for the lead among freshman; lea all rookies in minutes; and sit second amongst rookies in shots against. Don't get me wrong, I like the way Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner play the game, but neither player is the difference maker Crawford has been for the Blackhawks, who will be headed to the playoffs while Edmonton and Carolina players call for tee times.
Al Bloom, Montgomery, AL
First off, it’s interesting to note Crawford just made the cut in terms of technically being a rookie; had he turned 26 before Sept. 15 of 2010 as opposed to on Dec. 31, he would have been ineligible. That footnote aside, Crawford is definitely the best freshman goalie in this year’s class, which may well earn him a Calder nomination, but I doubt he’ll become the fifth goalie in 17 seasons to claim rookie-of-year honors.
Now, if Crawford was on pace to play 65 games this year, I think he’d have the inside track. As you know, we can scratch Hall from the rookie race because of his ankle injury, but I would say Skinner (rookie points leader) and Islanders sniper Michael Grabner (who will top 30 goals) both have a slightly better crack than Crawford. But, as you mentioned, Crawford can take solace in the fact he’s the only one out of that crop who has a real chance to keep playing until it’s almost time to hand out the hardware. -RD
Is it not the right time to have the NHL look at all the rinks that were built in the past 10 years and make them like in Europe? The NHL players are training 12 months of the year and are getting stronger on the physical and skating side. The bigger rinks would give them ample room to try and avoid those head shot hits! MY OPINION IS THE LARGER THE RINK THE HARDER TO CLOCK SOMEONE!!!
Sammy Millihuzin, Lake Louise, Alta.
MY OPINION IS THE LARGER THE RINK, THE FASTER YOU CAN SKATE INTO SOMEONE!!!
Seriously though, like anything else, one simple adjustment isn’t going to take care of everything. The larger rinks in Europe open the game up for more defense and actually make offense a more difficult task. And if you’re talking about the players being bigger, stronger and faster, how much harder would the hits be if they had more room to pick up speed?
Never mind you’d have to take a row or two of seats out of NHL arenas, which owners would be loath to do. I just don’t see this happening. In fact, reports this week indicated five Kontinental League teams will switch to smaller rinks next season to experiment. -RB
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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