Ryan Miller deserves MVP recognition

Miller.jpgDirk Hoag of On The Forecheck has a great post this afternoon on who
the front runners for the NHL MVP award are, based on statistical
analysis of which players in NHL have positively impacted their team the
most. He uses 5-on-5 impact, power play impact, penalty kill impact and
penalty +/- for a ‘total impact’ that each player had on goals for and
against throughout the season. Says Dirk:

Remember –
these measures reflect the influence of a given player on the
performance of his team. They are not meant to be used a direct
comparison of players on different teams to say “who is better”. It is,
rather, “who is more valuable to his team”. Yes, this analysis does
leave goaltenders out of the equation, but we can argue over the Vezina
another day.

The winner according to his formula is
easily Alex Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby didn’t even finish in the top 15,
just in case you were wondering. But I’m left wondering: “Where would
Ryan Miller fit in?”

Dirk does acknowledge that this analysis
leaves out goaltenders, but I don’t think that goalies should
automatically be relegated to the Vezina. That’s the trophy for the best
goaltender in the NHL. The forwards have their own: the Selke, the Art
Ross, the Maurice Richard. The defensemen have the Norris. So winning
one of the others doesn’t mean that excuses them from being out of
contention from the Hart. Just because a goaltender wins the Vezina
doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of the MVP.

There’s a precedent for
goaltenders winning the Hart. Jose Theodore won in 2002 and Dominik
Hasak won in 1997 and 1998. It’s rare — by my count just six
goaltenders have won since 1923. So is Ryan Miller deserving this
season?

Miller is just 7th in the NHL in total wins for a
goaltender, five behind Martin Brodeur. It’s important to note that
Marty has started seven more games, however. Beyond that stat, Ryan
Miller is near dominant in every other category. He and Tuukka Rask are
neck and neck in goals-against average and save percentage, yet Miller
has start 25 more games.

There’s also the fact that there is
absolutely no way the Sabres would be in the position they are now (3rd
in the East) without Ryan Miller in net. That’s a tough notion to
quantify with stats aside from the normal goaltender numbers, and
certain tough to use the same system that Dirk uses above since
goaltenders can’t help their team score.

Yet you can’t deny that
Miller’s numbers are amazing; especially in this NHL that does all it
can to help the offense. It’s not Buffalo’s defense is carrying him
either; the Sabres rank 24th in the NHL in shots allowed per game
(compared to the New Jersey Devils, who are 2nd).

Should Ryan
Miller be considered? I’m sure he will be. Should he be a serious
contender for the Hart? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s just as
important to the Sabres as the Ovechkin is the Capitals.

Can the
Capitals win without Ovechkin? It would be tough, but they’d still be a
very, very good team. Can the Sabres win without Ryan Miller?

Not a
chance.

You vote: Who should win the Hart Trophy?

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    Former Oilers tough guy Dave Semenko passes away from cancer

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    Former Edmonton Oilers forward Dave Semenko has passed away after a short battle with cancer. Semenko was 59 years old.

    The Oilers released a statement earlier this morning:

    It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Oilers legend Dave Semenko after a short, but courageous battle with cancer. Dave will be remembered as a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, fan favorite and dear friend to so many. His legendary toughness on the ice is surpassed only by his kindness and caring for others, and his equally legendary wit and sense of humor.

    Our hearts go out to Dave’s family and many friends.

    Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler

    Semenko played for the Oilers for parts of 10 seasons (two in the WHA, eight in the NHL). He also had short stints in Hartford and Toronto.

    He finished his NHL career with 65 goals, 153 points and 1,175 penalty minutes in 575 games. Semenko also won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1984 and 1985.

    Teams are reportedly lining up for pending UFAs Bonino, Williams

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    The free-agent class of 2017 isn’t loaded with quality. There is no star player available, but there are a few guys that will get a lot of attention in the coming days.

    Two of those guys are forwards Justin Williams and Nick Bonino.

    According to TSN hockey analyst Darren Dreger, both veterans have at least 10 teams chasing them before the market officially opens on July 1st.

    It looks like they’ll have no shortage of suitors:

    Per Jackets beat reporter Aaron Portzline, Columbus is one of the teams that has serious interest in Bonino.

    The 29-year-old suffered a broken tibia during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that doesn’t seem to be scaring anybody off.

    Despite being limited to a third-line role in Pittsburgh, he still managed to put up 18 goals and 37 points in 80 contests.

    Expect Bonino to come away with a significant raise whenever and wherever he signs. He had been making $1.9 million over the last three seasons with Vancouver and Pittsburgh.

    As for Williams, he may not be searching for the highest dollar amount possible. When he was a free agent two summers ago, he reportedly turned down more money from Montreal to sign with Washington for $3.25 million per year.

    Now, the veteran winger is looking at another shot at winning a Stanley Cup.

    “First and foremost, at this point, you want your family to be comfortable,” Williams said, per the Washington Post. “That’s probably number one on the list, and then number two is a chance to win. I feel like I’ve got a lot of game left. I’ve got a lot of will to win left in me, and I’m still productive.”

    The 35-year-old had 24 goals and 24 assists in 80 games with Washington in 2016-17. He added nine points in 13 postseason games.

    PHT Morning Skate: 4 free agents that will need to take a hefty pay cut

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    –30 years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Mats Sundin from the Quebec Nordiques, so The Hockey News lists the five best franchise players that have been acquired via trade. That Joe Nieuwendyk for Jarome Iginla swap worked out pretty well for both Dallas and Calgary. (The Hockey News)

    –Free agency opens in two days, so The Score predicts which four players will be the biggest bargains when it’s all said and done. Buffalo goalie Anders Nilsson isn’t a household name, but he might provide some great value for whoever signs him. (The Score)

    –The Carolina Hurricanes are loaded with quality prospects, but can any of their young junior players make the leap to the NHL next season? Julien Gauthier, Spencer Smallman and Callum Booth all had nice season with Saint John in the QMJHL, but their head coach thinks they can benefit from a stint in the NHL. (Charlotte Observer)

    –Yesterday, we wrote about Connor McDavid‘s potential $13 million per year extension. Some people believe that teams can’t pay one player that much money, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks that kind of deal could make sense for both Edmonton and their captain. (Sportsnet)

    –TSN’s Gino Reda looks at four potential unrestricted free agents that will likely be forced to take a pay cut on their next contracts. Ryan Miller, Jonathan Bernier, Dennis Wideman and Patrick Sharp can all expect to take home less money in the coming years. (TSN.ca)

    –Miller and Bernier will likely need to shave their salaries, but they still made NHL.com’s list of top free agent goalies. Brian Elliott and Steve Mason also find themselves on the list. (NHL.com)

    Josh Ho-Sang left quite an impression on Islanders coaching staff

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    Josh Ho-Sang received his first taste of the NHL this past season, appearing in 21 games for the New York Islanders.

    A first-round pick of the Islanders in 2014, Ho-Sang scored four times with 10 points in that span, but at the age of 21 and packed with skill, he was able to leave quite an impression on New York’s coaching staff heading into the summer.

    With the Islanders going through mini camp, coach Doug Weight was highly complimentary about the play of Ho-Sang following his recall from the minors and his NHL debut on March 2.

    “Josh was great,” Weight told NHL.com. “We were getting feedback from [Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson] about his attitude down there, and he was playing hard, learning the system and played with some passion. I think he showed that when he came up.

    “He easily could have had better numbers than he had. He created a lot of opportunities in games that he was snakebit or the puck wasn’t going in. Ten points in 21 games, but he could have done a lot better than that, and I think his game was good. He had some blips, and he responded well, and I think that’s a key for a young guy, and especially Josh.”

    Read more: Josh Ho-Sang scores first career NHL goal

    Islanders general manager Garth Snow has been busy, last week acquiring scoring right winger Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers. New York now has 13 forwards under contract for next season, and more than $42 million committed.

    The Islanders have done a nice job in the last few years stockpiling skilled young forwards like Mathew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle and Kieffer Bellows in their system. Ho-Sang has one year of professional hockey under his belt, putting up 36 points in 50 games as a rookie with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers this past season.

    But after a strong showing late in the NHL season, Ho-Sang has set his sights on cracking the Islanders roster on a full-time basis next season.

    “There’s still a lot of moves they can make, and for me, I just want to come in as strong and as fast as possible and kind of not make it a decision for them . . . just ‘Josh is ready,’” he told Newsday.