The case for Ryan Miller for the Hart Trophy

Miller.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Next up: Ryan Miller.

Why
he deserves it:
There is absolutely no question who the most
dominant and most important goaltender for any team has been this
season. He has the best GAA (2.23) and save percentage (.928) of any
goaltender with more than 50 games, but this isn’t even about his
numbers. It’s about being the leader from the net of a team that
wouldn’t even come close to sniffing the playoffs if he wasn’t in net.

The
Hart Trophy should go to the player who is most valuable to their team,
while dominating the teams they play night in and night out. There’s no
question that the Sabres would never have been able to win their
division this season with Miller’s dominance, and this is one example of
team that is driven by the player between the pipes. Teams with great
goaltenders who are successful always have a strong presence up forward,
but the Sabres are a team who’s success starts in net feeds the rest of
the team.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: Once again,
it’s hard to find an exact reason why Miller doesn’t deserve the Hart
and that’s the issue with the race this season. He’s just fourth in the
NHL in wins this season, and some say that the Sabres’ defense is also a
good reason for his success. But that’s just a cop out. Miller’s been
incredible.

Why he’ll get it: It’s tough to deny
Miller’s greatness, and when you see how successful the Sabres have been
this season it’s impossible to look elsewhere for another player who
has been more dominant and more valuable to his team than Ryan Miller.

Why
he won’t get it:
He’s a goaltender. For some reason, some see
the Vezina as a good alternative to giving a goalie the Hart. It
happens, but it’s extremely rare.

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    WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

    You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

    On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

    The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

    Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday

     

    ‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

    Valeri Nichushkin
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    Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

    However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

    For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

    As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

    His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

    Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

    Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

    “We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

    “Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

    “He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

     

    Coyotes hire new COO

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

    The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

    Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

    Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

    Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

    Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

    Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

    COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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    Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

    Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

    “Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

    Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.