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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    Eberle: ‘We haven’t made the playoffs … and something needed to change’

    SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 06:  Jordan Eberie #14 and Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates after Eberie scores a goal 10 seconds into the game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion at San Jose on March 6, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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    The P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade between the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators continues to make waves. That will probably be the case right up until the start of the season and beyond.

    On that same late-June day, however, the Edmonton Oilers shocked the hockey world by sending Taylor Hall, who four times in his young career has hit the 20-goal plateau, to New Jersey for right-shot defenseman Adam Larsson, who isn’t likely to be mistaken for a dynamic offensive blue liner.

    It, too, is a deal that’s considered a major victory for one team — in this case, the Devils.

    In trading Hall, the Oilers gave up a dynamic forward, although they certainly had a plethora of skilled forwards, and their need to make upgrades to their blue line, made it necessary to part with a player up front.

    Hall and Jordan Eberle — now his former Oilers teammate — broke into the league with Edmonton in the same year, back in 2010-11. But despite an increase in talent up front, with four first-overall picks in a six-year span, Edmonton really hasn’t been close to competing for a playoff spot in years.

    Eberle, with 425 games with the Oilers through some difficult times, at first said in an interview with the Andrew Walker Show that he couldn’t comment on the deal, but eventually admitted something had to give when it came to Edmonton’s quest to land a d-man, which led GM Peter Chiarelli to make the deal.

    “Obviously I think he recognized there was an area on our team we needed to improve and maybe we had a surplus of forwards and it was something he needed to do,” Eberle told The Andrew Walker Show.

    “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we haven’t made the playoffs … and something needed to change, whether it was Taylor or whoever.

    “I think Taylor will do very well in New Jersey and I think we significantly increased our blue line. I think that’s definitely going to help us in a tough Western Conference.”

    Related:

    Oilers GM justifies Hall trade, even if Larsson isn’t a ‘sexy defenseman’ 

    Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting

    The ECHL would have an ‘open mind’ if Las Vegas NHL team wanted Wranglers name

    LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  (l-r) Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Bill Foley celebrate the admittance of a new NHL franchise during the Board Of Governors Press Conference prior to the 2016 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The search for a general manager has been over for a while, the successful candidate in place. However, the Las Vegas NHL franchise is still looking to name its team. That search is still ongoing.

    With its first season in the league set for 2017-18, the Las Vegas franchise has run into some trade mark issues with potential names, much to the dismay of owner Bill Foley.

    One possibility could be the ‘Wranglers’ — the name of the former Las Vegas ECHL franchise, which officially folded in January of 2015.

    However, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the ECHL still owns the rights to the name ‘Wranglers.’ The report also stated that the team does have a temporary logo — the NHL shield with ‘Las Vegas’ written underneath. Again. Only temporary.

    “I have not been approached by either Mr. Foley or by the NHL,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    “We own all the names of all the teams that have played or are playing (in the ECHL). Frankly, I would be surprised to hear from them now. But if they called to say they were interested in reviving the Wranglers name in Las Vegas, we would have an open mind about it. We always liked the name and the logo and the way they built up the brand in the community.”

    Meanwhile, the people of Las Vegas have had their say on team names.

    According to a bracket posted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the name ‘Outlaws’ emerged as the favorite among the people after the polls, which the newspaper admits are completely unscientific.

    The Las Vegas Visitors didn’t make it out of the first round…

    Related:

    McPhee wants Las Vegas team to compete right away; history says it won’t be easy

    Report: Las Vegas NHL team asked permission to speak with Capitals assistant GM

    Report: Graham James granted extended day parole

    Graham James
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    Graham James, the disgraced junior hockey coach who pleaded guilty in June of 2015 to the latest charge of sexual assault against a former player, has had his day parole extended an additional two months, according to a report from The Canadian Press.

    From the Canadian Press:

    Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show James’s day parole, which was granted in January, has been extended for two months while the board schedules a hearing to consider his request for more freedom.

    “You would like to be granted full parole,” states the decision dated July 8. “You have rented an apartment where you plan on living on your own. There are no financial concerns. Family members have been deemed to be positive supports.

    “Your (case management team) supports your release on full parole.”

    Former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, who was a victim of sexual abuse from James, his coach in Swift Current at the time, has spoken out against the decision from the parole board.

    From Global News:

    “There has to be commitment and a proven commitment to change and currently there is no commitment to change by the Parole Board of Canada,” he said. “To me what it all comes down to is a lack of understanding of the true impact of this crime by the parole board.”

    Kennedy predicts James will leave the country where he can operate under the radar. He has previously moved to Spain and Mexico. Kennedy also believes it’s just a matter of time before James reoffends.

    “Oh absolutely, there’s no question,” Kennedy said.

    In February of 2013, James had his original two-year sentence increased to five years for sexually assaulting two of his former players.

    James is serving seven years, following the latest charge from last year that resulted in a two-year sentence, according to Global News.

    Get to know Nolan Patrick, early favorite to go first in 2017 NHL Draft

    KELOWNA, CANADA - OCTOBER 25: Rourke Chartier #14 of Kelowna Rockets faces off against Nolan Patrick #19 of Brandon Wheat Kings during the first period on October 25, 2014 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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    The NHL’s Central Scouting staff put out a full list of 2017 NHL Draft “futures” on Saturday, supporting the notion that it’s never too early to hype up the next wave of prospects.

    At the moment, the top pick speculation revolves around Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, including in NHL.com’s breakdown of the biggest names among those futures.

    In vague terms, his size and willingness to go to high-danger areas distinguishes Patrick. Scoring 102 points in 72 games in the WHL with the Wheat Kings doesn’t hurt his cause, either.

    It’s only natural to seek comparables, of course, and there are plenty streaming out already.

    Craig Button compares Nolan to Jonathan Toews in this introduction for TSN:

    Nolan’s style of play is similar to that of fellow Manitoban Jonathan Toews. He’s skilled, smart and capable of playing and making a difference in all situations of the game. Like Toews, he does it without much flash, but brings significant determination and reliability every time he steps on the ice. 

    Meanwhile, his coach compared his style to that of Brayden Schenn, as Buzzing the Net noted in February.

    There’s hockey in his blood, too, as his father Steve Patrick was an NHL forward.

    Maybe that explains the notable lack of fawning from his dad in this Sportsnet article.

    “Nolan was a funny little player at eight. I certainly didn’t look at him and think he’s gonna be a special player,” Steve Patrick said in May. “But he always saw the ice well and even when he was little he could pass the puck. He was a smaller kid and he sometimes played up a year, so I thought he had to be little sneakier to hold on to the puck.

    “Plus, he had an older sister who could throw him in a snowbank, so he had to figure a way to keep the puck from her.”

    Now that is a scouting report.

    Speaking of scouting reports, NHL.com and Sportsnet both discuss other players who will jockey for top draft position with Patrick.

    Of course, plenty can change in the season, so Patrick must dodge hurdles as if they were siblings readying to “throw him in a snowbank.”

    Related: Nolan Patrick, potential No. 1 overall pick in 2017, undergoes sports hernia surgery