Joe Nieuwendyk

The PHT staff reveals their 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame choices

No one at Pro Hockey Talk has been given the honor of voting for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but with the induction announcements set for this afternoon, we decided to share the four choices we would make if we had that power. Feel free to share your own in the comments.

You can also find out who experts such as Mike Milbury and Keith Jones would pick by clicking here.

Joe Yerdon’s picks

1. Joe Nieuwendyk

2. Dave Andreychuk

3. Adam Oates

4. Doug Gilmour

With the load of sure-thing first ballot type Hall of Famers due to arrive in the coming years, this is the best chance for those who should be in the Hall of Fame to get their shot at making it in now. These four players should already be in the Hall of Fame and thanks to the foolish stipulations for how the vote has to go and the limits on the number of inductees, we’re looking at a log jam. Every one of these four have no-brainer accolades.

Joe Nieuwendyk was the perfect all-around player on numerous Stanley Cup winners. Dave Andreychuk scored 640 goals and led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Cup. Adam Oates is the highest scoring player not in the Hall of Fame (16th all-time) and is sixth all time in assists. Doug Gilmour was a tenacious two-way player, a clutch playoff performer, and the second highest scoring player not in the Hall (17th all-time). You could nit-pick and argue about any of these guys, but they’re Hall of Famers each and every one. It’s not about arguing one guy against another as far as my ballot’s concerned, for these four it’s about getting those in who are well overdue.

James O’Brien’s picks

1. Ed Belfour – Eddie the Eagle was one of the best goalies of his generation. Belfour won two Vezina Trophies, one Stanley Cup and sits at third place all-time in wins. He also earned my personal award of “most regrettable use of a FUBU jersey.”

2. Eric Lindros – I generally value high-level impact more than impressive consistency. This isn’t the Hall of Longevity or Friendliness after all; it’s the Hall of Fame. Injuries derailed Lindros’ career but his individual numbers compare favorably to Peter Forsberg’s and he made a, well, Lindros-sized impact on the game. Put him in the “Jerks” section if you must, but he deserves to be in there.

3. Pavel BureMy old comparison still holds: Bure was the Dominique Wilkins of hockey, a human highlight reel on skates. Bure is sixth all time in goals scored per game (.62) and averaged more than a point per game but those numbers don’t do the dazzling Russian justice. Just watch his highlights.

4. Doug Gilmour – Gilmour’s 1,414 regular season points will attract a lot of voters, but I’m most impressed by his 188 points in 182 career playoff games, tying him for seventh all-time with Joe Sakic. Gilmour was also strong defensively, winning the 1992-93 Selke.

Honorable mentions: Boris Mikhailov, Sergei Makarov, Adam Oates and Joe Nieuwendyk.

Matt Reitz’s picks

1. Ed Belfour – In an era when NHL teams had to have great goaltending to be successful, he was one of the best.  He led his team to the Stanley Cup in 1999 and made it to the Finals on two other occasions.  He’s 3rd all-time in wins (484) and 9th all-time in shutouts (76).

2. Joe Nieuwendyk – The points are nice, but he was both a winner AND a leader just about everywhere he went.  He ended his career with 564 goals, a Conn Smyth Trophy, and three Stanley Cups.  The better question: Why didn’t he make it on his first ballot?

3. Adam Oates – One of the best passers in the history of the game.  Everyone assumes that Brett Hull made him look good, but I have a feeling that Hull benefited a bit from having those one-timers set on a tee from Oates.

4. Rogie Vachon – One of the best goaltenders in the 1970s, Vachon won three Cups and a Vezina with the Habs.  He’s the best goaltender in the history of the NHL who is NOT in the Hall.

Honorary mention – Doug Gilmour:  He was a gritty two-way guy who every coach would have killed for, he was a GREAT leader on the ice, AND he put up HoF type numbers.  Is there a good case AGAINST Gilmour?

Avalanche’s new head coach Bednar is at least saying the right things

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via Colorado Avalanche
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Look, there are exceptions, but new head coach press conferences feature the same basic terms and buzzwords.

After witnessing the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins skate opponents ragged on their way to the 2016 Stanley Cup, any reasonable coach would throw “speed” into their phrasing.

Still, the Colorado Avalanche have been so deeply buried by even the most basic of modern measurements that you had to wonder: would they learn from Patrick Roy’s struggles? Can someone come in and at least attempt to keep up with the pack?

We won’t know for sure anytime soon, but hey, at least Jared Bednar seems to be saying the right things as he transitions from the AHL to the Avalanche’s head coaching gig.

When discussing his hire with NHL Network, Bednar seemed confident that his style in the AHL – “Up-tempo, aggressive style in all three zones of the rink” – will translate well in Colorado.

That interview hits the beats you’d expect from job interviews beyond hockey. There’s even a “detail-oriented” bit.

(If you space out, you might just assume there’s a mention of thinking outside the box, like every corporate interview in human history.)

Still, it’s OK to settle for baby steps, especially considering the tough situation Patrick Roy created in abruptly skipping town. For many, it might just be comforting to note that Bednar doesn’t outright dismissive “analytics” or “fancy stats.”

Mile High Hockey brings up a great point: if nothing else, the spotlight will shift from the Avalanche’s flamboyant head coach to the talented core of young players.

So, not only is Colorado bringing in a coach who is as savvy with spreadsheets as he is with the wipe-off board, but he’s going to allow the players to crawl out from under Roy and finally earn their own accomplishments. This is every bit as important as fixing the breakout play or eliminating the Collapse-O-Rama™ defensive system.

(Collapse-O-Rama, huh? Can we stash that term for future use regarding another coach or two?)

Bednar isn’t a retread, so we only know so much about what to expect.

There are positive early signs. Roll your eyes all you want, we have seen more than a few successful transitions from AHL glory (Bednar just won the Calder Cup) to the NHL.

He’s not necessarily anti-information and seems at least interested in implementing modern, attacking systems. Attacking systems that, theoretically, would best suit the talents of a gifted-but-flawed group.

It all feels a little vague, but then again, it’s not even September yet. So far, so good.

One way or another, Al Montoya will be important to Canadiens

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02:  Goalie Al Montoya #35 of the Florida Panthers looks on in the second period against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on February 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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This is part of Canadiens day at PHT …

Here’s an unsolicited opinion: a good backup goalie is often underrated.

Yes, getting a quality Plan B is easier said than done – goalies are an unpredictable lot – but it’s simple to see when it pays off.

(There are plenty of examples, but Matt Murray winning a Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins is the shiniest one.)

Even if injuries aren’t a big issue, a No. 2 goalie is a pretty safe bet to play 20 games for a given team. In that regard, Al Montoya could be a significant upgrade over Mike Condon, and that could be important.

Waning workhorses

In 2015-16, no goalie played 70 regular season games. Jonathan Quick was the workhorse of the NHL with 68, while only 10 played at least 60. So, more than two-thirds of last season’s teams needed at least 24 games from their lesser-paid goalies.

Even in Carey Price‘s dominant 2014-15 campaign, he played 66 games while Dustin Tokarski was in net for 17.

Let’s ponder the outlook for a variety of scenarios as Price hopes to rebound from injury:

If Price resumes Vezina-caliber form

As PHT notes, Price seems confident that he’s at 100 percent.

That’s great … but what else is he going to say? Knee injuries can beguile just about any athlete.

He does admit that he’s getting up there in age a bit – relative to the sport, mind you – at 29. Earlier this summer, the Hockey News went over Montreal’s plan to scale Price’s workload a bit, injured or not.

So, even in a dream scenario, Montoya and/or Condon will still see plenty of reps.

If Price falters

The Canadiens are expected to live or die by Price. Let’s not kid ourselves.

The leash might not be very long for Michel Therrien if Price really falls on his face, however. A Condon-led Habs team stumbled terribly, but what might we see from Montoya being thrust into the spotlight for performance reasons?

  • With a .909 career save percentage, Montoya’s experienced his stumbles in the NHL. Montreal has to hope he follows more of the path from strong showings in 2013-14 (13-8-3, .920 save percentage with Winnipeg) and 2015-16 (12-7-3, .919 save percentage with Florida).

Long story short, there were flashes of the brilliance you’d expect from a guy who went sixth overall in 2004.

  • The good news is that he’s accustomed to a fairly heavy backup duty. He set a career-high with 31 games played and 26 starts with the Islanders in 2011-12. Including that season, he’s enjoyed 20+ appearances in five of his last six seasons.
  • The bad news is that he hasn’t ever even carried half of a season’s workload so …

Yes, a Price re-injury would be disastrous

Montoya hasn’t been “the guy” before, certainly not in a pressure-cooker like Montreal. Condon’s opportunity didn’t go especially well.

One can understand ownership giving Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin something of a “Price pass” after 2015-16, but would there be the same level of acceptance if they couldn’t thrive without their star goalie again? You’d have to ask about lessons learned.

***

Long story short, Montoya matters to Montreal. The Canadiens just have to hope that he doesn’t matter too much.

 

Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.

With Lehner injured, Enroth will be in Sweden’s goalie mix at World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jhonas Enroth #1 of the Buffalo Sabres and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators warm up to play at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Sweden has selected Jhonas Enroth to replace injured goaltender Robin Lehner on its World Cup of Hockey roster.

Lehner was bothered by an ankle injury last season while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said Lehner had not recovered 100 percent.

Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden’s roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game.

Enroth started for Sweden at the 2015 world hockey championship.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.