However you might feel about the actual impact of a captain, a team can reveal it’s direction by who it names. Two teams recently announced their likeable decisions to name heart-and-soul forwards as their new captains. The St. Louis Blues gave the job to rugged winger David Backes while the Rangers made Ryan Callahan their new leader.
While those two teams filled those vacancies, there are still six NHL clubs without captains. Here are PHT’s polite suggestions for which direction those teams should go in.
Former captain: Craig Rivet
The Sabres are set to embark on the first full season of the Terry Pegula era, but the captaincy remains a bit of mystery. Jochen Hecht is a balanced veteran, but he might be on his way out soon. New acquisitions such as Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff don’t really seem like the captain types. Tyler Myers might be a bit young for that role while the team should avoid giving the “C” to their goalie Ryan Miller after Vancouver’s failed experiment with Roberto Luongo.
If I were Lindy Ruff, we’d name top center Derek Roy the captain. Perhaps Buffalo would be best served waiting a while, though, especially if hard-hitting blueliner Robyn Regehr shows some of those leadership qualities.
Former captain: Adam Foote
The Avalanche are a team in transition, with the 2011-12 season being a pivotal campaign. Milan Hejduk is a long-time veteran, but it seems like the clock is ticking on his impressive NHL career. Matt Duchene is an All-Star player with a great attitude, but might need a little more time to mature into the job. Erik Johnson could be a good choice if he justifies the Avs’ risky move to get him.
When you consider his contract situation (only Jan Hejda’s deal runs longer and only Semyon Varlamov matches his three remaining years), overall talent level and experience with the team, Paul Stastny might be the best option as their next captain. Besides, if it doesn’t work out, they can just trade him like the rumor mongers say.
Former captain: Bryan McCabe
The Panthers are a wildly different team than the one that last played in April, with a slew of new young players and even two veterans added in Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski. If you ask us, their options should come down to a player who’s been there through thin and really thin: Stephen Weiss. The underrated center remains their best all-around player and should serve as the backbone of this team alongside David Booth.
New Jersey Devils
Former captain: Jamie Langenbrunner
The Devils’ only have one reason not to make Zach Parise their new captain: his unclear contract situation. New Jersey should just suck it up, though, because he’s a shining example of what the team wants from their players. Honestly, handing him the “C” might help convince him that he should be a part of the team’s future … even though a similar tactic didn’t work out when Atlanta tried that method with Parise’s teammate Ilya Kovalchuk.
New York Islanders
Former captain: Doug Weight
The Islanders have some great options for their next captain (check out a lengthier discussion of the topic here). While veteran defenseman Mark Streit and rugged winger Kyle Okposo have strong chances, we’d go with John Tavares. Tavares is the obvious face of the franchise for the present and probably long-term future.
Former captain: Mike Richards
Sure, he’s battling injuries and hasn’t always been the most popular guy in the world, but the Flyers should give Chris Pronger the “C.” He carries an air of authority regardless of what letter is on his shoulder and still has the makings of being an impact player in the NHL. Besides, many felt like he was their “real” captain during the last couple seasons, anyway.
Those are PHT’s picks for should-be captains, but do you think teams should consider different options? Let us know in the comments.