Tag: Duncan Keith

Via AP

Anaheim’s Lindholm on the verge of big things


When the Anaheim Ducks drafted Hampus Lindholm sixth overall in 2012, it was somewhat surprising in the sense that NHL Central Scouting had him ranked behind three European skaters — Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Collberg — and the young defenseman from Sweden was taken before all three of them.

Heck, even Lindholm was surprised. “It’s like, whoa, so early,” he said at the time.

Safe to say, the pick has turned out all right for the Ducks. Lindholm has been excellent in these playoffs, paired with veteran Francois Beauchemin, who believes the 21-year-old has the ability to become one of the elite blue-liners in the NHL.

“He certainly does have the potential of becoming that type of defenseman,” Beauchemin said, per ESPN.com. “In five years from now, I’m sure Hampus will be if everything goes well and he keeps improving, obviously he’s got the capability of becoming [among] the top defensemen in the league.”

Lindholm isn’t quite in the elite category yet. He doesn’t play huge minutes like Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. But for a franchise that won its only Stanley Cup with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer patrolling the back end, and for a GM, Bob Murray, who’s been searching for “that guy” ever since those two moved on, Lindholm is clearly being groomed for big things.

Oh, and Lindholm isn’t the only talented young blue-liner in Anaheim. There’s also Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, and Simon Despres, all three just 23 years old.


Rozsival injury puts Chicago blue line that much more under the microscope

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Four

“Doesn’t look good.”

That’s how Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville described Michal Rozsival’s status after the veteran defenseman suffered an apparent ankle injury in last night’s clinching game versus Minnesota.

For Chicago, which will take on either Anaheim or Calgary in the Western Conference finals, it puts an already heavily scrutinized blue line that much more under the microscope.

If Rozsival can’t play, he’ll likely be replaced by David Rundblad or Kyle Cumiskey, as Trevor van Riemsdyk had wrist surgery a month ago and was expected to be out eight weeks.

Rundlad, a right shot like Rozsival, is the favorite to step in. He skated a good amount of time with Duncan Keith, Rozsival’s most recent partner, during the regular season. But the 24-year-old played protected minutes, starting just 20.6 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.

At the very least, after sweeping the Wild, the Blackhawks now have time to get fully rested up. Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya, and Niklas Hjalmarsson have played big minutes in these playoffs, with veteran Kimmo Timonen used sparingly. That’s unlikely to change going forward.

Flyers will be ‘extremely patient’ with youngsters, but ‘want a winner as soon as possible’

Ed Snider

Depending who you ask, it’s either a smart and noble strategy, one that’s been successful for a team like the Detroit Red Wings, or it’s like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, and the reason a team like the Detroit Red Wings hasn’t made a deep playoff run in a number of years.

That strategy is, of course, doing everything you can to win now, while simultaneously and patiently developing youngsters for the future.

It’s what Flyers owner Ed Snider wants to do in Philadelphia, as opposed to tearing it down and rebuilding from scratch, a la Buffalo or Edmonton.

Snider told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the plan for the Flyers is to “be extremely patient with all of the young players we have coming.” But at the same time, GM Ron Hextall is “going to do everything in his power to produce a winner as soon as possible, which means it could be trades, it could be coaching, it could be all kinds of things.”

It’s a similar story in Vancouver, where the aging Canucks “want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”

The obvious challenge for that type of plan is drafting, because teams that are neither great nor terrible don’t get top-5 draft picks, i.e. players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Drew Doughty.

That’s not to say it’s impossible to find elite players in the middle of the first round, or even beyond. Anze Kopitar was taken 11th overall; Patrice Bergeron and Duncan Keith were second-rounders.

But the win now/win later strategy does put added pressure on the scouting staff to unearth a few “big-time” diamonds in the rough, like the Wings once did to the extreme with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom.

The Flyers have the seventh overall selection in this summer’s draft. They also have Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, wherever that may be.

Related: Hextall insists he’s ‘on the same page’ with Snider

Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’

Val'Dor Foreurs v Guelph Storm - Game Four

Perhaps it was a wake-up call. Perhaps it was just plain, old honesty.

Either way, it’s hard to ignore what longtime Red Wings executive Jim Devellano had to say about winger Anthony Mantha, Detroit’s first-round draft pick from 2013.

“Very, very, very disappointing,” said Devellano, per FOX Sports Detroit. “And I say that with a lot of sadness. Coming out of junior, we had such high hopes for him.”

Mantha, 20, had 15 goals in 62 games for AHL Grand Rapids during the regular season. He has just one assist in five playoff games.

On the bright side, Devellano did have some good things to say about the Wings’ young defensive prospects. Though even saying that, he was forced to lament that “none of them are the answer to Nicklas Lidstrom,” i.e. a future elite defenseman.

“That’s our problem,” he added. “The only place you get those guys is (high) in the draft. And simply because of where we draft we don’t get those guys.”

Granted, that’s not actually true, that top d-men are only available high in the draft. Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Duncan Keith are all second-rounders. Lidstrom himself was a third-rounder. The Red Wings just haven’t drafted many defensemen with their highest picks in recent years. Xavier Ouellet was taken 48th overall in 2011. Before him, you have to go back to Brendan Smith, 27th overall in 2007.

But it’s true that the Wings don’t appear to have a future elite d-man in the system, and you have to wonder how that will affect 1) their ability to compete for a Stanley Cup in the near future and 2) Mike Babcock’s willingness to remain with the club.

Related: On the difference between ‘good’ and ‘big-time’ players

Duncan Keith is a ‘freak’

Duncan Keith

The disparity is huge. Duncan Keith is averaging 32:03, Kimmo Timonen just 10:22. The most ice time among Blackhawks defensemen, versus the least.

Partly by design and partly by necessity, Keith has been a workhouse for Chicago in these playoffs.

“He’s a freak,” Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said, per NHL.com. “He’s one of those athletes you don’t see every day. He’s as physically fit and prepared as they come, and he’s a guy that obviously loves playing hockey.”

Keith had three points in Game 6 versus Nashville, including the winning goal on a play that perfectly illustrated the 31-year-old’s ability to walk (dance?) the line and open shooting lanes:

Don’t expect the Blackhawks to lean any less on Keith in their series versus the Wild. Chicago’s defense has been under the microscope a lot this season, with inconsistent play from veterans Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival. The addition of 40-year-old Timonen has not done anything to quell concerns.

Said captain Jonathan Toews of Keith: “It’s huge for him to be as dynamic as he is offensively. But the minutes and the style that he plays, he means a lot to our team.”