Murray was beside himself in drafting Jack Eichel while trading for Robin Lehner, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane.*
When you combine those acquisitions with possible developmental gains for the likes of Sam Reinhart, the Sabres’ outlook gets awfully interesting. Of course, it’s also valid to note that this team has a lot of room for improvement. The Sabres weren’t even close to competitive in 2014-15, after all.
That actually leads us to Buffalo’s poll question: how long will it take for the Sabres to return to the postseason?
If you need a push either way, consider some of the posts from PHT’s Buffalo Sabres Day extravaganza.
A lot of things come to mind when you hear the name Roberto Luongo.
Naturally, there’s the goalie battle he had with Cory Schneider as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, which only seems odder today. One might also think of his often-hysterical and frequently self-deprecating Twitter feed. Even Luongo hates his lengthy contract, so that tends to cloud judgments about him, too. Few really throw the phrase “Hall of Fame” around, though.
There’s a pretty solid argument that people should, even if goalies tend to face a tougher road to the HHOF than skaters. Let’s take a quick look at some of his credentials and maybe a few minuses:
He owns a couple gold medals and was the starter in Canada’s 2010 thrilling win.
In the last decade, only Martin Brodeur’s 323 wins tops Luongo’s 318. He’s nearing 400 in his career as he sits with 373.
It’s not just about wins, though; his individual stats are solid too. Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist both average a .920 save percentage since 2003-04, leaving them in select company as truly reliable “elites.”
Luongo put up strong numbers on a bad team (Florida) and in a hockey hotbed (Vancouver).
That said, many will hold a high-profile down note or two against him. Most notably, Luongo struggled in the last five games of that memorable 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He combined a Game 5 shutout with losses in which he allowed three goals twice, four tallies once and a whopping eight in Game 3. The Chicago Blackhawks also gave him fits over the years.
Also, as stable and solid as Luongo’s been, he’s never won a Vezina Trophy. Some voters gravitate toward flashier numbers and awards, after all.
At 35, Luongo still has plenty of time to add trophies and wins to his potential Hall of Fame resume. Still, it’s fun to prognosticate based on his current path and ask if he’s worthy of Hall of Fame induction.
Now that we’ve reached the Stanley Cup finals, it’s time to start thinking about who could wind up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. Both the Devils and Kings have a handful of guys to consider for the award, but we’re picking out three from each team to consider.
Here goes nothing.
Drew Doughty — Ken Hitchcock said Doughty was the best player in the second round and he’s looked every bit of the superstar he’s meant to be in the postseason. With two goals and eight assists he’s, by far, the leading blue line scorer for L.A.
Dustin Brown — Brown has been Mr. Everything for Los Angeles. Even strength he’s been a beast and shorthanded he’s given opponents nightmares. He’s physical, he’s skilled, and he’s leading the Kings in goals and points with every goal seeming to be a big one.
Jonathan Quick — Without Quick the Kings are toast most nights. He’s seen plenty of rubber and kept most of it out with a .946 save percentage. The Kings haven’t been superstars on defense but with Quick in goal they’ve been mopping the floor with opponents out West. Do the Kings even go anywhere without their Vezina Trophy finalist?
Ilya Kovalchuk — He’s leading the playoffs in points and is a goal shy of tying Danny Briere and Claude Giroux for the playoff lead. He’s been everything the Devils hoped he would be when they signed him to his monster deal two summers ago and, after finally escaping the first round, he’s settled in in glorious fashion.
Martin Brodeur — Brodeur might’ve been boned out of the 2003 Conn Smythe when Jean-Sebastien Giguere won it in losing fashion, but with how he’s played in these playoffs he might be able to land the one trophy that’s eluded him. Brodeur might be 40 years-old, but he’s looking like classic Marty all over again.
Zach Parise — He’s the captain and he’s had a huge postseason with seven goals and seven assists, trailing only Kovalchuk offensively. Being the captain means having to carry the team and he’s more than done his share of that, especially against the Rangers. Now if only they can get him locked up long-term…
Now it’s up to you to decide. Who takes home the Conn Smythe Trophy right now? Vote in our poll and let us know.
Alex Ovechkin is again getting a lot of attention only this time around it’s not for the goal he scored in Game 4, but for the controversial hit he put on Dan Girardi instead.
Ovechkin caught Girardi with a hit through the zone in which he left his feet to deliver a blow that at first appeared to be shoulder-to-shoulder but Girardi claims he was hit in the head. While Caps coach Dale Hunter believed it was “incidental contact” we’re curious what you think.
As we shared with you earlier, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the league’s best defensive forward: David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings.
If you’re curious about the case each of these players has to take home this year’s award, here’s a brief rundown:
– Datsyuk is a five-time finalist for the award and a three-time winner. His puck-stealing ability is legendary and his ability to turn defense into instant offense is well known throughout the league.
– Bergeron is building a legend of his own in Boston thanks to his gutsy play and ability to win faceoffs. He finished second in the NHL in faceoff percentage, behind Jonathan Toews, and is tops on the team in shorthanded time-on-ice. When the Bruins need someone to shutdown an opponent, they call on Bergeron.
– Backes is the Blues’ most physical presence up front. He doled out 226 hits, most on the team, while also taking the most faceoffs. His reputation as a physical dynamo is well known amongst the players and, thanks to the Blues’ success this year, is becoming the thing of folk lore with fans.