Sunday, October 02, 2005


NHL Brainstorm! Part 3

Intros, preamble, and Part 1 are here; Part 2 is here; or, just scroll down. Here's query #3:

A) Pick one player who you think will break through, and B) pick one player whose performance will drop off considerably, relative to what we're used to.

A) Brandon Bochenski (Ottawa rookie winger) - the kid is AMAZING so far, and being on a line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley will spike his production through the roof. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bochenski outscore Sidney Crosby.
B) Martin Brodeur is going to have a lackluster season. In the past Brodeur could rely on the stifling Devils' defense to keep the opportunities to a minimum, and the shot count down. In the new NHL he will face more shots, and more difficult shots. Brodeur, and by extension New Jersey, will suffer because of it.

A) As mediocre as the Hawks can expect to be, I expect Adrian Aucoin to start getting more attention he deserves away from Long Island. Backup choice--Jay Bouwmeester. (Maybe?)
B) Marty Turco: victim of the trapezoid.

A) Just one? I think Sidney Crosby will live up to the hype, although that's pretty predictable. I have high hopes that this will be the year the Sedin twins finally show us what they're made of.
B) I'm thinking this will be the year Mats Sundin starts to falter. (Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.)

A) Can I name a whole line? Matt better not post this before my hockey draft tonight (he promised it would be posted later in the week) because I don’t want people stealing any players from me. My breakout pick for this year is the line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley,and Brandon Bochenski. If you force me to go with one player, however, I will take Spezza, who will score close to 100 points this year. Of course, the Sens still won’t win the Stanley Cup.
B) I am going to go with Martin St. Louis, who will not put up the same numbers in Tampa Bay this year. Ditto Cory Stillman. The big question for me, however, is how Joe Sakic will do this year in Colorado. Has Joe finally reached the zenith of his illustrious career? Actually, here is one more riddle to be solved: how the hell did Scott Walker end up in the Top 30 of NHL scoring?

A) Being a Sens fan since the Jets left Winnipeg, I'm happy to say Jason Spezza appears on the brink of a big year. It's still funny to think that during the 2001 World Juniors in Moscow, everyone was talking about how close Ilya Kovalchuk and Spezza were for who would be taken #1 that upcoming June, however Spezza will make the gap closer this season.
B) Going through my picklists this week for my draft on Sunday, I realized with some horror that Joe Sakic is no longer a Top 20 pick, whereas I took him Top 3 only two seasons ago. Joe's still one of the best captains in the league, but he's even going to be behind Milan Hedjuk and Alex Tanguay in scoring this season on the Avs. Another guy that will seem in a strange spot is Stevie Y, who I don't have in my top 100.

A) An unleashed Jason Spezza is just gonna explode. Let's say 90 points minimum.
B) Bloody hate to see it, but J.R. will be the next of the class of "NHL '94" to wind it down.

A) To hear some sportswriters tell it, you'd think Dany Heatley was borderline catatonic — something like Captain Pike in the Star Trek pilot. It wouldn't exactly be a breakthrough, but I think Heatley's going to absolutely tear it up in Ottawa.
B) I've always considered Chris Pronger to be one of the dirtiest players in the league. There's no reason he shouldn't able to clear the front of his net without breaking sticks over his opponent's backs and shins, but that's been his MO in the past. If the crackdown is real, part of me thinks he might be one of the New NHL's biggest casualties.

A) League-wide I'm guessing that Spezza has a terrific year. He is going to get huge ice-time and, with apologies to Iggy, he has the guy with the best one-timer in the league on his right wing (Heatley). I think this line is going to dominate. On the Oilers I predicting that Hemsky has a big year, and so does Pisani.
B) For the drop off, I'm going with Kiprusoff - not because I think he is going to suck, but because there is no way he repeats his numbers from last year - even with their very solid D. I'm guessing a GAA over 2, and a SV% under .915.

A) Matthew Lombardi is my breakout guy. His head seems to have cleared from the hit by that despicable thug in Philly, and it says here that he displaces Langkow as Calgary’s #1 man-in-the-middle come midseason.
B) Only sincere affection prevents me from picking Joe Sakic here, but that goodwill does not extend as far as Tennessee, so I’ll say Paul Kariya. Count me off of the Nashville bandwagon. I think Kariya’s performance in Colorado, such as it was, was not an aberration, but rather a true reflection of the player he now is. Gary Suter, see you in hell.

Are goalies in the Northeast Division having nightmares about facing the Senators eight times? We'll soon see. Should Spezza fans delete this bookmark, then empty the trash? Yeah. For the terrific Senators fan blog Hockey Country, go here.

See you back tomorrow for installment #4, where we repeat this exercise looking at teams instead of players.


Well, jeez. Now I feel stupid for not picking Spezza merely because as far as I'm concerned he "broke out" a couple years ago--Ottawa just refused to let the guy play. I was looking for somebody who wasn't already obviously a terrific player.

We can't all be brave and pick Adrian Aucoin.

My opinion is almost certainly less informed that the rest of the correspondents', but it is worth noting that answers were submitted at a time when Spezza/Heatley/Bochenski were outright leading in preseason scoring (they ended up averaging 6.0 PPG between the 3 of them).

Also, Ovechkin hadn't scored his hat trick yet...

I think Ovechkin could make you a few dollars if his hat trick didn't already shift the lines on Crosby winning the Calder

I just checked, and it has moved a hair; Yes (-380), No (+300)

That is still a pretty nice return.

The only thing that prevents me from mortgaging my house to lay money on that line is that Crosby is so damn tough to move off the puck.

He is not an offensive floater who is easy to take out of games by shadowing him and laying the body. When he gets the puck inside the blue line he widens his legs and puts that stick down just like a tripod. He reminds me of Jagr in that sense - he is just so solid on his skates with the puck.

Plus, playing with Lemieux might be the only place in the league where he will not be the most keyed on player on his line. Of course, maybe this works against him: "Anyone could have had a good season playing with Lemieux".

In defence of my choice, I had Spezza pegged for a large point jump after his AHL season, and then bumped it up again when I found out he was lining up with Heatley.

The pre-season is simply confirming that call.

If I had $50 in extra loot right now, I would totally take the field for the Calder. Just too many possible outcomes that don't result in a Crosby win. He very well could, but I wouldn't think it's a lock.

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