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Ryan Johansen and finding comparable talent (What We Learned) (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:20:31 PDT)
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) The Ryan Johansen saga stretches on and on in Columbus and neither side seems willing to budge especially far from their dug-in positions on the matter of the young center's new contract. Everyone agrees a two-year term seems wise, but when it comes to the money, not so much. Johansen wants $7 million per. The Jackets would prefer that number be $4 million per. You can see the issue. Anyone not directly involved with Johansen professionally or personally likely recognizes that $7 million is a big ask, but that the Jackets' number is probably not enough to be commensurate with a kid who just turned 22 a month ago and already has a 33-goal season under his belt. So it was a little surprising for Columbus to come out over the weekend and say, basically, that they're not unwilling to go into the season without Johansen signed, and would likely just bump every center on the depth chart up a spot. This would, of course, be detrimental to Columbus's chances of winning. That gets to the issue of what Johansen is really worth, and specifically, what would be a fair price to pay him for the next two years. It must be said that $7 million per is not a reasonable ask for Johansen's camp considering what we know of the NHL's newly rediscovered penchant for dishing out “bridge contracts” to guys whose entry-level deals are expiring; if elite players like P.K. Subban can take much shorter money than that, so too should Johansen. That's a semi-reasonable argument. But you gotta pay your talent, and Johansen's camp could contend that their client is very demonstrably the biggest talent on the team, as long as you ignore that troubled first-107-games-of-his-career stretch, in which he only scored 14 goals and 19 assists. So the question that needs to be hashed out is simple: Is Johansen actually this 33-goal guy? He is pretty clearly not the six-to-nine-goals guy of the first two years of his career, which were troubled to say the least (and not always through any fault of his own, though the AHL healthy-scratches can't be that far from his memory). But if you're paying someone $7 million, you better be damn sure that's the kind of production you're getting. Otherwise, it's all acrimony. There is no sure way to know the future, of course, and every player develops differently, but you can start to construct a pretty reasonable expectation for what Johansen might be able to bring in his age-22 season based on statistical looks at other 21-year-old players who put up similar numbers to him. Pretty simple, really. For one thing, you have to keep in mind that players' shot and point production tends to increase steadily from ages 18 to 24 or 25, so the likelihood that Johansen takes a step back in that regard doesn't seem particularly large. The good news is that the comparables for players who produced similar to Johansen in their age-21 seasons since the 2005-06 lockout (when goaltending was at a level similar to today's numbers, and with players who are mostly still in the league) are of a good quality. Among the six players who put up similar shots per game (2.89 in Johansen's case) and a high shooting percentage (13.3) when they were 21, Johansen was fifth in points (63) and tied for fifth in goals (33, deadlocked with some kid named Sidney Crosby). The rest of the company looks pretty good too: Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Staal, Phil Kessel. That alone tells you how rare a season Johansen enjoyed last year. All five of those guys went on to significant success as point producers, obviously, and are for the most part very deservedly among the highest-paid players in the game. Speaks very well for Johansen's ability to claim he's elite. However, it's worth noting that while those six guys were the only ones in the nine seasons to put up at least 2.8 shots per game and shoot at least 13 percent, Johansen trailed dramatically in both those categories. None of the other players put up fewer than 3.09 shots per game, some 7 percent more than Johansen. That's a number which is not insignificant. Further, lots of guys can put up high shooting percentages, and thus score a lot of goals, in one- or even two-season bursts. So is that success sustainable? In short, no. All those guys — save for Crosby, with whom Johansen was tied — posted higher shooting percentages as 21-year-olds, and all of them — save for Crosby, again — also saw their scoring efficiency take a big hit in their age-22 seasons. Even when accounting for Crosby's huge jump forward in shooting percentage, the average decline in shooting percentage among this elite group was 2.88 points (or a drop of 16.8 percent of their total shooting percentages). Most also saw their shots per game increase significantly (an extra .28 shots per game, or an increase of 9.08 percent), though, which helped to even out the goalscoring issue.  But again, they were shooting at truly stratospheric levels to begin with, meaning that their shot volumes and percentages were both miles ahead of Johansen's, so any kind of dropoff for them wouldn't be nearly as noticeable as one for a player whose numbers were not quite so sterling.  That is, if Johansen regresses in terms of shooting percentage and still increases his shots per game in ways that are more or less in line with these other averages, he should still see a decline in goal production even as his shots go up. This is by no means scientific, because again, every player is different, but it wouldn't be surprising at all to see Johansen bump his shots per game up to the 3.1 or 3.2 range (up about 9 percent), but his goal number overall still drop because his shooting percentage could drop by something like 2.3 points to the 11.6 percent area. And wouldn't you know it, that's right in the area of his career shooting percentage of 11.2. If those numbers hold up, that puts his goal total at about 30 goals or so on about 260 shots. Which, finally, brings us to the question of who shoots in the area of at least 11.6 percent in their age-22 seasons and scores 30-plus goals? You're looking at elite company for Johansen: Crosby and Malkin both make the list again, but most of the others get bumped off. In favor of Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Semin, Tyler Seguin, Bobby Ryan, and Anze Kopitar. Here, too, we see very strong company. And while Johansen would, once again, be at the lower end of this list in terms of production (his theoretical shot and goal totals would scrape the bottom), there's no arguing that these are legitimately excellent players. It seems that those banking on a big step back for a player of Johansen's caliber probably won't end up making money on such a beat. Even if you build some serious wiggle room into the comparables (just 3 shots per game instead of 3.15, and a shooting percentage of 10 instead of 11.6), you're still coming up with a small list of guys who are almost exclusively first-line players forwards. There's one outlier on that new list, and it's Devin Setoguchi; Johansen doesn't play with a distributor of Joe Thornton's caliber, and probably never will. So no, Johansen's probably not worth $7 million per season. Yet. At least, last season is not something for which you give him $7 million and hope he justifies it. But he probably will be within the next two seasons. He obviously isn't on the level of Crosby or Malkin or Ovechkin or Stamkos or Kessel or Kopitar or Kovalchuk or most of the other guys mentioned above (he's better than Setoguchi, it goes without saying), but if your name keeps popping up on statistical lists with them, then that has to mean something. Johansen's breakout was last season, and it's one that it would frankly be surprising to see him repeat this year. With that having been said, betting considerable success, even if there is a slight step back, would be a mistake. You take 30ish goals from just about anyone.  This kid is going places, but he needs to realize he hasn't arrived quite yet. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : Who's the starting goalie for the Ducks next year? Don't ask Bruce Boudreau, because he doesn't know yet . Arizona Coyotes : Expansion would help the Coyotes because all the fees from it would help keep them afloat . Know what else would help? Moving to a real market. See ya. Boston Bruins : Former Bruins first-round pick Zach Hamill, who hasn't been in the NHL since he got 16 games in 2011-12, signed with a Finnish team this weekend. The Bruins took him one pick before the Sharks selected Logan Couture. Buffalo Sabres : The Rochester Americans will play a game in Buffalo on Oct. 29. So many NHL games at First Niagara next season, eh? Calgary Flames : That Tyler Dellow saying about “You don't become the Chicago Blackhawks by loading up on their rejects?” Someone might want to let the Flames know . Carolina Hurricanes : Eric Staal has been dealing with a lot of injuries the last few years, but now he thinks he's good and healthy again. I think the term here is “cautious optimism.” Chicago Blackhawks : If Jeremy Morin doesn't get anything done this season , he probably won't get anything done in Chicago ever. Colorado Avalanche : Avs prospect Tomas Vincour may or may not be coming over to play in the bigs next season. Even his Czech league team, though, seems a bit iffy on it. Columbus Blue Jackets : Columbus prospect Markus Soberg might become a very, very good junior player this season. Because what the Jackets need is more high-quality prospects coming in. Don't have enough of those yet. Dallas Stars : This summer has led to almost unbridled enthusiasm for the Stars' chances in the coming season. So here's a list of lingering concerns to let all the air out of things. Detroit Red Wings : An associate economics professor at the University of Michigan Flint argues that the Red Wings' new arena would be a bad investment for both the city and state . You don't say. Edmonton Oilers : Craig MacTavish says Justin Schultz has “ Norris Trophy potential ” for some reason. He almost certainly does not. Florida Panthers : P.K. Subban practicing at the Panthers' practice rink is the biggest Panthers news of the weekend. Great. Los Angeles Kings : Marian Gaborik will lead the Kings in goals this season? That's a prediction I wonder about. But him scoring 40, I think, is doubtful. Minnesota Wild : Mike Yeo doesn't know who his starter is yet, but this might just be the first time in NHL history a returning playoff team has a three-way battle for the spot . Montreal Canadiens : Carey Price was recently named an ambassador for First Nations people . This is a really nice story.  Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team : The Preds probably won't be too affected by NHL expansion. Take all the guys at the bottom of their roster. They dare you. New Jersey Devils : Before he got the invite to Devils training camp, Scott Gomez was thinking about retirement . This is basically the exact opposite of surprising news. Dude's made almost $63 million in his career. New York Islanders : Ryan Strome is going to have a “breakout” season ? Just another reason to bet on the Isles doing very well in the East. New York Rangers : Glad that's settled . Ottawa Senators : Looks like the Senators might re-extend their affiliation deal with Binghamton soon. Hey, great. Philadelphia Flyers : Ron Hextall says he likes to look at all the analytics before making decisions about his team, but also will keep Steve Mason as his starter despite the high risk of regression to garbage numbers. Hmmm. Pittsburgh Penguins : The Pens say Derrick Pouliot will be ready to start the season , and having his former junior coach behind the bench likely means that he can expect a pretty big role. San Jose Sharks : The Sharks might still trade those Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau guys? No kidding. St. Louis Blues : A Blues fan giving Brian Elliott's new contract a better grade than Paul Stastny's is shocking. I'm not sure about that one at all. Well, I am sure about it: It's crazy. Tampa Bay Lightning : Andrei Vasilievsky is probably going to play in the AHL this season , and that'll be good for Syracuse's chances. Dude's career save percentage in the comparable KHL is .923. Which is pretty good. Toronto Maple Leafs : William Nylander might be the most exciting rookie with a chance of making the Leafs in a long time. I'd be really excited to be able to watch this kid 82 times a year. Vancouver Canucks : Jim Benning maintains his own personal depth chart for every team in the league , made out of felt. See, he's just as big a nerd as you are. Washington Capitals : Barry Trotz says he'll still keep a close eye on the Preds next season. What a nice fellow. Winnipeg Jets : Yeah, no kidding . Gold Star Award

Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Toronto Maple Leafs Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:36:53 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Vancouver Canucks Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:49:56 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Pittsburgh Penguins Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:24:14 PDT)


The 10 most fascinating NHL teams in 2014-15 (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:42:54 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Philadelphia Flyers Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:58:40 PDT)


Yahoo Fantasy Hockey: Ranking goalies will save your season (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:15:46 PDT)
This week, your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a variety of fantasy hockey previews ahead of the 2014-15 season. By  Darryl Dobbs In many fantasy hockey leagues, goalies make up close 10 percent of your roster, but account for 40% to 50% of your categories. Choosing wisely when it comes to netminders is crucial and if you get stuck with a below average group your chances of success are slim. I’ve been using a tiered system for several years and most of the time goaltending has been an asset to my team. Sure, there was the one year where I had one injured and one struck by a case of Masonitis. But for the most part, it’s a position that I don’t have to worry about mid-season. Tiering your goaltenders prior to drafting is a great way to help with decision making. The main thing to remember when setting up your 'Tiers' is that it's not just about skill and production. Often, it’s about opportunity and team strength. Michal Neuvirth is a talented goalie, but splitting starts with Jhonas Enroth on a team that will struggle for even 30 wins makes him next to fantasy useless. Frederik Andersen and John Gibson are two of the better goaltenders in the league in terms of talent, but the likelihood of splitting starts almost down the middle make both of them less valuable than say Corey Crawford – who is on a top team and is the clear No.1. Never start drafting goaltenders until there is a chance that you will miss out on all of your Tier 1 goalies. Then make sure you get one. After that, go back to forwards and defensemen until there is a chance that the Tier 2 goalies will be scooped up. Whatever happens - make sure you have at least one from Tier 1 and one from your Tier 2 (or a second from Tier 1 if one of them falls too far). Tier 1 The cream of the crop. Posting 35-40 wins should be in the cards for this group as well as some great GAA and SV% totals. Unless something happens like a major injury, or they get traded to Buffalo. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins After back-to-back pro-rated 36 wins (or more) seasons, Rask is firmly entrenched as one of the top goaltenders to own. Given his GAA and SV% last season (2.04 and 0.930) he's arguably the best. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks Crawford slipped last year due to a couple of nagging minor injuries and bouts of inconsistency. The latter will probably continue in the season ahead, but it doesn't matter - the Blackhawks will still play the hell out of him and the Blackhawks will still win a ton of games. Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets Bob followed up a Vezina Trophy season with a 32-win campaign and some strong supplemental numbers to go with it. For the second straight year he started out slow (4-8-0 to start 2013-14), so if he can fix that issue he'll flirt with 40 wins. But for now you may want to consider benching him the occasional start in October. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens Pro-rating the lockout year, Price has averaged 36 wins over his last three seasons. His 2.32 and 0.927 numbers last year were career bests and he's only now entering his prime. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers Lundqvist is about as "money in the bank" as goaltenders get in the NHL, though he sure had our faith shaken a bit last October and November. At the Christmas break he was 10-15-2 with a save percentage of just 0.906. He was back to his old self in the second half, but his streak of consecutive seasons of at least a 0.920 SV% was in jeopardy. Since 2008-09 he never dipped below that number to end a season. Two one-goal games to end the 2013-14 campaign eked him up to 0.920. So yeah, he can continue to hold his head high. Because otherwise a man with his looks and his bank account would have no reason to do that. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins Last I checked, fantasy leagues only count the regular season. And Fleury is a potential 40-game winner any way you slice it. You already know his reputation in the playoffs. Just for kicks, go look at his save percentage each playoff year throughout his career - even going back to junior hockey. Shocking. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning While Bishop just has the one big season to go by (37 wins), I'll give you nearly 12 million reasons why he'll at least come close to repeating the effort. That two-year deal was for huge money and he'll see 65 starts if healthy.

Drouin, Lehtera top Sitkoff's fantasy sleepers list (NHL)
(Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:00:00 PDT)
This week, NHL.com fantasy insiders Matt Cubeta , Pete Jensen and Matt Sitkoff take in-depth looks at underrated players who should be on your fantasy team's radar entering drafts. The third pick of the 2013 NHL Draft is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy in 2014-15 after spending a productive third season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The only player picked in the top six of his draft class who didn't play a minute of NHL hockey last season, the 5-foot-11 left wing is now ready to make the jump to Tampa Bay.

Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Anaheim Ducks Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:53:15 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Detroit Red Wings Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:26:23 PDT)
 

Nichushkin, Horton power Cubeta's fantasy sleepers (NHL)
(Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:00:00 PDT)
This week, NHL.com fantasy insiders Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen and Matt Sitkoff take in-depth looks at underrated players who should be on your fantasy team's radar entering drafts. Each expert will provide 10 sleeper picks with corresponding stat projections (in order of preference), along with five additional candidates for fantasy owners to keep an eye on. Find out who made the cut on Matt Cubeta's sleepers list from last season SOG: 128 | +/-: 20 At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, there shouldn't be much standing in the way of Nichushkin turning into a fantasy mainstay in 2014-15.

What We Learned: Preparing for Toronto Maple Leafs civil war (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 25 Aug 2014 06:52:03 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Nashville Predators Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 24 Aug 2014 12:41:56 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Columbus Blue Jackets Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 23 Aug 2014 07:36:45 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Chicago Blackhawks Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:48:54 PDT)


2014-15 Preview - Part 6 (Rotoworld)
(Fri, 22 Aug 2014 06:27:00 PDT)
Corey Abbott takes a look back and forward with Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Tampa Bay Lightning Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:52:29 PDT)


Settlement reached in Moore-Bertuzzi lawsuit (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:30:55 PDT)
A settlement has been reached in Steve Moore's lawsuit against NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, more than 10 years after the bloody, on-ice attack ended Moore's career. Geoff Adair, a lawyer for Bertuzzi, confirmed the case was ''settled in its totality'' but said Tuesday the terms are confidential. ''We are pleased that the resolution of this matter allows the parties to turn the page and look to the future,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email. On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi, then playing for the Vancouver Canucks, hit Moore from behind.

Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Montreal Canadiens Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:37:35 PDT)


Steve Moore says no deal with Todd Bertuzzi; brother questions motivations (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:27:49 PDT)
To recap the last day in Steve Moore v. Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks … It was reported on Tuesday that the sides were close to a settlement before their Sept. 8 civil trial. Then, huzzah, the two sides agreed to a deal, according to Bertuzzi’s attorney. Wait … actually, Bertuzzi’s attorney said that he received a “disconcerting email” 10 minutes after the news went public that made him wonder if the deal was on. No, check it, everything’s cool, and the deal is done. Except it totally isn’t, according to Steve Moore’s brother.   Annnnnnd exhale. Mark Moore told Rick Westhead of TSN that he received a text message from his brother on Tuesday night saying there’s no deal with Bertuzzi or the Canucks.  So why did Bertuzzi’s reps blindside Moore with this settlement news? According to Mark Moore, he suspects they’re attempting to expedite things for the benefit of Bertuzzi’s free-agent chances for the 2014-15 season. Despite, you know, not exactly being in high demand.  "Bertuzzi is a free agent and he wants to sign a contract," Mark Moore told TSN. "They are trying to put on pressure. You see the Canucks have not made a statement." That, they haven’t. But Bertuzzi’s lawyer has, and he said the deal is done. Huh … a lawyer stretching the truth. First time for everything. Here’s our story from this morning on the settlement that almost was, could be or actually is.        

Steve Moore settles Todd Bertuzzi suit, but NHL still feeling impact (Puck Daddy)
(Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:07:40 PDT)


NHL player Bertuzzi settles suit with Moore
(Tue, 19 Aug 2014 23:05:56 PDT)
Steve Moore, whose career ended when he suffered a serious concussion in a hockey altercation, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against his attacker, media reports said. The lawsuit against NHL player Todd Bertuzzi has been settled but isn't yet official because there are still papers to be signed, Canadian sports broadcaster TSN.ca reported Tuesday. Moore suffered a concussion and three fractured vertebrae during a March 8, 2004, game in Vancouver. Bertuzzi, who was playing for the Vancouver Canucks at the time, skated after and grabbed the Colorado Avalanche forward, punching him from behind and then driving him head-first to the ice.

Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Buffalo Sabres Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:20:11 PDT)


Todd Bertuzzi, Steve Moore avoiding salacious trial with settlement? (Puck Daddy)
(Tue, 19 Aug 2014 05:58:51 PDT)
(UPDATE: According to Sportsnet and the Canadian Press, the deal is done. Bertuzzi's lawyer said a settlement has been reached. More to come ...) Logically, the chances that Steve Moore’s civil case against Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks ever made it to trial were slim. According to Bob McKenzie, they’re getting slimmer. The TSN pundit reported late Monday night that Moore and Bertuzzi could be heading off their court showdown, as the sides are “deep into discussions aimed at arriving at a negotiated (out of court) settlement.”  This comes weeks before the scheduled Sept. 8 opening of the trial, as Moore is seeking damages after a sucker-punch from Bertuzzi in a March 8, 2004 game between the Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche ended Moore’s hockey career. Bertuzzi pled guilty to an assault charge, and his suspension ended up lasting 17 months from the NHL. Moore upped to ante on the trial in June, increasing his financial claims in the case from $38 million to $68 million . Beyond liability, the arguments in the trial would have centered around Moore’s earning potential as an NHL player, and life in general as a Harvard grad, and how the incident derailed it. For example, the Canucks’ lawyer already had an “expert” lined up to claim that Moore would have likely been “a hoist operator, a farm labourer or a cook in a fast-food restaurant” after his NHL career was over. You know, in case you wanted to get a sense of the tone and tenor of this trial. And oh, what a court date it would have been! The NHL on trial, with Gary Bettman under oath talking about the dark side of the game during a time of unprecedented prosperity for the NHL. The “Code” on trial. Bertuzzi with a chance to take responsibility or send it up the chain of command to Mark Crawford. A hockey soap opera. Alas, it seems neither side has the appetite for it. The question then becomes how much it’ll take to satisfy Steve Moore not to take this all the way; because Bertuzzi's lawyers refuse to believe Moore would have made $35 million in the NHL.       

Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: Carolina Hurricanes Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:14:54 PDT)


What We Learned: What do players really owe their NHL teams? (Puck Daddy)
(Mon, 18 Aug 2014 05:58:12 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Most Disappointing Summer Series: Florida Panthers Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Sun, 17 Aug 2014 14:20:13 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment Series: Los Angeles Kings Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Sat, 16 Aug 2014 13:24:22 PDT)


Puck Daddy's Summer of Disappointment: New Jersey Devils Edition (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 15 Aug 2014 14:00:36 PDT)
(Ed. Note: There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!) By Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor (and Jersey native) Most Disappointing Team: 1995-96 New Jersey Devils I was tempted to put the 1988-89 Devils here, which was a team that followed their first-ever playoff appearance with a fifth-place clunker that saw their point total drop by 16, with mostly the same roster. But at least that playoff team was one that needed to qualify in the last game of the season. It’s not like they, you know, won the Stanley Cup or anything ... The 1995-96 Devils were, on the other hand, defending Stanley Cup champions and hence their failure to make the playoffs the following year – becoming the first NHL team to go from top of the playoffs to out of the money since 1970 – was the franchise’s greatest disappointment. Devoid of the chemistry they showed in 1995, lackluster seasons from key players and a Cup hangover that lasted through December. Just an ugly season, and not just because they traded for Esa Tikkanen. Most Disappointing Devil: Neil Brady I wanted to keep this one to homegrown Devils and not ones acquired in trades, because, seriously, Esa Tikkanen. So the most disappointing Devils is then an indisputable bust named Neil Brady. He was awesome in juniors with Medicine Hat, including 83 points in 72 games one season. The Devils saw him as a dynamic forward that could slot behind Kirk Muller for years to come, and drafted him No. 3 overall in 1986. As one Devil at the time once relayed to me: Brady showed up in camp and was winded during the most basic drills, and the veterans let him know about it. Confidence shattered, Beef O‘Brady would play 29 games with the Devils before being shipped to the expansion Ottawa Senators. He scored their first-ever goal had a career-high 29 points in 57 games. Alas, he would play only 89 games total in the NHL, spending the majority of his veteran playing days in the IHL. So he was a huge bust, but no biggie – it’s not like Vincent Damphousse or Brian Leetch were on the draft board at No. 3. Oh, right, they were. Le sigh … Most Disappointing Moment in Devils History: Niedermayer leaves No, not the Stephane Matteau goal. Three Cups, including one the following season, should have stitched up that pulsating wound. Not to mention Adam Henrique in 2012. No, not Parise leaving for Minnesota, but it comes close. No, not Kovalchuk leaving for Russia, because at the end of the day, cap recapture is a thing and the Devils got out under a contract that was toxic in the new CBA.  No, the most disappointing moment was Scott Niedermayer leaving to play with his brother. To set the scene: It was after the lockout. Scott Stevens was likely headed to retirement, due to post-concussion syndrome. Niedermayer was about to inherit the mantle as the Devils’ franchise defensive player. They offered him five years and $1 million annually more than the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim did. ($7.8 million per season!) But they couldn’t offer Rob Niedermayer. So Scotty left to play with his bro and won a fourth Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. The Devils have yet to win one without Scott Niedermayer on the roster. Most Disappointing Devils Transaction: The Doug Gilmour Trade The word is “disappointing,” not worst. Worst could be Sean O’Donnell for Willie Mitchell, in hindsight. Or, you know, Esa Tikkanen. But for many of us, getting Gilmour was the first time the Devils were ever the belle of the trade deadline ball. It was the first time the Devils acquired a star offensive player near his prime (with due respect to Peter Stastny, Bernie Nicholls and Neal Broten). The full Feb. 1997 trade was Dave Ellett, Doug Gilmour and a 3rd round selection (previously acquired - Andre Lakos) from Toronto to the New Jersey Devils for Jason Smith, Steve Sullivan and the rights to Alyn McCauley. Ellett was a pylon. Gilmour played 83 games for the Devils, scoring 75 points. But he had four points in 10 playoff games in 1996-97, before scoring five in six games in the 1998 loss to the Ottawa Senators, proving you can take the boy out of the Battle of Ontario, but yadda yadda yadda … The other side of the trade featured Smith, who would go on to have a solid NHL career as a stay-at-home defenseman; Sullivan a spark-plug offensive player for the next decade; and McCauley, while never reaching his potential due to concussions, ended up as a serviceable forward for the Leafs and the Sharks. In hindsight, it was a move the Devils still should have made. But Gilmour simply never fulfilled the promise of that jaw-dropping acquisition. Most Disappointing Devils Coach/Executive: John MacLean He went from scoring the most important goal in Devils history to being its most hapless head coach, lasting 33 games and nine wins before getting the axe in 2010-11. Most disappointing, overwhelmed, terrible … really, pick your poison. Most Disappointing Devils Fashion Choice: No Black Jersey

Ukraine withdraws as 2015 WC hosts; hockey hits Asia; Lundqvist's wet look (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)
(Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:30:00 PDT)
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