On Thursday it was announced that Evgeni Nabokov had signed a contract for the remainder of the year with the Detroit Red Wings. The contract has a salary cap hit of $570,000 and would pay him less than half of that amount since less than half of the regular season remains. Because Nabokov had played in a major European league earlier this season (KHL), he was subject to re-entry waivers and there was very little chance he would actually play for the Red Wings.
Somebody else would claim him just like somebody claimed Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood from the St Louis Blues. Svatos was claimed by Nashville and Wellwood by San Jose. Both were returning from the KHL.
The top goal scorer in 2011 so far is Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. He has eight goals so far this month/ year. He is certainly making his run for the Calder Trophy. I currently support John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. He has been successfully playing a very tough defensive role in Washington, but if Skinner can keep going at this rate, it won’t be long before he takes over the Calder lead.
Recently, I have looked at some of the players with top +/- ratings in the league. I have looked at Andrej Meszaros of the Philadelphia Flyers and Toni Lydman of the Anaheim Ducks. Today, I want to look at the forward with the top +/- rating in the league. He is Ville Leino of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Leino has a +22 rating, which is the fourth highest in the league. The players ahead of him Meszaros, Lydman and Brian Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks are all defencemen. The second highest +/- among forwards belongs to Sidney Crosby, who is at +20.
Last season the Detroit Red Wings regular season was not as good as it had been in 2008/09. I argued that this was because of injury, player losses due to the salary cap. I argued that injury was probably because the Detroit Red Wings are one of the older teams in the NHL and because they had two lengthy playoff runs in the previous years, which left them with shorter summers than most teams.
The playoff run/shortened summer problem has been solved when last year they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, but the Red Wings are still an old team. The common reaction among Red Wing fans on Kukla’s Korner was to deny any correlation between injury and age - despite the fact it’s a physiological fact. Then they looked at the minutia of the injuries and argued that this one happened to a young player and that one was a fluke (essentially all injuries are flukes) as though this denies that the Red Wings are one of the more injury susceptible teams,
The St Louis Blues have clearly shown that they do not understand re-entry waivers. If you sign a player who has played in several of the top European leagues within the current season, he must clear re-entry waivers before he plays in the NHL. Thus if you sign a player that anyone else might want who requires re-entry waivers, you are wasting your time. You are signing him to a contract for another NHL team. So why bother?
In late December, the St Louis Blues signed Marek Svatos, who was returning from the KHL. On re-entry waivers he was claimed by the Nashville Predators. Yesterday, they signed Kyle Wellwood, also returning from the KHL. He was claimed by the San Jose Sharks.
The St Louis Blues are wasting their time. Any player you attempt to bring back to the league must be such a borderline player that nobody would want him or you won’t get him. Somebody else will claim him.
Sidney Crosby is the top scorer in the NHL. He has 66 points. He also has a concussion and is listed as being out indefinitely. Although he may be back soon, it is hard to know with concussions. It is quite possible that he could be out for quite a while. If this happens who takes over the NHL scoring lead?
I think the most likely answer is Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. He currently sits in third place in league scoring with 58 points. This means he would have to leapfrog Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning (who has has 61 points) to get there.
Sedin is a better bet than Stamkos because Sedin has been the highest scorer in the league over the past month. He has 22 points since the middle of December. Nobody else can match that.
Corey Locke of the Binghamton Senators is the top scorer in the AHL. He has 55 points in 38 games so far this season. He has been called up by the Ottawa Senators. This leaves the AHL without an active top scorer. He has been in the NHL for two games and played about ten minutes a game. He has one assist in those two games. It is possible that he will be returned to the AHL, but for now he is a stationary target in the AHL scoring race.
Before Corey Locke took the scoring lead, David Desharnais of the Hamilton Bulldogs was the top scorer until Desharnais was called up. Desharnais has played six games with the Montreal Canadiens scoring two points. It is also possible that he could be returned to the AHL sometime, but as of right now another contender for the AHL scoring title is out of the race.
In December, I wrote about Andrej Meszaros’s league leading +/- rating. I explained that while his +/- is a good thing, it is not a sign that he is one of the NHL’s elite defencemen. Meszaros is a player who has shown the ability to get a top +/- rating when he plays a secondary role on a top team, but has not been able to sustain it when given a bigger role.
Since then Toni Lydman of the Anaheim Ducks has tied Meszaros for the NHL +/- lead with +26. This is probably more impressive than Meszaros because Anaheim has allowed more goals than they have scored, while Philadelphia has the third best team +/- in the league.
For the past three seasons Alexander Ovechkin has led the NHL in points per game (at least among people with a significant number of games played). It was expected that Ovechkin would be at or around the top in the scoring race again this year in points and in points per game and he is in the race. He is the 11th highest scorer so far this season with 45 points and 13th in points per game with 1.02 points per game. For almost any player in hockey that is a good season, but for a player who realistically expected to be number one this is a poorer than expected showing.
If we prorate Ovechkin’s totals this season, he will finish with 28 goals, 56 assists and 84 points. Those are good totals. Last year, he had 50 goals, 58 assists and 108 points. Thus his assist rate is essentially on track. It is his goals that have declined significantly.
In November, I picked Sergei Bobrovsky of the Philadelphia Flyers as the Calder Trophy leader. At that time he had a .926 saves percentage and a 2.19 GAA. Since then Bobrovsky’s numbers have fallen a bit to a .917 saves percentage and a 2.55 GAA. He has not played as frequently as he did in the early season, as Brian Boucher has taken over a significant portion of the playing load. This has allowed other candidates to enter the race.
The top scorers among rookies are Jeff Skinner and Logan Couture. While they are having strong rookie seasons, they are both well back of the top scorers in the league. This doesn’t make them the standout rookies that typically win the Calder Trophy, despite the fact it appears most of the media is behind one of them.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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