Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Masterton Trophy Results

In years past I have written a few blog posts critiquing some of the more interesting NHL awards.  In the past I haven't left these posts until this far into July, but nevertheless I would like to write these posts.

Certain NHL Awards were quite obvious.  For example the only controversy regarding the Vezina Trophy is that Carey Price wasn't a unanimous choice - he was only almost unanimous.  One award that is often harder to reach a consensus upon is the Masterton Trophy.  To some degree the NHL doesn't know what to do with this award.  Bill Masterton died playing in the NHL and an award was set up in his honor.  The problem was they didn't exactly know what to give the award for.  The award is on paper given for perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship - those are positive qualities that it is hard to deny should get an award.  The problem is figuring out which NHL player deserves this award.

The most coherent definition for the award over the years has been that the Masterton Trophy goes to the player who overcomes the biggest obstacle to his NHL career and nevertheless makes the biggest impact to his team.  There are several individual picks that don't fit that pattern but it is the most common description of the winner.

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Phil Housley’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is my final Hall of Fame case for 2015.  I have already written them for Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Chris Pronger.  Today I will look at Phil Housley.  Unlike the other three players who were inducted in their first year of eligibility, Housley retired in 2003 and is finally inducted in his tenth year of eligibility.  Thus one might expect that his case is more flawed than any of the other three players.

In order to make this case, I will use the Keltner List.  This is a set of fifteen questions that are borrowed from baseball and get to the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

Here is Phil Housley's case:

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

I cannot find any evidence that anyone ever made a plausible argument that Phil Housley was the best player in the hockey at any point.

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Chris Pronger’s Hall Of Fame Case

This is my third instalment in the Hall of Fame cases for the male players inducted in the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.  I have already written posts for Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov.  Today I will make the case for Chris Pronger.

Here was the post I wrote when I first considered Chris Pronger to be a Hall of Famer.

In order to make Chris Pronger's case I will use the Keltner List.  This is a set of questions that have been borrowed from baseball that gets to the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Pronger won the Hart Trophy in 2000.  That is a claim that he was the best player in hockey.  Given how frequently defencemen get overlooked for the Hart Trophy (Pronger is one of only three Hart Trophy winning defencemen) this is quite an accomplishment.  Despite that I would be inclined to argue that Jaromir Jagr was the best player in hockey at that time.  Nevertheless there is a solid argument that Pronger was the best player in hockey for a time.

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Sergei Fedorov’s Hall Of Fame Case

Today I am continuing writing up the Hall of Fame cases for the male players in the 2015 Hall of Fame class.  Yesterday I looked at Nicklas Lidstrom's case and today I will look at Sergei Fedorov's case.  Here was the post I wrote when I first considered Fedorov to be a Hall of Famer.

I use the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball to make the Hall of Fame case.  It is a good set of questions that captures the heart of what makes a player a Hall of Famer.

Here is Sergei Fedorov's case:

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Nicklas Lidstrom’s Hall Of Fame Case

It was about a week ago when we learned who will be inducted in the 2015 Hall of Fame class.  It includes four male players in Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley.  Now that the craziest days of the free agent frenzy are over, I will begin to give the Hall of Fame cases for these players.  I use the Keltner List which is borrowed from baseball but does a very good job of characterizing what it should take to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Although Lidstrom never was a serious Hart Trophy finisher, it can be argued that he should have been.  I would have argued that he should have won the 2008 Hart Trophy.  I would argue that he was the best player in hockey around that time and some considered him as such.  Defencemen have often been overlooked for the Hart Trophy (as only 3 have ever won it).  He won the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy which is a lesser claim to being the best player in hockey (did anyone really believe Justin Williams was close to the best player in the NHL?).  I would argue this is a yes, but it isn't the strongest yes that might be offered for a few generational players.

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LTIR Fraud Trades

Among the recent NHL trades are two that highlight the problem of LTIR fraud.  Chris Pronger and Marc Savard signed longterm contracts that their teams regretted.  When they suffered injuries their teams found an out.  These players were placed on the longterm injured reserve.  Neither has played an NHL game since 2011 and under any normal circumstances would have retired.  The problem is their retiring would have cost their respective teams' salary cap space.  So Pronger and Savard have remained active on paper even though both have taken other jobs and have no interest in returning to NHL careers.  We have found a new level of silly to add to the story.  Both of these players have been traded.  A different team wants them even though they will never play another NHL game.

Chris Pronger was traded to the Arizona Coyotes along with Nicklas Grossman for Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick.  Arizona wants Chris Pronger because their finances are troubled,  Pronger allows them to pay their team less.  His salary cap hit is his average salary over his contract of $4.935 million but he is only paid $525,000 per year over the next two years.  This allows Arizona to make the salary floor without actually paying players that amount of money.  It signifies that Arizona is in financial distress and will bend rules to pay their team less than they are formally allowed to.  It shows that Arizona is going to be a bottom feeding team this year.

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Future Hall Of Famer Martin St Louis Retires

Whenever a player that I consider a future Hall of Famer retires, I write a career bio for him.  With yesterday's retirement of Martin St Louis, I will be writing about his career.

Martin St Louis was born on June 18th, 1975 in Laval, Quebec.  He was first noticed by hockey scouts playing in the Quebec Amateur Athletic Association at age 16.  He played for the Laval-Laurentides Regents and scored 103 points in 42 games.  In order to further his chances for an NHL career, he decided to play in English Canada for the Hawksbury Hawks in the Central Canada Hockey League.  He scored 87 points in 31 games.  He had been very successful but was playing in lesser leagues.  His next step was to play in the US college system at the University of Vermont.  He was quite successful there but as a smaller player listed at 5'9" 185 pounds, he didn't attract enough attention to be drafted into the NHL.  He made the All-ECAC hockey rookie team in his first NCAA season and made the All-ECAC hockey first team in his remaining three years in college.  He was an AHCA East First Team All American three times.  In 1994/95 he was named the ECAC Player of the Year.  In 1996, he made the ECAC Hockey All Tournament Team and the All-NCAA All Tournament Team.  He expected that this achievement might earn him significant NHL offers but this did not happen.

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New York Rangers Hire GM Jeff Gorton

Probably the most important piece of news that was buried in the free agent signings yesterday was the official announcement that Glen Sather is stepping down as New York Ranger general manager.  He will remain president of the organization.  He had been the Ranger GM since 2000.  Before that he had been the Edmonton Oiler GM for twenty years winning five Stanley Cups.  At age 71 it is time for Sather to slow down.

Taking over as general manager is Jeff Gorton.  He has been with the Rangers organization since 2007 and has been Sather's chosen successor for years.    Gorton is ready for this chance and has been well schooled under Sather.  It will likely be a seamless transition.  Matt Hunwick signed with the Rangers yesterday.  It seems like business as usual.

I am sure that Sather and Gorton knew well in advance that this transition would occur and everything is running according to plan.  The transition was buried in the free agent frenzy in part due to modesty.  There was no need to make the Rangers transition a big story.  Glen Sather didn't need a big send off.  Jeff Gorton didn't need big media scrutiny.  It is business as usual in New York - at least that is how they want to run things.

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How Good Was The 2013 All UFA Team?

With evening upon us we are well into the 2015 free agent frenzy.  Yesterday I posted a 2015  All UFA Team.  This is the best team that I could make with pending unrestricted free agents.  Many of them have already found a new home and a big payday.  My question is how good a team could you build if you were to buy all the best free agents available.  To answer that let's look at last year's All UFA Team.

Last year's team wasn't too bad.  One player in Daniel Alfredsson retired instead of playing the season, but the remainder all played NHL roles.  The 2014 wasn't too bad.  They had two legitimate goalies in Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller.  Anton Stralman probably turned in the top performance on their defence.  Radim Vrbata played well enough to appear in the All Star Game.  Others including Jarome Iginla, Mike Ribeiro, Thomas Vanek and Paul Stastny all showed some scoring ability.

Here are the 2014 All UFA players with their salary and statistics:

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2015 All UFA Team

Free agency begins tomorrow.  We should see a frenzy of questionable contracts signed within a few hours of its start.  I like to post an All UFA Team on the eve of free agency in order to gage how good that team would be.  Could you build a solid team from nothing just by signing free agents?  Here is last year's team.  In the next day or two, I want to attempt to quantify how good they would have been.

Here is this year's All UFA Team.  Should there be any last minute signings before tomorrow, I will update the team.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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