Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

On Iginla Missing The All Star Game

Every year a few players selected for the All Star Game opt out of it.  Usually this is because of injury and even in case of injury, the NHL does not take too well to it.  In the last All Star Game in 2009, Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom opted out of it.  They all had nagging injuries that were not serious enough to keep them out of regular NHL games, but they were better served by resting instead of travelling to and playing in an All Star Game.  The NHL forced them to either attend the game and take place in the non-hockey activities (such as interviews and autographs) or face suspension and only Crosby complied.  As a result, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were effectively suspended for the following game by the league.

This year the NHL stance appears to have softened.  Jarome Iginla was selected to the game and he opted out for personal reasons.  His grandmother is not in good health and he is using all star break as a chance (possibly a last chance) to visit with his grandmother.

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Locke Back In The AHL

Not too long after I wrote that the AHL scoring leader Corey Locke had been called up by the Ottawa Senators, he found himself sent back down to Binghamton.  He got to play three NHL games and had his first ever NHL point (an assist). 

Now that he is back in the AHL he maintains his lead in league scoring.  Locke has 58 points for the league lead.  He has a six point lead over anyone else in the league.  The two players most likely to track him down are Alexandre Giroux of the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oiler affiliate) with 52 points and Mark Mancari of the Portland Pirates (Buffalo Sabre affiliate) with 51 points.

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Selke Trophy Leader

The Selke Trophy is given to the best defensive forward each season.  I take this to mean the forward who would earn the most win shares with his defensive play.  Generally there are two types of players who are in the race and there is no particular reason that one should be favored over the other.  There are defensive specialists who are generally third line players who have little offensive value, but are used to kill penalties and shut down the top players on the opposing team and there are two-way players who play first line roles and contribute offensively, but also play very good defence.  Usually it is two-way players who win the Selke Trophy because voters are influenced by offensive totals - even though they shouldn’t be.

I have been supporting Jeff Halpern of the Montreal Canadiens since November.  He is a third line defensive specialist who usually has little chance to win the Selke, but he should be in the middle of the race right now.  He has slowed down from a fast start and is now out with an upper body injury, so it is time to pick a new leader.

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That Was Pointless

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.

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A Hot Rookie

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.

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Leino’s +/-

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.

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On The Red Wing Injuries

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,

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Blues Don’t Get Re-Entry Waivers

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.

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Contender To Take Over The Scoring Lead

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.

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AHL Without A Scoring Leader

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.

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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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