Guillaume Latendresse has 13 goals and 19 points in 25 games since joining the Wild via trade in November. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
A hat trick of thoughts on a hectic Thursday that sees all but four NHL teams in action.
• The respective front offices in Montreal and Minnesota must be doing cartwheels on the heels of what is shaping up to be the most mutually beneficial trade we’ve seen in a while, Guillaume Latendresse for Benoit Pouliot.
The only downside for GMs Bob Gainey and Chuck Fletcher? Both youngsters are set to become restricted free agents come July 1, meaning they’ve got a tough evaluation to make. Assuming both players maintain their current pace in their new place, do you pay them like a player capable of being a serious goal-scorer based on five months of good results, or are the early stages of their careers, when both dramatically underachieved, more indicative of their true standing?
It sure looks like both have found new legs thanks to a fresh start, but that’s easy to say when you’re not the guy signing the checks.
• Just as I never again need to hear about how a loonie buried at center ice somehow willed a Canadian team to victory, can we please put a plug in the “Canada could send a second team to the Olympics that would still be competitive” comments we always hear in advance of these tournaments?
I have no doubt Canada Deux would do quite well, but that doesn’t really do a whole lot in the way of helping the Canadian squad that will actually participate in the event and be life-and-death to win it. Until hockey rosters run as deep as football outfits, it’s not really a relevant observation.
• When Blues tough guy Cam Janssen ran into Habs goalie Carey Price Wednesday, it re-opened the debate about whether netminders should be fair game when they stray beyond the realm of their crease, or at the very least, their trapezoid.
I’m not sure where I stand on that one, though I can say one positive offshoot of being able to paste puckstoppers is it would discourage some of those more nerve-racking padded puck-movers from bumbling their way into awful turnovers.
And while we’re on this topic, is there any play less deserving of being on nightly highlight reels than the one where a wandering goalie makes a brutal giveaway, then, with no other option left, dives in desperation only to thwart a shooter who was likely so shocked the puck ended up on his stick he didn’t have any chance to fire anything but a second-rate shot?
I understand the aesthetic appeal of such plays, but c’mon; the gross incompetence preceding the stop completely undermines any value the lucky, desperate save has.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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