I've got to go fight the unwashed Christmas shopping masses for a parking space today, so let's get right to your questions:
Why doesn't Glen Hanlon play Alex Ovechkin on the penalty kill? A lot of the top players in the NHL play the PK, so why not Â‘Vech? With his speed, he could pot a number of shorthanded goals. Plus, it would add to his ice time. Just make sure he does not block shots!
But seriously, if I had the talent, I'd use it, not sit it.
Roy F., Calgary, Alta.
In fact, Hanlon did try playing Ovechkin when the Capitals were down a man last season. But the coach realized that, when you've got your best forward playing even-strength, power play and penalty kill minutes, he's approaching Chris Pronger time-on-ice territory.
That's fine if you're a veteran star like the Ducks defenseman, but not when you're a rookie or sophomore. But I think, as he learns more about his physical limits, you'll see Ovechkin on the PK from time to time in the future.
While I may not agree with you on fighting I still like reading your articles, you seem to be one of the more unbiased writers out there. Thanks for the distraction at work.
I'm in a 16-team keeper league, so any good (or even decent) player is hard to come by. We can only keep 11 out of the 20 players and the ones we keep must have played one game in the season.
I held on to Cam Barker last year in hopes of him making it big this year. Now with his latest injury I don't know how long I can wait (my D has been hurting me more than helping). Is there any talk of when Barker will be back? Is he still worth the wait?
First off, you're welcome for the distractions. And as I tell pretty much everyone who writes me, I enjoy differing opinions, so long as they're not overly venomous. Debating and discussing is why I got into the business in the first place.
I'd hold on to Barker, with both hands, as tight as I could. Sure, that oft-injured ankle is a source of concern, but he'll be called up from the American League sooner than later this season and should chip in a handful of points for the Hawks as he becomes accustomed to the big show.
And remember, blueliners and goalie prospects almost always take more time to develop at the NHL level, and many don't develop at all. That's not the best of news for keeper leagues, but that's the reality.
I saw Felix Potvin at a recent Leafs/Lightning game and was wondering if he has officially filed his retirement papers yet.
Perhaps I'm just waxing nostalgic here, but I believe he was born in 1971, which makes him young enough to play, doesn't it? With graybeards like Hasek, Belfour, etc. still making contributions, why wouldn't Felix have even received an invite to someone's training camp? Seems strange to me that a goalie with that much experience (and who really didn't have a terrible year in Boston before the lockout) would be overlooked like that.
Also...with Peter Bondra being picked up by Chicago recently, what are the chances that a guy like Jason Allison gets a sniff? I know he's not the prototypical player for the "New NHL", but he is one of the best at cycling the puck down low and could be very useful to some team's power play. The parade to the penalty box doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon.
I look forward to your responses.
I was at that game and Potvin certainly hasn't lost his boyish looks. But he's as done as done gets.
Next: Allison is still working out in hopes of being signed by a team this season. The Hawks expressed interest in him over the summer, but not at the price and term he was asking. Now that Bondra is there, I think the window in the Windy City has closed for the former Maple Leaf, King, Bruin and Capital.
Some team fighting for a playoff spot Â– and hurting on the power play Â– should take a flier on Allison, but not until later in the season.
I'm in a keeper league and drafted Jimmy Howard over a year ago. Given the ages of Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood, does Howard have a shot at starting next year or at least backing up one of them?
Also, give me your quick hits re: Carey Price, Marek Schwarz and Tuukka Rask. Who is the better netminder, who'll be starting in the NHL first and when?
John Anthony, Buffalo, N.Y.
You keeper league guys are relentless with the questions.
I spoke with someone in the Red Wings organization about Howard this summer, before Detroit signed Hasek. He didn't seem particularly optimistic that Howard eventually would become their No. 1 and since the Wings were willing to take a significant risk with Hasek, I'm inclined to imagine the best Howard can hope for is a backup slot in 2006-07.
As for Price, Schwarz and Rask, see my earlier comments about slow-to-develop prospects. Rask seems to have the most hype around him and Price isn't far behind in that department, but Schwarz may have the first, best opportunity to be an NHL starter. That's the best I can do.
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