The New Found Importance of Special Teams

Under the new rules of the NHL special teams (Penalty killing and powerplays) will a greater importance to team success than ever before. With officials consistantly cracking down on obstruction and calling penalties there were an abundance of powerplays in every game during the preseason. While, yes this was preseason and they’ve said they were cracking down on obstruction years ago and stopped calling it, I think this year they will stick with it.

I believe the average of penalties per game in the preseason this year was 20+. Until the players adjust to the new officiating this spike in penalties and powerplays will stay high. Penalty killing and powerplays will be so important this year that I say any team with a top 10 ranking in both special teams catagories will be near the top of the league. Sure, maybe a team with strong special teams like that was already at the top of the league before, but now you really can’t get away with only having a strong PK unit or a strong powerplay, you need both.

But here’s my real point of this article. The better penalty killing forwards in the league will no longer be so underappreciated. They will be key players to the success of your team. Every team will need 1 or 2 players they consider potencial shutdown men for their penalty killing units. I’ve taken the liberty of trying to find the best 1 or 2 penalty killing forwards on each team. Feel free to correct me or add any names you feel I forgot.

Northeast Division

Boston- Dave Scatchard

Buffalo- Jochen Hecht

Montreal- Niklas Sundstrom, Steve Begin

Toronto- Darcy Tucker, Chad Kilger

Ottawa- Mike Fisher

Atlantic Division

New Jersey- John Madden, Jay Pandolfo

NY Islanders- Jason Blake, Arron Asham

NY Rangers- Steve Rucchin, Dominic Moore

Philadelphia- Michal Handzus, Turner Stevenson

Pittsburgh- Andre Roy, Ryan VandenBussche

Southeast Division

Atlanta- Bobby Holik

Carolina- Kevyn Adams, Matt Cullen

Florida- Jozef Stumpel, Chris Gratton

Tampa Bay- Rob DiMaio, Dave Andreychuk

Washington- Jeff Halpern, Chris Clark

Central Division

Chicago- Curtis Brown, Martin Lapointe

Columbus- Todd Marchant, Jan Hrdina

Detroit- Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby

Nashville- Yanic Perreault

St. Louis- Mike Sillinger, Dallas Drake

Northwest Division

Calgary- Stephane Yelle, Jason Wiemer

Colorado- Dan Hinote, Andrew Brunette

Edmonton- Mike Peca, Todd Harvey

Minnesota- Brian Rolston

Vancouver- Matt Cooke, Trevor Linden

Pacific Division

Anaheim- Samuel Pahlsson

Dallas- Niko Kapanen, Stu Barnes

Los Angeles- Craig Conroy

Phoenix- Mike Ricci, Boyd Devereaux

San Jose- Marco Sturm, Scott Thorton

And as I said before feel free to add and remove names as you see fit.