The Out Of No Where Season
Every Season we see that out of no where season, that suprises, and (most of the time) delites us. Names like Teemu Selanne come to mind. Or Jonathan Cheechoo. Or even Cristobal Huet. It’s the player who resurects their career, or makes a name for themselves. It happens every season, and my question is, who will it be this year? I have put together a small list of players who may resurect their careers, or no-name( not neccarely no name, but anyone who shows talent beyond their labbeled potential) who make a name for themselves. One player from each team.
Anaheim Ducks: Jason King
-Who? That’s right, Jason King. Native of Corner Brook Newfoundland. He caught some “15 minutes of fame” in the fall of 2003 when he netted 10 goals in his first 17 games for the Canucks. he captured some attention in native Newfoundland, and local Canucks, as Vancouver musician Eric Holmquist wrote a song entitled “The Corner Brook Kid”. After those ten goals though, King would only put 2 more in the back of the net, along with 9 assists for a total of 21 points in all of 47 games. Not bad for a 7th rounder. He then slipped away into the night though, playing for the Manitoba Moose the next season. After a couple of injuries, and not a secound more of ice time in the NHL since 2003, Kings career seemed next to over. Now, maybe, he can resurect his short-lived career with the Stanley Cup Champions, Anaheim Ducks.
Atlanta Thrashers: Fred Brathwaite
-Alberta hockey fans will remeber him well. I say Alberta because Fred played on both sides of the Calgary-Edmonton rivalry. Fred was once a great goaltender: One season with Calgary saw him play 61 games, splitting Wins and losses at 25 each, and posting 5 shutouts, with 2.75 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. But perhaps his average career slipped when he played for the likes of the Blues, and then even the Blue Jackets. Then in the 2004-2005 season, when Fred could find no suitor in the NHL, Brathwaite made a move that is seldom among Canadian NHLers, he packed his bags, and headed to Europe (Kazan, Russia). Now, as he tries to make his NHL comeback, he lands in the birds nest: Atlanta. The Ottawa native will have to overthrow the tons of Thrasher’s goalies if he wishes to make his comeback, but if he does, it would make for a nice story.
Boston Bruins: Mark Mowers
– There’s just something very interesting about Mark Mowers. He was a small phenom in his minor league career(which has been pretty long) but seemed to dud when he stepped in the big leagues. Mark is not fast, strong, or overally skilled, but seems to posses some jolt to lineups. Maybe this will be the year that Mark comes out of no where and suprises ney sayers. Mark showed some potential, when he scored 5 goals, and set up 12 others this year for 17 points.
Buffalo Sabres: Daniel Paille
-Well, Paille isn’t at the top of anyone’s fantasy pool list, actually he’s probubly not even at the end, but Paille has some good star-like potential. The former Canadian junior captain, native of Welland Ontario is not very big, but makes up for that with some great speed, and a desire to win. Daniel has been forgotten by most people, but not by the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo hopes for the fast winger to furnish his scoring skills this pre-season, and to develop into a great NHLer. Daniel scooped up 11 points in 29 games this season.
Calgary Flames: Wayne Primeau
-A big centre who has never really lived up to full potential. This is finnaly a name that most people know, as Primeau was tangled in the Joe Thorton trade. Now, in a new enviroment, look for Primeau to fight right in with the gritty Flames, and finnaly ellovate his game to another level. The Scarbourough native should bring his sniper type of play to the flames, locked and loaded. The only thing that has held Primeau back so far in his career is he’s slow, and he has low self confidence.
Carolina Hurricanes: Casey Borer
-Minneapolis native Casey Borer may be just what th Hurricanes need. Casey should be ready for the NHL sometime this season, and when he does pull on some skates for the big club, you’ll probubly be able to see an impact. Borer is a defensive defensman with some good skating upside. He can be related to a Thomas Kaberle: He can play a great defensive game, but can join the rush, and then he’s got such good acceleration, he can skate back into position. He’s a great fix for the ‘Canes D-injury problems.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Lalime
-The one time Ottawa Senators Pre-Playoff phenom lost a lot when he was “banished” by the Senators, with critisim following him. He lost his touch. He lost his confidence. And he lost everything. Lalime needs an extra boost in confidence, and a team that will rely on him. Chicago seems far off from a place that can give him a shot, with hot-shot goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. But Chicago gave him a few chances, and with words of encouragment from teammates, put up a clinic near the end of last season. Lalime must perfect his skills, and raise his self confidence in order to suceed this season, to go along with his backround as a starter.
Colorado Avalanche: Jose Theodore
-Former All-star, former Team Canada starter, and forme face of the Montreal Canadiens franchise. Good reseme eh? But if Mr.Theodore is looking to pass that resume in, he might want to leave out anything past the lockout. Jose is one of the prime examples of “a victim of the new NHL” and Canadiens fans are saying “You can say that again”. Jose could not perform in the new NHL were his pads were smaller, there were more offensive rushes, and he could no longer slid into the corners to play the puck. But Jose could still prove to be valueable to the Colorado Avalanche. He plays a classic butterfly style, and depends on his acrobatics, and his ability to cut down angles on shots to get him the win.Look for some fuel to possibly rekindle inside the labbeled “dud”, and to turn his career around.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nikolai Zherdev
-Nikolai Zherdev, once touted to be in the same class as prospects like Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, had some contract problems, and threatend to take his game back to Russia. Although Columbus settled contract negotiations, Zherdev’s play was not as planed. The “future of Columbus” could do no more damage than 32 points this season. But look for Zherdev to gain upon his small taste of failure this season. Zherdev is still a complete offensive package, and although recent slumps, injuries, and public arguments, still has the potential to be a 80-100 point scorer.
Dallas Stars: Joel Lundqvist
-Was once considred a good rookie, piece of the future puzzle for the Stars, but when givin his North American debut, crashed and fell. Even though Joel has been slammed hard by the hockey world so far, he still has some pretty good potential. In the publics eye Joel has been labeled a sleeper, whos only fame comes from his twin brother, Henrik, but with a tiny bit of confidence boost, he could become a star with the Stars.
Detriot Red Wings: Dick(Anton) Axelsson
-Labelled as a “hidden gem”, this Swede may just be another late round European to make it as a star in “Hockey Town”. Anton is the younger brother of Per-Johan Axelsson(forgive me if spelling is wrong), and plays a similar style of hockey. He is fast, and can throw his weight around. He is not a highley known rookie, but should his NHL debut be this year, I have a feeling he will catch some attention.
Edmonton Oilers: Devan Dubnyk
-Devan is not one of the most known ‘Tenders in the league, but he was drafted 14th overall by the “Oil’s” in 2004. He’s a big goalie(6’6) so he covers a ton of the net. Some say he still needs more experience, but if Garon fails to back up Roloson, than Dubnyk will step up to the plate and will swing for that home
run that will place him among the leagues best. Dubnyk has been compared as the next Olaf Kolzig because of his size and rock solid rebound control.
Florida Panthers: Rob Globke
– Rob is a skilled winger who can decide his own potential. He has been called a future star, and has been called a big time sleeper, either way, it’s all up to Globke how the story goes. Globke has recently endured some problems producing points, but still plays a fierce and detirmend game. Globke is strong, and can put the puck on the stick of teammates in an instant. He can be compared to Mats Sundin: He’s well sized, strong, great playmaking abilities, and can accelerate fast. Look for Globke to try and crack an opening roster spot this year, and then dazzle crouds.
L.A Kings: Jason LaBarbera
-A big goaltender, who is highly skillfull, and should be ranked as one of the best goaltenders this year. The only thing that has kept him from the NHL was contract problems with the Manchester Monarchs. Jason is a goalie who always has his head in the game, and takes up so much of the net, it’s like trying to get a beach ball through a wall(didn’t intend for it to ryhme). Jason can stop “for sure goals” out of no where, and top the highlight reel like some of the best. However, if Jason wishes to take to the NHL spot light, he will need to overturn goalies such as Dan Cloutier, J.S Aubin, and (unprobably) Johnathan Bernier.
Minnesota Wild: Miroslav Kopriva
-Not a well known goaltending prospect, but remember the name Kopriva, because it looks like Miroslav may land an NHL spot very soon. The 6’4 goaltender covers a lot of the net, and may suprise some people, when he makes an acrobatic save to steal a goal. He should become custom to North American hockey very fast, and look for him to steal a spot behind Backstrom. He’s still very young for a goaltender, and will make some mistakes, but will make up for it with his hatred for losing.
Montreal Canadiens: Yann Denis
-Once was considered the future #1 for Les Canadiens, he has been forgotten among the Jaroslav Halak-Carey Price talk. But Denis is still a tremendous ‘Tender. Yann Denis would be ripe to play in the NHL right now, but is playing out of a goaltending factory. He posses a lot of tools to be a good goalie in the NHL, and is very mature. If the Canadiens give Denis a chance, he will flourish. His future with the Canadiens remains a question. All Denis can do is trap the pads, and play his backhand off.
Nashville Predators: Radek Bonk
-Bonk was once a 70 point scorer, which is hard to believe with his play as of late. Bonk crashed when he went to Montreal, and failed to bring any of the scoring or checking that he had in Ottawa with him. But Radek is now playing with Nashville: a city with not even a tenth of pressure as in Montreal, and he’s playing with a new set of players, and a new set of coaches. If there was anytime that Bonk could bring his career back to normal, it would be now. Although he has been labeled as ” greedy” by some people, Bonk brings some great grit, size and goal scoring to the Preds.
New Jersey Devils: Kevin Weekes
-Was once the face of the New York Rangers francise(arguably), and had a roster spot on team Canada. But was reduced to secound fiddle to Henrik Lundqvist, and now is shoe shiner for Martin Brodeur. Kevin has been prone to injuries(which basically slipped away his career) but when he’s on his game, he’s on his game. Kevin has litterally been around the league, and has tried to do the best where ever he landed. Look for Weekes to see very few games, but if he is givin a chance, I think he will excell and may even do the unthinkable: Race with Martin Brodeur (im going to get complaints about saying that).
New York Islanders: Richard Park
-Look for the overall 20 point scorer to finnaly find his own this year. Richard is a lightning fast forward, with a good defensive game too. He has good attacking skills, and has a great wrist shot. He hit a career high last year in points(26) and assists(16). The small South Korean has been labelled as a 3-4th liner by most, and too small to play in the NHL, but Park has an indepth hockey knowledge, which could land him far this season, after some confidence boost from last seasons succes.
New York Rangers: Dan Girardi
-An undrafted prospect of the NYR, Girardi proved that he is ready to play at an NHL level last year. But he is still flying under most peoples radars, which could turn out for the better. Girardi is looking to improve his skills this pre-season, so that he will be ready to burst into the NHL again. iel is a big mobile defensmen, who moves the puck well, and has some great offence. Get ready for Girardi to make an impact on the NHL.
Ottawa Senators: Martin Gerber
-After lossing his job to Ray Emery, Gerber looks to put his career back on track, not long after it spun out of control. Gerber is an exciting goaltender who covers the net- post to post. He can play great acrobatically, and in a standup position. Look for Gerber to try to adapt to the Senators type of play, and try to regain his job as sole number 1 from Ray Emery, which might not be very easy as Emery is now a fan favorite.
Philidolphia Flyers: Joffrey Lupul
-Lupul is a young, fast sniper with great offensive skills. Lupul failed to live up to his full potential last year, as he was being marked as a 70 point scorer. But after a dissapointing 28 points for the Oilers last season Lupul was traded to the Flyers along with Jason Smith. Lupul still has potential, and will try to use his abilitiy of finsishing off plays to pull past the 50 point marker with the Flyers this year. And as Ducks and Oilers fans will tell the people in Philidolphia, when Lupul scores, he scores in bunches.
Phoenix Coyotes: Alex Auld
– A very interesting story. Sometimes Auld can play like a Luongo, while other times he plays like a Ty Conklin. The one thing Auld needs though is more developing. If the ‘Yolks want to turn Auld into something, theywill need a good goalie coach, smeone to relieve pressure for Auld (Abisher-frgive me for spelling) and some patence. Auld could be a top Goalie if he applied himself, and gained some self confidence. Auld uses his size to stop pucks, and his ability to cut down shooters angles. Only time will tell how the Auld story ends.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Dany Sabourin
-A goalie that didn’t make the impact that some people thought he would. Sabourin, believe it or not, still has potential. Dany played 9 games last year, and showed that he can compete. he had a .906 Save Percentage, a 2.63 Goals Against Average, but only 2 wins, with 4 losses. Sabourin cuts down shooters angles, and even though he’s a pretty tall, e still makes some spralling saves. Maybe if Fluery goes on a losing streak like many times before, Sabourin will do some good.
St.Louis Blues: David Backes
– Is a two way power forward with lots of “spunk”. Backes had an impressive rookie season last year, but is still not known by most people. David scored ten goals and netted 13 assits to combine for 23 points. David will be a valuable piece to the Blues squad, and may start some hype, with his ability to put numbers on the board.
S.J Sharks: Tomas Plihal
-The very offensive winger played three NHL games last year. He didn’t score any points, but got the feel for NHL hockey. Expect Plihal to be givin some chances this year, and expect him to explode. He has good skating, and acceleration, and has very good hands. He can deke the opposing goalie like Jussi Joikenen in a shootout competition. Tomas was a late round draft pick, which would make it even more exciting if he can tear his way to a roster spot. *Note: I would have done one on recently signed J.R but when I heard that he got signed, this part of the article had a
lready been done.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Karri Ramo
-A very big goaltender who uses size, and his ability to cover both posts to save pucks. He is very mature, and very atletic. Most people have only labbeled him as a back-up goalie at most, but Karri has the determination, the work ethic, and the size to stick in the NHL. Some people critize his ability to adapt to the NA style hockey game. It will fun to see Karri develop into a goaltender, and he actually may be ready this year. He played two games last year, and looked pretty good as he adapted.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Jay Harrison
-A big strong defensman with lots of defensive upside. He is however small, but very effective at taking the puck away from his man. He has been forgotten by a lot of people, but did not play last year because of an injury, but this year he is ready to prove himself at training camp, and work his way back into the Toronto picture. Jay is a pretty good part of Toronto’s D, and hopes to suprise everyone by having a great season. The big D man from Oshawa has a rocky road ahead of him, but if he pulls through, I think he can have a great season.
Vancouver Canucks: Ryan Shannon
-Ryan is a proflic minor league scorer. But if he wants to stay in the NHL he’s going to have to improve his game. He did, however score 11 points in 53 games(his rookie season) so it’s not all day, but some say that Ryan is like a volcano ready to explode. Watch this season to see if Shannon produces like he did in the minors, and maybe with some more ice time, he will eventually become better known, and could have a break out season.
Washington Capitals: Joe Motzko
-Not really a known players, as he has had very little ice time his whole(which is small) NHL career. He was pretty good in the minors, but was never drafted. The native of Bemidji(USA) is pretty fast, with some good acceleration, and can take a hit from time to time. If Washington gives him a chance, and puts him on a decent line, Motzko could flourish, and perhaps have the one season that will make him valuable. Because face it, when your playing on a fourth line for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and seeing ~2:00 mins, and only seven games, you know your career has ultimatly hit rock bottom. But Motzko is still farely young, and may have some hidden flare in him that could propel him to new heights.
Free Agents: Jeff O’Neil
-Jeff did have a really good season, but was scratched at the end of the season by the Leafs in a questionable decision, deeming that O’Neil was too inconsistant, and that their were just other players who were playing better. O’Neil is fast, and has good acceleration. He has a good backround (as he used to be one of the Hurricanes top scorers), and can be described as a deadly sniper at some times. Jeff had been through some rough times lately (with the death of his brother), but found away to break through that challenge , scoring 42 points in 74 games. Jeff is definatly an underdog in the Free Agent Market.
But remeber, these are players that arent having the planed career they thought they would, or semi forgotten-forgoten-failed rookies. You can say “He’ll never do anything” or “He’ll never come back” or “That’s totaly outragous” but thats the point of the article. Most people thought that Selanne’s career had hit its peek, or that cheechoo would never become more than a 3rd liner, or that Cristobal Huet was only a backup at best, but in the sports world, anything can happen.
So those are my picks, who are yours?
The Canadian Hockey Atlas– by Stephen Cole (for Official birthplace of Canadian players and small story about Jason King)
NHL.com (for looking up stats)