Twas the Night Before Puck Drop '09…

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Twas the Night Before Puck Drop '09…
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Here are some last-minute details to know before the NHL officially starts the 2009-2010 season:

-First and foremost, Mats Sundin has officially retired from the NHL (for now…who knows).

Sad to see Sundin go, especially living in the Greater Toronto Area. During his heyday, Sundin’s face was everywhere around the city.

Where does he sit among the Leaf greats? Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Let the debate begin. On a lighter side, my Mats Sundin rookie card increases in value, while my Patrick O’Sullivan rookie card struggles to find value.

 

-For those of you who use Goaliepost.com, it now costs $10 to use for the year.

It is a great tool to find out game day goalies. I recommend it if you have mediocre goalies and don’t know if they are playing or not.

However, for me, I have Lundqvist (and Varlamov), so I will spend my $10 on $10 worth of gummy bears.

Fantastically: I provided Goaliepost.com with some goalie tips over the past three years and will do my best to let you know before game time which goalie is starting here at 50MC.wordpress.com.

 

-Speaking of goalies, according to CapGeek.com, the Carolina Hurricanes have inked Cam Ward to a six-year deal. Darren Dreger adds that the average cap hit is $6.3 million.

Absolute stud goalie. Should have another solid year with upwards of 40 wins. Will also challenge for a spot on Team Canada’s roster.

 

-Following up a previous story regarding Robbie Schremp: As expected, the Islanders have officially claimed him off waivers. A little bit over 24 hours after the Oilers cut Schremp, the Islanders used their No. 1 waiver priority to claim him.

This is a good opportunity for Schremp and it also could be his last. He will definitely have a chip on his shoulder and look to produce on an Islanders team that may struggle offensively.

Fantastically: Do not expect much, but expect Schremp to play inspired hockey and show critics that they are wrong. Let him sit in the free agent pool until he shows signs of life. If he can score 30-40 points, the season is a success. Look for more next year.

 

-Everyone have a drink to celebrate Theo Fleury’s fine career, which officially came to an end on Monday.

Too soon?

Fleury was on Off The Record after he announced his retirement, and among the advice he would give to young players he said not to get married until they were 30 and to get a pre-nup. Weird.

 

-According to Andy Strickland, Dan Boyle is set to be named the captain of the San Jose Sharks. Obviously, wearing the C is a great honor for any team, but does it really matter?

According to Joe Thornton, wearing or not wearing the C didn’t change him in Boston:

I guess I really didn’t care. I just played, scored goals, made points, and got into fights. I was going to play the way I always did, and having a ‘C’ was not going to change any of that.

Of course, all players are different. Ask Andrei Markov about the captaincy and you are surely going to get a different answer.

But for the Sharks, all of those guys in that room have been leaders at one point or another in their hockey careers. Therefore, I don’t think it is going to change much, except for maybe Boyle talking to the referees a little more.

Fantastically: Joe Thornton is awesome. Expect big years from him and whoever is captain of the Sharks.

 

-Late last week, Peter Forsberg dominated hockey headlines with a possible comeback to the NHL. This came after a successful game for MoDo, where he scored the game-winning goal.

Earlier this week, Forsberg confirmed that the stress fracture in his ankle was still hurting. Apparently he could barely walk, but he could skate. Go figure. Must be the gliding. Apparently Washington is interested. Whatever.

Fantastically: Don’t bother.

 

-Maxim Afinogenov has made the Atlanta Thrashers!

Another Russian to embrace Ilya Kovalchuk. Afinogenov is likely start the season on the second line with Todd White and Slava Kozlov. The first line of Kovlachuk-Antropov-Little has looked awesome in the preseason.

Atlanta will not have trouble scoring this season, but its defense has some question marks and Kari Lehtonen must stay healthy.

Fantastically: Afinogenov may be able to find his game again in Atlanta. He is surrounded by really good offensive players and he is still among the quickest skaters in the league. If you are looking for a cheap 50 point option, then go with him. If not, keep him atop your watch list.

 

-The Phoenix Coyotes have signed Robert Lang to a one-year deal. He gives a very young Coyotes team a veteran presence and a proven point producer. He also fills in the empty space that the Coyotes have at center.

Fantastically: I don’t think Lang should be owned, unless he goes on a tear. The only way he has some value is if he plays with Shane Doan. After major knee surgery, I don’t think Lang can keep up the pace on the first line.

 

-Anton Stralman was traded from Calgary to Columbus, where he is expected to quarterback the power play. Stralman is still only 23 and fits in well with a core of young stars. The Jackets have desperately searched for a puck moving defenseman for a long, long time.

Kris Russell has a lot of potential, but needs time to figure it out at the NHL level. Scott Howson, GM of the Blue Jackets, admitted that he has coveted Stralman for some time and tried hard to acquire him during last year’s trade deadline.

Fantastically: If Stralman can go into Columbus and lock down that first power play unit quarterback job, he should thrive. In Toronto, John Ferguson Jr. compared him to Nicklas Lidstrom, which may be farfetched, but goes to show the type of offensive potential Stralman has.

Expect 45-50 points from Stralman on a very potent power play. He’s got toughness too, I guess (right).

 

-Rookie Cuts & Keeps: Artem Anisimov and former Oshawa General Michael Del Zotto cap off very impressive training camps and make the Rangers. Bob McKenzie is reporting that Del Zotto will be running the Rags’ power play.

Evgeni Grachev is out. Sent to the AHL.

Matt Duchene is in Colorado. No surprise. He is probably their best player.

Cody Hodgson did not show enough and was sent back to Brampton (OHL). With Duchene now in Colorado and Grachev in the AHL, Brampton will probably pull an Oshawa and trade Hodgson for a huge package.

I have been on the Sergei Shirokov bus for a week now. He will start on the second line with Kesler, but on the first unit power play with the twins. He keeps moving up that watch list.

Viktor Stahlberg will be on the Maple Leafs’ opening night roster. This morning, Bob McKenzie was a guest on the Dean Blundell Show and called Stahlberg the most legitimate college player he saw last year.

 

-Sleeper of the Week: Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators.

He has had a very good training camp (seven points in five games, 25 SOG). He made the team out of camp last year, which was unusual because usually the road to Nashville goes through Milwaukee (AHL).

He played 28 NHL games to start then was shipped to the AHL, where he had 35 points in 49 games. Hornqvist is a dark horse pick to win the Calder and to lead an offensively challenged Predators team in points.

 

-Viktor Stahlberg led the league with six preseason goals in eight games. Anze Kopitar had five goals in five games. Mike Comrie stole the show with 10 points (three goals) in five preseason games.

Preseason Stats.

Fantastically: Stahlberg should have a nice 50 point season. Kopitar will eclipse the 80 point plateau. Comrie will help Edmonton make the playoffs with 60 points. The main question for Comrie is how Hilary Duff is going to handle Edmonton compared to Long Island. I heard there is a big mall in Edmonton, she might like that.

 

-Speaking of the preseason, frig the preseason! Let’s get the regular season started already. WOOOO!!! Hockey’s back!

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