The NHL offseason had officially kicked off as Montreal shipped off playoff hero and pending restricted free agent Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for two prospects and the Nashville Predators traded their captain, Jason Arnott, back to a place he won a cup and pending free agent prize Dan Hamhuis to the Flyers.
Furious player movement in the summer has become the norm in the salary cap era and has given NHL fans across the board something to wake up and be excited about as teams attempt to win a paper championship.
This week is going to be a busy one around the NHL as schedules are announced on Tuesday June 22, and on the same day we will hear who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Wednesday June 23 we roll out the red carpet for the NHL Awards as the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Miller will rub elbows with Ducks fan Snoop Dog and the cast of The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.
The week cumulates with the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the first round on Friday June 25 and the rest of the draft Saturday June 26.
With all that in mind since each topic deserves its own Pucking Awesome Hat Trick this week (what a tease), so let’s first look at my picks for the four candidates that will make up the class of 2010, and could join the ranks of the immortal in Toronto.
Joe Nieuwendyk (20 NHL seasons, 1,257 GP-564 G-562A-1,126 PTS):
Joe Nieuwendyk is the only lock of the first time eligible players as the 20-year vet won three cups with the Flames, Stars and Devils capturing the Conn Smyth with 21 points in the Stars' 1999 Cup run.
The Oshawa native broke onto the NHL scene in 1986-87, after three successful years at Cornell, scoring five goals in his first nine NHL games, and even chipped in with four points in six playoff games.
The next season, his rookie year, the 21-year-old scored a career-high 51 goals, including a league-leading 31 on the power play, and 91 points on his way to capturing the Calder Memorial Trophy.
The four-time NHL All-Star currently sits tied for 51st place with Hall of Famer Mike Bossy in career NHL points (1,126).
The current general manger of the Dallas Star also won a Gold Medal for Canada in the 2002 Olympics and most certainly will be able to add Hall of Fame to his signatures.
Doug Gilmour (20 NHL seasons, 1,474 GP-450G-964A-1,414 PTS):
Drafted 134th overall in the seventh round by St. Louis in 1982, Doug Gilmour has had to work hard to prove he belonged and the 20-year veteran continually showed his passion for the game.
The Kingston native has the most career points of the candidates (1,414), and currently sits 17th all-time in points.
Gilmour won the Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Flames and first-year eligible candidate Joe Nieuwendyk, scoring 22 points, including three game winners and team high +12. Gilmour was always dependable on both ends of the ice seen in his career +132 and was the Frank J. Selke Trophy winner in 1992-93.
From the beginning to the end Gilmour gave it his all in every game played and deserves the call to the Hall this year.
Adam Oates (19 NHL seasons, 1,337 GP-341G-1079A-1,420 PTS):
If Gilmour had to prove he belonged being drafted in seventh round, Adam Oates rise to one of the NHL all-time set up men is even more of a story as he went undrafted.
After Oates led Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to the 1985 NCAA Championship with an amazing 91 points in 38 games the Weston, Ontario native was given his NHL break with the Detroit Red Wings.
Nineteen NHL seasons later, Oates left the league sixth in all-time assists (1,079); the five players ranked above him are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Though Oates never won the Stanley Cup, twice losing in the Final (1998 with the Capitals and 2003 with the Mighty Ducks), he still finished with 156 career playoff points in 163 games.
Adam Oates was a magic man with the puck setting up Hall of Fame goal scorers, now should come his time to join those ranks.
Dave Andreychuk (23 NHL seasons, 1,639 GP-640G-698A-1,338 PTS):
When Dave Andreychuk raised the cup in 2004 as captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning most thought that sealed the 23-year vets place as a Hall of Famer.
Up against a stud class last season Andreychuck missed out in his first year of eligibility, this year should be different for the former first round pick of the Buffalo Sabres.
One of only 18 players to have scored 600 career NHL goals (640) the Hamilton native sits at 13th all-time in career NHL goals.
The two-time all-star also is the league's all-time leader in power-play goals with 274 and ranks 27th in both career NHL points (1,338) and career game winning goals (77).
In November 2008 Andreychuck was inducted in the Buffalo Hall of Fame (played parts of 11 seasons with Sabres) and after Tuesday should be able to add Hockey Hall of Famer to his resume.
Those are my picks for the four players that will get the call on Tuesday, below are some other candidates to keep an eye on including one of my all-time favorite players.
Eric Lindros (13 NHL seasons, 760 GP-372G-493A-865 PTS):
"Big E" changed the game with his aggressive power forward style.
Won Hart Trophy in the lockout shorten 1994-95 season and appeared in the 1997 Stanley Cup Final.
Injuries and contract disputes derailed Lindros’ career but his 1.138 points per game ranks 18th all-time and should give him serious consideration.
Alex Mogilny (16 NHL seasons, 990 GP-473G-559A-1,032 PTS):
The original “Alex the Great” is mostly known for his 1992-93 season where he scored 76 goals to tie Teemu Selanne for the league lead.
That season Mogilny scored his 50th goal in his 46th game but it will not go down in the record books as 50 in 50 for it was his team’s 53rd game.
The Russian won a Stanley Cup in 2000 as a role player for the New Jersey Devils and a Gold Medal in the 1988 Olympics.
Pavel Bure (12 NHL seasons, 702 GP-437G-342A-779 PTS):
The Russian Rocket was a three-time goal scoring champion, and a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, twice scoring 60 goals and three-times scoring 50, including seasons of 59 and 58. The five-time all-star also won the Calder Memorial Trophy, gold medals at the World Championships and World Junior Championships and an Olympic bronze.
Dino Ciccarelli (19 NHL seasons, 1,232 GP-608G-592A-1,200 PTS):
Like Andreychuck, Dino Ciccarelli is one of only 18 players to score 600 goals in a career (608).
Ciccarelli’s inaugural playoff run was a memorable one as he scored 21 points in 19 games leading the North Stars to an improbably run to the Stanley Cup Final.
The four-time all-star had two 100 point seasons combined with his 1,425 career penalty minutes as Dino was one of the hardest players to play against.
Pierre Turgeon (19 NHL seasons, 1,294 GP-515G-812A-1,327 PTS):
With the most career points (1,327) of the first-year eligible players, the former first overall selection of the Sabres in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft has a chance to get the call on Tuesday.
Turgeon’s career defining season was 1992-93 with the New York Islanders, a season which he registered 58 goals and 132 points and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Turgeon added 13 playoff points as the Islanders marched to the Wales Conference Finals a place he would not see again until the 2000-01 season with the St. Louis Blues
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