The Top Five NHL Western Conference Team Cores
I thought I would have a look at the relationship between the core players of a team, their finish in the standings and rankings on who has the best core.
The criterion was:
Importance to their respective team; only took five players; did not necessarily have to include a goaltender; was based on the 2009/10 roster.
1. Chicago Blackhawks:
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
I actually had Dustin Byfuglien (instead of Sharp) in this mix also before he got traded.
As everyone knows, they finished second in the Western Conference but won their first Stanley Cup since 1961. This team was assembled through the entry draft system.
Look at its depth and talent, need I say more!
2. Detroit Red Wings:
Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Rafalski and Johan Franzen.
Although finishing fifth, they were one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs. Had they not had all those injuries, could have and would have, finished higher in the standings.
Only Rafalski came through the free agency route, as Detroit like Chicago, has built through the entry draft system and found jewels at lower draft choices.
3. San Jose Sharks:
Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski.
Finished first and finally made it past the first round only to be knocked out of the playoffs by Chicago in the third round. Only Marleau and Pavelski came via the entry draft route and the rest were acquired through trades.
4. Vancouver Canucks:
Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Mikael Samuelsson.
Finished third and once again did not make it by the second round of the playoffs. Samuelsson was the only free agent from this list and Burrows was an undrafted player coming up through the ECHL and finally was signed in 2005.
I did not include Roberto Luongo in this core which should draw a lot of responses, due to the fact that I feel a top D-man and a team system will protect adequate NHL goaltending.
This has proven out once again in Detroit and Chicago’s winning of the Stanley Cup.
5. Los Angeles Kings:
Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth and Wayne Simmonds
Finished sixth and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2001-02. Only Smyth came from being acquired from Colorado, while the other through the entry draft system.
Another team that has built well through the draft system.
This team with its young talent (watch for Simmonds to be in their top five point stats next season) and especially Doughty, who could be a Norris Trophy winner very soon, is the next up and coming team that could be the next team like Chicago, to hoist the Stanley Cup.
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