This is a first edition everyone. Get your copy and keep it mint. It's going to be worth something big one day. No, all kidding aside, I decided I wanted to starter a weekly hockey (and other random comments) feature and I decided to start now before everything gets all busy.So lets get started.
Mikhail Grabovski just cannot lose that trouble player image. Finally starts to show why he got a nice little raise on his original ELC and gets all us Leaf fans excited for a breakout season and BAM, self sabotage sets in. Apparently the man Grabovksi got into a brawl with is suing him for Income loss and Health-Care costs in connection with the bar fight him and Grabo got into during the Olympics. Now the timing of the suit seems to suggest a blatant money grab and whether or not thats true Leaf fans can be sure that Grabovski is not going anywhere.
Another bit of new coming out this week, Pat Burns lost his battle with cancer. Commenting on the tragic news, Burnsie himself asking TSN analyst Bob McKenzie to set the record straight and saying "Here we go again. They're trying to kill me before I'm dead. I come to Quebec to spend some time with my family and they say I'm dead. I'm not dead, far (expletive) from it. They've had me dead since June. Tell them I'm alive. Set them straight."
Steve Mason signed a rand new 2 year extension with the Blue Jackets yesterday.Good deal for both sides although it depends on his play to decide who comes out better. If Mason's first season is the play we can expect than the Blue Jackets have themselves a steal. If Mason's season was more like Raycroft's...then Mason stole himself some good short term job security. Personally I think (and hope, knowing how the Raycroft situation turned out) its the former.
Many questions are being posed about the Flames. After a disappointing season and apparent premature trigger trade of Dion Phaneuf, Sutter decided to go out and sing two former Flames, one of whom he just traded mere months ago. Now odd moves aside, call it a hunch but I don't think the Flames will do as bad as everyone thinks. Tanguay had his best season with the Flames and playing with Iginla could help bring out some of that fire. Even a 50 point season would be a welcome addition to a moribund offensive team like the Flames. Jokinen at a lesser price could help alleviate the pressure he had before. If it works, Sutter is the genius that discovered Kiprusoff, Rene Bourque, Giordano, Huselias and to a lesser extent Langkow. If not, Sutter becomes the man that hasn't had a legitimate great draft pick since Phanuef and the man that ran a talented defensive team into the ground.
Now for some early pre-season predictions.
Easter Conference Leader - Pittsburgh Penguins. Additions of Martin and Michalek will spur a better defensive team. Boston has an outside chance if their injury plagued top 6 can stay healthy and Rask doesn't regress.
Art Ross Winner - Nicklas Backstrom - Plays with Ovechkin, improved point, goal and assist totals since coming into the league and just a mercurial talent. Outside pick but predictions have to be interesting some times.
Rocket Richard Winner - Phil "The Thrill" Kessel with 73 goals! No that was a joke. Definitely Alex Ovechkin. Can't bet against the best sniper the league has seen since Pavel Bure.
Norris Trophy Winner - Shea Weber. Its about time he gets some love. Huge, talented, in a contract year and with a booming shot that tore a frickin hole in a net during the Olympics how can you not love him.
Vezina Winner - No I'm not going to say Ryan Miller or Martin Brodeur. Miller has always been great but last season he was amazing. He isn't going to be that great again. Those types of numbers are going to be hard to repeat. In regards to Brodeur, I'm going to play the age card. No, my choice this season goes to Mikka Kiprusoff. Still an elite goaltender at 33, an improved team defense will lend a hand to him and end up in a Vezina nod for him. Keep in mind he was the only reason the Flames didn't give up a lottery pick to the Coyotes last year.
Jack Adams Trophy - Barry Trotz. How a coach can do so much, so consistently with so little and not get recognized for it is beyond me. He gets that recognition this year as the Predators finally win their first playoff series.
Calder Trophy - Magnus Paarjavi (shortened his name for any that didn't know). He has played with men for years, has some good height and is one of the fastest prospects not yet playing in the League. He is going to overshadow Hall this year. Just a hunch.
Breakout Candidate - Jakub Voracek. Kid has all the assets, talents and potential to be a big time top line player. This season he starts to show it.
Stanley Cup Winner - The Vancouver Canucks. The drought for Canadian teams finally ends as Vancouver finally gets a taste of Lord Stanley.
Thats all folks. Hopefully you enjoyed and comments are welcome. Follow me on twitter @ http://twitter.com/Josh_Reinders.