2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Top 10 NHL Players We'd Love To See, but Won't
The NHL playoffs are right around the corner. In a league with 30 teams only 16 make it. Eight teams from each conference earn the right to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup.
This slideshow is going to do something a little different. Instead of focusing on the teams and players in the playoffs, I am going to take a look at the top 10 players out of the playoffs.
Every year there are players left on the outside looking in. So let's take a look at the top 10 players we would love to see, but won't.
10. James Reimer
The rookie goaltending sensation, James Reimer, has been amazing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reimer posted a very good 20-9-5 record. In my opinion Reimer is a big reason, if not the only reason, that the Maple Leafs aren't in the conference basement.
In 34 starts, Reimer posted a 2.55 goals-against average, along with a .922 save percentage and three shutouts.
It's only fair for Maple Leafs fans to wonder where the team could have been if Reimer had been their guy all year. Another fair question would be how well Reimer would do if he were in the playoffs.
9. Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk is the New Jersey Devils' $100 million man. While some Devils fans might have been angry at the slow start he got off to, Kovalchuk still managed to have a 30-goal season.
After a slow start, Kovalchuk has posted 30 goals and 28 assists for 58 points. Combine that with the incredible run that the Devils had through the final months of the season, and any team would have been scared to face them.
You can bet that Kovalchuk looks forward to getting back to the playoffs. He has only been in playoff action twice in his career. Kovalchuk is 1-8 with three goals and five assists for eight points.
Well, Ilya, better luck next year.
8. Rick Nash
It's disappointing that we won't be seeing Rick Nash in the playoffs. He has the skill and a pretty good group around him right now. Unfortunately, the Columbus Blue Jackets just couldn't put it together for a playoff berth.
You can't help but feel bad for Nash. Tremendous skill but finds himself outside of the playoffs. In 75 games Nash put up 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points.
Hopefully Nash finds himself in the playoffs next season. Then we can find out what he can do in the playoffs.
7. John Tavares
Another tough year for the New York Islanders. Well, let's be honest—another failed year for the New York Islanders.
John Tavares is highly skilled, and I for one would like to see how he would perform in the playoffs. In Tavares' brief career he hasn't been in the playoffs. It would be interesting to see how he would do under that type of pressure.
In 77 games Tavares scored 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points.
Hopefully, the Islanders get their act together, but for now we can only wonder what could be.
6. Tomas Vokoun
Tomas Vokoun's 21-28-5 record may not be the best, but then again he plays for the Florida Panthers. Vokoun is still a very capable goalie. He still managed to post five shutouts and have a 2.60 goals-against average.
I'm curious as to how well Vokoun could backstop a team in the playoffs. It doesn't have to be with the Panthers, but how well would Vokoun do in the playoffs? I hope we eventually get the answer to that question.
5. Martin Brodeur
Martin Brodeur's career speaks for itself. He's won multiple Stanley Cups and seems to come alive in the playoffs. However, the Devils just couldn't make it this year.
Believe me, Brodeur's presence would change the landscape of the playoffs. He is the type of goalie that can win a game or two by himself.
If you are a Devils fan, you can only hope that Brodeur decides to give it one more year in an effort to win one last Cup.
4. Dustin Byfuglien
Last year Dustin Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only did he switch teams this year, but he also switched positions.
The Atlanta Thrashers decided to switch Byfuglien from forward to defenseman. Wanting to see Byfuglien in the playoffs isn't so much about seeing what he could do, but seeing how the new position would work out.
I wonder how Byfuglien feels about going from champion to out of the playoffs in a year's time. Atlanta has shown improvement though, so let's see what happens next year.
3. Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza has a lot of talent. This is another case of great talent versus bad team. The Ottawa Senators find themselves in the midst of a rebuild. As a result, Spezza doesn't get a chance to shine on the playoff stage.
Despite missing significant time due to injury. He still managed to post 20 goals and become Ottawa's only 20-goal scorer.
If and when the Senators make the playoffs, you can count on Spezza being dangerous. If the right people get put around him, who knows? The Senators may even be able to make a run.
2. Michael Leighton
The Philadelphia Flyers goalie situation is always a question. This year rookie Sergei Bobrovsky has been named the playoff starter. Veteran Brian Boucher will be his backup. However, my thoughts about wanting to see Michael Leighton are about seeing if he could duplicate the remarkable year he had last year.
Leighton played very well in the AHL this year. We all know that the AHL and NHL are very different, but it would make for an interesting story if Leighton made another run.
Sports Illustrated predicted the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup this year. If that turns out to be the case, I must admit that it would be disappointing if Leighton didn't get to finish what he started last year.
1. Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin brings a lot to the Pittsburgh Penguins. There is also no denying that Malkin could help the Penguins in the playoffs.
Malkin is a smooth-skating scorer who brings a boost to the Penguins power play. Without Malkin, who is out due to a knee injury, the Penguins could run into a hard time scoring.
I'm sure Penguins fans sorely miss Malkin. It will be interesting to see how much longer the Penguins can keep up their winning ways without him.
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