Ritter's Rant: My NHL Quarterly Pick's, Honors, Awards and More

Mark RitterSenior Writer INovember 25, 2009

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27:  Kenny Ryan speaks to General Manager Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization after he was drafted by the Leafs in the second round during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks will get a look at their prized free agent signee, Marian Hossa, tonight when the Hawks face the red hot San Jose Sharks, a tilt that should be one for the ages.

Hossa, who signed a 12-year deal with the Hawks, reportedly worth well over $62 million dollars, has been sidelined since having shoulder surgery July 24th . He is expected to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, a line that should produce plenty of offense.

To all you Hawks fans worried about hurting the teams chemistry, I think you all need to consider for the moment that there are 29 other teams that wish they had your “problems”.

Looks like the rumored deal that would have sent Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel to the Toronto Maple Leafs has cooled off. Leafs GM Brian Burke, has been feverishly working the phones in a desperate attempt to acquire the first and/or a second round draft pick he gave up to the Boston Bruins for forward Phil Kessel.

Getting an NHL club to give up it’s first or second round selection is a tough thing to do these days, especially when you consider the premium that is attached to young players given the salary cap restraints. Bottom line? It’s going to take a lot more than taking on Spoel’s $2 million salary to get a deal of this magnitude done, don’t hold your breath Leaf fans.

The suspension handed out to Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere has been getting a lot of attention. I will say this on the subject; it was a suspendable act, so get over it! There was no reason for Briere to nail Colorado’s Scott Hannan, the NHL did the right thing by issuing the suspension, end of story.

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Keeping with the Flyers, a lot of accolades have been directed at Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery for his solid play early on in the season. Don’t look now Flyers’ fans, Antero Niittymaki, one of the goaltenders the Flyers let get away in the off-season, is tearing it up for the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a 6-1-3 record to go along with his league leading .936 SV percent and his second best 2.02 GAA. OUCH!

Here is my take on the NHL quarter pole:

* Philadelphia’s James Van Riemsdyk gets the nod as top Rookie.

* Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is the NHL’s top sophomore.

* The Los Angeles Kings Anze Kopitar is the NHL’s top 22 and under player.

* Washington Capitals super-star Alex Ovechkin has been the NHL’s best 20-something player.

* Philadelphia Flyers Chris Pronger has been the NHL’s best 30-and-over player.

* The best NHL team in the first quarter? The San Jose Sharks.

* Second best team? The Chicago Blackhawks.

* Worst team in the NHL? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

* Best Goaltender? Martin Brodeur.

* Best Coach? Considering the injuries he has had to adjust to, the Pittsburgh Penguins Dan Blysma gets my vote.

* Comeback player of the quarter? Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton’s Dustin Penner was a close second.

* Worst off-season signing? Ottawa Senators Alex Kovalev.

* Best off-season signing? Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings.

* Second best signing of the off-season? John Madden, Chicago Blackhawks. Consider the impact, not the numbers folks.

I’ll keep this brief,not sure what all the hoop-la surrounding Leafs GM Brian Burke’s son Brendan coming out of the closet is all about. Fact is, it’s old news, he came out in 2007, get over it already!

Scott Niedermayer, Jarome Iginla (My pick) and Sidney Crosby seem to be the odds on favorites to Captain Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic’s in Vancouver. Funny, nobody is giving “Captain Canada” Ryan Smyth or Shane Doan a shot?

Is New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto still a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate? Is Anaheim Ducks J.S Giguere still a number one goalie? Better yet, is Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn still the odds on favorite to be the Maple Leafs next Captain? To all three, I say NO!

Until next time,