Ritter's Rant: News and Notes from around the NHL

Mark RitterSenior Writer IJune 15, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22:  Fifth overall pick Karl Alzner of the Washington Capitals poses for a portrait during the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Hawks Taking Flight?

First off, congratulations go out to the Chicago Blackhawks, who, despite not having a “go-to” goaltender, pulled out a terrific Stanley Cup victory over the Cinderella Philadelphia Flyers.

While I admire the team that Stan Bowman and company have assembled, I just cannot see this team becoming a dynasty, not when you consider how much talent the Hawks will have to part with this summer to get under the salary cap.

A core that includes Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews is pretty good, but it was the Blackhawks' depth that was the deciding factor throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Without that depth, the Hawks will be hard-pressed to enjoy a repeat, let alone a dynasty of three to four Stanley Cups.

Missing "Toews"?

As much as I loved what Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews did in the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I have a real tough time digesting the fact that he came away with the Conn Smythe trophy.

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I mean, shouldn't you have to score a bloody goal in the finals? Shouldn't you have a memorable series? And lastly, shouldn't hockey fans think back and say, "Man, wasn't that Toews so good against Philly?"

Sadly, none of that happened against the Philadelphia Flyers, and sadly, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith's contributions were ignored.

Capital Punishment

The next NHL team to feel the wrath of the salary cap is bound to be the Washington Capitals, which will have to give big money contracts to Tomas Fleishman and Alexander Semin, while also paying out just over $16 million per season in cap space to Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

It’s a shame really. All these NHL teams assembling great rosters only to have to castoff valuable talent for next to nothing just to stay under the cap.

While the Capitals are destined to shell out well over $25 million per season on Ovechkin, Semin, Fleishman, and Backstrom, they should be able to go with a relatively inexpensive defense next season with the likes of Karl Alzner ($1,675,000 cap hit) and John Carlson ($845,833 cap hit), who are expected to be the Capitals' third and fourth defensemen next season.

Bigger, Better Leafs?

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke keeps talking about bringing in some bigger forwards in order to compete in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Trouble is, when you look at the unrestricted free agents who are available, there are very few big men.

Sure, Colby Armstrong is out there, but I would hesitate to call him a game-breaker—something the Leafs badly need.

More likely, Burke’s big body acquisition will have to come via trade, which makes it all the more likely that Leafs veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be on the move this summer.

Captain Dion? Really?

Say what you will about Dion Phaneuf’s recent selection as the Leafs' new captain, fact is, there is nobody—either with the club or in the minors—who has anything close to his charisma, skill, and leadership ability (which, admittedly, is yet to be seen).

Did Phaneuf get the nod as captain by default? Well, maybe.

That said, Phaneuf has long been thought to possess the qualities that makes for a good captain, and, as Leafs sophomore defenseman Luke Schenn pointed out, the Leafs locker room was never the same since the arrival of Phaneuf (in a good way).


Keeping with the Leafs, without the benefit of foresight, Brian Burke just has to be a little upset at the prospect of missing out on Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin.

Riddle me this, Leafs fans, would you trade Phil Kessel back to Boston today for the second overall pick and the Leafs’ 2010-11 first-rounder?

Yeah, I thought so...Kessel would be good as gone, right?

For more NHL news and notes check out my website at www.theslapshot.com .

Until next time,



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