Stan's Java Jive: 3/23/21
The rental update; Hot Hurricanes; Ottawa's goalies, and what is Jack Eichel's trade value?
HEADLINE: UPDATE ON TOP RENTALS
THE JIVE: Every g.m. is wary about making a deal but that does not mean there won't be any. The marquee names start with the Sabres' Taylor Hall and Eric Staal, followed by Kyle Palmieri of New Jersey; all forwards. Jonathan Bernier would top the list of goaltenders but since he's out with an injury -- length undetermined -- there has to be an asteriski attached to his name. Ditto for the much-coveted Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim. G.m. Bob Murray says he'd consider trading Getz but Ryan wants to stay with the Ducks. The "Bubble Teams" who might want to deal include the Flyers, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Stars, Canadiens, Canucks and Flames. As NHL.com's ever-reliable Dan Rosen puts it, "The question always is 'Are they worth the price'?" (In all cases, the price figures to be high.)
HEADLINE: HURRICANES GETTING RECOGNIZED
THE JIVE: You know that your team has reached the elite class when NBCSN adds the club to its slate. With a 21-7-3 record, Rod Brind'Amour's sextet just got another boost from the network. The folks at NBCSN have inserted the Canes-Blackhawks game on April 1 to its calendar; and that's no joke. It's the third time for them and well-deserved. Carolina topped Columbus, 3-0, last night with Alex Nedeljkovic of Parma, Ohio, registering his second shutout. Meanwhile, starry defenseman Dougie Hamilton stretched his scoring streak to a dozen games (2-10) and is a leading Norris Trophy candidate if ever there was one. (Smart move by NBCSN.)
HEADLINE: A FASCINATING OVIE-ESPO SHOT COMPARISON
THE JIVE: Eric Zweig, one of my all-time historians, authors and otherwise hockey savant-extraordinaire, submits a compelling look at the shot-making of Alex Ovechkin and Phil Esposito. "Another good comparison," writes Eric, "is all the shots they fire. No player has led the NHL in shots more than Ovie. (Eleven entering this season.) Bobby Hull is next at seven. Espo only led four times, but no one has fired more shots in a season than Phil's record 550 in 1970-71 (with the Bruins.) Ovie with 528 in 2008-09 is the only player other than Espo to top 500 shots in a single season." (Good stuff and thank you for the sound stats, Eric of Owen Sound.)
HEADLINE: FIRST ALL-BLACK FORWARD LINE SINCE 1948
THE JIVE: The AHL's Ontario (California) Reign recently iced a trio of Akil Thomas, Quinton Byfield and Devante Smith-Pelly. The all-Black unit was the first since 1948 when the Sherbrooke Saints featured the brothers Herb and Ossie Carnegie along with Manny McIntyre. A dynamic line, the Carnegies and Manny easily could have been major leaguers had the NHL been a 31-team league and not -- as then -- The Original Six. Herbie was considered the best of the three and did have a tryout with the Rangers. He refused a minor league contract with the Blueshirts AHL team in New Haven and remained in the Quebec Senior Hockey League.
HEADLINE: TOM WILSON PROMISES TO REFORM
THE JIVE: Seems to me we've heard that song before. Okay, okay, the guy says he's gonna be more careful about head-hunting and that should be a relief to Caps' opponents. That is, if they believe him. We all know the guy is a desirable power forward but he's got to learn when to apply the brakes. (Interestingly, Washington did very well without him and that might even kindle some trade talk.)
HEADLINE: THE EVER YOUTHFUL RYAN SUTER STILL EXCELS
THE JIVE: At age 36, Wild defenseman Ryan Suter might be getting his playing time trimmed. He's earned it. But this won't happen if Minny's favorite D-man continues to star as he did last night. Recovering from their loss to Colorado -- doesn't every team lose to the Avs these days? -- coach Dean Evason's skaters beat Anaheim 2-1 for their ninth straight home W. Suter not only tallied his first red light of the season but played 23:46 and, as usual, worked his position well. (Right wing Nick Bjugstad got the winner.)
HEADLINE: JACK EICHEL'S TRADE VALUE IS -- WHERE?
THE JIVE: Tough question, especially since the Sabres captain is recovering from wounds and who knows when he'll be back. Right now the high command has to decide whether it's worthwhile to deal the team's best player or retain him for the hoped-for rebuild. (Any deal had better be a good one -- or else!)
HEADLINE: BOY, OH, BOYCHUK -- AND SUPER-SOROKIN
THE JIVE: Ever since a serious eye injury forced Johnny Boychuk into retirement, the doughty Islanders defenseman could have faded into the sunset. Instead, he's remained with the Nassaumen as an unofficial assistant coach. And with boss Lou Lamoriello's blessing. "If anyone knows Johnny, you'd know why I told him to stay close to us," Lou told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "He's got tremendous knowledge and communicates it with the players. If he wants to stay with us we'll have a role for him." Speaking of "roles" on the Islanders, how about Ilya Sorokin who won his eighth straight last night, besting Philly, 2-1, on Anthony Beauvillier's OT wraparound. (This was a pure case of a goalie "stealing" a win for his club. To which coach Barry Trotz says, "Thank you very much" to his prize Russian rookie.)
HEADLINE: TALK ABOUT GOALIE DEPTH, SEE OTTAWA
THE JIVE: As I've noted here before -- and very seriously, I might add -- the number of injured goalies has reached a record level. Exhibit A is Ottawa. The designated No. 1, Matt Murray is out of action as is his backup, Marcus Hogberg. Suddenly happy-go-lucky Tony Daccord emerged, became an instant hot-story and just as instantly got hurt. Soooooo, Senators g.m. Pierre Dorion reached into his netminding well and fetched another stopper, Filip Gustavsson. And what did Fiery Fil do but make 35 saves last night, beating Calgary, 2-1. Plus, he's still healthy! (Our buddy, Darryl Sutter has to wonder whether Jakob Markstrom is worth all the dough he's getting. Jake The Rake only made 21 saves for the flickering Flames. Sorry, bud, that's not good enough.)
* HARD HART THOUGHTS: Connor McDavid is the current favorite to win the Hart Trophy; except in Florida. Panthers fans will take Aleksander Barkov over McD in a Sunrise second. Canes fans like Dougie Hamilton. Leafs fans point to Auston Matthews. So, there!
* STOP THAT TRADE: Reports that Predators fine D-man Mattias Ekholm is on the trading block should immediately be stopped. Nashville is hot on the trail of a playoff berth. The Preds need the sweet Swede.
* DEFINING THE DEFEATED: It's a challenge trying to define the frustrating -- not to mention frustrated -- Sabres. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun took a gander at them and wrote, "They're devoid of emotion, soul or both!"
* A SECOND LOOK AT JORDAN BINNINGTON: Ever since the Blues gifted Jordie to a big, fat deal, I've questioned his worth. I wonder if g.m. Doug Armstrong is wondering. Vegas beat the Blues last night, 5-1, and Binnington was in goal. (Gotta wonder.)
* PATRICK MARLEAU PUTS HIMSELF ON THE MARKET: He's a 41-year-old UFA with a terrific track record. I have a feeling somebody is going to bite.
TRIVIA CORNER: ONE AND ONLY ONE NHL PLAYER WAS NICKNAMED COUNT. WHO WAS HE, WHAT TEAM DID HE PLAY FOR AND WHY DID HE GET THAT NICKNAME? (Answer below.)
YAY TO MIKE JOHNSTON: The Portland Winterhawks v.p. g.m. and head coach won his milestone 400th WHL game the other night; a 4-1 triumph over Seattle.
The victory marks an admirable career, building future major leaguers. (Mike also is the fella who gave Travis Green his coaching start.)
AMUSING QUOTES FROM YESTERYEAR: "IF IT WERE RAINING SOUP, WE'D ALL HAVE FORKS."
- Tom Watt, Maple Leafs coach on a losing streak.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Don Grosso, a Red Wings forward, played from 1938 through 1945.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Grosso was topped by a thatch of shiny black hair that suggested Count Dracula of Transylvania. When Grosso played for Detroit, the movie, "Dracula," starring Bella Lugosi, was very popular. So was Don, The Count!