Friday, June 3, 2011

What if there was an NHL expansion draft?

The Stanley Cup Finals have consumed most of a hockey fan's attention span lately, and rightfully so, however, as you know, the Atlanta Thrashers are set to relocate to Winnipeg, Manitoba effective next season.  It got me thinking: if there was an expansion draft this year, who would one player be that each team secured?  Take a look at each team and the player that they can't afford to lose.

Vancouver Canucks (Alex Burrows) - Some point to the Sedins, Kesler or Luongo as the heart and soul of the Canucks, but losing Alex Burrows would really be taking a bite out of their team.

Boston Bruins (Zdeno Chara) - Chara is the captain of the Bruins, he's got the hardest slapshot in hockey and he eats huge minutes for Boston, but if he went to another team, not even Gregory Campbell could protect his teammates from being run into stanchions.  Then again, there's not much Campbell can do anymore...

Anaheim Ducks (Bobby Ryan) - Bobby Ryan brings a dynamic offensive element to the Ducks.  His specialty includes undressing Nashville forwards after they lose their hockey stick.

Atlanta Thrashers (Dustin Byfuglien) - Losing star players has plagued the Atlanta Thrashers organization for years.  They have a star player in Byfuglien, and they can't afford to lose him, especially when facing the Flyers.

Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller) - There aren't many teams build around a franchise goaltender anymore, but Buffalo is one of those teams.  Since they don't have anyone named Ovechkin or Stamkos, losing Miller would be a bad idea.

Carolina Hurricanes (Jeff Skinner) - Hey, without Skinner on the Hurricanes, teenage girls would have little reason to go to games anymore...

Columbus Blue Jackets (Rick Nash) - Rick Nash was the co-winner of the 2004 Rocket Richard trophy.  How's the other small market team that had one of the other co-winners of that Rocket Richard doing?

Calgary Flames (Jarome Iginla) - Since the Calgary Flames have clearly never tried to trade their captain away since he's the face of the franchise, trading him away would be a horrible idea.  It's not like they're facing a rebuild or anything like that...

Chicago Blackhawks (Patrick Sharp) - Well after all, who doesn't love a fashion model anyway?

Colorado Avalanche (Adam Foote) - Adam Foote is a leader, he's the heart and soul of the Avs, and...say what?  He retired?  Hmm...

Dallas Stars (Brad Richards) - If there's one thing that ruins franchises, it's having ownership problems and facing the loss of a superstar.  Good thing Dallas has both taken care of.

Detroit Red Wings (Pavel Datsyuk) - Brian Rafalski retired, Nicklas Lidstrom might retire, hell, if Datsyuk were to leave, Pierre McGuire would have nobody to drool over in Detroit anymore, and if Pierre won't go to Detroit, what's the point of watching hockey on NBC?

Edmonton Oilers (Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle) - Can't pick 2 players?  You try convincing Oilers fans that they are losing Hall or Eberle...

Florida Panthers (Tomas Vokoun) - Can you name anyone else on the Panthers right now?  Exactly...

Los Angeles Kings (Anze Kopitar) - This one is pretty self-explanatory.  LA can't score, Kopitar can.  I know this is a difficult concept to interpret, but it's really hard to win when you don't score.

Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) - Nicklas err, Niklas Backstrom is the backbone of the Wild franchise, who thrive on being outshot by a 3:1 ratio each game.  Imagine if a Flyers goaltender played in Minnesota...

Montreal Canadiens (Hal Gill) - The Habs were wise to re-sign Hal Gill.  Without Gill, the Habs are a Zdeno Chara backyard stanchion

New Jersey Devils (Ilya Kovalchuk) - When a player costs your team a pair of first round draft picks, $3 million plus three players, and you have a general manager with a history of shattering glass jars in the team locker room, you probably don't want to lose that player.

Nashville Predators (Mike Fisher) - Not only can Mike Fisher score (in multiple ways), but he makes the Preds a more...attractive team...also in many ways.  Who says they aren't fun to watch?!

New York Islanders (Rick DiPietro) - Who needs Luongo, eh Mike Milbury?  The Isles have a real franchise goalie, and they have him locked up for a long time.

New York Rangers (Wade Redden) - Glen Sather's Rangers just aren't the same without an absurd contract for a washed up player.  Is Mike Modano still available?

Ottawa Senators (Daniel Alfredsson) - Daniel Alfredsson and Lanny McDonald share more than their facial hair styles, they both have 1,000 career points and are/were the heart and soul of their teams.  Unfortunately for Ottawa, the only way he wins a Stanley Cup is elsewhere, judging by past history.

Philadelphia Flyers (Chris Pronger) - Oskars Bartulis just isn't the same as a guy who's twice his size and has elbows made of steel.  Besides, I wasn't going to choose a Flyers goaltender...

Phoenix Coyotes (Keith Yandle) - Although you may not have heard of him, Yandle is one of the top defenseman in the league.  Somehow, I sense that he may be playing in another city relatively soon.  Strangely, I sense that all Coyotes players will be, too.

Pittsburgh Penguins (Alex Kovalev) - Hey, there have been rumors that Jaromir Jagr briefly considered a return to the Penguins.  Why not?  Hell, re-sign Kovalev and bring back Luc Robitaille, Larry Murphy and Mario Lemieux while they're at it!

San Jose Sharks (Dany Heatley) - Having played previously in Atlanta and Ottawa, and nearly playing in Edmonton, Heatley must know a golf course or two, and that comes in handy every spring for the Sharks.

St. Louis Blues (Jaroslav Halak) - Getting to the playoffs is hard enough for St. Louis these days, partially because they seem to forget that the season begins in October, contrary to their belief that the season starts in February.  If they get to the playoffs, Halak isn't a bad goalie to have.

Tampa Bay Lightning (Victor Hedman) - Lost but not forgotten is the Hedman hit on Crosby in early January.  Had that not occured, their run to the Conference Finals may not have happened.  That's what I call a productive draft pick.

Toronto Maple Leafs (Phil Kessel) - Considering Brian Burke surrendered two first round picks for Kessel, I'm not sure surrendering two more to get Kessel back would be such a good idea...

Washington Capitals (John Carlson) - Since losing Sheldon Souray Jr. Mike Green would actually benefit the Caps, yet they need defensemen, John Carlson would be a huge loss for Washington.  Well, they do know all about huge losses when it matters...

Winnipeg ???s (Dustin Byfuglien) - When moving to a new city, having an established star player is key to getting people to actually care about the team.  That may or may not be a problem in Winnipeg, since people seem to care more about running around in the streets screaming in celebration that they once again have a team than the actual team at all.