Sam McCaig

  • Hockey heroes: NHL rookie hopefuls name their first favorite player

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 4 hrs ago

    Who did the kids look up to when they were kids? At a photo shoot for Upper Deck this week, we asked a handful of NHL rookie hopefuls to recall their first hockey hero.

    (Warning: Reading this might make you feel old.)

    Pierre-Luc Dubois, C (drafted third overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016): “Growing up, I liked Henrik Zetterberg. The first Stanley Cup I remember was 2008 when the Red Wings won so he was kind of my player.”

    Matthew Tkachuk, LW (drafted sixth overall by the Calgary Flames in 2016): “Sidney Crosby. What he did at such a young age, I remember he won a Stanley Cup at 19 or 20. I love watching him and (Evgeni) Malkin play together…and I watch (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews. I guess David Backes, too, he lived at my house for a year-and-a-half.”

    Ivan Provorov, D (drafted seventh overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015): “I always liked Nick Lidstrom when he played. I thought he was the best two-way defenseman and I always tried to pattern my game after him.”

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 defensemen in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 defensemen in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

    1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Just ask anybody, he’s the best defenseman in the league.

    2. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings: Just ask anybody, he’s the best defenseman in the league.

    3. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning: A beauty and a beast.

    4. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks: He’s logged a lot of miles on a not-real-big body, but who else would you rather have out there when it’s all on the line?

    5. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins: So smooth you take him for granted. Don’t.

    6. P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators: Vive la difference. Right, Montreal?

    7. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: Wookie of the year (and it wasn’t close).

    8. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators: Nothing neutral about Swiss star’s game.

    10. Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens: They say he’s on the decline, but we’ve got big expectations for his debut season in Montreal.

    25. Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets: Just getting started.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 goalies in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 goalies in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Tell us where we went right -- or gently point out where we went wrong -- in the comments section.

    1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: The Habs had the NHL’s best record when Price was in net for them last season – and the NHL’s worst record after he went down with injury. So yeah, he’s pretty good.

    2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals: Flirted with 50 wins last year before settling in with an NHL-record-tying total of 48 en route to his first Vezina Trophy.

    3. Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils: The league’s best goalie who gets the least hype.

    4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning: He’s bigger than the net, which helps.

    5. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: Almost as good at goaltending as he is at looking good.

    6. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: He took a step back last season, a reflection of the team in front of him.

    7. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: When he’s on, he’s unbeatable. And he’s usually on.

    9. Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers: Twitter sensation @strombone1 still going strong at age 37.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 left wingers in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 left wingers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. You can let us know where we went wrong (or right!) in the comments section.

    1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: They might call him the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history during his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But will they also call him a Stanley Cup champion?

    2. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars: The best 129th overall draft pick ever.

    3. Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils: The best first overall draft pick ever traded for Adam Larsson.

    4. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames: He’s much smaller than you are. He’s also much, much better at hockey than you are.

    5. Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens: Look for the Habs captain to record his fourth consecutive 30-plus goal season.

    6. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: Nobody likes him and he really seems to like it like that.

    7. Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues: A two-way force with a laser shot.

    8. Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators: Hey, he’s no Martin Erat but he’s alright.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 right wingers in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 right wingers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Let us know what you think in the comments section. Please play nice...

    1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: The reigning MVP and league scoring champion blends ultra-elite skill and high-end speed with a desire to win and an innate ability to come through in the clutch.

    2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: The sky’s the limit for dazzling goal-scorer.

    3. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning: He’s racked up 21 goals and 41 points in 43 playoff games over the past two postseasons.

    4. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Preeminent scorer and a pain to play against.

    5. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: He flies down the wing and rips a wrist shot past the goalie. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    6. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets: A true power forward who’s big, fast and physical.

    7. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers: He’s a lot better than the 11-goal season he put up last year.

    10. James Neal, Nashville Predators: Big shooter, big hitter.

  • Positional rankings: Projecting the NHL's top 25 centers in 2016-17

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    (Note: These rankings are based on players' projected performances in 2016-17. Players are listed at their official NHL position when the rankings were created.)

    Here’s the Yahoo Sports ranking of the top 25 centers in the NHL for the 2016-17 season. Surely you will agree that we have each and every player slotted correctly…

    Wait, what’s that? You don’t agree? You think these rankings are wildly out of whack and that we’ve completely lost our mind?

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. You must be. I mean, we spent all day on this…

    Without further ado, here’s the (totally right) ranking of the NHL’s top 25 centers in 2016-17:

    1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: Remember how slowly he started last season? The ending was much better.

    2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: If you squint, he looks like Mario out there. On second thought, you don’t need to squint.

    3. John Tavares, New York Islanders: The 25-year-old has already shown he belongs with Bryan Trottier and Pat LaFontaine in the hat trick of all-time Isles centers.

    4. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings: The king of Kings and the best two-way player in the game.

    20. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: See Duchene, Matt.

  • Backdraft 2013, 2014 & 2015: An early ranking of the forwards, defensemen & goalies from the 2013, 2014 & 2015 NHL drafts

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    It’s too soon to say too much about the 2013, 2014 and 2015 NHL drafts, as the vast majority of players selected have barely scratched the surface of their professional careers. But that doesn’t mean we can’t peek in on their progress so far. For each year, we've ranked the forwards and defensemen by career NHL points and goalies by career NHL wins.

    2013 NHL DRAFT: FORWARDS

    Here are the top 10 highest-scoring forwards selected in the 2013 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played:

    NOTE: Jonathan Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft, ranks 11th among forwards with 42 points in 91 NHL games.

    2013 NHL DRAFT: DEFENSEMEN

    Here are the top 10 highest-scoring defensemen selected in the 2013 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played: 

     NOTE: Three other defensemen from the 2013 draft have appeared in at least one NHL game. They are: Josh Morrissey, 13th overall pick (one NHL game, zero points); Steven Santini, 42nd overall pick (one NHL game, zero points); Gustav Olofsson, 46th overall pick (two NHL games, zero points).

    2013 NHL DRAFT: GOALIES

    2014 NHL DRAFT: FORWARDS

    2014 NHL DRAFT: DEFENSEMEN

    2014 NHL DRAFT: GOALIES

    2015 NHL DRAFT: FORWARDS

  • Backdraft 2012: Ranking the forwards, defensemen & goalies from the 2012 NHL draft

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Take a look back at the 2012 NHL draft: We've ranked the top 10 forwards and top 10 defensemen by career NHL points and goalies by career NHL wins.

    FORWARDS: Here are the top 10 highest-scoring forwards selected in the 2012 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played:

    NOTES:

    --Patience: The majority of players drafted in 2012 are 22 years old and still developing. So, it's way too early to call Nail Yakupov a bust despite a rough start to his NHL career in Edmonton. At the same time, it's fair to say the No. 1 overall pick has been eclipsed by Alex Galchenyuk (third overall pick) and Filip Forsberg (11th overall pick), and several other 2012-drafted forwards have done more on a per-game basis. A 30-goal season skating on Connor McDavid's line would go a long way to re-establishing Yakupov as (perhaps) the best player from his draft.

    --Nine of the top 10 highest-scoring forwards from 2012 were drafted in the first round, with second-rounder Chris Tierney (55th overall pick by the San Jose Sharks) the exception.

    DEFENSEMEN: Here are the top 10 highest-scoring defensemen selected in the 2012 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played: 

     NOTES:

  • Backdraft 2011: Ranking the forwards, defensemen & goalies from the 2011 NHL draft

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Take a look back at the 2011 NHL draft: We've ranked the top 10 forwards and top 10 defensemen by career NHL points and goalies by career NHL wins.

    FORWARDS: Here are the top 10 highest-scoring forwards selected in the 2011 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played:

    NOTES:

    --Scoring potential: The 2011 draft appears to be jam-packed with high-end forwards, from the first three picks (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau) to late gems such as Johnny Gaudreau (104th overall pick), Andrew Shaw (139th overall pick) and Ondrej Palat (the fourth-last player drafted at 208th overall).

    --Lightning strikes thrice: It's looking like a great draft for Tampa Bay, as Steve Yzerman's team snagged forwards Vladislav Namestnikov 27th overall, Nikita Kucherov 58th overall and Palat 208th overall. (Not to mention, the Bolts bagged defenseman Nikita Nesterov with the 148th overall pick.)

    --Best of the rest: Other promising forwards drafted in 2011 include Ryan Strome (fifth overall pick), Rickard Rakell (30th overall pick), Boone Jenner (37th overall pick), Victor Rask (42nd overall), Vincent Trocheck (64th overall) and several others.

     NOTES:

    NOTES:

  • Backdraft 2010: Ranking the forwards, defensemen & goalies from the 2010 NHL draft

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Take a look back at the 2010 NHL draft: We've ranked the top 10 forwards and top 10 defensemen by career NHL points and goalies by career NHL wins.

    FORWARDS: Here are the top 10 highest-scoring forwards selected in the 2010 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played:

    NOTES:

    --Taylor vs. Tyler: The top two picks in 2010, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, might not still be with the NHL teams that originally selected them, but they're more than living up to the hype as the two most productive scorers from their draft year. It's still too early to annoint them as the best forwards from the 2010 NHL draft -- Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan Johansen and others could force their way into the conversation -- but they're setting the pace so far.

    --Singing the Blues, in a good way: It was a fine first round for St. Louis, who took Jaden Schwartz with the 14th overall pick and then nabbed Tarasenko 16th overall. That's two-thirds of their top line for the foreseeable future.

    DEFENSEMEN: Here are the top 10 highest-scoring defensemen selected in the 2010 NHL draft, with draft position and NHL games played: 

     NOTES:

    NOTES:

    More in the 'Backdraft' series: