Sam McCaig

  • And Now For Something Completely Serious: Ranking The Top 25 NHL Left Wingers In 2015-16

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...

    Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 left wingers in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: In keeping with tradition, left wing is the NHL’s weak spot. It has star power, of course, but the depth of talent isn’t there compared to other positions. Having said that, there’s enough skill on the left side that we couldn’t find a place for Patrick Marleau, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kreider or Joffrey Lupul; take a look at the ‘Honorable Mentions’ at the bottom for left wingers who didn’t quite crack the top 25.

    The NHL’s top 25 left wingers in 2015-16:

    1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington: The NHL’s gold standard for goal-scoring.

    20. Milan Lucic, Los Angeles: The man in black.

  • And Now For Something Completely Serious: Ranking The Top 25 NHL Right Wingers In 2015-16

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...

    Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 right wingers in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: Right wing is where the goal-scorers live, from elite snipers such as Patrick Kane and Corey Perry to veterans Jarome Iginla and Joel Ward among the ‘Honorable Mentions.’ We think there’s 50-goal potential at the top of the rankings and 20- to 30-goal promise for everyone else. (Jaromir Jagr, we assume, will score his age.)

    The NHL’s top 25 right wingers in 2015-16:

    1. Patrick Kane, Chicago: Sublime skill, big heart, great hair. What more do you want?

    2. Corey Perry, Anaheim: Ducks fans love their gritty sniper, everybody else hates the dirty so-and-so.

     

  • And Now For Something Completely Serious: Ranking The Top 25 NHL Centers In 2015-16

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...

    The NHL’s top 25 centers in 2015-16:

    1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: We’ll take the emperor Penguin by a beak over the best Blackhawk and mightiest Duck.

    2. Jonathan Toews, Chicago: Just win, baby.

    3. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim: Anyone else get a Mark Messier vibe off this guy?

    4. John Tavares, NY Islanders: He’s freed the franchise from 25 years of bad.

    5. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh: The most individually dominant player in the NHL.

    6. Steve Stamkos: Tampa Bay: His broken leg behind him, he’ll be motivated to get back to (and win) the Stanley Cup final. We expect big things, 50 goals and then some.

    7. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles: A two-way force with few peers.

    NHL Top 25 rankings by position:

  • And Now For Something Completely Serious: Ranking The Top 25 NHL Defensemen In 2015-16

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...

    Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 defensemen in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: This was a tough one. So tough, in fact, that we couldn’t find a spot among the top 25 for Marc Staal, T.J. Brodie, Keith Yandle, Justin Faulk and several other highly regarded defenders. Take a look at the ‘Honorable Mentions’ and you’ll see the quantity of quality NHL defensemen.

    The NHL’s top 25 defensemen in 2015-16:

    1. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles: He can control the flow of the game more than any other player in the league thanks to his superb skating and hockey sense.

    2. Duncan Keith, Chicago: If you watched the playoffs, we don’t have to explain this one.

     

  • And Now For Something Completely Serious: Ranking The Top 25 NHL Goalies In 2015-16

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    The Stanley Cup Final ended more than a month ago and the 2015-16 NHL regular season is more than two months away. There’s not much going on out there. So, with great trepidation, we took on the task of ranking the top 25 NHL players at each position. We did this a couple of years ago and you, uh, totally agreed with every single player’s ranking and generally thought we did a wonderful job. You most certainly did not suggest we were hockey know-nothings who should never attempt such an undertaking again...

    Here’s our projected ranking of the NHL’s top 25 goalies in 2015-16. A couple of introductory thoughts: It certainly wasn’t easy slotting the game’s best puckstoppers, but it should be said it was the easiest position to break down. Carey Price was a slam-dunk No. 1 and we feel strongly about the top 15 as legitimate Vezina Trophy candidates … then it gets a little hazy after that. As for netminders who didn’t crack the top 25, take a look at the ‘Honorable Mentions’ to see where Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Bernier, Antti Niemi, Mike Smith and others stack up.

    The NHL’s top 25 netminders in 2015-16:

    2. Pekka Rinne, Nashville: The guy with the best chance to knock Price off his perch.

  • 2015 UFA All-Leftovers Team: The 'best' of the rest of the NHL's free agents

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago

    The pickings were already slim when NHL free agency opened on July 1. So, more than two weeks later, you can imagine what’s left: not much. But that didn’t stop us from putting together the 2015 NHL UFA All-Leftovers Team, featuring two goalies, six defensemen, 12 forwards and three spares. There might not be any big-league game-breakers, but here are the best UFAs remaining on the open market:

    GOALIES

    Starter: Ray Emery

    Backup: Jonas Gustavsson

    No, we’re not tanking for McDavid, we’re going with what we’ve got. And with Ilya Bryzgalov thinking about joining Martin Brodeur in retirement, what we’ve got is the admittedly underwhelming tandem of Emery and Gustavsson.

    DEFENSEMEN

    First pair: Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff

    Second pair: Marek Zidlicky, Michal Rozsival

    Third pair: Lubomir Visnovsky, Jan Hejda

    Spare: Anton Volchenkov

    Franson is the biggest name left on the free agency market, a surprising leftover considering the lack of top-four defensemen among the 2015 UFAs. Has he overvalued his worth? Does he want more money (or term) than teams are willing to give? Whatever the reason, we’ll take him on the All-UFA Leftovers Team. We need him. Have you seen our goaltending?

    FORWARDS (LW-C-RW)

  • O Canada: Holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for the Great White North's seven NHL teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 7 mths ago

    Happy holidays, whether you’re lucky enough to be Tyler Bozak and perennially playing with Phil Kessel, or you’re living in Edmonton and, well, you know.

    The budget was tight this year, so we just got one big gift for each of Canada’s seven NHL teams, plus a few stocking stuffers.

    CALGARY FLAMES: The Gift of The Ghost of Christmas Past

    Things were very merry in Calgary before a six-game losing streak (entering Friday night’s game versus Dallas), the Flames would like nothing better than a quick return to their winning ways.

    Stocking stuffers…

    Bob Hartley: A two-year extension for a coach in the middle of a six-game losing streak? Don’t get anything for Hartley, Christmas came early this year.

    Mark Giordano: A spotlight, so one of the league’s most valuable players can get some well-deserved recognition.

    Johnny Gaudreau: A second helping of turkey and stuffing, so the Calder candidate can one day grow into a full-on NHL star.

    EDMONTON OILERS: The Gift of Hope

    The Gift of Goaltending And Team Defence would also suffice and spread much holiday cheer for a franchise that so desperately needs it.

    Stocking stuffers…

    Taylor Hall: Boughs of holly, for him to deck the naysayers with.

  • O Canada: Ranking the rookies on Canada's seven NHL teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 8 mths ago

    Here’s a rough ranking of the rookies on Canada’s seven NHL teams, from the Calder candidates to the cups of coffee.

    A few notables: All of the “Calder Candidates” and “Regulars” are forwards, there’s not a freshman defenceman to be seen on a blue line north of the 49th parallel. The closest was Stuart Percy, who had an eight-game audition with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being sent to the AHL. Speaking of the Leafs, they’re the lone Canadian club that doesn’t dress a rookie on a regular basis, but that could change with the return of Brandon Kozun, who surprised by making the club out of training camp but was injured early in the season. Including Kozun, we count 12 frosh forwards on Canada’s seven teams, plus two kid backup goalies.

    Rookies listed in order of their NHL impact so far this season.

    THE CALDER CANDIDATES:

    THE REGULARS:

    Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators: A winger with size who auditioned well in 19 games last season (four goals, eight points), and has kept it up with five goals and 11 points in 24 games this year. Stone, 22, was a sixth-round pick in 2010 (178th overall), while Hoffman was a fifth-rounder in 2009 (130th overall).

    THE BACKUP GOALIES:

    THE CUPS OF COFFEE:

  • O Canada: Seven questions for the Great White North's seven NHL teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 8 mths ago

    The first quarter of the 2014-15 regular season has provided some answers, but there are still some things we don't know. Here are seven questions for Canada's seven NHL teams:

    The Calgary Flames question: Can they keep it up?

    The Edmonton Oilers question: Will they ever win a game against a team in the West?

    The Montreal Canadiens question: Can they win the Stanley Cup?

    The Ottawa Senators question: Who are these guys?

    The Toronto Maple Leafs question: Will they find love?

    The Vancouver Canucks question: Are they for real?

    The Winnipeg Jets question: Will they make the playoffs?

  • O Canada: First-quarter MVPs for the Great White North's seven NHL teams

    Sam McCaig at Yahoo Sports 8 mths ago

    Believe it or not, the first quarter of the 2014-15 NHL regular season has already happened. And with that, here are our picks for first-quarter team MVPs for Canada’s seven NHL clubs. Some of them you will believe and some, perhaps, you will not:

    Ottawa Senators: Spoiler alert, we’re going with another goaltender. Craig Anderson can’t be denied, even though he’s won just five of 11 starts for the Sens (5-3-3). Anderson’s .935 save percentage is simply too good to ignore, ranking second among NHL No. 1 goalies behind only the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick (.938). Clarke MacArthur is a candidate, leading the Senators in goals (eight), points (14) and game-winners (three), as well as captain Erik Karlsson, averaging 27:42 in ice time per game. Or you could even go rogue and argue for rookie Mike Hoffman, with seven goals and a team-leading plus-8 in 15 games. But if not for Anderson, the Sens wouldn’t be holding down a playoff spot, and that’s why we like him.