Puck Lists: 8 guys I'd like to see win the Stanley Cup
(As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special Tuesday series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)
8. Any one of several of the guys on the team, Nashville Predators
I don't particularly care if the Predators win the Cup except to say that they are ostensibly the team I want to see do the best in general. Any one guy who wins it, sure, that's fine. Whatever. Go Preds and all that.
But there are a list of guys on that team I definitively do not want to see win the Cup. Mega-creep Mike Ribeiro is probably Nos. 1-65 on the list. I also kinda don't want to have to hear how Shea Weber is one of the league's great defensemen (he is absolutely not) when and if he wins a Cup. And James Neal, given all the elbowing and so on, probably doesn't deserve it.
It would be pretty cool if Ryan Johansen won it, though. Mainly because it would be funny to see a player as maligned as he has been for the last couple years in Columbus get out of that organization and immediately be rewarded for doing so. Poor Seth Jones, etc., but Johansen is a legitimately very good player who couldn't have succeeded in Columbus if he'd been Connor McDavid.
Other guys who are good and nice and I like them: Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Craig Smith, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Pekka Rinne, Colin Wilson. Bonus shoutout for backup goalie Carter Hutton, who is a very nice guy and I would like to see him win as well.
Of course also, there's basically no chance the Predators win the Cup. So, okay. But they might. It's a statistical possibility.
7. Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues
It seems like it's literally impossible, but it is in fact 100 percent true that this is the first time ever Jay Bouwmeester has been out of the first round. He's played 990 regular-season games, and before this year, only had 18 games to his credit in the playoffs. None of them came before 2013. Bonkers.
While you never want to compare someone to a guy like Ray Bourque or Dave Andreychuk, who basically had to wait forever to win, Bouwmeester and former teammate Jarome Iginla are probably the two closest things we have in today's NHL. And at least Iginla went to a Cup Final in 2004. Bouwmeester hadn't played past Game 6 of the first round. If it hadn't been for the lockout-shortened season that pushed the playoffs back, he wouldn't have ever played NHL hockey in May.
This is one of those “long-time futility” things, and there aren't really too many older guys with the club who are even in this neighborhood. Only Steve Ott and Scottie Upshall are both marginally older than Bouwmeester, but neither are even close to pushing 1,000 games like he is.
For that reason, and because he seems like a perfectly nice fellow, it would be cool if Jay Bouwmeester won a Stanley Cup.
6. John Tavares, New York Islanders
Mainly this is because New York Rangers fans are still insufferable about 1994. God, that's when Dylan McIlrath was two years old, and he's barely even an everyday NHL player right now. Like honestly, is there any reason at all beyond, “They are in New York,” that a team spending a bazillion dollars to field an All-Star lineup is in any way a notable achievement in the league? It took them seven games to beat a team on which Geoff Courtnall was the second leading scorer!
The way everyone still talks about that team is shameless. They retired Adam Graves's number. No shame at all.
Anyway, if John Tavares is a monster in the playoffs and brings a Cup to Brooklyn, having Islanders fans lord that over Ranger fans — especially after the last few years of the Rangers getting close — is going to be awesome for a decade-plus. Tavares could become like Derek Jeter in New York. It would be that meaningful.
5. Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars
This is the first of several “This loser is never gonna amount to anything!” storylines. The way the media chased him out of Edmonton was pathetic. “Last guy on the ice every day, first guy off.” Yeah well there's always been plenty of reason to doubt that was the case, and more to the point, this guy is still awesome at some of the things he has always been awesome at.
He's never gonna score like he did in the mid-2000s for the Oilers, but dude still gets through the neutral zone with the puck on his stick like there's not even a defense there. He can still facilitate from the halfwall. He's a player.
And cramming it down the Edmonton media's collective throats would be wonderful.
4. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stamkos has been close a few times, including last year, but he's a guy I just feel bad for sometimes. Broken leg when he had 25 goals in 37 games, blood clots this year, being demoted to the wing and off the top line, and so on.
He's had some hard luck.
And I'd really like to see him come back in these playoffs and win one before the band breaks up and he's off to Toronto. Not that being a Leaf is going to serve him badly given what they have coming up, but this is his last best chance to lock in a Cup for sure.
3. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
If the Edmonton media being turds about Hemsky was bad, Kessel winning a Cup in his first season since being traded from the Leafs would really turn over the hot dog cart for the clowns in Toronto.
Kessel is seen as a standoffish weirdo because he (probably) has a social anxiety problem. And that's why the Toronto media hated him. But he also seems to have a good sense of humor about things in general when people aren't being outright dicks to him — see the Bryan Rust hot dog costume versus his daily interactions with the Toronto mitten-stringers — and the way he was shivved on his way out was disgraceful.
I would 3 trillion percent love to see the Toronto Sun have to run a “Phil Kessel raising the Cup” front page on the Toronto Sun in early June. That would be amazing.
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
This one would just piss off Mike Milbury, Glenn Healy, and all the other xenophobes who called Ovechkin a coach-killer over the years.
There legitimately seem to be very few people in the sport today who enjoy themselves as much as Ovechkin does, oh and by the way you can set your watch to dude putting up a 50-spot. Great players who are fun to watch, just sometimes, you want to see succeed. Especially if the TV-pundit class is so actively rooting against him.
Imagine all the close-parentheses. What a glorious day.
1. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
If Joe Thornton actually wins the Cup I might cry in real life. He means that much to me. What a player. I love him.
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
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