Sunday, January 31, 2021

All-Time Teams: Finale

We've reached the end of The Collector's NHL All-Time teams series! Before I reveal the Rovers, our "Best of the Rest" roster I want to sincerely thank those of you who read these posts - whether you followed along with every team or just stopped by to see your favorites. I know hockey isn't the most popular sport on the blogs and I wasn't expecting the same amount of feedback as I got on my MLB All-Time Teams series. This was a labour of love, and I'm thrilled that it received as many comments as it did. 

If you missed a post and/or you'd like to go back to re-read any of these rosters, the entire catalogue is listed in a brand new tab at the top of this blog. And now, without further ado, here are the leftover Rovers:


So... here's the problem I was tasked with when creating this roster: I had to select the best 23 players from a pool of hundreds of players who were not selected to an 'established' All-Time roster. 

It was easy to identify modern stars that didn't stay in one place or were stuck behind all-time greats - but it became much more difficult to compare them to Hall of Famers from the early days of hockey.

Until 1967 there were only six teams in the league - did that make the competition tougher, or easier? And how am I supposed to compare players who played 24-game seasons in the 1920s to those who played 82-game seasons in the 2000s? I'm not Stan Fischler or Bob McKenzie. And so I decided to create two more teams. Here are your pre-expansion Rovers. I'll spare you the details on these guys.

1st Line: Cy Denneny(Senators) - Nels Stewart(Maroons) - Hooley Smith(Maroons)

2nd Line: Toe Blake(Canadiens) - Max Bentley(Leafs/Hawks) - Roy Conacher(Blackhawks)

3rd Line: Bert Olmstead(Canadiens) - Frank Nighbor(Senators) - Gordie Drillon(Leafs)

4th Line: Lynn Patrick(Rangers) - Joe Primeau(Leafs) - Bobby Bauer(Bruins) 

Spares: Cooney Weiland(Bruins), Sweeney Schriner(Leafs/Americans) 

Defense Pair 1: Bill Gadsby(Hawks/Rangers), King Clancy(Senators/Leafs) 

Defense Pair 2:  Babe Pratt(Rangers/Leafs), Georges Boucher(Senators) 

Defense Pair 3: Lionel Conacher(Maroons), Jean-Guy Talbot(Canadiens) 

Spare: Bill Quackenbush(Bruins/Red Wings)

: Bill Durnan(Canadiens), George Hainsworth(Canadiens)

Head Coach: Dick Irvin
(Canadiens)  Captain: Toe Blake

The Senators noted above are not the same franchise as the current Ottawa Senators.

And now, your post-expansion Rovers roster:

1st Line

Left Wing - Steve Thomas A two-time 40-goal scorer, Steve Thomas tallied the same amount of goals (421) in his 20 year-career as Vincent Lecavalier and Joe Thornton. "Stumpy" leads all remaining left wings with 933 career points. He played the bulk of his career for Chicago and Toronto, but his best shot at an All-Time Team would have been with the Islanders, where he produced 258 points in just 275 games.

Center - Pierre Turgeon A point-a-game player overshadowed by Gretzky, Lemieux, and Yzerman, Pierre Turgeon has the most goals (515) and the most points (1,327) of any unaffiliated player. The four-time All-Star also had his best seasons on Long Island in the early 1990s, posting 340 points in only 255 games. Turgeon's tenures in Buffalo and St. Louis were nearly as successful - but neither lasted more than 327 games.

Right Wing - Joe Mullen The first of four Hall of Famers on this roster, Joe Mullen won two Lady Byng trophies and a Stanley Cup in Calgary - where he notched 388 points in 345 games. However Calgary's All-Time roster had no room on the right side. Mullen wasn't a great fit in St. Louis - where he scored 335 points in 301 contests - and his 325 points in six seasons with Pittsburgh weren't enough to slide into the Penguins' roster.

2nd Line

Left Wing - Cory Stillman The sixth overall pick in the 1992 draft, Cory Stillman played all three forward positions over his 16-year career. His longest stay was with the team that drafted him, though his 393 games in Calgary yielded the lowest points per game output of the six stops in his career. There aren't a lot of unaffiliated left wings worth considering but Stillman's 449 assists and 727 points is a strong total for a late 1990s-early 2000s star.

Center - Marc Savard A breakout star of the post-lockout years, Marc Savard dished out over 60 assists every season from 2006 to 2009. His brief tenure in Boston ended after 304 games due to concussion issues, and he didn't play enough games for any other franchise. Initially I had him in a group of five similar centers but his playmaking ability and production in a scoring-neutral era earned him the nod over players like Dennis Maruk and Pierre Larouche.

Right Wing - Alex Kovalev How does a player who ranks in the NHL's top 80 all-time in goals and points not find his way onto an All-Time team? Alex Kovalev played nine seasons with the Rangers - where he won a Stanley Cup - producing a solid but unspectacular 330 points in 492 games. He fared better in Pittsburgh, scoring 0.97 points per contest over parts of six seasons. But that Penguins roster is a tough nut to crack - just ask Joe Mullen.

3rd Line

Left Wing - Geoff Courtnall A six-time 30-goal scorer, Geoff Courtnall is as well-rounded a left wing as you'll find on the list of leftover players. In addition to his 799 points in 1,048 games, Courtnall posted a plus/minus rating of +118 and served 1,463 penalty minutes. His best years were in Washington, where he only played two seasons, and Vancouver, where his 246 points in 292 games wasn't enough to push for a roster spot.

Center - Saku Koivu No one on this Rovers' roster played more games for a single franchise than Saku Koivu, who suited up 792 times for the team that drafted him in 1993. Of course that team was the Montreal Canadiens, who didn't have room on their roster for Koivu and his career 0.74 points per game. The Habs' captain for nine seasons, Saku will wear the 'C' for this best-of-the-rest squad.

Right Wing - Tomas Sandstrom One of the toughest roster decisions of this series involved leaving Tomas Sandstrom off the Rangers' All-Time team. The Swedish sniper scored 308 points in 407 games for the Blueshirts in the late 1980s. That wasn't quite enough for an Original Six team with several Hall of Famers in the mix, but his 394 career goals and 856 points are more than welcome on this roster.

4th Line

Left Wing - Wendel Clark By popular demand, the 1st overall pick in the 1985 draft has found his way onto a team. Wendel Clark posted six 30-goal seasons including a career-high 46 goals in 1993-94. The bruising power forward totaled 1,690 penalty minutes in 793 games, primarily with Toronto. Clark's -91 rating and 0.73 points per game weren't enough to secure the Leafs' last roster spot over Phil Kessel's -80 rating and 0.88 points per game average, but 330 career goals paired with truckloads of grit and sandpaper can't be overlooked.

Center -  Ken Linseman How about another physical force who can also fill the net? Ken Linseman racked up 1,725 penalty minutes in 860 games  - including 275 PIMs for the Flyers in 1981-82. "The Rat" also notched a career-high 92 points that season, but his 269 total games in Philly weren't enough to crack the Flyers All-Time roster. Linseman scored 372 points in 389 games for the Bruins - another team loaded with great centers.

Right Wing - Bill Guerin Currently the General Manager of the Minnesota Wild, Bill Guerin played for eight NHL teams in his 18 year-career. The Devils' first round pick (fifth overall) in 1989, Guerin only qualified for New Jersey - where he won a Stanley Cup in 1995 but tallied just 214 points in 380 games. A two-time 40-goal scorer, Guerin's 429 career goals are better suited for a top-six role, but the Rovers have loads of options at right wing.


Spares - Igor Larionov, Pierre Larouche

A three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, Igor Larionov is enshrined in the Hall of Fame more for his success in the former Soviet Union than the NHL. However his stateside totals are impressive considering his age and the era in which he played: 475 assists, 644 points, and a +104 rating in 921 games from 1989 to 2004. Pierre Larouche averaged over a point per game from 1974 to 1988, piling up between 235 and 255 points in 235-255 games for three franchises: the legendary Canadiens, the forward-rich Penguins, and the Rangers - which might have been his best bet if he'd stayed there a bit longer. 

Pete Mahovlich, Dennis Maruk, and Jim Pappin were among a handful of forwards I considered.

Defense Pair 1

Mathieu Schneider - Jacques Laperriere

Mathieu Schneider is third among unaffiliated players in point shares and third among available blueliners in defensive point shares. His 520 assists leads all available defensemen. A veteran of 21 seasons and 1,289 NHL games, Schneider's only qualifying team was the Montreal Canadiens. The same goes for Jacques Laperriere, a Hall of Famer and five-time Stanley Cup winner whose "best of the rest"  +256 rating wasn't enough to make up for his 40 career goals in 692 games - all with the Habs.

Defense Pair 2

P. K. Subban - Bryan McCabe

The 2013 Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban is one of only two active players on this roster. The four-time 50-point scorer tallied 278 points in 434 games for the Canadiens before a 2016 trade sent him to Nashville. At the risk of turning this roster into Montreal's 'B' team (and his production falling off a cliff in Jersey) I think his 77.9 point shares in 721 career games is deserving of a spot on this roster. Bryan McCabe's 97.9 point shares are the second-highest total among available defensemen. A veteran of 15 NHL seasons, McCabe notched three 50-point seasons with the Maple Leafs, the only team for which he played more than three seasons.

Defense Pair 3

Jeff Brown - Carol Vadnais
A puck-moving maestro in his fairly short career, Jeff Brown topped 60 points in a season three times including a career-high 78 points for St. Louis in 1992-93. I tried to wedge his 294 points in 329 games onto the Blues' roster but Paul Cavallini seemed like a better fit as a spare. Carol Vadnais earned 92 point shares and tallied 418 assists in his 17-year career. New York was his only option, but the Blueshirts' blueline had so much depth that Jim Neilson, Rod Seiling, and Marc Staal didn't make the cut.

Spare - Dave Ellett

Most of these players are here because they played for Original Six teams. Dave Ellett spent seven seasons with the Maple Leafs, but his best shot at a roster spot was with the Coyotes(née Jets) who just happened to have a glut of offensive-minded defensemen. The Rovers could use another stay-at-home blueliner, but they'll be happy to find a place for Ellett's 568 points and 88.4 point shares.


Starter - Carey Price

Backup - Ed Giacomin

There are at least six Montreal Canadiens goalies that deserve a spot on an All-Time team. Carey Price was the easy choice as this team's starter, as he leads all Habs goalies in wins, minutes played, and point shares. The 2015 Vezina trophy winner has several seasons remaining to add to his legacy. Hall of Famer Ed Giacomin was a workhorse for the Rangers in the late 1960s and early '70s. It was a tough call leaving him off New York's All-Time team but the 1971 Vezina trophy winner gets the call here over Andy Moog and Tim Thomas.

Head Coach: Mike Babcock  Captain: Saku Koivu

Mike Babcock has the most wins of any head coach not previously named to an All-Time Team. A Stanley Cup champion in 2008, Babcock won 458 games in ten seasons with the Red Wings - for a .649 winning percentage that would top just about any franchise that didn't employ Scotty Bowman.

This concludes the Collector's All-Time Teams series. It's time for me to take a long break from posting and catch up on other things - including your blogs. Thanks as always for reading!



Saturday, January 30, 2021

All-Time Teams: Jets

Our last NHL All-Time Team is the second franchise to originate in Atlanta and the second named the Winnipeg Jets. Here's the Winnipeg Jets all-time roster:

Winnipeg has made five trips to the postseason in their 20-year history. The Jets advanced beyond the first round once, losing to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Western Conference final.

1st Line

Left Wing - Ilya Kovalchuk The first overall pick in the 2001 draft, Ilya Kovalchuk is the ThrasherJets' all-time leader in goals with 328, point shares with 74.5, and goals per game with 0.55. "Kovy" shared the NHL lead with 41 goals in 2003-04 and led the league with 27 power play markers in 2005-06. He's the franchise leader in power play goals, even-strength goals and game-winning goals, and only Blake Wheeler has produced more points for AtlantaPeg.

- Mark Scheifele The first draft pick of the franchise's Winnipeg era, Mark Scheifele boasts the best plus/minus rating in team history at +82. He enters the 2020-21 season with a streak of five consecutive 60-plus point seasons intact, and his 454 career points are the fourth-most in franchise history. Scheifele is also fourth among Jets in goals, even-strength goals, game-winning goals, shooting percentage, and offensive point shares.

Right Wing - Blake Wheeler One of eleven American-born players on the current Jets roster, Blake Wheeler has served as team captain since 2016. The fifth overall pick in 2004 led the NHL in assists with 68 in 2017-18, the first of back-to-back 91-point seasons for Winnipeg's all-time leading scorer. Wheeler's 442 career assists leads all Thrashers/Jets, and he trails only Kovalchuk in goals and point shares.

2nd Line

Left Wing
- Vyacheslav Kozlov A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, Slava Kozlov scored one more point for the Thrashers (in 70 fewer games) than he did in the Motor City. The Thrashers/Jets' fifth-leading scorer posted four of his six 70-point seasons in Atlanta including a career-high 80 in 2006-07, helping the franchise earn its first playoff berth. Only three players in franchise history have potted more power play goals than Kozlov's 51, and he ranks tenth among all players in team history with 40 point shares.

Center - Bryan Little Atlanta's first round pick in the 2006 draft, Bryan Little has played 843 games for the Thrashers/Jets franchise, more than any other player in team history. He ranks second to Ilya Kovalchuk in power play goals with 58 (roughly half of Kovy's total), second in assists with 304, and at the moment he's tied with Blake Wheeler for second in goals with 217. AtlantaPeg's third-leading point producer has been sidelined since November 2019 with a head injury sustained from friendly fire and is unlikely to play again.

Right Wing - Patrik Laine The youngest player on any All-Time Team roster, 22 year-old Patrik Laine was the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. In just 306 games with Winnipeg, the Finnish forward scored 140 goals - the sixth-highest total in franchise history - filling the net at the third-highest rate (0.46 goals per game) among Thrashers/Jets. The NHL leader in power play goals with 20 in 2017-18, Laine's 52 man-advantage markers also ranks third in franchise annals. A recent trade of disgruntled stars sent him to Columbus with Jack Roslovic in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

3rd Line

Left Wing - Andrew Ladd A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Andrew Ladd was the last captain in Atlanta Thrashers history and the first captain of Jets 2.0. He ranks seventh in franchise history with 139 goals and 26.3 offensive point shares, eighth in assists with 166, and eighth in points with 205. Only four Thrashers/Jets have scored more even-strength goals than Ladd's 99, and only five players have potted more game-winners.

- Mathieu Perreault One of seven current Jets on this all-time roster, Mathieu Perreault is 13th on the team's scoring list with 213 points - the third-highest total among centers. He ranks 12th in Winnipeg annals with 93 even-strength assists and tied for 12th in power play goals with Marc Savard, who didn't qualify for this roster. This is one franchise that is very thin down the middle - as you'll see on the next line.

Right Wing - Nikolaj Ehlers The ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Nikolaj Ehlers ranks ninth in Jets history in goals (120), assists (148), and points (268). A two-time 60-point scorer, Ehlers is fourth in Winnipeg annals with a plus/minus rating of +44. The Danish forward is sixth in franchise history with 97 even-strength goals and one game-winning goal away from tying Ladd for sixth on that list.

4th Line

Left Wing - Evander Kane The fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft, Evander Kane is tied for eighth in AtlantaPeg annals with 88 even strength goals and his 109 total goals are tied for tenth with Kyle Connor (who hasn't yet qualified for this roster.) The NHL's leader in penalty minutes in each of the last two seasons, Kane has developed into a valuable power forward for the Sabres and Sharks, posting four consecutive seasons of over 25 goals including his second 30-goal season in 2018-19.

- Patrik Stefan The first overall pick in the 1999 draft (ahead of the Sedin twins) Patrik Stefan's NHL career was a disappointment by any measure. However, as I mentioned, the Thrashers/Jets are very thin at the center position and Stefan - with his 177 points in 414 games for Atlanta - ranks fourth among qualifying centers in franchise history. He ranks 14th in franchise history with 118 assists and his 91 even-strength helpers are 13th in ThrasherJets annals.

Right Wing - Chris Thorburn The franchise leader in penalty minutes with 832, Chris Thorburn is fourth in Thrashers/Jets annals with 709 games played. A physical forward, Thorburn scored just 49 goals in his ten seasons with the team. He ranks 13th among Jets forwards with 71 even-strength assists. 25 players produced more points for AtlantaPeg but only two of them - Wheeler and Laine - were right wings who qualified for this roster. He might be the Yuniesky Betancourt of this All-Time series, but "Thor" is hardly out of place on a checking line.

Jim Slater was Atlanta's second first-round pick in 2002 and suited up for the Thrashers/Jets franchise 584 times - the seventh-most games played in team history. Slater's 67 goals are the 12th-highest total among eligible ThrasherJets players, and his 407 penalty minutes place him 13th among all players in team annals. Andrew Copp's offensive production compares favorably to Chris Thorburn's - and the Michigan man played in roughly half as many games. Copp's plus/minus rating of +55 ranks third in Jets history. Adam Lowry was the only other eligible forward worth considering.


Defense Pair 1

A powerful presence on the blueline (and occasionally on the forward lines) Dustin Byfuglien won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010, days before being traded to Atlanta in a cap-clearing move. A five-time 50-point scorer, "Big Buff" became the Thrashers/Jets leading scorer among defensemen less than a decade later. His 294 assists are third in Jets history among all players, and his 27.7 defensive point shares rank second in team history behind only Tobias Enstrom. The Swedish rearguard is second to Bryan Little in games played for the franchise and ranks seventh among ThrasherJets in points and assists.

Defense Pair 2

Currently a New York Ranger, Jacob Trouba set career highs with 42 assists and 50 points for Winnipeg in 2018-19, his last year with the Jets. The ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft ranks sixth in team annals with a +37 rating and his 179 points are third among Winnipeg defensemen. Myers sits one spot ahead of him on the team's plus/minus list and ranks fourth among Jets rearguards with 14 defensive point shares. The 2010 Calder trophy winner with Buffalo played just 270 games for this franchise - less than my unofficial minimum of 300 - but I'd rather bend the rules for him than add Mark Stuart or Garnet Exelby to this roster.


Defense Pair 3

Josh Morrissey - Zach Bogosian

After just four full seasons with Winnipeg Josh Morrissey already ranks in the team's top ten in plus/minus (seventh) and defensive point shares (eighth). The 13th overall pick in 2013 has tallied 111 points to date - sixth-most among Jets defensemen and four fewer than Tyler Myers (in 25 more games). Zach Bogosian ranks tenth in team annals (and seventh among blueliners) with 13 defensive point shares. The third overall pick in the 2008 draft is 15th in Thrashers/Jets history with 393 games played and 325 penalty minutes.


Spare - Ron Hainsey

A veteran of 17 NHL seasons and seven NHL teams, Ron Hainsey played 346 games for the Thrashers/Jets franchise, the sixth most among defensemen. His 93 assists are tied for 20th in team history and only three defensemen dished out more helpers. The Connecticut native was Montreal's first round pick in 2000. 


Starter - Connor Hellebuyck

Backup - Ondrej Pavelec

The 2020 Vezina trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck tops all Winnipeg netminders in goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts. With his next win he'll break a tie with Ondrej Pavelec for the most in franchise history. Pavelec paces the franchise in minutes played and games in net. He's fourth among all Thrashers/Jets in point shares - and first among goalies - with 58.2. Kari Lehtonen's 2.87 save percentage for Atlanta is equal to Pavelec's, and the Finnish netminder ranks second to Hellebuyck in save percentage. However his 204 games for the franchise just weren't enough to earn a spot over Ondrej.


Head Coach: Paul Maurice  Captain: Andrew Ladd

The Jets' current head coach, Paul Maurice has earned twice as many victories for the franchise as second-place Bob Hartley. His .581 winning percentage is tops in Jets annals and he was behind the bench for all twelve of the team's postseason victories.


I hope you'll join us tomorrow for our final All-Time Team, the leftover Rovers.


Thanks for reading!