Coming Out Of The Break
- Updated: March 1, 2010
Some things to watch for coming out of the break:
- The Dan Hamhuis Question – He’s in the last year of his contract. The team is definitely making a harder playoff push than last year and Hammer is clearly the weak link on defense. While not ancient, at 28, he is the oldest D-man on the team that cannot be dissolved into chicken broth. In addition, he’s been with the system longer than any of the other D-men. He should have this figured out by now, but with Suter and Weber progressing to arguably the best defensive pairing in the league, Hammer’s errors have become glaring. It’s pretty clear that the Preds will not offer him another contract, as this is the third year in a row that his name has come up in trade rumors. This time, however, with his contract lingering, it’s pretty clear they are more serious about getting something for him. Just don’t get too excited about it. As with last year when Koistinen was on the trading block, part of executing a trade requires a team wanting what you are offering. It’s not XBOX 360 here…the trade has to be fair to both sides for the other team to take it…which is why Hammer isn’t getting traded for Zach Parise, Martin Brodeur, 2 first rounders and a block of tickets in the Prudential Center. Hammer is going to go to a team that needs a 2nd-3rd pair defenseman. We’re going to either get someone old, a role player in a contract year or a draft pick for him.
- The Dan Ellis Question – Forget what Eklund keeps posting. David Poile would either be blatantly insane or clearly pushing for his release if he traded Ellis to the Red Wings while we’re in a playoff run. Especially when he’s the hot goalie. Yeah, Pekka was just re-signed to a two year contract and yes, this most likely means that Ellis will be pulling goaltending duty for someone else next year. However, unlike Hammer, Ellis is quite possibly the most valuable player on the team right now. Pekka was signed for the future, but there’s still right now to worry about. Statistically, Ellis has been the better goalie this year. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to trade him…especially to a division rival. It will have to take a very, very good offer to get rid of our hot goalie in the midst of a playoff push.
- Will Horn Dog Break the Franchise Goals Mark? – Back in September, who saw Patric Hornqvist having 23 goals at the 3/4 mark of the season? Put your hand down, Patric’s Mom. The franchise record of 33 (set by Captain Arnott last year) is well within reach.Who saw Horn Dog making an assault on the franchise record books and becoming a fan favorite (seriously…listen to the cheers he gets during player intros)? At this point in the year, he has scored a goal every 2.61 games. In order to break Arnott’s record, he would need to score every other game. However, he had not registered a goal in the 5 games prior to the break.
- Which Tootoo will finish the year? – Granted, Toots missed half of the season after his foot got Webered, but it’s clear that the 2009-10 version of Toots has abandoned the pest persona. He has 20 PIMs this year…and only 10 of those were from his only two fights of the season…both against the Panthers…and one of those fights he was clearly instigated into. He’s on pace to surpass 20 points for the first time in his career (and would have been near 40 had he played the whole season). As the playoff push wears on, will he continue to earn his new paycheck? Or will he go back to “what he knows”?
- Everyone else had to play in the Olympics, too – I’ve heard people lamenting the extra games that Suter, Weber, Hornqvist, Erat, Goc and Sulzer had to play during the Olympics and how it would hurt us down the stretch. Apparently, some people are forgetting that the best players on all of the other teams also had to play in the Olympics. If it hurts our guys, it hurts their guys, too. One might expect Suter and Weber to be a little spent coming back onto the Bridgestone Arena ice, but at the same time, they could come back entirely re-energized due to the medals around their necks.
- Detroit – That’s right. Watch Detroit. 19 points out of the division lead. And we’re ahead of them. If the season ended today, Detroit would not make the playoffs for the first time since Patric Hornqvist was 3, the North Stars were in Minnesota and Chris Chelios was a “wily veteran” and not a “crochety old dude” (1989-90). It the 11 years we’ve been here, I’ve learned pretty quickly to never underestimate the Red Wings. Don’t be surprised to see that 19 point gap between Chicago and Detroit close significantly…and more importantly, don’t be surprised to see an epic Preds/Wings stretch run.
- Did you know Horn Dog was a New Year’s baby? - Alright, this has absolutely nothing to do with something you need to watch, but when making the above reference to his age, I discovered his birthday was January 1, 1987. Oddly, he shares a birthday with Gilbert “Somebody Creme” Brule and Devin Setoguchi. It was also the day that the future capital of Nunavut changed it’s name from Frobisher Bay to Iqaluit…but I digress…
- Will the national media continue their newfound love affair with Shea Weber? – We all knew Shea had the hardest shot this side of Zdeno Chara, but a large portion of the major hockey media seemed to have forgotten last year’s hardest shot competition. Against Germany, Shea reminded them by literally ripping one through the net…and all of a sudden, they wouldn’t shut up about Shea for the remainder of the tournament. Just wait til the day he shoots it through the net and the glass. It was a noticeable turn from the all-Crosby-all-the-time coverage that NBC is known for…and it was clear that the play of Shea and Suter reminded NBC (and the world) that, yes, Nashville has a hockey team. It was made even clearer when Eddie Olcyzk was naming cities in the US that were having viewing parties for the game and mentioned the Nashville viewing party second.
- There’s a second round in the playoffs? – Okay, this is putting the cart waaaaaaaay ahead of the horse…but should we actually make the playoffs, it’d be nice for Nashville fans to discover that yes, David Legwand, there is a second round to the playoffs.