May 06 2013 12:16PM
Despite the Oilers being out of the playoffs for the 7th straight season, there is still numerous intriguing hockey stories unfolding around the NHL. Did the Vancouver Canucks window for a championship just slam shut? It didn't take long for Ottawa and Montreal to build a legitimate rivalry. The WHL final is very competitive, and today the first finalists for an NHL award were announced.
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Calder trophy (Rookie of the year). Brandon Saad, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathon Huberdeau made the cut while Nail Yakupov and Minnesota Wild D-man Jonas Brodin didn't.
I actually think Brodin got a worse snub than Yakupov. He played over 23 minutes a night at a much harder position. I understand why Oiler fans feel Yakupov got ripped off. I went back 50 years and couldn't find one year where the rookie leading scorer wasn't at least a finalist.
Of course, Yakupov never led rookie scoring until the final game of the season, and I wonder if six goals (35% of his season total) in the final three meaningless games played a role in the voter's decision? That is just a guess, but seems the only rationale explanation. Up until that weekend I don't think Yakupov was a legitimate candidate.
I would have voted for Brodin to win, but since he isn't in I'd vote for Gallagher. He had a solid season and did more than just put up points.
You shouldn't play the "He is Russian" card as why Yakupov got left off the ballot, because we've seen six Russians win the Calder since 1990: Sergei Makarov, Pavel Bure, Sergei Samsonov, Evgeni Nabokov, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
It sucks for Yakupov not to be named a finalist, but it likely saves him a trip to Vegas where he wasn't going to win. This way he can stay home and train, and maybe use this snub as motivation to show the writers they made a mistake.
It would be great if the organization played with as much passion as the fans have over topics like this. Fans were fired up, and next season the Oilers better bring that same emotion onto the ice.
- Mike Gillis' job has to be on the line in Vancouver. He agreed to let his goalie become a captain, then signed him to a ridiculous 12-year deal, then couldn't trade him and now his team is near the cap and the core of his team is aging. I'm very curious to see if Gillis stays in Vancouver, or if head coach Alain Vigneault becomes the sacrificial lamb.
- Love the rivalry that has emerged from the Habs/Sens series. It wasn't just the 3rd period line brawl, although that reminded me of the great Oilers/Flames playoff games in the 1980s, but there is a lot of animosity and passion in this series. It is the must-watch series right now.
- One of the best stats I've ever seen. The first star in all three games of the Habs/Sens series has lost a tooth during the game, including both goalies and D-man Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
- If the Rangers get knocked out for the 2nd straight season by the Washington Capitals you have to think John Tortorella gets fired.
- With potential job openings in New York and Vancouver I bet Lindy Ruff will be on the short-list for both.
- I don't see much wrong with the state of the NHL, but I get fired up when people suggest the NHL is losing control of the game because of Gryba's hit on Lars Eller. Those hits are rare, so let's stop pretending the league is on downward spiral to "No-respectville." Read more here.
- I've spoke with numerous scouts the past week and four of the five I spoke with feel Sean Monahan would be an excellent choice for the Oilers. All four of them feel he's a real pro. He is extremely mature and plays a solid two-way game. He isn't flashy offensively, but the Oilers don't need more flash. They need more substance. The other scout felt Darnell Nurse would be the perfect fit for the Oilers. He said Nurse is an incredible athlete and will emerge in three or four years as a top-pairing D-man.
- Taylor Hall only played 8:33 in yesterday's 3-2 loss to Switzerland. He only played 1:43 in the 3rd and didn't get a shift in OT. I saw Hall turn the puck over twice at the offensive blueline and I'd bet that is the reason Lindy Ruff stapled him to the bench. Having Ruff as his coach at the World Championships could turn out to be a blessing for Hall. The Oilers young kids need to learn to protect the puck better, and I'm guessing Hall responds with a much better game tomorrow.
GET READY FOR A PARTY....
We have our 12 finalists set for what will be an epic party next Friday night, May 17th, at On The Rocks. Tickets are $25/each with 100% of the proceeds going to charity. And with your $25 ticket you get $50 in gift certificates from On The Rocks and Oodle Noodle. So you make money by supporting the cause. You can buy your tickets here. They will be sold out by next week.