Posts Tagged ‘Eric Staal’

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Review of 2010-2011: 40-31-11, 91 Points, 9th In Eastern Conference, Missed Playoffs

Key additions via free agency: Tim Brent, Brian Boucher, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Chris Durno

Key additions via trade: None

Key Losses: Troy Bodie, Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, Justin Pogge, Joe Corvo

Tim Brent (Photo: Getty Images)

Offense: The winds of change are blowing through Carolina this year, as they said goodbye to a few familiar faces in Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, and Joe Corvo.But they also welcomed a few new faces on offense in Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovski, and Anthony Stewart. Tim Brent brings a rugged, hard battling style to the faceoff dot, he’s also capable of scoring a few goals. Ponikarovsky comes looking to turn things around after a disappointing season with Los Angeles, he looks to recapture his scoring touch with Carolina. Stewart brings a boat load of potential after his first full NHL season last year with Atlanta where he racked up 39 points. Eric Staal will, in all likelyhood, still lead the team in scoring, but there is a sense that youngster Jeff Skinner will be biting at his heels in the team scoring race. Tuomo Ruutu should put together a nice point total, including a boat load of assists this year depending on who his line mates are.  Also adding in Chad LaRose and Brandon Sutter, it could be a nice year offensively in Carolina. The Hurricanes issue that needs to be worked out this year the powerplay, they need to improve from their league ranked 24th powerplay percentage.

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Last season, 18 year old Jeff Skinner joined some elite company.  He became the fourth 18 year old to win the Calder trophy as NHL’s Rookie of the Year, scoring 32 goals and 63 points.  He became the youngest winner since Tom Barrasso in 1983-84.  Many 18 year olds have played in the NHL, but only eleven have scored 60 points in one season.  Of those eleven, nine played in the 1980s, when scoring was up.  The only one who’s done it outside of that decade besides Skinner, is Sidney Crosby.  Ironically, Skinner replaced Crosby in the All Star Game this past season.  Of the ten players ahead of Skinner on that list, all ten had productive seasons their second year.  Even the “bust” Jimmy Carson had two great years before tailing off.

Now Jeff Skinner is not going to produce Crosby numbers (120 points, Art Ross winner in his second year). Crosby posted over 100 points his rookie year to Skinner’s 63. Skinner played with Eric Staal most of last year on the Hurricanes’ top line.  But Skinner played 16:43 per game, which was only seventh most on his team.  That will surely increase this season, especially with the departure of Erik Cole.  He’ll most likely be called on for more power play minutes (played 3:10 per game last year).  More time will equal more scoring chances, which should increase his point total.

Some point to his slump in February as hitting the rookie wall.   (more…)

And another hockey season is upon us, which means…..*drumroll*..prediction time! Just to explain the below picture, I make my division picks on my basement fridge every year.  Last season, in addition to four of six division winners, I had two of the final four teams correct (Chicago, Philadelphia, with the Flyers making the finals).  However, I’d rather not say who I had winning last year.  Without further ado, here are the picks, with playoff picks.

The Fridge of Destiny

Starting with the Atlantic Division, the Flyers would be the team to beat coming off a Stanley Cup run, but questions in goal could derail division title hopes.  Pittsburgh will edge the Flyers, but lack of winger scoring could hurt them in the long run.  Both teams will keep a distance between them and New Jersey.  Jersey will hope for one more run from Marty Brodeur, but it won’t be this year.  The signing of Ilya Kovalchuk drained payroll, and the Devils will have to play with a short roster, or will have to waive some veterans.  The Islanders will be improved, but without Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo for a large chunk of time, playoffs won’t be on the radar this year, but they’ll give the rival Rangers a tough time, who’ll miss the playoffs a second straight year, and fans will still demand Glen Sather be fired.  At least Wade Redden won’t be the scapegoat this season for the Blueshirts.

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Where would I be without the Staal boys? In all likelihood, pretending that Evander is Patrick’s half brother. There’s nothing better than a familial link in hockey; the Cooks, the Richards, the Sutters, the Hansons, and now the Staals. Today, I’m just going to re-cap what’s going on with everyone’s favorite Thunder Bay brothers.

This is the first full year as captain for Hurricanes center Eric. The triple-gold club member is aiming for another All-Star season, and to bring his team (11th in the East last year) back into the playoff picture. With a mix of youth and veterans, Staal is going to be the bridge that connects the team, and will aim to bring back the trophy they won four years ago.

Things are not looking so bright for Jordan. The Selke Trophy nominee will miss the first 5-6 weeks due to a tissue infection received after tendon surgery. (The tendon injury occurring during the playoffs against Montreal.) Staal was not able to skate at all this summer, and will miss the entirety of training camp as well as miss his first NHL games since he entered the league four years ago.

My favorite Staal (for obvious reasons) had me checking every major hockey source for any information on him throughout my summer. The Restricted Free Agent Marc finally let me breathe a sigh of relief when he signed a 5 year, $19.875 million dollar contract on the 15th. Now the Rangers have their top defenseman locked up for a good period of time, but have a balancing act to work with in regards to the cap.

The baby, Jared, also made a splash this summer, signing a three year entry-level deal with his big brother’s Carolina Hurricanes. If Jared makes the ‘Canes, it won’t be the first time he’s played on a team that his brother captained. In the 2006-07 season, Jared joined Marc’s Sudbury Wolves, where he easily adjusted to the OHL under his brother’s guidance. Hopefully the same will be said this year with the Hurricanes.