We've already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada, but for the benefit of you Yankees, here's a quick rundown of what I'm particularly thankful for this year: VIP movie theaters, Alex Ovechkin, Feist, Prison Break, Lewis Black, wooden sticks, NHL games on high-definition TV, and jazz hands. Just kidding on that last one.
On to your inquiries:
After hearing the term Â“Next OneÂ” applied to Sidney Crosby over the last couple years I decided to have a close look at Wayne Gretzky's career stats and compare. It seems hopeless for anyone to beat his scoring records.I know Crosby is young and we still haven't seen his full potential yet, but unless he starts posting 200-plus point seasons in the next two or three years he'll be hard pressed to come close, especially since his game style is more physical and he's more prone to injury because of that.Do you think he'll break Gretzky's records or even come close?
Savas Varadas, Huntsville, Ont.
Crosby currently is on pace for a 128-point season, 26 better than his output from last year. For a number of reasons (bigger and better goalies, some teams' pervasive commitment to the trap) I don't think it's very likely he'll top Gretzky's numbers.
That said, I'm sure a lot of observers didn't think Gretzky could smash so many records until he actually did so. If Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to improve, they could easily prove many of us wrong. Okay, maybe not Â“easilyÂ”.
I have reluctantly stuck with Francois Beauchemin because of his playoff performance last year, but his numbers should be higher. I guess this comes with the addition of Chris Pronger. Should I try and trade him or dump him for another defenseman?Also, is going for complete lines a good move? I have the Flames' top line (Langkow-Iginla-Tanguay) and I have two-thirds of the Sens' (Alfredsson and Heatley).Your advice would help.
Thanks, Paul Szulak
Beauchemin is averaging nearly 25 minutes a game, but very little of that comes on the power play. You're correct, his role has changed because of Pronger, but if the ex-Oilers defenseman is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Other than making it easier to follow the players in your fantasy draft, I don't see much upside to going with complete lines. Granted, if they're hot together, you're laughing. But it only takes one player out of the three to stink and drag his linemates down with him.
I was reading about two injured players on the Kings today. One was listed as Â“doubtfulÂ” for the game, the other as Â“questionableÂ”.Are these actually different levels of injury or writers not wanting to repeat themselves? And what are my chances of seeing Dan Cloutier sent to the minors this year?
Thanks, R. Burhenn
I suspect there's no difference. But I think the NHL should clearly define the difference between the two words and assign Â“questionableÂ” to injury pronouncements everyone believes to be untrue. (i.e. Alex Auld, G (FLA), slipped on Ed Belfour's water, but somehow fell forward and smacked the top of his head for a few stitches. Highly questionable.)
As for your Cloutier question, you're starting to sound like a Canucks fan. Unfortunately, after he signed a hefty two-year contract extension, odds are Cloutier will be riding NHL pine for quite a while before GM Dean Lombardi demotes him.
I know this sounds premature, but who are the high-profile free agents in July? Who is expected to re-up before then, who isn't and who may be traded on a rental basis?
Josh Price, Tel Aviv, Israel
Free agent talk isn't premature at all. In fact, we've got a list of the NHL's most prominent soon-to-be unrestricted free agents right HERE.
The trade deadline has been moved up this season to Feb. 27 (it fell on March 9 last year), so I'd expect teams to make a push in January to either re-sign players or prepare to trade them.
My best guesses to be moved? Peter Forsberg, Scott Gomez, Marty Biron, Mike Knuble, Anson Carter and Marco Sturm.
What are your opinions about Jaroslav Spacek, Gilbert Brule, Joffrey Lupul and Brian Gionta? I have all of them in my pool and, so far, they haven't done a whole lot. Gionta should come up, but I'm not real sure right now.Also, will Buffalo keep up their great start or will they die near the middle of the season?
Spacek is one of Buffalo's top minute-munchers, so I'm guessing his offense will come. Like a lot of things in Columbus this year, Brule has been a disaster (minus-10? Ouch.) and ought to be in the American League trying to regain his confidence.
Lupul is getting his chances on Edmonton's second line. He isn't doing much right now, but he's a streaky point-getter and should improve.
And Gionta clearly missed injured linemate Scott Gomez. However, the Alaskan center returned to the lineup Wednesday, meaning Gionta's (and Patrik Elias's) numbers will be on the upswing.
You may find someone willing to doubt the Sabres, but it won't be me. That team has been too good for too long now to expect their bubble will burst.
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