We have a banner crop of questions in this week’s mailbag, so let’s get right to them. Thanks to all who submitted inquiries, regardless of whether they made the cut.
Hey Adam, I am just wondering, how does such a fantastic goalie like Jonathan Quick go unnoticed by NHL scouts – going 20-1 in his draft year with a goals-against average of 1.71 and not being drafted until the next year?
Joe Cordova, Burnaby, B.C.
The relatively short answer was given to me by Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill in my recent feature in THN’s new Draft Preview edition.
“It’s funny dynamics with goalies sometimes,” Nill said, referencing the consistently risky proposition that is drafting a goalie, especially with a high pick. “In every draft there are some guys who are just marquee no-brainers and they usually go in the top 10 or 15 (of the first round). Then after that, it’s like the rest of the draft: There’s something about the player you like, but there’s something you don’t like.”
Clearly, there were aspects of Quick’s game that caused him to fall to the third round (72nd overall) of the 2005 entry draft. But it isn’t as if the Kings or any other league franchises whiffed on not drafting him sooner. It happens all the time with goalies, who in many cases are notorious late bloomers. And as my Draft Preview story argues, that’s why you see so few teams willing to use a first round pick on a goalie.
Quick has been a revelation, but nobody would have bet their reputation on it happening. That’s true of most NHL goalies, as well as most players.
Adam, please don't start up with talk of New Jersey being a boring, trapping hockey club this year. You obviously haven't been watching this year's version of the Devils. They are not a shot-blocking machine like the Rangers (who, by the way, the NHL wants in the Stanley Cup Final), but the Devils win games with offensive power. They’ve got three 30-goal-scorers in Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and even David Clarkson; and two 20-plus goal scorers in the underrated Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora.
The defense corps is not as popular as the ones on other clubs. However, it is much improved in these playoffs under Hall of Famer Larry Robinson. One other thing: the all-time winningest and shutout goalie and three-time Stanley Cup winner Martin Brodeur is playing at age 40 and perhaps in his final season. If he’s successful, he’ll be a great and exciting story for the average hockey fan with no rooting interest.
Paul Galietti, Somerset, N.J.
You and more than a few Devils fans were a little oversensitive in receiving my Thursday column. I gave the Devils credit for being a less defensive team than in years past. My larger point was the fact that they are the most offensive team left in the post-season says something about the defensive extremes to which the game has come.
Some people may have forgotten, I picked the Devils as my post-season darkhorse in a pre-playoff edition of THN magazine. I did so because I saw the components GM Lou Lamoriello had assembled and I also got the sense there’s an urgency among the team given that, for many reasons – Zach Parise’s pending unrestricted free agency, ownership financial woes, their status as the NHL’s oldest team – their window to win may be closed after this season.
And I agree, Brodeur’s story does make for some potentially gripping drama. But let’s face it, the Devils have employed a number of Hall of Fame talents in their Cup-winning years and have never been close to league leaders in attendance. There are likely many reasons why, but I submit that their traditional deference to defense, combined with a marketing strategy that’s 20 years behind being 20 years behind, are leading factors in the empty-seat phenomenon that now spans two different arenas.
I’ve said it before: you can’t begrudge Lamoriello and the Devils for the success they’ve enjoyed, but you can certainly comment on the artistry – or lack thereof – they displayed along the way. And their brand of hockey is not my cup of tea. To each their own, right?
Hi Adam, why do NHL refs wear numbers? Do they serve any purpose?
Cam Palmer, Downeyville, Ont.
The officials wear numbers to provide accountability on the ice. For a couple decades beginning in the early 1970s, NHL referees and linesmen had their names on the back of their jerseys as well, but that stopped in 1994. And I agree with the decision, because when irate fans began to fixate on the men behind the uniform to an unhealthy degree – as they did with Kerry Fraser’s missed call on Wayne Gretzky in the 1993 Western Conference final between the Kings and Leafs – the sport enters dangerous ground.
Hey Adam, how do you feel about the playoff beard? How can it be good luck when 15 teams who grow them don't win the Cup? Has its time passed?
Paul Grajczyk, Moose Jaw, Sask.
I’m still OK with the ungodly, mangled hairballs NHLers decide to cultivate on their faces, though I’d love to see some variations on it. How about neckbeards only? Or old-timey mustaches players could twirl with one finger as they give interviews? (Tell me that wouldn’t be the best tribute the Senators could pay to coach Paul MacLean.) Or just awful, Wolverine-like, pork chop sideburns? Creativity is always fun.
Hey Adam, I have a potential deal between the Oilers and Blue Jackets that could work out for both teams. The Blue Jackets trade the second overall pick and Ryan Johansen to the Oilers for the first overall pick and maybe another player to sweeten the deal. In doing this trade the Oilers get a potential number one defenseman as well as a perfect number two center that can fit in with their other forwards. The Blue Jackets also get Nail Yakupov – the guy they wanted – and something else that could be of high value to them.
Tim Green, Pemberton, B.C.
I’m sorry, but no. If it wasn’t tough enough for Blue Jackets fans watching Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier emerge as big-timers for the Flyers in these playoffs, it would be murder for them to watch beleaguered GM Scott Howson deal away the fourth overall pick two years ago just to move up one slot.
Besides, although no GM would turn down a talent such as Johansen, the Oilers have enough star power at forward and don’t really need him as much as they do additional defensive help. Can’t see it happening, ever.