Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Hockey News? More like The Hockey Noodleheads.

I'm always amazed with the rankings that publications like The Hockey News release; amazed at how poorly thought-out they so often are. This is prompted by the most recent issue of The Hockey News, which features a "Top 20 by position" ranking.

Let's start from the net out, just as the crack team of THN analysts did, apparently "in consultation with pro scouts and GMs. Ray Emery, the goaltender who's lead a perennially-stacked Senators team farther than ever in the playoffs, is apparently the 17th best goaltender in the league. A few goalies he outdueled just last year in the playoffs that are ranked ahead of him: Martin Brodeur (2nd overall), Ryan Miller (3rd overall), and even Marc-Andre Fleury (11th overall). There's no way I'm going to deny Brodeur his place at the top of the list, but how is Miller third overall? How is Miller right now better than Emery, or J-S Giguere, or Marty Turco? And don't get me started on Fleury... he's ranked higher than Emery, Tomas Vokoun, Olaf Kolzig, and Evgeni Nabokov. What an absurd ranking... Rick DiPietro is somehow the 8th best goaltender in the league now. Cam Ward and Kari Lehtonen are both ahead of Emery.

What makes Emery's apparent ordinariness even more amazing is that apparently Ottawa doesn't have one defenceman in the league's top 20. Wade Redden may have had an off-year, and apparently that completely drops him off the radar. Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips both had career-years and emerged as possibly the best shut-down tandem in the NHL, but I guess that's not good enough. Who made the list instead? Dan Boyle is 7th. God knows why. Somehow Ryan Whitney is the league's 10th best defenceman. WHAT?!?! Where did that even come from? He's barely played two season in the NHL, he's a career +2, and he was -4 in the playoffs against Ottawa last year. Jay Bouwmeester, the perennial disappointment who has never played a playoff game in his four-year NHL career is the 14th best defenceman in the league. I mean... I like Bouwmeester, but there's no way he's in the league's top 20. I'll admit that I haven't seen much of Shea Weber yet, and what I have seen I've liked, but is he really one of the elite 20 of the league? Rounding out the list is Brian Campbell. What is the league coming to?

I'm not going to touch the left wing. Although Dany Heatley plays the left-wing most of the season, they decided to rate him as a right-winger, so let's move right along...

Jarome Iginla is the first-ranked right winger, and Heatley is second. It's a tough call, so I'll leave that alone. I don't really understand why Marian Hossa (6th) is rated higher than Daniel Alfredsson (7th), though. I love Hossa, don't get me wrong, but what has he ever won? Nothing. Alfredsson has gold medals, a Calder trophy, he led his team to the Eastern Conference Championship last year, and was Ottawa's nominee for the Conn Smythe. What, exactly, are we using as measuring sticks between these players?

Then we come to centremen. Sidney Crosby, obviously, number one, hands down. Pretty much how I would have chosen, maybe Vinny Lecavalier would have been after Joe Thornton and Joe Sakic, but whatever...wait, what? Eric Staal is the 5th best centreman? But Jason Spezza is way down at seventh? THIS IS ABSURD! Staal isn't even a point-per-game player! He won the Stanley Cup one time, and lives on forever as one of the best in the league.

If THN actually consulted GMs and scouts, they must have been the worst in the league. Anyone who would choose to build a team around Bouwmeester instead of Phillips needs his head examined. Same goes for anyone who chooses Fleury in nets instead of Emery, or Giguere, or Vokoun. Give me a break.
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