Favourite Player list

Well, it is the dog days of summer and there isn’t much happening around the league right now so I figured why not start posting some lists to maybe spur some mid-summer discussion. So here is my first one which is a list of my favourite players on every team. Well, maybe not always my favourite players, but rather some players who I like, or who I admire how they play the game, or who is highly underrated, or just someone who I think people don’t know much about when they really should.

Anaheim – Ryan Getzlaf – Size, strength, speed, talent. He’s got everything.
Atlanta – Slava Kozlov – One of the more underrated players and has developed into a solid leader.
Boston – Patrice Bergeron – Plays with enery and passion.
Buffalo – Thomas Vanek – The next superstar of the NHL and Buffalo won’t be dissapointed matching Edmonton’s offer.
Calgary – Dion Phaneuf – Maybe the best all round defenseman after the big three (Pronger, Niedermayer and Lidstrom)
Carolina – Rod Brind’amour – Good offensively, excellent defensively, a great leader. He does everything well.
Chicago – Jonathan Toews – There isn’t much to like in Chicago so may as well go with a future star and world junior hero.
Colorado – Joe Sakic – What’s not to like about Sakic.
Columbus – Fredrik Modin – You never hear much about him but he has put together a respecatable career.
Dallas – Brenden Morrow – Does everything well and is an excellent leader.
Detroit – Tomas Holmstrom – Does the dirty work so few players are willing to do.
Edmonton – Steve Staios – There isn’t much to like on the Oilers so why not go with the last remaining veteren.
Florida – Olli Jokinen – If he were in a major market he’d be a superstar.
Los Angeles – Michal Handzus – Not speedy but when healthy is highly effective at both ends of the ice.
Minnesota – Wes Walz – Every team needs a Wes Walz type player.
Montreal – Mike Komisarek – Might make mistakes by being over agressive but he plays the game hard.
Nashville – Shea Weber – Shoots hard, hits hard, plays hard. Future top tier defenseman.
New Jersey – Martin Brodeur – The main reason why New Jersey has won 3 Stanley Cups in the past dozen or so years.
NY Islanders – Ruslan Fedotenko – The Islanders lost a lot this off season but the addition of hard working Fedotenko was a good move.
NY Rangers – Marek Malik – Highly underrated as a defensive defenseman. He’s one of the best.
Ottawa – Chris Kelly – I love his work ethic, his speed and his passion for the game. One of the better penalty killers in the league.
Philadelphia – Simon Gagne – Nobody stands out so I’ll go with the Flyers best player.
Phoenix – Kevyn Adams – An excellent forchecker and defensive player.
Pittsburgh – Ryan Whitney – He hasn’t gotten the attention of Crosby, Malkin or Staal but he is going to be a star player as well.
San Jose – Mike Grier – Plays hard and smart and will chip in some goals. Buffalo really missed his energetic play in the playoffs.
St. Louis – Lee Stempniak – Nobody really knows him yet but he is going to be a consistent 30+ goal scorer.
Tampa – Martin St. Louis – Gotta love what he has done with his career after floundering early on.
Toronto – Nik Antropov – I have defended Antropov for a long time and if he could just stay healthy I am sure he’ll prove me right.
Vancouver – Brendan Morrison – I briefly chatted with Morrison many years ago on ICQ (when he was still at Michigan) and I have followed his career ever since.
Washington – Alexei Ovechkin – I am not sure anybody has more fun playing hockey and scoring goals than Ovechkin. I love his enthusiasm.

So that is my list, what are your thoughts? If there are any other hockey bloggers reading this I challenge you to put together your own lists and be sure to post a link to it here in the comments so we can all compare favourite players.

Posted in NHL

This article has 15 Comments

  1. As a life-long Rangers fan, perhaps you haven’t watched the last couple of seasons – Malik is not one of the best, and there are rumblings to trade him out of the franchise. We call him the skating 2×4. Nice list – fun stuff in the off-season, here is my list which includes some of the free agency signings:


    Have a good summer and keep up the blogging. Great fan of the site and make sure you predict the NY Rangers winning more games in season this year.

    The Dark Ranger

  2. Trading Malik would be a huge mistake. He is good defensively. His +/- the last 4 seasons have been +23, +35, +28, +32 for a total of +128. To put that into some perspective, Nik Lidstrom is +120. Malik played 44 minutes of even strength play against Crosby last year and in that time neither Crosby or any of his linemates produced a goal.

    Take a look at this and you will see that most of the Rangers team allowed fewer even strength goals against when Malik was on the ice with them than when he was not. That doesn’t happen if you are not good defensively.

    The problem with solely depending on your observation to evaluate a player is you are far more likely to remember their gaffs (and everyone makes them) than their steady, solid, smart play. I’d take Malik on my team anytime.

  3. 44 minutes against Crosby at even strength is nothing – you realize this means the Rangers don’t put out Malik against Crosby, right? Either he’s being mis-used or the Rangers don’t think he’s that much better than any other Ranger defenders.

    Malik is not all that good but he’s not all that bad. His +/- is overrated since he isn’t used as a shutdown guy all that much and he tends to be put out as the defender with which top lines play (Bert/Morrison/Naslund in Vancouver, Jagr/Nylander/Straka in NY).

    As for the rest – I used to like Fedotenko but he got benched by Tortorella in this year’s playoffs which is a bad sign. Right now he’s a 20 goal guy who doesn’t do that much well.

  4. Crosby played more even strength time against Malik than any other Ranger and only 10 other players in the NHL played more even strength ice time against Crosby.

    Here are the forwards Malik had the most ice time against:

    J. Staal
    Viktor Kozlov
    Marian Hossa

    Most of those guys are first or second line offensive oriented players. Now you say that he is out there mostly with Jagr, Nylander and Straka but those 3 guys had +/-‘s of +26, +12, +16, all below or significantly below Malik’s. In 2003-04 he had a +/- of +35 while Naslund was second on the Canucks at +24. That is a very large difference and you don’t do that by accident.

    As for Fedotenko, Tortorella is a tempermental guy and one bad shift can get you benched. Tortorella’s act can wear thin and I think the change of scenery will do Fedotenko good.

  5. The large difference can be caused by short-handed goals which boost +/- without affecting it. Sure there are some shifts played separate (post power play when Malik would get a shift and the offensive stars would not, post penalty kill when the stars get a shift and Malik wouldn’t), but by and large Malik-Rosival-Straka-Nylander-Jagr was a five man unit for the Rangers the past two years. I say Malik would be a plus if he only accidentally played with these players (and played with the other 3 lines equally as much) but playing together definitely helps him out.

    When you look at that chart, you see that Pandolfo and Madden played 95 minutes against Crosby – meaning they were matched up EVERY SHIFT against Crosby, home or away. Malik very clearly was not – he was matched up sometime, to be sure, but all the time, no.

    I also see a lot of checking line players there – Pandolfo, Madden, Malone, Ouellet, Kapanen, Sillinger, J. Staal. Some teams choose to put out their scoring lines against the Jagr line – and obviously Renney chooses to put the Jagr line out against scoring lines as well.

    That’s a good point about Fedotenko – but a change of scenery to Long Island isn’t good for anyone these days. His career has unfortunately plateaued – this year will go a long way to determining whether he’s rather valuable or just a minor contributor, because it can go either way with him.

  6. The Devils are a 100% line matching team which is why those guys had so many minutes against Crosby. Not many teams line match to the extent of the Devils. But regardless, he played a lot of ice time against Crosby and held him and his linemates off the score sheet.

    If Malik’s +/- was a one year thing I could almost buy some of your arguments but it has been 4 years now with two different teams with two different lineups playing against many significantly different opponents. One year can be a flukey thing, but 4 years is really becoming a significant trend.

  7. David –

    I’d argue Malik is pretty good, but he’s also very prone to the boneheaded pass or penalty. He’s been helped out a great deal by playing with some excellent 1st lines. I wouldn’t want him as the top defensive D man on my team, and I could probably name 20 (mostly) strictly defensive D types I’d rather have.

  8. David,

    I was one who felt that Malik was never that good and agree with Triumph about him making some really pathetic breakout passes/ positional play was something of a drunk on skates and his bonehead penalties made me laugh since his time with the team but after reading your comment of his plus minus over the last 4 years, the Crosby factor and the +/- being better than the best D-man in the NHL over the last 6 years- you are dead on. I still believe in Triumph’s point and he is right about his game from what I saw but I never would think Malik would be the better than Lidstrom over 4 years in +/- stat. I was always the first to say trade Malik but now I see his value and feel it would be a major mistake by the Rangers.

  9. Great list, David. Of the other players I like to watch the most, I’d offer up:

    Tomas Kaberle – my favorite player to watch in all of hockey. There isn’t a better puck-handling D-man out there. Love his passing, vision and skating.

    Jonathan Cheechoo – Dynamic. relentless and creative. Very energetic, great hands, fast, a pure scorer.

    Marian Hossa – Creates problems for the defense nearly every time he has the puck. It’s almost too much that he kills penalties too. What a player.

    – Doug

  10. All I know is that for the Senators, the ultimate warriors are Mike FISHER!!! and my favorite player in the NHL, the player I wouldn’t trade for ANY player in the league, DANIEL ALFREDSSON!!!!

  11. Hate to be pedantic here, but your number for Malik’s +/- in the first of those 4 years is wrong. He was actually a +20 and not +23. He played the first 10 games of the season with Carolina and was a -3. In the 82 games the season before with the ‘Canes he was a +8, and in the previous seasons he was (in reverse order): -4, +13, -6, +5. To be fair he missed 20 or more games his first 4 years in the NHL.

    I think he’s a solid defender but you can’t deny that playing a lot of shifts alongside Jagr, Straka, and Nylander doesn’t hurt the bottom line… especially when your point totals have never topped 23. There’s a huge problem with comparing him to Lidstrom if you consider the fact that Lidstrom might only be a +120 in comparison to his +128 the past 4 years… Lidstrom was a +40 his first year in the NHL; he’s been a + player every single season of his career; he’s had over 55 points 13 times in his career; and he doesn’t seem to capitalize on playing specific teams the way Malik does. The only teams he’s been poor against in his career are Philly and Boston. Lidstrom QB’s the Red Wings, he sees a lot more ice time than Malik, and really I don’t even know why I’m making this point, it’s pretty obvious.

    Last thing about Malik though: he’s +129 for his career, and the teams he does most well against are: Pittsburgh (+22), Columbus (+14), Tampa Bay (+12), Boston(+16), and the Isles (+11)… that’s +75 of the +129 with 5 teams in a 30 team league. Against Washington, Toronto, Vancouver, San Jose, Colorado, Atlanta, and a lot of other teams, he’s a minus player. Basically (unlike Lidstrom) he’s made some serious impacts against very specific teams. The Rangers can keep him.

  12. Ok maybe “a lot of other teams” was an exaggeration… 8 teams in total. But he’s also a 0 against Minnesota, and a +1 against a few also.

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