While scrolling through another blog, I came across their top 10 rankings for the Southeast Division. So I decided to do my own. The way I approached it was; if I was starting a team, which player would I most like to have to build around. I used post lock-out stats and gut feelings. Age was a consideration (if not Rod Brind'Amour would have been on this list). I know there will be plenty of you that will disagree with my ranking and I understand. Everyone has their own opinion of what players they like and what players they don't. I did try to be somewhat objective.
10. David Booth - LW - Florida
Last 2 year Avg - GP (73) - G (27) - A (24) - Pts (51) - +/- (12) - PIM (32)
Booth is a solid forward. He has some speed, can play physical, and knows how to put the puck in the net. He's not flashy, but the Panthers scheme doesn't really allowing him to be that type of player. I wonder how his production would be in a different situation or in a different organization. He is not a very good passer and in my opinion doesn't have top-notch skills. Overall, he is a solid player that can score; a borderline 1st liner.
9. Martin St. Louis - RW - Tampa Bay
Last 4 year Avg - GP (82) - G (32) - A (49) - Pts (81) - +/- (-4) - PIM (27)
Marty is a dynamite little winger. He is super fast, can really handle the puck, is creative, and plays with heart. Dispite his limited size, he produces points and can play any almost any situation. He is a leader on the ice and always puts forth his best effort. He's more of a playmaker than goal scorer, but that hard to tell from his stats. His size is his biggest weakness; it limits him in some aspects. He is a probably the second guy you want on your team after the more elite player.
8. Mike Green - D - Washington
Last 3 year Avg - GP (73) - G (17) - A (30) - Pts (47) - +/- (7) - PIM (55)
Green is the best offensive defenseman in this division. He skates well, has a great shot, and doesn't mind delivering hits. He really knows how to contribute to his team's offense, he is the perfect power play quarterback. He does have some difficulty in his own zone. He gets himself out of position and doesn't play the puck all that well. If he could improve the defensive side of his game, he would easily be a top 3 defenseman in this league and he's pretty close to that now.
7. Alexander Semin - RW - Washington
Last 3 year Avg - GP (67) - G (33) - A (32) - Pts (65) - +/- (0) - PIM (74)
Semin is a superb talent. He's magic with the puck, can score from anywhere, has speed and some size. When he's on the ice, you have to account for him or he'll burn you. At times he looks like a top 5 player and other times, well he doesn't. He needs to improve his consistency, learn how to play a little more physical, stay on the ice, and work on becoming an all-around player. He has the skills and talent to be # 2 or # 3 on this list, I guess time will tell where he goes from here.
6. Nicklas Backstrom - C - Washington
Last 2 year Avg - GP (82) - G (18) - A (61) - Pts (79) - +/- (15) - PIM (35)
Backstrom is a solid 1st line center. He can control the puck and knows what to do with it. He's durable and plays like an experienced leader. He's not overly exciting, but that's not a knock on him; this kid can play. He doesn't score a lot, but that doesn't seem to be his M O. He is surrounded by some talented players and he knows how to get them involved. This kid is going to be a very good two-way player for years to come.
5. Cam Ward - G - Carolina
Last 4 year Avg - GP (56) - W (30) - L (19) - OTL (5) - GAA (2.81) - SV% (.903) - SO (3)
Cam is solid goalie that continues to improve every year. He is not going to be a highlight reel goalie, but generally will keep you in games and usually finds a way to pull them out. Almost all of his numbers have improved each year and he was the Conn Smythe Winner his first year in the league. He does need to improve on his consistency, but it's hard to argue his results. If you need one goalie for a long stretch or a pressure filled game, Cam is your guy. It's often said your best defenseman is your goalie and in Carolina's case, that true.
4. Vinny Lecavalier - C - Tampa Bay
Last 4 year Avg - GP (80) - G (39) - A (47) - Pts (86) - +/- (-6) - PIM (69)
Vinny is a franchise center. He has size, speed, passing ability, and can score. He plays a very good two-way game and leads on and off the ice. There's not much to argue about except that I believe Vinny has pretty much reached his ceiling. He has been surrounded by talented players, but plays for an organization that is run like crap. He is steady and you know what you'll get from him year in and year out. He is a complete player and would be a cornerstone for any team.
3. Eric Staal - C - Carolina
Last 4 year Avg - GP (82) - G (38) - A (44) - Pts (82) - +/- (0) - PIM (62)
Staal is a very good all-around player. He has size, speed, durablity, leadership, and scoring ability. He can and does play in almost any situation. He's more of a goal scorer than playmaker, but has also been limited in the talent around him. I believe Staal carries more of his team burden than any other player in the SE Division. He does need to improve his consistency though. His effort sometimes lack game to game or period to period. The only reason I ranked him higher than Lecavalier is that I think Staal ceiling might be a little higher. He is a very good all-around player that still has the possibility of improving.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk - LW - Atlanta
Last 4 year Avg - GP (80) - G (47) - A (41) - Pts (88) - +/- (-8) - PIM (59)
Ilya is a nightmare for opposing teams. He is fast, big, and has a hard, accurate shot. He is the definition of a hockey sniper. If you need goals, Ilya can give them to you and in bunches. His one weakness is his defensive play or the lack of defensive play. He really doesn't seem to have any desire to play in his own zone, so his teammates must make up for him. He focuses on the offensive side of the game and does a great drop at that. Other than # 1 on my list, I can't think of a more dangerous scorer in the league right now.
1. Alex Ovechkin - LW - Washington
Last 4 year Avg - GP (81) - G (55) - A (50) - Pts (105) - +/- (5) - PIM (54)
Ovie is just a remarkable player. He has size, strength, speed, talent, creativity, and energy. In my opinion, he is the best player in the NHL today. He seems to score every game, will lay someone out with a big hit, and is just exciting to watch. The one area of concern for me is his defensive responsibility. He gets himself out of position every once in a while, when he is trying to cheat. He trys to gain even more of an offensive advantage and sometimes puts his team in difficult situations. Other than that, he is an outstanding player (and I think he makes up for his one minor shortfall).
Please let me know where you agree or disagree, I love reading your comments.