Over the past few days, the Puck Daddy Blog on Yahoo Sports (which is a great booster of SenShot, for which we are very grateful) has been looking ahead to the 2011-12 season by ranking the top 25 players at each position. The reason for great lists such as this is to create discussion and to make people talk about it, so here I go!
Most notable to me, and likely to most Senators fans are be the rankings of Right Wingers, and Centres. I direct you to the “Honourable Mentions” listing on each, where Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza both landed on the list. The author, Sam McCaig paid tribute to Alfredsson as an “Ottawa all-timer”.
Has the stock of the Senators captain and number one centre really fallen that much that neither one could be considered a top 25 player at their position?
THE RIGHT SIDE
Daniel Alfredsson was injured for a large part of the 2010-11 season, and tried to play through much of it, before finally bowing out and calling it a season on Feb. 8th. In his 54 games, Alfie managed 31 points, which would be a 47 point pace over a full season. This is well below his normal level of production, which has hovered at or near a point per game for the last 10 seasons.
Granted, his performance last season might not warrant his inclusion on the list, but the list is supposed to be looking ahead. Given the surgery Alfredsson underwent to repair the injury that hobbled him for most of the season, there is no reason to expect paralell drop-off in production that he experienced last year. His perceived loss of a step can easily be blamed on his injury, and not entirely on age. I don’t expect the captain to be a point per game player this season, but his offensive output will be much better. Combined with his experience, defensive ability and leadership he is easily in my top 25 right wingers, ahead of players such as Jaromir Jagr, Brian Gionta and Martin Erat.
I’m not saying Alfie should be given the benefit of the doubt to such a level where he should be placed in the top 10 or even top 15, but at this point in his career, he should merit top 25 consideration. I would be interested to see the listing done at the midway point of the season and see how the rankings look at that time.
UP THE MIDDLE
This is where I have an issue with the rankings. Jason Spezza, for all his faults and critics, should still be ranked in the top 15. Compare him to Vincent Lecavalier (ranked 11th?) and tell me who you would rather have at this point in their careers. Their numbers were almost identical for last season, except Spezza had more even strength points and with a far inferior surrounding cast. Spezza was 12th in terms of points per game among all centres in the league, and almost every player above him on the list had more talent around him than Spezza did. Given his play during the second half of the season I will no longer buy the lame “defensive liability” arguement that you could have sold me in previous years.
There are at least 8 centres on the top 25 list that I would not trade Spezza straight up for if all other things were equal for the upcoming season: Jeff Carter, Lecavalier, Mikko Koivu, David Bakes, Matt Duchene, Tomas Plekanec, John Tavares and Dave Bolland are all good and different types of players. Some might end up being better in the future (Tavares & Duchene for example) than Spezza, but the list looks ahead to this coming season. I would put Spezza in the top 10 in terms of pure offensive ability, and his maturity dictates he is finally ready to embrace the status that Senators fans have been waiting for. And, he has the ability to make those around him bettter scorers than they probably should be.
I know some of you will accuse me of being a “homer” and looking through Senators-coloured glasses, but facts are facts. I will give you that the Alfredsson ranking is reasonable, and he will have the opportunity to prove that he still has the one or two great seasons left that we all want to see. The Spezza ranking is way off base, and you could argue that the injury he sustained on Boxing Day was the direct cause of the Senators’ fall in the standings and eventual decision to blow the club up and start over. One of my first posts on this site was about the respect Spezza would get as a result of the injury, but it appears the message hasn’t reached out as far as it should have.
I can’t wait to see the same rankings at the end of the year. The defensemen rankings were published yesterday, and as expected there were no Senators mentioned. Erik Karlsson might get there some day, but at the present he isn’t in that class (although I can’t belive Filip Kuba didn’t at least merit honorable mention!!!).
I also anticipate the goaltending rankings to see if Craig Anderson gets a mention as one of the top 25 netminders.
(Oh, and in case you didn’t realize and think I have gone completely insane, the Filip Kuba comment was 100% tongue in cheek.)
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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Tags: Brian Gionta Craig Anderson Daniel Alfredsson Dave Bolland David Bakes Erik Karlsson Filip Kuba Jaromir Jagr Jason Spezza Jeff Carter John Tavares Martin Erat Matt Duchene Puck Daddy Blog Tomas Plekanec Vincent Lecavalier