For the last couple of days, and continuing for the next few days, I have been and will be looking at each team in the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch. Feel free to brows back to see previous teams, and look for more teams in the coming days.
Chutes: Andrei Markov – With the emergence of P.K. Subban as an elite defenseman, the load on Markov will be lightened somewhat. However, that could also be not by choice, as Markov’s injury history dictates that it is only a matter of time before the 34 year old could become little more than a power play specialist. He had 8 points in the first 6 games before Subban signed, and then just 22 points in 42 games after Subban’s return. The torch has been handed to P.K. and it is his to run with.
Ladders: Alex Galchenyuk – One of two quality rookies on the Habs last season, Galchenyuk has set himself up to be a quality offensive presence on the Canadiens, probably eclipsing what David Desharnais can offer as early as this season, and with Tomas Plekanec‘s limited offensive ceiling, Galchenukhe could be the #1 centre on the team by the end of the season.