The Maven's Haven

  • Thursday, August 09, 2012

    P.A. Who? And Six Locals to Keep an Eye On In 2012-13

    WHY P.A. PARENTEAU WILL BE QUICKLY FORGOTTEN IN NASSAU

    As a player and as a person, P.A. Parenteau was a delight to be around.

    Ever-smiling, he made himself available to the media, win or lose. On the ice, he proved to be one of those out-of-nowhere success stories; literally rags to riches; the recent riches -- alias moolah -- being provided by Colorado. 

    But there should be no mourning among Islanders fans about P.A. skipping Uniondale for Denver.Brad Boyes may not look like Parenteau, nor skate like P.A. but this much is certain; the newly-acquired Islander owns plenty of talent. This has been amply demonstrated by his excellent set of hands. With John Tavares ladling the passes, Boyes will surpass the 30-goal mark this season and by Christmas should be ahead of Parenteau in the goal-scoring department.

    Then again, Michael Grabner could work on the first (Tavares) line with Boyes lighting the lamp on the second unit. The Maven was a big Parenteau fan but, as they say, Boyes will be Boyes!

    FROM BACK-UPS TO FRONT-AND-CENTER; CAN THEY DO IT?

    Now that Tim Thomas is AWOL from the Bruins net and Roberto Luongo wants to become a Canucks expatriate, we have to wonder how well their respective back-ups will perform once Tuukka Rask and Cory Schneider move front and center between the pipes for Boston and Vancouver.

    While you're at it, throw Braden Holtby into the "Can They" mix because Washington's back-up-to-the-back-up performed so well under playoff pressure that he's now Top Banana with the Capitals. On the one hand, it would seem that Rask, Schneider and Holtby have it made but hold up a minute, Charlie. None of the trio has proven that they can avoid being vulcanized over the long haul.

    Rask's middle name is "Potential." Trouble is, it never has been realized and may never be. Apart from playing the Invisible Man at the White House, Thomas remains beloved to Beantowners because his feisty, blue-collar kind of goaltending is a turn-on. Until the Finicky Finn proves otherwise, Rask will remain a turn-off on Causeway Street. 

    If anyone of the trio has the goods it's Schneider. Vancouver fans have had it up to HERE with Luongo's mastery of non-clutch netminding. By contrast, they believe that Schneider from the shores of Marblehead, Mass. has the goods. Wishing won't make it so; which means that Cory has to show us before we'll be convinced that he's THE MAN.

    Watching Holtby against the Rangers during the second playoff round, The Maven has doubts that The Kid From Saskatchewan is anything more than a one-hit wonder. He looked mediocre in Games Five and Seven when it counted most and, ultimately, went out more a neat Springtime in D.C. story than a nifty stopper. 

    LETTERS

    Nestled comfortably behind his computer in Long Island, reader Daniel Friedman tells me that he's already lined up what he labels "Four Breakout Candidates for 2012-2013." 

    They are (alphabetically) Sven Baertschi of Calgary, Mikkel Boedker of Phoenix, Kyle Turris of Ottawa and Colin Wilson of Nashville. 

    The Maven saw Baertschi in person when Sven was skating for the Portland Winterhawks last Winter. On the night I was there he scored four goals and looked every bit like an NHLer. I predict that Baertschi will win the Calder Trophy as finest freshman next season. 

    Boedker, who had a super playoff run with the Coyotes, strikes me as a flash in the pan. By contrast, I was impressed with Turris in the opening Rangers-Senators playoff round. I agree with Friedman who writes, "Turris was rejuvenated by the trade to Ottawa. All he needed was a fresh start."

    We're also on the same page regarding Wilson who looms as the next Nashville star-in-the-making. "He has the talent to emerge as an impact player for the Preds," says Friedman. Certainly Barry Trotz's sextet could use all the scoring it can get to supplement the likes of Mike Fisher and David Legwand.

    NHL VS. NHLPA

    The real meat of negotiations led by Gary Bettman on the NHL side and Donald Fehr repping the union is just now getting serious. Economic issues will be the order of the day as talks alternate weekly between the league office on Manhattan's Sixth Avenue and the Players' Association headquarters in Toronto.

    With training camps slated to open on September 16 and the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring a day earlier, it's baffling that the union failed to communicate its financial needs to the league so long after the playoffs. 

    In fact, the union very well could have begun requesting material from Bettman, Inc. as early as the conclusion of the All-Star Week, which originally seemed the plan. 

    Was this delay necessary? Or, was it a strategic negotiating maneuver?

    Another question: when will superstars such as Sidney Crosby, Steve Stamkos, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick, et. al.  be represented among players who regularly attend the CBA meetings? At a recent union-owners conference, the likes of Kevin Westgarth (Kings), George Parros (Panthers) and Craig Adams (Penguins) were among the NHLPA card-holders repping for the union. No doubt they're all worthy but it would be heartening to see some marquee names there as well.

    SIX LOCALS WHO'LL BE UNDER MY MICROSCOPE

    The 2011-2012 NHL season was invigorating for a sextet of locals who now have something more to prove; that last year was no fluke.

    In each case David Clarkson, Ryan McDonagh, Travis Hamonic, Bryce Salvador, Evgeni Nabokov and Michael Del Zotto elevated their games at least a notch or three. Ah, but the question; can they do it again. The Maven offers these views:

    • CLARKSON: With Zach Parise now somewhere in the Wild, Dauntless Dave must come up with another 30-goal year. Since he loves his coach and Peter DeBoer is fond of Clarkson; 30- plus red lights will happen.

    • MCDONAGH: This Over-The-Rainbow story is not fiction. I expect Ryan to seriously compete for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best backliner.

    • HAMONIC: He's not the Islanders captain but the kid-who's-no-kid-anymore is one of several leaders among the Nassaumen. Travis will ripen a la McDonagh.

    • SALVADOR: The prototype "warrior," Bryce is a top candidate to fill Parise's captaincy. He's super-motivated and has gained even more confidence after a super playoff run.

    • NABOKOV: At first hesitant about coming to the Island, Nabby was an MVP for Jack Capuano. Question will be how many games in which he can star; also who'll be backup?

    • DEL ZOTTO: After an impressive rookie year, handsome Michael egregiously slipped. Paying attention to John Tortorella turned DZ into a 2011-2012 asset. If he keeps listening to Torts, the sky is the limit.

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