Monday, June 20, 2005

Wild Cards - Turin 2006 Winter Games

Goal: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins.Defence: Brad Stuart, San Jose Sharks; Mike Rathje, San Jose Sharks; Brad Lukowich, Tampa Bay Lightning; Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames.Forward: Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver Canucks; Paul Kariya, Colorado Avalanche; Michael Ryder, Montreal Canadiens; Trent Hunter, New York Islanders; Sidney Crosby, the No. 1 overall pick whenever the NHL holds the 2005 entry draft.Is this the year Fleury shows us why he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2003?Stuart and Rathje don't get their due because they play in relative obscurity in San Jose but they're among the NHL's top blue-liners. Lukowich, a real long shot, was among plus-minus leaders in 2003-04 at plus-29. Phaneuf will one day be a mainstay on the Canadian blue-line, but this is maybe too early for him.Let's face it, if Bertuzzi had been reinstated by now, he'd be a sure bet, not a wild card to make this team. He remains the best power forward in the world. But Gretzky won't touch him unless commissioner Gary Bettman puts him back on the ice.Although he wasn't picked for the World Cup, Kariya was on the 2002 Olympic team and was a second-team NHL all-star just two years ago. It's not as if he's forgotten how to play, he's at his best on the big ice, and a year off might have rejuvenated the nifty forward who meshed so well with Lemieux in Salt Lake City.Ryder (63) and Hunter (51) were the top two rookie point-getters in 2003-04.Crosby? If he lights it up in the first three months of his NHL rookie season, maybe Gretzky will hand him the 13th forward spot?
-referenced from

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