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ATD2013 Final: Pittsburgh AC vs. Montreal Canadiens

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Old
05-18-2013, 05:01 PM
  #26
Rob Scuderi
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Morris
vs2: 102 [13], 100 [68], 100 [53], 100 [39], 92[4]
5x PCHA First All-Star Team (1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1922)
2x PCHA Second All-Star Team (1921, 1923)
1x PCHA Scoring Leader

- Top-10 in PCHA Goals 7 times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th)
- Top-10 in PCHA Assists 6 times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 6th)
- Top-10 in PCHA Points 7 times (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th)

Roenick
VsX results: 89 (+37)*, 89 (+29)*, 83, 82, 79, 74, 72 (+34)*, 67, 63, 62
Career All-Star voting placements: 4, 4, 5, 5, 5
Career Hart voting placements: 6
Career Selke voting placements: 10

No easy way to compare these two guys. I think Morris should be judged as clearly better offensively. Roenick's tougher and played better defense, but with one 10th place Selke finish are those intangibles enough to bridge the offensive gap?

Schriner
vsX: 112.5, 102.2, 100, 86.4, 86.4, 85.1, 66.7
2x Art Ross Trophy winner
1x 1st All-star, 2x 2nd All-star

Balderis
vs2: 111, 102, 100, 96, 94, 88, 82, 77, 68, 65, 61
2x Soviet League leading scorer
1x Soviet League 1st All-star, 1x Soviet League MVP
1x WC All-star team, 1x WC Best Forward, 1x WC most goals

Comparing these two is even more miserable as they are the best players on our lines. Both led their league in scoring twice on some crappy teams. I think Schriner gets the nod here though doing it in the NHL rather than the Soviet league.

Larmer
vsX: 87.8, 77.8, 72.6, 69.8, 67.9, 63.8, 63.7, 62.6, 59.5, 53.9
Hart Trophy Voting: 5
Selke Trophy Voting: 3, 8, T10

Kapustin
Soviet League All-Star: 1981
IIHF World Championships All-Star: 1978, 1981, 1982*
IIHF World Championships Goals leader: 1974, 1982
*virtual tie for 1st place with Bill Barber. Listed as 2nd team all-star

The two guys who round out our lines. Larmer brings serious intangibles and Kapustin seems to be a digger who played a physical game. Kapustin did score at a pretty good rate in the World Championships too and may be better offensively than Larmer. Is the combination of his offense and physicality enough to vault him over Larmer though? Both were boosted offensively by their linemates and Larmer brings a defensive game in addition to his boardwork. I have to be honest Kapustin's offense surprises me, but I have a hard time getting a read on his value here.

-----
I think Pittsburgh's line gets the advantage here. Schriner's the best player on either line and a better offensive catalyst than Balderis. Morris seems to be the second or third best offensive player on either line as well depending on how you see Balderis. My main concern with Montreal's line here is how will this line stack up when faced with Pittsburgh's possession game? Roenick is the only notable defensive presence on the line and I don't think he's better than Larmer defensively.

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05-18-2013, 05:35 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Bring Back Scuderi View Post
1978 1.37 rating (62% usage, 80 GP)
1975 1.23 rating (33% usage, 44 GP)
1976 1.13 rating (42% usage, 72 GP)
1969 1.12 rating (27% usage, 76 GP)
1974 1.07 rating (46% usage, 76 GP
1977 .98 rating (43% usage, 80 GP)
1972 .90 rating (51% usage, 78 GP)

1971 .87 rating (39% usage, 45 GP)
1973 .84 rating (13% usage, 78 GP)
1968 .82 rating (52% usage, 55 GP)
1970 .80 rating (25% usage, 67 GP)
The two bolded years are good. The underlined seasons were all spent on the western conference Blues teams, which are distorted because of era. Overpass' rating data normalizes across the entire league, but it's to some extent apples and oranges using leaguewide numbers at that point due to the imbalanced schedule (particularly 1967-68) and the huge difference in level of play between the conferences. This is why I have included conference placements up until 1974-75, when the league realigned.

Those Blues were run by Scotty Bowman (later Al Arbour), and were the dominant defensive team in the western conference, due in large part to the fact that their goalies were Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante, who were old, but still by far the best goalies on any expansion team until Bernie Parent got in gear. At any rate, Bowman used Red less on the PK than any of his later coaches did, for whatever reason.

Red had two years where he played a lot on the PK for teams that were pretty good at killing penalties and didn't play on easy mode like those old Blues did. He clearly had some penalty-killing ability, but I don't see any reason to believe that it was all-time 1st unit kind of ability.

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05-18-2013, 06:06 PM
  #28
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Originally Posted by Bring Back Scuderi View Post
My main concern with Montreal's line here is how will this line stack up when faced with Pittsburgh's possession game? Roenick is the only notable defensive presence on the line and I don't think he's better than Larmer defensively.
This is an argument that we see a lot in the ATD, and I always find it strange. Forward vs. forward, defensively speaking, is mainly relevant in transition. Possessing the puck for any meaningful period of time requires cycling it, and forwards on the cycle go up against the other team's defensemen + one forward down low.

Every forward line needs at least one guy (often the center, but not always) who can support down low, and anything more than that is a luxury, not a necessity. In fact, the old Kapustin - Balderis line on the Red Army team was built with a physical, defensively-conscious center (Zhluktov) who went down into the defensive zone in support when the opponent forwards were cycling. That was a very successful line, and Roenick is sort of like a much better, angrier version of Zhluktov.

At any rate, Montreal's blueline is both very skilled and very tough, and every line will be able to support well in the defensive zone. Pittsburgh won't get any easy rides on the cycle against this Habs team, and the AC's 2nd line, in particular, looks awfully soft for a unit that is supposed to possess the puck for long periods of time. Neither Schriner nor Morris played any kind of a physical game, and with all due respect to Steve Larmer, he's not all that tough, either, when compared to guys like Thomson and Mortson. Puck possession is, indeed, likely the biggest weakness of the Pittsburgh 2nd line in this series against a group of defensemen who are simply much more physical.

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05-18-2013, 07:46 PM
  #29
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Er... I guess if you consider "Bathgate's peak" to be the two years from 1961-62 to 1962-63, then Bathgate was probably the best offensive player in the world. Those are the only two years where he finished top 2 in scoring.
From 1959 to 1963, Bathgate led the NHL in scoring. From 1956 to 1965, he was a close 2nd.

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Jackson spent 1 year of his prime with Apps and Drillon and was 2nd to Apps in scoring on his team. Jackson having a relatively short prime is a fair criticism though.
Just pointing out that he didn't play with crap after Conacher and Primeau left.

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What's the deal with this misleading nonsense? A lot of those players you listed for Bathgate didn't even play hockey at the same time - for example, Ted Lindsay was on the verge of retirement when Hull and Mikita were rookies.
Bathgate's offensive impact lasted from 1955 through 1968. His peak overlapped with their peaks for multiple seasons.

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But worse than that - why on earth didn't you mention Howie Morenz, Aurel Joilat, Bill Cook, and Frank Boucher as competition Jackson faced? Yeah, if you blatantly ignore the best competition one player faced, you can make his competition look worse, but why would you do that?
I just looked at the leading scorers of the 1930s. Stewart, Barry, Conacher, Jackson, and Clapper were the top 5.

Morenz-Joliat and Cook-Boucher are 1920s guys in my mind, so I didn't think of them.

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05-18-2013, 09:50 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
This is an argument that we see a lot in the ATD, and I always find it strange. Forward vs. forward, defensively speaking, is mainly relevant in transition. Possessing the puck for any meaningful period of time requires cycling it, and forwards on the cycle go up against the other team's defensemen + one forward down low.

Every forward line needs at least one guy (often the center, but not always) who can support down low, and anything more than that is a luxury, not a necessity. In fact, the old Kapustin - Balderis line on the Red Army team was built with a physical, defensively-conscious center (Zhluktov) who went down into the defensive zone in support when the opponent forwards were cycling. That was a very successful line, and Roenick is sort of like a much better, angrier version of Zhluktov.

At any rate, Montreal's blueline is both very skilled and very tough, and every line will be able to support well in the defensive zone. Pittsburgh won't get any easy rides on the cycle against this Habs team, and the AC's 2nd line, in particular, looks awfully soft for a unit that is supposed to possess the puck for long periods of time. Neither Schriner nor Morris played any kind of a physical game, and with all due respect to Steve Larmer, he's not all that tough, either, when compared to guys like Thomson and Mortson. Puck possession is, indeed, likely the biggest weakness of the Pittsburgh 2nd line in this series against a group of defensemen who are simply much more physical.
Schriner wasn't punishing, but he was big and could handle physical players.

Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 2
Sweeney was a big man, a fast skater and very nimble in his play. He played hard and his penalty record is surprisingly low considering his size.

The Calgary Daily Herald - 1/14/1935
Rarely does a recruit to the major league hockey in his first year among the big-time battlers steal the goal scoring thunder of veterans. That, however, is just what David Schriner, New York Americans' stellar rookie, is doing. Schriner is a big, husky, aggressive lad, standing over six feet high and weighs 183 pounds, and so far has been a standout among the season's rookies.

The Calgary Daily Herald - 11/21/1939
Schriner said yesterday it was the game he missed since jumping to professional ranks in 1933-34 when he moved from Calgary amateur ranks to Syracuse, only season he spent in the minor pro leagues. The Syracuse stay was followed by five seasons with the New York Americans, during which he led the league in scoring two seasons. Leafs bought him from the Americans this year. It was decided to rest Schriner for a game following a tilt against Detroit here Sunday...Sweeney says he had no hopes of setting an "iron-man" record.

The Calgary Daily Herald - 11/14/1941
Schriner, fractured toe in a cast and wearing oversize skates, returned to National Hockey League wars last night in Toronto and led the Leafs to a 4-2 victory over Montreal Canadiens. Schriner scored two goals.

I don't think my line is soft with him and Larmer. I posted everything I have last series on Larmer's toughness, if he can't hang with your nasty second pair who can?

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05-19-2013, 02:15 AM
  #31
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Morenz-Joliat and Cook-Boucher are 1920s guys in my mind, so I didn't think of them.
Yeah, but those guys didn't actually end their peaks until the 1934-35 season. The golden era of this generation basically spans the 1926-35 period. With the exception of his last big season, Jackson is part of this group.

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05-19-2013, 02:42 AM
  #32
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Yeah, but those guys didn't actually end their peaks until the 1934-35 season. The golden era of this generation basically spans the 1926-35 period. With the exception of his last big season, Jackson is part of this group.
Even if that is correct, it doesn't compare to Bathagte's competition.

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05-19-2013, 03:06 AM
  #33
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I don't think my line is soft with him and Larmer. I posted everything I have last series on Larmer's toughness, if he can't hang with your nasty second pair who can?
Larmer was a gritty guy for his size, but no, he wasn't overly physical. The question you pose is a strange one, as there are many players on ATD 2nd lines this year who would be better equipped than Steve Larmer to the handle a matchup with very physical defensemen. Iginla, Simmer, Broadbent, Cashman, Stewart, Roenick, Tocchet, Roberts, Hadfield, Northcott, Gillies, etc...all these guys are playing on ATD 2nd lines this year, and that's just looking at the Red Fisher.

The quotes on Schriner are interesting, though besides the single use of the word "aggressive", they don't say anything more than that he was big and not injury prone, which we already knew. We touched on this during the assassinations in the discussion of the gap in all-star voting between Jackson and Schriner, who got beaten badly in the voting in the years when they were close as scorers. This isn't a perfectly reliable method, but comparison of all-star voting among guys at roughly the same scoring level is a good way of teasing out how the writers viewed their intangibles, and Schriner's voting recognition was consistently lower than his scoring would suggest.

The bottom line is that the Pittsburgh 2nd line is built around speed and skill, with physicality mostly an afterthought. That's one way to build a line, and it will be a dangerous unit in transition, but when the puck goes to the boards, Montreal's "three down low" are very physical on every unit (besides the 5 minutes of ES time that Schneider will play), and I like the Habs' chances of breaking up the cycle against this line. Schriner - Morris - Larmer aren't comically soft, but they are a whole lot softer than the guys they'll be up against trying to cycle the puck against this team.


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05-19-2013, 03:18 AM
  #34
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Even if that is correct, it doesn't compare to Bathagte's competition.
What do you mean, "if"? Of course it's true, and is easily confirmed by a quick spin through the stats. You're not saying anything new here; everybody knows that Bathgate's competition was great, and there is a reason why the VsX system awards him five scores of 100 or more even though he was only a top-2 scorer twice in his career.

I have not done Andy Bathgate any injustice here. Curiously, other than Andy's owner, until yesterday I was the only person defending Bathgate's surprisingly high scoring ranking in the VsX system against all kinds of criticism that it had overrated him. You are beating a horse that has already been slaughtered, sautéed and served in a nice béarnaise sauce.

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05-19-2013, 03:51 AM
  #35
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What do you mean, "if"? Of course it's true, and is easily confirmed by a quick spin through the stats. You're not saying anything new here; everybody knows that Bathgate's competition was great, and there is a reason why the VsX system awards him five scores of 100 or more even though he was only a top-2 scorer twice in his career.

I have not done Andy Bathgate any injustice here. Curiously, other than Andy's owner, until yesterday I was the only person defending Bathgate's surprisingly high scoring ranking in the VsX system against all kinds of criticism that it had overrated him. You are beating a horse that has already been slaughtered, sautéed and served in a nice béarnaise sauce.
Any claim that Busher Jackson is even close to Andy Bathgate is an injustice. That's my point here. Bathgate >>> Jackson.

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05-19-2013, 06:07 AM
  #36
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Any claim that Busher Jackson is even close to Andy Bathgate is an injustice. That's my point here. Bathgate >>> Jackson.
Eh, the scoring numbers are what they are. Bathgate vs. Mikhailov is actually the better comparison of wingers here. Bathgate is certainly the better scorer, but by how much? Mikhailov was the top scorer on those Soviet teams that terrorized NHL competition throughout the 70's, and he was grittier, and a much better off-puck player than Andy. Both of these wingers have been underrated to this point, for different reasons.

The 1st unit wings (and really the whole units) of these two teams are an interesting study in ATD philosophy. The wingers, specifically, were drafted quite close to one another, with Bathgate and Mikhailov going #70 / #73 and Jackson and Olmstead going #115 / #123. These selections seemed to follow two separate team-building models, the Pittsburgh model favoring maximizing talent early and backfilling with role players later, and the Montreal model favoring balance early and finishing the unit with the most talented player available.

Pittsburgh's choice of Bathgate to play with Beliveau left the AC with a top unit core that was light on grit and defense, which led to the selection of Olmstead. Montreal's selection of Mikhailov to play with Boucher left the Habs with a well balanced core, and in a position to take the most talented left winger available to round out the unit. In many ways, the wings on these lines should probably be compared as duos, as they exist in complimentary roles to one another, and the one pick led to the next.

Which pair of wings is the better of the two? Bathgate and Olmstead or Mikhailov and Jackson? I suppose it's debatable, but I think Montreal's wingers are pretty clearly the better set. The offensive gap between Jackson and Olmstead is very wide:

Quote:
Top-7 weighted VsX for Left Wings (1926-2012):

Rank Player Rank
1 Bobby Hull 107.1
2 Ted Lindsay 106
3 Doug Bentley* ** 96.2
4 Toe Blake* 92.6
5 Alex Ovechkin 92.1
6 Sweeney Schriner 91.9
7 Busher Jackson 90
8 Roy Conacher** 88.8
9 Dickie Moore 88.6
10 Syd Howe* 87.9
11 Sid Abel 87.8
12 John Bucyk 86.3
13 Frank Mahovlich 85.5
14 Paul Kariya 85.4
15 Alex Delvecchio 84.9
16 Luc Robitaille 84.4
17 Ilya Kovalchuk 84.3
18 Markus Naslund 83.6
19 Paul Thompson 83.2
20 Aurel Joliat 83.1
21 John LeClair 82.1
22 Lynn Patrick* 81.2
23 Brendan Shanahan 79.3
24 Michel Goulet 79.3
25 Keith Tkachuk 79.3
26 Patrik Elias 79.2
27 Bert Olmstead 76.9
28 Daniel Sedin 76.9
29 Bun Cook 76.6
30 Herbie Lewis 75.6
...and that is before we get into the fact that Olmstead's peak seasons were spent as by far the worst offensive player on a line with two superstars (Lach - Richard early on, and Beliveau - Geoffrion later). Olmstead's offensive totals are as inflated by linemates as just about anyone's in history. Offensively, he is basically Bun Cook.

Using the new benchmarks for 1956-57 and 1957-58, here is how the right wings look:

Quote:
Top-7 weighted VsX for Right Wings (1926-2012):

Rank Player Rank
1 Gordie Howe 127.2
2 Jaromir Jagr 114.6
3 Maurice Richard 105.7
4 Guy Lafleur 104.9
5 Andy Bathgate 101.3
6 Charlie Conacher 97.1
7 Bill Cook 96.6
8 Mike Bossy 94.4
9 Teemu Selanne 92.9
10 Bernie Geoffrion 91.4
11 Mark Recchi 88.6
12 Brett Hull 88.2
13 Jari Kurri 88.1
14 Gordie Drillon 88.1
15 Martin St. Louis 87.7
16 Jarome Iginla 87
17 Pavel Bure 86
18 Bryan Hextall 84.5
19 Marian Hossa 82.6
20 Daniel Alfredsson 82.6
21 Theoren Fleury 82.3
The question here is where do we think Boris Mikhailov would fall on this list had he played in the NHL? My best guess is that he'd probably come out somewhere in the 90 range (same as Jackson, actually), between Geoffrion and Recchi in scoring terms, and may be as high as Selanne. Anything below that seems a little irrational given the fact that Mikhailov was the leading scorer on what was a really scary offensive team. Bathgate was a great scorer, but there's almost no way that he was as far ahead of Mikhailov as Jackson is of Olmstead.

Pittsburgh has an advantage on the top line by virtue of having a top-10 pick at center; there's nothing much debatable about that. Montreal's wings, however, are better on the whole.

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05-19-2013, 09:10 AM
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BBS has talked about scoringline forwards a lot, which is great for him because that's where Pittsburgh focused in the draft, and that's where they hold the advantage in this matchup. On the other side of the coin, Montreal's defense is easily the better unit. I'm not going to go into a deep comparison between Ray Bourque and Brian Leetch. Suffice it to say, Bourque is probably a bit better offensively, and much, much better defensively. Ultimately, I think the skaters on the respective top units here match up very evenly:

- Bourque is clearly better than Leetch
- Beliveau is clearly better than Boucher
- Jackson - Mikhailov are a bit better than Olmstead - Bathgate
- Kasatonov is a bit better than Coulter

As far as I can tell, the first units here are a toss-up.

----------------------------------------

It ends up being much the same on the 2nd units. Schriner is the best forward on either unit, and therein lies the AC's advantage, but Thomson - Mortson are clearly better than Stapleton - Beck. I'll go into the comparison of defensemen in a little more depth here:

Jimmy Thomson:

All-star placements: 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6* [1952 ASG]
Scoring [defensemen]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Pat Stapleton:

All-star placements: 4, 4, 4, 7, 8
Scoring [defensemen]: 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 9

WHA Best Defenseman x 1

---------------------------------------------

Note that I ignore the following AST voting finishes for Stapleton: 12th (1969), 13th (1968), 13th (1973). In none of these seasons, did Stapleton get as many as 10 points in the end of seasons voting, and 10 is probably the correct threshold to use for Whitey's era. These were essentially "token" vote finishes, and Thomson has a couple of those, as well, in spite of playing in an era with shallower voting records, overall. Winning the best defenseman award in the WHA does add something to Stapleton's career, IMO, though how exactly that should be translated into an NHL all-star voting finish is beyond me. At any rate, I think it's pretty clear that Jimmy Thomson had a somewhat better on-paper career. As far as intangibles go, both men were strong puckmovers, but Thomson was by far the more physical player. Stapleton was a top pairing defenseman on an excellent regular season team, while Thomson was the #1 defenseman on a dynasty. I don't want to belabor the point because I like Pat Stapleton, but Jimmy Thomson is pretty clearly the better player here.

Mortson vs. Beck is similarly in Montreal's favor. A quick breakdown:

Mortson:

All-star placements: 1, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9
Scoring [defensemen]: 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10

Beck:

All-star placements: 5, 6, 6, 8, 9

----------------------------------------------

In spite of Mortson's seeming on-paper advantage in terms of all-star placements, I think their respective top-5 seasons are probably about equal. Mortson was the best defenseman in the league one season, but Beck competed in a much tougher era, and has really been underrated around here for some time. I placed them one tier apart in my list some time ago, and I'll stand by that assessment now. Mortson's main advantage on Beck is that he has better longevity as an impact player.

Assessing the second units as a whole, it looks like another saw-off to me.

- Schriner is better than Balderis
- Roenick and Kapustin are about equal to Morris and Larmer
- Thomson and Mortson are better than Stapleton and Beck

----------------------------------------------

These teams look very evenly matched among the skaters at even strength down through the top-2 units. There are small advantages on either side, but neither team is clearly superior to the other, overall.


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05-19-2013, 01:39 PM
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Goaltending:

In terms of "units" on the ice, the clearest advantage that emerges in this series in a head-to-head comparison is in goal, where Georges Vezina is far ahead of Chuck Rayner. It is fairly well established by now that Vezina was the greatest goalie of his generation. In spite of Clint Benedict's better GAA numbers playing behind the Ottawa defense, there are at this point a large number of contemporary articles (including many from before his death) describing Vezina as the greatest goalie of his era. Too many to be ignored. There may not have been a big gap between Vezina and Benedict, but there seems to have been a clear enough gap between them that Vezina was considered almost unanimously better.

Chuck Rayner was a very good goalie in his own right. At 32 teams, there simply aren't any sorry goalies. Nevertheless, Rayner is at best the fourth best goalie of his era, behind Brimsek, Durnan and Broda, and quite possibly the 5th best, depending on how one views Harry Lumley. He's essentially a "hall of very good" player, unlikely to cost his team a game or series by screwing up, but almost certain not to steal one, either.

Georges Vezina is good enough to steal you a game, to pitch a shutout or deflate the opponent with a show-stopping save at a crucial moment. In a matchup as tight as this one looks to be among the skaters, the difference in goal here looms large. Georges Vezina could easily end up being the most valuable player of this series.

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05-19-2013, 02:10 PM
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The question here is where do we think Boris Mikhailov would fall on this list had he played in the NHL? My best guess is that he'd probably come out somewhere in the 90 range (same as Jackson, actually), between Geoffrion and Recchi in scoring terms, and may be as high as Selanne. Anything below that seems a little irrational given the fact that Mikhailov was the leading scorer on what was a really scary offensive team. Bathgate was a great scorer, but there's almost no way that he was as far ahead of Mikhailov as Jackson is of Olmstead.

Pittsburgh has an advantage on the top line by virtue of having a top-10 pick at center; there's nothing much debatable about that. Montreal's wings, however, are better on the whole.
I agree with your placement. Probably about 90, which puts him between Recchi and Geoffrion.

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05-19-2013, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreakmur View Post
I agree with your placement. Probably about 90, which puts him between Recchi and Geoffrion.
Yeah, it seems reasonable. In the Soviet domestic league, Mikhailov was basically Kharlamov's equal offensively it seems, though Kharlamov did do a little better in voting for Soviet Player of the Year before Kharlamov's first car accident. In the World Championships, Mikhailov looks to have been the best Soviet. Kharlamov got a lot of press because he seems to have been the best Soviet in the most high profile tournaments - the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, and the beginning of the Summit Series.

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05-19-2013, 04:37 PM
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Larmer was a gritty guy for his size, but no, he wasn't overly physical. The question you pose is a strange one, as there are many players on ATD 2nd lines this year who would be better equipped than Steve Larmer to the handle a matchup with very physical defensemen. Iginla, Simmer, Broadbent, Cashman, Stewart, Roenick, Tocchet, Roberts, Hadfield, Northcott, Gillies, etc...all these guys are playing on ATD 2nd lines this year, and that's just looking at the Red Fisher.
I don't understand how you think all of those guys are more apt to handle the physical game, I guess I'll just repost some of it from last series. Isn't this the same guy you compared to Toe Blake?

Hockey Scouting Report 1993-94
The Physical Game
Larmer can get feisty and has earned himself some room through his career. He plays ever game hard, checking in the corners and making take-out checks. It's amazing that someone who plays as energetically does, shift after shift, has played so long without missing a game due to injury.

Chris Chelios - 2/15/2012
You couldn’t really do anything to Savy or Larms because of Secord – he was always there protecting them. My role at that point was to go against the team’s top players, try to intimidate them, but you couldn’t do that to any of them, especially Larms. You could run him, slash him, hit him, but he just kept coming back at you and never stopped.

New York Daily News - 3/4/1995
Rangers coach Colin Campbell said after Larmer reached 998 NHL points in his 981st game. "He's not a big man in what has become a big man's game now. But he still finds a way to get there and do his job.

New York Daily News - 3/10/1995
He is a 5-11 player who thrives in a 6-2 hockey world. He is a left-hand shot who excels on right wing, even if that means doing everything backward. He is 33, yet there aren't many 23-year-olds outmuscling him.

Quote:
The quotes on Schriner are interesting, though besides the single use of the word "aggressive", they don't say anything more than that he was big and not injury prone, which we already knew. We touched on this during the assassinations in the discussion of the gap in all-star voting between Jackson and Schriner, who got beaten badly in the voting in the years when they were close as scorers. This isn't a perfectly reliable method, but comparison of all-star voting among guys at roughly the same scoring level is a good way of teasing out how the writers viewed their intangibles, and Schriner's voting recognition was consistently lower than his scoring would suggest.

The bottom line is that the Pittsburgh 2nd line is built around speed and skill, with physicality mostly an afterthought. That's one way to build a line, and it will be a dangerous unit in transition, but when the puck goes to the boards, Montreal's "three down low" are very physical on every unit (besides the 5 minutes of ES time that Schneider will play), and I like the Habs' chances of breaking up the cycle against this line. Schriner - Morris - Larmer aren't comically soft, but they are a whole lot softer than the guys they'll be up against trying to cycle the puck against this team.
So the quotes on Schriner and Larmer don't suffice, but discrepancies in all-star voting show that Jackson had pretty good intangibles? That seems...convenient. Are we going to suggest Jackson wasn't a poor defensive player too because of his all-star record?

Are Luce and Boucher really physical? I don't see how your lineup is all that physically imposing outside of your second pair.


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05-19-2013, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
BBS has talked about scoringline forwards a lot, which is great for him because that's where Pittsburgh focused in the draft, and that's where they hold the advantage in this matchup. On the other side of the coin, Montreal's defense is easily the better unit. I'm not going to go into a deep comparison between Ray Bourque and Brian Leetch. Suffice it to say, Bourque is probably a bit better offensively, and much, much better defensively. Ultimately, I think the skaters on the respective top units here match up very evenly:

- Bourque is clearly better than Leetch
- Beliveau is clearly better than Boucher
- Jackson - Mikhailov are a bit better than Olmstead - Bathgate
- Kasatonov is a bit better than Coulter

As far as I can tell, the first units here are a toss-up.
I agree with these conclusions.

Quote:
----------------------------------------

It ends up being much the same on the 2nd units. Schriner is the best forward on either unit, and therein lies the AC's advantage, but Thomson - Mortson are clearly better than Stapleton - Beck. I'll go into the comparison of defensemen in a little more depth here:

Jimmy Thomson:

All-star placements: 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6* [1952 ASG]
Scoring [defensemen]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Pat Stapleton:

All-star placements: 4, 4, 4, 7, 8
Scoring [defensemen]: 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 9

WHA Best Defenseman x 1

---------------------------------------------

Note that I ignore the following AST voting finishes for Stapleton: 12th (1969), 13th (1968), 13th (1973). In none of these seasons, did Stapleton get as many as 10 points in the end of seasons voting, and 10 is probably the correct threshold to use for Whitey's era. These were essentially "token" vote finishes, and Thomson has a couple of those, as well, in spite of playing in an era with shallower voting records, overall. Winning the best defenseman award in the WHA does add something to Stapleton's career, IMO, though how exactly that should be translated into an NHL all-star voting finish is beyond me. At any rate, I think it's pretty clear that Jimmy Thomson had a somewhat better on-paper career. As far as intangibles go, both men were strong puckmovers, but Thomson was by far the more physical player. Stapleton was a top pairing defenseman on an excellent regular season team, while Thomson was the #1 defenseman on a dynasty. I don't want to belabor the point because I like Pat Stapleton, but Jimmy Thomson is pretty clearly the better player here.

Mortson vs. Beck is similarly in Montreal's favor. A quick breakdown:

Mortson:

All-star placements: 1, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9
Scoring [defensemen]: 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10

Beck:

All-star placements: 5, 6, 6, 8, 9

----------------------------------------------

In spite of Mortson's seeming on-paper advantage in terms of all-star placements, I think their respective top-5 seasons are probably about equal. Mortson was the best defenseman in the league one season, but Beck competed in a much tougher era, and has really been underrated around here for some time. I placed them one tier apart in my list some time ago, and I'll stand by that assessment now. Mortson's main advantage on Beck is that he has better longevity as an impact player.

Assessing the second units as a whole, it looks like another saw-off to me.

- Schriner is better than Balderis
- Roenick and Kapustin are about equal to Morris and Larmer
- Thomson and Mortson are better than Stapleton and Beck

----------------------------------------------

These teams look very evenly matched among the skaters at even strength down through the top-2 units. There are small advantages on either side, but neither team is clearly superior to the other, overall.
Why are Roenick and Kapustin equal to Morris and Larmer? I think Morris is clearly better offensively that Roenick's grit and modest Selke record aren't enough to close the gap. I think Kapustin's offense is impressive and he apparently could work the boards, but is his offense that much better than Larmer's? He has the best defensive game of anyone on either line in addition to his grit and boardwork. It's not like Kapustin finished top 5 in scoring five times like Morris.

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05-19-2013, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
Goaltending:

In terms of "units" on the ice, the clearest advantage that emerges in this series in a head-to-head comparison is in goal, where Georges Vezina is far ahead of Chuck Rayner. It is fairly well established by now that Vezina was the greatest goalie of his generation. In spite of Clint Benedict's better GAA numbers playing behind the Ottawa defense, there are at this point a large number of contemporary articles (including many from before his death) describing Vezina as the greatest goalie of his era. Too many to be ignored. There may not have been a big gap between Vezina and Benedict, but there seems to have been a clear enough gap between them that Vezina was considered almost unanimously better.

Chuck Rayner was a very good goalie in his own right. At 32 teams, there simply aren't any sorry goalies. Nevertheless, Rayner is at best the fourth best goalie of his era, behind Brimsek, Durnan and Broda, and quite possibly the 5th best, depending on how one views Harry Lumley. He's essentially a "hall of very good" player, unlikely to cost his team a game or series by screwing up, but almost certain not to steal one, either.

Georges Vezina is good enough to steal you a game, to pitch a shutout or deflate the opponent with a show-stopping save at a crucial moment. In a matchup as tight as this one looks to be among the skaters, the difference in goal here looms large. Georges Vezina could easily end up being the most valuable player of this series.
I like Vezina a lot so I don't have much to add. Rayner is in the Hall of Fame, I'm of the opinion he was better than Lumley and so was Dink Carroll. I'm hoping his puckhandling abilities will provide some value in this series with Montreal's forechecking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 4/11/1950
Chuck Rayner and Harry Lumley are two of the greatest goalers in the game today and there may be little to choose between them. But what little there is may rest with Rayner. Charlie never cracks wide-open and Lumley sometimes does.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
A superb skater, it was not unusual to see him carrying the puck down the ice… It wasn't until Jacques Plante starred with Montreal a decade later that other goalkeepers exhibited strong puckhandling and playmaking skills.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordie Howe
“When you threw it in the corner, he would just go out and get the puck. He really forced us to change the way we came into the zone. No one other than Jacques Plante later on was doing that.”


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05-19-2013, 06:12 PM
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Why are Roenick and Kapustin equal to Morris and Larmer? I think Morris is clearly better offensively that Roenick's grit and modest Selke record aren't enough to close the gap.
You want to split hairs, eh?

There is quite a lot of press about Roenick's two-way game in his profile. "Deep" Selke voting is among the most worthless of modern statistics, and unless a guy was really good like a Datsyuk, there's really not much sense in trying to judge a scoringline player's defensive value based on his Selke record, alone. Jeremy Roenick was a strong two-way player at his peak. Since we seem to be re-posting old information, here goes. From Roenick's profile:

7.10.1991 - Sports Illustrated:

Quote:
Larmer, Chelios and Roenick are three of the premier two-way players in the league, and the team has a wealth of good goaltending. Some NHL observers are waiting to see if the team burns out under Keenan, however, although one player who won't is Roenick.
15.12.1993 - Chicago Tribune:

Quote:
Not many players can do what Roenick is doing. He is one of only five players from the NHL's top defensive clubs who are good enough to rise above the team concept of their systems and rate among the league's best scorers. Three of the five are outstanding two-way players. Federov is a plus-19, Gilmour plus-16 and Roenick plus-12. Take Roenick away from the Hawks and they won't make the playoffs.
10.2.2012 - Fox Sports Arizona:

Quote:
But Jim Schoenfeld, Roenick's coach for two seasons in Phoenix, remembers a player whose style belied his talent level. "Sometimes skill players aren't as willing to play the other rough and tumble parts of the game, but he was that type of player," Schoenfeld said. "He didn't shortcut the process." Schoenfeld knew right away which role he wanted Roenick to fill.

"For a while in the NHL, the idea was to match your best defensive line against the other team's best offensive line, but we wanted Jeremy to go against the other team's top line because he was a great two-way player. We wanted him to outperform and outscore the other team's top talent,” Schoenfeld said.
4.10.2001 - Detroit News:

Quote:
X-factor: This situation seems to fit center Jeremy Roenick perfectly. A tough two-way player who fits the Eastern Conference mold, Roenick could thrive in Philadelphia.
16.3.2003 - Philadelphia Inquirer:

Quote:
The major drawback in coach Ken Hitchcock's defensive system is that goal production suffers. The system requires every Flyer to sacrifice something on the offensive end, especially the goal scorers. However, Jeremy Roenick, who has been a consummate two-way player this season, has a legitimate chance to hit the 30-goal plateau as a result of yesterday's 4-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena, in which he scored twice.
6.8.2009 - NHL.com

Quote:
Roenick left Phoenix to sign with Philadelphia on July 2, 2001. He had 67 points in 2001-02, but Hitchcock brought his defensive system to the Flyers in 2002 and asked Roenick to re-invent himself.

The coach still marvels at how Roenick adapted to play his new role.


"Instead of playing on the half-wall on the power play he ended up on the front of the net a lot and was good," Hitchcock said. "He was a third-line center or third-line right winger and was very effective. A lot of times players can't adapt, but he was very effective."
----------------------------------------------------

It is hard to compare them offensively, but I think Morris was probably a bit better, though he can't be that much better because Roenick isn't that far behind guys like Hawerchuk and Perreault, and I seriously doubt Morris was on their level. You are trying to make the supposed offensive gap bigger than it really is. Jeremy Roenick was a very well-rounded player, and Bernie Morris was not. I've got them in the same tier, overall, at center, roughly average 2nd liners in a 32 team league. I don't see much point in squabbling over which one is the better player here. Depending on what you want in a center, it could go either way.

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05-19-2013, 06:52 PM
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I think Kapustin's offense is impressive and he apparently could work the boards, but is his offense that much better than Larmer's?
Yes, it probably is. Steve Larmer is a glue guy, and he scores like...a glue guy. A good one, but still, he's not going to be mistaken for a primary scorer anytime soon. Here's where Larmer falls in VsX among RWs:

28 Hooley Smith 78.8
29 Cecil Dillon 78.4
30 Alexander Mogilny 78.1
31 Bobby Bauer 76.2
32 Bobby Rousseau 76
33 Alex Kovalev 75.8
34 Lanny McDonald 74.6
35 Dit Clapper # 74.1
36 Rick Middleton 74
37 Milan Hejduk 73.8
38 Yvan Cournoyer 73.6
39 Tony Amonte 73.3
40 Tod Sloan 72.8
41 Larry Aurie 72.7
42 Peter Bondra 72.5
43 Eddie Wiseman 72.1
44 Steve Larmer 72.1
45 Glenn Anderson 71.9
46 Joe Mullen 71.4
47 Johnny Gagnon 71
48 Ed Litzenberger 70.8
49 Kenny Wharram 70.6
50 Dave Taylor 70.4

Steve Larmer is, among other things, behind Tony Amonte on this list - the same Amonte who is playing RW on Montreal's 3rd line. But we're comparing Larmer to Kapustin, a guy who led the Red Army team in goals-per-game for most of the 70's, and put up remarkably similar numbers to Alexander Yakushev on the Soviet national team. Kapustin led the world championships in goalscoring twice, and was a three time IIHF all-star at LW, beating out Valeri Kharlamov in 1978 and tying with Bill Barber in 1982...on the strength of his offense. He's also playing on a line that very closely reproduces the one on which he skated for those old Red Army teams, with the exact same right winger, and much better version of his old center. Yeah, I think there's a sizeable offensive gap between them.

If I had to take a guess, I'd probably put Kapustin's offense on about the level of a guy like Alexander Mogilny. Others may disagree, but that's my best estimation of his talent, and I'd be positively shocked if he were lower than Kovalev. If we were asking the same question vis-á-vis Mogilny, would there be any doubt that yes, in fact, there is a sizeable offensive difference between he and Larmer? The offensive gap between Kapustin and Larmer is probably bigger, in fact, than the one between Roenick and Morris (who would have to be at the Hawerchuk level offensively to equal the gap here), but Larmer is better defensively than Roenick, so that evens things out. The Montreal forwards are also quite a bit more physical, but at any rate, I think it's pretty much a pick 'em between these pairs.

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05-20-2013, 03:39 AM
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Strategy:

Gorman will seek to get the Luce line out there against the Beliveau line whenever possible. When this matchup occurs, Joe Klukay will skate on the 3rd line in order to check Andy Bathgate. This is a very good matchup for the Habs: Klukay and Luce are a strong checking duo to go up against Pittsburgh's big top-2, and Tony Amonte's ability in the counterattack will be of great value here. Bert Olmstead was a good checker, but his weakness is that he was a plodding skater. Olmstead simply cannot keep up with Amonte, who is a real threat to score off of turnovers in front of a defense that will move the puck very effectively.

This is, I think, where drafting Tony Amonte to round out the 3rd line will pay off for Montreal. With Klukay and Luce already in place, I think most GMs would have taken a pure checker to complete the unit as a troll line. Jafar took something of a risk in deciding to draft a strong (and underrated) counterattacker to the RW, and as TDMM pointed out, it could have backfired had Montreal come up against a team with an elite LW. But this has been avoided, and Amonte in this series is in exactly the situation for which he was drafted.

Nobody can execute linematching on every shift, but Gorman is the better coach here; this matchup will occur pretty often in the series, and I think it is clearly to Montreal's advantage. It is not possible to "shut down" a unit like the Beliveau line, but the Luce line, as it is so constituted, is an ideal unit to check them effectively and then mount a dangerous counterattack when they are able to create turnovers. Montreal's ability to impose this matchup a good chunk of the time is, beyond goaltending and special teams, the Habs' other important edge in this series.

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05-20-2013, 05:43 AM
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I don't understand how you think all of those guys are more apt to handle the physical game...
You don't understand how guys like Broadbent and Gillies are better equipped than Larmer to handle physical defensemen along the boards?! Really? When we use the term "grit" in the ATD, two things are meant: size/power and the willingness to use it. Steve Larmer was a very willing scrapper in the NHL. He was not a particularly powerful one.

Quote:
So the quotes on Schriner and Larmer don't suffice, but discrepancies in all-star voting show that Jackson had pretty good intangibles? That seems...convenient. Are we going to suggest Jackson wasn't a poor defensive player too because of his all-star record?
I don't see the need for this. As far as I know, neither Schriner nor Jackson was much defensively. In case anyone still has the wrong idea about Schriner's defense:

http://nitzyshockeyden.blogspot.de/2...angers-of.html

Quote:
The 33 year-old Schriner would be shutout in his 8th game but notched 2 goals on Nov 8, 1944 in his 9th match of the season, the game in which he would be injured. Schriner was quoted afterwards: "That's one time the coach can't say I wasn't backchecking." The Toronto Star described the injury; "Schriner says he was cruising in home waters looking for a stray puck when he saw Mush March pounce and start for (goaltender) McCool with dirt in his eye. He swung along with Mush and next thing he knew he was mushed into the steel upright. 'You should see this leg', said he,'It's turned hard like cement.' Sweeney thinks the fibre leg pad he wore saved the limb from a fracture."
Shades of Bill Cowley in that quote, with Schriner sarcastically referring to the fact that he rarely backchecked. I gather that Jackson wasn't much of a backchecker, either. The difference in their intangibles seems to lie in the fact that Jackson was an aggressive, physical player, while Schriner was likely something of a softie.

Quote:
Are Luce and Boucher really physical?
Both Luce and Boucher were relatively tough, but not overly physical. Quite a bit like Steve Larmer, actually.

Quote:
I don't see how your lineup is all that physically imposing outside of your second pair.
Hmmm...well, Art Coulter was an extremely physical player, and Ray Bourque, although not a big open-ice hitter, was very powerful in the trenches. This is well known, and I'm not going to waste time trying to "prove" it to you. Bobby Rowe was also an aggressive, physical player and the defensive backbone of the best team in the PCHA. So yes, other than the 5 minutes of ES icetime that Mathieu Schneider will play (against the AC's bottom units), every one of Montreal's defensemen is quite strong along the boards.

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05-20-2013, 03:06 PM
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Voting was supposed to start today, but it doesn't look like you guys are finished talking about things. Since this is the finals, I don't see any issues with extending things. Let me know if that's what you want.

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05-20-2013, 04:34 PM
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Voting was supposed to start today, but it doesn't look like you guys are finished talking about things. Since this is the finals, I don't see any issues with extending things. Let me know if that's what you want.
I'm fine with extending the voting a little while. The voters that we still have seem to pay attention to the arguments, so we should probably let things play out before putting it to a vote.

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05-20-2013, 07:17 PM
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We can hold off on voting if no one minds.

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Originally Posted by Sturminator View Post
You want to split hairs, eh?

There is quite a lot of press about Roenick's two-way game in his profile. "Deep" Selke voting is among the most worthless of modern statistics, and unless a guy was really good like a Datsyuk, there's really not much sense in trying to judge a scoringline player's defensive value based on his Selke record, alone. Jeremy Roenick was a strong two-way player at his peak. Since we seem to be re-posting old information, here goes. From Roenick's profile:
That's fine, but I was comparing Roenick's Selke record to Larmer's who was a Selke finalist.


Quote:
----------------------------------------------------

It is hard to compare them offensively, but I think Morris was probably a bit better, though he can't be that much better because Roenick isn't that far behind guys like Hawerchuk and Perreault, and I seriously doubt Morris was on their level. You are trying to make the supposed offensive gap bigger than it really is. Jeremy Roenick was a very well-rounded player, and Bernie Morris was not. I've got them in the same tier, overall, at center, roughly average 2nd liners in a 32 team league. I don't see much point in squabbling over which one is the better player here. Depending on what you want in a center, it could go either way.
In weighted 10 year vsX scores, Roenick isn't as close to Hawerchuk as Brad Richards, Federko, and Lafontaine are to him.

Hawerchuk 83.22
Perreault 81.6
Roenick 78.01
Richards 75.18
Federko 75.07
Lafontaine 74.61

I'm not sure this cherrypicking is all that useful.

If you have Roenick and Morris on the same tier, how is the offensive gap not that big considering the difference in intangibles?


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