AAA11 Semifinal Challenge: Regina Pat Canadians vs. Dawson City Nuggets
Regina Pat Canadians
coach: Brian Kilrea
Jack McDonald - Herb Jordan - Jack Marks (A)
Nick Mickoski - Don Smith - Art Gagne
Pete Horeck - Viktor Shuvalov - Don Saleski
Dan Maloney - Jimmy Herberts - Dallas Drake (C)
Mac Colville, Stanislav Petukhov
Lou Fontinato - Adrian Aucoin
Bruce Driver (A) - Bill Juzda
Bill Brydge - Jocelyn Guevremont
Dawson City Nuggets
coaches: Jacques Martin, Lloyd Percival
Real Chevrefils - Anatoli Semenov - Sergei Svetlov
Jozef Stumpel - Vyacheslav Anisin - Mark Johnson (A)
Jan Erixon - Jude Drouin - Glenn Brydson
Edmond Bouchard - Alf Pike (A) - Billy Bell
Ethan Moreau, Chris Nilan
Igor Stelnov - Sergei Starikov
Karel Gut (C) - Bert Marshall
Leo Reise Sr. - Bob Trapp
pffft. Drake is not a "great" player but he is an excellent 4th liner in an all-time context. He's the guy who's going to be setting the tone and providing the example of the work ethic that will be required to win.
Kilrea belongs at the AAA level, or even higher. He's better than a handful of MLD coaches. His raw totals, win percentages, and championships are very impressive (he'won much more than his "fair share" over the years) and the level of respect that the hockey world has for him is huge.
In net, I believe that Richard Brodeur is a big upgrade on Kelly Hrudey. I was pleased to get Brodeur early in the draft; Hrudey was merely the best of what was left. Brodeur achieved the same from a team standpoint, but he did it with less. And of course, he was dynamite in the WHA.
A lot of the players on Dawson City I like. I'm pleased they made the trip over here. I had the chance to select them all, but I would have rather had the players I have now. They're just better.
Line 1 has everything you need on a successful scoring line - playmaking, goal scoring, and a big, tough, defensive glue guy. And, they all have chemistry with eachother. (Jordan and Marks never played together, but McDonald played with them both for a few seasons each) - Herb Jordan is actually just as good a goalscorer as Ernie Russell, he just didn't play on the teams Russell did.
Dawson City has some strength on their second line too, but they can't top the well-constructed nature of the Pat Canadians' second line. Don Smith, at the AAA level, is perhaps the 2nd-best goalscorer in the draft, after Jordan. He was top-10 in the NHA four times and placed highly in the PCHA once too. Gagne could also score goals, but his strength was as a playmaker. He actually led the WCHL in assists once, and finished highly a couple of other times. Mickoski is a big body who is tough to knock off the puck and provides what the other two were missing - some muscle. He's no slouch at scoring goals, either - never top-10, but 4X top-15 in the 1950s NHL.
I like everyone on Dawson's 3rd unit, and considered them all, but there's a reason I went with the guys I did. Pete Horeck is not only a human wrecking ball on the ice, he was also a pretty good offensive player. Don Saleski is a madman who'll wreak havoc on the forecheck, and Shuvalov is an offensive player who's very responsible defensively. This has the potential to frustrate and shut down Stetlov, Semenov, and especially Chevrefils, while possibly putting in some points on them.
For Regina, the fourth line is another cornucopia of AAA talent. Jimmy herberts was 7th in Hart voting twice and literally carried Boston for their first two years. Check out the team's stats those two seasons - it's sick! Dan Maloney is likely the toughest player in this draft (perhaps the eliminated Donald Brashear was tougher) and Dallas Drake is a hell of a leader and not a bad player either! Dawson's collection of players is a not-bad group of fourth line-types, but together they aren't the player Herberts is.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that seventieslord thinks Regina's defense is the best in the AAA draft. Here's why: Adrian Aucoin was, for a short time, a bonafide top-8 defenseman in the NHL and a massive minute muncher. He was an elite PP specialist prior to that, and is now a good all-around #2-3 defenseman with leadership skills who is prone to the occasional brainfart. based on this he should be regarded at least as highly as Bryan McCabe, who was a MLD selection. Fontinato was of course the 2nd-toughest player of his time, but did you know he also got norris consideration - twice? he was not a bad player at all. Brude Driver was an underrated all-around point producer with no real flaws, who got buried behind the "next tier" best defensemen of his time - The Gary Suters, Brad McCrimmons, Al Iafrates and Kevin Hatchers. But he was excellent. If there was anything Driver lacked, it was toughness. That's where Juzda, one of the toughest players of the 1940s, comes in. Bill Brydge, the 2nd-most solid defenseman the NYA ever had, is a good partner for the wild Jocelyn Guevremont, whose minutes will be limited to 3rd pairing and powerplays.
In Dawson City, I pushed for Reise and Trapp to get on the team because I think very highly of them. I think they could even be a AAA 2nd pair. I like Marshall's stay at home style coupled with Gut's risk-taking. Unfortunately I can't find much about Stelnov and Starikov, but I assume they have Russian chemistry, and besides, they get the VI seal of approval. I don't think this is a bad defense at all, but I do think Regina's is better.
Regina should take this series mainly due to the massive scoring edge up front.