Marian Gaborik

HC0007Date sent: September 13, 2017
Date received: November 21, 2017
Total time: 69 days
Total players responses: 562
Total 2017 responses: 21

A really nice return from current LA Kings forward, Marian Gaborik and Minnesota Wild all-time goal scoring leader.

During the NHL entry draft which was held at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Marian was drafted 3rd overall – just behind NHL all stars Rick Dipietro and Danny Heatley and three spots ahead of Scott Hartnell.

That day, Marian was the Wild’s first ever draft pick and subsequently scored the Wild’s first ever goal in franchise history on October 6, 2000 in Anaheim.  He would end up tied for the team lead with 18 goals, alongside Darby Hendrickson and Wes Walz.  Following Gabby’s rookie season, he produced back to back 30 goal campaigns which he was not able to replicate until 2005 – 2007 where he scored 38 and 30 goals.

Marian was unable to negotiate a deal with Wild, which led him to sign a five year deal with the NY Rangers, where he was again, a scoring machine.  He notched 42, 22, 41 and 9 goals until he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He never saw much success with the Blue Jackets and eventually was again, traded at the trade deadline to the LA Kings during the 2013/14 NHL season.

To fully enjoy the scoring prowess of Gabby, here is a top 10!  Number one is a sweet goal showing off his pure speed and quickness of shot.

Advertisements

Robert Kron

HC0006.jpgDate sent: September 22, 2017
Date received: November 8, 2017
Total time: 47 days
Total players responses: 561
Total 2017 responses: 20

A former Vancouver Canuck and current scout for the Carolina Hurricanes, Robert Kron was a fifth round draft pick.

As an NHL player, Robert played for a total of four teams making the playoffs only twice.  Once in the 1991/92 season with the Vancouver Canucks and the other time with the Carolina Hurricanes during the 1998/99 season.  From a statistical standpoint, Robert never reached more than 50 points in a season, hitting that mark twice during his thirteen year career.

Here is Robert showing some sweet moves in a 1996 game as part of the Hartford Whalers

 

Hampus Lindholm

HC0018.jpgDate sent: October 1, 2017
Date received: November 1, 2017
Total time: 31 days
Total players responses: 560
Total 2017 responses: 19

A nice autograph from Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks.  Drafted in the first round, 6th overall, Hampus has no doubt lived up to expectations as he has been advertised as “a potential top end two-way defenseman” by utilizing his top skills “elite level passing, his skating, and his intelligent reads of the game” as per Hockey’s Future.  He also has noted that his role model is Nicklas Lidstrom, a great role model if you ask me!

I’ve met Hampus in person and he’s just as friendly to fans, willing to sign and take pictures whenever asked.  It was during a vacation in Anaheim where I attended a Anaheim Ducks practice.  If you ever make it down to Anaheim, it’s pretty neat to get up close to the players to ask them for autographs or photos!

Sam Bennett

HC0002Date sent: September 17, 2017
Date received: October 24, 2017
Total time: 37 days
Total players responses: 559
Total 2017 responses: 18

I’ve been waiting a long time for Sam’s autograph on this Team Canada card and am so happy with the way it’s turned out.

As the 4th overall pick, Sam has done well fitting in with the Flames’ young core (and one old guy).  He’s had a bit of difficulty putting up points (his first full season he’s put up 36 points, then 26 points the season after) and is currently on pace for a career-low 12 points this season.  I personally haven’t watched many Flames games this season and can’t really comment on the drop in production over the years.  According to TSN, his TOI ranks 3rd among centers which may be an indication of a lack of opportunity given by the coach.  I’m positive Sam is much better than his point total indicate.

To much of Sam’s chagrin, there was a lot of attention around the fact he couldn’t do a single pull up at the NHL combine back in 2014.  In my opinion, not being able to perform a pullup shouldn’t be a huge deal for players.  I believe that scouting prospects on ice is a much better indicator, although it’s definitely hard to compare one player to another without some common benchmark.  Check out the article below on Sam’s 2014 combine:

https://www.cbssports.com/nhl/news/video-top-prospects-at-combine-sam-bennett-fails-to-do-pull-up/

 

 

 

Roberto Luongo

HC0009Date sent: September 12, 2017
Date received: October 11, 2017
Total time: 29 days
Total players responses: 558
Total 2017 responses: 17

Out of all the players in the NHL, Roberto Luongo, former Canuck and current Panther is the best of the best. His twitter handle @strombone1, is absolutely hilarious and if you’ve never read his tweets, you definitely should spend some time doing it! From making fun of his goals against, to coaches and even fans sending in the wrong picture, it’s been a really awesome.

Hailing from Vancouver, I really liked what Roberto brought to the Canucks franchise. The organization was known for being a “goalie graveyard” by not having a solid goaltender since 1998 when Kirk Mclean was the backstopper for the Canucks. Roberto joined the team in 2006 and posted 47 wins that regular season. For me, I was happy the turntable of goaltenders were over and we had a legitimate goaltender in our net.

Of course, after much media attention – we know how his time ended with the Canucks but I’ve been happy to have met Roberto in person. He’s been awesome with fans and the city here in Vancouver. He’ll definitely go down as one of the best goaltenders to have ever played the game.

Thank you Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

See that tweet from Roberto here:

Anze Kopitar

HC0001Date sent: October 1, 2017
Date received: October 26, 2017
Total time: 37 days
Total players responses: 557
Total 2017 responses: 16

Anze has been one of my favorite Kings players and was pleasantly surprised that I got a return from him! I had sent out a letter to Anze in the past but only once I got a return through the mail and another time in person. This one I had sent through to the Kings practice facility which I may have to experiment more with in the future.

As many of you know, Anze plays as a centre for the LA Kings and has helped the Kings win two cups in the last decade. He’s been a major core piece for those two cups and is relied on as a top scorer on the team. He was originally drafted by the Kings in the ’05 draft and can be easily considered a top 5 player if that draft was ever redone. Fortunately for the Kings, Anze has turned out to be quite the player and has a funny bone in his body with commercials like the one below:

Milan Hejduk

HC0007Date sent: September 5, 2017
Date received: October 11, 2017
Total time: 36 days
Total players responses: 556
Total 2017 responses: 15

To coincide with the previous post regarding Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk played a significant role in the success for Colorado winning a second cup, this time during the 2000/2001 NHL season.  He was originally drafted in the 1994 NHL entry draft and eventually played for Colorado five season later.

Similarly to Joe, Milan played his entire NHL season with one team which makes him only one of 108 players.  Curious to know who makes the list, check out the list I found on Wikipedia.

I think that similar to many players who play for one team (see: Sedins), both the player and team are challenged with some unusual circumstances.  Most notably, how can a team trade a well known (former?) superstar that has serviced them for so many years which some may seem unloyal to the fans.  I personally love seeing players play only for one franchise but understand it is a business at the end of the day.  From a player point of view, I can only imagine how tough it can be to request a trade or sign on as a free agent with another team after you’ve given all your blood, sweat and tears to win a Stanley Cup for the team that drafted you.