Today’s 5: Suspension count, Team Canada’s forwards, USA’s defence, THN says trade Weber, and more.

1. 2013-14 NHL suspension count.

The season isn’t even a month old and already there have been seven suspensions in the NHL. That is one suspension every three days, on average.

Sabres’ forward John Scott will likely join the list of suspended offenders once the league’s chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan comes to a verdict regarding the enforcer’s blindside hit on Bruins’ winger Loui Eriksson last night in Buffalo. You can see Scott’s hit here.

The list of 2013-14 suspended players:

Brad Stuart – San Jose Sharks – 3 games for elbowing.

Alex Edler – Vancouver Canucks – 3 games for inflicting a head shot.

Patrick Kaleta – Buffalo Sabres – 10 games for inflicting a head shot.

Maxim Lapierre – St. Louis Blues – 5 games for boarding.

Cody McLeod – Colorado Avalanche – 5 games for boarding.

Michael Grabner – New York Islanders – 2 games for inflicting a head shot.

Ryan Garbutt – Dallas Stars – 5 games for charging.

Suspensions courtesy of TSN, witnessed here.

Comparing this season’s early suspension frenzy to the first 24 days of NHL action last season.

Suspensions weren’t as prevalent in the first twenty-four days of the 2012-13 NHL season which began on the late date of January 19, 2013 (due to the NHL lockout we all forgot the second it ended).

After twenty-four days of NHL action last season, only three players had been suspended. Flyers’ Braydon Schenn served 1-game for charging, Islanders’ Colin McDonald served 2-games for boarding, and Capitals’ John Erskine served 3-games for elbowing. 2012-13 NHL suspensions courtesy of Wikipedia via various references to NHL.com.

If you isolate each incident resulting in a suspension through the first three and a half weeks of NHL action, it is apparent that every single offensive act was dangerous and worthy of supplemental discipline. The game is played at lightning speed, granted, however, that only kind of excuses some of the deemed dirty hits we’ve witnessed thus far. Maybe Cody McLeod’s hit was simply bad timing. I can buy that. However, on many occasions, like Scott’s hit on Eriksson, one player is annihilating another when such action is not necessary.

The only solution to preventing dangerous hits may be to greatly increase suspension length and severity. It will be interesting to see the league’s sentencing of John Scott. Enough is enough. Shanahan can make a statement here.

2. Team Canada’s forwards.

Sidney Crosby in Team Canada white and red. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Sidney Crosby in Team Canada white and red. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I don’t envy Steve Yzerman and his team of Canadian Olympian choosers – they have some tough decisions to make on players. In goal, there are about five goalies to choose from, three of them likely being obvious by final roster time. On defence, there is a group of about 8-10 high end top minute guys who are probably already pencilled into the lineup. However, regarding forwards, Team Canada has an abundance to choose from. Aside from the few obvious options like Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, Yzerman and his staff may as well flip a coin.

A listing of Team Canada forward hopefuls for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

First, the 25 forwards invited to Team Canada’s orientation camp held in Calgary, from August 25-28, 2013:

Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Logan Couture, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Rick Nash, James Neal, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Patrick Sharp, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Joe Thornton, and Jonathan Toews. Orientation list courtesy of TSN

Now, the list of Canadian forwards who are playing their way into the conversation:

Evander Kane representing Canada at the World Championships. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Evander Kane representing Canada at the World Championships. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Patrick Marleau, Jason Spezza, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Evander Kane.

In total, 31 players are listed above. Only 13-15 forwards can make the team. Good luck narrowing down that group.

Pairs may have an advantage. In the past, Team Canada general managers have chosen to take pairings from one NHL team, both on defence, and offence. In 2010, Canada’s forward group consisted of two Ducks – Getzlaf & Perry, and three Sharks – Marleau, Heatley and Thornton.

If selecting players with honest, everyday chemistry is important to Yzerman, then Kunitz, St. Louis, and Lucic may all be locks because they play regularly alongside Crosby, Stamkos, and Bergeron respectively.

3. Team America’s defence corps.

Selecting 13 forwards should be a lot easier for USA than it will be for Canada. That being said, deciding which 7-9 players occupy a spot on the blueline is not as clear cut. The Yanks are deep on D, in the sense that, there are several comparable American defencemen to choose from.

Potential Team USA defencemen for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Seth Jones with Team USA. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Seth Jones with Team USA. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien, John Carlson, Danny Dekeyser, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Seth Jones, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter, Jacob Trouba, Keith Yandle. Who do you pick? Team USA Orientation camp roster courtesy of TSN

The above displayed list of American defenders does not include hot starting James Wisniewski, Matt Niskanen, and Torey Krug.

There is a lot of parity amongst the twenty-one-ish American blueliners vying for a red, white and blue jersey. Returnees E. Johnson, J. Johnson, and Suter may secure three spots, but after that, final roster decisions will be difficult.

Team USA will announce its Olympic roster at the Winter Classic on January 1st.

4. Should The Predators trade Shea Weber while the gettin’s good?

Preds' captain Shea Weber taking a slapshot. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Preds’ captain Shea Weber taking a slapshot. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The question was raised today in a persuasive article by Adam Proteau of The Hockey News. Read Adam’s theory on what the Predators should do with Shea Weber, here.

THN’s Proteau writes a strong argument, proposing that a Weber deal would fetch a massive return for the Preds, vastly improving team depth.

Like Proteau hints, the unexpected availability of defenceman Seth Jones at 4th overall changed the entire dynamic of the Preds’ blueline. Weber is great, and Jones needs to do plenty before he can fill those shoes, but all things considered, the kid’s early season showcase oozes franchise defenceman in the making.

Desperate defensively challenged teams may be willing to pay a hefty price for Weber. Proteau pointed out the Flyers and Oilers as likely candidates. Makes perfect sense – both are struggling – both have an abundance of young forwards to deal. I’d throw in the Flames if Brian Burke has much say regarding player personnel. Burkie has a track record of trading for big name D men.

In the end, it’s tough to move a franchise player even if it makes sense – you don’t often see deals like Proteau is suggesting. However, over the last decade, one such deal comes to mind. On November 30, 2005, the Boston Bruins traded franchise player Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks. This evening Thornton returns to the city he spent his early years to play against the team that drafted him 1st overall in 1997. Patrice Bergeron is the only remaining Bruin from the Thornton days.

5. What’s Twitter saying?

If you haven’t had a chance to scroll through your timeline, here are some of today’s news stories courtesy of The Hockey Daily’s Twitter Feed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good to see George Parros back on the ice.