I want you to choose between two players.
Player 1 will turn 31 this summer. He has played 98 playoff games.
Player 2 will turn 31 next winter. He has also played 98 playoff games, and let me take a moment to thank him for that, because it makes this comparison almost perfect.
Player 1's career postseason numbers: 22 goals, 41 assists, plus-19.
Player 2's career postseason numbers: 31 goals, 45 assists, plus-4.
Which player would you rather have?
I'll give you a moment to think about it. (I'm whistling ... whistling ... OK, time's up.)
Have you made your choice? Good.
Player 1 is Pavel Datsyuk.Player 2 is Hossa.
That's just beautiful. And before I hear the "But Tim, didn't pretty much everyone think Datsyuk was a playoff choker early in his career" comments, yes, you're right. How could we not think that when after scoring 3-3--6 in 21 games in his first playoff run, he then went 3 seasons and 21 games without a goal in the postseason.
But with 49 points in his last 56 playoff games, you'd think he has shed that label by now. And notice that he's getting the benefit of the doubt for his postseason performance, where he only scored one goal even before he missed games with a broken foot. That wouldn't have happened several years ago.
Now look at Hossa. Datsyuk's 49 points in 56 games has been enough to shed his label as a perennial underachiever (more due to 39 points in 40 games over the 07 and 08 playoffs than what he did this year). Well, Hossa has had 41 points in 43 games over the past two playoff years (including this year where he was an "underachieving choker") and has 46 points in his last 54 playoff games. Pretty darn comparable to the best of Datsyuk's career, no?
Then when you factor in that Hossa, in addition to the numbers above, has an additional season where he scored 16 points in 18 games and another where he scored 10 points in 12 games, it becomes exceedingly difficult to see why he's been labeled as someone who can't perform in the postseason.
Let me be perfectly clear: The 16 points in 18 games (when he led the Sens in scoring by 5 points) and 10 points in 12 games were not factored into his numbers that are almost identical to the best playoff stretch of Pavel Datsyuk's career.
Outside of the past 3 playoffs for Datsyuk, he has 42 games played and a line of 3-12--15. Outside of the past 4 playoffs for Hossa (to get the numbers above equivalent), he has 44 games played and a line of 10-20--30.
Hossa is younger, he's outperformed Datsyuk in the playoffs consistently, he's money in the regular season as well, and yet the same people who couldn't praise Ken Holland enough for locking Datsyuk in for years at a reasonable $6.7 million per year absolutely despite the idea of Hossa coming back, even for what could be as low as a $4 million cap hit.
The idea that the Red Wings could keep a 40-goal scorer who is one of the top defensive forwards in the National Hockey League for just a tick more than they're paying Brad "Buzzkill" Stuart should have anyone turning backflips. Aside from players still on their rookie contracts, there might not be a better bargain in the NHL if those numbers are accurate.
So, thank you Mike Rosenberg for being one of the few people out there who seems to get it.
Hell, I'm not done yet. Alright, so one of the other myths out there is that Hossa has only had one good year in the playoffs (last year for the Penguins when he had 26 points in 20 games). Let's take a look at that one, shall we?
In 2002-03, he led the Senators in scoring by 5 points over 18 games when he had 5-11--16.
In 2001-02, he was second on the Senators in scoring with 10 points in 12 games (Alfredsson had 13 points).
In 2003-04, when they lost in seven games, he had 3-1--4 and was the only player on the entire team to score more than one goal.
In 2000-01 they were swept and scored three goals in the series. Hossa was in on two of them, with a 1-1--2 line. (Note that I'm not calling this a "good" year in the playoffs, but when you're in on 2/3 of your team's goals, there are bigger problems on the roster.)
Then there was last year when he led the Penguins in goals and finished one point behind Crosby for the team lead.
It's just kind of interesting how perception becomes reality when everyone (Versus/NBC analysts, I'm looking at you) is too lazy to look at the stats.
WCH has some good Wolverine-related stuff today. USA Hockey released their list of guys who will be competing for spots on the World Junior team. They invited four goalies, 15 defensemen, and 24 forwards--so roughly half will make it. Included in the invitees are Jack Campbell, AJ Treais, David Wohlberg, Robbie Czarnik, and Kevin Lynch. (Also former Michigan commit AJ Jenks is on the list.)
Based on the sites I've seen, Campbell seems to be a favorite to nab one of the goaltending positions, and why not with the way he played at U18s and the way he played all year against international competition? Great for him, potentially not great for us assuming he's more Al Montoya than Thomas McCallum when he's there.
WCH also continues his draft profiles with a look at Wolverine forward Chris Brown.