Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Which first name produces the best starting six in NHL history?

Today, we’re going to try to answer a pressing question: What’s the greatest first name in NHL history?

I’m going to stop right here and acknowledge that you’ve immediately got two thoughts going through your mind. The first is, “Wow, this is dumb. Slow news day, guys? You’re really going to post a whole article about hockey players with the same first names?” Surely you’re tempted to cut-and-paste that in the comment section right now.

The second thought involves you immediately coming up with ideas for names you think should be on the list. You’re already having the debate in your own head.

I get it. If I’m being honest, I feel the same way. This is dumb, and we’re doing it anyway. Embrace the cognitive dissonance.

But first, let’s figure out some ground rules. Most importantly, we’ll group variations of the same name, e.g., Will and Bill and Willie can all come together to form Team William. We’re not going to haggle over minor spelling variations, meaning the Patricks can unite with the Patriks and the Johns and Jons can work together. (One exception: The Shawns will not be invited to join Team Sean, because screw those weirdos. They know what they did.)

And no, we’re not going to try to get clever with middle names or anything like that. Whatever a player went by during his playing days is his name as far as we’re concerned. We’ll use the invaluable hockey-reference.com database to resolve any disputes.

We’re going to assemble a starting lineup from each name, which means three forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender. And we want quality at as many of the six positions as we can get, not one or two superstars and then a bunch of guys you never heard of. That knocks a few famous names out of the running right off the bat. There have been plenty of Gordies, but only Howe and Drillon were truly great. We’ve only had one elite-level Mario, or Dominik or Maurice. There’s only been one really good Wayne, or maybe two if you want to count Cashman. None of those names will make our list. Luckily, that still leaves us with plenty of candidates, enough to form a playoff field of 16 with plenty of honorable mentions.

Let’s do it. Who’s up for wasting a little time in late July? After all, we might as well do this now. Partly because it’s summer, but mainly because I’ve watched enough of the WHL to know that we have a few years left before Team Kayden overwhelms us and makes the whole thing moot.

No. 16. Team Peter

We’ll start with what ends up being a surprisingly European-heavy roster, with three modern-era stars up front. The blue line is probably the weakest on our list, so much so that I considered just using both Petr Svobodas to save space and ended up having to rely on a journeyman defenseman/pro wrestling patriotic hero just to fill the ice time.

But let’s be honest, Team Peter has to make the list largely on the strength of the goaltender, where Petr Mrazek has a solid case but has to give way to a guy who was basically made for this sort of game.

Forwards: Peter Forsberg, Peter Stastny, Peter Bondra

Defensemen: Petr Svoboda, Peter Taglianetti

Goaltender: Pete Peeters

No. 15. Team Chris

As we’ll see, most of the teams on our list end up being heavy up front but light on the backend. Team Chris (and Kris) has the opposite problem. We’ve got decent goaltending and a blue line so stacked that Letang didn’t even get a sniff, but they’ll have to hold down the fort while a decidedly just-OK forward line tries to score.

Forwards: Chris Drury Kris Draper, Chris Kunitz

Defensemen: Chris Pronger, Chris Chelios

Goaltender: Chris Osgood

No. 14. Team Ryan

This one ends up being our most modern roster, with pretty much every notable Ryan from NHL history playing in the last decade. (Apologies to Ryan Walter.) It’s not the most star-studded squad, at least compared to some of the others we’ll run into and the recency bias means there aren’t any Hall-of-Famers. But it’s solid one-through-six with no obvious weak spots, and while the depth isn’t great on the back end, we could at least run a decent second line of Johansen, Nugent-Hopkins and Kesler.

Forwards: Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan O’Reilly, Ryan Smyth

Defensemen: Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh

Goaltender: Ryan Miller

No. 13. Team David

Please rise and remove your caps for the playing of the Team David national anthem.

With that out of the way, the actual Davids give us some depth options, but not much more than that. There’s David Krejci, Backes, Legwand and Perron. But the only obvious starter that the Davids can offer up is Pastrnak. Also, this Clarkson guy is ruining our cap.

Luckily, things get better when the Daves show up. The forward ranks include two Hall-of-Famers in Keon and Andreychuk, a quasi-candidate in Taylor, some solid options in Gagner and Christian and plenty of intimidation in Semenko, Williams and Brown. We don’t have any superstars on the back end, but the 1980s and 1990s serve up at least a few solid blue line candidates from the Dave brigade in Ellett, Manson and Babych. So yeah, the Daves are carrying us here. Also, this Bolland guy is ruining our cap.

Unfortunately, goaltending is going to be an issue for Team David. As best I can tell, it comes down to a battle between Dave Dryden and David Aebischer. I guess we’ve got to go with the guy who was at least traded for an MVP.

Forwards: Dave Keon, Dave Andreychuk, David Pastrnak

Defensemen: Dave Ellett, Dave Babych

Goaltender: David Aebischer

No. 12. Team Douglas

Now here’s a classic hockey name. There have been like two dozen notable Dougs in all of human history, and the whole list is basically Flutie, Henning, Adams, Stanhope and then a bunch of hockey players.

Unfortunately, none of those hockey players are goaltenders, so we’re kind of stuck there. Still, we’re pretty set everywhere else, with a few Hall-of-Famers plus a blueliner who should be there. The depth is OK, with Dougs on-call including Jarvis, Risebrough and Smail. Unfortunately, the pipeline isn’t great, with only Dougie Hamilton available among active players. Get to work making more Dougs, hockey parents of the world.

Forwards: Doug Bentley, Doug Gilmour, Doug Weight

Defensemen: Doug Harvey, Doug Wilson

Goaltender: Doug Favell

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free seven-day trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment