Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The 2020 Old Guy Without a Cup rankings

With the playoffs starting this weekend, its time to break out an annual tradition: The yearly OGWAC rankings, in which we honor the noble tale of the Old Guy Without a Cup. The OGWAC is always a great story, and the sight of one finally getting his hands on the big trophy is guaranteed to tug at any fan’s heartstrings. Whether it’s Ray Bourque, Lanny McDonald, Teemu Selanne or last season’s Jay Bouwmeester, the grizzled OGWAC is a playoff tradition, and a concept we like to revisit every year around this time.

Well, not really “around this time,” because we usually do all this in April. Things are somewhat different this year, as you may have noticed. And that means that in addition to being three months late with this year’s column, we’ve also got a much larger field of teams to contend with. And you know what that means: More OGWACs! We’ll bump the list up to 25 names this year, just to make sure we don’t leave any of the best candidates out.

To qualify for this year’s list a player must be at least 33 years old by the time the Cup is awarded in October, have played in the league for at least 10 years and be expected to play in this year’s tournament. That leaves several teams without an OGWAC and a few others whose best options won’t make the cut. Other teams have a ton of candidates, so we’re going to limit each team to a max of two entries on this year’s list. As always, preference will be given to older players that have a realistic shot at winning this year and have suffered through painful near-misses or otherwise have some sort of dramatic story to draw on.

Competition is tight this year, especially since a certain OGWAC mainstay didn’t get traded at the deadline like he was supposed to and it made him sad and everyone involved in that decision should be sent to jail. But it’s fine, don’t worry about, we’re not holding any grudges here at OGWAC headquarters.

As the old saying goes, first place on the OGWAC list is the hardest trophy to win in all of sports. I think that’s what the saying is, I wasn’t really paying attention. On to this year’s list …

25. Mats Zuccarello, Wild

It feels weird to think of him as old, but this is his 10th season and he turns 33 in September. He’s also a popular player who had a close call with the Rangers in 2014 and some recent adversity with last year’s broken arm. There’s also a good chance that you’d completely forgotten he plays for the Wild now, so I can’t rank him too highly, but he deserves a mention.

24. Braydon Coburn, Lightning

Coburn may not be a star, but he’d make for a classic OGWAC story. At 35, he’s been around for 15 seasons and has had plenty of deep playoff runs, including trips to the Final with the 2010 Flyers and 2015 Lightning. The big question is whether he’ll see enough ice time to be an important part of this year’s Lightning push.

23. Carey Price, Canadiens

I know there’s a few of you double-checking right now, but yes, Price qualifies this year — the 13-season veteran turns 33 in a few weeks. We’ll see if the Habs are even still playing then, but for now, he barely makes the cut as the only former MVP on our list. I can’t rank him very high, in part because the Habs are a longshot to go very far. But if he proves all those scared GMs right and turns into the monster behind the diner, he’d be a fun story. If not, well, according to his contract he still has at least six more years of elite goaltending ahead of him, so it’s fine.

22. Marc Staal, Rangers

Staal just turned 33 this year, and his 13 seasons in New York include a near-miss in the 2014 Final. On most teams, that would make him a strong candidate. He’s still a solid pick for the Rangers, but there’s a better one we’ll meet a little further down the list.

21. Keith Yandle, Panthers

Yandle feels like one of those guys where you could tell me he’s 27 or that he’s 36 and I’d believe you. He’s actually 33, and 14 years into an NHL career that’s included a trip to the conference finals with the 2015 Rangers. He’s only won one playoff game since then, and the Panthers have a long road ahead of them, so don’t get too attached, but he makes the list.

20. Nathan Gerbe, Blue Jackets

The diminutive center has always been a great story, and he just barely qualifies for OGWAC status this year, having turned 33 last week in his 10th NHL season. The Blue Jackets are a long-shot to win it all, and Gerbe has some work to do to earn a regular spot in the lineup, but admit it — you’d love to see Nick Foligno turn and hand the Cup to him. Or just hold it over his head and make him jump for it.

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