Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Two Jamie Benn Autographed Cards

Going into training camps 7 NHL teams (out of 30) are without a captain. Here are my picks:

Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St-Louis
Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek, assuming he remains past this season (otherwise, Steve Ott)
Ottawa SenatorsJason Spezza
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano and Michael Cammalleri
Columbus Blue Jackets: Brandon Dubinsky
Dallas Stars: Stéphane Robidas

A lot of people would rather see Tampa go for Steven Stamkos, and I respect that, but as a gesture of recognition for his work, St-Louis should get the nod for his last two seasons or so, then Stamkos will have the team to himself for the next decade.

The Oilers have to decide which of their young stars will be the designated leader, and though Taylor Hall also has a few years of experience, I think Eberle is the wisest choice because he doesn't already come with the pressure of being a former first-overall pick that Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins do. He's also proven to be a clutch performer at all levels, including internationally.

If the Sens don't go for Spezza, the only other logical choice is Chris Phillips. And while I love the idea of going with role players for captain, Spezza's learned a lot under Daniel Alfredsson, and is still an elite player. He is the face of the franchise now, along with the goalies and Erik Karlsson.

In Calgary, both guys are deserving, and both crave it. They should alternate, until one of them leaves, leaving the other as the stand-alone guy until one of the kids is ready to take the mantle.

Dubinsky is ready in Columbus, and already had a leadership role on his former team, the New York Rangers. But Marian Gaborik is a steady force on offense, and has already sported the 'C' with the Minnesota Wild. One of the defensemen could also take the mantle.

Which leaves us with Dallas, and the consensus choice of Jamie Benn, which I passed over in favour of veteran defenseman Robidas. Robidas is 36 and has two or three seasons left; he has represented Canada twice and played in an All-Star Game, despite being more of a dependent defensive force than an offensive powerhouse - precisely the type of guy who embodies ''team spirit''. Benn, on the other hand, while constantly improving and deemed worthy of keeping instead of James Neal, just isn't there yet.

Sure, he can be counted on for some 20-25 goals, eventually 30, perhaps even 40 once or twice - and his point production went from 41 points in his rookie year to 56 to 63 to 33 last season (in 41 games, which makes for 66 pro-rated to 82 games). But is he an undisputed leader on a team that has former Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff, lettermen Sergei Gonchar and Erik Cole, and high draft picks Tyler Seguin and Valeri Nuchushkin? Probably not. He may even be the odd man out in three or four years.

Which isn't to say I don't like the guy. I do. He even signed these two identical cards for me:
They're from Upper Deck's 2010 National Card Day collection (card #HCD-3), a set I don't usually go after (my weekends are hectic, Ebay gets expensive) but for some reason I got a hold of that year through trades, even managing to nab a few doubles; getting both of these signed in beautiful (albeit fading) blue sharpie, though, means my set is now incomplete - guess I'll (try to) have them all signed, then!

I'm open to trading one, if anyone's interested.

2 comments:

  1. Great choices for the vacant captain position. I think RJ Umberger has a great shot at the Blue Jackets opening.

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  2. Umberger's a good choice too. As my Habs found out a few years ago, he's a clutch playoff performer.

    But while he does raise his level of play when it matters, I'm not sure he's consistent for the duration of an 82-game schedule. I haven't followed him recently, but he was a 12-minute guy in Philly in the regular season, and a 20-minute monster in the postseason.

    If he has become more consistent, then, yeah, absolutely worth it.

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