• 01/14/2009, 12:41AM ET

NHL Dream Team

Hockey_Fan19 (22-20-2) vs Somebody of Note (43-13-5)

Recently, I created a TD that posed the following question:

If you had to choose one player to build your NHL franchise around, who would it be?

Now I am going to take it a bit further. I want you to choose 4 lines of forwards, 3 sets of defenceman, and 2 goalies that you would build a team around. For this argument, it doesn't matter whether the forward plays center, left wing, or right wing. Same goes with defence - whether they are a LD or RD is irrelevent to this debate. Anyways, here's my lineup.

-- Goalies --

Roberto Luongo
Carey Price

-- Defence --

Dion Phaneuf ~ Shea Weber
Mike Green ~ Duncan Keith
Erik Johnson ~ Jay Bouwmeester

-- Forwards --

Alexander Ovechkin ~ Sidney Crosby ~ Evgeni Malkin
Patrick Kane ~ Jonathan Toews ~ Ryan Getzlaf
Zach Parise ~ Nicklas Backstrom ~ Jeff Carter
Jason Spezza ~ Rick Nash ~ Eric Staal

As you can tell, I chose to with youth over veterans such as Iginla, Thornton, and Lidstrom. In my opinion, young talent is necessary if you want to be competitive over a long period of time.

Choose 12 forwards, 6 defenceman, and 2 goalies. Good luck.

I could take the best players and throw them in there to make a true Dream Team, but I'm assuming you meant a "for the future" team, so I'll take the high road (much like our liberal friend in Oregon).

I have two changes to make. They may not be the most popular, but here they are:

Jason Spezza OUT for Henrik Zetterberg
Erik Johnson OUT for Braydon Coburn

The first change is based on two things: your glaring omission of Zetterberg and Spezza's brutal play. Defensively, Spezza is almost invisible. Offensively, his propensity to make behind-the-back passes to nobody makes him such a big offensive black hole that he could swallow up the entire cast of Futurama and Leonard Nimoy. He's a lazy, one-dimensional player. Zetterberg, meanwhile, is a proven scorer, proven defender (Selke nominee), and proven playoff performer (Conn Smythe). What's not to love?

As for Erik Johnson, I cannot deny that he's drooling with potential. However, I have serious worries about his ACL and MCL injury, an injury that rarely happens in hockey. His missing a year of hockey could seriously set back his growth as a player. Coburn, meanwhile, is a big, physical defenseman who can shoot the puck.

First of all, I like how you are winning 8-1 after one argument aside.
To address your choices, I did have Zetterberg in mind. In the end, I chose Spezza. He is a gifted offensive talent, and is just entering his prime. He will be a superstar in this league for the next decade and maybe more than that. He is 25 years old, Zetterberg is 28.
As for his play in his own end, it has vastly improved. At the start of his career, I admit he was brutal defensively. Now, he has become a reliable option to protect a lead for Coach Hartsburg. You often see him in the last few minutes when the Sens are holding on to a one-goal lead. I feel that he will continue to improve as he gets older and gains experience.
In the past 3 seasons, he has also tallied more points than Zetterberg.
Spezza?????????? Zetterberg90???????????????????????? 8587???????????????????????? 6292???????????????????????? 92
Now for Coburn. Honestly, he isn't even in the same league as Johnson when it comes to talent. Johnson is great all-around -- plays solid defence and has good offensive instincts.His potential is off the charts. He was drafted 1st overall, over guys like Toews, Kessel, and Backstrom. Coburn is decent but he's not nearly as good as Johnson.

It's great that you love my 8-1 votes lead. I, however, don't. Early voting cheapens the TD. If I had my way, there would be no voting until all arguments are in. This isn't a poll.

Spezza will never be a reliable player. Sounds harsh, but that's the truth. He turns the puck over at the most inopportune moments (handing a win to the Penguins in Stockholm thanks to a turnover is a highlight). He may seem to be improving defensively, but he's still a minus player. He will never, ever, ever reach the level that Zetterberg is at in terms of defensive play, or offensive reliability. Spezza is a streaky player, but night in, night out, you know you're getting sterling defensive play and offensive brilliance from the Z-Man. In the playoffs, he becomes a human Hercules, while Spezza is a zero (one pitiful assist last year).

The main issue I have with Johnson is the lasting effects of his knee injury. Taking a year off hockey in a critical stage in his development could prove catastrophic. This type of injury takes a long time to recover from (see Carnell Williams), especially in a sport that relies so much on your legs. Coburn is a much more physical player, and has a great shot too.

I agree with you about the early voting. I'm hoping you caught my sarcasm when I said "I like how you are winning 8-1 after one argument aside". I also hate how people vote soley on opinion (often biased, for example - voting for their favorite team, player, etc.) and not the arguments presented.

Moving on, I have no problem with you choosing Zetterberg over Spezza. I took Spezza because he is 3 years younger, he is slightly better offensively, and I think he can evolve into what Zetterberg is now (if, in fact, he continues to improve his defensive play). As for Spezza being a minus player, he is a +82 on his career. He also averages over a point per game.

I think that taking Coburn over Johnson is very questionable. Yes, Johnson's injury may be a setback but I believe he will overcome it. He has great offensive upside, with decent speed and a big shot from the point. He has good size (6'4", 219 lbs.) and has the potential to be a top-pairing defenceman who can quarterback the powerplay. Being only 20 years old gives him time to improve and eventually realize his full potential. His first season seen him post 5G and 28A in 69 games. I would take him anyday over Coburn.

Sorry about the voting differential.

If Spezza is a better offensive player than Zetterberg, then why does he have 36 points this season (3 fewer than Zetterberg in 1 fewer game). If he's defensively sound, why is he a -5 this season (while the Z-Man is +15)? Answer: because he can't be counted on as a reliable player, under any circumstances.

With the Coburn-Johnson change, you should never under any circumstances underestimate what a devastating knee injury and missing a year of development can do for a prospect. ACL tears are notoriously difficult to recover from. As for the year-off thing, it can have a huge effect on a player. Gary Roberts was never the same after he missed the 1996-97 season due to injury. Brian Berard's play took a nose-dive after missing the 2001-02 season due to injury. When you're 20, you're in a vital stage in your growth as a player, and missing a year of it could prove catastrophic.

Coburn is hardly just an average player, though. Last year, he racked up 36 points, exceptional for a primarily defensive-defenseman. He snuffs out opportunities, and is a tough player who will play through the pain. He's a reliable player, with a bit of pizzazz.


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