Sunday, July 17, 2005

2003-2004 in Review

We have all been talking so much about the CBA, Crosby and the business of hockey, it's easy to forget that in 2 1/2 months, we will finally see the puck drop. With so much time off and the rosters certain to look vastly different, I thought it would be fun and important to have some posts over the next few days recalling the 2003-2004 season, and thinking about how those numbers will translate with a year off.

Points Leaders
  • Martin St. Louis (TB) - 94
  • Ilya Kovalchuk (ATL) - 87
  • Joe Sakic (COL) - 87
  • Markus Naslund (VAN) - 84
  • Marian Hossa (OTT) - 82
  • Patrik Elias (NJD) - 81
  • D. Alfredsson (OTT) - 80
  • Cory Stillman (TB) - 80
  • Robert Lang (DET) - 79
  • Brad Richards (TB) - 79
  • Alex Tanguay (COL) - 79

Kovalchuk, Naslund and Hossa should all be in the top 5 in points again this season. I think Joe Sakic is a great player and he should have a good season, but he is getting older and if Forsberg doesn't come back, opposing teams will really be able to shift their focus to shutting down the 36 year old center. I see 70 points, but not 87. St. Louis is a great player but his 2003-2004 campaign was special, and I also see him settling down with about 75 points.

I also expect big things this season from Jagr. Last season he totaled 74 points in 77 games (29 pts in 31 games in NY). Jagr is only three seasons removed from 2000-20001 in which he netted 52 goals and 69 assists in 81 games. There is no way he is getting back to that level, but he spent this year off playing overseas and led the Czech Republic to a World Championship victory, with a broken pinkie. I see no reason why he can't be in the top five to eight players in points this year.

For the record: Sakic is under contract, Hossa, Kovalchuk and St. Louis are restricted free agents, while Naslund is a UFA. The Canucks only have four players under contract for next season, with about $11.2 million tied up in use. They should bring Naslund back (if they are smart), but the rest of their team will have to be very role player oriented, as they will have $15+ million tied up in Naslund, Bertuzzi and Jovanovski alone. (This assumes Naslund gets $6 million)

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