Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NHL Badgers Update

Seventeen former University of Wisconsin Badger hockey players have played in the National Hockey League this season. I've put together a brief update on each of the players, regardless of their current NHL status.

By the way, I wrote this article before/during the early NHL games tonight so the stats listed only reflect the games played prior to Tuesday. For reference, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley, Rene Bourque, and Tommy Gilbert have all scored as of the time of this update. Brian Elliott also had a shutout.

Rene Bourque-Calgary Flames
Rene is the proud owner of a big fat new contract. The deal is worth 19.8 million over the next six seasons. The 28 year old winger from Alberta is having the best season of his NHL career. Only 63 games into the season, he's already set career highs in both goals and assists. Bourque is currently the second leading scorer on the Calgary Flames behind Jerome Iginla with a line of 22-28-50. Not bad for a college free agent.

Adam Burish-Chicago Blackhawks
Burish has been the heart and soul of the Blackhawks over the past couple of seasons and he was truly missed when he missed most of the season with a knee injury that happened in the pre-season. He's recently returned and had an assist and got into a fight in his first two shifts back in the NHL. Still trying to get his legs back, Burish has played in 6 games so far in his return from injury. Burish will be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end.

Chris Chelios-Atlanta Thrashers
The 48 year old continues to amaze doesn't he? If you read the blog you know I'm a huge fan of this old dog and his return to the National Hockey League. Cheli was called up from the Chicago Wolves of the AHL a few weeks ago and has played in three games for the Thrashers. He's yet to record a point but is averaging over 13 minutes a game and is a valuable resource for a young defenseman like 19 year old Zach Bogosian.

Jake Dowell-Chicago Blackhawks (not active)
Jake is currently playing with Rockford in the American League (Blackhawks affiliate). He's spent most of the season with the IceHogs but has been called up to the big club twice this season. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin native was called up for two games in October. After going back to Rockford for a few months, he was called up to play in one game with the Hawks right before the Olympic break and had a goal and and assist vs Columbus.

Davis Drewiske-LA Kings
Davis has been rostered by the Kings all season long and signed a new contract extension at the start of the season that will keep him in LA until the end of the 2013 season. The Hudson, Wisconsin native was really starting to come into his own before an injury in January put him on the shelf. Since coming back from the injury, he's had a tough time cracking the lineup. The 25 year old has put together a line of 1-7-8 through 40 games.

Robbie Earl-Minnesota Wild (not active)
Robbie has been up and down with the Wild all season long. I'm having a tough time figuring out what the Wild are trying to do with him. He's already cleared waivers twice and I can't figure out why. When he's been up with the big club, the Chicago native has been solid. He's gotten virtually no ice tie when suiting up for the Wild, yet he's scored six goals in 29 games. Robbie will be a Restricted Free Agent next season, hopefully he can find himself a full time NHL gig somewhere. He deserves it.

Brian Elliott-Ottawa Senators
Brian has taken over the starting role for the Sens this season and has thrived in his native Canada. Even a recent losing streak has not affected Elliott's numbers too bad. He currently has a .908 save percentage and a 2.58 GAA. The Ontario native is grossly underpaid at 850,000 a season. You can bet that if he keeps up this play, the Senators are going to do everything they can to lock down the 24 year old former Hobey Finalist.

Tommy Gilbert-Edmonton Oilers
Tom stepped out of his Wisconsin uniform, straight into his Edmonton uniform and never skipped a beat. The Bloomington, Minnesota defenseman is having a bit of a down season from a points perspective, but the Oilers are pathetic. They are the worst team in the league and it's not even close right now. They trail the next worst team by 11 points. They need some changes in Edmonton. Gilbert is locked up until the end of the 2014 season. For his sake, lets hope the infuse some talent in there. He's currently running a line of 2-14-16 through 72 games.

Dany Heatley-San Jose Sharks
The ****ing all star is back to his career norms and he's averaging over a point per game again. When not driving around on Eugene's lake on his $4 million he stole from the Senators, Heatley is having a great offensive season. Heatley recently won a gold medal with the Canadians at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The former Badger All-American has 37 goals and 37 assists through 72 games this season. Heatley is owed 7.5 mil until the end of the 2014 hockey season. Heres to hoping he can send a little bit of that for a new practice facility on campus.

Jamie McBain-Carolina Hurricanes
The latest of the Badgers to make their NHL debuts, McBain has made an immediate impact for the Hurricanes. He scored his first NHL goal on Saturday in overtime to defeat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. McBain is playing gobs of minutes and already has 5 points in his first 4 NHL games. It kind of makes you wonder what the hell took Carolina so long to call him up.

Joe Pavelski-San Jose Sharks
The Polish Prince is doing it once again. One of the most under-rated players in the league won a silver medal with the United States at the Olympics. The Plover, Wisconsin native is carrying a line of 21-25-46 through 57 games this season with the Sharks. Pavelski has been banged up at times this season but when healthy he's been a beast. Pav's is a restricted free agent at seasons end and should be in line for a nice little pay raise.

Brian Rafalski-Detroit Redwings

Man did this guy ever have a great Olymics. Rafalski really showed how valuable he is to the wings by stepping out of Lidstroms shadow and carrying the United States defensively. The veteran rear guard is once again having a great season for Detroit with a 7-30-37 line through 68 games. Rafalski is under contract for the next two seasons. We shall see if the wings have another run or two left in them with Rafalski.

Steve Reinprecht-Florida Panthers
First of all, Reinprecht got robbed of the Hobey. Now that we have that out of the way, Rhino has gone to a place where players go to die, Florida. Reinprecht is actually having a nice little season down there though. He's third on the Panthers in scoring with a line of 15-22-37 through 71 games. The Panthers have a lot of money tied up already next season so I would expect some players to get moved. Let's hope for Rhino's sake that it's him.

Jack Skille-Chicago Blackhawks (not active)

Skille is his own worst nightmare right now. He has the talent to play in the NHL and should be playing at that level. The problem is, that Dale Talon screwed up the Blackhawks cap wise, and they simply cannot afford his NHL contract right now. The Verona, Wisconsin native has been up for 6 random games for the Hawks this season and has a goal and an assist. He's going to be a restricted free agent at seasons end. At this point, I don't see the Hawks matching any contract that he is given. It will be good for Skille to get out of the Chicago system.

Ryan Suter-Nashville Predators
Another Badger Olympian, Suter has been an absolute rock for the Predators this season. A top 10 draft pick out of Madison, Suter has lived up to the hype and showed his talent on the worlds biggest stage at the Olympics. Suter has put together a line so far this season of 3-30-33 through 73 games. Suter has two years left on his current contract with the Preds. He will be 27 and in his prime when that deal is done. Can you say...cha-ching!

Brad Winchester-St. Louis Blues

Winchester is your typical grind it out forward. He's had a much better NHL career than I thought he would have. The 29 year old out of Madison has only recorded a line of 2-4-6 through 58 games, but he's been a physical force for the blues racking up over 100 penalty minutes this season. He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Andy Wozniewski-Boston Bruins (not active)
First of all, I need to apologize for skipping Woz when I was talking about NHL Badgers last week when Mcbain got called up. Woz has spent most of his time in the American Hockey League with Providence where he's actually played really well recording 41 points in 65 games. He was called up in October and played two games with the Bruins where he didn't record a point. He will be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end.

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