June 03, 2015

On Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and the 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Monday was media day prior to the Stanley Cup final face off between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman took the opportunity to compare Chicago's Jonathan Toews to himself as a player.

"The reality is that Jon is bigger, stronger ... better," Yzerman, the Lightning general manager, said Tuesday. "He just is. Tremendous all-around player, great person. ... He's bigger, stronger than me. I'm not sure I could even take him in a race either. He's probably faster. Just a better hockey player."

Now that is saying something. Yzerman is one of the game's all time greatest players. No one would dare compared a current player to Yzerman. So when Yzerman raises this point, it is all the more special.

The truth is Yzerman may very well be right. Toews career will need to be completed to fully evaluate, but Toews definitely is closing in on a legacy that could rank him so highly. As it stands now Toews is probably somewhere above the likes of Doug Gilmour and Dave Keon and closing in fast on Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Bryan Trottier and Bobby Clarke.

Winning a third Stanley Cup here in the next two weeks will put him that much closer. And Toews has a lot of time left. Another Stanley Cup, another Olympic medal, and a World Cup title are all real possibilities. The difference in eras may keep Toews career scoring totals a little lower than his aforementioned contemporaries, but, health willing, he should score well above 1000 points.

Yzerman's comments on Toews stole the headlines. He could have very well have taken the opportunity to praise his own superstar captain Steven Stamkos.

I'm viewing Tampa Bay from afar, but for me Stamkos' maturation this spring is amazing. He's gone from pretty boy scoring star to a much respected playoff warrior. He has been contributing to the Lightning's great success in many ways beyond scoring goals. His physical play, his play without the puck and his obvious passion and leadership, in addition to his scoring ability, have his team on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup.

Other than Chicago's Stanley Cup pedigree and experience, there really is not much to choose from between the Hawks and Bolts. Both teams feature very good goaltending. Chicago has a little more depth up front, but both teams boast top lines that are the envy of the league. Chicago's blue line is a little shorthanded, but they Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are at a higher level. Perhaps the key for Tampa is can young stud dman Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman match their play? If so the Stanley Cup may just return Tampa Bay.

That being said, Chicago seems to be the consensus pick. I think the match up is a lot closer than some of my western cohorts are suggesting. But I too will pick Chicago to win the Stanley Cup.

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