McFarlane Toys is already looking forward to the upcoming hockey season, and is proud to announce the players in our NHL 30 SportsPicks lineup. It’s a six-figure line due out in late January 2012, featuring a rookie, a legend, and four talented veterans.
MARIO LEMIEUX 4 – Pittsburgh’s captain had accomplished a lot in his first six NHL seasons – he’d played in five All-Star Games, won the Calder and Hart Trophies, and established himself as the likely successor to Wayne Gretzky as the league’s undisputed best player. But an NHL championship had eluded Mario Lemieux until 1991, when he put together an unstoppable playoff run – delivering 16 goals and 28 assists in just 23 games to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy and defeat the Minnesota North Stars in six games to win his first title and finally lift the Stanley Cup.
DANIEL SEDIN 3 – Part of twin royalty in Vancouver, Daniel Sedin watched with pride as his brother Henrik earned the Canucks’ captaincy, and went on to secure the Hart Trophy in 2010. THe following season, Daniel emerged as Vancouver’s best player – establishing career highs in goals (41), assists (63), and points (104) while leading the Canucks to the league’s best record and all they way to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
PAVEL DATSYUK 2 – It would be appropriate to call Datsyuk Detroit’s “Swiss Army knife” except that he’s Russian. He does it all for the Red Wings – an equally accomplished scorer and playmaker, Datsyuk contributes on the power play and the penalty kill, has earned the Selke Trophy (Best Defensive forward) in three consecutive years, and also delivers faceoff wins 55% of the time.
RYAN SMYTH 2 – “Captain Canada” delivered a dozen seasons of hard-nosed hockey for the Edmonton Oilers, before the hometown team traded him to Colorado during the 2006-07 season. When he returned to Edmonton the following season, the Oilers played a video tribute and the fans offered a long standing ovation for their former captain. After two seasons in Colorado and two in Los Angeles, Smyth requested a trade back home and the Kings’ General Manager agreed. This season, Oiler fans will celebrate the return of #94 Ryan Smyth, and Smyth will be able to wear the Oilers (new but kinda retro) uniform once again.
BRIAN GIONTA – 5’7 doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Montreal’s Brian Gionta has been silencing critics his entire career, turning doubters into fans one shift at a time. After delivering a 48-goal season and contributing to a Stanley Cup victory in New Jersey, Gionta arrived in Montreal in 2009 and so impressed the team that he was named Captain the following season.
JAMES REIMER – The Maple Leafs have been looking for a consistent answer in goal since the departure of Ed Belfour in 2004, and this season may have delivered the solution. James Reimer impressed fans and scouts alike last season, stopping 32 of 33 shots in his first NHL start (a 5-1 win at Ottawa) en route to 20 wins in 34 starts, a .921 save percentage and a 2.60 goals-against average. Hope springs eternal in the off-season, but Toronto has every reason to believe they’ve finally found their answer in goal.
NHL 30 is scheduled to arrive in late January 2012.