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Stuart’s Top 10 to watch in playoffs

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
Please note: This story was originally written for and appeared on April 25, 2006.

Before he skates off to Riga, Latvia to play for Team Canada in this year's World Hockey Championships, smooth-skating blueliner Brad Stuart popped by to offer his insight into this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2005-06, Stuart, the pride of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta got a taste of life in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, first with San Jose and then, after the trade that brought Joe Thornton to the Sharks, as a member of the Bruins.

Selected third overall by San Jose in 1998, Stuart, a former Western Hockey League star, recorded a career high in points with 43 in 2005-06, courtesy of 12 goals and 31 assists.

On the international stage, Stuart struck silver with Team Canada at the 1999 World Juniors, the year he was named the Canadian Hockey League's Top Defenceman. He also competed for his country at the 2001 World Championships, appearing in seven games.

He'll be joined by Boston teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes at this year's Worlds, slated for May 5-21.

So, what players should hockey fans be keeping an eye on in the post-season? Check out Brad Stuart's own Top 10 List (in no particular order!).

1. STEVE YZERMAN - "This might be Steve Yzerman's last chance at winning the Stanley Cup. He's been a great player for so many years and he was at the top of his game in the second half of the season."

2. DWAYNE ROLOSON - "Dwayne Roloson has been good of late. Edmonton really needs to come up with some big saves. He's definitely capable of doing that."

3. BRENDAN MORROW - "Brenden Morrow is the type of player that can do it all. He can score, he can hit and he can play well defensively. Dallas has a lot of great players, but I think Morrow can make a huge impact."

4. JOSE THEODORE - "Jose Theodore has shown he is one of the top goalies in the league. Something like that just doesn't fade away. If he can get his confidence back, he'll be key for Colorado. He's the most important guy for this team in the playoffs."

5. DION PHANEUF - "Dion Phaneuf had an awesome year for Calgary. Obviously, it's a whole different game when you are in the playoffs, but he showed from day one that he has the physical and mental tools to be effective. I don't see that changing now."

6. TEEMU SELANNE - "I was a little bit surprised at the year Teemu Selanne had with Anaheim. But he's so skilled and he's showing that he's getting better as he gets older. He's got a great shot and great vision."

7. JONATHAN CHEECHOO - "Jonathan Cheechoo is the key guy for San Jose. He's hard to shut down. He's got great hands and a great release. He'll need to do what he did in the regular season. He's the one to watch."

8. CHRIS MASON - "All Chris Mason has to do for Nashville is to be solid. I think he has the talent to do well. It's hard for anyone to step into his situation, but if he can come up with key saves, he'll be able to handle it."

9. JASON SPEZZA - "Ottawa's top line is amazing. I think Jason Spezza (who netted the game-winning goal in their opener against Tampa Bay) is the key guy for the Senators. They will be counting on him to come up with some big plays. He's a very talented player."

10. ERIC STAAL - "Eric Staal has size and speed and did everything consistently throughout the year. He's a young kid, but he's very smart on the ice. I don't think he'll be overwhelmed by the intensity of the playoffs. You have to be ready to go from the drop of the puck."
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