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Tuesday 10: Holiday gifts for Ovi, Wild mark

by EJ Hradek
With Christmas just a few days away, I figured I'd do a little gift-giving in this edition of the Tuesday 10. After all, as many of you already know, it's better to give than receive. After some intense thought, I think I've found the perfect presents to slide under the trees of several different players or teams.  In some cases, these gifts would be almost too good to be true.

To: Alex Ovechkin … His dynamic old self

In recent times, there hasn't been too much "rockin' the red" for the once Great 8. While still a good player, he isn't the force that once dominated the League.

During the first five years of his career, Ovechkin was a highlight machine, averaging 53.8 goals per season during that span. In 2007-08, he netted a League-best 65 goals and 112 points.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 22
SOG: 117 | +/-: -9
Last year, however, Ovechkin's numbers took a significant dip. He finished with a career-low 32 goals, 14 fewer than his previous single-season low total of 46 in 2006-07.

This season, Ovi's game hasn't returned to normal. In fact, things have continued to go in the wrong direction.

With just 10 goals in 31 games, Ovechkin currently is on place for just 26 goals and 58 points. Obviously, Caps management didn't anticipate such a dramatic fall-off in production when they signed him to a 13-year, $124M deal prior to the '08-09 season.

At this point, we have to wonder if Ovechkin's most prolific offensive seasons are behind him.
To: the Minnesota Wild and their fans … A Winter Classic to call their own

The good hockey folks in the State of Hockey have wanted two things in the past couple of years. They wanted to be back in a conference with natural rivals like Chicago and St. Louis. The recent re-alignment plan -- approved by the Board of Governors -- solved that issue.

The other thing they've hoped for is to host a Winter Classic. And I figure they'll eventually get that, too.

The hold-up might be finding a proper venue. The University of Minnesota football stadium or Target Field currently seem like the most likely sites when they finally get their turn.
To: Detroit GM Ken Holland … A Nicklas Lidstrom clone

For the past several years, Holland has joked about retiring when Lidstrom finally decides to hang up his skates. A clone of the ageless star would make Holland happy and keep the team in Cup contention as they have been almost since the day Lidstrom arrived in Detroit as a rookie in 1991.

Of course, the 41-year-old Lidstrom has proven to be pretty much a one-of-a-kind talent. He might just be too tough to clone!
To: Pittsburgh head coach Dan Byslma … A full lineup

With top centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal at his disposal, Byslma once could create matchup nightmares for opposing coaches. During the past few seasons, though, he's rarely had all three in the lineup at the same time.

To his credit, Byslma has continued to keep the team moving in the right direction no matter how many stars he does or doesn't have sitting in front of him. Despite that success, I'm quite sure he'd like to try it with his full complement of players.
To: the NY Islanders and their fans … A new home

As the clock ticks slowly toward 2015 when the Islanders' current lease with the Nassau Coliseum expires, the once-proud franchise remains stuck in neutral despite a roster that includes several talented young players.

If the Islanders are going to stay on Long Island, they'll have to get a new building. The team simply can't go forward past 2015 in the Coliseum.

Owner Charles Wang has seen several plans fail to get the necessary local support for public funding. At some point, in lieu of a new rink, Wang will have to consider moving or selling the franchise to someone who'll relocate it. That would be a sad day considering the early history of the team.
To: the Florida Panthers … A playoff spot

The last time the Panthers qualified for the postseason, Bill Clinton was still living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obviously, a lot has happened since.

This year, the new-look Panthers have gotten out to a terrific start in a comparatively weak Southeast Division. Kevin Dineen's team holds an eight-point lead on the second-place Jets. While we still have a ways to go before April, I really believe the League's longest playoff drought will soon come to an end.
To: Kyle Turris … A fresh start

Not much went right for Turris in Phoenix. With the encouragement of the club, he left the University of Wisconsin about two years too soon to sign a pro deal with the Coyotes.

Kyle Turris
Center - OTT
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 9 | +/-: -2
In two mostly full seasons, he totaled just 20 and 25 points, respectively.

Last April, in a four-game first-round series loss to the Wings, he had a goal and two assists and he seemed like he might be turning a corner. Then, with no leverage, he opted to engage in a senseless contract battle that cost him the first few months of the 2011-12 season.

The No. 3 pick in the 2007 Draft, Turris finally was moved this past Saturday, traded to Ottawa. In Canada's capital, working for upbeat coach Paul MacLean on a rebuilding team, Turris has a chance to start again. I hope he takes advantage of it.
To: Sean Avery … His own reality show

Watching Avery strut around a fashion shoot during the debut episode of HBO's "24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic," I couldn't help but think he'd be perfect for one of those silly reality shows that dot the programming schedule of several cable channels.

If he can't get his own show, maybe Avery can jump in with Snooki & Company on "Jersey Shore."
To: Jarome Iginla … A one-way ticket out of Calgary

The classy Iginla loves his life in Calgary, but if he wants to put a Stanley Cup on his mantle before he retires, he'd be wise to think about a move elsewhere.

The Flames need a total rebuild. That takes time. At 34, Iginla doesn't have too much of that to waste.

At this point, he remains an impact player. That impact would be much more dramatic if he had a more talented supporting cast around him.

Iginla could opt to stay in Alberta. Like I say, he reportedly loves his life in Calgary. Still, I'd love to see him move to a place where he had the ultimate chance for success.
To: Predators head coach Barry Trotz … Nothing!

The only coach Nashville hockey fans have ever known already has the best gift of all -- a patient general manager who allows him to work his way through inevitable down periods. There's no coach who could ask for more than that.
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