19 Aug The Glue Guys – Top Five “Ultra-Role” Players
By: Eric Saltsman
What does it take to build a contender?
Goaltending is a must. Leadership is imperative. Excellent defense (because defense wins championships). An intuitive coach. And guys who can put the team on their back when the time calls for it because that’s why they get paid the big bucks.
But, a championship is truly won by the whole team, not just a couple of guys. You need 20 men to hoist Lord Stanley, not just one line.
And thus, there is a discernable need for the guys who fill in the gaps where the All Stars fall just short. These are the guys who find themselves onto contenders year after year and have rings on their fingers to show for their years of service. They may not be flashy players, they may not even put up 20 points in a full season. But these are the players you need on your team to provide the intangibles. And, most importantly, these are the guys who raise their games on the big stage.
And so, I present to you my top five “Glue Guys”. Like it or not, they have each found themselves on teams that ended their season in a parade, at least once in the past five seasons.
5. Matt Cullen
Two Stanley Cups: 2006 Hurricanes, 2016 Penguins
Hard to believe that Matt Cullen (drafted in 1996) is still in the NHL. But not only is he still in the league, he proudly wore an “A” on his chest as he helped Pittsburgh attain their second Stanley Cup in the Sidney Crosby era.
With a fresh contract for 2016-2017, don’t be surprised if Cullen helps this talented Penguins team go for a repeat.
4. Kris Versteeg
Two Stanley Cups: 2010, 2015 Blackhawks
Versteeg has only been a 20 goal scorer 3 times in his career and it looks like he will never reach that plateau again. But there’s a reason why Chicago picked him up again for their 2015 Cup run… and why Los Angeles went out to pluck him off of Carolina last season. With two rings to his credit, he must do some things right and I’m sure can add a timely goal here and there amidst the 16 games you have to win come playoff time.
3. Johnny Oduya
Two Stanley Cups: 2013, 2015 Blackhawks
Oduya is one of my favourite players in the National Hockey League. A quiet guy who goes about his business shutting down his opposition. The Big Swede also has an Olympic Silver medal to go along with his two Stanley Cups.
As a whole, Dallas needs to beef up their blueline. But having this man on the back-end keeps them as perennial contenders.
2. Rob Scuderi
Two Stanley Cups: 2009 Penguins, 2012 Kings
Scuderi has undoubtedly been a part of some very talented hockey clubs. In addition to winning it all with Pittsburgh in 2009, he was also on the 2008 team that made it to the big dance to ultimately fall to the Red Wings.
Also, it is worth noting that Scuderi did play 25 games for the 2015/2016 Penguins who won it all last year… just saying.
A team looking for a veteran defenceman to help them with a playoff push would do well to seek out Rob Scuderi. Based on his track record… teams could do a lot worse in shoring up the back end of their blueline.
1. Justin Williams
Three Stanley Cups 2006 Hurricanes, 2012 Kings, 2014 Kings
You might call Justin Williams the “Robert Horry” of the NHL. He may not quite have seven rings, but you’d be hard-pressed to find players not named Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith who can make the claim of having three.
When Williams joined the Capitals I thought that for sure this would be help them get over their playoff hump of getting past the second round. It didn’t happen.
…but there’s no reason for me not to believe that Williams can win his 4th cup with that potent Washington group in the 2016/2017 season.