A.J. Thelen was long ago written off as a troublemaking flop by the Wild, but the offensive-minded defenceman is raising eyebrows in the Memorial Cup as a member of the Vancouver Giants, and there’s conjecture now that he’s resurfacing in Minnesota’s plans.
Thelen was chosen by the Wild in the first round (12th overall) of the 2004 draft, but underage drinking charges and off-ice conflicts with Michigan State officials and with agents tarnished his image.
He’s rebounded in Vancouver, though, and Minnesota execs may now retain his rights and prevent him from re-entering the draft. They have until June 1 to decide.
•Oddsmakers have established Daniel Alfredsson as a heavy favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most-valuable player in the 2007 post-season.
According to sportsbook.com, which is in the business of establishing lines for these sorts of propositions, Alfredsson is a 5-to-2 favourite to garner the award.
Ray Emery, Ottawa’s goaltender, follows Alfredsson, attracting 5-to-1 odds. Next in line for the Sens are Alfredsson’s linemates, Dany Heatley (8-to-1) and Jason Spezza (12-to-1).
Clearly, though, Alfredsson is the main reason the Sens have qualified for the Stanley Cup final, which will begin once the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings decide Western supremacy this week.
Previously the poster boy for the Sens’ choke acts, Alfie has risen in recent weeks from about a decade of post-season mediocrity to thoroughly dominate his playoff opponents, including the Buffalo Sabres, whom he eliminated with an OT goal three days ago.
No player can be enjoying the Sens’ ascent more than Alfredsson. He has spent his entire 783-game career with Ottawa, and the aforementioned OT goal entrenched him in the history books alongside three superstars — Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Joe Sakic. Those three also had played at least 783 career games for franchises and scored OT goals that clinched post-season series and sent their teams to the Stanley Cup final.
There’s one distinction Alfredsson will hold all by himself, however, if the Sens take the Cup. He’d be the only European captain of a championship team.