As we come out of the NHL All-Star weekend, ScoreBoardTX thought it was time to catch up with our buddy and Stars color-man Craig Ludwig, to get his take on the Stars and all things NHL.
ScoreBoardTX: Ok Luds, let start with the Stars. What grade would you give the team at this point in the season and why?
Ludwig: Right now I’d give them a B. It’s taken them as a group about 30 games to grasp the new system the coaching staff has put in place during training camp.
ScoreBoardTX: Who’s the MVP so far on this year’s squad?
Ludwig: Easily for me it’s #47 Alexander Radulov. He’s been great and sitting at 48 points in the 50 games played.
ScoreBoardTX: Any players playing at a higher level than you expected coming into the season?
Ludwig: Radek Faksa has been the Stars most improved player and has taken on a larger role. And Mattias Janmark after missing the entire season last with a knee injury has been great too.
ScoreBoardTX: Give me your top 5 forwards in the league. How do the Stars dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin measure up?
Ludwig: Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche), Nikita Kucherov (Lightning), Patrice Bergeron (Bruins), John Tavares (Islanders) and Sidney Crosby (Penguins).
I’d say they both Benn and Seguin would be in the top 15-20 forwards in the league.
ScoreBoardTX: If you had to pick one specific position you’d like to see the Stars develop more depth at, what would it be?
Ludwig: Top-six skilled wingers.
ScoreBoardTX: Any future Stars in the system we need to keep an eye out for?
Ludwig: Roope Hintz. He’s a 21-year-old Finish kid with good size (6’3” 200 lbs.) and has a real good scoring instinct.
ScoreBoardTX: What teams have been the most surprising to you this year as far as “good” and “bad”?
Ludwig: Good – The Vegas Golden Knights. Bad – The Coyotes and Oilers.
ScoreBoardTX: So if the season ended today who would be your pick for the Hart (MVP), Vezina (goalie), Norris (defenseman), Selke (best defensive forward), Jack Adams (coach) and Calder (rookie) trophies?
Ludwig: Hart – Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), Vezina- Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa), Norris – Victor Hedman (Tampa), Selke-Patrice Bergeron (Boston), Jack Adams – Gerard Gallant (Vegas) and Calder – Mathew Barzal (NY Islanders)
ScoreBoardTX: You’ve done amazingly well the past few seasons picking your Stanley Cup finalists and eventual champs for ScoreBoard. Who ya got this year?
Ludwig: Tampa Bay vs. Nashville in the Finals. The Lightning will hoist the franchise’s 2nd Cup.
ScoreBoardTX: What’s your take on no NHL in the Winter Olympics this year? Good or bad for the league?
Ludwig: Both actually!
The Bad…more eye balls on the sport (which the Olympics provide) is always best for the NHL.
The Good…the best players in the game will be better rested and make for quality playoff hockey.
ScoreBoardTX: Thanks Luds!
Ludwig: No prob.