When people use the phrase “all-name team” it usually refers to players who have goofy, interesting, or awesome-sounding names. Since the NHL boasts some of the best names in professional sports, the NHL all-name team is an impressive one. My starting lineup would be Nikita Nikitin and Roman Hamrlik on defence with Nino Niederreiter, Jordin Tootoo, and Cal Clutterbuck up front, and Nikolai Khabibulin in between the pipes.
But that’s not the type of all-name team I’m talking about right now. I’m curious to see how good an NHL team could be if they had a General Manager with the odd compulsion of only signing players with the same name. How good would an all-Daniel team be or an all-Adam team?
With Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins currently on a tear in his rookie season, I realized how many other talented Ryans there were in the NHL, such as the other Ryan on his team, Ryan Smyth. So how far would an all-Ryan team go?
First line: Bobby Ryan – Ryan Kesler - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Because it’s my own damn game, I’m allowing last names, so Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan lines up alongside Ryan Kesler of the Canucks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. With two power forwards like Ryan and Kesler making room for him, Nugent-Hopkins should have plenty of time and space with the puck.
Second line: Ryan Smyth – Ryan Getzlaf – Ryane Clowe
Smyth has 27 points in 33 games in his second go-around in Edmonton while playing 20 minutes a game. Anaheim’s Getzlaf is a bonafide all-star and the second line is rounded out by the similarly well-rounded Clowe from San Jose.
Third line: Ryan Malone – Ryan O’Reilly – Ryan Callahan
The all-Ryan third line has plenty of scoring punch from Tampa Bay’s Malone and Rangers captain Callahan, while the young O’Reilly is developing as a legitimate playmaker in Colorado and is leading the team in points.
Fourth line: Ryan Jones – Ryan Johansen – Ryan Shannon
While lacking a bit in grit, the fourth line has plenty of speed from Tampa Bay’s Shannon, a touch of scoring from Edmonton’s Jones, and a ton of youth and potential in Johansen of the Blue Jackets.
First D-pairing: Ryan Suter – Ryan McDonagh
While people generally focus on Suter’s partner in Nashville, Shea Weber, Suter himself has the goods to be a number one defenceman and is currently second in the NHL in icetime per game. Meanwhile McDonagh is quietly logging big minutes for the Rangers while notching 14 points and a plus-7 in 30 games.
Second D-pairing: Ryan Wilson - Ryan Whitney
Wilson is the only defenceman on the Avalanche with a positive plus/minus at plus-5 and has 14 points to go with it. His all-Ryan team partner, Whitney, is a credible top-four defenceman with offensive ability who scored 27 points in 35 games with the Oilers last season, though he’s frequently derailed by injuries.
Third pairing: Ryan Ellis – Ryan O’Byrne
The all-Ryan team is lacking a bit in defensive depth, as we need to dip into the Predators’ prospect pool to find the diminutive Ellis, who is currently leading all Milwaukee Admirals defencemen in scoring. The Avalanche’s O’Byrne is a solid, if unspectacular, defender.
Starting Goaltender: Ryan Miller
Despite his issues this season with collisions and being surprisingly average, the Sabres’ Miller makes a fine starting goaltender for the all-Ryan team.
Backup Goaltender: Ryan Rondeau
Unfortunately, the goaltending depth falls apart after all-star and Olympian Ryan Miller. Apparently, there are no other Ryans in the goaltending ranks, at least in the NHL, AHL, or ECHL. In order to complete the all-Ryan team, our hypothetical obsessive GM has to dig down into the Central Hockey League to find former Yale University goaltender Ryan Rondeau, currently tending goal for the Laredo Bucks in Texas.
Altogether, the All-Ryan Team looks pretty decent: they have great offensive depth, a fantastic number one defenceman, and an Olympian in net. Still, the defensive depth is a little suspect and if Miller goes down to injury, look out.
Would any other names make a good team? Could you make a decent team of Mikes and Michaels? Would Mikaels count? There are a decent number of Jons, Johns, and Jonathans. Would they compare to the All-Ryan team? Or, how about Nic, Nick, Nicolas, Niklas, Nicklas, and Niclas? There are also a frightening amount of Mats, Matts, Mathieus and Matthews, with the possible addition of the Mattiases.
A team of Steves, Stevens, Stefans, Stephanes, and Stephens sounds promising, but the best goaltenders are Steve Mason and Stephen Valiquette, which is just depressing.
What about all time? Heck, there are enough players named Bobby in NHL history to make a pretty impressive team, only lacking a starting goaltender. They do, at least, have a great backup in Bobby Taylor, who was behind Bernie Parent in Philadelphia. Perhaps they could snag friend-of-the-blog and goalie fighter extraordinaire Bobby Goepfert (currently playing for the DEG Metro Stars in Germany) to man the pipes for the All-Time All-Bobby Team.
Bobby Hull – Bobby Clarke – Bobby Bauer
Bobby Burns – Bobby Smith – Bobby Rousseau
Bobby Connors – Bobby Holik – Bobby Ryan
Bobby Gould – Bobby Carpenter – Bobby Schmautz
Bobby Allen – Bobby Orr
Bobby Benson – Bobby Dollas
Bobby Trapp – Bobby Rowe
What do you think? What would be your pick for the best current and all-time All-Name Team?