Posted - 11/23/2009 : 20:06:44 20 games. Thatís the line where one can actually start seeing trends that should continue through the season. By the 20 game mark, the hottest of the hot are cooled. The Kubaís from last year have fizzled. The Seminís have simmered. The real hockey world is back.
The Banger knows this from his 25ish years of watching the games. It happens every year. But one thing has happened this year more so than any other year in recent history. I see, very clearly, a definition between the Free Agents who picked the right team and the Free Agents that didnít.
Letís take a look at the Bangers Top and Bottom 5 Free Agent Moves of the 09/10 season. This could be better or worse for the player or the team they went to.
(I also considered players who moved teams and had a no trade clause. They got to pick their team, so itís close enough to the same thing.)
Get him away from the vice like defensive grips of Jacques Lemaire and into the John ďIíll ride my horses until they dropĒ Tortorellaís creative hands and you see the true magic. Hereís the insanity that is John Tortorella: Gaborik is currently 2nd in the league in time on ice among forwards. Most coaches would want to protect the glass groined Slovak a little more than that. But not Tortorella. Heís keeps this up and heíll see 115+ points and maybe a Hart Consideration. Gaborik looks like a genius for going to the Rangers and Sather looks like a genius for risking the $7.5 million a season. Itís just too bad that there isnít any other talent in New York to help Mr. Gaborik. Iím convinced to this point in the season; there is no player in the NHL with more pure offensive talent than Marian Gaborik.
Just the guys luck. The same guy who gets run over in a parking lot in Banff by Glen Anderson (true story, look it up) is having the start to a career year and his shoulder pops. Being out for a month will hurt not only his Kings but his chances of wrapping an Olympic Gold around his neck. Itís only been a couple of games, but Kopitar has only 1 point in the 2 games Smyth has missed compared to the 11 points in the 8 games prior. Smyth brought something to the Kings they havenít seen in years. Heart, desire, and a commitment to win. The Kings havenít been in the top 10 in the league this late in well over a decade. Too bad it wonít last with Smyth out of the line up.
I know he hasnít played yet, but how smart is a guy to switch teams, not play a game for 2 months, and still collect over $1 million in pay checks?Where do I sign up??
All kidding aside, the Blackhawks are 2nd in the NHL and have the 2nd largest goal differential of any team. Thatís only going to get better when the reliable, responsible, and ridiculously skilled Hossa joins the line up. Plus, look at the Red Wings! Out of a play off spot and looking really average with a less than .500 record on the road. Hossa may be the only player in history that makes the Stanley Cup Final with 3 different teams in 3 consecutive years. There is no one that can rock the UFA summerís like Hossa. Heíll be geriatric before he can do it again.
See Marian Hossa, only he had to play the first 20 games. Philly is built to win playoff games. They might not finish the regular season at the top, but they will be there (or near there) after the Playoffs. Much of that is Mr. Pronger bringing his (mostly contained) hostility, pin point passing, and his try to skate around me 6'6" frame to the already talented Philly defense. He brings true leadership and experience to a squad who needed it. I would be remiss to not remind the masses that he is tied for 5th in defenseman scoring and he and his team mate (Matt Carle) are #1 and #2 for defenseman +/-. Also, his former team is enjoying time in the basement through the first 20 games making his decision even better. I also hear the Female Sports Reporters in Philly are very fine!! (Címon, Iím from Edmonton! I have to throw that in.)
Wow. He might even be #1 on this list. Completely written off by everyone, including the team who signed him!! Atlanta only had $800 grand of faith in this offensive genius known as much for his lack of will as his amazing skill. He looks nice enough on Kovalchukís other wing to think that ATL has a chance to average more than 10,000 fans a game!! Even if he doesnít score another point this season, heís already out produced his numbers for each of his past two seasons. I think his PPG pace will continue and ATL winning ways will continue. Címon. Doesnít anyone want to see them get a single playoff win before they become the Quebec Nordiques part deux?
Mike Komisarek/Fracois Beauchemin
Iím sorry Leaf fans, I really am. The Ďtruculenceí asked for by the giant headed Brian Burke has not come to fruition. Not in recent past have I watched two players leave one team and fall so hard on their next. I am not sure if this is a testament to how good Danny Markov and Scott Niedermayer are to carry these to guys to a $4.5 and $3.8 million contract, but each of these guys should sign every 2nd cheque to their former team mate. The blue chip back end the Leafs appeared to have in the off season might as well be the Blue Man Group. Can't play defensively, canít stay out of the penalty box, and canít kill a penalty. Easily the biggest surprise to the Banger this year. I expected the Leafs to be average, not morbid. These guys better find their game or MLSE will be asking for their money back.
I know he didnít leave, but he should have!! His, ďIím playing with my brother,Ē theory went out the window and he stayed when they didnít re-sign young Rob. Now, little bro goes to Scottieís old home and is comfy in a playoff spot. Playing boring hockey every night. Playing with the games best goalie every night and winning every night. Scottís stuck in Cali with that muggy smell you get in a moldy basement. He's still having a nice season individually, but it's gotta be a sour taste to think his final season will be on a basement dweller. I've never hoped for a trade more in my life. Give Scott a chance to go out on top!! That's the least we can expect out of possibly the smoothest skater his history not named Orr, Coffey, or Savard.
Wow, his comments about wanting to finish his career in Montreal did not mean he doesnít play until then! $5 million for 40ish points is pretty expensive. Ottawa was looking for a replacement for Heatley on the ice and they got a pylon. One of the most gifted players of his generation is simply a painful reminder to kids that you need more than skill. You need desire too. Poor Brian Murray will probably lose his job over this one.
Martin Havlat/Mike Cammellari
Both players left teams I wouldnít think they wanted to. Simple economics and hockey choices. Havlat got brushed aside by Scottie Stan Bowman for a better more durable Marian Hossa and Cammalleri got sent packing by a Sutter getting his brother a top 5 defenseman in Jay Bouwmeester. Both playerís are on teams in the bottom half now and neither player is producing as well as they did last year. Cammalleri is close, only because his line mates are decent. But I bet he would give up his stats to be playing for a winner. Or maybe he just goes to the bank and rolls around in his $30 million to make himself happy.
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