This season, more than any in recent memory, has seen traded NHL players take longer than usual to adjust to new systems.
Perhaps this is because of the new NHL, and how teams are adapting to it in vastly different ways. Thus, when a player moves from one team to another, more of an adjustment must be made.
My guess? I think the players who were idle during the lockout need more of an adjustment period than the ones who played competitive hockey. I also think the younger players have adjusted more quickly than the older ones.
What did Michael Peca do last year? Not much. With the new NHL and a faster team, fantasy owners figured Peca would be good for 55 or 60 points in an Edmonton uniform. Not so. More like 23. In the playoffs however, he's been a hero, returning to his 40- or 50-point ways. We can now say he has adjusted.
What did Chris Pronger do last year? Again, nothing. His production this year has been decent (56 points), but you forget he began the season with just two points in 10 games. Pronger adjusted quicker than Peca did, with 71 points in his last 87 games (including playoffs). Still, for a player of Pronger's caliber, needing an entire training camp plus 10 games to get things going is pretty slow.
What did Sergei Samsonov do last year? He played a half dozen games for the Moscow Dynamo team over in Russia. His adjustment was quick, his offensive impact instant. Jaroslav Spacek? Played competitive hockey last year, made an instant adjustment after his trade this year. Both examples support my theory.
Thankfully for the Oilers, all four of the newcomers are on top of their game now.
What did Carolina's Doug Weight and Mark Recchi do last year? Recchi did nothing, and Weight played for Frankfurt of the German Elite League. Recchi took nine games to tally his first point as a member of the Â‘Canes. Weight had just a point in his first 10. Now, both players seem to be fitting in just fine.
As for where these six players are heading next season Â– here is my take:
Peca will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Despite his fantastic playoff campaign, he is in for a pay cut. Edmonton would love to keep him and likely will. Regardless, he should be good to get back up into the 40-45 point range again.
Pronger's 71 points in his last 87 games point to a season in the high 60s next year for the Oilers.
Samsonov will be a UFA. If Edmonton can keep him, he should be a 70-point player.
Spacek is another UFA. The Oilers will most certainly keep him, as Pronger is thrilled to have him as a partner on the power play. With Pronger's 65-70 points next season should come 55 points for Spacek.
Weight and Recchi are winding down lucrative NHL careers Â– Recchi, in particular. It is doubtful either one of the potential UFAs will reach the 65-point mark again.
Farm Report: Alexander Radulov is making a strong case for a spot on the Nashville roster this fall. He had a 50-game point streak for the Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior League, an 11-point performance in his final regular season game, won the Canadian League MVP award, led Quebec to a Memorial Cup win and was named MVP of the tournament, which he capped off with a five-point game. You don't think he can get any better, but he keeps doing itÂ…My apologies to fans of the Hershey Bears Â– I counted your team dead in the water in last week's column, when in fact they were alive and well. They were up 3-1 at the time, and when they lost on the evening I wrote the column, I must have (in my sleep-deprived brain) figured them to be down 3-1, and thus eliminated. Look at them now Â– Calder Cup finalists!