Ryan Smyth is on pace for 66 points this season; Wojtek Wolski's on pace for 49. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
You know what’s great? Research. Because research prevents me from writing stupid things (less frequently, that is).
For example, I was all prepared to examine how the injuries to Paul Stastny and Joe Sakic torpedoed Colorado’s season and do so by looking at how their absence affected the rest of the team’s top-six forwards. But guess what? Players such as Ryan Smyth and Wojtek Wolski are still producing.
For example, Smyth is currently on pace for 66 points this season; pretty much what he puts up every year. Maybe his centers have been changing, but Captain Canada still gets his numbers. Wolski is on pace for 49 points and again, that’s what he has put up in the past. Milan Hejduk, the Avs’ all-star representative, is also still producing.
But alas, Colorado is still the worst team in the Western Conference.
Naturally, losing about 100 points of offense from Sakic and Stastny combined hurts, but in reality the team is still scoring. It’s the defense, stupid. Gone are the days of Rob Blake and Adam Foote in Denver – OK, Foote is still there, he’s just injured and not as effective as he once was – and if there’s one team that could go for Victor Hedman over John Tavares this summer, it’s the Avalanche.
The current corps is not getting the job done and the goaltending tandem of Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft is simply not good enough to cover blown assignments. Some of the worst plus-minus ratings on the team belong to defenders such as Scott Hannan, John-Michael Liles and Jordan Leopold; all major players. This doesn’t happen on good teams.
And while prospect Kevin Shattenkirk is shaping up to be a top-notch defenseman at Boston University, he can’t help the Avs just yet.
Another example of research over emotion? The recent Ottawa-Islanders trade that saw the Senators acquire center Mike Comrie and young defenseman Chris Campoli for checker Dean McAmmond and a first round pick. A lot of people in the THN office were howling at this one, until we looked at the subtleties of the deal.
To wit; my initial thought on the deal was, “so Ottawa wins a couple games under Cory Clouston and all of a sudden it’s playoff run time?” Not so – though I’m sure the Sens will do everything they can on the ice to go for that eighth spot. Campoli was unhappy with his role under Scott Gordon in New York, McAmmond wasn’t happy with his role in Ottawa and the Isles would have lost Comrie to free agency in the summer, anyway.
As for that oh-so-precious first round draft pick, it originally belonged to San Jose. You know, the same San Jose team whose selection this summer will be about 28th overall, thanks to the Sharks’ proclivity for winning.
So in effect, the Senators took that pick, put it in a time machine for five years and out popped Campoli, a young capable puck-moving defenseman who has put up respectable numbers on dreadful Long Island teams (and, ironically, was a draft day steal himself, at 227th overall in 2004).
The Islanders, of course, will draft somewhere in the first five picks this summer, so another first-rounder is gravy; a player they can take a chance on, or simply add to the organization’s draft depth. Plus they get a serviceable veteran in McAmmond, too.
In the end, with a little research, it’s win-win.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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