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THN.com Blog: Disappearing acts

Ryan Dixon
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The Hockey News
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THN.com Blog: Disappearing acts

Ryan Dixon
By:

Adam Proteau will return April 2. In his absence, the The Hockey News.com will feature several guest bloggers. Up today is THN copy editor Ryan Dixon:

• Initially, I thought New Jersey center Scott Gomez's 13-goal campaign was an issue of bad timing. You're not doing yourself any favors by having an off-year before hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent. Then I looked at his career stats and realized his production this year isn't so much off course as par for the course.

Am I the only person who didn't know Gomez has broken the 20-goal barrier just once in his career, when he posted 33 goals and 84 points last year? His previous high was the 19 he popped in his Calder Trophy season of 1999-2000.

Gomez, who's breakout, post-lockout year was also the only time he's racked up more than 70 points, was awarded a one-year, $5-million deal by an arbitrator last summer. So was Daniel Briere, another pending UFA who has 31 goals and 90 points this year.

Which little man do you think deserves a big pay cut?

• I tuned in to the Toronto-Atlanta game last night and was shocked to find out Bobby Holik still plays hockey. How did a guy once so synonymous with springtime success become completely anonymous? Oh yeah, he inked a lucrative money-over-job-satisfaction deal with the Rangers and, with the same stroke of a pen, signed off on the annual attention he drew each playoff year with the Devils as a shutdown specialist also capable of contributing some goals.

Maybe a post-season run by the Thrashers would reacquaint Holik with what he does (or did) best.

• Colorado may have the most points of any Western Conference team currently out of the playoff picture, but if I had to lay some scratch down on which downtrodden Western club could be in the top-eight mix next year I'd be tempted to take Chicago.

Given the Hawks' paltry points total and current six-game losing streak, that statement might sound as ludicrous as an NHL owner not embracing TV as a way to promote his team.

But think for a moment about the impact Marian Gaborik has on the Wild's lineup. When he's in, they win. When he's not, it feels even colder in Minnesota. Martin Havlat, injured for much of the season, can have the same type of impact on the Hawks.

Michal Handzus played all of eight games this year and if Chicago can convince the pending free agent center to stick around for next year, it's going to dramatically cut down on goals against.

As would a full campaign from Nikolai Khabibulin.

At some point, Cam Barker, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are going to form the core of a quality blueline. Throw in the likely addition of 2006 third overall pick Jonathan Toews from the University of North Dakota and the confidence boost Tuomo Ruutu will get from not having a scoreboard fall on his back this year and there could be a Windy City revival in the making.

The real question is, will any body in Chicago notice?

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THN.com Blog: Disappearing acts