Monday, May 9, 2011
Player Recaps: Guys That Played In 21-60 Games (Including Sid, Malkin, and Staal)
As promised, I continue the recap of each player that got in to 21-60 games for the Penguins this year. These are the guys that were affected most by injury and/or were the people that carried the majority of the weight in place of the injury list through spot duty. Again, I'm not doing anything incredibly in depth. If you want to see their detailed stats and things of that nature just go to the Penguins website or something. My template will cover the basics: games played, the highs, the lows, additional comments, and the future. All photos are courtesy of Yahoo! Sports or Getty Images.
Name: Mike Comrie
Games Played: 21
The Highs: Comrie scored the last goal of the season, in to an empty net against Atlanta. This was largely symbolic, but you could tell the guys on the ice wanted to get the puck to him.
The Lows: A hip injury and eventual surgery robbed Comrie of any chance at continuity early in the season.
Additional Comments: Comrie is married to actress/singer Hillary Duff still and comes from a rich family. By all accounts, he's still way ahead of the rest of us.
The Future: Comrie will be a UFA July 1, so he is free to go wherever he chooses. Demand will not likely be high, including from the Penguins. He may have to sign a 2-way deal to get a situation he really wants (winning team or location such as Los Angeles).
Name: Brent Johnson
Games Played: 23
The Highs: Posted the same save percentage as Marc-Andre Fleury (.920) and had a lower goals against average (2.17).
The Lows: At times, can look off his angles and tends to give up goals in bunches when he's "off".
Additional Comments: Will forever be remembered in Pittsburgh sports history for his "fight" with Islanders G Rick DiPietro.
The Future: Johnson is under conract for the 2011-12 season, so he will serve as the #2 guy once again. A solid backup who can start and win when called upon. A bargain at a $600k cap hit.
Name: Dustin Jeffrey
Games Played: 25
The Highs: Only scored 7 goals on the season, but some were timely such as his goal 2 goal effort agaisnt Boston 3/5/2011.
The Lows: Season was effectively ended by a knee injury in late March.
Additional Comments: Spent much time bouncing back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Showed an incredible work ethic and "whatever it takes" attitude in his situation.
The Future: Dustin is a RFA so the Penguins will most likely be able to retain his services. It seems likely he will make the NHL club out of camp next season, and probably won't be on a 2-way contract as he was this past season.
Name: Sidney Crosby
Games Played: 41
The Highs: Early season scoring pace (including a 25game scoring streak) with had hockey writers seriously debating whether this was the greatest season in terms of scoring in NHL history.
The Lows: Back to back blows to the head January 1st and 5th turned in to a "mild concussion". Crosby never returned to the lineup. He skated during the playoffs, but later admitted to a recurrance of "symptoms" near the end of those workouts.
Additional Comments: Despite missing half the season, was the teams leader point scorer (66).
The Future: Anyone pretending to know is an asshole. Quote me on that. Crosby will return if he remains symptom free. If not, he waits. When/if he returns to the lineup, this could never happen again, or he could become the next Marc Savard. The NHL rules committee does not seem likely to ban hits to the head, so it's anybody's guess if we will see Sid's career cut short.
Name: Jordan Staal
Games Played: 42
The Highs: 11 goals and 19 assists in his brief time this season.
The Lows: Seemed "snakebitten" at times, with setback after setback delaying the start of his season until the Winter Classic.
Additional Comments: Continues to go through ups and downs offensively as a young player. He has a power move to the net that comes out when he is confident and is quite difficult to stop.
The Future: One would think with the emergency of guys like Dustin Jeffrey and Mark Letestu, the plan will be to have Staal paired with Evgeni Malkin and either Chris Kunitz or James Neal.
Name: Evgeni Malkin
Games Played: 43
The Highs: Had a 5 game scoring steak 12/14/2010-12/23/2010
The Lows: Season was ended against Buffalo 2/4/2011 during a freak knee injury.
Additional Comments: Was a minus player and was not consistently producing for a good bit of his season. Showed dedication to the team by apologizing to GM Ray Shero and rehabbing hard. He said if the team would have made it to the 3rd round, he would have been ready to play.
The Future: Malkin did not overwhelm this past season. While he has not had the luxury of anything resembling quality wingers, the fact remains that at an $8.7m cap hit he will have to produce for this team to be successful.
Name: Arron Asham
Games Played: 44
The Highs: Lead the team in playoff goal scoring with 3.
The Lows: Missed large chunks of time due to injury including a concussion.
Additional Comments: Turned out to be a pretty good pickup. Did not take stupid penalties as I feared at the start of the season.
The Future: UFA status clouds where he will play, but you can't rule out a reutrn to Pittsburgh. Whoever gets him will have a gritty player that seems to step his game up in the playoffs.
Name: Ben Lovejoy
Games Played: 47
The Highs: Played with high confidence after the trade of Alex Goligoski. A switch flipped in his game when he received steady playing time.
The Lows: The puck to the face against Florida 12/22/2010 may have marred the game he scored his first NHL goal in, but it was forever caputres in the "Penguins/Capitals 24/7" series on HBO.
Additional Comments: "Girls love" - Evgeni Malkin on the scarring to Lovejoy's face after taking that puck. Truth be told, a large majority of the hits this website receives, is because of a picture of his facial swelling in the aftermath.
The Future: Has a high ceiling. Could develop in to a power play type defenseman with patience. Also could be expendable in a trade due to high ceiling, low salary, and the eventual need to move junior D-man Simon Despres in to the lineup.
Name: Alex Goligoski
Games Played: 60
The Highs: Gogo continued to show high potential in the offensive zone, scoring 9 goals and 22 assists.
The Lows: Assumed the "whipping boy" position that was vacated by Sergei Gonchar's departure.
Additional Comments: Was traded to Dallas at the trade deadline. There were times where the criticism of him went way overboard. Goligoski still can be a top flight defenseman in the NHL. While his ups were not as high as Kris Letang, they were similar in many ways. I've felt that Goligoski was more consistent than Tang, but if the choice was to trade one or the other...Shero made the right move.
The Future: Goligoski fits in to the plans with the Dallas Stars, and made the most of his increased role there. He scored 5 goals, 10 assists in 23 games.
Name: Chris Conner
Games Played: 60
The Highs: Conner showed incredible hustle and cycling ability.
The Lows: His size at 5'8", 180 lbs makes him a long shot for extended success.
Additional Comments: Does not stop skating, which is exactly the quality you want in a grinder type like him. Does his best to keep his legs moving and not let the size issue limit him.
The Future: UFA that may not return, but if he does it will be to compete for a spot on the 3rd or 4th line. His return will largely depend on who leaves via free agency.