Bang for the buck, Avery's antics and more from the mailbag
Well, it's time once again to open the good old NHL mailbag and respond to some of your more thought-provoking missives.
Since it's hard to qualify anyone who makes more than half a million clams as underpaid, how about we tackle this based on who provides the best (or worst) value for the money?
There are dozens of players who should have trouble hiding their shame when it comes time to cash their checks, but in terms of impact, I'd rank
Schneider, who's taking home nearly $6 million, has been brutal in Atlanta. His league-worst minus-11 rating is a pretty accurate reflection of his poor decision- making both with and without the puck. At 39, he's finally looking his age.
It's nearly as tough to narrow down the best values from a pretty sizable field, but I'll put my money on
Fun debate topic, with plenty of good arguments to be made. Might be fuel for a future column, eh?
I wouldn't be so sure about those math skills of yours, Lee. It's obvious the Stars are in tatters right now, but it's unfair to suggest that Avery is responsible for their early struggles.
From what I can see, and I live near Dallas, it's unfair to call him a cancer, but it's pretty clear that's he's not the typical team-first guy. It's not unusual to see him hanging out alone in the hallways pre-game, listening to his iPod or watching an out-of-town game on TV rather than talking strategy with his mates. But chemistry isn't the issue with Dallas. Talent and experience are.
Remember: No. 1 defenseman
Meanwhile, Avery's been playing fairly well. He still needs some time to adjust to the system, but the effort's definitely there in all three zones. And hey, outside of
The one obvious issue is that instead of enhancing the game of
Fernandez to the Devils? If Lamoriello was a closet Bruins fan, maybe. Otherwise, what's the upside for Jersey? Fernandez hasn't done much to prove he's the same goalie he was in Minnesota, and his injury history isn't particularly reassuring. At this point, there's not much evidence to suggest he's a better option for the Devils than
I'm all for taking gratuitous shots at the commish -- fight the power, right? -- but blame the hockey operations department, not The Count, for this one.
Despite the fact that 103 names were placed on the ballot -- basically one of every seven players in the league -- there's always someone obvious who gets overlooked. Last year it was
It's not like he should have snuck up on anyone, either. After appearing as an injury replacement in last year's All-Star Game, and getting off to a hot start this year (his .944 save percentage and 1.85 GAA rank him alongside
While that's the explanation, it's still no excuse. The NHL blew it, but it's best not to get too worked up over the snub. The fan balloting simply elects the starters, and it was highly unlikely that Thomas would have outpolled Miller,
After so many years in the dumps, I get why you're anxious for an early sign of better times, but you have to cut Murray a little slack. He's learning about the abilities and chemistry of a new group of players while dealing with injuries (
Yeah, LaBarbera continues to struggle in the No. 1 job, but it's not Murray's fault that he's the best option. GM
The next few weeks should give us a better indication of what Murray's about. He came in giving everyone a clean slate, and everyone deserved a few weeks to show what they have to offer. Now you should start to see what Murray has got in mind.
Tough to ask you to continue to be patient, but that's what it's going to take this season. If nothing else, Murray's scheme should have you believing that better times lie ahead.
The style has changed under new coach
Sorry, Cats fans. If you were thinking that a Bouwmeester trade would provide both instant and long-term relief for your suffering, you're going to be disappointed.
"There are 29 teams that would love to have Bouwmeester, but his name is more valuable than his game right now" one pro scout told SI.com. "He's a world-class skater and his physical play is improving and he's obviously a workhorse. But I think we've all seen the flaws, too. His passing is nowhere near where it was expected to be. He doesn't always make the best read and he gets nothing on his shot. He's been great in his own zone, but the offensive game isn't there. He's not the player we all thought he'd be. I don't think anyone's going to give away the farm for him."
Take that to mean there'll be no
Who might be looking? There's no actual buzz, but it's easy to do the math. The Flyers obviously need blueline help. So do the Senators, Penguins and Bruins. The Wild would love to move
Fair to say that if the Panthers continue to struggle, we'll be hearing a lot more about him.
Sometimes a change of location is all a player needs to find himself. . .that, and a bit of a break from the hockey gods.
Wellwood got the change when the Canucks signed him as a free agent over the summer, but for a while there it looked like his Vancouver career was going to be over before it started. When the team needed to clear roster space for a returning defenseman, Wellwood was chosen for assignment after the season opener. GM
Wellwood has said that he feels motivated by the last-chance nature of this opportunity. He's earning his keep with one of the nicest sets of hands in the league and a high panic point that allows him that extra millisecond to consider his options before making a play. Just as important, he's become the team's best option on faceoffs, and he's been reliable in his own zone.
Can he keep it up? Absolutely. He's not playing with the Sedins at even strength, so he'll continue to face secondary checkers. He's also improved his conditioning, and while he'll never be mistaken for a gym rat, he just looks more like a pro athlete now than he ever did in Toronto. Odds are the success he's having will lead him to stick with the program.
I'd bet on him popping in something like 50 points. That'd be a pretty decent return for a guy who was picked up on waivers.