Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Dying Breed?

A savvy veteran is a very important and heavily sought after player in the NHL nowadays. But what are you really getting for your buck? Some of the most influential players on each team are the confident and well known veterans, yet these are the same people who play as though they are walking on egg shells if they even hint on injury.

Bubble players are the worst. Scott Niedermayer can not decide whether to retire, or play for another season. Lucky for the Anaheim Ducks, Matthew Schneider, another bubble type veteran player was signed during the off-season, only to injure his fragile and aging body in the first pre-season game. Of course, that is not enough for the Ducks, who find themselves waiting on a rehabilitated Teemu Selanne, who had an incredible rebound season last year, and is now considering the same future dilemma that Scotty is pondering.

Now, having three guys with career numbers like that would draw saliva to any GMs mouth, but is it enough? Frankly, it is not. The new NHL has given birth to a couple new forms of player. The first, and most important is the hybrid player. This is the guy everyone looks to for the big goal or pass, and the big hit. He is fast, yet finds a way to be patient as well. This is the type of player that can easily replace the leadership that a veteran like Selanne can bring.

The second player form introduced after the pansy rules were implemented is the energy player. This is the guy that skates with more heart and intent than anyone else on the ice. This guy can hit, score, fight, pass, talk, and lead. This is the type of guy that replaces the grit and knowledge that a guy like Niedermayer will typically possess.

Why are they important? They do not break like fine china. Comparably, they are the plastic polymer of the nhl, and they last for more than one or two seasons.

This is where it gets simple. Teams who pay energy players and hybrids fair far better in the long run than those who blow their wads on veterans. If you want an example, go to Columbus and see how many times Sergei has iced his elbows in the past year, and compare his salary (6.08 cap hit) to someone who is actually a spark plug to his team. Columbus can not afford to be this absent minded.

~ srotaneS