James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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In Praise of Parise

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Usually, a big free agent addition doesn’t pay off as expected for professional sports teams. Really, even when a player stays with a team, it’s usually not anything to get particularly excited about. (See: Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne flopping for the Nashville Predators so far after receiving significant raises.)

And usually, if a guy gets the top billing in a column, it’s because that player had a fantastic performance the night before.

It’s not too late to draft a team in a league of your own. Sign up for a Yahoo pool here, but make sure you absorb Rotoworld’s Draft Guide first.

Zach Parise didn’t light up the the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Minnesota beat Columbus 3-2 in regulation, yet Parise didn't manage a single point. Instead, his talented linemate Mikko Koivu netted a goal.

Still, when you step back for a second, Parise's numbers are borderline magnificent:

Parise: six games played, five goals, four assists, nine points, +3, four PIM, three PPP, one GWG, 29 shots. (Yup, that’s just one shot shy of five per contest.)

If it weren’t for guys like Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, those stats would be pretty mind-boggling. Instead, they’re just kinda cool.

But seriously, how much more can the Wild expect, especially since Minnesota isn’t exactly playing a high-octane system that tends to amplify the skills of a guy like Parise? If this middle-of-the-pack group makes it, it’ll get there by a combination of Parise’s first line with Mikko Koivu and rejuvenated sniper Dany Heatley, typically tight defense and a rebound/contract year from Niklas Backstrom.

If nothing else, Parise is evidence that not every big-money transaction ends up in sticker shock.

CONQUERING CONACHER

Cory Conacher is not a perfect hockey specimen. And no, I’m not just saying that just because his height makes him an obvious comparison for Tampa Bay Lightning teammate Martin St. Louis.

My major concern with the other diminutive bolt is that he’s not piling up scoring chances, at least in the traditional sense.

In other words, he’s connecting on a large amount of his shots. He’s scored three goals on just 10 SOG in his six games this season, meaning that he's scored on 30 percent of the shots he's taken. He looked quite on Tuesday, scoring a goal and an assist on three shots in just 13:05 time on ice. He’s also averaging around 14 and a half minutes of ice time per game, so it doesn’t look like he’s getting a ton of chances to continue converting at such an impressive rate.

So, yes, Conacher carries some long-term risks - although the quality of his teammates and his AHL work make him worth a look for now.

Also pressing: what kind of nickname should he receive? My instinct is to make a Conan reference, which means we drop down to Conacher the Barbarian vs. Conacher the Destroyer. I’m still on the fence about which one is best.

More interesting bits after the jump.


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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than two years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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