James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Making a good first impression

Friday, April 05, 2013

Being that I’m not a professional athlete (or an athlete at any level, really), I can only speculate regarding what it must feel like to join a new team during the trade deadline. Then again, there are any number of things that neophytes write and observe while brushing off a lack of experience, so I cannot help but think of a grade school analogy.


For players on new teams, Thursday (and in a few surprising cases for guys like Derick Brassard and Ryane Clowe, Wednesday) must have felt like the first day of school. At least a school that’s basically all gym class ... though with the grinding, film-heavy nature of modern sports, it couldn’t be called full-time recess. Some players get moved all the time - making them something like “army brats” and other kids whose families relocate with stunning regularity - while others haven’t ever been through this before.


Still, the basic goal is to impress your new peers. Or at the very least, find someone to sit with at lunch time.


Usually, such first-time experiences are lukewarm enough to generate warnings not to sell a guy down the river immediately. Yet in the case of an unexpectedly large number of introductions, these guys made the kind of introduction you’d expect from a kid who was breathing fire in chemistry class.*


While I cannot guarantee that this will be a comprehensive rundown, here’s a look at how a lot of the new guys fared and how you might take advantage or avoid an impulse buy.




Marian Gaborik - While I still have some serious doubts about the Columbus Blue Jackets’ chances of making the playoffs, I also still love this deal for the team. He made an immediate impact, and while it’s unrealistic to expect a goal and an assist every game, it’s reasonable to expect a boost from a guy who’s produced at an elite level quite often (when healthy).


Gabby’s already taken in every league worth being in, though. As far as I can tell, he skated with former-turned-renewed teammate Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert on Thursday.


While Calvert’s had some amazing moments, I’d take a long look at Dubinsky (10 percent owned in Yahoo leagues), particularly if you’re dealing with a wide variety of categories. Beyond scoring potential that’s promising - but probably only with Gaborik on his line - Dubinsky seems like he can be depended upon for about two hits per night, 100 PIM in a full season and some FW’s. Add all that to his C/LW eligibility and I’d be awfully tempted to pluck him. (I love versatility in head-to-head leagues, at least in depth spots.)


Jaromir Jagr - In a weird way, I think it was actually really promising that Jagr was noticeably tired on Thursday.


Why? Because his hockey IQ and sheer skill still jumped off the screen. While he won’t get many more goals to just bounce off of him going forward, the well-conditioned vet should look better when he’s further removed from being traded.


(Want another reason to get excited about Jagr? Read this well-reasoned piece about the very strong possibility that he’s better for the Bruins than Jarome Iginla would have been.)


So far, it looks like the Boston Bruins are going to roll him out with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, which might expose the fact that Jagr’s 41 every now and then. (Patrice Bergeron’s injury likely had a huge influence on keeping the up-and-far-too-often-down Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line together.) It’s hard to avoid getting excited about this trio.


Ben Bishop - When it comes to goalies, I don’t mind the practice of jumping on bandwagons ... at least when it comes to your third (or even fourth?) netminder. There’s essentially 60 jobs and probably less than 30 good guys available, so if a guy emerges with potential to be a surprise gem, why not launch on him?


Bishop’s Ottawa numbers could be a mirage. It’s not anywhere near realistic to expect many 45-save shutouts after Thursday; that output tied a franchise record and Tampa Bay is becoming a goalie graveyard, after all. Still, when you consider the fact that there are valuable fantasy backups, why not go for a guy likely to run with the ball ... who might just be really good (at least for the next month)?




Jay Bouwmeester - If Bishop, Jagr and Gaborik pulled off the equivalent of becoming the varsity quarterback the minute they stepped on campus, then the next group of guys merely fit in with a funny joke in class. Jay Bouwmeester basically did exactly what the St. Louis Blues probably expected: one assist, he logged a crack over 25 minutes of ice time (only one on the power play, although the Blues didn't really get many chances to try that new unit out), fired two SOG and collected two PIM.


That won’t win you your week by any stretch, but he has some value, especially in TOI leagues.


Derek Roy - OK, stat-leaning types would argue that Roy was actually borderline spectacular on Thursday. His simple numbers were nice but far from unbelievable, however, with an assist, a +1, two SOG and 17:54 of ice time. I already thought Roy (27 percent owned) was worth pondering in Dallas, but now on a better team with more to play for each night (not to mention a new contract still dangling), I think he’s worth a look in deeper leagues.




Jason Pominville - The good news is that it looks like he’ll get at least a dress rehearsal on the big line with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise. The bad news is that the Los Angeles Kings rolled with a 2-0 lead early on in the game, obscuring much of a chance to judge what he might bring to the table (aside from the fact that Minnesota needed him). To really belabor the point with the school metaphor, it’s like someone pulled the fire alarm.


Martin Erat - And this guy got drenched by the sprinklers.


Jump for a worrisome injury and thoughts from around the league.


* - I WISH this happened at any point in my scholastic experiences.


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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 four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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