Thursday, December 01, 2005

Why Is He Even In The NHL?

I believe that the only meaningful way to answer the question of who the worst player in the NHL at a given time is to include only players who are playing regularly on their team. In all likelihood, there are in fact worse players around but they do not get a chance to play a regular shift. In order to get a chance to play regularly, usually the player is an established NHLer who is reasonably expected to start playing better.

It was in this mindset, that I picked Shawn McEachern of the Boston Bruins and then later when I thought McEachern picked up his game a bit I picked Wade Belak of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now that McEachern has cleared waivers and Belak has been out with injury (he has only played one game since November 6th), it is time for a new pick.

My pick is Steven Goertzen of the Columbus Blue Jackets. I am a bit suprised that a player like him could have enough ice time to even qualify for such a dishonor. With the week Blue Jackets this year, Goertzen has scored zero points in 19 games. He is a -8 with 12 shots on goa from right wing. I suppose his "value" to the Blue Jackets is as a goon since he does have 24 penalty minutes. Goertzen is a rookie who was Columbus's seventh round draft pick in 2002. Last year he split his time between the AHL and ECHL. In the AHL he scored a huge nine points in 57 games. In the ECHL he scored 3 points in eleven games. He did manage 100 penalty minutes in the AHL last year. In fact, he did not make the Blue Jackets immediately out of training camp. He started the year with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. In three games he didn't score at all.

So why is he in the NHL? Can't Columbus find somebody with more of an upside to play in his spot?

NOTE: One could argue that Doug MacLean and the Columbus Blue Jackets have reached the same conclusion that I have since they sent Goertzen to the minors the day after I wrote this post. Although, most likely the move was made because of a scheduling fluke. Columbus does not play for a week. So they sent Goertzen down to save money. I bet they call him back up for their next game.

Comments:
Belak's been a gealthy scratch... he only missed one game due to injury.

(Leafs fan here)
 
Wade Belak broke his nose. He played with a face shield on. Even though he is not officially listed as injured its almost the same thing. Given Belak's (lack of) skill set, if he cannot fight (or at least threaten the opposition into thinking he might fight) does he have much value? If he is wearing a face shield, he must remove it to fight (or face extra penalties) and if he has a broken nose he might not think fighting is a good idea.

Its correct he was a "healthy scratch" but he was "healthy scratched" in part because of his injury.
 
I've never understood why Belak has remained in Toronto. Tie Domi fits the enforcer bill and has a bit of scoring punch to boot.

Ryan
 
Goertzen is not, nor will he ever be, an offensive force. In a year where the Bluejackets have seen too many players on the ice due to injuries, Goertzen fills the role vacated by former Jacket Tyler Wright, pest (not goon, keep reading). Goertzen will never be more than a fourth line winger in the NHL, but he's not supposed to be. I'm surprised you didn't pick Jody Shelley from the Jackets, instead. He would be the goon on the team, though I believe the new labor agreement mandates that we call him an "enforcer". (that's a joke). I've been saying for years that the Jackets should let Shelley go and give his spot to someone who has a chance of scoring a goal. He's a great guy off the ice, and someone I'd definitely want in my corner. That said, he doesn't need to be playing NHL hockey. You should try watching a CBJ game every once in a while, as the only comments regarding players on this team I see from you are negative. This team is not that good this year, but they are young and will surprise teams as the season gets older. Fedorov may not score goals like he used to, but he's helping Zherdev understand North American hockey. This is more valuable to our team than goals most nights. In the 23 games he has been in Columbus, the team has 23 power play goals (a marked improvement). Give them a chance, you might be surprised.
 
With all the teams in the NHL, choosing a single player is rather foolish. There are full teams that suck, or have sucked in the past. Stephen Goertzen may not be the best player, and performance may be weak compared to "starters", but he plays and with heart. Maybe focusing on players with big $$$ contracts and no drive should be your next focus.
 
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