Friday, October 12, 2007

Worst Player Early Season

It's still very early in the NHL season, but if I can pick an MVP so far this year then I can also pick the player who has played the worst despite regular ice time. So far this year, that man has been Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks. Whiled playing a lot of minutes for Vancouver (over 22 minutes per game) Bieksa has managed to put up a -6 +/- rating in only 3 games to go with his zero points. Bieksa appears to be a player positioned to fail this season. At age 25, he suddenly had his best offensive season of his career (going back to at least the year 2000 including several NCAA and AHL seasons). His 42 points was very important to Vancouver. It led their defence in scoring. He was rewarded with a large pay raise signing a three year $11.25 million contract. The problem is that it looks quite likely that his offensive success in 2006/07 was a fluke. There is no reason to imagine he can repeat it. If Bieksa cannot succeed offensively, his defence is only good enough to make him a borderline NHL player. It is very early in the contract, but I think it is very likely that the Canucks made a mistake signing Bieksa for the amount of money they did - given that he lacks any track record (beyond one season) as a good offensive NHL level defender.

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