So you're Keith Aucoin. You light up the AHL. You played 38 games with the Hurricanes in 2007-08, then spent the next four seasons virtually buried in the Capitals organization until Dale Hunter (of all people) gave you another shot.
Buoyed by the opportunity -- and with Hunter quitting as quickly as he arrived -- you sign with Toronto because they are so shallow at center that Tyler Bozak thinks he can get an eight-year contract.
Then the lockout happens and you hit waivers, where you're claimed by the only team that comes close to matching the Maple Leafs' playoff drought.
Aucoin ended up having a good season at age 34. His 41 games were a career high despite it being a lockout year. His 12 points are one short of a career high despite him playing on checking lines and getting little power play time.
There was a mid-season stretch of scratches in early March as the Isles worked David Ullstrom back into the lineup, among others. But Aucoin functioned pretty well in a bottom six role, flashed the skill that has made him a prolific AHL scorer, and combined for some big goals. Of course, the more physical Colin McDonald is the bottom sixer who got the contract extension.
Aucoin, in contrast, appears headed to free agency.
A look at some of his numbers:
|EV TOI/Gm||Rank||OZ %||Rank|
|Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|PP TOI/Gm||TOI Rank||Pts.||PK TOI/Gm||Rank|
|Penalty Plus/Minus||Is it Luck?
|Taken||Drawn||On-Ice Sht%||On-Ice Sv%||PDO|
Data above taken from NHL.com and Behind The Net. Linked categories will take you to relevant pages where you can find the rest of the data in context.
Given his role, Aucoin doesn't stand out much and probably didn't catch fans' attention the way he does in the AHL. But little things about his play hint at a longtime veteran with talent and hockey intelligence.
He doesn't take penalties but draws his share. He doesn't get much offensive zone ice time but generates his share of shots. And he can take faceoffs, taking 344 (though his 48.6% was behind John Tavares, Casey Cizikas and Marty Reasoner).
Basically, Aucoin has the look of a player who can keep your bottom six pointing the right way, even if the 5'10 forward doesn't possess the physical game people typically expect from a player on the third or fourth line.
It's understandable that the Isles or another team would look for someone sexier, someone younger with theoretically untapped potential. But Aucoin can serve a role that helps a team. If another GM realizes that, he should add to his still-paltry 143 NHL games played.
For our annual report card exercise we ask two questions of our readers about pending free agents: How well did he meet your expectations in 2013, and under what (if any) conditions would you bring him back?