Though his team is below (the shootout-tainted version of) quasi-.500, GM Garth Snow is looking good right now in Year 1 of his rebuild mission: His first choice of strategic partner and coach is earning raves, that choice has given the young players a chance to play, his 2008 pick of Josh Bailey is panning out (thus far), and Doug Weight and Mark Streit have been two of the summer's better free agent signings.
But how are the ones Snow cut loose from last season doing? Let's take a look. (On that note, I see that in the Caps blog Japers' Rink poll of "which ex-Cap would you like to have back?" a plurality of respondents chose Brendan Witt, just beating out the choice of "no one.")
Start with the farthest away: the goalie toiling in Tataristan, fan cult hero Wade Dubielewicz. Dubie's stats don't look great for NHL numbers, but a recent Russia Today feature on his KHL-leading team spoke of his "90% save percentage" as if that's a fine standard. Joey MacDonald's play has made us quickly get over Dubie's departure.
|AK Bars Kazan - Wade Dubielewicz||19||1136||10||8||3||55||2.90||77||430||.887||0|
Back on these shores, there's the pair of 16-goal scorers scooped up by the Penguins as capped man's replacements for Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone:
#81 / Right Forward / Pittsburgh Penguins
Oct 22, 1974
|2008 - Miroslav Satan||23||9||9||18||-1||20||4||0||1||0||47||19.1|
Number 81 in your program and #666 in your Yahoo! has performed as advertised -- and better than his last season on Long Island -- as his knee appears healthy. The Penguins have used him down low on the power play where he's comfortable, instead of on the point where Ted Nolan had him. Good for Miro.
#26 / Left Forward / Pittsburgh Penguins
Jan 18, 1979
|2008 - Ruslan Fedotenko||21||4||4||8||0||14||0||0||2||0||44||9.1|
Good ol' "Tank." He wowed us when he played like it was 2004 Game 7; he puzzled us when he lugged like Adam Creighton. Turns out that like Satan, an injury (shoulder) slowed him last year, and when he came back for the stretch run, he scored enough to earn himself a contract. Tank does best when crashing the net. He's performed to his career norms in Pittsburgh.
|Yaroslavl Lokomotiv - Josef Vasicek||30||6||8||14||n/a||61|
The third of last season's departed 16-goal scorers, Havlickuv Brod native Vasicek (that's just plain fun to say) sounds like his old self except for those 61 PIMs -- more than any full-season total in his career, and this in just 30 games! Did he bring a North American style to the KHL with him?
|Chekhov Vityaz - Bryan Berard||4||0||4||4||n/a||6|
The well-traveled former NHL rookie of the year wasn't signed after a training camp tryout with the Flyers. So he made the jump to the KHL, where he's put up a point per game so far on the league's last-place team. Chekhov is also the site of Alex Cherapenov's tragic death, where prosecutors just announced they blame arena officials. Good times.
#4 / Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks
May 01, 1980
|2008 - Rob Davison||7||0||0||0||-2||15||0||0||0||0||2||0.0|
The curious 2008 deadline acquisition and scorer of the infamous 190-footer on Vesa Toskala, Davison has received spot duty with the Canucks, as is hsi career's wont.
#23 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 30, 1983
|2008 - Aaron Johnson||18||3||4||7||13||12||0||0||1||0||10||30.0|
Lastly, defenseman/forward swingman Aaron Johnson has picked up some depth points on a hot team in Chicago. Unfortunately, Johnson was the victim of a Mike Grier check from behind and is now out injured.
Thus concludes our trip down 2007-08 memory lane. While I wasn't opposed to letting any of these guys go (well, Dubie gave me pause) given the combo of the Islanders rebuilding, depth, and the players' salary demands, it's still good to see several of the doing well in other pastures.