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Grading the Islanders: Freddy Meyer, little ball of hit

There has not been a season for Freddy Meyer in an Islanders uniform that hasn't included stretches of being unloved, according to the standards by which players measure love: Getting to play regularly. Yet there hasn't been a season in which he didn't patiently wait through his time in the pressbox (or, in 2007-08, through the waiver interregnum in Phoenix), only to return to the lineup and show more than many previously thought he had in his 5'10" arsenal.

Last season was probably his best. It was also, at age 29, his busiest as he logged a career-high 64 NHL games. If he is a #6 or #7 defenseman, he is a fantastic one for the reasons cited above. If he is asked to carry a higher pairing, well he's shown stretches where he can do that well, too.

And that is why several commenters around here have advocated his re-signing: If it's a depth guy you want, he's that -- and much more. If it's a bigger role, well he's never pulled that off for an entire season, but it's not like you'll be overpaying Freddy for his contributions. It did not go unnoticed* around here that, post-Andy Sutton trade, Meyer was the most physically imposing defenseman on the team -- and he did it without running himself out of position. I actually started to get nightly giggling fits when Meyer would catch another unsuspecting forward with a big hit from his very un-Sutton-like frame.

*What's with the plague of double-negatives in this post? I don't know, but sorry ... it would be impolite for me not to apologize.

Freddy Meyer

#44 / Defenseman / New York Islanders



Jan 04, 1981


UFA ($600k salary in 09-10)

5 (2.48 on 5-pt. scale)

Always a useful depth guy.

Revisiting last year's report card, I notice I was a little less certain about what Meyer could do, though the signs of reliability were there (particularly when you consider he was paired with -- and likely hindered by -- Brendan Witt in 08-09). I think it's safe to say he built off that season (one that was limited by a groin injury, too), even though he did see some early stretches as the odd man out early in 2009-10.

2009-10 - Freddy Meyer 64 4 11 15 -2 40 16:46 0:04 1:51 0 56 7.1

Well, even though early in his career it was part of his billing, you don't dress Meyer for his offense. You dress him for his all-around game, general mobility and physicality. He gets essentially zero powerplay time, so in that context the 15 points he did put up are just fine.

As for his defensive game? Well, by the rate figures at Behind the Net he was about middle of the pack on the blueline: Third of seven in rating/relative plus-minus (minimum 20 games) and +/- per 60 minutes, but fifth of seven in Corsi relative to quality of competition. However, his early season partner was Witt, who we know had declined enough to even be demoted to the AHL despite his substantial salary. The rest of the season, his partners were all over the place, most frequently including Dylan Reese, who played all of 19 games.

So the story of Freddy Meyer IV's 2009-10, in my book, is a story relative to time of the year and the teammate he's stuck with. In that sense, his best stretch came at the end of the season, when for 19 games he formed an effective pairing with a 25-year-old making his NHL debut. That hints that there is indeed more to Meyer than the casual observer expects.

For my money, I'd be happy to learn more in 2010-11, though not at the price of failing to add a new top-three D-man to the mix. The question is: Can he continue what he showed during the final half of the season -- assuming the Isles don't ask too much of him -- or will he be allowed to walk as part of a much bigger defensive makeover? Either scenario is plausible and defensible, but I keep coming back to how, for a #5-6, he sure makes a decent #3-4 in a pinch.

The Poem

Sung to LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great"

The word is that when you had a child
You and Ms. IV
Found nutrition
You passed this wisdom on to a child
Who wears

However you came to know Julia Child
We're thrilled
That it's working
Trivia like this makes this sport wild,
And keeps
Me poorly rhyming

I hope you return for one more go
If Garth
Kept your number
If not there's something you should know:
Your hits
Were welcome thunder

When Freddy Meyer hits
When Freddy Meyer hits
Random Downies meet their match
When Freddy Meyer hits

The Grade

So obviously my expectations were mixed coming into the season. The purpose for grading is to revisit your own expectations, and grade Meyer based on that curve. If he showed more than you expected, you grade him somewhere between 6-10. If he failed you, 1-5. You get the drill.