Thursday, March 02, 2006

Making the Mojzis of it

'Tomas Mojzis has a nearly zero chance to blossom into an asset for the Vancouver Canucks. He's 23 and he hasn't played an NHL game yet. Even if he does make the team as the 6/7 guy, he will be in and out for three years because that's the way it is for 23 year old rookies who were 8th round draft picks the Toronto Maple Leafs decided not to sign.'
- Tom Benjamin, circa Sept. 2, 2005



Is it just me, or does Mojzis — the Canucks' eighth defenceman — look pretty good out there in tonight's game? Sure, extenuating circumstances have given him this shot, but tonight he's getting more even-strength ice time than all but three other Canucks.

What really rankled me about the post quoted above was that Tom was trying to illustrate a point about how thin the Canucks' lineup was due to the salary cap.

The thing was, he — as he admits — didn't 'have a clue' about the quality (or lack thereof) of depth that was there.

Tom threw a guy no one's heard of — Johnathan Aitken — into the list of possibilities for the final defence pairing on the basis of 'well, it doesn't matter.' Then, Tom blows a gasket when called on this silliness.

The thing is, if you want to illustrate a point about the Canucks' lack of depth, you really have to know the players involved and their capability to step into an NHL line-up.

Here's Tom from that September post again:
Defense: Ohlund, Jovanovski, Salo, Allen, and McCarthy make the team for sure. Jonathan Aitken, Nolan Baumgartner, Sven Buteschon and Wade Brookbank will fight for the number six and seven defence jobs. (Does anyone care who makes it?)
Now, of course, the Canucks have lost their top three defencemen in Ohlund, Jovanovski and Salo, and the question of defensive depth has become critical to the team's success — at least until one or all of this Big Three return.

Nolan Baumgartner — a former CHL defenceman of the year, no less — has blossomed this season into a viable replacement. Kevin Bieksa had an excellent season with the Manitoba Moose last season, was named to the AHL's All-rookie Team, and looks like a keeper. Most recently, Mojzis has stepped in. (Anyone who can skate as well as he can has a chance to make an impact in the NHL.)

Prior to 2003, I worked in a scouting role watching WHL games, and I'd seen all three of these guys play extensively before this season — Baumgartner and Mojzis especially. And, I knew based on their talent level they'd be the ones fighting for those spots.

Which, of course, qualified me to be berated for being an idiot.

Here's Tom again:
I don't think it makes a dime's worth of difference which two $450,000 a year defensemen win the spots number six and seven. I don't have a clue which ones will make it and I don't care.
As we've seen this week with the Canucks, spots six and seven easily become three and four, and, at that point, it matters who's waiting in the wings.

My guess is Canucks' fans are glad it's Tomas Mojzis — and not Johnathan Aitken.

1 Comments:

At 10:52 AM, March 03, 2006, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

Bah! It's just Tom's anti-Slavic attitude kicking into high gear again >:(

 

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