With the shake up of the defensive pairings and the benching of the "Suck Starts with S" line, it seemed appropriate to look at the value for your fan investment of each of the members of the corps. Assistant coach Rick Wilson had his hands full when he took over, and he has performed admirably. Still, there are some liabilities and some not quite living up to expectations.
There are values to be had, and there are players to be done with. Make the jump and get our recommendations.
Marco Scandella (PZZA) - How in the world do you justify sending this kid back? If you tell me it is because he would get top minutes in all situations... well, he is getting that here. I know this is his first pro season, but man. I don't know what he is going to learn in Houston that he can't learn skating with Brent Burns (IJ) for 20+ minutes a game. He has shown he can handle the opposition's top line, that he knows where the net is, and that he isn't going to stand for anyone crowding the goalie. No way there is someone who deserves it more than him.
Sorry, Ms. C. He's ours now.
Rating: Strong Buy
Jared Spurgeon (TINY) - Making an impact is important for a rookie trying to find his place in the NHL. Spurgeon has been positionally sound, as expected, but other than that, he has been... meh. Playing sub ten minutes a game, usually closer to six than ten, is just not going to impress me. Against the Red Wings, he looked completely outmatched. While the entire team looked terrible, Spurgeon and his partner Clayton Stoner (GOAT) had no answer for anyone. Spurgeon tried to lay a check in the corner and bounced so far you would have thought he was made of Flubber.
This isn't about his size. It really isn't. He plays bigger than he is. However, it just isn't there, and he is completely replaceable. Not a good sign.
Greg Zanon (ZUPR) - Zuperman has not been overly Zuper this season. He is still one of the best shot blockers in the game, but he looks to be missing a step, and that led to him being split from the top defensive pairing. He is second on the team in TOI, and leads the team in short handed TOI. The confidence in his game is still there, and he is still the human bruise, but there have been some gaffs, and that brings down his value, if only a bit.
Nick Schultz (MO) - Mr. Steady has been nothing but again this season. He has even pinched a couple times, participating in the offense. He missed a couple games with a head injury, but doesn't look to have missed much. He is now paired with Zanon (ZUPR), and that pairing baffles me just a bit. Seems there is always an offensive D-man and a stay at home type. That pairing is two stay at home guys, so we'll see where it leads. Shut down is good, but only useful at home.
Cam Barker (LEDY) - Does this even need to be written? Barker spent a week in the doghouse, scratched in favor of three rookies. His emotional range on the ice goes from content to slightly rustled. Against the Blue Jackets, he dropped his gloves, and yet the look on his face was still one of complete indifference. Quit with the Botox, Cam, show some passion. Couple all that with his strong inability to get the job done, and it leads to absolutely zero value for your fan dollar.
The new paring of Barker and Zidlicky, and Barker out with Burns on the power play, scares the bejebus out of me. Burns and Zidlicky both need someone back to cover so they can pinch or make a big shot. Barker is... well, not that guy.
Clayton Stoner (GOAT) - Nothing here either. Back in the lineup with the Schultz injury, Stoner showed absolutely no reason to keep him there. This season has shown that Stoner is not quite ready for prime time, and Justin Falk deserves the spot on the roster. Of course, Falk is too valuable to sit in the press box, so maybe this best. Either way, Stoner needs some time in Houston.
Initial Public Offering:
Marek Zidlicky (ZHID) - Quietly playing his game, he has 4 goals and 16 assists on the year. I was just questioning his game after the Red Wings blow out, saying he wasn't doing what he should be. The assists are nice, and they are worth one point just like goals, but Zids need to put some in the back of the net. Burns is doing it, why can Zidlicky? Not pinching at the right time? Not comfortable? Found himself a big dose of defensive defensemanitis? Whatever it is, it would be nice to see him step it up, if just a bit. His defensive liabilities are forgiven when he scores, and he is not scoring.