Hey Brian Burke: Why Can't Mike Zigomanis Play for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Mike Zigomanis was originally drafted in the second round by Buffalo in 1999 and then re-entered the draft and was grabbed by Carolina in 2001. He's posted bad NHL numbers at 40 points in 197 games with a minus 21.
Hardly eye popping numbers. However, he was drafted based on his scoring—330 points in 240 OHL games. So clearly, at some point in his development he was a top-line scoring player.
With a decent size at 6 feet, 200lbs and excellent hockey sense and skill set, his game just didn't translate well offensively in the NHL. Happens to the best of them.
Toronto born and raised, Mike Zigomanis has adapted. As a leader on the Marlie's, he has played exceptionally well, and on top of that, he's a proven locker room/on ice leader. He is used in all situations by Dallas Eakins
And the kids love him!
He even has a Stanley Cup ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although he only played 22 regular season games—and zero play off games—the players and ownership wanted him suited up on the ice for the celebrations, and Mario Lemieux wanted his name on the cup.
That's how much he's liked!
Our 3rd and 4th line centres last year, for the main part, comprised of Lombardi, Steckel, Connolly and Dupuis. They made a combined salary of $10 million.
Should Zigomanis centre our 3rd/4th line?
Zigomanis's NHL salary was a paltry $650,000—and he certainly couldn't have done any worse than those guys. Quite the opposite, in fact. His face-off skills are excellent, usually hovering (NHL/AHL combined) at around 60 percent.
Can you imagine him and Steckel on the PK as a one-two punch? As a matter of fact, our Penalty killing was in the top 10 in the first 10 games last year. Mike played aggressive positional play on the PK, and he maintained an active stick.
Wilson sent Zigomanis packing after the first 8 games. Yup. Why mess with a good thing Ron?
Never mind, you're fired now!
Zigomanis would be a cheap, energized solution to centre the 4th line. The young players all know him and look up to him. He'd completely buy into Randy Carlyle's system too, being a team-first guy—and with his particular skill sets, he could be very effective on the penalty kill and in special situations.
And what message does that send your AHL players? That hard work and good sportsmanship don't necessarily pay off with a ticket to the big club?
Brian—give Zigomanis a chance to play in the bottom 6 line-up. The fans all love him. You won't be disappointed!
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