NHL Players Who Desperately Need a Fresh Start with a New Team
There are two NHL goaltenders that have swung and missed on multiple bids to neutralize the notion that they are better off serving a less fervent hockey market than the one they currently play in. The longer it takes them to turn around and keep trekking in the right direction without the other skate dropping, the more the subject of their swollen contracts accelerates the vicious cycle.
Elsewhere, one established NHL defenseman and one forward who ought to be a regular in the top league by now are struggling to land a regular roster spot with their current teams.
For all four, the 2011-12 season said that, perhaps, a move to a different organization was in order. In the year since, a lack of improvement on their outlook in the status quo confirms that need a chance to clear their heads and their slates.
Many other players who are not in the most ideal situation may find a better fit with a different NHL franchise, but they are still at a point where “desperate” is a strong description.
That is no longer the case with the following four, who have cemented the notion that they absolutely need a change of address.
Not so surprisingly, Ilya Bryzgalov’s comments reeked of frustration when he told reporters of his future as a Philadelphia Flyer, or lack thereof, “I can’t read the people’s mind. I can’t project things what they’re thinking, that’s why I’m not worried about things I can’t control. I maybe want one thing and they want a different thing.” (h/t USA Today)
The fact that he offered any response other than a straight desire to return speaks to the toll the two seasons he has spent under the heat lamps of the Wells Fargo Center have taken on him.
He went from posting two seasons in the .920 save percentage range with Phoenix to two in the .900 range as a Flyer. He has littered his game log with shaky scorchers in the goals-against column and, in 2013, backstopped the bulk of Philadelphia’s first playoff no-show since 2007.
Inconsistency has defined Caron’s attempts to land a regular roster spot with the top Bruins team and, with the exception of 13 points in 17 AHL games in 2011-12, his ability to produce in the minors.
In addition, when he has played in the NHL, Caron’s nightly average ice time has lessened with each of three successive seasons. According to the career stats portion of his profile from The Hockey News, he skated 12:40 per night as a rookie, 11:31 last year and 9:24 in 2013.
With promising prospects such as first-year pro Ryan Spooner and recent major junior graduate Alexander Khokhlachev in the equation, Caron’s best bet is to sign somewhere else when he hits free agency this July.
Roberto Luongo, who has been in net for five of those losses, was on a personal six-game skid in playoff games at any venue entering Game 3 of the San Jose series. In all six installments of that slide, he has allowed either three or four opposing goals and only twice has he finished the evening with a single-night save percentage exceeding .900 (.921 on April 11, 2012 and .909 last Friday).
That skid started soon after a 1-0, 31-save triumph in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, a feat that Luongo handled in a rash manner. Since then, he and the Canucks have remained Cup-less and the pressure of playing for an unfulfilled Western Canadian fanbase has not ceased to freeze him at the most critical points of the season.
Despite the irreproachable numbers Luongo has put up in the current playoff run, his situation has been too recurringly rocky to envision him having a smooth start-to-finish ride with Vancouver in future years. His best bet to readopt consistency is to start scraping the blue paint in another market with a less demanding competitor than Cory Schneider.
By all accounts, this is one player who will get the needed change of scenery. Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal concluded as much when he relayed and assessed Oilers’ general manager Craig MacTavish’s recent remarks on Ryan Whitney.
Naturally, it is not yet known who will give the 30-year-old blueliner new employment or how soon that will come. But even with the secure conclusion that he is going elsewhere, one would simply be remiss not to mention Whitney’s lack of luck as an Oiler in recent years, especially when his game log is as sporadic as it was in 2013 and when he openly rebukes his higher-ups at the end.
It is not as if Whitney is at an age where his skills are expected to decline in the near future. He has plenty of time and space to turn his fortunes around on a clean sheet with a new crest on his uniform.