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Tom Preissing Looks To Make Impact with Colorado Avalanche

James CriderCorrespondent INovember 12, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tom Preissing #42 of the Los Angeles Kings moves the puck through the neutral zone during a preseason game against the St. Louis Blues on September 22, 2008 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kings defeated the Blues 2-1. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After undergoing offseason knee surgery, defenseman Tom Preissing has recovered and will soon finally be able to suit up in his first game for the Colorado Avalanche.

The timing couldn't be better.

Preissing is known as an offensive defenseman, and he'll be joining a team that has scored only one goal in its last 31 power play chances over the last nine games.

He also brings a hard right-handed slap shot from the point, something that's been sorely missed since the departure of Rob Blake. Sure, it's not the cannon that Blake's was, but it's certainly better than Adam Foote's.

What else he may bring to the table is up in the air.

Tom Preissing's career has been an interesting one, to say the least. He was never drafted, breaking his way into the NHL at age 26 when the San Jose Sharks signed him before the 2003-2004 NHL season.

The season after the lockout (2005-2006) was when Preissing officially put himself on the map as a marquee defenseman; he scored 43 points (20 power play assists) and was solid in his own end with a plus-17 rating.

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Following the 2006 playoffs, Preissing was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a three-way trade that sent Mark Bell to San Jose and Martin Havlat to Chicago.

In Ottawa, Preissing potted 38 points along with a remarkable plus-40 rating (tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for best among defensemen in the entire NHL).

After only three seasons in the NHL, Preissing found himself in the Stanley Cup finals where the Senators were defeated four games to one by the Anaheim Ducks.

In the following offseason, like all players coming off a great year, Preissing got his payday from the LA Kings, signing a four-year, $11 million contract.

However, his play in LA was nowhere near the level he had been known for.

In his first season with the Kings, he failed to reach the 30 point plateau and was a minus five. The second season, he only played 22 gamesβ€”due to a combination of feuding with coach Terry Murray and coming down with vertigo.

As a result, Preissing was shipped with Kyle Quincey and a fifth round pick to Colorado in exchange for Ryan Smyth.

That brings us to now.

To put it bluntly, the Avalanche acquired Tom Preissing as a salary dump. LA didn't want him anymore and had to rid themselves of a big contract in order to absorb the $16.5 million they'll be paying Ryan Smyth the next three years.

Ask anyone in LA what they thought of Tom Preissing, and they'll tell you he was a complete bust the entire time he was there.

Be that as it may, one must consider how low-quality the last two rosters of the LA Kings have been. I'll give you a hint: They drafted top five in the past two drafts.

One must also look to former Avalanche Rob Blake.

After leaving the Avalanche to sign with the Kings, Blake went on to post an abysmal minus-45 rating his two seasons there.

Blake also failed to score 35 points in either season, and this was a player who had scored 45 points or more in his six seasons prior to joining the Kings.

He was as washed up as washed up one can get.

Now in San Jose, Blake is back to his usual level. He scored 45 points and had a plus-15 rating last year; this year he was named team captain.

It's time to see if Preissing can do the same. He certainly won't be surrounded by the same All-Star talent the Sharks surround Blake with, but this Avalanche roster isn't exactly filled with slouches either.

Can Preissing also rebound? Or is he as washed up as everyone says he is?

We'll likely get a glimpse Saturday when the Avalanche take on the Canucks.

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