Hey everyone, I wanted to take a break from the UFA of the Day and post something I thought was sort of interesting. If you can get through it and my child like spelling and grammar, then we’re going to be just fine. This is a little piece called “The case for reclamation”.
Reclamation projects; I hate them, Vancouver fans at this point have to hate them too, or at least not be “in like” with them. Why? Because it’s a way for management to bring a player in who at one point had a little bit of success and they’re trying to reignite that fire and at a discounted price, usually because they’ve been terrible since the “glory” season or seasons they had. Lets be honest though, it’s season, not seasons.
When I think of reclamation projects in the past the names that jump off the page to me are names like: Brad Isbister, Byron Ritchie, Jan Bulis and Marc Chouinard. That’s just a small sample. In recent years we’ve seen it with the likes of Peter “I’ve always got cotton mouth” Schaefer and last season with Marco Sturm. Needless to say, most of us know how each and every one of these situations ended in Vancouver. It wasn’t pretty.
Then again, there is the occasional project that you can at least get some mileage out of. Even if he did over value himself at the end of a career year, Anson Carter did well here. The same could be said for Taylor Pyatt. A high draft choice in 99 he never was able to be and elite power forward. He wasn’t really able to be that guy in Vancouver either, but in the years he was here and the offense wasn’t around like it is now, he was able to contribute some goals.
Also, who could forget Mats Sundin? Mats wasn’t a classic reclamation though, he was more of a “lets see what’s left in the tank”. While he wasn’t a force, he also wasn’t a shadow of the player he used to be. He also helped Kesler become more of an offensive player. Kesler had a breakout year playing with Sundin and Demitra.
If you’ve made it this far, thank god, you’re a saint.
Two players who make a strong case to be reclamation projects are Peter Mueller and Guillame Latendresse. Both have size, skill and have been able to register 20 goal seasons. Mueller had a career high his rookie season when he registered 22 goals, 32 assists for 54 points in 81 games. Since then he’s been plagued with concussion related injuries and hasn’t been able to find that scoring touch again when healthy. He was traded along with Kevin Porter to Colorado for Wojtek Wolski in March of 2010. It looked like a change of scenery was all he needed because he registered 9 goals, 11 assists for 20 points in 15 games. Once again the injury bug appeared and caused him to miss all 82 games of the 2010-2011 season and 50 games of the 2011-2012 season. Just last week he wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer from the Avalanche, making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Latendresse has been a little luckier. He missed 58 games in 2010-2011 with groin issues, and last season he missed 65 games due to concussion related issues. However, his career didn’t start out as promising or as quickly as Mueller’s did. Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, 45th overall in 2005, Latendresse spent an entire year in junior before cracking the Habs lineup in 2006-2007. In 80 games that year he had 16 goals, 13 assists for 29 points. The next year he once again matched his goal total from his rookie year and finished with two less assists for 27 points. The next season is where injuries caught up with Latendresse. He missed 26 games with shoulder and neck injuries. However, he was still able to score 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in 56 games. The next season in Montreal would be his toughest and last. He had a terrible start to the season, in fact, in the 23 games he played with the Habs before being traded; Latendresse scored only 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points. So on November 23rd, 2009, The Canadiens traded him to Minnesota for Benoit Pouliot.
Like Mueller, Latendresse had a fantastic start with his new team. He scored 25 goals and had 12 assists for 27 points in 55 games. Though the Wild failed to make the playoffs and Latendresse had only been with the team for 55 games, he ended the year tied for first on the team in goals. Hoping to build off of a season in which he registered career numbers across the board, Latendresse was sidelined for 71 games due to a groin injury. The next season wasn’t any better. Latendresse missed 65 games with a concussion and one due to a hip injury, limiting him to only 16 games.
Like Mueller, Latendresse was not tendered a qualifying offer from the Wild, making him a free agent on July 1st. Both players, if healthy have proven they can be a force. At the pace Latendresse was scoring even only playing 11 and 16 games the past two seasons respectively, he still would have been on pace to score more than 20 goals.
Mueller, if healthy would have been on a pace of around 17-19 goals each season. For both players those numbers could have easily been more than what they’re estimated at. Could be less, too, but given how they had been playing leading up to injury I’m confident saying that both players are capable of scoring 20-25 goals a season.
So at the end of all this, which player do you take a chance on if you’re Vancouver? And how much are you willing to spend? Mueller, whose injury problems have been predominantly concussion related: or Latendresse, who is going through his first (and hopefully last) bout with post concussion syndrome? For me personally I’d have to go with Latendresse. He’s only had one major concussion and was at a pace here he would score more goals than Mueller. Not only that, but Latendresse is 6’2”, 230 lbs. He’s a safer pick and has 25 lbs on Mueller. I would offer him a one year deal worth $1.75. I know that’s less than the $2.5 he made the past two seasons, but after two years of playing as little hockey as he did and this being a case of reclamation, one year at that price tag is far too me.
If you had to pick one of the two, who would it be? Let me know!
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