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08-06-2009, 09:54 PM
The Czech Condor
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Joni Pitkanen for me. There are very few players in the league that are able to play the bulk of minutes he does and with the quality of defense he brings to the table. Potentially one of the most underrated defenders in the league by virtue of his former Norris upside. He's a very quiet presence but his economy with the puck is incredible and his panic threshold is very high. Traditionalists would love to see him play more physical, but that isn't his style. He is a positional defender with angle anticipation and lane blocking capability. His skating is phenomenal and when he is out of the lineup, our defense is forced to become more balanced in terms of icetime and players in the lower pairs are exposed. Since what we're trying to determine is "value", which is fairly subjective, I think the fact that Pitkanen can play enough minutes to keep players like Niclas Wallin and formerly Anton Babchuk from taking a ton of even strength minutes is a HUGE plus in his column. He is a minutes eater with a strong skating stride and can adeptly handle either the powerplay or the penalty kill.

I have the feeling that we're going to see Ray Whitney become vastly overrated in this from a team MVP standpoint due to the impressive point totals skewing his value. Do not get me wrong, I am a huge fan of what Ray Whitney does for this team but there are several players that need to come off the board before Whitney. He is a soft one dimensional winger in his late 30's with stick skills to spare and a very strong powerplay presence, but to me that does not scream value. He plays one way hockey.

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