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08-07-2009, 05:25 PM
Citizen Cane
Honoring AAC/11th AF
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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Originally Posted by Vagrant View Post
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.
This. To me Pitkanen is a guy, maybe the player, who seems to (borrowing another sports phrase) always want the "ball" in a late-game pressure situation with the game on the line. I admit I may be unduly swayed by that NJ game 7 effort that personifies this, but I'm not sure there is another player on the team who both wants it in late-game pressure situation...and can deliver in said situation. Some guys want it but don't know if they can deliver.

I even gave him a vote for #2, even though I know its Staal, for that reason.

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