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07-29-2013, 05:24 PM
Provolone & The Neck
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Originally Posted by CS View Post
Based on his numbers so far, he's a 30-point defenseman when given adequate EV and PP time. His production per offensive minute suggest this fact. He's also at the very least in the discussion with Meszaros defensively if not better. He doesn't hit as much as Meszaros, and he gives up some size. Still he's demonstrated that he's hardly a pushover along the boards and plays well positionally in eyeball tests. Advanced statistics back all of this up.
He hasn't demonstrated anything. He's played 60 games over three years in the NHL. His first two seasons in the NHL (3 games and 30 games) were unequivocally not that of a top four defender, nor was there anything that would indicate that he WILL be one. Potential to be one, maybe. But it was far from a lock. His next 27 games, he played better, for sure, but still nothing that would make me say he is now a top four guy, or a guy that is destined to be one. He has a shot, for sure, but right now, he is not one. And 60 mediocre NHL games does not a top four NHL defender make. I'm not knocking the guy. I'm not saying he sucks. I just think he is overrated here. He may one day be a top 4 defender, but he isn't now and I don't think he is a lock to be one either.

So, no this is not another "hard-on" HFboards player. You're thinking of Lauridsen. I haven't seen a single person claiming that Gustafsson having higher potential than he has. A top 4 PMD is what we're expecting, and based on all the evidence, it is what we're getting out of a 24-year-old. Meanwhile, people were penciling Lauridsen into the top 4 in place of Coburn. There's a significant difference there.
That's the problem. You are expecting it based on 60 mediocre NHL games. If you want to say you are expecting that for Morin or Haag, guys with pedigrees who have that high trajectory who are 18 or 19, that's fine. That makes sense. But Gus is 24 and has played 60 NHL games, none of which would make an objective observer say he is or soon will be a top 4 guy. Again, I'm not saying he won't be, but it is far from certain.

That said, even if you believe Meszaros to be a significantly better player than Gustafsson, which has been proven to be inaccurate, there are a slew of other factors involved:

1. ROLE/COST RATIO: whoever of the two is in the lineup will be playing third fiddle behind Timonen and Streit making their impact on the roster lesser. For the price, 1m trumps 4m for a 3rd pairing defenseman any day.
So Gus is cheaper. Big deal. If they are both on the team it doesn't matter how much money is on the ice or in the press box. Irrelevant if we are simply talking about who is to play. Again, if we are talking about which guy I would rather trade, it would be Mez because of the cost and his injury problems. But if we are talking about who is playing, it would Mez because he is better.

2. AGE. Gustafsson isn't a decade younger or anything, but he is younger enough for it to be a factor.
So Gus is younger (by a shocking 2.5 years). Big deal. If someone is better than him, they should play.

3. HEALTH. Gustafsson has had a minor injury here and there, but he's nowhere near the glass-man that Meszaros has become.
So Mez gets injured. Big deal. If he is healthy, let him play until he gets injured. Worst case scenario he gets hurt and Gus plays anyway. He may not get injured in the press box, but he's not contributing either. No point in keeping him in the press box to avoid an injury. Simply makes no sense.

4. TEAM NEEDS. The Flyers have enough physical guys. Sure, Meszaros isn't a shut-down heavyweight like Schenn or Grossmann, but he's not the most finesse guy. With Timonen and Streit getting on in years, some youthful finesse on the back-end will go a long way.
When healthy, Mez is a pretty effective PMD who is ALSO physical. IIRC, Mez was never a shut-down type of player. He was always a PMD/2-way type of guy. So I'm not sure this really helps your argument.

5. DEVELOPMENT. Gustafsson's development has become a very important cog for the organization's continuity on the back-end leading into the developmental track of Morin, Hagg, and Gostisbehere. You don't want to stunt it.
This is really the only legitimate argument I see here. Obviously Gus not playing will hurt his development. Again, to me, this is nobig of a deal because I don't his future with this team is as instrumental as many of you. I think he's a bottom pairing, replaceable guy with a shot at being top 4. Letting him play more would give us a better picture and him a better chance, but if Mez is the better player like I suspect, I don't think it would be a smart move for the team to play Gus over Mez. You don't play guys at the NHL level over someone else who is better to hope for them to develop unless you are in the midst of a rebuild, which I don't think this team is.

6. LONG-TERM PLANS. Meszaros doesn't fit into the team's long-term plans. That's very clear. Sacrificing Gustafsson, who does, just to benefit Meszaros' value seems extremely counter-productive particularly when Gustafsson could use extended NHL experience before we need him in a much larger role next year.
Again, not something I would consider if both players are on the roster already. If we were talking about acquiring Mez, I may agree with don't want to trade assets or waste a contract space on a guy who will be gone in a year if you have his replacement lined up. But if both guys are on the team, you don't just bench someone because they won't be here next year (see the response to development).

There is no reason, absolutely none, to have Meszaros in the lineup for Gustafsson. None.
Most of these appear to be arguments supporting the idea of getting rid of Meszaros rather than getting rid of Gus, which I am in full support of. If I could trade one, it would be Mez every single day, and for many of the same reasons you have mentioned. But, if we are simply talking about who will be playing if both are on the roster/healthy and only one spot remains, the only thing that matters (or should matter) is who is the better player. You want to put the best team on the ice every night, not put the best contracts/youngest players/guys with the most potential/whatever on the ice. Worries about money, age, and getting injured should not affect your lineup on a nightly basis if both guys are on the roster and healthy.

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