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05-21-2007, 11:05 PM
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Girardi's Upside

The guy came in as a 23 year old rookie, and was darn steady for us on defense. And this during a pretty intense push to make the playoffs, and then during the playoffs. Now – he wasn't perfect, but nobody is. Arguably, he was one of our best defensive defensemen down the stretch. He showed tremendous calm with the puck and in making outlet passes. I also thought he showed great timing and awareness when jumping into the play. He couldn't turn that into goals or assists, but he was poised.

So my question is: what do you think his upside is? I doubt anyone thinks he has peaked. But can he take on more minutes? Be a more physical and dominant force? Increase his offensive production? “Non-flashy” defensemen (IE – not physical, not a lot of points) never get a lot of credit. But can he develop into a perennial “first pair” defenseman? (First pair means a different thing for each team - from a Niedermayer to a Malik clone. But lets say it means - one of the top 60 defensemen in the league) The person you want on the ice with 1 minute left regardless of the situation?

Call me crazy, but I think so. His defense and outlet passing will only improve and be simply stellar. I think he will gain confidence in his offense, and could slowly grow into a 40-50 point player. I doubt he will ever be overly physical, but perhaps he can take it up a notch or two.


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