It's not that Handzus is underrated. It's that we have 900 centers right now, and he is fairly young and cheap, and most teams would love to have him, so his value is really high.
Center is the best position to have more than you need, because it is easy for a center to move to a wing; easier than any other transition, including from wing to wing. Many, many natural centers wind up playing on the wing, just look at JR and Gagne on our team alone. Having extra guys around who can play C is always a good thing.
#1. Why dump all the vets and go with a very young club? With a few buyouts and two nice signings this team will be one of the 2/3 favorites to WIN the Stanley Cup. You don't ever give up chances to win.
#2. Young players need to earn their icetime. Just giving guys 18-20 minutes a night is assinine. If Richards proves he's better than Handzus he'll take icetime form him.
#3. Nothing wrong with playing 10-12 minutes a night. Gagne and Pitkanen both started in somewhat limited roles and have grown as players. A guy like Zubrus was handed 1st line minutes right away, and it hurt his progress.
I just think with the amount of ice time Handzus gets he should be putting up more numbers. The guy has broken the 50pt barrier twice in his career. He has to be one of the slowest players in the league,I'm just not a fan of his. I hope to god he does not play in any overtime games with the proposed new rules,4 on 4 and 3 on 3. My prediction: He will be traded with 5 goals and 12 assists to his credit. Richards will put up more points in 05/06 than Handzus...I'll bet you a pizza.
Last time I checked, I believe several coaches around the league said it is easier to teach someone to play defense than it is to play offense.
I would almost agree with this. True there is a scoring instinct, a timing and ability which is too subtle to teach; you either have it or you dont. Playing defense can be taught, a good player can always learn to be a good defensive player, but only up to a point. There is a huge difference between an adequate defender and an elite defender; a guy who can anticipate the play, defuse dangerous situations before they develop, etc. LIke the scoring instinct, there are certain defensive skills which a player develops ever since he first learns to skate. Elite defenders, guys like Lindstrom, or Madden are every bit as hard to come by as elite scorers, and they are just as valuable to a team.
I think gagne just needs a playmaker on his line and he will score. With Zhamnov last year he had somethng like 12 goals in 10 games. when he scored 30+ he was playing with either Langkow or Recchi. Richards may be a good player to fit with gagne if he is that good, he is more of a playmaker then Carter, he can take some of the defensive responsibility away from gagne and gagne's speed will make up for richards shortcomings in that area. Playing a rookie of considerable hockey sense and skill between players the caliber of Gagne and Roenick might not be so bad. Obviously, Richards needs to earn this time, and I think Handzus could fill in adequately until he is ready. Carter has always been more of a finisher, but who knows, I saw some great passing from him on the phantoms. Carter would be a good fit with someone like Stillman (who I see everyone is talking about signing) Stillman is more of a playmaker then a scorer and can feed Carter. I could see something like this next year(assuming signing stillman) with no clear cut 1,2,3,4 line. Defense is where I think we need help
Gagne Richards/Handzus Roenick
Stillman Carter Sharp
Knuble Handzus/Richards Rado
Kapanen Primeau Stevenson
After watching a handful of Phantoms games - I cannot imagine how Richards would not make the team. He just does everything well - especially defensively. And Hitch already loves him.
Carter, Handzus, Primeau.
it's a question of whether or not Richards is the 4th line center for the Flyers (or moves to wing or something), or the 1st line center for the Phantoms... in either event, i have zero question of how good he's going to be long term, will be interesting how everyone gets worked into the lineup.