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Bryce Salvador: most bizarre recent career arc?

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09-20-2015, 12:22 PM
  #1
vadim sharifijanov
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Bryce Salvador: most bizarre recent career arc?

i was just thinking about bryce salvador, who is pushing 40 and just retired as captain of the devils.

yesterday's discussion of below average top six forwards got me to thinking about andrew brunette and his weird career arc: didn't make the NHL as a regular until 25, bounces around as an expansion team scorer playing above his station, then catches on with superstars in colorado where he puts up his best offensive season at 33, sticks around until he's 38. totaled more than 1,000 games over 13 full seasons. very good playoff record, despite playing on so many bad teams. kind of like a bizarro joe mullen career with significantly lower highs.

but salvador has to take the cake for recent players right?

another late bloomer: five full seasons in the WHL, during which time he is given up on by tampa bay, the team that drafted him. signed as a UFA by the blues, who send him down to play three full seasons in the AHL.

makes the NHL as a regular at 24, lining up next to al macinnis in his first game but falling immediately into his longtime role as a bottom pair guy on a stacked st. louis team.

sticks around for years as a steady, purely defensive guy, and eventually gets regularly paired with the great chris pronger.

gets traded to new jersey as a rental at the '08 deadline when the blues bottom out, and at 32 gets re-signed by the devils during lamoriello's "i don't get the cap" years to a generous/seemingly crazy 4 year contract worth more than he'd made in his entire career up to that point (and salvador is still a bottom pair guy, though a solid veteran one with a track record of many years of unspectacular but steady play under his belt).

after losing an entire season to post-concussion syndrome, and just as that contract is about to expire, he explodes for 14 points (with no powerplay time, as far as i recall) during the devils' run to the finals, not only equaling his entire offensive production from that regular season, but coming two points shy of his regular season career high. in 12 months he went from his unspectacular workmanlike bottom pair career being over after 600 games/nine seasons to a star.

he then earns himself an even richer extension than the last one, and the captaincy, and top pair minutes, before the injuries mount and he starts to fall apart.

he retired at 39, with seven year runs on two different teams. he had a conn smythe-type run where he outscored everyone on his team other than kovalchuk and parise (both $100 million men) but was generally a number 5 or 6 defensive defenseman.

what was the story behind this guy? and what took over him in the spring of 2012? just a totally anonymous player at that time, and when that run was happening my first thought was this was some young kid with a familiar sounding name that i'd never heard of before breaking out, and had to look up that it was the same guy who used to be one of the poster boys for "chris pronger has terrible d partners."

to put his career into perspective, he was a 6th round pick in 1994, the same draft as elias, ryan smyth, jovanovski, and daniel alfredsson. from that draft, chris drury played 900 games and retired four years ago. jeff o'neill played 800 games and retired eight years ago. radek bonk almost made it to 1,000 games and he retired six years ago. salvador retires with 786 games under his belt, so fewer than all those other guys, but tripled his career earnings after the ages of 32 and 38. how many guys who started their careers in the big money pre-cap era and hit unrestricted free agency when the cap was only at $50 million can say that? the year salvador got his first big extension, o'neill was already retired and bonk, who was considered the best player in the draft, retired at the end of that season.

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09-20-2015, 12:29 PM
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Many stats people considered the lucrative contract he signed in 2012 to be the worst contract of that offseason in the NHL, based on both prior production (other than the "outlier" 2012 playoffs) and future assumptions (age, injury history).

By the way, he wasn't really a "bottom pairing" defenseman in NJ - he basically took over Colin White's role as a top 4 shutdown guy as White's game fell apart. Ironically though, one of the reasons assumed for why Lou chose to buy out White and keep Sal was Sal's better contract.

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09-20-2015, 12:35 PM
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did salvador not kill penalties then?

among regular devils D, he's 5th in icetime during the '08 playoffs, 4th in RS icetime in '09 but down to 5th in '10 (and 6th in the playoffs both those years), before his big 2012 season.

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09-20-2015, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
did salvador not kill penalties then?

among regular devils D, he's 5th in icetime during the '08 playoffs, 4th in RS icetime in '09 but down to 5th in '10 (and 6th in the playoffs both those years), before his big 2012 season.
He was often 2nd unit PK. Some combination of Volchenkov, White (while he was still there), and Green was usually 1st unit PK. I mean, they had Volchenkov with his absurdly bad contract who was too slow to play at even strength anymore, they had to play him somewhere.

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09-20-2015, 12:41 PM
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curious to hear devils fans' perspective when lou re-signed him the first time to that $12 million/4 year contract in '09.

seems like one of those classic july 1st "who the hell is that guy" contracts from the outside, like jeff finger for example.

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09-20-2015, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
curious to hear devils fans' perspective when lou re-signed him the first time to that $12 million/4 year contract in '09.

seems like one of those classic july 1st "who the hell is that guy" contracts from the outside, like jeff finger for example.
Nobody had a real problem with it at the time that I can recall - in his brief stint after the deadline, he was solid, and at the time, the team was absolutely desperate for NHL-calibre defensemen. Devils fans tended to be much more upset with Mike Mottau playing on the "top shutdown pair" with Colin White than Salvador anchoring the bottom pair. Seriously, look at how pathetic this blueline is on paper, keeping in mind that Andy Green was a late bloomer, who was still having growing pains: http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/NJD/2009.html. 2008-09 was the best year of Paul Martin's career, by far, but we obviously wouldn't know that heading into the season.

It's different than Finger, because the Devils got him basically for nothing at the deadline the year before (for Cam Janssen), and he fit into the team very well.

_____

To add more to Sal slowly getting a bigger role on the team - as White was declining, the Salvador vs White comparison was often made. It was assumed Lou would only keep one of them long-term, as both filled the same role on the team - ideally bottom pairing shutdown guy who can play in a top 4 if need be, physical play, leadership, handled the puck like a grenade, somewhat overpaid for his role. Then Lou signed Volchenkov, to be an even higher paid (and supposedly better) version of the same player. The general assumption at that point was that Sal was a bit better at even strength and White was better on the PK. Anyway, Lou ended up buying out White, and with Volchenkov completely losing his what was left of his game in 2011-12, Sal took on a bigger role.

His 2012 playoff performance was awesome, but also involved more puck luck than perhaps any other time I've seen, so many seeing-eye shots from the point, or shots/passes that happened to pinball bounce to the right players, etc.


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09-20-2015, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
His 2012 playoff performance was awesome, but also involved more puck luck than perhaps any other time I've seen, so many seeing-eye shots from the point, or shots/passes that happened to pinball bounce to the right players, etc.
re: the other thread, absurd puck luck was what '03 john madden looked like to me.

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09-20-2015, 03:51 PM
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A weird career arc I've noticed among a couple players: 2nd-liners having career seasons in Atlanta... the year before they retire. Off the top of my head there's Ray Ferraro, Todd White, and Vyacheslav Kozlov.

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09-21-2015, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by GuineaPig View Post
A weird career arc I've noticed among a couple players: 2nd-liners having career seasons in Atlanta... the year before they retire. Off the top of my head there's Ray Ferraro, Todd White, and Vyacheslav Kozlov.
kozlov and white's 70+ point seasons with the 09 thrashers is really odd to me as well

anyone know of any particular reason why these two guys, obviously past their primes suddenly had huge seasons a season or two before they were out of the league? did those two play on the same line as kovalchuk? powerplays?

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09-21-2015, 03:31 AM
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kozlov and white's 70+ point seasons with the 09 thrashers is really odd to me as well

anyone know of any particular reason why these two guys, obviously past their primes suddenly had huge seasons a season or two before they were out of the league? did those two play on the same line as kovalchuk? powerplays?
Atlanta was a great team for players to put up points. Bad team that didn't ask its players to play D, and some scoring superstars to feed off of (though in 2008-09, they just had Kovalchuk).

I'm pretty sure the top line was Kovalchuk-White-Kozlov, if not, they definitely played together on the PP.

Kozlov in particular tore it up on the PP, scoring 43 points with the man advantage, versus only 33 points at even strength.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/ATL/2009.html

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09-21-2015, 12:41 PM
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Timmy Thomas comes to mind when talking about strange turn to a career.

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09-21-2015, 12:50 PM
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Timmy Thomas comes to mind when talking about strange turn to a career.
Yeah, Thomas takes the cake here amongst recent players.

A total minor-league/European journeyman with 4 career NHL games approaching his 32nd birthday.

Was brought back to NA from Finland by Boston to be their AHL starter, and ends up getting a chance when Andrew Raycroft (the defending Calder winner) has his career completely implode. Then goes on to a superstar 6-year stretch with 2 Vezinas and a Conn Smythe ... before retiring abruptly.

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09-21-2015, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
curious to hear devils fans' perspective when lou re-signed him the first time to that $12 million/4 year contract in '09.

seems like one of those classic july 1st "who the hell is that guy" contracts from the outside, like jeff finger for example.
I'd love to dig up the thread, but I want to say that most of us were okay with the 2009 contract. There wasn't anybody on the farm who looked like a future NHLer and Salvador had been decent enough. We all appreciated Sal's unlikely offensive contributions during the 2012 playoff run, but most realized that was an anomaly and were a little skittish about the subsequent three year extension.

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09-21-2015, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Atlanta was a great team for players to put up points. Bad team that didn't ask its players to play D, and some scoring superstars to feed off of (though in 2008-09, they just had Kovalchuk).

I'm pretty sure the top line was Kovalchuk-White-Kozlov, if not, they definitely played together on the PP.

Kozlov in particular tore it up on the PP, scoring 43 points with the man advantage, versus only 33 points at even strength.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/ATL/2009.html
Wasn't it called the White Russian line or something?

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09-21-2015, 01:19 PM
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Wasn't it called the White Russian line or something?
i thought that was little-white-kozlov. the "little white russian line"

i may be wrong but i do somewhat remember that. i guess white and kozlov must have played with kovy on the PP hence the 70+ pt seasons

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09-21-2015, 05:43 PM
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i thought that was little-white-kozlov. the "little white russian line"

i may be wrong but i do somewhat remember that. i guess white and kozlov must have played with kovy on the PP hence the 70+ pt seasons
Yes, that must be it.

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09-21-2015, 08:42 PM
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good call on tim thomas.

another one is sean burke.

hotshot prospect, probably the best goalie prospect since barrasso. jumps into the NHL after an impressive showing at the 1988 olympics, immediately gets on a roll and not only carries the devils to a 10-3 run to close out the regular season, getting them to the playoffs for the first time ever, but also helps the devils to within a game of the stanley cup finals. he only played 13 regular season games, but got (and probably deserved) a single stray 3rd place hart vote. unquestionably, without that 10-3 run, the devils would have missed the playoffs. the 5th place rangers finished with the same amount of points but had less wins, and the 6th place penguins finished only one point behind.

so early on, burke is the next ken dryden. can't miss future superstar, a new breed of big huge goalie.

he sophomore slumps pretty badly (allowing the devils to suck enough to get bill guerin #5 overall), then starts to lose his claim to the starting role to chris terreri. during that time, the devils had burke the can't miss future vezina nominee, terreri (NCAA star, hobey baker nominee) and billington (named best goalie at the 1985 WJC) who were both thought to be excellent prospects, then in 1990 they would draft both martin brodeur and another college star/WJC best goalie winner in mike dunham.

burke still has enough juice to be chosen as the third goalie behind bill ranford and ed belfour at the 1991 canada cup, then skips the entire 1992 season and plays with the national team, winning silver alongside lindros, joe juneau, and some other guys.

with burke in a contract squabble, and having all those goalies of the future, the devils trade burke and all-rookie team defenseman eric weinrich for bobby holik. and burke spends a bunch of years as a decent starter in hartford but basically getting completely forgotten as belfour, cujo, richter, and timmy cheveldae establish themselves as young stars, with potvin and brodeur to follow.

between 1990 and 1998 (ages 24-30), which was almost certainly his physical peak, burke didn't see a single playoff game.

in the late 90s, after hartford moves to carolina, he bounces around for three years, between three different teams each in the middle of goalie carousels where the starting job was there to take and keep. first vancouver, then philadelphia, then florida. he was replaced by a mentally destroyed kirk mclean, garth snow, an old john vanbiesbrouck, and an equally old mike vernon, respectively.

then he catches on with phoenix and completely rebuilds his game with goalie coach benoit allaire, transitioning from being arguably the last old time stand-up in the world to a big giguere-type butterfly shot blocker, and finishes sixth in vezina voting, also collecting his first hart votes in 13 years.

he comes back even stronger the next year and finishes third in vezina voting, fourth in hart voting. at 35 years old, 14 years after he took the league by storm, and 17 years after he was drafted, burke finally reached his potential as a top goalie in the league, which to me is astonishing.

then he bounces around again until retiring at 40, after 20 years in the league (though only 18 played, due to a year-long holdout that saw him win silver at the albertville olympics and the year-long lockout in '05).

oh yeah, and the guy credited with rescuing big, technique-less devan dubnyk from the human garbage pile to the tune of third in vezina voting and fourth in hart voting finishes after bouncing around between four teams in quick succession? arizona coyotes goalie coach sean burke.


Last edited by vadim sharifijanov: 09-22-2015 at 01:20 AM. Reason: corrected the power forward draft pick that burke sophomore slumped the devils into getting
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09-21-2015, 08:49 PM
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Thats a great story
Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
good call on tim thomas.

another one is sean burke.

hotshot prospect, probably the best goalie prospect since barrasso. jumps into the NHL after an impressive showing at the 1988 olympics, immediately gets on a roll and not only carries the devils to a 10-3 run to close out the regular season, getting them to the playoffs for the first time ever, but also helps the devils to within a game of the stanley cup finals. he only played 13 regular season games, but got (and probably deserved) a single stray 3rd place hart vote. unquestionably, without that 10-3 run, the devils would have missed the playoffs. the 5th place rangers finished with the same amount of points but had less wins, and the 6th place penguins finished only one point behind.

so early on, burke is the next ken dryden. can't miss future superstar, a new breed of big huge goalie.

he sophomore slumps pretty badly (allowing the devils to suck enough to get brendan shanahan #2 overall), then starts to lose his claim to the starting role to chris terreri. during that time, the devils had burke the can't miss future vezina winner, terreri (NCAA star, hobey baker nominee) and billington (named best goalie at the 1985 WJC) who were both thought to be excellent prospects, then in 1990 they would draft both martin brodeur and another college star/WJC best goalie winner in mike dunham.

burke still has enough juice to be chosen as the third goalie behind bill ranford and ed belfour at the 1991 canada cup, then skips the entire 1992 season and plays with the national team, winning silver alongside lindros, joe juneau, and some other guys.

with burke in a contract squabble, and having all those goalies of the future, the devils trade burke and all-rookie team defenseman eric weinrich for bobby holik. and burke spends a bunch of years as a decent starter in hartford but basically getting completely forgotten as belfour, cujo, richter, and timmy cheveldae establish themselves as young stars, with potvin and brodeur to follow.

between 1990 and 1998, which was almost certainly his physical peak, burke didn't see a single playoff game.

in the late 90s, after hartford moves to carolina, he bounces around for three years, between three different teams each in the middle of goalie carousels where the starting job was there to take and keep. first vancouver, then philadelphia, then florida. he was replaced by a mentally destroyed kirk mclean, garth snow, an old john vanbiesbrouck, and an equally old mike vernon, respectively.

then he catches on with phoenix and completely rebuilds his game with goalie coach benoit allaire, transitioning from being arguably the last old time stand-up in the world to a big giguere-type butterfly shot blocker, and finishes sixth in vezina voting, also collecting his first hart votes in 13 years.

he comes back even stronger the next year and finishes third in vezina voting, fourth in hart voting.

then he bounces around again until retiring at 40, after 20 years in the league (though only 18 played, due to a year-long holdout that saw him win silver at the albertville olympics and the year-long lockout in '05).

oh yeah, and the guy credited with rescuing big, technique-less devan dubnyk from the human garbage pile to the tune of third in vezina voting and fourth in hart voting finishes after bouncing around between four teams in quick succession? arizona coyotes goalie coach sean burke.

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09-21-2015, 08:49 PM
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Sorry shouldnt have quoted the whole thing

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09-21-2015, 11:05 PM
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White was a guy who didn't look all that good even with some high scoring seasons in Ottawa. Also, his 73 point season was book ended by 37 points in 74 games and 26 points in 65 games.

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09-22-2015, 12:52 AM
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Shanahan was drafted before Burke ever played in the NHL.

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09-22-2015, 01:13 AM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Shanahan was drafted before Burke ever played in the NHL.
oops, my bad. was thinking of bill guerin, who was drafted 5th overall.

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09-22-2015, 07:18 AM
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A weird career arc I've noticed among a couple players: 2nd-liners having career seasons in Atlanta... the year before they retire. Off the top of my head there's Ray Ferraro, Todd White, and Vyacheslav Kozlov.
Todd White played two seasons after his career-year in Atlanta and Slava Kozlov posted 80 point with the Thrashers than played three more seasons in the NHL before taking his talents over seas.

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09-22-2015, 07:02 PM
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I'm pretty sure the top line was Kovalchuk-White-Kozlov, if not, they definitely played together on the PP.
Yeah, I was pretty big Kozlov fan and I remember that was the top line. Kovalchuk was at his offensive peak, probably playing 22-23 minutes a game and nothing was expected of him defensively. Kozlov was a highly-skilled player that had been used as a secondary offensive player by the Wings during the pre-cap days of the the late nineties. White was the beneficiary passenger.

I'm pretty sure the "Little White Russian" line started playing together the following season after the Thrashers made other additions upfront, like Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov, to play with Kovalchuk.

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