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Demitra: Worth The Money?

When Mike Gillis signed his former client Pavol Demitra to a 2-year $4 million contract last summer I was furious. Yeah sure he chose to play here over anywhere else, but that didn't win me over. It was no secret that Demitra was known not only for his skill and speed, but more that he was a soft injury-prone player. I didn't want another softy like Naslund on our top 6 forward ranks.

Now that one full season with Demitra has expired I find myself both partially and begrudingly backing off from my hateful stance. Emphasis the word "partially". Demitra did little to change my opinion of him, literally.

First the bad:

- Demitra wanted to play on a team that had a more offensive approach, unlike the Wild. The Canucks did play a more open style this season yet Demitra scored 5 more goals but 1 less point in one more game than his final year in Minnesota.

- 69 games played by Demo this year. I suppose that's about par for his fragile frame.

- His career playoff stats are not that impressive and have gotten worse in recent years. In 6 games this past post season he only scored 1 goal and registered 3 points. To put it into a more grand perspective, in Pavol's last 22 games played in the playoffs, he has 4 goals and 11 points.

- He missed the final 4 games of the Chicago series and is now undergoing shoulder surgery. What happened? He attempted to hit a Hawk defender and messed himself up. Did anyone not see this happening? Or, were we surpised that he lasted so long?

If you want to build a playoff team with guts, Demitra is not your guy. But we already knew that.

On to the good:


Hold on for a minute, I have to think about this...

- At $4 million we got a Markus Naslund-ish player who not only put up more points than Naslund in 13 less games played this season, but also at $2 million cheaper. Yeah, I know Markus signed for less on Broadway, but he wouldn't have done that here.

- When Demitra grumbled about Alain Vigneault's incessant line-juggling back in late January when the team was in hell, it didn't fall upon deaf ears. Soon Burrows joined the Sedins, Kesler played with Sundin and Demitra (when Demo came back from injury), the Unemployment Line was formed, and the crushing 4th line was left intact. The lines prospered and were hardly changed after that as the team went on a tear.

- Pavol signing in Vancouver (I suppose) gave Mike Gillis instant credit for being able to draw a higher-caliber free agent to Vancouver, something that does not happen all that often here.

So, good with the bad, bad with the good? Do we assume that Demitra and Kesler and whatever other linemate Gillis provides for them this summer are going to click again? Or would Gillis be better off letting this guy go? I hardly expect the latter to happen. But hey, Demitra is not protected by a no trade clause....

Bah, suck it up, Zanstorm (I say to myself).