Who's this guy?
Weight: 212 lbs.
Born: September 2, 1974 ( thats right, '74! ) in Turku, Finland
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 9th round (239th overall) of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Has been a Canuck since the 2002 offseason, when he was acquired from the Sens for Peter Schaeffer in one of the better deals in Canucks history. Its no Naslund for Stojanov, but its still pretty great.
What did he do?
We all know the story of Sami Salo, and how the team is so much better statistically with him in the lineup. Check this particular profile. I used it ( even though I personally think The Hockey News blows, mostly ) because it shows all the times he has missed some "time". This year? He played more games than at any time since the first two years he was here ( 79 in 02/03, and 74 the year after ) at 69, and most of that time off was team mandated. His 9 goals and 25 points was pretty good, with 7 of those 9 on the power play when it was still worth a shit, before, evidently, the Bruins broke it.
Was he any good?
Its one of those stats the TV broadcasts like to pull out, how the Canucks are many, many games over .500 when Sami is in the line up. There is little argument that when he is in, he seems to settle the team down, particularly in their own end. He did have a pretty great season for his age and ice time. Which is still pretty decent, he averaged almost 20 min, though 2:45 of that was PP, and 2:19 PK. I thought he had a pretty solid season. Perhaps, if you were so inclined, you could complain about him slowing down ( a -3 in 5 playoff games. Like I said last time though, the numbers for everyone are probably similar! ), but I saw a guy that can definitely still play at a high level. He is a fantastic positional defenseman still, and that is a rare commodity. An acquired taste. Look into his numbers closer. Shooting %, for instance. Sami Salo was 18th in the NHL this season, at 6.8% on 136 shots. Perusing that list, almost everyone above him probably plays more minutes. 29 hits is OK ( I'd rather he plays positionally and angle guys off than try to kill them and shatter, and he is very effective at pinning guys on the boards ), but he averaged a little over a block a game as well (77). About the only troubling one is that he gave it away 35 times, whlie only being credited for 23 takeaway.
Only 10 minutes in penalties. In 69 games, ( in today's NHL ) the minutes he played, thats amazing for a defenseman. Of those 5 penalties, only 1 was for interference. ( 2 hooking, 1 over the glass, 1 holding )
A VERY good positional defenseman.
He's not really THAT cool though, right?
The one number that we cannot escape is that Sami Salo is 37. The blue line for the Canucks is getting crowded already, and there is youth that has percolated ( Tanev can get more minutes. There is Yann Sauve and Kevin Connauton. This Justin Schultz wunderkind is supposed to want to come back to B.C if you believe the rumours, and of course we are going to trade for Shea Weber or just sign Ryan Suter right away from the Wings big check and better Cap situation! ( check out his career here. Even with the injuries, the guy has played a lot of productive hockey. Hell, he played 7 years in Finland before getting drafted by the Sens! )
I guess what I am saying is that he might get caught up in the numbers game on the blue line. Who knows what it will look like once all the decisions on personnel are or are not made. There is something admirable about a guy that took a big haircut financially to sign a team friendly deal, and then has a season that was almost as good as his career highs in Vancouver. I think Sami can still play here, myself. It will ben interesting to see how this one shakes out. We know he is one of the quiet leaders, and best loved players in the room. Maybe he is that cool.
What next then?
Like I laid out above, there may be some movement on the blue line. Sami already said, right after the end of this season, that he thinks he can play another couple years, and that he still wants to play hockey. You know that if the team and he part ways, it will be with much trepidation and respect, and perhaps a little fear that another older guy gets away and pulls a Willie Mitchell on us!
I don't think that happens, but there will be a number, probably close to the 2 mil that he made this last season, and maybe a 2 year deal, if the doctors all sign off on his cybernetic undead body, to reward the old warrior. Though, Sami is a unique cat. The one year deal he is finishing up was wholly his idea, and maybe he just wants to sign one year deals until he hangs them up.
Win it for Sami next year guys, and let him ride off into the Finnish broadcast booth with a big gaudy ring from Big Frank.
You have to work for Sami salo clips
1 - Let's get it out of the way 1st. Proud of the way he dealt with THE major injury of his season
2 - This one is from a couple years ago, but I just love the crowd chant. Sami is not just loved in the room in Vancouver
3 - This is the reason why the fans were chanting back then...
4 - Check out this well done collection.
5 - All Sami's goals. Notice a pattern?