Monday, August 13, 2007

Youthful Potential for Aging Experience?

The Chicago Blackhawks made a strange trade over the weekend when they sent Radim Vrbata to the Coyotes for Kevyn Adams. Vrbata, the number two scorer on the team, is 26 years old and posted 41 points (14 goals and 27 assists) in 77 games last season. It was the best season of his underachieving, yet young, career. Kevyn Adams, at the ripe age of 32, put up a whopping 3 goals and 9 assists in 68 games last season evenly splitting his time between Phoenix and Carolina.

While I'm the first one to point out that hockey is about more than putting up points and one should never overlook the value of experience and leadership, I do wonder why a young team would trade away their second leading scorer for a checking line center. While Adams is a solid face-off man with a Stanley Cup to his name, won with Carolina two seasons ago, his plus/minus leaves much to be desired (-20 last season and only an even rating on the run to the Stanley Cup the previous year) and he's prone to injuries. It saves Chicago money since Vrbata stood to make $1.255 million while Adams is only going to make $650k, but it still looks to be a typical Chicago move of sending away talent and getting very little in return.

While many may see Patrick Kane, the first overall pick in this year's draft, as the justification for Vrbata's departure, I see it as the opposite. I think we may have seen Vrbata continue to increase his production if he were given the chance to play with another talented, speedy forward. Instead, he'll be out in the desert, most likely playing with Shane Doan, putting up a career best 50+ points and playing in a place where at least people will come to watch him play.

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