by PuckStopsHere on 02/01/09 at 05:23 AM ET
For several years, Rod Brind’Amour was a very valuable NHL player. He was the forward with the most ice time (or very close to the most) in the entire league. Brind’Amour could score pretty well, but his true value was defensive and he won the Selke Trophy twice for his efforts. At age 38, his Selke Trophy days are gone and he has struggled at times this season. His -29 +/- rating is tied for the league worst with Brendan Witt. Brind’Amour has still scored 29 points (which ties him for third on his team) and he still plays a large role in Carolina. Among forwards on the Carolina Hurricanes, Brind’Amour has the second most ice time.
Eric Staal is first. Staal has not only had more ice time than Brind’Amour, he has played against a higher calibre of opposition. I think Staal is developing into a top level defensive forward and a possible Selke Trophy candidate.
Eric Staal is often seen as an offensive disappointment. He scored 100 points in a breakout 2005/06 season and has not managed to exceed 82 in a season since. The tradeoff for decreased offensive contributions is a more well-rounded game that is better defensively.
Although I would pick Mikko Koivu as the Selke leader, I see Staal as a candidate. If he continues to develop defensively, he could be a future winner.
It is impressive to see Eric Staal take over from Rod Brind’Amour as the Carolina Hurricane go to guy who is on the ice in all important situations. Among forwards this season, Staal is sixth in total ice time. He is playing an important role in Carolina, despite the drop in his offensive numbers.
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