Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 09/17/10 at 06:40 PM ET
The Hurricanes on Friday came to an agreement with forward Patrick O’Sullivan. Late Thursday night, I guessed that his new one year deal would be for “a good deal less than the (roughly $2.4M/season) that he signed with the Kings. I didn’t quite expect what I found out Friday around noon. The new deal is for $600k at the NHL level or $105k at the AHL level. This is a fantastic bargain for a player who has put up 0.532 points per game over the course of his young NHL career.
The major criticism of him is that he doesn’t play a two way game. His detractors say that he’s so focused on his offensive game and that his defensive game is dreadful. I’ve only watched him play a couple of times on teevee, so I don’t have as much insight into that, but people are quick to point out that he had a horrible +/- rating of -35 this past season. What most of those people don’t point out is that he was on a a very bad Edmonton team. They collectively had a staggering rating of -57, which was worst in the league by 21. I don’t think this alone is a fair barometer of his performance.
The young forward has a tremendous amount of upside, and nobody will deny that. The rub is ability or lack of same to play a two-way game. At $600k, his NHL salary would be just barely above the league minimum, and this is a very good deal for a player who has once scored 22 goals in a season.
Carolina will take a few “uh-oh” moments in exchange for the offensive potential. Although he’s listed as a winger, he has the ability to play the pivot as well. In fact, he was drafted as a center in the 2003 entry draft. 56th overall, 26th pick of the second round by the Minnesota Wild. This ability to play any forward position will give the Canes training camp another level of competition. It’s no longer a foregone conclusion that Patrick Dwyer or even Zach Boychuk will have a spot on the big team. There’s essentially three forward positions up for grabs at camp. The third line left wing, third line center and fourth line center. Jeff Skinner has put himself in a very good position to take the third line center position, but nothing is etched in granite just yet.
I think this is a great deal for Carolina. If it pans out at the NHL level, Jim Rutherford looks like a genius. If he plays poorly at the NHL level, there’s not much lost. If he ends up in the AHL, he should be able to get buy just fine on raw talent alone.
I don’t plan on attending any of the preseason games, but I’ll hope to make it out to some of the training camp practices for the express purpose of getting a first-hand look at Skinner and O’Sullivan.
Patty-O is listed on the Canes roster as number 8, which is a sweater he hasn’t worn before in the NHL. This is a sweater number that would be considered by some in Raleigh to be hallowed ground. Matt Cullen used to wear that number in Carolina. Tim Gleason wore it for one season while Cullen was in New York. Sandis Ozolinsh wore it for a season and a half. Those are all excellent players.
Camp opens tomorrow, and O’Sullivan might be one of the most popular guys when the press enters the dressing room.
I’ll say again that I like this signing no matter what the price tag. To get him at that price is a great piece of work by Jim Rutherford. The next two weeks should be really exciting in Raleigh these guys battle for the available roster spots.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.