This month, I take a look at Mason Raymond's recovery, Josh Harding, Henrik Zetterberg's struggles, why I hate the shootout, and more.
This column is a part of the month-long contest the Province newspaper is having. Please go to this link and give it the thumbs up!
1. Considering how spotty his defensive play is, it is amazing Marc-Andre Bergeron has been able to make a nice career for himself in the NHL. It just goes to show how potent his point shot is (arguably the best in the league). He is a power play specialist in every sense of the word – Bergeron's shot forces teams to respect it, which opens up ice for the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis. What other players around the league have been able to carve a career out of one or two elite assets?
2. The word underrated gets tossed around a lot, but one player who deserves the status is Florida's Jason Garrison. Garrison was the most reliable defenseman on the team last season, pairing with Mike Weaver. He didn't contribute much offense overall (18 points in 73 games), but he did show a few flashes throughout the season. This year, the offense has arrived (five goals in 12 games). His two best offensive traits are his shot and his ability to jump into the play. He doesn't have the vision to be a power play quarterback, but he's developed into a very good top four defenseman who can play in all situations. Oh, and he's an unrestricted free agent next summer. He'll be in line for a nice raise from the current $700,000 he makes. Using Dale Tallon's logic, I'm seeing a four-year, $20-million contract for Garrison.
3. Mason Raymond's training and rehabilitation is going very well. He's been able to do a lot of dry land based stuff, including some explosive lateral movements and Plyometrics (which is great, as it shows his back is able to support external resistance and create power). His skating is still in the basic stages, but he'll be back at 100% at some point this season. He's a restricted free agent next summer, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in to the lineup upon returning.
Cody Hodgson has been very good in the past few games, but he's quite obviously a natural center. Raymond wouldn't likely get tossed right onto the second line, though. Expect him to be eased back into even strength play on the fourth line, while seeing a regular s