Sometimes all a player needs is a new environment in order to excel. This summer has provided a ton of re-locations and there are many players who have been leaving places where they struggled or failed to meet expectations in hopes of finding greener pastures. Whether or not they take the opportunity they are given is up to them.
These are my top 10 players who should benefit from change of scenery this coming season:
10. Brian Campbell, FLA – High contract means great expectations. Campbell was solid in Chicago, but was overshadowed on the blue line by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. In Florida, he is still overpaid but should be a top pair defenseman on what will be a very interesting Panthers team next season.
9. Ilya Bryzgalov, PHI – Has never been in a situation where he is expected to win, but that load is squarely on his shoulders now. He did a good job carrying an underdog team in Phoenix, but he is no longer the underdog, he is the Big Dog. It will be very interesting to see how he handles the pressure in a hockey market where success is not only expected, it is demanded.
8. Kris Versteeg, FLA – After winning the Cup in Chicago, Versteeg has failed to live up to lofty expectations in Toronto and then Philadelphia. He joins a Panthers team that has added a ton of high priced players and he will be counted on to be a producer. He will not likely do so at the level of a top line player, which were the unfair expectations in Toronto, but a key piece of a jigsaw puzzle team.
7. Ryan Smyth, EDM – The veteran winger comes home to where he belongs to round out his stellar career. He will be counted on to be a leader and show the mass of young forwards how the game should be played. He will not be expected to contribute a ton offensively but he can and will chip in his fair share. He can be the modern day version of Gary Roberts on the 2004 Canes.
6. Tomas Kaberle, CAR – A career seemingly on the downswing, was dealt from Toronto and regardless of what Peter Chiarelli said after the finals, was a disappointment in Boston. A move to a situation where there is less pressure from outside the club might be what the doctor ordered for the soft-spoken blueliner. His deal brings with it a higher salary than I would have expected, but he could re-blossom as a Cane.
5. Cam Barker, EDM - A frustrating talent in Chicago and Minnesota, has yet to fulfill expectations. He has the ability to be a top 4 defenseman in Edmonton, but he has to put that talent to use on the ice in his new situation. The former 3rd overall selection will be expected to be a triggerman on the Oilers power play in addition to dominating on the blue line.
4. Nikita Filatov, OTT – Clashed with Blue Jackets organization and coaches, so hopefully a change of scenery pumps life back into the skilled forward. Then he can begin to meet the expectations that were bestowed upon him when he was a top 10 pick for the Jackets in 2007. Will get a chance to play a top line role for a Senators team that will be starving for offense.
3. Alexei Ponikarovsky, CAR – After 5 years of scoring at a 20 goal pace in Toronto (with a quick stop in Pittsburgh), Ponikarovsky had an LA nightmare in 2010-11. After scoring only 5 goals in 61 games for the Kings on a $3.2 M one year contract, he hopes to have a rebound season in a new environment with the Canes.
2. Mike Commodore, DET – Bought out of his ridiculously high contract that brought along with it expectations that he couldn’t dream of meeting, Commodore goes from Columbus to Detroit with a more appropriate and fulfillable $1 M deal to be a competent piece of the Wings blue line.
1. Sheldon Souray, DAL – The soap opera with Edmonton finally ended, and he was bought out of the final year of his contract. The now 35 year old lost time he can never get back while in Hershey, and signed with the Stars to resurrect his reputation and the final few years of his career that has shown great promise at times, but interspersed with injuries and drama.
Who do you think will benefit most from the change of scenery?
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky Anaheim Ducks Andrew Cogliano Brent Seasbrook Brian Campbell Cam Barker Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings Duncan Keith Florida Panthers Ilya Bryzgalov Kris Versteeg LA Kings Los Angeles Kings Mike Commodore Minnesota Wild NHL Nikita Filatov Ottawa Senators Peter Chiarelli Philadelphia Flyers Phoenix Coyotes Ryan Smyth Sheldon Souray Tim Murray Tomas Kaberle Toronto Maple Leafs