John Druce…Kris Kontos…Bryce Salvador?
As the New Jersey Devils attempt to scale the impossible mountain of a comeback against the Los Angeles Kings, an unexpected hero is emerging on the Devils blue line and he could be the biggest reason they are even in the Finals, let alone clawing their way back in the series and putting doubts in the minds of the Kings and their fans.
Heading into the playoffs, Salvador’s previous career high for points was 16 (set in 2008-09) and his previous best goal total was 5 (10 years ago as a St. Louis Blue). In just 23 playoff games this year, Salvador has put up 4 goals and 14 points, and is tied for the league lead among defensemen with Drew Doughty. Salvador is also +10, while players ahead of him in team scoring all sit in the minuses (Kovalchuk -5, Parise -6, Zajac -4).
If the Devils do come back and win the series, the Conn Smythe Tropy will likely go to Martin Brodeur as the sentimental favorite and the face of the club. However, an argument could be made for Salvador, who would end up being the most unlikely player ever to win the award.
Not a bad time to be in the spotlight as the 36 year old defenseman is about to become an unrestricted free agent in a year where there are slim pickings. I don’t believe for a second that Salvador can produce at this level through an entire regular season, but some ignorant owner will see the stats and make his general manager give the Brandon, Man. native an inflated contract offer expecting the offensive switch to stay in the “ON” position.
By the way, after their remarkable playoff performances, Druce (14G, 17 PTs in 15 playoff games in 1990) scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 37 playoff games over the rest of his career. Kontos (9 goals in 11 games in 1989) played only 2 more seasons, and only 5 more playoff games, nabbing but a single goal. Such is life when you catch lightning in a bottle.