21 September 2009
This means that Wojtek Wolski is on the hot seat this season. Right now the Avs LW's look like this (remembering that Wolski is being moved back to LW this season, via Dater):
I've been a supporter of Wolski for a long time, and want to see him succeed, but to be honest my patience is starting to wear a little thin. To single Wolski out for lackluster play down the stretch last season would be unfair. There are plenty of players that fall under that umbrella. On the other hand, as an enormously talented first round draft pick, expectations for him are higher than other players. He needs to be more than a complimentary player. right now he's playing like a third liner.
That said, Wolski is more valuable to the Avs than his stats will indicate, As long as the wretched shootout is in place. Starting 85% of your shootouts with a 1-0 lead is probably worth 5-10 points a season. In a league where the 6th and 10th spot in the west was separated by 4 points, that's a big deal. But he'd be even more valuable if he couold add 60-70 points a season, instead of the sub-50 he's been adding.
The thing is, there's always been a bit of a built in excuse for him. He was extremely young when he started out. Coach Quenneville was always trying to turn him into a player he wasn't (I compared him to a poor mans Joe Thornton). Then he got saddled with Tony Granato as the head coach. Much of the time he was saddled with Tyler Arnason as his center, which is a handcuff for even the best players, even though it should be noted he spent a lot of time on Joe Sakic's line as well.
Well all those excuses are gone now. He's on his third coach, he's 23, and he'll be on the first line with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.