The Calgary Flames have just finished their most productive road trip in team history. Much has been said about the play of Jarome Iginla who is cementing himself as a top 5 player in the world, (in my opinion, the best and most valuable/marketable player in the NHL due to his play ON the ice and his commitment to the team and community OFF the ice)... and also Huselius and Kipper's strong play of late. All of which have most certainly contributed to this great run.
But one of the most over-looked players on the team has been Adrian Aucoin. Acquired after Mike Keenan was signed, from Chicago, in a deal that involved us getting rid of Andrei Zyuzin. He's been plagued with injuries since his 20 goal campaign several years ago and has struggled to put together a note-worthy season. His 4 million dollar price tag was an expensive one for a wait and see project. He started slow, even though playing with Dion Phaneuf. He was coughing up the puck, not skating hard and never hitting the net with his blazing slap shot.
As Christmas approaches, his confidence seems to be growing with every game and even though he spends much of his time on the third D pairing with David Hale, plus power play time, his numbers are great. His production is easily comparible to what Roman Hamrlik was putting up for us and he's a little more solid defensively.
Aucoin's line to date... 34GP 6G 12A 18PTS +5
That puts him in 16th place in defense scoring in the league and on pace for appr. 15 goals and 43 points. I didn't know what to expect from him, but now he seems to be flying under the radar while quietly putting up solid numbers. Some notable defenseman having seasons that are either equal or less in terms of production...
Mathieu Schneider, 5.5M (10 less games or so)
Wade Redden, 6.5M
Kimmo Timmonen, 8M
Bryan McCabe, 7.15M
Scott Hannan, (11pts, -12) 4.5M
Zdeno Chara, 7.5M
I don't mean disrespect to the above players. Just pointing out marquee players that Aucoin is outperforming in relation to salary. At the beginning of the season, if Flames fans were asked who we'd rather have on our team, Aucoin, or the guys listed above... without thinking we'd say any of the names above.
And if you look at it in terms of Aucoin being acquired to replace Hamrlik, it's an even better deal for us. More production, less money. Although Hamrlik has fit in over in Montreal very well, which makes it safe to say it was a good move on their part too.
Either way, Aucoin is looking good in the lineup and has made our power play dangerous again, as evidenced the other night against Columbus. Teams key on Dion, leaving Aucoin open.
I'm not saying our defensive woes are solved yet. But its a step in the right direction and it was time that Aucoin got some attention for his productive season. Now, if we could just find someone to replace Mr. Eriksson...