Let's get this straight. Warren Peters being sent down to the AHL while Fabian Brunnstrom continues to receive NHL playing time is a matter of finances and nothing else. Peters signed a two-way contract with the Stars over the summer, while Brunnstrom has played too many games to be able to be assigned to the NHL without passing through waivers first. So with the Stars needing to clear roster spots for Jere Lehtinen, there was really no choice as to who was the odd man out.
Yet from what we've seen thus far, and especially the past few weeks, Warren Peters has provided the type of play this team needs out of their fourth liners while Brunnstrom continues to struggle. While it's true that Brunnstrom has certainly improved lately, he's still not providing the production one would expect from a player that was so heavily recruited two years ago. Follow the jump to see how:
|Warren Peters||8||2.01||0.035|| 0.060
|Fabian Brunnstrom||30||-0.92||-0.022||0.058|| 0.20
Stats compiled from BehindTheNet.ca.
Here we have a basic comparison of the two players. First, it must be noted that Peters has appeared in just 8 games so his numbers have yet to average out to the mean. Yet it's still amazing to see how much Brunnstrom has struggled all season long. He's facing considerably less quality of opponents (QUALCOMP), while playing with around the same level of teammates (QUALTEAM). Yet Peters' overall +/- is insanely much higher, as he's producing a much higher goal rate while being comparable in points (it helps Brunnstrom to be playing with Mike Modano). And yes, he's played in just eight games, but it's incredible to see how many goals are scored per 60 minutes when Peters is on the ice.
He's gritty, has speed and has the physicality you need out of the fourth line. He's also a center. His presence allows the Stars to properly utilize Toby Petersen's versatility and it's no coincidence that Petersen is playing his best hockey of the season. With Peters sent down, Petersen will be back at center on the fourth line, and it's a good guess that Lehtinen will play next to Modano on the third line.
At some point, the Stars will need to cut ties with Brunnstrom unless they absolutely feel he has a future on the team. He's yet to prove that he deserves that shot, not with this iteration of the Stars.
Can a team that is fighting for a playoff spot and finally starting to put together consistent team efforts afford to keep playing a player that is seriously underperforming?