We continue our series of grading each player that played a role for the Stars in the 2009-2010 season. At the end of each feature, you get to select the overall grade for each individual player. This is something we'll continue doing each season, and is a tool we can use to determine a player's progress year by year.
Key Stat: 8 power plays goals for Otter in 2009-2010 was good for third on the team behind Richards (13) and Morrow (9). At only 1:59 of ice time per game on the power play, most of which came later in the season, Ott's potential to have an impact on the PP cannot/should not be ignored going forward.
The Good: The question entering the season with Ott was: "Which Ott will we see?" We had watched him mount an impressive offensive attack, scoring nearly a point a game after his return from a broken hand the season before when he was given more ice time and opportunity on an injury ravaged team. None of us knew if that Ott would show up to start the year, or if agitator-man Ott would return and play a lesser role. The results were somewhat mixed to begin the season.
Early in the year Ott floundered a bit, and was bounced around the lineup. I found him to be a little unnoticeable at times and it seemed like he was also trying to figure out what kind of player he would be under Marc Crawford. The end result, as the season wore on, was a hybrid Steve Ott that earned himself a big contract extension. He gave the AAC crowd reasons to get on their feet with his gloves on and off, earning 153 PIM's and 22 goals when it was all said and done.
Otter also won 56.8% of his draws last season. Though his sample size (352) is considerably smaller than Brad Richards (1140), this is another aspect of his game that should be explored a little on a team that has struggled mightily on the dot in recent years.
The Bad: Any time we bring up Steve Ott these days, there is a chorus of comments about his contract. He now carries the burden of needing to live up to his new cap hit next season, and his role on this team is as poorly defined as ever.
Ott has shown his offensive potential. Being a 20 goal man two season in a row is nothing to scoff at. That's big time in the NHL, but where do you put him on a team full of left wings? James Neal and Loui Eriksson seem to have the top two spots locked down pretty hard, so do you try Ott on the right side? He did his damage in 08-09 with Ribeiro and his damage in 09-10 with Richards (when Crawford took Neal off the top line) so he's found chemistry in a variety of places. For the third year in a row, Ott could see third line minutes to start the season but could take advantage of a better opportunity down the road.
Steve Ott does not have the defensive irresponsibility of a James Neal or a Jamie Benn, but he did collect a -14 last year. Only one player had a worse +/- on the team: Matt Niskanen. Complaining about minuses on a team like the Stars last year isn't a fruitful exercise, I know, but Otter must improve that number next season if he is to be, hopefully, given a little more ice time. If Jere Lehtinen's 2:17 per game of PK time disappears, Ott might have to absorb some of it.
The Bottom Line: The ball is in Ott's court once again to prove that he deserves some top six minutes, even though it's hard to find the space for him there. That's not a bad problem to have, by the way, if you're Marc Crawford. He's progressed marvelously in the last three seasons and he's now being paid accordingly. The onus is on him to keep that balance. The onus is also on him, as he approaches 30 years old (he's 28 now), to continue playing with the same edge to his game and the same chip on his shoulder. If he can find the balance between pest and goal scorer, then the contract will have been well worth it.
Steve Ott, in my estimation, has big time playoff performer written all over him now. The Stars just need to get him there.
The Vote: Rate Ott on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.