This is my attempt at a head-to-head between two lower pairing Defensemen that i think should be going through the minds of every one in the Stars' front office right now.
I hope everyone enjoys this, and thanks to Brandon for encouraging me to write this.
If you have any feedback, i'm all ears.We'll start with the ex-Canadien Marc-Andre Bergeron.
He will be 30 at the beginning of the season, having played 9 seasons in the NHL. He started in the Oilers' camp and played there for 4 seasons amassing 33 goals and 55 assists for 88 points in 189 games with a +/- 9 before getting shipped to the Islanders with a 3rd round choice for Denis Grabeshkov. He played two season with the Islanders, with a line of 15-24-39 in 69 games, but he suffered a +/- -14, the worst of his career, in the 07-08 season, while only scoring 18 points. He was then flipped to Anaheim for Edmonton's 3rd round choice(which was previously acquired, and kind of ironic) where he only played in 9 games nabbing 1 assist and a -2 with 4 PIM.He was traded on draft day to the Wild for their 3rd round choice, and played in 72 games for them(14-18-32 +/- 5) before signing with Montreal as an UFA for the 2009-2010 season. he had quite an impressive year with Montreal, while helping out their PP unit. (13-21-34 +/- -7)
MAB has been noted for his booming shot from the point, despite his diminutive size (5'9, 198), and 43 of his 194 career points have come on the PP. The biggest downside to his game is his lack of aggression and his weak play in his own zone, which is not what the Stars' need, however i think if he were paired with Karlis Skrastins for the 3rd line, it would help bolster the offensive production from the back end quite a bit.
While most noted as the Stars' whipping boy of last season, let's take a deeper look into his numbers and see if we can find an upside to this young man.
The biggest note on Niskanen is that he is still quite young (he'll be 24 December 6th), leaving him with plenty of room to grow heading into his 4th season (all with the Stars).
His rookie campaign was by far his most impressive, and many people will say that you could pair a chimp with Sergei Zubov and put up 26 points as Niskanen did, but he was named the NHL youngstars game none the less. The next season he added nine points to his previous years totals (6-39-35) but his plus/minus fell drastically from 22 in 07-08 to -11 the next season. The 2009-2010 was by far his worst season, and subsequently gave him "whipping boy" status, putting up only 3 goals and 12 assists, although he saw quite a bit of time on the PP, he failed to record a point on the man advantage. His plus/minus was also worse, with a -15 for the season. His career line is 16-60-76 in 232 games played. While that's not as bad as others before him, the Stars' faithful have expected quite a substantial amount more from him in his time here.
The Stars' should bring MAB on board as a more affordable offensive weapon from the point (his price tag is circa an entry level deal), while signing Niskanen to a two-way contract to give him some valuable seasoning in a FULL AHL year.
Note: all stats are from nhl.com