Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and are still with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
#40 / Center / Dallas Stars
Aug 12, 1985
|2011 - Ryan Garbutt||20||2||1||3||-1||22||0||0||1||28|
Key Stat: 20 - No one, and I mean no one, predicted Garbutt would fill any sort of NHL-level role at the beginning of this season. He was seen as a nice role-player who would provide depth with the AHL's Texas Stars while allowing other younger prospects to mature. But 16 goals and 33 points in 50 games with the Texas Stars made him an obvious option when injuries struck the forward corps in the latter half of the season, and his energy kept him up with the big club for the rest of the season.
The Good: When one thinks of an ideal fourth-line player, one of the key things is energy, and Garbutt brought that in spades, especially early in his NHL stint. He had a nice physical edge and showed flashes of nice hands when taking the puck to the net. While never able to contribute consistently to the offense, he proved he can be a capable fourth-line player for the Stars or someone else moving forward. Given the expectations coming into this season, that's a huge step.
The Bad: His energy and impact faded slightly after he came out flying in his early games, and he never demonstrated anything that makes him stand out from any number of other fourth liners out there. He also took slightly too many penalties, especially given how few he drew. Of all the forwards on the team, he had the highest ratio of penalties taken to penalties draw and he was second on the team behind Sheldon Souray, who was playing much, much tougher minutes.
The Bottom Line: For Garbutt to have made an impact in the NHL at all is a huge accomplishment considering he played a good portion of the 2010-11 season in the ECHL. And while he is a decent fourth-line option, he is very similar to many, many other fourth-line options that are younger or with more potential upside. I use the term "replaceable part" for a player like him, though I don't mean it as an insult. He's simply another fourth-line guy in a long line of fourth-line guys. He'll catch on somewhere in the NHL next season. The Stars will have to decide how they want to spread their assets to know if it will be with them.
The Vote: Rate Garbutt on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.