Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Joffrey Lupul - a Contrary opinion to the Oilogosphere

It's the off-season and the guy hasn't left for Anaheim. Instead, he's in town purchasing a home at the peak of the real estate market.

Last summer, traded to Edmonton in part of the Pronger deal, the Oiler nation didn't wait long to question Joffrey's desire to play in his hometown. Fair enough - the guy didn't seem all that excited either leaving a perfect setting behind.

He was living in a great city for young players, no pressure from fans, freedom to walk around the city unrecognized - and thrived in that atmosphere.

Then he enters a fishbowl, higher expectations, less freedom, no chemistry with any linemates, missing Anaheim - it takes a toll on you. I wish for his sake he will come back and rebound - he has the natural talent - if he can translate it towards becoming an effective NHL player, he will be lethal.

Let's not forget 94 in his earlier days - it took him a while to become an effective hockey player.

Yes, his 28, 28 season last year with Anaheim in his 2nd NHL season - was OK. Not excellent 5 on 5 results, but it's progress. You can't expect all young guys to start putting up strong 5 on 5 results early on in their careers. In the playoffs he fared well -a solid +9 rating, 9G, 2A.

Other young guys that struggled this year -

Marek Svatos
Last year:61 32 18 50 0
This year:66 15 15 30 +1

Eric Staal
Last year: 82 45 55 100 -8
This year: 82 30 40 70 -6

Rick Nash
This year: 75 27 30 57 -8
Last year: 54 31 23 54 +5

This year: 73 27 27 54 -13
Last year: 71 10 22 32 -19

These are just a few samples from the population

Young guys do tend to struggle - Lupul finished among the league leaders (in his 2nd NHL season) with 296 shots on goal (SOG) back in 2005-2006. Another 62 shots in 16 playoff games. This year, down to 172. Obviously something wasn't right last year - either the system or linemates or just the fact he went through a slump. He's a goal scorer, a sniper. Other than Hemsky, do we have a good set up man? Are Toby Peterson and Petr Sykora the best linemates for him?

I don't know - seems to me he has plenty of talent - the talent that rewarded him a 3 year contract.

How about this city is a bit more patient (myself included) on young players? Let's watch an Arnott develop in Edmonton instead of watching him score the GWG of a SCF.


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