Monday, March 26, 2007
Markus Naslund: Vancouver's Struggling Star
Back on January 29th), I blogged about Markus Naslund's struggles offensively. For whatever reason (missing Bertuzzi, injury, etc), Naslund was far from Vancouver's best offensive weapon, despite the fact he's being paid a superstar's salary.
At the time of the post, Naslund was on a bit of a hot streak and looked to be out of the funk.
For the next 2-3 weeks after that post, Naslund started firing the puck more, playing with a bit more life, and was piling up the points fairly consistently. It looked like we had more of the old Naslund back. Sure, he wasn't the scary-good sniper we'd come to know and love, but we were happy to get about a point a game out of the guy.
Unfortunately, Naslund has fallen back into a funk that's even worse than any point in his Canucks career. In the last 8 games, Naslund has just 1 lone assist, and has developed no chemistry with newly acquired Bryan Smolinski nor Jan Useless. During last night's 5-4 shootout loss to the Crapalanche, Joe Sakic was a man on the mission while Naslund just stood there and watched. It was a great example of where Naslund's head is right about now.
MONTH GP G A Pts +/- PIM PPG PPA SOG S/G
October 13 6 5 11 4 10 3 1 37 2.85
November 13 6 2 8 0 10 1 1 54 4.15
December 13 0 8 8 -2 12 0 4 21 1.62
January 12 3 9 12 0 6 1 6 24 2.00
February 12 5 7 12 1 2 3 4 39 3.25
March 12 2 2 4 -1 6 0 0 27 2.25
Somehow, Naslund managed to do quite well in January despite not shooting the puck much at all. February looked like Naslund had perhaps recovered from his shoulder problems, as he was firing the puck on the net a whole lot more.
In March, Naslund's shots on goal has dropped off again, and he hasn't produced a single Power Play point! It's gotten so bad that coach Alain Vigneault actually took Naslund off of the Power Play completely for a brief spell.
The Canucks awesomeness in the standings has really masked Naslund's poor offensive output and hardly anyone outside, or even inside, of our little section of the globe has noticed. I'm just worried that Naslund won't be there when the playoffs start. As good as the Sedinbots are, they can't do EVERYTHING.
At this point, it looks like Naslund will have to be traded in the off-season. There is no way that the Canucks can justify spending $6mil a year on a guy who's been relegated to a 2nd line offensive threat. Yes, his defensive play has improved quite a bit, but we're paying him to be an offensive star, not a Mike Sillinger clone.
On a more positive note, congratulations to Henrik Sedin for breaking Andre Boudrias' 30-year old record for assists in a season (62) for a Canucks player. With 3 assists in last night's game, Henrik now has 63 on the season and a few more games to pad his new record.
So how can another team justify spending $6 mil on the same player, even if we ignore the fact that Naslund has a no-trade clause? He's as likely to be traded as any other overpaid player with a no-trade clause.
You all know you know!