Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jackets sign 007 ... errrr .... Martin Škoula

Puck-Rackers reports that former Avalanche/Panther/Wild defenseman  Martin Škoula signed a tryout with the Blue Jackets today.  (No word on whether he is bringing his partner, Strawberry Fields, with him to C'bus.)

Looking over Škoula's stats, I think the thing that stands out for me is his durability. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests that Škoula has the "most games of any NHL defensemen his age or younger". As best I can see, the least number of games he has played in during a given season since entering the NHL in 1999 is 78...that's nine years with no more than four missed games a season. Folks, that's ironman-quality play.

Clearly, the jury is out on whether Škoula is a good NHL defenseman. But, after comparing his stats from last year with the Wild with the 2008-2009 Columbus Blue Jackets defensive corps, here are the positives:

  • His 81 games would tie him for 3rd best on the team (Tyutin & Hejda have 82, Commodore has 81)
  • His 4 goals ties him for 3rd best (Tyutin-9, Commodore-5, Methot-4)
  • His 12 assists and 16 total points ranks him 6th (Tyutin-25-34, Commodore-19-24, Russell-19-21, Hejda-18-21, Methot-13-17)
  • His 19:58 average time on ice is 5th (Tyutin, Commodore, Hejda, Klesla)
  • His shooting percentage is actually the best.
  • He's 6'3", 225 lbs.  A big boy!
Here's the other side of the coin:
  • His 10 PIMs puts him essentially at the bottom of the heap 
  • No power play goals or assists.  Only 1 short-handed assist.  That says to me that he's not a special teamer.
  • His 55 shots on goal clusters him in the 3rd tier of shooters with the likes of Backman and Methot, behind Tyutin, Commodore, Russell and Klesla.
  • His +/- was -12, worst on the team.  

Oh, yeah, he's Czech.  Should play well in Columbus, where the Czech Mates of Klesla, Hejda and Voracek can at least make sure that he's getting home cooking.  Seriously, common cultural ties mean a lot in an international sport like hockey.

In summary, I'll give the tryout a thumbs up.  He's got enough upside to break into the top six, and there's nothing lost if he doesn't pan out.

UPDATE: Light The Lamp offers its usual thorough scrubbing of the new guy's plusses, minuses and potential in Columbus.  I'll spare you the "Martin Skoula is an Idiot" YouTube'll have to go there to see it.  Ouch.

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