Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time to step up: Derek Dorsett

  • Right wing
  • Currently alternate captain
  • 23 years old, 3rd year in National Hockey League
  • $562,500 cap hit 
  • 0.9% of Columbus Blue Jackets salary cap
  • Contract expires at end of 2011-2012
  • 2009-2010 numbers: 51 games played, 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points, +6, 105 penalty minutes, 10:53 avg. time on ice
With some players, you can look at the stats and understand their value to the team.  With others, you need to look in other places.  Derek Dorsett is one of the latter.

To judge his value, I'd like to suggest you look at the two stretches of the season when Dorsett wasn't playing.  The first period was following the NHL-determined cheap shot by James Neal of the Dallas Stars that resulted in a concussion for Dorsett.    That was a nine game run from November 20 to December 8 where the CBJ went 1-5-3.  The second was a 16-game span from December 13 to January 13 where the Jackets posted a 4-9-3 record after Dorsett hurt his hand against Anaheim.  That's right, the dreadful "Fall of Hitchcock" games almost perfectly coincided with the periods when Derek Dorsett was not in the lineup.  

That's not to say that Derek Dorsett is the straw that stirs the drink in Columbus.  At just over 10 minutes of ice time per game that he did play in, far from it.  But he plays with a passion and energy (not in the Jared Boll "energy" way, either) that appears to rub off on his fellow teammates.  Those attributes are what led Ken Hitchock to pass over other, more highly-touted youngsters and name Dorsett an alternate captain (not sure if Scott Arniel will continue that designation, but we'll see).  

That passion and energy makes him a crowd favorite in Columbus; I find myself drawing comparisons between Dorsett and the Warner Brothers "Tazmanian Devil" character.  Dorsett flies around the ice with seemingly reckless abandon, chasing after pucks and finishing checks like he was playing in his last game ever.  His fights more resemble back-alley brawls (but, like Jared Boll, Dorsett still is a touch small to play with the big boys in the world of hockey pugilism).  

The very things we love about Derek Dorsett are also the things that shorten a guy's career and interrupt seasons.  We've already reviewed 09-10, but it's worth noting that he hurt his hand in a fight in Phoenix that kept him out from November 27 through December 16, 2008.  When you play on the edge, you're going to take your lumps.  

Dorsett's production has improved markedly from 08-09 to 09-10.  In roughly the same number of games for both seasons, he dropped nearly 50 penalty minutes off from the one year to the next and improved from 5 points to 14 - and raised his -1 rating to a +6.  Don't adjust your monitor; a Blue Jackets forward had a +6 rating last year.  I'm telling you, the guy does something to inspire his teammates on the ice to perform.  And don't forget that he was one of the few Blue Jackets to truly show up for all four playoff games in 2009 against the Red Wings.

Derek Dorsett makes ridiculously little money as a 3rd-4th line winger.  I'll chalk it up to the fact that he just cannot be relied upon to play a full season.  Thus, his challenge is an interesting one: Can he tame the wild on-ice persona to the point that he avoids getting hurt while not impeding his aggressive approach to hockey that his teammates and fans love?  And can he continue the statistical improvements that will solidify him in the bottom half of the Columbus Blue Jackets forward lines?  

Sometimes, stepping up means knowing when to apply a little restraint.  You'll live to fight another day, Derek, and the Columbus Blue Jackets need you on the ice.

2 comments:

  1. I guess my only thought on "Double D" is that I'd almost rather see Boll or Blunden traded than this guy. His energy IS infectious and it appears to be on WHATEVER line he is on. Some of the "veterans" could use a transfusion of whatever magic potion he uses, both for heart and desire.

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  2. I am definitely ready to step up. I will follow all the things that you will determine. Therefore I am ready.

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