Today's season ending review is on center Josef Vasicek.
Going into 07-08:
Vasicek returned to Carolina in 06-07 in a trade with Nashville where he produced a combined six goals in a split season with both clubs. When you go back to where you did your best and that team is not interested in signing you it's not a good sign.
Garth Snow specifically targeted Josef Vasicek for his grit/ability/skills and felt with the knee problems that hindered him for a few seasons behind him could match & surpass his most productive season with Carolina in 03-04 with nineteen goals & forty five points in a fresh start.
Hard to complain with the early effort of Vasicek last season where he was visible, drove the net and most importantly with his few shots he took made most of them count as he raced out to a great start where he was given a role as the teams second line center with Miroslav Satan and Sean Bergenheim for the most part. His overall effort was solid in all three zones and he did display an edge to his game that helped the club.
Having written all that the Isles got what they paid for which was a track record of someones who at best was streaky and at worst was unplayable in your top six. After November 21st he did not score another goal until late February and despite solid defensive play where he seemed to do everything asked he had far too many nights as a second line center where he could not produce as a top six forard on a club desperate for scoring, many games he was not very visible.
Ted Nolan moved him around at times, nothing really seemed to spark his offensive game to where he could prove consistent.
You get what you pay for and out of Vasieck they seemed to get an honest effort from a limited player. For a checking center on a club with good balanced scoring it could be enough. On the 2007-08 Islanders, the lowest scoring club in the league it was not nearly close to being enough. Vasicek is not going to look to shoot often and like former Islander Viktor Kozlov did not use his offensive gifts nearly enough as he looked to create a perfect goal with far too many moves. He was strong on his skates, the few times he drove the net it was impressive. For a big man he seems to have the potential to play big at times also but last season he did not give that to the club nightly.
Best example of Vasicek's offensive game can be described by his shorthanded goal in a 1-0 win against the Devils where he made what seemed like an endless series of moves before finally flubbing a shot over Brodeur where it looked nice but he seemed to make it as tough as he could on himself. Other times he would move from high quality area's to take lower percentage shots.
Vasicek signed a one year contract with the Islanders, he's unrestricted at this time and it's fair to say with Sillinger & Comrie signed the club has to look to find a more productive second line center despite how he did a good overall job in the defensive zone where he proved he could be durable. Someones going to sign him, give him a better offensive supporting cast but I doubt any club will use him above their third line.
There is a chance he is back too, but I tend to think the club has to improve it's scoring and look for consistency. I do not think another club in the league would carry him as a top six forward & given a choice my guess is he would like to return.
It's also fair to ask should Ben Walter, Jeremy Colliton, Frans Nielsen & even Rob Hennigar get a shot also now that they have seen Vasieck for eighty one games.
Giving Vasicek a poor grade here would be like giving Richard Park a poor grade for not being a front line offensive talent and that would not be fair. He proved himself durable after years with knee problems, posted a plus rating among a group of forwards who were terrible at even strength as a unit and gave a club with no front line offensive talent and a brutal powerplay sixteen goals & thirty five points and he seemed like a good team player on the ice.
Vasicek receives a B. All in all he did a nice job here and may even be back but I do not see a role for him and he's not going to become a twenty five goal player who can produce critical goals or dominate games.
His next goal will always have me wondering will we have to wait thirty games before we see another one.