The weekend began with an upset; in the closest vote of the tournament so far, Chris Pronger's value to his team now was considered much higher than that of Mattias Ohlund by enough voters that the long-term risks involved with Pronger's deal could be overlooked. Today, we're into the second-last match in the first round and it once again feature an Oiler in oft-injured centerman Shawn Horcoff. His opponent is an even bigger injury risk - Marc Savard. The case for each man after the jump.Shawn Horcoff
You know a contract is bad when it might hurt Edmonton's chances of competing for a Stanley Cup. That means it lasts long enough to matter, and it's bad enough that they can't get rid of it now. Shawn Horcoff gets a lot of love from most of the Oiler fans online (that I read with any frequency), mostly in reaction to what is perceived to be a lack of appreciation for his skills. Those skills are mostly defensive; he usually takes on tough opposition, and he usually takes on more defensive zone draws than he does offensive zone draws. But... he's getting paid enough that he should be able to do that and score. He can't. Over the last four years, Horcoff was amassed 166 points, good for just 109th in the league among forwards despite ranking 6th in ice time. Now, I know that a lot of his ice time is coming in disadvantageous situations for offense, but that's a pretty huge discrepancy. In 2007-08, he showed that he could score if he was given softer minutes, and in 2008-09 he showed that he could handle tough opposition. He can't do both. To top it off, staying healthy is becoming more and more of a challenge.
But the injury risk there pales in comparison to the injury risk here. I thought this was going to be a good deal for the Bruins when they signed it, but a few concussions later, it's not looking nearly as good. If Savard comes back healthy, or just retires the problems for the Bruins go away, but the worst case scenario is certainly possible: Savard refuses to retire but comes back a lesser player. Given his age, it's hard to think that it'll be otherwise if he doesn't choose retirement. There's no question that Savard was good, but today? Well, let's just say that this deal stands alongside Rick DiPietro's as a reminder that things change.