I have to make a confession. Long before I moved to Phoenix and long before the Coyotes were even a thought, I was a New York Ranger fan. Born and bred since I was 7 years old. At that’s a long time ago. Official hint: Dwight Eisenhower was President. Of the United States.
The Coyotes are my (Western Division) team. The Rangers are my team. With season tickets for both teams and the NHL TV package I get to see 50-60 of each team’s games every year.
So to say I’m a little torn with tonight’s trade of Enver Lisin for Lauri Korpikoski would be an understatement.
You see, these are two of my favorite players.
Enver Lisin is an exciting player. He’s the best skater in the league and he has a chance to be an outstanding offensive player. How good? 35-40 goals is a realistic ceiling. What impressed me the most this year was how many battles he won in the offensive end. He’s more than just fast; he has great instincts and a wonderful shot. He has a chance to be special. He was one of the few players on the Coyotes who could lift you out of your seat.
Enver’s downside is that like many Russian players, he’s been a liability at the other end of the rink. A real big liability. In 2006-07, he turned in a -18 in 17 games. That my friends, takes some work. This year he was a -13 in 48 games. Numbers can be misleading but in this case they are not.
And you clearly got the impression that once the Coyotes backed up the truck at the trade deadline, he was pushed further down the lineup by the glut of forwards. The coaching staff seemed to be a little sour on him. Truth be told, more than a little sour.
Lisin is going to be either a very good player in the league or another guy who takes a pass at North American hockey and then goes back to Russia. We’ll be watching the Rangers closely to see how it plays out.
If Lisin is the prototypical risk/reward player, Korpikoski is anything but. An excellent skater, The Korpedo is going to play in the league for 10 years. He’s an excellent penalty killer (something the Yotes’ desperately need) and a very responsible defensive player. What is he is not is an offensive force. He has a nice shot and has shown some offensive flashes. You may have been watching on NBC last year when he scored a goal in his first NHL game, a second round playoff game vs. the Penguins.
At 22, there’s lot of room for growth. Worse case, he’ll ride shotgun with Marty Hanzel on the checking line. Best case, he’ll chip in enough goals to battle for a top six spot.
Although they are very different, both seem like good kids. As Korpikoski is cool and professional, Lisin is charged with emotion. The Finnish born Korpikoski speaks excellent English. Lisin has struggled to learn the language and was homesick when he first came to North America. Last year it was reported that he had made a real attempt to better acclimate himself. For some players it comes easier than others.
Check back in a few years and we’ll tell you who won this trade. Don Maloney wanted the reliability of a player he once drafted who does all of the little things well and has room to grow. The Rangers wanted a high risk/high reward player. Both got what they wanted at a modest price.
And I get to continue to follow the progress of two players whom I immensely like.