What About Sami?
At 39 years old and becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, it appears the Tampa Bay Lightning have parted ways with 6’3 veteran defenseman Sami Salo. With the additions of Jason Garrison and Anton Stralman the Lightning have replaced both Salo’s size and skill. (Photos/Susan Ferlita)
Having played 71 games this past season (The third most in his 15 year NHL career) he finished the year with 17 points. (4 goals, 13 assists) and an impressive +11 rating showing that this Finnish superstar is far from done with his professional career. The stay-at-home defenseman seems to be the missing piece for several rosters.
The Detroit Red Wings have a history of being a defensive juggernaut with the likes of Paul Coffey and Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings of today though have Niklas Kronwall and not much else. Salo would fit in perfectly with the strong shot on the second power play unit and also contribute as a steady force at home with the young defensive squad.
The Nashville Predators defensive grouping could also use the addition of Sami Salo. The Olympic gold medal star for Canada, Shea Weber could be joined by Salo, a bronze medalist from the Sochi games. With a young core of defenseman the Predators future on the back end looks bright. However, the concussion concerns for rookie sensation Seth Jones and constant rotation in the lineup of the sixth defenseman would suggest that perhaps the rookie class of blueliners are not quite ready to make the leap for this team. The addition of Anton Volchenkov in the off season, who is a very similar player to Salo would point to the fact that this team could be a perfect fit for him.
The first line pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns for the San Jose Sharks is arguably one of the strongest pairings in the NHL. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the pair accounted for 72 points or 62% of the defensive productivity. The departure of long time Shark Dan Boyle has left a hole in the leadership position on the blue line, one that Salo could fill.
Among his many accomplishments, any team that considers signing Sami Salo has to know that if it wasn’t for bad luck he would have no luck at all. If the body part can be injured, chances are Salo has hurt it, including a few “undisclosed” injuries that kept him sidelined for games through the 2008-09 campaign with the Vancouver Canucks. After playing a solid 71 games for the Bolts last season it would appear that lady luck has decided to aim her cross-hairs at another victim.
That being said, Salo knows the game, and in a disappointing Lightning post-season campaign had a steady and calming influence on a young defense. No matter where Salo ends up, he is an injury risk, but the experience and powerful seeing eye slap shot are worth the risk.
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