The Penguins placed John LeClair on waivers Thursday, making it all but official the veteran left winger’s days in Pittsburgh are few. That is, if another team is desperate enough to claim him.
But LeClair isn’t the only longtime league warhorse who appears to be on a fast track to the glue factory. Here are a few names worth keeping an eye on, before they disappear into the history books:
Oleg Tverdovsky, Kings. It’s tough to believe this guy went second overall in the 1994 draft. Now the 11-year vet is on his fourth team in as many NHL seasons and is on pace for his lowest offensive output since an injury-shortened 13-point campaign with New Jersey in 2002-03. You could almost forgive that declining aspect of his game if he wasn’t softer than a month-old grape. But he is, so you can’t.
Jeremy Roenick, Coyotes. If good ol’ JR thought he could escape his dreadful performance last year in Los Angeles by moving to the desert, he was sadly mistaken. Matter of fact, with just four assists and five points in 23 games this season, Roenick could end up with worse numbers than he had as a King (13 assists and 18 points in 58 games). The saddest part: he’s 15 goals short of 500 in his career, but seems further away from reaching the milestone than he did five years ago.
Jeff Friesen, Flames. Once upon a time, he could be depended on for 20-odd goals and 50-something points. But since the lockout ended, Friesen’s fairy tale career has started to smell an awful lot like pumpkin. Last year he set career worsts in assists (seven) and points (11) with Washington and Anaheim; this year, he’s goalless and the not-so-proud owner of one measly point in 19 games with Calgary. Injuries to his groin and thigh have also hurt his speed. Thankfully for the Flames, he only signed a one-year contract last summer.
Petr Nedved, Flyers. Yes, the Czech center has improved of late. However, the only way he could’ve played worse than he did for Philly at the start of the season would be by continually and intentionally injuring his fellow teammates during games. There’s a reason why the 34-year-old wasn’t claimed on waivers earlier this year, and it isn’t because of his still-sizeable contract. It’s because he’s done Â– and because he’s been playing like he knows it.
Trevor Linden, Canucks. The good news for the former NHLPA president is he’s in line to better the nine-assist, 11-point total he had last year. The really bad news is, he has played less than 10 minutes in 15 of his 24 games so far this season, including 10 games where he had fewer than eight minutes on the ice. You never like to see one of the game’s great leaders go out with a whimper, but Linden sure seems to have lost his bang.
Curtis Joseph, Coyotes. To be fair, he plays on a team in Phoenix that would have trouble preventing a minor peewee team from setting single-game scoring records. But the CuJo who’s playing in Phoenix this season simply isn’t the CuJo who built up enough wins to rank sixth on the league’s all-time wins list. He’s already been pulled four times this year and if he doesn’t improve them, his .885 save percentage and 3.41 goals-against average would represent his worst showing in 11 years. This is why, when the Coyotes acquired goalie Mikael Tellqvist from Toronto this week, GM Mike Barnett said the young Swede has Â“a great opportunity hereÂ…The opportunity is there for the taking.Â” So is Joseph’s starting job.
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