At this point in free agency, the focus shifts from the gems to flawed guys who can still bring some skill to the table. So, going forward, we’ll spotlight individual players who are flying under the radar.
Today’s entry: Marek Svatos
Name: Marek Svatos
Height: 5-10 Weight: 185
Strengths: Great shot/finishing abilities in general, can be dynamic offensively
Weaknesses: injury prone, small, weak defensively
There are plenty of reasons not to like Marek Svatos. He’s small and incredibly injury prone (he hit a career high in games played with only 69 during the 2008-09 season). You’re not going to ask him to kill penalties, either.
So most NHL teams won’t be too interested in making him a bottom-six forward, unless they play him in spot duty and then make him a powerplay specialist.
That being said, Svatos might find himself with an NHL job for a simple reason: he can score. He didn’t do that very well last season (only seven goals in 54 games played last season), but he has hit 32 goals once (in 61 games in 05-06) and 26 in only 62 games in 07-08. You have to worry that he’s had less than that in the last two seasons combined (21 between 08-09 and 09-10), though.
My guess is that Svatos could fit in with a team that has limited cap space but could use a situational goal scorer. The Pittsburgh Penguins come to mind as a club that is short on skilled wingers and cap space, but I imagine a few other teams might benefit from signing the scoring Slovakian at the right price.
Is he a gem? By no means, really. He had plenty of chances to solidify his place with the Colorado Avalanche over the years but didn’t do so with any true consistency. Instead, he’ll likely be a solid mercenary goal scorer who brings little to the table when the puck isn’t on his stick. My guess is he’d be more Miroslav Satan (inconsistent but occasionally dangerous) than Petr Sykora (fairly consistent, decent in the locker room) if he went to Pittsburgh or anywhere else.
Still, when you’re walking down the clearance aisle, do you expect much more?