Not that long after being cut by the Tampa Bay Lightning, James Wisniewski tweeted “one door closed, another one opens.”
In an ideal, smart NHL, Wisniewski would be correct.
During just about every offseason, a quality player needs to fight to even get a chance to keep kicking around the league. Just look at the path Lee Stempniak took to a 19-goal, 51-point output in 2015-16.
Really, this current hockey climate should make Wisniewski a comparable bet.
Teams are giving up big contracts and considerable assets to lock up precious commodities in defensemen, so why not give him a try? Let’s look at a few reasons why he would be an interesting, low-risk addition:
- He’s only 32, so it’s not like we’re talking about an ancient player.
- Wisniewski isn’t that far removed from considerable success.
While his 2015-16 season was derailed by remarkably bad injury luck – he played all of 47 seconds for the Carolina Hurricanes – Wisniewski managed 34 points in just 69 games back in 2014-15. He’s two seasons removed from scoring 51 points for Columbus in 2013-14.
To provide some perspective, only 12 defensemen managed 51 points or more last season.
- His possession stats have ranged from acceptable to quite good, so it’s not as if Wisniewski is only useful for offense. There’s even some grit to his game … sometimes too much.
Now, this isn’t to say that Wisniewski is guaranteed to be a success.
One has to wonder about rust and his health after that catastrophe in 2015-16. He also admitted that he felt a little lost in the Lightning system. Prospective teams may need to deal with some growing pains.
Still, it’s not as though Wisniewski is likely to command a huge salary. He settled for a PTO with Tampa Bay, so there’s likely not much to gamble here.
Sure, he couldn’t crack the Bolts’ mix, but Tampa Bay boasts one of the league’s deeper defenses. What would be the harm for another team to give him a shot?