This is the next in a series of stories ranking the 24 most important players on the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
No. 22 Kent Huskins
I'll admit right off the bat that these rankings are not scientific. They're not exceptionally thorough. They're prejudiced by my emotional connection to a player and how I personally feel about him and what he brings to the ice. I do not know Kent Huskins. Therefore, I don't really value Kent Huskins.
In my book, he has three strikes against him before we even see much of him on the ice.
Strike 1: He made the NHL with the Ducks as a rookie at age 27 in 2006-07 after starting the year in the AHL. He did play in 21 playoff games that season and has his name on the Stanley Cup. Lucky bastard. Admittedly, this strike has a ying to its yang. Sure, there are cases where a guy figures things out later in his career and they become an NHL-caliber player at an older age. But 27 is about a late a bloomer as you can be in this league. Patrik Berglund will be a seven-year veteran at that age.
Strike 2: He doesn't put the puck on the net very often. Last season he played in 50 regular season games before going down for more than two months with an undisclosed upper body injury. By the way, a February injury can and should be disclosed and fuck the Sharks for keeping that shit secret. Back to the point, in those 50 games he got 38 shots on net. He scored twice. The goal numbers don't bother me that much, but that shot number is really low. Let's make a fair comparison. Barret Jackman is not known as being crafty with the puck or possessing a hard or accurate shot. He scored zero goals last season in 60 games. But the man tried. He recorded 65 shots last season. Two seasons ago Jackman played in 66 games and got 73 shots on net. Were they all hard or scoring threats? No. But it's hard to score a goal or help your teammates score if you don't get the puck to the net on a consistent basis. You better be a shutdown defender like nobody's business if you're that limited in the other team's end.
Strike 3: Kent Huskins was the Sharks' sixth or seventh defenseman last year. If you rank the defenders by shifts per game and limit it to players who played 50 games or more, he was sixth with about 22 shifts a game. He averaged 16 and a half minutes of ice time per game, but he wasn't even one of the primary defensemen on the penalty kill unit either. He played shorthanded an average of 1 minute, 27 seconds per game. That was sixth among San Jose defensemen.
And don't tell me he brings needed size to the defense and blocks shots. He's 6 feet, 4 inches - decent size but that means he's probably a little slow footed (maybe the reason he didn't make the NHL until age 27) and he only blocked 58 shots last year in 50 games. His teammate Dan Boyle blocked 139 in 76 games last year.
If you look at the Blues' roster from last season, the best comparison is Nikita Nikitin. He played 41 games and averaged a little more than 16 minutes and 22 shifts a game. He took 46 shots and scored one goal and eight assists. He's an inch shorter but seven years younger than Huskins. He has one season in North America split between here and Peoria. He has some potential as he continues to learn the language and the NHL game played on a smaller ice surface.
We know what Huskins can do, and it's not much. Maybe I should have ranked him 24th.