OK, it’s that time of year. Hockey’s so close that you can almost taste it. By my count, there are 2 days remaining before the Wings kick off their season in Sweden (which is still entirely too many, but at least we can see the light at the end of the tunnel). In order to pass the time, I’ll be posting a player profile every day until then (in alphabetical order, because I’m one of those people). I want to make it very clear that these are not predictions, because I do not, under any circumstance, make predictions. They’re simply my thoughts on each player’s performances last season, and my hopes and expectations for them this time around. Today’s subject:
2008-2009 Regular Season: 80 GP, 19-28-47, +/- -4, 24 PIM
2009 Playoffs: 4 GP, 0-1-1, +/- -2, 2 PIM
Season Highlight: Probably getting traded from Atlanta to a real live playoff team. I guess.
Season Lowlight: Getting swept in the first round by the Big Red Machine.
Williams split time between the Thrashers and the Blue Jackets last season. His production improved once he arrived in Columbus, which I’m going to go ahead and attribute to the fact that the BJs were a playoff team and Atlanta…not so much. His playoff numbers were dismal, but you have to take into account the fact that he was up against the Wings. Beyond that, I can’t really offer a lot of insight into the kind of season he had.
I’m on the record as being strongly against his signing this summer. But, as the wise Mick Jagger once said, “You can’t always get what you want.” Babcock has Williams slotted in to replace Mikael Samuelsson on the point on the powerplay, and though that makes me nervous, I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s a role that Williams has filled before, and it’s not like Sammy wasn’t turnover prone as well. I’m starting to feel a whole lo better about his signing after watching his performance on Sunday. He really did look good, and he made a few good plays on the powerplay. In my tendency to hold grudges, I often overlook the fact that he posted 58 points one year with the Wings in his previous stint, which is perfectly respectable. The beauty of the Wings’ situation (and what I believe will be their saving grace) is the fact that none of the new signees or guys promoted from Grand Rapids will be asked to put up those kind of numbers. The team hasn’t put all of its eggs in one basket in terms of finding someone to replace Hossa, Hudler, and Samuelsson. Williams and the like are simply expected to go out and play the Wings’ game. And from past experience, that style, defensively focused though it is, tends to lend itself to offense.
Some folks made a big deal about Williams saying that he wanted to stay in Columbus, but I really don’t have a problem with that (except that for the life of me, I can’t figure out why someone would want to live in such close proximity to Ohio State, but that’s another issue altogether). As long as he comes in, works hard, and refrains from whining, I’ll be okay. The Wings need him to fill the role that he’s signed for, and I think he understands what his job is here. Pointwise, I’d look for numbers about the same or slightly higher than he put up last year. I’m told that his line with Filppula and Leino has looked good together so far, and sharing ice time with those two guys, there’s no excuse to not have a decent year.
What he needs to do to make me happy: Not play his ipod.