Sticking up for Big Nik

There have been a lot of rumors floating around about Nik Antropov being shopped (to Detroit, Chicago…) and so many people believe he is useless. I disagree.Yes it would be nice to sign Anson Carter. But why would you trade a guy like Nik who should be playing on one of the top two lines for the leafs next season, with all his size and skill.

I know, I know, he has limited speed. Actually he’s faster than most people think, and he’s shown that. Anyone who has actually watched this guy closely and watched him play the way he can *when healthy* can see that he is a talented top line player, suitable for Mats Sundin’s right wing, and a capable 20 goal and 60 point man.

During the leafs winning streak at the end of last season, next to Aubin, Mats and Kaberle, Antropov was without question the best Leaf. Flying into the corners, throwing hits, fishing out loose pucks, scoring goals and making outstanding passes to Poni and Sundin.

My only problem with him is that he is injury prone which has taken a toll on his production over the years. Pat Quinn said at one point last season, every time he starts playing really well he finds a way to get hurt and then he has to start all over again. Which is so true. During the run at the end of last season Nik proved this true again when he got hurt the second last game of the year vs. Buffalo and didn’t return. Coincidentaly the Leafs lost in regulation time that night for the first time in 13 games.

My other problem with Antropov is that he enjoys passing too much, and is always looking to make a pretty play, all the while he has arguably the best shot on the team which he has proven time and time again, but he doesn’t use it enough. Hopefully Maurice recognizes this during preseason and gets Antropov to use that cannon of his.

For those of you who are blind to fact that he performs highlight reel plays go to youtube.com and type antropov. It doesn’t have all his best plays from last year but a few of them. And watch “Sundin’s six point night” to see Antropov fly into the corner to throw the puck out front to Mats for Sundin’s 4th goal of the game and Antropov’s 3rd point including a 2nd period one timer goal.

That’s all I have to say about that for now.


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