Marek Svatos: The Conundrum

I was reading through the Avalanche media guide at the bar the other day, and I came across this little bit about Marek Svatos:

2002-2003: Sustained his third separated shoulder injury in a three-week span on
Jan. 23… Forced to undergo season-ending surgery in late January, ending
his AHL rookie season.

Three separated shoulders in three weeks? If you don’t know what a shoulder separation is, check out what WebMD has to say:

A shoulder separation is the partial or complete separation of two parts of the shoulder: the collarbone (clavicle) and the end of the shoulder blade (acromion).

The collarbone and the shoulder blade (scapula) are connected by the acromioclavicular (AC)joint, which is held together primarily by the acromioclavicular (AC) and the coracoclavicular (CC). In a shoulder separation (also called an acromioclavicular joint injury), these ligaments are partially or completely torn.

There’s a grading of injury severity, basically from bad to worst., and they list treatment options. And you don’t have surgery unless it’s really bad. What they don’t tell you is how much you recover from it. Or if, like a concussion, you are more injury prone in that area. That would be nice to know.

Note: Last years injury was a broken shoulder, not a separation, but it did require surgery. He also missed the opener with a groin problem.

Reading that bit from the media guide was a bit of a shocker. I didn’t know much about him, just that he was a valuable member of the team, a high scoring rookie, and then when we needed him most, he was gone. So here we are, waiting for the Avs to sign him, wondering what the difficulty is, and suddenly, things make a little more sense.

Let’s say you are the Avalanche. You have this really gifted forward on your hands, but he hasn’t played an entire season. His agent is asking for money and time (I don’t know what his agent is asking for, but what else do agents ask for?), and you have a few hard salary cap questions to answer. Now, the money may not be a problem for you. You can afford a million or so, but maybe you don’t want to do that for three years. For the scoring ability, you would pay it, but what happens if he goes down? Do you want that kind of commitment to someone who might not make it to the playoffs, much less the next season? If I were the Avs, I would want to do a one year deal with options over the next three. That would be a good lockup, showing enough commitment, but being realistic about Svatos’ situation.

If I were Svatos, I would want the longer term lockup, and if injuries happen, you still have your team to go back to. If you are the agent, you want cash on the barrel-head, not options. You want your player to get the best deal out there, and with a scoring touch like this kid has, you can wait out the team. But we have seen how well that works from the past. Pierre Lacroix is not one to be jerked around. He holds on to that sort of thing.

So what happens is the Avs walk away? Enter Wojtek Wolski. Wols plays faster than his 6′-3″, 200lb frame. He can score, won the OHL Most Outstanding Player award, and is young and coming up fast. Do we want him to make the jump from the OHL to the NHL? No, a year in Lowell Albany would do him some good. And Marek Svatos can buy us that time. I would love to see Svatos healthy and an Av, but what we need is a player who can stick it out. What we don’t need is another Peter Forsberg. I like Forsberg, when he’s healthy, but that hasn’t been the case lately. Philadelphia go bitten by it, as I had figured was going to happen. So do we just wait for Svatos to do the same thing next season as this one? Or his previous NHL season? Or his 2002-2003 season in Hershey?

So there are two things that make it easier to walk away from Svatos. One is that Wolski is as good as he seams (I think he is), and becomes the new Svatos. The other is for Paul Stastny to be the next Wolski. Stastny shows promise, and has gotten better every year he’s played. He may go down to the minors right away, but that might not be a bad thing. A little development before running him over with the freight train wouldn’t hurt.

Can we walk away from Svatos? Yes. Could it bite us in the ass? Yes, absolutely, but those are chances you have to take. There is no way to look into that crystal ball and tell. When everyone is looking at the Avs, and touting scoring stats, there are some serious ‘intangibles’ worth talking about. All you can do is make an informed decision, based on what you know. And the more I look at it, the more I think the Avs are making a decision, (or at least can live with the decision) rather than letting something slip away.

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  1. Man you sound like you’re tied in quite a knot!

    With the Avs giving Svatos and Wolski qualifying offers, they have retained their right to match RFA offers from other teams.

    Their agents can ploy all they want, if a contract isn’t signed by December first, their NHL season, and contract is lost.

    Though Pierre Lacroix is no longer the GM, their demands will drop in time if the Avs win. Should they get off to a rocky start (drunken pun!), those demands will get heady.

    As far as Paul Stastny goes, don’t get your hopes up. Imagine Mrs. Stastny spent a lonely road trip night with Louis Sleigher.

    He ain’t much!

  2. R/C – Stastny ain’t much? Compared to what? Didn’t he win a Frozen four title? I’m not looking for a supermodel, I’m looking for him to score, which it looks like he can do. And to develop, which it looks like he is on the right path.

    BTW, Wolski is signed for 3 years.

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