Nik Antropov – Another chance?

In today’s Toronto Sun regular columnist Steve Simmons wonders what Pat Quinn sees in Nik Antropov and Alex Ponikarovsky and whether they deserve another chance with the Leafs.

You see, most of the hockey world looks at Nik Antropov and sees this large, gangly, marginally accomplished hockey player and they have to wonder what happened to that kid with all the promise.

But let’s compare Antropov to two other big, power forward type players at early stages in each of their careers.

Player A Player B Nik Antropov
Age Games Goals Points Games Goals Points Games Goals Points
19 5 3 4 66 12 30
20 27 3 7 76 18 39 52 6 17
21 81 18 31 64 10 23 11 1 2
22 35 5 7 74 13 33 72 16 45
23 69 14 29 32 8 16 62 13 31
Total 192 43 78 246 49 111 263 48 125

Antropov has had a better start to his career than Player A and is comparable to Player B. And he did that coming from a poor development league in Khazakastan while both Player A and Player B did it coming from successful Junior carrers in the OHL.

Player A was drafted in the first round, 18th overall. Player B was drafted in the first round 23rd overall. Antropov was drafted in the first round 10th overall. Not really a big difference in draft ranking, and thus career expectations although Antropov was a surprise pick that early.

Both Player A and Player B were traded (and given up on) prior to age 23. Player A twice.

Both Player A and Player B developed into 40+ goal, 90+ point players.

Both Player A and Player B are now all-stars playing on the top line of Stanley Cup contenders.

If you haven’t figured it out yet Player A is Glen Murray and Player B is Todd Bertuzzi. Now before all of you jump all over my claiming I am just a Leaf lover and don’t know what I am talking about let me say that I don’t know if Antropov will continue to develop and become a 40 goal scorer. What I am saying is that he could and we shouldn’t give up on him yet. I believe that big power forward type players often take longer to develop and that giving up on Antropov at this point in his career might be a huge mistake. Don’t you think the Islanders wish they still had Bertuzzi? And if the worst case scenario is that he is a 15 goal, 40 point, third line center/winger making only around $1 million I say, hey, that ain’t so bad either. Please, let’s all keep things in perspective.

This article has 5 Comments

  1. It’s typical of the Leafs Nation to jump all over a quiet European who doesn’t perform to their “standards”, despite the fact that said player is actually pretty solid and still pretty young. Antropov might be better off getting a chance in some other team, as the other two players you listed above didn’t break out until they found their niche with another squad.

    BTW, I’m enjoying your site. It’s a nice quality addition to the hockey blogosphere.

  2. Pono isn’t as bad as the article claims either. Second on the team in +/- on 03/04 is a testament to both Nik and Pono playing in the other team’s zone for most of their shift, thus negating goals against opportunities. In the playoffs, their line could be counted on to tire out the opposition’s 2nd line by making them playing defense. They may not score often, but these two contribute greatly to the team’s overall GF/GA ratio, without scoring 70 pts a piece.

  3. It might be worth noting that at age 24 and 25 Bertuzzi scored 25 goals each season with 50 and 55 points respectively. It wasn’t until age 26 when he really broke out with a 36 goal, 85 point year which he followed up with a 46 goal, 97 point year.

    Murray scored 29 goals at age 25 and 27 but only scored 16 goals at ages 24 and 26 and just 18 goals at age 28. His real breakout year was at age 29 when he scored 41 goals.

  4. The biggest reason Leafs fans jump on Antropov, in my mind, is simply because they aren’t used to developing players. Toronto has always had a boatload of reliable veterans, and the ability to buy more when they had to. Players like Antropov were generally shipped out of town to acquire someone more proven, and not allowed to reach the age of 23 or 24 in a Leafs jersey. The other percieved problem with Antropov stems back to the fact that he was a big gamble on draft day (I believe he was projected late second round), and the Leafs scouting staff hasn’t had a terribly good track record.

  5. At the end of the season, when Pat Quinn FINALLY realized that you shouldn’t juggle lines CONSTANTLY, and put out the Nik/Sundin/Pony line together, it was majic! Maybe its who he’s been playing with????? for example, Joe and Cheechoo??? You can’t just look at past numbers. I should think that any knowlegable sports reporter would know better. Maybe not.

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