Nik Antropov…

Being possibly the biggest Nik Antropov supporter I was happy to seehim have a big game vs. Boston tonight. In Toronto’s 6-4 win, Antropov had 2 goals and an assist and was a +4. He has generally been pretty good since returning from injury although he was given very limited ice time until tonights game where he got almost 16 minutes. His linemate Ponikarovsky had a goal and 2 assists and was also a +4. No one else on the team was better than a +2. These two guys just seem to work real well together and I really hope the Maurice will keep them together. I think Antropov has shown that he deserves more ice time. And I also hope that Leaf fans will soon realize that Antropov is actually a pretty useful player.

This article has 14 Comments

  1. Antropov’s draft position, and expectations that come with that position, has been the reason for fan complaint. He is a solid player and is a bargain for the price. If fans were to look at his salary, penalty kill, defensive play, passing ability and physicality coupled with puck control in the corners rather than what was expected of him many years ago, they would get a better perspective of the great value he has to the team.

  2. Yeah, no doubt people take into account his draft position but they shouldn’t. Here are the top 16 picks in Antropov’s draft year.

    1. Vincent Lecavalier
    2. David Legwand
    3. Brad Stuart
    4. Bryan Allen
    5. Vitali Vishnevsky
    6. Rico Fata
    7. Manny Malholtra
    8. Mark Bell
    9. Michael Rupp
    10. Nik Antropov
    11. Jeff Heerema
    12. Alex Tanguay
    13. Michael Henrich
    14. Patrick DesRochers
    15. Mathie Chouinard
    16. Eric Chouinard

    The only players I would say are definitely better than Antropov are Lecavalier, Stuart, and Tanguay and Antropov is clearly better than at least half of those players. I’d bet that Rangers (Malholtra), Flames (Fata) and the Islanders (Rupp) would have preferred to draft Antropov?

    Antropov has also been hindered by injuries. If he could just stay healthy for a long stretch of time I think you would see his game get even better. And the attribute that you didn’t mention is that he is capable of playing center or on either wing so he is very versatile too.

  3. Antropov is an okay player, but the fact that he cannot stay healthy lowers his value significantly. Interesting that you cut it off where you did, since Robyn Regehr, Simon Gagne, Mike VanRyn, and Scott Gomez were taken in that 1st round – however, considering the Leafs were the laughingstock of that draft when they took this guy no one had heard of, I’d have to say they made out okay.

  4. Yeah, it is actually interesting that the second half of the 1998 first round has produced better players than the first half. In addition to the guys you mentioned Dmitri Kalinin, Christian Backman and Martin Skoula are pretty solid defensemen in the NHL and Jiri Fischer was too before his heart problems last season. And Jonathan Cheechoo was selected second in the second round (29th overall).

    BTW, other 10th overall picks include:

    Drake Berehowsky (1990)
    Martin Lapointe (1991)
    Andrei Nazarov (1992)
    Jocelyn Thibault (1993)
    Nolan Baumgartner (1994)
    Radek Dvorak (1995)
    Lance Ward (1996)
    Brad Ference (1997)
    Branislav Mezei (1999)
    Mikhail Yakubov (2000)
    Dan Blackburn (2001)
    Eric Nystrom (2002)

    How many of those players are better than or have had better careers than Antropov? I guess you’d have to say Lapointe but not significantly better and maybe only better because he has been healthier and he played on some great Detroit teams and probably got over rated because of it. Jocelyn Thibault probably as well though he never really established himself as a better than average starting goalie.

    Overall I think the Leafs did fairly well with that draft pick.

  5. Comparing 10th overall picks across the board doesn’t make all that much sense – although it is kind of interesting to note how awful most of them have been.

    For that draft, Antropov was slightly better than the median player drafted – he’s gone on to moderate NHL success. Plenty of guys like Heerema and Henrich barely sniffed the NHL, and others like E. Chouinard, Rupp, and Fata have only made it as 4th line players. Problem is, the guy just can’t stay healthy – I’d take Mark Bell over Antropov any day as a result.

    Frankly, I’m surprised he’s still a Leaf.

  6. Perhaps it would be best to compare players that are in the same salary range. Of course, exclude obvious players that are restricted by cap restraints such as entry-level contracts.

  7. Here are a number of players that receive between 1 and 1.1M in salary for the year.

    Name Age Salary

    Laperriere, Ian (C) 32 0.988
    Arnason, Tyler (C) 27 0.95
    Moreau, Ethan (LW) 30 1.064
    Reasoner, Marty (C) 29 0.95
    Chouinard, Marc (C) 29 1.1
    Kunitz, Chris (LW) 26 1.056
    Barnes, Stu (C) 35 1.14
    Avery, Sean (C) 26 1.1
    Saprykin, Oleg (LW) 25 1.064
    Drake, Dallas (RW) 37 1.1
    Dvorak, Radek (RW) 29 1
    Hinote, Dan (RW) 29 1.1
    Begin, Steve (LW) 28 1.057
    Neil, Chris (RW) 27 1.1
    Hunter, Trent (RW) 25 1
    Simon, Chris (LW) 34 1
    Ekman, Nils (RW) 30 1.1
    Roy, Andre (RW) 31 1
    Mellanby, Scott (RW) 40 1
    Clark, Chris (RW) 30 1.051
    Brashear, Donald (LW) 34 1
    Antropov, Nik (C) 26 1.007

    I’m sure I missed a bunch of names, but this gives an idea for comparison. Not many stand out as a better player than Antropov, and he is among the youngest on the list.

  8. I’d have to agree with the fact that Antropov is severely underrated as a contributor to the Leafs. I’ve been defending him since day 1 to all my friends who consistently join the throng of Leaf faithful that think he’s slow, has bad hands, injury prone etc. The only part of that I can honestly agree with is the injury prone part. He isn’t “quick” because he’s huge and as a result has less than average foot speed. That said, because of his long skating stride, once he’s up to speed he’s pretty hard to slow down. As far as hands go, for a guy his size, his hands are frankly awesome.

    Comparisons with players in his draft year are more reasonable than comparisons to 10th overall picks in other seasons, if only because each draft is an isolated situation. The Leafs COULD have picked any of the players taken after, so pointing out all the good players taken late in the first round is entirely valid. Saying you’d “rather have Mark Bell” is a bit retarded since he was taken 2 spots ahead of Antropov… the Leafs couldn’t have picked him if they wanted him.

  9. Ok this is annoying, I’ve tried to post a comment 3 times and it doesn’t seem to like my long windedness… Antropov is a solid citizen and a solid player when healthy. Saying you’d prefer Mark Bell is pointless since he was taken AHEAD of Antropov, Leafs couldn’t have taken him if they’d wanted him.

    Antropov’s hands are good, his size is good, he isn’t as slow as people say (he just doesn’t have very quick feet but his long stride makes up for that). He produces well offensively for a gifted defensive forward. Comparing him to other players in his draft year is valid, to other draft years isn’t fair since each draft is an isolated case.

  10. It seems that there is some over agressive spam filtering going on. I’ll look into it but I have un-spammed your message.

  11. For years I have been one to root for the underdogs such as Antropov, Perrault (when he was in Toronto) and even Berehowsky. The difference with Antropov is the kid, is still a kid, he has hands and when he gets agressive he can be intimidating. Look at his stats from 02-03, 16 goals, 29 helpers, plus 11, 124 PLM (although there were some stupid penalties). He was aggressive going into the corners and when his confidence is high, such as the end of 05-06, he’s unstoppable. He needs to return to his old self when he would finish his check, get his body in front of the net and SHOOT! I think he needs 2 or 3 fights under his belt in order for him to have that mental toughness that everybody in Toronto desires so much. How scared would you be if you were an opposing player and hard some 6’6″ 230 lbs behemoth coming at you full tilt that can throw punches when necessary. Now if Poni and Antropov get aggressive and develop a “nasty” streak there is no line that can stop them! And by the way, don’t foget he’s 26, has 5 solid years of playing time, and can use his size in the new NHL. I’ll expect him to finish at least with close to career highs in most categories (+/- will be tough).
    70 GP 19 G 30 A 5+/- 36 PLM 150 SOG

  12. I think his +/- will be higher than 5. I’d guess closer to +15. I’d also say his GP might be a bit lower… but 70 is a good target to shoot for. I hope he can break 20 goals.

    Either way I’m glad to see him contributing. It’s easier to shut up the naysayers when he’s potting goals.

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