Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Player of the Day (Oct 17)

Today's Player of the Day scored the tying goal and shootout winner for the Predators last night.

Steve Sullivan

Sullivan was drafted in the 9th round, 233rd overall by New Jersey in 1994 and at 5'9, 155 (or less) he was clearly a long-shot to make the NHL. After a few years in Albany and 49 in New Jersey, Sullivan was sent to Toronto along with Jason Smith and Alyn McCauley (three players who all went on to successful careers, just not for the Leafs) in the Doug Gilmour deal.

In Toronto he showed flashes of brilliance - he was a guy who always caught your eye when he had the puck but was deemed to small to ever really succeed at the NHL level. Early in 1999 the Leafs decided to put Sullivan on waivers when they acquired Dmitri Khristich from Boston. Khristich lasted just 80 games in Toronto before being booed out of town while Sullivan was picked up by the Hawks and put up four straight 20+ goal, 60+ point seasons (putting up a career high 34 goals and 75 points in 2000-01.

In 2004, Sullivan was traded to Nashville for two second round picks and finished the year by putting up 9 goals and 30 points in 24 games. Following the lockout Sullivan continued to produce at a point per game pace, with 31 goals, 68 points in 69 games. His game is perfectly suited for the new NHL because of his great speed and his ability to make plays.

Sullivan is an inspiration to smaller players who have been told that they will never make it in the NHL. He comes through in the clutch and is a threat to score both on the powerplay and shorthanded. Instead of losing Sullivan to add Khristich (clearly a mistake), the Leafs should have tried to find a way to get Sullivan's heart into Khristich's body to form Stevich Krillivan.

No comments: