Making the case: Alex Tanguay

Since July 1, Nashville Predators fans have heard the name Alex Tanguay thrown around quite a bit. One website in particular, hockeybuzz.com, has reported that he was close to signing in Music City.

Multiple times.

At 30 years old, Tanguay is in the prime of his career. His 580 points in 659 career games is something any team would want to add to their lineup. Especially once he proved he didn’t need to skate with guys named Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg or Milan Hejduk to put up those types of numbers.

The Predators would have lots of different possibilities if they brought Tanguay in. A natural left wing, he would provide versatility at a position that’s been lacking for quite some time now. He’s a top line winger that could play on either the 1st or 2nd lines, allowing Head Coach Barry Trotz to mix-and-match players like he loves to do. Tanguay could also step in for Steve Sullivan, were he to suffer another injury, and prevent the Preds from missing a step. His experience on the special team units would give Nashville a top tier threat on their 2nd power play line, not to mention, were he to develop chemistry with David Legwand and Martin Erat, he could help those guys reach their top potential in the wake of being called out by both Trotz and Poile.

While the positives are obvious, there are negatives to bringing Tanguay into the fold as well.

His season stats are relatively inconsistent. Sure, he’s never posted less than 67 points in any season of which he’s played at least 80 games, but he’s also posted as low as 58 points in what was basically a full season (78 games) as recently as 2007-08. While 58 points is admirable, for a guy making $5.2 million, 58 points is just not good enough.

After all, those are Leggy and Erat-type numbers. Now think of what the reaction would be if those 58 points were put up by the guy who was specifically brought in to provide offense.

Yeah… scary.

The negatives don’t stop there. He’s a decent special teamer, having scored 168 career power play points as well as having accumulated five short handed points (three of those in the same season), but he’s no dynamo. When glancing at his stats, he’s not a shooter either. He’s never been credited for more than 142 shots in any one season and in his last “full” season of 2007-08, Tanguay posted only 121 shots on goal. (For contrast, Radek Bonk shot the puck more times that Tanguay that year). While a consistent 25-goal guy, he’s never scored more than 29 goals in any one season either. Furthermore, he can’t be counted on to play a full year, having only played every game on the schedule twice, both with the Avalanche early in his career.

And we haven’t even gotten to money yet, which, quite frankly, puts him way out of reach for the small market Nashville Predators organization. Even if the Preds didn’t offer him a raise – which someone will do - Tanguay would earn $5.25 million next season, making him the highest paid player in a Predators sweater. More than team captain Jason Arnott. More than All-Star defenseman Shea Weber. More than proven point-per-game producer when healthy Steve Sullivan.

That’s quite a flier to take on a guy who is consistently good but not consistently great, which he’d have to be to make that kind of money in this market.

If you’re the Nashville Predators, who relies on keeping the payroll under the midway point of the league so you can partake in NHL revenue sharing, and you’ve already got two 50 pt-per-season guys who make $4.5 million/year each… you just can’t bring in a guy like Tanguay unless you move one of those two guys.

And it’s safe to say, that’s not happening.

If he comes in and averages 75 points a season, on the 2nd line, then you’ve hit a homerun by bringing in Tanguay. Unfortunately, anything less than that by a guy who’ll probably command $6 million a year, would be a huge disappointment and the Predators can’t afford to lock up that kind of money on a potential third 55 pt-per-season guy.

They’ve got enough of those as it is.

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This is the second in a series that section303.com will be doing on the available UFA’s.