2008 Final Grade: Jeff Finger

2008 Final Grade: A-

2007 Grade: B

Links:

{{finger}} (hockey-reference page)

2007 report

2008 ITCS (aka highly unofficial) Finger game log

Season Stats: 72gp 8g 11a 19pt +12

Minutes: 1,438.6 (3rd), 16:38 EV, 1:03 PP, 2:18 PK, 19:59 ATOI

1st Half: 37gp 2g 7a 9pt +9

2nd Half: 35gp 6g 4a 10pt +3

Playoffs: 5gp 0g 2a 2pt -2

Best Month: March (13gp 2g 2a 4pt +4)

Linemates: Liles (43), Cumiskey (11), Salei (8), Sauer (7), Skrastins (1) plus two games as a 7th defenseman

Season: After a 22-game stint in 2006-2007, this year was Finger's first full season in the NHL. Not surprisingly, he set career highs in game (72), goals (8), assists (11), points (19), +/- (+12).

Report: Honestly, I wasn't thinking Finger's grade would be as high as an A-, but I had a difficult time finding faults in his game. Finger had a solid season in 2007-2008 and ranked highly in almost every category. He was 2nd in +/- to Kurt Sauer and had the 3rd most minutes (behind Hannan and Liles). His 121 hits were tops on the team and 51 more than the next defensemen (Clark) tallied - until the arrival of Salei and Foote, Finger was the one banger we had back there. He's a solid shot blocker (1.6 per game) and, like Clark, can be used in any situation. I, of course, would have liked to see him used on the powerplay more; as Dario is fond of saying, he does a great job making sure his shot gets on net. Since making it to the NHL, he's been paired with Liles in about 68% of his games; I'm fond of postulating that he's a major factor in Liles' improved defensive play. He isn't the most mobile of guys, but thanks to that hard, accurate, right-handed shot, Finger had 8 goals (tops among Avalanche blueliners) and was 2nd on the team in EV points (16, 3 behind Scott Hannan). Finger was getting loads of ice time towards the end of the season, but he quickly fell out of favor with Joel Quenneville in the playoffs. His (arguable) miscue in OT against the Wild in game 3 led to Pierre-Marc Bouchard's winning goal, and he sat for the remainder of the series. Then, when an injury to Hannan forced Finger back into the lineup in the Detroit series, he received some lovely words of encouragement from Quenneville after taking a bad penalty. Those two incidents aside, Finger had a great season.

Fast Fact: Finger has played in just 5 NHL games as a minus player for the season.

2007-2008 Salary (and Cap Number): $475,000 ($475,000)

2008-2009 Status: UFA

Outlook: Finger is one of several free agent defensemen the Avalanche will have to make a decision on this summer. There's a lot of guys I'd like to see return, and Finger is certainly one of them. I think with more PP time he could put up even bigger offensive numbers, but his real strength is as a tough, physical player in his own end. Finger should get a nice raise this offseason, and hopefully the Avalanche will be the team writing the check.

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