2008 Final Grade: Ruslan Salei

2008 Final Grade: A-

2007 Grade: N/A

Links:

{{salei}} (hockey-reference page)

2008 ITCS (aka highly unofficial) Salei game log

Season Stats: 17gp 3g 4a 7pt +1 (all stats are just for his time with the Avs)

Minutes: 327.7 (9th), EV 15:10, PP 2:38, PK 1:29, ATOI 19:17

1st Half: DNP (was with Florida)

2nd Half: 17gp 3g 4a 7pt +1

Playoffs: 10gp 1g 4a 5pt E

Best Month: March (14gp 3g 3a 6pt +2)

Linemates: Finger (8), Leopold (7), Cumiskey (2)

Season: Offensively, Salei is something of a late bloomer. In 9 years with the Mighty Ducks, Salei never managed to crack the 20-point barrier. He's hit at least 30 in each of the last two years.

Report: Like most Avalanche fans, the fact that {{skrastins}} was traded at the deadline was good enough; we could have received just about anyone short of Bates Battaglia and it would have been a success. To my surprise, Salei more or less kicked ass. Perhaps this is just blogging hyperbole, but I think Salei may have had more big hits in his 17 games than anyone other Avalanche defensemen has had in the last few years combined. He averaged a team-leading 2.4 hits per game, and almost all of them seemed to be notable. Salei gets big props for fighting Steve Ott after Ott left his feet to hit Jordan Leopold (it earned Salei a nasty shiner, too). Like most of the other defensemen, he's a good shot blocker (although, strangely, his blocks per game dropped by about half a shot per game after coming over). He seemed solid in his own end, and was surprisingly adept in the offensive zone with a nice combination of a hard shot, decent passing and good instincts. In short (and setting the Detroit series aside for a moment), I don't really have anything negative for Salei, other than the fact that he takes a lot of penalties. I do think, though, that that's just a price you happily pay for his physicality, and his frequent trips to the box seemed much more palatable than a less-physical player like, say, Scott Hannan.

Fast Fact: Salei is one of 7 former 1st round picks to play for the Avalanche last season (Wolski, Sakic, Smyth, Hannan, Forsberg and Parker are the others).

2007-2008 Salary (and Cap Number): $3,025,000 ($3,025,000)

2008-2009 Status: Salei is signed for 2 more seasons at the above attractive cap number.

Outlook: I am really excited to have Salei on the team and feel he was a significant upgrade last year to Skrastins. However, as good as Salei was, I have a nagging suspicion that he may have been playing a bit over his head and that may have been validated a bit by his atrocious play against the Wings. In other words, I think it's possible that we may find out that we've traded Skrastins for...the another Skrastins. That may be a tad too pessimistic, but I do think Salei will have a tough time repeating his excellent performance with the Avs last year.

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