Sykora Showing Value of Veterans

It looks like Martin Havlat will play on a line with Petr Sykora, as they did in Tuesday’s win over the Ducks.

Every season, more and more GMs have been filling as many slots as they can with younger players rather than more experienced ones. There are a lot of reasons to do so: younger players tend to be cheaper, they tend to have more of an upside than older ones, and most tend to be grateful for whatever ice time they can get.

This kind of thing was most recently seen in New Jersey, when Brendan Shanahan and the Devils walked away from each other because there wasn’t a top-nine role for the veteran. The Devils had just filled a lot of slots with younger players and Shanahan was left without a slot.

But experienced players do frequently have some upside. The Wild invited Sykora to camp on a tryout and he looked great. But the fact that Sykora and Havlat have played together in international play had to be in the back of everyone’s head. When Havlat and Sykora were put together Tuesday, it looked like they had been playing together for quite a while. So Sykora’s experience, specifically his experience with Havlat, gave the Wild more options than they might have had with a rookie or second-year player.

It’s not that veterans are inherently preferable to younger players. But right now, NHL GMs seem to be underrating experience and I think it’s going to bite a lot of GMs during the season and reward the few that are taking a risk on a player everyone thinks is past their prime.

And somewhere, Miro Satan’s phone is starting to ring.