Thursday, July 3, 2014

Eric Brewer Autographed Card

I started something that I never followed through with last month, and I thought today might be a good day for that. So today, for the first time since I decided to make this (yet another) Project, is an entry for my Oilers Numbers Project with the (first) representative of #2, Eric Brewer:
The card, showing him in Edmonton's 1997-2007 white (home) uniform, is from Topps' 2003-04 O-Pee-Chee set (card #197) and was signed in black sharpie after a game at the Bell Centre in November 2003. Back then, most Oilers were generous signers - I've heard the recent crop are different, and I did send some by mail that I've abandoned hope will ever get back to me, but I won't go as far as to dismiss them all anyhow.

Bewer was the New York Islanders' first-round pick in 1997 (5th overall), but it took them 89 games to send him packing to the Edmonton Oilers, where he developed into what the Beckett used to call a ''semi-star'', a player who could play in All-Star Games (he did, in 2003) but wasn't necessarily always an impact player.

He could always play himself in a position where the successes came piling in, though, as can be attested by his five gold medals playing for Team Canada (2002 Olympics, 2004 World Cup, and 2003, 2004 and 2007 World Championships). It was with them that he posted his best season, all four years in Edmonton surpassing the 20-point mark (out of seven total times he reached that milestone) and once even rating a +15, although all three other times in the minuses, for a total of -22. What the Oilers didn't like, though, was that he didn't lead by example and was always battling the team for money, holding out of training camp one time and filing for on arbitration another.

That's why they didn't do everything they could to keep him and agreed to the St. Louis Blues' wish to trade him, along with two others, for Chris Pronger. The Blues liked him enough to eventually make him their captain, though, so I guess that makes up for it.

As he was nearing free agency in 2011, though, the Blues traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a prospect and a draft pick; he re-signed with Tampa for four years that summer (at a $3.8M cap hit), and has been a fixture on their blue line ever since.

Brewer is not perfect by any means, and with the quality of his shot and passes, should have 50% more points than he does; but at 6'4'' and 220 pounds, he's a towering presence in front of the net and blocks a lot of shots. Also, with his cap hit, he is double the value of teammate Matt Carle, whose cap hit is above $8M; both defenders, however, seem to get nervous handling the puck in their own end when opponents are applying pressure, as can be attested by the Montréal Canadiens' sweep of the Lightning - the only one this post-season - just a month ago.

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