Monday, October 6, 2014

Eric Tangradi Autographed Card

I learned of the trade between the Montréal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets after I'd posted about Alexei Zhamnov yesterday, so I waited until today to go searching for my Eric Tangradi autographed card, who comes to the Habs in return for Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland.

To make matters worse for good-guy backup Budaj, the Jets waived him today so they could send him down to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps, which will make him the second former Habs and Colorado Avalanche netminder to play for the team in three years, after David Aebischer.

But back to Tangradi, a 6'4'', 230-pound speedster who can shoot and pass well. He was a point-and-a-half per game player in the OHL, a prorated 30-goal man and All-Star in the AHL, but failed to make an impact in the NHL. Despite what the advanced-statistics geniuses say are good numbers. Why? Bad luck and bad timing.

Originally a second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, he was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins with Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney. Kunitz having won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, he was immediately paired with Sidney Crosby, who could set my grandmother up to score 30. Tangradi should have been paired with Evgeni Malkin on a giants line - he has the size, skill and speed to keep up. But maybe he wasn't ready in time; in any event, it did work a few times, including in two playoff games in 2011-12, and once more the year before; he's yet to lose a post-season game. Unlike the Pens, who have lost a lot more than they've won since that Cup run...

A concussion on a dirty elbow shot by Colton Gillies ruined one season for him, then he was sent to the Jets for a sixth-round pick. One of the problems with the Jets' depth chart is that two of their only three reliable top-line forwards are both left wingers: Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane. Blake Wheeler's the top man on the right. And even the center's thin on talent (with Bryan Little and, say, Mathieu Perreault in the top two slots this year).

Which leads to two things for Tangradi: less ice time - and less quality ice time at that - but more importantly, less talent to play with. Thus, a 3-goal, 3-assist season in 55 games last year.

While he can grind it out on the fourth line (and possibly take Travis Moen's spot with the Habs), he's made for second-line / middle-six minutes and post-season play. I meant to write him last season and never got around to it; I'll make up for lost time this season, and maybe get another opportunity to meet him in person, as I did in 2011-12 at an Ottawa Senators game, getting this card signed in blue sharpie:
It's from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Victory set (card #244 of the Rookie sub-set), showing him in a photo shoot, wearing the Penguins' black (home) uniform, #78, with the card specifying he wears #56 (he's also worn #26 and #25 with the Pens).

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