Saturday, September 2, 2017

Dave Andreychuk Autographed Card

In keeping with this month's theme of double-posting with my other blog, after predicting they'd finish 7th in the Atlantic Division in 2017-18, here is my Buffalo Sabres-related post, featuring none other than Dave Andreychuk, who was inducted in the Hockey Hall Of Fame last June.

Some of his career numbers warrant inclusion in the Hall, such as his 640 career goals, 274 of which came on the powerplay - an NHL record. But those 274 PP goals came over 23 seasons, which amounts to little more than 10 per; likewise, he has 1338 career points, but they're spread over 1639 games, most of the production coming in the offensively-minded 1980s.

To put it in perspective, he ranks tied for 29th for career points, but 7th in games played - that's a huge discrepancy. He has reached the 50-goal mark only once (with 53, 1993-94, whilst a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs).

In three of his four highest-scoring seasons, his points totals (99 in 1992-93, split between the Sabres and Leafs; 87 in 1985-86; and 82 in 1989-90) ranked outside the top-20 (and, in the case of 1989-90 as with most of his other seasons, outside the top-30). He failed to reach the point-per-game mark in each of his final 11 seasons, ranging from 1994-95 until 2005-06, usually by half a point per game.

And that's saying nothing about the fact that his greatest talent was using his 6'3", 220-pound frame to screen the goalie, get hit in the back and score garbage deflection or triple-rebound goals. Cool. That, and serving as the inspiration for the Tampa Bay Lightning to try to "win him a Stanley Cup" in 2004, because having the most clutch goalie that year (Nikolai Khabibulin), the record-holder for most overtime game-winners (Brad Richards), a Team Canada World Cup MVP (Vincent Lecavalier) and a two-time Art Ross winner (Martin St-Louis) clearly wasn't enough...

Case in point, during that run, Andreychuk had a single goal and 14 total points in 25 games. His entire playoff output is somewhat underwhelming (for a Hall Of Famer, of course, because it's fine for a very good player) at 43 goals, 53 assists and 97 points in 162 postseason games.

If I had to rank him on the Sabres' all-time list, as a forward, I'd put him behind Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and René Robert, for sure. If you add defensemen to the all-time list of best Buffalo skaters, that puts Phil Housley and Craig Ramsey ahead of him as well. If you factor goalies in, Dominik Hasek probably makes the top-5.

Therefore, I'd put Andreychuk in the same category as other Sabres greats who had a more limited time with the team, perhaps ahead of the likes of Alex Mogilny, Dale Hawerchuk, Pat Lafontaine, Danny Gare, Derek Roy, Pierre Turgeon, André Savard, defensive defenseman Lindy Ruff, and sniper Donald Audette.

Again, not bad company, but not all of them are in the Hall, and his category falls short of the all-time elite (Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Phil Esposito, Ray Bourque, Wayne Gretzky), particularly when only counting some of those players' time in Buffalo (Lafontaine, Hawerchuk, Turgeon).

All told, he's had a memorable and noteworthy career, and I felt it was fitting to feature him with the Sabres first, with card #17 from Pro Set's 1991-92 Parkhurst Series 1 set, showing him wearing Buffalo's classic blue (then-away) uniform from my youth, with the alternate captain's "A" fully visible, fighting for territory with the Philadelphia Flyers' Kerry Huffman, in front of Ron Hextall's net:
Ironically, both of those players were part of the package the Flyers sent to the Québec Nordiques for Eric Lindros, another debatable recent Hall inductee.

Andreychuk signed this one in thick, old-school black sharpie.

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