Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jason Botterill Autographed Card

To 1990s card collectors, Jason Botterill, 20th overall pick of the 1994 draft (Dallas Stars), was a prospect whose ceiling would have been as a checking specialist and eventual leader, possibly even a captain - somewhere along the lines of a Dave Scatchard (42nd overall).

So many players from that draft class ended up with better career stats than Botterill's 5 goals, 9 assists and 14 points in 88 games spread over eight seasons that, in retrospect, it seems more than risky of the Stars to have gambled so much on the 6'4" two-way forward, even in the Dead Puck Era: Dan Cloutier (26th overall, #1 goalie), Rhett Warrener (27th, 714 games on defense), Scatchard (42nd, 269 points in 659 games), Curtis Brown (43rd, 300 points in 736 games), José Theodore (44th, Hart and Vezina trophies as a #1 goalie, Team Canada Olympian), Mathieu Dandenault (49th, 203 points in 868 games on the blue line), Patrik Elias (51st, 1025 points in 1240 games and two Stanley Cups in four Cup Finals), Fredrik Modin (64th, 462 points in 898 games), Sheldon Souray (71st, 300 points in 758 games, three-time All-Star and NHL record-holder for powerplay goals in a single season by a defenseman), Chris Drury (72nd, 615 points in 892 games, captain of two teams), Milan Hejduk (87th, 805 points in 1020 games, Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold and bronze medalist), Marty Turco (124th, #1 goalie), Daniel Alfredsson (133rd, 1157 points in 12546 games, Olympic gold and silver medalist, NHL captain), Bryce Salvador (138th, 110 points in 786 games as a defenseman and NHL captain), Tim Thomas (217th, #1 goalie, Conn Smythe and Vezina winner), Johan Hedberg (218th, quality backup and at times starting goalie), Evgeni Nabokov (219th, All-Star goalie), Tomas Vokoun (226th, All-Star goalie), Steve Sullivan (233rd, 747 points in 1011 games), Richard Zednik (379 points in 745 games and Olympian), Tomas Holmstrom (530 points in 1026 games, Stanley Cup champion), and Kim Johnsson (286th, 284 points in 739 games from the blue line).

But Botterill proved to be a good learner and teammate, so he made good enough contacts to climb through the ranks on teams' staffs after retiring:
from EliteProspects
Being a long-time assistant on a team that wins three Stanley Cups with two separate GMs rightfully gives a guy like Botterill a shot at running a show himself, which is what he got when he was named GM of the Buffalo Sabres in May of 2017, inheriting a roster that already included "generational" player Jack Eichel and a stacked prospect cupboard.

He was also savvy enough to trade away bad leaders like Evander Kane and Ryan O'Reilly, bringing in Marco Scandella and bringing back former captain Jason Pominville.

Here he is in his first of three appearances at the World Juniors, wearing Canada's red (away) uniform, on card #202 from Pinnacle Brands' 1994-95 Score set and World Juniors sub-set:
On it, he's sporting #23, making him a welcome addition to my Team Canada Numbers Project. When he signed it in black sharpie, however, he tagged it with #19, which is the number he wore with the St. John's Flames (1999-2002, it was most likely the latter, the year I got back into watching hockey regaularly).

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