Friday, August 31, 2012

What to Expect From: Colton Gillies

In this series, we're going to go through each player, examine what they have been able to produce in the past and what it would be reasonable to expect from them in the coming season, mostly using logic. The goal is to have a statistical expectation for the team as a whole, to see how well they might fare in 2012-13. This is an alternative to just throwing your hands up in the air, crying, drinking excessively (although this activity doesn't exclude drinking) and playing russian roulette alone in my basement all summer.

The tenth player in our series isn't going to get many panties wet, he's just Colton Gillies.

"OF COURSE that was legal. It only happened to a Blue Jacket." -ref explanation
Back in 2007, panties were wet. Specifically, those of Minnesota Wild scouts who thought enough of him that they ended up trading up to draft him 16th overall. This was puzzling for most teams, but Minnesota was kind of a wild card back then. My best guess is that they hoped Gillies would develop into a Jordan Staal-type player, because the term "two-way" seems to be stressed a lot with him. He didn't seem to have game-changing offensive ability (like most teams would be looking for when they draft a first round center) but he was big, mean and responsible in his own end. Which are admirable qualities.

More over the jump...

Since he was drafted, he played in one world junior tournament and spent his ELC shuffling back and forth between the AHL and the NHL. The best statistical stretch of hockey he ever had was his first brief stint with the Aeros, when he went 1G, 7A for 8 its in 11GP. After that, he never had a real home on the ice and eventually the Wild cut him loose.

Todd Richards was familiar with Gillies from having coached the Wild before and probably tipped CBJ brass off to his residual potential when Gillies was put on waivers. He came aboard the rapidly sinking ship January 14 and surprisingly, this one hasn't backfired yet. He fits in fairly well in the dressing room and was a designated 4th liner since he got here. He basically continued his natural trajectory (which the Wild should have figured out before drafting him in the first round), which is fine as long as Howson isn't giving up much to have him on the roster. To be precise, he didn't have to give up players or picks to acquire Gillies and pays him $625,000.00 to be a fourth liner of whom little is expected.

Gillies is big at 6'4", can skate reasonably well and isn't afraid to get rough. The problem is that he's only listed as 208 lbs and really hasn't won any good fights. As a Blue Jacket, he had a decent scrap with some guy named Summers, but if you're 6'4" and can't put the puck in the net... frankly, I expect more dominance in fights. It's bad enough we have to watch Boll fumble the puck all over the ice and then get pummeled when he stands up to noted weasels such as Pat Kaleta, but if you're gonna be taking up space on the bench, please bring something to the party.

Other than not having shown a great deal of toughness, I don't have much criticism to offer. He's a guy who gets 10 minutes of ice a night and isn't a liability. He can lay a hit and is at least willing to drop the gloves. He's kind of like a golf club you get for $5 at good will. If it works out, then great. If the club turns out to be a shank-machine, then throw it in the borrow-bin on your way out and let someone else give it a whirl.

Here are Gillies' stats from Hockeydb:

Regular SeasonPlayoffs
2004-05Saskatoon BladesWHL911210120000
2004-05Surrey EaglesBCHL31010 ----------
2005-06Saskatoon BladesWHL63661257-380004
2006-07Saskatoon BladesWHL65131730148-20----------
2007-08Saskatoon BladesWHL5824234797-4----------
2007-08Houston AerosAHL111784050002
2008-09Minnesota WildNHL4525718-2----------
2009-10Houston AerosAHL727132073-6----------
2010-11Houston AerosAHL6411152682224751232
2010-11Minnesota WildNHL71012-2----------
2011-12Minnesota WildNHL3702210-5----------
2011-12Columbus Blue JacketsNHL3824625-4----------
NHL Totals1275111655

As you can see, there isn't much in his stats to pop your eyeballs out of their sockets. Maybe it's a good sign that he was a -4 on the fourth line of the worst team in the league?  Otherwise he's a guy who can be counted upon for a maximum of 5 goals per season at the NHL level.

"No, actually I don't find your goatee attractive, Jeff. Why do you keep asking me that?"
So what to expect in the coming season from this guy? Well, I have two ideas. One is for him to continue on the path he's started out on... being a serviceable fourth liner without much more potential. The other is for him to put on some more meat and try his hand at enforcing. Either way I don't see there being a great leap forward for Colton. Enforcing is not a job for everyone and some guys just aren't born with the surliness and paws that it takes to fight in this league on a nightly basis. But it would be a way for Colton to ensure that he stays in the big leagues, eating steaks, flying to cities and earning his way to an NHL alumnus paycheck after retirement. Andrew Peters proved that in order to be an NHL enforcer, you don't even have to be able to fight. You just have to be large and able to protect yourself. You don't even have to live up to the stereotype "likable" enforcer. If Gillies were to gain 20lbs and learn a few moves, he might be able to pull off a nice little career.

Anyway, I suspect this year will bring more of the former. Gillies may be able to stay healthy for a full season and stick in the NHL. The only thing standing in his way is Jared Boll. And Boll usually doesn't hold his ground.

Prediction for Colton Gillies in 2012-2013: 3G, 7A over 70+ GP. Hopefully lots of well-earned PIMs and a positive +/-.

It helps to play hockey with a stick. Failing that, try to assume a body posture that makes you seem as large as possible.

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