For the first time in franchise history, the Missouri Mavericks will not be playing playoff hockey. This is something that we have all known for a while now, and have come to terms with in our own ways. While the Mavs have been in a position to play spoiler for some of their division foes down the stretch, they have been doing so with a lot of new faces on the ice.
Coach Richard Matvichuk and General Manager Brent Thiessen were very active at the trade deadline a few weeks ago, shipping out some of the bigger names on the roster to acquire numerous pieces as they start to plan for the 2015-16 campaign. Fan favorites such as Josh Brittain and Martin Lee brought back a nice package of talent, and the new look Mavs have looked impressive on many occasions on the ice, even in the short time that they’ve played together.
Now that the dust is settled, it’s time to take a look at the guys brought in at the deadline, and what impact they’ve had for this team. Keep in mind, the players noted below are just the tip of the iceberg, as there will be many more players coming after the season to fulfill the future considerations due to the Mavs. One front office source described these future considerations as “very exciting.” This is not the future considerations in the now-defunct Central Hockey League that a lot of us are used to, as those situations rarely resulted in significant talent in return. Future considerations in the ECHL are a lot different, and the Mavericks are implying that their futures will bring considerable value to Independence. We’ll wait and see if that comes to fruition.
For now, let’s take a look at those guys who are here, and what they have brought to table since pulling on a Mavs sweater:
One of two familiar faces to be reunited with the Orange Army, Hayes seems to have taken considerable strides to improve his game since we saw him last. While his contributions on the scoresheet haven’t been big (two assists in nine games since returning), his ability to move the puck and physicality have dramatically improved. Matvichuk thinks that he may have pulled the trigger too quickly when trading Hayes earlier in the season, but it may have been a good thing, as Hayes has obviously used that as a kick in the pants to step his game up.
Acquired in the Lee deal, Karlsson has been a very consistent player for the Mavs. He has displayed a quick shot, some pretty stickhandling, and precise passing. He’s not a flashy guy, but doesn’t put himself in bad situations too often, which typically results in good things. His four point (two goals, two assists) in nine games leaves a little to be desired, but is pretty much on pace for what he was doing in Idaho (25 points in 53 games).
The other half of the Lee deal brought in Vance. I liked him immediately, but mostly because he’s a Philly kid like me. Vance has arguably been the most impressive find for Matvichuk. He’s a young, big, physical defenseman that can move the puck well, has a good burst for his size, and logs some big minutes on special teams. While it’s unlikely he’ll be back, as he’s under contract with the Dallas Stars, I would imagine Matvichuk and Thiessen will do whatever they can to state their case to keep him in a Mavs sweater. Vance is a guy that you could build a blue line around.
Reimer was a coveted rookie back in training camp, before an injury derailed most of his season. He has incredible speed, and can beat defensemen to loose pucks to establish possession in the offensive zone. He hasn’t found twine yet, but the matchup problems he presents will put him in situations to contribute. Getting to watch a guy like Lindsay Sparks who has similar attributes will only make life easier for Reimer, and give him something to work towards.
After an impressive career at Acadia University, Owens made the jump to professional hockey after being acquired in the Brittain trade, and he has hit the ground running. Owens has tallied six points (one goal, five assists) in seven games since joining the Mavs, and seems to get better in each game. Matvichuk spoke very highly of Owens when he acquired him, and we all know why now.
The mountain man on the blue line, Gimblett’s acquisition seemed to fly under the radar when it occurred. At 6’3, 230 lbs (not including his beard), Gimblett is hard to miss on the ice. He’s brought a great physical presence to the team, and his willingness to step up and defend his teammates (even though they are brand new to him) has made him an instant fan favorite.
Currier’s first stint with the Mavs was marred by injuries, and his memorable pursuit of his first professional goal that ended when he symbolically ripped the monkey off his back at The IEC. Currier has been impressive since coming home, netting four goals in nine games, all of which coming on special teams (three powerplay, one shorthanded). He has also been very effective on the penalty kill. Currier served as more of a role player in his rookie season with the Mavs, but if he keeps playing like he is, he could be a big part of the future of this team.