Wednesday’s trade of Jordan Owens to the Detroit Red Wings for veteran center Kris Newbury is a minor league deal, nothing more.
Since Tyler Arnason fled the country in early autumn and Patrick Rissmiller was excised like the cancerous tumor he was not long after, the Hartford Wolf Pack have been short on centermen. To fill the hole, New York Rangers 2005 third round draft pick Brody Dupont was moved into the middle from his natural position at left wing. The results have been so-so: while Dupont has performed admirably as a checking line center, his offensive production has suffered, stalling his development.
Newbury, a 28-year old center, gives the struggling Wolf Pack another option down the middle, while adding veteran experience and a player who’s not afraid to drop the gloves.
The cost, Owens, will be a tough pill for Wolf Pack fans to swallow. The 23-year old Niagra native is a speedy, heart-and-soul player who initially signed an AHL deal with the Wolf Pack prior to the 2007-2008 campaign and worked his way up the development ladder from Charlotte of the ECHL to become a critical piece of the Wolf Pack’s checking line and penalty kill last season. His hard work was rewarded with an NHL deal with the Rangers last summer.
This season, with last year’s linemates gone to greener pastures (Tommy Pyatt to Montreal in the Scott Gomez deal and Mike Ouellette to Europe), Owens has struggled to regain the level he attained last season. Never an offensive dynamo, Owens is well off last season’s 37-point pace, while the Pack penalty kill, of which he’s a major part, is second to last in the league. Owens’ struggles culminated in a seat in the press box on Saturday as a healthy scratch. Yet despite all that, today’s move is likely to be unpopular among fans, as Owens, who won the Pack’s Fan Favorite award last season, remains well-liked for his scrappy style and never-say-die attitude.
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