Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Mancari Case

Mark Mancari has been among the top scorers of the AHL for half a decade.  He's a budding powerforward at 6'4", drafted in the seventh round by the Sabres in 2004 and just now left the organization via free agency for a shot with last year's cup runner up. So how does AHL supremacy translate to NHL performance?

In a crowded Canucks camp it's easy to think Mancari is forecasted to be an insurance policy and be on his way for another stellar AHL campaign.

If it's gritt the Canucks are looking for with him then he might just come out on the losing end of the last few roster spots which will be contested by the likes of tough guys Steve Pinnizoto, Mike Duco, Byron Bitz and Steve Begin.  Despite his size he's not considered a gritty player never once hitting the 100 PIM mark in a season at any level. Last season he had 8 points in 20 games being used sparingly by the Sabres, but only has 35 games under his belt in the big leagues already 26 years old. So what is he doing here in Vancouver?

I would have to say it's his points totals in last year's call-up that caught the Canucks scouting staff and not his frame.  There's a chance he may be battling Hodgson and Hansen for top six minutes while Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond rehab from injuries at the season's start.

Here's some stats on former AHL studs turned solid NHLers in recent memory and some eerie similarities.

David Desharnais: Scored 78 points in 2009-10 in the AHL then went on to record an impressive 22 in 43 games with offensively starved Montreal last season.

Tyler Ennis: His 65 points in 69 games in the AHL in 2009-10 led to an impactful 49 in 82 with the big club last season.

Mike Santorelli: Lit it up in the AHL with Milwuakee in 2009-10, like Mancari changed teams after a solid semi-pro season for an opportunity with Florida where he was among the 20 goal ranks in 2010-11.

PA Parenteau: Sported over a point per game average in the AHL in 2008-09, put up a respectable 8 points in 22 games with the Rangers the next season, then crossed the bridge to Long Island where he scorched the Atlantic conference with 53 points in 81 games and secured an NHL paydady with a multi year contract.

Artem Anisimov: This guy may have made the afformentioned Parenteau expendable at MSG playing each and every game for the Rangers over the past two seasons following a PPG campaign in the AHL. He has 64 points in 162 career NHL games and a nice Iron Man streak going.

Tim Brent: Was ripping up the AHL in 2009-10 when injuries cut his season short.  He came back and earned a roster spot with the Leafs boasting an impressive 20 points in 79 games last season and playing in all situations. He took the money and left for Carolina where he'll be given a chance to play alongside some of the games best up and coming young guns.

Then you have the Pittsburgh FOUR -

Dustin Jeffrey: 71 points in 77 AHL games in 2009-10, had 12 points in 25 games in a late season callup before an ACL injury cut his season short.  He'll be in the mix filling in for Sid the Kid to start this season.

Brett Sterling: Recorded 5 points in 7 games in a late year callup with Pitt and found a home in St. Louis this offseason after a PPG in the AHL last year.

Mark Letestu: Refined his game in the AHL from 2007 to 2010 recording 112 points over the past to seasons in the second best pro league in North America, then stepped up in a big way for the Pens last year tallying 27 points in 64 games in under centre replacing Sid, Malkin and Staal.

Chris Conner: Amassed 16 points in 60 games with injury ravished Pitt last season after 56 points in 59 games the season before in the AHL.  He's the best example of Mancari's big chance with Vancouver as Conner left Pittsburgh for Detroit this offseason.  Is there a team better known for it's under the radar pick ups than the Red Wings?  The only one close of late would have to be the Nux who have resurected the careers of Mikael Samuelson, Raffi Torres, Chris Higgins and Aaron Rome to name a few.

Strangely enough many of these guys have been late round picks who had very good junior numbers.  They've all worked hard to get in to the show and added time in the minors has paid major dividends for the parent clubs.  If there was a forward group more crowded than Buffalo's it's Vancouver, and I don't think Mancari would leave not knowing that he has a shot to be an impact player on a cup contender. Besides, Torres departure is an all too obvious opening for Mancari to be penciled in for a cheaper cap hit.

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