Saturday, February 4, 2012

Christensen finds new home in Minnesota

Yesterday, Erik Christensen finally found a new home. The much maligned forward, who drew the ire of our sometimes arrogant fanbase was traded to the Wild along with a seventh round pick for Casey Wellman. While I can't tell you much about Wellman, the 24-year old from California has gotten into parts of three seasons with Minnesota, registering 13 points (4-9-13) over 41 career NHL games. In 14 contests this year, he had a career high seven points (2-5-7). It's any wonder if he'll stay up or go down to help the Whale.

For Christensen, the likeable 28-year old moves onto his fifth organization where he'll try to boost the Wild's playoff chances. For all the justified criticism he's received, Christy does possess offensive capabilities that could benefit his new team, who currently sits eighth in the West with 57 points- three better than Dallas, Calgary and Colorado, who are all tied with 54. Minnesota just might be a good fit for a guy who can contribute on the power play and is money in the shootout. Given the Wild's similar defensive posture with goalie tandem Nik Backstrom and Josh Harding, adding another offensive player could only help.

If it's true Christensen was never going to see the light of day on our first place team due to John Tortorella souring on him due to the physical nature of the roster, a scenery change could only benefit him. After putting up 27 points (11-16-27) over 63 contests in '10-11, he was 1-4-5 in 20 this season. With rookie Carl Hagelin passing him along with John Mitchell and Mike Rupp, he became expendable. The thing I always admired about Christy was his honesty about his struggle to find consistency. For a guy so talented who could score from an impossible angle as he did occasionally like versus Washington last Spring, it was sad to see how little confidence he had. But you can tell how much he cares. So, when people dump on him on the way out, it rubs me the wrong way.

Given our powerless play epidemic, you can't convince me that he couldn't have been reinserted to provide a spark. Last year, seven of his points came on the man-advantage, including four power play goals. One more than Brad Richards has in his first season on Broadway. Ironically, Christy's only goal was a PPG in a home win over Montreal, in which he also netted an assist. Four of his five points came over a three-game stretch in November. Unfortunately, what followed was one helper over the last 10 of his Ranger career.

Somewhat astonishingly, Christensen is in his seventh year having already played for the Pens, Thrashers, Ducks and Blueshirts. His 156 points (62-94-156) over 358 games tell the story of an inconsistent player who has never been able to put it altogether. At 28, he gets another chance to prove his worth as a rental for the surprising Wild. Christensen is playing for a contract. Possibly even his NHL livelihood. If he can help get Minny in the playoffs, that would only be a plus. As someone who also took him to task in this space, I wish him well. Show 'em what you can do.

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