In the wake of Cowen going under the knife to repair a torn labrum in his hip – the procedure itself is scheduled for this Saturday – I, like many others, alluded to the immense pressure that will be placed on the team’s veteran defencemen.
I neglected to mention Mike Lundin’s name.
Signed as an unrestricted free agent during the summer, this James Gordon doppelganger has maintained an incredibly low profile during this lockout.
Relative to the recently acquired Marc Methot, it is understandable to see Lundin’s story not garner the same kind of attention as the return of a homegrown talent. Of course it helps that Methot maintains his public profile by engaging fans on Twitter and generally making himself available to the local media.
With the exception of a charity game appearance in Chicago, Lundin has essentially been out of sight and out of mind.
Only playing 17 games for the Wild last season did not exactly help his visibility - a $1.15M contract offer from Ottawa would seem to be all he could garner on the open market.
Assuming that his health is no longer an issue, his presence in the lineup was a welcomed addition (even before it was announced that Cowen would miss significant time).
His situational ice-time suggests the guy can defend:
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Now one could dismiss this allotment considering two of these seasons were played on teams that finished 12th in their respective Conferences (the 09/10 Lightning and the 11/12 Wild), but that 2010/11 season was one in which he set a personal high in games played (69) and his Lightning team finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with 103 points.
To his credit, during each of his three seasons, his Relative Quality of Competition metric (via behindthenet) ranked amongst the top three defencemen on his team. (Note: He led the 2009/10 Lightning with a Corsi Relative Quality of Competition rating of 1.207.) In other words, he not only logged a lot of minutes, his coaches never sheltered him. He frequently played against the opposition’s better players.
While I would never suggest that Lundin's successes or failures will be pivotal to the team's bottom line in the standings (should the season be played), this appears to be a player who looks to be capable of taking on more than a 5/6 role or being an internal candidate who can absorb the workload that would otherwise be displaced to players like Phillips and Gonchar.