Eric Tangradi, 24, LW, 6'4, 221 lbs
Last Year's Ranking: N/A
This Year's Ranking: 24
You may be asking if I'm off my rocker to put Eric Tangradi – a former second round pick in 2007 – ahead of the Jets sterling 2012 first round pick Jacob Trouba.
Hard, cold fact is: Tangradi has almost a full season on Trouba in the NHL (81 games to be precise).
Sure, Tangradi hasn't measured up to the bruising, scoring presence he was with the Belleville Bulls in the OHL from 2006-07 to 2008-09.
In his final season, Tangradi had 88 points (38 goals, 50 assists) in 55 games with 61 penalty minutes and a whopping +39 plus/minus.
However, Tangradi has become one of those fringe players – never quite sticking in the NHL and never quite staying long enough to be a force in the AHL.
Tangradi's highest games played total in the AHL came in 2009-10 (his first season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) when he played 65 games and had 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists). He was called up to play one game for the big club and was called up in each of the next three seasons in Pittsburgh before finally being dealt to Winnipeg.
Last season, Tangradi notched four points in 36 games – his highest NHL game total (24 was his highest in Pittsburgh).
The thought that comes to my mind of why Kevin Cheveldayoff spent a late round draft pick on Tangradi is he is low risk and provides size, grit, and can skate well enough.
But can he produce and be a presence?
Last year it didn't seem like it.
But then again that was last year.
Tangradi is slotted to be a starter come opening night in Edmonton. If he does, it will be the first time he has had a meaningful job on the first day of the NHL season – even if it is having him play rough and tumble minutes on the third or fourth line.
With the acquisitions of Michael Frolik and the possible presence of Mark Scheifele full-time, Tangradi may finally get an upgrade on the players he will be paired with (no offense James Wright or Chris Thorburn, really).
A healthy Tangradi can only be a positive for the Jets in 2013-14 and we will wait to see his true potential and if it rears its head.