Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Paul Gaustad…
|Paul Gaustad’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Paul Gaustad could never stay healthy during the lockout-shortened season. He chipped in five points in 23 games, but was rarely 100 percent. Not only did he miss over half the season, but Gaustad missed time on four separate occasions with various injuries. The most notable ailment was his shoulder, which was surgically repaired in April.
The shoulder injury didn’t keep Gaustad from excelling in the faceoff circle once again. He finished the season with a 59.7 percent success rate, his best percentage since the 2010-11 season. Of the six players who took more than 185 faceoffs, the next highest percentage was 50.2 (David Legwand).
Gaustad was at the center of the Predators’ bad luck, as his quirky faceoff violation in Minnesota was the first of many odd things to happen throughout the season.
Burning question for 2013-14: Will Gaustad maintain full health?
Following shoulder stabilization surgery back in April, Gaustad’s shoulder is 100 percent and he’s ready to go for the season. Once the puck drops on Oct. 3, though, can Gaustad stay healthy for the duration of the 2013-14 campaign? Of his eight seasons in the NHL, only thrice has Gaustad essentially played a full season. Every other season he has appeared in 70 games or less.
Gaustad is one of those players that can make a difference in tight games. In pressure situations late in games, you can count on him to win a key faceoff. The Predators witnessed that late in 2011-12 after acquiring him from Buffalo, and missed that at times last season. A healthy Gaustad can also help the penalty kill, as he has been one of the team’s better PK forwards in each of the last two seasons.
Although there are plenty of forwards on the roster that can fill in at the center position for an injured Gaustad, the Predators are much better off having “Goose” in the lineup for most of this season. He can be a key puzzle piece on a team good enough to return to the playoffs.