There is always a discussion of who’s better than who, or who’s the best at what position. This week's segment of Bass vs. Bosman, these two VAVEL writers go head-to-head over who is the most underrated player in the league, any position, any team.
Bosman: Alex Goligoski has been a staple on the Dallas Stars blue line and nothing short of a work horse for the boys in green. He has never been able to live up to the trade that brought him to Dallas, at least in the media’s eyes. He’s done a great job being the number one defenseman for the Stars. Considering the roll he was thrust into to go along with high expectations, Goligoski hasn't received the recognition he deserves. He's a steady blue liner that has always been cast an underachiever just because of who was involved in the trade. With great points and playing over his head, he’s a steady hand on a shaky Stars blueline.
Bass: Goligoski certainly has been the number one defenseman on the Stars since his arrival, but he was dethroned last season and it was about time. He's a good top-four defenseman, but doesn't compare to any other number one defenseman. John Klingberg’s emergence has given the Stars a real number one guy. The most underrated player in the league according to this writer is Joe Pavelski. Lately, he has been getting recognized a little more, but he's been rock solid since entering the league in 2006. He scored in his first NHL game and hasn't stopped since. He's a lock to get at least 30 goals every year now while still remaining one of the better defensive forwards in the league. Despite all of his accomplishments so far, as a seventh round draft pick back in 2003, he isn't even recognized as one of the leaders for Team USA by GM Dean Lombardi.
Bosman: While Joe Pavelski has been kept in the shadows by team USA, he’s always on the opposing team's radar when playing the San Jose Sharks. Now being named the captain, it’s hard to say he’s underrated. He’s been one of San Jose’s most lethal weapons for years. Goligoski has been ridiculed, criticized and absolutely tossed aside by critics. Has he deserved it? No. He’s been an anchor for the Stars and a lethal weapon on the backend while never getting any recognition. Never been an All-Star, never been nominated for a trophy. John Klingberg’s emergence was huge for the Stars, but if you spend as much time watching them as this writer does, it’s clear that the calming effect Goligoski has had on Klingberg has helped his success. He’s taught Klingberg how to take advantage of being a great skater and puck mover. Being named the new assistant captain for this season, Goligoski has put in the time while shedding blood, sweat and tears into the organization, and has a huge positive effect on the club.
Bass: Pavelski has only started to get attention the past two years. He was often just talked about as a great third-line center, but now he’s a top line staple for the Sharks. Last year he scored nearly 40 goals and the prior year he had 41 goals. After his 41-goal campaign, everyone said he would never come close to that again and that it was a big fluke. He proved the doubters wrong and nearly eclipsed 40 goals again. This season he has 12 goals in 23 games which puts him on pace for 43 goals. It’s tough to compare an underrated scoring forward with a two-way defenseman, but in terms of what these respective players were expected to do, Pavelski has the upper hand. Goligoski was a second round pick and had much higher expectations as a player than the seventh rounder, Pavelski. Pavelski has dealt with doubters his entire hockey career saying that he’s too small, too slow, not quick enough, etc. Despite all of these deficiencies he still dominates competition in the best league in the world.
Bosman: It’s hard to say someone who was picked for Team USA for the Olympics twice is underrated. Where you're drafted only matters for so long. Once you set the bar, all of that goes out the window. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg aren’t underrated, they’ve earned all the recognition they have. Just like Pavelski has his own following, fans and support throughout the league. He’s been a star and a known star for years. Jamie Benn was underrated until Tyler Seguin got traded to Dallas and now Dallas is becoming a media hotspot. Now Jamie Benn is looked at as a dominant player. This year and last year he’s taken it to another level with Seguin but he’s always carried the Dallas Stars. Alex Goligoski was supposed to be a force for the Pittsburgh Penguins. General Manager at the time, Joe Nieuwendyk, thought he was going to be the number one defenseman every team dreams off, and paid the price. Goligoski was never going to live up to the trade. Since that point he’s been cast aside and nobody looks at him as more than a roster spot. Since he came over to Dallas at the 2010-11 trade deadline he’s averaged 0.48 points/game, and many of those years the team was lackluster. He’s been the glue that’s held the Stars together for years. He’s been through thick and thin no matter how much criticism he’s taken. He’s groomed Klingberg and helped him to where he is today and he’s an unsung hero in that dressing room. He’s finally wearing a letter this year, and has he ever earned it.
Bass: It wasn't until recently that people really started giving Pavelski the star respect that he deserves. He is still underrated compared to a lot of players of his caliber. Todd McClellan underrated Pavelski as a leader and should have made him the team captain last year. It's good to see that he's finally getting the recognition and honor that he deserves. The fact that Goligoski never lived up to his potential and trade makes him hard to call the most underrated player in the league. If he hadn't of been tabbed a future dream number one defenseman then he absolutely would be underrated, but when you don't live up to potential it's hard to call you underrated. He only gets so much criticism because he's a top-four defenseman, a good one, but was supposed to be a lights out number one. Pavelski gets better each year and was never even supposed to be in the NHL.