Thursday, January 9, 2014

Is Tvrdon a gamble worth taking?

Tvrdon as a member of Vancouver Giants

Are the Kelowna Rockets rolling the dice with Marek Tvrdon? 
Outsiders would suggest they are, but all that matters is the belief within the team that the 20 year-old is an additional piece of the puzzle for a successful second half, and more importantly a long playoff run.    
To make room for Tvrdon, the Rockets sent fellow 20 year-old Zach Franko to the Kootenay Ice for a 6th round bantam pick and a third round selection in 2016. 
Franko is a good player. The Winnipeg product had 199 regular season points in 252 regular season games. Those are solid numbers. The concern may have been with his lack of production when the winning really counts - the playoffs. Franko had just two goals in 11 playoff games as a 19 year-old last season. In a second round playoff series with Kamloops last spring, Franko had just 1 point, an assist on a Tyson Baillie goal in game four. As an older player, when the checking gets tighter, the battles for pucks become greater, the belief is Marek Tvrdon will have more success.
And seriously, doesn't every trade carry a certain amount of risk?  
Tvrdon has his warts. How motivated is the 4th round - signed - prospect of the Detroit Red Wings? Does he consider coming back to the WHL after starting the season in the East Coast Hockey League a demotion? The Wings organization want Tvrdon to regain the offensive success he had in 2011-2012, when he scored 31 goals and collected 74 points with the Vancouver Giants. The Red Wings, the team he eventually wants to play for, believes Kelowna is the best place right now for their budding prospect. 
Tvrdon has all the tools. The Slovakian born centreman has a high end shot. His quick release only falls short of Rockets sharp shooter Myles Bell. He is big (6’2 and 217 pounds) and is strong. When he wants to play, he can be dominant.
This is what Hockey Futures said about Tvrdon: 
'Tvrdon has all the tools and ability to be a top six NHL power forward. He has size that he uses well and he isn’t afraid of physical play or getting his hands dirty. He boasts excellent speed, soft hands, great instincts and a scorer’s touch. The fact that his effort level can be inconsistent is a concern, but he could be something special if he develops'.
When Tvrdon wants to play, he can be dominate.
So, to answer the question whether bringing in Tvrdon is a risk, you can quickly look at past deals that the Rockets made that appeared on paper to be a risk but worked out marvelously.
Was Brady Leavold a risk? Was acquiring Mark Guggenberger a gamble? Fans in Swift Current couldn't get rid of Geordie Wudrick quick enough. Two seasons later, as a 20 year-old in Kelowna, Wudrick would fall 7 goals shy of the 50 goal plateau. Leavold had a career high 69 points in 2007-2008. Guggenberger won a WHL title and as mentioned, Wudrick scored 43 times in 2010-2011. 
Do you want another example? Remember Jesse Schultz? Best known as a bad teammate in Prince Albert, Schultz was shipped to Kelowna in 2001 and promptly scored 53 times and collecting 104 points in the 2002-2003 season. Schultz would help the franchise win its first WHL title and was promptly named the playoff MVP.  
If Marek Tvrdon follows in the footsteps of others that were considered a 'high risk player', the Kelowna Rockets and their fans will undoubtedly agree that giving up a second round bantam pick was a small price to pay for the skilled forward.

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