New Jersey Devils and Petr Sykora, A Beneficial Reunion

Back in late September, when training camp was in full swing, I put up an article on whether or not the Devils should sign Petr Sykora. He was a try out that seemed like a long shot because he will be 35 this season. My prediction was that Sykora would just be another old geezer the Devils re-acquired/signed who would end up injured or not producing at an acceptable level. Matt Ventolo also put up an article weighing the pros and cons of signing Sykora. Sykora went on to have a pretty good preseason reunited with Patrik Elias and it looked like he might get signed for the league minimum and help fill out the Devils bottom six. Sykora ended up getting a contract for $650,000 and has been playing like he deserves twice his salary. More on Sykora's rejuvenating season after the jump!

The Devils are 36 games into the season and Petr Sykora has played every game. He is looking like he is bucking the trend and playing at a high level at his older age. So far this season he has collected 10 goals and 11 assists for a total of 21 points. Sykora was signed by Lou to bring some offensive prowess to the team, and boy has it worked. Sykora also has three game winning goals.

I don't believe in clutch players, but one word we can use for Sykora's season thus far is consistent. In October Sykora put up 5 points, in November, 6 and in December, 10. Getting this production for Sykora's salary is something I did not expect when we signed Sykora. Sykora was going to give the Devils some help at the right wing and fill in on the second power play unit. To me, it seemed like there were too many negatives associated with basically guessing the Sykora would stay healthy and serviceable after 20 games. Sykora has exceeded my expectations and I feel many more fans' expectations.

Sykora is averaging 16:29 of ice time every game, quite a bit for someone who is 35. Sykora is definitely in great shape and hasn't shown any signs of being too tired to give 100% effort. There was even a worry that Sykora might not be defensively reliable, but he has a +2 and has a relative corsi of 16.4, the highest of every Devil who has played more than 5 games. This measure of possession likely benefits from the consistent play of Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. It is not coincidence that the leading scorer for the Devils plays on a line with Sykora. Elias is benefitting from a reunion with a 32 points season thus far.

Even at even strength, Sykora has been strong. He is posting 2.18 points per game, third on the team behind Elias and Adam Henrique. Sykora is also shooting at 11% in all situation, pretty darn good for a 35 year old. Sykora is averaging 0.28 goals, 0.31 assists, and 0.58 points per game. If Sykora keeps up this kind of production, he will be one of the Devils highest scorers, over Ilya Kovalchuk and even Zach Parise. Sykora is on pace for 22 goals and 25 assists (47 points). I listed Sykora's last three full NHL seasons below:

Petr Sykora's last three full years in the NHL

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2006-07

Oilers

NHL

82

22

31

53

40

2007-08

Penguins

NHL

81

28

35

63

41

2008-09

Penguins

NHL

76

25

21

46

36

Sykora has been playing on the special teams as well. Sykora plays 2.26 minutes of power play time every game. He has one power play goal for the Devil's atrocious power play, not an easy task. Sykora is not a primary player on the power play, but he is definitely one of the better power play players the Devils have at their disposal. Sykora does not play any significant time on the penalty kill.

All in all, Petr Sykora is having an enormously productive year for his age and the fact that his last full season was over two years ago. Sykora has one less goal than Jaromir Jagr, and substantially more than Scott Gomez. He has racked up 30 penalty minutes, but given the Devil's PK, that isn't too much of a concern if he continues his production through the second half of the season. How do you feel about Sykora? Will he tire out over the second half of the season? Thanks for reading and have a happy new year.

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