When Fernando Pisani was signed for the league minimum last summer as part of Stan Bowman's great stockpiling of parts, we declared it a low-risk signing and that the Hawks would be lucky to get 50 games out of a guy whose health had seriously failed him since he freaked the fuck off in the playoffs 5 years ago. He turned out to be pretty much exactly that. Score one for us.
|2010 - Fernando Pisani||60||7||9||16||0||10||1||0||1||72|
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent (2010-2011 Salary - $500,000)
Positives: Well, whoever had the over on games played can cash in their tickets. Pisani played more games than he had in any of the previous four seasons, and as a result produced more offensively than he had since 2007-2008 with still only 16 points. He also posted his first non-negative rating since 2005-2006. When properly slotted within the lineup, Pisani was a serviceable fourth liner, and could reliably eat up PK minutes, playing an average of 1:25 shorthanded a game. Oh, and he also gave us an excuse to make repeated references to one of the best skits MTV's The State ever aired, insensitive as they may have been.
Negatives: As is becoming a recurring theme for these report cards, when Pisani found himself anywhere else but the fourth line, the story was not good. Unfortunately, that happened far too often early on in the season, where he started out on Patrick Sharp's wing, and then along side Dave Bolland in a defensive role. Pisani couldn't keep up with either of these units, and was relegated to the fourth line, and even there he was pressed into detail at center on more than a few occasions. And though he did log significant time while shorthanded, Pisani was far and away the Hawks' worst penalty killer per 60 minutes of those that played at least a minute shorthanded a game.
Defining Moment: It was the injury we all knew was coming eventually, but only this time it wasn't wear and tear or something flukey, but a borderline shot from Dallas' Mark Fistric. How Fistric didn't receive a pecker slap from the league after that elbow is still a mystery.
Outlook: Barring the unlikely career rejuvenation that obviously didn't happen with Pisani, he was always going to be a one year, stop-gap, bargain basement roster filler for this season as the the giant brain of Stan Bowman traversed the tight rope that is the salary cap. There are younger, cheaper, and more durable options than Pisani out there for the Hawks next year. Some team will pick Pisani up, but it doesn't appear that he's got enough left in the tank to contribute seriously to a competitor, and signing him again would be another roll of the dice with his health.
Final Grade: C. While The Pope-Ah did exceed expectations in the number of games played and possibly in points produced as well, he was a disappointment in one of his primary roles, killing penalties. Though he was in all likelihood a symptom of the PK unit's failures and not a direct cause, his past success was still one of the main reasons he was given the opportunity he was with the Hawks, and this year's results will now be a reason he'll be plying his trade elsewhere.