For the better part of the last two seasons, we've made a lot of jokes at Tomas Kopecky's expense. In our defense, they've pretty much all been justified. Whether it's his role as Marian Hossa's cabana boy, his inability to skate upright or keep his helmet on, or his odd skill set that has yet to find a home on any line, Kopecky has always led an existence as a Hawk as odd as his number. That certainly didn't change this season.
#82 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks
Feb 05, 1982
|2010 - Tomas Kopecky||81||15||27||42||-13||60||3||0||2||178|
Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent (2010-2011 Cap Hit: $1.2 million)
Positives: First and foremost, TomoKop posted a career high in points by exactly doubling his previous best (shocking for a guy in a contract year, right?). Both Kopecky's goals and assists were career bests, and a lot of that had to do with playing with Marian Hossa early in the season, when Hossa was eviscerating the western conference in October. Kopecky was also one of the few Hawks who would consistently and effectively get his ass to the front of the net both at even strength and on the power play, utilizing his 6'3" frame. Kopecky also has a rocket of a wrist shot, but he needs about a year and a half to wind up for it. After a lull in production, Kopecky later returned to what he's done best throughout his career, slaying bums on the 4th line with Viktor Stalberg and Ryan Johnson, where he managed 5 points and was a +2 in the month of March.
Negatives: For all the versatility Kopecky is lauded as having by the Hawks' braintrust, the two aforementioned roles are really the only ones that he's been effective at, and any work he does in the top 6 has got an extremely short shelf life. This was exhibited by his production dropping off to only 11 points after the All Star Break. When pressed into duty at center, Kopecky was a miserable 42.2% at the dot, which exacerbated his defensive weaknesses, of which there are many. These include but are not limited to a lack of spatial awareness in his own zone, and deficient skating speed which forced him to reach and take penalties on the backcheck. Even for doubling his best scoring output, Kopecky was still a -13, which yielded far and away the worst Behind The Net rating on the team among the regulars.
Defining Moment: While I'd like to use this space to show Kopecky chugging along a step and a half behind the play on the back check as the opponent transitions, bent over at the waist and arm fully extended, those aren't exactly the things that NHL.com consumes valuable server hard drive space with. So instead here's a an ill-advised neutral ice pass from Kopecky that was picked off and deposited into an empty net by Ryane Clowe, a play that started with Kopecky losing (badly) a late-game draw that the Hawks had to have.
Outlook: While Kopecky does have two things that the Hawks sorely need - size and a willingness to get to the net, he's too much of a liability to be put into to the top 6 with any kind of consistency. Though, with putting up the numbers he did this year, some team in desperate need of help will over pay for his services, and cheaper alternatives can be found. So, unless he's willing to come back for around the same money just to bask in the glow of Marian Hossa's electric blond hair or if the market isn't what he anticipates due to the concussion in the playoffs, it's likely we've seen the last of TomoKop in an indian head sweater.
Final Grade: C-. Even with the offensive numbers seriously jumping up for Kopecky, he was a bigger defensive liability this season than he had ever been previously. And a lot of those offensive numbers carry a huge asterisk based on at what point in the season they came, and who Kopecky was playing with.