2008 - Ruslan Fedotenko
Ruslan Fedotenko is not without his faults. He had separate goal-less streaks of 6, 7 and 15 games over the 2008-09 season. On a stretch from January 5th to March 28th (21 games) he didn't find the back of the net but twice (in the same game at that). Streaky as he may be, the 'Tenk still ended up with a reasonable 16 goal and 23 assist season. Is that enough when you're mainly on the league's leading scorer's line at even strength? The playoffs were a different story, production wise, with Fedotenko chipping in 7 goals and 7 assists, good enough for a share of 4th on the team (behind Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin).
So what is Ruslan Fedotenko hockey? It's going into high traffic areas to dig pucks out of corners, it's taking shots when you got them, it's delivering heavy, clean checks when you can (as Tenk did when he knocked the Captials Eric Fehr out of the playoffs), it's being aggressive, it's controlling the puck and keeping the opposition on their heels and making them play in their own end. Quite frankly, play enough Ruslan Fedotenko hockey and you'll win in the spring.
Given that, it should be no coincidence the 30 year old Ukrainian (who can't grow a playoff beard because of believed side-effects of the Chernobyl meltdown) now owns two Stanley Cup rings and was a major factor in both of those team's success. The guy's a clutch performer and shows up in big-time moments when you need him.
Now the big question is: what price are the Penguins are going to have to play to keep having 'Tenk play "Ruslan Fedotenko hockey" in Pittsburgh? As Malsby points out in a great fanpost, Pittsburgh looks to have about $5 million dollars left to re-sign players to comfortably fit in the expected salary cap. The Pens have a lot of top 6 wingers hitting free agency (Guerin, Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan and Fedotenko) and not too much wiggle room. Plus, as we all know, they've got three defensemen hitting the market (notably Rob Scuderi) and the re-signing of Alex Goligoski only gives the team five NHL defensemen, a place you need depth. And that doesn't even count a backup goalie.
That's the situation we're in. I think most fans recognize the contributions Fedotenko made, and would welcome him back in a perfect world. The Pens have won the Cup, but this still aint a perfect world. So the poll question is how high would you go to retain Fedotenko, who probably has some value on the open market and ought to be receiving some attention from other teams....Yeah, other places would like to play some "Ruslan Fedotenko hockey" too, you know.