2010-11 Nashville Predators Report Card: Shane O'Brien

With the season now over, it's time to take a look back and examine each player's individual performance. We'll briefly break it down, and then offer a letter grade for the year. It's report cards, Nashville Predators-style, from Blum to Wilson. Next up: Shane O'Brien.


Shane O`Brien

#55 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators

6-3

230

Aug 09, 1983



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT

Regular Season

Playoff

80

12

2

0

7

0

9

0

+1

-2

83

18

0

0

0

0

0

0

50

6

4.0

0


Today's report card is filed by Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass, the professor emeritus of the Nashville Predators blogging community. Buddy's well known for consistently picking SOB in the Preds' #firstgoal contests before each game on Twitter, and filing his hours and hours of video compiled over the season featuring press conferences and interviews.

The Skinny: In early October, as preseason camp was winding down, the Predators appeared ready to start the season with the recently reacquired Ryan Parent and Alexander Sulzer as their sixth and seventh defenseman to complement the corps of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter,Kecin Klein, Francis Bouillon, and Cody Franson.
In a move that surprised everyone, David Poile pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Parent and Jonas Andersson to Vancouver in exchange for the much-maligned Shane O'Brien and the little known Dan Gendur.
Fans were baffled with the move as Andersson had been signed over the summer for his second stint with the Preds and sold as a much-needed scorer, while Parent had been picked up from Philadelphia in exchange for the signing rights to Dan Hamhuis.

The national experts and fans in the Twitterverse felt that Poile picked up a load of trouble in a player known for being a party boy and having a record of causing Alain Vigneault continuous heartburn in his time with the Canucks. At the time of the trade I was one of the few that was thrilled with Poile's wild-card move since I saw a few things the Predators were missing that were immediately filled withO'Brien's presence.

At the time I wrote:

The Predators are clearly saying that they are not planning on just making the playoffs or hoping to finally break into the second round. They are saying that they are not happy with the early exit last season and are building a team that is tough enough to make a run at the cup.

O'Brien will make two players better immediately, Cody Franson and Pekka Rinne. Franson will benefit by being pared with another big guy that will have his back and allow him to use his offensive skills as he enters his first full NHL season.

Rinne will benefit by having another physical D-man on the ice that will help deter and clear out a lot of the bumping and bruising in the crease, giving Pekka (and Lindback) more freedom to focus on stopping rubber.

The team as a whole will be better by having a little more swagger when they skate on to the ice. There will be one more player that opponents will have to watch for every timethey take the ice.

As it turned out, my crystal ball was as clear as glass as all points played out during the regular season.

The Performance: Shane O Brien blended in with the team right from the start, becoming a favorite in the locker-room. He slimmed down, gave 100% on the ice, and stayed away from Tootsies and all the other local honky tonks that could have led him down the wrong path.

He played in every regular season game, except for two when he was suspended for a questionable hit on David Booth in Florida. His two goals and seven assists were gravy as any offense was a bonus. He led the team with 83 penalty minutes and ended up on the positive side of the plus-minus column with a +1.

O'Brien became a key player on the Predators penalty kill, averaging 2:50 per game,second only to Klein. He added grit to a team not known for playing on the edge. He made room for Pekka Rinne to play in net and was the first on the scene to answer any roughness on the ice.

Before the playoffs, Steve Sullivan described O'Brien's contributions, "He's hard to play against and gets a little nasty. He's the type of players others don't like to play against and that is the type of player you want on your team so he will be a huge contributor in the playoffs."

As it turned out, in the playoffs, he was a bit too gritty taking seven minor penalties against Anaheim in the first round series. After a talk with Barry Trotz, he only took two more minors in the last seven games while continuing to be sandpaper against his old team, the Canucks.

In spite of being scorned by the Vancouver media, he became a favorite among the Nashville fans and the media, even winning the first Nashville Media Award for open-ness in dealing with the press.

On July 1, O'Brien becomes an unrestricted free agent that will command more than his current $1.6 million salary since he rehabbed his reputation while in Smashville. With Shea Weber's contract in play and several budding prospects in the system, it is unlikely O'Brien will return for another season.

The Grade: Compared to the consensus opinion when O'Brien was acquired, there is little doubt that he surprised almost everyone and exceeded any meager expectations that anyone had for him in the preseason. Many fans will only remember the frustrating penalties that he took in the first five games against Anaheim and not the season long contributions that he made in the areas outlined above. Had the Predators won the second round, I might have given O'Brien an A, but as it turned out I will confidently give him a solid B+. 

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