Pitkanen was the fourth overall draft pick in 2002, and was the top defenseman at the WJHC last year. It's not as if he came out of nowhere. I don't know that he'll be a franchise calibre defenseman like a Lidstrom or a Gonchar, but he's certainly off to a promising start...and with Desjardins apparently at the end of the line, the timing couldn't be better.
He has the potential to be good, very good, and I think he will achieve the level that past Flyer defensemen coming through the system have failed. The key here is Hitchcock. It is his team and he has a young defensemen to mold in the image he thinks best. Hitchcock will have more patience with Pitkanen than past coaches and Clarke.
Originally posted by Planavoydoes Pitkanen have better potential to be a franchise d man than Gaborik has the potential to be a great forward and score 90 pts while playing for Minny.
Potential means nothing, that's why it's called "potential". Nobody expected Jarome Iginla to score 50 goals, but he did. Nobody expected Peter Forsberg to become the best hockey player in the world, but he did. It all has to do with the situation that the player is put in, whether by the team he's apart of or the playing time he gets. Gretzky wouldn't have been as good as he was if not for the players around him in Edmonton.
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Never say never with the NHL. I always thought Iginla was a solid player, but like Freeway said, no one ever thought he'd be a 50 goal man. By the end of this season, there's a good chance that Robert Lang, Pavel Datsyuk, and Marc Savard could all be 90 point guys...who woulda ever thought that? I like the fact that new players seem to be stepping up in recent years. Will Gaborik score 90 in Minnesota? I doubt it because he's got no one else to play with, but then, a year ago I would have said the same thing about Kovalchuk playing on a Heatley-less Atlanta team.
I was reading on his Wikipedia entry that when he was playing with Vancouver, he requested a trade to an Eastern conference team so that he could be closer to his niece, who was going through a very serious illness, and her family in Toronto.