This is Mike Easler. It took him forever to establish a major league career. Easler arrived in the majors at age 22 for a cup of coffee, made a couple of pinch hitting appearances at age 28 on a World Series team, and finally had a full season in the show at age 29. That’s a slow timeline for development.
Easler took forever for two reasons: luck and timing. He was a pretty good hitter early on and by age 25 was hitting .352 at AAA. However, he had some bad luck in that the team who owned his rights gave all the at-bats to a Punch and Judy (Greg Gross). His timing was bad because Easler was a quality power/walks player in a time when batting average ruled the earth.
He still had a fine career.
Robert Nilsson’s career–when compared to Mike Easler–is upside down in many ways. Nilsson didn’t spend much time in the minors before getting a full season in the NHL. He played for a poor team, wasn’t ready and was sent away to a second team. There, he had a solid season, received a longer term contract and then sputtered through the length of the three year deal. Nilsson showed signs of being capable of landing and holding onto a top 6 role. Here are his 5×5 points/60 minutes totals:
- 07-08: 2.37
- 08-09: 1.22
- 09-10: 1.49
Robert Nilsson spent 810 minutes on the ice at even-strength in 08-09 and delivered 5-13-18. In 07-08, Nilsson spent 820 minutes on the ice at even-strength and delivered 7-26-33. The rubber match (contract-wise) was an epic fail in 09-10: 742 minutes and 8-11-19.
Nilsson beat back the competition (Pouliot, Schremp, others) when it was middling, but with the team adding three quality prospects on the wings and the organization flushing all those undersized forwards to make room, Nilsson didn’t survive the purge.
Word this week that he’s signed in Russia. Nilsson had complete chances with the Islanders and Oilers, and third chances in the NHL are not promised to anyone. If he’s to have a second NHL career a strong showing in his new home is vital, Having a big league career in his 30′s similar to Mike Easler is a distant bell, but he has ability. I think he’s a player we’ll see again in the NHL.