A little about Tarns and Wanvig
I like Nick Tarnasky, not only as a person but as a player. I will never forget the March 1 game in Washington in which Tarns scored the winning goal in a 10-round shootout. It was his first shootout try ever, in any league. He must have been busting his buttons but the wing tried as hard as he could to keep it calm and cool in front of his teammates while describing, as he called it, "one of the most exciting moments of my life.''
If a guy ever deserved to celebrate, it was Tarnasky, who was like a lost puppy early in the season after making the team only because Rob DiMaio was injured. But give the wing credit. He stuck to it and by the end of the season was a reliable third- and fourth-line player supplying lots of much-needed grit and character. He never backed down. Remember the game he fought Edmonton's Matt Green after Green ran over Eric Perrin?
That is why Monday's signing of Tarnasky to a three-year, $1.575-million contract was so good for Tampa Bay. He's willing and unafraid and if he can score a few more goals, well, all of a sudden they have Bobby Nystrom.
But getting back to my earlier point,what is so fun to watch about Tarnasky is the way he tries to be unaffected when he gets into the spotlight. Take our conversation Monday, when he told me about catching a 250-pound marlin while on a fishing trip in Panama with center Brad Richards. Pretty matter of fact, like it happens all the time. Same with seeing the Panama canal: "It's cool to see.''
It will be cool to see Tarnasky,24 and 6-foot-2, 233 pounds, develop over the next three years.
As for wing Kyle Wanvig, who signed a two-way deal Monday, he didn't do much in Tampa Bay after coming over from the Thrashers on Feb. 1, in fact he had zero points in four games. But he shined with AHL Springfield with 11 goals, 18 points and 40 penalty minutes in 23 games.
"When he went down, he did nothing but score,'' general manager Jay Feaster said. "He was the most consistent guy there for us from the time of the trade. And for him to be willing to sign a two-way deal ... he does believe we do things on merit here in the organization, and that he's knocking on the door and has a chance. So from that standpoint, I'm very pleased that he decided to accept the deal.''
Feaster said he and coach John Tortorella had conversations with the 6-2, 210-pound Wanvig, 26, before he was sent down about preparation and what is expected. Feaster said he also will benefit from having a training camp in which he can convince Tortorella he deserves that chance.
"I do believe it is very difficult in our organization when you haven't had a training camp so John can see what you're capable of,'' Feaster said.
Wanvig does have an upside. He has five goals and 14 points in 68 career NHL games, most with the Wild. But he is another banger. In 51 games with Minnesota in 2005-06, Wanvig had four goals and 64 penalty minutes. On a team still trying to move the grit meter, that is important.