You Shall Not Pass…Through Waivers: Keith Aucoin to the Island

The New York Islanders were once again active on the transaction-wire yesterday, as they grabbed Toronto Marlies centre Keith Aucoin off of waivers. Keith becomes the third player that Garth Snow has added off of waivers since the NHL Lockout was officially lifted on Saturday night.

No, Keith Aucoin has not taken a plane to Slovakia after hearing this news, just as the other waiver pick-ups (Joe Finley and Thomas Hickey) have not. Lubomir Visnovsky should take notes.

Anyways, Keith Aucoin isn’t young. He’s 34-years-old, but before Islanders fans (again) criticize Garth Snow for making moves to actually improve this team, maybe you should learn a little bit about Aucoin.

Keith’s been a journey-man since he turned pro in 2001. He played four seasons with three different teams at the AHL level before he finally made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2005-06 season. What earned him his chance? Let’s look at the numbers.

2001-02: Lowell Lock Monsters (30 GP 6-10-16)
2002-03: Providence Bruins (78 GP 25-49-74)
2003-04: Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (80 GP 18-30-48)
2004-05: Providence Bruins (72 GP 21-45-66)
2005-06: Lowell Lock Monsters (72 GP 29-56-85)

Keith Aucoin’s breakout season as a pro came in 2005-06, where he exploded for 85 points. He earned his call-up, scored 1 assist for Carolina, and was sent back down. The following season, Aucoin showed his AHL-prowess was no fluke, as he scored 99 points in 65 games for the Albany River Rats. He registered 1 more assist in 8 games for Carolina.

The 2007-08 season marked Keith’s longest tenure in the NHL, where he logged 38 games and scored 5 goals and 8 assists. Keith was let go after the season, but scooped up by the Washington Capitals as a depth-player. Keith would go on to score 96 and 106 points for the Hershey Bears in his first two seasons, respectively, while adding 11 points in 21 games for the Caps.

Last season, Keith Aucoin split time between the AHL and NHL, scoring 70 points for Hershey in 43 games, and 11 points in 27 games for Washington.

Currently, Keith Aucoin is 5th in the AHL with 37 points, one more than future Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter.

His career totals:

AHL: 697 GP 233-581-814
NHL: 102 GP 11-26-37

OK, so his numbers are not exactly translating from one level to the next, so what use is he to the Islanders?

Keith Aucoin can play centre or wing. Injuries are expected for this shortened season (the Islanders already have two), so the team will take as many guys that can fill roster spots as they can. Aucoin is serviceable and flexible, and will be willing to take on any role that is given to him. Originally a one-dimensional player in his own words, Keith worked hard to round out his game, and found other tricks to be productive on the ice, despite his size (5’8).

“It kept getting longer and longer,” Keith answered when asked about the unusually long stick he uses for games. It lessens his disadvantage against players who naturally have a longer reach than himself.

Aucoin, who was expected to finally get his chance with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, also has offensive ability. He’s the 10th-leading scorer in AHL history, and the leading scorer for active players. That doesn’t happen by accident. He has ability that will be carried over to the NHL, but instead of with the Leafs, Aucoin will get his chance on the Island.

An undrafted, small forward, Keith Aucoin will be easy to root for. The Islanders can use all the help they can get on their checking lines, which provided very little for the Islanders on both sides of the ice last season. If Aucoin can provide even a glimmer of energy, and production equal to his .36 point-per-game pace in the NHL, Aucoin should be a reliable forward on this team.

Certainly beats Marty Reasoner at centre.

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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