Paul Ranheim

In the days before the internet, hockey fans studied the NHL Guide and Record Book for all the statistical records and feats

Fans eyeballs enlarged when they doubled checked Paul Ranheim's stat line for the 1988-89 season. Ranheim was a first year pro with Calgary's farm team in Salt Lake City. In 75 IHL games he scored an amazing 68 goals! He added just 29 assists for 97 points.

The Flames, of course, just had won the Stanley Cup. They already had 50 goal scorers in Joe Mullen and Joe Nieuwendyk, not to mention a scary collection of brilliant offensive players including Doug Gilmour, Al MacInnis, and Gary Suter. Youngsters Theo Fleury and Gary Roberts, future 50 goal scorers themselves, were promising to play bigger roles.

It appeared the Stanley Cup champs had another super scorer in Ranheim ready to make the team.

Ranheim, as it turned out, would not become much of a scoring threat in the NHL. In three out of four seasons with the Flames he would score over 20 goals, but he spent the bulk of his career with Hartford/Carolina and then Philadelphia struggling to score even 10 goals. But he did play in over 1000 NHL games because a) he was a fantastic skater and b) he reinvented himself as a checker.

Ranheim was always the faster skater on the ice. He rocketed around the rink like an Yvan Cournoyer or a Russ Courtnall. While his speed created many scoring opportunities at the University of Wisconsin and in the minor leagues, at the NHL level he just lacked creativity and hand skills to be much of an offensive force. He merited little power play time, partly because his shot was astonishingly inaccurate.

But Ranheim became a top defensive player. His speed obviously allowed him to keep up with any defensive assignment. He played a solid physical game, although he was not much of an initiator. He had good defensive reads and good anticipation, making him a fixture on the penalty kill.

If you told a young fan armed with NHL Guide and Record Book back in 1990 that Paul Ranheim would go on to play in 1000 NHL games they would have believed you. But they would never have guessed it would be as a penalty kill specialist.

It just goes to show that you can't really scout a player strictly by the statistics.


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