Saturday, July 12, 2008

Finding value in the rubble
The best UFAs on the market

The list of available unrestricted free agents I've been keeping is probably a little deceiving.

At first glance, it looks long. Potentially full of valuable "sleepers." It also gives the impression there are quite a few NHL-calibre players yet to be signed.

Picking apart the list a bit, however, leaves us without much to chew on. Eliminating players that didn't play in 20 games and at least 10 minutes at even strength a game, there are only 18 forwards and 20 defenceman unsigned.

Of those 38 players, it's likely close to half have played their last NHL game.

I'm going to break down the players by situation and position in a search for some value among the rubble. Gabe Desjardins lends a helping hand, as per usual:


Power play (ranked by GF/60)

Defencemen who played a PP role last season :
Patrice Brisebois, Sandis Ozolinsh, Bryan Berard, Magnus Johansson

Forwards who played a PP role last season:
Jason Williams, Teemu Selanne, Ladislav Nagy, Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Rucinsky, Randy Robitaille

Assessment: Brisebois, even at 37, can add a little value as a depth defenceman in this department, but he also benefited from playing on a lethal power play. Ozolinsh and Berard both struggled at even strength and didn't do enough on special teams to warrant another job.

Up front, Williams was the top performer, chipping in from the point position on a Chicago power play that struggled without him. Nagy had a rotten season with the Kings, but the team produced with the man advantage when he was out there. Shanahan, Rucinsky and Robitaille aren't good options here.


Penalty kill (ranked by GA/60)
Defencemen who played a PK role last season:
Marek Malik, Aaron Miller, Jaroslav Modry, Branislav Mezei, Bret Hedican, Jassen Cullimore, Andy Wozniewski

Forwards who played a PK role last season:
Mike Johnson, Stu Barnes, Marty Gelinas, Marty Reasoner, Brendan Shanahan, Mathias Tjarnqvist, Bryan Smolinski

Assessment: Malik, in general, put up strong numbers for what was considered a lost season, and was good on a very good Rangers penalty kill. Miller was also half decent, while the others were mediocre. (Except Wozniewski, who might have been the league's worst penalty killer, statistically speaking, last season.)

Johnson is the highest-ranked forward, but he played in few games this season, which can skew the numbers. Barnes and Gelinas were very good in this regard, and Reasoner is a decent option, too. Smolinski struggled.


Even strength
Here's everybody in my unsigned group, ranked by GF/60 minus GA/60, with quality of competition and Pts/60 figures included:


Defencemen TM GP QCMP P/60 GFON GAON +-ON GFOFF GAOFF
1 MALIK NYR 42 0.06 0.91 2.99 1.63 1.36 2.18 1.89
2 CULLIMORE FLA 65 -0.04 0.68 2.53 1.54 0.99 2.33 2.48
3 HEDICAN CAR 66 0.03 0.81 3.58 2.6 0.98 2.45 2.42
4 DALLMAN L.A 34 -0.09 0.89 1.93 1.04 0.89 2.47 3.33
5 WOZNIEWSKI TOR 48 -0.04 1.00 3.23 2.56 0.67 2.55 2.78
6 CARNEY MIN 61 -0.12 0.79 2.22 1.82 0.4 2.26 2.35
7 RICHARDSON OTT 76 -0.09 0.60 2.42 2.35 0.07 3 2.62
8 PRATT BUF 55 -0.16 0.54 1.79 1.88 -0.09 3.4 2.71
9 MILLER VAN 57 -0.11 0.67 2.23 2.45 -0.22 2.18 1.76
10 BRISEBOIS MTL 43 -0.03 0.42 1.69 2.01 -0.32 1.94 2.7
11 JOHANSSON FLA 45 -0.08 1.00 2.12 2.57 -0.45 2.4 2.52
12 POPOVIC ATL 33 -0.08 0.26 1.58 2.11 -0.53 2.54 3.06
13 ZHITNIK ATL 65 0.02 0.23 2.18 2.76 -0.57 2.09 2.99
14 MODRY PHI 80 0.01 0.25 2.02 2.76 -0.74 2.37 3.14
15 OZOLINSH S.J 39 -0.09 0.66 2.39 3.18 -0.8 2.14 1.71
16 BERARD NYI 54 -0.03 0.61 1.82 2.68 -0.87 1.85 2.3
17 MEZEI FLA 57 -0.03 0.42 1.58 2.5 -0.92 2.41 2.22
18 MCCARTHY ATL 55 -0.10 0.47 1.1 2.74 -1.65 2.57 2.91
19 SEMENOV S.J 22 -0.04 0.67 1.34 3.12 -1.79 2.09 1.93
20 HILL MIN 35 -0.12 0.51 1.53 3.56 -2.04 2.52 2.3












Forwards TM GP QCMP P/60 GFON GAON +-ON GFOFF GAOFF
1 SELANNE ANA 26 -0.06 1.92 2.62 1.39 1.22 1.9 1.32
2 SUNDIN TOR 74 0.08 2.74 3.73 2.68 1.05 2.03 2.58
3 ROBITAILLE OTT 68 0.00 1.83 2.9 2.36 0.53 2.74 2.51
4 GELINAS NSH 57 0.02 1.72 2.44 2.08 0.36 2.7 2.7
5 WILLIAMS CHI 43 0.04 2.06 3.02 2.78 0.24 2.34 2.64
6 SHANAHAN NYR 73 0.03 1.65 2.44 2.51 -0.07 2.08 1.77
7 NAGY L.A 38 -0.07 1.95 2.7 2.85 -0.15 2.14 2.92
8 TJARNQVIST PHX 78 0.03 0.81 1.7 1.85 -0.15 2.1 2.53
9 HLAVAC NSH 80 0.07 1.81 2.44 2.66 -0.23 2.48 2.98
10 SAKIC COL 44 0.07 1.99 3.18 3.48 -0.3 2.44 2.1
11 ISBISTER VAN 55 0.05 1.08 1.51 1.94 -0.43 2.26 2.29
12 SMOLINSKI MTL 64 0.07 1.54 1.99 2.63 -0.63 2.28 2.31
13 BARNES DAL 79 0.02 1.09 1.67 2.33 -0.65 2.65 2.31
14 WILLSIE L.A 53 -0.03 1.35 2.14 2.93 -0.79 2.68 2.86
15 RUCINSKY STL 40 0.01 1.47 1.87 2.81 -0.94 2.06 2.25
16 DARCHE T.B 73 0.04 1.23 1.91 2.86 -0.95 2.37 3.02
17 JOHNSON STL 21 0.01 1.11 1.11 2.22 -1.11 2.86 2.27
18 REASONER EDM 82 0.06 1.46 2.2 3.33 -1.13 2.54 2.71

Assessment: On defence, those that left are almost all bottom pairing defenders who played against relatively weak competition. The major exceptions are Marek Malik and Bret Hedican, who can provide value next season to a team.

Cullimore had a strong comeback season as a No. 4 or 5, while Dallman could potentially catch on somewhere in a similar role.

Among forwards, we've got a few obvious candidates who performed well: Sundin's, by far, the best player available at any position, and Selanne provided offence while limiting goals against.

If I had to sign depth forwards from the list, Williams would be at the top of it, followed by Gelinas, Shanahan and Hlavac. Robitaille and Nagy can provide a little offence, but certainly not in a starring role.

It'll be interesting, given how few teams are still looking to add pieces, how many of these players catch on with teams. My guess is there are a lot of retirement notices on the way.
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8 Comments:

At 10:56 AM, July 12, 2008, Blogger eyebleaf said...

st. louis, for reasons i must conclude can only be drugs-related, signed wozniewski. idiots. but as long as he's not a leaf, i'm happy. enjoy the wizardry of the woz, blues fans.

 
At 11:10 AM, July 12, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Here are your fun and misleading stats for the week. Mike Johnson got a point on every goal scored while he was on the ice. With him in the lineup, the Blues were 14-6-1 (69.0%), and without him they were 19-30-12 (31.1%). Over 40% of the Blues' wins came in the roughly 25% of the season that Mike Johnson played.

 
At 11:19 AM, July 12, 2008, Blogger Big Picture Guy said...

Steve McCarthy has signed with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

 
At 2:22 PM, July 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't look good for Don Waddell. He has nothing but Kovy and Lehtonen in his team and now he's got no chance to improve his team through free-agency.

Maybe he should join Feaster...

 
At 4:05 PM, July 12, 2008, OpenID Sweat Rag said...

James, how has Jason Williams remained unsigned this long? He's proven himself as a quality offensive contributor, and is practically a lock to score 50 points over a full season on the second line.

Is it that he's asking for too much money in light of all the inflated contracts, or is he trying to wait until teams like St. Louis, LA, and Atlanta go into panic mode, and then milk them for all they're worth?

I'd rather the B's signed him for 3 mil/year than Michael Ryder...

 
At 9:49 PM, July 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can take Williams off the list. Hasn't been approved by the league office yet but he's signed with the Sens for 3 years at $1.9 million per. Absolute steal of a deal.

 
At 12:13 AM, July 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We here in hockey country are ecstatic... two Jasons in a week, leading us to have the top three Jasons in the NHL. Ironic that the Sens logo could easily transform itself into the Argos.

 
At 7:12 AM, July 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason Williams signed with the Thrashers I guess Anonymous was right Waddell does not have anybody. I guess the Ottawa paper has to tell lies that way people acutally still want to watch them after losing so many people and falling so far down. Was it only two years ago that they where favorites for the cup. Oops

 

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