Sunday, 6 May 2007

2006-07 Off-Season UFA's (Part Two - Defensemen) - A


Part 'A' of the second in a series of posts on the UFA market that will hit this coming off-season. The first post, goalie's, is here.

Foreword (no pun intended): defensemen take a lot longer to develop to full potential than any other position in the game (imo). I believe it is because experience plays such an important role in the effectiveness of said players.

Knowing how to angle players to the outside - regardless of the speed and/or strength of that forward, knowing when to pokecheck vs. actually stepping up and intercepting the pass - exactly because you know the speed and/or strength of the incoming forward, etc. ALL of those traits have to be, generally, relearned by defensemen at every level at which they play simply because the next level of opposition is faster, better, stronger than that before it. Watching a guy like Sakic destroy some young d-man by pulling him out of position and then dumping the pass is like watching a training video in progress - funny part is that the d-man in question will probably be watching the same training video the next day.

It is one of the reasons why prices for defensemen are so high. There really aren't THAT many who are THAT good at it. Most teams only have one or two key cogs in their system and if that guy goes down the ripple effect can destroy an entire season (witness: Frantisek Kaberle).

Defensemen

Age .. .$$ .. avg toi .. pp .. sh/gm

32 .. 4.20 .. 25.45 .. 4.50 .. 1.19 .. Brian Rafalski
32 .. 3.50 .. 25.07 .. 4.56 .. 2.53 .. Roman Hamrlik
31 .. 2.38 .. 22.04 .. 4.54 .. 3.16 .. Kimmo Timonen
29 .. 2.75 .. 25.23 .. 4.28 .. 4.36 .. Tom Poti
29 .. 2.43 .. 23.05 .. 4.51 .. 3.03 .. Sheldon Souray
27 .. 2.20 .. 22.54 .. 1.34 .. 3.18 .. Scott Hannan
27 .. 2.00 .. 24.13 .. 4.24 .. 3.33 .. Andrei Markov
26 .. 2.40 .. 22.58 .. 2.06 .. 3.55 .. Brad Stuart

35 .. 1.90 .. 18.12 .. 1.50 .. 1.50 .. Jaroslav Modry
29 .. 2.50 .. 18.34 .. _.07 .. 2.55 .. Danny Markov
29 .. 1.63 .. 22.41 .. 3.17 .. 3.50 .. Daniel Tjarnqvist
29 .. 1.00 .. 20.07 .. _.19 .. 2.57 .. Brad Lukowich
27 .. 1.90 .. 18.07 .. _.12 .. 3.13 .. Cory Sarich
26 .. 1.63 .. 20.19 .. _.42 .. 2.34 .. Martin Skoula
26 .. 1.55 .. 17.37 .. _.05 .. 2.34 .. Vitaly Vishnevski

37 .. 3.30 .. 23.21 .. 5.24 .. 1.42 .. Mathieu Schneider
37 .. 2.60 .. 21.03 .. 2.43 .. 3.27 .. Teppo Numminen
35 .. 3.00 .. 19.22 .. 2.58 .. 2.16 .. Patrice Brisebois
35 .. 0.70 .. 16.50 .. 2.43 .. 1.18 .. Jamie Heward
33 .. 2.75 .. 18.51 .. 2.21 .. 2.40 .. Sandis Ozolinsh
29 .. 2.40 .. 20.16 .. 3.20 .. 2.12 .. Brent Sopel
29 .. 2.50 .. 18.57 .. 3.58 .. _.46 .. Bryan Berard
28 .. 0.80 .. 13.41 .. 1.59 .. _.05 .. Ric Jackman
27 .. 0.60 .. 15.05 .. 3.21 .. _.07 .. Tom Preissing
26 .. 0.45 .. 17.08 .. 4.11 .. _.12 .. Greg Zanon
25 .. 0.90 .. 17.26 .. 3.03 .. 1.23 .. David Tanabe

31 .. 0.53 .. 14.00 .. _.19 .. 2.03 .. Rory Fitzpatrick
31 .. 0.53 .. 14.11 .. _.47 .. _.44 .. Jamie Rivers
30 .. 0.63 .. 15.38 .. _.02 .. 3.00 .. Nolan Pratt
30 .. 0.60 .. 15.36 .. _.20 .. 1.37 .. Shane Hnidy
29 .. 0.50 .. _9.48 .. _.55 .. _.15 .. Joel Kwiatkowski
29 .. 0.45 .. _8.38 .. _.__ .. 2.50 .. Alex Brooks
28 .. 0.94 .. 20.23 .. _.28 .. 3.19 .. Jan Hejda
28 .. 0.50 .. 14.30 .. _.12 .. 2.13 .. Mike Weaver
27 .. 0.75 .. 18.51 .. _.36 .. 3.41 .. Josef Melichar
27 .. 0.55 .. 18.58 .. _.35 .. 3.45 .. Rob Scuderi
27 .. 0.50 .. 12.11 .. _.01 .. 1.19 .. Joe DiPenta
27 .. 0.45 .. 13.01 .. _.13 .. _.30 .. Bobby Allen
27 .. 0.45 .. 14.03 .. _.26 .. 1.14 .. Kent Huskins
27 .. 0.45 .. 11.46 .. _.29 .. _.10 .. Brad Ference
26 .. 0.45 .. 14.35 .. _.29 .. _.44 .. Doug Janik
25 .. 1.00 .. 14.13 .. _.07 .. _.22 .. Ossi Vaananen

44 .. 0.85 .. 17.54 .. _.15 .. 4.54 .. Chris Chelios
37 .. 1.20 .. 15.42 .. _.17 .. 3.26 .. Glen Wesley
37 .. 0.50 .. _7.07 .. _.03 .. 1.19 .. Luke Richardson
36 .. 0.95 .. 12.55 .. _.04 .. 1.38 .. Jon Klemm
36 .. 0.60 .. 22.41 .. 3.04 .. 3.36 .. Sean Hill
36 .. 0.50 .. 13.14 .. _.15 .. 1.08 .. Jason York
35 .. 0.70 .. 20.27 .. 1.13 .. 3.04 .. Ken Klee
34 .. 2.28 .. 19.29 .. _.11 .. 4.23 .. Aaron Miller
34 .. 2.13 .. 20.12 .. 2.17 .. 3.01 .. Darryl Sydor
33 .. 2.05 .. 22.09 .. 2.02 .. 3.06 .. Greg deVries
33 .. 0.60 .. 14.01 .. 2.44 .. _.44 .. Bryan Muir
32 .. 0.50 .. __.__ .. _.__ .. _.__ .. Joel Bouchard (dnp)
31 .. 2.48 .. 21.23 .. 2.34 .. 3.10 .. Craig Rivet
31 .. 2.51 .. 15.19 .. _.30 .. 1.43 .. Janne Niinimaa
31 .. 2.00 .. 20.07 .. _.23 .. 3.50 .. Andy Sutton
31 .. 1.52 .. 19.56 .. _.08 .. 3.46 .. Sean O'Donnell
31 .. 0.60 .. 19.48 .. 2.45 .. 2.44 .. Anders Eriksson

Group A: the 'name' group

The big names are Rafalski, Souray and Timonen mainly because they all have good counting numbers from their PP time and because they are also pretty good at EV play. Markov is the guy everyone knows about but he is usually listed after the big three. Expect everyone of the those four to get some $5 mill+ /yr. Timonen and Rafalski could get past the $6 million mark.

Poti and Hamrlik comprise the 'unappreciated' part of this group. Both play well-rounded games and play a LOT of minutes doing it. Hamrlik may have trouble breaking the $4 million mark but probably wants a long-term deal retirement deal regardless. Poti has matured into a decent, all-around d-man so expect a big payday for him - $4.50 mill+ /yr.

Hannan and Stuart represent the guys who come next - solid, well regarded d-men who are nowhere near being true #1 defensemen. They play a lot of minutes each game and they don't get freebie counting points from their PP time. Expect each of these guys to get $4 mill+ /yr with an outside shot at $5 million if a bidding war erupts.

Group B: the 'lunchpail' group

Players best suited to playing in the #4 spot or playing support for a true #1 - and everyone knows it. Modry is slowing down while Tjarnqvist's numbers benefitted from playing with expansion teams. Both play a good all-around game. Expect Modry to take a retirement contract around $2 million while Tjarnqvist aims at a 3 yr deal averaging $1.75 mill /yr or so.

The rest of this group all play defense first.

Most of this group will end up in the $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr range with prices varying due to how long they are on the list given their strengths and weaknesses. i.e. where Markov plays against tough competition AND performs well, Skoula plays 2nd tier opposition and does okay.

Group C: the 'defense?' group

A long list of offense-first d-men. They tend to play a lot of protected minutes and get good counting numbers from their powerplay time.

Schneider and Numminen are the grizzled vets and I expect they will either retire or look for 2 year retirement contracts. Given that both play a solid veteran game they are probably worth said contract - I expect that if they want to keep playing someone will keep paying.

Brisebois, Ozolinsch, Berard & Jackman represent the worst of this grouping. None play a particularly sound defensive game. Some team will sign them but they will probably wait in UFA limbo the longest. Jackman is the cheapest of the group and may be lucky to break 750k while the others will hover in the $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brisebois and Ozo retire.

I hereby admit a softspot for Jamie Heward. I have always thought this guy was better than he ever got credit for being. ANY team that wants a solid 2nd unit PP unit guy would be well advised to look at Heward's numbers - especially the 700k or so a year it costs to get him. The guy is a LOT better than most think and the smart GM will pay the pittance to have him on the team.

Sopel is neither here nor there imo. Good counting numbers from his days in Vancouver playing with the likes of Jovo, Ohlund and Salo. Tough work if you can get it. Somebody will pay him the $2.0 - 2.5 mill /yr he will want. The same can be said of Preissing. Kid has good counting numbers in sheltered time so someone will pay him money he doesn't deserve (imo): $1.5 - 2.5 mill /yr.

Zanon and Tanabe are the wildcards in the group. Tanabe has been high on hype before but the time to pick him up is now (other teams have paid the price for developing him). Numbers are pretty good and at age 25 will only get better. Zanon is a full on gamble. Nashville is a good team so his numbers are fine - question is - how much of it is due to him. Could be worth a flyer.


Group D: the 'it's a good-life' group

The guys who aren't the 'best-in-class' by any stretch of the imagination but they work hard and as long as they play appropriate minutes they don't hurt you. The numbers for Brooks make me laugh - the guy only plays 8 or so minutes a game yet almost 3 of them are on the PK? That's just wierd. He should remain happy just to be employed.

Rivers, Pratt and Hnidy are interesting in that they have all been around a good long time. Lots of games doesn't mean lots of game but they should, at the least, be decent veterans and make for a good rookie babysitter (i.e. a decent #6 or #7 guy). 900k would represent good money for Pratt or Hnidy while Rivers looks like he has been slotted down in the 550k range by the team GM's. Fair enough.

Fitzpatrick, Hejda, Melichar and Scuderi interest me a lot. Given his late season showing Hejda may be the real deal while Melichar and Scuderi have just had their development costs paid by the Penguins (crazy as that sounds). Fitzpatrick has good counting and PK numbers but is playing with a fairly deep defense on a team sporting Luongo; i.e. more of a gamble than many may think.

The bargain bin specials are Kwiatkowski, DiPenta (EVERYONE in Anaheim plays protected minutes given the presence of Pronger and Neids), Ference and Allen. Lucky to be employed. Weaver, Huskins, Janik and Vaananen may or may not become steady players but they are getting 'at-bats' (TM Lowetide) and that never hurts. Low, low prices here.

Group E: the 'you still play?' group

One of the benefits of being an established NHL vet is that you continue to be treated like you can still play like an established NHL vet. Richardson, Klemm and York are NHL caliber players in name only and should be retired sooner rather than later. Bouchard is prolly a goner (and no... I haven't looked up his status... ever I think).

Chelios and Wesley are going the 'mentor' route and are still, amazingly, not too bad on the ice. Their next contract should be their last so look for them to retire with their current teams. Hill, pre-steroids, could have been the comeback player of the year but now... who knows? Look for him to get a two-year, retirement style deal with the Islanders at ~ $1.2 to 1.5 mill /yr.

Where Niinimaa needs a headcheck because he has had a dreadful time adapting to the new NHL rules, Muir continues to do what he has always done - stick with some team for some of the season playing some version of mostly steady hockey and get paid accordingly. For older vets these two represent the bargain bin. Niinimaa being the gamble.

Klee, Miller, Sydor, deVries, Rivet, Sutton, O'Donnell and Eriksson are all steady as they go vets. They all have significant plusses and minuses (Klee is 35, Miller has injury issues, O'Donnell is slow, etc) but slotted in the right spot they will do okay. Prices will range all over the place - as low as 900k for some (Klee) and as high as $2.5 mill /yr for others (Sydor, deVries).


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Next part of this post follows directly below.

2 comments:

MetroGnome said...

You've identified a lot of the keepers here, though I have much less faith in Tom Poti than you do...

I also singled out Preissing as overvalued and Zanon as a potential steal in my own musings on the subject.

It's certainly going to be an interesting Summer - especially with both the Flames and Oilers looking to fill holes on the back-end.

YKOil said...

Agreed.

LOTS of teams will be out there bidding.

My hope is that the Oilers stay away from guys like Stuart, who will dick around for the very best deal, and will make targeted strikes at players who aren't (YET) the subject of bidding wars and will appreciate a good offer.