Monday, 30 June 2008

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - The Cull

For archive purposes the other posts in this series are here:

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - The List

NHL UFA Season - 2008 - First Look


Okay. So:

1. you know that out of the superstar group I like Sundin. THE signing of this off-season imo;

2. You also know that I like the greybeards (Gelinas, Holik, Conroy, et al). All of them should represent good value for the money this year. Feel free to get yourself more than one;

3. finally, you know that I partial culled the list already:

-- Campbell, Hossa et al aren't on the list because only a Stanley Cup will justify the contracts they will get while
-- a lot of lesser lights didn't make my list because they didn't bring much to the table or didn't stand out in any way

That leaves us with one bit of information left unsaid - who would I actually consider signing off of this list? Which players make the final cut?


If a scoring forward is what you are looking for look no further than:

Stillman ... 79gm .. 24g.41a (65) -15

.... 18.58 toi .. 4.07 pp .. 1.05 sh ... Desjardins: -0.08 / +0.05 / -0.03

His age is actually a plus in this case as you won't be locked in for too long. His games played is good (i.e. NOT Souray) and with a prior year salary of only $ 1.75 mill he will probably remain quite a bit cheaper, even with those nice counting numbers, than a guy like Demitra.

What I really like however are his TOI and Desjardins numbers.

18+ mins is good time and the shorthanded number shows he may have developed some defensive acumen along the way. Proof of that is borne out by a decent EV number even as he was playing (relatively) high quality opposition while saddled with (relatively) low quality linemates.

In other words, his +/- rating of -15 hides a LOT of good stuff and if a team can get him signed to deal in the 2.00 to 3.00 range (years vary with price) they will be very happy with their investment.

Ryder ... 70gm .. 14g.17a (31) -4

.... 13.14 toi .. 2.07 pp .. 0.05 sh ... Desjardins: -0.36 / +0.06 / -0.16

Some smart team will take advantage of a very poor season by Ryder. Want to know why his scoring was down? Start with the reduced TOI and powerplay time - amazing what a demotion from the 1st unit on the powerplay will do to a guys numbers.

Much like Stillman, Ryder played with sub-par linemates against some really tough opposition and didn't do too poorly. Given his reputation for being semi-soft defensively and more of a 'me-first' type it is amazing he wasn't buried at evens.

Where Stillman will be submarined by the low +/-, Ryder will be done in by the low scoring numbers.

A smart team will see through the smokescreen, sign Ryder for something in the 2.25 to 2.75 range (I expect 2 to 3 years) and find that, with more powerplay time, they made a good move.


Dupuis ... 78gm .. 12g.15a (27) +0

.... 15.11 toi .. 0.18 pp .. 2.36 sh ... Desjardins: +0.16 / +0.02 / -0.00

Everyone is the "Man That Man Forgot!" when they play with "The Mighty Crosbalkin!" That is just the way it will always be. Some lucky team however will notice the guy who DID NOT get nothing but prime minutes and yet still produced good numbers.

His TOI, Desjardins and even his counting numbers are all pretty good for being the "Man That Man Forgot". By pretty good I also mean 'really good'. This guy didn't get Crosbalkin time and didn't get Glencross (read: butter) time yet still managed to get 12 goals.

That's, actually, really good.

Some smart team will pick him up on a 3 year deal in the 1.25 to 1.50 range. A really smart team will pick him up for 4 years in the same price range.

Vasicek ... 81gm .. 16g.19a (35) +1

.... 15.51 toi .. 1.24 pp .. 1.24 sh ... Desjardins: +0.70 / +0.03 / +0.07

Scorned almost everywhere he has been Vasicek plays the part of the gypsy in the game that is the NHL. This is a good thing. A plus player who did a bit of everything for the Islanders Vasicek is primed for a nice deal offered by some enterprising team.

The only real weakness I see in his numbers is that he DID play with some of the better players the Islanders had to offer. Good. It means he won't embarrass himself if he has to pick up a 1st line shift every now and then.

The prior year price point of 750k is music to my ears.

Some team will pick him up on a 2 year deal in the 1.00 to 1.50 price range. A smart team will offer him 6 years at 1.5 and see if he bites. Outperformer special right there imo.


Pandolpho ... 54gm .. 12g.12a (24) +10

.... 17.16 toi .. 0.27 pp .. 2.59 sh ... Desjardins: +0.85 / +0.16 / +0.12

Will this be the year Pandolpho finally gets his due? I hope so. For my sake. I must admit that it has been tough watching him outperform his contract every year and do it for pennies for the Devils. Why can't my Oilers get these kind of deals?

His games played total is a little low. Fine. And he played with some high caliber linemates. Fine. In fact... GOOD. Check that quality of competition number against his evens rating - when he did play with the better players on his team he did GREAT!

This security blanket deserves a better home.

Play him at evens with your top-line guys and it looks to me like you have a winner. A 3 year declining balance deal looks to be a good way to go (say 2.75 / 1.5 / 1.25).

Tjarnqvist ... 78gm ... 4g..7a (11) -1

.... 13.38 toi .. 0.07 pp .. 3.05 sh ... Desjardins: +0.29 / +0.03 / -0.09

Not the d-man. The forward. What a sweet deal this could be. Check out those TOI numbers: of 13+ mins a game he played ~ 25% of those on the penalty kill. I wonder if he thought the game was always played 5 on 4?

Sure he doesn't score points. Who cares. Playing with the lesser lights on his team, against some healthy competition, he managed to hold his own and then some. THIS guy, right here, is my 5 star special of the off-season.

Sign him now.

Any GM can throw money at a guy like Hossa. The smart GM, possibly brilliant, takes a gander at Tjarnqvist and locks up this outperformer for 4 or more years in the 900k range. I like.


No one. Not one name I thought was a smart, smart pick-up to fill this role.

Two honorable mentions however:

Roszival - I have always like this guy and have been picking him as an outperformer before there was Desjardins numbers to reference. Seriously. This year he gets his money. Good for him. Anything under $4.50 mill /yr is a good deal for the team that gets him.

Hainsey - had a good year but he is still too risky for me to say he is a smart signing to make given the dollars he will get. Remember, even playing for Hitchcock he was still only middlin' effective at evens. I expect him to get $4.50 or so a year and I don't know if he is worth it.


Vandermeer ... 75gm ... 3g.14a (17) +6

.... 19.38 toi .. 1.29 pp .. 2.25 sh ... Desjardins: +0.56 / -0.05 / +0.11

I am starting to really like this guy. His TOI numbers are great for a guy who is best played as a number 5 or 6. He is an effective stand-in on the powerplay, he will fight if needed and he tends to outplay his competition.

I am a little wary of projecting his play given the quality of linemates he had last year but if his role is reduced a little I think his effectiveness will go up. The key here will be keeping his price point consistent.

5th man gold who should not be playing 15+ at evens.

A smart team locks a guy like Vandermeer up for 4 or more years in the $1.35 to 1.65 range. At that price point, in the right roster spot, he will be a very effective player.


Malik ... 42gm ... 2g..8a (10) +7

.... 19.14 toi .. 0.14 pp .. 2.39 sh ... Desjardins: +1.07 / +0.06 / -0.02

Like Roszival I have always liked Malik. The guy is really, really good at what he does and doesn't get any credit for it. That is awesome. His Desjardin numbers are awesome and the only real worries I have are age and injury.

I don't care if he's a big guy who doesn't throw forwards around like monkeys toss poo. What I care about is that he is consistently a positive force in the defensive zone and that he doesn't get tossed around back there.

Not tossing, and not getting tossed, is an okay combo.

A retirement contract would probably work well in this case. If New york is going to let him go then scoop him up for $2.75 mill or so for 3 or so years. Still be better than the Souray deal.

Salvador ... 64gm ... 1g.10a (11) +12

.... 19.47 toi .. 0.08 pp .. 3.23 sh ... Desjardins: +0.48 / +0.09 / -0.17

Steady eddie wins the race. That is Salvador. Too often people think smallish defensemen should be offensive defensemen. I simply prefer my defensemen to be effective. Salvador is effective and he actually had a better year than Malik.

His numbers are great and I think I have officially run out of words with which to describe players.

He is a perfect #4 defenseman.

I expect to see him get a 4 year deal in the $3.00 to 4.00 mill /yr range and I expect that he will earn it. At any price point lower than $3.00 he is a steal.

Sauer ... 54gm ... 1g..5a (7) +17

.... 18.41 toi .. 0.05 pp .. 3.10 sh ... Desjardins: +1.29 .. +0.12 .. -0.02

Some GM out there is hoping that the much flashier Finger gets all the attention. To me Sauer is the key guy. Slot him in as a #4 defensemen playing babysitter for some powerplay wizard (like... say... Visnovsky maybe?) and you have a winner.

Why GM's spend big dollars on guys like Berard, Bergeron et al and then refuse to play them with evens babysitters like Sauer, Smith, etc is beyond me. Even when CFP played with the Oilers he argueably played his best when paired with Smith.


Take a guy like Sauer, pay him $2 mill /yr or so (I expect he gets a touch more), and then play him with your offensive zone wanderers. You will look like a genious.


So there you go. Sold as is and where is. No warranty supplied with product. All sales final. No refunds.

I may have guessed low on many of these players but that isn't why I write posts like this. I write posts like this so that maybe, just maybe, I get someone to actually THINK beyond the shiney baubles like Hossa, Campbell, et al.

Think about it for a second. With any luck, for the $8 million a year or so Hossa may cost some GM could sign an entire 5 man unit of out-performers for their 3rd line/pairings. For teams like Tampa Bay, Calgary et al, where depth was a huge issue, this could be better spent dollars.

Last Honorable Mention: Williams. He almost made the final cut. I just couldn't get past the injury issues, the cost of those truncated counting numbers and the quality of linemates he had. Sorry.


Have a great UFA day everyone.


Jonathan Willis said...

Wow... Malik, Sauer, Williams and Ryder- we are so on the same page. And so very likely to be disappointed.

YKOil said...

Agreed. Some of my guesses have been right on the money however (no pun intended) so I can take some solace in that.