This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.
on April 17th the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets would have a better chance of making the playoffs than last years eastern conference champions the New Jersey Devils.
the Los Angeles Kings would have a better offense than the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, or Philadelphia Flyers.
only three of the top five powerplays would belong to playoff teams while five of five penalty kills would belong to playoff teams.
the Montreal Canadiens, and the Ottawa Senators would have more penalties per game than the Anaheim Ducks.
only two of the bottom five faceoff teams would be in playoff position, while all of the top five faceoff teams would be in.
zero of last years eastern conference division winners, The Panthers, The Rangers, and the Bruins would be in that position today.
zero of last years bottom five years teams would be there right now.
despite missing games with a concussion, Brad Marchand would still be tied for a top 20 position in goal scoring.
Alex Ovechkin would not only be the only player in double digits in powerplay goals, but also have a six goal cushion on those tied for second.
half of Adam Henrique’s ten goals would come on special teams, two short handed, and three on the powerplay.
the league leader in short handed assists would have three, and be Lee Stempniak.
the only defenseman in the NHL with more than one short handed assist would be, Jay Bouwmeester.
heading into the last handful of games of the season, Daniel Alfredsson would have almost twice the PIMS of Raffi Torres.
seven of the top ten defensemen in assists would be left handed shots, Mark Streit, Duncan Keith, Niklas Kronwall, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Suter, but two of the top three would be right handed, Kris Letang and P.K. Subban.
Sergei Bobrovsky would be the only goaltender in the top five for sv% and the top five for shootout wins.
the top ten goalies by save percentage would combine for a cap hit o $23,875,000 with over a quarter of it belonging to Henrik Lundqvist, who’s team has the lowest point total.
The Buffalo Sabre’s declared themselves sellers. Not trading for change, sellers. Today Darcy Regier might have moved a couple pens across his desk, but players? Not so much. Moving Jason Pominville is a start, and they got solidly rated prospects back, but this is a sellers market. This is a team that should be blown up, they have talent to get pieces that fit together, they have an owner committed to winning, and they have a fan base who is getting really, really sick of losing.
The Calgary Flames certainly shipped out a lot of talent, but there wasn’t so much an earth shattering kaboom as a muddy plop, or at least a sound involving fluid and darkly hued stuff. The return on Bouwmeester and Iginla doesn’t appear to be worth the cost of the trade call to NHL HQ.
The Florida Panthers are excused, nearly everyone who was or should have been on their NHL roster opening night, is injured. They could still have shipped out a few people.
The Washington Capitals, did nothing. The team is certainly playing better now than at the beginning of the season, but that said they are still an incredibly mediocre team on the ice. Sure on paper with Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, Alzner, as part of the long term core, the rest of the team is of a lot less value, and not built to win. For some reason, today they chose to add an aging Erat with two years left on his contract, and a guy who racks up penalties, for top prospect Forsberg.
The Colorado Avalanche are just pathetic. The team isn’t good at much. They’re 26th in goals for, 28th in goals against, 23rd on the powerplay, 22nd on the penalty kill. There is no reason to hold on to anyone, for any reason if the price is solid. If someone offers a big enough return, even Gabriel Landeskog could and should be moved. Only eight players are in double digits in points, and the drop off between the second highest scorer Matt Duchene, and the third Paul Stastny is 14 points. When you have Matt Hunwick lead your team in time on ice per game, you’re doing not a little wrong.
The Philadelphia Flyers had so many injuries it is tough to say what the could have done, but they deserve a public shaming for trading for Steve Mason.
With the deadline looming, and about a bakers dozen games left for many team, it is time to take a look at what we know about all the teams in the NHL.
Pittsburgh: We know Ray Shero likes to make deadline trades, we know health is sorta returning for this team. We also know that with a current cumulative cap hit higher than next years cap, and Morrow’s decline and questionable health that this is likely a one shot deal for the guys currently in uniform.
Montreal: It’s kinda hard to figure out why more people aren’t excited about his team. They are fifth in goals for, ninth in goals against, there only real bad component is their penalty kill. While we’re at it, Tomas Plekanec deserves way more attention than he gets, if he could drag the penalty kill into respectability, or even just score a shorthanded goal or two he’d be on my Selke shortlist.
Winnipeg; We know this team needs desperately to buy quality defense at the deadline. Adding offense wouldn’t hurt at all, but the backend needs to come first they are one of just two top eight teams in the east to allow triple digit goals already.
Boston: This team needs an attitude adjustment. They do not have the raw focus or hunger they did in their Cup winning year, what body they add isn’t the solution, the size of the fight in that dog is.
Ottawa; Clearly this is a team made up of undercover superheros, or at least the guys left on the ice. They might not go to far this year, but oh man this team has some good young talent and might even lead the conference if they were healthy. A cheap rental forward who can add to the scoring would be nice, but this team could easily produce an upset or two.
Toronto: The fact that no real changes have been made to this team since Brian Burke was fired, and it has just about locked up a playoff spot means he shouldn’t have too much trouble landing his next GM job, and probably trading for Kadri, Gardiner, and Grabovski or pennies on the dollar.
New Jersey: The Devils have spent all season proving last season wasn’t a fluke. How they’ve done this is anyones guess. They are winning right now even without Kovalchuk, It would not surprise me if they became sellers at the deadline, but in a very limited sense.
New York Rangers: We know this is either the Eastern Conference’s best bad team or worst good team. We know time is running out on the current off ice leadership for this team. We know in order to get this level of under-performance elsewhere in sports you’d have to threaten professional cycling with accurate testing and jail time for violators. We know that if the Islanders and Devils make the playoffs and the Rangers don’t the angst in Blue Shirt nation will be legendary
New York Islanders: We know John Tavares should be getting way more attention than he does, he is after all over a point per game, second in goals, and seventh in points. If the Islanders make the playoffs, he has to be on the Hart shortlist. We know that Brad Boyes would be a frickin’ idiot to sign anywhere else next season given that he has more points in 34 games this season, than in 65 last year.
Carolina: With several games in hand their current 10th place position is deceiving, we know however they need to win those games. We know that Cam Ward isn’t nearly as irreplaceable as the faithful would have you believe. We know that Jeff Skinner (signed to a big endorsement deal by Dewey, Slewfoot and Diver) will probably not like the attention he receives night after night from top defenses.
Washington: We know that Adam Oates deserves a boatload of capital for turning the ship around on the fly without the benefit of a training camp, stable goaltending, or a team with any confidence in itself. He’s also got Ovechkin back to a point per game by using that weird thing called logic and letting him play more minutes. We also know that this team still isn’t built right and that problem still resides at a higher level than Oates.
Tampa Bay: We know that Yzerman is just as good at constructing a defense as he was at fighting.
We know he needs to fix that if he’s going to make it to his fourth year as general manager. He’s clearly good at identifying offensive talent, so swapping some of the current stable to rebuilding or needy teams for a veteran defenseman or two shouldn’t be completely impossible.
Buffalo: We know Terry Pegula can’t be pleased with the state of his hockey team. We know that with next years realignment no one with an ounce of hockey sense would pencil this team into next years standings about sixth place without major changes. We know if they blow up the team right they could have a pretty good chance at drafty both Seth Jones and Connor Mcdavid.
Philadelphia: We know the keep defenseman healthy the same way The Real World finds the mentally unbalanced to film every season. We know that no to long ago the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup finals, and have regressed further and further every year. WE know this is another team that’s due for some administrative housekeeping even if the health problems make things look worse than they are.
Florida: We know that last year despite an absurd amount of injuries the team went toe to toe with the eventual Eastern Conference champions. We know that this year, another absurd amount of injuries and dramatically poorer goaltending from the guys not named Markstrom have lead not to the Southeast division title but once again to the eastern conference basement. We know they have a couple more solid prospects in the pipeline. We know there is tons and tons for Dale Tallon and company to do.
Filling out the Team USA roster will require a mix of youth, international experience, and attitude. The Russians, the Canadians, and the upper echelon of European teams will not be intimidated by half the roster returning, or even two thirds. Part of what will be needed is a bit of familiarity, so anyone who has played with likely players wins the tie breaker over complete outsiders.
Craig Anderson, he’s played with Erik Johnson, he’s the best goaltender in the NHL this season, and he’s got enough of a different style from both Miller and Quick that if the coach has to make a change, the opposition will have to make adjustments.
Dustin Byfuglien, big body, can play defense and forward, has won the Stanley Cup has played with Patrick Kane.
Jason Pominville, an infusion of skill is needed and this guy has it.
John Carlson, is highly talented, knows the tendencies of several of the big names from some of the other national teams.
Max Pacioretty has turned into one of the most interesting players in the NHL. Almost a point per game player on a team that has been injury prone over the last two seasons.
Kevin Shattenkirk, has played well in the very defensive system in St Louis, has also played in the more free wheeling Colorado system in the past.
Seth Jones, has won World Junior gold, will likely be part of team USA for years to come, even if he only plays seven or eight minutes a game, good experience for the future.
Alex Galchenyuk, has played with Jones internationally, and plays with Pacioretty on the Habs.
Rob Scuderi, no international experience, but has won Stanley Cup’s in two radically different systems, the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, among the leaders for US born defenseman in shorthanded ice time.
James van Riemsdyk has had solid international experience, currently playing with 2010 Silver Medalist Phil Kessel.
Alex Goligoski, the Dallas Defenseman gets overlooked a lot, but it should be noted he’s putting up almost identical offensive numbers on the far less talented Dallas team as he did with the Penguins. Has a small amount of international experience.
Justin Faulk, great young defenseman burdened by a poor defensive team. Has played under the flag, plays in all situations, like Jones will likely be around for the next three Olympic cycles, has played with Gleason.
Drew Stafford, scored 52 points in 62 games including 31 goals two seasons ago, plays with Pominville, some international experience.
Erik Cole, former Olympian, World Championship experience, two time thirty goal scorer, played briefly with Galchenyuk, and a season with Pacioretty.
John Gaudreau, speedy little pure goal scorer,
John Gibson, WJC tournament MVP, stud goaltender.
Rocco Grimaldi, speedy, agile, had two goals in the WJC win over Sweden.
Blake Wheeler, great reach, good speed, plays in all situations.
J.T. Miller, played in on the WJC gold team with Gibson, Gaudreau, Grimaldi, Jones, playing for the Rangers and getting compliments from John Tortorello.
Emerson Etem has proved himself at the junior level in the WHL, he’s yet to make a big mark in the NHL, but he’s got speed to burn and plays on the same team as Bobby Ryan, some games for the NAHL national team.
Tyler Myers if he can somehow get his grove back he’s undeniably talented, has developed some aggression, and is both a good skater and puck handler.
Brandon Dubinsky, has had a downturn in production lately, but had a good World Championship and is a great two way player.
Jack McCabe, captain of the gold team, solid defender, but the defense is the area where the team is likely to have the least turnover.
Jimmy Howard no slight on his talent, but he’s about the fourth best American goaltender in the NHL right now. National development team veteran.
T.J. Oshie, depending on how the top lines shake down he might find himself tapped to captain the penalty kill effort, also plays with Backes, some national experience, plays physical.
Kyle Palmeri has a hat trick this season, and half of his goals have been game winners, national experience, and plays with Bobby Ryan.
Paul Gaustad, incredible faceoff man, great penalty killer, like Oshie could end up as a “role player”, team guy.
Given the eventual composition of Teams Canada and Russia, ensuring there is a viable penalty kill, players at all positions who can skate, and guys who won’t wilt under physical play or the bright lights of Olympic play take priority over pure skill with questionable fortitude. With a deep enough team, playing against the weaker teams gets easier because you can use your whole bench and stay reasonably fresh for the games where one bad five minute stretch can bounce you from the metal round.
The perennial powers in the Eastern Conference are mostly living up to their potential. It is the bubble teams, and the wild cards that are making life so interesting. I doubt anyone outside the Francosphere predicted the Canadiens would lead the Eastern Conference at any time, and yet they do. Predicting the Capitals as a basement dweller might have been a little easier, but it still counts as a surprise.
Washington Capitals: We know Adam Oates is a first year head coach. We know he didn’t get a real training camp to break everyone in. We know if McPhee fires him the general manager is probably writing his own pink slip at the same time. We know Mike Green still can’t stay healthy to save his life.
Buffalo Sabres: We know that after hundreds of reminders as to how long he’d been in place Lindy Ruff who still has five years left on his contract is no longer the Sabres head coach. We know the team’s identity is still unknown even to the men on the roster. We know they desperately need to improve at faceoffs. We also know we’re not going to see major changes to way the team plays until the general manager departs and someone else brings in the right mix of talent and attitude.
Florida Panthers: We know that part of last years division championship was a perfect storm of divisional woes. We know that no team in the east has scored less. We know that some of their youngsters are starting to come along. We know the teams goaltending woes are a real big part of why they aren’t performing better despite the emergence of Huberdeau.
New York Islanders: We know that John Tavares is really god damned good. We know that Brad Boyes appears to have a pulse again. We know those two and Matt Moulson aren’t enough to save the team from god awful goaltending and substandard defense. We know Vishnovsky is very unlikely to stick around past the end of the season and tutor the teams young defenders.
Winnipeg Jets: We know the Southeast divisions least south or east team is not great offensively, but that their defense is worse. We know the Jets are somehow worse at home than on the road. We know that if only two of your top five goal scorers have a positive +/- 200 foot hockey probably isn’t happening. We know that the last time a goaltending tandem let a team to the Cup without either of them having a save percentage north of .900 was probably before most of the roster were allowed to cross the street by themselves.
Philadelphia Flyers: We know that this team is unbareably burdened by eight no trade and no movement clauses. We know this team has more ability that it is showing. We know the goaltending has again, been reminiscent of the 1980s. We know the tether for the front office and coach have got to be pretty short.
Tampa Bay Lightning: We know if the team could transfer 10% of the talent from their top forwards to their defense they’d be a juggernaut. We know if the team had a third and fourth line who anyone outside the city could name their defense might not matter. We know that Vincent Lecavalier is playing point per game hockey for the first time since George W. Bush was president. We know that Matheiu Garon is one of the best goaltenders in the southeast division this year.
New York Rangers: We know that not many people picked this team as a bubble team. We know that their powerplay can’t be properly described without using what some would call “unprintable words”. We know the offense as a whole can be called mediocre at best. We know Rick Nash somehow managed to play two games over a couple of days before he felt the hit from Milan Lucic that is blamed for his getting taken out of the lineup.
Ottawa Senators: We know this a very resilient team. We know Craig Anderson’s name should be etched onto the Hart and Vezina by early April if he stays anywhere near his current 1.49 gaa and .952 sv%. We know that despite the resilience and the absurd goaltending the team needs to either make a trade or find someone in the system to contribute outside the crease.
Toronto Maple Leafs: We know the Leafs have a coach who can get the individuals on the roster to play like a team. We know James Riemer is still built out of balsa wood and bubble gum. We know Phil Kessel is probably due a goal scoring explosion sometime real soon. We know a 4.4 shooting percentage is not something anyone associates with Kessel, even when he has one. We know that Grabovski is either being unforgivably misused or just having an off year after having been in the top three in scoring for the team the last two years.
Pittsburgh Penguins: We know this team can’t hold onto a shred of discipline when playing their cross state rivals. We know they can score. We know balance isn’t how this team is build. We know they are going to have to do something really creative to get under the cap next year and have a contender.
Boston Bruins: We know Brad Marchand is contributing big time. We know Nathan Horton is a UFA at the end of the season. We know the powerplay is still “a work in progress” despite success in recent games. We know they’ve played the least games so far of any team in the NHL.
Carolina Hurricanes: We know the team has their fair share of offensive talent. We know Justin Faulk is the future of the teams blueline. We know they lead their division by being more evenly mediocre than the other teams in their division.
Montreal Canadiens: We know believers in karma will point to the last two season and say this is just an evening of the scales. We know those folks would be better served to point to the vastly underrated Tomas Plekanec and the rookie Alex Galchenyuk who have pushed the Habs offense from 20th last season to 9th th
This feature will run approximately every two weeks each season comparing a well known player to leagues newest crop of rising stars.
Dustin Brown the captain of last years Stanley Cup Champion finds himself on a team that’s mired in 12th place in the Western Conference. The Stanley Cup hangover is in affect. Well off his career points per game pace, “Fall Down Brown” has failed to slip points onto the score sheet in five of his last six games, and only has one multipoint game on the season. 3-3-6 in 14 games and -7.
Jake Allen of the St Louis Blues jumped into the fire when Halak went down and Elliot went off the rails. His sv% isn’t spectacular at .895, but the fact that he has 3 wins and 1 loss in four starts is. Allen is a QMHJL alumni who has two seasons in the AHL with 915% and 917% across 38 and 47 games.
2012 3rd pick overall Alex Galchenyuk is leading all rookie forwards in +/- at +9, 10 points in his 16 games to date and third in points only gets more impressive when you realize he’s doing it all on just 12:03 of ice time a night.
Jonathan Huberdeau is tied for the rookie lead in goals scored with six, his 19.4% is kinda scary. At 15:40 a night of ice time, there’s still room to get him more involved. While the Florida powerplay is rolling along at 17%, but “Hooby dooby doo” has just two powerplay assists in his 44:07 of PPTOI this season, you just have to wonder what he’ll be doing if he starts clicking on the man advantage.
Cory Conacher is the apex predator among rookie forwards right now, 5-9-14 +1, 1ppg, 2 GWG’s and all on a slim 15:15 per night. No one has as many points, and keeping just under a point per game rate this far into the season means the draft leftovers are likely to be the highest priced item on the menu when in a year or two.
With six goals and half dozen assists, Valdimir Taresenko has been steadily filling both columns, leaving for him tied for the goalscoring lead and 2nd in scoring overall.
Nail Yakupov whose twitter feed and post goal celebrations are reaching legendary status leads all rookies in powerplay goals, he’s fifth overall in scoring, and with so much talent higher up the depth chart any injuries there could see a huge explosion in his ice time and production.
Third and scoring, first in +/- at +9 is the Penguins Simon Despres. 13:50 of TOI says the energies of the former Saint Johns Sea Dogs blueliner is being carefully deployed. No shorthanded ice time also shows he’s probably not as well rounded as some other young rearguards.
The Boston Bruins Dougie Hamilton is the youngest of the top four scoring defenseman, and in is second place with one goal and and five assists. On a TOI per point basis he’s more efficient than the defender in first place, but less so than Despres.
Paul Postma of the Winnipeg Jets has blocked more shots than the other gents in the top four scorers, and is playing pretty disciplined hockey with just one penalty in his first 14 games.
Justin Schultz leads rookie blueliners in scoring, but of the top three is least productive on a points per minute rate. That said, his forward corp might be the most talented 1-9 in the whole NHL, as he gets used to playing with them, it is unlikely any of the other rookies will keep pace with him.
Tonight in God’s waiting room the Sunshine State the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will square off, no word on early bird specials at the concessions:
Seeing Red are Scott Clemmensen, Peter Mueller, George Parros, Drew Shore, and Jack Skille
Flashing across the ice in White and Blue are, Ryan Malone, Nate Thompson, B.J. Crombeen, Adam Hall, Matt Carle, Brian Lee, and Matt Taormina.
Toronto’s home squad are hoping to be inhospitable hosts to their fellow Ontario team as the Karlsson and Speazza deprived Senators roll into town. The twoWant will be looking to leapfrog Montreal and tie Boston in points for a share of the Northeast lead.
Casting a vote is likely team USA goaltender Craig Anderson, backed up by Ben Bishop, Mike Lundin owns a piece of the blueline while Jim O’Brien and Erik Condra make their way as forwards.
Toronto’s Americans are rearguards John-Michael Liles and Mike Komisarek, the forwards are Phil Kessel, James Van Riemsdyk, David Steckel, and Mike Brown.
The Philadelphia Flyers will be bringing a very Canadian squad to Montreal:
The only American on the Flyers roster is Tom Sestito, the pride of Rome New York (we’re not counting the traitor Couturier who plays for Canada internationally.)
The 20% American roster of the Habs includes possible Olympians Alex Galchenyuk and Max “Tweets At The Movies” Pacioretty, team captain Brian Gionta, Eric Cole, and blueliner Francis Bouillon
Rick Dipietro is on pace to pass last years total games played, Joe Finley and Brian Strait will skate in front of the crease, Kyle Oksoso leads the American presence with Marty Reasoner as its elder statesman, and Colin McDonald and Keith Aucoin round out the roster.
First round draft pick Stefan Matteau and Stephen Gionta will be joined by Bobby Butler, Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, and Peter Harrold are the Devils Americans.
Anaheim will stop to roost in Nashville for the night.
Bobby Ryan and Nick Bonino will be in the lineup for the Ducks and Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, will be out there with Nate Guenin and Ben Lovejoy.
Hal Gill stands on the blueline for the Predators, the nearly as tall Paul Gaustad plays pivot, and with them are Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and the teams longest tenured American David Legwand.
The Blue Jackets are looking to look their best for their new General Manager, while the Coyotes hope to slip past the idle Wings.
Jack Johnson leads the blueline with James Wisniewski, John Moore and Tim Erixon, while the forwards are missing the injured Cam Atkinson, RJ Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Jared Boll, and Nick Foligno will all look to make their presence felt.
Keith Yandle, a probable Olympian, Chris Summers and David Moss are the American contingent for the desert dogs.
In a battle of bottom feeders the Oilers and Avalanche will square off.
Erik Johnson leads the Avs blueline, assisted by Matt Hunwick while Aaron Palushaj represents the forwards.
Edmonton occasionally lets Ryan Whitney on the ice along with blueliners Core Potter and Jeff Petry and forward Chris Vandevelde.
The Avalanche are in the midst of yet another signing saga. At present they’ve spent the past eight months holding their leading faceoff man and leading scorer from last season by the choke chain known as “RFA status”. The other marks in O’Reilly’s favor are nothing to sneer at. He had two overtime tallies, led the team in assists, won 53% of his faceoffs, potted four powerplay goals, played in all situations and generally contributed to the teams success.
The level of the teams success sheds a different light on his accomplishments, so does the fact that it was his third season and one where he more than doubled his career assist and points totals on a team that finished 20th in the NHL. Anyone who doesn’t see the potential for steady growth for the 22 year old 200lb center is probably convinced we’ve seen the best from Taylor Hall and John Tavares. I don’t think anyone puts the ceiling for O’Reilly quite that high, but the chance for growth is coupled with one regression as well. He could just as easily turn into a half hundred other forwards like Peter Schaefer who got some ice time, got lucky and then fell apart when he had to repeat it.
If the Avalanche are determined not to give into his teams demands, where else he could land is a matter of finding a GM who sees O’Reilly continuing to get better, and has the assets and the inclination to go after him. Kent Wilson of FlamesNationthinks the Calgary brass must make a play for him. While it is unarguable that the Flames are a bit cool at the pivot position, what they have to offer up isn’t much. The Flames farm system is rated 23rd best in the entire league. Would a package of Jankowski, Seiloff and a 2nd round pick do the trick? And would that package actually be good for either team?
The Florida Panthers are currently underwater on faceoff win percentage, 23rd in the NHL in goals, and almost as poorly off in the east as the Avalanche are in the west. It’s highly unlikely any talks around the Panthers actually include Jonathan Huberdeau since the rookie is currently leading the team in goals, but perhaps Kris Versteeg is due for his sixth jersey since draft day and draft pick or two could accompany him back to the western conference. O’Reilly and Huberdeau could arguably be the best 1-2 punch at center in the Southeast division in a couple years.
Assuming Washington wants to make a shakeup, and they probablyshould, Backstrom and O’Reilly as a the moving points of the offense for the Capitals could actually get the team out of the lottery even before the seasons end, like Backstrom who Ovechkin has played longest and best with, O’Reilly is a left handed shot. Going back could be any number of pieces, ideally Carlson, although that would prove what just about everyone should suspect about McPhee, but Yevgeni Kuznetsov is a very attractive piece, if they can woo him across the pond, in some combination with Tom Wilson, Filip Forsberg and or picks should seal the deal.
It’d be nice to include the Wild in this list but there problem isn’t talent on the ice. The system in Nashville prevents offensive stars, and I don’t see the new GM in Columbus looking to take on a big contract for someone who seems likely to want to wrangle over it ever time. There are other teams who might make a move to juice their line up, but the Panthers, Flames, and Washington top the list of teams O’Reilly, at the right price makes sense for.
The short answer to all questions of player value is: What ever they can get someone to pay for them. In this case, Subban is what every team needs and wants: a highly talented, mobile, young defender with offensive skill, defensive savvy, and his best years ahead of him.
Q: So where does he rank in terms of both actual skill, and potential:A: In my book, top ten for NHL defensemen.
In whatever order you like, you can put Chara, Keith, Weber, Pietrangelo, Suter, Doughty ahead of him. The next tier of his true comparables is harder to gauge as that group has more and variability in strengths and weaknesses as well as age. That group includes the Capitals John Carlson, the Jets Dustin Byfugelien, Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Canucks blueliner Kevin Bieksa, and when used properly, Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames.
Of his comparables:
John Carlson is the closest in age and accomplishments, Carlson is better defensively, Subban is a little faster and better offensively. Carlson is also 23 and signed a team friendly pretty fair contract with a cap hit of four million a year in a town where he was at the time about the sixth or seventh biggest name.
Kevin Bieksa is the oldest of his comparables, is the fifth or so biggest name behind Kesler, the Sedins and whichever goalies the press is hectoring between pillar and post out in Vancouver. No Cup for Bieksa, but one of the NHL’s more dependable blueliners and is not the type to give up even if a game is out of hand. He’s got a talent laden blueline around him and has for years, not a natively gifted offensively, but knows where he fits in on his offensive minded team. Cap hit of $4.6 million.
Jay Bouwmeester was when he signed his current contract with the floundering Panthers about the most talented player and arguably the biggest name on the team. He plays huge minutes including more than two minutes a night on each special team. He blocks over 100 shot each year. His cap hit is $6.8m
Brent Seabrook is often overlooked in Chicago even if a good look at the numbers doesn’t bear that out. Skilled going in both directions, Seabrook would be the cornerstone of a lot of franchises in the NHL. He has similar offensive numbers, on a more offensively gifted team, to Subban. Was a big part of the Cup run for Chicago a couple years back. 5.8million.
Dustin Byfuglien is the Jets most sizeable defeneman, played his part in hoisting the cup for the windy city, and aside from some injury issues has been a dynamic player since landing in Atlanta-now-Winnipeg. Less defensive acuity than Subban, just as good a skater with a lot more size, and possibly the best known player on his team. His cap hit is 5.2million.
A couple of contracts his agent is sure to bring up:
Erik Karlsson, who was mysteriously awarded the Norris, has almost negative defensive ability, and a contract for a $6.8 million cap hit, despite never making it out of the first round of the playoffs and playing a very soft game.
Dennis Wideman, the wildly inconsistent 29 year old now on his fifth NHL team was an All Star last season, carries a 5.25m cap hit, and no team he’s played for has ever made it out of the second round of the playoffs.
Dion Phaneuf who is one of those guys who was billed as the second coming of god in his early years, and is still picked for a Norris yearly buy some pundits has a large cap hit at 6.5million, but hasn’t seen a playoff game since 2009 and has been above average if not elite for the Toronto Maple Leafs since arriving.
If you crunch the numbers on his true comparables and leave out the laughably overpaid Karlsson, the Semin-level-enigma that is Wideman, and Phanuef, you’ve got an average cap hit of 5,280,000. That’s not really an unfair number for a short term contract, but realistically with only modest improvement in the next three years he should be in the running for legitimate Norris win, and a couple 50+ point seasons.
If your considering an offer sheet or trade for Subban, what does a roughly five point three million dollar contract offer sheet cost? That depends on where you expect to draft, and how well you’ve done drafting. For any amount in the price range of his comparables, assuming Montreal doesn’t match it, you’d be giving up selections in each of the first three rounds of the draft.
If you expect to draft in the top 10 this year, it might not be worth it.
If you expect to draft 11-20, you have to consider it very, very strongly.
If you expect to draft 21-30 this season you’re probably derelict in your duty if you don’t.
An immediate impact player, especially at a reasonable price and especially long term (four+ seasons) is better than potential that is years away. If as an organization you think Subban is the player that can put you over the top for a cup win, or even just generate enough buzz to sell 3000 more tickets a game you almost have to go for him via offer sheet or trade. If you’re in the division you can doubly impact the Habs by lowering their level of talent and improving yours. As poorly as the Habs have drafted in the last decade, them muffing on the draft is almost a given.