Devils Trade For Niclas Havelid

Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009 05:57PM

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As per TSN.ca, the New Jersey Devils have sent prospect Anssi Salmela to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for defenseman Niclas Havelid and prospect Myles Stoesz. Niclas Havelid is a pending UFA with a cap hit of 2.7 million for this season, while Myles Stoesz has an entry-level contract that will pay him 492K per season at the NHL level until 2010-11. Heading the other way, Anssi Salmela is in the final year of a two-way contract that pays him 875K per season in the NHL. He is a restricted free agent but is eligible for arbitration.

Niclas Havelid’s been one of the obvious names in the rumour mill for a while now; a veteran defenseman with an expiring contract who is playing for a non-playoff team. He used to have a decent offensive game, with three seasons between 26 and 33 points on either side of the lockout. Lately, however, the points have been harder to come by:

  • 2008-09: 63GP – 2G – 13A – 15PTS, +4
  • 2007-08: 81GP – 1G – 13A – 14PTS, +2
  • 2006-07: 77GP – 3G – 18A – 21PTS, -2

I’m going to say something that may seem a little strange at first: those are remarkably good numbers. So far this season, Atlanta is -33 as a team. Last year they were -56, and in 2006-07 they were +1. That means that over three seasons the Thrashers have gone -88, while Niclas Havelid has gone +4. That’s very hard to do, particularly looking at his advanced statistics:

  • 2008-09: QC-1st, QT-1st, Corsi/60-7th, PTS/60- 0.58 (5th)
  • 2007-08: QC-1st, QT-1st, Corsi/60-7th, PTS/60- 0.58 (1st)
  • 2006-07: QC-1st, QT-3rd

While Havelid has had the advantage of the best teammates (on the Thrashers, so take that for what it’s worth) we can say with a good degree of certainty that he’s been handling the tough matchups. He has been getting hammered by the Corsi metric, but it hasn’t really affected his +/- to date.

Havelid isn’t used on the powerplay, but he’s been the ice-time leader on the Thrasher’s penalty-kill for years now. He isn’t a flashy addition by any stretch, but he’s a solid reliable veteran who can play against anybody and shore up a team with defensive deficiencies.

Myles Stoesz, shipped away with Havelid, is putting up his best offensive season as a professional. In fact, with 7 points through 43 ECHL games, he’s on pace to be well clear of his rookie mark of 6 points in 64 games. Last season he had 291 PIM though, so he has some work to do to catch up to last season’s mark (he only has 158 PIM so far this season). Suffice to say that he has little value.

Anssi Salmela is playing his first season in North America. He’s undersized for a defenseman (5’11, 191lbs) and is another older European player (he turns 25 this offseason). The Devils signed him as an undrafted free agent this summer. He’s had nice offensive numbers over in Europe and in the AHL:

  • 2008-09 (NHL): 17GP – 0G – 3A – 3PTS, +1
  • 2008-09 (AHL): 38GP – 8G – 16A – 24PTS, -6
  • 2007-08 (FNL): 56GP – 16G – 16A – 32PTS, +5
  • 2006-07 (FNL): 56GP – 11G – 12A – 23PTS, -13

His +/- results aren’t especially encouraging; his -13 mark was the worst on the team in 2006-07, while his 2007-08 squad was +49 as a whole.

Still, Salmela’s shown a decent offensive game everywhere he’s played. Three points may not seem like much, but Salmela was averaging just over 11 minutes a night, far and away the lowest number for a Devil’s defenseman. His even-strength offense works out to 0.95 PTS/60, which is good for second in New Jersey.

Brent Sutter gave Salmela an extended look on the powerplay (he averaged 3.61 minutes per game over 17 games 5-on-4; ahead of every other Devils’ defenseman), but he put up doughnuts.

In short, it’s possible that I’m missing something but Anssi Salmela seems like a longshot; he’s an older prospect with OK AHL offense and a mediocre NHL showing over 17 games. You don’t want to judge an entire career on less than an hour of power-play time, but his numbers there are a bit of a warning mark. Even if he does turn out, it’s rather doubtful that he’ll ever be anything more than a powerplay specialist.

In short, I’d probably chalk this up as a win for New Jersey. Atlanta received one suspect defenseman in exchange for a useful veteran and a young enforcer. It would be wrong for me to be dogmatic about my point of view (after all, in Salmela’s case we’re only looking at fairly superficial numbers), but I think Lamoriello just robbed Waddell. Not that there’s anything terribly surprising about that.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Librarian Mike
March 02 2009, 06:04PM
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At a glance, he seems kind of like Niiniimaa. Whatever happened to him anyway?

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#2 B-rad
March 02 2009, 07:12PM
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so basically....... Jersey traded away......nothing..

neat....

sort of what Nilson will fetch...

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#3 walkinvisible
March 02 2009, 07:25PM
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niinimaa pouted his way to the swiss league.

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#4 Helmerfied
March 02 2009, 07:58PM
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Jonathan,

There's been a couple early trades ahead of the deadline (Havelid, Whitney)...I'm a bit surprised (in particular with the Havelid trade) that they would make this deal now. You'd think Havelid might've fetched a bit more when the other GM's are up against the wall on Wednesday (maybe Holland in Det. with his history of shoring up his D?). Having said that, I may be thinking a bit high of Havelid but this seems a pretty low price for a rental when all I've been hearing is that the price is way high this year. Is there any reason why Donny wouldn't wait for Wed (aside from the possibility he knows some big secret about Salmela that we dont')? Do you think this will lower the bar at all for Wed?

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#5 Chris
March 02 2009, 08:36PM
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Helmerfied wrote:

may be thinking a bit high of Havelid but this seems a pretty low price for a rental when all I’ve been hearing is that the price is way high this year.

Is the price for a rental going to be high? I'm not so sure. Everything hinges on whether GM's outbid each other for limited available assets, or choose to keep developing players due to salary cap uncertainty.

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#6 Dennis
March 02 2009, 09:09PM
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JW: Yeah, I took an early look at Havelid's BTN numbers and it looked fine to me.

The question is who's the Oiler equivilent to Salmela? I ask this because it looks like Havelid's just the kind of guy that we could've used to push 43 back to the 7th slot and give us a better top four option than either of 5 or 24.

By the by, how many teams are really tight up against the cap? For example, wouldn't the B's rather have this guy than Shane Hnidy? Or perhaps they can't afford him. Same goes for the Caps.

I won't mention the Flyers because we know they can't afford anyone:)

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#7 Jonathan Willis
March 02 2009, 09:31PM
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Dennis wrote:

The question is who’s the Oiler equivilent to Salmela? I ask this because it looks like Havelid’s just the kind of guy that we could’ve used to push 43 back to the 7th slot and give us a better top four option than either of 5 or 24.

Yeah, he would have been a nice fit. I'd think one of Wild/Hrabal would be in the range, maybe a little back of Salmela. We don't have a D prospect with Salmela's skill-set as best I can tell.

Waddell's said that he wants live players, so the Oilers would seem to be natural partners; we're chalk full of those young maybe/maybe not type players ;)

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#8 esa tikkanen
March 02 2009, 11:20PM
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anybody have any idea what the islanders are asking for Bill Guerin? would be nice to see if he can slide in on the left wing with horemsky.

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#9 Antony Ta
March 03 2009, 01:29AM
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@ Dennis:

Bryan Young, Mathieu Roy?

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#10 Antony Ta
March 03 2009, 01:29AM
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esa tikkanen wrote:

anybody have any idea what the islanders are asking for Bill Guerin? would be nice to see if he can slide in on the left wing with horemsky.

No. Do you remember what happened last time we tried playing a RW on the LW?

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#11 Jonathan Willis
March 03 2009, 07:23AM
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@ Antony Ta:

1. Salmela's well clear of Young/Roy. 2. Guerin's played LW before.

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#12 Dennis
March 03 2009, 02:39PM
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TA: Well, the Oilers had better be saving the cap space for a big move if they turned down Roy or Young for Havelid.

I read some of the Atl dailies today and Waddell said they aren't looking for picks, they're looking for bodies. And in this case it looks like they wanted a guy who could move the puck and could play now.

Not sure the Oilers have a guy that could fit that if that's what they wanted.

Cody Wild this time next year could fit that bill.

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