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.