One thing I love to do in my amateur punditry is identify bargains. Trade bargains, free agent bargains. Finding value players for cheap helps managers win games in a salary capped league, afterall.
The trade deadline is usually a poor time for seeking out bargains because the auction-like environment often drives up the prices of the guys available. Teams desperate to make that final push or add that potential cup winning piece end up paying way more for a guy than they would in any other circumstance.
On top of that, the Flames have probably already done the bulk of their trading. Sutter has said as much recently.
However, one guy who may be worth targeting for Calgary on March 3rd is the Thrashers Slava Kozlov, who announced today he would like to be moved and would waive his NTC to that end. Kozlov is a pending UFA with a 3.85M cap hit (or 900k for the remainder of the season).
The reason the former Red Wing might be cheaper relative to other rentals like, say, Ray Whitney, is he has had a pretty poor season by the counting numbers: 8 goals, 24 points and a -16 rating. Yuck. The truth of the matter is, though, Kozlov is re-paying the fates for his 76 point season last year. As the Falconer points out in this post, Kozlov and his teammates were red hot last season. "Riding the unsustainable wave of fortune" hot:
As you can see below, in the 1st quarter of last season Kozlov (blue line) had an insane ES ST% of 27% which is way out of line with his recent career. Likewise, Bryan Little also had a 23% ES ST% in the 1st quarter of last season. Both players came back to down to earth in the following quarters.
What goes up must come down. This year, the percentages have been as cruel to Kozlov as they were kind last year. His combined SV% and SH% is 96.0. That’s exceptionally low, given the league-wide mean of 100.
Kozlov’s other stats, however, are favorable and suggest he’s still a useful player. He is in the black in terms of possession (+4.89/60 corsi) and has the second best relative corsi rate on the club behind the emergent Rich Peverley. He’s faced a decent level of competition and has started more in his own end of the ice.
Of course, the Flames are currently awash in these kinds of players (Higgins, Hagman, Stajan, Bourque, Langkow, etc.) so adding another similar player to the pile may not make a great deal of difference. Especially if he costs of one the guys mentioned in return, since you’d essentially be making a lateral move. That said, if Sutter could get him for Kotalik…