UFA Profiles: Lee Stempniak



Lee Stempniak flew under the radar in more than one way this season.

Certainly, there was a little but of hubbub regarding the manner in which he came to town – being traded for a player who’s both a fan favourite and someone coming off a major injury is never easy, as it tends to inflate expectations a wee bit. On the surface, Stempniak’s season may have been a little disappointing – 14 goals and a significant amount of time missed to injury both contributed to that perception. In reality, though, Stempniak was one of the Flames’ best forwards this season.

Since becoming an NHL regular, Stempniak’s goal totals (pro-rated to 82 games) have been remarkably consistent, averaging 20 per season over his career with peaks of 29 & 27 and valleys of 14 & 15.


Usually when we talk about outliers in the context of the type of perception around Stempniak, we look at the negative results and discount the positive ones. In Stempniak’s case, the positive results are actually the outliers – which is a good sign for a guy who should be a buy low player. Looking at this chart, it’s probably reasonable to expect a 20 goal season out of Stempniak next year.

While the leg injury that caused him to miss 21 games last year might be stuck in the mind of some Flames fans, it’s important to note that the injury, like most injuries, was the result of a fluky play and it marks the only time in his career that he’s missed significant (>10 games) time due to injury.

The Math

On the underlying side of things, the read is pretty clear – Stemps is a low 2nd/high 3rd line guy who can move the puck in the right direction quite effectively. He posted the 2nd best Relative Corsi rate amongst forwards (+10.5) last year while playing 3rd line competition (9th in Corsi Relative Quality of Competition) and starting in the defensive zone marginally more then in the offensive zone (49.4% Zone Start) while also finishing with a delta of +2.8% in where he finished his shifts (53.2% Zone Finish). He also had an average PDO (996). 

On top of all that, Stemps drew more penalties then he took by a hefty margin. You can check out more numbers here, but trust me when I say they’re all pretty solid.

Due to that time he missed this season as well as perception of streakiness surrounding him, Stempniak will probably have a lower price than other 20-goal UFA guys out there. He’s definitely someone I would offer a contract to… so long as I had the roster space.


And that’s the issue there –  the Flames are chock full of bottom sixers who can push the puck in the right direction. That, along with Jay Bouwmeester (yes, just Jay Bouwmeester) may be the only strengths the Flames actually have. Is it worth it to offer a 2.5 to 3 million dollar contract to Stempniak? Part of me says yes, and that’s only been reinforced by the hiring of Bob Hartley this afternoon. Guys like Stempniak are pretty much the perfect example of players you want when you’re entering a soft rebuild.

But part of me says no, because it’s not likely you’re going to get a ton of value from Stempniak’s contract. If we go all reductive using the 3-1-1 principle (3 goals is equal to one point is equal to $1 million in salary), Stempniak’s current deal of $2.5 million a season is basically just breaking even. Looking at his GVT from last year – which was a very similar season when it comes to production – Stempniak “created” ~6.1 goals more then a threshold player would. That same threshold player would be making about $550k-$575k in the NHL, and when you add that to Stempniak’s positive value of ~$2.05 million, you’re getting about $85k-$100k in positive value. If everyone on the team gave you that, you’d be getting max one point of extra value over the course of an entire season. That’s not enough.

So what say you? Does Stempniak deserve a new deal?

  • I liked Stempniak as well. I dont think he can hang with the big boys, but havinga 20-goal/40 point third liner isn’t a bad thing.

    If the Flames lose Mosser to free agency, then Stempniak moves a lot closer to a must sign for me.

  • Graham

    Looking at our UFA’s individually, you could probably make an arguement to bring them all back at a reasonable price. The problem being, if you bring to many of them back we end up with essentially the same team as last year.
    This club needs change, not more of the same.

    In Stemp’s case, I would the Glencross contract ($2.5 million) as a benchmark. Sign him around the $2 – #2.25 million range, maybe
    $2.5 million for a longer contract, or let him walk.

  • Gange

    Well we have to keep some of these guys, right? If I had to pick of the UFA’s Stempniak would be a strong candidate but that would be tempered by price obviously.

    A contract to him can either be decent value or horribly overpaid. I don’t there there is another outcome.

  • Gange

    Out of the UFAs, he’s really one of the only ones I’d wanted back, the problem won’t be the money, the issue is going to be where he slots in the lineup, I think he wants to be somewhere he can be a 2nd line guy.

  • Graham

    I’d like to see Stempniak back, but I’m not too sure about the contract. Maybe 4M$ over 2 years? Let’s just hope he doesn’t get a NMC if the Flames do sign him 🙂

  • NateBaldwin

    Re-sign Stempniak? Yes, but at a ‘cap-friendly’ stipend, likely not much more than what he made last year, say the $2 million range. He is close to a 20 goal guy and I thought was quite serviceable even on PK.

    Of the Flames UFAs, I rank only David Moss as the only other must sign (and, yes, that includes Jokinen!). TK would be a good returnee, but I suspect that he will sign elsewhere at a higher price than his value to the Flames.

  • Graham

    if the contract is reasonable, absolutely re-up Stempy. The team is thin on RW, and the Flames are always in need of skill and speed–2 things Stempniak has.

    the roster looks kind of unfortunate… but then again, we don’t want them to finish 14th again, do we?

    1. [Tanguay – Cervenka(lol) – Iginla]
    2. [Glencross – Cammalleri – Stempniak]
    3. [Baertschi – Backlund – Nemisz(lol again)]
    4. [Bouma – Jones – Jackman]

  • MC Hockey

    Hi Kent, A correction..according to both http://www.nhlnumbers.com and http://www.capgeek.com, Stempniak only made 2.3M last year and his cap hit was only 1.9M so that’s certainly better than 2.5M.

    The future:

    I am in favor (reasons are below) of a re-sign if he averaged out to a 2.0M to 2.5M cap hit over two-year contract, I would be in favor because, as explained in another flamesnation article, it’s the percentage of the overall cap that you spend on a player that matters….and likely the cap goes UP again for 2012-13 if trends continue.

    Reasons to keep him:

    1) Poor RW depth makes him more valuable if cap hit is reasonable (up to 2.5M)
    2) Can be moved up to 2nd or even 1st line if injuries happen or he gets hot which has happened in past
    3) Another choice at 2nd/3rd line RW is David Moss who is not as skilled and has more injury history and I think his best may be behind him so trade him before he goes downhill (like we did wisely with Regehr, Langkow, at least one other)

  • Franko J

    I don’t think there is a desire from the player to resign with the Flames. I think it is more of # of contracts with the Flames more so than just a salary cap issue. Both Feaster and Wiesbrod are going with a different direction with this team, maybe Stempniak doesn’t fit in with their plans.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I kinda feel like it’s between Moss, Stempniak, and Comeau. Moss is too injuriy-prone, and then between Comeau and Stempniak you decide whether you want a better, slightly older player, or a younger player. If you’re just looking for a 3rd liner, they both have their positives (Comeau’s age, likely price, ability to destroy people vs Stempniak’s actual hockey ability and intelligence). I wouldn’t hate either of them, but I have to say I can see Comeau being annoying as hell given his propensity to be an idiot.

  • MC Hockey

    I imagine our new coach may be allowed to have a say as to what type of players he’d like to have. I’d only keep Stempniak if the cap hit is below $2 mil. I just don’t see him putting up 20 goals again and there are alot of guys going to be available either via free agency or that played in Abbey last year that can come fill the roll for a lot less $$.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t know that I agree that the Flames are chalk full of bottom 6-ers. I would be hard pressed to tell you who the bottom line is and we are short at least one spot on our 3-line.

    We need at least one top 9 player though. Iginla, Tanguay, Cammalleri, Backlund, Baertschi, Stajan, and Cervenka count 8.

    Sounds like the club won’t move Iginla. Tanguay has the Hartley connection. Cammalleri is worth more to the Flames then what we would get back. They will be patient with Backlund. Baertschi and Cervenka aren’t going anywhere. Stajan probably defaults on the roster as Million’s says there will be no buy-outs and trade opportunities are limited.

    So do you keep a spot open for a prospect? Do you sign Moss, Stempniak, or Comeau? Or do you address it via free agency?

    If I had to keep one of the three Flames it would be Comeau. More upside now and in the future. But I think you can find a better option then any of the above in free agency. Especially if you aren’t otherwise messing with your top 9.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I’d keep both Stempniak and Comeau. Both who, when needed, can play a top 6 role in a pinch and not suck, but are at normal times, excellent bottom 6ers.

    Who cares if the flames are chock full of bottom 6ers, these two are the best of the bunch.

  • jeremywilhelm

    @ jeremywilhelm

    One of the points with Stempniak is the amount of money he is worth. Do you really want to be paying $2.5 – $3 million for a bottom 6 forward…we already have Stajan for over $3 mil. Lee may be the best of the bunch we have, but is there anyone from the farm ready to move up and take on the same roll for less money or could we grab someone from free agency at a better price. I’m thinking the chances are good that we could.

    • is there anyone from the farm ready to move up and take on the same roll for less money or could we grab someone from free agency at a better price.

      Err, no. Baertschi might make the team this year, but I’d be surprised is he is as good as Stempniak out of the gate. The rest of the farm players are replacement level guys (read: average 4th liners) or below.

      As for grabbing someone for a better price from free agency, well…it’s a puddle deep pool this year, so it’s good bet you’ll be shelling out dough for anyone of quality.

      • Franko J

        Puddle deep? It certainly isn’t deep but I think there are some guys out there that are worth a look.

        Semin, Smyth, Parise, Huselius, Doan, Penner, Boyes, Stoll, Jagr, Kostitsyn, Hudler, Gaustad, Parenteau, Arnott, Whitney, Kelly, Langenbrunner, and Brule are all forwards potentially available July 1. I say forwards because players like Cervenka, Backlund, and Jones play wing if needed. There are probably a few I missed.

        There are a handful of guys on that list I want more then Stempniak.

        I think you let Stempniak go into free agency. And if you don’t improve on him you hope he is available. I don’t see him one of the early signings. Take a week or two before making a contract commitment.

  • I’d resign him for sure. I like his speed and play making abilities and is one of the few players on the team that can actually “make a move” to get around a defender. I’d keep him before I resign Moss.

    In all honesty I’d rather see Nemisz up than Moss back.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Step is one of those players who much not be reisigned. He has always been on a losing team and appears to be complacent with losing. Hes a player who plays hard during a contract year then drops off. Drop him.

  • Franko J

    @ Justin Azevedo

    Feaster did trade for Stempniak, however, the point I was trying to make is that maybe there are ” greener pastures” elsewhere for an UFA like Stempniak. Playing devil’s advocate: Even with the signing of Hartley, the Calgary Flames are not a prime destination for UFA’s, let alone retaining / resigning their own UFA’s. Playing for the Flames doesn’t have the cache as it once did.

    • loudogYYC

      I recall reading an article in one of the papers in town where Stempniak said he’d like to stay in Calgary for the long term. That and the fact that he has no stats the jump off a page should make him an affordable 3rd line RW that can play special teams and bury 15+ goals.

      He’s an ideal signing. Think Comeau with more brains and finishing ability.

      If Glencross agreed to play here for $2.5M, I can’t see Stempniak getting paid more than $2.3M. I fully support the re-signing of Stemper as long as he’s not expected to be the 2nd RW behind Iginla who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

  • loudogYYC


    Semin(No), Smyth(for less than 2M), Parise(Everyone can dream), Huselius(No), Doan(Yes), Penner(No), Boyes(y), Stoll(y), Jagr(lol), Kostitsyn(no), Hudler(y), Gaustad(y), Parenteau(y), Arnott(n), Whitney(n), Kelly(m), Langenbrunner(n), and Brule(y)

    Anyone with a y I don’t have a glaring issue with, anyone with No or N, I’d rather we pass on for a variety of reason(Penners PDO this post season, lol), Jagr never happens, Whitney’s play could just fall off a cliff and he’s going to want 3 or so years still.

    The guy that I would want to top that list is Parenteau personally, on a terrible Islanders team, he’s put up good counting numbers as well as respectable possesion numbers and I believe plays wing, which could shore up depth at RW.