Last week, we took a look at the centres where Jay Feaster could find value. This week, we’ll take a look at the wingers. Certainly, the Flames have a ton of cap space. But Moneypuck isn’t about only finding cheap players; no, it’s more about getting value from the contracts you sign. Anecdotally, the higher the price in free agency, the less value you’re likely to get out of the contract.
You need to find value in contracts. Overpaying players by a million a season doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but 4 or 5 or 6 of those guys and poof! Cap hell. It’s easier to find value in cheaper and shorter contracts than it is in longer contracts, plain and simple.
Shorter contracts also allow you to take more risks without as much consequence. Lots of positional redundancy (which Moneypuck-like tactics can create) in the NHL can benefit the overall franchise and realistically should be the goal for all but 5 roster spots on a given team. Odd that our first candidate doesn’t fit that description exactly, but him along with the other three could create the exact situation outlined here.
The Krejci-Lucic-Horton line took advantage of easy circumstances this year, but Nathan Horton has shown the ability to carry a line in the recent past. The former Panther has never had a negative Relative Corsi in his entire career and the past three seasons he’s produced at a .65PPG rate, which is what is expected for a good 2W/borderline 1W.
Despite that production, his PDO the last two seasons has been under 1000, meaning he hasn’t had the best luck. Like I said above, however, there are some red flags. His high ZS% is definitely a concern, as well as the middling level of competition his line faced this year.
It’s also possible that playing with strong centremen like Krejci and Stephen Weiss has pumped up his underlying numbers somewhat. In addition, he has had some issues with concussions recently, but I believe that will drive his value down a little bit.
The unknown here is we have no idea how badly teams might overpay for basically the only notable right winger on the market seeking his first UFA contract. Horton will be in high demand, so it’s fairly unlikely he chooses to land in with the rebuilding Flames.
In the end, I think he stays in Boston, though, so this might all be moot. (I also had this written before his outburst versus the Penguins, but it remains to be seen what his value will be.)
Age: 28 (on 05/10/13)
Assumed Cost: Likely a 4 or 5 year contract, around $5 million AAV.
Another guy with concussion issues who will likely come cheaper than he should as a result is the Minnesota Wild’s best out-shooting player the past 4 seasons. Last year, he was 4th among Wild forwards with a +1.4 Relative Corsi, but the two seasons before he was ranked first with Relative Corsis of 20.5 and 12.0. His ZS% has been pretty close to average the past few years, within 2% either way of 50%. He’s also had average PDO’s, so his .58PPG the past three seasons can’t be attributed to luck.
Aside from the concussion issues, I can’t see any reason why teams wouldn’t want this guy. In my opinion, there are no statistical red flags. He can also play center, which is always a plus. In fact, I see him identified as a centre as much as I see him identified as a RW. Lastly, Wild fans seem to dislike him – so that’s a huge plus.
Age: 29 (on 05/10/13)
Assumed Cost: Likely a 3 year contract at less than $3.5 million dollars.
MacArthur’s an odd case: he scored at a .5PPG pace this year for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but because Randy Carlyle is clearly insane he was a healthy scratch for the Leafs’ first two playoff games. MacArthur has long demonstrated a high-end outshooting ability; this year was no different. With a ZS% of only 45.7%, he vastly outshot third-line comp, posting a Relative Corsi of 16.2 (!) while spending extended periods of time hauling around Toronto’s knuckle draggers.
His zonw finish % was 49.3, giving him the 4th best delta on the team (ZS-ZF). MacArthur has scored at the rate of a 2nd line winger should over the past three years, with a .65PPG pace over 195 games. He also only just turned 28 too, so he has a few good years left still. The only major roadblock to signing MacArthur is that he might be looking for his UFA payday – but the market can only bear so much and his season wasn’t great by the counting stats, so he won’t have much leverage.
Age: 28 (on 5/10/13)
Assumed Cost: Likely a 2 or 3 year contract around $3.5 million AAV.
Stalberg’s had a rough couple of months on the Blackhawks, being demoted to the 4th line in the playoffs and even ending up as a healthy scratch once or twice. Stalberg has scored 90 points over the past 3 seasons (202 games, .45PPG) without much Power Play time at all – he was 7th on the team in PP TOI among forwards.
Advanced-stat wise, Stalberg is a little hard to get a read on: his ZS% is high, but so is his on-ice Corsi, and before this year he demonstrated the ability to play 2nd liners and outshoot them. A little extra digging reveals that Stalberg spent 3/4ths of his even strength ice time with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw, neither of which can be considered good possession players at this point. I’d be willing to bet it was more Stalberg driving the bus with a couple flats rather than diminished skill.
The good news is that as a result he’ll be cheaper than he should. He seems to have the raw talent needed to be a 2W in the NHL, he might just need a chance.
Age: 27 on (5/10/13)
Assumed Cost: Likely a 1 or 2 year deal around $1.75 million AAV.
There are a few decent targets on the wings, unlike the center position this summer. Calgary can add a few decent, underrated pieces this off-season if they can convince guys like Stalberg or MacArthur to sign here.
Talk about these guys or other wingers you’d like the Flames to target in the comments.