Moneypuck: Wild Cards



There’s plenty of “Wild Cards” out there in Hockeyland. Most of the time they don’t work out (Roman Cervenka, anyone?) but once in a while they do. This is the core of Moneypuck: wild cards are, by their nature, low-risk and high-reward.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find high-impact players in other leagues; most of the time the reason players aren’t in the NHL is because they’re not good enough to be in the NHL. The trick is to identify the guys who are good enough but for whatever reason haven’t been given the chance to perform in the NHL on a season-by-season basis.

The Targets

Artem Panarin


I’d be willing to bet not many of you have heard this name before. The 21-year-old was last seen on this side of the pond when he was scoring 2 goals in the gold medal game of the 2011 WJC a couple of years back. Panarin is 5’10 and 175 pounds, so while he’s a little “small” he’s by no means too small to play in the NHL. Production-wise, Panarin has been playing in the KHL since the age of 17, amassing 81 points in 148 games, for a PPG of .55. With that calculation, his NHLE is 34 (translation factor of .75). Not many 21-year-olds can put up 30 points a year in the NHL. In the playoffs, the right-shooting left winger scored 9 points in 14 games. To my eye, he looks like a pretty smooth skater as well. I have no idea if he has any desire to play in the NHL, but if he does I’d be more than willing to give him a chance.

Age: 21 (on 05/10/13)

Assumed Cost: Likely a standard 3-year entry-level contract.

Patrick Thoresen


I could tell you all about the player, his numbers in the NHL, KHL or whatever league, but it’s easiest to just say it this way: Thoresen is an NHL-quality player and the fact that he isn’t playing in the NHL is baffling. Thoresen’s scored at a PPG pace in his time in the KHL and he can play all three forward positions. His Behind the Net page only has one season on it, but a damn good season it was. He also scored 18 points in 8 games last year at the World Championships. Read Jonathan Willis’ article here if you’re looking for more.

Age: 29 (on 05/10/13)

Assumed Cost: Likely a one or two year deal at less than $1.5 million AAV.


There’s likely not a lot of room on the roster for wild cards this year due to the glut of bottom-half talent on the Flames’ roster. However, if they can find a spot for one of these guys, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Bring up other wild cards in the comments!

Around the Nation

  • Burnward

    Kent, Thoresen never did look comfortable on the smaller NA ice surface. The lost time and smaller from the NHL size rinks is a big difference and impacted him the most.

        • The Last Big Bear

          That’s probably true, but different hockey people look at different things.

          Some of them look for stupid things. Lots of hockey people obsess about how ‘fluid’ a guy’s stride looks, and completely ignore how fast/strong/stable he is when moving from point A to point B. This is extremely common. And I don’t mean in evaluating how well a kid will develop by looking at his skating mechanics, I mean adult skaters who are playing at the pro level.

          And sometimes hockey people look at reasonable things that also result in good players not getting a chance. Steve Yzerman left Stamkos, St Louis, and others off the 2010 Olympic team. He wanted guys who are all versatile, were all well rounded, and who could play in all situations. So Stamkos didnt make the team because he didnt have what those particular hockey people were looking for, despite the fact that he was obviously good enough.

          So id say obviously some hockey people weren’t looking for what Thoresen was delivering. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t good enough for the NHL.

          • Colin.S

            Skating is the first thing scouts look at followed by puck skills and hockey awareness. Intangibles come in for most after that. Thoreson is a smaller forward who scored 6 goals in 106 games and although he didn’t shy away from physical play, he had trouble with it. At age 29, his ceiling and years of productivity have probably peaked.

      • supra steve

        If Briere is bought out, he will be a UFA, and would most likely choose to sign for cheap with a cup contender. However, with his $6.5mil/yr cap hit over the next 2 years (actual cost average of 2.5mil per year) he could be an excellent trade target for the Flames if they are able to also pick up a Flyers draft pick. Briere plus their 2nd for…basically nothing. Or perhaps Briere plus a swap of first rounders (our 22nd for their 11th?). Phil needs to clear cap space for their latest signing mistake, Mark Streit. I would imagine that any GM with cap space has investigated the Philadelphia situation, hopefully Feaster has.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Bud Hollowayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    I mean, look at the guy’s name for Pete’s sake. That’s an awesome name on top of the fact that he’s probably a good-tier NHLer.

  • Burnward

    @suba steve

    Agreed he will probably sign elsewhere. Just wondering if there was any appetite out there for this guy. Just throwing it out there.

    Oh, and offical Happy Trails Kipper, was a pleasure!

  • Colin.S

    What are the realistic chances the Flames even attempt something like this again after our most recent experiment? I’m all for trying these types of moves, even if it’s just a single player a year, if you can get a skilled Russian over and motivated for a year, why not? Worst case scenario, you wasted a bit of money/contract that probably wouldn’t have gone to someone much better anyways. Best case, you have a legit player or you have a tradeable assest.

  • I wonder what Theoren Fleury’s “advanced stats” looked like. He scored 50 goals a season and was a booze-swilling coke addict. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter.

    @ Justin Azevedo – I really enjoy these pieces. Good to see analysis of players that the Flames could actually sign and would be useful. People talk about the Crosbys and but nobody talks about the Frans Nielsens. Thanks!

  • The Last Big Bear

    A few years ago, an Oilers fan buddy of mine asked me which Oilers youngster I thought had the highest ceiling.

    I said Thoresen.

    He laughed, because Cogliano was a 1st line centre, blah blah blah.

    I’m not sure where you come up with your salary estimate, however. I’d expect he’s making a lot more than that already in Russia, where he’s established and closer to his family.

    I think he deserves to be in the NHL, and the fact that the Oilers kicked him to the curb despite playing reasonably well for them as a defensively responsible playmaker, probably left a bad taste in his mouth.

    He probably makes double what you quoted already, and he’s probably worth it. But he’d hardly be a Moneypuck acquisition anymore at that price.