As evidenced by the cheap, last minute contract with the Flames, it’s been a steady fall from grace for the former 8th overall San Jose draft pick. Setoguchi scored 31 goals and 65 points as a sophomore in 2008-09 and looked to be a burgeoning star for the Sharks at the time. Unfortunately, the Taber AB native rode a lot of beneficial circumstances and percentages to his break out performance that season. Although he scored 20+ goals two more times after that high water mark, he has never since cracked the 45 point barrier.
The good news for the Flames is that Setoguchi is likely better than the results he put up in 75 games for Winnipeg last year (11 goals, 27 points). He suffered from a career low on-ice SH% of just 5.92. His offense was further depressed by a career low personal shooting percentage of 8.5%. Setoguchi’s true ability is probably much closer to the 35-45 points he typically managed in Sharks and Wild colours, which would be huge value at $750k. In addition, at 27 years old, he’s more likely to rebound than to to decline.
On the other hand, Setoguchi’s not much more than a middling, middle-tier NHL forward. He has never meaningfully driven possession at any point in his career. Last season, for example, Setoguchi managed a relative corsi rate of -3.7/60 on an average Winnipeg Jets club. That’s despite completely run of the mill circumstances.
With just a single year contract, Setoguchi is a low risk, moderate reward type of signing. If he gets back to 20 goal and 40 point territory, his NHL stock may rebound enough for him to become a tradable asset at the deadline. He’s also young enough that he could be retained with a longer term deal should he suddenly figure things out this season. In addition, Setoguchi is a natural shot RW player, a commodity in short supply in the Flames organization currently.
Of course, for those hoping to see a few kids on the roster come October, this addition clogs up the depth chart somewhat. In addition to Setoguchi, Calgary now has nine NHL wingers in Glencross, Hudler, Raymond, Jones, Colborne, Bollig, McGrattan and Byron inked to one-way deals. Lance Bouma may also be added to the list, depending on when he re-signs (and if Bob Hartley considers him a winger or a centre).
As such, any kid who makes the team is going to have to climb over a vet or two to do it (or pray for a lot of injuries). That said, it also allows the Flames to pursue some veteran trade options without completely gutting the depth chart and throwing the kids into the deep end.
Verdict – Thumbs up. Although he’s unlikely to make a big impact on the organization, Setoguchi is a good buy low gamble.