Yesterday in Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 thoughts column, Minnesota Wild winger Nino Niederreiter’s name came up in regards to chatter in trade circles. There’s no denying the Calgary Flames should be actively shopping for talent to fill out the top six. With the revolving door of right wingers that appeared alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau this past season, finding some stability may be key to taking the Flames to the next level.
Obviously when it comes to a guy like Niederreiter, the Flames should be calling because he’s the type of player that should be coveted.
A look at El Nino 2016-17
After a career year, posting 25 goals and 32 assists which was good for fourth in Wild skaters in points, there’s a reasonable case that the 24-year-old Swiss winger is going to want a pay raise. There’s also the element of who will be exposed or moved in relation to the expansion draft next month which complicates matters further.
This is an avenue the Flames could take advantage of. More importantly, they have the assets required to potentially make a deal for a guy who clearly fits the age group of this team.
Part of what makes Niederreiter so appealing is the impact he provides on the ice and an opportunity to give him a bit more of a role – on a team like the Flames – to see if there is more to his ceiling than just a top nine winger. In an era when we’re starting to establish a better understanding of what contributes to on-ice results, Niederreiter is an example of a player type that teams should be looking to acquire (5v5 data via Corsica):
|Career to Date||4671.13||52.23%||55.01||50.31||54.55%||52.38%|
This past season was his best, both in terms of shot and goal metrics, as well as counting stats. The fact remains that with Niederreiter on the ice, the Wild fared quite well at 5v5. Going through additional metrics indicates the same, whether it’s FF% (55.14%), SF% (55.23%), or GF60 (3.24). Under Bruce Boudreau this season, his deployment relative to his peers wasn’t inherently more difficult than his teammates’, which may have contributed to his success:
In addition to his on-ice impacts, with the work from Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project we’re starting to see more publicly available data that helps explain who contributes to offense. In the existing dataset, 582.8 of Niederreiter’s 5v5 minutes have been tracked. The data collected presents an interesting perspective on the makeup of his game, how he contributes to creating offense, and how he stacks up when measured in percentiles (via Stimson’s public Tableau):
We can see that the three biggest aspects to understanding Niederreiter’s contributions comes in terms of dangerous shot contributions, shot volume, and transition play. For a team like the Flames that struggled at times in generating high danger scoring chances, targeting a type of player like Niederreiter makes sense. Not only that, but generating shots and being a factor in zone entries is a huge asset in this league.
Individual results: quite impressive
|5v5 Goals||5v5 Prim. Pts.||5v5 G/60||5v5 P/60||5v5 Prim Pts./60||iCF60||iFF60||iSF60||5v5 SH%|
When it comes to points and production, again we see strong indicators of value found in Niederreiter. His points per 60 at 5v5 were third out of 11 Wild forwards with at least 500 minutes at 5v5. He led Wild forwards in primary points per 60 in the same parameters, too. Not only that, but he was tied with teammate Jason Zucker in total primary points at 5v5 with 35. When it came to his shot contributions per 60, Niederreiter was productive across the board in iCF60 (blocked, missed, on net), iFF60 (missed and on net), and iSF60.
Not only did Niederreiter contribute at 5v5, but he was a steady contributor at 5v4 for the Wild. His eight 5v4 goals were tops for Wild forwards:
|Goals||Prim. Assists||5v4 G/60||5v4 P/60||5v4 Prim Pts./60|
At the end of the day, whether it’s 5v5 or on the power play at 5v4, there’s significant evidence to suggest that the Islanders ended up making a poor decision trading Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck. He’s blossomed quite nicely into a relatively consistent NHL forward who finds a way to contribute in every circumstance he’s deployed in.
Again, for the point of emphasis: if he’s available, Brad Treliving should be calling regularly.
So what could he cost?
It’s extremely hard to say, but the Flames do have pieces and assets that they could hypothetically part with. The goaltending situation beyond the NHL for the Wild organization isn’t anything to write home about with Stephen Michalek being the closest thing to a top goalie prospect. The Flames have a luxury right now with Jon Gillies, David Rittich, and recently Tyler Parsons. One of the former two could be thrown in a hypothetical package deal.
The Wild’s salary cap situation isn’t fantastic by any means, what with Mikael Granlund’s career year and is requiring a new contract. It’s possible that floating a cost-controlled forward like Micheal Ferland, some sort of prospect + pick package involving a forward still with time left on his ELC could be compiled.
But I’ll leave it to you: if you were inquiring about Nino Niederreiter, what kind of package would you offer the Wild for him?