In this last of the NHL division breakdowns, I’ll be looking at the eight teams of the Metro Division, and picking out which players were the best and worst values for the money.
The metrics I use are best explained in my methodology article, but long story short, Primary P60$ Delta measures offensive impact against expectations of their salary and Wt. InvFA60$ Delta does the same for defense. For both measures, a higher number is better.
This kind of ranking gives preference to lower average annual value (AAV) contracts, especially those on Entry Level Contracts (ELCs). An ideal team would have the salaries lining up perfectly lowest to highest. However, some players are overpaid and some are underpaid, so using these rankings, it’s easy to determine who is a good value and who isn’t.
A few things to keep in mind as we look through these charts–I’ve chosen only skaters with over 20 NHL games last year. It also represents only values for last year, so some guys who had a rough year look worse than they probably are. Finally, names highlighted in yellow are the players who were on ELCs.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Even though the Blue Jackets were frequently off their A-Game due to injury, they still posted some impressive values, coming in better-than-average in both Primary P60$ and InvFA60$. Boone Jenner was doing well before going down with injury, and Kevin Connauton proved to be an invaluable waiver pickup for the Jackets. Marko Dano, now of the Blackhawks, was also impressive in his limited time with the club.
The worst contract on the team last year has to have been Jared Boll, whose $1.7m AAV should put him in the middle of the pack, but instead his terrible scores for offense and defense have put him in the company of players who make four times as much.
My pick for best value is the recently named captain, Nick Foligno. With a PP60$ almost as high as Dano’s, and an InvFA60$ better average for his salary range, it’s no wonder the Jackets were pleased with his contributions last season.
The trendy pick by hockey fanalysts to be a surprise playoff team next year, the Canes certainly got value for money from their skaters last season. They hit right about average for PP60$, despite disappointing seasons from Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, and actually came in much better than average in InvFA60$ at -.33, compared to the Metro average of -5.03.
While Semin’s troubles last season are well documented, it’s clear to see why he had a hard time finding a place to land until he took a massive pay cut. Defensively, he was about average for his price range, but his PP60$ was well under expectations.
I have to go with a tie for my “best contract” pick, in large part because these two tied on the team. Elias Lindholm and Andrej Nestrasil are both young, talented, and will continue to be a good value for the Canes this season.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils, while being anemic in the goal scoring department, at least went about it frugally. In fact, they scored about average when it came to meeting expectations for PP60$. Unsurprisingly, they’re better than average in the InvFA60$ category which measures defensive value.
It’s fairly clear that the lowest return on the money was for Tuomo Ruutu, whose $4.75m AAV should’ve put him higher on the list, but instead, he earned the lowest ranking on the team in both categories.
For best contract last year, my pick goes to Damon Severson, on the strength of his ridiculous InvFA60$ numbers. He literally doubled the Metro ELC’s average InvFA60$, which is no small feat. Hopefully he continues to progress for the Devils as they retool the club’s roster.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are in a really good spot. They had one of the shortest lists of 20+ game skaters, meaning they didn’t have to do too many call ups for injury. This also means they got better value than a lot of teams. The Isles’ average PP60$ was 0.21, much better than the Metro average of 0.03, and while they weren’t outstanding defensively, hitting about division average, they certainly weren’t in the ‘worst of’ category.
There are some questionable contracts in there, like noted hitter Matt Martin or Calvin DeHaan, but for the most part, the numbers are pretty solid.
It’s pretty clear (even without this chart, honestly) that the best value on the team has to be John Tavares. If not for some last second antics, Tavares would’ve brought home the Art Ross last season, and at just $5.5m, his deal with the Islanders is looking better by the minute.
New York Rangers
In a strange narrative, the Rangers were frequently criticized last year for lacking depth at offense, however in value for money, they overachieved in PP60$. No, their real issue was defensive play – in fact, their InvFA60$ average was -8.37; the rest of the Metro averaged -5.03.
Much of this defensive ‘over payment’ came from the players on lower contracts, like Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore and Kevin Klein. However, even ELCs like Jesper Fast and JT Miller came in lower than average for their price range.
My pick for best contract goes to Kevin Hayes. Hayes’ PP60$ is third in the league–right behind Kucherov and Tarasenko–and while he’s not the best defensive player ever, he did hit the ELC average in InvFA60$.
The Flyers’ situation is not good. They were slightly under average in PP60$, and that’s with Jakub Voracek in contention for NHL points leader last year. The real problem is that their InvFA60$ was worst in the Metro at -8.69.
As far as bad contracts go, unlike the Rangers, the Flyers had more expensive guys in this category: MacDonald, Lecavalier, Coburn and Umberger. And three of those guys have two-plus years left on their contracts with the team.
As for who was a good value? My pick is Michael Raffl who had a great year offensively, while being about average for his price range in InvFA60$, something most of the Flyers couldn’t claim.
Another “plagued by injuries” team, the Penguins put up an impressive showing in InvFA60$, though they did perform slightly under average in PP60$. On the whole, there aren’t a lot of contracts that jump out as “really good” or “really bad.”
The Pens biggest problem last year was the sheer number of “grit” contracts taking up roster spots–Goc, Sill, Downie–and dragging down averages in both categories. Rob Scuderi also is a poor value, though that’s hardly news to Pens fans.
Is it a cop out to call Sidney Crosby the best contract in Pittsburgh? I think not, with all the “trade Crosby” talk that seems to happen every summer. Listen, his AAV might be a sky high $8.7m, but he’s out performing his expected PP60$, and is way better than average for the >$5m price range’s InvFA60$.
He’s earning every penny he makes.
Similar to the Rangers, the Capitals put up great numbers on average for offense, but came in way below average on defense. Unfortunately, one of their best values on defense, Mike Green, signed with the Red Wings this summer, so while the Caps did bring in some new blood on good deals, this particular ill may not be cured just yet.
If there’s one take away from this chart it’s that players named “Brooks” are probably overpaid. I kid, sort of. Orpik and Laich were far and away the worst values on the team last year, under performing in both categories.
As for best value on the team, there can only be one answer: Alex Ovechkin. You know how I know Ovi is good at hockey? His AAV is over $9 million, but he still lands eleventh on his team, right between a couple of players making around $2 million. That, my friends, is the definition of value.