To Top

Determining NHL Player Value: Atlantic Division Analysis

For this next part in my Determining Value series, I’ll be taking a look at the NHL’s Atlantic division and breaking down which players were over and underpaid on their teams.

The metrics are best explained in my methodology article, but if you don’t have the time to read through that, 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.


Boston Bruins

It’s going to be painful for the Bruins that two of their best value players have moved on, but Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak can potentially fill those holes. Both Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand came in better than expected in both offensive and defensive categories, and should hopefully continue to provide the squad with some good points per dollar.

Unfortunately, Chara and Krejci had very down years, but the Bruins still managed to be better than average in the Atlantic, posting a 0.13 Primary P60$ compared to the division’s 0.00, and a -1.8 InvFA60$ compared to the division’s -5.08.

As for best value on the team–it’s no contest. Patrice “Selke Magnet” Bergeron exceeded points expectations for his PP60$ and came in almost three points better than the average $5m+ AAV in InvFA60$.


Buffalo Sabres

Everyone knows that the Sabres were defensively… not good, and this valuation shows that, with the team scoring an average -8.73 InvFA60$ compared to the Atlantic’s average of -5.08. Buffalo also had a lot of minor contributions, with 26 total players over 20 games, thanks to their ‘sell it all’ strategy.

While Zach Bogosian had a very difficult time scoring on the Sabres, he actually put up better numbers defensively than a lot of his peers, so in all likelihood, he’ll end up being a good value for them as the team rebuilds.

But my pick for best contract has to go to Zemgus Girgensons, who was the closest to “good” of anyone on the team.


Detroit Red Wings

While there are a lot of concerns about the aging core on big contracts, the Wings were still an “above average” value team last year, in large part from excellent defensive play. The division’s -5.08 InvFA60 pales in comparison to Detroit’s average of -3.63.

The worst contract on the team was Jonathan Ericsson, who ended below average in both metrics for the $4-5m price range. Right there with him was Stephen Weiss, who had a smaller impact overall because he only played 52 games.

The best value award goes to Tomas Tatar, who put up a crazy good 1.25 PP60$ and beat the average InvFA60$ by almost 6 whole points.


Florida Panthers

A team buoyed by youth, the Panther’s contracts last year are all over the place. Several of these players have already moved on this offseason, either through trade or free agency, and it’s likely Florida will regret losing Brad Boyes and Jimmy Hayes this year.

Unsurprisingly, the worst value on the team is Dave Bolland’s $5.5m AAV.

It’s hard to pick the best contract on the team, so I’m opting for the cop out: raise a glass to the Panthers’ ELCs, including Rookie of the Year, Aaron Ekblad. Together they outpaced the Atlantic average ELC in both categories.


Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens have a good mix of vets and ELCs on their team, with a pretty standard distribution. The smallest contracts are clustered at the top, and they get larger the further down the list you go. Both Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk definitely earned their raises.

On the other hand, both P.A. Parenteau and Alexei Emelin posted numbers similar to or even lower than PK Subban–despite making $5 millon a year less than the skilled defenseman. Sergei Gonchar was added to the Habs in a trade in November of last year, and it’s clear why he wasn’t resigned.

But the best contract on the team has to be Max Pacioretty. He was right on target defensively in his InvFA60$ score, and wildly outperformed his peers offensively.


Ottawa Senators

The Senators are an interesting team. The have one of the best groups of ELCs, in large part due to the incredible year that Mark Stone had, but Mika Zibanejad, Pageau, Chiasson, and Ceci all contributed a lot for the amount they made. Erik Karlsson also wildly out performed his defensive expectations (average for >$5m contracts is -26.26), which hopefully puts to rest the naysayers who dislike his defensive game.

But most of their larger contracts underperformed offensively, especially when you look at someone like Gryba who didn’t manage to hit the expectation for his PP60$ – at only a $1.25m AAV.

Mike Hoffman, my pick for best value contract, was surprisingly not on an ELC, just a standard 1 year deal. His negotiations this summer landed him a $2m AAV, which, looking at these numbers, is still likely to be an outstanding deal for the Sens.


Tampa Bay Lightning

Is anyone shocked that the team who lead the NHL in goals has an extremely high average PP60$? No? Didn’t think so. They were led by the outstanding performance by The Triplets; Kucherov, Johnson, and Palat averaged 1.63 PP60$. Even the ELC average for the Atlantic was only 0.73.

Eric Brewer struggled to provide value for both the Bolts and the Leafs (next chart down), but the worst value on the team was probably Brenden Morrow, who’s $1.55m AAV still landed him only 17th out of 23 teams, and surrounded by much larger contracts.

The best value on the team last year was Steven Stamkos, who climbed all the way to No. 15, despite having the highest salary on the team. This does complicate things as he goes into the last year of the current contract. How much does he really deserve to make next season?


Toronto Maple Leafs

If there was one team last year who could put up a worse average value defensively than the Sabres, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs. In large part, this is because they had just one ELC, but even their cheaper contracts ranked poorly. Average InvFA60$ for the Atlantic? -5.08. Average for the Leafs? -11.79. They fared much better offensively, coming in right about on average.

The worst performing contracts include Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, but also Joffrey Lupul. Lupul had an off year offensively, but also posted the worst InvFA60$ of anyone on the team, despite both Phaneuf and Kessel making far more than he does.

For my pick for best value, I’m going with Nazem Kadri. He was very close to average for his price range in InvFA60$, and did quite well offensively. He has a new deal kicking in next year, and a new coach, both of which will raise expectations for him this season.

  • Sean

    this kind of analysis is excellent. Cool read.

More in Atlantic