No one saw this coming.
On February 18th, the Senators were 22-23-10. Ottawa was outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and without either of their NHL-tested netminders after injuries to both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.
That’s when the Hamburglar stepped in and stole the show.
Andrew Hammond was summoned from Binghamton while sporting a 7-13-2 record, a 3.51 goals against average, and an .898 save percentage. His run since coming to Ottawa - 19-1-2 record, 1.82 goals against, .939 save percentage - has been the stuff of legends.
Congrats to Andrew Hammond on being named the NHL's First Star of the Week! pic.twitter.com/N3XWLy5xW6
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) April 6, 2015
With three NHL weekly stars appearances (first, first, and third star) and winner of the March Star of the Month, Hammond’s run has been recognized league-wide. The Senators owe their playoff lives in major part to the Hamburglar’s unbelievable, out-of-nowhere, season-saving, hamburger-munching hot streak.
But there’s always a catch.
While Sens fans can be forgiven for waiting on this thought, the 27-year-old Hammond is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. With Anderson and Lehner already in the mix in Ottawa, the Senators’ goaltending situation is about to be a problem. A good problem, perhaps, but a problem.
How much is Hammond worth? Does it make sense to sign the out-of-the-blue star or let him walk for a bigger, ill-fated contract elsewhere?
Let’s take a look at some salary analytics to see what Hammond deserves to be paid.
What is Andrew Hammond Worth?
First, let’s lay out some general salary information for Hammond and the rest of the NHL’s goaltenders.
|Henrik Lundqvist (NHL Leader)||8.5 mil|
|Devan Dubnyk (Lowest Among Non-Hammond Starters)||800,000|
|League Average (top 30 by $)||4.71 mil|
*all salary info from Spotrac.com here
Since taking over as the lead netminder for the Senators, Hammond has held the distinction of lowest-paid NHL starter, earning about $720,000 this season. This figure is followed closely by the NHL’s other upstart goalie sensation, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, who is earning $800,000 while leading the Wild back into the playoffs.
For the NHL’s top-30 goaltenders, the average salary is a lofty $4.71 million. That figure means that the Hamburglar is earning about $4 million less than the average NHL starter.
Based solely on league-wide salaries, Hammond’s contract could jump into the $3 million - $5 million range.
When searching for direct salary comparables, however, Hammond fits in with an interesting group. In terms of wins above replacement (more on this below), two other backups who have started with some regularity this season have posted similar stats.
Chicago’s Scott Darling (earning $570,000 this season) and the Rangers’ Cam Talbot ($1.45 million contract extension begins next season) have compiled similar advanced stats and each earn far less than the starters’ average salary. This could deflate Hammond’s potential contract asking price.
While contract comparables are always a part of negotiations, Hammond’s advanced statistics will factor into any deal as well. Let’s take a look at Hammond’s goalie analytics next.
How Hammond Stacks Up
— GREG LIGHTLE (@sgbdrummer) April 5, 2015
Beyond sample size, it is extremely difficult to poke any holes in Hammond’s performance for the Sens this year. Take a look at some of his advanced metrics:
|Goalie Fancy Stats||Andrew Hammond||League Rank|
|Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA)||16.38||6th|
|Quality Start Percentage (>5 games played)||.773||2nd|
|Goalie Point Shares||6.0||outside top 10***|
|Low Danger Sv%||.976||18th|
|Medium Danger Sv%||.917||33rd|
|High Danger Sv%||.895||1st|
|Wins Above Replacement||8.53||15th|
***HockeyReference.com only provides the top-10 list. For context Carey Price leads with 16.17 GPS, Roberto Luongo is tenth with 11.67 GPS
That’s a lot of analytics to wade through.
In GSAA, quality start percentage and high danger save percentage, Hammond is among the NHL’s elite. Many shots stopped that other goalies would allow to score, few bad starts, many in-close acrobatic saves.
Hammond has also mustered strong showings in goalie point shares and wins above replacement. Both of these are cumulative stats, which highlights just how game-changing Hammond has been for Ottawa. It also explains the Hamburglar’s absence from the NHL’s elite.
So far, so good.
However, these high-flying analytics are balanced by more modest performances in low- and medium-danger shots. Hammond ranks 18th and 33rd respectively in these categories, which suggests he doesn’t make the easiest saves as often as the NHL’s best goaltenders.
It is important to note the year-to-year repeatability of these skills. As Don’t Tell Me About Heart writes:
The best [correlation] results here were clearly for SvPctHigh, which is for shots directly in front of the next (in the slot). While the correlation is still small, it seems better than most results we see when it comes to goalie metrics. So maybe there is a little something to a goalie’s ability to defend a likely scoring chance.
In the end, Hammond’s skill for preventing goals on high danger shots may be the only repeatable skill anyway, making him a highly valuable goaltender.
For what it’s worth…
Taken altogether, Andrew Hammond presents an extremely interesting, unique, odd, and tricky contract negotiation for the Sens.
Fresh off of saving the Senators’ season, Hammond has an emotional value to a team that has played confidently in front of him. Contractually, the league average for starting netminders is around $4.5 million per year. This is clouded by the measly earnings by Hammond comparables like Scott Darling and Cam Talbot.
Finally, Hammond’s advanced metrics appear to check out. Though his sample size is obviously very low, Hammond’s analytics show a much-above-average netminder who stops the most difficult shots better than anyone else.
Though some decision will need to be made on parting with Anderson or Lehner, it’s tough to imagine that Ottawa won’t look to retain Hammond. In that case, a two-year deal worth $4 million per season shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s near the going rate for NHL stoppers and Hammond’s play suggests that he’s at least worth the average investment. Only his short track record gives this deal any pause.
What the Senators do with their other NHL netminders is another question altogether.
What do you think, Sens fans? How much is Andrew Hammond worth on a new contract? Or, would you rather let the Hamburglar walk away at the end of the season?