Saturday, July 28, 2012

Waiting for Good D: Evaluating number one defensemen and the likelihood they join Detroit

Wanted: someone to fill those skates

It's no secret that the Red Wings are in the market for another defenseman. Detroit is weak on the back end for the first time in years after losing Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Brian Rafalski over the span of two seasons. Ryan Suter signed with Minnesota, Shea Weber's offer sheet was matched, and just like that the available top tier d-men were locked up and Ken Holland was left looking at his roster and thinking about how Jakub Kindl isn't really that bad.

The free agent market is tapped out. There aren't any players left of the caliber that Detroit needs, but that doesn't mean all options have been exhausted. This article looks at every team's best defenseman and the likelihood that Detroit could acquire them via trade or offer sheet before or during the 2012-13 season.

Anaheim Ducks
Cam Fowler- Much like Detroit, Anaheim doesn't have a clear-cut number one defenseman. If Fowler isn't already their best blueliner he probably will be by the end of next season. He's young, talented, and about to become a RFA at the end of the season.

Chances Wings acquire: Tremendously unlikely

Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara- A perennial Norris nominee and lynchpin of the Boston rotation. Has six years left on his deal.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Buffalo Sabres
Christian Ehrhoff- Had a somewhat disappointing first season in Buffalo, but with a NMC and a modified NTC I don't see him going anywhere. Oh, and he's also signed through 2020-21. If Buffalo does tank you may see Robyn Regehr traded, though he won't do anything to help Detroit's lack of offense from the defense position.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Calgary Flames
Jay Bouwmeester- Rumor has it that he's on the block, but I don't see him as a number one guy. His salary is high ($6.68 million) relative to his production (5 goals and 24 assists for 29 points), and he isn't a shutdown d-man.

Chances Wings acquire: He's probably available for the right price, but I think that price will be too high

Carolina Hurricanes
Jamie McBain- Honestly, the Hurricanes don't really have a guy worth pursuing. McBain is young and talented, but he's not the top flight defenseman the Wings need.

Chances Wings acquire: None, as there isn't a spot for another second pairing defenseman on the roster

Chicago Blackhawks
Duncan Keith- Another Norris caliber player who's inked to a long term deal (through 2022-23). There's no reason to dump his salary at this point, and Chicago isn't in a rebuilding phase.

Chances Wings acquire: None. There's almost no reason he'll be shopped, and if this offseason has taught us anything it's that players don't move intradivisionally

Colorado Avalanche
Erik Johnson- A former number one overall pick with a wealth of talent, he just signed a new four year deal. Colorado doesn't need to move salary and definitely doesn't want to acquire it, so he's likely going nowhere.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Columbus Blue Jackets
Jack Johnson- Columbus just picked him up in the Jeff Carter deal, so he's probably stuck there for a while. He'd be a good addition to Detroit's roster and I think he'd make a good partner for Niklas Kronwall.

Chances Wings acquire: If Howson wouldn't trade Nash to Detroit then there's no way he trades them Johnson

Dallas Stars
Alex Goligoski- A point producer with a limited NTC. They're clearly going all-in this year after adding Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, and Derek Roy, and they need talented defenders to compliment their offense.

Chances Wings acquire: Highly unlikely

Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Whitney- They're already thin on D, so no one's going anywhere in Edmonton.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Florida Panthers
Brian Campbell- A quality player, but another who isn't likely to change locations. The only consolation here is that, per, he can name eight teams he would accept a trade to. If Florida tanks and decides they'd be better served with a smattering of forwards, picks, and prospects then you know Ken Holland will be the first to inquire.

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Los Angeles Kings
Drew Doughty- The best defenseman on the defending Stanley Cup champions, who just happens to have signed a long-term deal one season ago? Yeah, he can feel pretty comfy buying that beach house now.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Minnesota Wild
Ryan Suter- Hey, didn't Detroit try to...oh, right. Nevermind.

Chances Wings acquire: Hahaha

Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban or Andrei Markov circa 2009- Markov has a modified NTC and has been plagued by injuries. Subban could be a great addition and is a restricted free agent. It's not the Red Wings way, but some real pressure could be exerted on Montreal if Subban was signed to an offer sheet. They only have $6.3 million in cap space. Nothing can be taken for granted and no assumptions can be made in an offseason like this one.

Chances Wings acquire: Slight possibility

Nashville Predators
Shea Weber- Word on the street is that this guy is good at the whole hockey thing. Also, head slams.

Chances Wings acquire: Holland talked to his agents and nothing developed. Then Nashville matched Philly's offer. Thus ends all "maybe he'll slam Zetterberg's head into the glass practice next season lol" discussions.

New Jersey Devils
Anton Volchenkov or Adam Larsson- Volchenkov isn't a true number one, and Larsson is too young and skilled to be moved outside of a blockbuster.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

New York Islanders
Mark Streit- An underrated number one, he'd be a great acquisition for the Winged Wheelers. His contract is up after this season, so it's possible that the Islanders may want to move him if they don't think they can get a deal done. This may be the long term target for Ken Holland, the player that could significantly upgrade Detroit's roster close to the trade deadline.

Chances Wings acquire: Very possible, depending on what is asked for in return and contract status

New York Rangers
Dan Girardi- He may not score as often as others on this list, but he might be the most consistent in his point production. A reliable 30-point player, Girardi anchors the bluline for a team that's making a push for the Cup. He's also signed for two more seasons.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson- The best young defenseman in the league. Any team would like to add him, and none will do so. Ottawa locked him up long-term and if there's anyone who's truly untouchable it's this guy.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Philadelphia Flyers
Kimmo Timonen- It's very possible that Timonen becomes available closer to the trade deadline, with an expiring contract and a GM who's not afraid to make a bold move.

Chances Wings acquire: A distinct possibility

Phoenix Coyotes
Keith Yandle- If Doan leaves, do they decide to move Yandle as well? Rumor has it that he may be available, and Detroit has to add someone of this caliber if they want to begin to patch the damage left by Nick Lidstrom's departure. Yandle is a point producer with four years left on his contract; there's nothing to not like here.

Chances Wings acquire: Very possible

Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang- His $3.5 million deal is a huge bargain for a team that's thin on defense. Too good a deal and too big a part of their team to move now.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Saint Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo- He's a bonafide NHLer, he's young, he's on an entry level deal, and he plays for a division rival.

Chances Wings acquire: None

San Jose Sharks
Dan Boyle- He's aging and has two years left on his contract, but he's still the best defender on a team that has a shot at the Cup. It's not impossible for him to be moved, but I don't see why he would be.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

Tampa Bay Lightning
Matt Carle- He was one of Detroit's offseason targets and chose to join Steve Yzerman's squad instead. Yeah, he's not going anywhere.

Chances Wings acquire: None

Toronto Maple Leafs
Dion Phaneuf- Rebounded with a good offensive season in 2011-12. He's the captain and face of Toronto's franchise, and though his once high salary is now within reason for a good defenseman, he's not likely to be moved. If Toronto didn't implode at the end of the season they had a shot at the playoffs, but if they repeat this again all bets are off.

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Vancouver Canucks
Kevin Bieksa- Not impossible to acquire, but not as likely to be moved as teammate Alex Edler (if a new deal can't be reached).

Chances Wings acquire: Unlikely

Washington Capitals
Mike Green- He just re-upped with the Caps, so it's very doubtful that he gets moved this season.

Chances Wings acquire: Slim to none

So who could Detroit add?

The most likely candidates to become Red Wings are Subban (via offer sheet), Bouwmeester, Streit, Timonen, and Yandle. I think Bouwmeester is the most overrated and overpaid of those on the list, and I don't think he's the true first pair defenseman Detroit needs.

Narrowing the list down further, there seems to be only one player listed above that could be moved before the season starts and that's Yandle. The others could be available depending on circumstance, and were included as being trade targets mostly because of their expiring contracts. Teams and agents will have the largest bearing on their future, so it's hard for a fanbase to tolerate but possible that the Wings will hold out for a player like Mark Streit at the trade deadline.

Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is signing Subban to an offer sheet. The Canadiens have just $6.3 million left in cap space, so an offer of $7 million per season couldn't be matched. That's not an outrageous salary for a semi-proven offensive defenseman like Subban. Sure, it's out of the ordinary for Holland and co. but any move should be considered at this point.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Welcome (Back) to Detroit: Mikael Samuelsson

Just...I don't know, do that again

First of all, I apologize for this being ludicrously late. I know that Jeff Hancock from Winging it in Motown was waiting on pins and needles for this, so I had to get around to writing this sooner or later. Obviously, it was later.

Numbers? Numbers!
  • In 2008-09, his last season in Detroit, Samuelsson had 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points. He departed for Vancouver during the 2009 offseason and saw his offensive numbers balloon to 30 goals and 23 assists for 53 points. Last season he split time between Vancouver and Florida, and netted 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points
  • Looking at things through a wider lens, Samuelsson has a five-year even-strength HARO+ of 0.895, a HARD+ of 1.107, and a HART+ of 1.001
  • Samuelsson has a five-year power play HARO+ of 1.343, and a five-year penalty kill HARD+ of zero, because he hasn't been used on the penalty kill. Ever. Over five seasons. 
  • As far as Corsi goes, Samuelsson's Corsi Quality of Competition was 0.914 at even strength in 2011-12 and his relative Corsi was 5.4.
  • He takes 0.7 penalties per 60 minutes, but draws 0.9 per 60. Not a huge difference, but always good to be in the positive here.
  • The Panthers averaged 2.3 even strength goals per 60 minutes with Samuelsson on the ice and while allowing 2.04, compared to 1.95 for and 2.16 against without him on the ice.
  • On the powerplay, the Panthers averaged 7.98 goals per 60 with Samuelsson and allowed 0.44 per 60. Without Samuelsson on-ice, the Panthers scored 3.27 power play goals per 60, while allowing 1.23 per 60. It's clear that Samuelsson had an impact on the Panthers' power play.
So what's the verdict?
I won't be at all surprised if Samuelsson fills in for Hudler and puts up similar numbers. That may be a bit optimistic, but I think he'll fit in nicely on the third line and on the second power play unit. He's got size and is a right-handed shot, which will benefit the Wings when they have the man advantage. Of course he's going to shoot high and miss the net, but he may also hit it with some frequency, and combining that with some physical play is all he has to do for his contract to be a good deal.

According to the stats from Hockey Analysis, Samuelsson is an average NHLer over the past five years, and actually has better defensive numbers than offensive. The stats from Behind the Net show that he played against fairly good competition and was able to create more shots for his team when he was on-ice compared to on the bench, which fits nicely with Detroit's system. He had a moderate impact at even strength last season, and a much greater one on the powerplay.

The usually complimentary video corner

I like these two goals more than almost anything else he did in a Wings uniform

Maybe this happens if we put him on a line with Datsyuk or Zetterberg

Like I said, he should step in and pick up right where Hudler left off

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Potential Red Wings Alumni Showdown Roster

Hey look, one of our old-timers is also the best defenseman in the world. Good luck, Toronto.

Lost amidst the craziness surrounding free agency and development camp was the news that on Wednesday the Red Wings would release the roster for the Alumni Showdown, the headlining event of Hockeytown Winter Fest. I'll let Toronto bloggers take care of their own business, but I decided to take a stab at what I think (and hope) Detroit's roster might look like.

My roster was created using the current Wings alumni team as a base, then adding players that I thought still had a reasonable chance of being able to skate. I'd love to see Mr. Hockey and Terrible Ted suit up for just one shift, but is that truly reasonable? Maybe. According to tweets from former Wings beat writer (and current Yahoo! sports NHL writer) Nick Cotsonika, Mark Howe mentioned after the alumni game in Philly that Mr. Hockey would like to take an alumni game shift himself. Cotsonika also tweeted that  Ted Lindsay looked great and would probably play in the alumni game.

The biggest news regarding alumni rosters was the Detroit News article that reported Steve Yzerman doesn't expect to play for the Detroit alums. I have a hard time believing this. Let's read between the lines here.
"At this time I don't plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the (Winter) Classic on TV."
"At this time..." leaves a lot of wiggle room for a change of heart in the future. Kris Draper is trying to convince Yzerman to play, and undoubtedly dozens of other former Wings have done so over the past few months. While I understand that Stevie Y hasn't skated since he retired, I'd be perfectly fine with him taking just one shift. The point of the alumni game is the history of the franchise, the history behind the infamous winged wheel. Seeing Yzerman in a Detroit sweater one more time is a nod to that history, and him playing in the game is more about this than any contribution in terms of goals or assists.






Also, pencil S. Kozlov in somewhere. It's not likely that Fedorov will play, so Kozlov may be able to fill that spot on the roster.






And yes, you can expect Hasek to talk to Ken Holland about a PTO for the 2013-14 season if he plays well in his one period between the pipes. Just kidding. Not really.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Offer Sheet, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shea Weber (Contract) Bomb

If David Poile looks like this after losing Ryan Suter, imagine what happens if he loses Shea Weber. Full fledged zombie Poile.
Photo credit The Tennessean

This was supposed to be the biggest offseason in a decade. The Red Wings added three future Hall of Famers to their roster the last time they were in a period of transition that even remotely resembles this one. What have they done so far this summer? Added a solid backup goalie, an agitator with little offensive upside, a flashy but unproven European star, and a player who was not resigned by Detroit the last time he reached free agency. Not exactly the blockbuster summer everyone was hoping for.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, and if ever there was a drastic time this is it. Chris from Nightmare on Helm Street wrote an interesting article about signing Shea Weber to an offer sheet. I like his idea of throwing out an offer that David Poile can't match, but what will that take? Is there a way we can precisely pinpoint a number that Poile can't match, thereby pushing him over the brink of insanity that he's already teetering on?

The most difficult part of signing Weber to an offer sheet is Nashville's available cap space. They have about $30 million left to spend, which is essentially a blank check. Some of that $30 million will disappear soon, as Poile doesn't have a full roster at this time. Let's take a look.

I then tried to predict moves Nashville will make and see how much cap space was left. Winger Sergei Kostitsyn filed for salary arbitration, and they'll likely re-sign him at a higher salary than the $2.5 million he made last season. I gave him a modest raise since his production did slip, so let's assume he earns $3.00 million next season. There's a big need for help on defense, so I extended qualifying offers to Jonathon Blum and Teemu Laakso. Colin Wilson is one of the Predators' more promising young players, so let's say they sign him to a deal with a cap hit of $1.825 million, similar but slightly above his current $1.725 million hit. This still leaves Nashville with only two left wingers, and six centers. I'll be nice to them and say that they don't have to sign two left wings, but instead convert a center. This means they still have to acquire a left wing, and I'll assume they do this via free agency. They could use a veteran leader with some scoring punch, so let's say they sign Andrew Brunette to a one year, $2.2 million deal. After all this, they've still got $21.633 million in cap space.

With that much cap space, we have to be realistic. There's a very, very good chance that Nashville matches any offer another team puts on the table that's short of a one year, $22 million deal. This is their franchise player and captain, and the organization is feeling even more pressure to keep him after the departure of Ryan Suter.

Regardless, Detroit can still put Nashville in a tremendously uncomfortable position. As far as the contract offer itself, I think Detroit can afford to put a $12.2 million deal on the table. To calculate this number, I first assumed the Wings resign Justin Abdelkader for $1.3 million per season, and Kyle Quincey for $3.78 million per. I took the Quincey figure from the contest running over on The Production Line, and the Abdelkader salary is one that I've heard he's looking for. This means that Detroit ends up with $100k if Weber doesn't get matched, and also puts them one player over the maximum.

The roster is overloaded with forwards, and someone will either have to be sent to Grand Rapids or traded to bring the roster down to the maximum of 23. Trading a forward for draft picks would help, because if Weber signs with Detroit and isn't matched the Wings will lose four first round draft picks. The likely candidate to take his turn apprenticing in Grand Rapids is Damien Brunner, despite being billed as a top six forward by Mike Babcock. He's one of the two forwards with two way contracts, and is unproven in the NHL. 

So if Nashville has a blank check, why even try?

The facts don't exactly pain a rosy picture from the Wings' perspective. Only one player has ever signed an offer sheet and not been matched by his current club post-lockout, but Detroit has absolutely nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. The Wings wanted to add a top six forward and a first pair defenseman in the offseason. There aren't any top flight defensemen left on the open market, and perhaps only Keith Yandle available on the trade market.. Forwards are more available, and Detroit's forward crop is a lot stronger than their blue liners as the roster stands now. If you prioritize needs, an elite defenseman is far and away the Wings' greatest void.

Enter Weber. A Norris trophy nominee the past two seasons, he's a true top pair guy who plays a great offensive and defensive game. Nicklas Lidstrom is absolutely irreplaceable, but I think Weber is a step closer to filling those skates than even Ryan Suter would have been. 

For once, Detroit has leverage. They had none with Suter and Zach Parise, instead having to wait and hope against hope that one of them would chose Detroit as the issuer of their paychecks for the next decade plus. The Wings now have an opportunity to be the aggressor and show that they are in no way rebuilding, but instead are looking to reload and make another run for the Cup.

So, let's say the Wings give Weber an offer sheet. What's next?

What's the worst that could happen? They put a huge offer on the table and Weber turns it down. At the very least he knows that Detroit sees him as a part of their future plans, and should he make it to free agency in 2013 he knows we'll be right there waiting to hand him a long term deal. If Nashville matches, it guarantees he becomes a free agent in 2013 and the same scenario is in play; Mr. Weber, here's the vault. Help yourself.

Let's say Weber signs the offer sheet, and Nashville doesn't match. After all, they've got to lock up Patric Hornqvist to a long term deal in the next year, as he's one of the few scorers they have. Beyond Hornqvist, take a look at this. It speaks for itself.

That's a lot of free agents. Best case scenario? Weber signs, and Poile can't or won't match. Detroit gets one year to enjoy the services of a top five blue liner, and also gets a year to impress him and hopefully sign him for the long haul.

Ken Holland is obviously smarter than you, ya blogger. There's gotta be a catch.

There's one caveat to the Weber contract. We can't continue to pay him $12.2 million over a multi-year deal. Sure, there's money to throw out this offseason, but who knows what the next CBA will bring. Weber's signing would have to (or at least should) come with a gentlemen's agreement that, should Weber become a Red Wing, he'd have to take less to stay here after 2012-13. Not the whole "we're the Wings so everyone should want to play for us because mystique original six Gordie Stevie blah" discount, but down to fair market value. I wouldn't have a problem making Weber the highest paid defenseman in the league, so perhaps we could mention that a new contract would have an annual cap hit of about $8 million.

Pssh, this isn't Detroit's kind of move. They preach patience, there's no way they do this.

It's true, as an organization patience has been a virtue for a long time. I have no problem with that, as I appreciate patience and think that panic button moves can get you in over your head quicker than you could every imagine. There comes a time, however, where patience has run it's course. Detroit has been extolling the virtues of waiting for over a year now, and in that time little has been done to make the team better. It's time to use some of the cap space that has been saved up on a player worth the inflated salary handed out to free agents this offseason.

Why is now the right time?

Weber's stunned, Poile's stunned, most of Nashville is probably stunned. Now's the time to make a bold move. Something needs to be done to quell the nerves of a fanbase that has seen the last links to the glory of the late nineties and two thousands walk away slowly put surely over the past few seasons.

If you're wondering why the face of Nashville hockey would contemplate signing with their biggest rival, take a look at this post from Puck Daddy. It nicely summarizes some of the reasons he may look elsewhere. Nashville isn't exactly getting a ringing endorsement from his agents, that's for sure

About that other forward....

If you think that the Wings shouldn't pursue Weber but should instead sign Shane Doan or Alex Semin and look for another defenseman elsewhere, I understand your stance. However, I ask you this; would you rather see Shane Doan in a Wings jersey for a couple of seasons, or one of the top five defensemen in the league patrolling the blue line for one year, with a possibility of keeping that player in Detroit for years to come. I've always been a defense-first guy, so I'm putting my money on the latter. Now all we can do is sit back and see whether the Wings' front office feels the same.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welcome to Detroit: Damien Brunner

Damien Brunner looks like one of the Backstreet Boys and heals sick children. Watch out, Dos Equis guy.

Articles? Articles!

Brunner has never played an NHL game, so there are no advanced stats to put in this space. Instead of numbers, you're going to get words.Words, and a lot of links.

  • Looking for a quick scouting report? According to, Brunner is "a slick offensive forward who can shoot as well as pass the puck. Has great wheels and hands. Plays a gritty game."
  • Mike Babcock didn't shy away from praising Brunner. Seriously, we're talking Helm-like praise here [Ed. note: it's almost impossible to write a sentence with "praise" in it and not accidentally write "Parise." Please note that this was written on the third day of free agency insanity, a time in which has become a major player, along with a cow from Ryan Suter's farm]. It's worth reading the article for Babcock's full quote, but he mentions that he envisions Brunner being a top 6 forward for Detroit, and it sounds like he means this coming season. Babs likes Brunner's right-handed shot on the powerplay, though the signing of fellow right-hander Mikael Samuelsson may take away some of the PP time Brunner would have gotten if he made the big club.
  • Ken Holland shared Mike Babcock's enthusiasm, saying that Brunner will get a chance to play with Detroit's best players and see where it goes. Though it's pure speculation at this point, the natural extension of this is for Brunner to get some preseason time on both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg's line.
  • A more thorough scouting report from Red Wings Central shares some of the same sentiments I had after watching film of Brunner; great skater, good shot, intelligent shooter, and a phenomenal stickhandler at full speed. 
So what's the verdict?
This could be another one of Detroit's under-the-radar acquisitions of top European talent at a bargain, even though it wasn't via the draft in this instance. The Wings' European scouting staff got the attention of Ken Holland and Mike Babcock in a year that just happened to feature a World Championship. This perfect storm of events allowed Brunner to showcase his talent against top players, in addition to allowing Holland and Babcock to get an up close and in-person look. This may be the one and only reason to be thankful for Detroit's first round exit.

In short, there's a whole lot of potential here without a whole lot of risk. According to Cap Geek, Brunner signed a one year, $925,000 deal with a cap hit of $1.35 million. Not a bad deal at all for a player who is something of a known quantity to the Wings. Though it's difficult to tell how his game will translate to a smaller rink, Brunner has competed against NHL-level competition in the World Championship and performed at a point-per-game pace. I may end up looking really stupid in a few years (thanks for archiving everything, Google) but I believe that Brunner could be the next Valtteri Filppula, and has the upside to be the next Datsyuk or Zetterberg. I see him as more of a Datsyuk or Zetterberg in terms of skill, but he needs to work on his defensive game is he wants to be more than just another top six forward.

As for this coming season, I view it as feast or famine for Brunner. Either he makes the Wings and earns a spot among the top six forwards, or he goes the traditional Grand Rapids apprenticeship route. I don't see any sense is letting him toil on the third or fourth lines, or even worse, playing sporadically or sparsely. Brunner could use time to develop and adjust to the North American game/rink, and if he's talented enough for that development to take place at the NHL level then so be it. If it needs to take place in Grand Rapids then that's okay too, though Detroit may have been more comfortable with this option if Brunner was signed to a multi-year deal.

Some of these have soundtracks comprised of hard rock that is in English, and others have soundtracks comprised of hard rock that is not in English. Listen at your own risk.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Welcome to Detroit: Jonas Gustavsson

Image via
The first of four Detroit signings on the opening day of free agency, Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson escaped the villainous reign of Toronto's Francois Allaire, and in the process left the "center of the hockey universe" for Hockeytown. Jim Bedard and company will have an opportunity to work with a goaltender who wanted to "keep [his] development going in the right direction."

Numbers? Numbers!
  • Let's start with the basics. Gustavsson was 17-17-4 in 2011-12 with a 2.92 GAA and .902 save %.He allowed 112 goals on 1,147 shots faced.
  • Time for the heavy duty mumbo jumbo. At even strength, Gustavsson allowed 2.83 goals/60 while facing 26.8 shots against/60.
  • When he was off the ice, Toronto allowed 5.58 even strength goals/60 on 17.9 shots against/60.
  • Gustavsson was supported by 24.6 shots for/60 while on-ice, though Toronto put 33.2 shots for/60 on net when the Monster was on the bench.
  • What's the point of all of this? Essentially, the Maple Leafs played worse in front of Gustavsson at even strength than they did when someone else was between the pipes. This means that his numbers may be a bit skewed. 
  • The next set of numbers comes from, a site which I commonly use when looking at skaters. Honestly, I've never used it for goalies and won't pretend to be an expert here. The one thing I do know is that the more years we group together the more reliable the information, and that 1.0 is an average rating for HARD+. Someone has a HARD+ of 1.136? They perform 13.6% better than an average player. HARD+ of 0.89? They're performing 11% below average.
  • From 2009-12, Gustavsson's HARD+ at even strength (zone start adjusted) is 0.850. Everything listed below will be from the same period of time.
  • In tied games, his 5v5 zone start adjusted HARD+ is 0.876. When up 1 goal, his 5v5 zone start adjusted HARD+ is 0.888. Up 2 goals, and his 5v5 zone start adjusted HARD+ falls to 0.742.
  • Down 1 goal at even strength, his HARD+ is 0.706. Ouch. Down 2 goals he's a little better, with a HARD+ of 0.769.
  • On the powerplay, Gustavsson's HARD+ is 1.316. Woot no shorties! I guess. Short handed, his HARD+ drops to 0.796. 

So what's the verdict?
Looks like we've got ourselves a backup goaltender who could be anywhere between "good" and "serviceable." I see two differences between Gustavsson and former backup Ty Conklin. First, Gustavsson is young and generally considered to have a great deal of potential that can still be extracted under the watchful eyes of Jim Bedard and Chris Osgood. Conklin came back for his second tour of duty in Detroit on his last legs and in the twilight of his career. Second, Gustavsson's HARD+ numbers are fairly consistent across situations, especially when compared against Conklin's numbers. Check out Conklin's stats here, and you'll see that he's either good or absolutely abysmal. I'll take the younger player with potential and consistency over the inconsistent veteran any day. No disrespect intended to Conklin, as I liked him in his first stint with the Wings and rooted for him in his second. At this time, however, a change had to be made, and I think that Ken Holland went in the right direction.

You'll probably want to watch this on mute

Weird begining, but a lot of good SEL film

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