Silver Nuggets: Finding a right-winger in free agency
About a month ago, I took at the Sens depth chart and identified two main areas where they could potentially add a free-agent: a third-pair defensemen or a third line right-wing. I've already given an overview of the third-pair defenders that they could potentially target in free agency, so this piece will focus on the options at right-wing.
Why this position? Three reasons:
- Curtis Lazar, who spent a bulk of his minutes on the third line last season, doesn't necessarily fit as a 3L RW role. First, he spent most of last season on his opposite wing with Pageau and Alex Chiasson on the right, and has already let the team know that he'd like to spend some time at centre ice - his natural position. With Zack Smith's success at wing, it looks like the third-line LW job is locked up. Taken together with Lazar spending time as a 4C down the stretch, it makes sense to not consider him as an option for this role.
- Alex Chiasson, the incumbent 3L RW, is likely to be replaced after a disastrous year. I actually advocated for him to strongly get a second chance after a disappointing 2014-15 season, but he never seemed to get it going. Big and fast, but unable to put it all together: where have we seen that before? I've included his numbers in the table below (which I'll explain shortly), and you'll see that he doesn't fare well.
- The internal options right now are three restricted free agents: the AHL vet Jason Akeson, the BSens vet Buddy Robinson, and the hotshot newcomer Casey Bailey. If you look at the career numbers for each, neither appears as a realistic option to play full-time NHL minutes. Instead, I'd see them playing 4L RW minutes to give Chris Neil a rest every now and then or called up due to injury, rather than being expected to fill a void.
Thus, let's take a look at the external options. The type of player I would be looking for if I was Pierre Dorion and co. would (sadly) be really similar to an Erik Condra-type: a two-way, puck possession presence that pushes play at 5-on-5 but can also play penalty kill. Is a player like this available?
[List of RW UFAs were provided by General Fanager, sorting for those who have played at least 10 NHL games this past season and players who are not Group VI free agents. All statistics, other than ice-time, were pulled from Corsica.Hockey, with ice-time pulled from Hockey Analysis]
After all of the sorting and excluding, here's what we're left with. Any player WITHOUT a colour is a player you can otherwise ignore, as they either played less than 9 minutes a game at even-strength, Shane Doan, who will likely retire or re-sign with Arizona, or Kyle Okposo, the only player on this list to play 14+ EV minutes as expected from a top-line (and therefore too expensive) player. The RED coloured players are Alex Chiasson and Chris Neil, just for reference as average Senator ice-time numbers for the L3 and L4 RW positions. The main distinction between players in DARK green and players in LIGHT green is the fact that the LIGHT green players did play enough at even-strength to suit the 3L RW position AND played at least some PK time, whereas the DARK green players did not play PK. Just like with the defenders, all statistics other than PKTOI/G are at 5-on-5.
Who stands out? If we were to sort players by Rel. CF% -- i.e. how they ranked on their team in terms of shot attempt differential -- we only get a few players who were in the positive like Condra was during his time in Ottawa: Brad Boyes, Dale Weise, Jordin Tootoo, Lee Stempniak, Loui Eriksson, Patrick Eaves, PA Parenteau, and Teddy Purcell. Unfortunately for Ottawa, only Stempniak, Eaves, and Purcell remain after filtering for PKTOI (light green) and price point (sorry, Loui).
Last season, Stempniak was an $850K bargain for the Devils and responded by putting up 51 points in 82 games while netting the Devils some draft picks from the Boston Bruins at the deadline. After being signed to a one-year deal the year before for $900K, I'm sure Stempniak would like some stability and a pay raise, so I wonder if a 2-3 year deal for $2-2.5M a year may work. It's always a risk signing aging depth players to term deals, but he may provide some needed support for Ottawa until Gabriel Gagne (top RW prospect) is ready in a couple of years.
The opposite of Stempniak, Teddy Purcell is coming off of a solid 3Y, $13.5M deal while playing for the Lightning, Oilers, and the Panthers. He put up 40+ points twice over the course of the deal, and is also the youngest of the bunch. Thus, he may be the safest bet albeit the most expensive.
The last player, Patrick Eaves, would be a returnee to Ottawa after being drafted with the Sens 1st rounder back in 2003. Eaves has played for $650K and $1.15M the last two years but has the lowest P/60 in the group. He could likely be had for the cheapest price, but may be the "least useful" option of the three.
Who would you sign to play 3L RW if you were Pierre Dorion? Let us know in the poll and comments below!
- Last month, you participated in helping us grade the Sens players! Here's our series that resulted from that. We also revisited our pre-season predictions and the readers beat most of the staff! [Sens Report Cards - Forwards, Defence, Goalies, Management, Additional Questions, Sterling Predictions Revisited]
- This is an old, but good set of links. James dissects all aspects of the franchise in a way only he can do. Extremely entertaining series. [WTYKY - Forwards, Defense/Goaltenders, Hockey Operations, The Real Problem]
- It's still early to assess Bryan Murray's tenure as a Sens GM, but Peter gives it a shot by looking at some specific items, including free agent signings. [Eye on the Sens]
- Want to get caught up on this week? Peter's News and Notes will help you do just that. [Eye on the Sens]
- Trevor has a great piece on what the Sens internal budget looks like heading into the summer. As noted a couple of weeks ago, the Sens have a lot of their NHL talent signed. Thus, barring a trade, we're going to be seeing the relatively same roster next season. I hope that a better system and less injuries is enough for this team to take the next step.. [Silver Seven]
- Obviously the biggest news of the month was the front office hiring two new coaches: Guy Boucher as the Head Coach and Marc Crawford as an Associate Coach. Callum commented on Dorion's decision making process, Ross takes us through the Boudreau-Boucher debacle, and Trevor pens an open letter to the new coaching staff. [Silver Seven - Front office, Boudreau-Boucher, Open Letter]
- Nichols recaps most of the league opinions on Guy Boucher in an informative column, with a special guest appearance from Cory Conacher. [6th Sens]
- Next on the list: RFA discussions. After a worrisome start in April, it looks like the Sens are back on track to lock up Mike Hoffman. [SensChirp, Ottawa Citizen]
- It's bad news for another RFA, as it looks like Patrick Wiercioch won't be given a qualifying offer by the club. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Over at Bonk's Mullet, Mike has the first two episodes of a new video series, Sens Right Now, looking at the coaching situation and the World Championships respectively. [Bonk's Mullet - Sens Right Now 001, Sens Right Now 002]
- Luke has a wonderful piece on Chris Phillips, the Sens player who has been doing the most for the community of Fort McMurray after their devastating fire. [WTYKY]
- Chirp checks in on prospect Francis Perron, who recently added a QMJHL Playoff MVP trophy to his QMJHL Season MVP to complete a fantastic year. His Huskies are off to the Memorial Cup to add one (or two) more pieces of hardware to their collection. [SensChirp]
- Want to know MORE about prospects? Nichols transcribed a Pierre Dorion interview where the Sens GM gave us a lot of updates. [6th Sens]
- Although the Senators have an agreement with Binghamton until the end of the 2018-19 season, there are rumours that they're looking to move the club to Belleville, Ontario before that. [6th Sens, Eye on the Sens, Ottawa Citizen]
- Speaking of the BSens, Peter has his end-of-season review on their dismal year. [Eye on the Sens]
Thanks for reading!
Do you think the Sens should look to find a third line RW via free agency?
|Yes - go for Stempniak, Purcell, Eaves||158|
|Yes - go for it (say who in comments)||23|
|No - I like the internal options||35|
|No - there are no good options||44|