Why is Scott Hannan still a free agent?

In my post about defensive errors, I made a statement saying that he was the Caps second best defensive defenseman last year. He had only 17 goal causing errors in a Caps uniform and saw the most defensive zone draws out of any regular defenseman on the team. He also was one of the best defensemen on the team when it came to shots allowed per game at even strength and their distance. Hannan also proved to be a good influence to the younger defensemen on the team and was a solid partner newcomer Dennis Wideman. However, I made the case that defensive defensemen like Hannan can be signed for a lot cheaper than the $4.5 mil he made last season. The Caps elected to let Hannan walk and signed Roman Hamrlik instead (for $1 mil less than Hannan) to take his place. Here’s a question for you, since Hannan had a good season last year and proved that he can play top-4 minutes on a contending team, why hasn’t anyone else signed him yet?

I’m not sure how much he was asking for but the Caps decision to sign someone who is six years older than Hannan tells me that either Hannan wanted to test the market, he didn’t want to stay in Washington or he wanted too much money. When taking a look at Hannan’s stats on the season, it does reveal why some teams would be leery or signing him but these numbers are not bad at all.

EV

TOI/60 QUALCOMP Corsi Rel QoC CORSI REL GAON/60 SAON/60 Ozone% Fin Ozone%
16.42 -0.014 0.285 -0.9 2.25 26.5 48.8 44.6

PK (4vs5)

TOI/60 SAON/60
2.62 45.5

Hannan put up about average numbers last season at even strength and on the penalty kill and you could clearly do a lot worse than signing him to a multi-year contract, especially if you’re a team with holes on the blue line. He isn’t the shutdown guy that Colorado thought he was but he is definitely serviceable and could really be of use to any team looking for a stay-at-home defenseman. If Andreas Lilja, Mike Commodore, Randy Jones, Kent Huskins and Radek Martinek can be signed to new contracts then I see no reason why at least one team wouldn’t take a chance on Hannan.

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Capitals Player Report Card: Matt Hendricks

Matt Hendricks

Stats: 77 GP, 9 goals, 16 assists, 25 points, -2, 110 PIM
Contract Info: $800,000 cap hit, signed through 2012-2013
Player Card

Scoring Chance Ranking: 19/29
Forwards: 11/19
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 19/29
Forwards: 12/19

Hendricks was another pleasant surprise for the Capitals this year considering he was signed late in the off-season after impressing the coaching staff in training camp. One of the first things I noticed about him was that he recorded a hat trick in a pre-season game which got me thinking that he could be a good addition to the roster. He may be a fourth-liner but there’s no such things as too much scoring depth so he was a welcome addition here. He didn’t prove to be that much of a goal scorer despite his flashy stick-handling skills but he still put up a good amount of points for a bottom-sixer and he brought a lot more to the table, as well.

Hendricks did a lot of the heavy lifting this year when it came to quality of competition and he fared decently against it. He also was 2nd on the team in hits with 169 and had 14 fighting majors, giving this team a lot more grit and toughness which they needed going into this season. It also helped that Hendricks could kill penalties, play all three forward positions and give the Caps some tertiary scoring which he did with nine goals.  I did think it was a little strange that no other teams picked him up before the season started because he is a quality fourth line player that the Caps got for the league minimum and there were some teams who could have used a player like him. He was also dubbed the team’s “secret weapon” in shootouts. If that above clip didn’t show you why then maybe this one will. All of which earned him a two year contract worth $800k a year, fully deserved.

Hendricks had plenty of flaws this year, though. While he’s good defensively and wasn’t on ice for that many shots against, he finished under-water in terms of corsi with a 45.2% percentage at even strength. He also didn’t block a lot of shots and was on ice for more goals per sixty minutes than all but two of the Caps forwards. While he did kill penalties, he was on ice for a lot of shorthanded goals, which obviously isn’t good. He also wasn’t much of a factor in the playoffs at all, which was disappointing.

It was a great start to the year for Hendricks but I think he tailed off after the All-Star break a little, but he still had a solid season in my eyes so I’m giving him a B-. He made it on the team as a training camp addition and managed to become an everyday player who has a lot versatility. Liked that McPhee locked him up for a couple years at a pretty l.ow cost because Hendricks brings a little more to the table than your average fourth-liner.

Capitals Player Report Card: Karl Alzner

Karl Alzner

Stats: 82 GP, 2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points, +14, 24 PIM
Contract Info: Pending RFA

Scoring Chance Percentage Ranking: 18/29
Defensemen: 8/10
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 6/29
Defensemen: 3/10

Last offseason GM George McPhee made a risky move to not make a move to sign a high-priced shutdown defenseman via free agency and put faith in his organization and their two former first round draft picks. One of those was John Carlson and the other is this post’s featured player, Karl Alzner. Caps fans were frustrated that Alzner couldn’t crack a roster spot his first two years (mostly due to cap issues and him struggling at the NHL level), but those two seasons in Hershey proved to be valuable as Alzner emerged as an extremely solid defensive player for the Caps this year and is already a fan favorite.

Like Carlson, Alzner saw the toughest competition among the team’s defense corps and performed very well against them. He actually had the highest corsi relative to quality of competition on the Caps.  That was with a majority of his starts coming in the defensive zone, too. Alzner established himself as one of the most defensively sound players on the team as he had the third most blocked shots and he had 98 hits, showing that he wasn’t afraid to get physical with his opponents either. I was really surprised that he stayed healthy for all 82 games considering the huge workload that him and Carlson carried all season. When ranking players by their corsi relative to quality of competition, it is pretty encouraging to see the Caps young pairing rank among some of the players listed. The Caps seemed to lack a strong defense pairing like this for many years now so it’s good to know we have one now.

One thing concerns me a little, though. As I mentioned earlier, both him and Carlson were healthy for all 82 games and they were defense partners in Hershey and thus, they were paired together more frequently than any other defenseman on the team. When looking at the graphs in my “Getting Defensive” column,  you’ll see that Alzner and Carlson’s trendlines basically follow each other in every area except the powerplay. What happens when one gets hurt? Whose making more mistakes than the other? I haven’t figured out how to do WOWY’s for this season yet so that will have to wait a little bit. I think very highly of Alzner but it would be nice to know how much his value is before he is signed to a new contract, which will hopefully be before July 1st or before he goes into arbitration because it’s clear he is a key piece to this franchise.

The one big issue I had with Alzner was that his play was pretty one-dimensional this year. I was hoping for a little more than 12 points from him this year considering I thought he had a lot more of an offensive upside. His play on the PK wasn’t the best either as he was on ice for 16 shorties this season. Still had a great relative corsi rate of 17.3 down a man, though so he could have been a lot worse. If he can work on the offensive part of his game during the off-season (and maybe learn to shoot the puck more than 64 times per year), I could definitely see him developing into a Drew Doughty-type player. Does the heavy-lifting on the team, can play the shutdown role and contribute offensively at the same time. If he can do that next season and in the future, then he will be pretty damn close to becoming my favorite player on the team. For this season, I’m giving King Karl an B+/A-. Exceeded my expectations defensively by a longshot but didn’t quite play that well offensively. Still teetering on what grade I want to give him exactly but he was a pleasant surprise for the Capitals in 2010-11 in a year that was full of disappointments to most fans.

Capitals Player Report Card: Jeff Schultz

Jeff Schultz

Stats: 72 GP, 1 Goal, 9 Assists, 10 Points, +6, 12 PIM
Contract Info: $2,750,000 cap hit, signed through 2013-14 season
Player Card

Shooting Percentage Ranking: 17/29
Defensemen: 7/10
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 21/29
Defensemen: 7/10

After the Caps signed Jeff Schultz to a 4-year contract extension worth $11 mil, I praised it because Schultz was coming off a very good season where he led the league in +/- and looked like a solid top-4 pairing defenseman who could help clean up some of Mike Green’s messes in the defensive zone. However, I did expect some regression from him because his PDO was extremely high last year, especially for a player who only had one goal and shot the puck once every blue moon. The on-ice save percentage of .942 at even strength shows that he got lucky a few times and had the goalie bail him out a lot. However, I still expected him to stay on the top pairing and be a consistent defensive defenseman for this year. Schultz was the opposite of consistent in 2010-11.

Like I mentioned earlier, I expected Schultz to regress but he was way too up-and-down this season. Remember at the beginning of the year when Schultz wasn’t on ice for a single goal against for about a week or so? He ended up being on ice for more 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes than any other defenseman on the team other than Wideman, Poti and Sloan (in other words, any defenseman who was healthy or played for most of the season). He was also on ice for more shots allowed per 60 minutes than any defenseman on the team aside from the three whom were previously mentioned.  I also outlined in my “getting defensive” feature that his minutes bounced around a lot this season and he lost his spot as the top pairing defenseman after being outperformed by both Karl Alzner and John Carlson. That doesn’t exactly reflect well on him but one thing Schultz lacked was a consistent partner. His usual partner, Green, was injured for most of the season and Schultz’s minutes seemed to be based on who his defense partner was. If it was Hannan, he would get top-4 minutes, if it was Erskine, then it would be bottom-six. Earlier in the year he was paired with Poti a good few times and he was getting top-4 minutes, too.

There’s a few things that alarm me about Sarge’s performance this season; First of all, he faced slightly weaker competition than he did last season (albeit with worse teammates, the line shuffling has a lot to do with that) but posted a negative corsi rating. He was also given less offensive zone starts, indicating that he had a more defensive role on the team, and struggled with that, which shows that he isn’t suited for being a “top shutdown” defenseman yet. He was also a regular on the penalty kill but as the season went on, his role on the PK decreased and he wasn’t utilized as much as others during the playoffs either. It’s a combination of him being outperformed and his play regressing from last season. One other thing I should mention is that he tended to look ugly on too many plays this year. I know that generally happens when a player has a goal scored against him but far too many times this year I saw Schultz look completely lost like he did on the first three Kings goals here .

Schultz was not completely terrible this year, just not as good as I had hoped he would be. My biggest issue was something that I brought up earlier; consistency. He was great in some games and flat out terrible in others. Some games he would lead the team in blocked shots, not be on ice for a goal against and be the solid, stay at home defenseman we hoped he would be and other times he would look like he did in that highlight package I just linked. $2.75 isn’t a bad cap hit at all..for a top 4 defenseman but is Schultz one of those right now? He isn’t physical enough to be a top-pairing shutdown defenseman and doesn’t contribute enough offensively to be an all-around guy so what is he? Can he be a big minute defensemen or is he better suited as a 5-6 guy? Sarge is still only 25 and has room to improve so I wouldn’t panic about one down year from him. There’s still time to find out just what exactly his place is on this team. For this season, I have to give him a C- as much as it pains me to do that. I had high expectations for him, and he didn’t live up to them. I can see him getting top-4 minutes next year and having a solid bounce-back season defensively. It wouldn’t kill him to shoot the puck at the net every once and awhile, though.

Capitals Player Report Card: Jason Chimera

Jason Chimera

Stats: 81 GP, 10 goals, 16 assists, 26 points, -10, 64 PIM
Contract Info: $1,875,000 cap hit, signed through 2011-12
Player Card

Scoring Chance Ranking: 24/29
Forwards: 15/19
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 22/29
Forwards: 14/19

If Jason Chimera had the slightest bit of hands or playmaking ability, just think of how better those numbers would look. This point gets constantly refuted, but if Chimera had the slightest bit of hands, then the Caps wouldn’t have got him for Chris Clark’s contract and Milan Jurcina. Chimera is what he is, a bottom-six player who can skate well, a solid checker and occasionally fights people, that’s about it. Which is why it surprises me that he spent time on the Capitals first line during portions this season. Conversely, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a fourth of his points were from when he was playing on that line because to put it bluntly, Chimera stunk this season.

His two playoff goals were nice, but Chimera really, really didn’t meet my expectations this year. He had one of the worst scoring chance percentages among forwards, a bad corsi rating with a lot of offensive zone starts and was in the bottom half in goals per 60 minutes on the team. I bet most readers are thinking “What in the world were your expectations for him?” because you can clearly tell they were low if I was expecting more than that from a 3rd-line forward. For starters, I thought he would be more of a factor in the corsi/possession game. Chimera usually plays on the Caps “energy line” and he has the speed and physicality to get the puck moving in the right direction, and he couldn’t do that this year. I felt like he was a complete liability in his own zone and was overpowered by other team’s forwards and defensemen. This was also Chimera’s worst season production wise in three years.

The last link also shows that Chimera was playing with worse teammates than he has before, which could explain the drop-off. Last year, he mainly played with Eric Fehr and Brendan Morrison, a 20-goal scorer and a decent center. This year, he moved around a lot in the lineup. Aside from the first line, every line he played on was a drop-off compared to last season, especially when you consider how much of a disappointment Eric Fehr was. Chimera seemed to be trying to make the most of his teammates but couldn’t except when he played on the first line. He had a four game point streak in January and scored the game-winning goal against the Rangers when he was a passenger on that line. There isn’t much Chimera brings to the table offensively other than his skating abilities so maybe it’s time to set our expectations lower for him?

One other thing I expected from Chimera was for him to kill penalties, at least I thought that when we traded for him. He barely even played on the penalty kill this year. Basically, he was a disappointment all around but how much when thinking of what the expectations for him should have been? $1.85 mil per year seems like a lot for a bottom-sixer who doesn’t have much of an offensive upside. He gets a D+ on the year for me. Was considering a C+ because he wasn’t terrible on the first line when he got promoted there but he was invisible for a good portion of the season and I was definitely hoping for more than 10 goals in 81 games from him.

 

 

Capitals Player Report Card: Jason Arnott

Jason Arnott

Stats: 73 GP 17 Goals, 14 Assists, 31 Points, -6, 40 PIM
Contract Info: $4.5 cap hit, pending UFA
Player Card

Scoring Chance% Ranking: 1/29
Forwards: 1/29
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 10/29
Forwards: 6/19

I felt the Capitals acquisition of Jason Arnott at the trade deadline was a very predictable move. The team needed a second-line center and the market was pretty thin at the time, but Arnott was on a Devils team currently experiencing a bit of a youth movement and he was an impending free agent. You usually have to expect the unexpected with George McPhee on deadline day but many people saw this one coming from a mile away. That said, it was a very good decision to bring in Arnott. He produced immediately, actually took the initiative to call-out some younger players on the team and help mentor them and we only gave up an overplayed fourth liner and a 2nd round pick to get him. Just one move that capped off a very solid deadline for Washington, especially considering that Arnott exceeding my (and many others) expectations once he got to Washington.

Arnott only had 13 goals and 24 points when he got to Washington, so I wasn’t expecting that much other than him being an improvement over Perreault and Johansson and he was all that and more. Added on 4 goals and 7 points in 11 games during his stay in Washington. The powerplay was 8 for 32 ever since he arrived (an improvement over how it was before that) and the team seemed to work better with the man advantage with him there. They cycled the puck better, got it to the net more and his shot from the point along with his playmaking skills made him very effective. He also seemed to score the biggest goals at the right time. He made a key play on Brooks Laich’s tying goal against the Islanders, scored the game-winning goal against the Blues and game-tying goal against the Sabres and of course, he made a key play on Alexander Semin’s goal in Game 1. He had an immediate impact on the team both on and off the ice and really helped solidify our top six after having the 2nd line center position be a revolving door for so long.

The biggest worry I had about acquiring Arnott was that he is 36 and has a tendency to get hurt over the course of the year. Unfortunately for Washington, he was placed on IR after having shoulder surgery less than two weeks after they acquired him. His performance in the playoffs was also really underwhelming. He only had one goal in the playoffs and didn’t seem like much of a factor in the Tampa Bay series at all. Whether or not that was due to a lingering injury is up in the air for me. I do know that I expected him to continue his great play from the regular season which didn’t happen at all. He also had a pretty brutal face-off percentage (44.4%).

Was Arnott good enough in Washington to re-sign him? I would like to have him back. His scoring chance percentage is obviously skewed from playing so few games in Washington but he made the most of his playing time here and proved to be more than just a rental player by being a leader in the locker room for this team. He also posted a good corsi rating in both New Jersey and Washington showing he is still an effective player despite his age. For that, I give him a B+ for the year. That said, I do not want Washington to give a multi-year deal to a player who is going to turn 37 next season, especially if it’s an overpayment. Re-signing him might actually be cheaper than going after someone via free agency or trying to make a trade. If the decision comes down to being between him, Laich or Hannan then that’s another story.

What makes a goalie elite?

Something I have been pondering for a long time is what qualities would people think of when they consider a player “elite.”  For me, I usually go by the dictionary definition of the word which is “a group of people who are considered to be the best in a certain society.”  So we’re looking for the best goalies in the NHL but there’s a lot of fans who like to hype a player after one strong year or a hot stretch and considering him “elite.” Most of you know how big of a nerd I am when it comes to goalie stats so I’ve been looking over the statistics for each goalie who has played since the lockout to see which ones really make up the “elite tier” in the NHL.

I have came up for the following guidelines to judge which goalies have been elite since the lockout:

1. Must have faced over 4000 shots during this time. Average number of shots faced per year for goalies since the lockout is 647. Multiply that by six and you get 3882 shots and I figured that if a goalie were to be considered elite, they would have to face more than that amount so 4000 seems like a good cutoff point.
2. Must have an even strength save percentage of .925. The average save percentage for goalies since the lockout was .9185, and I just added a quarter of the standard deviation of the data to get what I felt would be a good cut-off point for the save percentage.
3. Must have played in at least 300 games since the lockout. I figure that in order to be considered elite they have to have started most of their team’s games, which is why I thought 300 was a good cut-off number for this.

These are just estimations and everyone has their own definition of what is elite and what isn’t so this is obviously debatable information

Here are the goalies who classify as elite by this system:

Player GP GS SA GA Sv Sv%
Tomas Vokoun 353 347 8722 597 8125 0.931552
Roberto Luongo 406 401 8862 628 8234 0.929136
Henrik Lundqvist 406 399 8714 638 8076 0.926784
Tim Thomas 315 304 7579 525 7054 0.93073
Ilya Bryzgalov 324 311 7237 537 6700 0.925798

That sounds about right. I said numerous times that Bryzgalov wasn’t an elite goalie but this seems to prove me wrong even if he is on the borderline in a few areas. His two years as a back-up in Anaheim brought his games played down, so he has been performing at an elite level as a starting goalie in Phoenix. I will say that I’m surprised there hasn’t been that much buzz about Tomas Vokoun becoming a UFA in a month. He was playing on much worse teams than the rest of these players and had a better accumulative save percentage than any of them. It really shows how bad those Panthers teams were that they couldn’t make it to the playoffs even with him standing on his head. He had a down year and is about to be 35 in a month so I can understand why teams would be weary to sign him but you can not deny that he might be the best goalie since the lockout.

Speaking of which, the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Canucks features two of the best goalies since the lockout. Who would have thought that we we’d see one of them cough up 12 goals in two games? All kidding aside, Luongo and Thomas have seven of the best goaltending seasons in the past six years. Really makes me appreciate this matchup a lot more…as long as we get more nail-biters and less blowouts. I will say that one thing that kind of makes me doubt Thomas as an elite goalie is that he’s played in significantly less games than others. The Bruins always had a solid back-up goalie with him (Rask, Fernandez) and his age likely prevents him from playing a 70+ game season like Lundqvist is able to do almost every single year.

Goalies who just missed the cut-off for elite:

Pekka Rinne:
Over the past few years, he can definitely be considered one of the top goalies in the NHL but he hasn’t played in enough games since the lockout for me to consider him elite by this metric.

Jonas Hiller:
Like Rinne, he hasn’t played in enough games but he could be considered an elite goalie very soon if he can sustain his performance after more games.

Carey Price:
As great as he’s been, it’s hard for me to consider him an elite goalie due to him playing in such few games. He was simply unreal last season, though.

Kari Lehtonen:
He would be elite if he could stay healthy and he has only started in more than 70% of his games twice in his career. I know he has his doubters but he nearly carried an awful Dallas Stars team into the playoffs this season, which should speak a lot of his abilities.

J-S Giguere
Last few seasons of mediocre play and injuries brought him down. It’s a shame because I have always liked him.

Martin Brodeur:
He probably should be in the elite category to be honest…but he was so bad last year that it actually knocked him out of it despite having very good seasons every other year.

Miikka Kiprusoff:
He was phenomenal for a few years and then his play dropped off dramatically in 2009 but he is still playing at a very high level. Not exactly an “elite level” but definitely better than above average. I think starting so many games over his career is starting to take a toll on him because he saw the most shots of any goalie I sampled by a mile. Maybe Calgary needs to invest in a back-up next year? One who isn’t a replacement level.

Ryan Miller:
Didn’t think it would be Miller’s save percentage that would keep him out. Maybe I’m being too hard with the grading here?

 

So there you have it. I don’t particularly agree with some of the results I got but it was a fun experiment to do. Any suggestions or additions you I think I should make to my guidelines?