With the Blackhawks looking for a second line center, let’s look at a few players that might be available for the right price. Which would you take?
Let’s start with some basic information regarding the first two players in the discussion.
First, both of these players are natural centers who take a significant amount of their team’s faceoffs; we’re not comparing a center to a player that’s primarily a wing.
Secondly, both of these players missed significant time last year. Combined, they played in only 102 games during the 2010-11 NHL season. So health has been a concern in the recent past.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, both contracts expire into unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2013. So both players have one more season under club control at their current cap number, and then will be free to leave (assuming the organization didn’t want to bring them back).
Finally, both teams are reportedly looking to sell. And both of these players have been mentions in rumors recently.
Here are the two players in question:
|Player A||Player B|
There are a few numbers that jump off the page immediately. Obviously Player A is over a million dollars less expensive and is producing at a similar rate, and he’s a full five percent better in faceoffs this season than Player B has been.
However, Player B is averaging over three minutes per game more ice time, and has almost 100 hits more than Player A in just as many games. Clearly Player B is the more physical of the two players.
So which would you go after first if you were Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman? The younger, more physical player with the lower faceoff percentage and higher penalty minute total, or the older player who is producing just as much offensively, is better at the dot and costs less?
Who are these guys?
Player A is Derek Roy of the Buffalo Sabres, who is reportedly on the block.
Player B is Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.
How do they compare to another flavor of the week, Carolina’s former-Hawk Tuomo Ruutu?
There are a couple considerations with Ruutu as well. First, he hasn’t been playing center for a good part of this season; he’s only taken 110 faceoffs this season, while both Roy and Getzlaf are close to 700 already. Indeed, even Patrick Kane has take more faceoffs (309) and is winning a significantly higher percentage (44.0) than Ruutu. So he really wouldn’t fill the center need.
Two other numbers from the comparison stick out, and they’re both related to Ruutu’s time on the ice. He has the lowest average of the three, and isn’t a factor at all on penalty killing duty. Getzlaf has a decent average of 51 short-handed seconds per game, but Roy averaging almost two minutes on PK per night would make him a factor in potentially improving one of the Hawks’ most glaring weaknesses.
The biggest plus that Ruutu has on the Roy and Getzlaf is his contract. Not only is Ruutu less expensive, but his deal runs out at the end of the 2011-12 season.
The final piece of this equation is the likely cost to get the player to Chicago.
Obviously Getzlaf, a gold medal winner and the captain in Anaheim, is going to require the most impressive package. Anaheim has gone on record saying they want NHL-ready players; this isn’t going to become a rebuild for the Ducks.
The situations with Ruutu and Roy are interesting, though. With forwards dropping like flies all over the NHL, effective players in walk years are the most popular players in the game. Ruutu’s name has come up in rumors with the Penguins, Red Wings, Blackhawks, and a number of other teams that hope to make a deep postseason run. His cost might be inflated because of the number of teams bidding for him.
Roy is an effective player for the Sabres, and he might ultimately be the least expensive of these three to acquire. There will certainly be a number of interested teams, but because of his injury concerns (recently injured a shoulder by the way), and the season remaining on his deal, the line is likely to be much longer for a guy like Ruutu. When you add the Sabres being over the cap right now, they might be in a position to move Roy earlier than Carolina or Anaheim.
So which of the three would you call on if you were Bowman?