After what has already been, arguably, Paul Holmgren’s most impressive offseason to date he went and re-signed Matt Read to a bargain of a four year contract on Friday. At four years and only $3.625 million on the cap, my initial reaction was elation at the cap number.
I had thought for some time now, that the Flyers might have to trade Read because of their young nucleus of players all reaching free agency (be it restricted or unrestricted) at about the same time. What a pleasant surprise it is to see Read come in at such a cap-friendly number.
Before putting my official stamp of approval on the deal (something I’m sure Paul Holmgren is dying to get for each and every transaction he makes) I wanted to look at some comparables for Read to see how he stacks up.
The most important thing when comparing contracts is to compare contracts signed during the same offseason. When you start comparing a contract from last year, or even from the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, you are no longer comparing apples to apples and things start to get skewed. The cap ceiling changes each year and so does each team’s situation.
So with that, I looked at the most recent signings and grabbed eight forwards who came in around Read’s $3.635 cap hit: Cody Hodgson, Colin Greening, Mikkel Boedker, Adam Henrique, Mikhail Grabovski, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joe Pavelski. All of those players signed their new contracts on July 30th of this year or later.
If you’ve read any of my previous work you know that I’m an advocate of advanced statistics. Much like it is important to understand the context in which a contract was signed, I think it is equally important to understand the context in which a player has played.
Surface level stats like games played, goals, and assists are great but they don’t tell the whole story. What sort of role did they play that may have accounted for those totals?
And with that I took a look at the following stats for each player:
Career Games Played
Career Points per Game
Points per 60 minutes (over the past 2 years)
Corsi Relative (for this past season) – “which compares the team’s shot differential with a player on the ice to their shot differential with him off the ice” – Eric T of Broad Street Hockey
Corsi For Percentage (over the past 2 years) – which basically expresses the percentage of shots the team generated with him on the ice. For example, in 2012:
“when Joe Pavelski was on the ice at even-strength last season, the Sharks directed 1358 shots at the opposition net and had 1118 shots directed at their own. This means he was a +240 Corsi player, a 0.548 or 54.8% Corsi player if you choose to express it as a ratio or percentage” – The Neutral of Fear the Fin
Defensive Zone Faceoff Percentage (over the past 2 years) – what percentage of faceoffs did he start in his defensive zone. This is important in understanding a player’s role. If you are always starting in your own end, it’s tough to generate points.
Offensive Zone Faceoff Percentage (over the past 2 years) – what percentage of faceoffs did he start in the offensive zone. This is important in understanding a player’s role. If you are always starting in the offensive end, it’s easier to generate points.
Power Play time on ice per game (for last year)
Short handed time on ice per game (for last year)
In each column I highlighted the players that performed better than Read in that specific category. With respect to the zone starts, I called out the players that started in their own zone more than Read, and those that started in the offensive zone less than Read. My rationale being that those player saw “tougher” minutes with respect to putting up points.
So what do we see here? (For all of you redditors, TL;DR)
Right off the bat it’s pretty clear that Read’s ability to produce points is among the best of the group. Only Grabovski and Pavelski have put up more points per game over their careers. Pavelski was just rewarded with a $6 million per year contract, and Grabovski is coming off of a contract that was paying him $5.5 million.
More impressively, Read’s 2.12 points per 60 minutes of ice time over the past two seasons kind of blows everybody else away. Hodgson is the next closest at 1.81 (he of the new six year $4.25 million contract).
Read’s corsi numbers actually are not all that impressive in the present company, which is slightly surprising to me. He has the second worst corsi relative last season, but it is still a positive number. Whereas his corsi for percentage over the past two years is third worst; but again it’s not an awfully terrible number. It comes in as the sixth best among Flyers forwards playing at least 300 minutes of ice time over the past two seasons.
All of these player’s defensive zone start percentages are about the same, but Read ultimately starts in his own zone the fourth most. On the other side of the coin only Henrique and Grabovski had fewer shifts start in the offensive zone. Combining these two numbers might indicate Read is being asked to play a slightly more defensive role than the rest of the group.
Lastly, I included special teams time on ice numbers from last season because I think being a reliable special teams player is valuable. Nobody on this list plays more shorthanded minutes than Read does, and he even sees less power play time than all but two of them.
Put it all together and I find it pretty impressive that Read has such a high career points per game and points per 60 minutes among the group; especially considering the numbers seem to support the idea that he plays a slightly more defensive role.
With respect to the contract totals we see, I can’t help but think the Flyers have a bargain here; especially when you factor in Read’s versatility. The guy can literally play any position you want. Left wing, right wing, center. Power play, penalty kill. An offensive role, a checking role. You name it, he will do it, and he will do it well.
Cody Hodgson got two more years and $625k more per season as a restricted free agent. Read was set to become unrestricted.
Is Read really only worth ~$1 million more per year than Colin Greening or Mikkel Boedker? I find Read to be the far better player. Read has only 24 fewer points than Boedker in 135 less games.
Many thought the Adam Henrique signing of six years and $4 million per would be a pretty decent comparable for Read. On the surface, look at their first two years in the league, it’s pretty spot on.
Henrique got more money and more term as a restricted free agent.
Grabovski, who is actually a pretty darn good player, got bought out of his $5.5 million per year contract and had to settle for a one year “prove it” deal worth only $625k less than Read on his four year deal. If Read (for some crazy reason) opted for a one year deal, you can bet it would be a heck of a lot more than $3.625.
Landeskog is the youngest captain in NHL history, and is without a doubt an impressive young player at only 20 years old; but Read comes in at 3 less years and almost $2 million less per year?
Pavelski is easily the most established player amongst this group and has the best offensive chops; but he got more term and nearly $2.5 million more per year than Read as an older player entering his eighth year and never topping 66 points. Look at their past two seasons, I’m not sure I see something warranting a contract that much larger.
However you want to cut it, Paul Holmgren continues to have an exceptional offseason. For quite some time now, I expected that Matt Read would not be a Flyer for the long haul just because I didn’t think the Flyers would be able to afford him. Well, here we are, he’s signed to a new extension and it’s a beauty.