Back on July 5, the first day of free agency, I wrote an article praising Paul Holmgren for his offseason acquisitions. A couple of months later, the Flyers signed Matt Read to an extension, which I felt desired even further praise. Now that we are 38 games into an 82 game season, I wanted to take a look back at each of this past offseason’s moves and see how they have fared until this point.
1) Mark Streit – 4 years $5.25 million cap hit
The Flyers traded for the rights of the impending unrestricted free agent and signed him to a four year deal well before free agency began. I wrote back in July that, “While I still don’t think this contract was a bargain of any kind, it’s not a total albatross. And as I’ve noted a few times, all contract mumbo jumbo aside, Streit will help this team on the ice.”
Unfortunately, I don’t believe Streit has been much of a help on the ice as the team’s blueline is still clearly it’s major flaw; and Streit has been part of the problem.
Yes, he’s tied for the team lead in goals by a defenseman with three, and leads the blueline in points with 16; but as we all know, there’s a whole lot more to playing defense than putting up points.
The Philadelphia Flyers as a team perform -1.4% worse with respect to shot attempts when Mark Streit is on the ice. That “relative corsi for percentage” essentially measures the percentage of shot attempts while Streit is on the ice compared to the percentage of shot attempts while he is not. Simply put, the team gets outplayed worse when he is on the ice.
Only Nicklas Grossman has a worse number in that regard (at -5.6%) but at least Grossmann has significaly more difficult zone starts, starting only 45.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Streit starts a pretty hefty 53.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone (more than half, for you math majors) and still has the less-than-stellar shot attempt numbers.
If this is supposed to be the “good year” of a four year deal for the 36 year old Streit, I’m really not looking forward to the next three. I’d genuinely consider buying him out in the offseason; it’s not too terrible.
2) Vincent Lecavalier – 5 years $4.5 million cap hit
Not long after being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flyers signed the former Lightning Captain to a 5 year contract. At the time I wrote “Initially, I had two reactions to the move: 1) I didn’t like the term and 2) I didn’t really see the need because, as everyone knows, this team’s woes last year were on defense. However, the fact of the matter is, he’s a good player, and he will improve the team.” Also after some of the crazy free agent deals, it looked like a bit of a bargain contract.
Lecavalier has brought some offense to the club with nine goals and 15 points in 25 games. He’s missed a number of games already due to injury; which is something you have to accept with Lecavalier.
One of the areas I felt he would help improve is in the faceoff department, but he’s actually only winning 47.1% of his draws.
Lecavalier has actually been a slight disappointment for me. The Philadelphia Flyers as a team perform -7.5% worse with respect to shot attempts when Vincent Lecavalier is on the ice. Only Jay Rosehill is worse than Lecavalier in that respect. This is also while starting a strong 54.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone (you can read that as playing an offensive role with the team).
To put that in perspective, Sean Couturier only starts 42.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone (you can read that as playing a defensive role with the team), and yet his relative corsi for percentage is 0.6%; indicating the team performs slightly better with him on the ice with respect to shot attempts.
Lecavalier’s straight Corsi for percentage number (so not comparing his off and on ice numbers) is 44%. So the other team wins the shot attempt battle while he’s on the ice to the tune of 56% of the shots. Couturier, on the other hand, wins it at 51.4%…and again, has the more difficult zone starts than Lecavalier.
Vinny has been a nice piece on the power play, coming in second on the team with 5 power play goals.
All told, I think Lecavalier has performed slightly below my expectations.
3) Adam Hall – 1 year $600k cap hit
It’s hard to not like Adam Hall. Right off the bat, his relative corsi for percentage number comes in at -5.2% which you would think is quite poor. However, Hall starts an absolutely ridiculous 23.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone. That’s the most heavily skewed, defensively focused number on the team. The next closest (forward or defense) is actually Rosehill at 42.4%. He has the 6th fewest offensive zone starts in the entire league.
He’s winning 60.2% of his faceoffs, which would be third in the league if he qualified for league leaders.
He also plays over three minutes a night on the penalty kill, only trailing Couturier and Matt Read in that regard.
He’s pretty much the ideal fourth liner.
4) Ray Emery – 1 year $1.65 million cap hit
After missing out on trading for Jonathan Bernier, the Flyers made the perfect free agent signing, agreeing to a one year deal with Ray Emery. I was a big advocate of signing Emery this offseason and I was thrilled with this one year contract.
He’s been a slight disappointment so far in 2013-2014 with a save percentage of only .885. His even strength save percentage is quite a bit better at .917 which ranks him 45th among all goaltenders.
I can’t be that upset over the backup goalie on a cheap one-year deal. He was brought in to push Mason and perhaps win the job; it looks like he’s at least accomplished the former.
5) Claude Giroux – re-signed – 8 years $8.275 cap hit
“This was almost exactly what I expected him to get after some of the other signings in the new CBA. I felt that Getzlaf’s eight year $8.25 was most comparable. A more than fair contract for Giroux.”
After a slow start for Giroux and the entire team, people started to get on the Captain; and it upset me a bit. Since then, as the team turned it’s play around a bit, so did Giroux and he’s almost at his typical point-per-game pace. He currently stands at 35 points in 38 games.
What else can we say about Captain Claude? He’s winning 50.9% of his draws. He has the third best relative corsi for percentage on the team at 3.2% (so the team performs better with him on the ice). He also plays against the fifth most difficult competition on the team (using Corsi Relative Quality of Competition).
With a cap that is going to be in excess of $70 million again next season, this is the going rate for a point-per-game player that can do it all.
6) Matt Read – re-signed – 4 years and $3.625 million cap hit
At the time I wrote “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 still can’t help but but utterly thrilled with this contract. Read currently has 10 goals and 18 points in 37 games, pacing for 22 goals and 39 points on the season. Some might actually be upset with that given that it doesn’t even eclipse his rookie year’s 24 goals and 47 points.
No. Just no.
Where to start? He’s playing almost 20 minutes a game now, including over three minutes a game on the penalty kill and over two minutes a game on the power play.
His relative corsi for percentage is actually only -2.1%, but he’s at 49.8% corsi for percentage himself. When you consider he has some of the least friendly zone starts on the team at 44.2%, it starts to add some context. I like to repeatedly simplify the advanced stats for anyone that is less familiar. He’s starting most of his shifts in his own zone and still generates just as many shots as he allows.
Most importantly, Matt Read plays against THE toughest competition on the entire team; even ahead of Couturier (1.562 Corsi Rel QoC vs 1.405). That’s the 13th most difficult matchups in all of hockey for forwards playing 30 games or more.
Matt Read is Mr. Do Everything and he does everything well. He’s a shutdown forward that still scores goals, puts up points, and literally can play in any situation.
This isn’t even including Michael Raffl who has been a pleasant surprise, and Hal Gill who has barely even played.
When push comes to shove the offseason isn’t looking quite as good as I thought it was back in July. Mark Streit has a lot to do with that. Homer’s best moves actually appear to be his contract extensions. We’ll just have to see what he does with his next one for Steve Mason.
Overall Grade: C+
Author’s Edit: I originally did not include the Couturier extension as I thought it had occurred after the season started. It did not. That is deserving of some praise as well.