The 2015 NHL free agency period has come and gone, and there was a lot of money doled out. Here’s a list of four under-the-radar signings that look smart according to the analytics.
It’s pretty clear that Justin Williams is a gamer. It seems like if you’re going to be playing a Game 7 in the playoffs, you want this guy on your side. Well, the Washington Capitals playoff journey has ended in a Game 7 in each of the last three times they played in the postseason. It’s a good thing they got him. But beyond just that, the analytics show that he plays some of the toughest competition yet his teams always have the upper hand in terms of puck possession when he’s on the ice. Considering what he’ll cost them ($6.5 million over two years), they should get good bang for their buck.
The Leafs didn’t have a very good offseason but one signing that seems like a smart decision according to analytics is Daniel Winnik. He’s going to get $2.25 million per season over the next two years and he brings a lot of quality to the team as a role player. To start, he’s a good penalty killer and Toronto needs help in that department. They ranked 22nd in that category and 26th if you’re only looking at after the All-Star break. He’s typically handed defensive roles but he’s actually produced at a second-line rate over the last three seasons. He’s not going to change the Leafs trajectory but this is a decent pickup.
New York Rangers
Not much ink was used up on the Rangers signing Stalberg to a one-year, $1.1 million contract but this is good value. The stat has circulated plenty on Twitter but this is a guy who did better than 2.0 points/hour last season. He’s actually done that in three of the last four seasons. Remember, the Rangers are tight against the cap but need offensive help. This could be a sneaky-good signing.
San Jose Sharks
It’s pretty clear that Martin is no longer in his prime but he proved last season he’s still pretty good. 34 years old isn’t ancient for NHL defensemen. Last season, he played like a No. 1 defenseman but this year, he’s being paid in the second tier. That’s fairly good value. He scores at a reasonable rate and surpassed the team averages last season for scoring chances as well as shot metrics. While the Detroit Red Wings likely overpaid for Mike Green, the Sharks made a signing that’s likely to be the better value and we might just have them with our NHL picks next season.