Big Acquisition: Jets Sign Kyle Wellwood to a One Year Deal

PITTSBURGH PA - FEBRUARY 23: Kyle Wellwood #20 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck past Ben Lovejoy #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period of the NHL game at Consol Energy Center on February 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I have plenty of mixed feelings about the Jets' management to this point, but I believe they made a savvy move yesterday by signing former Shark Kyle Wellwood to a rumoured 1-year, $700,000 deal.  Without yet delving into the specifics, we're talking about the addition of a guy who can help with some of our centre depth and forward scoring issues at a low-risk price.  He can also help with what could otherwise be a make-or-break situation with Alexander Burmistrov on the second line, where failure would leave us with virtually no ample replacement.

What can really lend this acquisition justice is getting a better look at Wellwood's strengths and discussing where he fits in the lineup.  Let's turn to ze numbahs...


Kyle Wellwood

#20 / Centre /  Winnipeg Jets

5-10

181

May 16, 1983



GP G A P +/- PIM PPP SHP SOG SH% FO% #FO
Career, 2003 - 2011 373 68 105 173 +8 30 74 0 516 13.2 55.3 2700

I like to trace back a bit when looking at somebody, usually about three years, just so we can get a larger sample of his work.  He's spent time with two top-notch teams over the last three seasons, last year with the San Jose Sharks and the preceding two with the Vancouver Canucks.  He's known as an offensively-focused forward, capable of eating up powerplay minutes as well; conversely, he spends little to no time on the kill, and typically isn't leaned on defensively at evens either.  

5v5

Year Team GP TOI/60 QoC QoT PDO SF/60 SA/60 O-Zone S%
2008-09 VAN 74 10.43 10th of 13 11th of 13 7th of 13 10th of 13 5th of 13 55.1
2009-10 VAN 75 11.73 8th of 15 10th of 15 5th of 15 10th of 15 5th of 15 45.9
2010-11 SJ 35 13.25 12th of 15 4th of 15 1st of 15 1st of 15 1st of 15 51.3

Quick clarifications: I use rank among forwards on their teams, with the minimum requirement of 20 games played.  "QoC" refers to Gabe's Quality of Competition (explained here), "QoT" refers to Quality of Teammates (explained here), and PDO refers to a metric that gravitates to a league-average 1000 (we usually take the decimals out; technically it's 1.000), and is achieved when you add a player's shooting percentage to the save percentage when he or she is on the ice.

As you can see, he has not spent a lot of time in the top 6, and when he has it's been only temporary.  He's certainly received some sheltered minutes, but has not necessarily let them go to waste - those favourable numbers in Shots-Against per 60 minutes suggests that even when he's not generating shots he's not bleeding opportunities for the opposing players.  Also, his PDO in 5v5 was consistently above-average, from 1019 to 1024 to 1030, and combined with his shots-against figures we can conclude he plays a pretty solid possession game at evens.

5v4

Year Team GP TOI/60 SF/60 ON SF/60 OFF SF/60
2008-09 VAN 74 2.91 52.4 41.1 1st of 8
2009-10 VAN 75 1.77 49.7 46.2 5th of 10
2010-11 SJ 35 0.41 100.6 56.8 1st of 9

Additional notes: You'll notice the numbers are less in the ranks, and that's because I took out the forwards that didn't really play on the powerplay.  Also, I took out a lot of the metrics like QoT, QoC, and PDO because the first two don't tell us much, and the third has issues of sample size.

Wellwood has a skill for creating offence on the powerplay, even as he's moved to teams where he hasn't been the first choice for offensive opportunities.  You'll notice that his team has consistently generated more shots on the powerplay when he's on the ice than when he's off of it, though you'll want to disregard 2010-11 somewhat because he didn't get much powerplay time.  I would suspect his powerplay time will rebound in Winnipeg.

There are two things I haven't drawn attention to yet, but are nevertheless the kinds of things that make this a real smart move.  For one, Wellwood is a very good faceoff man, a problem that is nearly organization-wide.  To get a guy in his prime that can generate offence and win key faceoffs is going to be very important going forward.  The second thing, that could get ridicule in some circles, is that he doesn't take penalties.  At all.  As with a lot of offensive-minded forwards, he still draws penalties, and I think this is a positive that shouldn't be overlooked.  Stupid penalties hurt any team, but when you project your offence to be marginal, getting put into shorthanded situations can become a major problem.  Compound it with defensive issues, as Atlanta had in the past, and you are literally losing games via the penalty box.

The final question, though, is where he fits in the forward lines - no small question, as one of the last times he was given big minutes (2006-07), he posted 42 points in 48 games.  Considering some of the positive reviews of Burmistrov's defensive capabilities, I think there's a possibility that we're looking at our new second-line center.  I also think this could mean Nik Antropov moves to right wing, as Eric Fehr is not necessarily a sure thing to be 100% for the start of the season.  Regardless, I think it's indisputable that Wellwood will be playing on the powerplay.

In sum, this was a good call by the Jets management, with low-risk and a potential for a nifty reward.  Now let's hope he and Dustin Byfuglien don't become buffet buddies...

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