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Pilot's Logbook: Finding "Moneypuck" UFAs, Forwards

Looking at how the Jets could improve their roster's competitiveness without adding the expensive "sexy picks"

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

A person referring to "moneyball" or "moneypuck" alludes to far more than numbers and statistics, but rather discovering exploitable market inefficiencies. In other words, moneypuck is about readjusting priorities and decision making in order to improve a team's chance at winning without expending more money.

One of the best exploitable markets currently is players who drive shot metrics, or good Corsi players. Why is that?

Corsi% is a measurement on which net has more pucks being directed than the other. Having better Corsi% players correlates strongly to puck possession and over the long run it also correlates to outscoring the player's opponent, which generates wins. Of course, having better point scorers enhances a team as well. However, as the NHL has performed up to nowthe value per dollar in improving a team exists substantially more within Corsi players over point scorers.

The main reason likely lies in human nature. Scorers create direct contributions to on-ice goals, while superior shot metrics players may be improving their team indirectly. Direct contributions are more noticeable and get rewarded with higher salary. They are also the players that fans tend to exalt the most. Indirect contributions can be noticeable in the micro but over a large sample of season it can be difficult to compare who helped the most without statistics. Players who help indirectly are often the players that fans tend to condemn for lack of scoring. This was discussed in more depth within Further to the Big Mistake. (It should also be noted that there are a lot of players who can do both well and some that can do neither)

The top five scorers (per minute) in the free agency pool are Paul Statsny, Thomas Vanek, Jussi Jokinen, Jarome Iginla and Daniel Alfredsson. These players are the top scorers and will likely get paid as such. But, value can still be found beyond these forwards.

Winnipeg Jets Forward Holes and Needs

The Jets have nine regular forwards from last season already on contract, out of which only six could be considered guaranteed top nine caliber players. Only Michael Frolik joins if you include restricted free agents. This leaves two spots needing replacement: Olli Jokinen's and Devin Setoguchi's.

Historically armchair GMs used to label players in categories similar to scorer, two-way, defensive, energy/enforcers. I, however, prefer to categorize my players as possession + scorer, predominately scorer, predominately possession, neither. It may seem that the first option is the only good one, but this is dependent on how good or bad any player is in either sub-category.

How these players have performed historically over the last two seasons is this:

+Scorer +Possession
Andrew Ladd x x
Bryan Little x x
Michael Frolik x x
Evander Kane x x
Mark Scheifele x
Blake Wheeler x
Dustin Byfuglien* x

* Dustin Byfuglien as defensemen fits in both sub-categories but as a forward only in scorer

Already we can see there is a bit of an unbalance. Luckily for the Jets it is in the area that is cheaper to acquire as it is under appreciated. Unfortunately it also may be under appreciated within the Jets organization. And yes, there are players available who are decent at both; two examples are Paul Statsny and Jussi Jokinen.

Why does this balance tend to matter?


The four quadrants above are the areas for specific roles when using players. Usually, but not always, a team's top six forwards reside in quadrants one and two.

For the Jets, quadrant one will most likely be covered by the best overall line, the Ladd-Little-Frolik line. They will take tough line matches and tons of defensive zone faceoffs. They will try to shut down other team's top lines while pitching in with scoring, although this type of usage does hurt scoring numbers. Quadrant two will then be taken by the Jets second line, whatever that may shape out to be.

However, how the 3rd and 4th line are distributed is primarily dependent on the roster makeup. Without burying the LLF line to the point of sapping all their lifeforce completely, there will only be so much sheltering to go around. Strong depth possession players remove this worry, as the bottom six won't be outscored then. The lack of strong possession-metric depth forwards was arguably the Jets largest issue outside of goaltending last season.

Moneypuck players to fill the holes

Low scorers:

Here are some players who haven't pulled the scoring numbers as of late to demand large AAV or term that could bite back the Jets, while still being able to contribute to the Jets in other ways. These players fit best in a quadrant 3 usage where they take defensive zone starts, allowing the team to push their scoring lines more into the offensive zone.

David Booth - Age: 29 - Pos: LW - Last CapHit: 4.25 mil (buyout) - 66 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
13.3 7.9 +7 52.0% +1.0% 45.1% -4.0% 100.5

David Booth received the joys that is an inflated shooting percentage on his final year of his entry level contract, leading to 31 goals (11 on power play should have been a hint) and was rewarded with a fat contract. He was never able to sustain that scoring, had a few injuries and was eventually bought out.

Booth is still an effective NHL player though. His shot generation is pretty good given lack of power play time, generating a higher shot volume per minute than either Jokinen or Setoguchi. Booth was above average in shot metrics for the Vancouver Canucks, despite taking lower than average zone starts on a pretty decent shot metric team.

Booth's low point totals means he is likely under appreciated for what he brings. While he is not near worth a 4.25 mil AAV, he could be a good third liner and would also optimize the Jets well while under a "quadrant 3" type usage.

David Moss - Age: 32 - Pos: RW - Last CapHit: 2.10 mil - 79 GP, 8 G, 14 A, 22 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
14.4 7.8 +11 52.3% +2.5% 56.0% +6.3% 100.5

Statistically speaking, David Moss is very similar to David Booth. Neither are good scoring forwards, but both can push the play fairly well. Moss did receive a scorers zone push this season (odd but I guess I can't judge Dave Tippett), but historically he was fine in defensive zone assignments the previous two seasons. Moss also gives additional value as a near average level penalty killer.

The Jets could do far worse with 2 million dollars and assigning Moss to capably handle some defensive zone starts, allowing Maurice to give some more offensive zone assignments to players like Scheifele and Wheeler.

Marcel Goc - Age: 30 - Pos: C - Last CapHit: 1.70 mil - 74 GP, 11 G, 14 A, 25 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
16 5.8 +0 50.8% +0.2% 40.1% -12.5% 98.9

Hey look, I just made a full line! Marcel Goc has made a career out of giving his team's plus value on his contract. He takes a large number of defensive zone starts and usually comes out ahead, if he's not at least diminishing the bleeding. He will never impress you with his scoring but there is value in his contract. Goc has also been a league average penalty killer.

Any line combination with Booth-Goc-Moss would probably annoy the heck out of fans, but would improve the Jets significantly in depth. There is a danger with too many players of these type with the possibility of injuries to the Jets star players however.

Middle tier scorers

Here are a couple of players who are more mid-range scorers but still push the play well and give extra value to their contracts. These players can be used under quadrant 3 and excel but can also be used in a more scoring role in quadrant 4 and can move up the line with injuries.

Benoit Pouliot - Age: 27 - Pos: LW - Last CapHit: 1.30 mill - 80 GP, 15 G, 21 A, 36 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
13.3 7.9 -5 55.1% +3.4% 58.4% +8.2% 100.9

Benoit Pouliot is my personal favourite of the bunch. Pouliot for three seasons has averaged top six scoring rates per minute, but doesn't tend to get top six ice time. He pushes the play well although he mostly has usually been given some offensive zone push (not much though in Tampa Bay). He has been long underrated until recently when experiencing a PDO (measurement of on-ice save and shooting percentage combined) of 106 in the playoffs.

If the Jets were to score Pouliot he would become another Michael Frolik. Apparently Pouliot is looking at three mill for three seasons, although the Jets might need to boost it up a bit to pull him from New York. An extra season or an extra 500k a season would be very low risk for an above average third line player who can take top 6 minutes.

Dustin Penner - Age: 31 - Pos: RW - Last CapHit: 2.0 mill - 67 GP, 14 G, 21 A, 35 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
14.2 7.4 -2 49.3% +3.0% 49.3% +0.3% 105.5

Penner, like Pouliot, has been an above average depth scorer for quite some while. After a season of high PDO, there may not be as much saved contract value from him but he won't be asking for David Bolland money. He's consistently posted positive relative Corsi percentages on multiple different teams under different types of usages.

Penner is probably an unlikely target, as Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice seem to be trying to get faster as a team, but Penner is still a good player.

Lee Stempniak - Age: 31 - Pos: RW - Last CapHit: 2.75 mill - 73 GP, 12 G, 22 A, 34 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
18.1 7.9 -1 47.5% +1.9% 47.4% -0.9% 96.9

Stempniak offers another alternative at right wing. His PDO plummeted to very low levels this past season, meaning this is a perfect time to buy low on him. While not a top scorer, Stempniak's offensive abilities are about 10 points better than this season, but was loss due to unlucky percentages. He also adds value in being able to take both penalty kill and power play minutes when needed. His two way numbers do place some concerns though relative to the other players, but a much larger offensive zone start usage may take care of that.

On a gamble:

There are also three possible "bounce back" options available if the above is exhausted. They are players who historically improved their team's shot metrics but this season dropped into the red.

Daniel Winnik - Age: 29 - Pos: LW/C - Last CapHit: 1.80 mill - 76 GP, 6 G, 24 A, 30 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
15.2 5.9 +7 48.0% -2.8% 48.3% -3.7% 100.8

Saku Koivu - Age: 39 - Pos: C - Last CapHit: 2.50 mill - 65 GP, 11 G, 18 A, 29 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
14.9 5 -10 46.3% -5.2% 44.7% -7.9% 101.1

Nikolai Kulemin - Age: 27 - Pos: RW - Last CapHit: 2.80 mill - 70 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 20 PTS

TOI/60 S/60 Penalty +/- Corsi% relCorsi% O/D ZS% rel O/D ZS% PDO
15.9 4.3 +1 41.3% -2.0% 33.9% -8.4% 100.1

All three of these players carry the risk in being no better than either Jokinen or Setoguchi, but would likely come at lower AAV then either (nor would cost a draft pick like Setoguchi). There is always risk in a signing; however, these three carry more risk than the previous players.