Karl Alzner is a well known defenceman and pending free agent for the Washington Capitals. Should the Winnipeg Jets look into signing him to help stabilize their defence? Alzner has been with the Capitals for eight seasons and the Caps have found success in many of those seasons. Is Alzner a reason for that success or has he been more of a hindrance to the team?
While he is not an offensive player, Alzner has never scored more than five goals and 21 points in a season and the Caps teams he has played on have featured some high scoring forwards. But not even play-driving defenceman scores points; look at Anton Stralman for example. That said, is Alzner a passenger or a catalyst for the Capitals success.
During the most recent playoffs, Alzner struggled. He was also playing through an injury, so this is not the most surprising development. However, the pairing of Alzner and Brooks Orpik was easily the Caps worst pairing and at some point it is not just one player. So is Alzner a player that struggles as a whole, only when paired with certain players, or is he the stay at home defenceman of fans dreams?
Over the past two seasons Alzner has struggled for long stretches of play. This year he bottomed out briefly at Ben Chiarot’s or Mark Stuart’s level. However, Alzner has been able to stay around 50% CorsiFor while not being an offensive player. He is a mess when he is with Brooks Orpik, but how much of that is tied to Orpik? What chances when Alzner is over 55% CorsiFor and are those conditions that the Jets can replicate without putting unneeded strain on Alzner’s partner? All these questions should be researched before the Jets decide whether or not they want to pursue Alzner in free agency.
Alzner made $2.8 million/season for the past four seasons. This means he was fairly paid for his performance, even when he was struggling. However, he is due to get a steep raise this off-season and part of determining if the Jets want to sign him is determining what price is too high to pay Alzner. Remember that the Jets have to re-sign Nikolaj Ehlers and potentially Jacob Trouba in 2018 followed by Patrik Laine in 2019. Unless the defender is a solid fit or is willing to sign a one or two year contract, they are probably not a fit for the Jets. This does not mean that the Jets should not look to free agency to improve their team, it just means that short term contracts would probably be best.
Should the Jets look at adding Alzner, even if it is only for one or two years?