A look at the top unrestricted free agent wingers
This years free agent class is a relatively thin one, pending compliance buy outs of course, but there are a handful of good players that could be hitting the unrestricted free agent market this summer. Today I’ll take a look at the wingers.
In total I identified 15 wingers that I would consider quality NHL regulars. These are in no particular order Nathan Horton, Viktor Stalberg, Ryane Clowe, mason Raymond, Clarke MacArthur, Patrick Elias, David Clarkson, Dan Cleary, Pascal Dupuis, Brad Boyes, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jarome Iginla, Michael Ryder, Bryan Bickell, and Matt Cooke. I have omitted from the list Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson since if they do return it will almost certainly be with the Ducks and Senators respectively. I have also omitted Damien Brunner because he doesn’t have enough of a track record as I am looking at 3 seasons of data in my statistical evaluation. I have also omitted Jaromir Jagr because, well, for some reason I forgot to include him and couldn’t be bothered to go back and plug him into all the tables. He still has some value, but I am not sure how significant it is.
(Note that unless mentioned otherwise, the stats below are 5v5 stats over the past 3 seasons)
In order to attempt to isolate a players offensive production from their team mates one think I like to do is compare their own on-ice stats with the on-ice stats of their team mates when they are playing apart from him. To do this I took each players FF20 and GF20 and divided by teammate FF20 and teammate GF20 respectively. Here is how the wingers stack up against each other.
|Viktor Stalberg||1.180||Patrick Elias||1.358|
|Nathan Horton||1.138||Nathan Horton||1.343|
|Ryane Clowe||1.087||Jarome Iginla||1.290|
|Mason Raymond||1.083||Pascal Dupuis||1.188|
|Clarke MacArthur||1.076||Viktor Stalberg||1.124|
|Patrick Elias||1.074||Michael Ryder||1.116|
|David Clarkson||1.066||Clarke MacArthur||1.111|
|Dan Cleary||1.049||Ryane Clowe||1.075|
|Pascal Dupuis||1.048||Bryan Bickell||1.058|
|Brad Boyes||1.044||Brad Boyes||1.042|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||1.018||Mason Raymond||1.037|
|Jarome Iginla||1.017||Matt Cooke||0.962|
|Michael Ryder||0.999||Alexei Ponikarovsky||0.896|
|Matt Cooke||0.917||Dan Cleary||0.892|
|Bryan Bickell||0.896||David Clarkson||0.874|
Based on the above lists you’d probably have to rank Horton, Stalberg and Elias the top 3 with MacArthur and Clowe not far behind while Cooke, Ponikarovsky and Bickell don’t look so good in comparison. Those are on-ice stats though, how do their individual stats look in comparison.
|Nathan Horton||1.111||Pascal Dupuis||2.28|
|Jarome Iginla||0.987||Nathan Horton||2.22|
|Pascal Dupuis||0.985||Jarome Iginla||2.09|
|Viktor Stalberg||0.964||Viktor Stalberg||2.03|
|Michael Ryder||0.941||Patrick Elias||2.01|
|David Clarkson||0.846||Michael Ryder||1.99|
|Clarke MacArthur||0.802||Clarke MacArthur||1.97|
|Bryan Bickell||0.779||Bryan Bickell||1.86|
|Matt Cooke||0.743||Brad Boyes||1.70|
|Dan Cleary||0.722||Ryane Clowe||1.70|
|Patrick Elias||0.700||Matt Cooke||1.69|
|Mason Raymond||0.645||Dan Cleary||1.69|
|Ryane Clowe||0.610||Mason Raymond||1.68|
|Brad Boyes||0.544||David Clarkson||1.28|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||0.462||Alexei Ponikarovsky||1.20|
Horton, Dupuis, Iginla, Stalberg dominate the top 4 spots on both lists while Ponikarovsky trails both lists. Individual stats are heavily influenced by quality of line mates and one measure I like to look at is the percentage of goals that their team scores when they are on the ice that they scored themselves (IGP) or had a point on (IPP). The higher the percentage the more integral the player is to his teams offense when he is on the ice.
|David Clarkson||50.7||Patrick Elias||82.1|
|Jarome Iginla||35.6||David Clarkson||76.7|
|Viktor Stalberg||34.9||Bryan Bickell||75.5|
|Michael Ryder||33.9||Jarome Iginla||75.2|
|Nathan Horton||33.1||Clarke MacArthur||73.5|
|Bryan Bickell||31.6||Viktor Stalberg||73.4|
|Dan Cleary||31.2||Dan Cleary||73.1|
|Pascal Dupuis||30.5||Michael Ryder||71.8|
|Matt Cooke||30.5||Ryane Clowe||70.9|
|Clarke MacArthur||29.9||Pascal Dupuis||70.8|
|Patrick Elias||28.6||Brad Boyes||69.9|
|Mason Raymond||26.4||Matt Cooke||69.5|
|Ryane Clowe||25.5||Mason Raymond||69.0|
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||25.0||Nathan Horton||66.1|
|Brad Boyes||22.3||Alexei Ponikarovsky||64.7|
David Clarkson didn’t look so good in previous lists but when he is on the ice he is a major contributor to the teams offense. Put him with some better offensive players and it is possible he could significantly boost his offensive production. The same can probably be said for Bryan Bickell who has been given more ice time on the Blackhawks top lines these playoffs and he has produced well above his regular season rates. He could be a good bargain pickup for a team who could get good production from him as a second line winger.
Defensive evaluation is much tougher than offensive evaluation and I think in general wingers are the least important position as far as team defense goes. The best way to evaluate a player defensively is compare their on-ice stats with their team mates. Similar to what I did above with FF20 and GF20 I looked at TMFF20/FF20 and TMGA20/GA20.
|Alexei Ponikarovsky||1.150||Alexei Ponikarovsky||1.206|
|Patrick Elias||1.122||Clarke MacArthur||1.174|
|Clarke MacArthur||1.083||Brad Boyes||1.150|
|David Clarkson||1.069||David Clarkson||1.097|
|Viktor Stalberg||1.063||Bryan Bickell||1.086|
|Nathan Horton||1.052||Pascal Dupuis||1.078|
|Ryane Clowe||1.038||Viktor Stalberg||1.003|
|Matt Cooke||1.005||Patrick Elias||0.976|
|Bryan Bickell||1.001||Michael Ryder||0.954|
|Brad Boyes||0.996||Matt Cooke||0.948|
|Dan Cleary||0.973||Jarome Iginla||0.937|
|Michael Ryder||0.971||Ryane Clowe||0.933|
|Jarome Iginla||0.953||Dan Cleary||0.879|
|Mason Raymond||0.951||Mason Raymond||0.858|
|Pascal Dupuis||0.918||Nathan Horton||0.830|
Ponikarovsky, MacArthur, Clarkson seem to be the best in the class here with Raymond, Cleary, and Iginla probably trailing the pack overall.
There is nothing too scientific in this but if I had to rank the wingers in terms of value this is how I would rank them, with probably more emphasis on offensive value.
- Iginla – Perfect for a team close looking for some help over the next couple seasons.
- Clarkson – I am surprised I am ranking Clarkson over Horton but he comes out ahead in more categories and may come cheaper. I’d still be cautious about over paying but he has scored a bunch of goals on a bad offensive team so that is good.
- Horton – I really like Horton but injuries have to be a concern and he’ll likely demand a big contract. He is a first line guy though and would be a big addition to any team. Has a longer track record than Clarkson too so less risky (health issues aside).
- MacArthur – Good all-round winger ideal for a second line role or as a secondary player on a first line.
- Elias – Age is starting to show but still very solid. Probably stays in New Jersey on short term deal.
- Stalberg – Not quite as proven against top competition as MacArthur but similar potential.
- Ryder – All he seems to do is score goals and still can be a 30 goal guy if given top line duty. Less rugged version of Clarkson.
- Dupuis – Likely stick in Pittsburgh and continue benefiting from playing a bunch on Crosby’s wing.
- Bickell – Probably worth taking a gamble on and playing in a second line role. Might be a 20 goal, 50 point guy in that role.
- Cooke – More useful for his PK skills. Decent 3rd line guy but limited offense
- Boyes – Decent offensive depth guy if on a good value contract. Probably re-signs with Islanders as he probably has more value to them than anyone else. Probably gets more (and higher quality) ice time than he deserves.
- Cleary – Not as productive as he was a few years ago but still has some value as a 2nd/3rd line winger.
- Clowe – Probably best as a 3rd line guy you hope you can get some toughness secondary offense from.
- Raymond – From afar he seems like the guy you always hope can be more but never is.
- Ponikarovsky – He kind of like Cooke minus the agitator/cheap shot track record. Solid defensive 3rd liner at this point in his career.