Oct 012013
 

It appears that Phil Kessel’s is on the verge of signing an 8 year, $8M/yr contract with the Leafs so this is a good time to compare this contract to a couple other elite wingers who have signed contracts in the past year or so. Corey Perry and Zach Parise. I have also chosen to include Rick Nash in the discussion because he is a comparable goal scoring winger with a comparable salary even though he signed his contract several years ago. Before we get into contracts though, let’s take a look at production levels by age.

KesselGoalsPerGameByAge

 

In terms of goal production, both Nash and Kessel got their careers started earlier than Perry or Parise and both had their best goal production years earlier int heir careers. Kessel of course had his best goal production year playing a significant amount of time with one of the best playmakers in the league at the time, Marc Savard. He has yet to match that level in Toronto but of course he is playing with Tyler Bozak in Toronto. Aside from Perry’s career year at age 25 he has generally been at or below the production level of the other three at the same age while Nash has generally been the more productive player. Note that I have removed Parise’s Age 25 season as he missed the majority of the year to injury. Nash’s age 20 season was lost due to a lockout. Ages are based on draft year (first season after draft year is age 18)

 

KesselPointsPerGameByAge

Not really a lot different in the points/game chart which kind of makes sense because all these players are wingers and more goal scorers than play makers. Parise once again had his peak season at age 23 while Perry again had his at age 25. Nash has maintained a little more consistency fluctuating between 0.8 and 1.0 since his age 21 season though one should remember that Nash’s age 21 season was 2005-06 when goal production was inflated due to obstruction crackdown and far more power plays. Kessel appears to still be on the upswing and he has shown more play making ability with Lupul or van Riemsdyk on the other wing and the absence of a play maker at center.

Age Length Total$
Parise* 27 8 $80M
Perry 27 8 $69M
Kessel 25 8 $64M
Nash 25 8 $62.4M

*Parise’s salary over the first 8 years of his contract.

Parise’s salary is a little wonky as he signed his contract under the old CBA which was a back diving contract in which he earns $94M over the first 10 years and $4M over the final 3. Perry is the easiest to compare with as he is the most recent contract signing while Nash signed several years ago when the salary cap was lower. All things considered Kessel’s contract is at least fairly priced if not a slight bargain.

In conclusion, even though the others may have had higher ‘peak’ seasons (though it is certainly possible, maybe likely, that Kessel hasn’t reached his peak) it is fair to suggest that Kessel is deserving to be considered similarly talented to the other three which makes his $8M/yr salary not only fair but maybe a slight bargain.

 

Feb 142012
 

So word has come out over the last day that Rick Nash is, at least on some level, available in a trade from the Blue Jackets.  So, the question is, who is Rick Nash and would you want him on your team?

Nash has been a Blue Jacket from the day he was drafted first overall in 2002.  He has played 648 regular season games and has scored 277 goals and 527 points.  Since the lockout he is 10th in goals (only Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Heatley, Iginla, Staal, Lecavalier, Marleau, Vanek and Hossa) and 25 in points.  He has a pair of 40+ goals seasons and has been a 30+ goal scorer six times.  He has just 4 NHL playoff games under his belt when he scored 1 goal and a pair of assists.  He was a member of the 2010 Canadian Olympic team scoring a pair of goals and 3 assists in 7 games on route to the gold medal.  That is the raw facts that we all know about Nash.  But what about advanced statistics.

Here are my HockeyAnalysis ratings for Rick Nash over the past 4 seasons plus this season as well as his 2007-11 four year average.

2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2007-11 (4yr)
HARO+ 0.991 1.070 1.257 1.502 1.079 1.200
HARO+ rank 142/235 118/241 59/245 8/260 116/229 60/217
HARD+ 0.827 0.992 0.802 0.882 0.732 0.895
HARD+ rank 164/235 96/241 196/245 162/260 197/229 162/217
HART+ 0.909 1.031 1.030 1.192 0.905 1.047
HART+ rank 172/235 115/241 123/245 36/260 169/229 95/217

HARO+ is an offensive rating, HARD+ is a defensive rating and HART+ is his total/overall rating which is simply an average of his HARO+ and HARD+ ratings.  These ratings are for 5v5 close zone adjusted situations and the rank includes any players who played 400 ore more minutes in single seasons, 300 minutes for 2011-12 partial season (through this past Saturday’s games) and 1500 minutes for the 4 year average.  These ratings take into account quality of teammates and quality of competition.

 

Overall in 5v5 close situations Rick Nash looks to be a solid offensive player, but not elite overall and defensively he is relatively weak.

To put Nash’s 4 year numbers in perspective, the most closely ranked players in terms of HARO+ are Cammalleri, Weiss, Hemsky, Jussi Jokinen, Vanek, Boyes, Bertuzzi, Grabovski, Alfredsson and Parise.

How about Nash’s 5v4 power play numbers.

5v4 HARO+
2007-08 1.010
2008-09 0.853
2009-10 1.203
2010-11 0.902
2011-12 0.951
2007-11 (4yr) 0.967
2007-11 rank (500 min.) 154/184
2007-11 rank (750 min.) 92/99

Generally speaking, his PP numbers are quite poor relative to other top PP forwards.

An interesting comparable is Joffrey Lupul.  It is an interesting comparable because it is quite likely that the Leafs will have an interest in Rick Nash and also because Lupul is an interesting case because he has really had a break through season this year.  Or so it seems anyway.

Nash Lupul
2007-11 5v5close HARO+ 1.200 1.385
2007-11 5v5 HARO+ 1.080 1.118
2007-11 5v4 HARO+ 0.967 1.246

It’s interesting that Joffrey Lupul ranked better than Nash in each of the three categories.  Due to injury Lupul didn’t put up 1500 minutes of 5v5 close ice time (he had 1374:44), but of all 251 players to play 1350 minutes of 5v5 close ice time Lupul ranked 10th.  When looking at these numbers it is actually not a surprise to see Lupul tied for 5th in points and 17th in goals.  He is finally being given an opportunity to play big time first line minutes with offensive zone starts and #1 PP unit ice time and as a result, he is producing.

So, getting back to Nash, let’s take a look at how he has done with his various linemates over the previous four seasons.  Here are the scoring rates (goals for per 20 minutes) for all the forwards who have played at least 250 minites of 5v5 close zone adjusted minutes during the 2007-11 four year time period.

Linemate TOI Together Nash /wo Linemate Linemate /wo Nash
Huselius 969:45 0.969 0.938 0.907
Vermette 607:35 0.757 1.016 0.782
Umberger 448:34 0.803 0.985 0.845
Brassard 441:22 1.359 0.860 0.930
Voracek 426:33 1.313 0.873 1.020
Malhotra 425:06 0.894 0.963 0.790

Nash played best when he was paired up with Voracek and Brassard and only Voracek, Brassard and Huselius made Nash a better offensive player when playing with him.  Vermette, Umberger and Malhotra were drags on his offensive numbers.  When playing apart, Voracek’s numbers are better than Nash’s.  Same for Brassard’s (who is doing it again this year, 0.782 GF20 vs Nash’s 0.613 when apart).  As an aside, the numbers suggest that Voracek is a very good offensive player  and it was probably a big mistake to trade him.  It also suggest that the Flyers aren’t getting full value from him by playing him primarily with Maxime Talbot.  If someone acquired Voracek and put him in the right situations, he could be the next Joffrey Lupul.

So, to summarize, yes Nash is a good offensive player who may put up better numbers playing with better offensive players but he is probably not an elite offensive forward.  Also, he isn’t a great defensive forward so offense really is what you get him for.  If I were Columbus I would be willing to trade him if I can get a quality NHL ready player capable of playing in their top 6 forwards, a top tier prospect and a first round pick.  If I were other teams, I would be very wary of over paying because he is not an elite player but he is paid like one ($7.8M cap hit for 6 more seasons).