Dog Days Of Summer: Bang For The Buck

Pound for pound, one of these guys was the Jackets' best value during the 2010-2011 season...and one of them was among the worst. Can you guess which? (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

As we keep looking for things to keep us going until September 17th, I decided to outrageously steal borrow another blog's idea of "couponing" a team to figure who who provided the best value at the NHL level. With the help of Capgeek's 2010-2011 archive charts, I looked at the actual cap value for each player in games played at the NHL level, and the results were interesting. (It also handles the actual dollars paid to trade and waiver acquisitions for players like Rivet, Upshall, and Lepisto, so we only see the points / $$ in a Blue Jacket uniform.)

Obviously, the numbers are a bit skewed by players on callups, but you still get a good idea of the value the franchise received compared to the salary.

Tier 1: Bargain Bin

Looking at paid NHL salary vs. NHL points, these players gave the highest bang for the buck here in Columbus, coming in below $50,000 per point.

#1 - Grant Clitsome (D)

At $272,043 paid in 31 games, Grant delivered 19 points (4 goals, 15 assists), at $14,318.05 per point - an astoundingly good value. Because Clitsome received a well deserved raise, it's unlikely we'll see him come back to this level of value, but if he can keep up a similar scoring pace (.6 GPG), we might see him stay inside of the next tier.

#2 - Tomas Kubalik (RW)

Though he only appeared in four games, Kubalik's low cost of $29,480 against the NHL cap means that his two assists only came in at $14,740 each.

#3 - Tom Sestito (LW)

A short term callup like Kubalik prior to his trade, Sestito delivered 2 goals and two assists for just shy of $59,000, for $14,748 per point.

#4 - Matt Calvert (LW) 

Next to Clitsome, Calvert was probably the biggest impact from an "emerging" player, and not surprisingly he delivered a similar level of value - his 11 goals and 9 assists came in at $21,562.60 per point. Unlike Clitsome, his salary remains the same, so it's possible that he could stay in this same tier if he can keep scoring next season - particularly if he raises his production.

#5 - Derek MacKenzie (C)

Certainly helped by performing throughout the lineup and his brief appearance on the top line, D-Mac's $600,000 salary worked out to $26,086.96 per point - and like Calvert, he's on the same deal next season, so a strong performance keeps him looking like a steal.

#6 - Jakub Voracek (RW)

On the final year of his entry level deal, Jake was a brilliant case of coupon clipping by Scott Howson, delivering 14 goals and 32 assists for $27,626.80 per point. On his new deal, to achieve a similar level of value, he would need to have an 80+ point season for the Flyers.

#7 - Kyle Wilson (C) 

More known for his shootout successes, Wilson still had some good contributions during his stay in Columbus, and delivered 11 points at $32,844.55 per. 

#8 - Derek Dorsett (RW) 

In a bit of a surprise, DD comes in as one of the team's most cost-effective grinders, second only to MacKenzie among players who spent the entire season at the NHL level. His 17 points came out at $33,088.24 per, and if he has an equally productive season next year, he might well be one of the team's best contracts in 2011-2012.

#9 - Sami Lepisto (D)

With the Jackets only on the hook for $180,645 of his salary following the trade deadline, it's no surprise that his 5 points came at a relative bargain - $36,129 per.

Tier 2: Solid Value

Each of these players range from $50,001 to $99,999 per point - generally a decent value, but there are a few that might raise your eyebrows.

#10 - Maksim Mayorov (LW)

Expected to battle for a bottom six roster spot this season, Mayorov's 5 game callup came at a cost of $51,008 to the team - accounting for his first NHL goal. (Mayorov also had a GWG in the shootout, but those aren't counted in these stats. If he should make the team, expect his value to increase, as the higher paycheck will (hopefully) be balanced with higher production.

#11 - Kris Russell (D)

"Little Shake" produced 23 points, second among CBJ defensemen, and tipped the scale at $56,521.74 per. Next season, Russell's contract is at the same $1.3 million, so if he can find his way to taking off in the Arniel system it's entirely possible he could bring his value up dramatically before his next RFA season.

#12 - Jared Boll (RW)

Though he only had 12 points, at $725,000 it's pretty easy to make decent value, and his $60,416.67 was quite cost effective. 

#13 - R.J. Umberger (LW)

He's Umby, and he performed with a career high in scoring that made his $3,750,000 deal into a bargain, working out to $65,789.47 for each of his 57 points.

#14 - Marc Methot (D)

Though he didn't score any goals directly, Methot's 15 assists worked out to $67,500 per - but with his salary increasing, he'll need to break the 20 point barrier to keep providing this level of value.

#15 - Derick Brassard (C)

Though Brassard is no longer on his ELC, he still delivered solid performance for his new salary with a 47 point season, working out to $68,085.11 per point.

#16 - Scottie Upshall (RW)

On the one hand, Upshall only cost the Jackets $508,065 of his $2.2 million salary last season. On the other, his 6 goals and 1 assist for the Jackets worked out to $72,580.71. Given the size of the contract he got from Dale Tallon, one of Scott Howson's best moves may have been walking away from the table.

#17 - Andrew Murray (C)

"Weighty" certainly describe's Murray's per-point paycheck - despite "only" making $625,000, his 8 point performance this season meant each one cost $78,125.

#18 - Antoine Vermette (C)

Vermette's numbers may have slipped compared to playing full time with Rick Nash, but he still gave the team solid bang for the buck - his 47 point season worked out to $79,787.23 per point.

#19 - Jan Hejda (D)

The Big Plus is right at the top edge of Tier 2 after his 5 goal, 15 assist season - he collected $98,924.75 for each point. On his new deal with Colorado, he'd need to almost double his production to keep providing this level of value - a similar performance to his year would leave the Avs on the hook for $162,500 per point!

Tier 3: Premium Pricetags

Due to a higher salary, lack of production, or both, these players accounted for a hefty part of the team's shopping bill over the course of the season, ranging from $100,000 to $199,000 per point. Some were certainly worth it - but this is where you suspect that Scott Howson and J.P. McConnell probably begin to feel a twinge of buyer's remorse.

#20 - Fedor Tyutin (D)

Though Tyutin was the team's highest scoring blueliner, he's also one of their best paid over the course of a full season, so his 27 points were balanced against a $2,843,750 paycheck, working out to $105,324.07 per. But, that was still pretty good value when you consider he did perform for a full NHL season as one of the team's top pairing players.

#21 - Nikita Filatov (LW)

Even though Filatov is still on his ELC, the cost of a lottery pick vs. a 5th or 6th rounder (or even a later first round pick) shows in the $755,556 the Jackets paid for 23 games and 7 assists at the NHL level, at a painful $107,936.57 per. If Filatov can get his act together in Ottawa, they could well see him as a much higher value, but even in his best performance in Columbus we did NOT get good results for our outlay.

#22 - Anton Stralman (D)

Another "ouch" contract, Stralman's $1,950,000 would have been excellent value if he'd provided another 30+ point season, but the RFA's disappointing performance meant that Columbus handed him $108,333.33 for each of his 18 points.

#23 - Rick Nash (LW)

As the highest paid player on the team, it's not surprising that Nash returns Good but not Great value for performance, at $118,181.82 per point. That said, compare him to similar top line players like Joe Thornton ($102,857.14 per) and Eric Staal ($108,552.63) and he's in the ballpark, at least.

#24 - Samuel Pahlsson (C)

Sammy Pahlsson isn't paid to put points on the board so much as he is to stop them going up, but when he did score, it cost a pretty penny. With a $2,650,000 salary, his 20 points worked out to $132,500 per.

#25 - Chris Clark (RW)

How much does character in the room cost? The former Capitals captain was given his $2,633,333 contract by Washington, but after his 15 point season it cost the Jackets $175,555.53 per. Ouch, to say the least.

Tier 4: Gold Plated Toilets

Sometimes you get money, and you go a little crazy. Maybe you get a gold plated crapper. Perhaps you go out and buy a really, really, really fast car. Or maybe you just buy Airwolf. Unfortunately, before long you're looking at the money you spent and shaking your head with serious regrets...much like these contracts.

#26 - Kristian Huselius (LW)

Yes, he was hampered by injury, but the Swedish winger cost the Jackets a whopping $206,521.74 for each of his 23 points, and with his recent injuries it's likely that the team will have trouble recouping even this much value in his contract year - he'd need to return with at least a 30 point season to push him back towards Tier 3, and even that's questionable value for what is likely to only be half a season of actual play.

#27 - Rostislav Klesla (D)

At $2,303,226, the issue with Rusty's contract wasn't the paycheck so much as the production - at only 45 games in a Jackets uniform due to injuries, his 10 point season worked out to $230,322.60 per point. If he had stayed healthy and contributed, say, a 20 point season, he'd easily be back in a "value" tier - which is exactly what the Coyotes are hoping for next season.

#28 - Mike Commodore (D)

Not surprisingly, even though much of Commodore's salary was "buried" in the AHL, the team still paid $1,895,161 for his services against the cap during the season, including his time on the IR while still considered on the NHL roster. That means his 6 points in 20 games worked out to $315,860.17 apiece - and what's stunning is we still have two players with even lower value.

#29 - Ethan Moreau (LW)

With a season spent on IR or the press box more than he appeared on the ice, it's not surprising that the Jackets didn't get a lot out of his $2,000,000 contract as inherited from Edmonton, but the fact that his 6 points worked out to $333,333 apiece is still painful - especially when you consider that he signed with LA for $600k next season.

#30 - Craig Rivet (D)

How do you spell ouch? R-I-V-E-T. Only scoring one goal in a Jackets' uniform, Rivet came out at $413,978 for that single point. Pretty good work if you can get it!

Goaltending:

This one's a bit tricky - after all, a goalie doesn't really drive offense so much as he denies it. I could cheat and say that since both Garon and Mason had one assist each, they're in the Tier 4 category, but that's lazy.

Instead, let's look at the wins for each goaltender:

Steve Mason 

On the final year of his ELC, Mason brought in 24 wins at $765,000, good for $31,875 per - that's FANTASTIC value, and even though we obviously would have rather seen more victories, I think you have to admit that Columbus got a lot out of a relatively small outlay. The challenge begins next year, when Mason must deliver wins on a much larger deal - With a $2.6 million contract, assuming he makes 55-60 starts, I would want to see a 30+ win season to keep him in the "solid value" category - anything less and he quickly starts to creep into a problematic expense.

Mathieu Garon

At 1.2 million, Mathieu Garon is making reasonable money for a veteran backup goaltender, but when you consider that in his 36 starts he delivered only 10 wins, that $120,000 pricetag for each W starts looking a bit iffy. Good luck to him in Tampa Bay, but the $575,000 deal for Mark Dekanich is looking better and better - particularly if he can bring home as many or more wins.

What to expect next season:

Any time you look at value based on scoring, defensemen are likely to come out as a lower return than forwards - especially for a team like Columbus where points on the blue line are at a premium - but it's still encouraging that Clitsome, Russell, Methot, and Lepisto all returned some excellent value, and it's entirely possible that the three returning players could do so again. James Wisniewski is likely to be an X-factor for several reasons when considering the team's likely return on their investments - If he can deliver another 50+ point season, he'll still be a Tier 3 value (though like Nash, it's a "paying for performance" cost), but should he be paired with Fedor Tyutin, I could easily see Tyutin breaking the 30 point barrier and increasing his value back into the Tier 2 range because of increased assists and scoring opportunities with the Wiz. 

Jeff Carter's value is also likely to depend on how he works with Rick Nash, but there's reasons to be optimistic - even a 60 point season, which would be considered a fairly average year with his past performance, would work out to $87,878 per point. Vinny Prospal, who is likely to play with Nash and Carter, could also be a major "value" forward - even a 40 point season from the veteran winger would work out to a $62,500 per point return. We're also likely to keep seeing positive returns from Calvert, Dorsett, MacKenzie, Brassard, Umberger, and Vermette.

On the goaltending side, as pointed out above, this is a big season for Steve Mason - he is going to have to bring in at least a 30 win campaign to make his new contract a good value, and though the Jackets are almost guaranteed good value for Mark Dekanich, it would be nice of "Dex" could bring in a higher amount of wins than the backup he's replacing, which would make his contact an even better return. Should Mason struggle and Dekanich wins the standing job, Mason's value is likely to look even worse, but Dekanich's might well be the steal of the summer.

Despite criticism for Columbus being a big spender despite their financial losses, these were reasonable gambles, and even with the hefty pricetag for Rick Nash, the rest of the team's major offensive performers all return some excellent value. If Howson can keep hitting on these kind of successes and shedding the players whose compensation didn't reflect their performance, it's hard to call the money anything but well spent.

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