Hunker down folks. The next couple days are going to be madness. What we know is that our team of choice is bound and determined to find a veteran replacement for injured comrade Dennis Seidenberg. What we know is that there are a number of names floating around in the media allegedly mentioned by credible sources within the organization. What we don't know is what said source is smoking with some of these guys. Lets take a gander at these rumors and see if we can't get a sense of who we should be rooting for to show up in a Bruins jersey later this week and what names pose a danger to our eminently flippable tables.
For those of you in a hurry or who are more visual learners, here's a player usage chart comparing the below. Pretty easy to draw conclusions just from this:
(please note that I'm using a different chart than usual, this one from Hockey Abstract. On this chart, as usual X axis shows zone starts, Y Quality of Competition, Blue dots are positive and Red negative CorsiRel. The difference is dot shading shows how positive or negative the CorsiRel is and the dot size is TOI/gm)
The evidence is mounting that the Bruins need a Dennis Seidenberg replacement. Here are some "D" trade possiblities: http://t.co/BP5ZChHtWH— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 9, 2014
He might be first on the list alphabetically, but he'd be in the same spot were we sorting this group of guys by their impact for their respective teams. We've spoken of him as a prime trade target before, but to recap he's taking top minutes and competition for Buffalo - if not the most difficult zone deployment - and is performing better than any of his teammates with the top relative possession numbers on team. He brings a lot of offense, but his defensive acumen isn't lagging too far behind, preventing over two shots per game over the rest of his team. He'd be plugged into a situation where he wouldn't have to carry the heaviest load and would see a massive uptick in QoT even if he played predominantly with the third line forwards.
The strike against him is his contract length, which will see him paid 4m through the 2020/21 season. However, Ehrhoff is a bona fide top pair player who would be playing for the price of an approximately market second pair guy. With the cap increasing and that market price likely to accompany, the percentage of the cap he occupies should shrink as his abilities do with age. The median cap hit for defensemen league wide, including ELC cup of coffee guys, is already over $2.5m. I'd consider this lower risk than appears at first blush.
And lo and behold, the alphabet strikes again. Panthers' free agent budget buy is unlikely to be in their long term plans, and with the team out of the running, he's on the block. His resurgent year after some doldrums in Minnesota is no mirage, with his tied for defensive lead production coming on a high-but-reasonable on-ice sh%. He's taking 2nd on team TOI and while he may be third in shot suppression for his squad, he's there among a surprisingly low-event top four who rival the Bruins big minute boys in this department. The only conceivable knocks are that relative to their team, he and Campbell see pretty sheltered usage and Campbell does have a positive pull on Gilbert's numbers. Even so, he's well overachieving and would plug nicely into a situation set up for him to succeed, with Hamilton performing in a similar role to his current partner.
Up on the chart, he and the next guy are neck and neck, stacked on top of each other to the right of Ehrhoff.
Hearing Bruins have no interest in Dustin Byfuglien, likely because they seek a left D.— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) March 3, 2014
If DJ's hypothesis re: Buff is correct, that'd rule Gilbert out. Discrimination!
Hainsey possibly a Bruin by April 3.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) March 20, 2013
Old man Dupes may be off by a year, but what's old is new again! If these first three guys are any indication, we should forget this list and just trade for someone whose name starts with an A. Not exactly the sexiest option on the table, Hainsey isn't about to give the Boston offense a shot in the arm. But he is the "safe" guy the Bruins brass seek, both by reputation and by actual results for a change. He's been the best on his squad at keeping shots away from Dr. Khu and Ward. Alongside non-superstars Brett Bellmore and now John-Michael Liles, he's been having a clearly legible impact on his partners' CA/20. As Fear the Fin shows, this extends to overall differential:
Strike against: was an outspoken NHLPA advocate while without a deal, leaving him awash in free agency once the new CBA was signed. Getting his bills paid by the guy who orchestrated the lockout in the first place would be bitter irony - one that Bruins fans should root for, since it'll probably stick in Jacobs craw if Chiarelli has the balls to needle his boss. On his side, he has been a former Claude Julien player as a frosh and sophomore in Montreal - though predictably only saw minimal minutes under his youth-phobic bench boss.
Hainsey logs middle-pair TOI and QoC, so he's not going to see a massive bump by moving to an easier situation, but he does currently pass the test for the same position with flying colors.
Hey, this guy's got some offense! He plays top minutes! A number one defenseman on the market at the deadline? Rock on, do it Chia...
Except he may be the worst option on said market - at very least he carries the most absurdly inflated value. He has the worst rate of shot events against on his team, the worst For on team, 9th worst CF% among defenders in the league, and as Jewels from the Crown found, he compares very unfavorably to other guys with the same deployment and has a noticeable negative impact on whoever winds up sharing the ice with him. Sound like your guy? Then please rethink your life choices.
And lest you think we could shelter him for better results, @garik16 at Lighthouse Hockey revealed that even bad QoC players outperform their averages when facing AMac. Sure, these carved-up samples are likely to be noise-laden, but the consistency of his deleterious impact is alarming nonetheless.
In short, STAY. THE. FUCK. AWAY.
I leave you with this:
The next guy up on the target list is the 6th/7th D on the Flyers in ATOI. Let that sink in for a moment. Only dinosaur Hal Gill's four games saw anyone trusted with less TOI. Furthermore, he's being given the most advantageous zone starts of anyone on the target list. He's practically the opposite of MacDonald, hidden to contribute in easier minutes rather than puffed up to sell as an ersatz #1. To his credit, he's producing at the highest rate - albeit in small minutes - among this crew, though take heed that his PDO is comprised almost completely of a highly unsustainable on-ice shooting percentage. Furthermore, we already have a guy we shelter for offense in Krug, and he's a good sight better at that job. At this stage of his career, Meszaros should be playing no more than bottom pair minutes and he doesn't present a case for being a better option defensively than Adam McQuaid at all.
Ah, the Peter Chiarelli-est option on the table. Senator? Check. Stay-at-home? Check. Name that would stun the hockey world? ...Ummmm, nope, so that ticks another box. But does he make sense for Boston to acquire to fill the second pair void? Pretty much any way you slice it, the answer is "mih." Here is your budget choice, capable of maintaining just above average expected both defensive and offensive performance in a 3-4 role. Phillips has had a rotating cast of partners, in no conclusive fashion evincing that he's shouldering the load of his pairing, but neither does he have an obvious drag effect on his co-pilot. To his credit, he should be a modest upgrade over Seidenberg in terms of ability to suppress shots. His acquisition wouldn't be the worst thing in the world and would prevent Bartkowski from assuming an over-his-head role. In a word: Safe. This one deserves an absolutely ringing endorsement:
Why would you pick up a guy that's entrusted with fewer minutes per night than Andrew Ference in 2014? Hope of coaching and organizational incompetence? Well, we should never count that factor out when dealing with Edmonton, but no, Schultz is actually that caliber of garbage. He's essentially a recipe for getting stuck in your own zone. He's deployed heavily in the defensive end presumably because he offers absolutely no hope of hitting the score sheet, but even so he's made to look bad against even the tire fire that is the Edmonton defense. I'd take back my comments about MacDonald being the worst proposal, but for the cost to acquire.
Akin to Phillips, this is a delicious flavor of vanilla milquetoast sure to satisfy your tastes for mediocre. His offense might prove something of a buy-low reclamation project given his super depressed on-ice %, but he's not going to be shooting the lights out or dishing up assists any time soon. He's pretty much team-average defensively and doesn't really move the needle at all in possession terms.I'd give the edge to Phillips in the duel as Tallinder has been carried by Myers and Fayne in the past couple seasons, but he could still serve as a bargain bin sub-in.
UPDATE - A CHALLENGER APPEARS:
Video- Bob McKenzie Of TSN With The Latest On Callahan, Brodeur And Robidas: Bob McKezie of TSN joined NHL Live... http://t.co/eU8n46zJBz— Kukla's Korner (@kuklaskorner) March 4, 2014
Checking in with our good ol' trade buddies in Dallas, it appears that signing their 37yr old vet isn't high on their list of priorities. As of last night, his name has entered the arena in spite of his not having hit the ice since November 29th. In his first-quarter season's action, he was used very much in the same capacity as Hamilton, facing high QoC with slightly offensive-leaning zone starts. Given virtually identical Team and Opponent CF between them, their expectations on both sides of the ice are remarkably similar, and Hamilton overachieves where Robidas slightly underperforms. That's not to say he'd be an inadequate mid-pair player. He'd with certainty improve over any of the remaining Bruins defense but would not be moving into a more advantageous situation than he was already in. Don't expect to get more mileage out of him than we're already seeing.
In spite of a good run of 3 goals in five games just before his injury, Robidas has otherwise dropped off a cliff in offensive production, falling into Ron Hainsey rate territory - below that of even Adam McQuaid! And that's with an outsized on-ice shooting percentage contributing to the highest PDO on this list. It's worth stressing however that we're only looking at a 24 game sample of Robidas this year. Still as yet not back from injury, he represents a high risk, moderate reward trade that completely hinges on the value of assets going the other way.
However, as another Righty he may be out of the running if this prohibition on handedness is to be believed.
Out of the above names, there are clear winners and losers. We should be pulling for Ehrhoff or Gilbert to join the team and not be entirely dismayed by the acquisition of Hainsey, Tallinder or Phillips, all of whom should adequately upgrade over Seidenberg given the same role.
Give up hope ye who trade for Andrew Macdonald to play a top 4 role. It's important to separate performance from the role in which that player's cast, and for those who don't, the Islanders have a bridge to sell you.
I've omitted personal favorite Mark Fayne and left fan-bandied names like Byfuglien and Giordano off the roster because there doesn't appear to be enough smoke around that fire. All would be ace acquisitions - and one could easily argue better than Ehrhoff - but the likelihood seems pretty low given the limited chatter among the MSM. I also left Mark Stuart off, because that retread would be too amazingly foolish an acquisition to dignify in digital print.
If there's anyone I've missed whose water is being carried by the local talking heads, feel free to chime in and the comments and we'll put em under the microscope as well.
With only double digit hours remaining before the trade deadline and some awfully dodgy names still linked to the team, Bruins fans would be well advised to: